On Wednesday afternoon, when two o'clock arrived, the two front rooms of the Gramps farmhouse were crammed full of people. The yard was full, too. The St. Louis preacher began and spoke thus: "My friends and brethren, we have met on this sad occasion to pay our last respects to the honored dead. Within the narrow confines of this casket lie the earthly remains of a man whose spirit yet lives. It was not my happy privilege to know this excellent man, but I am informed by his pastor, Preacher Bonds here, of his manifold excellencies. When a great man dies, the people mourn. I am informed that our departed brother was a great man. First, he was a great man in business. When I behold this beautiful well-kept farm, I see its wide, extending fields, its running brooks, its whitewashed fences, its excellent buildings, in the burning of one of which our brother met his death—when I behold these things, I say, I am made to exclaim that God hath blessed him in basket and store. Yes, a great man in business.
"Secondly, he was a great man in his home, and by the way, there is where the true greatness of a man is tested. In the death of our esteemed brother the home is the loser. It loses a loving husband. It loses a considerate father and an efficient bread-winner.
"Thirdly, our brother was a great man in the community. I am told that he was a public-spirited man. He believed in schools, in good roads, and in all other things that make for the welfare of a community. In his death the community is a heavy loser.
"Fourthly, he was a great man in the church. (Preacher Bonds, "Amen".) I am told that for upwards of thirty years our brother has been a consistent member of Mount Olivet Church and a regular attendant at its service and a heavy contributor to its funds. I understand that he was a mighty defender of the church's faith. He fought bravely on. He stood like a rock. He weathered the storm. He finished the course. He conquered.
"But, my friends, our finite minds cannot fathom the profound mysteries of the infinite. We cannot understand. Why would a just God permit such a noble man to meet such a tragic death? It is not ours to reason why. We simply bow our hearts to the will of the divine."
"And now, to the bereaved I would say, Weep not as those who have no hope. (Mrs. Gramps weeps aloud.) Brother Gramps is just gone on before. He has crossed over Jordan, where he waits on the sunny banks of sweet deliverance. Just a few more days and we shall join him. He has gone where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest. Let us pray. Brother Bonds, lead us."
Twelve moons had rolled by since the Gramps funeral. The blue-grass sod had already grown quite snugly over the year-old mound in the cemetery back of the white church on the hill. The rose-bush at the head of the mound had bloomed once and the June breeze had sprinkled its pink petals over the green carpet. A more or less expensive tombstone stood modestly at the head of the mound and silently announced to the passer-by what any tombstone is supposed to announce, namely that somebody sleeps beneath this mound. During the year many persons had stood with bared heads and read through tears this inscription: J.D. Gramps, Born April 21, 1856—Died June 13, 18—. "They rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."
The Gramps premises began to show signs of decay. The fences were in need of repair and the hillside portions of the farm had been washed in gullies by the spring freshets. A large ash-heap surrounded by jimsonweed and burdock marked the sight of the once beautiful red barn. The front-yard gate had been torn from its hinges, and it lay upon the ground.
It was well known that Widow Gramps had received ten thousand dollars from an insurance company in New York City, but what she had done with the amount was only a matter of opinion. Along about this time it became known in the community that the Widow had leased the farm and was planning to go to a Western State as she said, for the sake of her health, which had been declining since the day of the Deacon's funeral.
One day when Mrs. Gramps was in Dobbinsville making preparations for the trip West, she called at the People's State Bank and presented a check drawn on a Western bank and signed by James Duncan. When the cashier had cashed her check and she had left the bank, he turned to his assistant and said, "Jim, do you know what Deacon Gramps' name was?"
"J.D. Gramps," responded the assistant.
"I know J.D. were his initials," said the cashier, "but what does J.D. stand for?"
"Oh, I don't remember," answered the assistant. "I suppose we could find out by looking up some of his old papers that we still have in the vault."
"Look up that old mortgage that Gramps had on the Widow Smith's little farm," ordered the cashier.
