Read CHAPTER IX - PEACE INTERVIEWS THE BISHOP of Heart of Gold , free online book, by Ruth Alberta Brown, on

“Well,” sighed the President, laying down the evening paper and leaning wearily back among the cushions of his great Morris chair, “it really looks as if South Avenue Church is to have Dr. Henry Shumway for its pastor this year.”

Mrs. Campbell glanced up hastily from her sewing with consternation in her eyes and asked, “Has the bishop really confirmed the report?”

“No, but he won’t deny it, either.  According to an article in this paper, our beloved Dr. Glaves is to be transferred to the Iowa Conference, and Dr. Shumway takes his place.”

“I sh’d think you’d be glad enough to see Dr. Glaves go,” remarked an abstracted voice from the corner of the room where Peace and Allee were absorbed in the task of sorting and stringing bright-colored beads.  “He reminds me of tombstones and seminaries,-not only his name, but the pomperous way he has of crawling up the aisle.  He walks like a stone yimage.”

“Porpoise, you mean,” gently suggested Allee.

“Pompous,” corrected the President, smiling a little at their blunders.  “I can’t say I am exactly sorry to see the Reverend Philander N. Glaves transferred,”-his tone was mildly sarcastic,-“for he was a misfit in South Avenue Church.  We didn’t want him in the first place, but we tried to be decent to him during his year’s sojourn with us.  However, that’s neither here nor there.  When three times in succession we are given a man we don’t want, I think it is time to kick.  We have quietly accepted the other two men when we wanted Dr. Atkinson, but now-”

“You oughtn’t to kick the preacher,” mused Peace, studying the effect of some green and purple beads together.  “He has to go where he is sent, doesn’t he?”

“Ye-s,” reluctantly conceded the President.

“Then ’tisn’t his fault if he gets stuck in a good-for-nothing church which he doesn’t want-”

“South Avenue Church is considered one of the choicest pastorates our Conference affords,” hastily interrupted Dr. Campbell, while his wife quickly buried her face in her sewing again, to hide the smile dancing in her eyes.

“Is it?” Peace looked genuinely surprised.  “It’s always scrapping. I’d hate to be its preacher.  Papa had a nawful time in his last church ’cause they picked on him to scrap about.  He got sent where he didn’t want to go, and in the end he had to quit,-just plumb worn out by being jumped on.  He was a good man, too.”

The President looked uncomfortable.  “But Peace,” he argued, “you are too young to understand such matters.  I haven’t the slightest doubt that Dr. Shumway is a good man and an excellent preacher.  In fact, he comes most highly recommended.  We aren’t objecting to him personally.  It’s the principle of the thing-”

“Well, if the Pendennis Church people had kicked the principle instead of Papa, maybe he’d be a live preacher yet and not an angel.”

Dr. Campbell lapsed into silence.  What was the use of arguing with a child?  He was tired from a strenuous day’s work at the University and disgusted with the bishop’s pig-headed perversity.  It was early in the evening yet, but perhaps bed was the best place for him in his state of mind; so excusing himself and bidding the trio good-night, he stalked off upstairs.

Peace had forgotten all about the bishop and Dr. Shumway when she awoke the next morning, and might have paid no more attention to the South Avenue Church discussions, had she not chanced to overhear a conversation not intended for her ears.  It was after luncheon, Cherry and Allee had returned to school, the older sisters were not expected for hours yet, and Peace was just composing herself for a nap, having nothing else to fill in the long afternoon until school should close for the day, when the telephone bell rang, and Mrs. Campbell herself answered it.

Thinking it might be a message from her St. Elspeth or Aunt Pen, who never were too busy to remember the little prisoner at the other end of the city, Peace popped her head up to listen, and heard her grandmother say slowly and with evident regret, “I’m so sorry, Mrs. York, but I don’t see how I can.-O, yes, indeed, I had planned on it, but circumstances, you know.-She’s doing nicely, but I can’t very well leave her alone all the afternoon.-No, but the two smaller girls are in school until half-past three, Gail and Faith have recitations up through the sixth hour at the University, and Hope went with her class to view that collection of antiquities at the Public Library.-Well, you see, this is Gussie’s afternoon out, and-No, never with Marie.-I had counted upon Hope’s being here to keep her company.-I am sorry to disappoint you, but I assure you I am very much more disappointed on my own account-”


“Good-bye.  I suppose I shall see you Sunday!”


