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I'm going to have meeting here to-night, and it may be
I shall not be your teacher any more--I mean in school. I wish you'd go
home to-day and tell your people to come to church here to-night. I wish
you'd all come yourselves. I want you to be good. I want you to love God
and be good. I want you to go home and tell your people the teacher
can't teach you here till he has taught the older people to be kind and
generous. You may put your books away, and school will be dismissed."

The wondering children obeyed--some with glad promptness, others with
sadness, for they had already come to like their teacher very much.

As he sat by the door and watched them file out, it was as if he were a
king abdicating a throne, and these his faithful subjects. It was the
most momentous hour of his life. He had set his face toward dark waters.

Mrs. Allen came over with Mattie to see him that day. She was a good
woman, gentle and prayerful, and she said, with much emotion:

"O Mr. Stacey, I do hope you can patch things up here. If you could only
touch his heart! He don't mean to do wrong, but he's so set in his
ways--if he says a thing he sticks to it."

Stacey turned to Mattie for a word of encouragement, but she only looked
away. It was impossible for her to put into words her feeling in the
matter, which was more of admiration for his courage than for any part
of his religious zeal. He was so different from other men. It seemed he
had a touch of divinity in him now.

It did him good to have them come, and he repeated his vow:

"By the grace of our Lord, I am going to rebuild the Cyene Church," and
his face paled and his eyes grew luminous.

The girl shivered with a sort of awe. He seemed to recede from her as he
spoke, and to grow larger, too. Such nobility of purpose was new and
splendid to her.

* * * * *

The revival was wondrously dramatic. The little schoolhouse was crowded
to the doors night by night. The reek of stable-stained coats and
boots, the smell of strong tobacco, the effluvia of many breaths, the
heat, the closeness, were forgotten in the fervor of the young
evangelist's utterances. His voice took on wild emotional cadences
without his conscious effort, and these cadences sounded deep places in
the heart. To these people, long unused to religious oratory, it was
like the return of John and Isaiah. It was poetry and the drama, and
processions and apocalyptic visions. He had the histrionic spell, too,
and his slender body lifted and dilated, and his head took on majesty
and power, and the fling of his white hand was a challenge and an
appeal.

A series of stirring events took place on the third night.

On Wednesday Jacob Turner rose and asked the prayers of his neighbors,
and was followed by two Baptist spearmen of the front rank. On Thursday
the women all were weeping on each other's bosoms; only one or two of
the men held out--old Deacon Allen and his antagonist, Stewart Marsden.
Grim-visaged old figures they were, placed among repentant men and
weeping women. They sat like rocks in the rush of the two factions
moving toward each other for peaceful union. Granitic, narrow, keen of
thrust, they seemed unmoved, while all around them one by one skeptics
acknowledged the pathos and dignity of the preacher's views of life and
death.

Meanwhile the young evangelist lived at high pressure. He grew thinner
and whiter each night. He toiled in the daytime to formulate his
thoughts for the evening. He could not sleep till far toward morning.
The food he ate did him little good, while his heart went out constantly
to his people in strenuous supplication. It was testimony of his human
quality that he never for one moment lost that shining girl face out of
his thought. He looked for it there night after night. It was his
inspiration in speaking, as at the first.

On the nights when Mattie was not there his speech was labored (as the
elders noticed), but on the blessed nights when she came and sang, her
voice, amid all the rest, came to him, and uttered poetry and peace like
a rill of cool sweet water. And afterward, when he walked home under the
stars, his mind went with her, she was so strong and lithe and good to
see. He did not realize the worshiping attitude the girl took before
divine duties.

At last the great day came--the great night.

In some way, perhaps by the growing mass of rushing emotion set in
action by some deep-going phrase, or perhaps by some interior slow
weakening of stubborn will, Deacon Allen gave way; and when the preacher
called for penitents, the old man struggled to his feet, his seamed,
weather-beaten face full of grotesque movement. He broke out:

"Brethren, pray for me; I'm a miserable sinner. I want to confess my
sins--here--before ye all." He broke into sobbing terrible to hear. "My
heart is made--flesh again--by the blessed power of Christ ..."

He struggled to get his voice. One or two cried, "Praise God!" but most
of them sat silent, awed into immobility.

