She never fretted, because she believed so firmly
that even the small threads of little worries were
woven into the plan of God's providence.
He drew the paper to him, and then they
knelt, and he asked for that wisdom which God
in his wondrous love had promised to those who
"Help us not to waver in our faith ! Help us
Reuben Delton, Preacher.
to see thee, and not ourselves and our own com-
fort. Make a plain path for our feet, O Lord !"
— so lie prayed, and tlie voung preacher and his
wife rose from their knees with peace in their
hearts, the peace that conies from a surrendered
will and the true spirit of obedience.
Then with a smiling face Marthy rolled up
her work, put it in her basket, and addressed
herself to the task of deciding the ^'Pros" and
"Cons" of this important question. Here were
the reasons they wrote down for and against
leaving Wautauga, and they incidentally throw
much light on the characters of Reuben Deltoii
and of his wife :
1. The very fact that it
is so hard suggests that
selfishness is stirred.
2. They need a mountain
man with a wife and some
experience, both of which
3. Every call to a Chris-
tian for harder work and
more self-denial is the Mas-
4. God calls many men
to sow, but does not let all
reap what their own hands
5. We have so few hard-
1. We have not been here
long enough to give this
work into other hands.
2. There are other moun-
tain men in the ministry.
Why should they rob Wau-
tauga to pay Yancey?
3. Sometimes God tests
his children by a call he
does not mean them to ac-
cept in order to try their
4. These people love us,
and we have more and
more influence with them.
5. The visitors help us.
Reuben Delton, P readier.
and we help tliem, by put-
ting them in touch with
6. Grey son ought to
know the sweetness of a
7. This is our home, our
first home. God gave it to
us. It is right that we
should love it and want to
ships here we may be lack-
ing in the spirit of self-de-
nial the Master wants.
6. The interruption in
our work by the presence
of the summer visitors is
injurious to us.
7. The work here is
God's work. We must not
think it would stop because
8. If God is testing our
love and spirit of obedi-
ence, we have no right to
refuse to stand the test.
9. We are called to en-
dure hardness as good sol-
diers. We dare not then
refuse this call, "Come over
and help us!"
It is easy to see that Marthy had taken as
her work the putting down of the reasons
against going away. It was as if the soul and
heart were making the record for both. And
as Reuben's reasons grew stronger and stronger
and multiplied, Marthy could restrain her tears
no longer. She put down the tablet, and, lean-
ing her head on the table, she burst into a fit of
weeping. Reuben putting his ann about her
waist, leaned his head on the table beside hers
and wept too.
They both felt that the reasons for their going
Ueuhen Delton, Preacher.
were stronger than tlie reasons for staying,
thoiigli some people might have differed — people
not so alert to restrain self, not so satisfied as
they were that '^the Christian life is a life
After a few moments Marthy, always the first
to regain control over herself, lifted her head,
and, wiping her eyes with her apron, laid her
hand gently on Reuben's shoulder and said in
a voice tremulous with emotion : '^Preacher, we
mustn't forget the covenant we made when we
were married, that we Avould never give up any-
thing we could do for the Lord because it was
too hard, nor that other covenant we made when
baby came, that we would never let him be our
excuse for nee'lectins: anv work, and that we
would teach him obedience and unselfishness as
soon as he could understand us. God is surely
testing us now !"
"That's so, little wife! I feel that this call
has more to do with our spiritual life and growth
than it has, perhaps, with the work over the
mountains. We are God's workers. Maybe he
sees that we are going to be spoiled here, though
we may not see it. You see, all these summer
boarders that knew us, and a good many this
season that didn't know us, have praised us and
our work, and have helped us, until I reckon
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 73
the Lord knew that we were having too easy a
time for our good."
^^It depends on where yon stand whether a
person's life looks easy or hard," said Marthy,
sadly. "From where the summer hoarders see
ns we do not seem to have much of an easy time,
hut I reckon poor Mandy Snoggs must have
thought we lived in clover."
"Well, we have looked at the matter the hest
we know how, from our standpoint,' Marthy,
and if it is left to us, we know how we will de-
cide now, I reckon. But you know Presbytery
has a voice in the matter, and the best thing for
us to do now is to cast our burden on the Lord,
and wait to hear what the brethren will say."
"O Reub ! what do vou reckon that Miss
Greyson '11 say ?"
