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Windy McPherson's Son

CHAPTER I.3
One evening, when he had grown so that he outtopped Windy, Sam McPherson returned
from his paper route to find his mother arrayed in her black, church-going dress. An
evangelist was at work in Caxton and she had decided to hear him. Sam shuddered. In the
house it was an understood thing that when Jane McPherson went to church her son went
with her. There was nothing said. Jane McPherson did all things without words, always
there was nothing said. Now she stood waiting in her black dress when her son came in at
the door and he hurriedly put on his best clothes and went with her to the brick church.
Valmore, John Telfer, and Freedom Smith, who had taken upon themselves a kind of
common guardianship of the boy and with whom he spent evening after evening at the
back of Wildman's grocery, did not go to church. They talked of religion and seemed
singularly curious and interested in what other men thought on the subject but they did
not allow themselves to be coaxed into a house of worship. To the boy, who had become
a fourth member of the evening gatherings at the back of the grocery store, they would
not talk of God, answering the direct questions he sometimes asked by changing the
subject. Once Telfer, the reader of poetry, answered the boy. "Sell papers and fill your
pockets with money but let your soul sleep," he said sharply.
In the absence of the others Wildman talked more freely. He was a spiritualist and tried to
make Sam see the beauties of that faith. On long summer afternoons the grocer and the
boy spent hours driving through the streets in a rattling old delivery wagon, the man
striving earnestly to make clear to the boy the shadowy ideas of God that were in his
mind.
Although Windy McPherson had been the leader of a Bible class in his youth, and had
been a moving spirit at revival meetings during his early days in Caxton, he no longer
went to church and his wife did not ask him to go. On Sunday mornings he lay abed. If
there was work to be done about the house or yard he complained of his wounds. He
complained of his wounds when the rent fell due, and when there was a shortage of food
in the house. Later in his life and after the death of Jane McPherson the old soldier
married the widow of a farmer by whom he had four children and with whom he went to
church twice on Sunday. Kate wrote Sam one of her infrequent letters about it. "He has
met his match," she said, and was tremendously pleased.
In church on Sunday mornings Sam went regularly to sleep, putting his head on his
mother's arm and sleeping throughout the service. Jane McPherson loved to have the boy
there beside her. It was the one thing in life they did together and she did not mind his
sleeping the time away. Knowing how late he had been upon the streets at the paper
selling on Saturday evenings, she looked at him with eyes filled with tenderness and
sympathy. Once the minister, a man with brown beard and hard, tightly-closed mouth,
spoke to her. "Can't you keep him awake?" he asked impatiently. "He needs the sleep,"
she said and hurried past the minister and out of the church, looking ahead of her and
frowning.
 
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