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The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


BY EMMET C. MAY 

Success in Life Insurance 
A Vision of Life Insurance 
The Empire of Life Insurance 




The Hngelus 
of Sunset Hill 


By 

EMMET C. MAY 



Peoria, Illinois 



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Copyright, 1924 

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The Angelus of Sunset Hill 

CHAPTER I 

A LL day John had been watching the coming and 
going of people along the Appian Way. From 
the Court in which he lay he could see in the dis¬ 
tance the great Dome of St. Peter’s; further along he 
could see St. Paul’s Church; out to the east he could see 
the Tomb of Cecelia Metella; and further away the 
Sabine Hills, in all their peacefulness. He knew that 
within the range of his vision there lay buried the greatest 
of ancient cities, much of which has not been uncov¬ 
ered; and also there lay beneath it all the greatest city of 
the dead. 

He had in his imagination set himself back two thou¬ 
sand years and fancied himself in Roman times. He 
had gazed along this ancient way and wondered how in 
these ancient times they had contrived to build so well. He 
thought of Nero going along this very same road on his 
way to his villa at the ocean side and could see the ser¬ 
vants scattering along the road the gold dust, over which 
this haughty individual decreed he must ride; and of the 
twenty thousand attendants who must accompany him to 
his villa to see that he was properly cared for and enter¬ 
tained. He thought of the suffering that this tyrant had 
occasioned, and he tried to picture in his own mind how 
the Christians had fled along this very way just at the 
beginning of their faith; that they had hidden themselves 
along this road, and that here and there they had dug 
into the ground like wild animals and made for them¬ 
selves a hiding place which later on became not only a 
hiding place but home, and church, and tomb. He knew 


i 


2 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


the very house in which he lived was over one of the 
Catacombs. Just down there close to the gate of the city 
St. Paul was beheaded. He liked to believe the tradi¬ 
tion that not far from where he then sat, Christ himself 
had appeared to St. Peter and caused him to turn back 
into Rome, there to be the foundation and head of the 
Church. 

As he lay there in his day-dream, it suddenly occurred 
to him that the Italian sky was that day unusually beau¬ 
tiful and somehow it took him back through the years— 
back along the pathway of his life—clear back to his 
mother’s knee. Then he realized that this sky at which 
he was gazing, and the sunshine which was restoring 
health to him, was an exact duplicate of a day in his 
youth—a day such as one occasionally sees in the moun¬ 
tains of eastern Kentucky. His memory on that day was 
full of the things of youth; the sky, the fleecy clouds float¬ 
ing lazily against the blue background, the friends of his 
youth, and mother. Ah yes! There was mother! And 
such a mother! Such an influence for good on his life! 
How her arms had protected and comforted him! Such 
sleep as he had had when with a lullaby she had rocked 
him in the twilight. Such advice and counsel she had 
given him, all of which had stayed with him to this very 
day as a part of his very nature. It was she who had 
molded his nature, making him realize that in this life it 
is only people that count; that our lives are worth just 
what we make of them and that the more we can in¬ 
fluence and make better the lives of others, the more good 
we are doing. She was not a reformer. She was not a 
charity worker. But she was a wonderful mother with 
common-sense and a great desire to raise a good boy. 

And then he remembered that awful day late in the 
autumn, just about this time when through the window he 
had seen armed men stealing up close to the house; had 
seen the excitement of his father and brothers as they 
made ready to defend themselves as their ancestors had 
done in the feud for generation after generation; had 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


3 


found himself, although only ten years old, with a rifle in 
his hands doing his bit; and this dear old mother had 
taken him with her to the basement of the house and held 
him there until the crash of the burning timbers snuffed 
out her life and left him stunned and suffocating. “Ah 
yes, dear mother, that was a sad day for us both!” He 
remembered the grave under the great oak tree on Sunset 
Hill, with the simple headstone “Mother.” And to think 
that today here he was thousands of miles away on a 
beautiful Italian day, which was so like a Kentucky day 
of his youth, that it carried him back and back and made 
him think and think— 

“Well, old day-dreamer, a penny for your thoughts!” 

“Nell, I wouldn’t sell them for King Solomon’s riches.” 

“They must have been very interesting and entertain¬ 
ing, then. The way you have been lying there gazing and 
dreaming, one would think that you had loads and loads 
on your mind. Tell me, I pray you, did I have any 
place in all this train of thoughts, or was it of the ter¬ 
rible war that gave you the past months of suffering and 
struggle for life ?” 

“Yes, Nell, you had your place. It was a dream of 
youth—our youth—with all its pleasures and all its sor¬ 
rows. I am unable to decide which are the most valu¬ 
able, the pleasures or the sorrows, but I am fully decided 
which memories hurt the most. The sorrows emphasize 
the pleasures and make them sweeter. What would we 
do were it not for our memories? They fix standards 
for us; they make goals to be reached; they spur us on to 
accomplishments; they are the storehouses of the past 
from which we can draw materials to be secured no other 
place in the world. Do you remember our childhood as 
vividly as I do, I wonder? We are not so very old, but 
it seems to me ages have been crowded into our lives, into 
my life anyway. This is a wonderful place to think. It 
just seems to me that the very surroundings here, where 
everything is so old and musty, sharpens one’s memory 
and imagination, and especially does it bring back the 




4 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


memories of youth. I remember the poem we used to 
read about—‘Of all the beautiful pictures that hang on 
memory’s wall, etc.’ Remember that, Nell?” 

“Here! Here ! Who gave you permission to get into 
such a mood as this ? I do believe that you are growing 
old. You just hustle yourself into the house and get 
dressed for dinner. Aunt Fannie is all in a flutter tonight. 
She is so afraid that she will forget something in the 
packing and that she will not get the things out of here 
in time to get the boat at Naples tomorrow night. So 
you just shoo yourself out of here and don’t delay things. 
You’ll have plenty of time on the boat to do some more 
day-dreaming.” 

For weeks John Adams had been slowly coming back 
to life in the sunshine of Italy as he had enjoyed the 
hospitality of Nell Henderson’s villa at the edge of Rome 
and on the very beginning of the Appian Way. He had 
been brought there from the hospital in France as soon 
as he could be moved. He was one of the great host of 
casualties of the Great War. His sector was Verdun— 
terrible Verdun. 

John realized as he went into the house that he had not 
been day-dreaming altogether, but that he had in fact re¬ 
viewed almost all of his life. He realized also that he 
was going back home. There is a thrill that comes to a 
man when he realizes that he is going back to the place 
of his birth and childhood, that comes in no other way. 
We may travel from one country to another and from 
one state to another with nothing more than the realiza¬ 
tion that we are seeing new scenery and perhaps an en¬ 
tirely new country to us. All this does not bring to us 
the sensation which comes when we realize that we are 
going back home. The thoughts turn homeward; the 
memories are aroused; green spots are perhaps watered 
with tears; the heart quickens and does its part to give us 
the thrill that is peculiar only to the occasion. And John 
was going back home—was going with Nell, which made 
the situation all the more thrilling to him. 



CHAPTER II 


U NCLE DAVE, look at Nigger Sam cornin’ 
down the road. He shore is tall. He could 
stand knee deep in Hell and shake hands with 
Abraham in Isaac’s bosom, couldn’t he?” 

“What am I going to do with you, young man ? What 
kind of talk is that for a boy to be using? Now don’t 
let me hear any more of it. You are getting to be a 
regular rough-neck. They will be calling you a back¬ 
woodsman pretty soon. If Sam is tall the good Lord 
made him that way, he can’t help it, and you shouldn’t be 
talking so irreverently of the Lord’s work.” 

John Adams was twelve years old. Dave Daniels was 
a man of fifty. He had been a preacher in the hills for 
many a year and much was the good he had done in those 
many years of work. He had seen many a young man 
grow up and take his place in the community, a good 
influence or a bad one, “according to how the twig had 
been bent,” as he used to say. He had always been an 
influence for good wherever he had been. He had been 
called to homes of sorrow and had given of his comfort 
and words of cheer. He had seen strong men engage in 
deadly combat to the extinction of one or both of them. 
Such was the influence of the feuds. He had seen great 
gatherings at his meetings and had seen the sincerity of 
the mountain people whose sense of right and wrong is 
so pronounced. Pie had lived among these people and 
knew them and their ways as he knew his prayers. He 
knew all of them personally and knew their very thoughts 
and desires. Dave was a man loved and respected by all. 

He was tall, lean, and in his younger days had been 
a powerful man. He was still sound of limb and strong 
and healthy. His hair was white, and worn just long 

5 


6 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


enough that it gave him a distinguished and refined 
appearance. He was a very sympathetic man. While 
all the people claimed him as a friend and welcomed 
him gladly to their homes, he was the true and valued 
friend of the young folks. When their love affairs 
entangled their thoughts, it was to Dave they turned for 
advice. And be it said to his everlasting credit that 
never did he refuse the best of his advice. To help and 
to direct the young folks was the greatest pleasure of 
his life. He was both companion and friend to all of 
them. No matter what the family differences, no matter 
who were enemies, in the presence of Dave all enmities 
were forgotten. Maybe the feeling was still there, but 
there never was an expression or a quarrelsome word 
in his presence. It was said of him that he was the 
only man in all the mountains who could claim everyone 
as his friend. And surely he was the only man who 
could bring together friend and foe without a conflict. 
It was a kind of an unwritten law that in the presence 
of Dave there must be no hostilities. When he called 
them together, they must stand united for whatever he 
wanted to accomplish. He loved the Kentucky hills. 
And so does every native. There is a loyalty to native 
heath than which there is no stronger example in all 
the world. It is said that in all mountainous countries, 
the people have more imagination and more sentiment 
and more true loyalty to native country than any other 
people. Whether this be true or not, there can be no 
question about the sincere reverence of the eastern Ken¬ 
tucky people for their hills. 

And it was in this kind of a surrounding and among 
this kind of people that John Adams grew to manhood. 
For only ten years did he have the influence of a good 
mother. As far back as the memory of the oldest man, 
the feud of the Adamses and the Hendersons had been 
notorious. It had been carried on down from father to 
son, from generation to generation, and was still going 
on. When John was barely ten years old, and when his 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 




good mother was anxious that he get the right start 
and the right impressions of life, the clouds of the feud 
had darkened their home. Advise and talk as she would, 
she could not persuade the hot blooded relatives to 
desist from their vows. Vengeance must be had and 
so each son as he came on must take up the trail. It 
was an evidence of his bravery if he vowed that for 
the death of some relative he would take the life of 
some particular foe. They followed the old law of “an 
eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” For years 
and years, the wiser heads had labored long and hard to 
eradicate these feudal grudges which gave to their 
country such a bad name. Much had been accomplished, 
but much more was yet to be accomplished. 

Such women as Mrs. Adams had accomplished much. 
Always did they give good, wholesome advice, and 
while all of it had not been heeded, some attention was 
paid to a little of it occasionally, and gradually the bar¬ 
rier was being broken away. Some were optimistic 
enough to predict better days. 

These were the days of the log house and the big 
fireplace. Around the log fire gathered the entire family 
for their evenings. It was here that they spent the eve¬ 
nings, talking, reading and discussing the affairs of the 
day. Let us remember that the times of which we speak 
were far removed from the many influences of civiliza¬ 
tion which we have today. Some will say that that fact 
was detrimental while others will say that it was a great 
advantage. There are some who think that out of the 
world where greater necessity exists, comes the sharp¬ 
est and brightest minds. Be this as it may, out of the 
hills of Kentucky have come as bright and quick minds 
as from any other place in the world, notwithstanding 
the fact that the schools were poor in quality and short 
of duration. Libraries were not plentiful or accessible, 
but every book in the community was thoroughly studied 
—not just read—but studied. The Book of all books 
was studied from childhood to old age and a thorough 




8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


knowledge of the Bible was a strong recommendation 
for any man. 

Every boy was taught certain things as general prin¬ 
ciples. First he was taught the severe rules of right 
and wrong, and out of the ages of feuds had come the 
rule of fighting fair. The feudal laws demanded that 
every youth be taught to shoot straight and fight fair. 
And then the boys were taught that they must not be 
“proud or stuck up;” they must not feel above their 
fellowmen; they must always stand ready to lend 
a helping hand; and their lives should at all times 
be lived as an influence on others. As one life touches 
another and helps along a fellowman, thereby its good 
is measured. These were the cardinal laws of the hills. 

John Adams had all this teaching and this kind of 
influence. And then he had another influence short lived 
as it was—that was the influence and good advice of his 
mother. She taught him that feuds were all wrong, and 
that it was all wrong to desire to kill a fellowman for 
some wrong he had done to others. She daily impressed 
on him that the people as a whole constituted a society 
and that society demanded certain laws; that these laws 
should be obeyed; that reason and right constituted law; 
that eventually right and law would banish all feuds; 
that it was the duty of every boy to do all he could to 
do away with these things which caused so much trouble 
in our land. In his youth, John did not think so much 
of this advice. He was a boy with the hot blood of a 
southern youth. But as he grew to manhood he found 
himself following instinctively his mother’s advice. 

Since the death of John’s mother, Dave had been his 
very best friend. Very often a boy, left without a mother 
as John was, does not get the advice and counsel, to say 
nothing of the sympathy needed, from his father. So 
Dave had been mother to him in many ways. As he 
grew up into the tall stripling of a boy, this friendship 
grew firmer. 

On such occasions as we have just seen, when John 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


9 


gave expression to his imagination about nigger Sam, 
the tallest and most worthless of all the colored popula¬ 
tion, it was Dave’s assumed duty to chastise him. As 
he did so he secretly laughed at the resourcefulness of 
the lad. It pleased him to see him growing in mind as 
well as body. 

The Adams home stood on the side of the road about 
a mile outside of the town of Great Bend. Notwithstand¬ 
ing it was the county seat, Great Bend was only a small 
village in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and did 
not afford a railroad nor any of the modern conven¬ 
iences. Its population were the direct descendants of the 
early settlers of the state who had come over from the 
Virginias and Carolinas. Few people had ever come in 
to mingle with them and as a consequence they lived as 
a colony isolated from the world. Their habits, cus¬ 
toms and manners were those of a people of centuries 
ago. Their hospitality was of that particular brand 
that makes everyone feel at home. With a good reputa¬ 
tion and square dealing, a man could live as long as he 
liked among them without cost. But if he was in dis¬ 
favor, he might just as well move. No amount of money 
would give him entree to the homes. The freedom of 
the community meant something here as it used to mean 
in England and Europe. 

The Adams home was of the usual type—a big log 
house. It had stood for many years as one of the old 
homesteads of the country. Here several generations 
had grown to manhood and womanhood. In its three 
large rooms downstairs, there had been much merriment, 
and at times great sadness. It had a beautiful location 
at the foot of a large mountain and overlooked the most 
beautiful valley in the whole country. A valley that 
was rich beyond imagination. A short way below the 
house a creek came down from the mountains furnish¬ 
ing an abundance of cool, spring, mountain water for 
the stock, for which the Adams farms had long been 
famous. This entire creek was the property of the 



10 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


Adamses. The farming was done in the valley below 
the house, and it was here that spread out the beautiful 
meadows and the corn and grain fields, while above the 
house and below the main road lay an old orchard known 
as the best in the country. Great oaks and elms gave a 
setting to the mansion, for such it was known in that 
locality, which gave it the appearance of the true com¬ 
fort and hospitality which did actually prevail there. 

Great Bend, being on the banks of the Licking River, 
had in its early days been a logging camp and later 
retained much of that spirit and was now just a little 
old dead village. As its name implies, it was in a great 
bend of the river. One thing must be said in its favor, 
it had the most beautiful hill, or rather a high mound, 
back of the village, that can be imagined. It looked as 
though it had been carefully built there as a background 
for the village. When the river made the turn at the 
town it ran due west, so that if one looked directly west 
from the town he beheld a most beautiful river valley, 
while directly back of the town and due east was this 
grand and beautiful old hill. It was known as Sunset 
Hill because the setting sun covered it with gold. At 
one time the Adamses had owned all this property in¬ 
cluding the hill, but had sold it. The hill itself rose in 
a gradual slope for perhaps a quarter of a mile, when 
it rose gently and majestically into a large mound and 
then extended back for half a mile in a ridge. 

For many years it had been covered with a beautiful 
turf of blue grass. There were half a dozen beautiful 
oak trees in a clump just back of the top of the mound 
and many more further back toward the main mountain. 
Near the last trees was the spot sacred to John Adams, 
because it was here that his mother was buried. Sun¬ 
set Hill was to the folks of Great Bend what the Fairy 
Tree was to Joan of Arc and Domremy in France. They 
almost worshipped it. It was here that the gatherings 
of note were held. Their political meetings were held 
here. It was here that the great religious meetings 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ii 


known as “associations” were held. It; was a distinction 
for any mountain preacher to be invited to preach on 
Sunset Hill. For years and years on all occasions, Dave 
Daniels had lifted up his voice on Sunset Hill. This 
had in fact been his church—his cathedral, if you please. 
Many times on this old hill had his voice been an inspira¬ 
tion to John Adams. It was no wonder then, that in a 
far away land, his thoughts turned backward and his 
memory so vividly pictured the old hill and its scenes, for 
it was here in these surroundings that he had grown to 
manhood. These were the scenes which had first im¬ 
pressed themselves upon his mind. And out of all his 
storehouse of memories, like it is told in the poem—“that 
of the dim old forest seemeth best of all.” 



CHAPTER III 


I N A WAY, it is unfortunate to be the only girl in 
a large family of boys, and then in another way it 
is fortunate. Usually in such a case the girl gets 
to be a badly spoiled child. Nell Henderson was the 
adopted daughter of Bill Henderson and had lived with 
them as long as she could remember. Her mother had 
made the supreme sacrifice when Nell was born and 
some five years later her father had been a victim of 
the deadly Adams-Henderson feud. So far as her 
treatment and raising was concerned, no one would ever 
have known but that she was actually the daughter of 
old Bill. She had all the privileges of the home and 
all of the boys loved her and treated her as a sister. 

She was a bright girl. Her abundance of black hair 
and her black, snappy eyes told that back of them lay 
a disposition perfectly able of taking care of herself. 
She had that ruddy complexion of the mountains. May¬ 
be it had come because of her outdoor life. She loved 
the hills and knew every foot of them. She loved her 
horse as much as any of her brothers and she always 
gave evidence of great love for them. The Henderson 
home was up the river to the east of Great Bend and 
about the same distance from town as the Adams home, 
only in another direction. 

Nell and John had been school-mates in the common 
school ever since they were old enough to go to school. 
Both knew of the feud which had long existed between 
their two families and they knew of the terrible toll it 
had taken. Notwithstanding this fact, they had ever 
been friends and got along well together. Some thought 
this might be the influence to heal all the wounds of the 


12 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


13 


feud and that the time might come when their union, as 
man and wife, might forever stop the war. 

To Nell, Uncle Dave Daniels was the dearest old soul 
she knew. It seemed to her, as it did to many another 
little tot, that Dave had always been a part of her life. 
On many a Saturday had Dave taken the school children 
to the mountains and John and Nell had always been 
his favorites on these picnic excursions. Both of them 
were leaders in their classes at school. It was like break¬ 
ing the links of a chain when John finished high school 
and went away to college. Nell had a year yet to go 
and it was a long year. Many were the times that Dave 
comforted her in her sadness and just as often did he 
write to John and tell him what was going on. 

When she was through school, she spent her time as 
do most girls in the mountain towns, just simply living as 
a part of the society of the community. She was differ¬ 
ent, in that much of her time was spent in the hills. 
Sometimes she rode alone and again she went with her 
brothers about their work. All the time she was long¬ 
ing for the time when John would return from school. 
She hoped that he would take up the practice of law in 
Great Bend and yet sometimes she had a feeling that 
all would not be well when he did return. 

The years of youth drag slowly. Impatience makes 
them go that way. But the day came when John was 
through school and back home. Nell knew that he was 
home but she had not seen him. She had heard her 
father and brothers talking about John and speculating 
on what course he would take in the community and 
how he would affect the feud which for years had been 
quiet. There was little to comfort her in their talk, be¬ 
cause it was not at all friendly to John. 

On the third day after John’s return, he rose early 
in the morning and saddling his favorite horse, rode up 
the creek road. He had no place in particular that he 
was going except that he had not seen his chum, Charlie 
Morgan, and he thought he would ride up that way and 



14 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


at the same time get the advantage of an early morning 
ride in the mountains. It was indeed one of those beau¬ 
tiful days that only the mountains afford, unless it be 
that they are duplicated in Italy. The Morgan home 
was across Rock Mountain, some miles from John’s 
home. He rode leisurely along the road, enjoying the 
morning air as he had never enjoyed it before. He had 
been a long time away from the mountains and they 
had more charm for him today than ever before. As he 
got farther up the creek the road ran through the timber 
and he could not determine which was the most beauti¬ 
ful, the trees with their beautiful foliage, making a bank 
of deep green over all the surrounding hills, or the creek 
with its rock and falls and winding banks. To him it all 
'made such a beautiful picture that he banished from his 
mind the consideration of going to any other place to 
locate for his practice. He had thought perhaps some 
other place would offer to him better opportunities, and 
in a business way they would not have to be very large 
to exceed the chances in Great Bend. But he was en¬ 
tirely satisfied this morning. The question was settled 
with him now. In a few days he would open his office. 

With these thoughts in his mind, he climbed up the 
side of Rock Mountain. The road was not a steep one, 
but it wound its way gradually over the mountain. It 
was an old road and had been kept in excellent condi¬ 
tion because it was a pride of the country on account 
of its natural scenery. Here were spruce and pine, 
mingled closely with oak and beech and poplar, so that at 
all times of the year a beautiful scene unfolded itself to 
the traveler. Here were rock and cliff, and there were 
valley and creek. To any traveler it was beautiful, but 
to a young man—a Kentuckian—such as John, it was 
an ideal spot. 

It was the middle of the forenoon when he came 
around a curve in the road, that he saw two people sit¬ 
ting on a rock high above the road. It took only the 
first glance to tell him that it was Nell and Dave. They 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


15 


had not seen him. They were in deep conversation. He 
waved his hat and shouted to them. Immediately both 
of them returned his shout and Dave told him to come 
up at once. He rode up out of the road and in the timber 
a short way from the road he found their horses. He 
tied his horse close to them and went up to the top of 
the rocks where his friends sat. They were indeed glad 
to see him and he was just as eager to see them. After 
greetings he seated himself with them and here they 
talked and renewed old times. Dave, as was usually the 
case, when he was around, led the conversation. He 
took great pleasure in teasing Nell about her actions and 
inquiries while John had been away. It is the way with 
a girl that she could not help but feel that her face was 
very red and that he was getting too near to the truth 
to be comfortable for her. 

“Well, old day-dreamer, where were you headed for 
when we interrupted your dream? You looked just 
like you were studying out the knottiest problem that 
Blackstone ever had, when we looked down at you.” 

“Don’t forget that I am the one who first made the 
discovery and made the first noise. I believe I could 
have ridden right on past without being at all noticed. 

I am going over to see Charlie. What are you two out¬ 
laws doing scy far away from home?” 

“Well, to tell you the truth, we did not realize that 
we were so far from home until we stopped here. We 
had some things to talk about that were very important 
and we had not noticed how far we had come. And then 
Nell wanted to talk about you so she suggested we come 
up here and rest a while where no one could hear.” 

“Now, Uncle Dave!” 

“Well, it’s the gospel truth, ain’t it?” 

“Suppose it is. Do you have to tell all you know?” 

“No, I reckon not. But there never used to be any * 
secrets between us when we were younger and why 
should there be now? I’ll tell you, John, Nell wanted 
to ask me several things about you and just what she 



i6 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


should do, and I was giving her the best advice my old 
head contains when you interrupted us. Now that the 
subject of the conversation is here we may just as well 
go on with our talk all together.” 

“Why, Uncle Dave, you are getting meaner every 
day!” 

“Well, now, bein’ as how you two will want to talk 
together for quite a spell, I am going to ride over and 
see Sam Stapleton. I heard last night he is a purty sick 
man. You can jus’ stay here as -long as you like and 
then I guess you know the way home. John don’t have 
to go to Charlie’s today. So I’ll bid you all adieu!” 

He rose and started down the hill, humming a tune of 
the mountains. It was not a “meetin’ house song” either. 
It was the old, old song that every boy in the mountains 
knew: “Sourwood Mountains.” Nell called after him: 

“Uncle Dave, is that a new song you are practicing up 
on for next Sunday’s services?” 

“That’s a fine song just the same, little miss. That’s 
one of the greatest songs of the hills. It’s not a new 
one but we- all know it and have heard it so much in 
these hills that it is about like the wind, if we don’t hear 
it once in a while, we get lonesome. Do you know what 
is the greatest song ever written?” 

“I guess it must be ‘Sourwood Mountains,’ Uncle 
Dave.” 

“No, ’tain’t, smarty. But let me tell you I know what 
it is and one of these days before you die I will sing it 
to you. Goodbye—I’ll see you all later.” 

He disappeared down the mountain side, mounted his 
horse and they saw him ride along the road out of sight. 
Both of them loved Uncle Dave at that moment as they 
always had loved him. 

Together they sat and talked. The hours slipped 
away. The company of each was tonic for the other. 
Life was bubbling over for them. The sun was bright 
and warm. The air was clear and overhead was that 
blue sky flecked with the few white clouds to make it 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


i 7 


ideal. It was a Kentucky sky, a mountain sky, a boy 
and girl sky, a lovers’ sky. Looking away down the 
valley over the green carpeted hills, they wondered how 
trouble could invade such a sacred land. As they looked 
up into the blue sky they knew that up there was One 
who was directing all things for good. In a tree close 
by a cardinal was singing his most beautiful song with 
all his might. To them at that moment the keynote of 
all creation was love. They were in a delirium which 
carried them to the topmost peaks of joy. Day-dreams 
are not practiced in duets and yet these two had been 
feasting on the unsubstantial food of very pleasant 
dreams. In fact, the dreams had been so very vivid that 
they had taken on the nature of plans for the future. 

Youth is brave. Even though danger is apparent and 
trouble looms near, the mind of youth, and especially a 
youth in love, is given to taking the long chance. There 
is the hope against hope and the faith in the feelings of 
the heart that everything will in some way come out 
right. Difficulties are often an incentive, and a great 
one, to make plans work out. 

“Now I have told you all that I know and all that I 
suspect. I have given you my fears. You know these 
people here in the hills. You know their hot blood stirs 
easily. They are unforgiving and unrelenting. A grudge 
once well established is carried on for generations until 
some influence wipes it out. Sometimes this is accom¬ 
plished by simple destruction—the survival of the 
strongest—and again it may come about by a union of 
forces and an agreement to bury all differences. You 
think the Adams-Henderson feud will be ended that 
way, and yet you have not given me a single plan or 
reason why it will. For my part I hope you are right. 
But I believe before it is ended it will again take toll of 
the lives of our people. I am in continual fear all the 
time. My brothers and my father have no use for you 
and your brother. They may speak and outwardly treat 
you right, but I know their secret thoughts still contain 



i8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


the old grudge. If you open an office and begin prac¬ 
ticing law, I know you will get business and will suc¬ 
ceed, but that will only make it worse. There will come 
a time when your paths will cross on some business 
matter and if the setting is right there will be trouble 
and plenty of it. I shudder to think what it will be. 
Who can tell? I hate for you to go away from here, 
but that is the reason that I just hoped a little bit that 
you would decide that we would live some other place.” 

John, holding Nell’s hand, had been a very attentive 
listener. He was conscious that he had a new responsi¬ 
bility now. Before today he had thought for himself, 
had made his own plans and carried them out. He had 
taken no one else into consideration. In fact, there had 
been no one else permanently in his plans until today. 
Now it was he and Nell. Passionately had he argued 
his case with her. He had loved her since childhood 
and against heavy odds had they retained their friend¬ 
ship, and this friendship had ripened into love. It had 
been mutual, and yet loving John as dearly as she did, 
Nell realized the danger of a union between them, be¬ 
cause she knew that it would never be with the consent 
of her father. 

John had outlined his plans and today, on this won¬ 
derful day, he had asked Nell to be his wife and she had 
said “yes.” Their lips had met in the passionate kiss of 
love. And as he had gazed down deep into her wonder¬ 
ful black eyes, he had realized that there is another side 
to life that he had not yet known. He had not changed 
his mind about locating in Great Bend. He knew all 
the dangers and all the chances he was taking, but he 
had thought of these things before. 

“Well, Nell, I know all these things and I have thought 
of them just as you have, but don’t you think that the 
people here are more sensible than they used to be and 
that they look at things in a different way? Don’t you 
believe that when we are married they will think too 
much of you to cause any trouble for us? And then, 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


19 


dear, if there does come trouble we must remember that 
trouble is likely to come any place we are, and that we 
shall have to learn to take care of ourselves. I believe 
that the old grudges are forgotten, but if they are not, 
I am sure that I can successfully handle the situation if 
it should break out again. I am willing to try it any¬ 
way. I shall be working for you now and with such a 
duty I can accomplish anything.” 

“Don’t you be too sure about all these things. You 
can talk and argue with one man but not with a number 
of men or a mob with bad motives and determination to 
execute them. But if you will not see it otherwise, my 
lot is with yours and as Ruth said, ‘Wheresoever you 
go, I will go, and where you die, there will I be buried.’ 
I don’t vouch for the correctness of the quotation but 
that’s the idea anyway.” 

“I think that the early fall, say about October first, 
will be about the time for us to get married. By that 
time I will have my office well established. I may not 
have a big clientele filling the reception room every day, 
but I will be getting on some, anyway. That is the finest 
time of the year here in the hills. You and I both agree 
on that, so what do you say to fixing the day along 
about that time?” 

“That time will suit me well enough, but I want you 
to agree with me on one thing and that is that you will 
listen closely for any information that will give you a 
clue to any trouble and I will do the same. I am brave 
enough in all things except leading you into the 
shambles.” 

“Don’t you worry about the shambles. I am able- 
bodied and am supposed at all times to be able to give 
account of myself.” 

“That’s just the trouble. If anything starts, I fear 
that you will be just as likely to carry it on as the next 
one. 

“Well, anyway, we can keep up our practice now of 
thinking of each other at sunset. I call that the An- 



20 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


gelus. I tell you I had an awful time some days of 
getting away for my little quiet half hour at that time. 
But I didn’t miss many. Only when it was impossible 
did I miss. I have had more good, real enjoyment out 
of this plan of ours, to think of each other at sunset, 
than anything of my life, except today, of course. 

“They have scolded me many a time because I was 
late to supper when I would be on the south porch 
looking toward the east where you were. It was com¬ 
fort always. I believe we were able to make our 
thoughts reach each other even though the miles were 
between us. It was a kind of mental wireless telephone 
to me. If I asked you a question, I invariably had the 
satisfaction of an answer. I could not hear your voice, 
but just the same I knew you were thinking of me at 
that very time and that we were closer together for 
doing so. It has been a splendid idea and I have always 
been glad that we had the custom. I guess if some 
people knew about it they would accuse us of being 
spiritualists. But what do we care? We are living 
spirits anyway. 

“Let’s talk with Uncle Dave about our plans tomor¬ 
row. He will give us a lot of good advice. You know, 
I think that man is a real wonder. Here he is in the 
hills, uneducated and with no broad experience, and 
yet he could make rules of conduct for the entire world, 
I do believe. And the best of it is, the rules would be 
right and the world would be better off for following 
them. We’ll talk with him tomorrow.” 

“Suits me all right. He surely has given me a world 
of advice. Ever since I can remember, he has been the 
one person who was final authority with me. I think 
we had better be going. It will be sunset now before 
we get home.” 

They were loath to leave the spot which to them 
would always be the dearest on earth. Had the people 
of Great Bend been reviewing this procession, they 
would have seen a perfect specimen of young manhood, 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


21 


full of all the vigor, imagination and plans of youth 
and realizing that on this day he had taken from the 
world’s richest casket, the brightest and most valuable 
jewel. 

With his arm around this mountain girl, he led her 
carefully down the mountainside toward their horses. 
Her heart was no slower than his in its intoxication. 
Both were as happy as youth could be. 



CHAPTER IV 


ILL HENDERSON, you are the same old fool 
you alius wus. I tell you now is the time to 
accomplish something to be proud of. If you 
will say the word and take the lead in this, this country 
will be peaceable for years to come, and that ought to 
give any man enough satisfaction. The good we do for 
human beings is all that counts anyway. I have talked 
with John and Nell and they tell me they are engaged. 
For my part, I am mighty glad of it. They deserve each 
other. They are the two finest young people in the 
world. Now I know all the grudge between the families 
and I thought the thing to do was to come at once and 
talk with you, and I was in hopes that you would see 
this as I see it and would do the thing which would 
make you a reward in heaven, if anything could. These 
young people think that the feud will never break out 
again. They have the hopes of youth. But you and I, 
who are older, know the ways of the people in the hills. 
We know if you say the word, that there never will be 
any more of it, and we also know that if you do not, 
when the time comes, and some day it will come, there 
will be trouble and more bloodshed. I think you ought 
to be eager to end the feud now and have all the credit 
for it.” 

“No. I’m not goin’ to start any trouble. But I’m no 
man to run away from them that stirs it up. Nell will 
never marry that young smart alec. He just wants her 
for her property. He has nothin’ to get along on and 
he will never amount to anything anyway. I don’t want 
him in my family. I’d like to ’commodate you, Dave, 
but you are askin’ too much.” 

“Well, you will see that I am right. If you attempt 


22 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


23 


to keep these young folks from gettin’ married, you’ll 
have a job and they’ll win out in the long run. You are 
wrong about John Adams. You and I will live to see 
the day when he is the leading lawyer in eastern Ken¬ 
tucky, mark my word.” 

According to their plans, John and Nell had talked 
with Dave. He had been elated over their engagement 
and had told them how glad he was. He had joked a 
good deal with John about “drumming up law business” 
for him. He would do all he could for him and help 
him get enough business coming along so that he could 
keep the wolf from the door. But seriously, he was 
thinking that there was more trouble in store for these 
two young folks than they imagined. Nell had told him 
of her fears in a mild way, and Dave had said that of 
course all this was to be thought of, but that he hoped 
that the people had more reason than they had had in 
the past. He told them that he would try to be the 
reserve forces for them and that if anything did come 
up he would try and control it. 

After their talk, Nell had quietly seen Dave and told 
him her fears fully and frankly. She assured him that 
it would be positively wicked for her to marry John if 
it would cause him to be murdered or even place him 
in greater danger than he already was. She would 
rather sacrifice all her love, and goodness knows that 
would be a great sacrifice for her. But she loved John 
so much that rather than place him in danger she would 
give him up. At least, she would give him up for the 
present. 

Dave listened attentively to her and when she was 
finished, told her that there would be no need of her 
going to the extremes which she mentioned, but that he 
did agree with her that the situation was a serious one. 
He knew her father and what an obstinate man he was, 
one of those men who believed thoroughly in the law of 
“an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” and had 
oracticed it all his life. He knew that it would be no 



24 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


easy task to convince him that he ought to agree to the 
marriage. Bill Henderson was a man of power in the 
community. He stood well and had many friends. He 
was not a man to start trouble himself, but he could not 
keep out of a mixup once it was started by someone 
else. Dave realized all these difficulties, but he promised 
Nell that he would have a talk with Bill and see what 
he could accomplish. His heart bled for these young 
friends of his as he left Nell and gave himself up to 
serious thought on the subject. The more he thought 
of it, the more he tried to make himself believe that he 
could make Bill see things as he saw them. He had 
thought it all out and then had seen Bill, with the re¬ 
sult that we have just seen. 

Dave was not a moody man. He did not let the 
problems of life get on his nerves. He was one of 
those men who believed that a situation was never hope¬ 
less, but that there was a solution if it could only be 
found. He thought it was his duty to find the solution 
in this case and he told himself of his task. First of 
all, it was better to find Nell and tell her of his failure 
to convince Bill. He knew that from now on her life 
would be anything but a pleasant one. He found her at 
her Aunt Fannie’s and told her all that had taken place 
between him and Bill. He regretted that he had failed. 
They must keep on trying from another angle until 
they succeeded. Nell expressed no hope. In fact, she 
was convinced in her own mind that there was nothing 
to do but to fight it out as conditions arose, and yet she 
argued with herself if she really had a right to subject 
John to such great dangers. 

“Uncle Dave, if it was just me I could get along. I 
have lived with my people all my life. I know how to 
get along with them. I would not hesitate to fight the 
battle as an enemy of my own people if it was confined 
to me alone, but to take John into all this, I wonder if 
I should do it? Isn’t it a selfish act? I am going to 
give this very serious thought.” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


25 


When he left the house he met John, who had just 
selected an office, and wanted Dave to go with him and 
pass judgment on his choice. Dave was glad to do so 
and together they went to the rooms selected in the 
only little building in the town which afforded offices. 
John was in great spirits. Dave knew full well that he 
was sailing on hopes above his heights, but had not the 
courage to bring him down. They talked of the ar¬ 
rangement of the offices and of the prospects for future 
business and all those things which would naturally 
come up with a young man just beginning a legal career. 
Finally John said: 

“Uncle Dave, I want you to come and live with me 
and help me here in the office. We have been such good 
friends and you have done so much for me, now that 
I am starting in life and you have no family, I want 
you to be my companion for the rest of your life. This 
office will be a good loafing place for you and you can 
have a room and do many things for me. This need 
not interfere with your preaching, but it should make 
it all the better. What do you say, old friend?” 

This was just a little too much for the sturdy old 
man on this particular day when his mind was so full 
of thoughts and none of them properly arranged. It 
seemed that everything was coming up on this day. 
Tears came to his eyes. He was visibly affected. There 
was no one in all the world with whom he would rather 
live. And John needed him now, needed him near at 
hand all the time. John had enough of this world’s 
goods that Dave would not be a burden to him. Yet 
Dave had always been independent and self-supporting. 
He owned a little piece of land and while he had no 
family, his wife having died years ago, it was not easy 
for him to get along from year to year. He was not 
young any more and he began to feel the lonesomeness 
that comes with years when the family is gone. He sat 
down and for a long, long time held his head in his 
hands and said nothing. John knew him well enough 



26 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


to know that he was fighting out his battle alone. Sturdy 
old warrior! He admired him for doing it. He was 
not afraid of the decision. If he objected, he would 
argue him into it. He knew that Dave needed just such 
assistance as he was offering him and that now was the 
time to offer it to him. It would not do to wait until 
something happened and then offer it, because that 
course would hurt the pride of the grand old man. Yes, 
now was the only time. He had done just as his con¬ 
science had told him he should do. It was not an im¬ 
pulsive thought. He had thought it all out long ago. 
As he sat there and watched the old man, John thought 
what a grand figure he was. How fine a head, and 
what dignity his silvery hair gave to him! 

“This is just like you, John. You are the good Sa¬ 
maritan. You find the old man by the roadside, not 
bleeding or suffering, but you anticipate all these things 
and you lend a hand. It’s fine of you. I am thinking 
whether I ought to accept your offer, though. Some 
day I will become a burden to you, maybe, to you and 
Nell, and then—well, old people are in the way, you 
know. I have never thought much about old age until 
just here lately. Here I am. I have no family. I was 
not blessed with children who could comfort me in my 
old days. My wife was taken from me all too soon 
after we were married, God rest her soul. I have no 
relatives. I am healthy now and can get along with 
what I have and what I can make. But there will come 
a day when infirmities will lay hold of me and those are 
the days I have been thinking about, John. Oh, yes, I 
know what you are thinking. The people here are ex¬ 
tremely good to me. It seldom comes to a man to occu¬ 
py the position in the hearts of a community that I do 
here, and I am proud of it. But you know there is 
none so sad as the spectacle of an old man alone in the 
world and without his own means of support, going out 
into the storms of the last years of his life realizing 
that he has no one on whom he can lean. He realizes 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


27 


that he is alone in the world. He suffers a broken heart, 
not because his business and worldly efforts have not 
been crowned with success, but because he is uncared 
for. Life holds no honor and no gift that will dry the 
tears for him who feels that he has drifted beyond the 
care of his fellowman. If he finds himself without 
friends or relatives, no matter what he may have accom¬ 
plished, no matter what he may have gained or lost in 
the world, this sorrow of his last days is worse than all. 

“I know that the people here would care for me, but 
that is not a relative’s care. Garfield said: ‘Friendship 
is the fairest flower that grows in the garden of the 
world.’ That was a fine expression and a fine senti¬ 
ment. It is as true as anything that was ever uttered. 
I like to read again and again of the friendship of David 
and Jonathan, and of Damon and Pythias. But don’t 
you know that in my time I have seen friendships as 
sacred and as fine as any of these. You are making an 
example here today. Our friendship has been a true 
one. Since that dark day in your life when your mother 
was taken away, my love for you has been as great as 
if you were my own son. Your interests have always 
been my interests. It has been love that has prompted 
it all. And now it seems to me that you are out-doing 
it all and making me feel like a very small friend. I 
know this offer comes from your heart, and that you 
are sincere when you make it. I appreciate it more than 
I can tell, my good friend. I shall let you know in a 
day or so what I shall do.” 

John knew that he need not argue further at this 
time because it was the wrong way to deal with Dave. 
He feared not the decision. It would be as he wanted 
it. Dave would come and he would have the influence 
of his mind and presence as long as he lived. Dave felt 
sure that he knew too, but he wanted to think a little 
further on the subject and he wanted to talk with Nell 
about it. She must be considered, too. 



CHAPTER V 


W HEN old Bill came home that night, Nell was 
sitting on the porch reading a book. He scarce¬ 
ly spoke to her and went directly into the house. 
She knew what was coming. At the supper table Bill 
did a great deal of talking to his sons about the coming 
election and about different business matters. It was 
all in a strained, unnatural expression. He was like a 
volcano, just ready to erupt. The pressure was getting 
too great for him. He did not mention John’s name 
but he might just as well, because Nell knew what he 
meant. He summed it all up in one sentence— 

“Medlers alius gets theirs. It beats hell how the up¬ 
starts in this country think they can run the place. They 
ought to learn some sense. But maybe it will have to 
be pounded into their heads.” 