A ponderous file was pulled from a shelf in the vault and the two men began to search the musty and dusty old documents of bygone days. At last they found the mortgage. There they found the Deacon's name written out in full—James Duncan Gramps. The cashier of the People's State Bank had a curious twinkle in his eye as he looked at his assistant. "Jim, do you know, I have a suspicious feeling about this here Gramps proposition," he remarked. The assistant looked astonished. He had supposed all this time that the cashier was interested in the Deacon's full name from some official standpoint. The cashier went on: "Widow Gramps was just in here a few minutes ago and cashed a check drawn by a man by the name of James Duncan. I have a suspicion that Deacon Gramps is still living and that this James Duncan is no other than James Duncan Gramps, and he is checking out of a Western bank money which Mrs. Gramps received from the insurance company in New York."
"Surely that could not be," responded the assistant. "Suppose we compare the handwriting on the check that you just cashed with the handwriting on these old papers." After a close comparison of the two specimens of handwriting, the men decided that their resemblance was not sufficient to prove anything.
"At any rate it will do no harm to investigate," remarked the cashier as he closed the heavy door of the vault. "I shall turn the evidence over to the insurance company in New York." That evening at sundown when train Number 29 pulled out from the station at Dobbinsville and sped eastward, it carried in its mailcoach a letter of much significance addressed to the president of a large insurance company in New York City.
The following week one day when the west-bound noon train stopped at Dobbinsville, a well-dressed stranger stepped from the platform of the coach and made inquiry as to the location of a hotel. A lanky-looking lad who leaned against a pole directed the stranger to the Dobbinsville Inn, across the street. A person of this man's evident rank and importance was not a familiar sight in the streets of Dobbinsville. His mysterious presence set a peaceful town all agog. He became the subject of much exaggerated conjecture. Every fellow was overly eager to tell precisely what he did not know; namely, where this stranger came from and what his business was. Uncle Hezekiah Evans, the sixty-year-old newsboy who peddled the Post around over the village, said this stranger was evidently a rich man from the East who had come to buy the whole town out. "Fatty" Jones, whose chief employment was that of sitting on a baggage truck at the depot, had the opinion that this stranger was the son of a St. Louis millionaire who, having much time and money, had come out to an up-to-date country to spend both. It was the candid opinion of old "Doc" Greenwich that this stranger had committed a crime somewhere and was lounging around in this secluded nook to evade the officers of the law. "Dad" Brunt, the honored proprietor of the Dobbinsville Inn, had an advantage over his fellows, as the stranger was staying with him. He was sure that this man was interested in timberlands in the Mount Olivet neighborhood, as he had known the man to make two trips out here during his stay at the Inn.
The stranger spent a week in Dobbinsville, during which time he made frequent calls at the People's State Bank. When he had gone, the cashier, to the great relief and surprise of his fellow townsmen, explained to them that he was an officer of the law whose business was to investigate the circumstances connected with the burning of Deacon Gramps' barn.
