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right hand, an' spells, 'A young preacher.' I do actoolly believe I hev got the feelin' o' this hull meetin' with me when I says thet the settlement an' the Valley air a-cryin' out fer the young man ter be sent amongst us an' ter revive us all by his lively ways an' redeemin' grace. It seems ter me thet this air plumb the Lord's matter, an' thet he hev swep' the idee through the Valley, percisely like the wind blows through a house."

But there at once rose a gaunt old man from over toward Sinai.

"Brother Gladden, hev ye considered the full an' likely consequences o' hevin' a young man ter durrect an' dominate the spiritooal welfare o' the Crossroads church? It air like puttin' l'arnin' ahead o' grace, ter my notion."


Thar ye air plumb wrong," returned Pa Gladden, firmly. "Ef I am puttin' one thing in my mind ahead o' another in this matter, it air the thort o' savin' by works an' not by exper'unce. Wull ye all consider thet, arter Father Wister hev been holdin' this hull church right outen Satan's clutches fer forty year, sin wull suttinly try ter git a long finger inter this pie? I hain't misdoubtin' ye, Brother Gitts, but it air better ter look this solemn case in the face an' not be opini'nated. Ef ye gets an old preacher thet don't know ye all, he wull sozzle erlong an' never git down ter a true inventory an' schedule. An' a preacher, brethern an' sisters in redeemin' grace, a preacher hez ter know ye, root an' branch, an' jedge ye 'cordin' ter fac's."

The silence that followed was broken by the hoarse voice of Balsy Omerod :

"We must suttinly speak fer a good sermonizer. It air no easy thing ter come ter church an' hear nothin' lively enough ter keep ye woke up."

discussed. Pa Gladden declared the people to be "in a truly lib'ral frame o' mind." The meeting broke up with an exultant and expectant atmosphere. The warm loveliness of the May night wooed the large assemblage to linger for gossip. The soft air was full of the new-growth aromas. A young moon was in the southeast. It might have been a summer festival, so little subdued was the light laughter of the young and the chatter of the elders. On the hill above rose ghostly monuments, the "obbelusk" of Elkanah Ritter overtopping all. Pa Gladden moved about, enlightening, encouraging. One man sat apart in the new "two-seat" and watched the lively gathering. Young Asa could not yet mingle with the people, but, ever observant, regarded those before him like figures in a drama. Near him, Persephone was talking to Balsy Omerod and several young farmers who had lately been casting eyes her way. Farther away, Ma Gladden's comfortable voice advised on minor ailments.

The young people pressed close about a girl who stood upon a horse-block and so towered above heads and shoulders. Even in the dim moonlight she was impressive from the trick of her head as she turned it from one admirer to the other. Less attractive maidens hovered on the outer edge of the circle, bandying jokes; but when Melonie Hathaway spoke, they were neglected.

To young Asahel Gladden came the voice of a bluff blond giant who lived toward Needmore's Cut.

"I'll tell ye," he said gruffly, "thet we all kin guess whut Melonie Hathaway hez been waitin' on. She felt thet thar would be other chances than them she growed up with."

The girl laughed.

"We all air tickled plumb ter death ter think of the prospect of new young men around, are n't we, Gemma Wetter ?"

She reached across and pulled beside her a tall, fair girl with flaxen braids.

"You boys need n't be so techy," said the newcomer; "the new preacher will be above we-all-an' mebbe won't be frien❜ly even."

"Ye hev spoke well, Brother Omerod," replied the farmer; "an' I understands thet, in these days, they gives ye jes whut ye asts fer. We hain't got much edication, but we knows hoss sense. We shorely likes ter be informed on duplex subjects, but air not astin' fer a string o' words ter faze the mind, ner frills ner flutters ter confuse our shortcomin's. We wull now all say a silent prayer thet we may git a white shepherd like Father Wister, but, likewise, a young man thet kin skip erbout ez occasion de- He barely smiled. It was a comedy mands." that could not destroy his sad thoughts. Salary and preliminaries were briefly He knew Gemma resented his not joining

She flung a glance at the figure of young Asahel in the wagon.

the rustic court of her beloved friend. He got ter hev a man of a suttin caliber, an' had caught the words: ye air shorely in a position ter tell us whuther er not we air gittin' fooled any. Edication air jes like other things. Thar air the real thing, an' thar air thet sort thet runs in the wash. I knows from whut ye hev onfolded ter us this winter thet ye hev got the top notch. Now whut I warnt ye ter do air ter nudge me ef I gits the wool pulled over my eyes by any circumflections o' l'arnin'."