After supper, the other folks had all gone down town. 
It was Saturday night. Nell sat on the porch. The 
sun was just setting, and the Henderson home was a 
beautiful place at sunset. The sun streamed up the 
valley between the hills fairly on the house and grounds 
as long as there was a ray left. In addition to the beauty 
of this scene, the time held another charm for Nell. It 
was thinking time for her and for John. She knew he 
was thinking of her at that very moment. Her thoughts 
were particularly sweet and pleasant today, notwith¬ 
standing all the clouds in the future horizon. As she 
sat there, deep in her reverie, Bill came out of the house 
and sat down beside her. For a little while he sat in 
silence. Nell knew he intended to talk. 

“Nell, I hear talk about you and John Adams. They 
say you are goin’ with him. Anything to it?” 

“Why, yes, I have seen him a few times since his 
28 


29 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


return. He is going to open a law office here and we 
have always been friends since we were little and I 
have treated him the same as I always did. No harm 
in it, is there?” 

“No. Jus’ so long as it don’t get serious. I ain’t 
aimin’ to have him as a son-in-law. He’s not our kind. 
He never will amount to anything anyway. He may 
want to get your property by marryin’ you. He ain’t 
got anything hisself.” 

“Well, I don’t think John Adams is that kind of a 
man. He is not after my property. I think he is the 
brightest young man in this county, and he has always 
treated me as a gentleman should.” 

“You jus’ recollect that he’s an Adams and the 
Adamses and Hendersons don’t mix. Leastwise the 
good uns don’t.” 

“I have always treated and respected you as a father 
and have conformed to all your wishes. I shall attempt 
to continue to do so in all things in which I think you 
have a right to expect it, but I cannot let you tell me 
who I shall go with so long as they are respectable per¬ 
sons. I know how you feel towards the Adamses and 
all who oppose the Hendersons, but I had hopes that 
that bitter feeling was gone and that friendship was to 
take its place.” 

“Hell! You women know a lot about runnin’ things, 
don’t you? There’ll come a time when every speckled 
Adams will be gone from this county and I will be 
damn glad of it. This young squirt of a John will make 
a great lawyer. The first time he is in a case with Jack 
Plummer, he’ll jus’ naturally brain him. And then he’ll 
be dun. You better jus’ forget him.” 

“No, I’ll not forget him. I shall try to do nothing 
that will be the cause of any trouble. If I do right, my 
conscience will be clear. I hope you will try to do the 
same thing.” 

“You know I am no man to start trouble.” 

“I know that. But I cannot say as much for the 




30 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


boys. Some of them may start something if you do not 
take the right stand now. And now is the time to take 
it, too. If it is started, you will get into it as you always 
do, and then you will be looked upon as the leader. 
Won’t you promise me that you will give your counsel 
against trouble?” 

“I’ll promise nothin’. You’re not helpin’ any. If any 
trouble comes, blame yourself, if you keep goin’ with 
that rat.” 

Bill got up and went down through the yard toward 
the road and town. She knew the situation now and 
knew it plainly. It was as she had feared. What was 
she to do? She knew that nothing would be done now 
nor in the near future, but that if she continued to go 
with John she would have poor treatment at home and 
that he would get the cold shoulder from several, who 
would otherwise be friends. She would talk again to 
Dave and see if he had any solution. Oh, if John would 
only decide to go to Lexington or Louisville, or to any 
other place, just to get away from Great Bend. But 
she was afraid he was going to stay. He was so confi¬ 
dent that he could handle the situation. She feared to 
argue the matter with him., 

Next day was Sunday and Dave was to preach on 
Sunset Hill. The Hendersons would all go as they 
always did and as did everybody else in Great Bend. 
Nell would rather have talked with Dave alone, than 
to hear him preach. But she had no chance to see him 
before Monday at the soonest. It was a bright, sunny 
morning and the drive from the Henderson home to 
Sunset Hill was fine. They went early enough that they 
could visit with all the neighbors and hear all the news. 
These visits took the place of the newspaper. It was 
like going back through the ages to the time when news 
was carried by travelers and when the laws were pub¬ 
lished by town criers. This locality had progressed little 
beyond that stage. John was there, but Nell did not talk 
with him except to greet him. She saw one of her 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


3i 


brothers talking with him. She dared to hope he might 
be friendly. 

After the singing and the prayer, Dave preached. 
Nell had never heard him in such a sermon. He sur¬ 
passed himself in the effort. His text was in the par¬ 
able of the good Samaritan. The real object was 
friendship. She was not acquainted with the cause for 
this sermon but she did know to what he referred when 
he launched forth on the subject of human conduct and 
the peace of the world. She had heard him when trou¬ 
bles were abroad in the land, talk against lawlessness, 
but she had never heard anything like his sermon today. 

“The good book says: ‘Blessed are the merciful; for 
they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart; 
for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers; 
for they shall be called the children of God/ My 
friends, the greatest man in all the world , is the true 
friend, as I have tried to tell you this morning. The 
next best person is that person who does good for hu¬ 
manity. When we have a dear friend do acts of good¬ 
ness and kindness for us, we are pleased. Our hearts 
go out to him. We love him with the same love that 
David had for Jonathan. But when a man does an act 
that touches the lives of many people, and makes them 
better, and gives to his country better conditions, that 
man has performed a duty which will make him be 
called the child of God. Friends, this county of ours 
has seen some dark days. We are not proud of all its 
record. I am not fixing the blame. That is beyond 
my province. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For 
a long time now we have had a peaceable, quiet neigh¬ 
borhood. We have lived in harmony and in the enjoy¬ 
ment of our homes and the entire country is better off 
because we have done so. God grant us years and more 
years of just such happiness in our valley. May the 
heart strings of every person be touched by the Direc¬ 
tor of all things in a way that it may truthfully be said 



32 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


of us all, we are clean of heart; we have been merciful; 
we are children of God.” 

On and on did he go in his wonderful discourse on 
the subject, hoping that he could say something to them 
collectively that would touch the minds of the Hender¬ 
sons, and direct them in the right channel. He was 
pouring out his supreme effort. He pictured the nation 
as built up of states and that every state must be law- 
abiding; that every state was made up of counties, each 
of which must conform to all the laws governing indi¬ 
viduals; that the counties were made up of townships 
and the townships were made up of homes and that the 
home must have its laws; that the individual could not 
transgress the rights of another individual without af¬ 
fecting all, but that we must all live with due regard for 
others; that while we were created free and equal, and 
endowed with certain inalienable rights of life, liberty 
and the pursuit of happiness, every other person has 
the same rights; that laws are not made for one person 
or one family, but the rights of all make the laws gov¬ 
erning society. Just so long as there are people with 
minds and business to perform, there will be differences 
of opinion. Nations are the same as individuals. 

“St. John tells us, in his vision, that he saw an angel 
coming down from heaven having the key to the bot¬ 
tomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And that 
he laid hold of the devil and bound him, and cast him 
into the bottomless pit where he shut him up and put 
a seal on the door for a thousand years, so that he 
could not, during this thousand years seduce the nations. 
And that when the thousand years shall be finished 
Satan shall be loosed out of the prison, and shall go 
forth over the four quarters of the earth and seduce 
the nations and shall gather them together to battle. 

“My friends, this is the prophecy of the Bible. This 
earth has been comparatively peaceful as a whole, for 
a long space of time. How can we say that this pre¬ 
diction will not come true in time? As I read the signs 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


33 


of the times, we are nearing a world disturbance. The 
nations are fretful and restless. The peoples of the 
earth are ready to make demonstration for supremacy. 
There is a great jealousy over commerce and trade. 
When shall Satan be loosed to urge them on to battle? 
My friends, it is my belief that a world trouble is stir¬ 
ring in Europe. The German people are steeped in 
Kaiserism until they want war. Her policies of blood 
and iron tend to disturbance. Her overbearing policies 
will not always be tolerated. The nations of France, 
Belgium, Italy and Great Britain, are not convinced 
that God has gone into partnership with Germany. 
Some day soon we shall have a world war and then 
God help the American people. They probably will 
not be to blame. But we are such a great commercial 
nation that it would be practically impossible for us to 
keep out of a World War. When it comes it will call 
all the stalwart young men of this nation. And when 
they go many of them will never return. 

“As I stand here now, methinks I can see on a far¬ 
away soil, great cemeteries of American dead, and 
throughout a foreign land, cross after cross, each mark¬ 
ing the resting place of some dear son of an American 
mother. All have fallen for their country’s cause. The 
conflict will be long and will depopulate the earth, 
as nation after nation is drawn into the maelstrom of 
battle. But that is not the worst. After the battles 
have been fought and won and the war is over, there 
must come what always follows war. And St. John 
again has told us of disease, pestilence, want and death, 
which follow war. And that, friends, will be the real 
disaster of it all. The predictions of the Bible come 
true, and this one will come true sometime. I know not 
when these things will come to pass, nor is it given to 
any man or any nation to know where it will start, but 
it behooves us all to live the lives of the merciful so 
that we may receive mercy. The great Shakespeare 
tells us that 'the quality of mercy is not strained. It 




34 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


falleth as the gentle rain from heaven. It is twice 
bless’d. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes!’ 
Let us do all that we can in this little community of 
ours to help our nation be ready for the great ordeal 
through which we shall surely go.” 

Again he launched forth about the rights and actions 
of the individual. He was determined to do his full 
duty in this sermon. It had been his aim to do his 
best. It was aimed at individuals over the shoulders 
of the congregation. It had not been so great a part of 
his sermon that he predict a World War so vividly as he 
had done, although he had thought much on the subject. 
His chief aim was to make a few individuals realize 
their full duties with a hope that they would heed at 
least a part of what he said. 

“I say to you, that the man who nurses his wrath to 
keep it warm, is a dangerous man. He who cools the 
friends and heats the enemies of any man is a murderer 
at heart and deserves the punishment of fire and brim¬ 
stone. You cannot have friends without being one 
yourself. Long have we had the reputation of being 
the very garden in which this flower of friendship 
grows. Here in our own dear state; here where we love 
the hills as no other people love their land—shall we 
make this reputation a living reality? Shall we practice 
what we preach?” 

It was a sermon that to this day is remembered and 
talked about throughout all the hill country. It was 
Dave Daniels’ greatest effort, and that was a reputation 
for any man. After the doxology, which was sung with 
unusual spirit, the people, with hushed voices, quietly 
dispersed to their homes. They did not stay to visit and 
talk. They did not forget the sermon when the preach¬ 
er stopped talking. Only here and there was heard a 
remark such as: “That was the gospel truth.” “Dave 
Daniels is the greatest man in the world.” “There is 
food for thought for many a day.” And one young 
man lightly remarked: “When do we mobilize?” His 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


35 


remark was not taken as funny as he had intended it 
and the withering looks around him silenced him and 
sent him home. 

Nell knew that Dave had done his greatest effort for 
her. She knew not what effect it would have, but she 
realized the sincerity of his effort and she appreciated 
it all. The entire Henderson family was very quiet as 
they went to their home. 

John walked slowly to his office deep in thought. 

“I wonder where he gets all those war ideas? We 
studied those things in school. He is right in what he 
says about unrest. It is every place, in nation as well 
as individual. But I never thought that that old white- 
haired friend of mine here in the mountains could talk 
that kind of stuff with so much effect. He certainly 
gave Bill Henderson enough hints to keep him still the 
rest of his life. It would be more than a coincidence if 
his predictions about war would come true. Dave is 
getting into the highbrow class. I shall have to take 
him down a peg or two.” 

But he could not get the words of the old preacher 
out of his mind. They kept ringing in his ears. War— 
War—War—when would it come? Where would it 
start? What part would he have in it? Would he have 
a home which might be affected by it when it came? 
Would a cross mark his resting place on foreign soil? 
Would his grave be a known or an unknown one? 
Would he be on the side of the victors or the van¬ 
quished? All of it occupied his mind. After reach¬ 
ing his office he sat long in thought on the sermon. 



CHAPTER VI 


D AVE came into John’s office some time after 
John arrived and found him still in deep study 
about the sermon. 

“Well, my good friend, I have decided to accept your 
kind offer provided that I will still be self-sustaining. 
I will live at your house with you for the pleasure of 
your company, and will do whatever there is that I can 
do here at the office. But I shall keep myself. If that 
will suit you, we will call it a deal.” 

“It is a trade, then,” said John, as he rose and walked 
over to the window. He stood there a few minutes and 
then turned and said: “Move in when you are ready, 
Uncle Dave. I will get you a key to the office tomor¬ 
row. But now tell me something. Where did you ever 
get that war stuff in your head? And where on earth 
did you ever get all your knowledge about national and 
international affairs?” 

“My boy, I have not had many works of history to 
read, but what I have had I read well and have studied 
them in the light of my Bible. You know it does not 
take many volumes to fill an old head like mine. I do 
love to read the predictions and the history as contained 
in the Bible. That is the best history of all.” 

“What do you actually think about those predictions 
and prophecies to which you referred in your sermon 
today?” 

“I believe just what I said and more. There is so 
much unrest in the world today that it cannot help but 
result in a great upheaval sometime in the near future. 
Germany is getting to be an awful aggressor among 
nations. Bismarck gave them a very bad training. He 

36 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


37 


was a strong man and over-reached himself. By that 
I mean that his theories are going to be adopted to the 
extent that the German Empire will feel too sure of 
herself, and this young Kaiser will some day make a 
bad move, and war will be on in earnest. No people 
ever set themselves up as the elect of the world that 
they did not come to grief. The Venetians ruled at one 
time and bade fair to dominate, but they lorded it just 
once too often; Rome tried it and failed; England is 
trying it now commercially. They all have their fling 
some time but the United States is getting too much of 
a world power, especially in a commercial way, to suit 
Europe. Those old countries hate to see a new nation 
come up, just like boys hate to see a new leader spring 
up among the gang. He has to prove his right. So 
does a nation. And it’s coming, John, just as sure as 
fate.” 

“Yes, but what connection does the vision of St. 
John have with all this?” 

“I’ll admit that the world has not been free from 
local wars for a thousand years, but we have not had 
what could have been called a World War. If we should 
have a World War some ten years from now, I would 
think that the prophecy has come true. That is just the 
idea of an old, ignorant preacher of the hills, but it is 
my idea just the same.” 

“All right, old pard. We’ll just wait and see. In 
the meanwhile you are going home with me to dinner 
and spend the rest of the day. You gave me too much 
in that wonderful sermon of yours this morning. You 
have to entertain me the rest of the day to keep me 
from having a case of the willies.” 

They spent the Sunday together. Dave did not tell 
John that Nell had not only advised that he go to live 
with him, but had insisted that he go at once. She had 
told him how much John needed him and he could not 
reason out the strangeness of her manner while talking 
to him. She had an air of mystery or indecision or 




38 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


something that was entirely foreign to her. He attrib¬ 
uted it to nervousness over the present situation. 

Dave told John about his talk with Bill. He thought 
it was due him that he should. The fact that he had 
not accomplished anything did not affect John. He 
argued that was to be expected. He contended that the 
best way was to leave the situation alone. The more 
it was disturbed, the worse it would be. He could meet 
emergencies when they arose, if they ever did. He 
knew that Bill at first would not approve + he engage¬ 
ment to Nell, but he thought that before the time for 
the wedding, and when he found that his objections 
would accomplish nothing, he would be at least agree¬ 
able and would cause no trouble. Dave assured him 
that he had a bigger problem than that to deal with. 
He cautioned him that he would have to be careful in 
the cases he accepted; that if any of them involved the 
rights of a Henderson or an intimate friend, then he 
could look for trouble. It might come soon or it might 
be years. Tne Henderson boys were a wild lot and 
hard to please. They were just a little anxious foi 
some excitement. 

It had been many years since there had been a good 
lawyer in Great Bend. The practice was given up 
mostly to a pettifogging practice. Dave’s brother, Wil¬ 
liam Daniels, was the best lawyer in the town. He had 
always been square and had attended to his business 
and was known to do the right thing. He had the best 
of the practice. He was not getting rich at it, but was 
making a living. He evidenced his friendship for John 
by offering him any assistance he could give him. John 
knew that his clients were not going to come to him 
very rapidly, but he was willing to wait and by taking 
his part in public and civic affairs, he hoped to build 
well. He had his ideas about the feudal affairs and was 
keeping them to himself. He was sure he could handle 
them. He thought that both Dave and Nell were tak¬ 
ing them all too seriously. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


39 


While John and Dave were spending the day together, 
Nell was at home, a very sober girl. The entire family 
were at home. In the afternoon, Ezra Whitaker and 
family came to visit. Ezra lived down the river sev¬ 
eral miles. His farm was a part of one of the various 
large tracts of land that were known as Virginia grants 
because the original patents to the land had been 
granted by the state of Virginia, before the state of 
Kentucky was formed. Later these tracts had been cut 
up into smaller farms. The man who had owned this 
particular grant last had reserved the coal rights under 
the land, when he sold it. This reservation had laid un¬ 
noticed for many years. Lately there had been some 
coal developments in the county and the heirs of the 
old grantor had looked up their rights and proposed to 
do some developing themselves. Whitaker had heard 
of this and he proposed to protect his rights by the 
ancient means of might. No one should come on his 
land to take any coal, no matter what his deed said. No 
effort had been made, but he had heard it rumored that 
the owners were going to develop and had formed a 
company known as the Great Bend Coal Company. So 
far the local people had been sure of controlling any 
lawyer who might have a case against them. But now 
that John Adams had opened an office in the county, 
they did not know what their position was. So Ezra had 
come over to advise with Bill Henderson about it. Nell 
heard them talking about it and thought at once that 
she sensed the first trouble. The subject was discussed 
pro and con. She went upstairs and left them still 
discussing it. She could still hear them talking alter 
she left. After a while she heard her father say: 

“Well now, you just let them go to John and if he 
takes that case and tries to handle it, we will let him go 
until he gets it well into Court and then we will turn 
the people against him for taking away the rights of 
our old citizens who have been in peaceable possession 
so long. If that won’t work, then someone is likely to 



40 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


get mad and then—well, you just wait and listen. Then 
you can go to the funeral.” 

“I don’t want any trouble. I am a peaceable man,” 
said Ezra. “But I’ll jest leave it to you, Bill. And 
I’ll do jest what you say.” 

This was enough for Nell. She knew that she was 
right in her suspicions. She could hardly wait till the 
morrow to tell Dave and ask his advice. But one thing 
she did do, and that was to make her plans for the 
future that night. She felt that she could not have on 
her hands the blood of the man she loved. Throughout 
the night, as she lay thinking of what she should do, 
always she came to the one conclusion, no matter from 
what angle she approached the subject. She knew that 
William Daniels, following his custom, would not take 
the case of the coal company, and she just as well knew 
that John Adams was the only other available man. 
And she believed that he would take it. Once he was 
known as the attorney for the coal company, he would 
be a marked man and no telling what would happen or 
how soon. She began to see the cruel and unrelenting 
side of the world as she tossed in her bed all the live¬ 
long night, without sleep. She was up early, dressed 
and rode away immediately after breakfast. She went 
to her Aunt Fannie’s. 



CHAPTER VII 


I T WAS not his first client who opened the door of 
his office near noon and entered John’s office. He 
was alone. Dave had been there all morning but 
had gone down on the street. Nell entered and came 
smiling to his desk. He arose and greeted her. He 
knew not the importance of her visit, nor did he know 
what it cost her in effort to go to his office under all 
the circumstances. But she knew where her duty lay 
and boldly she followed its course. His was not a very 
presentable law office as yet, but it did afford some 
chairs and a desk. A few books were on his desk. He 
was at least ready for business. 

“Well, I hardly expected my first client would be 
such an important personage. You are quite welcome 
to our office. Won’t you sit down and state your case 
fully ?” 

“John, I wish I could be as free and light-hearted as 
you. I also wish I was the first client and that I could 
bring you such an important case that it would make 
you famous. But I can only bring you Nell, who prom¬ 
ised only such a short time ago to be yours. But I can 
wish you all the good success in your chosen profession 
which you so justly deserve to have. Now there, isn’t 
that a fine speech for me to make?” 

“That is the grandest speech I shall ever hear from 
anyone, and I appreciate it more than from anyone 
else. I have made no mistake in my selection as a law 
partner. The firm of Adams & Adams shall grow and 
prosper. You look great this morning. But why the 
flush on your face? Have you been running up my 
stairs ?” 

Seating herself she told him all that had happened 
41 


42 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


since she had seen him. She withheld nothing, and she 
added her suspicions and opinion as she went along. 
She knew that she must tell it all and do what she could 
to help him. After she had concluded, John leaned 
back in his chair and thought a moment. 

“Nell, I still believe you are unduly excited over all 
this affair. I admit that it looks as though I am start¬ 
ing out under difficulties. But I must not: quit now. I 
will not be driven out of my home town. And if the 
coal company comes to me I will take their case if it 
is a legitimate one.” 

This did not surprise Nell, for it was just what she 
expected. Had he expressed himself otherwise, she 
would have thought that he was doing so for her sake. 
She liked him better for his frankness. Continuing he 
said: 

“Now I want you to quit your worrying. The first 
good opportunity I have after I have been here a few 
more days, I want to have a good talk with Bill. He 
and I can get along. At least we can have an under¬ 
standing.” 

She strongly advised against this course. It would 
do no good and might precipitate the trouble more 
quickly. He listened to her but did not change his 
opinion or determination. 

“Now,” said Nell, “I want to talk some more. You 
and I must have some more agreements just now. There 
is no telling what may happen. I am not flighty or 
unreasonable. I am just cautious. I have promised 
to be your wife and I am proud of it. I want to see 
you as often as I can. But if it cannot be often until 
there is a change in conditions, I want you to understand 
that I deem it for the best. I do not want you to get 
impatient and blame me, if I decide that I must not 
see you for days at a time. My life at home is not 
going to be a pleasant one from now on, and I want you 
to agree with me that we will keep our Angelus, as you 
call it. At sunset, you know? At that hour no matter 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


43 


where I am or what is the condition, I want to know 
that you are thinking of me and I shall be thinking of 
you. If I have problems to present to you I believe you 
will understand them and that, as in the past, I shall 
have my answer and my counsel. And I would like to 
extend this a little further. Let’s make this a life-time 
vow. I mean, let’s agree that we shall do this always. 
It will be good for us even though we have no troubles. 
After we are married, you will be away on business 
and it will be nice then. If I should be away, I shall 
want to follow the custom. And I want you to promise 
me today that you will do this forever.” 

“If I never have to make a promise any more difficult 
to keep than this one, I will be getting off easy. I 
gladly promise. I have had just as much good out of 
these quiet hours as you have. I would have suggested 
the same thing myself. But I don’t like to see you so 
serious today.” 

“Maybe I am too serious. But just the same I like 
to have these important matters settled. I am so glad 
that Uncle Dave decided to come to live with you. He 
will be the best companion in the world. I hope we 
may have him with us as long as he lives. I am sure he 
will be a great comfort in his old age.” 

“How did you know he had decided to come and 
live with me? Have you seen him this morning? He 
only left here a few moments ago.” 

“No, I haven’t seen him today. But he came and 
asked me the day you invited him. He said I was to 
be one of the family and he wanted my advice. I gave 
it to him quickly. I told him we wanted him and 
wanted him now. He was for waiting until we are 
married, but I made him promise to begin today. And 
that is the other thing I want an agreement on. You 
are doing quite a business today in agreements, aren’t 
you? I want you to promise me that no matter what 
happens, you will keep Uncle Dave with you as long as 
he lives. If I should die, I want you to keep him. If I 




44 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


live and we are married and live happily ever afterward, 
as the story book says, I want you to agree to keep him 
always. Will you agree to that?” 

“My! My! but you do make a fellow agree to some 
hard ones. I invited Uncle Dave to live with me be¬ 
cause I wanted him and because I knew that you would 
want him, and because I wanted to give him a home as 
long as he lives. An old man without a home is a sad 
spectacle. I can gladly and cheerfully promise you all 
you ask along this line. Now what is the next one?” 

“There is no next. But I do want you to always 
remember these two promises: that we will keep our 
Angelus—and that you will always keep Uncle Dave. 
I expect to hold you to these two promises just as 
solemnly as to our marriage vows.” 

“I shall remember and I shall heed. And now I sup¬ 
pose that we may as well go ahead and arrange that I 
shall never marry again in case of your death under 
the penalty of—well of forfeiture of the company of 
Uncle Dave and that in case of my death you are to 
have the law library.” And he made sweeping motion 
to the three books on the desk. 

“No sir. I have no restrictions to place on you. All 
those things would be of your natural choosing, and I 
have no desires or fears.” 

“Well, I will make a promise voluntarily. In case 
of your death I shall never marry anyone else and I 
shall always keep our Angelus. You may tell the 
angels and St. Peter to watch me and see if I keep the 
promise.” 

“Enough of this now. What did you think of Uncle 
Dave’s sermon yesterday?” 

“Well, I’ll tell you. It was about the greatest sermon 
I have ever heard and I doubt if it could be equalled 
by anyone any place. Of course, since you 
have told me all that you have, I can see that he had 
a great incentive. But just the same, he had to have 
it in him before he could deliver a masterpiece like that. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


45 


I just lost myself coming to the office thinking about it. 
He came down here and I asked him all about it and 
especially about that war prediction. I had him tell 
me the foundation he had for it and do you know, the 
old fellow has clear reasoning on the subject. He would 
be a hero if we should have a World War, anyway soon. 
He went home with me and spent the day and we 
talked more about it.” 

“You don’t think anything about that war business, 
do you?” 

“I don’t know. I know his reasoning is sound and 
clear and based on some important facts. We may not 

have a war, but I say—if we should-.” 

“Well, let’s forget the war. I don’t want any soldier 
husband.” At this he strutted around the room, acting 
the soldier until she stopped him. 

“Anyway if I am a soldier, you can be a nurse and if 
I am wounded I will be sure to have good care.” 

“John Adams! I just won’t have any more of this. 
I think you are-.” 

Just then the door opened and Dave came in hum¬ 
ming “Home Sweet Home.” 

“Well, hello folks! What you doing, picking your 
furniture out of the catalog? Or is this our first client? 
If it is, I must be consulted about the fee.” 

“You wouldn’t charge me much, would you, Uncle 
Dave? You must be happy this morning. What was 
that song you were just humming? It seems to me that 
it was ‘Home Sweet Home.’ Is that a favorite of 
yours ?” 

“No ’taint. But I do have plenty of reason for mak¬ 
ing it my favorite. The good Samaritans have been so 
generous to me. By the way, do you know what is 
the greatest song in the world?” 

“You told us the other day it was ‘Sourwood Moun¬ 
tains.’ Has some other one copped the grand prize?” 

“Oh, you go to grass. I’ll just tell you one of these 
days what it is, when you are not so much of a smarty.” 





46 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Come on, Uncle Dave, and tell us now.” 

“Nope—not today. Busy now with a brief for 
John.” 

“Say, Uncle Dave, I have made John make two agree¬ 
ments with me this morning and I believe all agree¬ 
ments should have a witness, shouldn’t they, Mr. Law¬ 
yer?” 

“Yes, I believe they should. I don’t charge anything 
for being a witness and I am a first class witness, too.” 

“Well, you know I told you about what John and I 
call our Angelus. You said it seemed to you like a 
seance. Well, I have made John promise and agree 
that we will always keep and observe the Angelus no 
matter where we are or what are the circumstances, no 
matter if one of us be dead; and that we shall observe 
this as long as we shall live. Do you bear witness to 
this agreement?” 

“Gladly! And seriously, I think that is a fine little 
custom of yours. I have thought of it several times 
since you told me even though I did ridicule it. That 
was all in fun, you know.” 

“Well, then we agreed on one other thing. No mat¬ 
ter what happens nor what comes or goes, John is to 
keep you with him as long as you live. Will you wit¬ 
ness that agreement?” 

“Now you know I have something to say about all 
that. I might get obstreperous and run away, or go 
mad, or get drunk, or do many another fool thing so 
that he could not in justice and good conscience keep me. 
Then is he to be bound by his bond, my fair Portia?” 

“Most certainly he is. You have nothing to say 
about it. Neither does he. He has agreed to it and 
that settles it. We just want you to witness the agree¬ 
ment, not argue it.” 

“Very well. I do solemnly witness, and may I ex¬ 
claim: ‘Another Daniel come to judgment.’” 

“And,” said John, “we still have another agreement 
for you to witness. I have agreed that in case of death 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


47 


of the aforesaid Portia, otherwise known as Nell, that I 
shall never marry again, and in case of my death she 
shall inherit our present library, the same to be hers and 
her heirs forever. Do you bear witness to this agree¬ 
ment, Shylock?” 

“Aye sir, so I do. This sure is agreement day. One 
would think it was New Year’s, and we had met to 
make the usual resolutions.” 

“Well kind gentlemen, I must be on my way. I am 
glad to have helped you dedicate the new office. I hope 
you have a client before the day is over and that he 
will bring a big retainer—I believe you call it something 
like that.” 

“Thank you very much. And you must remember 
that you are a member of the firm and are required to 
visit the office occasionally to see that everything is 
going nicely and to audit the books.” 

“I may not be a frequent visitor. You know Great 
Bend has lots of curiosity. But I assure you I shall 
always be with you in spirit. Goodbye.” 

She closed the door and was gone. Then both men 
looked at each other with the same question in their 
minds. 

“What does it all mean?” Dave was the first to 
speak. 

“I never saw Nell act so before. She had all those 
things she was bound I should agree to today. Of 
course, I could and did gladly do so. But why did she 
want me to do it? Do you suppose she has had a quar¬ 
rel with old Bill?” 

“Did she say she had?” 

“No.” 

“Well then she didn’t. Nell is a frank, open, truth¬ 
ful girl and she would not keep anything from you and 
especially now. I think she is just nervous and you 
know she is very much alone up there and she has 
thought this out herself and thought it would be nice. 
I think that is all there is to it.” 



48 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“I sincerely hope so. But I will confess I don’t at 
all understand. It is not like her.” 

“Anyway, I guess we have nothing to worry about 
with her. She is a jewel if ever there was one. By 
the way, you are going to have a client this afternoon.” 

“So soon? Who is the unfortunate individual?” 

“Calvin Markum, of the Great Bend Coal Company, 
told me he was coming up to see you about their coal rights 
on Ezra Whitaker’s land. They have been having a 
little trouble I guess. I put in a good word for you 
and told him as how you are the best there is on them 
kind o’ cases.” 

“I was expecting him.” 

Uncle Dave looked at him in wonder. “Well of all 
things. I thought I was getting the firm its first case.” 

“You were, Uncle Dave. But listen.” 

And then he told him all that Nell had told to him 
that morning. It had not occurred to Dave that trou¬ 
ble might occur from this first case. At first he was for 
declining to accept it. But on further thought he agreed 
with John that he could not afford to decline it if it had 
merit. It would look too much like he was afraid. 
Even if it did have the promise of bringing trouble, the 
bridges must be crossed as they came to them. He 
would take the case if they wanted him to handle it, 
and if it had merit. But as they left the office, Dave 
had a depressed feeling because he felt that something 
was wrong with Nell. He had that nervous, depressed 
feeling, like some awful thing was about to happen. 



CHAPTER VIII 


T HE succeeding few days gave John only occa¬ 
sional glimpses of Nell and usually they were as 
he saw her flitting between her home and the 
home of Aunt Fannie. Fortunately, he was a very busy 
man. What with getting his office arranged for busi¬ 
ness and with a little bit of business which came in, he 
was so occupied that he could not give much of his 
thoughts to the girl, who, as he thought was to be a 
permanent part of his life. But the days were full for 
Nell. Yes, they were completely occupied with plans 
and doings which were strange and unusual to her. She 
had never had responsibilities before; she had never 
thought seriously on business and personal problems. 
But now she was busy with both. 

To fight day and night with opposing problems in 
one’s breast, is enough to give the ordinary young lady 
plenty to do, but entirely to change the course of one’s 
life in a few days, is a task great enough for anyone. 
When the world was first created, two great opposing 
forces were set up—light and darkness; and ever since 
that time they have been contending for supremacy. 
Where darkness prevails, misery and suffering, igno¬ 
rance and poverty, crime and lawlessness, immorality 
and degeneracy, have prevailed. But where light has 
prevailed, there has been education and happiness, busi¬ 
ness and order, cheer and good will. 

In the lives of individuals, the same forces are for¬ 
ever contending,—right and wrong. With nature and 
all its varying elements and in all its myriad of sittings, 
it is hard for youth to select the right path. The con¬ 
tention leads many times to the choosing, even, between 
life and death. And we have learned that even death 


49 


50 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


is not the victor in all contentions. It is true that in 
youth it is a dread and a great fear; in middle life it is 
avoided and sometimes forgotten; while in old age, 
when it is just a step away, it is temporized with as 
the other emotions and contingencies. Sometimes emo¬ 
tions gain the victory, such as hatred or love. Teach 
as we may, we can never quite fix a rule that will gov¬ 
ern human beings in their actions through life. No 
fond parent can lay down a set of rules for the guid¬ 
ance of a child for his three score years and ten, because 
it has not been given to any human being to look into 
the future of either his own life or that of another. No 
fond mother can gaze on her infant in the cradle and 
say what kind of a life will come forth. She rather 
looks on the little life as on a book whose lids are 
closed. We may guess, we may speculate, in the par¬ 
ticular setting that ought to come forth; but on a bright, 
sunshiny day, a shaft of darkness may change a course 
in a moment, or a ray of light, brighter even than that 
of the sun, may change a course from a shadowy path 
to a bright, triumphant way along which will be happi¬ 
ness and joy for all. 

Nell was fighting the great battle of a soul. She 
fought during the hours of light and darkness. If she 
was alone in her room at night, the battle waged on. 
If she was with Aunt Fannie, always there was the dis¬ 
cussion and argument as to what was best to do. There 
were weak moments when it was hard to withstand the 
emotions of a girl of her age, deciding such a question. 
If she decided that love must win and was on the verge 
of going to John and telling him, duty and greater love 
stepped in and always came off the victor. If she 
argued with Aunt Fannie that she would never, never 
give up her love for John, she was confronted with the 
everlasting plans of how to realize her dream of love. 
She, in Aunt Fannie, had one who understood; not only 
a companion who shared her emotions and ideas, but 
who gave the sympathy so important in her situation. 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


5i 


Day after day they talked and argued the questions in 
all their various phases. They rode in the hills and 
together they walked in old familiar surroundings, but 
always with the one important subject on their minds. 
There came a day when it was all decided. They had 
approached the topic from all angles, and always had 
they come to the same one conclusion on it all. 

It was on Tuesday. A miserable day. It had rained 
all day. The clouds hung low and made one of those 
gray, dreary days when it is hard for light to prevail. 
All day long they had been in Aunt Fannie's house and 
with nothing to intrude, they had threshed over all the 
old straw and had found the same results as before. 
They had decided and were as glad as they could pos¬ 
sibly be under the circumstances. 

“Well, Aunt Fannie, I know it is the right thing to do. 
I must prepare myself to be away from John for a 
time. But I wonder how long? I shall still have his 
love and he shall have all of mine. We shall have our 
Angelus which will be a comfort, but that is all that we 
shall have. But then there will be a time when we shall 
be reunited and then such a time as we shall have for 
the rest of our lives! I believe the good Lord will be 
good to us and will aid us in carrying out our plans. 
The days will be long and the weeks and months will 
drag, but I shall forever hope that the lives of these 
people will be touched in such a way that they will see 
things in a different light and then we may come back 
here and live in peace. I know we shall win. Tomor¬ 
row I shall see William Daniels. I will have to tell him 
all our plans and arrange for money for our support. I 
do wish I could tell Dave, but it would not be best. It 
might spoil it all. He will be with John and will com¬ 
fort him. That is arranged. I don’t know why I did 
all that but it seemed to me to be the thing to do and 
I am glad that I did it.” 

“No. It would never do to tell Dave. He would 
just have to tell John sometime when he had a very 




52 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


blue day. See William tomorrow and get it all ar¬ 
ranged. You do that while I see to getting a few 
things together. We can’t take much, but there are 
some things we must have.” 

“I am going home now and gather up what I want 
to take. Just a few little keepsakes of mother’s and 
father’s will be about all. Tomorrow I will see William 
and on Thursday let’s go early to Grace Hickman’s to 
spend the rest of the week.” 

As Nell left the house and rode home, somehow she 
felt that her mind was at a greater ease than it had 
been for a long time. As she rode into the barnyard 
and gave her horse to the servant, she saw old Bill 
talking earnestly to Ezra Whitaker and as Ezra rode 
away she heard old Bill say: “That’s just the way to do 
it, Ez. If you need me, let me know, but be careful 
about it. Do just as I tell you.” She was glad she had 
decided as she had. She knew what was coming and 
she knew that just as sure as fate it would come some¬ 
time. Maybe soon, maybe a little longer away, but 
come it would. And that is why she had decided. By 
her sacrifice she hoped to avert a tragedy, perhaps many 
of them. 

The father of Nell Henderson had been an indus¬ 
trious, frugal man for that country. His ancestors 
had been among the pioneers of the country. They fol¬ 
lowed closely on the footsteps of Daniel Boone in the 
settlement of the Happy Hunting Ground. In those 
days it required great bodies of land to support a fami¬ 
ly, and usually the families were large ones. The set¬ 
tlers claimed such lands as they desired. Some of them 
perfected their titles and owned the lands, many of 
them just occupied them and held possession by the 
time honored rule of force. Some of them located at 
a particular place, staying a while, and then pushed on 
into the wilderness, or went back closer to civilization. 
Most of them could trace their ancestors back to Eng¬ 
land, Scotland and Ireland. The traits and speech of 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


53 


these countries were still discernible in these mountain 
people. Localisms, a century old, had come over with 
them and were still in vogue. Songs sung on the High¬ 
lands of Scotland could still be heard. A “counter¬ 
pane” still covered the beds and the gentlemen still put 
“dubbin” on their boots. The English language was 
all that was heard, and that greatly colored by the lan¬ 
guage of the isles across the sea. 

The Hendersons could claim nobility in their blood. 
They were leaders in this new land and consequently 
had the best of the land and all of it they wanted. They 
settled on large tracts of land and perfected their titles. 
Feuds had raged for ages in the hills. The Hender¬ 
sons had become involved and had their share in 
the crimes and disgraces of the country. But through 
it all, they had retained their lands and as the country 
progressed, lands became valuable and the owners be¬ 
came wealthy. The lands that had fallen to Nell’s 
father were many acres. They were rich in timbers and 
minerals and the soil itself was the best in the country. 
He had developed much of it to a high state of culti¬ 
vation and cared for it well. He had been blessed with 
only one child, Nell. She had been dear to him and 
he had taken care to provide for her. So at his death 
all his property had descended to her. He had left a 
will giving it all to her and appointing William Daniels 
her guardian. She had always lived with her Uncle 
Bill and had been well cared for and well raised. Her 
guardian had taken good care of his trust and her prop¬ 
erty had increased in value until she was one of the 
wealthiest in that part of the state. This wealth was 
not in much money or investments, but in the lands 
themselves. And now that the timbers and minerals 
were becoming of great value, it was indeed accumulat¬ 
ing rapidly. Her guardian was a thoroughly reliable 
man, as we have said before, and her properties were 
sure to be well taken care of. 

So she must see William Daniels and tell him all her 




54 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


plans. It would be no easy task, but the last few days 
had been nothing but hard tasks for her. She could 
now be brave and thorough since her plans were all 
made and decided. Next day, according to her plans, 
she called on William. He was a man with much of 
the human sympathy of his brother, Dave. He listened 
to her plans. He gave her his opinion on the wisdom 
of them. He suggested some modifications, but he did 
not try to change her in her plans. It was not for him 
to do this. It was out of his province, notwithstand¬ 
ing he was her guardian. And then he understood her 
motive and intended to help her. He drew a will for 
her leaving her property as she desired in case of her 
death, and he made with her other arrangements to 
carry out her plans. 

“Tomorrow I will go to Cincinnati and make ar¬ 
rangements with a bank there and will also make ar¬ 
rangements for an account for you in a bank in your 
new location, so that money will be there at your dis¬ 
posal by the time you get there. I shall not send any 
money or letters from here. You may rest assured that 
no one will know anything about you or your plans. 
I know that you will be safe in the company of your 
Aunt Fannie and I believe I am doing the right thing 
in helping you. The power of attorney you have exe¬ 
cuted gives me power to close up your estate in the 
courts and still leaves me to handle your property for 
you as we have talked. Tomorrow I will have the 
money for you, necessary for your present needs and 
for your voyage. If I should need to communicate 
with you, the address you will give me through the bank 
in Cincinnati will be in my possession. Any communi¬ 
cations sent me to the bank there will be immediately 
forwarded. I shall wish you well in everything and 
will keep you advised. My letters will all be mailed 
by the bank from Cincinnati. The one tract of timber 
will be all that we shall need to sell anyway soon. I 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


55 


hope it will be all that we shall have to sell before you 
return.” 

Nell left his office feeling that she had now done 
about all that was left her to do in Great Bend. And 
truly it had been a great deal of business for a girl of 
eighteen to plan and do in such a short time. Love 
always finds a way. 

. On her way to Aunt Fannie’s, she saw Ezra Whit¬ 
aker talking to two lawyers at the corner drug store, 
and up in John’s office she could see Dave and two other 
gentlemen. She guessed that they were connected with 
the Great Bend Coal Company. Aunt Fannie was busy 
with the affairs of her house and with arrangements for 
her departure. 

“I have just a few things here in a bag that I will 
take with me in the morning. Do you know, dear, that 
all this is giving me a thrill and I am all excited? It 
surely will be a great lark.” 

“Why, Aunt Fannie! This will be no lark. It is 
too serious to be called anything but a drama. A drama 
of life. A serious drama of life. And who will win? 
Who will be the hero and heroine and who will be the 
villain? No one can tell. But I pray to God that I am 
taking the right course and that all will be well. I am 
going up to tell John and Dave goodbye. I just saw 
Dave in the office. This will be the hardest part of it 
all. But I must make my nerves as hard as steel and 
must go through with it bravely. I’ll do it.” 

And away she went to John’s office. She found 
them both talking earnestly. They were alone. The 
coal men had just left. John had his first case of note. 

“Well! Well! Here’s the other member of the 
firm. We thought you had dissolved partnership and 
that we were to be left to fight the legal battles alone. 
How is fair Portia today?” 

“I am feeling first-rate, Uncle Dave. How’s business?” 

“Nell, we were just talking over my first case. You 
were right in your guess that the Great Bend Coal Com- 





56 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


pany people would come to me. They have just been 
here and I have taken their case. There is nothing to 
worry about in that case. Whitaker will not cause any 
trouble. I believe I can make him see that the coal 
company will not injure his property a particle and that 
it will increase the value of it. My! but you look great 
today. Where have you been all the ages since I saw 
you last?” 

