For an instant there came a little flush to the face of the Rev. George Holland; then he shifted his umbrella from one hand to the other, saying:
"If you mean Phyllis, all I can say in reply is that she is the best and the truest girl alive at present. I've an engagement at a quarter- past six."
"Well, good-by. It was my missus who said that the girl would throw you over on account of that book."
"Honestly speaking, George, old man, I think you've made a mistake this time. People don't mind much about Jacob and Jonah and Jeremiah and the whole job lot of Sheenies; but they do mind about Ruth. Hang it all man! she was a woman."
"Ah! so was Jezebel, and yet--ah! good-by. I'll be late for my appointment."
"See you on Sunday," said the earl, with a broadish smile.
So did the largest congregation that had ever assembled within the venerable walls of St. Chad's. They heard him also, and so did the dozen reporters of the morning papers who were present--some to describe, with the subtle facetiousness of the newspaper reporter, the amusing occurrences incidental to the church service of the day, and others to take down his sermon to the extent of half a column to be headed "The Rev. George Holland Defends Himself." One reporter, however, earned an increase in his salary by making his headline, "The Defense of Holland." It was supposed that casual readers would fancy that the kingdom of Holland had been repelling an invader, and would not find out their mistake until they had read half through the sermon.
George Holland had not been mistaken when he had assumed that his appearance in the church and his sermon this day would attract a large amount of attention. As a matter of fact the building was crowded with notable persons: Cabinet ministers (2), judges of the superior courts (4), company promoters (47), actors and actresses (3), music hall and variety artists (22), Royal Academician (1). Literature was represented by a lady who had written a high-church novel, and fashion by the publisher who had produced it. Science appeared in the person of a professional thought-reader (female). These were all strangers to St. Chad's, though some of them could follow the service quite easily. The habitues of the church included several peers, the members of a foreign embassy, a few outside brokers, quite a number of retired officers of both services, and some Members of Parliament and the London County Council.