“All right.  Good-bye.”

“Grandma!  Can’t you hear me?”

“Yes, dearie, but I was at the telephone.”

“I know it, and I wanted you to tell Mrs. York that you’d come.”

“But, childie, I can’t leave you here all alone.  You and Marie-”

“Fight.  Yes, I know.  But you might take me along.  Couldn’t you?”

Mrs. Campbell was startled.  This was the first time since the accident that Peace had showed any desire to go beyond the boundaries of the garden; and the woman glanced suspiciously at the eager face, thinking that the suggestion meant a sacrifice of the child’s own wishes.  But the eyes were shining with their old-time enthusiasm, and Mrs. Campbell said hesitatingly, “It’s a Missionary Conference, dear.”

“I always did like missionary meetings,” Peace reminded her.

“But this will be different,-mostly statistics, reports and discussions.  I am afraid you would find it very dull.”

“Women can be awfully dull sometimes,” Peace admitted cheerfully.  “But you want to go, I haven’t anything to do, and I might just as well be watching the crowds there as taking a nap here at home.  Then both of us would be amused, while here, you would be thinking of what you’d missed, and I’d be just itching for something to do.”

“But supposing the proceedings don’t amuse you?” smiled the woman.

“Then I’ll go to sleep like Deacon Skinner always did in Parker.  Or I might take along something to read, s’posing things get too awfully dry.”

“Would you really like to go?” Mrs. Campbell was still a little doubtful, though from her manner of glancing at the clock, and then down the street, it was evident that she herself very much desired to attend that afternoon’s session of the Conference.

“Sure,” Peace answered promptly, and Mrs. Campbell allowed herself to be persuaded.  So half an hour later the brown-eyed maid found herself trundling down the familiar streets in her wheel-chair.

It was a clear, cold day, and the crisp air smelled of fallen leaves and bonfires; and both woman and child sniffed hungrily at the delicious odors of Autumn.  Peace was almost reluctant to enter the big church when they reached it, for the lure of the open air was great, the blue sky charming, and even the leafless trees and frost-blackened shrubs were enticing.

Once inside the building, however, she forgot all else in watching the crowd of enthusiastic ladies trotting to and fro and mingling with the throng of black-frocked ministers gathered for the closing sessions of the Annual Conference.  Even when the meeting was called to order and the afternoon’s business begun, Peace did not lose her interest, though she understood very little of what was going on, and wondered how her grandmother or any other sensible soul could be interested in the long lists of stupid figures that were read from time to time.

“Sounds ’s if they were learning their multiplication tables,” she giggled, “and when they all get to gabbling at once,-that’s the Chinese of it.”

“What’s the Chinese of it, if I may ask?” inquired a deep voice in her ear; and thinking it was her beloved St. John, she whirled about to find a friendly-eyed stranger just sitting down in the pew behind her chair.

She had forgotten her surroundings, and had spoken her thoughts aloud.  “Mercy!” she gasped.  “I thought I had this corner all to myself.  I never s’pected anyone was near enough to hear what I said.  Once before I did that same thing, and a minister caught me at it that time, too.  Your voice sounds like his,-deep and bull-froggy.  I ’most called you St. John before I saw it was someone else.  Are you a missionary?”

“O, no.  Just a-”

“Plain preacher?” finished Peace, as he hesitated a moment with his sentence incomplete.

“Yes, just a plain preacher,” he laughed.

“Well, I thought you had a missionaryish look about you.  That’s why I asked.  I’ve been trying all the afternoon to sort out the gang-”

“Do what?” He was frankly amazed.

“Now I s’pose I’ve shocked you,” she cried penitently.  “Grandma doesn’t like me to use such words, but I keep forgetting.  I meant I’d been trying to pick out the missionaries and ministers, and the bishop.  I ’specially wanted a look at the bishop, but I haven’t seen a wink of him yet.”

