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Well, twon t be a great while now before yer maw
and yer paw will be a-complainin about you burnin
so much coal oil, the fellows is settin up with you
so constant."

He laughed so loud at his own joke that his up
per set fell down, and " Jinny " she is trying to
get herself called " Virgie " now that she is sixteen,
and we think sweet sixteen at that went as red as
the peonies out in the front yard.

" When she gets married, elder," her mother put
in, " we ll have you to perform the ceremony."

" So do," said he, " so do. The fee ll come in
mighty handy to a superannuated. Only don t be too
long about it, r else you ll have to get somebody
else. And look here, Jinny, don t you go to gittin
too stylish and have somebody to assist, because
that means splittin the fee. Say " he interrupted
himself " who d you s pose I married last Wednes
day evening? "

" Anybody we know? "

"W y, of course, er I wouldn t a ast you. Nup.
Not Em Shaw. Em s never goin to git nybody. Too



3 i4 FOLKS BACK HOME

fond of saying smart things and too curless o
whuther they hurt or not. Well, I ll tell you. Twas
Emmeline Shelby. She got a fellow by the name of
Pearson. Not the Pearsons you know over by Sun-
bury, but Connecticut folks. His mother and sisters
live with him and I jest tell you they re the salt of
the earth. Oh, she s doin well to git him. He s the
superintendent of the trolley line. W y, ye-es, bless
your heart, we got a trolley line, too; they re as
thick as fleas on a dog now. He gets good pay, and
her pa deeded her a house and lot up on Fountain
Avenue, all fixed up s fine s a fiddle. She s got every
thing that heart could wish, excepting children."
The old man s eyes twinkled, and he tugged at his
long, square-cut beard, shaved away from his ex
pressive mouth to give it room according to its
strength. He made a grimace toward Virgie, who
pretended not to notice his last sentence.

" Emmeline s a right good girl, though she s
never pressed forward for the blessing of perfect
love, like I expected she would. But in the prayer
I offered after I had made her Mrs. Pearson, I asked
the good Lord to make her the means of grace to
her husband that she had be n to her father.

" Well, sir, it jest about filled my cup to over
flowing when I come to that part where it says:
Who giveth this woman to be married to this
man? to see Brother Shelby step up and say, I do,



STARS IN HIS CROWN 315

a-lookin so prosperous and jest as proud s a body
kin righteously be of bavin sech a daughter. I felt
so happy I come purty nigh shoutin , only you know,
it was the Episcopal service and that don t make any
allowance fer shoutin .

" Well, I says to him when we set down to sup
per and I want to say right here that Sister Brey-
fogle and me have be n to a good many weddin s
in the course of our earthly pilgrimage, but I do
know s we ever set down to a more bountiful repast.
Laws, Brother Billy, if I could a had some o that
good eatin when I was a-tryin to get my growth,
I don t believe but what I d be a bigger man than
what I am Well, I was a-goin to tell you. I says
to him, * Brother Shelby/ I says, if that girl hain t
be n the Lord s angel to you, I says, from the very
day she was born, I says, l and you cross and dis
appointed because she wasn t a boy, I says, then
there never was any angels and I dassent deny
them, I says, because we got Scripture for them,
I says.

" Look like to me it wa n t more n a week sence
I saw her standin up on the seat a-holdin onto his
forefinger while he give in his first experience, that
is, as fur s he d got, and ast us all to pray for him
that he might ever prove faithful. It was tollable
airly fer revivals, summers along about Thanksgiv
ing time it was, but his experience started one of



316 FOLKS BACK HOME

the most powerful p tracted meetings I most ever
went through. We had a gracious outpouring of the
spirit, and many precious souls were gathered in.

" Brother Shelby is as good as wheat now and a
saved man. The Lord has prospered his goings out
and his comings in, but they was a time when he
was regular right down in the gutter, but the
Lord snatched him out of it took and drug him
out, as you might say. He takes His own way
praise His name! but He gits there. The promise
is: And a little child shall lead them/ and it s so,
too.