"Melonie is good enough for any one." They all knew Melonie. She was the one thing of the Valley that had in it a mysterious spice of the outer world. She was old Dimis Hathaway's daughter. His had been the very trick of the tossing head. But the mother no one knew, because once Dimis had gone away beyond the hills, and returned a broken man with a wilful child that the grandmother silently reared. The old folks were now gone, and Melonie had been left to Father Wister until her twenty-first year, now some time past. No repression had daunted her lightness of spirit.

Presently she drew a long line of maidens, with arms about one another's waists, down the slope and along the highroad, singing school songs and quaint hymns. Behind them dragged disconsolate swains, on foot or with horses and vehicles, meeting everywhere the amused derision of their elders.

"Wull ye gaze on thet sight, ma ?" cried Pa Gladden from the front of the "twoseat." "Thet Melonie hez got ter meet her match. It wull be a movin' spectacle ter see her tamed, ez her father war Dunkard born an' they say her mother war in a circus. I hopes ter live ter see her settled. Laws suz! she air a purty thing!"


EARLY in the morning of that lovely May day when the first trial sermon was to be heard in the Crossroads church, Pa Gladden and young Asa were in the big barn, grooming Cephy and Prunella and making ready for the trip to meeting. Perfect weather it was, the hill-slope a flashing field of dewdrops in the first sunbeams. Wild flowers grew up to the very wall, and the rough stone of the first story of the barn was becoming green with vines that clung and climbed in crevices and to the rough mortar. Cephy, free as to halter, rubbed Pa Gladden's shoulder or playfully nipped at him, while the farmer worked vigorously. Young Asy, with more energy than usual, was putting the harness on Prunella.

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Asy smiled.

"I think you had better depend on your mother-wit, Pa Gladden," he said; “it has not failed you yet, by hearsay and of my own knowledge."

"I hev been led erlong," acknowledged the farmer, dryly; "but my foot war whar it b'longed-in Long Valley. This case air plumb contra'wise. We air importin' the world an' furrin l'arnin' inter the Valley, an' I hev ter set in jedgment, an' cl'ar up other folks, likewise. Now, ez I am plain ter own up thet I don't know Nero from Nebuchadnezzar, ner nothin' erbout hist'ry, only Bible hist'ry,-mixin' thet scand'lous when ye gits ter astin' me on Kings an' Chronicles, I warnt ye ter prompt me right up on any shortcomin's er derilictions thet shows up in them young fellers' sermons thet air from the sem'nary."

Young Asy led Prunella out into the sunshine.

"Ef Prunelly don't look like a threeyear!" said Pa Gladden, admiringly. "When ye does a thing, Asy, ye suttinly does do it well. An' thet air why I am pinnin' my faith on yer jedgment erbout the preacher."

The young man looked over his shoul


"I am the last man you should ask to sit in judgment, Pa Gladden; and, besides. that, I am not a member of the congregation-I should not interfere."

"Ez ter thet," observed Pa Gladden, brushing Cephy on the near side until he whinnied, "the day air comin' when, like the Jews, ye got ter choose between Jesus an' Barabbas-thet air, between religion an' a mighty bare life. The question air thar-thet story war meant ter impress on all mankind thet ye got ter make a ch'ice. I knows well whut yer ch'ice wull be, but ye got the blind staggers yit, an' hain't shore yit thet ye air at home. Them scales air slippin' gradooal from yer eyes, son.

Yer grit ter work an' yer love fer yer Ma Gladden an' me air goin' ter lead ye straight. An', ef ye would hev it thet way, Persephone would be right pleased ter hev ye a leetle more brotherly. Ye've fit sort o' shy o' her ever since ye hev got well." Young Asy flushed, but leaned down to adjust a strap.


She does n't lack for attention."

""T ain't thet; but we all likes to feel real cordial-like round the house-an' not see some one shyin' out a door ter git out the way o' another pusson."

"Do I do that?" said young Asy. "Well, I'll stop it. She has always been kind to me."

"Same old redeemin' love," retorted pa, backing out Cephy. "She l'arnt it comin' over from Sinai one turrible night. Ye l'arnt it comin' over through them big beeches yonder. Truly it air the lever o' the hull world, an' whut makes the halfway folks even tolerable air the small glimmer o' it they gits from erbove. But ez ter the pickin' ter pieces o' this mornin's sermon - Asy, ye must do it, er we wull not be called doctrinal; an' Doc Briskett air plumb achin' ter play a leetle joke on us, er my name air not Pa Gladden."

Old locust-trees hung about the Crossroads church on the hill-slope, and heavy festoons of odorous white flowers perfumed all the air. From early morning people had come in wagons, buggies, on horseback and on foot. The summer Sundays at the church were always picnic days, and every vehicle had its baskets and buckets for the noon meal, between church and the young people's Sunday-school. Thus had Father Wister been able to gather in a large and widely scattered flock.

