The man was fairly broken down. “What must I do?” he cried. “I’m all in a creel. I’m but a pipe for the Lord to sound through.”
“Take not that Name in vain, for the sounding is from your own corrupt heart. Mind what Alison Steel said about the devil of pride, for it was that sin by which the angels fell.”
“But I’ve His plain commands,” he wailed. “He hath bidden me cast down idolatry, and bring the Gentiles to His kingdom.”
“Did He say anything about Virginia? There’s plenty idolatry elsewhere in America to keep you busy for a lifetime, and you can lead your Gentiles elsewhere than against your own kin. Turn your face westward, John Gib. I, too, can dream dreams and see visions, and it is borne in on me that your road is plain before you. Lead this great people away from the little shielings of Virginia, over the hills and over the great mountains and the plains beyond, and on and on till you come to an abiding city. You will find idolaters enough to dispute your road, and you can guide your flock as the Lord directs you. Then you will be clear of the murderer’s guilt who would stain his hands in kindly blood.”
He lifted his great head, and the marks of the sacrifice were still on his brow.
“D’ye think that would be the Lord’s will?” he asked innocently.
“I declare it unto you,” said I. “I have been sent by God to save your soul. I give you your marching orders, for though you are half a madman you are whiles a man. There’s the soul of a leader in you, and I would keep you from the shame of leading men to hell. To-morrow morn you will tell these folk that the Lord has revealed to you a better way, and by noon you will be across the Shenandoah. D’you hear my word?”
“Ay,” he said. “We will march in the morning.”
“Can you lead them where you will?”
His back stiffened, and the spirit of a general looked out of his eyes.
“They will follow where I bid. There’s no a man of them dare cheep at what I tell them.”
“My work is done,” I said. “I go to whence I came. And some day I shall go to Cramond and tell Alison that John Gib is no disgrace to his kin.”
“Would you put up a prayer?” he said timidly. “I would be the better of one.”
Then for the first and last time in my life I spoke aloud to my Maker in another’s presence, and it was surely the strangest petition ever offered.
“Lord,” I prayed, “Thou seest Thy creature, John Gib, who by the perverseness of his heart has come to the edge of grievous sin. Take the cloud from his spirit, arrange his disordered wits, and lead him to a wiser life. Keep him in mind of his own land, and of her who prays for him. Guide him over hills and rivers to an enlarged country, and make his arm strong against his enemies, so be they are not of his own kin. And if ever he should hearken again to the devil, do Thou blast his body with Thy fires, so that his soul may be saved.”