An Embarrassing Ordeal
An Embarrassing Ordeal
BY CARROLL WATSON RANKIN
IT was diffident Mr. Dodd's one opportunity to hear a famous preacher in an equally famous church, so, although he knew that he should be obliged to leave the place shortly before twelve o'clock in order to catch his train, he decided to hear as much as possible of the service. He was certain that by taking a back seat he could manage to slip out without being observed—Mr. Dodd did not like to he observed at any time. The usher, however, ignored the visitor's whispered plea for an inconspicuous seat, and proceeded to escort him up the broad center aisle—which timid Mr. Dodd remembered ever afterwards as being about four miles long—to a seat only three rows from the front.
There was extra music that day and the service dragged. Long before time for the sermon, poor Mr. Dodd began to nerve himself for the long trip down the aisle. Screened as he had been by the broad-shouldered usher, the journey from the door to his exalted seat had proved sufficiently embarrassing. To face the congregation and walk all that distance alone seemed a frightful undertaking to unhappy Mr. Dodd. There was no way out of it, however, for it was necessary for him to catch his train.
It was twelve o'clock and the sermon was well under way before the troubled listener finally managed to summon sufficient courage to make a start. Rising cautiously to his feet—and becoming conscious at the same moment of his entire five feet two—he faced the congregation and began to tiptoe down the aisle. Before he had taken three steps he discovered to his horror that his left shoe was creaking with an ominous creek that increased in volume with every step, to the visible amusement of the congregation.
His countenance became suffused with blushes. It was not a warm day, but by the time Mr. Dodd had reached the door, perspiration stood in beads on his forehead, and his collar showed signs of wilting. As the door closed behind him be gave along sigh of relief and unburdened himself to a loiterer in the vestibule.
"By the Lord Harry," he exclaimed, as he mopped his crimson brow, "I wouldn't do that again for a thousand dollars!"
But he had to do it for less than that. The very next moment the color receded from his countenance and be turned pale green.
"By Jove!" he groaned, "I've got to go back after my hat!"