Ernest Thompson Seton.

The preacher of Cedar Mountain; a tale of the open country online

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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,


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Online LibraryErnest Thompson SetonThe preacher of Cedar Mountain; a tale of the open country → online text (page 18 of 24)