The Preacher of Cedar Mountain: A Tale of the Open Country

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Preacher of Cedar Mountain: A Tale of the Open Count

Postby admin » Sat May 19, 2018 5:32 am

Part 3 of 4

CHAPTER XLIII: Finding the Lost One

Colonel Waller had been telegraphing from Cedar Mountain to all reachable parts of the North where the Crows were likely to be, without getting one word of comfort. Then up to the door of his house the morning after the devastating race came Red Cloud of the calm, square face, and behind him riding, a dozen braves.

At precisely the right moment prescribed by etiquette, he opened: "Me savvy now why you no run heap good horse."

"Humph!" said Waller.

"Didn't I tole you watch when Crow come?"

"Humph!" was the answer.

"You no got him back yet—no?"

"No," said the Colonel, with some asperity.

"Why? White scout no follow trail?"

"The rain wiped out all trail," was the answer.

"Your scout heap no good," said Red Cloud. Then, after a dozen slow puffs at his pipe, during which he gazed blankly and far away, the Indian said: "Ogallala very good scouts. Maybe so they find trail. What you give for follow Crow? Maybe find, bring back your pony."

Without a doubt, this was the easiest way. The Ogallala scouts would gladly pursue their ancient enemies and force them to give up the stolen horse. These men knew which line the Crows would most likely take, and could probably pick up the trail in a day. Prompt action was necessary. The Indian bands were breaking up and going home laden with plunder, their fresh trails would render it impossible to follow the trail of the horse thieves. The Colonel's mind was quickly made up.

"Red Cloud," he said emphatically, "I'll give you two hundred and fifty dollars cash if you find Blazing Star and bring him back here in good condition within one week."

The Indian Chief smoked for a few puffs and said: "Seven suns, no good. Crow country far away; one moon maybe."

Reckless riders like the Crows might easily ruin a horse in one month; so, at length, a compromise was reached, whereby Red Cloud was to receive two hundred and fifty dollars if within two-weeks; and one hundred if a month passed before the return. Then the Sioux Chief rose "to find his young men," and his party rode away.

It was nine the next morning when the sentry discovered a considerable body of mounted Indians in the northeast, riding rapidly toward the Fort. Had it been from the south, he would scarcely have made a report. Before ten o'clock they had arrived. They numbered about fifty warriors in full war paint. They were singing their war songs, and fastened to their coup sticks were one or two terribly fresh-looking scalps. At their head was Red Cloud. A hundred troopers were under arms, so they did not hesitate to admit the Indians. The warriors passed through the gate; then spreading out before the Colonel's house, their opening ranks revealed the noble form of Blazing Star. Bestriding him was the boy Chaska, his bright eyes and clear white teeth gleaming in a smile.

A mighty shout went up among the white men as the blooded racer was led to the Colonel's office. One or two formalities, and the two hundred and fifty dollars was paid over to Red Cloud. Blazing Star was hastily examined, found in perfect trim, then handed over to the Irish hostler.

"You take him to the stable," was all the Colonel said, but he said it in large capital letters and it was full of grim threats and reminder, hostler Mike led the lost darling back to the stable where a crowd of men were waiting.

Red Cloud crammed the new wealth into his tobacco pouch and rode away at the head of his men.

Al Rennie felt sick with disgust that he should fail when the trail was fresh, while the Sioux, on a washed-out trail, made such a showing in so short a time. He was puzzled, too, by the scalps. The two he managed to examine were not fresh. But he had to swallow his disgust.

All that day the Indian bands had been going off. Their camps were breaking up; they were dispersing to their homes. The Plain was nearly deserted that afternoon when hostler Mike took Blazing Star out into the heat of the sun to give him the thorough washing and cleaning that he surely needed. A minute later, Mike came rushing across the square to the Colonel's office.

"Colonel, Colonel," he gasped, "come here, sir."

"What's the matter with you?" said the Colonel in a voice of wrath which boded ill for a new blunder.

"Colonel, come at once. Come, it's Blazing Star."

There was a total lack of soldier decorum in the hostler's address. He was so intensely excited that the Colonel overlooked the informality and went quickly to where Blazing Star was standing tied to the washing post.

"There, sir; look there—and there!" ejaculated Mike with growing excitement, as he pointed to Blazing Star's legs. "And look at that!" and he swept his bony finger round the big liquid eye of the racer. The Colonel looked, looked closer, parted the hair, looked down to the roots and saw paint—red paint, white paint, black paint—traces of horseshoes, red hands, white patches and stripes; not much, but enough to tell the tale.

Without a question, Blazing Star was the Pinto that had won the race!

The simple Red men knew that the Buckskin was overmatched, so they secured the only horse on the plains that could win. They drove the Crows away at the right moment to leave a red herring trail. Then, having captured the stakes, they calmly collected two hundred and fifty dollars for restoring him to his owner. The simple Red men!

And when Jim Hartigan heard of it he yelled with joy. He laughed; he almost cried. After all, his horse had won; his Blazing Star was the steed of all the plains. He was tossed with different moods—regret and joy, grim humour, sadness and madness; he was stirred to the depths; all his primitive nature was set free. He did not sleep for hours, and when the dawn was near, his boyhood memories filled his brain and he was back in the livery stable garret once again, and repossessed of all his boyhood's ways and words he softly swore himself to sleep.

CHAPTER XLIV: A Fair Rider

Life at Cedar Mountain had dropped to normal. Charles Bylow and his wife were regular church members now, and no warmer, truer friends on earth had Hartigan. Pat Bylow had gone to Deadwood seeking work on the railway and it was said that his wife was still importing an occasional flask; but no more sprees took place. Jack Lowe had left Cedar Mountain abruptly after the Bylow affair. Higginbotham had spread the truth about Lowe's part in the drugged liquor and the schoolteacher had received pointed advice to leave the town. He lost no time. Dr. Carson and Jack Shives were alternately confronting each other with abstruse problems; John and Hannah Higginbotham were building an addition to their house and getting a hired girl; and old man Boyd was worrying over a possible extension of the road to Deadwood, which might seriously hurt his business.

Jim found life very sweet as he grew into the hearts of the townsfolk and came to know their perfectible qualities; he was acquiring a fine reputation for pulpit oratory. Every Thursday and every Sunday afternoon and evening were spent at the Boyds' as their accepted son-in-law to be. On these occasions it was his keenest pleasure to lay his sermons and plans before Belle for her criticism and approval. When they were not together indoors, they were in the saddle together; all the world knew, understood, and wished them joy.

The Hoomers had come to be prominent in the church now—at least, Ma Hoomer and Lou-Jane had. It was Lou-Jane's doing. And Hartigan, after long delay, felt bound to pay them a pastoral visit. Lou-Jane was heartiness and propriety combined. She chatted gaily on every subject he opened; showed no forwardness; was even shy when, after dinner, he sat down near her. Her riding at the racetrack was vividly in his mind and she blushed quite prettily when he referred to it in admiration.

"You should see my pony take a fence," she said.

"Well, sure; that's what I'd like to see," was the response.

"Some day soon, maybe."

"Why not now?" he inquired.

"I must help mother with the dishes."

And he thought: "Isn't she fine? I like a girl to consider her mother." But he lingered and chatted till the dishes were washed; then he suggested: "If I go out and saddle your pony, will you show me that jump?"

"Certainly," she answered, with a merry laugh.

He went to the stable, saddled and brought the bay horse. Lou-Jane put her foot in the stirrup and swung into the saddle before he could offer his help.

"Drop all the bars but the middle one." Hartigan did so, leaving only the three-foot bar of the pasture. Lou-Jane circled off and cleared it without an effort.

"Raise it one," she shouted.

He did so, and over she went.

"Again."

Now, at four feet, the pony rose and went over.

"Another," and he raised to four and a half feet. As before, she and her pony sailed over like one creature.

"Again," and he raised it to five feet. The pony rose with just a hint of effort. One front hoof touched, but he made the jump in triumph. Lou-Jane laughed for joy and circled back, but, warned by that toe tap, jumped no more. She leaped from the saddle before Jim could come near to help and in his frank, beaming admiration she found what once she had hungered for in vain.

As he rode away that day, his unvoiced thought was: "Isn't she fine—and me misjudging her all the time! I'm ashamed of myself."

Lou-Jane watched him out of sight, waving a hand to him as he topped the hill. The visit and Hartigan's open delight in her riding had stirred her very much. Was it loyalty to Belle that led her to throw up a barrier between herself and the Preacher? or was it knowledge that the flowers are ever fairest in the fenced-in field? This much was sure, the interest of passing attraction was giving place to a deeper feeling. A feeling stronger every month. Lou-Jane was in the game to win; and was playing well.

August, bright and fruit-giving, was passing; September was near with its dryness, its payments on the springtime promises; and Belle, as she gazed at the radiant sky or the skurrying prairie dogs that tumbled, yapping, down their little craters, was tormented with the flight of the glowing months. In October the young Preacher and she must say good-bye for a long, long time, with little chance of any break till his course was completed, and he emerged a graduate of Coulter. That was a gloomy thought. But others of equal dread had come of late.

Hartigan was paying repeated pastoral calls at Hoomers' and last week Jim and Lou-Jane had ridden to Fort Ryan together. It was a sort of challenge race—on a dare—and Jim had told Belle all about it before and after; but just the same, they had ridden there and back and, evidently, had a joyful time.

Jim was a child. He always thought of himself as a coarse, cruel, rough brute; but really he was as soft-hearted as a woman; and, outside of his fighting mood, nothing pained him more than the idea of making any one unhappy. His fighting moods were big and often; but they had existence only in the world of men. He believed himself very wise in the ways of life, but he had not really begun to see, and he was quite sublimely unconscious of all the forces he was setting in motion by his evident pleasure in the horsemanship of Lou-Jane Hoomer and in their frequent rides together.

Lou-Jane had a voice of some acceptability and she was easily persuaded to join the choir. A class in Sunday-school was added to her activities, and those who believed the religious instinct to be followed closely by another on a lower plane, began to screw up their eyes and smile when Lou-Jane appeared with Jim.

The glorious September of the hills was waning when a landslide was started by a single sentence from Lou-Jane. She had ridden again with Jim to Fort Ryan. Her horse had cleared a jump that his had shied at. Mrs. Waller had said to her across the table, half in fun and meaning it every word:

"See here, I won't have you trifling with Mr. Hartigan's affections; remember, he's preëmpted."

Lou-Jane laughed with delight. And, looking very handsome all the while, she said with mock humility: "No one would consider me a rival."

Jim told Belle every word of it; he was simplicity itself in such things; he didn't seem to have any idea of the game. He was wholly oblivious of the little cloud which his anecdote left on her. It was a little cloud, but many little clouds can make a canopy of gloom and beget a storm. Then came the words. It was at one of the church evenings in the parsonage—a regular affair, but not soaring to the glorious heights of a sociable—that the words were uttered which wrought a mighty change. Jim had alluded to the inevitable journey East in October, not half a month ahead now, when Lou-Jane Hoomer announced "I'm going East, too. My dad is giving me a trip back to Rochester to see grandma," she said.

"Why, Rochester is just a little run across the lake from Coulter College," exclaimed Jim.

"Maybe I'll see you when I am there," said Lou-Jane. "What fun!"

Every one applauded and Jim said: "Well, that would make a pleasant change in the dreary grind."

Belle's only comment was, "How nice!" and she gave no sign of special interest; but a close observer might have seen a tightening of her lips, a sudden tensity of look. The merry chatter of the parlour ceased not and she seemed still a factor in all its life, but the iron had entered her very soul. She played her part as leader, she gave no outward sign of the agony of fear that filled her heart, but she took the earliest reasonable time to signal Jim and steal away.

CHAPTER XLV: The Life Game

Trump cards you must have to win in the life game; and you must know how to play them, or a much poorer hand may beat you. You must know the exact time to play your highest trump, and there is no general rule that is safe, but Belle had a woman's instinctive knowledge of the game.

In two weeks Jim was to leave Cedar Mountain. Belle had reasoned with him, coaxed him, cajoled him into seeing that that was the right trail for him. He must complete his college course, then they could marry with the sanction of the Church and be assured of a modest living. But the rules were strict; no ungraduated student might marry. The inadequacy of the stipend, the necessity for singleness of aim and thought, the imperative need of college atmosphere—these were absolute. Viewed from any standpoint, celibacy was the one wise condition for the untrained student.

It had taken all of Belle's power to make Jim face the horror of those classrooms in the far East; and from time to time his deep repulsion broke into expression. Then she would let him rage for a while, chew the bit, froth and rail till his mood was somewhat spent. And when the inevitable reaction set in she would put her arm about him and would show him that the hard way was surely the best way, and then paint a bright picture of their future together when his rare gifts as an orator should bring him fame, and secure a position in the highest ranks of the Church. Thus she had persuaded him, holding out the promise that every vacation should be spent with her; curbing her own affections, even as she had curbed his, she walked the path of wisdom—determined, resigned—in the knowledge that this was the way to win. And Jim had come to face it calmly now, even as she had done. The minute details of the plan were being filled in. Then came those little words from Lou-Jane.

Had Jim been a worldly-wise person with many girl friends and a mouth full of flattery for them all, Belle would have paid no attention to the proposed visit of Lou-Jane to Rochester. Knowing Jim as she did, and having a very shrewd idea of Lou-Jane's intentions, Belle realized that this was a crisis, the climax of her life and hopes, that everything that made her life worth while was staked on the very next move.

She said little as they walked home from the parsonage, but her hand, locked in his arm, clung just a little more than usual, and he was moved by the tenderness of her "Good-night."

Little she slept that night; but tossed and softly moaned, "That woman, that coarse, common woman! How can he see anything in her? She is nothing but an animal. And yet, what may happen if he is East and she is playing around, with me far away? It cannot be. I know what men are. Now he is mine; but, if I let him go far away and she follows——

"It cannot be! It must not be—at any price, I must stop it. I must hold him."

And she tossed and moaned, "At any price! At any price! I'd do anything——"

The simple, obvious plan was to put him under promise never to see or hear from Lou-Jane; but her pride and her instincts rebelled at the thought. "What? Admit that there was danger from that creature? No, no—why, that would have just the wrong effect on him; she would become doubly interesting; no, that would not do. She would ignore that—that—that snake. And then what?

"At any price, this must be stopped"; and out of the whirling maelstrom of her thoughts came this: "If I cannot keep her from going, I'll go, too!" How? In what capacity? Belle knew enough of his mind to be sure that however the plan was carried out, it would shock his ideas of propriety and be a losing game.

Lou-Jane was playing better than she was, and it maddened her ever more as she realized that the present plans could end only in one way—the way that she, at any price, must stop. And in the hours of tumult, of reasoning every course out to its bitter end, this at length came clear: There was but one way—that was marry him now. It was that or wreck the happiness upon which both their lives had been built. And yet that meant ruin to his whole career. She, herself, had told him so a hundred times. "He must go back to college. He must not marry till his three years were completed." These were her very words.

It seemed that ruin of his hopes was in one scale; ruin of hers in the other. And she tried to pray for light and guidance; but there do seem to be times when the Lord is not interested in our problems; at least, no light or guidance of the kind she sought for came.

And she wrought herself up into a state of desperation. "At any price, this must stop," she kept saying over and over. Every expedient was turned in her mind and its outcome followed as far as she could; and ever it came back to this—her hopes or his were to be sacrificed.

"I will not let him go," she said aloud, with all the force of a strong will become reckless. "It would certainly be my grave; but it need not be his. There are other colleges and other ways. I'm not afraid of that. At any price, I must keep him. I'll marry him now. We'll be married at once. That will settle it."

The storm was over. The one plan was clear. That she would take—take and win; but, oh, how selfish she felt in taking it! She was sacrificing his career.

Yet ever she crushed the rising self-accusation with the "There are other colleges and other ways. I'll open the way for that." That was the sop to her inner judge, but the motive power was this: "At any price I must hold him." And convinced that the time had come to play her highest trump she fell asleep.

The following morning found Belle fully prepared for energetic action. She cleared the table and washed the dishes, putting them in their accustomed places, and stopped suddenly with the last of the china in her hand, wondering how long it would be before she held it again. Upstairs, she quickly packed her hand-bag for "a one-night camp" and, keeping ears and eyes alert, noted when at length her father had gone to his office and her mother had settled to her knitting. Then she went to her room and set about a careful toilet. The rebellious forelock was curled on a hot slate pencil and tucked back among its kind. Over each ear, she selected another lock for like elaboration. She put on her most becoming dress and studied the effect of her two brooches to make sure which one would help the most. She dashed a drop of "Violetta" on her handkerchief and pinched her cheeks to heighten their colour and remove the traces of the previous night's vigil. The beauty-parlour methods were not yet known in Cedar Mountain.

Jim always dropped in for a chat in the morning and it was not long before his cheery whistle sounded as down the street he came to the tune of "Merry Bandon Town." In his right hand he twirled a stout stick in a way that suggested a very practical knowledge of the shillelah. The flush of health and of youth suffused his cheeks and mounted to his forehead. All signs of worry over his impending fate were gone; indeed, no worry could live long in his buoyant mind; its tense electric chargement was sure death to all such microbes. Arrived at the Boyds', he did not stop to open the five-foot gate. Laying his fingers on the post, he vaulted over the pickets.

Belle met him on the porch. From somewhere back, Ma Boyd called out a thin-voiced "good morning," as they went into the front room.

"My little girl looks pale to-day," he said, as he held her at arm's length.

"Yes, I didn't sleep well. I wish I could get out for a few hours. Can't you take me?"

"Sure, that's what I came for," he answered gaily.

"I don't feel much like riding, Jim. Can you get a good buckboard?"

"Why, yes, of course I can. Carson says I can have his double-harness buckboard any time, ponies and all."

"Good! Just the thing. I want to go out to Bylow's Corner to make a call, and maybe farther, if we can manage. I'll be ready by the time you are here with the rig."

She went to her desk and wrote a note to her father. Somehow, mother didn't seem to count.

Dear Dad: If I am not home to-night, I shall be with Aunt Collins.

Lovingly, Belle.


Then she put it in his tobacco jar, where he would be certain to see it on coming home for dinner, and where Ma Boyd would never dream of looking.

When Jim returned she carried a hand-bag: "Some things I need," and she laughed happily as he lifted her into the rig and inquired if she wasn't taking a trunk. Then away they went, as they had so many times before.

Youth and health, love and beauty; October and the Dakota Hills—what a wonderful conjunction! The world can do no better to multiply the joy of being alive. If either had a care, it was quickly buried out of sight. Jim was in rollicking mood. Not a prairie dog sat up and shook its tail in time to its voice, but Jim's humour suggested resemblances to some one that they knew; this one looked like Baxter, the fat parson of the Congregationalists; "that little one's name is likely Higginbotham; see how Hannah makes him skip around. And there goes Lawyer Scrimmons," he chuckled, as a blotched, bloated rattlesnake oozed along and out of sight at the hint of danger. Two owls that gazed and blinked in silence were named for a pair of fat twin sisters of their church; perfectly well-meaning, but without a word of conversation or any expression but their soulful eyes. And a solitary owl that gazed from the top of a post straight up in the sky was compared to an old-time Methodist woman with her eyes uplifted in prayer while the collection plate was shoved under her nose.

