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you like some dried beef, Sister Pennypiece? About
half a pound, Otho. Thin, now. Jist as thin as you
can Why, then, the citizens had ought to take em
in hand."

Sister Pennypiece apparently tried to check the
fury of Aunt Betty s accusations, but it was as Clar
ence Bowersox, Mr. Littell s clerk, said after the
two had gone out: "And all the time, all the time,
mind you, a-gittin in her mean little insinuendos."

" Oh, she s got it in for S repty, no two ways
about that," said Mr. Littell. " I jox! It ain t no
snap to live at Aunt Betty s, even if you do gitch
board for nothin . She had it easy at S repty s.
They tell me she wouldn t even make her own bed.
I bet old Aunt Betty makes her stand around. I
jox!"

Part of Aunt Betty s animosity to Frazee was due
to the fact that nobody had found out much about
him, and she resented it. People that were so still
about themselves must be up to some devilment or
other. But while Minuca Center was as curious as
she, there was something about Frazee that forbade
catechising. From his ordering Coban coffee; from
his getting letters with a long-tailed bird on the
postage stamps, and from his talking Spanish with
old man Sanchez, the cigar-maker, they inferred that



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 63
he must have lived in Mexico or South America or
some such place.

Sarepta was finding out more about him than any
body, but so fearful was she that folks would think
she was going with him that she never mentioned
his name, but kept all these things in her heart.

Coming home from prayer meeting began to be
an event she looked forward to all week. She had
always liked geography, and it was most interesting
to talk with Mr. Frazee, who had lived where they
had palm trees and bananas and vanilla and all that.
He had had a coffee plantation in San Rafael, prov
ince of Coban, Guatemala, and he told her all about
raising coffee; how they had to be so careful of the
young plants and shade them with bananas; how the
coffee berry was something like a cherry, only in
stead of having a pit it had these two seeds. He
told her about the people down there and how the
young fellows courted the girls and never got a
chance to speak to them. He told her about bull
fights and all such, but most interesting of all, he
told her how he had come to go there right after
the War of the Rebellion, when he was just a boy,
as you might say, and with all a boy s love of the
adventurous life whetted, not satiated, with the few
months soldiering he had had; how sick he was of
it in a little while, and how he wanted to go back
home, only he couldn t, because he didn t have the



64 FOLKS BACK HOME

money, and then when he did get the money, how
he had become a little better used to it and, finding
a good opportunity for investment, he had started
in to raise coffee. He had done pretty well, he didn t
say how well, but pretty well. And then a man came
along and offered him his price, or near about, and
he felt a great longing to get back to God s coun
try. Sometimes he thought he ought never to have
left it. He ought to have gone back North after the
war was over.

"And why didn t you?"

" Oh, well, all my folks were dead, and there was
nobody that cared for me, so I thought."

They walked on and presently Frazee broke out
with:

" I m just about wild to see snow, snow on the
ground, snow that you can go sleighing on. I used
to dream about snow. First good snowstorm that
comes along, do you know what I m going to do?
I m going to have a sleigh ride and I m going to
take you with me, that is, if you ll go. Will you? "

" Why, I should be pleased to accept your kind
invitation," she answered with old-fashioned polite
ness.

And then she remembered that she had not been
sleigh riding since the time she and Sam Coulter
had the spat about Sallie Mumma. The more she
thought about it the more she felt that she ought



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 65

not to go. It worried her so that the next day she
waylaid Frazee in the hall to tell him so.

" Mr. Frazee," she said, and twisted the little old-
fashioned ring on her finger, as she did when nerv
ous, " I don t know as it would be right for me to
go sleigh riding as I told you I would. I thank you
for your kind invitation, but "

"Not right?"

" Well, of course it wouldn t be wrong exactly, but
now, I don t want you to think that I ve got any
thing against you, for I haven t. I don t know as
there s anybody I like better of course, you know,
I don t mean in that way." She blushed to think how
clumsily she was doing it.

He seemed to leap at an opportunity.

" And don t you think you could like me in that
way? " he demanded, bending over her and look
ing into her eyes. She blushed still deeper and
dropped her lids. " Perhaps I go about it all too
bluntly, but this is Indian summer with you and me.
We have no time to lose in our love making. Don t
you think, from what you have seen of me, that you
could l like me in that way enough " he swallowed
" enough to marry me? "

She winced and caught her breath with a sob.

