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The Saint of the Wilderness - Jess Carr

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by rockytopva, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Greetings... I am beginning a new study on the story of Robert Sayers Sheffey...

    The book is copywrited by Jess Carr who passed away in 1990. The books last printing was in 1976 and is an expensive buy if you are looking for a copy. The Congress Catalog Card Number is 7477781.

    [​IMG] - Jess Carr (1930-1990)

    This was a time when the Philadelphian church age was in its glory and the Wesleyan Methods in practice....

    1. Salvation - Accepting Christ in the heart
    2. Sanctification - A Sweet Spirit
    3. The Witness of the Spirit - Entering in the eye of the needle.

    The Old Methodist had two altars, one for salvation and the other for sanctification. To become sanctified was to have a sweet spirit. And they would stay with people in what was known as the 'after service' until they would receive it. Sheffey died in 1902, just a few years before the fires of Pentecost would fall in the Azusa Street mission. I propose to do this book as it reflects the beauty of the Philadelphian church age, and the beauties of what John Wesley intended for the Methodist church.

    Robert Sheffey
    Born July 4, 1820
    Died August 30, 1902
    "The poor were sorry when he died"

    [​IMG] Robert Sayers Sheffey (1820-1902)
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
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  2. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1
    ------------------------------------------------
    Page 1 (1838 AD); We pick up at Robert Sheffey;s 18th birthday at the home of his foster parents (aunt and uncle) in Abington, VA.
    ===============================
    The streets of Abingdon, in Virginias far southwest, were deserted on a predawn morning in July of 1838, except for the two dozen or more servants who scurried about, doing their assigned tasks. They worked in semidarkness; first, houses, then gradually working their way out toward the brick sidewalks. The results of their work would be short lived. Each servant had done this task before and knew full well that at dawning visitors from every direction would be coming into Abingdon for the two days of celebration, bringing fresh dirt and dust with them. The next task -- watering down the macadamized street --- would be short-lived also. By an early morning hour, or by the time one hundred sets of wagon wheels lad passed over the oak-lined street, dust would again be the victor.

    No sooner had the final bucket of water been drunk up by the compacted stone-and-red-clay thoroughfare when full day- light and the first wagons arrived together. Sounds of activity bout the impressive houses of Court and Main streets could be heard; human voices, too, penetrated the early-morning hour as windows were raised to combat heat already in evidence.

    By the time the breakfast hour was nearly over, traffic on Main Street, all the way to the front of Colonel James Whites home, was heavy with travelers on foot, on horseback and in hacks and wagons. Colonel White sat at the north end of the long dining-room table and gazed past the row of younger people on each side of the table, over the head of his wife. Elizabeth, and through the window facing Main Street. He watched the steady stream of travelers for a minute, then commented to his wife, Elizabeth, Abingdon isn't going to hold them all today. They'll be sleeping on the rooftops and roosting in the trees if they keep coming.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  3. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Page 2-3
    ------------------------------------------------
    Robert Sheffey challenged to an education
    ===============================
    I don;t mind if they use the rooftops, his wife replied,but our trees and shrubbery have too noble a history to die an unheroic death.;

    Big Edmund will keep the people out of our yard,; Milton, the youngest child, said.

    All of the servants get to go to the celebration today, except for the kitchen help, Elizabeth White reminded the family.

    Colonel White still looked beyond the window. He liked a celebration. He liked people. He liked seeing people together, laughing and talking and telling stories. He watched the scene for a moment longer, until a wagon stopped in front of the window. It was heavily laden with a large family and all the belongings needed for a one- or two-day sojourn to their county seat. The mother of the group sat rigidly beside her husband, holding an infant in one hand and a small child in the other.

    Poor little fellow is tuckered out already, the colonel said absently. The others at the table looked again to the window, in an effort to make sense of the older mans statement.

    They've been up since before daylight, Elizabeth White speculated. “Likely as not none of them could sleep last night thinking about today.

    I didn't sleep good last night either. Robert Sheffey spoke almost timidly. All eyes focused on him immediately, but his aunt and uncle did not need to ask the source of his discomfort. Elizabeth White saw the flush on her husbands face, but quietly took the prerogative of speaking first. Robert, I know our discussion of last night upset you, but we believe our counsel as wise." His aunts voice was calm and quiet, as always, and the softness of her dark eyes reassured him of the sincerity of her statement.

    Colonel Whites approach was not so gentle, and his fingers continued to drum on the table. Robert, you would not have such an aversion to education if you could visualize the future growth of this infant nation as I envision it. There is a fortune to be made in most any enterprise a man would undertake the country needs smart men, not slackers.

    Yes, sir, you told me that,Robert Sheffey said with no intent to mock. He knew better than to try mockery and he also knew that up to a point he was being given a choice.

    Then why not believe me? The colonels voice was raise slightly.I have tried to treat you like my own sons and my counsel is for your benefit and not for mine.

    I just don;t have the feeling of needing a lot of learning, Robert Sheffey replied, and I don't care about getting rich either.

    The colonel did not answer his nephew, for he had heard the same weak defense before. The older mans massive chest heaved slightly in response to his rejection of so stupid a statement. Presently he excused himself and pushed his muscular bulk from the chair. He stood towering over the family table, authority magnified, but his voice was cairn. Robert, Professor Collins and Professor Wiley will be at the celebration today. We will seek our opportunity to talk to them. Perhaps their wisdom will put fresh thoughts into your head.

    Robert said, Yes, sir, and stared at the massive back of his uncle until, with giant strides, Colonel White had cleared the room.

    The formal atmosphere at the table lessened somewhat with the exit of the master of the house, and Robert Sheffey with the exit of the master of the house, felt contemptuous eyes falling upon him from both sides. Seven of the eleven White children still sat at their fathers table, and Robert was aware that the older ones, at least, must feel contempt for his apparent ungratefulness. But how could he tell them more plainly than he already had: education was fine for some people, but he did not feel inclined in that direction. In his heart he waited for something. He knew not what, but he did not feel that it was higher education. His own brother Lawrence, who also sat at the table, understood, or at least Robert felt that he did. For Lawrence, education was a good thing. The right thing. For in Lawrence there was the hunger of the scholar, the fascination in exploring the known and the unknown. Lawrence looked sympathetically across the table at his brother but continued eating in the near silence he had maintained throughout the course of the meal. The two of them understood each other respected each other.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  4. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Pages 4-5
    ------------------------------------------------
    Preparing for the festivities of July 4, 1838
    ===============================
    Robert’s face saddened as, finally, the others resumed more lighthearted chatter about the things they would do on this Independence Day and about the horde of guests who would come and go over the threshold of the stately frontier mansion. He excused himself; sure that no one remembered the second reason that this day was important.

    “Happy birthday, Robert!” Elizabeth White called behind him. He returned the smile on her olive face and made his way to the front door.

    Upon reaching the front steps he stretched his arms and swallowed a deep breath of morning air. All of other servants working on the lawns and sidewalks had finished except for Big Edmund, who wielded a grass rake.

    “They tromped the grass down a-carrying water acrosed it!” Big Edmund said. He labored for a few moments, raking the sickIe-cut stubble back to an upright position. Robert watched him closely; he found the servant’s approach to the job almost comical. “That looks good, Big Edmund,” the boy said.

    But the servant would not concede the accuracy of this observation until he had lain flat on his belly, surveyed with one closed eye, across the top of the grass blades to make sure that all of them stood at even height.
    ‘’Yas, sir. But de visitors won’t take no mind of that stubble now.”

    Big Edmund stood up, and Robert was conscious, on this day more than any other, of his own physical size in relation to that of other men. Big Edmund stood over six and one half feet tall, while Robert’s own height was almost six inches under six foot. This feeling was the same in the presence of his uncle, for the colonel stood three inches over six feet tall, his abundant gray hair with a tendency to curl, making him look even taller.
    But these were not matters to worry about, he told himself deceptively, even on his eighteenth birthday. Sometime after his sixteenth birthday – he didn’t remember just when – he had partially reconciled himself to his lack of physical attractiveness.

    Big Edmund picked up his tools and started to exit the yard. “Are you going to do it again this year?” Robert called to him. Big Edmund tried to look serious, as if he didn’t know what Robert was talking about. But when Robert grinned, the tall servant did too. “If’n theys a new horseshoe ‘round here that ain’t too thin I might,” he said.

    “Every homesteader from here to Wytheville will have a horseshoe for you,” Robert assured him.

    Big Edmund walked away, with Robert, eyes following him. There would be more people than he who could hardly wait to see this Herculean servant take a newly forged horseshoe and bend it double with his bare hands. That amazing demonstration all by itself would bring two hundred men to Abingdon on the Fourth of July.

    Horse and wheel traffic were coming closer together now. . Most of the people waved or called to Robert as they passed – people who on other occasions would be more restrained. He looked to the south of town and beheld a dust cloud coming from the direction of Black’s Fort and another to the west. It was a sure bet that every mountain road, including the remotest ones, would be filled with the movement of buggies and surreys headed for the town square, where festivities would officially begin at the eleven-o’clock hour.

    Now he himself was getting caught up in the festive atmosphere and anxious to see the final trimmings of the public square. He had stepped toward the street when a hand a hand restrained him. ‘’How does it feel to be eighteen?” his brother Lawrence asked.

    Robert stiffened his body and threw back his head of strawberry-blond hair. “I’ve still got a way to go before I reach you,” he said.

    “Every litter has a runt,” Lawrence said jokingly. Robert didn’t smile. He might have any time except today. “I was just joshing,” Lawrence assured him. “It doesn’t matter what size a man is – it’s what’s under the top of his skull that makes a man different from a mule.” Robert remained in thought for a moment and said. “What if a man doesn’t have muscles or brains either?”
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  5. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 pages 6-8

    ------------------------------------------------
    Robert Sheffey debating the values of a good education
    ===============================

    “You’ve got brains – as good as any man. You just need more practice and schoolin’ to use them. Uncle James and Aunt Elizabeth are both right. There’s no reason why you can’t go to Emory and Henry with me in the winter, when we’ve helped Uncle James with the last of the crops.”

    “Let Uncle James and Aunt Elizabeth stop worrying about the orphans in their house and brag on their own sons. You recollect he didn’t say anything about us going to Princeton like his own boy did. He wants us to go to Emory and Henry and do farm work.”

    “It won’t hurt us to work a little for our books, but we can’t earn it all and we might as well own up to being beholden to Uncle James and our own brother. Besides, Princeton isn’t the only place honors can be won, and Francis isn’t the only one who can win them.”

    “I told you – I’m not going to college. I’ll work or do something else,” Robert insisted.

    “Do what? You didn’t get rich working in Greenway’s store, and you said you don’t like working for Uncle James. Would you rather move to the servant quarters or start boiling salt for somebody?”

    “I’d just as soon work with the servants as anybody. I’m not too awful sure they aren’t ahead of the people they work for in some ways.”