“Oh, just plodding around, Aunt Fannie and I. I 
didn’t want to interfere with business just when you 
are getting started. Is Uncle Dave a good office girl?” 

“Fine. She sweeps out and dusts the library and 
hunts up business.” 

“I am going up to Grace Hickman’s tomorrow with 
Aunt Fannie to be gone the rest of the week. Aunt 
Fannie wants to go and I have been promising to go 
for a long time. I want you boys to behave as good 
little boys until my return.” 

“All right, pard,” said Dave. “We’ll behave just like 
as if we were in Sunday-school all the time. I’ll make 
John go to bed early and get up early and will watch 
him all day.” 

“Yes. That’s what he does now. Especially get up 
early. I believe that man never sleeps after midnight.” 

“I am trying to teach him that a great lawyer must 
have his rest and that if he keeps his eyes shut at night 
and open in the daytime, he will see more and get ahead 
faster. Don’t you think I am right, Nell?” 

“Yes, but you must not be too hard on John. I ex¬ 
pect you to keep an eye on him and to care for him al¬ 
ways, as per agreement, but don’t work him too hard.” 

“I’ll not work too hard. I will be rather busy for 
a few days with this case. But it will be looking up 
records and getting posted on things. When are you 
coming back?” 

“I suppose Sunday.” 

“Hadn’t I better ride over and come back with you?” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


57 


“It is uncertain just when we shall come, so I believe 
you better not this time.” 

“Well, all right. That is the first order from head¬ 
quarters, Dave.” 

“Yes! Yes! You’ll get a lot o’ them. We’ll go, 
though, if we take a notion, won’t we?” 

“No. Always obey your superior officer.” 

“John, don’t forget our Angelus. Have you been 
keeping it?” 

“You bet I have. Haven’t your ears burned every 
day at sunset? If they haven’t, they ought to. That is 
already a part of my very life and existence.” 

Dave had gone into the next room and came out 
whistling. He announced that he was going down on 
the street and would see them later. He told Nell good¬ 
bye. She took his hand and said a lot of things to him, 
some of them she never remembered afterwards. But 
chief among them she enjoined him that he must re¬ 
member all the agreements they had and see that they 
were all carried out to the letter and that he must take 
good care of John and see that no harm came to him. 

“Why, ’pon my word, you talk as though you were 
leaving for the North Pole. I am the grand and glo¬ 
rious guardian of all agreements and the body-guard of 
John Adams, lawyer, the office boy of the firm of 
Adams, Adams and Daniels, successors to Henderson, 
Adams and Daniels, and the keeper of the keys to the 
bottomless pit.” 

“Well, goodbye and God bless you in all these duties 
and any other you may have.” 

Dave thought all this sounded strangely. But he 
attributed it all to her nervousness over the lawsuit and 
its probable outcome. He went down the stairs think¬ 
ing what a serious and peculiar girl she was. 

Left alone with John she told him now that he had 
this case he must be very careful in his actions and in 
his talk. The mountain people are so clannish and so 
quick to take up a fight. She would always be in a 




58 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


worry about it till it was over. They talked awhile 
and then she arose to go. She took his hand and told 
him to remember all that he had promised her and that 
she would live and hope and pray until the day of their 
marriage. He took her in his arms and as he kissed 
her, forgot that there ever could be a danger to him or 
a parting for them. 

“When I see you again it will be nearer our wedding 
day,” said Nell, “and I want to see you looking just as 
handsome and happy as you are now.” 

“Never fear for me, I shall always be so when you 
are here.” 

“They say there’s many a slip betwixt the cup and 
the lip, but let’s hope that we shall avoid all the slips 
possible. And if there should be a slip, that it will only 
be a slip and not a miss. I must say goodbye now and 
heaven bless you always. Daily in our Angelus I’ll tell 
you my thoughts and troubles and you tell me yours.” 

They parted. Little did John think as he sat at his 
desk after* she was gone, that it would be years and 
years before he would see her again, or that he would 
during those intervening years go through a hell on 
earth, such trouble as tests men, turns gray the hair and 
unsteadies the hand. Little did he think, sitting there, 
that only the angels above can see the pathway of our 
individual lives. Just when we think they will run along 
together forever, we may be even then at the parting 
of the ways, and they may diverge never to meet again, 
or if so, after a long, circuitous way, over stony moun¬ 
tains and through valleys filled with sloughs. 

But it is these uncertainties that make the great re¬ 
sponsibilities of life. Because we have not the power 
to pierce the veil, we are given responsibilities, and am¬ 
bition, and determination, and imagination. We have 
the five or ten talents for which we must account. And 
we measure up among our fellowmen, just in proportion 
as we account for them. 



CHAPTER IX 


O LD Bill Henderson was just as mad as he pos¬ 
sibly could be. And when he was mad everyone 
around the house knew what to do—keep away 
from him. This particular time was a little different, 
however. There was a seriousness to his madness this 
time. It was Monday. Grace Hickman’s father had 
just come into town with two horses that had been 
brought to his place that morning. They were, the 
horses that Nell and Aunt Fannie had ridden to his 
place on Thursday. The story he told Henderson had 
made him at first a very mad man, and then the serious¬ 
ness of the situation began to dawn on him, which made 
things appear in a different light. 

Early that morning, a neighbor had found the two 
horses in his field, just off the main road toward Great 
Bend. The saddles were torn and almost demolished. 
It was plain that they had been on the horses for some 
time and that they had rolled in them and that they had 
gone through bushes and timber and had caught and 
injured the saddles. They were ruined and ready to 
drop off. This neighbor lived close to the river. The 
main road from Great Bend ran past his house and on 
down to the river, crossed it and on to the mountains 
and across them to the railroad town, twenty miles 
away. This road crossed the. river half a mile from 
his place and then some three miles down the river, 
crossed it again. The Hickman farm was off the main 
road about two miles on a road which ran straight south 
from the first crossing. The Hickmans lived just at the 
foot of the mountains and at the edge of the river valley. 

Nell and Fannie had been at Hickmans on Thursday, 
and early Friday morning had started home. The 

59 


6o 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


weather was heavy and it looked very much like a storm. 
But the girls had said that if a storm did come up they 
would stop at a neighbor’s. They intended to stop there 
anyway. Shortly after they left it did rain very hard 
and had rained much harder up the river and it had 
made a rise in the river making it impossible to cross 
at the ford for a while. There was no bridge across 
the river. It was as is usually the case in this part of 
the country, just a ford. And at times they were very 
dangerous. The people were never in such a hurry but 
that they could wait till it was safe to cross. The horses 
had been found on the side of the river nearest to Great 
Bend and no one had seen the girls. They had not 
stopped at the neighbors nor had anyone seen them 
pass. Mr. Hickman had inquired along the way into 
town and no one had seen them. They had been seen 
by several as they went out Thursday morning, but 
had not been seen going back. 

Then the query: had they been drowned trying to 
ford the river? Such things had occurred. When old 
Bill heard the story, at first he thought of John and of 
the feud and of foul play, and he was mad. But as he 
realized the story in all its seriousness, he was fright¬ 
ened. He informed the rest of his family and they 
were frantic. They feared that Nell and Fannie had 
been drowned. Searching parties went out at once. At 
night time all they had accomplished was the finding of 
one of the saddle blankets caught on a bush in the river, 
a half mile below the upper ford. This only tended to 
confirm the suspicions of the majority who believed 
both girls had perished. But search as they would up 
and down the river for miles and miles, not a trace 
more could be found. The search was continued for 
days and days. 

John and Dave were by this time almost prostrated 
with grief over the incident. Both had been in the 
searching party day and night. By the close of the 
week John was haggard and worn and his eyes had that 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


6i 


sunken look which comes from great nervous strain. 
He had hoped and had searched. He had prayed as he 
studied the hills and the probabilities. He knew that 
Nell was thorough in woodcraft and that she knew the 
hills, roads and surrounding country as well as any 
person in all the country. But he could not understand 
her disappearance and especially since Aunt Fannie was 
with her. One of them might have been drowned, but 
it seemed improbable that both of them would be. And 
still their disappearance was unexplained. The horses 
were across the river from where they had started Fri¬ 
day morning; the saddles were in terrible condition; 
but they naturally would be in three days’ time; and 
no one any place around had seen anything of the riders. 

Was Nell dead? He had asked himself that question 
a thousand times and as many times had he answered 
no, and then weighed the overwhelming evidence against 
his answer. Every day at sunset he had kept his An¬ 
gelus. It had been his promise and it was all the com¬ 
fort he had. And small comfort it was. And yet there 
seemed to come to him a little degree of satisfaction in 
this silent hour. As he appealed to Nell during this time, 
trying to tear away the veil between them and see what 
was beyond, he seemed to get a little bit of comfort out 
of the fact that there was no positive evidence that she 
was dead. Since the beginning of time, the star of hope 
has kept lovers alive. Indeed, the star of hope has led 
more people on and on to accomplishments than has 
anything else. Without it they would have lost faith 
and fallen by the wayside. John was led by the star of 
hope and he kept his faith. At times this faith was 
weak and at the point of disappearing. Had it not been 
for Dave it would have died out entirely. Dave was 
the great comforter. He did not always believe all that 
he said and argued to John, but he thought it was his 
duty to be optimistic. He realized that John needed 
strength now more than he had ever needed it before 
and he was his friend, and that friendship meant giv- 



62 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ing all that he could, even to laying down his life if 
necessary. Now he was glad that he had come to live 
with John; glad that Nell herself had made the agree¬ 
ment. He would stay on as long as the Lord spared him 
to live and would pay all that the agreement called for 
and more. 

As he sat at times thinking over the situation, it did 
all seem weird to him; all the peculiar actions and talk 
of Nell, all of which were unlike her natural way; this 
Angelus, which was at least creepy now. He had 
thought it a nice little custom of theirs when everything 
was going well, but now that Nell was gone, maybe dead, 
to see John at sunset sitting alone deep in thought of her, 
was a little too much. And yet he would not disturb it 
for the world. He thought it gave John some peace and 
comfort and if it did, then he must uphold it. And he 
did so. 

Nothing that had occurred within the memory of any 
man of Great Bend had so stirred the town and country 
as had this disappearance. The search was carried over 
into the adjoining counties, and, in fact, over the whole 
eastern part of the state. At no time did anyone find 
a clue which amounted to anything. After many days 
of search and grief, all began to unite on the same opinion 
that they had been drowned at the ford and that the bodies 
had been covered up in the sand and mud some place down 
the river. They might be found and they might not. 
But the entire town and countryside grieved. 

Old Bill Henderson, who loved Nell as his own daugh¬ 
ter, had left nothing undone to solve the mystery. He, 
too, gave up all his hopes and joined in the thoughts of 
the others. As he watched John in the search and saw 
the visible evidence of his grief, he was convinced that 
he had nothing to do with the disappearance. If there had 
been anything on which to hang a suspicion, he would 
have harbored the thought that John, on account of the 
feud, had had something to do in some way or other with 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


63 


the affair. As it was, he was convinced in his own mind 
that he was blameless. And old Bill was a man to give 
the devil his due. At the same time, he was not entirely 
free from a suspicion of foul play in some way by some¬ 
one. While he said nothing about his thoughts, he thought 
just the same, and kept his eyes and ears open. He did 
not mean wrongfully to accuse anyone and he had sus¬ 
picions against no one, but if ever he did have, well, God 
help that person, that's all. 

Together John and Dave plodded on, trudging the path 
of life together. And now the pathway ran deep among 
the sloughs and bogs. Life was indeed dreary. For 
them every day was dark and dreary. They now began 
again to attend to the affairs at the office. John did not 
have the same interest in business nor the same ambition 
in life, but kept up a good front. And he did realize his 
duty to those for whom he did business and gave them 
the best that was in him. This he would do so long as he 
did business. He was conscientious in his realization that 
the business of a client is a sacred trust to a lawyer and 
must be given the best possible attention. He knew 
that many times these affairs, perhaps small in nature 
and worth, meant the all of some poor person. Never 
did he shirk a duty or neglect his business, even though 
it was hard, very hard to keep his mind on the subjects 
at hand. The times after office hours were heavier, even, 
than those which were full of business. The emptiness 
of the hours weighed on him. Most of the time was 
spent at home with Dave. Dave never let him long out 
of his sight. He gave up his appointments to preach to 
better keep his trust. And business did prosper. John 
had business to attend to. He had the coal case and 
other business came to him and for a young man he was 
busy. The business of the office was discussed at home. 
One evening as they sat talking of various matters, Dave 
said: 

“Today I was talking with old Bill Henderson and he 



6 4 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


said you ought to drop that coal case, and I told him 
you never would do it, but that you had them licked to 
a standstill. He talked a long time, arguing that you 
would get people down on you if you tried to take 
advantage of our good people on some technicality. I 
told him you did not consider it a technicality but a right 
of your clients, bought and paid for. Well, the con 
versation ended by him getting a little hot. He said he 
was not interested, only that he hated to see his friends 
beat out of their rights, and wanted to know if I knew 
Judge Perkins from Lexington was to defend the case. 
I told him I did not, but I thought we could entertain 
the Judge just as well as anyone. He said he hoped 
there would be no trouble come from the case and I 
told him I saw no reason why there should be any. 
But I am just wondering what he meant by that. Old 
Bill does not come out openly and start trouble, but he 
is a trouble maker, just the same.” 

“Oh, I see no reason for any trouble. How can there 
be any? Who would start it? We will try the case. It 
will be a short trial. It is mostly a question of law. We 
will beat them easily. If they want to do so they can 
appeal and we shall have to try again, but this is not a 
case to cause any fight or trouble.” 

“It don’t take much here to cause trouble. For a 
while I thought old Bill was a changed man after Nell 
went away, but I am convinced that at heart he is just 
as mean as ever. And if her property was not out of 
his hands, he would soon convert it to his own use. 
He is just the same old bad egg.” 

“Now, now, Dave, let’s give him credit for better in¬ 
tentions than that. Let’s just play that he is a changed 
man and that he is a good citizen and a friend of ours.” 

“Good Lord! That will be some play. But just as you 
say. Just the same I am going to keep my eyes open 
all the time.” 

“In about a month we shall have this case tried and 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


65 


a decision in the local courts, and then there will be no 
further trouble about it. If it is appealed it will be 
away from here and will not irritate anybody.” 

But it was longer than a month before the case came 
to trial. Judges and officers of the law in the moun¬ 
tains of Kentucky at that time had friends and could 
be approached as friends. If a friendly turn could be 
made by delay of a case, it could easily be done. Many 
delays had been had before and many more would be 
had. So a year dragged away before John got his case 
heard. One thing or another came up from time to time 
to cause delay. It was still a pending case and at times 
he heard some ugly talk. Or rather, it was Dave who 
heard it first. None of this bothered John. He kept 
on in the even tenor of his way. Old Bill Henderson 
was an influential man. He had influence in politics and 
circuit judges had to be elected and he always helped. 
A word from him as to his desires was enough to cause 
delays. He hoped by delay to cause enough loss, and 
probable loss, to cause a settlement of some kind. 



CHAPTER X 


I N THE preparation for the trial of the case of the 
Great Bend Coal Company vs. Whitaker, it was 
necessary that John get in touch with many old 
residents of the county who knew the lines of lands, cus¬ 
toms and occupation of the different lands. In so doing, 
he was taken at different times to all parts of the county. 
Dave was his constant companion on all these trips. 
They were invariably made on horseback. Had there 
been another person in the party he would have been 
happy. Had Nell been spared to him, his happiness 
would have been complete. As it was, he did have, for 
him, many pleasant times in the hills. There is no tonic 
to the man of the mountains like a trip into the hills. 
To the mountaineer of Kentucky there is nothing quite 
so dear as his old Kentucky hills. To ride along the cool 
paths, across the hills, gives him a real pleasure. And 
so it was for John, and especially so since he was in a 
mellow mood. 

It was just a year since the disappearance of Nell. 
The afternoon of which we speak was beautiful and 
sunshiny. John and Dave had been farther into the 
mountains than usual. It had been a long trip. They 
had been gone three days and were returning home. 
They had seen on their trip, people who had never been 
outside of the county; who had never seen or known any 
of the modern conveniences of life. It was like going 
back a century. They had penetrated as it were into 
the forest primeval, because there were great bodies of 
forests from which not a tree had been taken. On an 
excursion of this kind, one gets close to nature. In the 
fastness of the mountains, one finds the cool mountain 

66 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


67 


streams, shaded by the great oaks, beeches, and the tall 
hickory trees, characteristic of the country. The very 
mosses of the sidehills and along the streams make one 
cool and carry him back till he feels the very blood of 
childhood in his veins. He longs for the refreshing sleep 
of youth. No tonic does quite so much for a person. 
If there is any land of perpetual youth, the mountain 
forests, with their streams and all their natural beauty, 
come nearest to qualifying. 

John and Dave were nearing home. They were coming 
down the old State road which crossed the mountains up 
the creek from Great Bend. This was the same road 
up which Dave and Nell had gone a little over a year 
before. And John had gone up that same road that 
very same day. As they turned down the mountain from 
the summit where the road crossed, they had a view of 
the valley and creek to the west, which made John’s 
heart ache. This is the same scene on which he had 
looked that beautiful day a year ago. As they came 
further along they neared the very same spot at which 
he had left the road and had been called to by Nell. 
When he came to the place he turned off the road into 
the bushes, saying: 

“Come on, Dave, let’s go up on the rocks and rest a 
while before we go on.” 

Dave was not surprised. He would have been sur¬ 
prised had he not done this very thing. He knew and 
had known for some hours that John was in a very soft 
mood and he also knew that they would pass this spot. 
He expected that they would stop. It was here that John 
had realized his dream with Nell; here for the first time 
his lips had met hers in the sealing of the bargain for 
life; here together they had gazed over valley and hill; 
here they had dreamed and planned; and here again he 
would think and keep his Angelus. 

As they mounted the rock at the top of the hill and 
seated themselves where the three of them had sat be¬ 
fore, John uttered no word, but his tears, as they slowly 




68 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


stole down his cheeks, spoke more than words could 
tell. Dave had seen enough of life to know that tears 
are the relief of passion, that they give relief when noth¬ 
ing else can. He had learned before that in the presence 
of tears and especially the tears of love, that silence is 
the better judgment. So he sat and gazed on the scenery 
and thought, and his thoughts were those of love and 
reverence for the same person of whom John was 
thinking. 

It was a long time before the silence was broken. In 
fact, they sat there until the sun had crept down to the 
tree tops in the far west. As the edge of the beautiful 
sun touched the trees and seemed to rest and hold there 
for a moment before dipping into the daylight of the 
other hemisphere, John was in the silence and devotion 
of his Angelus. In a few moments it would be sunset, 
and sunset for him meant more than any other time. It 
seemed to him that were it not for this quiet hour, these 
few moments to himself, life could not be endured. He 
had learned to love it more and more and to get more 
out of it. It was indeed his hour of prayer. He had 
tried to believe that Nell was just away and that he was 
talking to her across the miles. He had tried to forget 
that there was a universe between them; that she was 
awaiting him on the elysian shores. He had never talked 
much with Dave about his Angelus since Nell went away, 
but all that he had talked was that he firmly believed in 
the efficacy of prayer and the communion of souls. He 
had not gone into much explanation, nor had Dave given 
any criticism. Whatever his thoughts on the subject, he 
had kept them to himself. They sat there at the top 
of the mountains this evening as the sun went down. 
Dave was thinking what a sad case it was. Here was a 
strong man tied to a sorrow which was weighing him 
down. And yet he would not change it. As he thought 
on it all, he could not suggest a change. He would not 
see John in love with any other person. That would seem 
like sacrilege. It seemed to him that he would prefer 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


69 


that he go on loving and idolizing Nell and communing 
with her in his Angelus. 

All at once John jumped up. He had a wild stare in 
his eyes. It was as if he had been touched by a hand 
in the dark. He could hardly speak. Clearly he was 
frightened, but with the fright was mixed a pleasure. 

“Dave! Dave! I have heard from her. She is living. 
She told me so. She is well and hopes that I am safe 
and well. Oh, my God! Where is she? Where can 
she be? I know that she answered. I know that it was 
she.” 

“Now, John, you are exciting yourself. It is the set¬ 
ting. It was here a year ago that you sat. She was 
with you. You have thought too hard and too much 
today. I hope that it is the gospel truth that you say, 
but let’s be going now, it is dark.” 

“Oh, you don’t know the feeling. I am so happy. 
Now to find her. She is some place on this earth and 
there is no place I shall not search—I must find her. 
It was the Angelus you know, and just at this time she 
is thinking of me. We just had the same thoughts and 
they flew across the miles and mind has met mind. It 
was a flash of mind to mind. You can’t understand, old 
partner, how I feel. I know now that souls can com¬ 
mune and that just now it was two living souls in living 
bodies that were communing. She cannot be dead. We 
shall find her.” 

“I am glad that you have had this pleasure. I am glad 
that you have continued to commune with Nell at the 
sunset. She told you that she would always be with you 
in this hour. The influence has been good. I believe 
this is only the intoxication of the hour. But even so, 
it is beneficial to you. You must not set too much store 
on finding her. Do not build yourself up to a disappoint¬ 
ment. I am with you even unto the end in whatever you 
do in search, but I pray you, please do not build yourself 
up to a disappointment. It would be too much for us 
both.” 



70 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Just the same, I am a happy man. We shall find the 
dearest soul on earth, the soul so pure and undefiled that 
she is permitted to communicate with me in her absence. 
I know now that I shall have word from her again. We 
must keep this matter all a secret. Just you and I. But 
the world is brighter for me tonight than it has been for 
many months.” 

They descended to their horses which were tied in 
the same place they had been a year before. They 
mounted and rode towards home. John was in that happy 
delirium in which love and love alone holds sway. He 
had realized a dream. Ever since she went away, he 
had hoped and prayed that he might have some sign, 
some little bit of an indication that she still lived. It 
had come to him in a way that he was thoroughly con¬ 
vinced. He would make plans. She still lived and 
would continue to commune with him and finally they 
would be united here on earth. They would be happy 
yet. To say that he was happy did not express it. He 
bubbled forth in his speech with Dave as they rode 
along. His plans were forming. They were not com¬ 
plete. In fact, they changed from moment to moment 
as he speculated. He groped in the dark. He knew 
not where to start or where to go. 

As he dreamed on and as he planned, Dave gave 
thought to many things. He could see what beckoned 
men on to great things; what carried them to the heights 
of success; or what drove them down to the depths. It 
all depended on the character and the strength of the 
individual. If there was character and strength, the 
road was upward to the heights. If there was weak¬ 
ness and lack of faith, then it was down. And he 
thought that the greatest prayer any man can offer is 
for strength and more strength. And as they rode along 
he was offering that prayer for John. He even dared 
to hope that his vision, as it were, might be true. But 
he thought less of it than he said. He did not believe 
in these theories. He had read and heard of mental 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


71 


telepathy but had never given it much credence. He did 
not know. But if the thing, whatever it was, was good 
for John, he was willing to believe it or practice it, or in 
fact, do anything. 

It was in this kind of mood that they reached home. 
John was in a high delirium; he was on the topmost 
peaks of joy. A face as vivid to him as life was beck¬ 
oning him on. It was painted on the very air. He glo¬ 
ried in the fact that the vision was for him alone, that it 
was not now given to any other human eyes to see. 
He saw and saw clearly. He was happy. He told Dave 
so and proved it by his actions. Nor did he stop when 
they reached home, but far into the night did he insist 
on talking over his joy and making his plans. It had 
been the day of days for him. When Dave had fallen 
asleep from his weariness, with John still talking, he 
realized that he was imposing on his good friend. They 
retired—Dave to sleep—John to toss all night in his 
ecstasy. 




CHAPTER XI 


I N THE hills of eastern Kentucky, Court Day is the 
great event in the county. There is little else to 
bring the people together and as a consequence it 
is the meeting place for most business. People who 
come to town on no other day, can be found there on 
that day. Appointments are made for the transactions 
of business on that day. Everybody comes in. There 
are few means of conveyance except the trusty old 
saddle horses and on this day they are as thick as auto¬ 
mobiles in modern cities. 

In Great Bend, the Courthouse was a large, brick 
building. It was modern enough in its architecture and 
was a very creditable structure for the town. It was 
in the center of the little village. There were only two 
streets in the town. Main street, as it was called, ran 
along to the west side of the Courthouse, and First 
street, the other thoroughfare, was the old County road 
and it was on the north side of the Courthouse. So 
this palace of justice and business of the mountaineers 
stood on the corner formed by the crossing of these two 
thoroughfares. To the east stood the jail, and to the 
south a business house, if such it may be called. It was 
an implement store and a blacksmith shop. Back of the 
town, to the northeast, was Sunset Hill. 

Court convened always on a certain Monday in the 
month, the fourth Monday, and every person in all the 
county knew the day. On this day could be seen sights 
peculiar only to the mountains. It was a common sight 
to see a tall, lean mountaineer riding into town, with his 
wife riding behind. She was coming in to trade a little 
at the store and to visit some relative. They would not 
go to the hotel or to a restaurant, but would go to some 

72 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


73 


friend or relative's house and be welcome. Thus do the 
people of these parts visit and exchange their hospital¬ 
ity. Maybe one of the children is brought along and he 
finds conveyance in front of his “pap” on the trusty 
nag. They come in droves, maybe as many as twenty- 
five riders together. They come from all directions. 
Early in the day, the entire county and all its precincts 
are well represented. If there is a particular case in¬ 
volving the citizens of some locality, all of the people 
from that locality take their side in this case. They 
cannot be neutral, but favor one side or the other and 
so express themselves, many times very actively, even 
though they have no interest save that of a community 
affair. 

On account of this pernicious custom and habit, much 
trouble is engendered which may on any Court Day 
ripen into trouble and even bloodshed. It has been said 
of these mountaineers that they crave excitement, and 
if it is not forthcoming in any other way, they create 
it themselves. In these affairs, one is reminded of 
nothing so much as the forest primeval, where the ani¬ 
mals contend for superior strength and for the survival 
of the fittest. It is with great interest that we read of 
the strength and power of the great and how he de¬ 
stroys the wolf. It is equally as interesting to know that 
the wolves, out of necessity for self-preservation, or¬ 
ganized themselves into packs and in that way destroyed 
this more powerful enemy. Such incidents have been 
imitated and duplicated by man. But be it said to the 
credit of these mountaineers, that they are not cowards; 
they play fair and shoot straight. With a little liquor 
on hand, any Court Day is calculated to give plenty of 
thrills to the curious and interested onlooker. 

Monday was Court Day in Great Bend and Great 
Bend was a town typical of the mountains. The great 
coal case was to begin. The clans had arrived early. 
From his office across from the courthouse, John and 
Dave could see what to them seemed all of the inhabi- 




74 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


tants of that part of the county in which Ezra Whit¬ 
aker lived. Off to one side, he could see old Bill Hen¬ 
derson earnestly talking with a group of the more in¬ 
fluential ones. He was busy and that meant that he 
was giving all his influence to a matter which did not 
in the least concern him. His interest was only one of 
enmity for the Adamses and for John Adams in par¬ 
ticular. He was kindling a fire, or rather, he was nurs¬ 
ing the flames of a fire already started. He was giving 
them his advice. 

John was ready for trial. He had prepared his case 
well. He had taken special pains to prepare it on facts 
alone. No feeling of enmity would creep into the mat¬ 
ter from his side. The facts and evidence were so 
plainly on his side, that he would make a record and 
stand on that. He had advised his client that he would 
do this and that he did not expect to secure a favorable 
verdict, but would win on appeal. All this was satisfac¬ 
tory to them because they had learned to respect the judg¬ 
ment of John Adams and to love him as a coming great 
and good man. 

As they stood there waiting for the great bell in the 
tower of the Courthouse to call them to Court, he 
thought what a pity it was that these good people were 
so constituted that they must keep up their custom of 
obeying the laws of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for 
a tooth.” Many a good man had been cut down in 
his prime as a sacrifice to this law of revenge. He could 
see gray heads in the crowd, who in good environments 
would have made their mark in the world. Many 
would have been cultured gentlemen in their old age. 
He felt a tinge of shame for these, his people, who had 
not progressed as they should, for he knew that their 
hearts were right; that underneath they were as fine 
thinking people as ever lived and that they were full 
of that quality of sympathy and human kindness which 
makes men; and that except in their feudal divisions 
their mercy was of that quality to make them an ad- 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


75 


mired people. But this awful vindictiveness kept them 
forever meeting the issue and continuing the war. Once 
in a while there would be one of the new generation 
who had the proper idea of things and he would vow to 
end the war for his clan, and a great good would be 
done. John Adams was one of those right thinking 
young men who had resolved to do all he could along 
this line. 

“John, I have seen men lose their lives on days like 
this, when there were so many people in town. This 
crowd don’t look good to me. I am afraid that we 
shall see trouble. May God grant that I am wrong in 
my suspicions, and give us peace.” 

“Well, Dave, we have kept our skirts clean in this 
case, and I shall do all in my power to avert any trou¬ 
ble. I have told the sheriff that I shall have nothing to 
do with any row, nor will I use any feeling in my 
arguments. In fact, I shall not be the aggressor in any 
way.” 

“I know all that, but Bill Henderson is right now 
stirrin’ up all the trouble he can. If the devil ever had 
a good emissary, it is Bill.” 

Just then the great bell boomed forth the call to 
Court and everyone moved toward the Courthouse. 
When they were in, the great hall was filled to over¬ 
flowing. The judge, a young spare built man, was on 
the bench. The clerk was at his desk and many attor¬ 
neys were inside the railing assigned to them. John and 
Dave came in and with difficulty did they reach the 
plaintiff’s table. When Dave had deposited on the table 
the books he was carrying for John, he retired outside 
the railing and became a bystander along with the 
crowd. After a few minor motions and orders, the 
judge ordered the clerk to call the first case for trial. 
Well did he know what it was and so did every person 
in the house. The clerk then called the case of the 
Great Bend Coal Company vs. Whitaker. There were 
four attorneys actively engaged for the defendant. 




76 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


They included the oldest and best lawyers at the bar. 
The defense was in charge of an old man who was a 
typical mountain lawyer. He was sharp and shrewd, a 
reader of human nature and he knew the mountain 
people to the smallest nicety. He would take every 
advantage and play upon every sympathy. Many a 
time had he turned a case in his favor because of the fact 
that he did know mountain people and their traits and 
character. 

Illustrating his shrewdness, he had one time been de¬ 
fending a young man for murder in one of the far 
mountain counties. A young man sent by the attorney 
general from the Bluegrass, was acting as Common¬ 
wealth’s attorney and prosecuting the case. He had 
not been long out of school. He was well educated and 
not realizing his disadvantage in doing so, was using 
language too “highfalutin” for the mountaineer. The 
defendant was charged with shooting from “ambush” 
and killing a man. In the course of his argument, he 
had commented at length on the “despicable” and “dia¬ 
bolical” crime and especially dwelt on the fact that the 
deceased had “been shot from ambush,” and what a de¬ 
pravity it was to “shoot from ambush.” He scathingly 
rebuked the mountaineer who would stoop so low as 
to commit a crime in this way. 

When it came time for the old mountain lawyer to 
make his plea for the defense, he had already read in 
the faces of the mountain jury that they were not in 
sympathy with this young lawyer who was talking 
over their heads. He well knew the feeling existing be¬ 
tween the mountaineers and the people from the Blue- 
grass. So he proceeded to call their attention to this 
splendid young man who had been sent up from the 
Bluegrass to prosecute the simple mountain boys who 
were raised in the hills and were proud of it. “These 
boys of ours who never struck a defenseless foe; who 
are our boys; etc.” And then proceeded: “Gentlemen, 
you know that there is no evidence that this boy is 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


77 


guilty. You know that this young attorney friend of 
mine has not stated the facts as they appear before you. 
You and I know this country better than he does. We 
have hunted ’possum all over every branch in this coun¬ 
ty. He tells you that this man was shot from ambush 
along the road on Wolf Creek. I leave it to you gentle¬ 
men. You have everyone of you been all over Wolf 
Creek and you know just as well as I do that there ain’t 
nary ambush on Wolf Creek. There is plenty of sassa¬ 
fras and pawpaw but you know there ain’t nary ambush 
up there.” The jury freed the defendant. The shrewd 
lawyer had talked their language and knew their 
natures and limitations. 

It was a custom in the hill counties that every attor¬ 
ney in the county must take sides in a case whether he 
was employed or not. He could at least offer his sug¬ 
gestions and advice. They had learned from experi¬ 
ence which many of them remembered, that John Adams 
tried his own cases and usually they refrained from “be¬ 
ing on his side.” In the coal case, most of them were 
lined up on the side of the defense and were ready to 
give all the help they could. This did not bother John 
in the least. He had become accustomed to it long ago. 

The selection of the jury began. John made quick 
work of his side of it because he was not depending on 
a jury to win his case. The defense at once showed by 
their lengthy examination of each juror, that they ex¬ 
pected to arouse all the feeling that they could. When 
the jury was selected at the close of the second day, 
the opening statements of the counsel began. John 
made a clear, concise and short statement of the facts 
which he expected to prove. His entire statement was 
one which gave the jury to understand that he relied sole¬ 
ly on fact, had no enmity, nor did his clients. He asked 
them to listen patiently to the evidence and then if they 
would act solely upon that evidence, he would leave 
his case in their hands, confident and satisfied that jus¬ 
tice would be done. 




78 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“The typical old lawyer” made the statement for the 
defense and it was a scathing denunciation of the coal 
company and everyone connected with it. He vilified 
everybody; no one escaped; his client’s property was 
being stolen from him by main force and if they were 
allowed to do this in this instance, there was no telling 
who would be the next victim. It was sure no one 
could feel safe. Such men as these cared not for the 
rights of the mountain people. They would usurp any 
and every right; they would take property by any force; 
they next would invade the home; they were worse than 
thieves in the night; they had no honor and no prin¬ 
ciple. “Gentlemen of the jury, they belong to that class 
of people who would ride a jackass in the garden of 
Eden and tie him to the tree of life.” He raved on in 
this fashion for hours. When he had finished, he had 
the stage well set for his defense; and his defense 
might include murder; it surely would incur a lot of 
enmity and ill-feeling which would show itself some 
place at some time. 

Then the introduction of evidence began and dragged 
along for days. It was an easy matter for John to in¬ 
troduce the records showing title in his clients and to 
prove a few minor points to make his case, but the cross- 
examination was an ordeal for every witness. When 
he had rested his case, then the defense introduced wit¬ 
ness after witness to prove possession, undisputed pos¬ 
session and usage, custom, relinquishment, abandonment, 
and every other thing that would cause prejudice and 
feeling. Through it all, John controlled himself in a 
way that was most commendable. Not once did he lose 
control of himself. Not once did he get bitter or abus¬ 
ive, although many times he would have been justified 
in so doing. But he was determined that nowhere in 
the record would be found an abusive word of his. 
Through all the days and nights, old Bill Henderson was 
a busy man. He suggested to this one and advised that 
one and every day he grew more bitter against John. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


79 


On Wednesday, the second week of the case, the evi¬ 
dence was almost finished and Court adjourned for the 
day. The defense announced that they had one more 
witness to call the next morning and after that would 
rest their case. Then the arguments would be made. 

The little town for many a month had not had so 
much excitement. Business throughout the county had 
been suspended. All wanted to “see the fun/’ The 
town had been full to overflowing all the time. They 
were confident that before it was over something would 
occur. 

Howard Adams, John’s brother, had been in his of¬ 
fice for a long time and helped him in many ways on his 
cases and following his usual custom was helping him 
with this one. He made notes, ran errands, carried 
books and did many other things. He was a young 
man of the jolly happy-go-lucky type. Everybody liked 
him and he was not given to causing trouble or getting 
into any. John had cautioned him particularly about this 
case and his desire to avoid any feeling or bitterness, 
and Howard had co-operated to the full extent. On 
this particular Wednesday night he had gone to the 
postoffice after supper and was on his way to the office 
where they were to get ready for the next day. Down 
the street from the office and in front of a store, he 
was passing a crowd of a dozen men and heard some¬ 
one mention John’s name with an oath and a threat. 
When he looked he saw that the person talking was 
old Bill Henderson. Bill was standing with his back 
to him and did not know that he was there. He went 
on with his tirade against John and how he ought to be 
run out of the town for trying to take honest people’s 
property. He was a poor citizen and “By God! if no¬ 
body else will run him out I will.” Old Bill saw ex¬ 
pressions on the faces of some of the men that caused 
him to turn for the cause. He saw Howard standing a 
few feet away listening. 




8 o 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“You damn black Adams sneak, what are you stand¬ 
ing there eavesdropping for?” 

“Why, Bill, I am just part of the crowd listening to 
your sermon.” 

“Well, you and that damn brother of yours won’t listen 
to many more sermons in these parts. You are about 
through and I aim to finish you now.” 

As he uttered these words he jumped back and 
crouched for all the world like a wild animal, ready to 
spring on its prey. The crowd was made up of Bill’s 
sympathizers and Howard knew it. He also knew that 
Bill was armed, for he always went that way. He was 
a deadly shot despite his age. Howard was a young 
man and so far as physical strength, he could handle 
Bill and another one like him, but he was not a gun 
fighter. He had little time to think, but he knew it was 
death to run and saw not a friendly face in the crowd, and 
old Bill not more than six feet away. Bill reached for 
his gun and as Howard saw it flash from his hip pocket, 
he dived for Bill’s legs. As he did so, Bill fired. How¬ 
ard had acted so quickly that he had grabbed Bill’s legs 
before the shot was fired but not in time to save him¬ 
self. The impact had knocked Bill forward and the bullet 
went through the fleshy part of Howard’s left thigh. But 
quick as a flash he had thrown Bill on his back and 
grabbed his wrist and was twisting the pistol from his 
hand. Due to his superior strength, this was the work 
of only a second. In the twist, he had wrenched Bill’s 
arm so hard that he was writhing in pain. Quick as a 
tiger and about as vicious, Howard was on his feet 
with the pistol and was in front of the crowd. 

“Now, you yellow curs, I know when I am among ene¬ 
mies. If any man makes a move I shall blow him to 
Hell. Bill, get up, you old devil. I was not bothering 
you. I am not going to bother you now if you behave. 
But damn you, you can’t run over me. You ought to be 
ashamed of yourself. I’d plug you good if it wasn’t for 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


8 i 


your old gray head. It’s so damn mean it ought not to 
be protection for you.” 

As he stood there powerful in his strength, they all 
knew that he meant just what he said. So no one moved. 
The excitement brought a crowd and among the crowd 
the sheriff and the judge who was trying the case. As 
they came up, Howard said: 

‘Judge McGuire, I turn over to you and the sheriff, 
old Bill Henderson who has just shot me in the side. 
Here is his pistol which I took away from him. We 
had no quarrel, but these men here are all Bill’s friends. 
I guess Bill’s arm is hurting him a right smart and you 
better help us up to Dr. Parker’s office so that we can 
get fixed up. You take his gun, Mr. Sheriff, so he won’t 
hurt himself.” 

The blood was forming a little pool at Howard’s feet 
and his clothing was getting soaked with it. The sheriff 
took charge of Bill and led him toward the store and the 
judge cared for Howard, getting him to the doctor’s 
office as fast as he could. But there was not much ex¬ 
citement in the crowd. Most any one of them could have 
shot Howard down, but it was Bill’s fight and they waited 
too long. The strength of youth was too much for the 
man of years. The news soon spread over the town. 
John rushed over to the doctor’s office to find that How¬ 
ard was not so badly hurt. It was only a flesh wound 
which would lay him up for a short while. But he 
feared for what might be the result of the night’s work. 
He knew that Bill had boys who would nurse their wrath. 
And he knew the natural result was to obey their law 
“an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” 

As soon as he had found that Howard was not seri¬ 
ously injured and had seen to it that he was properly 
cared for, he hurried out of the doctor’s office into the 
street and down towards the scene of the trouble. He 
was looking for Bill. When he neared the place he saw 
Dave on the sidewalk. The people gathered around be¬ 
gan to move nervously, for they thought he sought Bill 




82 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


and that there would be more trouble. He saw Bill 
in the store and in he went, and straight up to him. No 
one stopped him, but many were ready for him. As he 
went he said: 

“Bill, I am not going to harm you. I want to talk to 
you. You shall talk to me. You know my word is good 
and I am telling you in the presence of all these friends 
of yours, that I will not harm a hair of your head. Come 
back here in the office and let’s you and I have a talk.” 

To the amazement of all, old Bill said: 

“Your word’s good and I don’t like you, but damn you 
I’ll talk to you. What in hell you got to say ?” and back 
into the office with John he went. 

An hour from that time they were still in there. Those 
waiting outside could hear them conversing. At about 
this time one of Bill’s boys, who had heard of the trou¬ 
ble, came rushing in and unceremoniously entered the of¬ 
fice stating in a loud voice what he was going to do to 
the Adams tribe. In a short while he was quieted down 
and after a little without a word of news, but still mad, 
came out of the office. Would wonders ever cease? 
The crowd stood with open mouths. Never before had 
such actions taken place in that town. Why didn’t some¬ 
one do something? Could any son take such an insult 
to his parent? And all the other expressions which a 
curious crowd can utter. After another long wait the 
two men came out. John was quiet and in full control 
of himself and old Bill still favoring his lame arm said: 

“Boys, John and me have had a talk and we are goin’ 
home tonight. We shall have somethin’ to say tomorrow. 
There will be nothin’ doin’ tonight.” 

With this he called his son and they went up the street 
toward home, while John went to his office. The crowd 
was left to wonder what had happened. When they were 
in the office, Dave asked John what had taken place be¬ 
tween him and old Bill. John told him that he had talked 
to Bill as he had never talked to anyone in all his life. 
He had tried to show him what a continuation of this 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


83 


trouble for only one day would mean; that it would be 
like a firebrand in a powder house. No one could stop 
it if it was allowed to start. He had appealed to Bill for 
the love of his sons and his family and for the friends 
and neighbors who would be drawn into the terrible vor¬ 
tex of trouble, and finally for the sake of Nell, whom 
he loved and whom he knew to be absent for the sole 
reason of saving trouble and that he believed her to be 
living some place : —yes, living for him, and that he in¬ 
tended to find her and marry her. He told Dave that 
old Bill had softened under his arguments and appeals 
and they had argued it out with the result that Bill had 
agreed to stop any spread of hostilities on account of the 
incident and had agreed to take his son home and to talk 
with John again next day and before anything further 
was done. 

