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قراءة كتاب The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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The Deacon of Dobbinsville
A Story Based on Actual Happenings

The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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pulling the enraged Deacon off the poor man. When the hired man had finally persuaded Gramps away from the scene, Benton, bruised and bleeding in body, but victorious in soul, struggled to his feet and went home, glad that he was counted worthy to suffer for Jesus' sake.


CHAPTER VII

The community was stirred, no doubt about that. These were stirring days. Not since the days when Union and Southern marauding parties scattered terror in these woods had public excitement run so high as now. The gossip of Benton's beating was on everybody's lips before the sun went down that day. Everybody talked about it. Jake's friends were warmer friends and his enemies were hotter enemies. Those who had been neutral were neutral no more. There were just two parties now, those against and those for holiness as taught and lived by Jake Benton. As for old Jake, he kept sweet in his soul and talked little and prayed much. His victory was complete.

In the midst of this excitement Jake received a short but significant letter from Evangelist Blank. It ran thus:

Dear Brother Benton:

In accordance with my promise to you nearly a year ago, I am now in a position to hold your revival. I will arrive in Dobbinsville August 2. Please meet me at the train.

Your Brother in Christ,--Evangelist Blank.

Jake read this scanty letter through tears of joy. He was unspeakably happy. He had prayed for a year, and now his prayers were on the verge of being answered. A holiness preacher, mysterious being, was actually to set foot on Mount Olivet soil. The doctrine of full salvation was to invade the precincts of sin-you-must religion.

But where was Evangelist Blank to preach? Not in Mount Olivet, to be sure. About a quarter of a mile from Mount Olivet Church was a section of land known in that country as Public Land. Here in the center of an old, unused, unfenced field was a thick clump of post oak sapplings, with heavy foliage. This spot was to be the scene of many an interesting happening, a few of which shall be mentioned before this story closes and many of which shall not. As soon as Jake was sufficiently recovered from the beating administered by the Deacon, he, in company with Nolan Gray and several others who were either friends or embracers of the doctrine of full salvation, went to this spot and worked for a number of days building a brush arbor, which was to serve the purpose of a meeting-house. Long poles were tied from tree to tree to make a framework. Then other poles were laid across from the frame-poles to furnish a support for the brush, which was thrown on top. A sort of tabernacle was thus effected which served the purpose well. Oil torches were hung on the upright poles to furnish light. Long boards were brought from a sawmill near by and fastened on stakes driven into the ground; these served for benches. The arbor would seat about five hundred people.

Everything was in readiness for the long-expected meetings. All there was to do was to wait for the 2nd of August to come, and that was hard to do. Finally it came. That afternoon when the two-coached train rolled up to the little red station at Dobbinsville, Jake Benton stood on the depot platform. His heart beat a rat-a-tat-tat against his chest. As the train slowed up and Jake saw through its window the face of a man corresponding to the picture he had seen in his holiness paper, his emotions refused to yield to control. He jumped high in the air, and shouted at the top of his voice, "Hallelujah!"

The train being a few hours late, the afternoon was far spent. On the road from the station, Jake told Evangelist Blank as best he could of the happenings of the year just preceding--how he had been converted in the woods and subsequently sanctified, of his persecution and excommunication by the church, and of his recent beating at the hands of Deacon Gramps. Evangelist Blank had had many long years of experience in the field of evangelistic endeavor, yet when Jake Benton poured all these startling things into his ears, there came a feeling over him that he was entering into an entirely new experience. This feeling was verified before he left the neighborhood a few weeks later.

When the old-fashioned wagon rattled up to the front gate of the humble home, Evangelist Blank expressed to Jake the belief that in coming to this place he was in the center of the will of God. This made poor Jake's heart leap for joy. He sprang from the wagon to the ground and, bidding his good wife see to the comfort of the Evangelist and the corps of singers who accompanied him, set himself diligently to doing the evening chores in order that everything might be in readiness for the evening meeting.


CHAPTER VIII

When the afternoon shadows began to lengthen there began to gather around the new-made brush arbor on Post Oak Ridge a number of men and boys. These were mostly idlers of the community, who had nothing in particular to do, so had come early to the arbor. But when the last faint streaks of the dying day were fading, the more substantial citizens of the community began to gather at this spot of interest. They came from every direction. Every path seemed to lead to the arbor ridge. Some came in wagons, some in buggies, some on horseback, others walked.

Everybody, almost, was there. Grandma Gray was there. She sat serenely in her big willow rocker, which Nolan had placed just in front and to the left of the speaker's stand. Her age-wrinkled face was all aglow with the joy of full salvation. Aunt Sally Perkins was there. Poor old Aunt Sally. She was notorious as a shouter and a hypocrite. Nobody had any confidence in her as a Christian, but she was much given to sitting in the "amen" corner, and on this particular night she came into the big arbor and deposited her scanty self right on a front bench. And there she sat, wrapped in her old grey shawl, peeping out from beneath her old black bonnet. Old Brother Bunk was there. For a quarter of a century he had been a true and tried member of Mount Olivet Church, but of late he had been much wrought upon by the holiness agitation. "Spooky" Crane was there. Crane was a harmless half-wit who lived alone in a shanty at the back of Deacon Gramps' field. He always made it a point to attend every religious service far and near, of whatever faith, and he had the capacity for adjusting himself to his surroundings to such an extent that he joined every religious movement with which he came in contact. Roguish boys found great amusement in giving him pennies to sing for them. Jim Peabody was there. But that was to be taken only as a matter of course, for Jim always went to church. He went, not because he was religious, but because he was otherwise. He made loud boast of his infidelity. He had given himself extensively to the reading of Bob Ingersoll and other authors notorious for things other than goodness, so in his own vain imaginations he was a masterful scholar. He said there was no God, and that any man who prayed was a fool. But the cause of infidelity had suffered a terrific blow when one time Nolan Gray, as he was going to Dobbinsville, saw a huge wagon-box turned bottom side up, with the wagon on top, in a ditch by the side of the road. As he drew near he heard coming from under the box the low muttering tones of a man's voice. As he stood near the box and listened he heard a most eloquent prayer. He took a long pole from a fence near by and pried one edge of the box up, and who should emerge from beneath but Jim Peabody.

When the hour of service arrived, Jake Benton and the evangelistic party did not arrive with it. Owing to the lateness of the train, Jake had been unable to get around at the appointed hour. Finally the familiar rattle of Jake's wagon was heard, and now all was breathless expectancy. When the party arrived at the arbor, all eyes were fastened upon the Evangelist. If he had been a ghost moving about in the twilight of that summer evening, he would have been regarded with

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