"Oh!" she quavered, "I couldn t! I couldn t! It
wouldn t be right. I do esteem you. I do 1-like
you as well as anybody I ever saw, I don t know



66 FOLKS BACK HOME

but better. But it wouldn t be right." Her voice
strengthened as she got on familiar ground. " I am
engaged to Mr. Sam Coulter."

" Coulter? "

" He was a young man I kept company with, and
he went and enlisted in the war, and I am waiting
for him to come back."

" Why, my dear, that s forty years ago."

" No. Only thirty-eight. It was in the fall of 64
he enlisted. But that s no difference. He didn t break
the engagement and I mustn t. As long as I don t
know he s dead or married to some other girl it
wouldn t be right for me to have anybody else, no
matter how much I liked him. I expect you think
it s kind of foolish in me," she added piteously.

" No, no. Not at all. This man that you speak
of "

"Mr. Coulter?"

" Yes. Hasn t he written to you in all these
years? "

" That don t make any difference. I couldn t have
anybody else unless he broke the engagement or
died."

" And this is the ring he gave you? " he asked,
taking her hand gently.

" Yes," she answered. " It s all worn thin now, but
it was a right pretty ring when he gave it to me. I ve
never taken it off only when I washed my hands,



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 67

and one time I lost it for pretty near a week
and "

She broke off her prattle in surprise. He raised
her hand to his lips and kissed it. It was an un
familiar caress.

" I have not known such faith, " he quoted.
" * No, not in Israel. Then, after a moment, he
said: "But what if he s dead?"

She shook her head.

" If I should prove it to you that he was dead,
would that "

" How could you prove it now? " she asked.

" Yes, that s so. It s a long time ago."

He forbore to press home the point he might have
made that she had tacitly confessed that in her heart
she knew her lover was long since dead, and that
this pretended waiting for him was the fiction with
which she concealed even from herself that she was
doing penance for a girlish fault, her hasty words
spoken a generation ago. She thanked him for it
inwardly.

4 Yes," she echoed, and drew a long, quivering
sigh. " It s a long time ago." And just that tender
sadness that we feel whenever we think of days gone
by turned the pent-up tide of emotion into the chan
nel of tears. She fled from him into her own rooms.
She could not bear that he should see her cry.

She heard him go out a little later. When she had



68 FOLKS BACK HOME

recovered herself somewhat she determined that she
must tell him when he came in again that it wouldn t
do for him to stay in the house. She knew that he
was honorable and all that, but now that he had be
come a suitor why, it wouldn t do, and that was
all there was about it. It would be terrible to have
to tell him. She might better have had Sister Penny-
piece stay on. And yet, the verses came into her
mind:

Twere better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

But something in her resented that. You couldn t
say that she had " never loved at all " before he
came. She had loved Sam Coulter, hadn t she? Yes,
and loved him still. And she ought not to say that
she loved Mr. Frazee as long as she was engaged
to Sam Coulter. But that was a girl s love, a jealous,
flaming love, while this was calmer, more placid,
more beautiful, as Indian summer is more beautiful
than it is in August.

No, no. She must not think of loving him. He
ought to look for somebody else, some younger
woman. He might just as well as not, he being right
in the prime of life, as you might say. She tried to
think who would do for him, but it horrified her
to find how to think of him as married to another
woman was like a knife struck into her heart. If it
was going to be like that, Mr. Frazee would cer-



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 69

tainly have to go. She was engaged to Sam Coulter.
She must remember that. And yet, for the first time,
she almost regretted that vestal troth of hers.

She did not hear him come in that night. She did
not hear him go out in the morning. She waited
till a reasonable hour and then, since the matter was
so instant, she nerved herself to go up and knock
upon his door. There was no response. A cold fear
came over her. If he should have died in the night!
To be a second time bereaved of yes, of a lover.
She tried the door. It opened. The bed had not been
slept in.

He did not return that day. The house was lonely
that night, and she dared not go to a neighbor s or
have a neighbor in. It was important that she should
speak to him the very first opportunity. It was very
lonely. Sarepta quaked at every rattle of the win
dow. Every step she hearkened to and every step
passed on. The next day and the next night and still
no sign of him. Stepping over to Mrs. Parker s for
news, she encountered that lady stepping over to
her house for news. Why had not Mr. Frazee come
to his meals? Sarepta plainly showed anxiety and
more, which Mrs. Parker notified to all and several
she knew.

