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.
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