" I married him and Huldy Kenyon, and I tell you
I was mighty juberous about whether I had orta do
it or not. The words kep a-comin into my head:
Whom God hath joined together whom God hath
joined together ( Lord/ I says, air you a-joinin
them together er is it Huldy Kenyon s plegged stub
bornness?

" She was an awful pretty girl, and a good girl,
too, and could a had the pick o the whole Lewis-
ton circuit fer a good man, and who should she take
up with but Ed Shelby? A wild, harum-scarum,
drinkin , dancin , card-playin sort of a feller, smart
as tacks, but, dear me, how wild! She could V had
Henny Simmons as well as not, and he had a splen
did farm, all in his own right, and would V pro
vided well fer her, but no, she was jest plumb dis-



STARS IN HIS CROWN 31?

tracted after Ed Shelby. Have him she would, and
have him she did.

" I says to her one time, Sister Huldy/ I says,
* do you feel called of the Lord to be yoked un
equally with this unbeliever? I says.

* He ain t an unbeliever, siss she, spunkin right
up. That s the way with these black-haired girls.
Flare up like tow. Talk about the red heads. They re
meek as Moses, longside o the black heads. I mar-
rid a red head myself, and I orta know.

" He ain t an unbeliever, she says. He don t
come to church now, but he says he will when we
get married.

" Well, Huldy, I says as ca m as I could, if
he don t come now when he s still a-courtin and
ain t shore o gittin you, do you s pose he will when
they ain t no doubts about it?

" She set her lips and tossed her head. He ll
come, siss she, and though I m not a prophet or
the son of a prophet, I could look ahead and see
trouble and heartbreak fer her and contentions and
strife fer him.

Well, I says, I s pose you know he s a drinkin
man, I says, ( and you know what that means.

He drinks some/ she owned up, gittin as red
as fire.

Some! I says, and I tell you my heart bled
fer her. Some! It s more n some. He runs with them



3i8 FOLKS BACK HOME

Allen boys and cuts up and carries on scandalous.
Unless he turns to the Lord right quick/ I says,
they are a heap o trouble ahead o him and you.

" Well/ siss she, I m a-goin* to marry him, if
he ll have me/ she says, as pert as you please. I m
a-goin to marry him to reform him. In them days
that wasn t sech an old saying as it is now, but I
had seen sech a plenty of it that I jest got heart
sick fer the pore girl. * Well, Lord help! I says, and
hushed right up.

" I thought over it and thought over it, and,
somehow, it was borne in on me that the Lord was
goin to join them together, if not by my hand, by
some other s, and m well, I needed the fee right
bad then anyhow. I disremember what it was that
Sister Breyfogle wanted with it, but I married them
and made them the subject of special prayer.

" What I said to Huldy, she must a took to heart,
for Ed come to meetin right regular before they
was married, but it turned out just as I thought, he
kind of dropped off afterwards. He stayed sober as
a judge fer quite a spell. Oh, I guess it must a be n
nine or ten months before he broke out ag in. I
could see pride stickin out all over Huldy, as much
as to say, Didn t I tell you I could reform him?

" I knowed it would be only a question of time,
and, sure enough, when the bust-up did come, it
was a terrible one. Horse run away with him, little



STARS IN HIS CROWN

bay mare she was, could go like the wind and nerv
ous as a witch. Throwed him out about half a mile
below Mumma s place. Broke his leg, he did. I hap
pened along providentially and took him home in
my buggy. I didn t want any of the neighbors to
know about it, so I jest packed him into the house
on my back. Pore Huldy, she was so t she couldn t
do anything. I could lift a big man like him in them
days, but I m afraid it would be a little too much
fer me now that I m a-going to take the superan
nuated relation. The grasshopper is shore enough a
burden now, jest like Scripture says.