“Old Bill’s word is good and lie will keep it. Tomor¬ 
row I shall talk with him a little and exact another prom¬ 
ise from him for a further time on account of being 
so busy in this trial. I shall speak tomorrow afternoon 
or next morning in this case and I shall make a speech 
that will wake up this community and will heal this 
breach if it does not get a verdict for me. I cannot 
expect a favorable verdict from that jury, but we 
shall win the case on appeal anyway and I am going 
to make a speech for my county and its people.” 

“Glory be to the everlasting God! I know you’ll do 
it. The devil and all his angels can’t stop you. May 
you have power and strength and courage and success, 
my boy.” 



CHAPTER XII 


HERE had been excitement in Great Bend, but 



never of the kind that existed this morning. In 


times past, even to the oldest inhabitant, many 
had seen the town crowded to overflowing and the ex¬ 
citement of a fight or an expected fight make the crowd 
gather and mill around with almost a joyous attitude. 
It was as if they were awaiting the show to begin. But 
this was not the kind of excitement that prevailed on 
this morning. There is that tense feeling in everyone 
in a mob that becomes almost a living monster, sur¬ 
charged with awful force, a force that is bound down 
and held in check. Just a little jar will set it off and 
a carnage of death ensues. There is more or less noise 
and brag and boast in the spirit of the mob. It takes 
that to keep up spirits. It is the hellish spirit of the 
demon bound and surging to get loose. It is the mind 
of man perverted for the moment to regret forever aft¬ 
erwards the deeds that are done. 

But on this particular morning there was none of that. 
Great Bend held her breath, and held it tensely. She 
waited. She knew that something was to come off and 
she dreaded what it might be. Very early in the morn¬ 
ing, the town was crowded as it had seldom been 
before, because the news of the trouble the night be¬ 
fore had spread to the farthest confines of the county. 
They knew that John Adams was to make his argu¬ 
ment in the noted case of the Great Bend Coal Company. 
All knew the feeling engendered during the trial. They 
also knew that it had been intended by those who had 
concerned themselves in the case, to cause all the enmity 
possible so that it would lead to what they intended— 
revenge. They intended that someone else should start 


84 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


85 


the trouble and inflict the revenge. They knew the 
spirit of men excited, and especially men of the moun¬ 
tains. They well knew the result. They had planned 
it well. And there was every reason to believe that the 
blow would be struck within a few hours. The moun¬ 
tain men, on the side of the defense, had nursed their 
wrath to keep it warm, and all that they needed was 
that jar which would set off the charge that had been 
so well planted. This was not the first time that such 
things had been planned. It was not the first time that 
innocent people had been excited to do the dirty work of 
people with a grudge. Human beings have resorted to 
this practice since the morning of time, and probably 
always shall do so. 

But as we said before, the excitement which prevailed 
was not of the mob kind, nor was it of that exuberant 
kind that tells to all that it is glad that something is 
about to happen. But it was of that hushed still kind; 
the kind that is best expressed by holding the breath; 
the nervous kind that is evidence of a possession of 
some great information appalling in its magnitude. It 
was the hushed stillness that accompanies death. It 
was as if a great damp had spread itself over the crowd 
and paralyzed it. There was no rushing around. There 
was no loud talking. If people conferred together in 
groups, it was in whispers. If opinions were expressed, 
they were very quietly said. It was as if a powder 
magazine was underneath and everyone knew it. 

What was the cause of all this? It would not have 
been the case the day before. Something had happened 
that the people of Great Bend could not understand. 
They did not know “where they were at.” They knew 
that John Adams was not a fighter. They knew that 
Bill Henderson was. No one had ever seen Bill Hen¬ 
derson welch before. They guessed that he would not 
do so this time. They believed that Howard Adams 
had fight in him. They knew that the Henderson boys 
did. They loved John Adams because he had always 




86 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


been one of them and had made them respect him by 
his fair methods and his impartiality. No matter on 
what side they were, all silently hoped that John would 
win. This feeling was the cause of the hush over Great 
Bend on the day that he was to make his argument for 
the plaintiff in a case he knew to be right. 

John and Dave knew the feeling. They also knew 
that the countrymen were holding their breath. They 
were ready for just such action which was a surprise 
to all others. John knew that he was going to make the 
effort of his life and Dave was secretly praying for 
strength for him to exceed his wildest desires in this 
direction. 

When the bell in the old Courthouse called them to 
Court, the great room was already filled to its capacity. 
The judge entered and took his seat while the sheriff 
in a loud tone cried: “O! Yez! O! Yez! The Honor¬ 
able Circuit Court is now in session and everyone is 
admonished to silence.” John and Dave came in. Just 
inside the railing of the bar, old Bill Henderson was 
seated and there being an empty seat beside him, Dave 
availed himself of it, while John took his place at the 
trial table. They got at once to business. No one cared 
to delay. The defense had no further witnesses to call 
and at once rested their case. Next came their argu¬ 
ments. 

Calmly John began the argument for the plaintiff. It 
was evident from the start that he intended to state the 
bare facts of his side of the case and to review the 
evidence, but it was also just as evident that he was 
talking to the citizens of Woodruff County instead of 
the jury in the box. He reviewed the case in a masterly 
way. He asserted that the weight of the evidence was 
with his side. He prayed for a verdict for his client. 
And then he launched forth in a plea for law and order 
and peace and quietude in the hills of Kentucky. It 
was his home that he loved so well; that they all loved 
so well. Oh! those old Kentucky hills, how they all 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


87 


loved them! How her people had become great as they 
had taken advantage of the great American opportunity! 
On and on he went. He held his crowd and knew that 
he was holding them. He had that feeling as he looked 
into their faces, which every orator has when he can 
feel that the crowd is drawing closer and closer to him 
as he speaks. He knew full well that he was accom¬ 
plishing what he desired. At the end of three hours he 
closed in a passionate plea, saying in part: 

“In the very beginning of time God created light and 
darkness. When they were created he divided them. 
He made the day and the night. We have been fight¬ 
ing ever since to keep them separated. If we relax a 
moment, darkness creeps up and shuts out the light. 
Not only have we fought to keep the elements apart, 
but we have had to fight to keep the light of education 
from being snuffed out entirely. As the light of edu¬ 
cation grows and shines forth, the darkness of igno¬ 
rance recedes. But we dare not relax a moment or it 
comes back stronger than ever. The foundation prin¬ 
ciple of this great American Government is that every¬ 
one is created equal. Everyone has his rights and his 
chance. The caste system is fgreign to American soil. 
We are proud to tell our children that a humble birth 
is no stamp of inferiority, and that from the lowliest 
home may rise the nation’s greatest man. We know that 
from the very doorstep of the lowliest cabin in the hills, 
there is a sure and certain pathway that stretches away 
to fame and that the feet of every boy in that home 
are welcome along this pathway. We know that along 
this unpretentious way have passed our nation’s greatest 
sons to exalted positions in the nation and in the busi¬ 
ness world. We know that the Giver of all things 
reached His hand to a lowly hut in our own Kentucky 
and placed it on the head of a barefoot boy and made 
him rise by his own efforts to the chief magistracy and 
to permanent and lasting fame. And the great, sad 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


Lincoln had more thought for others than he had for 
himself. 

“His was a belief that all were created free and equal. 
His was not a survival of the fittest, but he believed in 
making all fit to survive. He accorded to every man, 
every right that he claimed for himself. His was the 
life and spirit that carried further in this land of ours 
the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, than any other man, 
be he priest, minister or layman. His was a simple 
belief which embodied every good principle of the ser¬ 
mon on the Mount. Not only did he advise and ad¬ 
vocate all this, but he practiced it. He lived it in his 
daily life. He believed that it was wrong to set one 
man against another. He believed that dissension 
caused in this way was the seed of discord which would 
harm our nation more than any other one thing. He 
believed in union and cooperation and success that would 
follow. 

“And I say to you, that I would rather commit any 
crime against the laws of my land, dear as is that land 
to me, and loyal as I am to the laws of my land, or 
against the laws of God, than to set one man or one 
set of men against another. That, to me, is the greatest 
of all crimes. It is from such crimes as these that this 
world has been fighting since the very morning of time. 
Untold millions of human beings have gone down to their 
deaths because of this crime. Factions, cliques and clans 
are made up of individuals. All individuals have rights 
and duties and are amenable to the laws of the land. 
We all know those human coyotes who dip their fangs 
into blood of human beings and counsel and advise the 
enforcement of the law of ‘an eye for an eye, and a 
tooth for a tooth,’ but let me say to you that that law 
is dead. We all know persons who nurse their wrath 
to keep it warm, and we know that they are dangerous 
men to society. They say if we are wronged we must 
wrong someone else to get revenge. If our rights are 
invaded we must invade the rights of another to get 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


89 


even. They do not resort to the laws of the land, but 
take the law into their own hands. They are both 
judge and jury. But I say to you, the spirit of brotherly 
love is the one that is winning in this good old world of 
ours. This world is old. It has rolled on for many a 
day. It has seen generations come and go. And since 
the time of Christ it has been steadily growing better as 
the light has crowded back the darkness. The savages 
who inhabited this ‘Happy Hunting Ground’ of ours 
and roamed over the very spot on which we stand, be¬ 
lieved that might makes right. All savages have believed 
that. But civilization has taught us different. We 
know that we must give and take; that we must respect 
the rights of others; that laws are made to be obeyed; 
that in obeying them we may find a hardship now and 
then, but we also know that there is no permanent good 
that can come to us without a corresponding sacrifice. 

“There was a day of sin in the world so great that the 
people would not make the sacrifice necessary to save it, 
and Christ made the sacrifice for all. Since that time 
we have known that the spirit of brotherly love is the 
spirit that is invading the whole world. Rather that 
any calamity overtake me, yea, even death itself, than 
that I be guilty of putting one man against another 
which would result in enmity, quarrels and death. 

“Gentlemen of the jury, I know not what your ver¬ 
dict will be. God give you strength to do what you 
deem to be right. But I pray to the Almighty God 
above, that enmity and spite and the spirit of the feud 
may be forever banished from the hills of eastern Ken¬ 
tucky, the land I love so well. May God inspire these 
good people of ours with a spirit of brotherly love— 
that love for one another that causes men to bear with 
one another’s faults; that love which causes men to 
fight out their differences with reason instead of with 
pistols; that love which you all have so often heard 
explained and recommended to us on Sunset Hill by 
our own beloved Dave Daniels. And now I am finished. 



90 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


May the God of love and friendship and good feeling 
be with you all, even unto the end.” 

As he finished and turned to his table, there was a 
scene never before witnessed in that Courthouse and 
seldom in any other. There swelled forth such a shout 
of applause with so much earnestness that the sherifif 
was entirely powerless to secure order. Up rose old 
Bill Henderson and grasped John’s hand. He stood 
there with the tears streaming down his face. No longer 
was he filled with that spirit of revenge, that much 
was apparent, and then he spoke: 

“My God, John, I am seventy-four years old, and it 
has taken me all these years to learn this great lesson. 
I am your friend and Nell’s friend and I’ll stand by 
you till hell freezes over.” And turning to the crowd 
he fairly shouted: “I don’t give a damn what the jury 
does in this case. Let them do as they damn please, 
but I am sayin’ to you all now, that this damn foolish¬ 
ness in this county is over. John is the only man among 
us who has had any sense. We have done him great 
wrongs and made it mighty hard for him and caused 
Nell to go away maybe to her death, just because we 
were narrow and revengeful. Now I am going to make 
it my duty to repay him in such small measure as I can. 
Are you all with me?” 

“We are!” rolled back from the audience. John was 
congratulated by all the lawyers present and by almost 
everyone else, even Ezra Whitaker. After a long time 
quiet was restored and the judge ordered the trial to 
proceed. The old attorney for the defense to whom 
we have previously referred, rose to speak. He was to 
have been the chief spokesman for his side, but now 
what chance had he to accomplish anything? Amid 
such a scene as this he was powerless. What he had 
hoped to do was now impossible. He no longer 
could play upon the sympathy of the jury. No longer 
could he use his cunning. The jury to a man was with 
John no matter what they thought about the case and 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


9 i 


its evidence. His was a hard task. He argued the evi¬ 
dence and the rights and occasionally charged the tak¬ 
ing and stealing of property by a soulless corporation, 
but he got no response from the eyes of his jury. After 
a while, he wore himself out and by a preconcerted 
agreement with his associates he closed by stating that 
the trial had been long and the jury were tired and that 
he had concluded that all the facts had been presented 
and that he considered the jury so intelligent and familiar 
with all the facts and circumstances that he would leave 
the case in their hands with the full confidence that 
justice would be done. 

And it was done. Within half an hour they had 
returned a verdict for the plaintiff. And so ended the 
case of the Great Bend Coal Company vs. Whitaker. 
It was never appealed, and it was a curious fact that 
all parties were satisfied. It was not the ending of the 
case that satisfied. It was the speech of John Adams. 
They talk about that speech yet. It accomplished its 
purpose. It was one of those things that is the begin¬ 
ning of a great good. It started on the way a great 
feeling that still pervades that county and has spread 
to others—the spirit of brotherly love which tells to 
all that it is wrong to set one man against another. 
John had won more of a victory than he had ever hoped 
to win. 

With this victory he thought he felt closer to Nell 
in his search for her whereabouts. Always in his An¬ 
gelus after that, he had put a new prayer for strength 
for himself and for the safety and health of Nell. For 
he still believed her to be alive and well. 




CHAPTER XIII 


W HEN a community takes hold of a change, it 
makes it a hobby. Great Bend and the whole 
of Woodruff County had made a hobby of the 
great good that John Adams had accomplished by his 
speech. He had sown the seed and an abundance of 
harvest was being realized. Everybody talked of the 
help and aid that could be given to others and all tried 
to outdo in practicing what they preached. The pen¬ 
dulum always swings to the extreme. If it has been 
to a high point in one direction, it swings to just as 
high a point in the opposite direction. This rule holds 
good in all reforms and social movements. To say that 
this community gave free expression of its infection of 
brotherly love, did not express the situation. Of course, 
it was carried to extremes; but out of all was coming 
a good that was very beneficial. Community interests 
amounted to more than they ever did before. The 
people united to secure certain advantages and they 
accomplished results. It was a great pleasure to John 
to see these things grow and to see this good spirit ex¬ 
tend itself even though he knew that much of it was 
only temporary. He knew that enough of it that was 
good would stay and that he was amply repaid for all 
that he had done. If nothing else had come of his 
efforts than the allaying of the enmity between his family 
and the Hendersons, that would have been sufficient. 
He was satisfied. 

He and Dave remained the same close, good friends. 
Together they continued to live and work and plan. 
Plans were a large part of their existence these days. 
John wanted to search for Nell but he knew not where 
to begin. They speculated but arrived at no conclusi&n. 
92 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


93 


John kept his faith. He firmly believed that he would 
be rewarded with success at some time. The general 
attitude of his community had something to do with his 
growing a little softer towards mankind and having a 
stronger desire to do something that would be more 
worth while. 

He thought much about his business and what it meant. 
To be sure he had built well and was getting along 
nicely. He was satisfied with a future. He could make 
money in his profession and he loved the work. But 
was it the best? Did he get more for his efforts than 
in any other business? If not, was there another busi¬ 
ness in which he could engage that would bring him 
more of pleasure and satisfaction? As he worked from 
month to month, he thought of these things. He talked 
with Dave who urged him to remain as he was, satis¬ 
fied. But one day he startled Dave by his conversation. 
It was after office hours and together they sat at home 
in the twilight. The glow of the setting sun against a 
bank of clouds in the west gave a tendency to increased 
imagination and to exhilaration. This was the time for 
the imagination to dream dreams. It has ever been for 
the dreamer to set in motion the things worth while. 
It is good to dream. It is splendid to watch the great 
structures of a day-dream rise to the skies. It may 
seem an extravagance and a waste of material and time, 
but it is from these structures that we salvage enough 
material to build the progress of the world. 

“Do you know, Dave, I believe that I have decided 
what is the greatest and best business in the world? I 
mean from the point of benefit to mankind.” 

“There can be only one that stands out above the 
others when that is the question—the ministry.” 

“No. You are wrong. The ministry is great. It is 
fine. But it is so limited. It is so curtailed by lack of 
funds and by personal opinions and desires. It is so 
hedged about by the individual interests of the congre¬ 
gation. It seems to me that a business that would reach 




94 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


as large a number of people and where results could be 
obtained, which would be far-reaching, would be a big¬ 
ger business.” 

“Grant that. But what is it?” 

“The life insurance business. I have thought a lot 
about that. When a boy comes into the world and 
grows up to be a man, he has obligations. Of course,* 
we agree that the most important obligation is toward 
himself in saving his own soul. Next to that what are 
his obligations ? He should provide for his own old age. 
You remember reading some place the other day that: 
‘Everybody is interested in childhood, few are interested 
in middle age, but nobody is interested in old age.’ 
Isn’t that about the truth? I was out here to the poor 
house sometime ago to see old Uncle Bob Anderson. 
He was good to me when I was a boy. He played 
with me many a time and did things for me that made 
me always remember him. He was a prosperous man 
then. He had that store down on the corner and made 
money. He had no bad habits and saved his money, 
until that scalawag of a Morgan sold him that worthless 
mining stock. Uncle Bob was the kind of man who 
took the words of his friends as the gospel truth, and 
so he believed Morgan. You remember how he lost his 
store and all that he had, and how it was just at that 
time that he was taken down with typhoid fever and 
before he could get back to his store after the many 
months of illness, his trade was gone. 

“It is true that his competitor didn’t treat him very 
nice and he took advantage of his absence, but the result 
to Bob was just the same. Broken in health, he could 
never get on his feet again. No one took any interest 
in him because he was getting old and beyond the pro¬ 
ductive age. For a time he was welcome with his 
friends of former years, but this welcome soon was 
worn out and he drifted. He tried going to Lexington 
and getting a job there, but he was too old. It hurt 
him to be told this but after a while be became hardened 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


95 


to it, lived only for his existence. One day I had a 
long talk with him and got him to consent to go to the 
poor farm. We have as nice, homelike place out there 
as any county, and I believe it is run just as good as 
any. But my God! It makes my blood run cold to 
think of a successful man spending his last days in a 
place of humiliation like that. He cannot enjoy his 
existence because forever is he reminded of the days 
that are gone. The hopes that he had he now knows 
cannot be realized. For him there is no sunset of life. 
It is only the bare existence from day to day and then 
the night. And then the night! If Uncle Bob had only 
looked ahead and could have seen the last fifteen years 
of his life, he would have acted differently. 

“I think if any man can visualize the last years of 
his life he will make provision so that those years will 
not be empty years, full of humility as are those of 
Uncle Bob. The life insurance man tries to make peo¬ 
ple see the last years of their lives and provide for 
them. And I claim that is a great benefit. It is making 
the man meet this obligation and in so doing he makes 
sure that he will not be a public charge on society and 
not a charge on his own relatives or friends. So much 
for that. 

“Another obligation that the man has is the proper 
care and provision for those dependent upon him. When 
he marries, he takes on an obligation to provide and 
support his wife. That obligation extends beyond his 
life. While he is living and keeps his good health he 
can, by his work, support his wife. But in the scheme 
of life people die at all ages and under all conditions; 
and throughout it all there are great uncertainties. It 
is these uncertainties that cause us to look ahead in 
everything. If there were no uncertainties about the 
salvation of one’s soul, we would be rid of lots of worry. 
If there were no questions about the support of widows 
and orphans, then the world would be rid of its big- 



96 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


gest problem. But there are these uncertainties and 
therefore the necessity for life insurance. 

“We see a young man start out in this life full of all 
the ambition of which Americans are made. He goes 
along for a time prospering. Children bless his home. 
He is building a business and getting some enjoyment 
out of life as he goes along. In his good, vigorous 
health he has not given a thought to the future in case 
he is taken away. He does not provide for any of the 
contingencies of life. Something happens. Disease or 
accident cuts him down. His wife and children are left 
to fight their own battles and to provide their own 
existence. He was a good daddy but he forgot. Now 
then, can you tell me any business in all the world that 
gives so much satisfaction as that of causing this man 
to see his obligation and make provision so that those 
dependent on him will not be forced to destitution or 
charity after his death? What does it mean? If proper 
provision has been made by him, it means that his wife 
can continue to live in the home and in the same station 
of life to which her husband has brought her and can 
continue to have her friends. You know friends—even 
the best of them—drift away when poverty comes in. 
She can continue to hold up her head and she still thinks 
that her husband was the best man in the world. He 
did not forget. But more than that, the children can 
have their education. They will not have to quit the 
grade school to support themselves and their mother, 
but can have an equal chance with the neighbors’ boys 
and girls. 

“When the parents brought them into the world, they 
were obligated to give them a chance for their existence, 
and that means that they should have an equal chance. 
And today, no one has an equal chance if he or she does 
not have an education. Maybe it need not be a univer¬ 
sity education, but it must be a high school education 
at least. To provide a chance and a sure chance for 
boys and girls, it seems to me, is doing about the great- 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


97 


est thing that can be done in all the world. Many people 
spend their time and money saving people who are down. 
But wouldn’t the old rule of an ounce of prevention 
accomplish more? If boys and girls are given a chance 
not many of them will go very far wrong. Just what 
you said the other day proves what I am trying to say. 
You said that 90% of the crime in the world is com¬ 
mitted by uneducated persons, Doesn’t that tell the 
story ? You also said that there was a great percentage 
of boys and girls, 60%, I believe, who have to leave 
high school before they have had the second year. Now 
suppose that a man was in a business of providing for 
boys and girls so that they would have their chance and 
prevent a lot of crime and charity and make this old 
world a better place, can you imagine a better business, 
or one which would give you any more satisfaction? 

“Suppose friend husband, who in his great ambition 
to succeed, has been too busy to think of the obliga¬ 
tions he owes to his loved ones, instead of dying, be¬ 
comes totally disabled, a charge on his wife and children, 
then think of the disaster. I call that a real disaster. 
The wife must then in some way get a living until the 
children can help. In addition to the living, there is the 
expense of the illness. There is a real helpless situa¬ 
tion. It is one to try the patience and fairly wring the 
soul of any wife. It is bad enough when they are well 
provided with this world’s goods, but where there is 
destitution it is heart-rending. 

“It is the work of the life insurance man to make 
men see their duty and their obligation and to provide 
against these great contingencies of life, so that these 
disasters will not be so great. He is a creator of estates 
who provides for the future. If he makes a man see 
these obligations and provide against them, it seems 
to me that his work is of a kind with the minister, but 
that it is more far-reaching, in that it touches the prac¬ 
tical everyday problems, the same as those of the future. 
It seems to me that it is Christianity financed, or Chris- 




98 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


tianity plus the money to secure its success. Of course, 
we say that religion is a matter personal with each in¬ 
dividual and its foundation is faith. So it is, but it is 
the temptations of life that we have to fight continually. 
The lack of the common comforts of life, to say nothing 
of the necessities, makes many temptations which re¬ 
ward the devil with many victims. I can tell you that 
I have given this much thought. 

“I know that the law business is a great profession. 
But you and I both know that its benefits, except in a few 
rare instances, are confined to the persons interested. 
If disputes are settled—and most law business is dis¬ 
putes—then those benefited are just the persons inter¬ 
ested. There is no far-reaching effect or benefit to 
mankind. I cannot create an estate for any of my 
clients. I cannot make secure their loved ones. The 
banker takes your money and invests it at a greater 
rate than he pays you, thereby making something for 
himself and giving something to you in addition to pro¬ 
viding a safe place for the keeping of your savings. 
But his is a cold-blooded business problem. There is 
no philanthropy in it. There is no farther reaching 
effect than the sum of money you have saved will give. 
The physician treats individuals. Except that he keeps 
people healthy and cures bodily ills, his profession has 
no bearing on future generations or their happiness. 
It is my claim that the life insurance business is greater 
than any one of them; that it is the one real business 
in which a man can exert himself to his limit and get 
paid better for his ability than in any other business, 
and at the same time do more good than in any business 
I know. He is the only professional man in all the lot 
who thinks and provides for the future welfare of 
men, women and children. I am so convinced of it that 
I am going to change my profession. I shall move away 
from Great Bend. We will go north some place and 
build a real monument to ourselves in this, the greatest 
business of them all.” 



99 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


This came so suddenly and with such force that Dave 
did not know what to say. He knew that when John 
studied out a subject to a decision, that he was firm in 
it and would stand by his opinions. 

“Well! well! well! This is a surprise to me. I have 
listened to you and have not interrupted, because I am 
poorly posted on the life insurance business. You seem 
to be well posted. I sure do agree with you that what 
you say seems reasonable to me. If you have the right 
information there is no question but that a business 
that makes people realize their duty, and then do it, is 
a good one. We, in the ministry, try to do that, but I 
tell you it is hard because the dealing out of the rewards 
is left to a department higher up. We are only the 
salesforce, as it were, and do not make our own settle¬ 
ments or deliveries. Of course, the greatest aim one 
can have is to make people better. If that be accom¬ 
plished, then nothing better can be desired. You are 
good enough authority for me in everything else and 
I guess you are on this, too. But let’s think it over a 
little more. You have a mighty fine business here to 
just get up and leave it. There would be lots of hard 
work building up a business in a strange land.” 

“Yes, I know all that. But I am young and I feel 
that I must do something. I must get away from here. 
I can get no start at finding Nell here and perhaps if I 
get out in the world away from here I shall make some 
progress in this direction. I have hoped and prayed for 
some clue on which we might start to search for her. 
If we just had a little one it would be better than none 
at all. The suspense is getting well on my nerves. I 
have worked hard here and have succeeded and pros¬ 
pered, thanks to your judgment and advice in many in¬ 
stances. But now I have a great desire to do some¬ 
thing bigger and better than what I can do in the daily 
humdrum life of a lawyer. I do not need to lose touch 
with the people here, in fact, I should hate to think of 
doing so. I shall come often and keep closely posted 





IOO 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


on all that goes on. If there comes a clue of Nell, we 
can have it at once and follow it. But the opportunities 
for good in another field are greater than here and I 
have made up my mind to go. I think I should like to 
contemplate the sunset of life for myself in which I 
can sit down and think of the good I have done; think 
of those I have benefited; of the children to whom I 
have given a chance; and of the old folks I have made 
happy in their old age. Oh, I fancy nothing could give 
us more real pleasure than that.” 





CHAPTER XIV 


T HE result of John’s decision was that he im¬ 
mediately began to close up his affairs prepar¬ 
atory to changing his business. He announced 
his intention of doing so and the word was received 
with great regret by all the people because by now all 
were his friends. They all urged him to stay. At first, 
he decided to go away, but longer thought and consid¬ 
eration caused him to change his mind in this regard, 
so he decided to remain in his native country. Of 
course Dave would continue with him. People generally 
did not know it, but Dave knew his promise to Nell, and 
it was the greatest pleasure of his life to keep that 
promise. It was the course of only a few months to 
close all business in his law office and be ready for the 
new profession. This was the course that John fol¬ 
lowed. He was careful to retain the good will and the 
friendly feeling of all and to assure them that he would 
always remain true to them, no matter what business 
he might be in. All wished him well in his new work. 
He retained the last afternoon of the day before taking 
up his new work, without appointment. He must have 
that half day to himself. It was a part of his plan. 

On this day he asked Dave to go with him to Sunset 
Hill. Together they went to the hill where there were 
so many memories for both of them. It was here that 
he and Nell had spent many a happy hour together. It 
was here that he had heard Dave preach the gospel so 
many times. He remembered so well the great sermon 
almost two years before, that he had heard fall from 
the lips of his friend in which he spoke so much of 
strife and war and peace. It still rang in his ears as 
the best effort of his friend. 

IOI 


102 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


They reached the top of the grand old hill and sat a 
little while looking down on the town of Great Bend, 
which had always been his home and after tomorrow 
would still be home for him but he would be in a differ¬ 
ent profession. A little ways back from where they 
sat was the grove of trees under which the services were 
always held. Soon they strolled back there and there 
they lingered; John in complete reverie. He thought 
over the past; how he had planned and how his plans 
had been cut short on one day, never to be put together 
again. He wondered if ever they would be. He had 
faith that they would but that faith was getting to be a 
small one. He had never given up, nor would he do 
so now. But if Nell was alive he could not understand 
why she had not come back to him after he had healed 
the feud between their families. It might be that she 
did not know. She may have gone so far away that 
she was out of touch, or she might not care. The latter 
he could not believe. He knew that William Daniels 
had taken care of her property ever since she went 
away, but he knew that this charge came to him when 
her father died. He had no clue there and William 
claimed to have no information. Sometimes he won¬ 
dered just a little if William was telling him the whole 
truth. At the end of seven years from the date she 
disappeared, there would be a test of this, but it could 
not be now. 

Here on Sunset Hill on this beautiful*afternoon, John 
watched the sun descend behind the hills in the west. 
Many times had he seen the same sight. It was always 
the one most beautiful to him, but today it seemed more 
beautiful than he had ever seen it before. The clouds, 
few as they were, had a brighter silver in their lining, 
while the trees which stood silhouetted against the western 
sky, all seemed to be holding out their hands to him. 
And as the golden rim of the sun faded behind the hills, 
he hoped that it had gone to light the day for Nell 
some place. The long, golden rays that shot up seemed 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


103 


to greet him in such a pleasant way that he thought they 
told him that that was just what they were going to do 
and that they would give her his best regards. And 
then it was Angelus time. 

There can come a comfort from some place to one 
who has faith. When Ingersoll said that “Life is a 
narrow vale between the barren peaks of two eternities ,, 
he gave a graphic description of it. But somewhere 
out there is the Divine One who directs the two eterni¬ 
ties and he gives to us the great comfort—Hope. Hope, 
together with faith, has accomplished much. The am¬ 
bition inspired by hope has many a time been kept alive 
by faith until success came to crown the effort. On 
this day there was faith with John, however small it 
may have been, and with him there was hope and that 
hope was large. For a long time did he keep his An¬ 
gelus. Dave knew that he was keeping it. Ever since 
the day on the mountain a year after Nell had gone 
away, when he had been sure that he had had a wave 
of thought from her, he had looked to the east when 
he had kept his Angelus. He knew not why he did this 
but it had grown to be a custom with him. This cus¬ 
tom he was following on this day on Sunset Hill. He 
derived mqch good from his reverie and from his An¬ 
gelus. He felt the strength that comes, as we said, from 
some place, giving us strength and courage to go fighting 
on to victory. It has ever been so with man. 

It was almost dark before the two wended their way 
slowly down the hill toward the town. When they left 
his mother’s grave and came towards the brow of the 
hill, John said: 

“Dear old Sunset Hill! How I love it! What a 
place to live, and oh, what a place to die! That last 
fifteen years of my life! No other place in the wide 
world would be so good and so nice as here. I wish I 
owned this dear old hill.” 

There is no tonic quite so good as a quiet hour of 
thought. In the busy whirl of life, one has not time 



104 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


for quiet thought. Every moment must be given to 
problems of business. It is wonderful how clear a view 
we can get of things if we only stand aside in a quiet 
hour and let the world drift on while we think—just 
think. On this day, John had had his tonic and had 
been benefited by it. This was his last day as a lawyer 
in Great Bend, and it had been as he had planned it. 

Early the next day he was to take up a new work; 
one which he had decided was broader and offered to 
him greater opportunities for doing good to men, women 
and children. It would not be an easy task to change 
his life’s work, but cheerfully and diligently would he 
take up the task and with his indomitable will he would 
succeed. He had the vision and with a vision of what 
one wants to do, he can accomplish wonders. Already 
he had taken up and arranged for an agency in the moun¬ 
tain counties of his home state. This arrangement was 
with a company which he had investigated and decided 
was the one for him because the people at the head of 
it also shared his ideas of a broad, firm building for the 
future and for humanity, and not alone for the dollar. 
He was to visit their home office for several days for his 
instruction and for the completion of his contract. Dave 
knew all his plans and was to go with him, not as a 
partner under the contract, but as his constant com¬ 
panion and helper. Together they would learn their 
business, the better that they both might serve. To 
them this was a labor of love, a servant in the vineyard 
of the master, the same as Dave had always been in 
his work. 

Together, the next day, they departed and for a month 
they received their instruction and studied the great 
business in which they were to be engaged. They de¬ 
termined that upon their return they would begin the 
building of estates for the mountain people. It was 
John’s vision that he would build a great agency, 
founded upon such a broad foundation that when he 
was called to his reward he would leave legacies of 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


105 


millions—yes millions—for others; that the people of 
the mountains would be benefited; that there might be 
fewer of such cases as Uncle Bob’s; and that the entire 
community would be better off for his work. They did 
learn well, and in due time came back and set about 
their work. There is much sentiment in the makeup of 
the mountaineer and this fitted admirably to their work. 
They convinced people of their necessity for provision 
for their loved ones and for those dependent on them 
and for the provision for their own old age. 

Let us make a long story short, and say that quickly 
did John build up an agency that was a success and a 
pride to him and to his company. And let us further 
say that he was happy, happier than he had ever been 
in any work because he could see the results of his 
labors. 

At no time did he lose faith in ultimately finding Nell. 
There was not a day on which he failed to keep his 
Angelus. But the succeeding years were not without 
their trials for John. It is ever so with man, and espe¬ 
cially a man of his makeup. 



CHAPTER XV 


OU are my banker and my friend as well. 



I want your advice in this matter. I can say to 


you plainly that I love John Adams and that I 
cannot make an impression on him. We were children 
together and I have always admired him. I have tried 
in every way that I know how to make a good impres¬ 
sion and win his friendship and his love. So long as 
Nell Henderson was here I knew I had no chance. 
Since she is gone and is dead, as everyone believes, still 
I can make no headway. I thought when he changed 
to this insurance business that I would see more of him 
and have a chance. He seems so wrapped up in his 
work that I can hardly get a glimpse of him and am 
farther away than ever. Now I have decided that I 
want to learn all about this insurance business and in 
that way see if I cannot get closer to him. I want your 
advice on this plan and I want to know where I can 
learn all about the insurance business. If there is a 
school I can attend to get this knowledge, I want to 
do so. Give me your advice.” 

“Well, I would say that you are persistent if nothing 
more. There are not many young ladies of wealth, as 
you are, who would want to go to this extreme. If 
the young man cannot be interested in some social way, 
the usual young lady looks for another. That would be 
my advice to you. John Adams is admired by all of us. 
When he came back from college and opened his law 
office, we all knew he would succeed, because he is of 
that type that does succeed at whatever they undertake. 
I believe he made a mistake in giving up his profession 
for the insurance business although I admit his field is 
broader for greater good. There is no question but 


106 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


107 


that he is making good in a very big way. Do you 
know that his account in this bank is one of the best 
we have and the most satisfactory? He will soon be a 
rich man. When he went into the business he went to 
the home office of his company and learned the busi¬ 
ness thoroughly. That is the best way to learn any 
business and leave it to John to do it the best and the 
thorough way. If you want to learn the business in 
that way, I can arrange it with this same company. 
You could not go from here. But I know a man con¬ 
nected with the company at Cincinnati and he will gladly 
secure that privilege for you if I request it. You would 
have to go as a resident of Cincinnati. If you insist, 
I will arrange it for you, but I would advise you not 
to do it.” 

“I will do it, because I want to know as much about 
this business as John does himself. Please make the 
arrangements with all haste.” 

This conversation took place in the office of a banker 
in Great Bend on a certain day. The two people were 
the banker and Miss Betty Allen. The reader does 
not know Betty Allen. She was a wealthy young lady 
of Great Bend. Her father was dead and she was the 
heiress to a large fortune. She was of John’s age and had 
grown up in the same community with him; had at¬ 
tended the same schools and in fact, they had been good 
friends. But so far as John was concerned, that was all. 
She had always tried to win John’s affection but with¬ 
out avail. She was of that type of girl who is the leader 
in all things in the community. If she cannot lead she 
is not in the affairs. There is usually one such in each 
community. She was the one in Great Bend. She had 
great energy and ability but her ambitions were also 
just as great. If she wanted to accomplish a thing, she 
left nothing undone to accomplish it. To add to her 
temperament and her character, she was blessed with 
good looks. This does not correctly express it. She 
was a beautiful girl. She was of that type so often seen 




io8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


in the mountains; light brown hair and eyes, clear com¬ 
plexion and splendid bearing. Wherever she appeared 
she commanded attention. But she could not capture 
John Adams and it annoyed her. 

She wanted to capture him for the same reason that 
a sportsman is willing to undergo great hardship to 
capture a tiger; the love of the chase and the accom¬ 
plishment. She was used to having what she wanted 
and it annoyed her greatly that she was outdone in this. 
So she had evolved a plan and it was the one we have 
just heard her state to her banker friend. She was 
headstrong enough to put just such a plan into execu¬ 
tion. In fact, she did so in the shortest time possible. 
It is not an easy task for a society girl, with no reason 
except her whim, to take up the task of learning a great 
business. But she did so just as quickly as arrange¬ 
ments were made. Be it said to her credit that she 
learned it well, too. Of course, she was expected to 
return to Cincinnati and put all her knowledge into 
practice in the agency from which she was sent, but a 
little thing like that did not bother her. She did not 
return there except to stop on her way and thank the 
friend of her banker for what he had done. He under¬ 
stood, and was glad to accommodate her. When she 
left him, she said: 

“I have learned all about the insurance business, but 
to sum it all up, there is just one thing of value to me. 
That is the settlement with the beneficiary. You know 
the people of the mountains are not very well oil. What 
is a fortune to them is only a small sum elsewhere. And 
you know they are a very trusting people. They take 
advice easily and swindlers get their money. It would 
be a blessing to every mountaineer if they had an estate 
which would come to them as does a pension to an old 
soldier. Then they could spend only the little at a time 
but there would be more coming. There ought never 
to be a settlement made in which a widow or children 
are paid a big sum of money, but the payment should 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


109 


be made on the monthly income plan. That is the 
great thing I have learned and is about all I shall prac¬ 
tice. You need not look for my name on the honor roll 
of producers of business.” 

With that she left him and returned to Great Bend. 
Her mission during her absence had been a secret to 
all except her banker friend. When she returned she 
told him of the success of her trip and that she had 
gained the knowledge that she wished and that she would 
put some of it into practice. She also told him that if 
any of the persons whom John had insured came to 
him asking about settlements on the policies which had 
become claims, for him to advise them to take the settle¬ 
ment in monthly income payments so that they would 
have the money immediately invested from the date of 
the death of the insured and so that they would be sure 
to get full value for all they had and little chance of 
loss of any of it coming in that way. She told him her 
reason and the theory of it all and he agreed with her 
and promised that he could and would cheerfully give 
that advice. 

She went about her usual ways in the community. 
She participated in all events in the town and in the 
community and conducted herself in the way that she 
always had in the past except that she made it her 
business to know of all deaths in the county and was 
gradually extending this information to other places in 
which John was doing business. As soon as she learned 
of a death, she immediately inquired about the insur¬ 
ance and if any was carried she made a visit to the 
home and- gave her advice. She had learned that a 
settlement could be made whereby a certain amount of 
cash sufficient to defray immediate expenses could be 
had and the balance in monthly installments over a 
period of years, with interest on the unpaid balance. 
This is what she advised and in her convincing way she 
won her point and had her way. In each instance her 
advice was given in a confidential way with a request 




no 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


that nothing be said about it. Coming in this way, the 
person, especially if it was a woman, gladly accepted 
the advice as something of advantage coming from a 
disinterested person. 

In the course of time John noticed that all his bene¬ 
ficiaries were taking the same settlement. It was a good 
form of settlement and one that he could gladly advise, 
but where they all got the idea was beyond him. He 
could not fathom it. Yet it was none of his affairs be¬ 
cause it was an asset for him. The more monthly in¬ 
come checks he had going to needy people, the better he 
was off. When he heard some widow with tears in her 
eyes referring to her monthly check as “daddy’s check 
from beyond the grave” it made him proud that he was 
in such a business. 

Betty was returning from a visit to the country on a 
particular day when John overtook her and together they 
traveled towards home. The conversation changed from 
one subject to another until she asked about his business 
and how he was getting along. He grew eloquent in tell¬ 
ing her of all its good qualities and how well he was 
progressing. He told her of the great good he was do¬ 
ing for the people in general. She asked questions and 
he answered them. She was evidencing a great interest. 
He told her of settlements he had made and of the great 
good that he had already seen from his work. She com¬ 
plimented him on his work and especially the settle¬ 
ments and praised his foresight in making his settlements 
in this way. She expressed her opinion on the benefit 
that a steady, certain income would be to the people. 
She was so profuse in her praise that he could not get 
in a word to tell her that the people themselves always 
selected this form of settlement. He finally did get to 
tell her. She was expecting this. It was just what she 
wanted. 

“Oh, I guess shrewd John Adams had something to do 
with what they did. Everybody has so much confidence 
in you that if you gave your opinion as to what would 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


hi 


be best, anybody around here would take it as good ad¬ 
vice. You will be a great man some day in this busi¬ 
ness and as it grows will be the most loved man in all 
the mountains. I love this business and am so glad you 
are engaged in it. It will do so much good for our 
people.” 

It was like her and yet he did not quite understand 
why she had such a great, warm interest in his busi¬ 
ness. Anyway he was glad. Human beings have ever 
a sense of pride over their accomplishments. It has ever 
been so since the unit of the home was established. Since 
man has raised himself above the tribe and established 
for himself a home with duties and obligations, he has 
ever had ambitions and been proud of his achievements. 
It was so with John. And woman has always been pres¬ 
ent to tell him of these same accomplishments and by 
her praise has gained her own ends. Betty Allen hoped 
that history would repeat itself in this instance. 

Before they parted she had invited him to spend the 
evening with her the following Sunday, and he knew 
not why, but had accepted her invitation. No sooner 
had he done so than he regretted it. It seemed like 
sacrilege to Nell to do so. He had not sought the friend¬ 
ship or society of any lady since the fateful day of her 
disappearance. He felt that he should not do so now. 
And yet—well, he would see about it. Maybe he would 
go and maybe he would not. There could be no harm 
in talking with her about his work and visiting with her. 
The next day or so convinced him that he was very lone¬ 
some and that more than ever in his life did he yearn 
for Nell. Sunday came and he kept his appointment 
with Betty. He told Dave that he was going to do so, 
but that he would let it be the last time. Dave did not 
like Betty and never had. It was his opinion that she 
was a frivolous girl with no good intentions and not at 
all the girl for John. 

