Harry Benton was a successful business man, there was no question about that. He was not known in the commercial world as a “big” man, and he could not write out a check for a million dollars and give it to some charitable institution as some of the multi-millionaires can do, but he was regarded by all who knew him as a successful business man. He had a business in Chicago that was thriving if not colossal. From the income from this business he was able to own and maintain a beautiful and comfortable home in one of the residential districts of the great city. It was his pleasure and privilege to give each year a few thousand dollars to the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Harry was the second son of Jake Benton, the backwoods holiness preacher of the Ozarks. At the age of twenty-one he had become the husband of Eva Gray, who was two years younger than he. This union had been a blessed happy one. If all of Chicago’s homes were like that of Harry Benton, it might well be nicknamed the Paradise of America. Thrice the angel of blessings had visited this home, decorating it each time with one of heaven’s jewels in the form of a baby. Nolan Benton, the twelve-year-old boy, had the name of his Grandfather Gray, and he also had all the religious indications of his Grandfather Benton. Blanche was two years younger than Nolan. She fell heir to the blue eyes, the ruddy cheeks, the flaxen hair of her mother. Little Jake, the baby, was five years old. He inherited his Grandfather Benton’s name and his Grandfather Gray’s red hair.
One Sunday morning when this happy family gathered around the breakfast table, Harry Benton’s appetite was absent. He could not eat. He steadfastly gazed through the east window of the beautiful dining room into the park which spread itself over several acres of ground just across the street from his home.
“Harry, dear, why do you not eat?” remarked his wife. Harry Benton smiled, but as he did so a tear glistened on his cheek.
“For some reason,” he answered, “I awoke an hour before day this morning and memory insisted on taking me on a journey over the past and carrying me on a ramble through the scenes of my childhood, and as I sit here the sight of those trees in the park remind me of old Ozark’s grand forests. I like to think of those old scenes, and by the way, wife, come to think about it, it is three years this month since we were down home on a visit. It doesn’t seem possible that it is so long. We get so absorbed with our business here in this big wicked city that the years flit by like dreams and we do not realize how long we have been away. I should like to take a stroll this morning along the old creek where we boys used to swim. I’d like to visit the old schoolhouse in the walnut grove where we used to spend so many idle hours. Three years ago when we were down there I visited that old schoolhouse. It looked just about like it did twenty-five or thirty years ago, when you and I were there. I sat on the old limestone rock beneath the old locust-tree where we used to play dare base. The old play ground is just the same. There was the ballground where we used to play ‘town ball.’ The same old stone was there that we used for second base.”