General Fiction posted November 14, 2023 Chapters:  ...67 68 -69- 70... 

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One day at a time

A chapter in the book One Man's Calling

One Man's Calling, ch 69

by Wayne Fowler

In the last part God showed a sampling of His power to Hank Larabee through Ben.


Over an hour of travel and the two had yet to break the silence, both in a state of praise and worship meditating on God’s magnificence. The quiet was broken by the crack of rifle fire from behind them. Beth looked to Ben’s hands that did not respond to the sound. She expected that he would snap the team into a quicker pace.


Another six rounds were fired off before he had time to speak. Ben smiled. “Faith, honey. Faith.”

Six more rounds sounded off.

“He had a Henry in his scabbard. Henrys hold fifteen rounds and one in the chamber. He doesn’t do that. We should assume it was loaded. But he wouldn’t carry a box of shells with him, and his cartridge belt held 44s and 45s for his pistols.

Another shot rang out, sounding like a tree branch broken. Ben didn’t tell Beth that he’d heard the air being ripped somewhere to his left.

“He’s scared, afraid to get very close,” Ben said. Then they both felt the thunk of their seat back. With the carriage top down, they’d been fully exposed the entire time.

“Well, that’s that.” Ben reined up, stopping the team. Taking his knife from his belt, he turned around to gouge the slug from the wooden seat back. “Henrys have a light load anyway, but at his distance, you’d probably just get a little headache if it hit right on your bean.” Ben chuckled.

“So that was your faith, your knowledge of guns?” Beth was more than a little rankled.

Ben chuckled again. “No. I’m sorry. I did know all that. But God told me not to fear. I just told you how God did it. It’s over now.”


At the town of Slide, obviously in the process of changing its name to Fortuna, it was Farmers’ Market Day.

“Oh, let’s stop, Ben! Would you just look! Did you see the berries on that table? Oh, Ben…”

“First place we can, darling. Look for us a hotel.”

“Welcome to heaven, friend. Light yourselves. I’ll have a boy take your team to the livery.”

The hotel employee was beside himself with glee. "First folks to come up from the south in some time. Most get here by train, any more. What with the highway men, and all.”

Ben and Beth looked to one another, both wondering what the man was talking about since their trip had been so … unbothered, at least by highwaymen.

“You have a room, then?” Ben asked.

“For a couple such as yourselves, I’d boot the mayor, heh, heh! Yes Sir, we do. We do. Come little missus. Let me help you.” He extended a hand.

As she took it, Beth glanced toward Ben, a playful snicker on her face.

“Come, young man. Pete! Come, Pete knows his way with a team. You want them grained, I suppose? Pete!” He looked toward his hotel for the youth named Pete to come out, which he did.

“Sorry, Ship, I was … uh, hello Ma’am. You want me to take the team an’ get ‘em rubbed down and grained, Mister?”

Ben was convinced. He stepped down to join Beth’s side, helping her manage the rather steep step himself.

“Thank you, kind sir,” she said with a twinkle in her voice, grinning. She couldn’t wait to get to their room where she could laugh out loud at the hotel welcome experience.

Once alone in the room, Beth turned to Ben, “Did we get made into royalty somewhere along the road into town? Did we ascend into heaven?”

“Well, you are my angel.”

They kissed with passion.

“No, I guess not. Since in heaven they are not given in marriage, and that …”

They kissed some more.


“This pie is to die for,” Beth said. “The crust needs … but the apples! Just the right degree of tart, and sweet.”

“I like how they’re just a little bit firm, but cooked. Reminds me of Arkansas blacks.”

“Never had one.”

“They keep all winter. Nothin’ better in early spring before anything ripens.”

“Did you hear the lady at the flower stand talking about the weather around here?” Beth asked.

Ben shook his head.

“Forties in the winter, low eighties in the summer. Lots of rain, is all, but only a couple little snow dustings a year. I’m telling you, Ben. We’ve landed in heaven.”

“Speaking of heaven … church tomorrow?”

“But of course, my preacher man.” Beth smiled as Ben nodded his water glass to her.

“To Fortuna,” Ben said.

“And Eureka, right around the bay!”


“Ben Persons, Ben Persons … Would you hail from San Francisco, by any chance?”

The church service was over and Ben was greeting the pastor at the door. Ben expected the next comment to be about him escaping from prison.

“Pastor Thomasson and I went to seminary together, shared a room. We write at least once a month. I remember he mentioned you several times. I mean, sometimes more than once in the same letter, things that impressed him.”

Ben nodded. “Send him my regards. Yes, I remember him. He was very helpful with the ministerial alliance and with the Awakening meetings.”

“Yes, Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday. I’ve written Billy Sunday in an effort to get him up this way. I haven’t heard back from him yet.”

The pastor pinched his eyes, studying Ben. Ben wondered whether he was daring to ask the personal questions.

“We haven’t discussed it yet, my wife and I, but we may be staying in town a bit. How about if I came by to visit?”

“I was going to ask. Would you and your wife come to lunch tomorrow? Just simple fare, sandwiches is my usual lot. Our home is just around the corner, number 211.”

“Noon?” Ben asked.

“11:30 would be better.” He chuckled. “The older I get, the earlier I want to eat. I think soon I’d be at four meals a day except I’d be in bed asleep before time for the fourth one.”

Ben laughed with him.

Beth had been visiting with the pastor’s wife and watching for signs that Ben was ready to leave. She joined him on the church steps.

“Lunch with the pastor and his wife tomorrow?” Beth asked.

Ben turned to look at her.

“His wife invited us, too.”

“11:30,” Ben said.

“They’re getting old,” Beth returned.

They both laughed.


The apple pie finished, and Pastor Williams’ wife Dorothy refilling tea cups, Ben offered to tell the story of his arrest, conviction, escape, and exoneration.

After a moment, the pastor cleared his throat and responded. “I’m afraid bad news travels faster than good. And even when good news does travel, people are more drawn to the bad. Might not even read an article about someone being exonerated; but they certainly would one of a crime. My San Francisco friend, I suppose he felt the subject unimportant, never mentioned it. I’m afraid that it may haunt you.”

Ben nodded.

Beth wiped a tear before it could drop.

“It’s rather serious, the Pastor continued. “Suppose some small-town lawman honestly thought he was doing his sworn duty and arrested you. How long would you sit in jail before he learned otherwise? And how many times would you like to endure that? And what would all of that do to your ministry?”

Ben nodded.

“Why don’t you stay here, in Fortuna, and send for whatever documentation is available? And carry it with you? We could have you interviewed by the Arcata Union and the Humboldt Times.”

Ben and Beth both nodded.

Ben Persons: a young man following God's calling
Hank Larabee: heir of Henry P. Larabee, ranch and town owner
Arkansas black is a very firm and sweet apple with deep red skin that can be so dark as to appear black. And quite tasty! Just be sure it's very, very dark.
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