John was not so sure of himself as he thought. Sun¬ 
day night did not end his calls on Betty, but they began 



112 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


to be seen together from time to time and Great Bend 
began to talk. He was as sure as ever that he had no 
love for her, but he argued with himself that it was not 
wrong to see her now and then. She was good com¬ 
pany and he was so lonesome. It would never come to 
anything between them. He would see to it that there 
was no love. He was sure that there was none on his 
part and if he judged her correctly, there was none on 
her side. She was interested in his business and already 
—just from what he had told her—she seemed to under¬ 
stand it all about as well as he did. It was a pleasure to 
converse with her about his business. So day by day 
he argued it out with himself. It was like any other 
child playing with fire. He knew it would burn and 
yet he took the chance. Dave talked with him and cau¬ 
tioned him that she was not the girl for him. John as¬ 
sured him that he need have no fears. It was not so 
serious as all that. 

“Old partner, you ought to know me better than to 
think that I would forget Nell after having kept my 
Angelus with her for such a long time.” 

“Yes, I know you, but I also know human nature and I 
know that you are now dealing with a very ambitious, 
strong-minded young lady. The first thing you know 
you will care for her and then it will go rapidly to a 
conclusion. I would hate to see you married to that 
girl. She would be different as a wife than she is as 
the leader of the young society here.” 

Many such conversations took place. And as the 
weeks rolled by they were more and more in each other’s 
company. Many times she accompanied him to nearby 
homes in which there was bereavement occasioned by 
death. She was accomplishing her purpose. At least, 
that was her conclusion so far. And yet she had no 
assurance of success. 



CHAPTER XVI 


C HRISTMAS in the mountains is a joyous time 
for all. It is a time for merriment. It is then 
that the spirit of friendship and true hospitality 
shows itself. Relatives gather at some place for a Christ¬ 
mas tree. Whole communities gather and celebrate. 
But always there is a gathering. In days that were gone, 
these gatherings used to be the scenes of rows and fights 
and death, but this had grown to be a thing of the past. 
Ever since John had grown to manhood he played Santa 
Claus to a lot of poor children. This had been one of 
his very great pleasures. Never a year had passed that 
he had not done this. He kept it up to this day. And 
Christmas was drawing near again. 

Betty Allen knew of John’s custom and she, too, 
thought of Christmas this year. The old Allen place, 
just out of town, was a beautiful stock farm and it had 
been kept up in the best of condition. Betty had al¬ 
ways had this pride. She had a house in town but she 
always retained her room at the old, colonial home on 
the farm. This old home stood at the mouth of a creek 
whose hills came down to the house in the back. Around 
the back on the hills, her father had planted evergreen 
trees which had grown beautiful and made a picturesque 
setting for the house. It seemed to nestle at the foot 
of the hills in front of a bank of green. In front there 
was a long lane to the road and on each side of the 
lane a row of large elm trees spread their branches until 
they touched each other, making a great green arcade 
during the summer which was known far and wide 
for its beauty. It was equally beautiful in winter when 
the snow was on the ground. If they had snow at Christ¬ 
mas it was the most beautiful spot in the country. As 
113 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


114 


we said before, Betty had been thinking of Christmas, 
too. She had planned. And when Betty planned it was 
not on a small scale. When the plans were all com¬ 
plete she told John about them. She told him and then 
she asked his help in executing them. John was not 
the first man who had been drawn into a woman’s plan, 
on account of his chivalry, and we are not so sure but 
that he did right in helping. At any rate he was the 
same good John who wanted to do all he could to make 
people enjoy themselves, and we will assume that he 
agreed solely for this reason. 

When she told him all that she proposed to do she 
said: 

“You have always played Santa Claus to the poor 
kids around here and this year you are a very busy man. 
I thought I could plan part of this good time for you. 
If you will help me, you can have a real Christmas tree 
for all the poor people around here, at the farm. We 
will have a big tree and make it a real treat for them. 
But I want them to know that you are doing it—not 
me—and I shall help you all I can. You and Dave come 
out and stay all night and we shall have a great time.” 

“Betty, I don’t know how I am to repay you for the 
plans you make for me. I have been thinking of the 
ones I should take care of this coming holiday, but my 
plans were not so elaborate as yours. I shall be glad 
to help and we shall follow the plans you have made. 
I will speak to Dave tonight and we will arrange it.” 

And they did arrange it. Not that it suited Dave, 
but there was nothing much that he could do but enter 
into the plans. At John’s home there was no one save 
his brother and the servants. His brother was away 
just at this time and he sent the servants to Betty’s farm 
to help. For two days before Christmas he and Dave 
employed their time between town and the Allen farm, 
getting everything in readiness for the tree and Christ¬ 
mas Eve. For this reason they did not go home. Needy 
people had been invited to meet John Adams at the 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ii 5 


Allen farm on Christmas Eve and this invitation in¬ 
cluded grown people as well as young persons. They 
came and such a time as they had. John had prepared, 
as always had been his hope that he might prepare and 
take care of his friends who were needy at this time. 
All were cared for. John was Santa Claus and everyone 
knew it. He might just as well have left off his costume, 
for all knew that it was he who was making them all 
happy. He saw to it that the families represented were 
all provided with a good dinner for the next day. He 
provided amusement, and long into the night did they 
stay and enjoy themselves. Those who were inclined to 
dancing could have their pleasure in the great room 
which had been cleared out for this purpose. 

There was not a sad heart in the house unless it was 
Uncle Dave’s. To be sure, he was glad to see the poor 
enjoying themselves at his friend’s expense and prepara¬ 
tion, and yet he could not see any good results for John 
himself. He was sure that behind it all there was a 
scheme and that scheme involved John. 

It was a wonderful night. The ground was covered 
with snow. But in the hills snow does not long stay 
on the ground. It is a treat if they are favored with 
snow for the holidays. The moon was bright and the 
whole landscape looked for all the world like a great 
painting. Nature had outdone herself and made it all 
look artificial. And nature can sometimes do just that 
thing. It is the original that is of value. But when na¬ 
ture does her best she often makes the picture look arti¬ 
ficial. All the invited persons had departed. On the 
great veranda, between two great white columns, stood 
Betty and John watching the last of them disappear 
through the arcade of the elms. It was like they were 
fairies going through a snowy archway. Together they 
stood. No one had spoken for some time. It was for 
Betty to break the silence. 

“John, you ought to be a very happy man. See all 
the people you have made happy tonight. I think you 



n6 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


are the best man I ever knew. You seem to take pleas¬ 
ure only in the happiness of others. They used to say 
that that was Lincoln’s great fault. But we are just 
beginning to realize that it was his one best characteristic. 
John, you are so good!” 

She had taken hold of his arm, and coming closer to 
him as she talked, he felt her presence more than he 
had ever done before. 

“Betty, you planned all this. You know you did. You 
have given me credit for it all. But you know as well 
as I do that it was your doings and you are entitled to 
more credit than I am. I am glad to see these good 
people have a good time. I have always tried to do a 
little at this time of year, but I have never dreamed of 
being able to do anything like this. You are the one 
who is good and deserves the credit.” 

As he said this he had turned to her and the pale light 
of the moon, augmented by the reflection from the snow, 
made his face and features stand out between her and 
the sky. She had never seen him in just such a light. 
His features were sad, as is usually the case on such 
an occasion. The very hallowness of Christmas makes 
us think of the day and what it means. And then the 
thoughts that come to us at this time are more the 
thoughts of good and humility than otherwise. To add 
to these thoughts such good acts as John had performed 
on this occasion made him sad, even though it was the 
ending of a happy day for him. We know not why this 
is so, but a tinge of sadness will creep in at the end of 
many a happy day. 

It was not like Betty. But she did it just the same. 
It was very quickly and very gracefully done. She put 
both her arms around John’s neck in a gentle, loving em¬ 
brace, drew his face down to hers and kissed him. He 
knew not why, but he did not resist. He pressed her 
close to him. Her hot breath against his face intoxi¬ 
cated him. He knew that love had taken charge while 
he was off guard. For a few moments they stood there 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ii 7 


and then both seeming to realize their situation, turned 
and went into the house. Uncle Dave, from the window 
of the living room, had seen it all. 

Before the great wood fire they sat and talked far 
into the night—the three of them—Betty, Dave and 
John. There was a flush on John’s face which Dave 
understood. He knew it to be the flush of guilt and 
penitence. Betty thought it the flush of love. John 
knew that it was a combination of both, for he realized 
that into his very being had crept a love for Betty. He 
had assured himself that this never should occur. Oh, 
why could he not find Nell? It was cruel of her to stay 
away from him. He knew not where to search for her 
or he would be off tomorrow. Why did she not write 
to him ? She knew that a letter addressed to him would 
reach him, even though he might have gone away. And 
yet he hoped. But his hope was weak tonight. At one 
moment it had almost flown away. 

Betty was a good girl, beautiful and grand. But she 
must not take the place of Nell. But then why should 
he forever tie himself down to a faint hope for Nell? 
He was a man rising in the world because of his great 
business. Because of the great good he was doing, he 
was becoming the most loved man in all the mountains. 
Why should he travel life’s pathway alone? It was not 
intended that man should do so. He had been fair to 
Nell. He had waited for her. Every night he had 
kept his Angelus as he told her that he would. To¬ 
night he felt as though he was making too much of a 
sacrifice. Wouldn’t he be better off if he married Betty 
and had the comforts of a home, presided over by a 
wife, rather than his home of servants? All these things 
he asked himself before the fire in Betty’s home that 
night. If he did not keep up his part of the conversa¬ 
tion it was not altogether his fault. He was in a reverie. 
The dying embers gave him pictures which held his at¬ 
tention. Dave understood. He knew that in the breast 
of his good friend there were conflicting emotions. He 



n8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


prayed that the remembrance of his promise to Nell 
would hold him true to the course. For it was hard 
for this staunch old friend to see any person take the 
place of Nell. He had promised her that to the end he 
would stand by John and that he would do. But John 
must remain true to Nell. Betty hoped, as do all lovers, 
that she was close to her goal. She could not feel 
ashamed of what she had done. It was honest love with 
her. On this evening, there by the fireside, she loved 
as she never had loved before. She yearned. 

Who can say what the result would be if love be given 
for love at the proper time? Little things change the 
face of things. Many great events have been influenced 
by the change of a mind at a certain time. Sleep had 
cleared the mind of John and the next day he and Dave 
returned home. Before leaving he had expressed his 
great appreciation to Betty for all she had done, but 
there was no evidence of love. He was John again and 
Dave knew it. Dave was glad. 



CHAPTER XVII 


T HROUGHOUT all the mountains there was a 
new subject of conversation—war. It was a year 
and a half since Germany had invaded Belgium. 
At first little attention had been given to the war. It 
was argued that European countries are fighting all the 
time anyway and this is just another one of their an¬ 
nual encounters. But when it had stretched itself into 
two and a half years, it was a different matter. It was 
a favorite subject of Dave and John. Many times had 
they recalled and talked of the sermon which Dave had 
preached on Sunset Hill years before, when his words 
had burnt into the very soul of all present. Was it a 
prediction? Maybe. Take it whatever way you may, 
it now looked very much like the thousand years were 
up and that Satan had been loosed to seduce the nations 
and set them against each other in war. Anyway, it was 
a peculiar coincidence that Uncle Dave should have so 
accurately described what was now taking place on for¬ 
eign soil. On every hand it was the talk that America 
must intervene. If so, then Uncle Dave’s vision of the 
white crosses might become a reality. 

Together John and Dave had discussed the war news 
as it had come to them in the press. They had a good 
idea of the terrible disaster in Belgium. They had tried 
to vision the entire city of Ypres destroyed, with not 
even the grand old cathedral and the ancient hall of 
the clothmakers and the city hall spared. Nothing was 
sacred in this war. They had seen pictures of the sur¬ 
rounding country with not a tree standing, all mowed 
down by shot and shell. The nearby villages so com¬ 
pletely destroyed that no trace of them showed in a pic¬ 
ture of the landscape. They learned that each oppos- 
119 


120 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ing army was a veritable battering ram which was daily 
hurled against the other with all the destructive force 
possible. And it was said that the Germans had mounted 
guns which were shelling cities thirty-five miles away. 
This was unheard of in any previous war. It was 
reported that the British had great armored tanks which 
would crawl into the mouth of the enemy’s hell, carry¬ 
ing death and destruction as they went. And then came 
the news that the Germans had crucified three Canadians 
and left the crosses standing in their front trenches to be 
viewed by their comrades. Yes, it was a war different 
from all other wars. It certainly was Satan loosed from 
his thousand years’ imprisonment. There certainly was 
some great force loose on the earth playing havoc. It 
was gathering the nations together for war. And they 
were warring with each other to such an extent that 
already some twenty were engaged. When would it all 
end ? Would America really be called upon to go across 
the ocean and for the benefit of humanity help to end 
the conflict? These were the questions discussed by John 
and Dave at the beginning of 1916. 

Questions of this kind could not be answered to a cer¬ 
tainty. It was only by opinion that an answer could be 
given. They argued and expressed themselves as did 
millions of people at that time. These two men agreed 
that it was the duty of the United States to intervene. 
Their reasons were that they owed it to France to do 
so and that it would eventually become necessary for the 
protection of ourselves to do so. John, the younger man 
of the two, always asserted with firmness that left no 
doubt with his older companion, that if the call came 
he was going without delay. He felt that every patriotic 
young man owed this allegiance to his country. He had 
felt, and had so expressed himself, that he would like 
to go anyway and join the armies of Great Britain or 
France, but the reasoning of Dave had kept him from 
this. Dave knew that if the United States became in- 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


121 


volved that John would go at once and he had made up 
his mind not to try to dissuade him. 

The mountain people are a very loyal people and do 
not hesitate when the state or nation’s honor is at stake. 
As this new year began, the feeling was getting tense. 
It was like the time just immediately before a blow is 
struck. Everyone is keyed up to the highest pitch. Every 
nerve is tense. A shout or a shot would start a riot. 
Such was the feeling in the mountains on New Year’s, 
1916. 

Being as impulsive as these people are, they act and 
then count the cost afterwards. This was the spirit that 
impelled many communities to send every person of draft 
age into the army of the nation before the draft came. 
Whether it be that they are any more patriotic than 
other communities, let it be said that they acted promptly. 
John Adams had that strain of blood in his veins. As 
time went on he got more restless about the war. Dave 
knew that the time would come for a decision and he 
knew what that decision would be. He dreaded the time 
and yet he admired his friend for his attitude. 

The winter dragged itself into spring. It is not a long 
time from the new year to spring in this country. Dur¬ 
ing the days and weeks John put in good, honest work at 
his chosen profession. New Year’s Eve had made a 
strong impression on him. It alarmed Dave that Betty 
was seemingly gaining a strong hold on John. He seemed 
to care more and more for her as the days went on. He 
saw much of her. When he was in town they were 
continually together and often she went with him into 
the country, she to visit friends, and he to attend to his 
business. She continued to know about his business, to 
his great surprise, because he had never yet learned 
that she had informed herself from the same source that 
he had. She continued to advise the income settlements. 
She hoped some day, when the first of the month brought 
income checks to enough of the homes of the country, 
that it would be a common expression: “Today the 



122 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


postman will bring daddy’s check from beyond the grave. 
Good old daddy. He did not forget.” She thought that 
when that day came when the first of the month would 
be looked upon as income day as well as the first of the 
month, that she would then tell John what her plans 
had been. 

He could not avoid seeing that she was a great help 
to him in his business and naturally this made a strong 
impression on him and attached her closer to him. If 
he ever suspected a plan in her actions, he never gave 
evidence of it. She shared his ideas of the war and 
the duty of every American, but at the same time she 
always argued that the time would not come when the 
United States would take a part by sending men. Just 
the same, she had a feeling that a day was not far dis¬ 
tant when John would act, whether his country inter¬ 
vened or not. He had a restlessness that she had never 
approved in her own mind, although she had never men¬ 
tioned it to him. She knew of the Angelus and always 
when they were together she knew that he must be let 
severely alone at sunset. She had never liked that be¬ 
cause she knew that it was still a binding tie between 
him and Nell. No matter if Nell were truly dead, there 
was a feeling still existing that she did not like. Save 
for one time, she had never crossed him in this matter. 
This one experience was enough to warn her that it was 
sacred ground for him and that just so far she must 
come and no farther. She hoped that the time would 
come when all this would be changed. But she was 
good enough judge of human nature to know her limits 
with John. So she acted accordingly. This is the way 
with a designing woman. 



CHAPTER XVIII 


E ASTER came and a beautiful day it was. It was 
warm and bright enough that the usual Easter 
services were held on Sunset Hill, as planned. 
For many a year these services had been held on this 
grand old Hill, the weather permitting. It was a great 
disappointment to all when the weather compelled them 
to use the church in the town. But this year, whoever 
it is that dispenses the weather, had worked in harmony 
with the plans and there was a great gathering on Sun¬ 
set Hill. The old Hill itself had never been dressed 
in a gayer garb than on that day. The great old oaks 
were clothed in their newest shade of green, while 
here and there around the Hill, native flowers nodded 
their heads, as if they, too, were glad on this joyous 
Easter day. Further back on the Hill where the woods 
were denser, the white heads of the native dogwood 
served as Easter lilies. What a beautiful setting it all 
was! Nature in all her glory was joining in the joyous 
celebration of the day. 

Uncle Dave had been requested to preach the sermon 
on this particular Easter. It was a pleasure for him 
to do this. Since he had been engaged with John in 
the life insurance business, he had a new and different 
view of life. He had learned more than ever before how 
man strives and works, not for himself alone, but largely 
for others. He had learned the truer meaning of “I 
am my brother’s keeper.” And on this beautiful Sun¬ 
day morning, he seemed inspired as he stood there in 
the great outdoors, his white hair glistening in the sun¬ 
light and spoke to his friends and fellowmen. His ser¬ 
mon was not a stiff, theological discourse, but more as 
the old Romans or Grecians were wont to do, just talk 
123 


124 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


and discuss a subject. He first called their attention to 
the beauties of nature surrounding them and reminded 
his listeners that everything came from nature. 

“In the very creation of the world, the Creator di¬ 
vided the earth into land and water. He filled the water 
with fish and reptiles, some good and some bad; he filled 
the land with animals and fowls, some good and some 
bad. When they had all been made, he then created 
man in His own image. Man was the only creature 
given the power of reasoning. He ruled over all. In 
his savage state he knew no duties. He had no obliga¬ 
tions. If we think back over the situation, we will con¬ 
clude that the sea part of this universe gives us water 
and that the land part gives us many other things; that 
both.of them give us food. The fishes of the sea are 
used by man; the animals on the land are used by man 
as well for beasts of burden as for food. But none of 
these animals or fishes do anything whatever for the 
improvement of natural conditions as they find them. So 
far as we are able to determine, there is no animal that 
has intelligence enough to organize into communities, 
and so far as we know, they have no ability and in¬ 
centive to improve things one particle. But man was 
made with a countenance that looks upward and man 
was the last of the creatures of the earth to be made. 
Whether it was for the reason that all the forms of 
countenance had been used in supplying the animals or 
not, we do not know, but it remains anyway that man 
is the only animal or being that looks upward. Man has 
intelligence, and since his creation he has improved his 
condition and he has improved in this proportion as he 
has been able in every particular locality to separate the 
light and the darkness. 

“This universe is so made that even the climates of 
the different countries are sometimes a hazard to man. 
The tropical climates very often so take away the in¬ 
centive and pride of a man that he loses his character. 
It is hard for him to retain the position at which he has 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


125 


arrived. The countries of the far north have their haz¬ 
ard, and likewise the temperate zones in which we live. 
All of them present to man a difficulty and a hazard and 
he must continually be on his guard to progress. The 
savage tribe that used to roam over this land and through 
this forest, secured their living from the lake and from 
the forest. They added nothing to nature. It is true 
that their traditions were unique, but as a race they did 
not progress. They built no homes; they built no cities, 
hence their needs were only that of a living as they 
roamed from place to place. 

“But the race with a purpose, that part of the human 
race that has gone ahead, that part of the human race 
that looks to a living God and to the protection of the 
soul of man, has progressed. He has built cities; he has 
built homes; he recognizes responsibilities. He also rec¬ 
ognizes that nature has placed this land and this sea 
here for the use of man, and that man in his intelligence 
was made to dominate all else, and that the animals and 
the fishes and all else on the earth are for his use. He 
realizes that if he has luxuries they must come from 
nature; he realizes that if he has a living it must come 
from nature; and he must realize that it is the Creator 
who is furnishing all these things to man. He realizes 
that man is the only force in the world that can make 
it better. He knows that nature will build trees better 
than he can build; that nature builds vegetation better 
than he can build it; but he also knows that there is no 
other force that can build character, and that so far as 
the progress of the world is concerned, man and his ac¬ 
tions, in other words, the character of man is the sole 
index of progress. 

“Man may use his intellect and his ability, but he can¬ 
not equal nature in what she has to do. Man can paint 
a picture of this forest, of the trees and the lake. He 
may make it so it is beautiful to the eye, but nature can 
paint it better. But what man can do is to build a 
government, a state, a society to govern and operate the 




126 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


world to its advantage. If he builds well, then there is a 
good country; if he tears it down, as has been done in 
Russia, then darkness overwhelms the land and there is 
anarchy. So we know that man is the only force that 
can make things better, and when he builds a home and 
cities, he realizes that there is a responsibility from him 
to his loved ones to try to retain them in that same posi¬ 
tion to which he has brought them. If he was a savage, 
roaming through this forest and getting all his living 
and depending upon it entirely so long as he was here, 
then he would not need to recognize a responsibility. 
Those of his tribe could take care of themselves because 
there is no family unit; he is only one of the tribe and 
therefore there is no responsibility, but just as soon as 
man arrives at the proper intelligence, he recognizes the 
necessity of a family unit, and just as soon as the family 
unit is established, then there is a responsibility on the 
head of that family. Out of this responsibility has 
grown more progress of the world than out of anything 
else. 

“Easter time is a glad time for us. It is a day for 
joyous celebration for the Christ who arose among the 
lilies. It is a day to go back to nature and learn the true 
rules for man’s proper living. We learn much from na¬ 
ture; from the very nature that lies here at our feet 
today; from the nature that gave us all that we have; 
from the nature that makes us know that a seed will 
sprout into a tree, and that this tree will become a great, 
sturdy oak, strong in its trunk and offering protection 
to anything and anybody that comes beneath its spread¬ 
ing boughs. We have learned to expect these things 
from nature. We know from nature comes our ambi¬ 
tion; that ambition that came to us from the genera¬ 
tions gone before; that ambition that has taught us that 
we can take the sturdy oak we have seen grow and 
build for ourselves a house and make of it a home to 
shelter our loved ones; and we know we can put over 
the door of that house, built from nature’s own wood, 





The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


127 


a vine; and we know that in the proper season the 
grapes will grow purple in the kiss of the autumn sun. 
We know that love comes from the ambition of a soul 
and we know if it does come in this way that a man will 
protect those he loves. 

“So it is from nature we learn our lesson and it is 
very fitting we come back today to nature for a lesson; 
a lesson that means much to us; a lesson that tells us 
that whatever we are or aspire to be, must come from 
the rules that have been proven and demonstrated by 
nature.” 

He held the close attention of all and closed beau¬ 
tifully : 

“My friends, we are very fortunate here in this land 
of the free and the brave. On European soil on this 
day, the homes are sad. In some of the countries now 
engaged in the great war, there is scarcely a home across 
whose threshold has not stepped the grim reaper. They 
have given their husbands, their sons and their relatives 
that liberty and right may prevail. Men do not so much 
want liberty as they want equality. Equality is what 
counts in any body of people. This nation of ours told 
the world in its very first message that ‘all men are cre¬ 
ated free and equal’ and that one message is enough to 
distinguish it from all other nations of the earth. Other 
nations have their great men who have been their rulers, 
their kings, their emperors, their kaisers, but none of 
them can lay claim to a Washington or a Lincoln, That 
privilege is only for the United States. Our own Lin¬ 
coln, who said that our government of the people, by 
the people and for the people, shall not perish from the 
earth, is now and will ever be the foremost character 
of the world. Next to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he 
is the greatest. And it was his striving for the equality 
of men that made him so. He gave himself for others, 
as Jesus gave himself for the salvation of the world. 
We, as a nation, will give for our brother nations across 
the sea. We shall do all we can. We can only hope 



128 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


that the spirit of our own great Lincoln may come down 
from on high and touch the hearts of these people who 
are devouring each other, and that they may be touched 
with that feeling of equality and right which makes men 
regard the rights of others. 

“Across the sea there is a great conflict that today 
casts a shadow over what would otherwise be for us a 
perfect Easter day. We are joyous in our celebration 
of this day, but every moment we are reminded of the 
death and destruction going on and of the probability 
of our own nation being involved. So, my friends, beau¬ 
tiful as this day is, and happy as we are, when the sun 
sets tonight on Sunset Hill, the lengthening shadows of 
the closing day will creep up here like the yearning of 
men’s unfinished dreams, like statues and ideals, only 
partially completed. May God grant that the next Easter 
find us free from concern over the safety of our nation!” 

John and Betty had gone to Sunset Hill together on 
this Easter day and they had heard Uncle Dave as they 
had heard him many times before, but the strain of his 
sermon on this day made a hush over his audience as 
it had once before, when he had spoken of Satan being 
loosed on the world. Betty dreaded the effect this ser¬ 
mon would have on John. For the last few days, the 
talk of war had been very great and she knew that the 
time for a decision was only hours ahead for John. 

They spent the day together at Betty’s home and in 
the afternoon took a walk on Sunset Hill. They had 
an enjoyable time. Betty was afraid for John to go away 
to war. Somehow she felt that it was giving him back 
to Nell if he did go. She knew not what caused this 
feeling when everyone believed Nell to be dead. It 
was just one of those fears that comes to us and stays 
so long that it becomes a part of ourselves. When sun¬ 
set was approaching they were seated on the point of 
the hill directly overlooking the town. The lengthening 
shadows of the western hills were beginning to creep 
up, as Uncle Dave said they would, and John thought 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


129 


that these shadows were indeed like his unfinished 
dreams, like his own ideals which had been shattered. 
It made him sad. On that day he had fought a great 
fight. He felt a duty to propose to Betty, if he con¬ 
tinued to keep her company, and he felt that if he did 
propose he would be accepted. And yet, he felt an¬ 
other duty to Nell. He must not abandon her and their 
Angelus. On this day the opportune moment for pro¬ 
posal had presented itself many times and as often had 
he fought it off, he knew 1 not why, except that it be 
out of fairness to Nell. And here he was again in the 
very atmosphere of proposal, and what should he do? 

Betty sat very close to him as they gazed into the set¬ 
ting sun. A robin sat on the topmost branch of an elm 
close by, singing a song of love, while his mate was carry¬ 
ing sprigs of grass to build their home in this selfsame 
tree. “When you come to the end of a perfect day,” 
hummed Betty, very softly. It had, indeed, been a per¬ 
fect day. She had done everything possible to make 
him happy on this day. Farther up the hill crept the 
lengthening shadows. She was a beautiful girl, of good 
family and ought to make any man a good wife. Dave 
had always seemed a little adverse to Betty, but prob¬ 
ably that was natural, considering his close friendship 
for Nell. The shadows had crept past them and were 
fast crawling toward the top of the hill. In a few mo¬ 
ments more it would be sunset. Both of them knew 
this. Betty slipped her arm through John’s and leaned 
a little closer. He must decide fast, so far as this mo¬ 
ment was concerned. Would he choose the girl at his 
side as his life’s companion, or would he anchor his hope 
to Nell, who was only a hope, a vision, a remembrance? 
It had been four long years since she had disappeared 
from his life. He was entitled to his life and to a home. 

“John, dear, will you do something for me?” 

“Why, certainly, if I can.” 

“Won’t you give up the Angelus?” 

“Why?” ; 




130 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Because you have made yourself miserable long 
enough with it. It isn’t worth it. It is a foolish idea 
anyway.” 

The shadows had at that moment enveloped the moun¬ 
tain. It was sunset. John sat for the veriest little mo¬ 
ment looking at her, then slowly he disengaged his arm, 
rose, and turning, walked a little way toward the east 
with his head up and a light in his eyes which had not 
been there for days. He had given his answer. He had 
kept his Angelus. 

When he came back to where Betty sat it was plain 
to be seen that she was as angry as she could be. John 
knew this was the time to settle their affair. He owed 
it to her as a gentleman and he owed it to himself as a 
man. He would meet the situation open and above board, 
as had always been his rule in all matters. 

“Betty, I did not intend to be rude to you, nor did I 
intend to break a promise that I made years ago. You 
have made this day a very happy one for me and for 
many such days I am greatly indebted to you. I think 
a great deal of you. You are like a sister to me. You 
have a right to expect me to make my intentions known 
to you. That question has been uppermost in my mind 
today. Much as I like you, something tells me and has 
told me tonight, that I should remain true to my promise 
to Nell Henderson. That being the case, it is unfair 
for me to monopolize your time and chances for a union 
with someone else. I hope that we may remain true, 
good friends, always, but this will be our last time to¬ 
gether under the old circumstances.” 

“I might have known that you would stick to her. 
Everybody said you would. Well, all right, you just 
hang on to your fool ideas, and let people continue to 
laugh at you. Take me home. I never want to see you 
again. You are the meanest man I ever knew anyway.” 

“Very well, Betty. I’ll take you home, but not until 
I have told you something more. Tomorrow my ar¬ 
rangements will be completed to go to war. I feel, as 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


131 


I have felt for a long time, that it is a duty of mine to 
go to France. I shall sail as soon as I can get passage. 
It will not be long till our own country is involved and 
I shall be on the ground doing all I can. It is fair to 
me as well as to you that you should know this at this 
time. No one else knows it.” 

“You need not be telling me. I have no interest in 
it. Tell it to Nell Henderson. I do not consider it 
much loyalty to our government to join the army of 
some other nation.” 

“I may have the opportunity of joining the army of 
my own nation. If that opportunity comes soon enough 
I certainly shall do so. But I shall do what I can to 
aid the cause, anyway.” 

“Well, I wish you luck. This great business of yours 
will not be as great a monument to you as you have 
talked, will it? It may be like old Dave’s shadows of 
unfinished dreams.” 

“I have builded well. So far as I have gone it will 
be a good monument to me. Not so great as if I had 
spent a lifetime at it, but a credit, anyway. The mil¬ 
lions in estates I have added to this community will be 
remembered to my credit for generations. Besides, I 
shall go on with it when I return.” 

“To think that I have been such a fool as to learn 
about this insurance business and help you.” 

“I appreciate it all, Betty. You certainly have helped. 
In doing so you have seen life and people from a dif¬ 
ferent angle and are better off for doing so.” 

“I don’t think I am. Anyway, I shall not be inter¬ 
ested in it further. Will you take me home?” 

“I shall. And I want you to know that I appreciate 
all you have done. I am sorry you do not see my situa¬ 
tion as I see it. That cannot be helped. I shall always 
wish for you the best in life and I hope you will have 
happiness and prosperity.” 

“Don’t bother yourself; I’ll struggle through.” 

They went silently down the hill. So different was 




132 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


it from the ascent. Betty was mad and getting madder. 
Who can blame her? John felt that he had done the 
right and proper thing for him to do under all the cir¬ 
cumstances. It had always been his rule to do what he 
thought to be right no matter how difficult it was. 

When they came to Betty’s home he told her good¬ 
bye. She was still mad, cold and very disagreeable. He 
drove home, and like a simple child, told it all to Dave 
as he would have done could he have knelt at his mother’s 
knee. Dave approved of it all except the decision about 
the war. He was very glad that he had given up Betty. 
That is just what he had always hoped would happen. 
He was confident that sometime Nell would return and 
all would be well. He believed, as John had at times 
believed, that she was alive and well and would come 
back. John believed so, too, now. 

“Tonight, as I stood there looking to the east, my hopes 
ran high. And there seemed to strike me a wave of 
prayer from Nell. It was the same as I have many 
times had before. You cannot imagine the feeling, if 
you have never had it. It made me feel so good. It 
made me know that I had decided right. I am con¬ 
fident that Nell is alive and well and will come back at 
the right time.” 

“You are right, my son. She will. But now I want 
you to forget this war business, unless our own coun¬ 
try gets into it.” 

“No, Uncle Dave, I would come as near doing any¬ 
thing you ask as if you were my father, but this decision 
is made and must be adhered to. Tomorrow I shall ar¬ 
range for my brother, Howard, to keep this business 
going and I hope to leave here by the middle of the 
week. Nothing can change me in this.” 

And Dave knew that nothing could change him. 




CHAPTER XIX 



EXT day, in his rushing around to get things in 


shape to leave, John neglected to notice a small 


package that had come in the mail for him. To¬ 
wards noon, as he sat at his desk, his hand fell upon it 
and he took it up casually and looked at it, laid it down 
for other work and later came upon it as he cleaned up 
his desk. It was postmarked Cincinnati, and was ad¬ 
dressed to him on the typewriter. It was a small, square 
package. He unwrapped it and found that inside there 
was another package securely wrapped and tied. It 
seemed to be protected by stiff corrugated paper. He 
untied this and finally unwrapped a small canvas oil 
painting. It was about twelve by sixteen inches. As 
soon as he opened it he saw that it was a beautiful piece 
of work. 

“Why, that looks like Sunset Hill,” he said aloud, and 
then scrutinized it more closely. Sure enough, it was. 
But what was the matter with it? To be sure it was 
the dear old hill, but something looked different. There 
was the hill standing out in all its beauty. Here were 
the trees under which he had sat so often and so long. 
Here the very rocks on which he had sat and dreamed 
the dreams of youth and later the dreams of manhood. 
Here the shadows had come upon him. Here he had 
kept his Angelus—his and Nell’s—so many times. Back 
further was the rise in the hill, that spot back of where 
the meetings were always held; back of the spot where 
Uncle Dave had so often exhorted his friends. There 
it all was, just as plain as he had ever seen it. And then, 
on that grand old point, where the sunset rays touched 
with so much grandeur, there was a stately church. It 
was different in its architecture than any he had ever 


133 


134 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


beheld. He had seen pictures of such churches in for¬ 
eign lands. It was not so large, but it was beautiful. 
It faced the west and stood as if it had just grown up 
as the trees had grown. It stood as natural as any part 
of the landscape. It was built as so many of the Eu¬ 
ropean churches are built, in the form of a cross. The 
front was ornamented by two stately towers—towers 
that were not too high, but just the right height to make 
it look stately and grand, and yet fitting to its setting. 
The towers were ornamented by statues and figures, 
while a gilded cross adorned the top of each tower. 

As he looked at the painting he could imagine the set¬ 
ting sun casting his last slanting rays on these crosses 
and how they would stand forth as pure gold. Over 
the splendid arched doorway there was much carved 
work and above that a beautiful statue of the Virgin 
Mary, standing in the act of blessing those who enter. 
It was beautiful. On the green lawn in front stood two 
figures, a man and a woman. They were facing the east, 
their heads slightly bowed. The thought flashed through 
John’s mind: “They are keeping the Angelus.” Prob¬ 
ably in the towers was a bell or a chime of bells which 
tolled the Angelus for them. Yes, that was it. But 
who were they? He looked closer, and to his great sur¬ 
prise the features were those of himself and Nell. Small 
as the picture was, the figures were plainly the outlines 
and features of Nell and himself. The whole scene was 
at sunset. Now he did not have to imagine the sun 
on the crosses. It was there as was also the beauty of 
the grand old hill at sunset. 

He looked for a name, for a date, for anything that 
would tell him whence it came or who the artist was. 
He gathered up the wrapper. The outside one was only 
a strong piece of white paper, while the inside was a 
brown colored paper commonly used for wrapping, and 
there was no writing any place. The address was type¬ 
written and the postmark was Cincinnati, and there was 
no return. There was no doubting it was done by a 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


135 


real artist and one who had seen and known Sunset Hill. 
Yes, and whoever it was, must have known Nell and 
him. He gazed at it and thought for a few minutes and 
then jumped as one startled from a dream. 

“My God! Nell herself has painted this!” And then 
he searched over it all again to find even some little 
trace of identification. No initials, no name appeared 
any place. But he was sure of it now. It could not 
be otherwise. This was convincing enough. She was 
alive and had done this for him. But why had she not 
told him where she was? This had come from Cincin¬ 
nati, and here he must go and hunt for her. He would 
do so on his way out. Just then Dave came in. 

“Look here, Uncle Dave.” And he showed him the 
painting. 

Dave looked at it and could hardly believe his eyes. 
But that surely was Sunset Hill. And, oh, that grand 
church! It was just what he had dreamed about so 
often. He had wished that he might have a church on 
this old hill in which he could preside over a flock. But 
the people were too poor for even a modest church, to 
say nothing of such a grand one as this. And he, too, 
recognized the two figures as John and Nell. When he 
recognized Nell, he looked long and carefully without a 
word, and then looked at John. The tears were coming 
to his eyes. Maybe it was the strain of the last few 
hours of John’s preparation for war, or perhaps it was 
just naturally his emotions. Whatever it was, he silently 
dropped to his knees, and, holding the painting up in 
front of him, as he might have held a cross, he breathed 
forth a silent prayer. When John saw him kneel, he, 
too, knelt by his side. It was a beautiful sight, to see 
this old man, his hair white as snow and this stalwart 
young man here on their knees, thanking God for their 
favors. 

“Praise God, our prayers have been answered, John. 
Where did you get this? Where is Nell?” 

“Dave, this came in the mail and I know not where 




136 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


it came from, save this postmark. If Nell is in Cin¬ 
cinnati we will try to find her as we go out. Why didn’t 
she tell me where she is? But she is alive and well and 
that ought to be enough good news for one day.” 

“Yes, it is certain that she did this work. No one else 
could have done it so well. We shall find her and she 
shall be with us soon and then we will be rid of all this 
war preparation.” 

“No, Dave, if you mean that I will not go, you are 
mistaken. My mind is made up and I shall go. I hope 
that I can find Nell before I go. I shall try to do so. 
But if I cannot, I shall go just the same.” 

The next two days were alternately hours of pleasure 
and misery for John. He was sure that the painting had 
been executed by Nell. But where and when? How 
long ago? Maybe something had happened to her and 
she had requested some one to send the painting to him. 
No, he could not believe that. She must be well. She 
must have sent it herself. She painted it for him. She 
was studying art some place and she had made that for 
him and in her own good time she would come to him. 
Perhaps he would find her in Cincinnati. He remem¬ 
bered the art institute in Cincinnati. It was on top of 
the hill overlooking the Ohio River. There he would 
go first and maybe he could find her. Wouldn’t it be 
great if he could find her there at work? And then a 
cloud would cross his thoughts. What if he should learn 
that she was dead? No, she could not be. He would 
never let it be that way. God, in his great mercy, would 
never let that be. And yet, other people had died. And 
so on his mind ran in alternating currents and drove his 
sleep and peace away. But in the meantime, he had 
made all his plans for leaving. His brother was to care 
for his work and his agency. It was agreeable to his 
company that he have a leave of absence. Save for a 
few final details, he was ready to go. 

It was his plan that Dave should remain with his 
brother and help him. He had made his will, leaving 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


137 


one-half of his property to Nell during her lifetime, and 
at her death, to his brother, and the balance was to go 
to his brother with a provision for taking care of Uncle 
Dave. He had not talked with Dave about what he was 
to do during his absence. He intended to do so this par¬ 
ticular day. That was one of the last things he had to 
do. Alone in his office, he began this task. And it was 
a task for him. He loved this old man, who had been 
a father to him for so many years. He had talked only 
a few minutes when Dave said: 

“Boy, what are you talking about? I am going with 
you. Don’t you know what I promised Nell? I’ll be 
right close to you over there all the time.” 

“No, Dave, that will never do. You must remain 
here.” 

“No, sir, I must not; I am going. Read this telegram 
and I guess you will see that I am going.” 

From his hand John took a telegram from the Red 
Cross in New York telling him that they would accept 
his offered service and would arrange his passage. He 
should report in New York at once. 

John looked at him. He knew that he could not ob¬ 
ject very strongly because Dave had tried to persuade 
him not to go- and he would not listen. So he could not 
expect Dave to change his mind. And he knew very well 
that he would not. 

Two days later, John and Dave left Great Bend on 
their way to Cincinnati. Here they stopped for several 
days. They visited all the institutions and schools of 
art and all of the art stores, but no place could they find 
a trace of Nell. No one knew her. John went to the 
postoffice and took the wrapper of the package, but, of 
course, the postmaster could tell him nothing about it. 
Finally, they gave up and departed for New York, and 
from there would sail to the seat of war. 



CHAPTER XX 


HE other half of the world is different.” This 



is the thought that came to John Adams, the 


boy from the hills of old Kentucky, as he walked 
up the streets of Bordeaux. The boat had landed and 
he was on his way to a barracks. He had been given 
directions by an English officer at the dock. He let no 
thought run through his mind as to whether or not he 
should go through with his plan. That had been settled 
in the hills at home. There had been no discussion of 
the affair with Dave, who had been his traveling com¬ 
panion across the Atlantic. 

The beauties of spring in this Bordeaux country were 
enough to divert anyone from a set purpose, did not 
national honor and pride enter—yes—and a great desire 
to do for humanity what he thought should be done by 
him as an individual. John had not seen much of these 
beauties, only such as could be seen from the shop and 
in the town. He was a careful observer and a great 
lover of nature, but he had seen none of the beauties 
here. He was too much absorbed in the incidents of 
war. Every place was evidence of the conflict. Even 
here in this town, far removed from the front, all was 
war and war work. 