Bylow's Corner was reached all too soon. As Jim was about to draw up Belle said: "Let's go on farther; we can take them in on the road back. Let's go as far as Lookout Mountain." And Jim was happy to go.

They were six miles from Cedar Mountain now, with no more houses by the road for miles. Belle had fallen silent. It was all as she had planned, but somehow the firm resolve of the night before seemed open to question now. She gazed absently away over the level, toward a distant hillside, and the smile faded from her lips. To his next light speech she barely made response. He threatened to charge a "thank you ma'am" at high speed if she didn't laugh. Then, getting no response, he burst out:

"What the divil is the matter with my little girl to-day? Have ye anything on your mind, Belle?"

This was the fork in their trail: either she must tell him or give him up. For a fraction of an instant she lived through the agony of doubt. Then, with a certainty she had not thought possible, she said: "Yes, Jim, I surely have."

"Well, shake it off, Belle. Let some other mind have it. Use mine, if you'll allow that I have one."

"I haven't slept all night for thinking of it, Jim," she began.

"Thinking of what?"

"Your going away."

His face clouded; he became suddenly silent and she continued:

"Jim, dear, I've tried to keep my feelings out of it altogether; I've argued it out, using nothing but my judgment, and it seemed the wise thing for you to go back East to college. All my judgment says: 'send him back'; but, oh, all my instincts say 'keep him here.'" She covered both his hands with hers and put her cheek on them for a moment.

"I'm always trying to be wise, Jim, but I suppose I'm really very stupid and very weak like most humans; and there come times when I feel like kicking everything over and saying 'what's the use?' This time I'm going to let my feelings hold the reins."

"Why, Belle darling! That sounds more like me than you."

"Jim, as I lay awake last night, a voice seemed to be sounding in my heart: 'Don't let him go. If he goes, you'll lose him, you'll lose each other.' Jim, do you suppose God brought you and me together in this way, to be so much to each other, to be exactly fitted to round out each other's life, to let us separate now?"

"Belle, I believe He sent me out here to meet you, and any one coming between us is going against God."

"I know, Jim. And yet I have the feeling, which I can't shake off, that as sure as you go back to college, I shall lose you."

"Then, by Heaven! I won't go; and that settles it, Belle. I'll chuck the whole thing." And his forehead flushed with passion.

She dropped her face on her knees and shook in a paroxysm of weeping. All the emotional side of her nature—so carefully repressed throughout these weeks and months of struggle—swept away their barriers. Now that she had spoken the fear that was in her heart, the reality of the danger that threatened their happiness crushed her down. Jim threw his arm around her. "Belle, Belle, I can't see you cry that way. Belle, don't! We are not going to part."

It was long before she found her voice. In broken sounds she sobbed: "I can't give you up now," and she leaned toward him though still she hid her face.

"Belle, why do you talk of such a thing? You won't give me up, because I won't let you. I won't go, Belle, that's settled."

Her only answer was to cling to him passionately. After a long silence, during which the ponies dropped to a walk, she said half questioningly:

"Jim, we can't—give up all and—and—separate now."

"Belle darling," and Jim suddenly became calm and clear in thought, and a strange new sense of power came on him as he gripped himself, "there are times when a man must just take the bit in his teeth and break through everything, and I'm going to do that now. There's just one way out of this; we're half-way to Deadwood. Let's go right on and get married. The college and everything else can go to the divil so long as I can be with you.

"Will you agree to that?" he asked, lifting her head from his shoulder and looking into her eyes.

"Jim," she said, pushing him gently away from her and leaning back so that they occupied the sides of the wide seat, "let's be fair with each other. For a long time you've had your fling at the hardship of going back to Coulter while I have urged you to go. This is my fling at it"—she smiled at him through her tears—"my rebellion, so perhaps we're quits. But the problem still remains. I thought about it all last night and I decided I could not let you go—that it meant the end of our hopes. When you first asked me, up the road, I doubted my right to tell you the fears I had. But, oh, Jim, it is our happiness, ours, not yours or mine alone. If we have that we can make the rest come right. If we lose that——"

"But we're not going to lose it," he cried, "if you'll only answer my question, Will you marry me to-day if we go on to Deadwood?" He put out his arms to her and she yielded with a happy sob to his ardour. Holding her and pressing his lips to hers, he said simply: "I am very happy."

After a little while she took his head between her palms and looking into his face with eyes that sought his spirit, as though she would pledge her faith to his, she said: "You will never be sorry for this, darling."

At Lookout Mountain was the half-way house. They fed their horses, rested an hour, and then sped on. At four o'clock they reached Deadwood. Jim put up the horses at the little inn, whose parlour he remembered; together they went to the jeweller's shop, purchased a ring, and then to the mayor's office.

The great man was busy with affairs of State, but the world has a kindly heart for lovers and the experienced official can recognize them afar. He glanced over a crowd of many men advancing various claims, and said, with a knowing smile, "Hello!"

"License," was all Jim said, and a subdued "Ha, Ha!" was the amused response.

The mayor pulled out a drawer, produced a form, and rattled off the usual questions: Name? Age? Married before? etc., filling it in; then did the same for Belle. "Now stand up. You swear to the truth of each and all of the statements?" Each of them raised a hand and swore.

"Want to finish it up now?" said the mayor.

"Yes."

"Put on the ring and hold her hand." Jim did so. The mayor stood up, holding their clasped hands in his left. He raised his right and said: "James and Belle, in accordance with the laws of the United States and of the State of Dakota, I pronounce you man and wife." He signed the paper, gave each in turn the pen to sign, and said, "Now I want another witness."

"Sure, I'd like to be in on that there dokiment," said a rough voice.

"Can you write?"

"Bet your life I can."

A big heavy man came forward; the mayor handed him the pen; and, after the word "Witness" he wrote, "Pat Bylow, of Cedar Mountain"; and then with a friendly grin he offered his hand to the Preacher, and they gripped hands for the first time.

"Two dollars, please," said the mayor.

Jim paid it, and he and Belle stepped forth as man and wife.

CHAPTER XLVI: What Next?

According to an ancient custom, the newly wed should cease from their calling in life and disappear for a time, and the practice has long been well honoured by observance. But Mr. and Mrs. Hartigan had large and immediate problems to face. They breakfasted at Aunt Collins's and set out at once for Cedar Mountain. Belle was quite aware, reasonably and instinctively, that she must expect a reaction in Jim after the emotional outburst that had led him so far from their sober plan of a week before; and she exerted herself to fill every minute with the interests of this new life they had begun. But she was not prepared for something which did begin. From that hour of the great decision Jim seemed bigger and stronger. She had been thinking of him as a promising child. Now he was her equal in the world of affairs. He was growing faster than she. They were near the edge of the town when she saw a cottage with the sign up, "To let." It was very attractive in its fresh paint and obviously it had just been finished.

"Jim, maybe that was made for us. Let's see it." They tied up the horses and entered. It was indeed small. The Preacher had to stoop at the front doorway and turn side-wise to enter the cellarway, but it was clean and prettily placed with a view to the south, and had four rooms and cellar.

Belle gazed from the window through the gap between the hills and said, "I wish I knew some things that I will know within a week"; then, after a pause, "but I don't; let's go."

As they were getting into the buckboard Jim remembered having left behind a package which Aunt Collins wished to send to her sister, Mrs. Boyd. As they drove hastily back they met a new, strange sight in Deadwood. A man in a sort of military uniform was marching along carrying a big drum which he pounded rhythmically; behind him were a dozen men and women in poke bonnets and blue skirts. Above them was a flag inscribed "Salvation Army." They stopped to sing a hymn, and were soon surrounded by a crowd of people who made scoffing remarks. The leader prayed, and all joined in a warlike hymn punctuated by the thunderous drum.

There can be no question of the power of the drum on simple and primitive natures. Something in Jim responded to it at once. The commonplace words of the commonplace leader were without power to move, and the droning hymn was soporific rather than inspiring; but the rhythmic thump, thump, thump, seemed to strike the chords of his being; and a hypnotic tensity began. He gazed at the sad face of the fanatic, and forgot everything else, till Belle roused him with a businesslike, "Let's go, Jim."

Arrived at Cedar Mountain, they knew at once from the smiles and greetings of a few friends whom they met that the town had heard the news. They went to the Boyd home where Ma Boyd wept and feebly scolded, then wept some more. Pa Boyd said "Humph!" Loading his pipe he smoked in silence for five minutes and then began to laugh quietly. At length, clapping Hartigan good-naturedly on the back, he observed: "Well, boys will be boys. But I did think Belle was too level-headed and businesslike to go off on a panicky proposition like this. Howsomever, it's done; now the question is, what next? I can forgive; folks can forgive, but the Church won't. Now what's next?"

Seeing that the home folks were well enough disposed, Jim didn't wait to discuss details but set out alone to call on the Rev. Dr. Jebb. Mrs. Jebb opened the door herself and looking up at the handsome face she laid her hand on his arm with a pleased laugh and said: "Good for you!"

Dr. Jebb was very grave. "My dear boy, don't you see how serious it is?"

"Just as serious as it can be, doctor; I know that," and Jim laughed.

"But do you realize you have broken with the Church? You cannot go to college now. You are out of a living. You must think about some other means of livelihood."

"All of which I know, and knew when I took this step."

"As your pastor, I must chide you severely," said Jebb; "as your superior officer, I must pay you the twenty-five dollars that is your full and quit payment of salary up to October thirty-first; as the head of this body in Cedar Mountain, I must notify you that your connection with the congregation as assistant pastor is ended; as your brother in Christ, I invoke God's blessing on your somewhat hasty action; and, as your friend and Belle's, I offer you my poor help in whatsoever way I can serve you." And as Jim took his leave, much touched by the old doctor's gentleness, the pastor followed him to the door with his wife. With one of his sudden happy impulses Jim stooped and kissed Mrs. Jebb and the two old people were still in the doorway watching him as he turned for a final wave at the gate.

The blacksmith shop was the next place of call. Not that Jim sought it, but he couldn't well avoid it, and he was hailed by all as he came near. Shives came forward in his characteristic way, holding out his hand. "Wall, wall! Now I know you are human in spite of your job! You've gone up about ten pegs in my scale."

Carson was there and met him with a broad grin. "So that's what you borrowed my team for? Ho, ho! Well, I'll forgive you, if you bring them back and promise not to get the habit."

After much well-wishing Jim started down the street. He had only gone a short distance when the sound of some one running and calling his name made him halt. It was Higginbotham who had hastened on the first news of his arrival to make a business proposition. "Of course, I know, Jim, that you are a capitalist, and Hannah and me have been thinking it would be a good idea to establish a branch in Deadwood. Hannah is 'round calling on Belle, to fix it up."

As indeed she was at that very moment. Jim got the whole project from Belle on his return, but there were serious difficulties in the way of Hannah's scheme. Jim had no taste or capacity for business. All Belle's time would be needed for the household. Furthermore, Jim still felt that the ministry was his calling. They pondered it long and discussed it freely. Belle knew she could make the business a success, but it would be by sacrificing many things that they had dreamed of and planned for their first home. That night they kneeled down together and prayed for the guidance of the Great Guide. Jim opened the Bible three times, with his eyes closed, and laid his finger at hazard on a text, and these were the three that decided his fate: Kings, XIX:20—And he said unto him Go back again. 2 Thess. II:13—God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation. Daniel IV:35—According to his will in the army of heaven.

"There, Belle, could anything be plainer? We are ordered back to Deadwood. I must join the Salvation Army."

Belle was torn between her business instincts, her religious training, and her absolute devotion to her hero. But whatever the sum total, thus much all things agreed on: they must get away from Cedar Mountain. Whither? There seemed no answer but Deadwood.

The next day Mrs. Jebb gave a reception for the young people and Cedar Mountain turned out strong. Three was the hour named, and at four the parsonage was full. Belle was dressed in the simple gray that intensified her colour, her brown eyes and gold-brown hair were shining; standing at the end of the parlour she looked very lovely, and all Cedar Mountain glowed with pride in her.

Jim was in his glory. He frolicked with everybody and was in the midst of a gallant speech to Shives's daughter when some one tapped his arm and dragged him off. It was John Higginbotham, anxious to get his scheme more clearly into Jim's mind. "Not only was the main line of insurance good, but everything pointed to a land boom soon in Deadwood. Once the boom struck, the insurance could be temporarily sidetracked. Then, allowing seven hundred and fifty dollars capital, of which five hundred dollars could be invested in lots on 10 per cent. margin, this would secure five thousand dollars' worth of lots, or fifty small lots at present prices; in the ordinary course of the boom, this would speedily reach fifty thousand dollars, when, of course, he would sell and——"

"Hartigan!" cried a voice. "Who, in Heaven's name, is concealing you? Oh, here you are." It was Dr. Carson. "I've been thinking of you a lot ever since this news broke and I've decided that you are more like a man than a preacher. Why don't you cut out all this piffling holy talk and go in for something you can do? Now, my theory is that each man can do some one thing better than any one else; and, if he has the luck to have that one thing for his life calling, he's going to make a success. You know horses better than any man I know. You knew enough to steal my team, for example, when you meant to elope."

"Now, see here," Hartigan objected.

"Don't interrupt me," said Carson. "Jim, this is my honest advice: get out of this rotten little town. Go to Deadwood, or any other big, rotten town, and start in on the horse business and something will happen worth while."

Jim's eyes glowed. It was curious how the word "horse" fascinated him. "I'll surely take the first two moves you advise: I'll get out of this town and I'll go to Deadwood. But——" He stopped. He didn't say it, but he had given his "wurd as a mahn" long ago that his life should be devoted to the Church.

Little Peaches was there in a very high collar and sang, "Jerusalem the Golden," till tears came to the eyes of the audience. As he began the third score, Colonel Waller and his staff arrived. The old soldier's eyes gleamed as he measured the tall, straight form of the Preacher. "Well, Jim, can't I persuade you to enlist? We need a few like you."

"Sure, I'm enlisted now," was the reply, "and going to the front; and when I am gone, don't forget my horse."

"Ha, ha! We are not likely to," said the Colonel. "The wisest thing you ever did for yourself was when you sold him."

As the party began to break up Hannah Higginbotham plucked Jim's sleeve and whispered: "If John comes chasing you with a scheme, don't pay any attention to him. He'd try to talk business if you were both swimming for your lives; but a week from now, we'll come to see you at Deadwood. I've fixed it up with Belle."

As Jim waited for Belle, who was having a few last words with Mrs. Jebb, Charlie Bylow came rather shyly forward with his wife. "Mr. Hartigan, I've got a good team now; in case there is any moving to do, I'd like to do it for you." And then as if he thought Jim might not understand he said: "We owe a lot to you and we'd like a chance to pay it back."

There was one old acquaintance that did not turn up. That was Lou-Jane Hoomer. Probably she was busy packing her trunk for the visit to Rochester; at any rate, upon her return from the East, she joined the Congregationalists, where she sang regularly in the choir and soon made such an impression on the baritone that they found increasing comfort in each other's company.

CHAPTER XLVII: Back to Deadwood

Two days later Jim and Belle were again on the Deadwood trail. It seemed that each new chapter of their lives must begin on that trail. They were in a new buckboard, the gift of Pa Boyd, driving Midnight in harness. That same morning Charlie Bylow had left for Deadwood with his team and wagon. The latter was loaded with gifts from Cedar Mountain friends, some of them sufficiently absurd—for example, framed chromos, a parrot cage, a home instructor in Spanish, and a self-rocking cradle—but there was also a simple sufficiency of household furniture.

The buckboard overtook the wagon in the morning and arrived at Deadwood by one o'clock. Jim was for going to the hotel and dining, but Belle thought it better to see the estate agent first, and within half an hour they had deposited the first month's rent for the white cottage. Strange to tell, though the cottage had stood empty and uncalled for during the previous six months, there were two other applications on the afternoon that the Hartigans secured their lease.

Their furniture arrived late in the day, and those who have watched newly-mated birds carry the sticks and straw of their first nest, will understand the joy experienced by Belle and Jim in planning, arranging, and rearranging this first home. Whether it is larger bliss to carry sticks or to bill and coo cannot be guessed, and perhaps it does not matter, for every stone in the perfect arch is bearing all the arch. The first night in their own—their very own—home, with no one but themselves, was a sweet contentment for the time and a precious memory afterward. As they sat hand in hand looking from the little window down the valley, where the golden west was blocked by the high, dark hill, they knew calm for the first time after many days of tempest, and Jim's fervent soul found words in the ancient text: "Truly the light is sweet; and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."

A very blessed thing is the sunrise on Deadwood. It means far more than in most towns, for the shut-in-ness of the gulch makes night so very night-like, and the gloom is king till the radiant one mounts to flood the place with a sudden sunrise—a little late, perhaps, but a special sunrise for the town.

It was their first real breakfast together. Jim rose and lighted the fire in the stove. Belle made the coffee and fried the eggs. It was all their own and there is something about such a breakfast that gives it the nature of a sacrament, with youth and health, beauty and love, assembled to assist, and a special angel of happiness to bless it with his shining eyes.

As their talk turned to future plans, Jim's idea was to settle down, find quarters for Midnight, then visit the Salvation Army barracks and wait in the crowd till an opportunity to speak should occur. After that he had no doubt his pulpit eloquence would open a way to secure an appointment.

Belle's idea was totally different. "No, Jim, that won't do. If we enter the town by the back door we'll always be back-door folk. I propose to come in by the front way, and have a red carpet and a triumphal arch for our entry. Don't do anything until I have tried a plan of mine. Meanwhile, you look after Midnight."

Jim's curiosity was very large, but he smiled and asked no questions, and Belle set out for a visit to Uncle Collins. "It has to be done just right," she explained to that gentleman after an elaboration of her idea. Belle knew instinctively that all their fate in Deadwood would turn on the colour of their coming. Uncle Collins entered wholeheartedly into the plan and that week, much to Jim's amazement, the local press came out with a column article:

Distinguished Arrivals in Deadwood

Our townsfolk are to be congratulated on the latest increase to our population. The Rev. James Hartigan and his beautiful bride, formerly Miss Boyd, of Cedar Mountain, have yielded to the call of Deadwood and decided to make their home in the mining capital of Dakota. They have taken the White Cottage on Southview Avenue (Muggins & Mawlins Real Estate Company) and will be at home Friday afternoon.

Dr. Hartigan was educated at Coulter College, Ontario, and won his spurs long ago as a pulpit orator. While devoting his life to the ministry, he is also a man of means and is likely to make important investments in Deadwood as favourable opportunities present themselves. In fact, it was largely the need of such opportunity that led to the selection of Deadwood as his future home.