    “Oh, Robert! There’s nothing wrong with poor people, but our future is bright as the sunrise. Look what Uncle James has amounted to – and we have a lot better chance than he had."

    Robert reflected for a moment, then said, “I don’t know what I want to do. . . . I think about it a lot, but...”

    “If Father and Mother had lived they would have wanted you to go to college and do the best you could.”

    “You don’t know that,” Robert said. “You weren’t but four years when Mama died and I wasn’t but two. And father didn’t live but four years longer than mother. How do you know Mama would think that?”

    “Mother was Uncle James’s sister, and he knew her as well as anybody.”

    Robert lowered his head for a moment as though he sought the communion of the spirits that the will of his unremembered mother might be made known to him. Lawrence took advantage of this moment of reflection. “We should be grateful to Uncle James as well as to Aunt Elizabeth. Not every uncle and aunt would take in three orphan boys and give us the chance they have given us.”

    “I can’t deny that Aunt Elizabeth has been like a mother to us, but Uncle James and most of his children don’t let us forget for long that we never belonged there.”

    “That isn’t altogether true, Robert. Uncle James has a pretty stiff spine most of the time, but he’s a busy man – an important man. Out cousins did remind us a few times that we were orphans but that was only to be expected.” Robert said nothing by way of rebuttal and Lawrence hesitated a moment before uttering the statement he felt needed saying. “Robert, you are doing the kind of reflecting today that a young man just turning eighteen shouldn’t be doing.”

    “Then I’ll do all my thinking by myself,” Robert said and headed out onto the street. He walked westward from Colonel James White’s house and stopped to look at the flags fluttering from the houses on either side of him. The smell of lime and salt from the whitewashed fences still hung in the air. He ran his fingers along a top pole on a fence as he walked and thought how foolish the landowner was to whitewash his fences when they were already covered with dust. He turned the corner at the second block, noticing that already the large crowd had nearly obscured the speaker’s platform – and the hour was not yet ten o’clock. Regardless of the time, a festive gaiety was electric in the air. “Come have a little snort 0’ brandy with me, Robert!” a heavyset man called from the open door of a woodshed. Robert recognized the man as a worker at the tanning yard and said, “My breakfast hasn’t settled yet.”

    The man took a long swig from his demijohn and dried is mouth with one quick swipe of the back of his hand. “You ain’t been down at the yard lately. That lye and dead hide smell a-gettin’ the best of you?”

    “No, I’ve been gone for a spell, that’s all. Went down on the stage to visit my brother James and his wife in Marion“

    “He’s the one what married Colonel John Preston’s daughter, ain’t he? Big lawyer now, I understand.”

    “He’s the one. He says he’ll help pay my college expenses to Emory and Henry if I’ll go.”

    “Nothin’ wrong in book Iearnin’ if you’ve got a need for it. It wouldn’t help me none a-scrapin’ hides.”

    “Between my brother James and my Uncle James, I don’t have much say-so but to go – but my mind’s not made up yet.”

    “You listen to Colonel White,” the other admonished. “He’s nigh the biggest man in Washington County, and there ain’t nobody what don’t listen to him. Maybe he’s fixin’ you up to take over one of his farms or salt mines. Got a big interest in the lead mines down in Wythe County too, I understand.”

    “He’s got plenty of his own sons to look after his money, I don’t think that will be any worry of mine.”

    Again the demijohn was held out to Robert and again he declined. “I’ll have a dram with you later,” he said. “I’ve got to get on to the speaker’s platform and see somebody. Won’t have a chance to after all that oratory gets started.”

    “And bless Providence if it ain’t hot enough already,” the other said, mopping his brow with his shirt sleeve.

    Robert pushed his way to the large, stage like speaker’s stand. It was built the same way every year and had stood in the same place for as long as he could remember. It looked like the front porch of a house, complete with railings at the front and sides, and was entered by steps coming from the rear. It had no roof, but the ladies who sat by their important husbands always brought their parasols anyway, so what was the need? Red, white, and blue banners were intertwined in the platform railing, and where the pine framing of the porch wasn’t covered, resin dripped from the cooking of the hot sun.
     
  6. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Pages 9-11
    ------------------------------------------------
    The professors at Emory and Henry have their hands full with an unmotivated young man.
    ===============================
    Robert had not worked on the platform, as some of his friends had, but he thought it looked just right. Good enough. In fact, for the President of the United States to stand on. But President Van Buren would be speaking from a much bigger platform at the Capitol or somewhere else, he imagined. The turnout in Abingdon was bigger than usual, not because President Van Buren was expected, but because citizens from Washington and surrounding counties felt that Governor David Campbell would be the next-best speaker they could expect to hear, and he was a native son, to boot. Robert ascended the platform, where chairs were being readied. More elbow room was being given the center chair, and Robert supposed that the governor would be seated there. He would speak before the noon hour, and other dignitaries in the afternoon.

    Under a shade tree on the ground to the rear of the platform stood Robert’s uncle, who, upon meeting Robert’s eyes, motioned the younger man to join him. “Robert, I want you to meet Reverend Ephraim Wiley. Reverend Wiley is professor of ancient languages and literature at Emory and Henry College.”

    Robert shook hands after being himself introduced. “I have already spoken to Reverend Wiley about you,” Colonel White said, “and I want you to speak with him frankly. I will leave the two of you now and help with some of the program arrangements.”

    Reverend Wiley leveled at Robert the most piercing gray eyes he had ever seen and lost no time in pursuing the subject obviously under discussion before Robert had arrived. “So you place no value on learning?” the older man began, accusingly.

    “I just don’t feel the need … “

    “Pray tell me why not?”

    “I reckon it just goes against my grain, sir.” Robert tried to face his elder unflinchingly.

    ‘’What do you hope to become someday?”

    “I don’t know, sir.”

    “Surely you must have some inkling? A lawyer? An engineer or surveyor, perhaps?”

    “I like to walk in the woods and talk to people,” Robert said. “Maybe fish a little, too.”

    “Those might be all right as pastimes, but your uncle tells me you would hang around the tanning yard or dangle your feet in the Holston most of the time if you were free to do so. The type of men who hang around the tanning yard and grogshop are not the best kind of men to cultivate.”

    “I don’t stay with them in the tavern very much – Aunt Elizabeth never would hear of it – but I’m eighteen now.”

    “That’s the perfect year to stop wandering about the meadow and to start thinking about your future,” Reverend Wiley bore on. “Robert, your uncle is a very wealthy man, probably the wealthiest man in the county. Someday, if you prepare for it, there will most likely be a place of great responsibility for you. Few young men are so lucky as to have family-owned lead mines, salt mines, vast farmlands and extensive mercantile interests to lure them with a promising future.

    “Uncle James’s sons and daughters will be looking after all of that, I imagine.”

    “There can still be a responsible place for you if you prepare for it. And even if you don’t want to be employed by your uncle, you’ll be better enabled to work for yourself or somebody else.”

    Robert was listening in earnest, and the professor continued. “We feel that we have a good plan at Emory and Henry. We’re only a few miles away and our young men work part of the time and study part of the time. You will be given credit for your work. The rate of pay is five cents per hour. All the young men study from five o’clock in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon. After the noon meal, field or barn work is assigned until five o’clock. Each person then has two hours to rest, change his clothing, and prepare for the supper hour. From seven o’clock to nine o’clock is the final study period of the day.”

    “That doesn’t leave much time for walking in the fields and fishing,” Robert observed, unsmiling.

    “Our young men see all of the fields they care to. Their fishing is for knowledge, in preference to the scaled variety.”

    “My brother Lawrence is going to sign up for the winter term. I just might come with him,” Robert said.

    “Let me here when you and your uncle have decided. We ke to know our expected enrollment in advance. I will also be talking with one of your former teachers. I want to learn what I may expect from you. McViccar taught you at Abingdon Academy, didn’t he?”

    “Yes, sir. And if you’ve a mind to, you can talk with Mr. Gillenwaters. He taught me drawing and penmanship. Said I was right good at it, too.”

    “I want you to do some serious thinking about this, Robert. I must go now and join Colonel White on the platform. I want everything to be in order.” Robert said a “thank you” and wandered off into the crowd.

    By the hour of half after ten the entire White family (excepting the colonel and his wife, who would be among the honored guests on the platform) were taking their places on the reserved benches to the front. Robert watched his brother Lawrence join them, but he himself elected to mill about in the crowd until the presence of the governor would bring the people to silence.

    He was not aware of the approaching entourage of dignitaries until all the onlookers had risen to their feet, clapping wildly. A long line of finely dressed men and women made their way from Findley House, across the street, to the platform.

    Finally, with the invocation and a series of introductions out of the way, Governor Campbell was on his feet. Robert marveled at how much more austere-looking the gentlemen had become since he had left Abingdon as clerk of the county court to occupy the governor’s mansion.

    The governor looked long upon the crowd and kept silent until they themselves did likewise. The stiff collar of his shirt rose high against his cheeks and seemed to hold not only his velvet bow tie in place but his head as well.

    He was a good speaker, Robert thought, but he was going on too long. Sure now that he had been wise to hang back to the rear of the crowd, Robert crept from the view of the speaker’s platform and hoped his retreat was not witnessed by the colonel. He could still understand the governor’s words somehow, being now more distantly removed, and sprawling under the shade of a large elm, the whole affair seemed more tolerable. He got out his knife and began a lone game of mumblety-peg, safely distant from the family who shared the shade of the same tree.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  7. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Pages 12-14
    ------------------------------------------------
    Meet Elizabeth Swecker
    ===============================
    Presently a slender young woman with long black hair, and dressed in dotted linsey, obscured his view of the speaker’s platform. She hesitated with her question until their eyes met. “Could you tell me where the town spring is? We need to fill up our demijohn,” she said.

    He started to point, but there was something about her dark brown eyes that compelled him to maintain the close distance now between them. “I’ll take you there,” he said, rising more rapidly than he had reclined.

    She was taIler than himself – not much, but enough so that it mattered – and he attempted to walk on the balls of his feet, until he thought how peculiar it must look. He glanced at her sideways from the corners of his eyes, and when she shifted the demijohn from one hand to the other. He offered to carry it. Before she removed her finger from the jug, he held it so that their hands touched. Her forearms were firm and red, like a man’s, and sunburned. There was no hardness in her pretty face, however, and as they walked, the sun danced in her hair until they passed under a shady area again.

    “What did the governor mean when he was talking about the schools?” she asked.

    “I think he wants all the counties to have schools for everyone. The state would help pay the tuition, I believe.” Now he wished he had listened more closely so he could impress her with his knowledge of state affairs.

    “There wouldn’t be no more private teachers or church schools, then?” She pressed him further.