It did not take long for him, with the papers and docu¬ 
ments in his possession, to make his enlistment and be 
assigned to a company. Neither did it take long for 
those in charge of that company to give him the neces¬ 
sary training. It was all accomplished in a little while. 
A few weeks of training sufficed, because he was an 
apt student, with a desire to accomplish something. Soon 
he had orders to be transferred closer to the front. He 
traveled by train part of the way. A poor train it was, 


138 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


139 


but that mattered not now. This was war and emer¬ 
gencies were all that could be expected. Before leaving, 
he had gone to say goodbye to his dear old friend. Maybe 
it would be forever. To his great surprise he found 
that Dave was leaving by the same train for the same 
destination. He took it all as a coincidence merely. Nor 
did Dave tell him that he had told his whole story and 
that of John to the Red Cross commander and had asked 
to be permitted to work in the locality where John was 
to be stationed. And so it was accomplished. It was 
not common that a man of his age and experience came 
to this work, much less an American, so his requests 
were given consideration when those of the ordinary 
man would have been ignored. The commander was 
shrewd enough to recognize in Dave a great factor in 
the work, no matter where he was located. They needed 
men every place. To grant his request would in no way 
impair his work. 

So, together, these men, who had been pals so long, 
traveled on toward—what? Neither knew. But each 
were sure that it was his own choice and whatever fate 
held for them out there in the future there would be no 
complaining. They now were soldiers and must obey 
orders and await results as true soldiers. They had 
not even discussed the matter. It was a matter of course 
with both of them. 

John could not help but notice the beauties of France 
as he crossed the country. The little farms of the peas¬ 
ants were well kept, clean and productive. Every place 
he saw only women, children and old men doing the work 
on these farms. He soon realized why. The man power 
was at the front. In one field he saw a woman plow¬ 
ing with oxen. Her daughter, a child of six or seven 
years, led the oxen. Her head was covered with a black 
veil. He knew why, and he wondered if the life insur¬ 
ance man in that locality had done his duty. He guessed 
not, from all the surroundings, and then he remembered 
that these were war times and he was in the heart of a 



140 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


war country. He was to see hundreds of just such 
scenes before his journey ended. Soon he became used 
to seeing them, but never did they fail to touch his heart 
strings and cause a pang. 

To a new traveler across France, the little farms 
looked for all the world like they had been carved out 
and fitted together. Here was the house and barn, per¬ 
haps one building constituted the two. One end housed 
the family, while the other housed the few animals. The 
small squares of grain looked strange to an American 
who was used to seeing large fields. And John won¬ 
dered why the wheat was not all in one field, instead of 
small strips with something else between. When first 
they left Bordeaux the vineyards were beautiful, with 
long, high vines, trained so that they were beautiful. 
This changed as they got further inland. The vines in 
the north part were well pruned and short. He learned 
of the different varieties of grapes and wines and the 
difference in the soil and climate. He had a lesson in 
economy and thrift when he reached the mountains and 
saw the little terraces like stair steps up the hill. When 
he saw that these people raised their grapes and their 
grain on these steps, scarcely ten feet wide, which were 
held in place by little stone walls they had built, then he 
thought people at home surely ought to be satisfied with 
their lot. They had no such difficulties with which to 
contend. 

After traveling all day on the train, which was slow 
enough, they got off at a little station from which they 
went by motor truck to their destination. They had 
traveled across France, and about two o’clock in the 
morning arrived at Souilley, and reported immediately 
at headquarters. He was assigned to a company for 
further training. All the time Dave was with him and 
the remainder of that night they spent together. Dave 
would get located in the morning. So far as activities 
were concerned, night was no different from day, here. 
They were only a few miles back of the front lines and 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


141 


troops were continually coming out and new ones going 
in. Supplies and ammunition were continually going in, 
and in the distance could be heard the rumble of battle. 

Next day John learned that he was in the Verdun 
Sector, where battles had been going on since the war 
began. It was here that the Crown Prince had come 
to win his spurs. He had read much of this sector and 
knew that he was now close, to real action. But that 
made no difference to him. He had come to do what 
he could. On the following morning, he got his bear¬ 
ings and took up his work with a will. 

When Dave presented himself at Red Cross headquar¬ 
ters he found an American in charge. He was some¬ 
what taken back at his introduction. A friendly word 
had preceded him- 

“Uncle Dave Daniels, from the good old U. S. A.?” 

“Yes, son, but what makes you so handy with this 
uncle stuff?” 

“Oh, I know all about you. We have a fine place for 
you, all cut out and work ready. Most men they send 
us have to be trained and taught, and we really cannot 
spare the time to train them. Now, here you are, with 
age enough to have sense and experience, just what we 
need, and from now on you are a general-all-around man 
in this sector. You will work with orders direct from 
this office, but for the time being we shall assign you to 
the new troops. They need help, advice, and just what 
you can give them.” 

“I can’t talk French.” 

“Oh, what’s the difference? You’ll soon learn enough. 
There are many nurses and others around who talk both 
English and French, so you won’t be lost. When a man 
suffers mental anguish his feelings respond to any lan¬ 
guage. When you want to build up a man, you can do 
that in any language. Wants are supplied without lan¬ 
guage. But I do hope you can soon learn enough French 
to give these boys a good old Kentucky sermon.” 

“All right, sonny, I’ll do my best, but I am afraid 





142 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


some kind friend in America has given me too good an 
introduction. I’ll try to live up to it, but if I can’t make 
good ioo per cent, remember, we are all human and 
have our limitations.” 

And so Dave went to his work among the new troops 
—among the very troops with which John was assigned. 
They saw much of each other for a few days. Both had 
to get adjusted to military life and to the routine of 
camp life. Soon they had a glimpse of what was going 
on at the front, as the wounded men were brought back 
to the hospitals. 

At that place a large hospital had been hastily erected. 
First, a chateau had been used, but it had long since 
become too small and buildings had been erected around 
it. Here the wounded were brought from the tem¬ 
porary-aid hospitals at the front. As the wounded con¬ 
valesced, they were sent forth to other hospitals to make 
room for the ever-increasing wrecks whom the am¬ 
bulances unloaded. It required nerve and a steady head 
to see all this, day after day, and to see the troops come 
out covered with mud, weary from days in the trenches. 
But such was war in this great conflict and both of our 
Americans acquitted themselves creditably. Let us say 
of John, that he went through what all the other new 
troops experienced and quickly got his training. Let us 
say another thing, that he kept his Angelus religiously. 
This was now his religion. To what had at first been a 
mere promise and a custom, John had added prayers, 
until it was to him a fine service—his rosary—as he 
termed it. No matter what duty was at hand, a few 
moments must be given to his Angelus when the time 
came. It did him much good to keep his custom and 
the time that it took was not noticed. If a moment was 
all the time he had, that must suffice; if he had more 
time, he used it. So along with his training he never 
neglected this, his chosen and accustomed duty. Next 
to his heart was a package he always carried. In it was 
a picture of his mother, a picture of Nell and the paint- 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


143 


ing he had received the day before he left. These he 
never relinquished for a moment. Yes, there were two 
other papers in the package—one, a letter to Nell. He 
had carefully prepared this. No one knew its contents 
save himself. The other was a letter directing that this 
package and all effects of his be sent to his brother in 
case of his death. John had thought it all out as many 
another poor soldier had done. What would be the con¬ 
sequence of it all? No one knew. 



CHAPTER XXI 


T BROAD as humanity was the work of Dave 



Daniels. He remembered the words of his friend 


^ “** that the suffering man speaks all languages. Na¬ 
ture made the countenances with a language all her own. 
This language is the same in all countries. When a 
countenance registers pain, all can understand. The 
patient may not be able to make himself understood in 
words as to the cause, but he can soon locate it. Wants 
and desires express themselves easily. A language must 
be learned, but nature’s language comes to us all as an 
inheritance. So it was that Uncle Dave adapted him¬ 
self very quickly and became a favorite. Even before 
he could talk any French, “Oncle Dave” could be heard 
every place. They had adopted his name. All were eager 
to teach him a few words. Soon, without an effort, he 
began to acquire a vocabulary. 

The great hospital interested him most of all, despite 
the great suffering and the terrible sights. Here he 
saw all the atrocities of the war. Here he met young 
Americans who had come over to be of service—ambu¬ 
lance drivers, nurses, doctors—all doing their bit. It 
was here that he saw the great work of his organization 
—the Red Cross. No matter what nationality, each had 
his care. Even though only a few hours before a Ger¬ 
man soldier had been doing all he could to aid his side 
in winning and in killing the foe, as a patient in the 
hospital he was given every care and attention. 

There was a central building, large but crudely built, 
and with poor facilities, but ample. This was just back 
of the old chateau which was first used. It was now 
the headquarters. In this large central building were 
row upon row of white beds, in each a suffering human 


144 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


145 


being, many of them with only a few hours to live. As 
Dave went from bed to bed, invariably he saw a picture, 
sometimes a beautiful woman, sometimes only a poor 
print of a shabby looking lady, but always it was Mother. 
No matter what the person had been—here and now, as 
he faced eternity and drew up close to the shadowy line, 
his thoughts ran back to his mother’s knee. He remem¬ 
bered the days of his youth. His feet rapidly trod back 
over the path to his one shrine—mother’s knee. If the 
injury had taken away his reason, he called for mother. 
If he felt the hand of death, it was mother to guide 
him through the dark valley. The great wonder of it 
all was that the nurses, most of whom were young, could 
live through these scenes. In this uniform of the Red 
Cross they were indeed here the “mother of all hu¬ 
manity.” 

From the end of this central building had been built, 
in either direction, large wings and they too were filled 
with beds, all full of suffering. It seemed that the 
continual stream of ambulances bringing broken and 
battered humanity would never cease. Day and night 
they came. From the wounded and the convalescent, 
he heard stories of the great battle that was raging on 
the hills back of Verdun. 

Some days he spent in the billets of those resting up 
to go back. John was with him much of the time when 
he was free to mingle. Both knew a day would come 
when John would go in with a company of these men. 
But neither spoke of it. Back home they had heard 
a speaker who had been in one of the early battles at 
Verdun. He was so wounded that he was unfit to 
return but was telling his story and an atrocious story 
it was. So in a way each knew what awaited at the 
front. 

One bright, sunshiny day, they had spent the latter 
part of the afternoon around the billets among the 
poilus. A small crowd of them were very young men 
—they were rested and were ready for a call to the 




146 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


trenches again. There was an entire absence of gloom. 
All were enjoying themselves, singing, playing, and at 
various amusements. All the songs they had heard on 
the way over and at home, they heard again here— 
some in French—some in English. This was camp life, 
and it was running through John’s mind how humans 
could be so near to death with such free and easy minds. 
Were they easy, or was it all a sham? Were they sing¬ 
ing and whistling to keep up this courage? He con¬ 
cluded not. In his own case he realized he was not 
frightened. He was undergoing hardships with the rest 
but with no particular thought of the future. Perhaps 
later he would think. 

“When you come back, 

And you will come back”— 

That was surely a cheerful song here within sound of 
the cannons. An American was leading the singing in 
English, doing a good job of it, too. He was putting 
all the fire and enthusiasm in it. A regular American 
mass meeting it seemed to him. 

When he had finished the song, they went up to him 
and talked a while. He was from the U. S. A. Had 
been raised in New Orleans; wanted to get into the 
thick of battle and had now been over six months. He 
had been in eight times without a scratch. He had 
“give ’em hell” every time and was ready to do it some 
more. The French were the finest pals in the world. 
“Eh, Frenchy?” as he slapped a young poilu on the 
back. “Oui! Oui!” “Oh, it’s a great life if you don’t 
weaken, as the Captain says. Tomorrow we go back 
to Douaumont to fight ‘Rat Face’ and his bunch of 
Bodies.” 

Uncle Dave saw this young man breathe his last in 
the hospital less than a week after this conversation. 
He was brought in with no chance to get well and he 
was present when he gave a package and a picture to 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


147 


the nurse with instructions to send them to his mother 
at a certain address in New Orleans. 

After some weeks John was sent out with supply 
wagons for the front. They were gone three days. 
When he returned he had seen just what the front was 
like. He had been close enough to hear one of the 
daily attacks of the Germans. Daily they had shelled 
the enemy whether an attack was to be made or not. 
He had seen great shells explode close to them and had 
heard the whine of others as they passed over their 
heads. He was surprised that his nerves were unshaken. 
All it had done was to steel him for work. It had put 
into his heart more of the hate than he had before. He 
wanted to kill Germans and aid the cause. 

“Uncle Dave, it is great. I guess I will go up soon 
and have a chance at them. I don’t want to fool around 
here all the time.” 

He looked at his watch and turned toward the east in 
silence. Dave knew that it was time for his Angelus. 
He joined him and there they stood for a few moments 
in silent prayer. 



CHAPTER XXII 


I T WAS more than two months since they had left 
American soil. Both John and Dave had learned 
much. Sometimes it was easy to trace a person 
who had entered the army or the Red Cross, but usually 
it was very difficult. As soon as they had been assigned 
and knew where they were to be located, Dave had 
cabled his brother William at home. He had promised 
to do this. He did not know why, but William had 
asked him to do so. Dave was content to write to his 
brother, but had telegraphed according to promise. He 
saw little of John now because he was on duty most of 
the time. They met only as John returned from his 
trips with the wagons. 

On a particular morning the rain was pouring down. 
It was a gloomy day both within and without because 
the previous * night had brought more than the usual 
number of new patients to the hospital. As Dave stood 
for a moment at the entrance of the central building, 
looking over the sea of white beds, he thought, “He 
surely is loosed for a thousand years. I wonder if this 
carnage will ever stop.” A messenger touched him on 
the arm— 

“Monsieur David. Lady in chateau wants to speak 
to you.” 

“Who is it, son?” 

“Red Cross nurse. Mademoiselle she say, ‘Do you 
know Monsieur David ?’ and I say, ‘Certainlee, everybody 
know Monsieur David. He Godfather to all/ Maybe 
she Americaine.” 

He accompanied the lad to the chateau. No one was 
in sight. The boy was chagrined. He looked and in¬ 
quired but found no one. He then went to the nurses’ 
148 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


149 


office vowing that he would find her. When he was out 
of sight a nurse came in from the yard and rushed up 
to him. 

“Uncle Dave! Uncle Dave!” She threw her arms 
around him and before he could think he was being 
covered with kisses. “Oh, Uncle Dave, don’t you know 
me ?” 

“Well, not as I can swear to yet. If you’ll give me 
a breath of air and let me see you, I might. One would 
think you just came in on your aeroplane.” She stepped 
back and as he looked at her face he cried: 

“Nell! Nell!” 

He embraced her again. It was his turn now and 
he did a good job of it. Just then the lad returned. 

“Monsieur David, you have her. Oui! Oui! I say 
so”—and ran away. If they had looked closely they 
would have seen that she had been standing just out¬ 
side the window looking in at Dave. She wanted to be 
sure that it was he and that he was alone. 

“Well! Well! Nell, this is a surprise. Where on 
earth did you come from? How long have you been 
here? Why didn’t you let us know where you were? 
Are you well?” 

“Now, Uncle Dave, how do you expect me to answer 
all those questions at once? I can do better one at a 
time. Besides I shall not be able to tell you all now. 
I shall be on duty for an hour yet and then I can talk 
to you a while. But I learned some of the men were 
going to the front today and I feared you were one of 
them and wanted to see you and make sure of it. Are 
you going?” 

“No, not today, but I do expect to go in a few days.” 

“Well, let me finish my work and see you then and 
I’ll tell you all about it. But you must promise me not 
a word to John.” 

“Oh, Nell, I can’t do that. He will be so glad.” 

“Yes, but you must promise. If you don’t, I won’t 




150 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


see you again. I have good reason and will tell you. 
Will you promise ?” 

“Yes, if I must.” 

“There, I knew you would. Good old Uncle Dave. 
I’ll meet you here at 10:15.” 

She ran away to her work while Dave walked out 
into the air. He was dazed. He had become used to 
seeing suffering, but this was a new surprise to him. 
As it dawned on him more and more that Nell was actu¬ 
ally here near to them, he grew flushed and excited. 
John would be beside himself. Yes, but today John 
was at the front or off some place with the trucks and 
it could not be long before he would go in with the 
troops, maybe never to come back. Why didn’t she 
want him to tell John? She knew he was here or she 
wouldn’t have said that. Well, he would find out all 
about her in a little while and would not be bound by any 
promise. It was not right. John had suffered enough. 

It was an age until 10:15. Dave put in the time some 
way. Whatever he would do, time dragged as it always 
does under such a strain. He was there and waiting 
before time. She was a little late. 

“I had a bad case. It took longer than the doctor 
thought and, of course, I couldn’t leave until it was 
finished. Do you know Dr. Atherton? He is from 
Louisville, and is a wonderful surgeon. He is doing 
great work here. I assist him in the operating room. 
Isn’t it terrible here? A poor lad had half his head 
blown off. Doctor patched him up and says he will live. 
He is unconscious now.” 

They walked out of the building and across to an 
old building which had been turned over to the Red 
Cross as a kind of headquarters. Here they could sit 
down and talk. 

“Now, tell me all about yourself, Nell. Why are you 
here and where did you come from?” 

“Well, Uncle Dave, I am here for the same reason 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


151 


you are here. I have been here two weeks. I came 
directly from Rome.” 

“Rome? What have you been doing there?” 

“Why, Uncle Dave! I live there.” 

“Ever since you left Great Bend?” 

“Yes.” 

“Why didn’t you let us know where you were?” 

“Well, at first I knew it was not advisable to do so. 
Then later I decided it was best for all that I keep my 
whereabouts secret for a while yet.” 

“Where is your Aunt Fannie?” 

“In Rome. Well and happy as can be under the cir¬ 
cumstances.” 

“Now then, just tell me the whole story.” 

“Well, you know the condition of affairs at the time 
we left. I knew there was going to be a terrible time 
unless something happened. The hot blood of our people 
back home demands excitement and they never seem 
to forget a grievance. Kind hearted as they are, I can’t 
for the life of me understand it. I decided that for me 
to get away would cause enough of a break to bring 
about a settlement of our family feud. What hurt me 
most was leaving John as I did. But I could not do 
otherwise. Had I told him, he never would have agreed 
to it, and then if he had known, it would have spoiled 
all the chance of a settlement of the difficulties. If he 
had known anything about it old Bill would have con¬ 
cluded at once that he had planned it and then matters 
would have been worse instead of better. I talked it 
all over with Aunt Fannie. At first she said it would 
never do. She said we could just as well go to her 
brother’s at Staunton, Virginia, and stay there a little 
while and accomplish the same results. But you know 
I always was in for the big thing. So I put my foot 
down on that. It was two or three days before I pro¬ 
posed the place. When I said Rome, Italy, you should 
have seen her. Good old Aunt Fannie! She’s the dear¬ 
est soul in the world. She sure has been a mother, 



152 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


sister and whole family to me. Well, the more I argued 
and the more she thought about it, the nearer she got 
to a decision. Getting clear away appealed to her at 
last. She said about four months would do. She wor¬ 
ried about not being able to talk Italian. But you know 
me. I was always ready to rush in where angels would 
not have dared to go. So finally we had it all settled. 
We would go to Rome. First I must arrange all my 
affairs so that we would have money and then we would 
go. She wanted to go for a trip to Lexington to visit 
the Howards, as we had often done, and then go from 
there. But I had my plans all well made. I had thought 
them out ahead of her. It must be a complete disap¬ 
pearance with no traces left behind. 

“It took only a few days for me to arrange with your 
brother, William, to handle all my affairs. I gave him 
power of attorney so he could do it all. And when he 
had agreed to keep me fully advised promptly about all 
happenings, I was ready to go.” 

“Well, the big yap! I talked with him many times 
about you. We speculated on what had happened to 
you, but not a word out of him as to your whereabouts. 
And he knew all the time. I’ll tell him a few things.” 

“No, you won’t. He is my lawyer and had no right 
to tell.” 

“Yes, he is a lawyer, and as close mouthed as ever 
a clam could be.” 

“A good lawyer must be close mouthed. Don’t you 
know that is one of the first things a lawyer must learn? 
If he fails to learn this, well, he can never have a good 
clientele.” 

“I suppose that is the reason he was so anxious for 
me to cable him our address. He wanted to know where 
John and I were located and if we changed, to cable 
him again.” 

“Yes, that was according to our plans. As soon as 
you cabled him he cabled me. I was ready and came 
here at once.” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


153 


“Has he kept you posted all these years on all that 
has transpired?” 

“Yes, he has, and has been faithful to the end, too.” 

“Well, of all things! How did he do it? Old Josh 
Bailey was postmaster and I never thought there was 
ever a postal card came to that office, he did not read.” 

“Oh, we had that arranged, too. All mail was sent 
to the River Trust Company at Cincinnati and rernailed 
from there. They remailed my letters to him and his 
to me. All we had to do was to enclose these properly 
addressed in another envelope to them and they remailed 
them.” 

“That accounts for the picture you sent John?” 

“Yes. I can tell you I was glad when I learned diffi¬ 
culties had been patched up between John and old Bill. 
I knew that ended it for the time being. That was as 
I had guessed it would come. Little did I think it would 
be so permanent. John must have made old Bill feel 
small and see the light.” 

“No. He made old Bill see the right and the common 
sense view of things. He taught him the Golden Rule 
instead of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 
Bill is a different man now and John hasn’t a better 
friend in the world.” 

“I’m glad of it. Dear John, he must have suffered. 
I have thought of him day and night almost. Well, as 
you know, we went down to visit the Hickman girls. 
Well, when we left there we just rode down the river 
a ways and crossed at the Gardner ford. It had rained 
the night before and the river was up but not enough 
to bother us. You know I always used to ride well 
and have forded the river many times when it was 
higher than it was that day. When we were across 
we turned our horses loose and made them swim back 
across the river and we took to the hills. That was the 
only part of our trip I didn’t like because it was pretty 
hard on Aunt Fannie. I knew the way to Walnut Sta¬ 
tion but I knew we didn’t dare get on the train there 



154 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


because people knew both of us there. So we walked 
through the hills to Greenbush and got the other train. 
It took us two days. We slept in the woods one night. 
You know it requires only one change to get to Lexing¬ 
ton from there. We did not stop at Lexington but went 
on to Cincinnati. Here we made some purchases and 
got ready for our trip. We also made our steamship 
reservations from there. You should have seen Aunt 
Fannie when we had to get our pictures for the pass¬ 
ports. She imagined these pictures would be published 
in the papers. You can bet she was anxious to go 
through with it once she was started. I tell you, she is 
a great sport. It took a few days to get our passports. 
We had them sent to New York and that saved some 
time. I had to call at the River Trust Company and 
complete the arrangements William had made. In fact, 
he met me there and we completed it all. 

“We had a fine voyage. It took only a short while 
to get located in Rome. At first, we stayed at the Grand 
Hotel, later at one of the American artists’ pensions, 
and later we leased a villa of our own and have lived 
happily ever since. Aunt Fannie is a wonderful Ma¬ 
donna I can tell you, and she loves Rome now. It has 
not been easy living in Rome since the war came on, 
but one can put up with a lot of things in Rome just 
because it is Rome. This is especially true if you are 
interested in art.” 

“Who did you get to paint that picture of Sunset 
Hill, which you sent to John?” 

“Do you suppose anyone could paint Sunset Hill if 
they had never seen it? I painted it myself.” 

“You!” 

“Yes. You never expected me to be an artist, did you, 
Uncle Dave?” 

“No. But I can easily understand how you would 
learn with your disposition and your wonderful per¬ 
sistence.” 

“As soon as I got to Rome I began the study of art. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


155 


I always had a longing. I don’t know where I got it. 
There was no art in Kentucky except that which nature 
had painted. That was great and the people there do 
not appreciate it. Do you remember Eagle Rock where 
we used to sit and look away to the west, far past Great 
Bend? That is a wonderful view, enough to stir the 
soul of anyone. Do you remember that we sat there 
one day—you and I and John? That was a great day 
in my life. But for that day I think my whole life would 
have flowed in a different channel.” 

A sadness came over her face. A kind of a sacred 
sadness one sees in old paintings. 

“It had always seemed to me if one was to amount 
to much in any line, he should get the best training in 
that line and so I thought if I was to study art I should 
go to Rome, the very seat of art. Here I could see the 
works of the famous masters. Here I could have the 
best subjects for study. Here I would be in the best 
atmosphere for my work. So at once I took up the 
work. I studied hard. My practice seemed poor, 
my drawings only average, but I was deter¬ 
mined to do my best. I remembered what you had 
said once in talking to me: ‘We all do not 
have the same ability, but remember your best is just 
as good as anybody else’s best.’ I knew if I did my 
best, it would be all I could do and for me it would be 
creditable. I might never be famous but I would ac¬ 
count for my few talents. One day my instructor talked 
a long time to me about art. He told me where my 
ability lay. He said my landscapes were good. I thought 
he gave me more praise than I deserved. But his ad¬ 
vice was to confine myself to that line of painting. 

“We were there living in the villa on the Appian 
Way. From our garden on the east side there was a 
wonderful view of the Campagne. We could look away 
along the Appian Way, past the Catacombs, the tomb 
of Cecelia Metella to Frascati and the Sabine Hills. 
From here was the best view of the Papal Villa on top 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


156 


of the hill. I had painted this scene during my idle 
moments and had taken it down to his studio for his 
criticism. He kept it for several days and then asked 
my permission to exhibit it in the art school. People 
raved over it and called it great work. Artists of note 
congratulated me. With all this praise I would have 
lost my head had I not had in my mind a subject which 
I wanted to be greater than this. I was so eager that 
this should be good that my eagerness almost unnerved 
me. I told no one—not even Aunt Fannie. But I 
worked—first at a small outline drawing and when I 
had that to my satisfaction, at a large painting. This 
must be my best because into it I was putting sentiment, 
and history, and tradition and love, to say nothing of 
my whole self. 

“Have you never worked at a task, Uncle Dave, when 
you could feel the wings of the hovering angels as they 
helped you, guiding your hands and thoughts here and 
there, bringing you new thoughts and new plans from 
where you knew not, but keeping you supplied with new 
material all the while? I have often thought it was 
these angels who guided men to greatness: an Angelo, 
a Raphael, a Washington, a Lincoln! What part had 
they in their guidance? Perhaps the touch of their 
hands gave the inspiration. Maybe the ideas they 
brought were from a divine source, maybe the materials 
they brought built greater lives than the common run 
of material. Anyway these thoughts have occurred to 
me in my day-dreams there by the Appian Way. Uncle 
Dave, one can think there. It is a sacred place. It is 
only a step from our villa to the church ‘Quo Vadis.’ 
You know the story. Christ appeared to St. Peter as 
he was running away from Rome. When Peter saw 
the apparition, he said: ‘Quo Vadis Domine?’ To which 
Christ replied: ‘To Rome, to be crucified.’ On this spot 
they built a church and call it ‘Quo Vadis.’ That is the 
way of the Romans. All that is sacred in history is 
preserved. I can see from our house the entrance to 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


157 


the Catacombs in which the Christians hid and wor¬ 
shipped. It seems to me we live at the very beginning 
of Christianity. It brings over you a strange feeling; 
a kind of a reverential feeling. I know it makes you 
better. 

“Well, I kept on with my painting. After a while 
Aunt Fannie was curious and wanted to see what it 
was, but I made her promise not to look at it until it was 
finished. She says she kept her promise and I believe 
her. In a little more than eleven months it was finished. 
It had been a sacred work for me, a work I had enjoyed 
and loved. When it was finished I called Aunt Fannie 
one afternoon and with a great trembling, I raised the 
covering from the canvas and awaited her opinion. 

“It came at once in an exclamation characteristic of 
Aunt Fannie: ‘Great God! If it ain’t old Sunset Hill, 
church and all. If Uncle Dave could see that. Why, 
Nell, it is wonderful. I never thought you had that 
much art in you.’ Well, I just grabbed Aunt Fannie and 
hugged and kissed her to my heart’s content. The pic¬ 
ture had suited me, but I did not know but that my 
ideas were prejudiced by my great desire to accomplish. 
Next day I showed this painting to Sr. Ganovalo, my 
instructor. He was simply dazed. He looked at it and 
at me. He studied it without utterance until he was 
satisfied. Slowly he came to me, bowed low and said: 
‘I salute you as a great artist.’ That was ample reward 
for me; coming from him I knew what this meant. He 
never flattered. He asked if he might arrange for its 
exhibition. I agreed, and to my very great surprise in 
two days he took me to see it exhibited in the great 
Palace Borghese. A great honor had been done me and 
I was happy. 

“Later I finished my little outline drawing, and sent 
it to John. You have seen it, I suppose? Of course 
it is not so good as the original painting, but it gives 
an idea.” 

“Yes, I saw it. I studied it. I prayed over it. Join- 



158 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


ing with John we called down a blessing on you for it, 
because it is the most beautiful and eloquent letter ever 
written and carried the dearest message.” 

“Why a letter, Uncle Dave?” 

“Because it told us for sure that you were alive and 
well. That we did not know before.” 

“If John had kept his Angelus he should have known, 
because daily I sent to him, on the wings of my angels, 
thoughts of love and assurance. I never expected him 
to keep up the custom, but it has been a part of my 
very existence.” 

“Nell, if you have kept the Angelus as well as John 
Adams has, you have never missed a day.” 

“You don’t mean it, Uncle Dave?” 

“I certainly do. He has never told me so, but I know 
he has made a sacred rosary of that little custom of 
yours. No matter where he is when the moment ar¬ 
rives, he stops, turns to the east and spends a few mo¬ 
ments in silence. The custom has grown so sacred that 
I too have joined with him many times. Here in the 
army I have seen him, day after day, stop and worship. 
That is what I call it. It is his religion. It is his hour 
of prayer. The poilus have noticed. They do not 
know, but they understand that it means something in 
his life, and they do not inquire. They all love him.” 

“I am so glad to hear all this, Uncle Dave. At first, 
it was a time for crying, later it was a moment of com¬ 
fort. Do you know that a year from the date of our 
engagement, I spent the day alone in our garden all day. 
I just wanted to be alone. Most of the time I spent 
looking at the Sabine Hills, without seeing them. When 
it came Angelus time I dropped on my knees and with 
my face to the west I poured out a prayer and thoughts 
of love for John. And do you know I had the strangest 
feeling? It was just like John was there and had an¬ 
swered me. After that I felt so good, Aunt Fannie 
didn’t know what to think.” 

“That is strange. I was with John that very day. At 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


159 


sunset we were on Eagle Rock—right where you and 
he had sat a year ago that day. John kept his Angelus 
there. In a few minutes he jumped up and said: ‘Dave! 
Dave! I have heard from her. She is living. She 
told me so/ He was greatly excited and I could hardly 
quiet him.” 

“Well, I certainly told him I was living and loving 
him on that day. I would have given anything to be 
back with him there. It was difficult to resist writing. 
But William had told me of his change of business and 
how he was working for a start. I didn’t want to dis¬ 
turb him. I knew the time would come. I heard of 
Betty Allen, but that did not bother me. I knew John 
too well to let that disturb me. But I was frantic when 
William wrote me John was determined to go to war. 
Then I did get busy. I knew I could not act quickly 
enough to stop him and that my only hope was to find 
out where he would be located and go there as a Red 
Cross nurse. They need nurses so badly that it is easy 
to arrange this, so here I am, thanks to you for your 
cable to William. 

“Now I have told you about all the story. This morn¬ 
ing I made you promise not to tell John I am here. I’ll 
tell you why. Telling him would not take him out of 
the army, but it might change him in some way to his 
detriment. I am keeping close tab on him. He will 
go to the front soon. We cannot help that. He may 
never return. But I am hoping and praying that he 
will. Later on, if we think advisable, we will tell him 
and I will see him, but not now. Don’t you think I am 
right ?” 

“No, you are not, Nell. John would give his life to 
see you. He would be a different man. Now he is 
fully concentrated on helping to win a battle and he 
is doing with all his might every task which comes to 
his hand. He is fearless and brave. If he knew you 
were here he would have more care for himself.” 

“That’s just it. How can a soldier with honor have 



i6o 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


care for himself in this war? Tell me that. Might he 
not be changed to his very great disadvantage ? I wish 
he wasn’t in the horrid war. But he is and we can’t 
get him out. Hadn’t we better make the best of it?” 

“You may be right, Nell. I feel that I must do as 
you decide. You have been the master of the situation 
for years and I guess you will continue to be. I’ll do 
as you say.” 

“I assist the doctors in operations and the nurse who 
records all incoming patients shows me the records and 
I shall have first hand information all the time. I know 
John’s number and so does the recording nurse. Should 
anything happen to him and he be brought here I shall 
know it. Of course, if he should be killed, we might 
not know that for a time. That is the only thing that 
worries me. But I have thought it all out and believe 
I am right.” 

“Very well, we shall do as you say. I shall try to 
keep closely in touch with John. My work gives me 
freedom, almost as I will it. I shall go to the front as 
soon as I learn John is going. Let us hope that those 
guardian angels you spoke of will hover over him all 
the time and keep him safe from all harm. Of course, 
you have seen John since you came here?” 

“Yes, but I do not dare trust myself close to him.” 

“I want you to see him keep your Angelus tonight. 
If you can be here where you can see that tree down 
there by the canal, I shall try to have him there and 
you can see how well he observes it.” 

“All right. I will arrange to be here.” 

After more talk of home and old times, the two good 
friends parted. But they had come to a complete un¬ 
derstanding of their plans for the future—all of which 
centered around John. 



CHAPTER XXIII 


S OMEWHERE back in the many folds of the hu¬ 
man brain, is the seat of memory and in that secret 
chamber is sure to be recorded the outstanding 
instances of our lives. If there has been a gruesome 
experience here we shall find every detail of it. Maybe 
we think these are more vivid than all others. But the 
pleasant ones are there too. All these constitute the 
little theater of old age. They furnish hours of enter¬ 
tainment when we approach the years of our allotment. 
What would old age be were it not for this little theater ? 
If we could not call up the incidents and pleasures, yes, 
and the sadnesses as well, for they temper the scene; 
old age would indeed be dreary. There can be no more 
pleasing sight than a person growing gray pleasantly, 
when indeed the pleasant satisfied mind and disposition 
just seem to mellow the scene and merge it into para¬ 
dise on earth. 

To such a person the pictures that hang on memory’s 
wall make a veritable art gallery. We must all have 
our little theater and our art gallery. Fortunate indeed 
is he whose scenes are beautiful and pleasant; whose 
pictures are of the pleasing type; there are always 
mother and the childhood scenes; the fireside of the old 
home, brothers, sisters and the incidents of their lives 
that touch ours; youth and our companions; love and 
its ecstasies; manhood, business, friends—ah, well, you 
know them all. Why lengthen the description? 

To Nell, to her dying day, there was always one 
scene that stayed. Pleasant? Yes, it was extremely 
so. It was like old wine—it mellowed and improved 
with age. It gave her much pleasure in her later years. 
It was the picture of a splendid type of manhood at 
161 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


162 


his daily prayer. Just as the old painting of the Angelus 
has lived through the years—just so this picture lived 
with her. 

Dave kept his promise. After leaving Nell he went 
about the camp. Later in the day John came in from 
Verdun. He had been there many times lately. He 
told Dave how the people of that town were living in 
the old Citadel and how the town was being shelled 
every day. On every trip he had some new experience 
to tell. So they spent some time in this way. They 
walked as they talked. John was sadder than usual that 
day. After a while when there was a break in the 
conversation, John said: 

“Somehow I have felt homesick and lonesome today. 
We had to stop a long time on the hills south of Verdun. 
It was a kind of Sunset Hill, Uncle Dave. Of course, 
not so beautiful and grand as our old hill, but a hill 
just the same. As I sat there in the sun I took out 
Nell’s painting and had a good visit. It seems that I 
can almost talk to her through the painting. You know 
how one gets carried back in his thoughts. Well, I was 
in that mood today and had a beautiful excursion into 
the land of day-dreams. I have seemed close to Nell 
and to think I am, I suppose, thousands of miles away. 
Sometimes there seems to come to me something like 
the touch of her hand or the sound of her voice. You 
know we have agreed upon the question of spiritualism. 
Neither of us believe in it. But I tell you, Uncle Dave, 
I do believe that living human beings have a common 
touch of mind and I firmly believe that Nell and I are 
communicating with each other. If we ever live to see 
her we shall prove it. I admit that my thoughts go out 
to her with all my power, a kind of a personal radio, 
and I assume hers do like mine. If electricity can be 
sent through the air, why not our own personal mag¬ 
netism? I firmly believe in it. Call it mental telepathy 
or what you will. It is something and I am both a 
sending and a receiving station.” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 163 


“Well, you may be right. It is worth while if it does 
you good anyway.” 

They had been walking up the canal and were com¬ 
ing close to the big tree Dave had designated to Nell. 
It was getting near to sunset. It had been a beautiful 
day, and the air and sky, with here and there a patch of 
white clouds, was much like in the Kentucky mountains. 
They stopped under a tree. 

“Do you know, John, this is a beautiful country and 
this is a beautiful spot? I like it. It is too bad that it 
must be the scene of the carnage of war.” 

“Yes. I have often looked down the valley since I 
have been here and admired its beauty. It would indeed 
be beautiful to me tonight if I but knew where Nell is.” 

The sun had dropped down until it made a silhouette 
of a grove of trees in the west. They stood out like a 
piece of wonderful old golden lace, more beautifully 
wrought than the hand of man could make. It was a 
scene to admire even here so close to the sound of battle 
and the suffering in the hospital. This view was directly 
west from the windows of the hospital and was as beau¬ 
tiful from there as from where the two stood. In fact, 
they stood upon a little rise and from the hospital were 
the figures in this wonderful background nature was 
painting in all its gorgeous hues of gold and silver and 
green and brown. The highlights in the beautiful pic¬ 
ture was a deep blue sky, with here and there a bank 
of clouds, each of which was now turned to pure silver, 
with edges of gold. One watched for a chariot and 
horses to come out from behind some of these on its 
ethereal way home. It made one think of home and that 
it was time to be there. Oh, if an artist could catch 
such a scene and hold it, he would make himself famous. 

Lower dropped the sun until it hovered on the edge 
of the world. The shadows lengthened. It was sunset. 
Slowly John removed his hat and turned to the east. 
Uncle Dave did likewise. With their faces upturned 
they kept the Angelus. One of them had in his heart 



164 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


a gladness in his knowledge that only a few rods away, 
the answer to every prayer was calling back many fold. 
The other was sad, and yet had a touch of gladness 
which comes from an unknown blessing, a sadness of 
heart but a fullness of a happy soul. They stood a 
little longer than usual, as John poured out his thoughts 
and his hopes and his love in his prayers. It was a 
picture more beautiful than the Angelus. Nell saw this 
picture and held it in her memory so long as she lived. 
In after life, when nature had silvered her hair, this 
was one scene and play in her little theater which never 
grew old. On her memory’s wall this was the dearest 
picture of them all. 

She thanked God for Uncle Dave and for John and 
prayed for their happiness. 



CHAPTER XXIV 


A STRANGE feeling conies over a person when 
he first finds himself among strangers in a 
strange land and among people speaking a strange 
tongue. No matter what one’s station or degree of 
intelligence, a strange fear creeps upon him when he 
first realizes that around him are human beings with 
whom he cannot converse because they do not know his 
language and he does not know theirs. It is no easy 
task for any of us to learn another language, especially 
after youth has passed. Many have done so voluntarily. 
John Adams learned French by necessity. He had that 
same creepy feeling of fear the first day he found him¬ 
self the only American among a regiment of French 
soldiers. He understood no French. He found no one 
who understood English. He was in this land and it 
was up to him to learn their language. Immediately he 
set to the task to do so. It was not an easy task for 
several reasons. First, the French is a hard language 
for an American to learn, and second, he had to learn 
conversational French instead of the construction of 
words and sentences grammatically. He sought for 
some young man to teach him, but to his surprise all 
were past thirty-five and many forty-five and were pro¬ 
vincials. He could not understand why there were so 
few young men. All were eager to aid him in every 
way possible and were very kind. 

The absence of young men caused him to think. He 
searched the faces about him. They were calm, stern, 
serious, and in many instances, weary. But all had the 
determination of men approaching a great task which 
they had firmly resolved to accomplish. And on this 
particular day when he studied their faces, trying to 

165 


166 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


find an explanation, he gradually analyzed them as the 
outward expressions of an inward determination for 
revenge. He had watched them on the march—silent, 
solemn men. It occurred to him that he had heard no 
loud orders given. No man smiled. No man straggled 
in line. There was no visible sign that any authority 
was necessary, certainly none was exercised. All seemed 
to know their mission and their plans and were march¬ 
ing more to the sound of the guns in the distance than 
to the command of an officer. If they were weary, that 
must not count. The task was before them. Surely 
they knew their peril. Yet they were going willingly. 
His ideas of the French people were gradually chang¬ 
ing. He had heard of them that they were weak and 
not good fighters. As he studied the sea of faces and 
forms, his own ideas of them were being moulded. He 
guessed that they could and would fight and that they 
would as willingly die for the cause. 

For a long time he thought and analyzed the men and 
the situation. He was thinking it out in his own way. 
Like a flash out of a clear sky it all began to unravel it¬ 
self. He remembered his trip by auto from Paris. It had 
not been a pleasant excursion through what was for¬ 
merly La Belle France, because he stood in a truck 
jammed in with thirty-four other French soldiers. This 
is -the way they had been transported to the front. Along 
the route he had seen the shattered villages. Once happy 
villages living their own life of contentment—they had 
been entirely destroyed. And such terrible destruction! 
Nothing was left save great piles of stones that had 
once formed homes. No wonder these men were serious 
when we think of their homes being destroyed and in 
many instances their families killed. At least, they were 
made homeless and destitute. 

