The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories HTML version

A Convert Of The Mission
The largest tent of the Tasajara camp meeting was crowded to its utmost extent. The
excitement of that dense mass was at its highest pitch. The Reverend Stephen Masterton,
the single erect, passionate figure of that confused medley of kneeling worshipers, had
reached the culminating pitch of his irresistible exhortatory power. Sighs and groans were
beginning to respond to his appeals, when the reverend brother was seen to lurch heavily
forward and fall to the ground.
At first the effect was that of a part of his performance; the groans redoubled, and twenty
or thirty brethren threw themselves prostrate in humble imitation of the preacher. But
Sister Deborah Stokes, perhaps through some special revelation of feminine intuition,
grasped the fallen man, tore loose his black silk necktie, and dragged him free of the
struggling, frantic crowd whose paroxysms he had just evoked. Howbeit he was pale and
unconscious, and unable to continue the service. Even the next day, when he had slightly
recovered, it was found that any attempt to renew his fervid exhortations produced the
same disastrous result.
A council was hurriedly held by the elders. In spite of the energetic protests of Sister
Stokes, it was held that the Lord "was wrestlin' with his sperrit," and he was subjected to
the same extraordinary treatment from the whole congregation that he himself had
applied to THEM. Propped up pale and trembling in the "Mourners' Bench" by two
brethren, he was "striven with," exhorted, prayed over, and admonished, until
insensibility mercifully succeeded convulsions. Spiritual therapeutics having failed, he
was turned over to the weak and carnal nursing of "womenfolk." But after a month of
incapacity he was obliged to yield to "the flesh," and, in the local dialect, "to use a
It so chanced that the medical practitioner of the district was a man of large experience,
of military training, and plain speech. When, therefore, he one day found in his surgery a
man of rude Western type, strong-limbed and sunburned, but trembling, hesitating and
neurotic in movement, after listening to his symptoms gravely, he asked, abruptly: "And
how much are you drinking now?"
"I am a lifelong abstainer," stammered his patient in quivering indignation. But this was
followed by another question so frankly appalling to the hearer that he staggered to his
"I'm Stephen Masterton--known of men as a circuit preacher, of the Northern California
district," he thundered--"and an enemy of the flesh in all its forms."
"I beg your pardon," responded Dr. Duchesne, grimly, "but as you are suffering from
excessive and repeated excitation of the nervous system, and the depression following
prolonged artificial exaltation--it makes little difference whether the cause be spiritual, as