    “I think that’s right,” he said as positively as possible. “Uncle James’s brother said it wouldn’t work, though. He said not everybody could be educated.” “Is your uncle James’s brother one of the talkers?” she asked
    “No. Uncle James is on the speaker’s platform. Colonel James White. You don’t know him?”

    “No. My family lives in Wythe County. I’m just visiting my kin during the celebration.”

    “I didn’t even ask your name,” Robert remembered.

    “It’s Elizabeth Swecker. What’s yours?”

    “Robert Sheffey.”

    They both seemed to run out of words at the same moment, and he removed the corncob stopper and filled the demijohn to the top. He purposely did not offer her a drink.

    ‘’Would you go to the cider wagon with me?” he asked.

    The faintest smile crossed her lips. Too long a spell,” she said.

    The constable set a limit as to how close the cider wagon could be positioned to the speaker’s stand, and he kept it at a considerable distance so the activity and noise would not displease the notables who occupied the places of honor. In spite of the distance from the stand, the cider seller was not short of business. He looked at Robert and, when Robert failed to produce cups of his own, as was the custom, hesitated to take his order. Finally, the cider seller reached down into the wagon and produced two pewter beer steins that he filled and admonished the users to wash out for him after use.

    Robert allowed the girl to drink first and when she didn’t slurp, he tried not to also. He was not successful, and he wished silently that he had listened to Aunt Elizabeth as to wished silently that he had listened to how it was properly done.
    “It’s good and cool,” the girl said. “He likely as not soaked the rocks all night,” Robert said.

    ‘’He done what?” she asked. “The way he keeps the cider cool in the barrels is to soak large limestone rocks in a cold spring all night. When he takes them out and puts them in the cider barrels they keep the cider cool for several hours.”
    When her cup was empty she remembered her errand. ‘We’d best get this water back to my kin.” Robert agreed but reminded her that they would need to go back to the town spring and wash out their cups. Neither reminded the other at the washing could be done with water from the demijohn.

    They walked by way of Valley Street this time and turned the corner at Court Street until once again they were back on Main and near the front of Colonel James White’s house.

    “That’s where I live,” Robert said with a mixture of pride and humility.

    “I’ve never seen such a big house,” Elizabeth Swecker said as she surveyed the three stories of brick. “Is it a new house? – it looks well nigh new.”

    “It was built the year I was born – 1820. You want to hear some tales about it?” She nodded.

    “Daniel Boone was one of the first people to see all this land around the forks of the Holston River. One night he fought off a pack of wolves on this very spot. In fact the wolves came out of a cave to the back of the house. Abingdon was first known as Wolf Hills – did you know that?”

    “No, I never heard it before,” the girl said.

    “The very street we’re standing on was first known as Boone’s Trace.”

    Robert proceeded to tell Elizabeth the story of James White: how he had been a young clerk in a mercantile firm in Baltimore and had come to southwest Virginia and found success beyond his wildest dreams; how in the War of 1812 he had been commissioned as a Colonel, and how that before that, in 1799, a captain in the state militia. Before Robert had finished telling of the family holdings, which reached into four states, he was ashamed of himself. It was wrong of him to try to impress this girl, who might well be poor, with another’s splendor. It was the first time he had spoken to anyone with such a sense of pride about his uncle. He didn’t understand it himself. He suddenly felt very foolish and embarrassed.


    Fortunately he could not continue, even if he had wanted to. The hour for dinner had arrived, and great throngs made their way toward the fashionable houses along Main and Valley streets. The speaking and festivities would resume after bellies were full, and that was the prime consideration of the moment.

    “I can’t ask you to break bread with us,” Robert said. “Aunt Elizabeth is entertaining more people than we’ve got plates.”

    “It’s all right,” Elizabeth Swecker said, lowering her head. “We brought a spread to have in the shade.”

    She wanted to walk back herself but he refused to let he go unescorted. Aunt Elizabeth had taught him that much.
     
  8. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Pages 15-16
    ------------------------------------------------
    July 4, 1838
    ===============================
    When they reached the town square again, a large throng was still gathered near the speaker’s stand, and Robert could not understand this, since the dinnertime recess had been called. He was confused only until he could see the head of Big Edmund nearly a foot above anybody else, could see the servant’s gritted teeth and the neck muscles standing out like individual spider webs with sweat running down the gullies, indicating correctly that between the servant’s vise-like hands a horseshoe crumbled under superior strength.

    When he returned to his own house one half of the aristocracy he had seen in the public square seemed to be there In the rear yard, under the trees, sweating kitchen servants hustled back and forth until the tables labored so heavily under their burden that Robert doubted their ability to sustain another loaf of bread.

    He headed for somewhere near the front of the line. The glance Elizabeth White gave him would have frozen a ghost in its tracks. She brushed close and whispered, ‘’Wait for our guests to be served first!”

    He moved away and joined the circle of men who had the governor captive among them.

    “Why is the Lynchburg and Tennessee Railroad running behind schedule?” someone asked. “What’s taking the improvement of the turnpike road to the Kentucky line so long?” another wanted to know.

    Robert slipped away from the men and into the kitchen. He stuffed a pants pocket full of trimmed onions and with both hands helped himself to biscuits and fried chicken. Then he made his way through the house and out the front door. He decided not to go back to the public square; lest he need to explain his presence to Elizabeth Swecker after he told her of all their guests. She would want to know why he hadn’t stayed to entertain them, and he wasn’t sure he could define it. There was something false about important people. They just didn’t ring true. They were not like the men down at the tanning yard or those at the wagon shop. Those men somehow had open hearts, and he relished their friendship and confidence. He liked looking into their souls and he liked sharing the view into his own.

    Yes, he would go to the tanning yard. The men would not be working but they would congregate there for their dinner. That would give Elizabeth Swecker and her kin time to eat at leisure, and then he would find an excuse to see her again.

    Wild clapping in the distance signaled the renewal of activities at the public square. He had stayed longer at the tanning yard than he realized, but it was so easy and pleasant to fight the Battle of King’s Mountain all over again. And listening to tie old veterans tell about it, it was precisely like firing the long-barreled rifles himself, and bleeding and crying with the men too.

    Robert walked toward the square with two of the veterans, both over eighty years old. They carried their rifles, shot pouches, and powder horns for later use – traditional on this day. He parted company with the elderly men after giving each of them a pat on the back. After orienting himself, he hurried to the proper tree. New faces smiled up at him and offered a seat in the shade. No, Elizabeth Swecker was un-known to them – they had just arrived. Elizabeth Swecker was gone. Robert searched the grounds and went again to the town spring the two of them bad visited. There was no sign of her. Perhaps tomorrow – the final day of celebration she would be there, smiling up at him from the shade of the tree.

    By ten o’clock on the following day torrential rains brought to a conclusion what remained of the holiday celebration. Dust was turned to mud. Families ripped down makeshift tents and improvised wagon coverings before they headed home. Before many of them had left, Robert circulated among them. He had one more idea. He remembered a few families that he knew who had quilts spread on the ground next to Elizabeth Swecker and her kin. If one of these was acquainted to the girl’s kin and could tell where they lived, his luck would not have run out.

    “By grannies, o’ course I know them people,” a bewhiskered old homesteader Robert knew from Greenway’s store said to him. “That family lives up purty nigh the north fork of the Holston.” Robert paused just long enough to get the exact location and name of the family, then ran to the stable in back of his uncle’s house. “Saddle Ginger and hurry!” he called to Big Edmund.

    While Ann, the oldest servant cook, had her back conveniently turned, Robert stuffed his mouth with all the honeycomb he could hold. He accidentally dropped what was left in the dish, and the crash brought Ann’s silver-white head left into motion. “I told you I’d box yo jaws fer stealin’ the table honey,” she said on the run. Robert dodged the flying broomstraw about his head and leaped into the saddle. He tried to call out a frantic ‘’hurry up” to Big Edmund, but the chunk of honey in his mouth seemed to swell rather than diminish. “Mmmmmm ….mmmmmmm ¬∑ . . . un … ,” was the best he could manage.
     
  9. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 1 Pages 17-18
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    The Hunt for Elizabeth Swecker
    ===============================

    “I’se moseying fast,” Big Edmund assured him, ‘’but I ain‘t sho’ what’s gwine to happen to me. Colonel White done tol’ me not to let you go flyin’ to the fields and mountains all night.” Robert grunted and dug his heels into his horse’s flanks.

    The house Elizabeth Swecker’s kin lived in lay more than a mile south of the Holston’s north fork. Even as he first sighted it, Robert envisioned what it would be like to walk with the girl along the banks of the river. He would find deep-blue mussel shells for her and she would look at him with those eyes again – eyes that mirrored a soul of honesty and simplicity and beauty. Robert introduced himself to a man working diligently to the west of his log house with a bared back and swinging scythe. “Might I see Miss Elizabeth for a little spell?” Robert asked.

    “We put her on the eastbound stage this morning.”

    “I wanted to see her again,” Robert said unashamedly.

    “I noticed you was lookin’ at her right smartly yesterday.”

    “She lives in Wythe County, doesn’t she?”

    “That’s right. She’s been visiting us a few days. I’m her uncle.”

    “You reckon she’ll be back any time soon?” Robert asked

    “We’re not alookin’ for her any time soon. Far as I know this visit to us was the first time she’s ever been out of her home county – first time she’s ever been on a stage – I know that for a fact.”

    “I reckon I will be going then.”

    Robert started for his horse, but the man called him back. “I might onghta’ tell you … if you’re thinking of sparkin’ Elizabeth, she’s purty nigh twenty-two years old. If I’m a judge of a feller I’d say you’re not more’n fifteen or sixteen at most.”

    Robert started to answer him. Yesterday had been his eighteenth birthday! Then, instinctively, he ran his thumb and forefinger around his chin and silently cursed the apple skin smoothness of hide that hadn’t yet grown one visible whisker.

    The Colonel could bring out the whole town and most of the state militia, Robert decided in his disappointment and humiliation. He would spend the night on the bank of the Holston and listen to the melody of the ripples. Maybe he could spend two or three nights, if he could find a bee tree filled with wild honey.
     
  10. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 2 Pages 19-21
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    Indian Summer - 1938
    ===============================
    As August came and went, the issue of Robert’s attendance at college during the second session was not so much in the forefront of things. It was understood that both he and Lawrence would help with the work of summer and fall. The holdings of his uncle were growing by leaps and bounds and ever farther apart they were spreading. So productive were the colonel’s salt mines that in order to market the output of the hundreds of boiling cauldrons, he was seeking the opportunity to barter salt for land. To this end he was successful with the help of agents and the small band of emissaries that included his older sons and the husbands of his older daughters. Before long, salt by the bargeload floated down the Tennessee River as far as Alabama, and deed recordations were showing such things as land transferred with the “consideration being thirty thousand bushels of salt.”

