Ernest Thompson Seton.

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

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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




BOOKS BY ERNEST THOMPSON SETON


WILD ANIMALS I HAVE KNOWN, 1898

The stories of Lobo, Silverspot, Molly Cottontail, Bingo, Vixen, The
Pacing Mustang, Wully and Redruff.

THE TRAIL OF THE SANDHILL STAG, 1899

The story of a long hunt that ended without a tragedy.

BIOGRAPHY OF A GRIZZLY, 1900

The story of old Wahb from cubhood to the scene in Death Gulch.

LOBO, RAG AND VIXEN, 1900

This is a school edition of number one, with some of the stories and
many of the pictures left out.

THE WILD ANIMAL PLAY, 1900

A musical play in which the parts of Lobo, Wahb, Vixen, etc., are taken
by boys and girls.

THE LIVES OF THE HUNTED, 1901

The stories of Krag, Randy, Johnny Bear, The Mother Teal, Chink, The
Kangaroo Rat, and Tito, the Coyote.

PICTURES OF WILD ANIMALS, 1901

Twelve large pictures for framing (no text), viz., Krag, Lobo, Tito Cub,
Kangaroo Rat, Grizzly, Buffalo, Bear Family, Johnny Bear, Sandhill Stag,
Coon Family, Courtaut the Wolf, Tito and her family.

KRAG AND JOHNNY BEAR, 1902

This is a school edition of Lives of the Hunted with some of the stories
and many of the pictures left out.

TWO LITTLE SAVAGES, 1903

A book of adventure and woodcraft and camping out for boys telling how
to make bows, arrows, moccasins, costumes, teepee, war-bonnet, etc., and
how to make a fire with rubbing sticks, read Indian signs, etc.

MONARCH, THE BIG BEAR OF TALLAC, 1904

The story of a big California grizzly that is living yet.

ANIMAL HEROES, 1905

The stories of a Slum Cat, a Homing Pigeon, The Wolf That Won, A Lynx, A
Jack-rabbit, A Bull-terrier, The Winnipeg Wolf, and a White Reindeer.

BIRCH-BARK ROLL, 1906

The Manual of the Woodcraft Indians, first edition, 1902.

WOODMYTH AND FABLE, 1905

A collection of fables, woodland verses, and camp stories.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, 1907

Showing the Ten Commandments to be fundamental laws of all creation.

THE BIOGRAPHY OF A SILVER FOX, 1909 or Domino Reynard of Goldur Town,
with 100 illustrations by the author.

A companion volume to the Biography of a Grizzly.

LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTHERN ANIMALS, 1909

Said by Roosevelt, Allen, Chapman, and Hornaday to be the best work ever
written on the Life Histories of American Animals.

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, 1910

A handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life Craft including the
Birch-Bark Roll.

ROLF IN THE WOODS, 1911

The Adventures of a Boy Scout with Indian Quonab and little dog Skookum.
Over 200 drawings by the author.

THE ARCTIC PRAIRIES, 1911

A canoe journey of 2,000 miles in search of the Caribou. 415 pages with
many maps, photographs, and illustrations by the author.

THE BOOK OF WOODCRAFT AND INDIAN LORE, 1912

with over 500 drawings by the author.

THE FORESTER'S MANUAL, 1912

One hundred of the best-known forest trees of eastern North America,
with 100 maps and more than 200 drawings.

WILD ANIMALS AT HOME, 1913

with over 150 sketches and photographs by the author.

In this Mr. Seton gives for the first time his personal adventures in
studying wild animals.

MANUAL OF THE WOODCRAFT INDIANS, 1915

The fourteenth Birch-Bark Roll.

WILD ANIMALS WAYS, 1916

More animal stories introducing a host of new four-footed friends with
200 illustrations by the author.

THE INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE (to be published later).




BY MRS. ERNEST THOMPSON SETON


A WOMAN TENDERFOOT, 1901

A book of outdoor adventures and camping for women and girls. How to
dress for it, where to go, and how to profit the most by camp life.

NIMROD'S WIFE, 1907

A companion volume, giving Mrs. Seton's side of the many camp-fires she
and her husband lighted together in the Rockies from Canada to Mexico.








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