The maid showed him into the reverend’s study. The tall man pored over the manuscript for his Sunday sermon at his high desk, pen and ink in hand, spectacles perched on the end of his nose, which made his hairline recede even farther. William could hear the voices of children and a woman sharply reprimanding them. While Puritans tried to repress their children’s natural excess, they were rarely successful. Here, God had blessed the reverend with more children than any man in Watertown, and William wondered how his wife managed. William stood in the doorway, holding a dripping hat in his hand.
“I hope I am not intruding.”
The Reverend rubbed the ink from his forefinger with a cloth kept on the desk for that purpose, set his spectacles on the manuscript, and strode to the door to greet his guest. “Not at all. I’m editing my sermon, a task I dislike so much that I value any interruption.” He smiled and took William’s extended hand in both of his own. “And you, William, are hardly an interruption in any case. Please, sit down. Let’s talk.”
With this warm greeting, William at once felt at home. “I don't want to waste your time, but I need your advice.” He sat on the settee, and the Reverend, now serious, settled on the facing bench.
“Is it your family?” he began. Richard Sherman had the dubious position of gate keeper for men’s souls in the community. The church body had elected him and paid him as God’s emissary and guide to spiritual and moral integrity. He was not a mere teacher, as his salary made most obvious, for Watertown paid him four times as much as the schoolmaster. He oversaw a flock who’d elected to cross an ocean to establish a Godly community in a wilderness.
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