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The New Minister's Great Opportunity First published in the "Century Magazine"   By: (1847-1924)

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THE NEW MINISTER'S GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

By Heman White Chaplin

1887

First published in the "Century Magazine."

"The minister's got a job," said Mr. Snell.

Mr. Snell had been driven in by a shower from the painting of a barn, and was now sitting, with one bedaubed overall leg crossed over the other, in Mr. Hamblin's shop.

Half a dozen other men, who had likewise found in the rain a call to leisure, looked up at him inquiringly.

"How do you mean?" said Mr. Noyes, who sat beside him, girt with a nail pocket. "'The minister 's got a job'? How do you mean?" And Mr. Noyes assumed a listener's air, and stroked his thin yellow beard.

Mr. Snell smiled, with half shut, knowing eyes, but made no answer.

"How do you mean?" repeated Mr. Noyes; "'The minister's got a job' of course he has got a stiddy job. We knew that before."

"Very well," said Mr. Snell, with a placid face; "seeing's you know so much about it, enough said. Let it rest right there."

"But," said Mr. Noyes, nervously blowing his nose; "you lay down this proposition: 'The minister's got a job.' Now I ask, what is it?"

Mr. Snell uncrossed his legs, and stooped to pick up a last, which he proceeded to scan with a shrewd, critical eye.

"Narrer foot," he said to Mr. Hamblin.

"Private last Dr. Hunter's," said Mr. Hamblin, laying down a boot upon which he was stitching an outer sole, and rising to make a ponderous, elephantine excursion across the quaking shop to the earthen water pitcher, from which he took a generous draught.

"Well, Brother Snell," said Mr. Noyes, they were members together of a secret organization, of which Mr. Snell was P. G. W. T. F., "ain't you going to tell us? What is this job? That is to say, what er is it?"

Brother Snell set his thumbs firmly in the armholes of his waistcoat, surveyed the smoke stained pictures pasted on the wall, looked keen, and softly whistled.

At last he condescended to explain.

"Preaching Uncle Capen's funeral sermon."

There was a subdued general laugh. Even Mr. Hamblin's leathern apron shook.

Mr. Noyes, however, painfully looking down upon his beard to draw out a white hair, maintained his serious expression.

"I don't see much 'job' in that," he said; "a minister's supposed to preach a hundred and four sermons in each and every year, and there's plenty more where they come from. What's one sermon more or less, when stock costs nothing? It's like wheeling gravel from the pit."

"O.K.," said Mr. Snell; "if 't aint no trouble, then 't ain't But seeing's you know, suppose you specify the materials for this particular discourse."

Mr. Noyes looked a little disconcerted.

"Well," he said; "of course, I can't set here and compose a funereal discourse, off hand, without no writing desk; but there's stock enough to make a sermon of, any time."

"Oh, come," said Mr. Snell, "don't sneak out: particularize."

"Why," said Mr. Noyes, "you 've only to open the leds of your Bible, and choose a text, and then: When did this happen? Why did this happen? To who did this happen? and so forth and so on; and there's your sermon. I 've heard 'em so a hunderd times."

"All right," said Mr. Snell; "I don't doubt you know; but as for me, I for one never happened to hear of anything that Uncle Capen did but whitewash and saw wood. Now what sort of an autobiographical sermon could you make out of sawing wood?"

Whereat Leander Buffum proceeded, by that harsh, guttural noise well known to country boys, to imitate the sound of sawing through a log. His sally was warmly greeted.

"The minister might narrate," said Mr. Blood, "what Uncle Capen said to Issachar, when Issachar told him that he charged high for sawing wood. 'See here,' says Uncle Capen, 's'pos'n I do. My arms are shorter'n other folks's, and it takes me just so much longer to do it.'"

"Well," said Mr. Noyes, "I'm a fair man; always do exactly right is the rule I go by; and I will frankly admit, now and here, that if it's a biographical discourse they want, they 'll have to cut corners... Continue reading book >>




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