The bare church, almost three quarters of a century old, was to-day the destination of every human being who could get there by driving, riding, or walking, from Sinai to Pegram and up and down the hill-slopes. A close observer could almost determine the home of the people from their costumes; for toward Olivet Hill there had once been a small company of Dunkards, and the descendants of those men and women showed the old influence in the long hair of the youths and the "plain" gowns of the women. Pa Gladden called young Asahel's attention to these as they drove along.

"It hez been the sorrer o' my life thet

the Dunkards don't sot the fashions, Asy," he said. "I never kin keep from lookin' at them 'plain' women in church. I b'lieves the angels dress thet way."

"I shall certainly get me a Dunkard gown," said Persephone, gaily.

"Ye would n't look jes right," said Pa Gladden, easily. "Ye hev ter be born ter it-like Melonie. She kin wear 'em er not. Don't ye git jealous. Ye air lookin' peart ter middlin' in thet gownd, Persephone. I never means nothin' by remarks on yer clothes."

To-day Melonie Hathaway chose to wear the white serge gown and dove-gray Dunkard bonnet in which her beauty was subdued to a positive loveliness.


'Asy, don't ye feel sort o' mizzly when ye views her up?" asked Pa Gladden, as they unhitched the horses. "I owns up I am not beyant bein' moved by sech a face ez thet."

Nothing seems as beautiful to me as Ma Gladden's face," said the young man; "but you can safely go on admiring that girl. Every one else will keep you company.'

The seminary people had selected a young man for the Crossroads with more than ordinary care. He was tall and dignified, and he looked like a person of thought and energy. It was a diversified assemblage that he faced as he took his place on the low platform. Had he been older, he would have understood the concentrated attention of that assemblage. He was being weighed and measured, carried imaginatively through the most dramatic situations, fitted into this and that inevitable emergency, pictured at the bed of sickness or of death, in the council and at social gatherings. It was as if man to man and woman to woman passed the thought, "Is this what we want?" It reached John Mock like a faint chill to his ardor. He felt a verdict before he gave out the words of his text from a type-written manuscript on the pulpit:

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: . . . and his angels were cast out with him.

Never had the Crossroads church listened to such a sermon. The elders strained their ears; the old women with remarkable memories sat aghast and amazed. Brilliant, audacious even, scholarly and ornate, delivered with unfaltering fluency, it began,

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proceeded, reached a dramatic climax, and closed amid an astounded silence. This a sermon? It seemed to these simple Valley people that they had been, somehow, beguiled. What had they to do with logic and difficult learning like this? They had long listened to the faltering but well-nigh inspired preaching of love; and here were flashes of lightning from a hot and thunderous sky. The children who chased yellow butterflies between bites at their noon meal could have told one another that this was not what was wanted at the Crossroads church.

Doc Briskett had been lured in to hear the sermon, but beat a precipitate retreat during the doxology; so Pa Gladden was forced to fall back upon young Asahel Gladden, who had gone to the spring after a bucket of water. The two met under a scrubby oak-tree.

"Don't ye waste no words," said Pa Gladden, soberly. "Do ye s'pose we wull git somethin' like thet ef we tries another one from the sem'nary?"

The younger man looked at him gravely. "I do not think it possible," he said, and Crossroads courtesy needed no more. John Mock went away impressed by kindly hospitality, and with the thought that, should he get the call, the Long Valley would do very well for the few years he could spare to it. His ambition was a great church in a great city.

Two weeks later came Calvin Garman, a good-looking, nervous young man with earnest eyes. All the way to the Valley he sat with two sermons in his hands, and he re-read both a dozen times. One sounded bald and plain; the other was a marvel of words, of historical facts, of classical allusions and well-drawn conclusions.

"John Mock says that he preached them a scholarly sermon, and they seemed to like it," he said to himself. "Will I ever learn to write such sermons as this one?"

The weather changed on the Saturday before the second sermon, and was very sultry, with a thunder-storm in the horizon. Calvin Garman had been informed that he was to partake of the hospitality of Brother Asahel Gladden, and the farmer was on hand to greet him and to take a shrewd and accurate measure of him. Inside of fifteen minutes Pa Gladden left him seated in the buggy outside of Doc Briskett's office, and went in hurriedly.

The doctor was measuring out quinine powders.

"Jee-whillikins, Pa Gladden! I thought you went after your young man of parts.” "I got him outside, shorely," said Pa Gladden, smiling.

"Is he like the other one?" Pa Gladden shook his head emphatically.

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This one air a human bein' thet could be made a preacher of. He air clean bustin' with feelin'. I do calkilate thet he wull give us a soul-rousin' an' warmin' sermon, ef he hain't too bashful."