We are proud of the tribute to our promise as a town, and the distinguished couple will find us ready to greet them with a hearty welcome.


Jim laughed joyously as he read it in the paper next day. "Sure, Belle, every word of it is true and everything it leaves you believing is a lie. I never knew how far astray you could put folk by telling the simple truth."

One or two meetings in the street and a few observations from Aunt Collins, led Belle to expect some callers on Friday afternoon, but she never dreamed of the reception that did take place. Fortunately she had notice, an hour before, to treble the amount of tea provided; then, in a flash, a great idea entered her head.

"Jim," she said, "this is going to be a very important event in our lives, we are going to meet some people to-day who will shape all our future. There will be men of business here and men high in the churches; they will be sure to make you some sort of an offer, many offers of different kinds. Encourage them, don't turn any of them down; but don't definitely accept any of them. Now promise, Jim, you won't accept any of them."

"I wouldn't dare," said Jim, "after this"—and he held up the local paper with a grin. "I'm in the hands of my manager."

It was well for him that he agreed. Mrs. Collins was there to assist—beaming with pride. Uncle Collins came late and looked bored and uncomfortable. Belle was in her glory. She was of that delicate type which changes much with varying circumstance, and now she seemed radiantly beautiful. All the guests that day agreed that they were far and away the handsomest couple that had ever come to Deadwood, and surely they should have known, for all Deadwood came. The mayor came because he felt a fatherly interest in the couple he had married; and besides, they were an important accession to the population. "Hartigan," he began, "If I had your money I'd make a deal with the Northern Pacific. I tell you their new president is a live wire. He's ready to close on any good idea," etc., etc. The ministers came because they had heard of Dr. Hartigan's accomplishments and wished to pay their respects; and Dr. Hooper, of the Congregationalists, said he would be glad if Dr. Hartigan would occupy his pulpit the coming Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Mackenzie, of the Presbyterian Church, offered his pulpit; and so did the Rev. Dr. Jowley, of the Evangelicals. To all of these Jim made gracious and happy replies, deferring definite answer until he should be able to consult his date book and complete certain other arrangements.

The Presbyterian also took the opportunity of privately whispering to Dr. Hartigan that he, Dr. Mackenzie, had "just discovered a rare business opportunity—a whole block of staked and patented gold claims on the same lead as the 'Homestake'; the owner was compelled to sell out owing to family troubles, and would take ten thousand dollars cash for 49 per cent. of the stock—an absolute certainty of a million within a year! Dr. Mackenzie would turn over this unique and dazzling opportunity to Dr. Hartigan for the modest sum of one thousand dollars, which was less than 10 per cent., if expenses were included...." and so on, at much length.

The head of the Bar-Bell Ranch called because he had heard of the famous racer, Blazing Star, that was bred in the Hartigan stables, and he would like Dr. Hartigan to visit him and see his horses.

The insurance companies also were represented, and Bob Davidson—he declined at all times the "Mr."—managed to get in a word privately to the effect that he hoped that the Reverend Hartigan would make no business alliance until he had been to the Davidson office and seen the possibilities of one or two little schemes that needed "only a very little capital to pay——"

The reception lasted three hours and the account of it in the paper next day covered several columns. The impression it left on Jim was pleasing, but confusing. The single immediate and pleasant result was when the local lumberman, learning that Hartigan wished to erect a stable for his own team, volunteered to send round one thousand feet of the special siding, of which he was exclusive agent, together with the necessary amount of tar paper, on condition that the stable should bear the signboard:

SQUELCHE'S SPECIAL MATCHED SIDING
JOHN JOHNSON, SOLE AGENT

So the siding came and Jim built the stable with his own hands and gloried in every nail as he drove it. Midnight was thereupon withdrawn from a livery stable and installed with due pride and pomp.
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Re: The Preacher of Cedar Mountain: A Tale of the Open Count

Postby admin » Sat May 19, 2018 5:33 am

Part 4 of 4

CHAPTER XLVIII: The Fork in the Trail

The reception was over. Jim and Belle had supped at Aunt Collins's and were back again in the cottage, sitting by the kitchen stove, in which Jim had just kindled a blazing fire, for the evenings were cold. They were glad to be together again by themselves, and to talk things over.

Jim put a new block in the stove; then, sitting down, remarked: "For a capitalist who contemplates buying up part of the town, securing a new railroad, and cornering a township of gold ore, this is quite a modest layout."

"Now while it's fresh," she replied, "let's have the whole thing; especially the invitations." She took paper and wrote them down as he recited them. Then, with a good deal of shrewdness, she proceeded to appraise one by one.

The gold mine, the railroad, and the livery barn she treated with a joyous laugh; she liked them as symptoms. The town lot matter was worth looking into.

As for the invitations to preach, compared with the Presbyterians, the Evangelicals were a larger body; but the Congregationalists, much smaller, were more solid. The last had a fine church with a strong membership of well-to-do men, but they also had an able preacher of their own particular doctrines, so that Belle gave preference to the Evangelicals.

"We must concentrate our big guns on them, Jim; get out your best sermon, the one on 'Show thyself a man' (1 Kings II:2). Keep that for the big crowd in the evening. Next Sunday, at the Congregational Church you can give them the same thing, for it will be a different crowd; but at night, why not give them your sermon on 'Kindness' that made such a hit in Cedar Mountain."

"Well, where does the Salvation Army come in, Belle?"

"It doesn't come in just now"; and inwardly she hoped she might be able to keep it out altogether. Play for time and hope for luck was her plan. But she was secretly worried by the superstitious importance which he attached to the three texts, picked at random from the Scripture that day in Cedar Mountain, and by the interpretation he gave them. But she thought it best to avoid the subject. First she sorted the invitations, adjusted a desirable programme, and then sent a courteous reply to each, accepting or declining. And it was done in such a way that none were hurt and most were pleased. Then happened two of the accidents she had prayed for. As Jim strode home about noon one day, he heard a rabble of small boys jeering and shouting, "Holy Billy! Holy Billy! Salvation! Salvation!" He turned to see them pursued by a fat, middle-aged man, who after several attempts to drive them away, at length seized a pitch fork from those exhibited outside a hardware store and, intent on revenging himself, ran after the children. The youngsters fled, save one, who fell; and the furious fat man made a vicious prod with the fork. It might easily have proved fatal, but Jim was near enough to seize the man's arm and wrest the fork from him. The fat man was white with rage. He blustered a good deal and finally went off sputtering comically although he used no cuss-words.

That evening Jim and Belle went to the Salvation Army barracks, with the fixed intention of taking part in the worship as fully as might be permitted. On their arrival Jim was utterly surprised to find that the uniformed Captain in command was the fat little fury of the street episode; and still more astonished when that rotund person peremptorily ordered him out of the building. As the rest of the Salvationists dutifully supported their Captain, Jim had no choice, and with a feeling of sadness that was not shared by Belle, he turned out into the street.

There are many drives about Deadwood, but not many good roads. The scenery, not the pavement, is the allurement; and in the morning, the young couple took a short drive to learn the trails. They had not gone a mile when they were brought to a standstill by a lumber wagon stuck in the middle of the narrow road and quite immovable. It was not the weight of the load or the fault of the road, but because one of the horses was on strike—he baulked and refused absolutely to pull. Held up by the blockade, on the other side, were two buggies with men and women.

The teamster was just a plain, every-day bungler. He began by urging the obstinate horse with voice and whip; but at each fresh application the creature merely laid back his ears, shook his head, and set his feet more resolutely against all progress. At last the driver worked himself into a rage. He lashed the horse with all his strength, the only effect being to leave long lines on the animal's coat and cause him to kick out frantically with his hind feet.

"Man alive!" said Jim, leaving Belle's side and walking forward, "that's no way to handle a horse. Let me——"

A volume of abuse interrupted him. "You go on and mind your d—n business," said the teamster. "I'm taking care of this." In uncontrollable fury he beat the horse over the head with the butt end of his whip till it broke in two.

"See here, if you don't stop that I'll take a hand in it!" shouted Jim, thoroughly aroused.

The answer yelled back was not printable. It reflected not only on the Rev. James Hartigan, but on all his ancestors. Then, in an instant, the insane brute took a wooden hand-spike from his load and dealt the horse a terrific blow on the head. The beast staggered, almost fell, but recovered just as the driver, shouting, "I'll larn you!" landed another blow and hauled back for a third that would have felled if not killed the horse. But Jim got there first. He jerked the club out of the man's hand and as the attack turned on himself, he laid the driver out with a deft tap of the kind he knew so well. The other man with the load now rushed at Jim to avenge his fallen leader. But it is easy to meet that sort of onset when you know the game and have the muscle. The second went down on top of the first teamster amid loud cheers from the men in the buggies.

Five years before, in this country, Jim would certainly have been shot within the first five minutes, but the law and order society had been doing good work, and now men did not carry revolvers as of old, so nature's weapons counted as firearms once had done.

"Jim!" called Belle feebly. "Let's go." He turned; she was ghastly pale, as she held on to Midnight. She had never before seen men fight. She was appalled and terrified.

"Dear child," he laughed, almost gleefully, "you're not used to it. Don't take it so seriously. Sure it's fun and it's missionary work. Don't be worried at seeing men tumbled over. As soon as those two fools come to and stand on end, I'll show them how to drive a horse." He straightened out the two men he had stunned, and then went to the trembling horse.

As he laid his hand on its shoulder it shrank. He talked softly and began to examine the harness. Sure enough, there was a mass of cockle burrs caught in the long mane and wedged under the collar, so that every pull of the harness drove the sharp spines into the animal's shoulder. Jim loosened the collar, cut off the mass of burrs, sacrificed his handkerchief to make a soft pad, and replaced the collar. Meanwhile, the two teamsters were sitting up and looking on with little joy in their faces.

"Now you two ignorant babes, I'll show you how to drive a horse that you've made baulky; and I want you to know that there are not any baulky horses; it's baulky drivers that make the trouble." He went to the creature's head, talked to it, stroked its nose, blew in its nostrils, and continued to talk till the ears no longer lay back at his touch. Presently the eyes ceased rolling and the legs were not bracing nervously.

"Now," said Jim softly, "will you be after pulling a little? Yes? Come now," he coaxed wheedlingly, "come now," and he tightened the lines. But the horse shook his head, showed temper as before, and held back.

"Oh, that's what ye want, is it?" said Jim. "All right, back up it is," and gently man[oe]uvring, he shouted: "Back!" Both horses backed. He kept them backing, and by deft steering, held the wagon in the road. Back they went steadily. Now the baulky horse indicated his willingness to go on; but Jim wasn't ready. It was back, back, and back some more. For a hundred yards he kept it up. At last, when he changed about and gave the order to "Get up!" the one-time baulky horse was only too glad to change his gear and pull his very best. Jim took the load up the little hill, and on a quarter mile, where he waited for the original teamsters to come up.

"There, now," said Jim as he handed over the lines to the sullen driver, "you should have found that bunch of cockle burrs. It was all your fault, not the horse's. And if he hadn't responded to the backing, I'd have tied a pebble in his ear and left him for a few minutes to think it over. Then he'd have gone all right; it never fails. I tell you there aren't any baulky horses if they are rightly handled."

A cheer came from the buggies as the load of timber rolled away around the hill. As Hartigan got in beside Belle the two rigs came by. The men shouted, "Good for you! That was a fine job."

Jim blushed with pleasure; it was all so simple and familiar to him; but when he turned to look at Belle, she was white and ill. "Let's go home, Jim," she whispered. He looked at her in some surprise; then slowly it dawned on him—she had never before seen the roughness of men fighting. To him it was no more than the heavy sport of the football field. To her it was brutality unloosed; it was shocking, disgusting, next to murder. With mingled feelings of regret, amusement, and surprise he said, "Dear heart, you take it all too seriously." Then he put his arm about her, tender as a woman, and a few minutes later placed her gently in the rocking chair in the white cottage.

CHAPTER XLIX: The Power of Personality

"Who is that?" said an elderly man in one of the buggies that passed Hartigan after the adventure with the baulky horse.

"I think it's the new preacher," said the driver. "Anyhow, we can easily see." They watched the buckboard with the black horse and saw it turn in at the white cottage.

"My guess was right, Mr. Hopkins," said the driver. "I haven't been in church for two years, but I'm going to hear that fellow preach next Sunday, all right."

"Why don't you go to church?" said the older man, who by his dress and manner was apparently some one of social importance.

"Oh, I dunno. I got out of the habit when I came out West," said the driver.

"Why do you want to hear this man?"

"Well, he kind o' makes one think he's 'some punkins.' He's a real man. He ain't just a sickly dough-lump as the bunch mostly is."

John Hopkins, President of the Dakota Flour and Milling Company, Regent of Madison University, man of affairs, philosopher and patron of a great many things, was silent for some time. He was pondering the question of the day and the light just thrown on it. Why don't men go to church? This Black Hills driver had answered: "Because the preachers are a bunch of dough-lumps." Whatever this might mean, it was, at best, a backhanded compliment to Hartigan. Yet, the driver was anxious to hear the new preacher. Why? Because he was impressed with his personality. It all resolved itself into that; the all-ruling law of personality. How wise, thought Hopkins, was the Church that set aside rules, dogmas, and scholastic attainments to make room for a teacher of real personality; such was the Founder's power.

Along with the livery driver and a hundred more than the church could hold, Hopkins went that night to the Evangelical Church to hear Hartigan. The Preacher's choice of hymns was martial; he loved the trumpets of the Lord. His prayers were tender and sincere; and his sermon on kindness—human kindness, spontaneous, for its own sake, not dictated by a creed—was a masterpiece of genuine eloquence. His face and figure were glorified in his effort. The story of his active sympathy with the injured horse had got about, and won the hearts of all. They came ready to love him, and—responding to the warm, magnetic influence—he blazed forth into the compelling eloquence that was native to his Celtic blood. He was gentle and impassioned; he spoke as never before. They heard him breathlessly; they loved his simple, Irish common sense. He held them in the hollow of his hands. The half hour allotted had been reached, and his story was told, and yet, not fully told. For a moment he paused, while his eyes sought a happy face in the nearest pew. Belle gently drew her watch. Mindful of their careful plan, he stopped at the signal, raised his hands, and said, "Let us pray." With one great sigh, the congregation kneeled before him, and with him, in body and spirit, and prayed as they never before had prayed in Deadwood.

After the service the young preacher came forward to meet the people. He was uplifted and radiant with a sense of power, with all the magic influence of the place and thought; and they crowded round him, many with tears in their eyes.

An elderly man of polished manner pushed through the circle and shook him by the hand. "I'm a stranger in town," he said; "here's my card. May I call on you to-morrow?"

"Certainly," said the Preacher. And the stranger disappeared.

There was a holy joy enveloping the little white cottage that night as they sat together reviewing the events of the day. "Don't you see, Jim, how much better it was to stop then? It's a thousand times better to have them go away saying: 'Why did he stop so soon?' rather than: 'Yes, wonderful, inspiring; but too long.' They will now be keener than ever to hear you. You never spoke so well before. Oh, my dear, I was never so proud of you! Now I know, without a doubt, that you are a chosen vessel of the Lord."

He held her in his mighty arms and kissed the gold-brown hair. "It's all your doing, Belle. I'm a rudderless ship without you." Then, after a long pause: "I'm thinking of my first visit to Deadwood."

She spoke no word, but pressed her frail face against the knotted muscles of his great throat and gently stroked his cheek.

CHAPTER L: The Call to Chicago

"Get up, you lazy giant; the breakfast is ready," she called from the dining room. In truth, he had been up to light the fire and chop some wood, but was now reading in bed.

"Jim, I want you to be prepared for something very important to-day. I have a presentiment that this means something." She held up the card that had been presented after the service the evening before, and read:

Mr. John Hopkins,
Englewood, Chicago


"If he comes with a proposition, don't accept it off-hand. Ask for a little while to consider."

Belle put on her smartest frock that morning and pressed Jim's trousers and tied his necktie repeatedly till its form was right. With a very critical eye she studied his appearance and her own, and that of the house, from every angle. Why? Would any business man make note of such things? Detailed note, no; perhaps not. But the sum total of such trifles—expressing decorum, experience, worldly wisdom of the kind that makes itself felt as tact, and judgment that is better than genius as guarantee of success—would unquestionably produce its effect.

Promptly at ten thirty a.m., Mr. John Hopkins called. He apologized for the unseemly hour, but said he was leaving town at noon. His first impression of Belle was a very delightful one. He found her refined and cultured and he recalled the advice of a certain old bishop: "Never give a call to a clergyman unless you are satisfied to call his wife as well." There was no use denying it, the wife was as important as the preacher; she could build up or disrupt the congregation, and so she made a double problem; that is why Rome ruled the wives out altogether.

Mr. Hopkins was a citizen of the world; he approached the object of the visit gracefully, but without loss of time. The Evangelical Alliance needed a man of personality and power to carry on its work in the slums of South Chicago among the iron-workers. The church cared nothing about creeds or methods—applied no gauge but results; the best result was a diffusion of human kindness. The salary was twenty-five hundred a year, with one week vacation at Christmas and one month at midsummer. He, John Hopkins, as President of the Board of Deacons, was empowered to select a man, and now made formal offer of the post to the Rev. James Hartigan. Mr. Hartigan might have a week to decide; but Mr. Hopkins would greatly prefer it if Mr. Hartigan could decide before noon that day when Mr. Hopkins was leaving town. Until stage time he could be found at the Temperance House.

He rose quickly to go. Belle asked if he would, at his convenience, put the offer in writing, so that they might be clear as to details, indicating whether it was understood to be by the year and permanent, or for a time on approbation.

"I'll do that now," he replied. Taking the writing materials that she brought, he wrote and signed the formal call, with the intimation that it was for one year, subject to renewal.

As soon as their caller was safely gone, Jim picked up Belle in his arms and, marching up and down with her as if she had been a baby, he fairly gasped: "You are a wonder! You are a wonder! If I had gone my way, where should I be now? A drunkard or a cowboy; maybe in jail; or, at best, a doorkeeper in the Salvation Army. Oh, Belle, I swear I'll never pick a trail or open my mouth—never do a thing—without first consulting you." And the elation of the moment exploded into a burst of Irish humour. "Now, please ma'am, what am I to do?"

"What are we to do, you mean," retorted Belle. "Well, in view of the fact that we haven't got the cash the folks here think we have, we must do something. Twenty-five hundred dollars a year is an improvement on three hundred a year, and as there is no other positive offer in sight, I vote for accepting."

"That settles it. What right has a worm like me to vote?"

"That's a poor metaphor, Jim; try again."

"All right! The mighty Captain of this warship accepts the advice of the insignificant pilot—who happens to know the channel. How is that?"

"It can't be done, Jim. I may help the guiding, but without you I'd have nothing to guide. Each of us gives his best to the combine—each is a half of the arch; not simply are we twice as strong together, but twenty times as strong as we should be singly."