" Poor Huldy cried, and took on terrible when she
first see him, but she held herself in as soon as she
smelled the liquor on his breath. She didn t want
me to see that she was conquered. Oh, she was
plucky! So I went for the doctor as soon as I could
and then hunted up the little bay mare and what
was left of Ed s buggy.

" He was laid up fer six weeks right in the middle
of harvest, and had a big doctor bill and all. He was
mighty penitent, and Huldy pitied him so much
that she felt like stickin up fer him more n ever. I
do know as I blamed her much fer that. Little while
after that, Emmeline was born, and I got right pro
voked at the man, the way he acted. You see, he
wanted a boy the worst way, and went to town and
got tight because it was a girl.



320 FOLKS BACK HOME

" That annual conference, I was appointed to the
Minuca Center charge, and I kind of lost sight of
Ed and his wife, but I heard of them often. His
farm got to runnin down, as you might suppose,
and on top of it all he had to get into a scrape when
he was drunk, that cost him a pile of money to set
tle up. I don t know exactly what it was, but I know
that he had to put a mortgage on his farm to pay
it. But that didn t scare him, and he kep on till
finally he didn t come up with the interest, and then
things began to look right doleful for Huldy.
Course, she would never have admitted that she was
sorry that she married Ed, p ticularly as it was
Henny Simmons that held the mortgage; but it kind
o looked to me as if the thought had poked its
head in the door of her mind, as you might say, and
that although she had ordered it out, it still kep
on hangin around and peekin in at the winder.

" I was three years at Minuca Center. You know
that was before they let us stay five years in one
appointment. The breaking up of the itineracy. Yes,
sir, the breaking up of the itineracy. Well, I was
made presiding elder of the Minuca Center district,
and I tell you it jest about give me the all-overs
when I saw Ed Shelby again, all so bloated up and
his face as red as a comet. Tchk! I tried to talk to
him, but though he was civil and all that, I could
see that it was jest like pouring water on a duck s



STARS IN HIS CROWN 321

back fer all the good it done him. Huldy, she held
her head up as well as she could, but she stayed
away from meeting, and I surmised it was because
she didn t have clothes fit fer her and little Emme-
line. Sweet little young one, she was, and if ever
they was a child jest naturally marked with love fer
her pa, that child was. Seemed like she was all
wrapped up in him, and he in her, too, fer all he
was disappointed because she wasn t a boy. She was
the very spit an* image of him and that s a com
pliment they ain t nobody can stand. They got to
give in to that. A body d think the sight o* her
would a kep him away from whisky if anything
could, but what Ed Shelby needed was saving grace,
and plenty of it. It s to be had, bless God!

" First good chance I got, I drove out to the
Shelbys . Huldy was right smiley and churful, but
her eyes was red, and it looked to me as if she was
a-tryin to carry it off bold and peart. But I looked
her plumb in the eye an I says: Huldy Shelby/
I says, you re in deep trouble. What is it? What s
Ed been a-doin now? I want you should tell me!
W y, elder/ siss she, with a nice, easy laugh, noth-
in p tic lar. What makes you run on Ed that away?
They hain t a better man in Logan County than Ed
Shelby, when She caught herself jist in time.
Now, look here, Huldy Shelby/ I says, I don t
want you to think I m a-runnin on Ed, because I



322 FOLKS BACK HOME

ain t/ I says. l They s the makin s of a good man in
him. I feel the burden of souls with regard to him/
I says, and I know and you know that he s a-goin
to perdition as fast as the wheels of time can carry
him. I know you love him so that you d ruther
go to the bad place with him than be up in heaven,
you and Emmeline, and look down fer all eternity
and see him in torment without one drop of water
to cool his parched tongue/ I told her. I m re
sponsible, under God, fer you both/ I says, fer I
married you. What ll I say when the Lord asks
me what I done with them two precious souls
fer whom Christ died? I want you to tell me all
about it/