    Robert’s problems were not so complex. The corn grew healthily and the wheat grew large-headed and developed a golden hue. But the nourishing sun did not do as well on Robert’s fertile chin. He thought, however, he had found the answer to that problem. Down near Black’s Fort there lived an old Indian who supported himself by digging and selling herbs. According to a story Robert had heard at the tanning yard, the oldest man who worked there had a healthy crop of black hair at the age of seventy-three and all because the Indian herb doctor had applied the blood of the wild grapevine to the patient’s once bald head. That revelation didn’t leave much to ponder about. If the blood of the wild grapevine could grow thick black hair. Surely it could grow stiff red whiskers. From midsummer until early fall, Big Edmund didn’t have to ask Robert where he was going each time the horse was saddled for him, but, out of habit, he did so anyhow.

    ‘’What yo’ goin’ up ro the mountains agin fer? Everybody done think yo is out of yo haid now.”

    Today Robert felt like agreeing with the servant. The horse back trips that once were just for the benefit of solitude and meditation now had a dual purpose: he could meditate while his chin rested in a bowl of wild grapevine blood. As he sat lunch-shouldered, his chin growing cold and numb, he wondered whether Elizabeth Swecker could possibly appreciate the effort he was going through on her behalf. At times the awful thought seized him: she must be twenty-two by now, going on twenty-three, and he hadn’t grown the first whisker!

    Robert had nearly run out of new excuses for not wanting an education. He had finally narrowed his reasons down to the axiom that wisdom and education were not necessarily the same thing. The former he wanted; the latter was, he felt unnecessary. The deadlock was broken by Colonel White one day in early September.

    “Robert,” the colonel said, “I understand you have not yet made up your mind about college in spite of our many talks. I have work lined up for you at the Goose Creek saltworks just in case. You will load salt on the mule wagons ten tours a day. I am told each box to be emptied weighs approximately one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. If my figuring is correct, you will handle over seven tons of salt daily. Let us know when you have made your decision.”

    By the middle of October both he and Lawrence looked forward to beginning their studies at Emory and Henry. Most of the money they had earned by working for their uncle was spent for clothes that they would need. Their brother James was financially able to provide one half of the tuition and board money – their Uncle James would make up the balance – so that all of their plans were in order. Robert mentioned his thoughts to nobody, but he wished his brother James could afford all the expenses. He did not feel right about taking money from his uncle, in spite of his wealth. He thought he felt a resentment in his uncle when expenditures were made on his and Lawrence’s behalf. Still, he could not justify the feeling with evidence. His uncle had, after all, encouraged his enrollment at college. With all Robert’s rationalization, the feeling just wouldn’t go away – it was a feeling that, Robert realized, had been with him since his earliest years. But he would keep his thoughts to himself. If brother James was still in the notion to help, he would consider himself lucky.

    Robert and Lawrence boarded the eastbound stage on the morning {)f October 21, 1838, and headed for Marion, some twenty-five miles away. The stagecoach rumbled along, its wheels occasionally striking an upturned rock, making the sound of grating metal against stone. The sound and the boat like roll of the moving coach provided a hypnotic repetition of sounds and motion that caused Lawrence’s head to nod sleepily.

    Robert nudged his brother in the ribs with an elbow. “I don’t see how you can sleep on this kind of a ride,” he said. “I can’t. Something keeps poking me in the ribs,” Lawrence said without looking up.

    The passenger to the other side of Lawrence kept his silence and moved away, slightly. ‘We just took on a passenger at Sulphur Springs,” Robert murmured. Lawrence’s head still bobbled.

    Robert leaned over close to his brother’s ear. “She’s pretty.” He stated. Lawrence looked up suddenly to confront at close range the bewhiskered face of an old woman, horribly witchlike in appearance. While Lawrence’s mouth yet hung open, the old woman attempted to add life to the captive condition they all shared... Understand we’re goin’ to cross a new county line on this trip:’ she volunteered.

    ‘’Yes, ma’m,” the passenger next to Lawrence said, “but it’s not so new now. Smyth County was formed five or six ‘ears ago.” “I didn’t know that,” she said. “I don’t git out aright smart.” ‘’Where do you live?” Robert asked. “Just south of Fort Chiswell – in Wythe County,” she replied.

    “Do you know a family of Sweckers?”

    The woman fingered her stubbled chin and thought. “Only’ family I heard of by that name live over on Cripple Creek.What’s the name of the Sweckers you’re loom’ fer’?”

    “I don’t know – I can’t remember,” Robert said. He started to give the woman Elizabeth’s name, then thought better of it since he did not know the name of Elizabeth’ father.

    “I don’t know them Swecker’s personal-like myself, but they got the name of being God-fearin’ folks. I’ll mosey around and find out fer You,” the old woman said.

    Robert smiled, knowing he would probably never see her again. “Thank you all the same. We’re stopping in Marion to see my brother. He’s a lawyer and he probably knows of the family.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  11. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 2
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    Page 22-25 at the home of James Sheffey
    ===============================

    James Sheffey was working laboriously at a roll top desk when his brother entered his office. He paid them little mind while finishing the line he was writing. Robert started out the door before the young lawyer could finish, and “put on” his most annoyed air: “Well, Sir Lawrence, shall we take our affairs elsewhere?”

    At the mere hint of a loss of business, James Sheffey rested his quill against the inkwell and turned face the gentry to his rear.

    “Robert! Lawrence! It’s good to see you both.” He clasped each of their hands. “Come, sit down and tell me all about yourselves.”

    “Sit where? “Lawrence said, noticing only one extra chair, which Robert took. James pushed his own desk chair to Lawrence and he himself sat upon a pine storage box. “One of these days maybe I’ll have cane bottom chairs lining my share of the waIls - but maybe by then the fees will be a little higher and coming in a little faster.”

    "I think we chose a bad week to come." Robert Lawrence said.

    “I believe I know your reason for coming,” James smiled, “and never fear, I intend to make good of my offer. I didn’t say our business was bad, just that it could improve.”

    “Land transfers should be good,” Lawrence said. James said that when the railroad actually got under way, we’d really see a landslide of activity.”

    “I agree with Uncle James, except for one thing,” James said. “I’m not sure we’re going to see the coming of the railroad for twenty-five years. For the Virginia general assembly to incorporate the Lynchburg and Tennessee and authorize subscriptions is one thing; getting the tracks laid over some of this country and hearing a puffing locomotive coming down the tracks is another. Uncle James was in here yesterday and we talked about this very thing. And Uncle James can see starlight through the storm clouds, as you know.”

    “What was Uncle James doing down here? He didn’t say anything about coming to Marion,” Robert said. “I don’t think you have any idea of the extent of your uncle’s holdings,” James said. “His interest in the Buddle Furnace alone will make him a quarter-million dollars and even more if he can get full control of it. That’s what you saw me working on. We’re trying to deal with the Jackson heirs and get a controlling interest. That area of Wythe County is like a goldmine. In case you’ve forgotten,” James reminded them, “those mines furnished bullets for the patriots of seventy-six, and you can bet your boots the redcoats at King’s Mountain won’t forget the lead in their rumps that was mined right here in this area.”

    “Do you get a great deal of business from Uncle James?” Lawrence asked. “I’m much beholden to him,” James confessed. “You asked what he was doing here. I don’t think he would mind my telling you, as long as the news doesn’t pass beyond the family. He is in Wytheville on official court business, but he has some other things in mind also: namely, negotiations to acquire Graham’s Forge. I don’t have to tell you what that means.” “Looks like we ought not to be looking to you for any help toward our tuition and board – looks like Uncle James wouldn’t miss what little it took.”

    “No,” James interrupted Lawrence. “I want to help, and it is my duty. When we are able to earn our own way it is not up to our uncle to help us, no matter what his wealth.”

    “I’ll repay you someday,” Robert volunteered.

    “No, that is not at issue,” James said. “I wish I could pay it all for both of you, but it’ll take me a few years yet to really get going.”

    “I have a feeling you’ll succeed in a big way, James,” Lawrence said.

    “These are wonderful times for all of us to get started. There’s a fortune to be made everywhere a man looks. Do you know that zinc is being found around Ivanhoe, testing ninety-six percent grade? Iron ore lies around here on the ground like culled potatoes. Why, good farms abound by the dozens, to be had for the asking – some of them can be bought only for the taxes due. There’s no real way to ship produce and livestock right now except by wagon – but you wait until the railroad does finally come and every farm within fifty miles of the track will multiply its worth ten times.”

    “I get excited just hearing you talk about it,” Lawrence said. Robert was silent, and James eyed him suspiciously. “What’s the matter, Robert, you having trouble figuring out how to make your first million dollars?” he asked.

    “It’s not worrying me none,” Robert said. ‘’Well, you’ll probably end up being worth more than anyone in the family – maybe even worth more than all of us put together.” James and Lawrence both laughed.

    “You mentioned the good grade of zinc at Ivanhoe. I suppose they haven’t found any on our old homestead?” Lawrence asked.

    “No. All we’re getting is the rent – that accounts for little more than paying the taxes and keeping the place I repair. I’m afraid our father didn’t pick one of the lucky spots. The best ore and zinc deposits seem to be in pocket areas. Robert will be twenty-one in three more years. We can sell the farm then, or hold on and hope that in years to come when mining techniques become a little more advanced, they will be able to dig deeper and find something on our place. I don’t see anything to do but go on renting it for farmland – unless you both disagree with me.”

    “You go on handling it for my say-so,” Lawrence said.

    “What about you, Robert? I want your opinion.”

    “You do what’s best. I just don’t want to sell it, that’s all,” Robert said. “I’m the only one that can’t even remember Mama or Papa. One day I want to go back to Wythe County and walk over every inch of it. Maybe I’ll feel something I’ve never felt before.”

    “I’ll check with the other brothers too, but anyway beginning next fall you will be in charge of collecting the rent,” James said. “Then you can walk over it all you want. It’s been paid this year, but next year you start for sure. It’ll be a good time for you to begin learning a little about business, and a college man ought to be up on how to figure with a right fine pencil point . . . Now – that’s talk enough¬∑ about business. You all come along with me and Ellen can put two more plates on the table.”

    They left the frame offices and crossed the street to the brick sidewalk that ran beside the courthouse. Lawrence paused. “Still shows its birthday suit pretty well, doesn’t it?” he said, viewing the new-looking courthouse. “A lot of history has passed through it already, and long may it stand,” James said, laying a hand upon the shoulder of each brother as they walked. .

    Ellen Preston Sheffey would hear of no talk about business at her dinner table. As soon as the meal was properly served, she dismissed the kitchen servant and sat down to absorb every word of what she expected to be a stimulating conversation. .. You promised that business would not be discussed.” She would remind gently when the conversation seemed pointed that way. “You’ve told me how all the family are, but surely something else that’s interesting has happened in Abingdon since we were last there.”