"Now for the call. Do you realize, Jim, that it means good-bye to the prairies, good-bye to the hills, and good-bye to Midnight?"

Jim nodded and looked grave. Belle went on: "But it also means living the life that you long ago elected to live—being a chosen instrument of good to bring blessings to those whose lives are black with sorrow and despair. It means giving up all the physical pleasures you love so deeply and rightly; but it also means following the Master. Which is it to be?"

"I know," he responded, "I know. But Belle, dear, I never had a moment of doubt when I had to decide between Belle and Blazing Star; why should I hesitate now when it's Midnight or Christ?"

So the letter was written and delivered forthwith at the Temperance Hotel. One week later Belle and Jim were driving again toward Cedar Mountain, headed for the railway which was to take them to Chicago. As they swung down the trail Belle looked out on the familiar objects and said:

"Here we are again at the beginning of a new chapter; and again it starts on the old Deadwood trail."

CHAPTER LI: These Little Ones

It was a long but easy journey down south to the Union Pacific, and finally east to Chicago. And when the young couple, whom the passengers watched with much interest, arrived at the great city, they found half a dozen men and women of importance awaiting them at the Union Station, with more servants to assist them than they had pieces of luggage. Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins, with their own carriage, were in attendance to offer the hospitality of their house to the Rev. James Hartigan and his bride. It was a long drive to Englewood; but everything that kind friends, clear skies, and human forethought could do to make it pleasant was fully done. For the time being, they were installed in the Hopkins mansion—a veritable palace—and for the first time Jim had the chance to learn how the rich folk really live. While it was intensely interesting, he was eager to see the field of his future work. Belle, however, agreed with their host and hostess that it would be worth while to see a little of Chicago first.

The stockyards are either fascinating or intensely disgusting. The Hartigans had their fill of them in five minutes. The Art Institute had not yet been built, but there were museums and galleries and good music in many places. Lincoln Park and the great rolling, gusty lake were pleasant to behold; but to Jim, the biggest thing of all—the thing of which the buildings and the crowds were mere manifestations—was the vast concentration of human life, strife, and emotion—the throb and compulsion of this, the one great heart of the West.

There was dirt in the street everywhere; there were hideous buildings and disgusting vulgarities on every side, and crime in view on nearly every corner; but still one had to feel that this was the vital spot, this the great blood centre of a nation, young, but boiling with energy, boundless in promise—a city with a vital fire in its heart that would one day burn the filth and dross away and show the world the dream of the noblest dreamers all come true—established, gigantic, magnificent. There is thrill and inspiration—simple, natural, and earthy—in the Canyon where the Cheyenne cut the hills; but this was a different thrill that slowly grew to a rumble in Jim's heart as he felt the current floods of mind, of life, of sin, of hope that flowed from a million springs in that deep Wabash Canyon that carved in twain the coming city of ten million hopes that are sprung from the drifted ashes of a hundred million black and burnt despairs.

Hartigan had ever been a man of the saddle and the open field; but gazing from the top of that tall tower above the station, sensing the teeming life, the sullen roar, far below, he glimpsed another world—a better thing, for it was bigger—which, in its folded mantle, held the unborn parent, the gentler-born parent, of the mighty change—the blessed cleanup that every wise man prays for and works to bring about.

What place were they to occupy in this maelstrom? Two ways were open—one, to dwell in the dungeons and the horrors as poor among the poor; the other, to come as different beings—as frequent visitors—from another world. Jim, with his whole-souled abandon, was for the former; but Belle thought that all he would gain in that way would be more than offset by loss of touch with the other world. At that time those two worlds were at war and she contended that his place was to stand between the world of power and the world of need.

Their compromise was a little flat on the second floor of a house in Englewood, near enough to the rolling Lake to afford a glimpse of it and convenient to the open stretch that is now the famous Jackson Park. Here, with pretty rugs and curtains and pictures of horses and hills, they lined the home nest and gathered the best thoughts of the lives they had lived. Here at all times they could come assured of peace and rest.

Then came the meeting with the Board of Deacons, the preliminary visits to the field of work, where the streets were full of misery and the slum life rampant. A few short blocks away was another world—a world of palaces. Jim had never before seen massed misery; he had never before seen profligate luxury, and the shock of contrast brought to him the sudden, overwhelming thought: "These people don't want preaching, they want fair play. This is not a religious question, it is an economic question." And in a flash: "The religious questions are economic questions," and all the seemingly wild utterances of old Jack Shives came back, like a sudden overwhelming flood at the breaking of a dam. In an instant he was staggering among the ruins of all in religious thought that he had held holy.

When he reached their apartment that evening he was in a distraught condition. For some time he paced up and down. At last he said: "I must go out, Belle. I must walk alone." He spoke with intense emotion. He longed for his mountain; there was but one thing like it near—the mighty, moving lake. He put on his hat and strode away. Belle wanted to go with him, but he had not asked her; her instinct also said "no"; besides, there was the physical impossibility of walking with him when he went so striding. She sat down in the dusk to wonder—to wait.

He went to the lake shore. A heavy gale was blowing from the north and the lake was a wild waste. It touched him as the sage plains did; and the rough wind helped him by driving away all other folk afoot. Northward he went, feeling, but seeing nothing, of the rolling waters. Jack Shives with his caustic words came back to mind: "It's their 'fore-God duty to steal if their babies are hungry and they can't feed them any other way." Jim had never seen these things before; now they were the whole world; he had seen nothing else these slumming days. His spiritual ferment was such that, one by one, all the texts he had read came back as commentaries on this new world of terror. He recalled the words of the Master: "Your Heavenly Father knoweth ye have need of these things"; the fearful doom of those that "offend these little ones"; the strict injunction to divide with the needy and care for the helpless; and again, the words, "The Kingdom of heaven is within you"—not in a vague, unplaced world after death, but here, now—and those who thought that, by placating the custodians of costly edifices, they were laying up "treasure in heaven" were blindly going to destruction.

He strode in the night with his brain awhirl. The old texts held for him some new power: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added into you"; and again, "The kingdom of heaven is within you"; "Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor." In vain he sought for inspired words that would reestablish the happy land beyond the grave that his teachers had ever pictured in set phrase. Yet every word of the Master pointed the other way. "Here"; "now"; and "first within" was the kingdom. And the hollowness of all the rich man's preachment—that the poor must suffer patiently in hope of a reward beyond the grave—was more and more a hideous stratagem as in his mind arose together two portrait types: the pinched, sullen, suffering face of the slums and the bloated, evil face to be found on the boulevard.

The mockery of it horrified as the immensity of it all swamped him. He had no mind, no equipment, for the subtleties of theology, and his head was a whirl of maddening contradictions, till the memory of his mother's simple devotion came like a cooling drink in his fever: "Never mind trying to reason it all out; you can't do it; no one can. Only ask what would the Master have done?" Yes, that was easy. "Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick"; and turning, he wheeled homeward. The upheaval of all foundations seemed less dreadful. He could not expect to reason it all out. It was enough to do as the Master would have done; and, whether it was the feeding of the multitude, the healing of the lepers, the gentleness to the woman taken in adultery, or the helping of the man who fell among thieves, there was no doctrine, no preaching—only kindness shown as sympathy and physical help in their troubles, here and now. The words of another childhood friend came back to him—those of Fighting Bill Kenna. He used to say, "I don't care a dom what he is, if he's a good neighbour." Yet the neighbour in question was a papist and they were kind and friendly every day of the year, except on those two set apart by the devil to breed hate. Kenna was right where his heart led him and wrong where his creed was guide.

Hartigan could not have told why he went alone on that walk. He only knew that in this crisis something cried out in him to be alone with the simple big things. Why should the worldly-wise companion he had chosen be left out? He didn't know; he only felt that he wanted no worldly wisdom now. He wished to face the judgment day in his soul all alone. He would not have done so a year before; but the Angel of Destiny had led on an upward trail and now he was brought aside to the edge so that he might look over, and down, and know that he was climbing.

Belle met him at the door. Her face was anxious. But his look reassured her. He took her on his knees as one might lift a child and, sitting with his arm around her and gazing far away, he said: "I had a landslide, Belle. All my church thought and training were swept away in a moment. I was floundering, overwhelmed in the ruin, when I found a big, solid, immovable rock on which I could build again. It was not the Church, it was my mother gave it to me. She used to say: 'Don't try to reason it all out; no one can. Only try to do as the Master would do'; what that is we are not always sure; but one who followed Him has told us, 'Keep cool and kind and you won't go far astray.'"

She looked into his face and saw something that she had never seen there before. The thought that flashed through her mind was of Moses and how his countenance showed that a little while before he had talked with God. She was awed by this new something he had taken on; and her instinct hushed the query that arose within her. She only gripped his hand a little and looking far away, said slowly: "There are times when He comes to talk with His own. I think he wanted to walk with you alone by the lake and talk, as He one time walked with His men on the shore of Galilee."

"My mind is clear now, Belle," he continued, "if these people want me to begin here merely as orthodox pulpit preacher, I must give up the post. That is what I want to be, but this is not the time or place for it. If, on the other hand, they will let me try to help those who need help, and in the form in which they need it—well and good; I will do my best to understand and meet the problems. But we must at once have a clear understanding."

She put her arms about him and after a little silence said: "I am with you to the finish, Jim. I know you have received a message and have guidance as to how it should be delivered."

It was in the little flat, with sagebrush in the vases, that they thought it out, and reached a solution that was the middle of the road. The first presentation of his new understanding Jim made to the Board of Deacons two days later. He said:

"When a man is swimming for his life, he does not want to discuss politics. When a man's children are hungry, he can't be expected to respect the law that prevents him from feeding them. When a man has no property, you needn't look to him for a fine understanding of the laws of property. When a man has no chance for lawful pleasures in life, he cannot be blamed much for taking any kind that comes within reach. When a man's body is starved, cold, and tormented, he is not going to bother about creeds that are supposed to guide his soul."

"All of which we freely admit," said Mr. Hopkins, with characteristic gravity. "The problems that you name are very real and grave, but they are the problems of the nation. Rest assured that every man of force in America to-day is aware of these things, and is doing all he can to meet them squarely. Moreover, they are being met with success—slow, but continued success.

"Are you prepared to outline the plan by which you would contribute to the local solution of these national problems?"

Yes, Hartigan had it there on paper. "I must approach these people through the things which they know they need. They don't feel any need of a church, but they do feel the need of a comfortable meeting place where the wholesome love of human society may be gratified. Their lives are devoid of pleasure, except of the worst kinds. This is not choice, but is forced on them; there is not a man, woman or child among them that does not—sometimes, at least—hunger for better things—that would not enjoy the things that you enjoy, if they had the chance. I want harmless pleasures in abundance put within their reach.

"Man is an animal before he is a soul; so I would begin by providing the things needful for a body. All men glory in physical prowess; therefore I want a gymnasium, and with it, the natural accompaniments of bath house and swimming tank. In short, I don't want a church; I want an up-to-date People's Club, with a place for all and a welcome for all."

The deacons sat back and gazed at one another. "Well," said Deacon Starbuck, president of the Stock Bank, "you surely have a clear-thinking business head among your gifts."

There was a distinct split in the views of the Board. The older men objected that this was an organization for propagating the Gospel of Christ, not for solving economic problems, and proved with many Scripture texts that we must "first of all seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," after having secured which, the rest would follow.

But the younger men took Hartigan's view that it was no time to talk politics to a man when he was swimming for his life. Fortunately, Hopkins was able to stave off action, pending a fuller discussion, and brought that on at once.

"Let us understand. Is the club to be a charity, a benevolence, or a business proposition—that is, a free gift, a partly supported institution, or a dollar-for-dollar bargain?"

The older men believed in charity. Jim opposed it as wrong in principle. As a business proposition it was hopeless, at present; so he definitely labelled it a "benevolence."

"All right," said Hopkins, "now how much money do you want, and how long to make good?"

Again Jim referred to the paper in his hand.

"I want twenty-five thousand dollars cash to provide and equip a temporary building; I want five thousand a year to run it, and I want one thousand dollars a year salary paid to my wife, who is with me in all things, and will give all her time to it. I want three years to make good, that is to make a noticeable reduction in drink and crime, which is the same thing, and this we shall gauge by the police records. By that time I shall have fifteen hundred families in touch with the club, paying dues to it. I shall stand or fall by the result. If I satisfy you, I shall ask for a hundred-thousand-dollar building at the end of that time."

"You say nothing about street sermons," said a plaintive old gentleman with a long white beard and the liquid eyes of an exhorter.

"No, not one. I don't want them. I can work better indoors."

The president said, "Well, Mr. Hartigan, perhaps it would be well for you to retire, in order that we may freely discuss your plan. As you seem to have it on paper, would you mind leaving the document?" Jim hesitated, glanced at it, then handed it to Mr. Hopkins. It was all in a woman's hand.

In fifteen minutes, Jim was summoned to learn the decision. They accepted, not unanimously, but they accepted his entire proposition, with the exception of one item; they would not pay salary to or officially recognize his wife. It was a bitter pill, and Jim's eyes were brimming with tears and his face flushed at the injustice when he went home to tell her. Poor little woman! Her lips tightened a trifle, but she said: "Never mind, I'll work for it just the same. I'm afraid they are still in the Dark Ages; but the light will come."

CHAPTER LII: The Boss

It had been a private dwelling, far out on the prairie once, but the hot, steady lava flow of the great city had reached and split and swept around the little elevated patch of grimy green with its eleven despairing trees. A wooden house it was, and in the very nature of it a temporary shift; but the committee—Hopkins, Hartigan, and Belle—felt it worth looking into.

With the agent, these three went over it and discussed its possibilities and the cost. Ten times in that brief talk did Hopkins find himself consulting Belle when, in the ordinary process, he should have consulted Hartigan. Why? No man raises himself to the power and pitch that Hopkins had attained, without a keen, discriminating knowledge of human nature. And he felt the fact long before he admitted it even to himself: "Yes, he's a pair of giant wings, but she's the tail, all right." And he was not displeased to find this original estimate justified by events.

The three years' lease was signed; and a bulletin board appeared on the bravest of all the battered old trees at the front—the very battle front. A gnarled and twisted cedar it was, and when a richer name than "Club" was sought for the venture, it was this old tree that linked up memory with itself and the house was named, not "The People's Club," as at first intended, but "Cedar Mountain House"—the word "mountain" being justified in the fact that the house was on a prairie knoll at least a foot above the surrounding level.

The bulletin board displayed this to all passers-by:

CEDAR MOUNTAIN HOUSE

Notice


A Meeting to organize this Club will be held here
on these premises Sunday afternoon next. Men and
women who are interested are cordially invited.

REFRESHMENTS


The Board of Deacons would have had a wrangle over each and every word of that notice. That was why they never saw it till long afterward.

"Now what's going to happen?" said Hopkins.

"A few will come and act very shyly; but I've a notion the refreshments will bring them," was Belle's guess.

"I am afraid we have omitted something of importance," said Jim. "We are invading a foreign savage country without taking any count of the native chiefs."

"What's your idea?" said Hopkins, sharply.

"I mean, we have arranged matters with the real estate man, and the Church workers and the police; but we haven't taken the trouble to look up the ward boss."

"We ignored the boss because we thought he was an enemy," said Hopkins.

"I'm not so sure about that," said Jim. "I've been talking with the police sergeant, who knows him well. He says he's a queer mixture of prizefighter and politician. He can protect anything he likes, and pretty nearly drive out anything he doesn't like. Isn't it worth while making a bid for his support? It may please him to be asked."

"Who is he?"

"Oh, a saloon-keeper, Irish, ex-pugilist. His name is Michael Shay. He's easy to find," said Jim.

"Let's go now," said Hopkins. "But I'm afraid that this is where you drop out, Mrs. Hartigan."

So they went down to the headquarters of the boss. It was an ordinary Chicago saloon of less than ordinary pretensions. The plate-glass and polished-mahogany era had not yet set in. The barkeeper was packing the ice chest and a couple of "types" were getting their "reg'lar" as the two strangers from another world entered. The build of Hartigan at once suggested plain-clothes policeman, and the barkeeper eyed him suspiciously. Hopkins spoke first:

"Is the boss in?"

The barkeeper made a gesture, pointing to the back room.

"May we see him?"

"I s'pose so." And again, with a jerk of the thumb, the back room was indicated.

The two walked in. It was a small room, meanly furnished, with a square table in the centre. Sitting by it were three men. Two were drinking beer—one a small, thin man; the other a red-faced specimen with rotund outline. The third and biggest was smoking a briarwood pipe. He was a heavily built man with immense shoulders square jaw, and low, wrinkled forehead; deep under his bushy eyebrows were two close-set, twinkling gray eyes, which were turned on the visitors with a hostile stare.

"Is Mr. Michael Shay here?" asked Hopkins.

"I'm Mike Shay," said the smoker, without rising or removing his pipe; "what do ye want?" There was a sullen defiance in the tone that showed resentment at the different dress and manner of the strangers.

"We have come to ask for your support for the club we are going to open in the old house down the street."

"Support nuthin'," was the gracious reply.

Hopkins began to explain that this was not to be a rival show—no drinks would be sold; the idea was merely to found a place of amusement for the people. The only effect on the boss was to evoke a contemptuous "E-r-r-r!" and an injunction, in Chicago vernacular, to get out of that as soon as they liked—or sooner. And, by way of punctuation, he turned to expectorate copiously, but with imperfect precision at a box of sawdust which was littered with cigar stumps. The interview was over—he wished them to understand that. He turned to his companions.

Hartigan felt that it was his chance now. He began: "See here, now, Michael Shay; you're an Irishman and I'm an Irishman——"

"Oh, g'wan!" and Shay rose to walk out the back way. As he did so, Jim noticed fully, for the first time, the huge shoulders, the strong, bowed legs, the gorilla-like arms; and the changing memory of another day grew clear and definitely placed. There could be no doubt about it now; this was bow-legged Mike, the teamster of seven years before.

At once, a different colour was given to Jim's thought and manner; no longer cautious, respectful, doubtful, he began in his own more boisterous way, "Say, Mike. I have a different matter to talk about now."

Mike stopped and stared.

Jim proceeded. "Were you ever at Links, Ontario?"

"Maybe I was, an' maybe I wasn't. What's that to you?"

"Well, do you remember licking a young fellow there for jerking the roof log out of the hotel with your masting team of oxen?"

"Bejabers, I do that"; and Mike's eyes twinkled for the first time with a pleasant look.

"Well, Mike, I am that fellow; an' that's what ye gave me." Jim raised his chin and showed an irregular scar.

"Well sure, that's the Gospel truth"; and Michael grinned. "By gosh, that's the time I had to skip out of Chicago. A little election fuss ye understand," and he chuckled. "Set down. What'll ye drink?" and the huge hand swung two chairs within reach.

