Next morning he was surprised to realize he had slept so well. He had tried and tried to find God, yet when he stopped trying and lifted his head up to the heavens, there He was.
There was no tension in the air, no tension in his soul, just a feeling of peace and unity. He thought he was seeing the world for the first time. He took a deep breath. There was not one discordant note in all that illimitable expanse of beautiful earth. He dressed himself carefully as he usually did and went outside. It did not seem early with all the birds chirping, the sky so bright and blue. The brown earth that yesterday was dusty, barren, uninviting, a dreary expanse of monotony, was today golden, smiling. Why hadn't he noticed how pretty this particular country was before with all the little swells and folds and rippling valleys?
He strode over to the corral and looked at the horses as though he had never seemed to notice them before. A colt scampered up to him. He reached into his pocket and took out a lump of sugar. It nosed into his pockets, snorted in a friendly way before scampering off. The other horses greeted him joyously. How beautiful they were! But what was more surprising, he even thought the pigs and cows were handsome too. Strange, he had never noticed that a cow could be beautiful!
"Pigs are comical, ain't they." He laughed out loud.
He whistled and set about to work, forgetting it was Sunday. He ate his usual hearty breakfast - pancakes, steak, french fried potatoes and eggs, poached in the steak drippings. He drowned it down with coffee, two big cups of strong, black coffee.
Although he did not put into words, he knew the evil was now overcome. He had a higher happiness in proper control. Moreover, the old aloneness was no more, the homelessness, the restlessness. Yes, it was all gone.
He joined Mrs. Cochrane on the veranda before supper and they chatted about her horses, and the progress that had been made.
"Tis soon I'll have to be going," he told her. And then he remembered, "Sure an' I haven't taken a chew of tobacco all this live long day. That I haven't."
She looked startled as much as to say "Well, what brought that up," but instead replied "Well, how a good-looking man like you could ever have used that stuff is beyond me."
"But don't you know? God has saved me."
"Whatever are you talking about?"
"Last night I asked God to save me, and he did. I have not even thought about it all day long."
"Well, see if you can leave whiskey alone, too," she said reproachfully. Try that and see how far you'll get with it."
"Never fear, t'won't bother me none," he assured her, and gave her his brightest smile. "An' I forgot to do me cursings for the day. Why, it's a new man I am! A new man, and that entirely!"
And off he was to tell the men about it. He felt a strong compulsion to tell everyone of this change that had come over him. The ranch hands were washing up for supper outside the cook-house when he joined them.
"God has made a new man out of me, " he blurted out, there being no doubt of the exuberance he felt. "I know it because I haven't wanted any whiskey this whole blessed day."
When he talked to the men it was as though they were different too. He wanted to take them to his heart for now he loved them all. He had never had this feeling for them before. Everything was clear to him now. He was close to his friends and God.
He knew God had shown him His magnificent power of love by which he would live, and by which he would die. He danced a few steps of an old Irish jig, then swung into a few hula steps.
The course of his life wasn't greatly changed in the weeks that followed. He fulfilled his contract with Peregrini for Mackey. When that work was completed, he stopped at the Jockey Club and got acquainted with the secretary. It was no surprise to be received well there, and he was given a larger order to train their race horses. He agreed to give them as much time as possible until it was time to return to Del Paso.
He was still riding through the same familiar gates, up and down the same swelling ground, over the same gullies and ravines, but he saw the world as God had made it, not the world man had spoiled. Indeed, life was on a new plane. It was powered by a new, freer activity. He was happier than he had ever been before. "Sure, an' I have lost me load. I'm a new man."
He had always been relaxed working around his horses. That had always been his secret. But around men, he had been harassed with an anxiousness that had brought him only despair and hostilities that always could only be brought under control with characteristic free-for-all fighting. He discovered that now when he greeted men, or even old enemies, it was with an affection. And, more surprising, they responded in the same way. Indeed, God had made his soul receptive to the entire world. He was ready for the new faith he knew would follow. This new faith would be as big as the mountains and no longer hidden in the haze of summer. The enormity of this faith was built on the vast discrepancy of that old, bitter life of wrath, loneliness and despair, that other life of sorrow and sin. This new life of strength and power and joy and peace was so because it had the Power of God behind it. And God was with him and behind him in everything. "Ah, for sartin'," he said to himself, "Faith and the world's no trouble to me now."
He was always looking out for miracles about this new self that grew day by day before his very eyes. One of the first things he noticed was that he no longer was concerned about money. Another thing was that he not only wanted to talk to every man about Christ and the happiness inside his soul and how it had changed the external world, but he wanted to help these men in their daily work. He wanted to help them understand how to handle horses as easily as he did because their daily lives depended on understanding the horse.
In his spare time, he began classes in horse training among the ranchers and cowboys. He organized riding classes for men and women. He even started to write a book putting in it all the strange, fascinating observations he had accumulated about wild horses. He wrote with painful difficulty, even this brought him joy because he knew God was pointing out his need for schooling. Thus, he began to set himself to study, going to the library at night. He bought the finest Bible he could purchase, and he read it for the special message it contained from God to the humanity He loved. It seemed every word he read had been written for him. It was easy to understand this Book for he read it with the enthusiasm one uses in devouring an exciting novel or with the casualness one reads the newspaper. He read Psalms, a few each day, and was grateful they put into words the beauty he felt for this new world around him. Most or all he read and memorized Proverbs:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handy work.
He grew excited at the philosophical things Proverbs taught him about people.