“And why are you so anxious to see the bishop, my girl?” asked her newly found acquaintance, smiling in amusement.  “He surely ought to be flattered-”

“I want to see if he looks beery.”

“Beery!” The broad face of her companion looked like an enlarged exclamation point.

“Yes,-he’s got such a beery name.  Fancy a man called Malthouse being a minister, and a bishop at that!  I couldn’t help wondering if his face fitted his job any better than his name.”

“Well-as to that-I’m not-prepared to say,” stammered the big man beside her.

“Don’t you know him?”

“O, yes, quite well.”

“Is he good-looking?”

“Well, you know folks differ in their ideas of what good-looking means,” he hedged, seeming somewhat embarrassed.

“I took that extinguished looking man over there in the corner for the bishop-”


“Yes, the one with the extra long tails on his coat and bushy white hair; but he’s been opening and shutting windows all day long, and I expect they’d give the bishop something better than that to do.”

The puzzled divine glanced curiously in the direction the child’s thin forefinger was pointing, and chuckled outright as he beheld the aged figure of the new janitor moving slowly down the aisle with the long window-stick in his hand.  “So you think he looks like a bishop?” he managed to articulate soberly.

“Yes, I do.  He’s the best-looking man in the bunch.  He’s so tall and straight, too, and so-so bishop-y in the set of his clothes.  They fit him.  But he doesn’t jabber as much as the rest.  I s’pose ’twould be just like the things that happen to me to find out that that giant bean-pole which keeps teetering around the room is the bishop.”  She indicated a very tall, very slender man, who at that moment chanced to pass their retreat.

“No,” her companion answered promptly, “that is not the bishop.  His name is Shumway,-Dr. Shumway-”

“Dr. Shumway!” echoed the child.  “The man the bishop is going to send to our church?  Well, I don’t wonder the people mean to kick!  Ain’t he the homeliest ever?”

“Who told you that?” gravely asked the stranger preacher, all the smile gone from his kindly eyes.

“That he’s homely?  No one.  I can see it for myself.”

“I mean who told you that the people intend to kick?”

“Oh!  Grandpa was talking to Grandma last evening.  The paper said Dr. Shumway was to take the place of Dr. Glaves.  It’s a pity they can’t divide up, ain’t it?  Dr. Glaves would look less like an elephant if he didn’t have so much meat on him and Dr. Shumway needs a lot more’n he’s got.”

“Who is your grandfather?” interrupted the man beside her, ignoring the candid criticisms of his entertainer.

“Dr. Campbell, President of the State University,” she answered proudly.

“Oh!” He was silent a moment; then as if musing aloud, he murmured, “So they mean to kick, do they?”

“Well, wouldn’t you?  This is the third time South Avenue Church has asked for one partic’lar man and got a different fellow.  It’s time they kicked, seems to me.  I guess the bishop likes to lord it over the churches and have his own way in things.”

“Perhaps he thinks he knows best what kind of a man is needed in his different charges.”

“P’r’aps he does, but he made an awful bungle when he sent Dr. Glaves down here,-that’s sure.”

“Possibly that was a mistake,” replied her companion in a queer, strained voice.  “But no one is sorrier than the bishop himself when he blunders.”

“Then I sh’d think he would be more careful about giving us another misfit.  We are tired of ’em.”

“Dr. Shumway is a man whom everyone loves,” said the ministerial-looking gentleman warmly.

“I’m glad of that, then; but I am sorry he is coming to South Avenue Church just the same.  He doesn’t look as if he could stand being kicked any more’n Papa could.  Has he got any children?”

“Yes, five, I believe.”

“Any my size?”

“I think his family is pretty well grown up, my girl.”

“That’s lucky, for if the church should happen to wear him out like they did Papa, why, his children could take care of themselves when he died and not have to dig like we did, and fin’ly be adopted or else sent to the poor farm.”