"No," said Jim. "I'm not drinking to-day; but I want to tell you that I was only a kid when you licked me. I swore that some day I'd meet you and have another try. Well, I've filled out some in the last seven years, an' some day, when ye feel like it, we might put on the gloves together."

Mike chuckled, "Now you're talking! What's the matter with right now?" and he pointed to a room farther back. "But, say, ye ain't in training, are ye?"

"No; are you?"

"No."

"Then come on."

Mike opened the next door and led the way into a larger room, with the fixings of a regular boxing academy, followed by his friends and one or two additional customers from the bar room.

Hopkins followed Hartigan, and was filled, apparently, with strange and mixed emotions. "Really, Mr. Hartigan, as President of the Board of Deacons, I must protest against this whole shocking procedure." Then, in a different tone: "But, as a man, by jinks! I'm going to see it through."

"Why not?" said Jim. "Sure it's simple and easy. In about three rounds, I'll get him or he'll get me; then we'll shake hands and all be good friends ever after. It couldn't have happened better."

Both men stripped to the waist, and the contrast was as great as the resemblance. Broad, equally broad, and superbly muscled, the saloon-keeper was, if anything, heavier, but there was just a suspicion of bloat over all his frame. Jim was clean built, statuesque—a Jason rather than a Hermes. He was by six inches taller, but the other had just as long a reach. And, as the officious patrons of the "pub" strapped on the gloves and made the usual preparation of wet sponge and towel, it seemed in all respects an even match—in all respects but one; Jim was twenty-odd, Mike was forty-odd.

The small man with a squeaky voice installed himself as timekeeper. He struck the gong, and the boxers met. Jim always smiled and bared his teeth while boxing. Mike was one of the bull-dog jaw; he kept his lips tight shut, and his small eyes twinkled with every appearance of rage.

On the first round, the great experience of the pugilist enabled him to land one or two heavy jolts, and when the gong sounded the time-limit, Jim had got rather the worst of it.

The second round opened much like the first. Jim landed on Mike's under jaw more than once; and Mike got in a body blow that was something to think about.

It was the third round that told the tale. What chance in a fight has forty-five against twenty-five? The extra weight of the prize fighter was mere softness. His wind was gone; and half the time had not passed before Jim landed under his left jaw the classic punch that Mike had one time given him, and Mike went down like a sack of meal.

In five minutes, he was up and game, but the bout was over. The men shook hands, and Michael, rapidly recovering his spirits, rumbled out of his deep chest: "Bejabers, it's the first time in five years I've been knocked out—and it was done scientific. Say, Hartigan, ye can put me down for a member of your club; or yer church or whatever the dom thing is an' I'll see ye get whatever ye need in the way of protection; an' if ye want to sell any liquor on the sly, that'll be all right. You count on Mike."

Then, with a singular clearing of hate and an access of good feeling—psychological reactions which so often follow in the wake of a finish fight—the men all shook hands and parted in excellent humour.

"By George!" said President Hopkins of the Board of Deacons, "I wouldn't have missed that for a thousand dollars. It was perfectly bully—just what we wanted! I've heard of things like this, but never really believed they happened. It's a new side of human nature for me. I wouldn't have missed it for—no, not for five thousand dollars."

CHAPTER LIII: The First Meeting

The notice on the old tree had been up a week. By Thursday there had been no sign of response; on Friday Jim had had it out with the boss; and Saturday morning the community seemed, in some subtle way, to be greatly stirred by the coming event. Sunday afternoon there was a fairly good assemblage of men and women in the large room of the rearranged old house. Bow-legged Mike was not present; but the little man with the squeaky voice—commonly known as "Squeaks"—was there to represent him, as he did in divers ways and on different occasions in the ward.

Hartigan and Hopkins were on the platform. Belle sat at a small table to act as recording secretary. Hopkins opened the meeting by introducing Hartigan, who spoke as follows:

"My friends; we are assembled to discuss the formation of a club to provide for the residents of this district such things as they need in the way of a convenient social meeting place and whatever else is desirable in a club. We have not fully worked out our plan, but this is the main idea: the club will be called Cedar Mountain House; it will be managed by five governors—two of them appointed by the men who own the building lease; two of them elected by the people who join; these four to elect a fifth as chairman of the board.

"The club is open to men and women twenty-one years of age; their families come in free on their tickets. The dues are to be ten cents a week, or five dollars a year. This covers the gymnasium, the lecture hall, the library, and the baths. Now we are ready for any questions."

A very fat woman, with a well-developed moustache, rose to claim the floor, and began: "I want to know——"

Hopkins interrupted: "As the Chair is not acquainted with all present, will the speakers kindly announce their names?"

The woman made a gesture of impatience—evidently every one should know her name: "I am Dr. Mary Mudd, M. D., of Rush College, unmarried, Resident Physician of the Mudd Maternity Home and the winner of the Mudd medal for an essay on misapplied medicine. There! Now I want to know are women eligible for office in this club?"

To which Hopkins replied: "Since women are admitted to membership and pay dues, they are eligible for all offices."

"Well, now, I'm with you," said Dr. Mudd; and she sat down.

Now arose a thin, dark man with a wild shock of hair, a black beard, a red tie and a general appearance of having -ski at the end of his name. "I vant to know do you hev to be religious your vay in dis cloob?"

"Kindly give your name," said the Chair.

"Veil, I'm Isaac Skystein; I'm a renovator of chentlemen's deteriorated vearing apparel, and I vant to know of dis is a missionary trick, or do it be a cloob vere von can talk de freedom of speech?"

"You do not have to belong to any Church," announced the Chairman.

"Vell; is it to be de religious talk?"

"Once a week, or maybe once a month, there will be a debate in this hall, at which entire freedom of speech will be allowed."

"Dat mean I can get up an' say I doan take no stock in your dern religion? I vant de freedom of de speeches, Ya!"

"It means that, at the proper time, each will have a chance to get up and say exactly what he thinks within the decencies of debate."

"Vell, I tink I'll join for a vhile, anyvay."

Then a red-faced man introduced himself. "I'm Jack Hinks, teamster, and I want to know if any drinks will be sold on the premises."

"No, sir; nothing intoxicating."

"I mean on the sly."

"No, sir: nothing, absolutely nothing."

"Well, Mike Shay tipped me off that it was to be 'wet' on the quiet."

"He made a mistake; this is to be a strictly teetotal club."

"That settles it. What's the good of a club where you can't have no fun? Good night!" and out he went.

A lanky youth with unhealthy rings around his eyes and brown stains on his thumb asked if there were to be boxing lessons and would Mr. Hartigan tell them about the scrap between himself and Mike Shay. Mothers asked if a baby corral would be instituted, to set the mothers free for a few hours each day. A tall, pale young man with a Southern coo, asked "whether Negroes were to be admitted." The Chair dodged by saying: "That will be decided by the vote of the majority."

A male person, with a beard and a tremulous voice, asked what the club's attitude would be toward the Salvation Army. Before the Chair could reply, little Skystein jumped up and shouted: "Mr. Chairman, ve don't vant 'em; dey's all feelin's an' no brains. You don't see no Chews in de Salvation Army—it's too many emotions; de Chews got too much intellects, ve don't vant——"

"I rule you out of order!" shouted the Chair. "Sit down! Now for your question: The club will welcome the Salvationists as individual members. It does not recognize them as a body."

A fat, unsuccessful-looking man, asked if it held out any chance for a job; and a red-headed masculine person of foreign design rose to inquire whether the bathing would be compulsory. A preliminary vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the five-dollar dues, though a small minority thought it should be free; a group of four persons believed they should draw compensation for coming.

The meeting answered every expectation; it fully introduced the club and its leaders; it demonstrated the views of the possible members, and gave the Board of Deacons a new light on human nature. All the business of definite organization was deferred to the next meeting, to take place one week later.

CHAPTER LIV: The Formation of the Club

Foundation Sunday came, and with it a respectable crowd at the House. There were some who had brought babies—which was unfortunate, but unavoidable—and there were one or two men too hilarious for good manners; but the crowd was, on the whole, good-natured and desirable.

Mike Shay was not there, although Jim had tried to get him; but Mike had a curious diffidence about appearing in public. All his power was underground, and all his methods behind the scenes. Squeaks was there to keep an eye on things, and his little bleary, ferret eyes watched each person and detail with cunning, if not with discernment.

It was made perfectly clear that only members in good standing had votes.

"Vell, vot dot mean, dot good at stannin'? Don't ve vote settin' down?" demanded Skystein.

"It means members whose dues are fully paid, and who are not under indictment for serious breach of rules."

"I want to pay one year's dues for myself and Mr. Michael Shay," said Squeaks; and he walked to the secretary and paid ten dollars. This indorsement by the boss produced immediate results.

"I'll take a year's membership," said a big, coarse, red-faced man. And he rolled up the aisle to deposit his five dollars, giving his name as Bud Towler. Jim remembered him as the third person in the back room the day he met Michael Shay. He had not seen him since.

So many more came up now, mostly to pay a month's dues, which was the minimum, that Belle was worked hard and other business was stopped.

Then, when all who wished to pay and register had done so, the voice of Squeaks was heard: "I have here a list of names that I want to propose for charter membership," and he read off a list of twenty-five men, none of them present. Bud Towler got up and seconded the lot; the Chair was asked to put the names to immediate vote, as it was a charter meeting; all were carried, and Squeaks came forward and paid twenty-five dollars dues for the lot to cover the next ten weeks, that is, to the end of a year.

Belle whispered to Hopkins as Squeaks retired. The Chair nodded, rose and explained. "In drawing up our constitution, we deemed it best, in the interests of democracy, to do all voting by ballot and to exclude all proxies."

"Dot's right, dot's all right!" shouted Skystein.

"Mr. Chairman, I protest," came the wire-like voice of Squeaks; this measure, would, naturally, mean the disfranchisement of every man whose business happened to keep him away at election time. How much more reasonable it would be for him to empower some trusted friend to represent him and his views, etc., etc.

On the matter of the ballot he was not so strong, but he did think "that the manly, straightforward way was for a voter to announce his vote and not be ashamed of his principles. Of course, he was aware that there was much to be said on the other side, but he was in favour of proxies and open voting."

"So am I," shouted Towler. "We ain't got no right to rob a man of his vote because he happens to be a night watchman."

"Ah, vat's de matter mit ye?" said Skystein. "Effery-body knows you an' Squeaks is in cahoots to run de hull push cart."

There was a good chance of a row; but Hopkins explained that voting by mail was a different thing from voting by proxy, and every member in good standing would get the chance to vote by mail on important matters, when he could not be present.

No one could long have been in that meeting without realizing that it was a veritable microcosm—a little world in which were all the struggling, rival elements, the good and evil forces of the big world. Not a problem that was tormenting the country but was represented in vital strength in that club group. It was full of lessons and grave responsibilities.

They were now ready for the elections. Squeaks rose and said: "Since the owners of the lease are to nominate two of the four governors, it would clear things up if their nominations were made first and the club elections afterward."

This at once confronted Hopkins with a problem. He had a free hand, but he was puzzled, because while it was understood that he was to be president and Hartigan the active governor on the spot, they had not secured a third man who, as governor, could be counted on for a continued whole-souled support. It was Dr. Mary Mudd that let the daylight into this problem by rising to say:

"Mr. Chairman, I understand we are free to elect a woman to the board of governors as well as to any other office."

Hopkins had not thought of that, but the broad principle had been established and he replied "Yes."

"Very good," said Dr. Mudd, "now there's a chance for common sense as well as decency."

In a flash, Hopkins got the answer to his own problem. Belle Hartigan had steadily been winning his appreciation. His admiration for her clear-headedness and business training was increased at each meeting. He knew now pretty well how often her brain was behind Jim's actions. In any event, the trial would be for only two and one-half months, when elections were to take place for the new year. He bent toward her: "Will you be one of the appointed governors for the rest of the year?"

"Yes."

Hopkins rose and announced that the owners of the lease appointed Mr. and Mrs. Hartigan as the two governors to represent them.

This was warmly applauded, especially by the women—led by Dr. Mudd. There followed some sharp electioneering and the members elected Squeaks and Skystein to represent them. Dr. Mudd, who had been nominated, demanded a recount of the votes, but the election was sustained. The four governors then met and within five minutes agreed on Hopkins for president. So the board was formed and for good or ill, the club was launched—in the slum, of the slum, and for the slum—but with a long, strong arm from the other world; an outside thing, but meant in kindly help.
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Re: The Preacher of Cedar Mountain: A Tale of the Open Count

Postby admin » Sat May 19, 2018 5:36 am

Part 1 of 2

BOOK V: THE CALL OF THE MOUNTAIN

CHAPTER LV: In the Absence of Belle


Every citizen of South Chicago remembers the work of the Cedar Mountain House; how it grew and prospered, and how the old building became too small and an annex across the street was called for. How its greatest strength lay in the monthly free discussion of any subject approved in advance by the governors. How the rival parties of Skystein and Squeaks alternately pulled and pushed each other about. How musical genius was discovered in abundance and an orchestra formed as well as a monthly minstrel show. How pool tables were introduced and a restaurant started. How the movement to introduce beer was defeated by a small majority. How, after due discussion, they adopted some seemingly hard policies, such as the exclusion of all Negroes and Chinamen. How Squeaks led an abortive attempt to disqualify all Jews. How the gymnasium became the focal centre of all the boys in the neighbourhood. How they organized a strong-arm squad of a dozen club members who acted as police, and without offense, because they were of themselves. At the end of the first six months, the House had more than justified its existence. It had nearly four hundred members and was doing work that in a higher state of civilization would be the proper care of the government.

It would have been hard to say who was the chief. Belle had been the planner and executor and now was not only a governor, but secretary and head of the women's department, on a fair business basis. But the growth of power in Jim was obvious. It had all been very new to his ways of thinking and, after all, Links and Chicago have little in common. Belle had a business training that was essential, and her quick judgment helped at every turn for it is a fact that second-class judgment right now is better than first-class judgment to-morrow. The full measure of her helpfulness in bearing the burdens was made transparently clear by a sudden crisis in their affairs. A telegram from Cedar Mountain arrived for Belle.

Mother very ill. Come at once—Father.


It was impossible for both to go, so Belle set off alone for Cedar Mountain, leaving Jim in charge of the flock at the Mountain House. Alone—he didn't think it possible to feel alone in such a crowd. His work was doubled in the absence of Belle, although Dr. Mary Mudd gave not a little help in the mothers' department. It was a good thing for Jim to find out just how much he owed to his wife. There was a continuous stream of callers at the office with requests or complaints. These had all been met by Belle. She had an even poise, a gentle consideration for all, and certain helpful rules that reduced the strain, such as exact hours for work, one call at a time, and written complaints only. Jim's anxiety to placate and smooth out led him to undertake too much, and the result was a deluge of small matters of which he had previously known nothing. The exasperating accumulation of annoyances and attacks, in spite of all his best and kindest endeavours, invoked a new light.

"Oh, if Belle were only here!" was his repeated thought. "I don't know how she manages, but she does. It's mighty strange how few of these annoyances came up when she was in the office." He began to realize more and more her ability. "She has more judgment, more tact than any of us; she has been meeting these things all along, and saving me from them by settling them without me. Yes, she's wiser than I am in such matters."

So he wrote her of his troubles. He detailed many cases in point and added: "We miss you awfully; every one in the House complains. I haven't got your cleverness and tact. It seems as if I made enemies every time I tried to make friends. Come back as soon as you can." And if the truth must be told there was a little flush of pleasure and triumph in her soul. "Now he knows what I have known so long." And who shall blame her for gloating a little over the deacons who, in the beginning, were unwilling to recognize her? But she had to send a discouraging reply. For the angel of destiny said: "No, it is now time for him to walk alone" and the telegram ran:

Cannot come; Mother is very low.


After the first shock of disappointment he braced up, and, like a man who has been retreating and who knows in his heart that he never meant to make a stand as long as some one else could be depended on, he upbraided himself and turned to face the fight. "There is a way of doing it all, and I can do it." And in the resolve to win he found new strength. In many small, but puzzling matters, he got guidance in the practical sayings of men like Lincoln and Grant: "Be sure you are right, then go ahead"; "Every one has some rights"; "In case of doubt, go the gentle way"; "Never hunt for trouble." These were samples of the homely wisdom that helped him and proved that the old proverbs are old wisdom in shape for new use.

One man came to complain that a member had been drunk and disorderly at a certain other place the night before. A year ago, Jim would have said that it was a disgrace and that he would make a thorough investigation, which would have meant assuming a special guardianship of each and every member all the time. Wiser now, he said, "Since it was not on our premises, we have no knowledge of the matter." On the other hand, it was a serious affair when a member brought in a bottle of strong drink and treated a number of weak friends until there was a wild orgy going on in one of the rooms, in spite of official protests from those in charge. This was clearly high treason; and repressing a disposition to gloss it over, Hartigan expelled the principal and suspended the seconds for long periods.

During a boyish contest in the gymnasium, a man somewhat in liquor, shouted out a string of oaths at the youngsters. Jim rebuked him quietly for using such language there, whereupon the man turned upon him with a coarse insult and, misunderstanding the Preacher's gentleness, struck him a vicious blow, which Jim only partly warded off. "If you do that again, we may have to put you out," said Jim, inwardly boiling under the double insult. Fortunately, the man's friends interfered now and got the fellow away. For this Jim was most thankful. Afterward, he rejoiced still more that he had restrained himself; and he knew Belle would flush with pride at this victory over self, this proof of a growing self-control.

Another week went by and again came word that Belle could not return for perhaps ten days at the earliest. A dozen broils that Jim had been postponing for Belle to arbitrate had now to be considered. Dr. Mary Mudd was the leader of an indignant party of women to complain that though the men were not more in numbers than the women they had appropriated sixty out of the one hundred coat hangers.

Rippe, the tailor, was there to complain that Dr. Mary Mudd always walked up the middle of the stairs, unlawfully delaying the traffic, instead of keeping the proper right side. With his outstretched arms, he illustrated the formidable nature of the barrier. Dr. Mudd retorted that said Rippe had repeatedly smoked in the ladies' room, etc., etc. But these were small matters easily adjusted. Two, much more serious, came on him in one day.

First, he yielded to the temptation of having a beautiful banner hung on the wall, because it was contributed and very decorative. It bore a legend, "No popery." This was much in line with his private views, but it made a great stir and cost them a score of members, as well as incurring the dislike of Father O'Hara, hitherto friendly. His second blunder was to allow the cook in the restaurant to put scraps of pork in the soup, thereby raising a veritable storm among the many keen debaters of the kosher kind, and causing the resignation of Skystein from the board—temporarily at least.

It would have been much to Jim's taste to have an open war with Father O'Hara and his flock. His Ulster blood was ready for just such a row. And in his heart he believed pork and beans quite the best of foods. But his opinions were not law; he had been learning many things. Others had rights; and he won the disaffected back, one by one, by recognizing the justice of their claims and by making kindly personal calls on each of them.