    Lawrence didn’t offer anything, but Robert grinned as he remembered a tale from his tanning-yard visits. “We had a man with a powwow put on him,” he began, “a man outside of Abingdon by the name of Marsh who came down with a bad case of scrofula. He dreamed his disease was brought on by a conjure man by the name of Yates. This wizard could remove his curse if he wanted to, Marsh believed, but Marsh was pretty scared of him _ . “
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  12. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 2
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    Page 26-28 at the home of James Sheffey
    ===============================
    “Now, wait a spell. Why did he do it in the first place?” – Ellen asked.

    “I think Marsh just imagined his neck swelling was a curse put on him, but he really believed it, the men told me.”

    “Well, did the king’s evil go away?” James asked impatiently. “No, and by and by Marsh sent for Yates, the conjure man – who turned out to be an Indian, by the way – and Yates administered his nostrums for the cure.”

    “Then Marsh turned into a frog,” Ellen anticipated the ending.

    “You’re getting ahead of me.” Robert said with a scowl. “and this is a true story.”

    "Pay no attention to my wife,” James said, “she’s not only pretty but she has an imagination that is far too healthy.”

    “Anyway,” Robert continued, “Marsh got worse instead of better and decided by some twist of the mind that if he got rid of Yates by a powwow method of his own his trouble would be over. Well, Marsh drew a likeness of Yates on a tree and shot at it several times with bullets containing portion of silver. It was clear to Marsh that his powwow hadn’t worked when. In a few days, Yates passed by, perfectly normal Before Yates was out of sight Marsh loaded an old musket with two balls and shot the wizard in the back of the neck. But Yates didn’t die and Uncle James’s court sent Marsh to the penitentiary.”

    Ellen Sheffey’s blue eyes gleamed like those of a child hearing nursery rhymes. “Does Robert dream up these fairy tales while he’s off alone in the woods somewhere or do those smelly old hide-scrapers down in the bottom really tell him these things?” Ellen asked Lawrence.

    “I can’t tell you that,” Lawrence confessed. “Maybe he got that story from some of those frontier travelers heading for the gap of the Cumberlands.”

    “You still keep an eye on Black’s Fort and the Great Road?” James inquired. ‘’Uncle James accuses me of being Washington County’s ambassador to the settlers going west. I guess I do like to sit around and talk a little and watch those in a hurry go on by.” Robert said.

    "Do you want to go with them?” Ellen asked.

    “I don’t rightly know. I don’t know whether I’m supposed to go with them or not. I get a funny feeling about it.”

    “You just like to watch them pass?”

    “Yes,” he said.

    James looked at his youngest brother with a searching eye but made no comment until Ellen reminded him of the time.

    “‘I do have to get back to my desk and take care of a few matters. Lawrence, you and Robert wander about our little village or stay here with Ellen as you like. You will of course spend the night?”

    “If your good wife won’t be obliged to go to a lot of trouble,” Lawrence said.

    “Nonsense,” Ellen scoffed, “you’ll be no bother, and Robert can study the humanity in Smyth County. Perhaps he will find them more virtuous than those of Washington County.

    Robert was caught off guard by the perception of his brother’s wife, and he looked upon her with new affection. She was more than pretty and more than the essence of grace. She brushed the lint from the lapel of her well-dressed husband and sent him back to his work. As she began to clear the table, Robert watched her birdlike movements. Occasionally she smiled at him, and he found it hard, surrounded by this aura of feminine sweetness, not to think of Elizabeth Swecker.

    Elizabeth Swecker’s name was not mentioned, however, until the following morning at breakfast.

    “I know of no family by that name, personally,” James said. “Perhaps I can inquire the next time I attend court in Wytheville. What part of the county are they from and what is the householder’s full name?”

    It was like the old woman in the stagecoach all over again, Robert thought.

    “I don’t know that, but I think they may live near Cripple Creek. All I’m sure of is the girl’s name.” Robert blurted out as quickly as he could.

    James, by six years his younger brother’s senior, approached the matter cautiously. “Elizabeth, you say. Well, all we need to do is find Elizabeth’s father. Might this be serious enough to put several people on the trail?”

    “No,” she’s a whole lot older than me,” Robert said shyly. “I was just wondering – that’s all.”

    “It’s just as well,” Ellen Sheffey said. “You’re going to be in college and there won’t be much time for sparking anyway. Girl’s faces have a way of getting in front of textbooks.”

    That sounded too motherly for Ellen, Robert thought, and he ate the rest of his breakfast resenting her advice. Nevertheless, their parting for the return trip to Abingdon was congenial.

    “Tell Mother Elizabeth it is her turn next to visit us!” Ellen called as they departed the house.

    Before the westbound stage was due, James showed his brothers around the new courthouse and they watched with interest a session going full blast and a red-faced lawyer, well lathered with sweat, arguing on behalf of his client.

    Back in James’s office, Robert was the first recipient of his brother’s outstretched hand. “I’ll send some more as soon as I can,” he promised, and handed Robert two five-dollar gold pieces. Lawrence received the same. “I’ll try to keep ahead of the treasurer at the college, but if you need more help, let me know.”

    They thanked him, but he brushed the words aside quickly. ”I’ll walk with you to the stage stop. And remember, not a word about Uncle James’s private affairs. “

    Within the quarter-hour winded horses brought the stage coach to a dusty stop in front of Hinkman’s Hotel. The sky was overcast and the air was chill for October, enough so that streams of vapor rose from the flared nostrils of the panting animals. Livery workmen unhitched the team with a minimal loss of time and the stage driver lowered the baggage of passengers whose destination had been reached.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  13. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 2
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    Page 29-30 – The Death of Colonel James White
    ===============================
    “Spread the word!” the driver called to the ever-present body of onlookers. “Colonel James White dropped dead in Wytheville this morning!”

    James stepped nearer to the driver. “What did you say?”

    “I said Colonel White died this morning in Wytheville. Colonel James White of Abingdon – he died during the opening of the court session.”

    “Do you know who was dispatched to bring word to his widow?” James asked.

    “No, sir. I know some men left Wytheville going to Abingdon by hack – Jabe Cochran at the livery stable told me – but I don’t know who they were.”

    Robert saw the face of his older brother suddenly drained of blood, and he himself started to tremble.

    ‘’What ought we to do?” Lawrence murmured. James paused unduly long, then said, “I will tell Ellen and then I’ll go to Wytheville and accompany the body back to Abingdon. I think both of you had best go ahead on the stage. Somebody will have gotten the word to Aunt Elizabeth before you get there – but I’m sure you can be a great comfort to her.”

    Fresh horses, with the vigor of their thrust, snapped back Robert’s head unexpectedly and slammed it against the corner brace of the coach. Indeed, he was not dreaming. It started to rain, and through the steamed up window of the stagecoach, he could still see James walking stoop-shouldered against the rain.

    When Robert and Lawrence arrived back in Abingdon and hastily made their way home, two strangers and Reuben Bradley, who had accompanied the two men from Wytheville, still sat in the parlor. Only five of the White children, including James Lowry, the oldest son, sat in a circle about their mother. Six of the children had yet to learn of their father’s death. Presently Reuben Bradley got up from his chair and whispered suggestions of things he could do.

    “We have taken advantage of your kindness already, Reuben,” Elizabeth White said. “Please have the gentlemen return home. The days are short and I fear they will be getting home after dark. Is it still raining?”

    “No, Elizabeth, it has stopped.”

    Robert had never seen tears in his aunt’s eyes, nor did he see them now. Still, he was aware of her suffering. Her movements were restrained to the point where her motionlessness seemed an unuttered scream. He walked among the others and kissed his aunt upon the cheek. Her face was cold. This woman who had taught him his prayers, who had been the only real mother in the world he had ever known, was cold. Why did not one of her own place his arms about her? For he hadn’t the right. He tiptoed to one of the cooks and asked for his aunt’s shawl. Having received it from the wet-eyed servant, he placed it around her shoulders.

    By the supper hour word had spread and friends and neighbors filled the spacious rooms whose congenial warmth had long been known to most of them.

    More than once during the evening Robert saw acquaintances and business associates of his uncle circulate through the house and finally find themselves standing before the colonel’s favorite rocking chair. The misty-eyed onlooker would invariably give the chair the slightest push, then watch it, then watch of private benediction.

    By morning the parlor was rearranged to accommodate the casket of the master of the house. Robert stayed in his room until his uncle’s wife and children had stood at the side of their legendary husband and father, admitting in silence and for the first time, he thought, that every man is mortal. When the room was silent and empty again, Robert made his own casket-side visit, to view the profile that looked as commanding in death as in life. He, too, as the others had done, stood gazing upon the face of this man who was both friend and foe, servant and lord, companion and antagonist. Robert touched his uncle’s hand. For a fleeting moment he wanted to shake it in some form of abstract reconciliation, some final pronouncement of acquiescence to the superior man.

    Throughout the day this feeling did not leave him, nor had it gone when the final hour arrived and he sat as a family member on the front bench of his uncle’s church. There was a sense of peace in the minister’s voice; he spoke with great compassion about his deceased friend. His gaze was fixed steadfastly on the eyes of Elizabeth White, as though to convince her that his words were not only well chosen but instinctively true.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  14. rockytopva

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 2
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    Page 31-33 – The Death of Colonel James White
    ===============================

    Robert was not any more sure of how his uncle really felt about the church than he was about how he himself felt. The quiet Presbyterianism the White family practiced seemed a simple part of weekly routine rather than any predominating force in their lives. He did remember hearing the colonel say on one occasion that being a Presbyterian allowed one the privilege of practicing worship without getting excited about it. Robert had felt that, like so many of his uncle’s observations, this one might not convey the real depth of the colonel’s feeling on the matter. Although in Robert’s memory Colonel White had not given any special emphasis to religious matters, Robert suspected that he had a deep and abiding respect for things spiritual.

    About his Aunt Elizabeth, though, he was certain. He could not recall a time when she had not encouraged him to read his Bible, to keep his person clean, and to attend church. Equally forceful were his aunt’s lectures about keeping good company and developing high ideals. All of these things were to be attained with and practiced with a special sort of dignity that Elizabeth White felt was becoming to every man.

    Robert shivered a little in the presence of the church surrounding him. This was not a good place to lie even to oneself. It was odd that he chose this time and this place for his soul-searching, but he had not very often taken to heart the teachings and ideals of his aunt.

    Colonel James White had not lain in his grave for more than a month when Robert approached his brother one day with a proposal he felt now needed to be made. “Lawrence, Aunt Elizabeth hasn’t mentioned anything about either one of us going to college. I don’t think she wants us to spend the money.”

    “I know only what little I’ve overheard,” Lawrence said “but I think it’s more complicated than that.”

    “She can’t spend it, you mean?”

    “I know this much – an accounting has to be made of Uncle James’s estate and his heirs ruled on by the court. Alexander Findlay, one of the appraisers, told me it would be several years before all of our uncle’s estate would be settled.”

    "Sounds to me like there won’t be any money for college or anything else,” Robert said.

