Macphail turned his head when the missionary came back
Macphail turned his head when the missionary came back. The two women looked up.
'I've given her every chance. I have exhorted her to repent. She is an evil woman.'
He paused, and Dr Macphail saw his eyes darken and his pale face grow hard and stern.
'Now I shall take the whips with which the Lord Jesus drove the usurers and the money changers out of the Temple of the Most High.'
He walked up and down the room. His mouth was close set, and his black brows were frowning.
'If she fled to the uttermost parts of the earth I should pursue her.'
With a sudden movement he turned round and strode out of the room. They heard him go downstairs again.
'What is he going to do?' asked Mrs. Macphail.
'I don't know.' Mrs. Davidson took off her pince-nez and wiped them. 'When he is on the Lord's work I never ask him questions.'
She sighed a little.
'What is the matter?'
'He'll wear himself out. He doesn't know what it is to spare himself.'
Dr Macphail learnt the first results of the missionary's activity from the half-
caste trader in whose house they lodged. He stopped the doctor when he passed the store and came out to speak to him on the stoop. His fat face was worried.
'The Rev Davidson has been at me for letting Miss Thompson have a room here,' he said, 'but I didn't know what she was when I rented it to her. When people come and ask if I can rent them a room all I want to know is if they've the money to pay for it. And she paid me for hers a week in advance.' Dr Macphail did not want to commit himself.
'When all's said and done it's your house. We're very much obliged to you for taking us in at all.'
Horn looked at him doubtfully. He was not certain yet how definitely Macphail stood on the missionary's side.
'The missionaries are in with one another,' he said, hesitatingly. 'If they get it in for a trader he may just as well shut up his store and quit.' 'Did he want you to turn her out?'
'No, he said so long as she behaved herself he couldn't ask me to do that. He said he wanted to be just to me. I promised she shouldn't have no more visitors. I've just been and told her.' 'How did she take it?' 'She gave me Hell.'
The trader squirmed in his old ducks. He had found Miss Thompson a rough customer.
'Oh, well, I daresay she'll get out. I don't suppose she wants to stay here if she can't have anyone in.'
'There's nowhere she can go, only a native house, and no native'll take her now, not now that the missionaries have got their knife in her.' Dr Macphail looked at the falling rain.
'Well, I don't suppose it's any good waiting for it to clear up.' In the evening when they sat in the parlour Davidson talked to them of his early days at college. He had had no means and had worked his way through by doing odd jobs during the vacations. There was silence downstairs. Miss Thompson was sitting in her little room alone. But suddenly the gramophone began to play. She had set it on in defiance, to cheat her loneliness, but there was no one to sing, and it had a melancholy note. It was like a cry for help. Davidson took no notice. He was in the middle of a long anecdote and without change of expression went on. The gramophone continued. Miss Thompson put on one reel after another. It looked as though the silence of the night were getting on her nerves. It was breathless and sultry. When the Macphails went to bed they could not sleep. They lay side by side with their eyes wide open, listening to the cruel singing of the mosquitoes outside their curtain. 'What's that?' whispered Mrs. Macphail at last.
They heard a voice, Davidson's voice, through the wooden partition. It went on with a monotonous, earnest insistence. He was praying aloud. He was praying for the soul of Miss Thompson.
Two or three days went by. Now when they passed Miss Thompson on the road she did not greet them with ironic cordiality or smile; she passed with her nose in the air, a sulky look on her painted face, frowning, as though she did not see them. The trader told Macphail that she had tried to get lodging elsewhere, but had failed. In the evening she played through the various reels of her gramophone, but the pretence of mirth was obvious now. The ragtime had a cracked, heart-broken rhythm as though it were a one-step of despair. When she began to play on Sunday Davidson sent Horn to beg her to stop at once since it was the Lord's day. The reel was taken off and the house was silent except for the steady pattering of the rain on the iron roof.
'I think she's getting a bit worked up,' said the trader next day to Macphail. 'She don't know what Mr. Davidson's up to and it makes her scared.'
Macphail had caught a glimpse other that morning and it struck him that her arrogant expression had changed. There was in her face a hunted look. The half-caste gave him a sidelong glance.
I suppose you don't know what Mr. Davidson is doing about it?' he hazarded.
No, I don't.'
It was singular that Horn should ask him that question, for he also had the idea that the missionary was mysteriously at work.