"Something sensible and kind that'll
strengthen us for whatever is before us, you
may be sure."
"Well, I know I need strengthening and cheer-
ing, and I mean to write to her to-morrow, but
I need sleep more than anything else right
Marthy rose as she spoke and went to the
door, as was her custom, to say good night to the
view, as she expressed it.
As she ojDened the door a flood of moonlight
74 Reuben Delton, Preacher.
fell upon ber. The full moon was well up in
the skv, and shone upon a white sea of mist in
which the space for a few hundred yards from
the house seemed the only land visible. Still-
ness reigned every^vbere, save for the occasional
tinkle of a distant bell telling of some still wake-
From the nasturtiums and pansies under her
windows came the delicate fragrance Marthy
loved so well, and as she enjoyed it by some
subtle association, she found herself reminded
of the dreary cabin of Mandy Snoggs — lonely
and deserted to-night, for the neighbors had re-
moved the bodv to a house a mile further down
the mountain, preparatory to the funeral the
A pitying thought stole into Marthy's heart
for the poor outlaw who had given them such a
scare, and then she remembered that she had not
vet told Reub of her adventure.
She turned toAvards her husband and said,
"Preacher, were you conscious of praying spe-
cially for me last night V^
Reuben looked up from his book. "Why,
Marthy ?" Before she could reply, he added,
"I felt considerably nervous about you and Lin-
nie spendin' the night up there, but I knew Dr.
Thornly 'd go back — didn't he ? and I knew
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 75
some woman folks ought to stay, and that no-
body but my little wife had faith enough to stay
with Linnie. "Yes, dear, I prayed very spe-
cially for you, but, somehow, about ten o'clock
I felt so relieved, so sure that God would pro-
tect you, I just quit prayin' and fell asleep."
Marthy's face wore a look of triumph as she
recounted the story of Dan Ruger's visit, for
she felt that she was only illustrating the subject
of answered prayer.
"N"ot but that I believe that God would have
protected me whether you had prayed or not, but
I do love to think he wants us to pray just to
show our dependence. Reub, I felt just as if I
was using one of those 'phones they have over at
Blowing Rock when I uttered that quick prayer
in my heart, and it seemed to me I could almost
hear the answer come back, "I will keep
Reuben really looked alarmed when Marthy
told of her asking Ruger to come to their house,
for he knew better than Marthy what a desper-
ado the man was, and how it seemed at times as
if he was almost possessed with the devil. But
Marthy's faith in Ruger's appreciation of her
kindness could not be shaken.
The next dav Reuben held the funeral ser-
vices of Mandy Snoggs at Evergreen Church,
76 . Reuhen Delton, Preacher.
and they laid her awaj in the lonely little grave-
yard on the mountain side.
He had made it an occasion for preaching of
the love of God for sinners. He called atten-
tion to the fact that it was God who had put it
into the hearts of good women to comfort the
dying hours of this poor outcast, and added
that she had given them evidences of her re-
pentance and faith.
^^But oh ! friends and neighbors," he said, his
fine, strong face lighting with a blended expres-
sion of intense and tender pleading with a touch
of scorn, ^^don't let us wait until the last of lives
spent in self-seeking and sin, and then bring to
the loving and holy God a few feeble hours or
days without a single act of loving service in re-
turn for all that he has given us !"
''Suppose you should promise me a bushel of
apples, and then should wait until the apples
were nearly all rotted before you brought them ?
What would I think of you ? what would you
think of yourselves ? God is very merciful, and
waits a long time on many sinners, but he is
calling you to-day, now. Won't you come to
him now? Take him as your Redeemer and
Savior now. Won't you ?"
Reuben's fine grey eyes were full of tender
feeling, the color in his cheeks was deepening.
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 11
and as his voice, peculiarly full and mellow,
rang out in this pleading, in which his very
heart was pouring itself out for the salvation of
the souls of these people, he little thought
that in the rhododendron thicket behind the
church it fell upon the ears of the outlaw, Dan
The poor fellow had seen the wagon contain-
ing Mandy's coffin as it wended its way down the
rough mountain road, and had followed, lured
by curiosity, as closely as he dared. He knew
what Mandy had been better than most people,
and he was amazed to find these Christian peo-
ple not only had nursed her carefully in her
sickness, but were preparing to give her a decent
He was familiar with every foot of the moun-
tain around Evergreen Church, knew every one
of the devious paths that traversed the laurel
thickets, through many of which one could only
advance on all fours.