    "There won’t be any shortage of money after everything is resolved, but that may take a long time. All the debtors and creditors Uncle James had will have to settle with the administrator of the estate. Aunt Elizabeth may have to live the best she can until everything is finalized, and my guess is that it will be a year’s time at least.”

    “That kind of arrangement doesn’t seem fair to me," Robert argued.

    “Fair or not, the law says a man’s affairs have to be put in order before anybody can get his money or property.”

    “Aunt Elizabeth could get a loan of some kind so that Uncle James’s wishes for us could be carried out,” Robert suggested.

    “I suppose she could, but under the circumstances she will probably be given a maintenance fee by the administrator until matters are settled. Aunt Elizabeth doesn’t have a head for business, and you know as well as I that she will be dependent on the court-appointed trustees and her own children.”

    “Do you think we call expect anything from Uncle James’s estate?” Robert asked.

    “Don’t hope for it,” Lawrence said. “There are eleven children, you know, and some of them are minors, They may have court-appointed guardians. I think we um expect our lives to take a much different turn now.”

    Robert already had surmised this himself, and now he blurted out the plan he had previously formulated. “ I am the youngest and I’ll find some work while you go to college. Our brother can’t send us both and pay all the expenses.”

    “Don’t be saying that until we can talk to him.” “It doesn’t’: matter now,” Robert said. “For a long time I didn’t really want to go to college – and in some ways I still don’t – but I can almost hear Uncle James admonishing me from the grave. I guess l owe it to him to go.”


    “Let’s not anticipate any move whatsoever until we have talked to James.” “If he wants you to have the money he gave me, he’s not in for much luck,” Robert said. “You lost it?” Lawrence gasped. . “No. I gave five dollars of it to a family going to Kentucky.”

    “What in the world for? James will be mad enough to hang you!”

    “They needed it worse than I did. They were going homesteadin’ on nothing but a team of horses and a couple of axes and maybe a hoe and mattock. They didn’t have enough kitchenware in that wagon to cook for two people – and hardly any bed clothing that I could see.”

    “You can observe that kind of sight nearly every day you it around Black’s Fort. I don’t understand why one family is any more deserving than another or why you think they need your brother’s money more than you do!”

    “I just knew it – that’s all. I had the money in my pocket that day and I knew when that family came along I was supposed to give it to them.”

    “I hope our brother believes that story.”

    “If I can explain to him what that woman’s face looked like, he won’t need to know anything else. She had a baby in each arm and her tears pretty near washed them all off the wagon seat.”

    James confirmed what Robert and Lawrence had already discussed. Legal entanglement over their uncle’s estate was a matter that pressed heavily upon the mind of their aunt. To add to her lack of knowledge, and consequent anguish, in such things, family problems over matters of the estate had begun to surface. Now a new kind of turmoil was added to the burden of a terrible loneliness that was getting worse rather than better. James Sheffey insisted that his brothers not mention the subject of finance to their aunt and thereby remove at least some slight burden of worry from her shoulders.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  15. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 3
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    Page 35-38 The days at Shoate’s Tavern - Robert spent much of his eighteenth year living as a disobedient teenager. Though I hesitated including with this devotion, I think it necessary as there may be some who can relate to what he's going through. He will thankfully grow out of this stage of life.

    ===============================
    By the first of December, Robert obtained a position to which his meager talents seemed adaptable. His brother James did some fast talking toward convincing Andrew Russell, clerk of Washington County, that Robert had a genuine gift as a scribe. Robert learned later that Andrew Russell was not an easy man to persuade, in spite of family friendships. Nevertheless, upon seeing a facsimile deed that Robert had copied in his best penmanship, the aging old public servant was convinced that never in his more than forty years of service had he seen any better scribe.

    During Robert’s first day on the job it pleased him that Mr. Russell looked over his shoulder as he worked and occasionally brought one of the deputy clerks, who would smile is pleasure at the deft strokes of Robert’s tortoiseshell nibs.

    Although his superiors were pleased with his work, by the arrival of the first Saturday he had begun to tire of the job. The lump of three dollars and fifty cents in wages was welcome, but he did not look forward with any particular joy to the coming of Monday. His buttocks were sore from the precarious perch on the high stool for a week’s duration, and he realized, too, that each succeeding day would be exactly like the previous one.

    After work Robert made his way to Shoate’s Tavern, where he spoke to some of the wagoneers who frequented the establishment and joined them in a mug of rum. Some of them looked at his clean clothes suspiciously, for they themselves smelled of their own sweat and that of the animals with which they came in contact. But those men who knew him seemed undistracted by the cleanliness of his person, and their tone of voice was one of brotherhood. The young man who dominated the conversation was not a mule skinner or wagon master, as most of the men were, but a blacksmith whose jovial good humor made a tavern visit a daily tonic.

    “Well, what about it, Robert? The county court has obliged us with getting’ a gun house put up on the public lot, and Captain Stevens is securing all the artillery we need. Are you goin’ to join us?”

    “Uncle James said before he died that the Texas agitation wouldn’t spread this far,” Robert argued.

    “”Well, now, I ain’t doubtin’ Colonel White was a smart man, but there’s others who are a thinkin’ trouble with them Mexicans will be bustin’ out all over the place.”

    “I might just join up,” Robert said with a grin.

    It was no trouble at all for him to imagine himself a part of the elite company of volunteers who would be forming Captain John W. Stevens’ artillery company. It was just as possible that the patriotic youth of Abington might one day march to the Mexican border.

    Robert looked at the arm of his blacksmith friend and saw there a physical power second only to that of Big Edmund. He could visualize with ease this master of the hammer an anvil tamping the hungry mouths of the cannon. When this bright-eyed, big-jawed smithy grinned at him, he knew that the grin asked the question of whether or not he himself really desired to be a man – a real man.

    “I might just join up,” Robert said again, as if there had been no pause since he had made the same statement.

    Another round of rum passed the lips of would-be cannoneers, and still another, until the entire strategy necessary for the defeat of Mexico had been planned and discussed in such detail that victory would be a certainty.

    Robert left the tavern. In a state of alcoholic euphoria aware of two things: Aunt Elizabeth would not like his being late for supper, and his brother James would growl a firm “no” at the mention of his possible participation in the volunteer artillery company. As he walked home his mind was occupied with how best to approach his brother on this issue. Patriotism? Yes, James was not only an up-and-coming lawyer but a patriot if ever there was one. But perhaps he would join with without James’s consent.

    Another thought lurked in the back of his mind: a colorful uniform representing the Abingdon artillery volunteers might be enough to fool Elizabeth Swecker even if the wearer still had no whiskers. And that was another round he was going to have with his brother. James hadn’t written one word about whether he had located Elizabeth Swecker’s family. Robert could go back to the home of her kin near the Holstein, but he had been disappointed there once. He would not risk a second chance. Ellen Sheffey’s words came back to him then. Maybe Ellen had discouraged James from passing along any information about Elizabeth Swecker. If that were true then Ellen was being too motherly and protective again. But then maybe his pining for a girl he had been with for less than two hours was a little silly. And to make matters worse, he had told James that finding Elizabeth wasn’t important. Elizabeth might even be married by now, but the thought of it brought a terrible ache to his heart.

    The chill nights of December forced a clearheadedness as he walked across Main Street to his aunt’s house. He could see the White family and Lawrence seated at the table as he ascended the front steps. He washed and took his place at the table, apologizing for his lateness. Elizabeth White eyed him suspiciously, but instructed the kitchen servant to bring his plate.

    The meal hour concluded with the same dismal silence that had become normal since the death of his uncle James, in spite of Elizabeth White’s valiant fight to bring back to her table some semblance of the carefree chatter so much a part of former mealtimes. The family drifted from the table one by one, but Lawrence remained to eye Robert disapprovingly, as did his Aunt Elizabeth.

    ‘You do not honor your uncle’s home by coming to his table smelling of rum and animal sweat,” Elizabeth White said.

    “Is rum any less honorable than Madeira? Or sherry? Uncle James did not object to the smell of those in his house,” Robert said.

    “There is a difference – and there is a time and place.”

    “A drink is a drink whether it’s in a tavern or in a ballroom,” Robert argued, “and some of your own sons might agree with me.”

    “Your tongue seems whetted with unusual wisdom and vehemence tonight, Robert. You will excuse me if I remove myself.”

    No sooner had the sad eyes of Elizabeth White ceased to search his face than those of Lawrence continued the surveillance. “You disapprove of me too, Lawrence?”

    “We should not add to Aunt Elizabeth’s burden in any way,” Lawrence said. “You are wrong to distress her when her grief still hangs heavy on her shoulders. Neither has she gotten any additional word from Alabama in the last two days. James Lowry could well be dead by now, and she knows it.”

    The implication of Lawrence’s words were sobering, and Robert suddenly felt a fraternal closeness to his cousin. Of all the children of his aunt and uncle, he was more drawn to James Lowry, for they had been more nearly like older and younger brother than sometimes-hostile cousins.

    “No word from him could mean he’s getting better, couldn’t it?” Robert asked.

    “I hope so, but there’s no way of knowing. Word travels so slowly.”

    “If anything happens to him Aunt Elizabeth would just go crawl in a cave,” Robert said abstractly.

    “We should know something by tomorrow,” Lawrence said. ‘’Word will be coming up the river.”

    Robert lay in his bed until the affects of the rum had left nothing but dull head pains and a stinging remorse. If anything happened to James Lowry it would be like losing his uncle James all over again. James Lowry had been the one salvation of the whole family; he had stepped into his father’s shoes, admittedly lacking the skill of a business administrator but not the courage and benevolence of his father Nor was energy any less evident in the younger man, and it was this, perhaps, that lay at the seat of his feverish collapse in the pursuit of his father’s business.

    Well past the midnight hour Robert’s sobriety continued to condemn him to wakefulness. He slipped from his room, feeling his way with familiarity down the hall to the stairway. A beam of lamplight escaped from beneath the door of Elizabeth White’s room. He paused there a moment, wondering if he should knock and try to comfort her. No sound came from the room, but there would be none. His aunt would not be crying, but her dark eyes would be luminous with passionate pleading to heaven that her oldest and most-needed be delivered from harm. Robert turned from her door and made his way down the stairs and to the parlor and the dying embers of the hearthside.
     
  16. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 3
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    Page 39-41 Conversations with the women folk...

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    By dawn he awakened, chilled, in spite of the quilt about him and a few coals still glowing red. Frost covered the windows, obscuring the daylight beyond. Presently one of the younger servants made her way from the kitchen, carrying a basket of kindling and pine knots. For a moment she was startled at Robert’s presence in a place he ought not to be so early in the morning. She stirred the ashes with the poker and added chips of wood until a blaze leaped to the throat of the fireplace. Having gotten a good blaze going, she added several pine knots and turned her back to the warmth, in a manner that was just like the one she had observed in the refined ladies who visited the White household – when no gentlemen were present! Robert observed her imitative antics without comment.