Thus Jim Hartigan got a new knowledge of his own endowment and discovered unsuspected powers. He had held his peace and triumphed in a number of trying situations that two or three years before would have ended in an unprofitable brawl. He had controlled his temper, that was a step forward and he was learning to control those about him as well as manage an organization. He had begun to realize his prejudices and to learn to respect the beliefs of others even when he thought them wrong. The memory of Father Cyprian and the Sioux boy had helped him to deal kindly and respectfully with Skystein and Father O'Hara.

Strange to say, it was a travelling Hindu who supplied him with the biggest, broadest thought of all. This swarthy scholar was deeply imbued with the New Buddhism of Rammohan Roy and, when asked for his opinion of some Romanist practices, he remarked softly, but evasively, "My religion teaches me that if any man do anything sincerely, believing that thereby he is worshipping God, he is worshipping God and his action must be treated with respect, so long as he is not infringing the rights of others."

Jim took a long walk by the lake that day and turned over and over that saying of the Hindu in the library. The thing had surprised him—first, because of the perfect English in the mouth of a foreigner, and secondly, because of the breadth and tolerance of the thought. He wondered how he could ever have believed himself open-minded or fair when he had been so miserably narrow in all his ideas. Where was he headed? All his early days he had been taught to waste effort on scorning the ceremonials great and small of Jews, Catholics, yes, of Baptists even; and now the heathen—to whom he had once thought of going as a missionary—had come to Chicago and shown him the true faith.

Striding at top speed, he passed a great pile of lumber and sawdust. The fresh smell of the wet wood brought back Links—and his mother, and a sense of happiness, for he had given up "trying to reason it all out." He was no longer sure, as he once was, that he had omniscience for his guide. Indeed he was sure only of this, that the kindest way is the only way that is safe.

There was daylight dawning in his heart, and yet, across that dawn there was a cloud which grew momentarily more black, more threatening. Paradoxical as it seemed, Jim was intensely unhappy over the abandonment of the ministerial career. The enduring force of his word as a man was only another evidence of the authentic character of that deep emotional outburst which had pledged him openly to the service of Christ. The work at the Cedar Mountain House for a while satisfied the evangelical hunger of his ardent soul. It was good, it was successful, it was increasing in scope; but of its nature it could never be more than secular; it was social work in its best form—that was all. The work of which he dreamed, and to which he had consecrated his life was the preaching of the Gospel, and, as the months passed, an unrest—the like of which he had hardly known—took possession of him. These last weeks of Belle's absence had brought on one of his periodic soul-searchings and the gloom of it was as thick as a fog when the mail brought word of Belle's return. As he sat with her letter in his hand his mind went back to the hills and the free days and he longed to go back—to get away from the ponderous stolidity of this pavement world.

He met her at the station and her joyousness was as a shock to him. And yet, how hungry he was for every least word of that lost life.

"Oh, Jim, it was glorious to ride again, to smell the leather and the sagebrush. I just loved the alkali and the very ticks on the sagebrush. I didn't know how they could stir one's heart."

His eye glowed, his breath came fast, his nostrils dilated and, as Belle looked, it seemed to her that her simple words had struck far deeper than she meant.

"And the horses, which did you ride?" he queried. "How is Blazing Star? Are they going to race at Fort Ryan this year? And the Bylow boys, and the Mountain? Thank God, men may come and go, but Cedar Mountain will stand forever." He talked as one who has long kept still—as one whose thoughts long pent have dared at length to break forth.

And Belle, as she listened, saw a light. "He is far from forgetting the life of the Hills," she said to herself as she watched him. "He is keener than ever. All this steadfast devotion to club work is the devotion of duty. Now I know the meaning of those long vigils, those walks by the lake in the rain—of his preoccupation. His heart is in Cedar Mountain." And she honoured him all the more for that he had never spoken a word of the secret longing.

CHAPTER LVI: The Defection of Squeaks

Michael Shay had come to the club in person once or twice, but did not desire to be conspicuous. It was clear now that the club was not to be the political weapon at first suspected. The boss had another organization through which to hold and make felt his power; but the fact that it pleased a number of his voters was enough to insure his support.

Squeaks, however, was quite conspicuous and present on all important occasions; it was generally supposed that he was there in the interests of Shay, but that was not clearly proven. It was obvious that the club was not in any way lined up for or against Shay. It was, however, believed by Belle that Squeaks was there in the interests of Squeaks and none other.

This strange, small person had a small, strange history—so far as it was known. A lawyer, he had been disbarred for disreputable practice, and was now a hanger-on of the boss, a shrewd person, quite purchasable. He was convinced that he was destined to be a great boss, and satisfied that Cedar Mountain House would help his plans—which lay in the direction of the legislature—hence he sought to identify himself with it. For the present, also, he stuck to Shay.

The approved boss system of the time rested on a regiment of absolutely obedient voters, who voted not once, but many times in as many different wards as needed. They were thoroughly organized, and part of their purpose was to terrorize independent voters, or even "remove" men who developed power or courage enough to oppose them; so the "reliable squad" was important. As their ranks contained many convicts or men qualified for life terms, they were a dangerous and desperate lot. They responded at once and cheerfully to any duty call, and one "removal" per night would have probably been less than average for a boss-ruled city in those days. For this they received protection; that is, the police and the Courts were so completely in the scheme that it was sufficient, on the arrest of a "reliable," if the boss sent word to the judge or State's attorney "to be keerful" as this was "one of our boys." Promptly a flaw would be discovered in the indictment and the case dropped.

The boss who derives power from such a machine must ever look out for the appearance of a rival, hence Shay's early watchfulness of the club; but that gave place to a friendly indifference. He was a man superior to his class, in some respects; for, though brutal and masterful on occasion, it was said that he never "removed" a rival. At most, he had applied pressure that resulted in their discreetly withdrawing. And he cared little for money. Most bosses are after either money or power or both. Shay loved power. The revenues he might have made out of tribute from those protected were not well developed, and most of what he received he disbursed in generous gifts to those in his ward who needed help. It was said that no man ever went hungry from Mike Shay's door, which was perfectly true; and the reward that he loved above all things was to be pointed out on the street or in the car as "Mike Shay." To overhear some one say, "That's Michael Shay, the big Boss of the South Ward," meant more to him a thousand fold than any decoration in the gift of the greatest of Old-World potentates.

Hartigan learned that he could go to Shay at any time for a reasonable contribution, after having made it clear that it was for some one in distress—not for a church. The only return Shay ever asked was that Jim come sometimes and put on the gloves with him in a friendly round. Most of Shay's legal finesse was done through Squeaks. That small, but active person was on the boards of at least twenty-five popular organizations, and it was understood that he was there to represent the boss. Extraordinary evidence of some one's pull was shown when one day Squeaks was elevated to the Bench. It was only as a police magistrate, but he was now Judge Squeaks, with larger powers than were by law provided, and he began to "dig himself in," entrench himself, make his position good with other powers, in anticipation of the inevitable conflict with Boss Shay. It became largely a line-up of political parties; Squeaks had made a deal with the party in power at Springfield, and gave excellent guarantees of substantial support—both electoral and financial—before the keen-eyed myrmidons of Shay brought to the boss the news that Squeaks had turned traitor.

Then the war was on; not openly, for Squeaks had scores of documents that would, before any impartial jury, have convicted Shay of manipulating election returns, intimidating voters, and receiving blackmail. It was important to get possession of these documents before they could be used. While the present party held power in State politics, there would be no chance for Shay to escape. There were two possibilities, however; one, that the election close at hand might reverse the sympathies of those in power; the other, that Squeaks might find it unwise to use the weapon in his hands.

Now was the Cedar Mountain House in peril, for Shay's support was essential. At a word from him, the police might call the club a disorderly house, and order it shut up. The fact that Squeaks was a governor strengthened the probability of drastic action. On the other hand, Squeaks as police magistrate, could restrain the police for a time or discover flaws in as many indictments as were brought up. The District Court could, of course, issue a warrant over the head of the police magistrate; but the Court of Appeals was friendly to Squeaks and would certainly quash the warrant; so that, for the time being the many unpleasant possibilities simply balanced each other, and the club went on in a sort of sulphurous calm like that before a storm.

Then came an exciting day at the club. By an unusual chance both Shay and Squeaks met there and the inevitable clash came. Angry words passed and Shay shouted: "Ye dirty little sneak, I'll fix ye yet!" Squeaks, cool and sarcastic, said: "Why don't ye do it now?" Shay rushed at him with a vigorous threat, and would have done him grievous bodily injury but for the interference of Hartigan and others. Shay waited at the gate for Squeaks, but the Judge slipped out the back way and disappeared.

It was Bud Towler who called on the Judge with a letter from Boss Shay, demanding the return of certain personal papers and authorizing said Bud to receive them. To which Judge Squeaks replied: "He better come for them himself. He knows where I live. I'll be home every night this week."

And thither that night with two friends went Shay. It was a very simple lodging. These men habitually avoid display. The janitor knew all too well who Shay was.

"Is Squeaks at home?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"I'm going up to see him, and if I lay him over my knee and spank him till he squeals, ye needn't worry; it's nothing." Then up went Shay, while his friends stayed below, one at the front of the house and the other in the lane that commanded the back.

The trembling janitor heard the heavy foot go up the wooden stairs; he heard a voice, then a crash as of a door forced open, then heavy steps and a pistol shot. A window was opened behind the house, and something was thumped down into the back yard. A little later, the boss came hurriedly down the stairs. The timid janitor and his trembling wife saw the big man step out with a bundle under his arm. Then all was still.

After twenty minutes of stupefaction, they began to realize that they should go up to the Judge's room. They mounted the stairs together, carrying a lamp. The door had, evidently, been forced. The room was in some disorder; the drawers of the desk were open, and papers scattered about. On one or two of the papers was fresh blood. The window was closed, but not fastened; the end of the curtain under it seemed to give proof that it had recently been opened. On the sill was more fresh blood.

There was no sign of the Judge.

As they gazed about in horror, they heard a noise in the back yard and looking out saw, very dimly, two men carrying off a heavy object, they lifted it over the back fence and then followed, to disappear.

Schmidt, the janitor, was terror-stricken. Evidently, the Judge had been murdered and his body was now being made away with. What was to be done? If he interfered, the murderers would wreak their vengeance on him; if he refrained, he would be blamed for the murder or at least for complicity.

"I tink, Johann, dere's only one ting, and dat is go straight an' tell de police," said his wife. As they stood, they heard a light foot on the stairs. Their hearts stood still, but they peered out to see a woman in a gray cloak step into the street, and they breathed more freely. Now they rushed to the station house and told their tale in tears and trembling.

The Police Captain was scornful and indifferent. Had there been but one witness, he might have ordered him away; but two witnesses, intensely in earnest, made some impression. He sent an inspector around to see. That official came back to report the truth of the statement made by the Schmidts, that the Judge's room was empty, upset, and had some blood stains; but he attached little importance to the matter. He had, however, locked up and sealed the door, pending examination.

Next morning, there was an attempt to hush the matter up, but a reporter appeared in the interests of a big paper, and by a clever combination of veiled threats and promises of support, got permission to see the room. The reporterial instinct and the detective instinct are close kin, and the newspaper published some most promising clues: The Judge was visited at midnight by a man whom he had robbed and who had threatened to kill him; a broken door, papers stolen, a scuffle, traces of human blood (the microscope said so) in several places, blood on the window sill, a heavy something thrown out of the window and carried off by two men, blood on the back fence, and no trace of the Judge.

It was a strong case, and any attempt to gloss it over was rendered impossible by the illustrated broadside with which the newspaper startled the public.

CHAPTER LVII: The Trial

All Chicago remembers the trial of Michael Shay. It filled the papers for a month; it filled folk's minds and mouths for two. Many a worse murder had been quietly buried and forgotten, but this was too conspicuous. The boss, facing a decline of his power, had undoubtedly murdered the man he had begun to fear, and the parties in control of all the machinery of justice were against the accused.

The case was thoroughly threshed out. Shay had openly threatened the life of Squeaks; he had tried before to do him hurt; had gone with two men to Squeaks's lodgings; had warned Schmidt that there was going to be "a little fuss"; had broken open the door and got certain papers—his own property, undoubtedly, but now splashed with blood; a shot had been heard—a heavy something thrown from the back window and then carried off by two men; blood on the floor, the sill and the back fence; and the Judge had disappeared from the face of the earth. The case was clear, the jury retired, but quickly brought in a verdict of guilty, although at every point there was nothing but circumstantial evidence.

Jim Hartigan was one of the first friends to call on Shay after his arrest, and Belle came soon after. They heard his story, which was simple and straight: Squeaks was holding the papers which would be, at least, damaging to Shay's property and reputation; he got them in confidence and then defied Shay to come and take them. Shay decided it would be well to take two witnesses and went, as planned, to Squeaks's apartments. Finding the door locked and believing that Squeaks was inside, he forced it open; the room was dark and no one was there. He lighted the gas and rummaged through the desk for the papers that belonged to him, paying no attention to any others. He saw blood on some of the papers, but didn't know where it came from. As he was coming away, he heard a pistol shot, either upstairs or outside, he didn't know which. He knew nothing about anything thrown from the window. He got his own property and came away.

Although every particle of evidence adduced by the prosecuting attorney was circumstantial, it was very complete. Some juries would have felt reasonable doubt, but no one could get over the facts that Shay had threatened Squeaks's life and that Squeaks had disappeared after a visit from Shay which left traces of blood in Squeaks's apartment. The trial over, the verdict of guilty rendered, Shay was asked if he could offer any reason why he should not be condemned. He rose and said: "Only that I didn't do it. I never saw him from that time in the club a week before."

Then the judge pronounced the awful words: "...Hanged by the neck till you are dead." Shay sat stunned for a minute, then, when the jailor tapped his shoulder, rose and walked silently forth to the cell of the doomed.

It is the hour of trial that sifts out your friends. There were two at least who followed every move in that crowded court room—Hartigan and his wife. They had learned that the crude, brutal exterior of the prizefighter held a heart that was warm and true. They had learned that they could go to him with certainty of success when they wanted help for some struggling man or woman in their ward. They knew that he would not drive a bargain for his help, nor plaster his gift with religious conditions. It was enough for him to know that a fellow-being was in need and that he had the power to help him. Shay was a product of submergence and evil system; he was wrong in his theories, wrong in his methods, wrong in his life; but his was a big, strong spirit—ever kind. And out of the strange beginnings there had grown a silent but real friendship between the Hartigans and himself.

On the black day of the verdict and the sentence, Belle and Jim were sadly sitting at home. "Jim," she said, "I know he didn't do it; his story is so simple and sound. It's easy to get human blood if you have a friend in the hospital; he is innocent. We know that Squeaks could easily have access to a room upstairs; that bundle may have been thrown out from the window merely as a part of a plot. Everything is against Shay now because he is in wrong with the party; but, surely, there is something we can do."

"His attorney asked for an appeal, but I am afraid it won't be entertained; there is no new evidence—no reason for delay that they can see or wish to see."

"That attorney has behaved very suspiciously, I think. Don't you think the governor might intervene with at least a commutation?" she suggested.

"The governor! His worst enemy," said Jim. "The governor's been after him for years."

Hope seemed gone. They sat in silence; then she said: "Pray, Jim; maybe light will come." And together they prayed that the God of justice and mercy would send his light down among them and guide them in this awful time. It was a short and simple prayer, followed by a long silence.

Belle spoke: "There is only one thing that can be done; that is find Squeaks. I know he is living somewhere yet, gloating probably over the success of his plan to get rid of Shay. I know he is alive, and we must find him. We have one month to do it, Jim. We must find him."

Jim shook his head. "We've tried hard enough already. We've examined every corpse taken out of the river or exposed at the morgue."

"Well; doesn't that help to prove that he is alive?"

"We've advertised and notified every police station in the country," Jim continued.

"They don't want to find him, Jim; they're on the other side."

"I don't know what else to do."

"Jim, I've read enough and seen enough of human nature to know that, if Squeaks is alive, he's not hiding in California or Florida or London; he's right here in South Ward where he can watch things. It's my belief, Jim, that he's been in the court room watching the trial."

Jim shook his head; but she went on. "This much I'm sure; he would hang around his former haunts, and we should leave nothing undone to find him."

They went first to Shay's attorney, but he dismissed the idea as chimerical, so they dropped him from their plans. Together they set to work, with little hope indeed, but it was at least better to be up and doing. Judge Squeaks's office was small, easily entered and productive of nothing. The police would give no information and seemed little interested in the new theory. Squeaks's lodgings yielded nothing new, but they found that Belle's theory was right; he had also had a room on the floor above. The woman in the gray cloak had called on him once or twice in the previous month and had come once since. She was a sort of janitress, as she had a key and straightened up his room. There was no hint of help in this. There was only one of his haunts that they had not thoroughly examined, that was the club. There was no need for that, as they knew every one that came and went, at least by sight.

Mrs. Hartigan was sitting in the club office at the back of the building next day when Skystein came in, and sat down to go over some club letters, officially addressed to him. As he read he made a note on each and sorted them into three neat piles. Belle watched him with interest that was a little tinged with shame. It is so human to consider a man inferior if he does not speak your language fluently, and the early impression they had gotten of Skystein gave them a sense of lofty pity. But it did not last. At every board meeting they had found reason to respect the judgment and worldly knowledge of the little Hebrew; those keen black eyes stood for more than cunning, they were the lights of intellect. Belle turned to him now. If any one knew the underworld of the South Ward it was he, and what he didn't know he had means to find out.

She openly, frankly, told him all she knew and suspected. He heard her at first doubtingly, then with growing interest, then with a glare of intense attention and conviction at last. His eyes twinkled knowingly as she expressed her opinion of the attorney. Skystein uttered the single word "fixed." Then he tapped his white teeth with his slender forefinger and rose to get the membership roll. He looked over it, but got no help; there was no one entered within the last few months that they could not fully account for.

They sat gazing in silence through the window into the adjoining reading room when an elderly woman came in and sat down. She wore a gray cloak and large goggles.

"Who is she?" said Belle. "I've seen her often enough, but I don't remember her name."

"Dat's Mrs. Davis: she's been coming only about five months. She was one of Squeaks's members."

A ray of hope shot into Belle's brain. "This fits the description of Squeaks's cleaning woman. She knows where he is hidden; she takes him food and keeps him posted. She is here now for the news." The woman at the desk raised her face; through the goggles and through that inner window she saw the two gazing at her. She rose quickly, but without hurry, and left the building. Skystein turned after her, without actually running, but she had disappeared.

"That woman knows where Squeaks is hiding," said Belle. But what became of her was a puzzle. They were confronted now by a stone wall, for there was no trace of her. The old janitor at Squeaks's lodging had not seen her for two weeks and she did not again appear at the club.