To-day there was away down in the lonely,
wretched heart of Dan Ruger a strange desire
to get nearer to Christian people. He wanted to
hear what Reub Delton would say of Mandy,
and he crept cautiously to the edge of the thicket
while the services were going on.
"The' ainH a head of 'em — ^men er women —
78 Reuben Delton, Preacher.
that wouldii' drop ev'ything ter git a chance at
me ef some of them honn' dogs gits a seent."
He lay flat, with his pistol cocked, and lis-
tened. He expected to hear the preacher tell of
the wickedness of Mandj's past life, and of the
hell that she had assnredlj gone to. Also of
many others who were following her. He would
not have been surprised to have heard his o^vn
name mentioned in connection with his visit to
the cabin of Mandy the previous night, and
when the services progressed and he heard only
of God's love to sinners, and his long-suffering
kindness to them, and at the last Reuben's elo-
quent j)leading with those Christ died to save,
he began to be filled with surprise.
^'That's a curious fellar. It sounds like he
b'lieves what he says, too. I'm gittin' mighty
tired of this yere bein' hounded aroun' like an
ole cat — out nights an' days, sneaking w'at little
grub I eat. Ef I wus ter git a chance I might"
— he stopped a moment, and the scowl which
had faded from his brow loured once more, and
he muttered, ^'Yes, but ther's a price on me right
now, an' ef I wus to go near, even this yer
preacher, they'd nab me fur ter git ther
Just then there was the sound of singing —
a strangely unfamiliar sound to Dan Ruger.
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 79
He heard the words of the simple old hymn
that had seemed to comfort Mandy's dying
heart — •
" I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me!"
^'Even me ! that's ther word as would be hard
fur me ter believe. I can't quite swaller that.
Hit don mean no sich trash as me, though.
Ther only kin words I've heerd sence I wus a
baby was ther words that Delton woman said ter
me th' other night."
There was a strange choking sensation in
Dan Ruger's throat, and something in his eyes
that made it hard for him to see.
The simple service in the church was over,
and they were bringing the coffin to lay Mandy
Snoggs in her last resting place in the grave-
yard on the mountain side.
Dan Ruger did not wait to see any more. He
knew that he was rimning a desperate risk of
being discovered, so he crawled back through
the narrow path made by the wild hogs through
the laurel thicket until he came out where he
was safe, then he took to the mountain torrent
that came dashing down a ravine, and, jumping
from rock to rock, he ascended the stream to
his hiding place two miles above Evergreen
80 Eeuhe7i Delton, Preacher,
He ate his rough meal cooked in the cave
that had given him shelter for two years, and
then, actuated for the first time in many a year
by the desire to do a kindness to somebody, he
went out on a search for game.
"Ef I kin git a good sized gobbler, I'd take it
do^vn ter ther preacher's house to-night an'
leave it thar fur that little woman to pay her
fur say in' them words over at Mandy's. I kin
jest slip it down by ther door an' nobody 'd ever
know who done it."
He laughed to himself as he pushed his way
through the laurels to a favorite hunting ground
Dan Ruger was a fine shot, and he had not
gone far before he had brought do^vn two fine
pheasants. He returned to the cave, and, tak-
ing from a ledge in the back a sheet of coarse
and soiled letter paper, and from his pocket the
stub end of a pencil, he sat down outside and
scrawled in a large and not very legible hand :
This he folded and put into his pocket, and
then, having cleaned and loaded his pistol
again, he destroyed all signs of the fire he had
made for his afternoon meal, and, going to a
Eeuben Delton, Preacher. 81
ledge of the rocky precipice just above his cave,
he looked around to see what time of the after-
noon it was.
^^Sich as rne caint go travellin' by daylight/'
he said to himself with bitterness. "We've got
to wait like other wil' beasts, to prowl at night."
Then he remembered Marthy's speech about
his not having a home. Seated on the rocky
ledge, and, gazing out over the wide view, he
began to think of his life. He could hardly re-
member when he began his evil career. He
could scarcely remember when he had known
what home meant.