And then he remembered the many crosses he had 
seen along the way. Not a mile had he traversed after 
he entered the battle area in which he had not seen many 
crosses. They were along the roadway, in the fields, 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


167 


everywhere. Many places large cemeteries—row upon 
row of crosses with the blue, white and red markings 
of the French soldier; and perhaps close by, row upon 
row of black crosses indicating German soldiers. All 
the graves were well kept. Sod was beginning to appear 
on all of them. The reverence for the dead is char¬ 
acteristic with the French, whether it be friend or foe. 
And then it all flashed in his mind that under those 
crosses lay the youth of France. That was why the 
faces were so sad. That accounted for the silence and 
the well directed march. It was as if they were the 
fathers of these boys marching under self-adopted or¬ 
ders to avenge the death of their sons—the youth of 
France. All the graves along the way meant that very 
thing. As he thought back over the scene, these graves 
seemed so numerous. They had been buried where they 
fell. Many a father knew only that his son was dead, 
but as yet he knew not where he lay. It was his purpose 
now to avenge his death—to do his part to drive the 
foe from his land. Forty-six years before, his fore¬ 
fathers had been engaged in the same task. They 
thought of their homes in destruction, of the families 
scattered and at sufferance, and of the sons who were 
dead. No wonder their faces were sad and their ex¬ 
pressions held a trace of determination for revenge. It 
was the most natural thing for them. He knew now 
that they were not counting the cost. If they now 
showed a certain patience until “the day” but a great 
determination to “go through,” they were entitled to 
it all and more. And then he thought of the coming 
days. He knew that many of these men would never 
come back. He had seen the troops come out from the 
trenches, covered with clay, their clothes torn and soiled, 
many caring for their own wounds rather than stop 
fighting. Weary—yes, very weary and fatigued—but 
not defeated. They craved only a few hours’ rest and 
refreshment, when they would be ready to return to 
the carnage. He knew that the time would shortly come 



168 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


when his own company would be called to “go in.” He 
knew now why these men were so willingly making the 
sacrifice. He knew that in front of Verdun the forts 
which had stood for ages had been destroyed and were 
empty. But he also realized that forts do not make a 
defense. It was not the forts or the guns in action 
which were defending France, but these men before him. 
They were the defenders of France. And as he thought 
of their cause, he concluded that nothing on earth could 
stop them. 

He was glad that he was a part of such an indomit¬ 
able force and he resolved then and there to make 
their cause his cause. He thanked God that he had no 
son or relative resting in the fields under a cross, but 
he would fight with all his might to avenge the injury to 
French mothers and fathers. From now on he under¬ 
stood as he had never understood before; with this 
understanding there seemed to come to him strength 
and knowledge. If he did not understand their language 
he understood their cause. He was on common ground 
with them and felt at ease. From that moment his 
understanding was easy. If he did not have at his 
command the word to express his meaning, he quickly 
acquired it and soon he was able to get along remark¬ 
ably well. He was such a splendid associate that he 
soon became a favorite among the men. They sought 
his company and he was really happy that he was there. 
Daily did he realize the great gravity of the situation 
and the task before them—these men of France of 
whom he had become a part. 

At last the order came to move toward the front. 
The country around Verdun is a hilly country. Through 
the town flowed the Meuse. The valley was one of the 
beautiful valleys of France. But at this time it had been 
devastated. It had lost its loveliness and now was a 
vast area of shell holes. The great Citadel, which had 
been built by Vauban for Louis XIV as a fort for the 
town, was in use now. In its recesses lived the towns- 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


169 


folk. Here their business was carried on and that was 
restricted to caring for the people. The great bakery 
was turning out bread enough to daily supply thirty 
thousand people. Here the people had lived since the 
beginning of the shelling of the city by the Germans. 
Here the wounded were brought and here some of the 
soldiers stayed. It was on the top of this old Citadel 
that the Kaiser had arranged to review his army and 
greet his victorious son the Crown Prince, alias “Rat 
Face.” But many times John heard the expression, 
“Guillaume il n’a pas venu et il ne viendrait jamais,” 
meaning—“William has not come and he will not come. ,, 
And they were right—he never did come. 

Verdun was in ruins as John’s company marched 
through it “on the way in.” The old church was still 
standing, one of the mysteries of the siege.- The town 
had been shelled every day for two years. The wonder 
is that anything was left. It was the duty of the fire 
department to put out the fires as best they could, and 
of the police force to keep the roads passable so the 
soldiers could get through. 

As they marched through the streets, John realized 
what an awful sacrifice Verdun had made. Overhead 
they could hear the screaming of the shells as they 
came to their destruction. On up towards Fort Vaux 
they went to take the place of other men who had held 
the lines. When they came out on top of the hill back 
of Verdun, those hills that had once been so beautiful, 
overlooking the valley of the Meuse, he could see the 
general plan of the field. It was enough to freeze the 
blood of any Army. Stretched before him was the 
great plateau or ridge—Fort Vaux—and beyond it, 
Douaumont, both in ruins. Below them was Le Mort 
Homme. There the front trenches were stretched from 
Le Mort Homme to Vaux. In front of them on the 
opposite hills were the front lines of the Crown Prince’s 
Army. Two armies facing each other—not very far 
apart—as they had been since the early part of the war. 



170 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


The Crown Prince had planned to go to Verdun in 
four days, but in four years he did not traverse the 
distance. It was only a little distance, too. But here 
the French had said: “They shall not pass,” and they 
kept their word—they did not pass. 

The sight that met John’s gaze was the vast area of 
miles and miles of hills on both sides literally covered 
with shell holes. Scarcely an inch had not been turned 
up by an exploding shell. Into the trenches and the 
dugouts marched John’s company. It was now the early 
part of February. The weather was very disagreeable. 
They were to know all the hardships of this terrible 
sector. But by this time John was a hardened soldier 
—hardened both physically and mentally—because when 
he had thought it out that day he had made himself a 
Frenchman with all the qualities and spirit of the poilu. 

His first night in the trenches he will always remem¬ 
ber. It was clear and bright, but at regular intervals 
the rockets and stars were sent out over No Man’s Land 
from both sides, after which would come a few rifle 
shots, telling of someone’s death, someone who had 
risked his life to try to gain some advantage over the 
foe. Information had to be gained; mines had to be 
laid; wire had to be repaired. To do these things some¬ 
one must chance and many must pay. As John stood 
there through his watch on this first night, he thought 
of it all and had no regrets that he had left his native 
land and joined these silent, solemn, determined men, and 
he would do his part to win. 

Through the silent hours he wondered where Nell 
was at that time. Could she be looking up at the same 
stars and the same sky as he was? On that particular 
day at sunset he had kept his Angelus. It was more 
solemn than usual because when sunset came he was on 
the slopes of the hills overlooking Verdun. The com¬ 
pany had halted for a few moments at a narrow pass 
to let the outcoming soldiers pass. Here he had faced 
the east and seemed to get a blessing from Nell from 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 171 


somewhere out there. He seemed to feel her response. 
It did him good. The French soldiers had noticed his 
habit of stopping at this hour, but they asked no ques¬ 
tions. They were too courteous to do so. But they 
knew something held him in a spell at this hour every 
day. And at the time they observed a complete silence 
in his honor and respect. 

On this night, he wondered if he would ever cross 
that space which was now No Man’s Land. He longed 
to do so. His was the feeling of all: to drive the Boche 
back into the north whence he came, and to do so so com¬ 
pletely that he would never return. So he was ready 
to do any command of the officers to carry out their 
scheme, whatever it might be. 

On the opposite hills, the Germans were just as alert 
as the French. The Crown Prince made a new effort 
every few days to break through but without success. 
It seemed to be his idea that if enough men were sent 
forward some one of the attacks would be successful. 
Never a day passed that the lines and the country back 
of the lines were not shelled. A great barrage was sent 
forward which demolished all that was left of the land¬ 
scape. High explosive shells fell in great numbers. 
Then he would send forth the men, to be mowed down 
by the 75’s and the machine guns. Each time they were 
met—but they did not pass. 

Soldiers are men—but they become so trained and 
skilled as soldiers that they must forget much of the 
sentiment of life. Their mission is one of destruction 
—not construction; that is for the moment and with 
the individual. The winning of the cause may be con¬ 
structive but the individual soldiers’ acts are destructive. 
So, in the trenches, the life becomes one of hum-drum 
or the great excitement of battle. Seldom is this varied. 
But once for John it was. As we have said it was now 
February—winter, and a very disagreeable winter, but 
sometimes thawy and often very cold. The hills of 
Verdun are clay and acts as does clay everywhere. 



172 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


When the trenches were thrown up the ground had 
been frozen. One night there came up warm winds and 
a thaw. It was a dark, cloudy night. Before morning 
the ground had thawed and the frozen earth had run 
down until the trenches were but shallow grooves, leav¬ 
ing the soldiers exposed to plain view. This, of course, 
was true of the German trenches as well. When day¬ 
light came there in front of each army was fully ex¬ 
posed the opposite army, each equally open to slaughter. 
The sun was coming up in the east. Soldiers were 
wildly busy in each front trench “digging in” deeper. 
No shot was fired. Back in the distance, some poilu 
with a grim humor, began to sing the “Marseillaise.” 
Others joined in until it swelled into a great chorus. 
Then the Germans answered with “Die Wacht am 
Rhine.” Still the men worked madly, each side ex¬ 
pecting to be riddled with bullets any moment. On the 
French side the song was changed to “Le Pere du Vic- 
toire” and the Germans responded with “Die Lorelei.” 
And still the helmeted men in the trenches worked on. 
Then along the French trenches there swelled on the 
morning air “Home Sweet Home.” The Germans im¬ 
mediately caught the air and joined in. At this every 
man in the trenches on both sides, threw down his spade 
and boldly came out on top shouting and yelling. The 
words made no difference. Maybe they did not know 
them, but like pain and suffering, this great yearning 
for home expressed itself in the strains of this great old 
song. Both German and French guns were silent and 
silent they remained during the tumult of applause 
which went up from each side. “Hurrah, Frenchy”— 
“Hurrah, Fritzie,” was yelled back and forth. This 
continued for some time until the soldiers longing for 
home and homefolks had fully expressed their feeling. 
The men went back to the task of deepening the trenches 
but neither side caused a casualty until the task was 
finished. Human sympathy, which is innate in us all, 
had crept to the surface and won. 




CHAPTER XXV 


W HEN orders had come for John’s company to 
“go in” it had seemed to him that there was 
great excitement at the camp at Souilley. By 
this time he had learned that that excitement was an 
everyday occurrence. This just happened to be his 
day—his and his friends. The ones he knew and the 
ones who were going, they were all excited. Since 
then he had learned many things. It seemed to him 
that he had been gone an age. He wondered if his 
hair was gray; if he had been gone as long as Rip Van 
Winkle? He had seen Dave only once. 

One afternoon in the trenches on the slopes west of 
Vaux, there had crept up to him his good old friend. 
Oh, how glad he was to see him! He had taken a great 
risk coming in there at that time because the shells had 
been falling at the rate of about eight thousand per day 
on that particular area. It was awful. But in he had 
come, and kept on until he had found John. They had 
a short talk and he crawled back. He had told John 
he was in and out of Verdun, but most of the time 
was at Vaux and Fort Douaumont. He had been back 
to Souilley only three times in the last month. 

The battle had raged almost day and night with in¬ 
creased fierceness ever since John had come to the front. 
Of course, he had been out for short rests and then 
back again. He had seen comrades fall at his side but 
no harm had come to him. He had been back on the 
ridge at Fort Vaux and had witnessed one of the daily 
bombardments of all the small front on which the battle 
had been concentrated for more than a month. He 
had seen the thousands of high explosive shells hurled 
into the hills until the whole area looked for all the 
173 


174 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


world like a great batch of yeast continually bubbling 
up and down as the shells exploded. It was as bubbly 
and as wavy as yeast could be. He had sat in his dug- 
out cut in the solid rock when it shook and moved like 
a hammock and when it was impossible to keep a candle 
lighted. It seemed impossible that a human being could 
be alive in all this area. He had seen many of them 
buried alive. He had dug out his own comrades after 
they had been completely buried by the explosion of a 
shell. Oh, what an experience! Sometimes he won¬ 
dered if it was all a dream. 

For some days now he had been on the slopes of Le 
Mort Homme—Dead Man’s Hill. Ever since the at¬ 
tack started on that front, Mort Homme had been an 
important point, one of the most important. There was 
not an inch of this whole hill which had not many times 
been turned over and over by shell explosions. The very 
soil seemed sacred because it was a veritable cemetery. 
In digging the trenches they could not be careful in han¬ 
dling the bits of bones—whose they knew not—and many 
times they found and sent to the rear the remains of a 
brave son who had made the supreme sacrifice. Shell 
holes were the safest protection. But they might be all 
changed around in an hour’s time. Perhaps a shelter 
of this kind would be completely filled up by an explo¬ 
sion which would leave another hole close by. Soldiers 
would dig themselves and their comrades out of one and 
go to another. Somehow they must rest a little and fight 
on. In the very beginning their cry had been, “On ne 
passe, comrades,” and the honor of the comrades who be¬ 
gan this cry must be upheld. The honor of France must 
be upheld. It was upheld and they never did pass. 

To John Adams these great bombardments were great 
sights. They were to anyone. Never had there been 
such an exhibit of fireworks in all the world. In front 
of Fort Vaux and Douaumont and somewhat below, lay 
Le Mort Homme. The front line now ran just below 
the crest of this hill. In front of them was a deep ravine. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


175 


This ravine had been filled with German dead many 
times. Both sides of this ravine were steep. It was 
clay soil. On top of the hills to the west were the Ger¬ 
man trenches, all between, including the ravine, was No 
Man’s Land. To John Adams, as he stole a glimpse 
over his parapet, he surely thought it was rightly named. 
Barb wire entanglements had been put up by both sides 
many times, but had been so completely riddled by shell 
fire that scarcely a trace remained. When the attack 
started on this front there were forests and graves and 
trees here and there; now, there was nothing but bare, 
brown ground, so terrible and complete had been the 
destruction. 

Time after time the Germans had come forward, thou¬ 
sands of them. Sometimes they had gained ground. 
They had at one time gone as far as Vaux. That was 
the day the Kaiser had stood somewhere on top of the 
hill to the west and watched the battle. The soldiers 
knew his eyes were on them and they must win. But 
they had been gradually pushed back over their gains 
until they were now back across that ravine and the 
French held Le Mort Homme. John had been in the 
trenches here many days and nights. He did not so 
mind the days. It seemed then he could see up to the 
sky and that way at least seemed clear some of the 
time. But at night he never knew what to expect. Their 
parapet was notched every few feet, so he could get 
a view without exposing himself. Sometimes there were 
shell attacks all night, but most of the time the nights 
grew quiet—as quiet as a battle front can be. Then a 
rocket would go up or a star rocket explode, and imme¬ 
diately the crack of a rifle would tell of a death in No 
Man’s Land. Many times, when these rockets were fired, 
he had seen blue forms on the opposite side of the ravine. 
He knew they were his comrades. 

Now there had been greater activity to the west for 
two days. There had been continuous shelling of the 
entire front from Vaux on past Le Mort Homme. This 



176 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


told them that an attack was to be made and from the 
severity of the shelling they guessed it was to be a hard 
one. This guess was right. At five o’clock in the after¬ 
noon, the Germans attacked. Wave after wave they 
came. It seemed they were so numerous that they were 
a continuous stream. As they came across the western 
plains, they were mowed down by the thousands by the 
75’s and the machine guns. They would get across the 
plains and a few rods back of the top of the ravine and 
it was here that they were met by the French shot and 
shell. The carnage was so great that when dark came 
there was a front of some 700 yards across the western 
plain from well down towards the ravine away to the 
north, in which there was a wall of dead German sol¬ 
diers. In places it was so high that those attacking could 
no longer get over them. At this time the Germans were 
not particular what they used as breastworks. Their 
comrades would do as well as anything. So, when morn¬ 
ing came, John looked across the ravine, surprisingly 
close, and saw a breastwork of dead men, and behind 
them the German Army. It was a gruesome sight. But 
gruesome sights were quite the general rule now. 

During the day, at one particular point, the Germans 
had established some machine guns so well protected 
that they could not be destroyed, and they were doing 
some very effective work. They commanded the crest 
and the south slope of Le Mort Homme—all day long 
they did much damage and claimed many lives. 

About eight o’clock that night, John was on his fire 
step, almost in front of this nest of machine guns. He 
had been very careful so far and there had been no 
casualties close to him. An officer came through and 
asked for volunteers to go across No Man’s Land and 
destroy this nest of machine guns. It was almost cer¬ 
tain death to those who went no matter what was ac¬ 
complished. Something flashed through John’s mind and 
he volunteered. They wanted five men and almost im¬ 
mediately got them. He gave no thought to the danger 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


i 77 


of it all—nor to what might befall him. One little 
poilu, who had been particularly fond of him, came and 
took his hand, and in bidding him adieu kissed his hand. 
He had felt tears fall upon his hand as he bent over it. 
Others came and said goodbye, but he only went on 
with his preparation to go. 

It was proposed that the party should creep across the 
ravine and up the opposite side and just under the top 
would dig a tunnel a certain depth, which would be about 
under the machine gun nest, plant a mine there which 
would be set off later. They must go now because the 
mine must be planted by daylight. All the tools and ex¬ 
plosives must be carried with them. All this was ready 
and the plans were quickly explained to them. They 
were to go down the side of the ravine a little ways to 
the north of where John was stationed. 

It was a dark night. But now and then a rocket made 
it light as day. They had little difficulty getting down 
to the bottom of the ravine. Here they must exercise 
great care because the lines to the north commanded 
a view of the bottom and slope. Many times did they 
drop and lay as dead until the light had died down. 
Once, when they were crawling up the west bank, sev¬ 
eral rifle balls spattered around them. They lay longer 
than usual that time before proceeding. Finally, they 
got to the point at which they were to tunnel. They be¬ 
gan. The only question was whether there was rock 
under the top of the ground. They dug away and met 
no obstruction. They must work quickly and with no 
thuds on the ground or they would be heard, and then it 
would all be over for them. They knew about how far 
to dig and they had enough explosive, anyway, to tear 
up the side of the hill. They worked faithfully, and 
finally, about three o’clock, were in far enough. They 
carried in the explosive and placed it. They had every¬ 
thing ready. Their instruction was to set it off at five 
—when it would be just getting daylight. They were 
told it would be almost impossible to lay electric wires, 




i;8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


so the charge could be set off in the usual way. They 
had, therefore, been provided with time fuses in addition 
to the wires. They must use their judgment. Already 
had they decided the fuse must be used. They had a 
time fuse which would burn an hour and a half, so they 
must wait a little before lighting it. When the time came 
and they tried to light it, they found it damaged so it 
would not burn. They kept cutting it off until it was 
more than half gone before it would light. They were 
surely in a predicament now. It would go off now al¬ 
most an hour ahead of time, and it was doubtful if they 
could get back to the trenches in time so they could be 
ready for it. The French artillery was to do its work 
then and hoped to make a good job of it, and soon after 
the machine guns and rifles must do the work. Perhaps 
there would be a charge. Some day it was hoped to 
drive the Boche back across the ridge—maybe it would 
be today. 

John did not think long. He cut off the fuse and hur¬ 
riedly told his companions that they were to return at 
once and he would stay and light it at the proper time 
and would then come himself. They protested and in¬ 
sisted on staying with him, but he would not have it. 
Finally they left, and he must now remain until after 
four o’clock. The time seemed very long to him. He 
was here so close to the enemy trenches that he could 
hear the hum of their voices as they talked. At last it 
was time. He lighted the fuse. It sputtered a little and 
went out. He lit it again with the same result. He cut 
away some more of it. Finally it burned. He stayed 
a little while to see that it burned. It seemed all right 
and he must go. With one last examination and look 
at it he breathed a hope that it would do its work, and 
departed down the side of the ravine. To the east, past 
his own trenches, he could see streaks of the gray morn¬ 
ing. He wondered if he would ever mount to the 
trenches which he knew lay up there under the dawn. 
He would try and he would do his best. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


179 


He went cautiously down the side and up along the 
east side. He was getting along splendidly, when all at 
once there was a flare directly over him. A rocket! He 
jumped into a shell hole just in time. A regular fusilade 
hit all around him and continued for some minutes. All 
the time it was getting lighter. He attempted to climb 
out and go on, but immediately there were more shots 
and more bullets around him. He lay back not knowing 
what to do. And then another surprise. During the 
night the Boche had moved up some guns so they com¬ 
manded the ravine lower down near the bed of the stream 
than they had heretofore. In their old position they 
commanded only the top of the hill and beyond. A gun 
was fired. He knew it was closer than they were yester¬ 
day. The shell whined up the ravine and struck the side 
a hundred yards beyond him, exploding with such an 
eruption that it seemed to him the whole ravine was filled 
in. He thought there would be little chance for him 
against these odds. But no more shots were fired. He 
waited. All seemed quiet, but it was getting light and 
he knew it must be nearly five. He carefully crawled 
out of the shell hole and up the side of the hill. But he 
had gone only a little ways when more shots drove him 
into another shell hole. It was certain death to go on if 
they had him spotted. He had better lay up for a while 
and perhaps for the day. He was in a deep hole that 
concealed him but, it was half full of water and very 
uncomfortable. But he must make the most of it. He 
would wait a while. 

In the meanwhile the remainder of his party had suc¬ 
ceeded in getting back to the trenches; had reported, and 
they had been watching for John. In the faint dawn they 
had seen him dodge from one shell hole to another until 
the shot was fired. Then they could not tell what had 
happened. They saw no more of him. John lay there 
for some time. He heard a great explosion to the west 
and looked out in time to see hundreds of human bodies 
hurled high in the air and see a great gap cut in the seven 



i8o 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


hundred yard breastwork. From their action in the air, 
he knew living persons had gone up, too. He saw ma¬ 
chine guns soar in the air and fall silent. Immediately 
there broke loose such a cannonade as he had never heard 
before. It was from the east and he saw the hills to the 
west begin to rise and fall as the yeast he had so often 
described. The French surely were doing their work 
well. He knew all the guns were at work—large and 
small, everything which could throw an explosive shell. 
As he looked, it just seemed that the whole west was 
an ocean with the waves rolling high. So interested 
was he in all this that he forgot his own position and 
peril. He saw the Boche running back from their 
trenches and breastworks. He saw them fall as the shells 
caught them. Then he heard a charge and the rifles 
began their work. They were on the run. He had helped 
in this. Oh, it would be a victory! Just then there was 
a terrific crash close by and down over him was poured 
something. Everything went dark. 

Sometime later he began to think. Where was he? 
Oh, yes. He was in a shell hole. He was going to stay 
there until it was safer to go to his trench at the top of 
the hill. He was on Le Mort Homme. He wondered 
if he dared to go now. All seemed quiet. Maybe it 
was not daylight yet. Oh, yes, it was. He had just 
seen his mine blow up the trenches and seen the battle, 
and the Boche running away over the plain. What was 
the matter? He could see none of them now. Maybe 
they were all gone. He would look over the edge of 
the shell hole and see for himself. Just as he was going 
to do this, as he thought, he drew in his breath and he 
realized his mouth was full of something. What was 
it? He would take it out in a minute. Why was it so 
dark? He attempted to spit and realized that it was 
dirt in his mouth. He could not get it out. If he 
breathed it went farther down his throat. He must get 
out at once. Something must have happened. His 
hands wouldn’t work. His legs wouldn’t move. What 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


181 


did it all mean? A little more consciousness returned. 
He must move and get out of here. He did move a lit¬ 
tle, just a little bit. It was just his lips and tongue. 
That dirt was bothering him again. He must get it out. 
Gradually, he drew a little nearer to life. He would 
move and take hold of this side of the shell hole and 
pull himself up so that he could spit. His hand did move 
a little, enough to make him conscious. He thought 
faster. Where was he? He could not see, but he could 
feel as if he was smothering. There was a great pres¬ 
sure on his chest. Would it ever let up? He could not 
stand it much longer. And then the consciousness enough 
to realize his predicament. He was buried alive as he 
had seen so many others. Was there no one to dig him 
out? Would he die there and no one know where he 
was? And then he remembered where he was. In the 
shell hole, and alone. 

He must get out. At first he could move only slightly, 
but he kept moving his tongue until he had some of the 
dirt out and then he could breathe just a little. Then 
he tried to move. He seemed all doubled up and his 
legs and feet numb. Maybe he was sitting on them and 
they had gone to sleep. And then maybe they were shot 
off. Maybe he was dead. He wiggled a little and moved 
his body a few inches. He was a strong man. He must 
get out. He would raise up. 

His mind ran on in this way and he kept moving a 
little at a time until finally he uncovered his face or 
part of it so he could breathe. This accomplished, he 
lay a long time just resting. He was hardly thinking. He 
had just stopped. He must get out now. He pulled him¬ 
self with all his might and the result was an inch or two. 
He kept it up. Then he realized that his right arm would 
not work and there seemed a peculiar sensation in his 
right side. He got his left arm out and that helped very 
much. He could see now. He put his hand to his head 
and when he took it away it was covered with blood. 
Then he knew his head was hurt. He felt again. It 



182 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


was hurt badly. That was the reason he could not think 
better. “Oh, well, maybe it is not so bad as I thought. 
When I rest a little I’ll get out.” He had pulled him¬ 
self up until he lay on his side about half out of the 
dirt. He lay there in the shell hole, but it was a new 
one. He was a part of it now. “Oh, how thirsty! 
Where is that water that was here a while ago ? I wish 
someone would bring water.” He put out his hand to 
grasp a hand he saw extending from the bank. It yielded 
readily and he held in his hand the bones of a human 
hand, another human who had been buried alive. This 
was enough to take away all his life. After a while he 
heard voices in the far distance. 

“Thank God, here he is at last. Lift him up gently, 
boys, and let’s get him up the hill.” 

John opened his eyes to see bending over him Uncle 
Dave. Then darkness again. 



CHAPTER XXVI 


I T was late in the afternoon when Dave found John 
in the shell hole on the side of Le Mort Homme. 
It was morning—early morning—in fact, it was 
about six o’clock when he was buried alive by the ter¬ 
rific explosion of a German shell. It is no exaggera¬ 
tion to say he was buried alive. That is exactly what 
had happened to him. It is what had happened to thou¬ 
sands of other soldiers before him. Whole trenches full 
of them had died as they stood, literally covered with 
the upheaved earth. If, by another shell, they were not 
disturbed, there they would stand, the sentries of the 
dead. 

As rapidly as possible they climbed the hill with their 
burden. Save for the fact that he could feel a faint 
heart beat, Dave could not tell that life was in John’s 
body. His heart bled as he looked at the body of his 
friend, battered and broken. With the bloody condition 
of his head, he certainly looked more dead than alive, 
and it would be a miracle if he could survive. He could 
see that his left leg fell limp; in fact, the bone protruded 
from the flesh, and that his right arm was also lifeless. 
His right side seemed all crushed to pieces. But all this 
did not look so bad as his head. The right side seemed 
to have been dealt a heavy blow which had smashed the 
front part so that it felt soft to the touch. Dave was 
ready to say that his good friend was about to “go 
west,” to use the vernacular of the trenches. But he must 
do all that could be done. 

He had been in Fort Vaux the night when John had 
gone out over No Man’s Land as a volunteer for this 
dangerous work. During the night he had heard of the 
expedition from the ones who had been going back and 

183 


184 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


forth. “It is ze brave Americaine—ze grand Americaine 
comrade.” This commanded his attention at once. On 
inquiring, he learned the truth. Then he was sorry 
that he had not broken his faith with Nell and told 
him of her presence in the hospital. He chided him¬ 
self now for not doing so. He had gone into the 
trenches; had been there when the four companions of 
John had safely returned. He had, with the others, 
anxiously waited for John’s return. They had at last 
seen him start cautiously up the ravine, had heard the 
first shell explode. It came so unexpectedly that they 
could not tell how close it came to John. He was be¬ 
low them and to the right. The slope of the hill hid 
him from their view. At five o’clock he had seen the 
terrible explosion under the human breastworks. He 
had seen the break in the line and the machine gun nest 
completely destroyed. Then he had seen the enemy 
pounded by the French artillery until they retreated in 
disorder. He hoped that they had been completely 
driven back to the north. His entire concern was about 
John. Just as soon as he had been permitted he went 
down over the hill with other Red Cross men and some 
soldiers in search for him. It was almost night before 
they found him half buried in the great shell hole. He 
had been all day regaining consciousness from the ter¬ 
rible shock and pulling his broken body the few inches 
where they found him. 

As they reached the top of Le Mort Homme, Dave 
looked down the valley and away to the west, saw the 
sun just setting behind the hills. It was time for the 
Angelus and John, who had kept it for years, knew 
not the time. He would not keep it. But Dave stopped 
for just a moment, removed his hat, faced the east and 
kept it for him, with an added prayer for his recovery. 
He knew that in the hospital window to the south stood 
Nell, fervent in her prayers for John’s safety. He 
dreaded the scene which must transpire that night. He 
knew the pangs which would pierce Nell’s heart when 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


185 


she saw John. But it all must be met. It could not be 
shirked. He ran ahead and caught up with the stretcher 
bearers. 

Little did our friend know that under his feet, on 
the very spot where he kept the Angelus that eventful 
day, was a trench of brave poilus who had also been 
buried alive, their graves and bayonets protruding from 
the ground. They had died as they stood, smothered by 
the falling earth of an exploding shell. It never en¬ 
tered his busy mind that this trench would never be 
opened; that these brave men were in their honored 
graves, covered by French soil and that this spot would 
be a national burial ground with a memorial erected 
over them to their everlasting memory. A shrine it will 
be to the everlasting memory of them who said, “They 
shall not pass,” and held the trenches in the most un¬ 
merciful fire ever witnessed and stood at their post 
even unto death and forever after. 

A hundred yards or so from the top of the hill, an 
ambulance met them. Depositing their precious burden, 
Dave and a comrade got in and were wheeled away to¬ 
wards Verdun. It was four miles from Fort Vaux, and 
about five miles from Le Mort Homme. They made the 
trip in record time. No attention was paid to the rough 
roads. “The good Americaine” must be saved. When 
they reached Verdun they drove at once to the Citadel 
and to the temporary hospital inside. Here surgeons 
hastily examined John and gave him first aid. This first 
aid was coming twelve hours late. They found the 
wound of the head bad but not necessarily fatal. It 
was near enough in front that he had a chance. His 
leg and arm could be set and would heal, but the crushed 
side was a different problem. There might be internal 
injuries which would prove fatal. While this first aid 
was being given, an ambulance was being prepared for 
the trip to the hospital at Souilley. The surgeons gave 
Dave very little hope, but as he got into the ambulance, 



186 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


as it started rapidly for the hospital, he prayed as he 
had never prayed before for the life of his friend. 

In an hour they were in the hospital at Souilley. 
John was in the operating room and Nell was the doc¬ 
tor’s assistant. Dave had told an attendant to send in 
another assistant. He feared that Nell would break 
down when someone was so badly needed. 

It was more than two hours before he saw them send 
John to a bed in the hospital. Nell was with him. He 
knew that she would be his nurse. He went in at once 
to the surgeons. They told him of the terrible battered 
and broken condition of his friend. They never had had 
a worse case. His left leg had a compound fracture, 
but that would likely get along. His broken arm would 
cause no bad trouble. His skull was fractured, but that 
would not necessarily prove fatal. Later, he would have 
to be operated on and his skull trephined and it would 
be all right. But they had found several ribs of his right 
side broken and his side was crushed. The lungs were 
impaired some, but they thought the liver and other 
organs had escaped and that if they could prevent in¬ 
fection, he had—well, say a ten per cent chance to re¬ 
cover. 

Dave was sad. He gave his tears leave to come and 
they did. It was in a childish way that he begged and 
pleaded with the surgeons to save his friend. The scene 
was heart-rending. 

Inside the hospital, at a little white cot by the window, 
was another scene. In the bed lay a human form ban¬ 
daged beyond recognition, with no outward signs of life. 
He was beginning a great battle. It was the old battle 
between light and darkness, between life and death. He 
was already deep in the valley. The shadows were long 
and deep. His strength was slight, very slight. Had he 
enough to make the fight? Had he a chance to win? 

Kneeling at his bed, her rosary in her hand, with the 
crucifix fixed in front of her upturned eyes, was Nell. 
This time she was not keeping the Angelus, but she was 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


187 


praying that John might be given strength to fight his 
great battle. Long did she remain here. When she 
arose it was to take a seat at his side. She had begun 
her long vigil. She knew not how long the fight would 
take. 

Is there a greater strain than that of sitting helplessly 
by and watching a friend dear to us fight his way back 
from death’s door to consciousness? We know of none. 
If consciousness comes, then there is still the fight for 
life. For three days Nell sat there with only a little 
absence now and then, and that was forced on her. At 
the end of that time there was scarcely any more signs 
of life, but the heart action was a little stronger. The 
surgeons said this gave a little hope, although at any mo¬ 
ment just a little flicker and all hope would be gone. In 
two more days there began to be signs of returning con¬ 
sciousness. He was breathing audibly now and the doc¬ 
tors thought the chances had come up to fifty per cent. 
Much depended on the condition when consciousness 
came. They had tried to arouse him. Once, when a 
French nurse near another patient had been lightly sing¬ 
ing a French song, he had stirred slightly. 

Dave had been almost as constant an attendant as 
Nell. He had relieved her all he could. The most he 
could do was to get her to leave the bedside a few min¬ 
utes. But that helped some. Every day at sunset they 
were both there and kept the Angelus. They made no 
pretense. It was their religion now and they would 
keep it. The day that Dave saw John move a little when 
the nurse was singing, he had told Nell to sing a little 
to him, but she had been afraid to do so. 

It was nearly Angelus time on the sixth day. Nell 
was at her accustomed place by the bedside and Dave 
had just come into the room. Nell was softly singing 
one of the late airs. There seemed in her voice a great 
yearning as if her arms were outstretched trying to pull 
back to life this soul which was about to take flight. 
Dave saw and heard her. He went to her side. 



i88 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Nell, that ain’t the song for John. He don’t know 
them new ones. Sing a home song. One of the old ones. 
One he will recognize. That will do good, I tell you.” 

Nell had a soft beautiful voice. Softly she began: 

“The sun shines bright in my old Kentucky home, 

’Tis summer, the darkies are gay—” 

There was a twitching of John’s face. The muscles 
moved slightly. 

“Goon, Nell! Goon!” 

“The corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom 

While the birds make music all the day.” 

Again the muscles of the face moved and twitched. 
His brow was wrinkled as if a great effort was being 
made to bring himself together. 

“Go on, Nell. I tell you—go on.” 

“The young folks roll on the little cabin floor 

All merry, all happy and bright. 

By and by hard times comes a knocking at the door, 

Then my old Kentucky home, good-night.” 

Now there was a decided twitching around the eyes. 
The lips quivered a little. Uncle Dave was getting ex¬ 
cited. The nurses and patients from a distance were 
all attention. But Nell laid her hand on his arm and 
resumed her song in the softest tones— 

“Weep no more, my lady 

Oh, weep no more today. 

We will sing one song 

For my old Kentucky home—” 

John’s eyes opened. He gazed up into the face of 
Nell. At her side he saw Uncle Dave. 

“This is Uncle Dave and the spirit of Nell—yes, the 
spirit of Nell.” That was his thought. His gaze was 
fixed and weak as would be expected in his condition. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


189 


“For my old Kentucky home, far away,” softly sang 
Nell. 

“Nell!” It was just a moving of his lips without the 
shifting of his eyes. But the two watchers knew that 
consciousness had come to him they loved. 

Nell stepped back a little while Dave bent over him 
and said: 

“Well, old pal, how do you feel now?” 

“Who was singing, Dave?” he whispered. 

“Now who do you think it was, boy? Don’t you know 
my good voice by this time ?” 

The doctors had cautioned about excitement when 
consciousness came. They were told some of the story 
and advised that Nell had better not be announced too 
suddenly, and more assuredly there must be no demon¬ 
stration. 

“Sounded like Nell.” 

With that he relapsed into slumber. But all were 
glad. This meant a gain of strength. It was the first 
blood of the battle and it was to his credit. That night 
the doctors administered some stimulants and some nour¬ 
ishment and advised that he be kept quiet till morning. 
Nell and Dave were beside themselves with hopes amid 
their tears. 

“You remember what I always said about songs, and 
I told you some day I—” 

“Do you think he will be awake and conscious in the 
morning?” 

“Well, he is coming along now. If he isn’t conscious, 
sing some more for him. Sing the same song.” 

The morning was a beautiful one. The sun was bright. 
Both Nell and Dave were up and at John’s bedside very 
early. The doctors had forbade them staying near that 
night. He was sleeping and it seemed a refreshing sleep. 
He was breathing regularly. 

About nine o’clock they sat there at his bedside. Nell 
began to hum the old tune very softly: 




190 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Weep no more, my lady— 

Oh, weep no more today. 

We will sing one song 
For my old Kentucky home, 

For my old Kentucky home, far away.” 

John opened his eyes. It was clear that he was listen¬ 
ing. When she had finished he was gazing at her face. 

“Nell! Is it Nell?” 

“Yes, John, it is Nell. How do you feel?” 

“Is it Nell? Where are we?” 

“We are here in the hospital, John. You were hurt. 
Don’t you remember? How do you feel now?” 

“Don’t you know the old shell hole, pal? They were 
after you. But you did the work, old pal. How does 
your head feel?” This from Dave. 

He stirred as if to feel his head, but only realized how 
completely he was bandaged. He was puzzled and a lit¬ 
tle excited. But Dave knew how to handle that. 

“Oh, you are not badly hurt, old boy, arm broke and 
your leg is bruised, but what’s that after all you did to 
the Boche.” 

“See battle, Dave?” 

“Oh, boy! I should say I did. Greatest sight on 
earth!” 

“Is it Nell?” 

“Yes, John. I came to nurse you.” 

“Where were you?” 

“Now, dear, you must not talk more. I’ll tell you later. 
I am your nurse now. I’ll get you some broth.” 

With this she left and Dave repeated the caution that 
he must talk no more, saying: 

“Now, John, Nell is here. That is good news, isn’t 
it? We are back at Souilley. You are wounded, but 
the doctor says you are getting along all right, but you 
must be quiet a day or so. Now don’t talk any more 
today. Take your nourishment from Nell and then sleep 
a while.” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


191 


There were two happy hearts at Souilley on that day 
—so happy were they that tears of joy flowed very freely. 
“Uncle Dave, he’ll get well, won’t he?” 

“I hope so. The Lord has been on our side so far. 
We must continue to hope. We shall see tomorrow. 
Doctor says he should gain a little by then.” 

And so John Adams came out of the grave on Le Mort 
Homme, and back to life, and Nell came back into his 
life after so long an absence, and Uncle Dave was a 
happy man. 



CHAPTER XXVII 


I T IS a slow, laborious process coming back from the 
valley of death. If one does so it is with much ef¬ 
fort, much patience and a great amount of nursing. 
New life, vigor and entirely new ambition came to John 
Adams with the sight of Nell’s face. Without her he 
might never have made the effort—the almost super¬ 
human effort to get well again. Nell was the nurse. She 
was relieved of her work with the surgeon and John 
was her sole patient. He must be kept quiet. He must 
do as the doctors said. In fact, he could not have done 
much different. He was so bandaged that he could 
hardly move if he had had the desire. Nell was at his 
side or close all the time, but they must not talk—not 
yet. He must conserve all his strength. It was hard 
to restrain him. He would ask questions. She wanted 
to answer them, but she must not do so now. So all she 
could do was quiet him and assure him that later they 
could talk about everything. It was a terrible ordeal 
when the doctor dressed his wounds. There was the 
usual danger of tetanus from all the wounds. Save for 
this, after a few days, they feared little from the arm 
and leg wounds. The head gave them some concern, 
but the side bade fair to be a serious affair. Therein 
lay the greatest danger. What would have been the 
proper care and position for the leg and arm, did not 
help or aid the side. So it was very difficult indeed. 

One day, during the dressing incident, he fainted dead 
away and they all thought for a time that he was gone. 
He rallied and recovered, however. He was proving 
his great vitality. He received the very best of care just 
because it was he. His fame had grown in that sector 
because he was an American and because of what he 
192 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


193 


had done. All knew of “John, the American/’ who had 
been buried alive. He had broken the German line and 
it had been built of human bodies. His fame was great 
and he was loved by the French. 

Days went by—each one adding a little to his strength. 
The bandages decreased until he looked a little more 
like a human being. He was allowed to talk a little, but 
most of his talking was limited to Uncle Dave, who was 
also near at hand most of the time. There was no ex¬ 
tended conversation; not much about Nell. Of course, 
that subject was uppermost in John’s mind. But since 
she was there he could be put off. 

It was about two weeks after he was brought into 
the hospital. The day was bright and cheerful. It was 
morning. Outside he could see that spring was really 
at hand. Each day brought the usual bustle and hurry 
of new patients just arrived from the front. John had 
made progress satisfactory to the doctors. He was still 
far from well. In fact, he had not yet emerged from the 
danger period. The caution orders were still on, but 
were gradually being removed. 

“Uncle Dave, where’s Nell?” 

“She is resting a little, now, John.” 

“Where has she been all the time?” 

“You mustn’t talk about that, now, John. She will 
tell you all about it later.” 

“When?” 

“Oh, pretty soon, now. You are getting better pretty 
fast. Your strength is coming back.” 

“How is the battle going?” 

It then occurred to Dave that this was the first in¬ 
quiry he had made about the battle or the war. 

“Why, don’t you know you won the battle ? That ex¬ 
plosion of yours won the battle.” 

“Where is the line now?” 

“The French have Le Mort Homme and the hills 
to the west, Forts Vaux and Douaumont.” 

“Where are the Boche?” 



194 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Gone back over the hills to the north.” 

“For good?” 

“No. Not so good as all that, but they have retreated 
to the north. They will continue to make attacks on 
this front, so all predict, but they cannot accomplish 
anything now.” 

“Well, I am glad of that.” 

“Do you know everyone is talking about you and what 
you did?” 

“Why?” 

“Well, because you did such a great thing. Your four 
comrades who were with you that night and who came 
back ahead of you were here yesterday to see you but 
the doctors would not let them in. They are coming 
later. They were like kids when they couldn’t get in. 
They stood there and cried. I talked to them and told 
them in my excellent French, how you were getting 
along and assured them I would carry to you their best 
wishes. They assured me you are the one who kept the 
Germans from passing. You are a hero, my boy.” 

“Well, I am not so much interested in being a hero 
as I am in knowing that we drove the Germans back to 
the north whence they came. They never did get into 
Verdun and now they never will.” 

“You are right. What happened when you were buried 
alive ?” 

Just then Nell came in and took her seat by Dave. 
John at once tried to change the subject, but Dave 
wouldn’t let him. 

“Nell, John and I are talking just a little. I have been 
telling him what a hero he is. We shan’t talk much, 
but I want him to tell us a little bit of what happened 
when he was buried alive.” 