    “Never ever nobody sits by the hearthside all night lessen they is havin’ love troubles er painin’ in the soul. Ain’t that right, Mr. Robert?”

    “That’s what they say,” Robert answered with a yawn.

    “Is you havin’ love troubles?”

    He grinned now at her young brashness; he treasured the lack of formality he enjoyed with all the servants. “No, I’m not having any love troubles,” he said. “Everybody tells me you can’t even think about loving anybody until you’ve taken a straight razor to yourself a few times.”

    She looked closely at his chin. “Well, lawsy me, ain’t it a shame? Sure as you’re born though, you’ll be sproutin’ the same time as the spring corn and onions.” She started to run her finger over his chin, but he backed a way in shame. “If’n you ain’t got love troubles, what you painin’ ill the soul about?” she persisted.

    He didn’t want to answer, but she still stood there, sincere and expectant. “Have you ever been lost?” he asked.

    “Lawsy me, yes, but I’m on my way to glory now, hallelujah!”

    “I don’t mean that kind of lost exactly … but that might be part of it … I mean lost at a crossroads or in the mountains and not know which way to go.”

    “Gracious no, Mr. Robert. I ain’t hardy been out of this house since I been born -- lest it be to fetch sumpin’ out of the fields or from a neighbor.”

    “You wouldn’t understand then,” he found himself saying. He turned his face then to the fire, and it felt good. “You’d better get some chunk wood to put on the fire,” he said finally.

    She nodded, and he called behind her, I’ll get the heavy logs. It’s going to be cold today – may even be snow by midday!”

    He returned with a second log of yellow locust; the first one he had placed on the andirons was popping noisily and sending tiny sparks hopping in all directions. Elizabeth White moved aside to allow the second log to be placed.

    “You didn’t rest well either, did you, Robert? I heard you come downstairs last night.”

    “No, I was restless.”

    “It helps us to be alone sometimes. I remember sitting alone at this very same fireplace many nights and for many reasons.”

    “Waiting for Uncle James to come back from some of his trips, I ‘magine.”

    “’Yes, sometimes. Sometimes it was one of the babies with colic so bad I knew he might not last the night. We lost two babies. Such precious little things they were. Our second child was taken from us four years after I married your uncle. He was a little boy, hardly over a year old. And we lost Mary Young – she was next to Milton and lived not quite a year.”

    “Life doesn’t seem worth living sometimes – least to me it doesn’t, and I re reckon with all the trouble you’ve had you’ve been thinkin’ the same thing.”

    ”A part of life is trouble and hardship, Robert. Be forewarned. Maybe time will make it easier for those of you who are younger. Abingdon is not the wilderness it was when we moved here before the turn of the century. The War of ’76 was still fresh on everybody’s mind when I settled this wilderness as a young bride of sixteen. There was a stillness at eventide far more frightening than the marauding Indians who stirred up trouble on occasion.”

    “Did you ever feel like running away?”

    “Yes, many times. I sat by the hearthside often, both crying and praying to see Pittsylvania County again, and be under the roof of my mother and father.”

    “But you toughed it out?” Robert said.

    “Yes. It wasn’t easy, but we planted our seed – worked it through sunshine and shadow, and now we see it growing and bearing fruit. There is one lesson you must learn from your uncle’s life if you learn no other, Robert. Your uncle believed in everything he did. He made some serious mistakes but he did not fret over them. No mistake he made was great enough to make him even pause before he plunged wholeheartedly into some new enterprise. Believe in what you do, Robert, with your whole heart and mind and spirit. If it is a worthy task and your dedication to it is complete and unyielding, you will wear a crown that neither God nor man will ever forget.

    ”I can’t ever amount to what Uncle James was. I know that. I don’t even want to try. All my brothers do, and they goad me. They’ve called me everything but the black sheep in the family, and when I make them mad enough they’ll be hankering to call me that.”

    “You are young yet, Robert. Your greatest task now is to see that you do not take the wrong road until you have a chance to come to the right one. Your uncle’s death has upset some of our plans, but we will make arrangements somehow to help with your college expenses.”

    “Our brother has taken care of helping Lawrence, and I am going to wait for another year, if I don’t change my mind. Besides, you have your own children to think about.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  17. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 3
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    Page 42-43 The Death of James Lowry White, firstborn to Colonel James White
    ===============================
    “I have talked to Lawrence and James both. Your brothers have acted most nobly during this period when my affairs have been so unsettled, but he may be undertaking more than he realizes. We will simply do the best we can, and I hope you will use this year of waiting most wisely. Do your work honestly so that your employer will speak well of you, and pay much heed to the company you keep.”

    Robert wondered if now was the proper time to tell his Aunt that he was tiring of his position after only a week, but others were congregating in the room now, making frequent inspections of the dining-room table, so he hadn’t the privacy required for such a declaration. The timing would be bad and would certainly insure a rebuttal in forceful tones from his aunt.

    They were all seated shortly. Robert noticed that his aunt was hardly aware that complete silence prevailed – that all eyes watched her and awaited the customary blessing over the food. Finally her tired gaze turned to them all, and Robert was sure he alone knew of her sleepless, prayerful night. The conclusion of the grace she uttered over their food left no doubt where her thoughts were: “ … and if it be thy will, dear Lord, deliver our son and brother from the pain of his illness and see him safely from that distant land so far from home and those who love him. Amen.”

    The younger White children were prompted by their mother’s prayer too ask questions as to why no one knew whether their oldest brother was better or sicker now that the third day had come with no further word. The older children knew without asking.

    ‘We will not learn anything new unless a courier is sent or until the canal boats come up the Tennessee River with the mail,” Elizabeth White explained.

    “Don’t they have doctors in Alabama?” Milton asked.

    “Yes, child.” Elizabeth White smiled lovingly at her eight-year-old. “I just hope he got to one in time.”

    “I didn’t understand the contradiction in the first message, I Lawrence Sheffey said. “I thought that James Lowry was at the Jackson County farm, but the courier indicated that he was considerably upriver.”


    “The courier who reached us was the fifth or sixth in the relay, and after word has been passed on several times it! It always gets mixed up.”

    All speculation as to the fate of James Lowry White ceased by midmorning of the same day, when Robert heard the pounding of swift hooves against the stone surface of Main Street. A breathless courier on a breathless animal brought a message that seemed clear and complete. James Lowry White was dead and had been since the previous day. He had indeed been stricken ill with high fever on his way home from far upriver, from Jackson County, Alabama. For over two weeks he had fought the fever that ultimately consumed him. Elizabeth White had spent the night praying for a son who was already dead.

    Robert did not let the solemnity of his cousin’s memorial service deter him from seeking his brother James’s approval of his joining the volunteer artillery company, but James thought the occasion not the time or place to discuss the subject in detail and told Robert he would think on the matter and write his reply. The tone of his brother’s voice took on a surprising likeness to that of his uncle.

    Robert trudged back to his stool and desk on Tuesday, weary from the sight of new bereavement in a household that had not rid itself of an earlier one and was ill prepared for a second. Now his aunt had not only the memory of a lost oldest son to sadden her but a feeling of responsibility for a daughter-in-law and her fatherless children. By the day’s end Robert realized that Andrew Russell’s probing side glances were not purposeless and that he had copied little on his journal paper. He felt a deep loneliness when he thought of James Lowry dead. The kind and amiable character of one who had tried so hard to span the chasm left by his uncle haunted him in the very midst of activity. He dreaded going home and seeing his aunt try hard to hold back her tears and trying to give a certain dignity to her fate.

    Every day for the rest of the week he hurried back to the house, only to conclude that he wasn’t needed. His aunt seemed not even aware when he was in the house and when he was not. Sometimes those of her own family circle would surround her, but as often as not she sat rocking with misty eyes that were oblivious to all movement.
     
  18. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Page 44-46 – Life at Shoate’s tavern, Abington, VA. Good thing for many that Jesus didn’t return in our youth! Robert contemplates the military.
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    Almost a week before Christmas a letter came from James, in Marion. Robert had already washed his hands for supper before tearing the envelope open. He frowned as he the first few lines, and by the time he shoved the letter into his coat pocket and stalked from the house his face had flushed crimson.

    Minutes later he burst through the heavy oak door of Shoate’s tavern. While the door yet oscillated back and forth from the impact, the muscled arm of the blacksmith steadied Robert’s shoulder.

    “Cool down a little,” Muley Grant said with a twinkle of mirth in his voice. “Ain’t nothing in all thunderation that bad.”

    “My brother doesn’t want me to join!” Robert blurted out, and held the letter at the nose of his friend.

    “What did he say?” Muley asked.

    “He said I would have his permission to join only when the Mexicans were sailing up the south fork of the Holston.”

    “The dern fool!” shouted Muley. “Don’t he know we’re goin’ to have to catch them bandits before too many of ‘em get over the border?”

    “He knows all right. He’s just clownin’ me by sayin’ we are makin’ up a war that isn’t goin’ to happen.”

    “I’ll join up without his permission,” Robert said, only partially calmed.

    “That might not go –”

    “I’m man enough to do my own thinkin,” Robert interrupted. “I’ve been babied too long, that’s the whole trouble in a nutshell. Let’s have a mug of rum and then go lookin’ for Captain Stevens – I want to join up tonight.”

    “I don’t know that there’s any hurry,” Muley said, “and besides, you. Don’t have to go lookin’ nowhere for Captain Stevens. He’s sittin’ over in the corner there.”

    Hastily Robert finished his rum, and, backed up by Muley, made his way to the table of Captain Stevens. Robert’s first desire, to join the artillery volunteers, the captain already understood, but Robert’s temperament at the moment caused a furrow in the officer’s brow. After some minutes of questioning, Robert told all.

    “I could not encourage you to join if permission of your brother and other family members here in Abingdon is not forthcoming. This is not a conscription and it isn’t wartime.”

    “But boys fourteen and sixteen years old fought in the Revolution,” Robert argued.

    “That they did,” Captain Stevens admitted. “This is nothing like that, or circumstances would be different. You are old enough, Robert, but the volunteer militia would just as soon not get on the wrong side of the family. If war was at our back door there would be no question.”

    “They might come a-sailin’ up the Holston one of these days,” Muley said comfortingly. “Then you’d be in it for sure.”

    The captain said he didn’t understand Muley, nor Robert’s antagonistic attitude. He pressed Robert about it until Robert shoved the letter in his face.

    Captain Stevens read it and handed it back. “Tell your brother you’ll make a bargain with him. Tell him you will agree to wait only until the Mexicans cross the Mississippi.”

    The captain’s attempted humor infuriated Robert all the more. “All of you think I’ve got to be forty years old before there’s any man in me! I’ll show you! I’ll figger a way to show you!” he vowed and went to fill his mug again.”

