The Unknown Wrestler - H.A. Cody - ebook
Opis

This is a story about a young pastor who decides to go to his newly appointed ward in disguise, to find out what factors in the community repel all pastors working there before they leave the community. As the secret is revealed, we meet many citizens of the community and become familiar with their problems and misfortunes. The pastor becomes an integral part of the community he seeks to serve when he is accepted.

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Liczba stron: 402

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Contents

I. Street Music

II. Where Flows The Tide

III. Conscience Money

IV. Secret Plans

V. Put To The Test

VI. Down By The River

VII. Mending Things

VIII. Home For Repairs

IX. Evening Glow

X. Pride And Impudence

XI. The Face At The Door

XII. Astray On The Hills

XIII. Notice To Quit

XIV. Settling Things

XV. A Wet Day

XVI. Twin Fires

XVII. Cruel As The Grave

XVIII. Silent Strife

XIX. Warmer Than He Expected

XX. Confidence

XXI. Outdone

XXII. Compelled To Serve

XXIII. Dispelling The Clouds

XXIV. Empty Hears Something

XXV. Perverting Justice

XXVI. On The Rocks

XXVII. The Will Of The People

XXVIII. Knuckling Under

XXIX. The Challenge

XXX. By The Old Pine Tree

CHAPTER I. STREET MUSIC

There was no room for him on the sidewalk, so he took up his position beyond the curbstone. The light from the large arc-lamp overhead, exposed the old man’s thin white hair, withered face and threadbare clothes. His sightless eyes were turned toward the passing throng, and his head was slightly bent in an expectant attitude. But the hand that drew the wheezy bow across the strings of the violin often faltered, and the broken music, instead of attracting, repelled the crowds. The player was tired and longed for rest. But the fire of an overmastering purpose burned in his soul and kept him steadfast to his post.

The girl standing by his side was both weary and embarrassed. Her hand trembled as she held out her father’s soft felt hat to receive the coins which were so very few. It was quite evident that she was new to this business, for her cheeks were flushed crimson owing to the remarks she occasionally heard.

“Listen to that old man sawing wood,” one gaily-dressed young fop laughingly jested to his companion.

“Filing his saw, I should say,” was the sarcastic reply. “It’s a wonder to me that such a noise is allowed on a street like this.”

“But see the girl,” the other insisted, “isn’t she a beauty! Look at her cheeks. My! they are some colour. She seems new to her job. Suppose we give her a jolt. I’d like to hear what she’d say. Perhaps she isn’t as innocent as she seems.”

They had stopped several rods away and were watching the girl as they talked. Presently they retraced their steps, and when they came near where she was standing, one of them surged suddenly against her, causing her to drop the hat in alarm and start back, while the few coins rolled out upon the hard stones. Her cry of dismay caused the old man to stop playing and turn quickly toward her.

“What is the matter, Nan?” he anxiously enquired.

“Oh, let us go away,” the girl pleaded. “We are not safe here, and I am so frightened. Two men pushed against me and knocked the hat out of my hand. I know they did it on purpose, for they went away laughing. Oh, what is that?” and she leaned eagerly forward as a commotion took place among the crowd a short distance away.

While the young men were performing their cowardly prank, a man was intently watching all that was taking place. He had been observing the blind violinist and the timid girl for several minutes. In his eyes was an expression of sympathy, which changed at once to intense anger at the act of the two heartless fops. He stepped quickly forward and confronted them.

“What right had you to interfere with that girl?” he demanded.

“It’s none of your business,” replied the one who had done the deed. “You get out of our way, and do it quick at that, or it won’t be well with you.”

At once a heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder, and the gripping fingers of that hand caused him to wince and try to tear himself away. A sudden fear smote his heart as he looked up into the blazing eyes of the man before him. He was beginning to respect that towering form with the great broad shoulders and the hand that seemed to weigh a ton and the gripping fingers that were closing like a vise. He suspected that this was a plain-clothes man in the Police service, and the thought filled him with a nameless dread. He glanced around for his companion, but he was nowhere to be seen.

“What do ye want me to do?” he at length gasped.

“Go pick up those coins, and then apologise to the girl for your rudeness,” was the reply.

“Good heavens! I can’t do that, ye know. What will me chums say?”