As Frazee s absence lengthened into a week and
then into a fortnight, the whole town, instructed
by Mrs. Parker, observed and commented upon Sa-



70 FOLKS BACK HOME

repta s appearance, not wholly without amusement,
since everybody else s love affair is of necessity
comic, and yet not wholly without pity either. Ex
cept, of course, with Aunt Betty Mooney and Sister
Pennypiece. This latter lady said, in a voice like cold
cream, that she hoped this would be a lesson to dear
Sister Downey and teach her to set her affections
on things above not on things on the earth.

"I jox!" said Otho Littell. " Whadda you think
o that? Ain t that gall for you!"

But a day came whereon Frazee did return, and
Sarepta s joy at seeing him was dashed with bitter
ness as she thought of what she had to say to him.
She stammered out a beginning, but he hushed her
with :

" Wait. Wait till to-night. I have invited Mr. and
Mrs. Longenecker over and Mr. and Mrs. Lester
Pettitt. They re your most intimate friends. I want
them to be here. I have a surprise for you."

Sarepta received her pastor and his wife with
a nervousness that the commonplaces about the
weather did not assuage.

" Mr. Frazee ll be down in a minute," she flut
tered. " He said for me to entertain you till he
came."

" He s been away, I believe," said Mrs. Longe
necker, by way of making conversation.

" Yes, he just got back this afternoon."



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 71

They rocked in uneasy silence for some minutes.
Then Sarepta began:

" Brother Longenecker, I just wish t you d tell
me what I ought to do. Yes, and you, too, Sister
Longenecker. You were so good to me when pa
died. I ve been going to ask you a dozen times, but
I couldn t quite spunk up to it."

She was interrupted by the doorbell announcing
the Pettitts. During the amenities convention has
prescribed, Sarepta and the Longeneckers visibly
fidgeted.

" Would you wish to discuss that little matter in
private, Sister Downey? " at length inquired the
minister.

" No," sighed Sarepta. " Not particularly. I
wouldn t want the whole town to know it, but Mr.
and Mrs. Pettitt here, they re just like kinfolks to
me, and I don t know but more so. It s this way:
Mr. Frazee wants me to marry him."

She looked up, expecting to find shocked surprise
upon their countenances, but they bore the news
with resignation.

" Well? " inquired Brother Longenecker, hard
ened by his calling to matrimony as butchers are to
bloodshed.

" Well, I wanted to know if you thought it would
be right for me to have him."

" My dear sister," said the minister, " that s for



72 FOLKS BACK HOME

you to say, not me. He seems to be a very nice man,
what I ve seen of him, but it s you that must be
suited. Do you love him? "

" Well, but that ain t it. I "

" Well, but I think that is exactly it."

Mrs. Longenecker compressed her lips and sol
emnly nodded, assenting to her husband s views.

" No, I gave Mr. Coulter my promise I d marry
him, and he hasn t let me off or broke the engage
ment. They tell me he is dead, but supposing he ain t
and he should ever come back, ain t I bound to wait
for him? "

" Supposing it was proved to you that he is dead,
do you like Mr. Frazee well enough to marry him? "

" I don t know but I do. Yes, yes, I do know that
I do. But my promise to Sam? "

" Then it s the vow that keeps you back. It is a
matter of conscience with you, then? "

" Yes, I s pose it is."

" A vow whose result is for good and not for evil
is a vow to be kept, but a vow to punish yourself,
and not yourself alone but another, cannot bind be
cause it is it is " The minister hesitated.

" Void as against public policy," prompted Lester
Pettitt.

" Exactly. Now, if you love Mr. Frazee "

" I do, I do," burst out Sarepta, " but I can t bear
to give up Sam. I ve been engaged to him so long.



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 73

Oh, why did I ever talk so to him? Why did I drive
him away?" she cried hysterically. " O Sam! Sam!
Come back to me! Tell me whether you re alive or
dead!"

" There, there, Sarepta," soothed Mrs. Pettitt. " I
wouldn t take on so. I don t know as I ever saw you
so excited. You must be calm."

" I ll try," she whimpered, and then suddenly
broke out with: " Why can t they come back and tell
us? Why can t they? Why can t they? "

The door opened.

Sarepta screamed and stared with bulging eyes.
There stood a soldier in the cape overcoat and
baggy forage cap of the period of the Civil War. His
pale, smooth-shaven visage smiled faintly at her. She
staggered to her feet, deathly white. The figure held
out its arms.