"That is certainly interesting," laughed Doc Briskett. "If my patients are willing, I will surely go to church to-morrow."

To Calvin Garman the simple home, the shrewd common sense of the farmer, and Ma Gladden's contented and placid face, breathed true religion. It was Persephone's lovely and speaking face that moved him the deepest. This gentle yet confident woman, with her large starry eyes and reserved smile, was long afterward his ideal.

Through the Saturday evening the hush of the hills called to the depths of the young preacher's nature as something akin to the moan of the sea, by which he had spent his boyhood. Through the starlit distances came profound impulses and decisions. Shame of any deceit awoke in his soul.

"If there were time," he thought, "I would write a sermon-here-in the heart of the hills. I could do it-I am sure I could do it here."

But there was to be no time; for Pa Gladden, afraid he might miss something from the outer world, sat beside him, eagerly listening, and Ma Gladden, young Asa, and Persephone were beyond him on the porch. He owed these people courtesy. There was a hearty ring in their good nights.

"I'm tellin' ye, Drusilly, thet I feel truly drawn toward thet young feller; I actoolly do. He'll need some prunin', an' he 's got a heap ter l'arn, but thar 's somethin' genooine at the core. I'm pow'rful anxious ter hear his sermon, ma."

By the light of the lamp in the spare room, Calvin Garman again took out a type-written sermon and read it over.

"This sounds like a sermon a collegebred man ought to write," he mused, "and it does seem strange that I am

tempted to use my own feeble thoughts instead of those of scholars and writers." He put out his light and stood awhile at the open window.

"I should like to come here," he thought.

Before the hour for church the next morning, Pa Gladden hurried the family into the "two-seat" and drove out of his way to show the young brother the old home of Father Wister, which he had given to the church for a parsonage. It was a pleasant, roomy house, with a large flowergarden, sunny windows, a clump of tall trees in the front lot, and trellises of roses. Calvin Garman looked at it with a full heart.

Persephone ran up the walk for a bouquet of white roses. She wanted to put them into a tumbler and set them upon the pulpit.

"We hardly know ef it air right," said Ma Gladden, "but Persephone hez seen churches in the city with lots o' posies around the pulpit."

"Let her put the flowers where she will," said Calvin Garman; "in the seminary church there are often beautiful flowers." The Crossroads church congregation was almost as large as that of two Sundays previous. The old men sat in their places, as for years they had been seated; the women and girls of the congregation rustled and fluttered in the central sections, while to right and to left sat the men and boys. Something of Pa Gladden's feeling in favor of the gaunt young preacher seemed to inspire the assemblage. Scarcely had he stepped upon the platform before a shrill, sweet voice in the rear of the church began:

"Blest be the tie that binds."

to the pulpit, where he had laid his sermon. Over the heads of that expectant and longing assemblage rolled forth the text:

old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, And the great dragon was cast out, that

which deceiveth the whole world: . . . and his angels were cast out with him.

The announcement of these words created a flutter of suspicion at the coincidence. How would the new candidate treat the same text?

Then did Calvin Garman repeat, sentence for sentence and word for word, the brilliant and scholarly sermon which John Mock had delivered a fortnight before.


THE fact that the great dragon had made a second appearance at the Crossroads church naturally caused some stir in the little community. The prominent members of the congregation held an informal meeting at Pa Gladden's house, and a letter was dictated and written on the spot by the secretary, young Asahel Gladden. As Pa Gladden put it, the epistle "looked like a purfessor o' penmanship hed been hired fer the evenin'." It was cautious but emphatic, and it stated that, as the Crossroads people wanted a man who could preach a good sermon, no candidate should be sent unless the president knew what sermon he was to preach. Naturally this gentleman spent a great deal of thought about the other candidates before he sent for Alpheus Donne.

Alpheus and his brother were the sons of a farmer whose wife dedicated them to the service of the Lord in the hour of

The men to the left took it up and rolled their birth. The idea that they were to be


"Our hearts in Christian love."

While in soft and generous chorus all the women in the central seats came in on:

“The fellowship of kindred minds.”

Ever afterward associated with the heavy

scent of locust blooms in Calvin Garman's memory was the last line:

"Is like to that above."

He made a fervent prayer that was received in reverent silence, then advanced

preachers had been instilled into them with the alphabet and the Ten Commandments. Big, good-natured boys they were, fond of their mother, and they never objected when she sent them first through the preparatory college course and afterward to the theological seminary. Of late years a conviction had seized both boys that they did not want to be preachers. They confided it to each other, but had not gained courage enough to express it at home. When the president sent for the elder Donne, who was about to be graduated, he was deploring his fate to his younger brother Agar, and went very re

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