Just about one month from this time Uncle Hezekiah Evans did a flourishing business selling papers. The Post came out with this startling headline: "DEACON HEARS OWN FUNERAL PREACHED." Great excitement prevailed. Everybody in Dobbinsville who could read and some who could not bought a paper from Uncle Hezekiah. He sold all he had, and wished for more to sell. Not only were the people of Dobbinsville interested in this remarkable newspaper headline, but in every town and city that fell within the limits of the Post's rather metropolitan circulation, people were startled at the unusual thought of a man hearing his own funeral. The article in the Post read like this:
The little town of Dobbinsville, snugly tucked away in the peaceful folds of the far-famed Ozark hills, is coming into its share of publicity. There has lived for many years in the vicinity of this village a substantial farmer by the name of Gramps. Until a couple of days ago Gramps was supposed to have been dead and buried. In fact, a tombstone in the churchyard near the Gramps homestead plainly states that Gramps is dead. Though tombstones sometimes say, "They have gone to rest," the truth is otherwise and Gramps has turned up very much alive. According to an officer interviewed by a Post correspondent yesterday, Gramp's story is somewhat on this wise:
A little over a year ago it became known in the neighborhood of Dobbinsville that Gramps, who for years had been a well-to-do farmer and a diligent deacon in a local church, was becoming involved in financial embarrassment. In order to save himself from bankruptcy, the Deacon, according to his own confession, resorted to very unusual means. Gramps carried heavy life insurance. About thirteen months ago he burned his barn and feigned to have burned with it. While his neighbors were at the church one Sunday he went into his big barn and after depositing in a pasteboard box his false teeth, his watch, his pocket-knife, and some pieces of silver coin, he placed the box in the manger and lighted the hay in the mow with a match. After making sure that the fire was in good way, he jumped from a window in the barn and ran, without detection, to his house and hid himself in the attic. Neighbors, missing Gramps, made a diligent search for him which resulted only in finding the molten remains of the pocket knife and other articles in the ash-heap where the barn was burned. Amid much mourning loving hands gathered ashes from the tragical spot and tenderly laid them in an expensive casket. The next day at the funeral in the parlor of the Gramps home, a minister from St. Louis delivered an empassioned eulogy, extolling the manifold excellencies of the honored dead (?). Through an open stairway door Gramps heard the eloquent words of the clergyman and the heart-rending sobs of his own wife and children.
After seeing his funeral done up in proper style, Gramps went to Colorado, where for a year, going under an assumed name, he conducted a Sunday School and took active part in other religious enterprises. Through the cooperation of his wife, who remained on the homestead at Dobbinsville, he came into possession of $10,000 from an insurance company in New York City. At the end of a year he planned for his wife to join him in Colorado, where, according to his statement, they were to begin life anew. But their plans were upset when the Deacon sent his wife a check signed with his assumed name, which name consisted of the first two words of his real name. Gramps and his wife are both in jail, where they await the action of the court and where they have a splendid opportunity to meditate upon the interesting happenings of the past year. Whether or not Mrs. Gramps was an accomplice has not yet developed.
"Twenty years ago I came to this country. During these twenty years I have done my utmost to preserve and defend the faith of Mount Olivet church." The person who spoke was Preacher Bonds. The place where he spoke was in his own pulpit. The persons to whom he spoke were his twenty members, who were the fragments of the once thriving and powerful rural church. Bonds was at his best on this particular Sunday morning in April, and he had planned to give his hearers a sort of history of the events during his twenty-years pastorate at Mount Olivet.
The morning was a most beautiful one. All nature wore a smile. Only those who have experienced the rare joy of taking a stroll through the wooded dell in the famous Ozarks on a spring morning can fully appreciate the scene. Spring had made her long-delayed journey from the southland and by the strength of her warm and winning ways had forced grim old winter to a hasty retreat northward, and now exulted in her unchallenged sway. All the birds on this morning seemed to have come out to help her in her celebration. A red-bird, perched on the tip-top twig of the venerable oak which stood near the church, bathing his crimson feathers in the morning sun, warbled his sweetest notes to his mate in a hawthorn thicket across the field. Rollicking robins were vying with each other in their quest of worms in the meadow east of the church. A gray squirrel chattered in a hickory-tree near by and scattered particles of bark all around. A red-headed woodpecker sat in the round door of his cozy house in an old snag and seemed perfectly content in his utter inability to sing. Frolicsome spring lambs amused themselves by butting each other off a low stump down in the old Gramps cow pasture.
The Church itself showed signs of dilapidation. The belfry on the roof had been torn away and the old rusty bell, silent for many years, stood exposed to the ravages of summer and winter. Its only purpose now seemed to be to afford a shelter for the wasps which from year to year built their nests in its dome. The brick chimney, which projected from the roof near the rear of the building, had lost its crowning bricks and presented a very jagged aspect. For the accommodation of the squirrels who were accustomed to take up winter quarters in the attic of the church, the wood-peckers had pecked numerous holes in the paintless walls. The eaves were daubed with mud carried by the pewees in the building of their yearly nests. Bats, at their own good pleasure, came in and out through the paneless windowsashes and found daytime repose on top of the sagging beam which, just above the windows, spanned the room.