“Never mind what they will say. They’ll say a great more if I have to drag you there by the coat collar. So get a move on at once.”

The victim looked helplessly around upon the crowd which had gathered, as if expecting some assistance. But not a friendly face could he behold. All seemed to be greatly amused at his plight.

“Hurry up.”

The voice was calm but the clutching fingers were becoming almost unbearable. There was nothing else for the young man to do, so with a face as pale as death he turned and walked slowly back to where the old violinist and the girl were standing.

“Now, pick up the coins,” was the imperious command.

The culprit at once obeyed, and groped around as well as he could but nothing could he find. Several street urchins, who had been ahead of him, now stood near and jeered at his fruitless efforts. At length, straightening himself up, he turned to his captor. The perspiration was streaming down his face, and he looked the picture of misery.

“I can’t find anything,” he gasped.

“Well, then, apologise to the girl. Tell her you are sorry for what you did and that you will never do such a thing again.”

With trembling lips the young man stammered forth a few broken words as he stood facing the surprised and abashed girl. It was hard to understand what he said, but that did not really matter. His punishment had been severe, and his captor felt somewhat satisfied.

“Now, clear out,” he ordered, “and be thankful all the rest of your days that you have escaped so easily.”

Scarcely had he finished speaking ere a large police officer forced his way through the crowd. He grasped the situation in an instant, and when he saw the man standing near the culprit, a light of recognition came into his eyes.

“Shall I take him, sir?” he asked, at the same time giving the salute.

“No, Sergeant, I think we had better let him go this time,” was the reply. “He has been taught a lesson already which he is not likely to forget.”

When the crowd saw that there was to be no more excitement, it quickly dispersed, and the stream of humanity surged along the street as before. The policeman, too, moved away, leaving the girl and her protector standing near each other.

“You have had a hard time to-night,” the man remarked. “I am so sorry those rascals gave you such trouble.”

“Oh, it was so kind of you to come to our assistance,” the girl replied. “My father is very tired, and the little money we made is all gone.”

“May I have your violin for a while, sir?” the stranger asked turning to the violinist, at the same time taking the instrument gently from the trembling hands. “You must be very tired.”

During the whole of the scene the old man had been trying to comprehend the meaning of the commotion. His daughter was too greatly excited to explain anything. But when he heard the stranger speak to him he at once complied with his request and allowed him to take his beloved instrument. The girl slipped her hand in his and squeezed it hard, and then stood watching her kind protector.

The latter lifted the violin quickly to his shoulder, faced the crowded street, and drew the bow across the strings. There was a great difference now in the playing, and many people paused to listen. There was something which appealed to them in the music which was pouring forth. It stirred their nobler feelings and aroused in them the spirit of sympathy for the poor and unfortunate. They comprehended the purpose of the musician when they saw the feeble old man and the girl standing nearby. The hearts of many were strangely stirred, and they vied with one another in dropping money into the dusty hat which the girl was again holding forth. Silver mingled with bills, and the girl’s face grew bright and her heart happy the heavier the hat became. It seemed to her like a wonderful dream, and that the player was a fairy who had come to her assistance. She wanted to watch him and listen to the music he was making, but she had little time for that, as she had to pay attention to the money she was collecting.

Suddenly the music stopped and when the girl turned her head she saw the stranger handing the violin to her father. She wanted to speak to him, to thank him for his kindness, but before she could act he had disappeared among the crowd.

As the music ceased, so did the giving, and the unheeding crowd once more surged on its way. But the girl did not care, as she had all the money she could manage.

“Let us go now, father,” she said. “We have done well to-night, and I am so anxious to know how much we have.”

“Yes, Nan, let us be off at once,” the old man wearily replied. “I am greatly confused and do not fully understand all that has taken place. You must thank the stranger for his kindness, though. His music was wonderful.”

“But he has gone, father. He vanished among the crowd, and I am afraid that I shall never see him again. Oh, he was splendid! How I wish you could have seen him.”

“But I heard him speak, Nan, and listened to his playing, so that was something.”

They were standing close to each other, talking as simply as if they were completely alone. In her great innocence, Nan did not realise that greedy eyes were watching the bulging hat she was still holding before her, and that itching hands were but waiting an opportunity to snatch away the treasure.

They had turned to leave the place, when a policeman suddenly appeared before them.

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