The Doc then announced that he would preach a series of six Sunday night sermons on the six best-selling books of the month, and pronounced the benediction while the Higher Lifer and Deacon Wiggleford were trying to get the floor. But the committee of deacons had ’em by the coat-tails, and after listening to their soothing arguments the Higher Lifer decided to take the 2:17 as per schedule. When he saw the whole congregation crowding round the Doc, and the women crying over him and wanting to take him home to dinner, he understood that there’d been a mistake somewhere and that he was the mistake.
Of course the Doc never really preached on the six best-selling books. That was the first and last time he ever found a text in anything but the Bible. Si Perkins wanted to have Deacon Wiggleford before the church on charges. Said he’d been told that this pastor emeritus business was Latin, and it smelt of popery to him; but the Doc wouldn’t stand for any foolishness. Allowed that the special meeting was illegal, and that settled it; and he reckoned they could leave the Deacon’s case to the Lord. But just the same, the small boys used to worry Wiggleford considerably by going into his store and yelling: “Mother says she doesn’t want any more of those pastor emeritus eggs,” or, “She’ll send it back if you give us any more of that dead-line butter.”
If the Doc had laid down that Sunday, there’d probably have been a whole lot of talk and tears over his leaving, but in the end, the Higher Lifer or some other fellow would have had his job, and he’d have become one of those nice old men for whom every one has a lot of respect but no special use. But he kept right on, owning his pulpit and preaching in it, until the Great Call was extended to him.
I’m a good deal like the Doc—willing to preach a farewell sermon whenever it seems really necessary, but some other fellow’s.
Your affectionate father,
From John Graham, at the Schweitzerkasenhof, Carlsbad, to his son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago. The head of the lard department has died suddenly, and Pierrepont has suggested to the old man that there is a silver lining to that cloud of sorrow.
CARLSBAD, October 20, 189-.
Dear Pierrepont: I’ve cabled the house that you will manage the lard department, or try to, until I get back; but beyond that I can’t see. Four weeks doesn’t give you much time to prove that you are the best man in the shop for the place, but it gives you enough to prove that you ain’t. You’ve got plenty of rope. If you know how to use it you can throw your steer and brand it; if you don’t, I suppose I won’t find much more than a grease-spot where the lard department was, when I get back to the office. I’m hopeful, but I’m a good deal like the old deacon back in Missouri who thought that games of chance were sinful, and so only bet on sure things—and I’m not betting.