"Ef I'd a had a mother er a sister er a wife
like her, I'd not been a sneakin' roun' waitin'
fur night even ter do a good thing."
He looked down on a vallev that followed the
winding river. The sun was just setting, the
light cloud that hung like a canopy above old
grandfather was full of golden glory. The sky
up to the zenith was of that clear and brilliant
blue that seems peculiar to the late afternoon
skies of this region.
Down in the vallev a little cabin home was
visible, and from the chimney curled the pale
blue smoke. Peace seemed to reign everyr^^here.
Something of it stole into the seared heart of
the outlaw, but only for a moment ; then his
82 Eeuhen Delton, Preacher.
liaiicl tightened its grasp of his pistol, a des-
perate light flashed into his eyes.
" 'Tain't no nse fnr me to be wishin' fur a
home, nnr thinkin' of livin' hones'-like an' civil.
Ther law's arter me, an' I'll never be no jail
bird, w'ich I'm bonn' ter be ef I go doT\m frnm
here. The bes' thing I kin do is ter blow my
brains ont an' be done with it." He drew his
pistol from his belt, and for one moment the
life of Dan Rnger trembled in the balance, but
in the next he thought of Marthy Delton's kind
words, and the recollection of his plan to take
the pheasants down to her, actually turned the
whole course of Dan Ruger's wild life without
his ever suspecting it. He put the pistol back
and muttered, "One more day won't matter, an'
I'm a goin' ter feed Preacher Delton and his
wife one time 'fore I leave this yere blasted ole
He turned and climbed down the precipitous
cliff and began to follow the stream as far
down as he dared go before it w^as dark. He
avoided the frequented paths, yet was ever draw-
ing nearer the mountain manse.
A half mile from the house, just above the
small clearing of the Delton farm, there was
a spring that Reub and Marthy had found and
cleaned out. And by cutting away a few
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 83
branches of the laurels thev could get a pretty
view of their home.
It was a favorite resort on Sunday evenings
when Reuben came home from preaching soon
enough, and from that spot there often floated
down to the valley homes the sounds of sing-
^^That's the preacher and Marthy at ther
spring," some one would say as the clear, sweet
tones of their voices were borne to them on the
To this spring Dan Ruger had made his way.
He heard the sound of the water, but could
barely see the path that led from it in the direc-
tion of the manse.
He stood still and listened. It was too late
for anyone to be coming to the spring for water,
but he was so used to being on the watch that
he did not think of it.
"Suj^pose the preacher was ter come; I don'
'low that a man that was married ter that
woman 'ould be a coward," he thought. "She
wouldn' be afeerd, I know, but they might tell
Everything was so still that he sat down, but
with his hand on the pistol and his ear straining
for the sound of approaching footsteps.
The valley was filling with mists; the after-
84 Ueiiben Delion, Preacher.
glow had faded from the sky, and the stars
were coming out rapidly.
Ruger listened for the barking of dogs down
at the manse. He knew the barking of a dog
would betray him as he approached the house,
but if they kept a dog, it was in-doors, for every-
thing was quiet.
He could see the lights in the house, and once
or twice there were figures passing between the
window and the light.
Into that heart which was considered only
evil and callous there stole a feeling of loneli-
ness, an aspiration after a better life, that is
surely to be found at sometime in every human
He felt a strange desire to go into a good man's
home and to see what religion did for it. But-
he was sure that he would be delivered quickly
into the sheriff's hands if he attempted such a
He stretched himself on the ground, doubling
his old blanket about him, for the night was
growing chill. When the lights were out and
everything quiet, he planned to take the pheas-
ants down for Marthy.
The only sounds that broke on the stillness
now was the droning of the locusts and the oc-
casional note of a wakeful cat-bird. He rose
Beuhen Delton, Preacher. 85
and went cautiously down the path, to the barn-
yard, creeping along the outside of the fence, and
yet drawing slowly nearer and nearer to the
house. At last he made a dash across the road,
now lying in the bright moonlight, and, making
his way as deftly as an Indian along the side
fence, he crossed in the heavy shadow of the
house, approached the back porch cautiously,
and laid the pheasants on the floor, sticking the
paper on them Avith a thorn he had cut by the
In another moment he had crossed the fence
again, and was just about to cross the road to
the barnyard fence when he heard the sound of
Avheels and of horses' feet a short distance down
the road ! In an instant he was lying flat on the
ground in the shadow of the fence.
