Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.

That night I slept in a hotel, and going to a bed which had not been properly ventilated, wondered if it could be my duty to breast that storm of popular frenzy.  Could I at any time be required to drink tea out of a coarse delf cup and sleep in such a bed?  Luxuries I wanted none; but a china cup, silver spoon and soft blankets were necessaries of life.  As I lay, uncertain always whether I slept, I seemed to sit on a projecting rock on the side of a precipice draped with poisonous vines.  There was no spot on which I could place my feet, while out of holes, snakes hissed at me, and on ledges panthers glared at me with their green fiery eyes, and the tips of their tails wagging.  Far below lay a lovely green valley, walled on both sides by these haunted precipitous banks, but stretching up and down until lost in vista.  I knew that to the right was north—­the direction of home; and to the left, south—­the way out into the great unknown.  If I could only reach that lovely valley and the clear stream which ran through it; but this was a vain longing, until there appeared in it a young man in a grey suit and soft broad-brimmed black felt hat.  He came up the precipice toward me, and a way made itself before him, until he held up his hand, and said: 

“Come down!”

I saw his face, and knew it was Christ.  After seeing that face, all the conceptions of all the artists are an offense.  Moreover, the Christ of to-day, in the person of his follower, has often come to me in the garb of a working man, but never in priestly robes.  He led me down the precipice without a word, pointed northward and said: 

“Walk in the valley and you will be safe.”  He was gone, and I became conscious that I had been seeking popularity, money, and these were not for me; I must go home, but first I would try to repair the loss incurred by that agent.  I lectured in a small town, a nucleus of a Seven Day Baptist settlement, and was the guest of the proprietor, who had built a great many concrete walls.  Coming out into a heavy wind, I took acute inflammation of the lungs.  My hostess gave me every attention; but I must go home for my symptoms were alarming, so took the train the next morning, with my chest in wet compresses, a viol of aconite in my pocket, and was better when by rail and schooner I reached the house of the good Samaritan, Judge Wilson, of Winona.

Here I was made whole, lectured in Winona and other towns, and got back to St. Paul with more money than when I left.  I started for home one morning in a schooner.  At one the next morning our craft settled down and refused to go farther.  The snow was three feet deep; it had been raining steadily for twelve hours, and when the men got out to pry out the runners, they went down, down, far over their knees.  The driver and express agent were booted for such occasions, but the two Germans were not.  Myself, “these four and no more,” were down in the book of fate for a struggle with inertia.  It was muscle and mind against matter.  To the muscle I contributed nothing, but might add something to the common stock of mind.  The agent, and driver concluded that he should take a horse and go to the nearest house, two miles back, to get shovels to dig us out.  I asked if there were fresh horses and men at the house.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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