[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
NEXT morning Milvartin and Molroy strolled off together beyond the harbour to the hill seawards. They sat down on the out-cropping ledges of slate, and smoked and looked down on town and harbour, castle and coast, and to the distant Cairn Hill, purple in the middle distance towards the mountains.
"You don't take much interest in religious questions?" said Enos.
"Frankly, Milvartin, I'd rather not go into that topic. We differ, I daresay. You're a Baptist or Evangelical of some sort. So far as I'm anything, I'm a bigoted Churchman."
"You, Mr. Molroy, a bigoted Churchman?"
" Aye, bigoted, if not much of a Churchman."
" I'm sorry to hear it, or rather, perhaps, disappointed. I thought you had thrown off old-fashioned ideas, and were at least liberal."
"Prepared to take up with the ravings of your big friend?" said Molroy, in a tone of indifference, scarcely meaning as much as his words. Enos was silent, as if to pass off anything unpleasant by letting a pause intervene.
" I grant he takes things rather intensely; he's fervid. I daresay that accounts for your not seeming to hit it very well together. I expected you'd have liked him. He is too ready to rush into discussions, but he sees things from a very broad standpoint."
" He makes a fuss about it, anyway. I don't want that. I haven't even so much as an idle curiosity about his ideas," said Molroy.
" Well, I know something about them," said Enos, with good-tempered evenness, lighting another cigar, "and in some respects I sympathise with them."
" But what is Pratt? Who is he? Is he anybody in particular? "
" Of course it's of more interest to an American than to you, Mr. Molroy. He's a follower of Smith and Young. Do you know anything of that body?"
" He's a Dipper or Mormonite ? "
"Yes; they call themselves the Church of Latter-Day Saints," said Enos gravely.
" And what's he doing over here? Does he preach? His lively wife isn't on a mission certainly."
" I confess she isn't overburdened with religion ; but she's refined and intelligent. For her it's rather an excursion. I don't know that they get on badly together. They have absolute confidence in each other, I should reckon," said Enos, looking seawards. " America," he resumed, "has been a lawless country. I've seen something of that myself. In this country you can't understand it. You must see it. Now the best region of the West is being taken up by Young's people. His idea is that religion should have a strong hold on the people. There is no other restraint he looks to so much. He wants decent people, with distinctly religious leanings, to settle all over the region, so as to have peace and order-and prosperity, of course."
"The condition of America originated the movement, then?
It isn't religious, it's political-economical ? " said Molroy reflectively-"Yes; I'm glad to hear you like that point. That is so. Of course they have faults; but out there they've a lot to say for themselves."
" But as it's an American movement, why not confine it to America ? "
" Well, these are days of emigration; thousands are crossing the Atlantic every year on blind chance, and in nine cases out of ten get into bad districts. His idea is to let it be known; people can choose for themselves, of course."
" But don't these Dippers tell people they're emigrating to the New Jerusalem and to immortality, and that the end of the world is close at hand, and they must look sharp? "
"Oh, those views are held independent of the Mormons. Pratt says nothing of that kind. President Young-or rather Governor Young-says nothing of that sort."
"And are you one of them yourself, Milvartin?"
" Oh, I'm not hung on to anything. But in getting people to emigrate I sympathise with them all the way. I've met Pratt a good deal. It was through me he came here."
" So you're giving him a help, I suppose? "
"Certainly, Mr. Molroy ! Your father takes up things rather sharply. I joked with him one day about preaching at Arrosey Chapel, to let in a little light; but he's mighty constitutional, and keeps them from all leaven except the Methodist brand."
Molroy recollected his own talk with his father when for the first time he heard of the Cairnmore mortgage.
"I suppose you take things off his shoulders a good deal ?" Enos resumed.
" Oh, no; I'm my own master, that's about all."
"Yes, he's wonderfully energetic; I'm sorry to say he doesn't seem to take to me very kindly. There's something between him and my old people. I expect it's that. You know what it is, I suppose?" said Enos, watching Molroy and speaking with an affectation of sincerity.
Milvartin was bent on winning his way into Molroy's good graces.
"A thing like that is, of course, no business of mine," said Molroy.
"But if you chose, I should think you might put in a word ?" said Milvartin.
" But isn't it an affair of money, Milvartin ? That is, you mean the mortgage, I suppose? " said Molroy drily.
"Yes, Mr. Molroy; but I think friendship ought to go for something in affairs between families. Don't you think so ? " Milvartin rose to his feet, threw away the stump of his cigar, lit another, looking at Molroy, who returned his look, not quite certain of the whole scope of his meaning.
"I don't mean my friendship only. I mean the whole thing, you know. There's time enough yet; and I've no doubt it'll all come right. I daresay we shall be discussing the subject again," said Milvartin.
"Is anything being done about the mortgage? It's no business of mine to know; but I don't see the exact way in which I can put in a word. Doesn't it depend on yourself?" "Oh, yes! As yet I can hardly go into particulars. I'm trying to decide the right course. But an amicable spirit" Enos paused, as if his cigar burning right was of more consequence than the subject of their conversation.
"The only thing I could do is to speak to him. I'll risk it, if you like. But what is the point you'd like me to urge, Milvartin ? It's no use going to him without a case," said Molroy.
" Well, Mr. Molroy, his affairs and yours may clash. You're not a nonentity, I guess, with no rights of your own. I shouldn't like to bring about a rupture," said Enos, waiving the discussion of the matter further.
Molroy rose to his feet.
"Nothing that I would undertake could cause a rupture. I really must say I don't understand that, Milvartin. I haven't the least idea of interfering in his affairs. I thought your idea was to help your father by putting in a word, and I'll do so certainly."
" I see the position," said Enos, as if making a discovery; " but perhaps-"
"I'll do it, Milvartin, whether or no," said Molroy, so abruptly that Enos glanced at him to estimate his exact temper.
They came down the hill, and there was no loss of ordinary cordiality, Enos effectively turning the current of their thoughts in a new direction by loitering at the harbour-head and scanning the unseaworthy loggers laid up on the bank. He discovered, as he said, the old craft in which, years ago, when he had been little more than a youth, he had gone to the herrings as skipper.