XXIV

XXIV.

 

 

 

IT was Sunday in springtime, and the singing in the Church floated out over the town. Up in the elm tree that stood behind the churchyard wall sat two old crows.

 

“Now the minister ascends the pulpit,” said the one.

 

“What is he saying?” exclaimed the other.

 

The two old crows cocked their heads on one side and listened.

 

“Brothers in Christ!” sounded the minister’s voice out from the Church. “So saith the Lord: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; he that believeth in me shall live. . . .”

 

“Who is the Lord?” asked the old mother crow.

 

“That is the great black coat in whose service all the little black coats are,” answered father crow.

 

“What are they doing in there now? It strikes me it’s very quiet.”

 

Father crow hopped a few branches lower, bent his head, and peeped in through the Church window.

 

“The minister is standing taking snuff, and the people are sitting on the benches nodding their heads. ― The Lord save us! If I don’t believe the whole crowd are asleep.”

 

Then the two old crows chuckled and were answered a hundredfold from the town, as the whole swarm flapped up from the elm wood and circled about the Church, making such an infernal row that the congregation started up out of their comfortable Sunday sleep, and the minister recollected himself. But the flock of crows flew away across the fields, and soon the people nodded again on their benches, and the minister’s voice sounded once more:

 

“Brethren in Christ, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; he that believeth on me shall live, even if he were dead. . . .”

 

“This is getting soporific!” interjected the father crow, who had flown up to his old perch.

 

“It is the spring air that takes from one’s strength,” replied the crow mother.

 

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a little forenoon nap, eh?”

 

“… So it pleased the Lord,” echoed the minister’s voice from the Church; and the two old crows put their bills under their wings and slept. Now not a single sound was to be heard save the minister’s voice, as for the third time it echoed through the Sabbath quiet:

 

“Brothers in Christ, so saith the Lord; I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. . . .”

 

But now the minister leaves quarter of mile of road between the words, so that he has lost the truth out of sight when at length he reaches the life, and is obliged to wash the dust out of his throat with a glass of water. But the sun shone high in the heavens. He just cast a sly look through the Church window, and when he perceived the blessed old peace that reigned in the Temple he could not but laugh. But then, as if by magic, the drowsy Church was decked with all the glory of the flowers of spring, and the elm top where the old crow pair were enjoying their forenoon siesta drew a green veil over its barrenness.

 

 

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