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The Backslidden Tender
B. Carradine
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TOPIC and SUBTOPIC: Write-Ups For Church Publications, Cliches and Exaggerations Therein.

TITLE: The Backslidden Tender

A delay of a couple of hours took place in Georgia as we were coming on to Kansas. There was a sudden stoppage of our train, when, looking out, we saw an engine in trouble just ahead of us. It was a regular case of railroad backsliding. The tender was off and badly off. It was not a sidetracked case, but a derailed condition.

Services were immediately held in behalf of the erring one. There were no chairs or pews for the people, as we were in a field; so many stood. The interest was deep. The Brothers Brakemen were there helping all they could, putting props and inclined planes under Brother Tender in order to get him back.

Brother Fireman shoveled in the coal to get up more steam and Rev. Mr. Engineer with whoops, yells and at times shrieks did his best to shove Bro. Tender back on the track of safety and duty. The congregation constantly increased; people came from a great distance; the interest of the meeting steadily grew; men whooped and jumped around; and the oldest inhabitants say they never saw anything to compare to it.

Finally, after many backsets and failures, and after great opposition from Judge Crosstie, Colonel Mud and Mrs. Sand, the Rev. Dr. Engineer threw open his throttle, put on all steam, and, assisted by his singer, Mr. Fireman, and the Brakemen Brothers, pushed old Bro. Tender up, and clear through and safely on the main line again. The first thing Bro. Tender did was to get right with Bro. Box Car from whom he had violently parted; and when he coupled on to him, it sent a movement that was felt all along the line until it struck old General Caboose and brought him into the path of duty and activity with the rest of his brethren, though at first he was far away from the meeting, took no interest in it, and looked for awhile as if nothing could or would move him. But all saw him jump and stagger when Brother Tender got right; and so he came along all right, with his flags flying. In fact, everybody got through. Everybody felt good. And the oldest inhabitant etc., etc., etc.

The reader must not be surprised at the allegory above with its vivid style; the writer has been reading lately some reports or letters from the Field, and has been affected, if not inoculated, somewhat by the aforesaid epistolary fashion.

By the way we are becoming more and more interested in that mysterious personage called The Oldest Inhabitant. We heard of him when a boy, and he was very old then, and yet he is still living. We would like so much to see him. His photograph would be such a valuable possession. How lonely the old brother must feel. All his friends and kindred must have passed away by this time and he is only living from a strict sense of duty, and that solitary task is to tell the evangelist that his meeting is the greatest that has ever been known in all that part of the country.

Precious old man! It may be the Old Man after all. Or, it may be that he is so old he has forgotten past meetings with other dates, personages and numerical figures. Or, it may be that The Oldest Inhabitant is the writer of the report or bulletin itself. So the mystery thickens. Still the old gentleman is held in high regard; and, judging from numerous letters from the field, we cannot get along without him. No magistrate in the court, no timekeeper in races, can surpass him in dignity of person and influence in decision. We have no recollection of ever having quoted him in any of our many letters in the past. But we meant no disrespect to him by this silence. We have been taught from childhood to honor the gray head. But we plainly see our mistake in previous reports. Instead of saying what our opinion was about our various meetings, we should have hunted up the oldest inhabitant and allowed him to speak. And though he might be laboring under such trifling infirmities as a wandering mind, failing sight and be stone deaf at that, yet the paragraph would read just as well in print to the uninitiated public, to wit: that he, the oldest inhabitant, did not remember to have ever seen or heard anything, in all the country, that surpassed the present meeting in the singing, in the praying, in the shouting, in the preaching, and in all the particular, general, and combined results.

And it must be so, for he has been saying the same thing for many years. Nor is that all, for it is going to be so next year. Even now the oldest inhabitant is getting his bulletin ready for the camps of next summer. Of course this constant wonderful advancement over all other preceding preaching and laboring in the different camp grounds leads to some honest questioning and genuine embarrassment, but we have nothing to do with such grave difficulties and embarrassments we are dealing with the oldest inhabitant.

Living Illustrations By B. Carradine.

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