Pat and Mike crept back into the brush and decided on a plan of action.
They knew they
had to do something to make the event a memorable one.
Well before dark the next day two of the fine brethren hauled a few
barrels of water up
from Onion Creek and filled the rock tank. Pat and Mike were also busy preparing their
addition to the ceremony.
Promptly at the appointed time the preacher led Miss Molly around the
choir benches and
outside to the holy place. The audience stood and moved toward the front of the brush
arbor. The preacher man didn’t waste any time. He said a few sacred words and doused
Miss Molly well under the surface. They climbed out, using the portable wooden stairs,
and returned to the place of worship.
As they passed under the first lantern, there was a gasp of awe from
the pews. Miss Molly
Malone was as red as a beet. The preacher took one look, pulled back quickly and
exclaimed, “It is the devil himself leaving the body - we have conquered the devil tonight.
This is a miracle! It is a time for great rejoicing.”
“Yeah!” a good brother shouted from the amen corner.
The parson held both arms up and shouted, “Thank you, Lord, for this
great victory that
we have won tonight. Old Hank would be proud of the blessing that has fallen upon
Hank’s Holler tonight.”
With his hands raised and his sleeves falling down, it was apparent
that his hands and
forearms were also beet red. The congregation gasped with awe again. He saw this about
the same time that the worshipers did.
He held his hands under the lantern and stared. He was speechless. But
a good brother in
the amen corner exclaimed: “Reverend, it looks like you might have had a little of the
devil in you, too!”
Pat and Mike, from their hiding place in the brush outside, were laughing
so loud that one
of the brethren walked out and discovered their hiding place. He caught an ear in each
hand and led the merrymakers into the tabernacle. Under the lantern their hands were red.
“What is the meaning of this?” asked the preacher, beginning to recover
astonishment. “What kind of a miracle is this that reaches outside the baptismal pool and
cleanses others of the devil within them?”
Mike spoke softly, inflecting repentance in his speech. “We’re sorry.
we poured a bucket
of smashed bloodberries in the tank. We just thought it would be fun.”
Bloodberries are the reddest red known to the simple folks of Hank’s
Holler. It is said the
Indians once used them to mix war paint. As a red dye, it is unequaled.
The congregation was restless. There was loud talk and low whispering.
The two culprits
stood in front of the podium with their red hands. The preacher placed a red hand on each
head. “To forgive is divine,” he said. “Sister Molly Malone is still baptized. Praise the
He removed his hands and Pat and Mike retreated quickly into the brush.