Grandfather was a philosopher, and like a lot of philosophers, I guess, he was a mild-mannered man who was always ready to admit that there are two sides to every question. So when people got to arguing with him, or around him, about things that they got heated up and illogical about, like politics and religion,1 he would tell this story that Doc Eaton told him one day up on the Hill.
It happened a long time ago, when the town wasn't all steel and concrete and automobiles; when you could still hear the whir of a lawn mower without taking a streetcar out to the suburbs, and still see a horse lazily switching at the flies on his flanks under almost any sycamore tree.2 The Forest City had a lot of trees in those days.
And it had a lot of people that didn't always see eye to eye,3 like a lot of other cities. And it had a rich man, like almost every other town. And this rich man was a pillar in the Baptist Church;4 and people didn't see eye to eye about him, either.
There were those鈥攁nd Grandfather's eyes twinkled when he said it鈥攖hat claimed the rich man was an old hypocrite5, that he was ruthless in his business dealings, that he was so tightfisted he wouldn't spend a nickel to see an earthquake,6 that when he went to church on Sunday morning he was almost as important as God to a lot of people.
Then there was the other school of thought7. It asserted that just because a man had made money under conditions as they existed was no reason to call him a lot of hard names.8 In fact, they asserted stoutly, the people that called him names were merely envious of his success9. They maintained he went to church not because he was a sanctimonious old fraud10 but because he was at heart, and for all his money, a simple, deeply religious man.
It was while these two groups were hot at it that the rich man gave a party. Well, it wasn't exactly a party, Grandfather would explain. It was more like a shower for the pastor of the church.11 One group of