The Rev. William West went into his study and shut the door. He was a man who was always accessible to his people, yet his lips tightened with impatience when he found a parishioner awaiting him, and saw a pile of notes on his writing-table. But it was only for an instant; he listened to the anxieties of his caller with that concentration of sympathy which can put self aside; and when the man went away it was with the other man s heartfelt grip of the hand, his heartfelt I thank you for coming to me; God bless you, my friend, and give you wisdom.
The letters were not so easy; but he went through them faithfully, answering them or filing them away: appeals for help, or money, or work; two invitations; two letters from ladies of his congregation about their souls; the unmarried and interesting clergyman knows this sort of letter too well! He was aware of a sense of haste in getting through with these things; a sense of haste even in disposing of another caller, a boy, who came to say he had doubts about the existence of God, and who felt immensely important in consequence. I tell you, Mr. West, this youth declared, nodding his head, of course I don t mean to be hard on the church; of course I see the value of such a belief in keeping the masses straight, but, for thinking men! To treat this sort of thing seriously and patiently is one of the trials of a thinking man who happens to be a minister. Then the Tenor came to give his side of the quarrel with the Bass, and the organist to say that quartette and chorus were all fools.