" Sam! " she cried with a choking gasp, and would
have fallen but Mrs. Pettitt caught her.

" Lie right flat down on the floor," she com
manded, " that s the best way. It s the most awful
sickening feeling when you re going to faint. Lie
right flat down, dear, and you ll soon be over it. My
goodness, Mr. Frazee, you scared me, too, for all I
knew just what was coming. I never would have
known you with your beard off."

" Sam! " whispered Sarepta.

" Yes, Sam," said Frazee, kneeling beside her and



74 FOLKS BACK HOME

taking the hand that wore the little old set ring. " I
knew you the minute I saw you, but when you didn t
recognize me I thought I d court you all over again
and see if you could love me as myself and not
as the memory of your old sweetheart. I have
come back. Sam Coulter has come back to claim
you."

" But, Mr. Frazee " began Sarepta.

" Frazee is my true and legal name. Adam Coul
ter only brought me up. I have come back to claim
you. Will you have me, after all? "

She reached her arms around his neck and kissed
him.

" Well er er," Mr. Longenecker began, wiping
his glasses and then his eyes. " Brother Frazee, I
would suggest that if you er had a license now
we might er go ahead, as it were."

Frazee fumbled in the pockets of the overcoat.

" Here are the proofs that I was born Frazee.
Here s my honorable discharge from the army. Here
is a certificate from the jefe politico of San Rafael,
province of Coban, Guatemala, that I am still a
bachelor that s why I was so long away and, ah,
yes, here it is here is a license from the county
clerk of Logan County "

" Sister Pettitt, will you stand over there? And
Brother Pettitt, you stand right here."

"What! Get married right now?" cried Sarepta,



AN INDIAN SUMMER LOVE STORY 75

scrambling to her feet. " Why, we ll have to wait till
I can get my wedding things ready! "

" Not a minute longer, deary," said Frazee, tak
ing her hand. " It is Indian summer with us. We have
waited too long already."



THE SEVENTH TRUMPET

THAT the very existence of the Second Pres
byterian Church of Minuca Center, as a
corporate body, was soon to come to an
end was a foreboding that the elders, deacons, and
trustees were no longer able to keep either from or
to themselves. There were not too many Presby
terians in the Center, anyhow, and some of the
young people openly said it was just foolishness to
keep up two churches. They had forgotten, if they
ever knew, what it was that made the Second Church
split off from the First. They liked to hear Mr. Hall,
the pastor of the First Church, preach, and here
lately nearly all of those who had no battleground to
look back upon, and those, too, in whose memories
that battleground had been grassed over, had taken
to going to the First Church Sunday evenings,
where they had an organ and a choir. John Snod-
grass, the precentor of the Second, with his tuning
fork and his " down, left, right, up," was very much
opposed to such heathenish carryings on in the
house of God; it was too much like the Catholics,
and he had heard that the doctrine was none too

76



THE SEVENTH TRUMPET 77

scriptural; " and yit," he admitted, scratching his
chin and screwing up his face, " and yit they is sech
a thing as bein a leetle mite too scriptural." The men
of the congregation thought so, too, but the women
folks, trained for centuries to think no evil of the
reverend clergy, said: " Well, I believe Mr. Bailey is
a good man, and there is a great deal in his sermons
that it d be well if we d all take to heart." Whereat
the men, wise in their day and generation, simply
shifted their chewing tobacco to the other cheek, and
looked away off yonder somewhere.

And then came the famous sermon on the man
found picking up sticks on the Sabbath day.

" If," said the preacher, " the Lord that made
heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is and
rested the seventh day, wherefore He blessed the
seventh day and hallowed it, if He, whose property
it is always to have mercy, yet condemned to death
the sinner, just out of idolatrous Egypt, to whom
the command was hardly yet familiar and lacking the
authority of long-continued hearing, what shall our
portion be, brethren and sisters in the Lord, who
have heard from our youth up the solemn words:
The seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God ?
The man found picking up sticks might say he had
forgotten; he would not dare to set up another
authority against the word of the Almighty thun
dered from Sinai, but what have we done? We have



78 FOLKS BACK HOME

made His commandment of none effect and have
substituted another day, on whose authority, fellow-
sinners and dying souls? On the authority of our
heathen ancestors, in their blindness worshiping the
greater light of heaven instead of Him who set it
there; on the authority of antichrist himself, that
is to say, the Pope of Rome with all his pagan idol
atry and soul-destroying mummeries!"