The big man fidgeted in his pew and looked quite uncomfortable as the relentless voice continued, “I sh’d hate to be a bishop and have such things blamed onto me; but if the bishop hadn’t insisted on sending Papa to that Pendennis Church when they had asked for someone else, maybe he might be living with his family yet, instead of with the angels.”

“Who was your Papa?” the gruff voice gently asked.

“Peter Greenfield.”


“Did you know him?”

“Yes.  Yes, indeed.  He was one of my-I am the-I knew him well.  He was a good preacher and a splendid man.  The Church suffered a great loss in his death.”

“His family suffered a worser one, ’cause Mamma got sick and then we had two angels behind the Gates, and no one here to tell us what to do, and Gail not eighteen.”

“Tell me about it.”

The missionary meeting had long since dissolved into several committee meetings, and the hum of voices in the great auditorium drowned the conversation in the dim recess at the rear of the room; but Peace had entirely forgotten her surroundings, and without restraint she poured out the simple story of her father’s sacrifices in her concise, forceful way, laying bare family secrets and relating with telling effect the pathetic struggle of the six sisters left alone to face the battle with the world.

“And then we came to live with Grandpa and Grandma Campbell,” she finished.  “They are just like truly relations to us, but they can never make up for our own father and mother, any more than we can really take the place of their own little girls which died.  Why, has the Conference quit?  Everybody’s bustling all around the room now.  I wonder where Grandma went?  Is it time to go home?”

“In a moment or two,” replied the man, thoughtfully stroking his smoothly-shaven chin.  “Some of the committees are evidently still in session.”

“And I never looked at Allee’s Album all the while I was here!  I had to come, else Grandma couldn’t, ’cause the girls are all in school ’xcept Hope, and she has gone to see the iniquities at the Library.  So I brought this along to keep myself awake with, ’cause I thought it would likely be a stupid, sleepy meeting today.  They always are when a lot of fat old ladies get to talking ecstatics,”-she meant statistics-“but I’ve had a very nice time listening and watching those funny preachers; and I’m glad you came along to talk to me-”

“Bishop Malthouse!” someone from the rostrum shouted.

The dignified gentleman rose hastily, stooped and kissed the white cheek of the child, and departed after a hurried, “Sounds as if I was wanted.”

At that moment Mrs. Campbell rustled up to the little recess where the wheel-chair stood, glanced apprehensively at the figure reclining among the cushions, and briskly asked, “Tired, dearie?”

“No, Grandma.  I’ve had a lovely time.  But who is that minister just going up the aisle?”

Mrs. Campbell glanced over her shoulder.  “Bishop Malthouse, dear.”

“Bishop !” Words failed her.

“Yes, the man who appoints the ministers of this Conference.”

“O, Grandma!  And I told him some dreadful things about himself.  We’ve been talking most of the afternoon.”

Mrs. Campbell’s heart smote her.  “What did you say to him, girlie?”

Peace briefly recounted their conversation as she remembered it, and sighed tragically, “I talk too much.  Faith says I tell all I know to everyone I meet.”

“That little tongue of yours does run away with itself sometimes,” replied the woman, dismayed at Peace’s revelations; but perceiving how distressed the child felt over her blunder, she forbore to chide her; and in silence they wound their way homeward.

The President was late for dinner that night, but when he did arrive, the whole family knew from his very step that he was the bearer of good news.

“Grandpa’s glad,” sang Peace, as he hurried into the room and took his place at the table.

“Did-have you been ?” began Mrs. Campbell, hesitatingly.

“To the Official Board Meeting?” he finished.  “Yes, that is why I am so late.”

“The meeting was in regard to the new preacher?”

“Yes, and the bishop was there in person.”

“Oh!” Seven pair of eyes regarded him expectantly.

“He very frankly stated his reasons for not wishing to send us Dr. Atkinson, and why he thought Dr. Shumway was the man for the place.  Then he left us to decide which minister we would have.”

“And you chose ?”

“Dr. Shumway-unanimously.”

Involuntarily Mrs. Campbell glanced across the table toward Peace; and that young lady, busy buttering a hot roll, paused long enough to remark complacently, “I guess the bishop ain’t as lordy as he looks, after all, is he?”