The old man walked up the aisle. "I've been rebellious--and now I want
to shake hands with you all--and I ask your prayers." He bent down and
thrust his hand to Marsden, his enemy, while the tears streamed down his
face.

Marsden turned white with a sort of fear, but he rose awkwardly and
grasped the outstretched hand, and at the touch of palms every soul rose
as if by electric shock. "Amens!" burst forth. The preacher began a
fervent prayer, and came down toward the grizzled, weeping old men, and
they all embraced, while some old lady with sweet quavering voice raised
a triumphal hymn, in which all joined, and found grateful relief from
their emotional tension.

Allen turned to Mattie and his wife. "My boy--send for him--Herman."

It seemed as if the people could not go away. The dingy little
schoolhouse was like unto the shining temple of God's grace, and the
regenerated seemed to fear that to go home might become a return to hate
and strife. So they clung around the young preacher and would not let
him go.

At last he came out with Allen holding to his arm. "You must come home
with us to-night," he pleaded, and the young minister with glad heart
consented, for he hoped he might walk beside Mattie; but this was not
possible. There were several others in the group, and they moved off two
and two up the deep hollows which formed the road in the snow.

The young minister walked with head uplifted to the stars, hearing
nothing of the low murmur of talk, conscious only of his great plans,
his happy heart, and the strong young girl who walked before him.

In the warm kitchen into which they came he lost something of his
spiritual tension, and became more humanly aware of the significance of
sitting again with these people. He gave the girl his coat and hat, and
then watched her slip off her knitted hood and her cloak. Her eyes shone
with returning laughter, and her cheeks were flushed with blood.

Looking upon her, the young evangelist lost his look of exaltation, his
eyes grew soft and his limbs relaxed. His silence was no longer rapt--it
was the silence of delicious, drowsy reverie.


V.

The next morning he did not rise at all. The collapse had come. The bad
air, the nervous strain, the lack of sleep, had worn down his slender
store of strength, and when the great victory came he fell like a tree
whose trunk has been slowly gnawed across by teeth of silent saw. His
drowse deepened into torpor.

In the bright winter morning, seated in a gay cutter behind a bay colt
strung with slashing bells, Mattie drove to Kesota for the doctor. She
felt the discord between the joyous jangle of the bells, the stream of
sunlight, and the sparkle of snow crystals, but it only added to the
poignancy of her anxiety.

She had not yet reached self-consciousness in her regard for the young
preacher--she thought of him as a noble human being liable to death, and
she chirped again and again to the flying colt, whose broad hoofs flung
the snow in stinging showers against her face.

A call at the doctor's house set him jogging out along the lanes, while
she sent a telegram to Herman. As she whirled bay Tom into the road to
go home, her heart rose in relief that was almost exaltation. She loved
horses. She always sang under her breath, chiming to the beat of their
bells, when alone, and now she loosened the rein and hummed an old love
song, while the powerful young horse squared away in a trot which was
twelve miles an hour--_click_, click-_click_, click-_clangle_,
lang-_lingle_, ling.

In such air, in such sun, who could die? Her good animal strength rose
dominant over fear of death.

She came upon the doctor swinging along in his old blue cutter, dozing
in country-doctor style, making up for lost sleep.

"Out o' the way, doctor!" she gleefully called.

The doctor roused up and looked around with a smile. He was not beyond
admiring such a girl as that. He snapped his whip-lash lightly on old
Sofia's back, who looked up surprised, and, seeming to comprehend
matters, began to reach out broad, flat, thin legs in a pace which the
proud colt respected. She came of illustrious line, did Sofia,
scant-haired and ungracious as she now was.

"Don't run over me," called the doctor, ironically, and with Sofia still
leading they swung into the yard.

Mattie went in with the doctor, while Allen looked after both horses.
They found Chapman attending Wallace--who lay in a dazed
quiet--conscious, but not definitely aware of material things.

The doctor looked his patient over carefully. Then he asked, "Who is the
yoong mon?"

"He's been teaching here, or rather preaching."

"When did this coom on?"

"Last night. Wound up a big revival last night, I believe. Kind o' caved
in, I reckon."

"That's all. Needs rest. He'll be wearin' a wood jacket if he doosna
leave off preachin'."

"Regular jamboree. I couldn't stop him. One of these periodical
neighborhood 'awakenings,' they call it."

"They have need of it here, na doot."

"Well, they need something--love for God--or man."

"M--well!



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