The elders and pillars of the church fidgeted in
their pews, and Horatio Southard got up and
" stomped " out, followed by Mrs. Southard, red and
embarrassed, mincing and bridling as she pushed
ahead of her little Johnny, who kept whimpering all
the way down the aisle, "What for, ma? What for?
Meetin ain t out yit. What for, ma? " She never for
gave Rashe for putting her in such a predicament,
and worst of all, that he had prevented her from
hearing at first hand the announcement of Mr.
Bailey that hereafter, God willing, there would be no
more preaching on the heathenish Sun-day, but that
on the coming Sabbath that is to say, Saturday
there would be divine service at the usual hours,
10.30 in the morning and 7.30 in the evening.

After church the congregation gathered at the
doors and felt in the clear air and familiar scenes that
they were once again in a sane and reasonable world
where things \vere as they always had been. There
was Judge Rodehaver s house across the way, there



THE SEVENTH TRUMPET 79

was the horse block. Yes, it was just the same as
ever. But inside, under the spell of that wild, im
petuous eloquence, the former things seemed to
have passed away and all things to have become new.
Though they all knew what the Shorter Catechism
said about the Christian Sabbath, yet even now they
were so bewitched that they never even thought
of it.

" It did certainly seem reasonable/ declared the
Widow Parker with her Teacher s Bible, ragged
from long and hard usage, " if you run up the refer
ences, like what he give you. Most of em I got, and
they was jist like what he said, but laws! I don t be
lieve I could get my bakin done in time for meetin
Saddy. W y, Saddy s my busiest day!"

" Ain t it everybody s busiest day? " demanded
Cal Hubert, bobbing his head at Mrs. Parker, scowl
ing and wabbling his long, loose forefinger at her, as
if he were going to eat her up. " Ain t I got to stay
down at the store till way late Saddy night, ten,
leven, twelve o clock? Ain t I? Ain t I? Well, I tell
you the Sabbath was made for man. Yes, sir, the
Sabbath was made for man, so it was. Yes, sir. Not
man for the Sabbath. No, sir. Made for man." He
canted his head to one side and brought it back as if
he had said the word that ended the dispute.

" Well, but, Calvin," began Mrs. Parker, " I don t
see as that text " But Marinus Moran cut in with



80 FOLKS BACK HOME

his deep, slow voice to demand: " To go buggy
ridin on?" Mr. Moran felt called upon at all times
and in all places to point out to others wherein they
erred and came short.

" Oh, well, now, Mr. Moran, don t you go to git-
tin pers nal. That ain t the question. That ain t it
at all. What I done ain t the question. No, sir. It was
away last summer, anyways. It ain t the question.
You show me chapter an verse where it says not
to go buggy ridin on Sunday. You jist show it to
me. Point it out to me. You show it." Cal was ex
citedly bobbing his head at Marinus and shaking his
forefinger at him and overpowering the boom of his
heavy artillery with the rattle of his rapid-fire gun.

"Sh!" said several others all at once, and the
groups parted silently and left a clear way down the
brick walk. The preacher passed, making slight im
personal bows right and left. His black eyes blazed
with excitement, his lips moved, and his fingers
worked. Lean and lank he lurched along, his coat
tails flying as he swung his arms. His wife, a pale,
sandy-haired woman as lean as he, but with a more
" peaked " look because of her long nose, followed
leading little Eunice and Ira, her eyes on her hus
band as if he had mesmerized her.

Center Street M. E. let out about the same time,
and of course the Second Presbyterians could not
keep their own affairs to themselves, but had to tell



THE SEVENTH TRUMPET 81

it, and so the Center Street folks had plenty to talk
about that afternoon. Perhaps they were rather glad
of it. All the other churches in town had had their
troubles, but not Center Street, no, not Center Street.
" A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand
at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee."
The day of Center Street was not yet come, but
when it did Let us not talk about it. There are
some things many things it were better not to
think about, let alone to put into words.

At the preacher s house, Mrs. Bailey took off her
things without a word and hung them up. She went
out into the kitchen, and into her pale, bulging eyes
the tears came as she got ready the dinner of steak,
cut thin, pounded, scored, and fried very well done,
mashed potatoes, and dried-apple pie. Ira and Eu
nice put their things away, too, and pushed them
selves up on chairs in the parlor, where they sat with
their hands folded and watched their father pace up
and down with his hands behind him and mutter
ing to himself. They cowered as he came near


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