Ernest Thompson Seton.

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

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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 Midnight was thereupon withdrawn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.




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


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Online LibraryErnest Thompson SetonThe preacher of Cedar Mountain; a tale of the open country → online text (page 19 of 24)