Michael Shay's religion so far as he had any, was of the Ulster type, and Jim Hartigan was accepted as his spiritual adviser and allowed to see him often. Jim and Belle agreed that it was well to tell him everything in their minds, to keep alive the light of hope, or maybe get from him some clue. Two weeks passed thus without a hint. Then, one evening as Skystein came late to the club, he saw a woman go out. He went to the desk and asked who it was. The register showed a strange name, but the clerk thought it was the gray woman till she looked at the name. Skystein rushed out as fast as possible, just in time to see a gray-cloaked figure board the car. There was no hack in sight so he leaped on the next car and followed. He was able to watch the car most of the time, but saw only one woman leave it. She was in black. At length, he got a chance to run forward and mount the first car. He stayed on the platform and peered in. There was no gray-cloaked woman. He asked the conductor, and learned that a woman had got on and taken off her cloak till she went out again three blocks back. At once his Hebrew wit seized these two ideas: she had deliberately turned her cloak; she was eluding pursuit.

Skystein went back at once to the street where the black-cloaked woman had descended. Of course, he saw nothing of her, but there was a peanut vender of his own race, at the corner. Skystein stopped, bought a bag of peanuts and began to eat them. Casually he asked the merchant if that woman in gray bought peanuts there. The vender didn't seem to comprehend, so Skystein addressed him in Yiddish; told him the woman was a detective, and promised to give ten dollars for information as to where she lived or what she was after. The expression on the peanut man's face showed an eagerness to find out the facts with all possible speed. But a week went by and he had nothing to report.

Meanwhile, Jim was at Joliet in daily conference with Shay, reporting to him the success or ill success of the search; reporting, alas, how little help they got from those who were supposed to forward the ends of justice. Money was not lacking, but it would help little; if an open campaign were conducted to find the man they believed to be in hiding, it might put an insuperable obstacle in the way. The governor was approached, but he was little disposed to listen or order a stay, least of all when they had nothing but a vague theory to offer.

Four days more went by, and Skystein found the peanut man in high excitement. He had seen the gray woman; she passed down his street and, before he could follow, turned into a side street; he left his peanuts and ran to follow, but got no second glimpse. She must have gone into one of the near-by tenements. "Didn't Mr. Skystein orter pay for de peanuts stole by de boys, as well as de reward."

Two days of life remained to Shay. Hope had died out of their hearts. Hartigan was preparing him for the great change that is always a bitter change when so approached. Belle still clung to hope. She posted herself where she could view the street, and made judicious inquiries, but got no help. The gray mantle was not a complete identification; the woman might have a dozen mantles. She went to the police station to enlist their cooperation. The Precinct Captain took no stock in the story and refused to order a house-to-house search. Finally—for even police are human—he promised to search any particular house when it was indicated, and to give reasonable support to any move that was obviously in the cause of justice.

The morning of the execution came and nothing had developed to revive their hopes. Belle was on watch at the street corner when on the main avenue an excitement occurred. A Savoyard with a dancing bear was holding a public show and gathering in a few coins. An idea came to her; she made her way through the crowd and said: "Here, is a dollar, if you make him dance before every house on this street." The Savoyard smiled blandly, bowed, pocketed the dollar and, leading the bear into the side street that Belle had watched so long, began the droning song that caused the animal to rear up and sway his huge, heavy body round and round as he walked. All the world came forth to see, or peered from upper windows; all the world was watching the strange antics of the bear—all but one. Belle's keen brown eyes were watching the crowd, watching the doorways, and watching, at length, the windows with desperate eagerness for sign of the gray woman. There seemed to be no gray woman; but, of a sudden, she saw a thing that stopped her heart. Flat against the window of a second-floor room, and intently watching the bear, was the pale, wizened, evil face of Squeaks!

Belle's hand trembled as she noted the house, the number and the very room; then, passing quickly around the corner, she hailed a cab and drove for life to the telegraph office, where she telegraphed Jim:

"Hold up the execution for two hours; we have found Squeaks."

(Signed) "Belle"


Then away to the police station. "Captain, Captain, I've found Squeaks! Come, come at once and get him."

"I have to know about it first," said he, calmly.

"Oh, Captain, there is no time to lose. It is ten o'clock now; the execution is fixed for noon."

The Captain shook his head.

"Then telegraph the Governor," she begged.

"He wouldn't pay any attention to your say-so."

"Then come at once and see; I have a cab here."

The Captain and two men went with Belle. They entered the cab. "I'll give you double fare to go your fastest," Belle said through her white, compressed lips; and the kindly cabman, sensing something out of common, 'Said, "I'll do my best, miss."

In ten minutes, they were in the side street. The bear was gone, the crowd was gone. The police entered without knocking, went to the second floor, to the very door and then knocked. There was no answer. The Captain put his shoulder to the door and forced it in. There, sure enough, standing in an attitude of fear in a far corner was the thin woman of the gray cloak.

"Where is Judge Squeaks? He was seen in this room half an hour ago."

"I don't know what you mean," and she covered her face with her skinny hands and began to cry.

"You must come to the station at once," said the Captain. Then to Belle: "Will you testify that this is the woman?"

Belle was white and trembling, but she walked up and said: "I will testify that this is—" She reached forward, peering at the woman's hidden face. Then seizing the loose hair, Belle gave one jerk, the wig came off, and they were facing Judge Squeaks!

"My God!" was all the Captain had to say. "The telephone as quick as possible! You hold him." He dashed down the stairs and made for the nearest long distance wire. It was half an hour before they could connect with Springfield, only to learn that the Governor had left for Chicago and was expected to arrive there about noon.
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Re: The Preacher of Cedar Mountain: A Tale of the Open Count

Postby admin » Sat May 19, 2018 5:36 am

Part 2 of 2

CHAPTER LVIII: In the Death House

Shay sat calmly waiting as the big clock ticked his life away that morning in the house of death at Joliet. At eleven o'clock, Hartigan received Belle's telegram: "We have found Squeaks." He rushed to the Sheriff with it. That officer was very sorry, but "no one except the Governor had any right to order a stay."

"Why, sir," said Jim, "you are not going to hang an innocent man, when here is proof of his innocence."

"There is no proof in that telegram. I don't know who "Belle" is. I get my orders from the Courts. No one but the Governor can order a reprieve."

Jim sent a telegram to Springfield only to learn, as Belle had done, that the Governor had left for Chicago. He sent telegrams to every one who had the power to help. He telegraphed Belle; he rushed to the Sheriff to beg for God's sake but one hour's reprieve. He hurried to the penitentiary to find another telegram from Belle:

Pray without ceasing for an hour's delay. We have Squeaks now.


But the clock ticked on. He literally ran to Michael's cell; the jailer opened the way. "Michael," he gasped, "we have found Squeaks; we know you are innocent."

Michael was the calmest of all. "Whatever is God's will I'll take without a grumble," he said, and sat smoking.

At a quarter to twelve the Sheriff appeared.

"Why, Sheriff, you are not going to—when you know the reprieve is on the way. You are not going to let a technicality lead you into murder?"

"I have no change in my instructions," said the Sheriff, "and no proof that any change is on the way."

"Why; this is monstrous," gasped Jim. "An hour's delay is all we ask, so the Governor can be reached."

The Sheriff motioned the guard to move on, and Shay walked firmly between the two officers. They came into the prison yard. There assembled were a score of officials and newspaper men.

"Have you any final statement to make?" asked the State officials.

"Nothing, only that I am innocent and Squeaks is alive at this moment."

That was an old story—an old trick to win time. The officers were preparing to act, when Hartigan pale and exultant, swinging the last telegram before the Sheriff, re-read it and for the first time truly got its meaning. He said: "Let us pray."

They kneeled down, all of them, in accordance with the ancient custom, and Jim began to pray. His voice was broken and husky, but it grew steadier as he appealed to the God of Justice and Mercy. He prayed and prayed; the clock struck twelve, but still he prayed. "Pray without ceasing," Belle's message had said. His gift of speech stood by him now; a quarter of an hour passed and still he was pouring out petitions to the throne of grace; another quarter of an hour and his voice was a little weary, but he prayed on. Still another, and another, and the clock struck one. All those men still kneeled, dead silent, except for a low, sobbing sound from the little group farther off. The Sheriff waited uneasily; he coughed a little and waited for a gap—but there was no gap; Jim bared his heart to God that day. He prayed as he never did before and all his bodily strength went into his prayer. At a quarter past one, when he was still calling on the God of Life for help, the Sheriff knew not what to do, for by the unwritten law the man of God had a right to finish his prayer. At half past one, the Sheriff moved uneasily and at length uttered a faint "Amen," as though to give the signal to stop. As it had no effect he realized for the first time just what Hartigan's desperation and iron will were leading him to do, he took cover under the technicality and played the game with him. Shay would have a chance as long as the Preacher's voice lasted. The party all stood, hats off, except those around the condemned one. They still kneeled, some of them, while others in bodily weariness, were frankly sitting on the scaffold. And the Preacher prayed on. His voice was thick and husky now; he could scarcely enunciate the words. The big clock ticked and two was struck. Still Jim prayed, as one who hopes and clings to any hope.

There were uneasy movements among the witnesses. The Sheriff said "Amen" twice again, quite loudly so that no one else should interrupt, but he was under a terrible strain. It was ten minutes after two when a shout was heard from the outer office and a warden with a paper came running, shrieking, "Reprieve! Reprieve!"

Jim turned to look and closed his prayer: "...and this we ask for Jesus's sake"; then he fell flat upon the scaffold.

"I knew she would, I knew she would; Belle never failed me yet," were the first words he uttered when he revived.

The Sheriff read the Governor's telegram to the crowd:

"Reprieve Michael Shay for three days."


As they led him back to the house of death, which was to him a house of resurrection, there was the whistle of a special train followed by the clatter of a carriage approaching the gate. Whoever it was had the right of entry. Hurried footsteps were heard, and short, low words. Then the doors swung wide for—the Governor himself, John Hopkins, and Belle. White fear was on their faces till they met a warder who knew.

"All right, sir; we got it in time."

"Thank God!"

"Yes, sir; two hours after the time fixed. But the minister was in the middle of his prayer and he didn't seem to finish till it came."

The party entered the death house, and at once were ushered into the room where Shay and Jim were sitting. Jim was weak and worn looking. The warden announced, "The Governor." Jim rose, and in a moment, Belle was in his arms. "I knew you would. I knew you would. I got your message. I prayed without ceasing. I would have been at it yet."

Mike Shay, calm until now, broke down. Tears ran from his small gray eyes, and clutching the soft hand of his deliverer, he murmured: "There ain't anything I got too good for the Hartigans. Ye—ye—ye—oh, God damn it! I can't talk about it!" and he sobbed convulsively.

The Governor shook his hand and said: "Michael Shay, I think the danger is over so far as you are concerned; all will be well now that Squeaks is found." Shay mumbled a "thank you." "Don't thank me," replied the man of power. "You may thank the loyal friends who found the trap and found the answer and found the Governor, when almost any other man or woman would have given up."

CHAPTER LIX: The Heart Hunger

When the flood rushes over the meadow and tears the surface smoothness, it exposes the unmoved rock foundation; when the fire burns down the flimsy woodwork, it shows in double force the unchanged girders of steel. Storm and fire in double power and heat had been Jim's lot for weeks and, in less degree, for months. Now there was a breathing spell, a time to stop and look at the things beneath.

It was a little thing that gave Belle the real key to a puzzle. It occurred one afternoon in the apartment and Belle saw it from the inner room. Jim thought he was alone; he did not know she had returned. He stood before the picture of Blazing Star, and lifting down the bunch of sage he smelt it a long time, then sighed a little and put it back. Belle saw and understood. The rock foundation was unchanged; he loved and longed for the things he had always loved, and the experiences of these months had but exposed the granite beneath. The thought that had been in her heart since the day he put the ring on her finger, rose up with appalling strength. "He gave up everything for me. I taught him that his duty lay through college and then made him give that up for me." She had been quick enough to mark the little turnings of his spirit toward the West when there were times of relaxation or unguardedness. But she had hitherto set them down to a general wish to visit former scenes rather than to a deep, persistent, fundamental craving.

Many little things which she had noted in him came up before her now, not as accidental fragments, but as surface outcroppings of the deep, continuous, everlasting granite rock, the real longing of his nature; and the strength of its fixity appalled her. As she watched from the outer room on that epochal afternoon, she saw him kneel with his face to the western sky and pray that the way might be opened, that he yet might fulfil the vow he made to devote his life to bearing the message of the Gospel. "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done."

He sat long facing the glowing West which filled his window and then rose and walked into the inner room. He was greatly astonished to find Belle there, lying on the bed, apparently asleep. He sat down beside her and took her hand. She opened her eyes slowly as though awakening—gentle hypocrite.

"I didn't know you were back," he said. She closed her eyes again as though they were heavy with sleep. It was a small fraud, but it set his mind at ease, as she meant it should.

After a time, she roused herself and began with enthusiasm: "Oh, Jim, I have had such a clear and lovely dream. I thought we were back at Cedar Mountain, riding again in the sagebrush, with the prairie wind blowing through our very souls."

She watched his face eagerly and saw the response she expected. It came in larger measure than she had looked for. "I felt as though I could do anything," she went on, "go anywhere or take any jump; and just as I was riding full tilt at the Yellowbank Canyon, you took me by the hand and held me back; then I awoke and you did have my hand. Isn't it queer the way dreams melt into reality?" She laughed happily and went on as if he were opposing the project: "Why not, Jim? You need a holiday; why shouldn't we go and drink a long deep draught of life in the hills and sage? I know we'll get a clearer vision of life from the top of Cedar Mountain than we can anywhere else."

"It seems too good to be true," he slowly answered, and his voice trembled. Less than half an hour ago he had prayed for this and suddenly the way seemed plain, if not yet open.

The winter and spring had gone, and the summer was dying. In all this time the Hartigans had carried their daily, hourly burden, without halt or change. Whatever of hardship there was, came in the form of thwarted plans, heart-cravings for things they felt they must give up. Jim made no mention of his disappointments and, so far as he could, he admitted his hunger neither to himself nor to Belle. It was merely a matter of form, applying for a month's leave; this had been agreed on from the beginning. The largest difficulty was in the fact that they must go together—the head and the second head both away at once. But there were two good understudies ready trained—Skystein and Dr. Mary Mudd—with Mr. Hopkins as chairman to balance their powers. Michael Shay too, came to offer gruffly and huskily his help: "If I can do anything, like puttin' up cash, or fixin' anybody that's workin' agin you, count on Mike." Then after a pause he added, a little wistfully: "I ain't got many real friends, but I want to have them know I'm real, and I know the real thing when I find it."

A conference was finally held and the management of the Club was turned over to the chairman and his aides for a month. Jim and Belle were like children on leave from boarding school. They packed in wild hilarity and took the first train the schedule afforded for Cedar Mountain.

CHAPTER LX: The Gateway and the Mountain

August with its deadening heat was over; September, bright, sunny and tonic, was come to revive the world. Rank foliage was shaking off the summer dust, and a myriad noisy insects were strumming, chirping, fiddling, buzzing, screeping in the dense undergrowth. It was evening when they boarded the train for the West and took the trail that both had taken before, but never with such a background of events or such an eagerness for what was in the future. As the train roared through the fertile fields of Illinois, with their cornfields, their blackbirds and their myriads of cattle, red and white, the sun went down—a red beacon blaze, a bonfire welcome on their pathway just before the engine—a promise and a symbol.

It was near noon the next day when they reached the junction and took, the branch line for the north. The first prairie-dog town had set Jim ablaze with schoolboy eagerness; and when a coyote stood and gazed at the train, he rushed out on to the platform to give him the hunter's yell.

"My, how sleek he looked! I wonder how those prairie dogs feel as they see him stalk around their town, like a policeman among the South Chicago kids!"

When a flock of prairie chickens flew before the train he called, "Look, look, Belle! See how they sail, just as they used to do!" As though the familiar sights of ten months before were forty years in the past.

They were in the hills now, and the winding train went more slowly. Animal life was scarcer here, but the pine trees and the sombre peaks were all about. At five o'clock the train swung down the gorge with Cedar Mountain before it, and Jim cried in joy: "There's our mountain; there's our mountain!"

There was a crowd assembled at the station and as soon as Jim appeared a familiar voice shouted, "Here he is!" and, led by Shives, they gave a hearty cheer. All the world of Cedar Mountain seemed there. Pa Boyd and Ma Boyd came first to claim their own. Dr. Jebb and Dr. Carson forgot their religious differences in the good fellowship of the time, and when the inner circle had kissed Belle and manhandled Jim to the limit of custom, a quiet voice said: "Welcome back, Mr. Hartigan," and Charlie Bylow grasped the Preacher's hand. "I brought my team so I could take care of your trunks." There was only one small trunk, but he took the check and would have resented any other man having hand or say in the matter.

That evening the meal was a "welcome home," for a dozen of the nearer friends were there to hear the chapters of their hero's life. Jim was in fine feather and he told of their Chicago life as none other could have done, with jest and sly digs at himself and happy tributes to the one who had held his hand when comradeship meant the most.

A month of freedom, with youth, sounds like years. Many plans were offered to fill the time. An invitation came from Colonel and Mrs. Waller to spend three days at Fort Ryan. In a delicately worded postscript was the sentence: "Blazing Star is well and will be glad to feel your weight again."

"Blazing Star and Cedar Mountain!" shouted Jim as Belle read the letter the next morning at breakfast. And then, much to Pa Boyd's amusement he broke out in his lusty baritone:

"'Tis my ain countree,
'Tis my ain countree!'
The fairest brightest land
That the sun did ever see."


Midnight and the horse that had been Belle's were waiting in the stable.

"Now, where shall we go? Up Cedar Mountain, to Fort Ryan, or where?" asked Belle as they saddled their mounts. His answer was not what she expected. Cedar Mountain had ever been in his thought. "If only I could stand on Cedar Mountain!" had been his words so many times. And now, with Cedar Mountain close at hand, in sight, he said: "Let's ride nowhere in particular—just through the sage."

They set off and veered away from Fort Ryan and any other place where men might cross their path. The prairie larks sang about them their lovely autumn song—the short, sweet call that sounds like: "Hear me, hear me! I am the herald announcing the King." Fluttering in the air and floating for a moment above the riders they carolled a wild and glorious serenade that has no possible rendition into human notation. After a hard gallop they rode in silence side by side, hand in hand, while Jim gazed across the plain or watched the fat, fumbling prairie dogs. But ever he turned his face and heart away from Cedar Mountain.

At first it had been to him but a mighty pile of rocks; then it had grown to be a spot beloved for its sacred memories. It had become a symbol of his highest hopes—the blessed things he held too good for words. He was riding now in the lust of youthful force; he was dwelling not in the past; or the hopeful far-ahead; he was in the living now, and, high or low, his instinct bade him drink the cup that came.

As the sun went down, he drew rein and paused with Belle to gaze at the golden fringe that the cedars made on the mountain's edge in the glow. He knew it and loved it in every light—best of all, perhaps, in its morning mist, when the plains were yet gray and the rosy dawn was touching its gleaming sides. He was content as yet to look on it from afar. He would seek its pinnacle as he had done before, but something within him said: "No; not yet."

