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Fisher's River
(North Carolina)
Scenes and Characters (1859)


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At Parson Bellow's night meetings it was not uncommon for persons "under conviction" to fall, and lie apparently dead for hours, and when they rose it was with a shout of triumph, "a clar and hopeful convarsion."

Parson Bellow held a good many of his night meetings in the "Hawks Settlement," east of the head of Stewart's Creek, not far from the Sugar-loaf Peak of the Blue Ridge.  The Hawks generation was numerous, and, being much attached to each other and to their romantic section, they were never known to live far apart.  The parson had held several meetings successfully for them at old Timothy Spencer's.  It being a great country for apples, every man had a large orchard, and in the fall all the surplus apples were distilled into brandy.  Every man had at least one "bar'l" a year.  Timothy Spencer had one "bar'l," and kept it in his house behind the door.  When the door opened the "bar'l" was concealed behind it.

Sol Hawks had seen this barrel for weeks at the various night meetings, and had used it for a seat during service.  Instead of listening attentively to the parson's sermons, he was all the time thinking of the "innards uv the bar'l," the temptation was so great.  His mouth watered not a little for some of the "good critter."  While the "sarvices" had been going on, the crafty Sol had ascertained that the "bung" of the "bar'l" could be worked out.  But what of that?  He could not get at the delicious contents.  It was vexatious to Sol.  He couldn't stand it.

Next meeting Sol took a quill, and managed to take the same seat.  While prayer and other services were going on, in which the attention of the audience was directed in another way, Sol got the "bung" of the barrel out, thrust in his quill, and drank it down as a thirsty man does water.  He took too much, for, just as the benediction was pronounced, Sol, attempting to rise, fell heavily on the floor.

The excitement was intense.  The women shouted aloud, the men groaned in spirit, all supposing that the power of grace had done the deed --- had felled that sturdy oak of Bashan, that tall cedar of Lebanon.

"Bless the Lord!" exclaimed Parson Bellow.  "I thort I'd done no good here tonight --- hadn't cast the net on the right side --- that the wheels uv Zion was clogged;  but hallaluyer!  the Lord allers comes at a time when we ain't lookin' fur him.  Glory!  glory!!  Bruthering and sisters, sing a mighty sperritul hyme, and lift up yer hearts in prayer.  This feller has bin a-standin' it out fur a long time, but the power what fotched down Saul uv Tarshish has flung him at last --- glory!"

The "hyme" was sung, fervent prayer offered, but there lay Sol speechless and seemingly lifeless.

"Bruthering," said the parson, "yer faith is too weak.  Ef you'd pray in airnest,with a strong faith, he'd be convarted afore you could cry 'cavy.'

Prayer was offered again and again, but there lay Sol helpless as ever.  Other tactics must be used, and the parson was rich in expedients.  He went to Sol, and told him what to do, "to give up," etc.

"But, Sol," continued he, "don't shout too quick.  Git religion good, Sol.  I know these Hawks.  They needs a heap uv religion, and you, Sol, have bin monstrous bad.  Religion is mighty good truck to have Sol.  You've sinned enough to fill Noah's ark chug to the brim.  I'm afeered you'll fall from grace ef yo shout too soon, Sol."

Thus he continued, pounding away on Sol's back with both hands every now and then, as though he would maul religion into him with his stentorian voice and herculean fists.  At last he interrogated Sol thus:

"Sol, how do you feel, old feller?  Do you feel like you was a poor lost creetur?  a messuble sinner, lost and ondone?"

"Ah me!" groaned Sol, "I don't know.  I feels mighty curious.  My head is gwine round and round, and a ringin' in my ears sorter like tizzerrizzin!  tizzerrizzin!"

"Pray harder, Sol," replied the parson; "yo ain't half a-prayin' that snail fashun.  But take care, Sol, and don't shout too soon.  Be mighty keerful on that pint, Sol.  Bruthering and sisters, one and all, sing that good old sperritul hyme,

"'Show pity, Lord;  O Lord, forgive;
Let a repentin' rebul live;'

and pray while you sing, like you'd take heaven by storm.  Who knows but what your prayers mout be hearn?"

That "hyme" and several others were sung, and several prayers offered, but there lay the stubborn Sol, the tall cedar of Lebanon.  The parson thought it was time to catechize him again, to see their success --- to see whether "thar prayers was hearn."

"Sol," he asked, "how do you feel now, old feller?  Do yo feel like you love the Lord and his people, poor soul?"

"Ah! Lord, I don't adzackly know.  I feels almighty curious.  I'm almost 'swaded I does."

"Bruthering and sisters," said the parson, "my stars and lovely garters, ef he ain't convarted now, ef he jist knowed it.  He jist needs a little more faith.  Rise up, Sol, and shout, and you'll feel happy.  Bruthering, it ain't wuth while to be stayin' here' it's arter midnight; let's go home.

Sol got up, rubbed his eyes a little, stepped out, and went home, but he never shouted.



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