The physical condition of this Church house formed a fitting counterpart to the spiritual condition of the people who worshipped (?) there. Physical, spiritual, and moral spelled the trinity of its decay.
Preacher Bonds' sermon that morning ran something like this: "Twenty years ago I came to this country. Well do I remember the first few months after landing here. Some of the older members will recall the mighty religious fight that was just beginning in those days between the holiness heresy and the doctrines of the Bible as believed in by this church. Those few who are here this morning who have known me and have been my co-workers throughout these years, I am sure, testify to the steadfastness with which I have stood by the work. I said when I came here that God had sent me here to fight the doctrine of holiness. I still hold to my mission. I have stood four-square against that doctrine and all its advocates, and I still stand. I have used every means to put it down. But strange as it seems, this heresy appears to have grown fat upon our opposition, and the more we have fought the more it has flourished. Even at this very hour not a mile from here, in the schoolhouse, there is a group of people five times as large as this audience worshipping the Lord in what they call the "beauty of holiness." They have for a preacher, as you know, old man Benton, who twenty years ago was cast out of this church for teaching crooked doctrine. He has had no preparation whatever for ministerial work, but in some way he has been able to keep his bunch together for nearly twenty years; and now since he is an old man, it seems that they still persist in following him.
"In the early days of my pastorate here my strongest supporter and co-laborer was Deacon Gramps. This name will sound familiar to some of the older members. Gramps owned the beautiful farm just to the west of this Church. A good many years ago through some play, fair or foul, Gramps was charged with a criminal act and was convicted and sent to the penitentiary, where three years ago he died. His wife went to St. Louis to live with her son, and departed this life shortly after moving there. You are all more or less familiar with the Gramps story, so I shall leave it, as it is not at all a pleasant topic to discuss.
"It may be of interest to some of you to know just how the doctrine of holiness ever got started in this community. Well, this old man Benton whom you all know as the leader of the holiness movement used to be a member of this church. For many years he lived a consistent Christian life in this church, so they tell me. About twenty years ago he spent a whole summer herding cattle down in the hills about thirty miles from here. While he was down there in the woods all alone with nothing to occupy his mind, he fell to musing on the death of his little girl who died a good many years previously to that time and it seems that he became mentally unbalanced, at least on religious matters. According to the information given me, he came in contact at this time with a religious paper teaching strange doctrines, and he embraced these doctrines and began advocating them with great zeal. As I said before, he was excommunicated from this church for teaching such doctrines, but in leaving the church he took a number of our most trusted and tried members, for instance, the Gray family. Those were the days of great excitement in this community. It was about this time that I was called to the pastorate of this church. A few months after my coming Benton and his bunch got an evangelist from over east, somewhere, to come here, and he made a mighty stir along heretical lines and many of the best citizens of our community were drawn into the delusive net. Some of us, in those days, stood firm in the faith and employed every thinkable means to stamp out the nefarious cult; and allow me to humbly say that had it not been for Deacon Gramps and me and a few other faithful ones, our cause at that time would have been completely lost.
"But I stand today, my brethren, as I have always stood—unalterably opposed to the program of the holiness movement. First, I oppose holiness itself—the doctrine that a man can live free from sin in this life. How foolish, how utterly ridiculous, the idea. We all sin. Our fathers sinned, we sin, and our posterity will sin. Do you see that streak of sunshine that comes in at the window and falls upon the floor? See in the sunlighted atmosphere a million dust particles. Let the air represent our lives and let the dust particles represent our sins, and you will have an idea as to how many sins we commit. Away with the holiness doctrine.
"Secondly, I stand opposed to the doctrine of divine healing as taught by Benton's outfit. The days of miracles are past. They ceased with the apostles. Jesus Christ has no more power to heal me of sickness today than has the horse which I rode to church this morning. In these days of great learning, when men are able to cure diseases by medicine and surgery, there is no need of divine healing, and every man who claims to be healed by divine power makes himself an ignoramus and a liar. Away with this doctrine.