And the wise young person at his side kept silence; a little puzzled but content, and waiting, wisely waiting.

CHAPTER LXI: Clear Vision on the Mountain

Kind friends and hearty greetings awaited the Hartigans at the Fort. Colonel Waller, Mrs. Waller, and the staff received them as long-lost son and daughter; and with the least delay by decency allowed they went to the stable to see Blazing Star, still Fort Ryan's pride. The whinnied welcome and the soft-lipped fumbling after sugar were the outward tokens of his gladness at the meeting.

"He's the same as ever, Jim," said the Colonel, "but we didn't race last summer. Red Cloud came as usual, but asked for a handicap of six hundred yards, which meant that they had not got a speeder they could trust. We had trouble, too, with the Indian Bureau over the whole thing, so the affair was called off. As far as we know now, Blazing Star is the racer of the Plains, with Red Rover making a good second. He's in his prime yet; he could still walk a stringer on a black night, and while you are here at the Fort he's yours as much as you want to use him."

Jim's cup was filled to overflowing.

Their midday meal over, a ride was in order; first around the Fort among the men—Captain Wayne, Osier Mike, Scout Al Rennie—then out over the sagebrush flat. "Here's the old battle ground of the horses; here's where you chased the coyote, and here's where Blazing Star took you over the single stringer bridge on that black night." It was less than a year he had been away, and yet Jim felt like one who was coming back to the scenes of his boyhood, long gone by. His real boyhood in far-away Links was of another world. Fightin' Bill Kenna, Whiskey Mason, the Rev. Obadiah Champ, the stable and the sawmills, his mother—they were dreams; even Chicago was less real than this; and he rode like a schoolboy and yelled whenever a jack rabbit jumped ahead of his horse and jerked its white tail in quick zigzags, exactly as its kind had done in the days when he lived in the saddle.

After dinner, by the log fire in the Colonel's dining room, Mrs. Waller raised the question of their plans. "Now, children" (she loved to be maternal), "what do you want to do to-morrow?"

There was a time when Belle would have spoken first, but there had been a subtle, yet very real, change in their relationship. Jim was a child three years before, dependent almost entirely on her; now she was less his leader than she had been. She waited.

Gazing at the fire, his long legs straight out and crossed at the ankles, his hands clasped behind his head, he lounged luxuriously in a great arm chair. Without turning his gaze from the burning logs he began:

"If I could do exactly what I wished——"

"Which you may," interjected Mrs. Waller.

"I'd saddle Blazing Star and Red Rover at seven o'clock in the morning and ride with Belle and not come back till noon."

"Ha, ha!" laughed Mrs. Waller and the Colonel. "You children! You two little, little ones! Well, we must remember that Belle is still a bride and will be for another month, so we'll bid you Godspeed on the new wedding trip and have your breakfast ready at half past six."

Early hours are the rule in a fort at the front, so the young folk were not alone at breakfast. And when they rode away on their two splendid horses, many eyes followed with delight the noble beauty of the pair—so fitly mounted, so gladly young and strong.

"Now, where, Jim?" said Belle, as they left the gate and thundered over the bridge at a mettlesome lope. And as she asked, she remembered that that was the very question he used always to put to her.

"Belle" (he reined in Blazing Star), "I have been waiting till it seemed just right—waiting for the very time, so we could stand again at our shrine. Sometimes I think I know my way and the trail I ought to seek, and sometimes I am filled with doubt; but I know I shall have the clear vision if we stand again as we used to stand, above our world, beside the Spirit Rock, on the high peak of our mountain."

And then, in the soft sign language of the rein let loose, the ribs knee-nudged, they bade their horses go. Side by side they rode and swung like newly mated honkers in the spring—like two centaurs, feeling in themselves the power, the blood rush of their every bound. In less than half an hour they passed the little town and were at the foot of Cedar Mountain. The horses would have gone up at speed, but the riders held them in, and the winding trail was slowly followed up.

The mountain jays flew round the pines before them as they climbed; an eagle swung in circles, watching keenly; while, close at hand, the squirrels dropped their cones to spring behind the trunks and chatter challenge.

At the half-way ledge they halted for a breathing. Belle looked keenly, gently into Jim's eyes. She was not sure what she saw. She wondered what his thoughts were. The brightness of the morning, the joy of riding and being, the fullness of freedom—these were in glowing reflex on his face, but she had seen these before; yet never before had she seen his face so tense and radiant. Only once, perhaps, that time when he came home walking in the storm.

He smiled back at her, but said nothing. They rode again and in ten minutes came to the end of the horse trail. He leaped from the saddle, lifted her down, and tied the horses. With his strong hand under her arm, he made it easy for her to climb the last steep path. A hundred feet above, they reached the top, above the final trees, above the nearer peaks, above all other things about them except the tall, gray Spirit Rock. Below spread a great golden world; behind them a world of green. The little wooden town seemed at the mountain's foot—Fort Ryan almost in shouting hail, though it was six miles off; beyond, was the open sea of sage, with heaving hills for billows and greasewood streaks for foam.

Jim gazed in utter silence so long that she looked a little shyly at him. His face was radiant, his eye was glistening, but he spoke no words. The seat they had used a year before was there and he gently drew her toward it. Seated there as of old, he put his arm about her and held her to him. She whispered, "Make a fire." She had indeed interpreted his thought. He rose, lighted a little fire on the altar at the foot of the Spirit Rock, and the smoke rose up straight in the still air. It ascended from the earth mystery of the fire to be lost in the mystery of the above. How truly has it been the symbol of prayer since first man kindled fire and prayed.

Jim took his Bible from his pocket and read from the metrical Psalm CXXI:

I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
From whence doth come mine aid;
My safety cometh from the Lord
Who heaven and earth hath made.


"They always went up into the hills to pray, Belle, didn't they? The fathers of the faith never went down into the valley when they sought God's guidance. I don't know why, but I know that I don't feel the same, away down there on the plains as I do up here. I see things more clearly, I have more belief in Him and know He is near me.

"The clouds have been gathering in my mind pretty thick and dark; yes, darker the last half year, Belle. I began to doubt myself as I never did. Even when we were winning in our Chicago fight, I wondered whether I was doing right. I couldn't see clearly, Belle, and then my doubt grew stronger and even you could not understand; there was something within that told me to go back to Cedar Mountain. Ever since we got here I have been waiting for the moment when I could come to the mountain. From here, a mile above the sea, I know that I shall see the way of wisdom. I wonder if you know what that Rock means to me with that little thread of smoke going up?

"Belle, men called Bill Kenna a ruffian and a brute. I guess he was, too, but he had a brave, warm heart. His whole religion was to feed the hungry and honour his word as a man. That was about all he taught me; and he loved my mother—that's enough; it bit in deep. When I gave my word as a man on that wild night four years ago when I heard the call, I vowed that I would, from that time on, devote my strength to telling others what I had found and try to make them find it, too. That was my vow, Belle; I've tried to keep it. I gave up things out here because they seemed to come between. I may be doing right in the city slum work, but it is not what I set out to do; I am not keeping to the trail."

Poor Belle! The periods of vague unrest she had noted; that time of fervent prayer; the reasons she had urged upon him for returning to college, and the crisis in which she had forced him to give it up—all now came back to her in quick succession. She remembered the weakness that had so nearly ended all and how he had overmastered it—that craving for drink, so strong from inheritance and from the evil habits of his earliest manhood. Amid daily temptations of the Chicago life, it had not seemed to touch him even as temptation. The horses that he loved he had given up for principle. The surface plasticity he still showed was merely the velvet that concealed the rod of steel and why he seemed so weak she knew now, was that he was so young, so very immature, a man in stature, a little happy child at heart. And the sting of sudden iron hurt her soul.

To say that she was shamed by remorse would not be fair; but the sum of her feelings was that he had given up all for her; she owed him something to atone.

There is clear vision from the hilltop—the far-sight is in the high place. The prophets have ever gone up into the high places for their message. The uplift of Cedar Mountain was on his spirit and on hers. She spoke softly, gravely, and slowly: "Jim, God surely brought me into your life for a purpose and, if I am no help, then I have failed. As surely as He sent us to Chicago to fight that fight and overcome the things about as well as the things inside, He also sent us here to-day to show our inmost souls, to get light on ourselves, to learn the way we must go. I have learned, for my spirit's eyes are clearer now and here than they ever were in my life before, and some things have come to me so vividly that I take them as commands from Him who set this rock up here and brought us in this frame of mind to see it. Jim, you must go back to college; you must finish your course; you must carry out your vow and consecrate yourself to spreading the gospel of His love."

Jim stared with glowing eyes as Belle went on: "I've thought it all out, Jim. I know it is mine to open the way now, as once I closed it."

He clutched her in his arms and shook with a sudden storm of long pent-up feeling, now bursting all restraint. He had no words; he framed no speech; he was overwhelmed.

Why put it into words? They understood each other now. He had gone to the city because that seemed the open way. He had taken up the purely secular work of the club while his inmost soul cried out: "This is not what you vowed; this is not the way to which you consecrated all your life." It was for her sake he had turned aside, and now that she announced the way of return, they came together as they never had; now was she truly his in spirit as in law.

It was long before they spoke, and their words now were of other things. The noon train was sounding at the bend; from the ledge below them Blazing Star sent up a querulous whinny. Jim was calm again and Belle was gently smiling, though her eyes still brimmed.

"We shall be late for the noon meal," he said, rising. For a moment they stood before the Spirit Rock, and he said in words of the old, old Book:

"He carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain."
"It is good for us to be here."
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."


They walked hand in hand and silently down the crooked trail to the horses. He lifted her to the saddle and kissed her hand only; but their eyes met in a burning look and their souls met face to face. Then they turned and rode the downward trail, and on the level plain gave free rein to the horses so that they went like hounds unleashed and skimmed the plain and leaped the gulch nor stayed till they reached the Fort and the friendly door where the soldier grooms were waiting.

They rode again the next day, circling the plain where the Indian race had been run and pointing out familiar objects. Jim led the way to the cottonwoods near where Higginbotham's "Insurance Office" had stood.

He stopped at the very spot and said: "Little girl, do you know what happened here about a year ago?"

"What?" she answered, as though in doubt.

"Guess."

"I can't," she replied. She would not say it. If he wanted it said, he must say it himself.

"It was here that I met 'Two Strikes.' Oh, what a blind fool I have been! If God had only given me a little less body and a little more brain! But it's all right. He knows best. He gave me you and I am thankful for that."

"We understand each other better now, Jim, don't we? I know you were only a child when I first saw you. You are a boy yet, but you will soon be a man. Listen, Jim; I have not ceased to think it over since we stood by the Spirit Rock. Do you remember what I said—you must go back to college? I must open the way. And I will, Jim; I have it all planned out. You must go back, not to Coulter, there are better colleges. They do not all bar married men. There is one in Chicago; Chicago is our gateway still. The Western Theological College is there. They will accept your year at Coulter for entrance and one year's work. I think I can get Mr. Hopkins to let me keep on with the Mountain House. My salary and what we have saved will make us comfortable. I can help in all your studies. In two years you will be through; then the Methodist Church, or any other, will be glad to have you and the way will be open wide. I will not fail you. You shall not fail to keep your word. And when we know, as we cannot know now, you will see that God was guiding me. Maybe He took you from Coulter because you were too young; surely He planned for us and has led us at every turn in the trail. It seems crooked now, but every rider in the hills knows that the crooks in the trail up Cedar Mountain were made to elude some precipice or to win some height not otherwise attainable; no other trail could end at the Spirit Rock, the highest point, the calm and blessed outlook, the top of Cedar Mountain."

"Now, Belle, I understand. My heart told me to wait, then to go up the mountain and find the thing I needed. I knew you would not fail; I knew my mountain meant vision for you and me."

CHAPTER LXII: When He Walked With the King

He must have been a huge, unwieldy egotistical brute who said, "Big men have ever big frames." He might have had Samuel Johnson, Walter Scott, Lincoln or Washington in mind; but, standing ready there to hurl the glib lie in his teeth, were Napoleon, Hamilton, St. Paul, Tamerlane, and the Rev. Dr. Jo. Belloc, President of the Western Theological College in Chicago. He was five feet high in his stockinged feet, thin and wiry, with a large gray head, a short gray beard and keen gray eyes of piercing intensity. When you saw him on the street, you hardly saw him at all; when you met him in a crowded room, you felt that the spirit behind those eyes was a strong one; and when you heard him speak, he grew tall and taller in your eyes—you instinctively removed your hat, for now you knew that a great man and teacher was here.

Why should such a one devote his power to mere denominationalism? Ah, you do not understand. He answered thus to a hostile critic: "My friend, the harvest is huge, the labourers are few; we need more, and many more than we have. If they be of simple sort and not too strong, we teach them the sweep and cut of the scythe, the width of the swathe, the height of the stubble, the knot of the sheaf-band, all that is safe, neither to waste the crop, nor their time, nor cut their fellow harvesters in the legs. But, if we find a giant with his own mode, who cuts a double swath, leaves ragged stubble, smashes oft his scythe, but saves a wondrous lot of grain, we say: 'Praise God! You're doing well; the rules are for the helpless as the fence is for the sheep; but you we judge by your results; keep on.'"

Dr. Belloc was in his office when there came for an interview a man who towered above him as they shook hands. The president motioned him to a seat; then as he turned those piercing eyes on the comely countenance of his caller, the prophet's description of the youthful David came to his mind, "Now, he was ruddy and withal of a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to."

"What can I do for you?" asked the big little man who filled the room, but did not fill the chair.

Jim modestly stated that he believed he had a call to preach the Gospel and he wished to enter college. Then, in answer to questions, he told his story with simple sincerity and fervour. The keen gray eyes were glowing like coals, and although no word was spoken by the man whose soul looked through them, Jim felt his earnest, kindly spirit. He felt, as never before, that "here is one who understands. Here is one in whom I have absolute confidence. Here is one whom I should love to obey."

This leader stirred Jim to the depths. His best, his inmost soul came forth to speak in response to the master mind; and the older man smiled when he heard how the Preacher had hated the books at Coulter. "Coulter," he said, "is a good old college, we accept their entrance; but it is quite likely that our curriculum may more quickly win your interest than theirs did."

As the president pondered the question that had brought them together, the second part of the lines of Samuel's description of David rose in his mind: "Arise and anoint him, for this is he." But the college had its own way of saying these big things; documents, questions, boards, had each a bearing on the matter, or a drop of ink to spend, and each offered a delay to the decisive action that the President had then and there resolved on. But they slowly ran their course and in the early autumn Jim was back, a college boy, and Belle had taken up the ruler's post at the Club.

It was easier every month for Jim to fight the battle with the books, where before he had been badly beaten. No doubt he was helped by his determination to win the fight and by Belle; but the two great reasons were that he, himself, was more developed—had outgrown the childish restlessness of the first attempt; and last but strongest of all, was the compelling personality of the president. With what consummate tact had he first offered to Jim's wild spirit the concrete, the simple, the history of to-day, the things that clearly were of immediate use; and later—much later, and in lesser degree—the abstruse, the doctrinal. And when the younger mind of the student came to a place that seemed too hard, or met a teacher who was deadening in his dullness, it needed but a little heart-to-heart talk with the strong soul in the robe to brace him up, to spur him on.

The president soon discovered Jim's love for heroic verse and at once, by wise selection, made it possible to tie that up with books. When Jim betrayed his impatience of fine-split doctrines, the president bade him forget them and read the lives of Luther, Calvin, and Wesley—take in the facts; the principles, so far as they had value, would take care of themselves. Such methods were unknown to his former teachers. Such presentation—vivid, concrete, human—was what he could understand, and accept with joy.

Two years went by. The first six months seemed slow; The last eighteen all too rapid. Jim had won his fight, he had more than won, for he was valedictorian of his class. The graduation class was much like any other, as the world could see it, yet it differed, too. When the tall form of the student speaker was left standing alone on the platform, there were not lacking those who said: "Never before has one gone from these halls so laden with good gifts; all, all seems showered on him."

In the audience, bound by closer ties than kinship, was one whose heart was too full for any human utterance. For her it was the crowning of their lives; had she not helped to make it possible?

After the set programme was over, Dr. Belloc handed to Jim an official letter. It was a call to be the pastor of the church in Cedar Mountain. Jim could not see the typed words for his tears and the president took it from him to read aloud. As he listened to the words Jim's thought turned to his mother, and in his heart he prayed: "O, God, grant this: that she may see me now."

Reader of this tale, do you recall the history of Cedar Mountain—how the church grew strong in the newly given strength? Those of many diverse churches came, for they said: "We care not what the vessel's shape that draws the blessed water from the well, so long as it be always there and the water pure and plentiful." Then came the great gold strike in the near hills; and the Preacher was troubled till he learned that it had not touched his mountain. Another railway came, and the town grew big and bigger yet. There were those that feared that their Preacher might leave them, for the needs and calls of the great cities are ever loud and forceful. They said: "Our town is not big enough for such a man; he will surely go to the city." But it was not so; for the city came to the man and mightily grew about him.

Two years after the return to Cedar Mountain, late in the day, designedly late, two horses might have been seen ascending the crooked trail through the cedars that mantled the mountain. Familiar forms were these that rode. They had often taken this path before. The first was the Preacher; the second, the woman that had held his hand. But in her arms was another—the baby form of their first-born. This was their first long ride together since he came, this was the elected trail; and, as the big, red sun went down in the purple and gold of his curtains, Jim took the baby and led the way up the last rough trail, to the little upland, right to the Spirit Rock. The red symbols of the Indians had been recently renewed; in a crevice was a shred of tobacco wrapped in red-dyed grass. It was still a holy place, accounted so by those who knew it.

From the bundle that he carried on his back, Jim took a handful of firewood, a canteen of water, and a church baptismal bowl. He filled the bowl and set it on the lowest ledge of the Spirit Rock. Before the rock he lighted a little fire and, when it blazed, he dropped into the flames the tobacco from the crevice. "That is what they wished done with it," he said in reverence. When the thread of smoke went up nearly straight into the sky—an emblem of true prayer that has ever been—he kneeled, and Belle beside him with the little one kneeled, and he prayed to the God of the Mountain for continued help and guidance and returned thanks for the little one whom they had brought that day to consecrate to Him.

Jim wished it. Belle willed it. His mother, he knew, would have had it so. There seemed no better place than this, the holiest place his heart had ever known. There was no better time than this, the evening calm, with all the symbols of His Presence in their glory.

Belle handed the infant to Jim, who sprinkled water on its face, baptizing it in the form of the Church, and then added: "I consecrate thee to God's service, and I name thee William in memory of the friend of my childhood, a man of wayward life, but one who helped to build whatever there is in me of strength, for he never was afraid, and he ever held his simple word as a bond that might not be broken."

THE END
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