Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/80

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An Act of God

the haft was jammed against his bloody coat.

We carried him into the Agricultural Hall among the prize apples and the pumpkins, summoned Squire Randolph from the cattle pens, and brought the mountebank before him.

Randolph came in his big blustering manner and sat down as though he were the judge of all the world. He heard the evidence, and upon the word of every witness the tragedy was an accident clean through. But it was an accident that made one shudder. It came swift and deadly and unforeseen, like a vengeance of God in the Book of Kings. One passing among his fellows, in no apprehension, had been smitten out of life. There was terror in the mystery of selection that had thus claimed Blackford in this crowd for death. It brought our voices to a whisper to feel how unprotected a man was in this life, and how little we could see.

And yet the thing had the aspect of design and moved with our stern Scriptural beliefs. In the pulpit this deaf mute had been an example and a warning. His life was profligate and loose. He was a cattle shipper who knew the abominations indexed by the Psalmist. He was an Ishmaelite in more ways than his affliction. He had no wife nor child, nor any next of kin. He had been predestined to an evil end by every good housewife in the hills. He would go swiftly and by violence into hell, the preachers said; and swiftly and by violence he had gone