"Thirdly, I stand opposed to the doctrine of oneness, or unity, as taught by Benton and his disciples. They lay great stress on this doctrine. They say there is but one church and that when a man is converted he becomes a member of this one church. Brethren, I do not believe this new doctrine. I still hold to the faith of our fathers. I believe that according to the Scriptures we become members of the church by water baptism and by no other method.
"Brethren, let us stand by the faith of those who have gone before. We may be few in number, but let us be unmoveable. Let us refresh our faith with thoughts of those whose lives have left sacred spots on the field of memory. Let us think on such men as Preacher Crookshank and Deacon Gramps, who were noted for their courage in defending the faith.
"As the noon hour is drawing near, I must bring my sermon to a close. Tonight at seven-thirty I shall preach on a favorite subject of mine—the Hellish Heresy of Holiness. But, in conclusion, let me say that I still feel heavily the burden of fighting old man Benton and his group. I am growing somewhat gray, but I'm still in the fight. I aim to push the battle. I believe that in defending his faith a man is justifiable in using almost any means imaginable. Let us pray: Lord, we thank thee for this hour in which we have defended thy cause. Lord, bless this church and curse those who seek its harm. Smite any person or persons in this community who seek to propagate false religion. And now may the grace of Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost rest and abide with us now and forever, amen."
So closed a service a picture of which today still hangs on the walls of the memory of those present.
How hidden is the path of one's future. When Preacher Bonds mounted his sorrel horse at the church that noon-day, just as he had done for many, many years, little did he think that the same sun which afforded him a chance to illustrate in his morning sermon the multiplicity of his own sins would, before setting that day, shine upon his lifeless form.
It so happened that day that Preacher Bonds invited one of his brethren home with him to dinner. As he and this member, who was a pillar in the church, rode along the country road to Bonds' home, Bonds gave the member a full outline of his intended sermon on the Hellish Heresy of Holiness. When the two men had reached the barn of the Bonds' premises and had fed their horses they started for the house. They were just passing in at the yard gate when Preacher Bonds staggered and fell to the ground. He was carried into his house and placed on a cot, and a doctor was called; but within a half-hour from the time he fell at the gate his breath ceased and he began his eternity. The doctor pronounced his death due to heart trouble. There was no sermon at the church that night on the Hellish Heresy of Holiness. The following day Bonds' remains were started on the journey to Kentucky, where burial took place at the old boyhood home.
With the passing of Bonds the last candlestick was removed from Mount Olivet church. Bonds' sermon was the last one of the sin-you-must type preached there. The church was entirely disbanded and the dilapidated building finally fell into the hands of those who came after Jake Benton. In recent years the old church has been torn away and replaced by a beautiful white building surpassing even the former beauty of the old one. Over its door were written these words: The Church of God—the Pillar and Ground of the Truth. Over the pulpit this motto hangs: "Behold how good and how pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity." To the left on the wall are these words: "Who forgiveth all our iniquities and healeth all our diseases."
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."
As Harry Benton thus spoke his wife and children listened intently, and when the meal was finished and the Bible was brought for the morning worship, the whole family was in a serious frame of mind. Benton went on to say, "And when we talk of home scenes, I always think of father and his godly influence upon my life. As I look across the years, I see myself an ignorant awkward country boy; but there is one thing for which I shall always thank my God, and that is that I was blessed with a Christian father. Throughout the years his saintly life has been a benediction to me. The most sacred picture that hangs on the wall of my memory is that of my father with the big family Bible on his lap and all the children gathered around him and Mother for the worship of his God. Well do I remember when he used to pray for us, naming us out one by one and asking God to make us useful men and women. And oh, how he used to be persecuted by the Mount Olivet people. Well do I remember how one morning when Father was on his way to milk your father's cows he was met by Deacon Gramps, who beat him so shamefully. That night in family worship Father prayed so fervently and asked God to forgive Gramps and save him from his wicked ways. The impressions I received during those stirring days never will leave me. I tell you, Eva, it meant something for Father to stand true as he did, and I think heaven will be especially sweet to those who have suffered as he has suffered."