" Well, sir, she busted right out a-cryin . I let
her have her cry out and when she had kind of
ca med down a little she up and told me how he d
be n a-drinkin so steady and so much that his nerves
was all unstrung, and he couldn t sleep none at all,
er at least, none to speak of, and his appetite was
all gone, and how he was so ashamed of himself and
the way he d be n a-actin and so sick and tired of
fallin so many times and him a-tryin so hard, all
in his own stren th and not a-leanin on Him who
is mighty to save to the uttermost Praise His
name! Oh, glory to God fer full salvation and how
he d set there and argue with her by the hour that
it was his duty to go and make an end of himself,



STARS IN HIS CROWN 323

and how she would talk to him and try to persuade
him out of it, and to try once more to reform and
call upon the Lord to help him, and how if he was
gone, the farm was sure to be taken away from them,
and then what would become of her and little Em-
meline, and fer him not to talk that away before
other people er they would think strange of it, and
how she jist couldn t live if he was to be taken away,
and how pitiful it would be fer little Emmeline to
be pointed out by everybody: That s the little girl
that her father killed himself/ and how bad his folks
would feel. Oh, I don t know what all she didn t tell
me. She jest opened her heart to me, and I know
it done her good to tell it to somebody.

" Well, I see right plain that this wa n t no case
fer counsel ner advice. It called fer help from on
high. So we knelt down and had a word of prayer.
I was real plain spoken with the Lord. I said to Him
plump and plain: Lord, you ve just got to do some
thing fer Ed Shelby. I claim the promises fer him.
Do something. I don t cur what it is, so long as
it brings him to call upon Thee. Well, sir, we
both got up from our knees, sure I know that He
heard us.

" Long about Thanksgiving time I think it was
the Sunday before. Yes, I know it was now long
about Thanksgiving time, I got around to Lewis-
ton again for quarterly meeting. I was jest getting



324 FOLKS BACK HOME

up to give out the hymn, when who should walk
in but Brother and Sister Shelby, a-leadin little
Emmeline. They took a seat away up forward, and
I never saw Ed Shelby look so much like a saved
man as he did that morning. His eye was clur, and
his face said Salvation in every line of it. Huldy
was jist a-beamin , and I felt sure, if I never did
before, that there was a prayer-hearing and a prayer-
answering God. Hallelujah! I noticed, too, that he
didn t jist bow forward on the seat, come prayer
time. Billy, I do despise that. No, sir, he got down
on his knees with his face to the back of the seat
he was in, in the good, old-fashioned Methodist
way, like a man should that s put all upon the altar.
I was so anxious to hear all about it that I could
hardly keep in. I was a-goin to preach a doctrinal
sermon that morning against the Babtists, showin
how if the Israelites was babtized to Him in a cloud,
they must a be n sprinkled, fer they couldn t a
be n dipped, that is, so s to get em wet all over,
but I jest let that go by the board and preached on
the Prodigal Son and how there is more joy in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over
the ninety-and-nine that went not astray. I had a
message from the Lord that morning, and I deliv
ered it straight at Ed Shelby, and I could see him
a-gettin so happy he didn t know what to do, and
not havin much experience with the ways of meet-



STARS IN HIS CROWN 325

inghouses, he didn t know any better than to holler
Hooray! when he meant Hallelujah!

