Hello! I'm back with the last part of Barnabas from At Home in Mitford! I have to go do some homework, so I'll get right to it..................
"The Altar Guild is helpin' plant pansies on the town medium today," said Emma, as he came in with Barnabas on a new red leash.
"Median, Emma, median."
"Medium," she said brightly, "and they wondered if you could come out there after while and direct the colors." It certainly wasn't that the Altar Guild couldn't direct the colors themselves, she thought. But he had gone so far as to win some prizes for his gardening skills and had been written in a magazine put out by the electric co-op.
He noticed Emma was clearly pretending that Barnabas did not exist, which was hard to do in an office with room for only two desks, two chairs, a visitor's bench, four coat pegs, and a communal wastebasket.
"What do you mean, direct the colors?" he asked, sorting through his phone messages.
"Well, you know. Do the yellow ones go in the middle or around the edges or what? And where do yo put the blue? Not next to the purple!" she said with conviction.
"I'll take care of it."
She peered at him over her glasses. "You look handsome with that tan, I must say."
"And thank you for saying it. Compared to a golfer's tan, a gardener's tan is not quite so distinguished, but it has its merits. For example, you do not have to wear chartreuse golf pants in order to get it."
Emma howled with laughter. If there was anything she liked, it was a laugh. And frankly, while he was good for a great many things, her rector was not always good for a laugh.
"You don't look as fagged out as you looked there for a while. I thought we'd have to scrape you off the floor a time or two."
"Spring, Emma. It medicates the bones and revives the spirit."
"Well, let's just hope it lasts," she said, eyeing him as if he were a boiled potato.
She went back to posting Sunday's checks. "It rags me good that Petrey Bostic never catches up on his pledge," she grumbled.
"You know I don't want to hear that. I don't want to look out in the congregation and see dollar signs instead of souls."
"You know what I think?"
He didn't know.
"I think you live in an ivory tower. It seems to me you'd want to know nitty gritty of what goes on. You take the Baptists; they keep up with everything."
Emma liked to talk about the Baptists, having previously been one.
"Is that so?" he asked mildly.
"What comes in, what goes out, who shot Lizzie. You name it, they like to know it."
"Aha," he said. Ever since she got red hair, she had been living up to it.
He turned to his old Royal manual and typed with his forefingers:
Dear Walter, thnx yr letter dated march 12. garden going in, though still cold and much rain. preparations for holy week in full swing.
hope yr spirits improved. know that He will lead you to right decision. ps. 32:8 promised: i will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: i will guide you with my eye. never doubt it!
ever yr fond cousin.
p.s. hope to see you this summer. lv to katherine. i keep you always in my prayers
As he looked up from the cryptic message to his first cousin and boyhood friend, he saw it had started to rain. All morning, the fog had hung about the village as thick as soup in a bowl causing him once again to consider buying on of those orange slickers so he could be seen walking in the fog.
"You don't drive a car?" his former bishop once asked, incredulous. Well, and why should he, after all?
The rectory was two minutes from the office, and less than three from the church. The hospital was only a few blocks away, and one of the finest grocery in existence was right across the street.
The old gospel preacher Vance Havner had written about that very thing: "This is the day of the motorist, and anyone who walks is viewed with suspicion. You see a man coming down the road now, just meditating, and you figure he's either out of his head or out of gas. It's such a rarity that dogs bark as though they'd seen a ghost."
Making his rounds on foot kept him fit and positive, if not altogether trim. And, if push came to shove, he could always get the battery charged on his Buick Riviera, back it out of the garage, and go. Actually, he'd been thinking seriously of getting a bicycle. Only now, there was Barnabas. And a rector in a clerical collar on a bicycle, leading a great, black dog on a red leash? Well, there was no way to it off that he could see.
Hmm.....that was a little longer than I expected, so I'll make it five parts! Be back soon!
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