Some belated wagoners returning from Blow-
ing Rock or, perhaps, Lenoir had given him this
surprise, and little did they dream as they drove
sleepily along in the moonlight that in the
shadow of Preacher Delton's fence a gam was
cocked in the hands of Dan Ruger the outlaw !
When they were entirely out of sight, Ruger
rose, dashed quickly across the road, and was
soon lost in the laurel thicket beyond the spring.
The Victory of Love.
AKTHY! Marthy! look here, won't
There was such a tone of surprise m
Reuben's voice that his wife put down what she
was doing and ran to the hack door. There lay
the pheasants, and Reuben handed the paper to
her with its rude scrawling address.
"Who do you suppose did this ? It must have
been somebody who came after we were asleep."
Reuben said, ''Almost anybody in the neighbor-
hood would ha' wanted to own to having killed
such a fine pair of birds as these. O Reub !
do you think it might be that wild fellow we
saw up at Mandy's."
Reuben's brow clouded, and he said, somewhat
impatiently, "I'd rather not have him get
friendly, Marthy ; he is a dangerous fellow, and
I don't want him coming about here. Maybe
he's been at some mischief over at the barn-
yard and has left these to pay. From all I hear
of him, he is dare-devil enough to do just that."
He lifted the bucket as he finished speaking
and went to the barnyard to do his milking.
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 87
Marthy had not replied to him, hut when he
came hack and reported everything intact,
Marthy said to him, "Preacher, mayhe God
means us to try to save this poor fellow hefore
we leave Wantnga. I cannot forget how sur-
prised and touched he seemed by my speaking
kindly to him the other night. Maybe there's
some good in him that we are to bring out.
Maybe he is to be saved by kindness." She began
to sing softly:
" Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness.
Clouds that were broken will vibrate once more."
Marthy did not mean to be dramatic, but the
words were just suited to express her thought,
and it was as easy to sing them as to say them.
But there was something in the rich, full tones
of her voice, in the earnestness and enthusiasm
in her face that moved her husband profoundly.
Her ceaseless desire, and her watchfulness to
save souls, gave her a hopefulness that seemed
unquenchable, all of which he felt was the re-
sult of her child-like faith in the r>romises of
'That may be so, little wife," he said, thought-
88 Reuben Delton, Preacher^-
fiillv. ^^God grant that it may be. It takes yon
to look at things that way. I'm afraid I was
only seeing Dan Rnger from the standpoint of a
Breakfast over, Reuben addressed himself to
the work of replying to the letters he had re-
ceived from his brethren.
^'It is one of those things that do not get
easier to do for being postponed/' he said to
Marthy, as he got his writing materials and pre-
pared to finish his letters, and to leave his
ploughing till afternoon.
When he had finished the letters, and they
had read them over together, Renb laid them on
the mantel and went out to the field with a light-
ness of heart that he could hardly understand
himself until he recalled the marginal reading
of the fifth verse of the thirty-seventh Psalm.
"Roll thy way on the Lord, trust also in him."
Yes," he thought, "that is it. I have done my
little part, now I just roll this burden on the
Lord ; it is too heavy for me, and if I can only
Svait on the Lord and be of good courage,' my
heart will be strengthened."
He was unconscious of what others had often
noticed, that he had that power of letting the
burdens alone that he had rolled upon the Lord.
In a little while Marthy heard his merry
Reuben Delton, Preacher. 89
whistle from the home lot, where he was plough-
ing, and, catching the contagion, she sang over
her wash tuh. So true is it that cheerfulness as
well as laughing is catching.
By three o'clock he was oif on some of his
work among the sick and wretched far back in
the coves, where he had found much need, both
spiritual and temporal.
Homes — ah ! how may one venture to call by
that sacred name the miserable hovels where
vice and squalor reign ? Where all that makes
home attractive is wanting, and where many are
born and grow to manhood, and even to age,
and die without having heard of God and
Marthy had often accompanied Reub on his
visits to these coves, and had been an object les-
son to more than one woman ; but to-day she had
work of her own in another direction. She
started before Reuben, to hold one of her Moth-
ers' Meetings, which had made her such a bless-
ing to the neighborhood for miles around.
She was mounted on Delight, with little Grey-