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser:
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
"Why people are the same today. All these things are just as true today," he said in amazement.
He read the Gospels to get a true appreciation of the teachings of Jesus and how they showed him the way God had walked among the poor, teaching and preaching and helping. The profundity of thought of the Sermon on the Mount filled him with wonder as he turned time and time again to that fifth chapter of Mathew and read from the third verse through the fifth;
Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.
And everything he read restored his belief that God was his Father, and Heaven his home, and he was no longer born to the despair of an orphan, a stranger alone, in a world of graft and greed.
He read, too, for any of the commands God contained in the Book for him. He impressed on his mind the most important commandment was to love one another.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which in Heaven:
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another…
The love of God! That was it, the cure for the ailing world, the world he knew, the world that hugged the waterfront, the world enclosed by the corrals, hemmed in by wharves, where the houses tumbled one upon the other, the world of saloons and dives and brothels and sin factories. The world of forty-fives and long knives, of brass knuckles, laudanum and opium, the world of slave trade, of crooked politicians, of oppressive, back-breaking labor, of shanghaiing, the world of windows and orphans and men sickened by the ugliness around them until their eyes had become blind to God's goodness!
A new commandment I give unto ye: love one another…
Why with the love of his Father in his heart he would not so much as hurt an animal! It was the cure! The cure for the ailing world he knew! The love of God!
He would study, study, study. It was all in the Book. More and more, form day to day, he discovered it was all in the Book. He poured over it, studying, planning on doing something for God. Now, all the areas of his active mind that laid dormant for so long were awakened with a new energy. He was gifted with a retentive memory and a vivid imagination, and all that he heard or read remained fixed in his mind as though it were the negative on a camera. It was as though it had been happening before his very eyes he could call out passages whenever he needed them. He memorized it page by page, verse by verse, word by word, until one could misquote a verse to have him correct the error. If someone asked him what a certain verse said, he could tell it, or one could give him a part of a verse and he would finish it and tell where it was. The more he read, the more he remembered. It astonished him when he went to speak that he could talk with such a flow of language.
It was also a surprise to see how receptive the men were to his preaching. He preached in the corrals, at the race tracks, in the livery stables - wherever he or men went.
"You jes' keep on the way you're going," they told him. "You are all right."
There was only one man who objected to it. He was the secretary of the Blooded Horse Association for whom he worked.
"I like you fine, Professor," he told him, trying not to offend him for Bill was a valuable worker at the Jockey Club. "You are doing good work here, except for that."
Bill looked at him, surveying the starched white collar, the carefully tied four-in-hand tie, the broadcloth suit, the diamonds, and thought, "Perhaps he does not need Salvation."
The secretary and manager of the Blooded Horse Association did not look like any of the workers who loafed around the stables, the other men who encouraged Bill to keep telling them about God.
Bill had the gift of telling a good story, in that fervent way of talking to people so they could not help but listen. They did not resent talk of salvation
He agreed to refrain from speaking of salvation when he worked. He would joke with them, answer questions about how to pick out a good horse, how to train him, but he wouldn't speak of salvation at the track.
"One of the most important things in the horse training is to think like a horse," he reminded them many times. "To get along with men, too, the same rule applies."
He sought out the Association secretary and put the proposition to him. "Every Saturday night the men get drunk. On Sunday they lie around in the dirt. That's no place for a man who was made in God's image. I want to hire a hall, pay for it out of my own pocket, and invite them to listen to me, if they so desire. And, if they don't they can continue to go to hell anyway they wish."
The secretary drew back in astonishment. "That's the first time I've ever heard you swear, Mullen."
"Indeed, I'm not swearing. I'm just saying that if anyone doesn't want to go in the direction he is going, he can travel another road. Maybe I should have put it that way."
Much to his surprise, his friends filled the hall. So many jammed into the little building, he had to ask all the avowed Christians to leave to make room for the sinners. And still there wasn't enough room for the crowd when he began his sermon.
He spoke with an eloquence he never knew he had. His voice filled with emotion as he told of his young life in the mines of Newcastle. He told the story he was to use over and over again of how a little Scotch lad, Wee Donal, had drawn upon his tender back, the wrath of the schoolmaster who ordered him to strip and receive his lashing for not doing his lessons.
But when Donal removed his shirt, Jock, a tall strong lad of the village saw he wore no undershirt, and that his back was filled with sores; so neglected was his poor body. He begged the schoolmaster to permit him to take Wee Donal's place.
"That ye kin not do," the angry teacher said, and cracked his whip upon Jock's back. "Now that's for yer impertinence, ye big rascal," he said when he had finished giving him twenty stripes. "Take your seat while Donal comes forth like a man an' takes what is coming to him."
"Oh, no!" the pupils cried out, "Ye no kin do it for Jock took his place. Ye no can punish Wee Donal now."
When he was through, there was not a dry eye in the little hall in Gonzales, Monterey County. After the meeting was over they came up to congratulate him and encourage him to continue.
"You're a born preacher, Salvation. You jes' stick to it," they said.
So he began preaching. He began, and to his last day he was still preaching. Everywhere he went, he was preaching.
He had to work out a plan to go to school. He remembered that great University of Georgetown from his residence in Washington. "I will go there," he made up his mind, "I will be come a priest as every son of a good mother should."
He did not dream his education limited to three years in the workhouse would be a stumbling block for his chosen career.
"If God wants me to preach, He will show me the way," he concluded.
"The way" came when he took the promised horse pullman back East, this time again for Haggin's annual sale of blooded horses.
Go to Chapter Seven
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