" As soon as I got through with the sermon, I
wanted to hear what the Lord had done fer his soul,
so I announced that there would be a sort of prelim
inary love feast, so as to get het up for the one in
the afternoon. Sister Breyfogle shook her head at
me, fer we was to take dinner at the Curls and
Sister Curl was very particular about having din
ner on time. She was another Martha, curful and
troubled about many things. Gone to glory now
these twenty years, and I ll bet she s the neatest-
looking angel there. I never let on I see Sister Brey
fogle shake her head at me. I went right ahead. The
dinner may get cold/ I says, * brethren and sisters,
and especially sisters, but I feel that the Lord is
present with us, and that to bless, and He ll warm
our hearts so s to make up fer the cold dinners, I
says. Old Brother Littell he s gone to his rest, too,
but do you mind how he could shout, Billy? He let
out an A-a-A-Amen ! that you could hear from
here to the courthouse, and Brother Ed Shelby
stood up on his feet, the first one, all of a trimble,
as I could see, and a-holdin onto the back of the
seat in front of him. Just then Brother Darrow
started up, Hn-I ve listed din the howly mwar,
battling for the Lord! You mind how he used to
sing through his nose and Ed had it in his mind



326 FOLKS BACK HOME

to set down, but no, sir, he stuck it out. And there
stood little Emmeline on the seat beside him, hold
ing onto his forefinger with her little hand, the Lord
bless the child!

" Well, he told us all about what a sinner he had
be n, and how he had fooled away his youth and
stren th and brought trouble and heaviness on his
pore old mother and his faithful wife, and all the
time he was talkin I could see him as he was when
he was an innocent boy, so clur-eyed and strong and
her such a hearty girl that orta never had a day s
trouble if it hadn t of be n fer him, and looked at
them both, and seen how whisky had brought him
low, and wore her to a shadow of her former self,
and I says to myself, If the devil ain t in whisky,
what makes it do so much harm?

" It jest come to that pass/ says Brother Shelby,
4 that I knowed I couldn t get shut of this Rum
Demon by my own stren th, and I didn t think they
was any power that could help me. I jest knowed it
would be one trouble after another, and me a-sinkin
lower and lower and a-draggin my pore wife and
innocent child after me. So I made up my mind/
he says, that I d end it all. I d resk an eternity of
hell fer myself if only my wife and little girl could
have peace and comfort here on earth a spell. I got
down my razor last Wednesday morning, and made
out I was goin to shave myself. I honed it and



STARS IN HIS CROWN 327

honed it, till I got it as sharp as I could, and all
the time I was thinkin how this was the last time
and me wantin to say good-by to them, but not
dastin to fer fear my wife would sispicion what I
was up to. Finally/ says he, I slipped out o the
house and over to the woods back of the barn. I
got out o sight of everybody

" Not God s/ put in Brother Darrow.

" No, sir/ says Brother Shelby, and sech a
clamor of hallelujahs you never heard. I set down
on a log to cut my throat. I thought/ said he, of
how twould be when Huldy missed me, and begun
to holler fer me, and git the neighbors to search fer
me, and I thought/ said he, of them a-findin me
a-layin behind that log on them wet leaves, all in
a puddle of my own blood, and it made the cold
chills come over me/ he says. But it seems like he
was determined to do it.

" Then he went on to tell how it come across his
mind about Abraham a-sacrificin Isaac, and the pic
ture about it in the big pictorial Bible of the angel
a-reachin down his hand to hold back Abraham s
knife, and how he jest thought, Huh! The Lord
won t bother His head enough about me to send
no angel/ and drawed his razor and jest as it nicked
his skin he felt a hand holding him back, and he
turned, scared like and half expecting to see the
silver feathers of an angel s wing.



328 FOLKS BACK HOME

" It was little Emmeline here, he says, that had
follered me out and ast me: " Pa, whutch you goin
to do?" but she was jest as truly the Almighty s
messenger as if she had come right straight on her
ernt from the Great White Throne.

The elder sat silent for a few seconds softly pat
ting his hands together with such a look on his face
as they must have who behold the Beatific Vision
of the King in His glory. Then he heaved a long
sigh. " Yes," he said, at length, " I m a-goin to ap
ply for the superannuated relation. I m getting along
in years now, and they want younger men and men
that s better educated than what I am. I ve borne
the burden and the heat of the day, and though I
have been an unprofitable servant, I have gathered
in some sheaves for the Lord of the Harvest when
He comes. ... It won t be long now."



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