When he had left off speaking and the family knelt in prayer, Harry Benton's voice trembled with emotion as he prayed for all those back home whom he remembered, and especially for his father.
When the morning chores were done and Harry Benton started to the Full Salvation Mission, which mission he had superintended and supported for a number of years, he was met on his front porch by a Western Union messenger boy, who took from beneath his blue cap a slip of yellow paper and handed it to him. This is how it read: "Come, Father very low."
Benton telephoned one of his brethren to take charge of the Mission, and after earnestly beseeching the Lord to spare his father until his bedside could be reached, he and his wife made hasty arrangements to start, and were soon speeding across the fertile fields of Illinois. They crossed the mighty Mississippi, changed trains in St. Louis' big Union Depot, and after a few hours' ride their train was gliding past old familiar scenes of bygone days.
"Dobbinsville, Dobbinsville," shouted the porter as he thrust his face in at the door of the coach. Three short jerks at the signal cord—swish, swish, swish—back from the engine—t-oot-oot-oot—a sudden let-up in speed, a screech of the airbrakes, a bang of the door, and the Texas Canon-Ball made one of its seldom stops at Dobbinsville and Harry Benton and his family stepped to the platform.
A thirty-minute ride through the country in a neighbor's automobile and once more in life Harry Benton stepped foot upon the premises of his childhood. His prayer had been answered. His father seemed to be dying during the night, but with the coming of morning he revived and regained consciousness. When Harry and Eva entered the room where his father lay, the old saint seemed as happy as a child and much rejoiced at seeing Harry and Eva and their babies, who were the last of a great flock of sons and sons-in-law and daughters and daughters-in-law and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to arrive.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Since Jake Benton's conversion, more than a quarter of a century previously to this time, his life had been one continuous sermon—a sermon more eloquent than any ever preached from a pulpit. But if the sermon of his life was eloquent, that of his death was more so. According to his simple philosophy, life was just a sort of lodging-place beside the long road to eternity, and death, to him, was not a leaving home, but rather a starting for home.
When he gathered his loved ones about his bedside on the day following the arrival of Harry and his family, to say goodbye, it was not the goodbye of one who was entering upon a dark and perilous journey to parts unknown, but that of one sustained by an unfailing faith that he was entering upon an abode in the eternal mansion, where he should wait but a brief period for the coming of those he loved.
Just as the purple shadows of the October evening were lengthening, the end was drawing near. The hoary patriarch called his children all by name—Harry and Eva, Joe and his wife, Albert and his wife, Nancy and her husband, Hannah and her husband, and Hattie, the unmarried daughter yet at home—and they all gathered in the room where death was to be a guest. The grandchildren, happy and care-free, unconscious of what life is and of what death means, were called in from their places of play, and told that Grandpa was leaving them. The little tots, bless them, came in and stood around the old-fashioned bedstead all unmindful of the significance of a meeting of time and eternity. They gathered around and gazed into the old saint's face, where death and life alternately wrote their names. As they passed around one by one by the head of the bed, the old man laid his withered hands upon each little head and pronounced his blessing. Then he began to talk.
"If this is death," he said, "it is a blessed thing to die. The way has been long and the road rough, at times, but now it is all over. I have suffered a few things for Jesus' sake, but how unworthy I have been of all the love He has shown me. I have only one dying request to make of my loved ones, and it is the same as my living request has been, that you all live for God and meet me over there. Oh, I am so happy. How I love Jesus, and on His bosom I shall rest forever." His voice grew fainter. "Just one more step and I am there." The loved ones hovered nearer. A soft white hand was laid upon his brow. It was the hand of Hattie. Subdued sobs were heard about the room. "Don't weep, dear children," he faintly murmured: "I am just passing into—I see the darling's hands—no pale cheeks—how sweet—about my neck—this Rose—Rose's Savior Papa's Savior too. Let's go—." He was dead—and blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.