    After Robert’s temper showed signs of cooling, Muley soon joined him. Within another few minutes Captain Stevens stood on the other side of him.

    “I know you’re disappointed, Robert,” the captain began, “but I couldn’t help noticing the postscript at the bottom of the letter. I wonder if that might not be the cocklebur under the saddle blanket!”

    Robert sipped at his rum and stared straight ahead. “Don’t make any difference,” he said after an uncomfortable silence. “I haven’t seen her for a long time anyway.”

    He looked down into the half –empty mug and could almost see the last three lines his brother had written floating mirror like on the surface of the liquid. As if it were an unimportant afterthought, James had scribbled in crooked lines at the edge of the sheet: “Elizabeth Swecker is the daughter of _ Wendell Swecker and they live on Cripple Creek in Wythe County. : understand from reliable sources that the girl is betrothed to a young man by the name of Greever who works at the Chatwell forge.”

    Lord Almighty! How shameless he was in hoping – maybe even praying a little bit – that this enemy he had never met would rob his employer and be sent away to the penitentiary for a hundred years! Even fifty years would do it . . . not even fifty, just five or ten – he would settle for that. And that wouldn’t be unfair punishment for a thief who would steal the woman whose eyes were implanted on his soul as surely as he breathed the breath of life.

    “Why don’t you go on home now and get some sleep?” the captain suggested. “You’ve had a lot of bereavement at your house, and it looks like I didn’t make it any easier on you tonight.”

    “I’m not sleepy, thank you,” Robert said stiffly. “Besides, Muley and me might just go out on the town tonight.”

    He paused no longer then, and setting his mug upon the polished chestnut counter top, he walked out of the tavern.

    Snow fluttered lightly from the heavens, but he did not hurry his steps. It was late and the streets were deserted, but several lamps glowed from windows along Main and Court streets. He went out of his way until he came to the courthouse building where he worked. Insufficient snow had fallen to make snowballs, and he soon gave up the effort, but as a last resort, he gave the corner of the building nearest to his own office a vigorous kick, then trod wearily down the street to his own door.

    He made no effort to enter the house quietly, for through the parlor window he could see Elizabeth White rocking back and forth, watching the snow through the street window. He stepped through the door to the parlor, but his aunt did not change her position nor acknowledge his presence. He said a “good night” anyway and went to his room.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  19. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Page 47-49 – The Plight of the American Slave...
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    He could not remember saying his prayers for many years, years that dated back to when he knelt beside his bed with Elizabeth White’s warm hand upon his neck. But on this night he uttered a stumbling, tearful prayer to a God he was not sure existed, and asked, childlike, that Elizabeth Swecker be preserved in all her sweetness for him and him alone.

    Every child and grandchild of Elizabeth White congregated at her side on Christmas day. A special effort toward family harmony for this one occasion was the unspoken creed that prevailed – but with fragile success. The absence of two family members seemed obscured by sheer force of numbers, but it was still with misty eyes through which Elizabeth White appeared to view them all. Robert remained all day with the family group and assisted in their little game. Each took turns asking questions of his mother, grandmother, or aunt; or tried other tactics to keep her mind engaged in happenings of the present.

    It was New Year’s Day before Robert found out about more drastic changes the White household would be undergoing. He would not have known of them even then, he supposed, had not he come upon Big Edmund in the stable with tears streaming down his face.

    Come plantin’ time, I is goin’ to be hired out,” Big Edmund whimpered.

    “It won’t be for long,” Robert speculated.

    “Miz White say she don’t know how long.”

    ‘I’ll talk to her about it,” Robert promised. “You try not to worry about it.”

    “It ain’t only me what’s leavin’. Ann ‘n’ George ‘n’ Moses is agoin’ too. We is all bein’ hired out.”

    Robert confirmed this with his aunt, and she told him it was true. They were all four her best servants, but they would also bring the highest rental. He tried not to think ill of his aunt, for he was aware that the empire his uncle had built was no longer so widespread. In fact, things were going downhill now, and his aunt and her sons and daughters could consider themselves lucky if they could build on the portions each would eventually hold title to. This opinion was widely held; in fact, Robert had heard the subject discussed around the courthouse, as the complex legal procedures regarding the estate wore on.

    Still, he could not condone his aunt completely in her action with regard to the servants. The renting out of human beings was sinister and wrong. It was especially wrong to pick those who had served most faithfully. None of them would leave the household before March, but he had seen each one of them crying every day,

    None of the servants was more upset than Ann, the oldest and best of the kitchen servants. He watched her both crying and praying aloud as she went about her tasks until his own heart seemed about to be tom from his breast.

    Two days after New Year’s he could stand it no longer. He and Muley Grant got drunk enough to throw a rock through the window of the female academy, hoping to cause havoc to reign supreme. When no screams erupted through the broken glass, Robert remembered that the academy was not in session. He avoided Muley’s company the rest of the week. For he was deeply ashamed of their antics. Every solitary thing in his life seemed to be crumbling like the walls of Jericho. He did things he himself didn’t understand, and winter, with snow on the ground, was no time to ride off to the north fork of the Holston and meditate on his life and destiny. It saddened him to realize that Big Edmund might never saddle his horse again when the buds of spring and the whispering trees called him.

    The court-appointed appraisers of his uncle’s estate had set the worth of Big Edmund at nine hundred dollars. Ann and Moses and George, all together, were appraised at one thousand, nine hundred dollars. For the first time in his life Robert wanted to be rich – to be able to reach into his gold pouch and bring out twenty-eight hundred dollars and free the souls of friends who showed him unmercifully, their bondage.

    On the night of January ninth he could stand his own haunting loneliness no longer. The sight of Ann darting about her kitchen, wringing her hands, plagued him at home, and the ever more critical eyes of Andrew Russell plagued him at work, urging him almost daily to better his copying speed of work, urging him almost daily to better his copying speed of the previous day.

    As he walked toward Shoate’s tavern, he half hoped that Muley would not be there. His aunt Elizabeth did not approve of the blacksmith, and Robert had begun to see the wisdom of her objections, although he would never admit it. He liked Muley, but at the same time he felt inner evil, of which previously he had thought himself incapable, being generated. It was only part of the time that he felt this with Muley. On other occasions their spirits seemed to be soaring with the’ highest harmony, their banter drawing a larger following of men who desired to join in and share the fun.

    Muley himself was not the only one present at Shoate’s tavern as Robert entered; the smithy had two mule skinners in tow and the three of them were merry with rum. Robert thought he would back out the door as if he had forgotten something, but Muley called to him from across the smokefilled room; “C’mere, Robert. I want you to hear the tales these fellers from Baltimore is tellin’.”

    Robert crossed the room to the hewn log table and bench occupied by his friend and received an introduction to the two mole skinners. Muley was already on a first-name basis with them, and he gave Robert a quick report.

    “Clefus and Shem come down the valley from Baltimore,” he said, “and they done unloaded their goods at the mercantile houses. Reckon we can show ‘em a good night’s fun, Robert?”

    “Perhaps so. What are you taking back on your wagons?” He asked, to make conversation.

    “Loadin’ up at daylight in the mornin’. Both of us is takin’ all the saddles and horse harness we can haul. Abingdon is purty well thought of for the leather the tanyards are puttin’ out,” Clefus said.

    “There’s a dern good thing about haulin’ leather,” Shem grinned. “If a feller wears out his whips acrost the hide of them mules goin’ up the valley of Virginia, he can just make some strops outta the harness.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  20. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Saint of the Wilderness Chapter 3
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    Page 50-51 – The bad effects of Muley Grant. Robert's 18th year was a rollercoaster ride.... Hang on! This work was also put into a movie by the Bob Jones University called 'Sheffey.' The soundtrack is available at their bookstore! The Sheffey Soundtrack
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    “These fellers think we’re still in Indian country,” Muley said to Robert. “What we goin’ to do to show ‘em we’re plumb civilized?”

    “Maybe they’d just as soon stay in here by the fire. Must be getting’ cold enough out there to freeze over the Holston,” Robert said.

    One of the mule skinners looked about the walls of the crowded tavern. He shivered a little and pulled the collar of his sheepskin coat more tightly around his neck.

    “Wanna’ move a little nearer piece to the fireplace?” Muley asked.

    “Naw, I’ll go get us all a mugful of hot coals we can drown in our stomachs.” He got up, crossed the room to the open fireplace, and paused to warm himself in front and behind. The fireplace, big enough for a man to stand in, roared with a furious fire, but for those who sat or stood near the outer walls it was sheer accident if the heat ever reached them when the wind whistled icy cold through the hewn logs and woodshingled roof of the tavern.

    Robert also pulled his greatcoat tighter around his neck and thought he would have one mug of rum or a dram of brandy to be sociable and then go home. It was too mild to wander about the streets, and the two mule skinners might decide that they –did not want to head north, facing a chill wind, without a good night’s sleep.

    Clefus returned to the table with four mugs of rum and a grin on his face. “Well, I’ve heard a lot of mule stories in my time but I ain’t never heard that one before.”

    ‘”Who told you one?” Muley asked.

    Clefus pointed “That feller talkin’ to the tavernkeeper.”

    “Why, that’s old Rote Ewing. He’s been driving mules down the valley since ‘fore you was born,” Muley said. “I’ve probably heard the story, but you tell it.”

    Clefus repeated the story and got a spontaneous round of belly –laughter.

    “Clefus, you can take that’ll with you clean back to Baltimore,” Muley said, still laughing. “I reckon it’s my turn to buy a round, unless you want to volunteer first, Robert?”

    The word “volunteer” struck a sensitive nerve somewhere in Robert and suddenly he came to life.

    “Set ‘em up all around,” he said. “I’d just as soon spend my week’s wages for that as anything I know. Old Man Russell would pop a gut for sure if he knew I was doing that with my money.”

    “I ‘spect he might already,” Muley said, and headed for the tavemkeeper with Robert’s money.

    Robert shivered as he acknowledged the prospect of Muley’s suspicions being well-founded, and his tablemates noticed his lack of ease.

    “You work for this Russell feller?” Clefus asked.

    “I work for the county, and he’s over me.”
    “How you goin’ to keep him from a-knowin’?”
    “I‘m not trying to, I reckon,” Robert confessed, “but I’d just as soon he didn’t find out.”

    Muley plopped the mugs on the rough table and Shem made a grab for one of them, spilled most of it, and let out an oath.

    “Well, at least you’re sayin’ somethin’,” Clefus said. “Thought you was a-dying layin’ against that wall – er froze to death.”

    Shem cursed his partner and sat looking at the nearly empty mug.

    “I’ll take that one,” Robert said and gave Shell his own in exchange. “I don’t want any more anyway.”

    Shem let out another oath to the effect that Abingdon was dull and full of dull people who went to bed with the chickens __ and he wished he was back in Baltimore where he had plenty of women and chances for real hell-raising.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
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