“Was I buried alive? You mean in the shell hole? 
Well, I came up the ravine and thought I would get 
back to our trenches. It wasn’t more than a hundred 
yards up the hill to a communication trench where I 
would be under cover. All at once, whiz! came a shell 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


195 


up the ravine from a gun they had moved down close 
to the edge of the ravine during the night. It exploded 
a few rods past me and then some sniper discovered me 
as I ran from one shell hole to another. Every time 
I would move they were after me. I knew I would have 
to keep under cover for a while. So I got in as good a 
shell hole as you can find on Le Mort Homme and Lord 
knows there are all kinds and sizes, and lay there. After 
a while I heard the explosion and saw the bodies and 
machine guns hurled high in the air. Then the shots 
came hot and heavy. I had thought I would run to the 
trench when the explosion occurred, but they had moved 
down too close during the night and I guess they ex¬ 
pected a charge, so they covered the ravine with rifle 
shots. I had to lay still. I heard our artillery come into 
action and I knew they would catch hell and I hoped 
soon to get a chance for the trench. The last I remem¬ 
ber is a terrible avalanche of something and the next I 
knew I was trying to get something out of my mouth. I 
guess I must have fainted for a few moments. Then I 
pulled myself out in the air and soon you came up. The 
last I remember was your face over me.” 

“Then you don’t know you lay buried from about six 
o’clock in the morning until late in the afternoon?” 

“No. It couldn’t have been that way.” 

“But it was, and you were just about half out of the 
ground when we found you. That was almost five o’clock 
in the afternoon. Oh, you are a great hero, my boy. 
Isn’t he, Nell?” 

“He surely is, Uncle Dave. Everybody says that.” 

“That was one day, my boy, you didn’t keep your An¬ 
gelus. But at the top of Le Mort Homme I stopped 
just a moment behind the stretcher bearers and kept 
it for you.” 

“Yes, in that window to the north there, I kept it, 
too, on that day. I had a peculiar feeling too, a strange, 
nervous feeling. Something seemed to tell me the line 
of communication was broken. But it wasn’t. It was 




196 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


just being restored. Now you clear out of here, Dave. 
John must not talk any more. He must take his nap.” 

“No, don’t go yet. I want to—” 

“You’ll do nothing more until after a nap.” 

She said it very softly but firmly. It was a pleasure to 
obey her. So he obeyed in this instance. 

Some days after this the doctors said he could talk 
a little while at a time but he mustn’t move or exert him¬ 
self otherwise and Nell let him talk. 

“Now, Nell, you have put me off and put me off in 
telling me about yourself. I want you to tell me now. 
Did you find my pictures when I was brought in here?” 

“Yes, here they are in your knapsack at the head of 
your bed. There is a picture of your mother, one of me, 
and a letter which no one has opened. We are all glad 
of that, too.” 

“Was that all? Where is my picture of Sunset Hill?” 

“Oh, yes, that is there, too. Who made it?” 

“Now, Nell, you know you made that and sent it to 
me from Cincinnati.” 

“Why, John, you never knew me to be an artist, did 
you ?” 

“No, but you did it. Now didn’t you?” 

“Well, suppose I did? What do you think of it?” 

“You know where I carried it, don’t you? That tells 
you what I think of it. It is great.” 

“What did you think when you received it?” 

“I nearly went wild because it told me you were alive 
and you know we never were absolutely sure of this be¬ 
fore. I have never lost hope, but we could not know 
for sure. We hunted all over Cincinnati for you as we 
came over. Where were you?” 

“Not in Cincinnati.” 

“Where, then?” 

“Far from there. In Rome.” 

“Have you been there all the time?” 

“Yes.” 

“And your Aunt Fannie, is she there now?” 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


197 


“Yes.” 

“Now tell me all about it. Don’t leave anything out.” 

“No ; I cannot do that now. It will tire you too much, 
but I’ll tell you a little.” 

So Nell told him how she had left Kentucky and of 
the trip to Rome and of taking up art work and of a 
little of her success. She told him also of her arrange¬ 
ment with William Daniels, so she was supplied with 
funds and had a communication with the old home place 
so she could keep informed about John. 

“When he cabled me you were leaving for Europe to 
join the French Army, and that Dave was going into the 
Red Cross to be near you, he told me he would advise 
later where you would be. It wasn’t long until Dave 
had cabled him your location, he informed me, and at 
once I came to Souilley, where they needed nurses, of¬ 
fered my service and have been here ever since.” 

“You dear girl—you have had a time of it, haven’t 
you ?” 

“I think you are the one who has had a time of it. 
You have lain here now just eight weeks tomorrow. 
When you came you were right on the brink and now 
you are just out of danger, but a long ways from being 
a well man.” 

“Oh, well, that’s nothing. 1 have found you again. 
When I can get out of here—” 

Then he thought that he was still a soldier with a 
duty to France. It had not occurred to him that he 
must go back to the service when he was able. In fact, 
he had given it no thought at all until now. Yes, he 
would have to leave Nell when he was able. But he 
would do it. If the Boche had gone back to the north 
maybe it would not be long until the war was over. He 
was silent, and Nell knew why. 

“John, the doctors tell me you cannot go back into 
the service. It will be months before you are well again. 
You will need a lot of care before you are a well man 
and I shall give you that care—Dave and I.” 



198 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“You and Dave have been real guardian angels for 
me. How will I ever repay you?” 

“Forget that. We are only doing our duty.” 

And so from time to time during the next few weeks, 
they talked until John knew the whole story of Nell’s 
absence with the exception of what she had actually ac¬ 
complished in art and a few other things which Nell 
and Dave agreed to keep for future revealment. They 
talked of home and the old times and much of the An¬ 
gelus. 

“Let me tell you, Nell, I don’t believe I would have 
held out if it hadn’t been for the Angelus. Many a day 
it has been the one anchor which seemed to hold me in 
the world. Often I longed during the day for sunset 
when I could talk to you. Such a comfort did I get many 
times that it was almost like actually seeing you. I am 
a firm believer in this mental telepathy, or whatever it is. 
I am sure we have communicated.” 

“So am I, John. It has been as great a comfort to me. 
When we were five thousand miles apart, I am sure I 
received wave thoughts from you. It has been like the 
radio. Our thoughts have carried through the air and 
across the seas. You have done a great service over 
here and you are famous.” 

“Well, if I can’t go back in the army when I am able, 
we shall go back home. Oh, but that will be fine, won’t 
it?” 

“Yes, it will, John, but it will be some time before 
we can do that. You must be well and strong before 
we attempt it.” 

“Yes, but as soon as I can get out I will get along 
fast and soon we can—” 

That was as far as he got. There was a commotion 
outside. There seemed to be a crowd. Soldiers were 
marching. Something was happening. 




CHAPTER XXVIII 


U NUSUAL and extraordinary scenes were com¬ 
mon during the war, but such as occurred this 
particular morning in the hospital at Souilley 
were in no sense common or usual occurrences. To see 
and meet with important personages was nothing out of 
the ordinary, but a combination of circumstances and 
great men such as took place this day was unusual. 

There came into the east door of the great room a 
French general, followed by his aides. They came im¬ 
mediately to John’s bed. Nell and Dave were disturbed 
and excited. They did not know the significance. It 
seemed too farcical for a visit. When the general pro¬ 
duced a paper with seals and ribbons, Nell knew John 
was to be honored, and so he was. And such an honor! 
The general, after greeting, addressed John. He told 
him that his country, France, was everlastingly indebted 
to him for his services and heroic deeds: 

“You Americans and the French have long been fast 
friends, and now our bonds of friendship are stronger. 
You left your home and came to our army without any 
duty to do so. You have endangered your life when 
you had not a patriotic cause for doing so. You have 
fought with us against the common enemy without any 
obligation to do so, save your love of liberty and jus¬ 
tice and right and love for France. You took up with 
sons of France the cry, ‘On ne passe pas.’ And when 
Le Mort Homme was bathed in blood you did not fal¬ 
ter. You did a great heroic deed above and beyond your 
duty. The line held firm, and, thank God, they did not 
pass. France does not forget your service and your aid. 
France does not forget your great valor when in No 
Man’s Land you offered your life that a great deed 
199 


200 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


might be done. In that deed of valor, now known over 
all France, you turned the tide of battle and sent the 
enemy back to the north. It was a deed of valor which 
makes heroes of men. Your courage and valor has made 
a hero of you. We are glad that you will live. We 
love you as a brother. And now, sir, France—my France 
and your France—has commissioned me to bestow upon 
you the greatest honor she can give to a son, and it af¬ 
fords me great pleasure to bestow upon you the ‘Me- 
daille Militaire,’ and in the name of France to thank 
you for your service.” 

He then pinned upon John’s breast the medal and with 
French custom imprinted a kiss upon each cheek. Then 
standing at salute he awaited a reply. Under such cir¬ 
cumstances it is always a guess what an individual will 
do. John did not know himself. He knew he could 
not salute, for his right hand was securely bandaged. 
He did the next best thing. He saluted with his left 
hand and said: 

“What I have done is only what is being done at the 
front every day. The act does not deserve this recogni¬ 
tion. I have aided France because I love liberty and 
justice, and I love the French people. You are wel¬ 
come to my mite of assistance. I only wish— Well, 
well! If it ain’t Jacques and Tom and Pierre and ‘Bum- 
pus!’ All alive, too! Well, well! Comment allez-vous?” 

This was his exclamation as he suddenly discovered 
his friends whom he had last seen on that morning when 
he had insisted on them going back to the lines ahead 
of him. The general moved back, greatly pleased at this 
friendship for his comrades. He knew the whole story 
and also knew comradeship. He stepped aside and mo¬ 
tioned for the comrades to come up. They did so, and 
warmly greeted John, so warmly that the tears again 
came, “as kids,” as Dave had put it. They knew what 
John had done and they were glad. It was the mingled 
feeling of gladness and anxiety which filled their breasts. 

After a few more words of good wishes and cheer, 




The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


201 


the party withdrew, leaving John and Nell and Dave in a 
kind of dazed condition. Each realized that France had 
honored John to her fullest ability. The Medaille Mili- 
taire was the greatest honor which could be bestowed. 
All realized that. Dave was the first to speak. 

“Well, old pal, I knew you’d do something sometime. 
I just wish old Bill could have been here and seen it.” 

“Now, Dave! Let well enough alone. Old Bill would 
have been glad of my honor.” 

“He would like— Well, yes, I guess he would.” 

“Oh, isn’t it grand, John?” said Nell. “You deserve 
it all, and more. The doctor told me this morning you 
are doing fine and are now out of danger if you take 
care of yourself. That’s good news, too, isn’t it?” 

“Gosh! but that general, or whoever he was, was a 
handsome brute, wasn’t he?” 

“Uncle Dave! You surely do use homely expres¬ 
sions.” 

“Well, I suppose I should use my French all the time 
here. But seems like I run out of words so quickly and 
then it don’t always just exactly convey my meaning.” 

“I notice you always speak plain enough so that you 
make yourself understood.” 

“That always was characteristic of Dave, Nell. I 
am proud of what I have done over here because it 
helps those sad faces of men who have given up so 
much—friends, sons and homes. Look at my four com¬ 
rades, each one of them has given a son and one of 
them two. I tell you that is about enough. When you 
have given up that much, your country is about all there 
is left to give. For my part, I can’t do too much for 
these people. I am glad I did it and I’m glad to know 
about it.” 

“Tomorrow I am going back up to the front for a few 
days,” said Dave. “I guess it is quiet there now, but I 
must see what I can do. I have been here a long time 
with you. Now that you are getting along fine I must 
see what other things I can do. And then I want to 




20 2 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


hear them talk of you and your great deeds. You are 
a hero, my boy—a hero.” 

“Oh, cut out the bragging, Dave. Give all the boys 
my best wishes and tell them I’ll try and come back and 
help finish it if they don’t work too fast.” 

Dave and Nell went out together. That night they 
had a long talk. If there had been ears to hear, there 
would have been plans discovered. But there were no 
outside ears and so no plans leaked out. 



CHAPTER XXIX 


E VEN a hero gets tired of a hospital. The hos¬ 
pital at Souilley was more of a shambles than 
a hospital during those years of the war around 
Verdun. Each day brought new casualties. Some of 
them were slight, some with wounds little short of com¬ 
plete demolition. It was frequently said during the war 
that death was the dearest event that could come to a 
soldier at Verdun, and that they gladly welcomed it, so 
great were the hardships in this sector. With this con¬ 
dition going on all the time and with new arrivals daily 
at the hospital, John’s nerves were kept busy. Nell and 
Dave had great concern for him. They were afraid of 
the consequences. He was getting along well enough 
in every way except for his side. His head and arm 
were doing well enough, but the side, with its terrible 
injury still caused them much concern. 

“I tell you, Dave, we must do something to divert his 
mind. He will be here for weeks yet and he takes every¬ 
thing so seriously that I am afraid he will wear himself 
out before he gets well. He is bound to know all about 
every man brought in and how badly he is injured. It 
is too much disturbance for his mind. He should be 
quiet, and yet they tell us he cannot be moved yet. What 
shall we do?” 

“I have thought a lot. I don’t know what to do. If 
he could be up and around I could manage it someway. 
I have thought of one thing but I don’t know if it would 
appeal to you.” 

“Let’s have it. It will be an idea for discussion, any¬ 
way.” 

“Well, I’ve thought maybe if you would go away it 
might give him thrill and diversion enough to keep him 
from these other things.” 


203 


204 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“I thought of that, too, but then I don’t know just 
how it would affect him now for me to go. I could go 
to Rome and as soon as he is able you could bring him 
there.” 

“I believe it is worth talking to the doctor about. I’ll 
do it tonight.” 

And so he did. In fact, they together talked to the 
doctor and told him their idea. He favored it. He said 
if John could go back to his thinking and longing about 
Nell, he would probably get along faster than worrying 
about every wounded man who came into the hospital. 
His advice would be to do it that way and not to let 
him know where Nell was or anything about her. They 
decided to do it that way and prepared accordingly. 

Nell arranged for her withdrawal from the service. 
She easily obtained her discharge under the circum¬ 
stances. 

Now it was her turn to worry. She did not much 
fancy the idea of leaving John there when she had 
just found him, even though he was in the good hands 
of Uncle Dave. She thought of his worry and of what 
injury this worry might do him. But she concluded it 
would be better than present conditions. She gave Dave 
something more than a million instructions and arranged 
to leave on a certain day. That day was now just one 
day off. Next morning early she left the hospital with¬ 
out ceremony and proceeded on her journey. 

It was not until late in the afternoon that John missed 
her. When Dave came in John asked for her and Dave 
told him he had not seen her since morning. Night came 
and then morning and still she did not appear. Dave 
told him she seemed to have left the place. When the 
doctor came around he told John she had gone. 

“She left yesterday morning on the train. I supposed 
you knew it.” 

“No, I knew nothing of it. Did you, Dave?” 

“She did not bid me goodbye.” Dave, being a preacher, 
seemed to be a poor liar. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


205 


“Well, that may be, but did you know she was going?” 

This time Dave did not hesitate. “No, sir. I was as 
ignorant of it as you. I don’t know what the little hussy 
means.” 

“Well, we won’t call her names now, perhaps she has 
some plans and she will be back soon.” 

But day after day rolled on and no word from Nell. 
Dave pretended to worry for a few days until he was 
sure John was worrying enough, then he began to take 
the view of it that she had gone to Rome and would be 
back soon. They would hear from her. They had great 
discussions about the probabilities of her returning. Or 
would she write and have them come down there as soon 
as John was able? John doubted if they would be in¬ 
vited. He could not fathom it. But he was making 
improvement because he had forgotten himself and the 
other wounded men. There came a day when he could 
sit up and finally get around the grounds a little. Then 
his progress was rapid. 

One day he had a great surprise. A telegram came 
for him. Naturally, he supposed it to be from Nell. 
He eagerly tore it open and read: 


“Old Bill sends his best regards and con¬ 
gratulates you on licking the whole German 
Army. You are a great man and I am still with 
you and love you. 

Bill Henderson. 


“Now don’t that beat all? Well, I sure am glad that 
old Bill is still holding true.” 

“Now, John, you need never have a care about old 
Bill. When he gives his word it is good as old wheat 
in the bin. He would fight for you. I never will for¬ 
get the trimming you gave him in that speech. It was 
some speech. That was almost as great an act as your 
great record in No Man’s Land.” 

“Now, Dave, I was not trying to lick old Bill. I was 
arguing to him through the crowd, that’s all.” 



206 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“Yes, I know, and you argued some, too. The argu¬ 
ment was effective. It was a great good. I have always 
been very glad.” 

“Well, I am very glad to hear from old Bill, but I 
would have been greater pleased if it had been from 
Nell. Do you think something has happened to her, 
Dave ?” 

“Now for the thousandth time, I tell you no. In a 
few days we are going to hear from her or see her.” 

In this he was right because he had been talking to 
the doctor who had told him John could leave the hos¬ 
pital in another two weeks, and he telegraphed the good 
news to Nell. Just before the end of the two weeks, he 
received another telegram, as follows: 

“I will meet you two boys in Venice next 
Sunday at the Danielli Hotel—Love to you both. 

Nell.” 

“Well, I’ll be—” 

“Here, here! Cut out the cussin’. If you must swear, 
do it in French!” said Dave. 

“Look at that. It is enough to make a wooden In¬ 
dian swear. She is not content to get up and leave with¬ 
out a word, but she thinks all we have to do is to run 
around over the world to see her.” 

“Well, what’s the matter with this?” 

“What’s the matter with it? Are you crazy, too? 
Don’t you know I am in the hospital and still in the 
army, and that Venice is some distance away from here?” 

“Oh, well, we can pick us up a magic carpet somewhere 
Sunday morning and go over for a few minutes.” 

“Don’t be a fool, Dave. What do you think of this 
telegram ?” 

“Why, I think we will be there.” 

“How?” 

“By train, I guess would be the best and quickest.” 

“How can I leave?” 

“Well, sir, if you must know it, all at once. Here is 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


207 


your honorable discharge from the French Army. You 
have your honors and the love and admiration of this 
great government. The doctor told me yesterday that 
you can leave the hospital any time now provided you 
go some place where you can be quiet and have good 
care for some six months. I obtained my leave. So 
there you are.” 

“Yes; so there you are—except you must have be¬ 
come an awful liar. Between the lines I read that you 
telegraphed Nell yesterday and told her all about it 
and that you knew all the time where she has been and 
why.” 

“Well, now, yer honor, you are not far off on any 
of this. I do not know just exactly where she has been 
every minute or anything like that, but—” 

“But you have been lying to me all the time.” 

“Lying by prescription, John, not by choice or by note. 
Doctor’s orders and Nell’s orders, and I reckon, order or 
no order, if it was good for you I’d be doing it anyway.” 

That settled John. He could say no more, except to 
ask the necessity for any lying at all. Then Dave told 
him the whole story and their scheme. It satisfied him 
and at the same time proved to him again the loyalty 
of his friends. 



CHAPTER XXX 


I T IS a treat to go across northern Italy under or¬ 
dinary circumstances, but on this day, when Dave 
and John had taken leave of the hospital and their 
new friends and were on the train for Venice, it was 
war times. No train service was good now and this train 
went close to the line of battle so it had all the disad¬ 
vantages of the time. They were used to small com¬ 
forts by now and got along. 

“I have always heard of the Lion of St. Mark’s. I 
want to see him and twist his tail. St. Mark is buried 
in Venice. When we stand at his tomb we will be car¬ 
ried back further in time then we ever have been be¬ 
fore.” 

“Just so we meet Neil. I am not caring so much about 
anything else.” 

“You don’t fear the Lion then, nor want to see the 
Doges’ Palace, or the great clock, or the Grand Canal, 
and all the little canals? Well, you are a funny one.” 

“Guess I am not my old self, Dave. Sometimes I 
feel that I never shall be again.” 

“Oh, well, there is enough left of you to do a lot, any¬ 
way.” 

Nell met them at the railroad station and had a gon¬ 
dola ready for their conveyance to the hotel. This ride 
was a great event for Dave. He knew the streets in 
Venice were all canals, but had little conception of what 
it was like. He was greatly interested as the old palaces 
were pointed out. He realized that they had stood 
here with their feet in the water for centuries; in fact, 
since that time when Venice had her aspirations to be 
mistress of the world of trade and made a good effort, 
too. Most of these palaces had belonged to the Doges 

208 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


209 


and were grand palaces, still owned by the nobility. If 
he was interested in all these things he simply went into 
ecstasies when they went under the Rialto. He was a 
great lover of Shakespeare and had never dreamed he 
would be fortunate enough to see the place where Shy- 
lock had done much of his business. Later, he walked 
across the old bridge and saw that the “Merchants of 
Venice” were still doing business there, each side be¬ 
ing lined with stalls and all kinds of goods for sale. 

Venice to them all was a delightful place. Dave en¬ 
joyed it more than any of them, however, because of 
his simple and complete interest in all things new to 
him. 

Next day they traveled on to Rome. It would take 
volumes to tell of Uncle Dave’s excursions about Rome. 
He was to remain there two weeks and he made every 
hour count. Few persons have done Rome so well in a 
month’s stay. Aunt Fannie was his chief companion, 
except when tired out from his long tramps. First, he 
must see St. Peter’s. Later, he had an audience with 
the Pope. This impressed him very much, because he 
was complimented on what he had contributed to the 
war and John was praised for his great heroism. Then 
he must see the Coliseum and go through all the palaces 
of the Caesars on Palatine Hill. He must stand where 
Nero stood while Rome burned. He stood at the tomb 
of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Church, and later was shown 
the place on the mountain where he was crucified, head 
downwards. He saw the very room where St. Peter 
and St. Paul were imprisoned. He shuddered when 
shown the little door into a tunnel or kind of sewer lead¬ 
ing down to the Tiber. It was a part of all sentences 
of death that the body of the convicted person be thrown 
into the Tiber. He stood at the very railing at Caesar’s 
Court, where St. Peter and St. Paul had stood when 
arraigned. He saw where St. John was buried. He 
saw the sacred stairs brought from Pilate’s Court, down 
which 'Christ had walked after His sentence to death. 




210 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


He stood in the Forum and tried to imagine the tragedy 
of Caesar’s death. He explored the Catacombs and 
saw where the Christians had begun their early strug¬ 
gles. The Catacombs affected him more than anything 
else. As he walked along with the pleasant and inter¬ 
esting monk, who was guiding him, and could see the 
bones lying in the rude tombs which had been broken 
open, he wondered who the particular one was and what 
had been his manner of death. He was greatly inter¬ 
ested in the stories of St. Cecelia and St. Sebastian. All 
in all, Uncle Dave took enough information and knowl¬ 
edge away with him to last any man a lifetime. 

He was always proud to relate that the villa in Rome 
was directly over one of the Catacombs and that di¬ 
rectly under them lay the bones of the early Christians 
and that in sight of the villa was the church “Quo Vadis,” 
with all its memories and histories, to say nothing of 
the splendid view away to the east, ending in the Sabine 
Hills. He could see Frascati and the Papal Villa and 
could follow the Via Appia until it crossed the hills. 
Oh, it was great for him. He enjoyed it all and nearly 
talked them all to death. At the end of two weeks he 
sailed for home. It was agreed that the others should 
follow as soon as John had recovered sufficiently. This 
would be several months. 




CHAPTER XXXI 


M Y CONTENTION is that art is just frozen 
music. Some way the artist just catches the 
notes and translates them to the universal lan¬ 
guage—pictures—and they are held there.” 

“Well, that is a nice thought, anyway, Nell; I little 
dreamed you would ever be an artist. When you used 
to sing at home I knew you liked it because you put 
your whole self into it. But I never dreamed your abil¬ 
ity extended to the other arts. I am glad.” 

“I shall probably never do much more at art. It has 
served its purpose for me. It occupied my mind when 
I was most distracted. I gave myself completely to it. 
Maybe that is why I succeeded in a small way.” 

“From what these masters say and the way they rave 
over your work, I would say you have succeeded in no 
small way, but in a very big creditable way. It cer¬ 
tainly has made it so I have had a wonderful oppor¬ 
tunity to see the art of Rome. The Vatican, the Palace 
Borghese, and all the others. It has been wonderful. 
I feel so good now I hardly know I was so battered up 
at Verdun. But that has been more than six months 
ago and I ought to be getting well, if I ever shall.” 

“Oh, you are practically well now. Don’t you love 
Italy and Rome?” 

“Yes, I do, Nell. I shall be sorry when we sail, much 
as I want to get back home.” 

“A month from now we shall go. Uncle Dave can 
tell you all about it when you get there. He will keep 
up the interest.” 

“The trouble will be that he will have told it all be¬ 
fore I get there and nothing will be left for me.” 


211 


212 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


“That’s so. But you can talk about art. That never 
interested Uncle Dave.” 

“I’m afraid I am not qualified for that, even at home.” 

So the days ran on very speedily. John spent much 
of the time reading and lying in the Court. As he lay 
there during those wonderful days, beneath the Italian 
sky, he could look first to the west at the dome of St. 
Peter’s and then to the east at the Appian Way and 
the Tomb of Cecelia Metella. This villa was in a line 
between them. Some pine trees in the yard seemed to 
have been planted in a line with both, as were some 
others a little ways further to the east at the entrance of 
St. Callixtus’ Catacombs. These Romans had been a 
wonderful people for art and symmetry in everything. 
Now and then there would come a day which would 
remind him for all the world of a day in the hills at 
home. It was the same sky; the same clear atmosphere; 
the same fleecy clouds. On those days he was not sad 
but reminiscent. He thought of the return home. Back 
home! Since he had been in the Army and seen all that 
awful life, he had learned the full interpretation of home. 
It was not a new meaning but a fuller meaning. “Going 
back home” meant more to him that it ever had before. 
Not because, as he analyzed it, he was farther away in 
miles, but because he had drawn closer to the other world 
than he had ever been before. 

“We can creep out and out, closer and closer to the 
shadowy line, until we are almost across—our backs to 
time, our faces to eternity—and then we come back, but 
we cannot cross the line and ever come back.” 

This ran through his mind as he gazed up into the sky 
on one of those days. He thought—just thought—as 
sometimes a man will. Not day-dreams or plans, but 
just thoughts. Perhaps then a man thinks without mak¬ 
ing thoughts his aim and some good ones come through 
the mind then, too. 

And so we come up to the day of the first chapter of 
our story, that day when John Adams was sufficiently 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


213 


recovered to make the journey home. Tomorrow was 
the day of departure. He was glad and he was sad. 
The last few days had been given up to thinking over the 
past of his life—his and Nell’s—and the lives of all who 
touched theirs. He had reviewed them all. He had 
summed up all of his life to date. He had taken 
stock of himself. Yes, as had the Jews of old— 
he had measured himself by the ten commandments. He 
did not fall so far short in the test. He had tried. He 
had accomplished. He had tried in all instances to do 
his best. Some things had counted for him, he knew. 
But it seemed there was yet so much to do and so little 
done. He had not dared as yet to make plans. He knew 
not whether his battered body would stand active work 
again. If it would, he surely would engage again in his 
insurance business. That to him was the greatest of all 
businesses. 

He thought of all the events since the day Nell had 
told him and Dave goodbye in his office and had gone 
away to visit her friends down the river. He had left 
nothing out. There was Betty Allen and that affair and 
he could not find in his actions any wrong to censure. 
He forgot not the Angelus which had anchored him to 
life, and he thought then how important it is for every 
person to have an aim in life with something to act al¬ 
ways as an anchor. This had been his anchor. In his 
early days he had thought little, if any, about prayer. 
But since he had been keeping his Angelus for so many 
years, he had grown to know that it was only a prayer, 
a prayer out into the void space but always directed, as 
he now analyzed it, to a Supreme Being who is the 
Director of all things and who is the final authority on 
all matters. And he thought how long people had been 
looking up and pleading for favors. He thought of the 
wise men of the east on their journey, guided by the Star 
of Bethlehem. Their trust and their faith had been in 
the same God to whom he and Nell had directed the 
words of their Angelus. And then he argued with him- 



214 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


self. Even granting that prayers may not be answered, 
the good to the individual who puts his mind through the 
process of prayer is ample reward. It is a source of 
good which comes in no other way. No man or woman 
can help but be better because of a prayer, no matter 
whether it be a prayer coming from some great necessity 
or just the natural habit of daily clearing the mind by 
serious thought. In any event, it places the individual 
in a good frame of mind and brings him nearer to the 
true, honest man than anything else can. It is a self 
analysis, a self measurement and a great good. John was 
glad he had kept his Angelus for so many years. He 
knew they would always keep it. They had agreed to 
do so and they were agreed on the great benefit of it. 

These had been a part of John’s thoughts on that day 
when Nell aroused him from his reverie. Yes, he had 
gone over it all. Their lives had been so varied. There 
had been so many partings of the way. Now they had 
all converged into one great highway which seemed to 
stretch away to the future without curve or change. 
Their lives now were together—would they continue to¬ 
gether? Who could tell? No one. Again faith and 
hope must be the important part of their plans. And 
so it was that they were going back home with plans 
which carried their lives along this great highway, to¬ 
gether with faith and hope that He who had heard their 
Angelus would guide them safely along and give them 
their share of the pleasures and comforts of life. 



CHAPTER XXXII 


I N ORDINARY times a voyage from Naples to 
New York is a long one, but during the year 1917 
it was disagreeable indeed. The best ships were 
not in service, nor was the service on the boats they 
used anything to brag about. But this was not to deter 
John and Nell and Aunt Fannie in their trip home. It 
was the early part of October when they sailed. The 
voyage of the Mediterranean was a delight, if the bal¬ 
ance of it was not so good. The effect of the air and 
sea was good for John and he improved further as they 
voyaged home. 

They landed in New York and claimed their reserva¬ 
tions for home. The hearts of all were quickened as 
they left the station on the last part of their journey. 

It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. 
Everyone of us mortals jhst kind o* take this as the 
gospel truth, while every day proves the falseness of it 
to us. There are new combinations of old things just 
as interesting and just as pleasant to us as if it were all 
new. A naturalist takes a lot of old roses and by cross¬ 
ing and blending and grafting and working with them, 
makes a grand new rose which startles the world with 
its brilliancy. He makes a brand new melon out of old 
ones. A new apple delights the palate, made as we are 
told from a crossing of old ones well known. We are 
told there are only seven original plots in all literature. 
Everything else is an adaption of them and yet we ap¬ 
prove hundreds of books each year as successes. They 
delight us. They please us. Probably all of the more 
than four hundred variations of Cinderella would in¬ 
terest us. At any rate, we do know that for thousands 
of years it has entertained both young and old and is 

215 


216 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


still as entertaining as it ever was. Every story where 
rags are turned into golden cloth, or where wishes are 
fulfilled, makes us think of Cinderella and her golden 
slipper. And so long as the heart thrills to romance and 
men and women dream day-dreams and hope that they 
will come true, Cinderella will be a real living character. 
So long as men feel as men and hearts are true, we 
shall love Robin Hood, no matter in which story-clothes 
he is dressed. So might we not conclude that for that 
part of the human race who are alive, active, alert, 
progressive and successful, each day brings just as many 
new thoughts, acts, events and things as the very earli¬ 
est times? Such persons see an opportunity in every 
situation and a teacher in every person they meet. This 
has little to do with our story except to prepare the 
reader for what we are soon to say. 

John Adams was not expecting new things on his 
return home. He expected to meet old friends and 
grasp their hands. He would embrace Uncle Dave, his 
brother and other relatives. But we who are on the 
inside of this story know that Nell Henderson was di¬ 
recting affairs and that the day of their arrival would see 
the consummation of plans and would present thoughts, 
actions and things to John which would be as new as 
the first thoughts of the human race. No matter how 
old the story was, it would be all new to him. Nell 
knew the general plans. It was she who had sent Dave 
home to execute plans she had in mind. Dave was a 
man to do what he was sent to do and he executed them 
well. Dave knew when they would arrive and had ar¬ 
ranged accordingly. Nell had so planned it that they 
would arrive on the afternoon train. 

We told you at the outset that Great Bend could not 
boast a railroad. It had not yet been favored by the 
railroad magnates. It was some five miles to the near¬ 
est station. The train was due at this station at five 
o’clock in the afternoon. That was when they were to 
arrive. It was when they did arrive. 





The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


217 


Before they left Rome, John had urged Nell to fix 
a time when they would be married. She put him off, 
or rather made it indefinite. He had urged that same 
day in October—an October six long years ago—was 
to have been the time, why not this October ? 

“Let’s wait, John, until we get home and then fix the 
time. We’ll make it soon. But let’s be married there 
at home. I don’t care if it is the very day we arrive, 
but let’s wait till we get there. We shall feel better 
over it.” 

“It would not do the day we get there, for we would 
have no arrangements made and we have both been 
away a long time. Well, we’ll not wait many days after 
we get home. People usually go away for their honey¬ 
moon, but here we are going home for ours.” 

“That will make it all the dearer, don’t you think?” 

“Maybe so. Maybe so. But it is agreed now we are 
to have no waiting.” 

“Not a moment’s delay.” 

John took this to mean relatively no delay. He did 
not know that Nell meant it literally. William Daniels 
had been further used in Nell’s plans. He had fully 
cooperated with Dave to carry out her every wish. 

Dave met them at the station in one of the few auto¬ 
mobiles which the country afforded. It was the best 
one because it had been a part of Nell’s plan that he 
buy it for her. They all got in and leisurely proceeded 
down the fine old road toward Great Bend. It occurred 
to John that they delayed a great deal at the station 
before starting and that a lot of time was being killed 
on the way. But his suggestions and his impatience did 
not hurry things. 

“What are the plans, Uncle Dave?” said Nell, when 
they were about halfway home. 

“Well, you don’t expect much plans here in the old 
Kentucky hills, not like you would find in Rome. If I 
had had Caesar, the head ‘garcon’ at the Grand Hotel 
in Rome to prepare all this for me, I could have had 



2 l8 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


some plans. But being as how I had to do it all myself, 
the plans are somewhat meager. But you’ll just have to 
put up with them. Uncle Dave did the best he could. 
We will go at once to Nell’s house where old Bill and 
I have prepared a little meal for you. Then you will 
be in the hands of your friends.” 

“Now, Dave, I hope you haven’t invited in the whole 
town. We are tired, you know.” 

“Don’t worry, John. The whole town don’t need an 
invitation when a conquering hero returns. You re¬ 
member they used to put on a regular show in the 
streets of Rome when one of those conquering heroes 
returned.” 

“Yes, but I’m no part of a show. Not today, anyway.” 

“Oh, well, we’ll get along some way, John. I guess 
they won’t want to do more than greet you and shake 
hands tonight.” 

“They better not.” 

Dave was all smiles and seemed perfectly contented 
at what he knew to be the plans. It was as beautiful a 
day as ever the wonderful fall in the mountains af¬ 
forded. The sun was warm and bright. The air had 
just the slightest tang in it, just enough to make it real 
enjoyable. Nature had just begun to paint the forests. 
Here and there were bright red leaves among the green, 
and golden browns, purples and then the rusty leaves 
of the beech trees which were a color all their own. 
Along the fences the vines were contending with each 
other as to which one could be the gayest. The fields 
were not too brown. The fall rains had favored them. 
So these travelers agreed that nowhere in old world or 
new had they seen nature more beautiful than right 
here at home. 

The road, as most of them do in this part of the state, 
wound down a river valley and along one side next the 
hill. The old Henderson farm was at the mouth of this 
little river. When the road came to their place it ran 
up over the point of the hill by the house and on down 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


219 


to the town. The house stood on the point and com¬ 
manded a view of the entire town and of all of Sunset 
Hill. 

As they came to the farm and started up the hill, 
John became very fidgety; Nell was eager; but Uncle 
Dave was like a kid with new boots. On they went— 
they came opposite the house, but the driver did not 
turn in. John had been looking in. He thought it 
strange that he saw no one around. He looked to the 
town. He was astounded. 

Never in all his life had he seen the old town so com¬ 
pletely dressed up. Flags everywhere! Decorations 
everywhere! And Sunset Hill! What in the world was 
the matter with it? Who had spoiled his dear old hill? 
He could not speak. He was not conscious that Nell 
was nestling very close to him and that Dave was quiet. 
The car went slowly on. He turned and looked at Nell. 
There was a great pleasure written all over her face. 
John spoke first and in a sad voice: 

“Dave, who has built a house on Sunset Hill ?” 

“Nell has, John.” 

“Who has?” 

“Nell and you.” 

“Well, I’ll be-.” 

“Here, now, none of that. Say it in French.” 

“Nell, have you and this old sinner perpetrated an¬ 
other job on me?” 

“No, John. But Sunset Hill is yours—yours and 
mine—for all time.” 

“Glory be for that. But who and where and how? 
Tell us about it.” 

“Say, young feller. What do you suppose I been 
doing since I left Rome?” 

“Well, I’ll say you have been busy.” 

“Busy enough that I made ’em all step some to be 
ready for today. We go to your home for supper. Old 
Bill is head butler tonight and his sons and your brother 




220 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


are ‘charge de affaires/ I am chaplain and all around 
general manager/’ 

“Nell, there is no church there as in your painting, 
but that is a beautiful home you have erected there. It 
is the most beautiful spot in all the world and the dear¬ 
est to us. Here we’ll keep our Angelus always. And 
by the way, it is just time now as the sun is bathing 
old Sunset Hill in his last long rays. Let’s keep it here 
and now together.” 

It was kept in a different way. Lives which had been 
parted were now joined again. These persons were not 
separated by miles. They were joined—let us hope, for¬ 
ever. So today lips met lips and thus as the others of 
the party sat uncovered, John and Nell kept their An¬ 
gelus here at home. 

Through the town they drove. They made just one 
stop in front of the Courthouse where a crowd of citi¬ 
zens were assembled. In a few well chosen words John 
and Nell were welcomed home. He was presented with 
a great wreath of roses. It was a real welcome of a 
returning hero, and he felt the honor keenly. He told 
them so. They were not delayed long. Then they drove 
home. John loved the drive up to the house as much 
as he had loved the hill. Instead of spoiling the hill, it 
would beautify the place. And this was to be home for 
him and Nell. 

It seemed to him all the town was gathered at the 
new home on Sunset Hill. Those who were not there 
were rapidly coming. When they went in he saw the 
beauty Nell had wrought—a great living room, just as 
he and she had talked. To the east there were great, 
high windows and to the west more high windows— 
always would there be sunshine and from the town be¬ 
low these windows, glistening in the sunshine, would 
always be golden windows. It was all decorated for 
the occasion with great banks of roses and autumn 
leaves. The hands of friends had been here to make 
it all a fitting welcome for them. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


221 


“My dear old friend, I welcome you home. God bless 
you for your great work. It was as great over there 
as it was here. I am your friend forever—and Nell’s. 
My! but I’m glad you are back! Welcome home to 
you all. Welcome to Sunset Hill.” 

Thus spoke old Bill Henderson and he meant it all. 

Dave took them in and showed them around a little 
bit and then came back to the great living room. It 
was already filled to overflowing. He led Nell and 
John to the end of the room and took his place in front 
of them. John thought, “Here is where we get another 
welcome and more speeches. I wish they would wait.” 
Dave stood a few moments and then began a prayer. 
Everyone was so still. It was all so strange and Nell 
at his side scarcely breathed. The prayer finished, 
Uncle Dave took from his pocket a paper which he held 
in his hand. He began to talk—to tell them how glad 
Great Bend was at their return and how much he and 
all of them loved John and Nell. It seemed that he 
was closing his remarks. He came up to them and tak¬ 
ing them each by the hand he clasped their hands and 
began the marriage ceremony. John gasped and then 
he saw it all. He was pleased. It was as he would 
have it. His dear old friend! The ceremony was 
finished. 

As soon as Dave’s voice had died away, the strains 
of a beautiful pipe organ in the other end of the room 
peeled forth—they were playing “My Old Kentucky 
Home.” When it was finished the whole audience sang 
it. Their voices filled the great room and died away in 
an echo over the valley. Immediately there was heard 
outside that music which is so familiar to the South— 
the negroes with their banjos and in the true southern 
style, they too sang “My Old Kentucky Home.” This 
all seemed the very height of welcome. They were sure, 
according to the ancient custom, the glass had been 
filled so full that it did not need a bay leaf to prove their 
hearty welcome. But there was yet the bay leaf to be 



222 


The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


added. Mounting an improvised platform, Uncle Dave 
stood a few moments, his white hair and rugged fea¬ 
tures making a grand picture against the draperies. 
Then in the voice of age and earnestness, he too sang: 

“The sun shines bright in my Old 
Kentucky Home, 

’Tis summer and the darkies are gay” 

All stood as still as death—not another sound any 
place. No accompaniment would have added to that 
voice. 

“The corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s 
in the bloom, 

And the birds make music all the day.” 

His voice rolled forth, not as a finished singer, but 
as a man who was earnestly delivering his supreme 
effort. 

“The young folks roll on the little 
cabin floor, 

All merry, all happy and bright. 

Bye and bye, hard times comes a knock¬ 
ing at the door, 

Then my Old Kentucky Home Goodnight.” 

It was a great effort. Tears now were streaming 
from every eye. John and Nell did not try to control 
their emotions. They knew their old friend too well. 
Many good turns he had done them. Much advice had 
they had from him. But this was an honor and so in¬ 
tended. It was wonderful. Then softly the aged voice 
took up the chorus: 

“Weep no more my lady 

Oh weep no more today,” 

All were weeping. But the tears were those of joy, 
and prayers for Dave Daniels were going up from many 
in the room. 



The Angelus of Sunset Hill 


223 


“We will sing one song, 

For my Old Kentucky Home”— 

Not one in the room but thanked God for the native 
land. “My Old Kentucky Home”—no other people 
could claim such a land as home. 

“For my Old Kentucky Home far away.” 

Great! Great! Now to give Uncle Dave the greatest 
applause of his life! No—wait a moment—he was 
talking. 

“My friends, that dear song of ours means more to us 
here in the mountains than any sentiment we have. I 
have heard it in every country in which it has been my 
fortune to travel. In a little town in France—yes—in 
a little hospital in that town—I saw it bring back to 
life our best friend—the hero we welcome home tonight. 
Then it was sung by that dear girl who is now his wife. 
For fifteen long years I have been trying to tell these 
two young friends of mine what is the greatest song 
in the world and I have often told them that some day 
I would sing it to them. And now as a sincere welcome 
home, as well to bear to them our heartiest congratula¬ 
tions for a long, happy, contented and successful life, 
we greet you here on Sunset Hill—your Sunset Hill— 
with this the greatest song in the world—‘My Old Ken¬ 
tucky Home.’ 

“I have proven it, too, by singing it myself, and now 
may you forever keep your Angelus here on Sunset Hill 
and may the old Hill give to you both a perfect sunset 
of life.” 


































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