Yesterday morning, as I said in my last letter, was the day on which I preached my first sermon. About half past seven Perringer and I had our breakfasts and then went over and got Mr. Brook's horse. The morning was clear and bright, though a little chilly, so we wore our overcoats and took an umbrella for fear that it might rain before night. The road was neither muddy nor dusty and as you know, the country is not very hilly so we had a delightful ride.
About a quarter to ten we came to the little church at Valley Grove. Only two children were there then but others came before ten and at about a quarter after twenty-five or so had arrived. The Superintendent came soon and Sunday school was commenced. At about eleven the church service itself was begun. About thirty had come by that time. Perringer started with a hymn and next I read the lesson, from the twentieth verse of the eleventh chapter of Matthew, to the end of the chapter. After another hymn, Perringer gave a prayer and then we sang once more. The sermon came next, on the text, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." I'd send you the sermon but it is half in short-hand. If I have time I'll write it out if you'd like to read it. After the sermon we again sang and then closed. The whole service was not more than three quarters of an hour. I don't know how long the sermon was, but probably about twenty minutes. There were few preliminaries so the service was rather short.
After church, we had dinner with one of the men of the church, Mr. Yeeand. Before leaving for the next church, Perringer asked lengthy descriptions of the way. We then hitched up the horse and started. It must have been about half past two by then. The second place was nearly fourteen miles from the first, the first eight miles from Walla Walla, but the last was only about ten miles from home going directly. The day was splendid, as it had been in the morning, only a little cloudy.
After about ten miles we came to a big warehouse. At this place there were two roads. One had an arrow on a fence, labeled "To Walla Walla." That certainly could not be the road! The other was apparently little used, rough and almost overgrown with grass. At the same time there were some recent buggy tracks over it. Mr. Yeean told us that the road was rough and little used. This must certainly be the one and so we took it.
After we had gone a little way I looked at my watch. It was ten to five. There was plenty of time so we didn't hurry. After a mile or so I looked back. The sun was almost set and the sky was tinted a gorgeous red. We must get a move on. The horse was getting tired so we got out and led her.
The darkness came on, no house was in sight and the air became bitterly cold. We had no idea of quitting. On we went. The horse seemed somewhat rested, so we got back into the buggy. Perringer thought we must have lost the road. The lights in Walla Walla came out below us. Only a few streaks of light were left in the sky. I took out my watch. It was twenty to six. We hadn't seen a house in the last five miles.
We decided to turn back. The light gradually went. I couldn't see my watch to tell the time. The stars were hid by the clouds and the moon was not to be seen. Perringer laughed and said it was a great joke. I laughed too but I didn't feel like it. He didn't either, I don't suppose.
The old horse livened up. She knew we were homeward bound. I started a song to relieve the monotony. When we came near to the warehouse, we saw a light in a farmhouse. The horse was tired; we were tired; the time was late; too late for service, so we decided to see if we could get put up for the night. Perringer drove near the house and I knocked. A fairly young man came to the door. Two others were in the room. I told him what had happened and asked if he knew of any place where we could spend the night. He scratched his head a while. It seemed that the three were there in one bed and that was all they had.
The horse was tired: Perringer was tired: I was tired. We had travelled about twenty eight miles and still there were six and a half to town. Perringer wondered if we could put the horse in the barn and sleep in the loft. The man gladly consented so we hurrried to unhitch. The horse was taken into the barn and fed. We had an apple or so that Mr. Yeean had thrown in the buggy for us. The man gave us a lantern and we climbed into the loft. Our best clothes were all we had of course and we didn't want to spoil them so we undressed to our under-clothes. I put on Mr. Brook's duster, my over-coat over that. The horse blanket served as a mattress and the lap robe covered our feet. How good it seemed to get to get to bed! The hay smelt so fresh and felt so soft. The horses below us munched away contentedly at their suppers.
So I fell asleep, thinking of you both and of our somewhat similar Westlake experiences. Before dawn I awoke. My feet were cold. I buried them in straw. At six or there about the men awoke us when they came to feed their horses. Up we jumped, dressed and climbed down. The horse was soon fed and hitched up again.
Off we started as the sun was climbing over the mountains. The morning was chill as on the previous day but the drive was splendid. About half past seven we arrived home. What breakfasts we ate! How fine it seemed! Such was my first experience at preaching in the country.
The boys have been having us on about it in great shape. Cole calls us the "Lost sheep of the house of Israel." Blinn tells me that if I don't keep better hours the faculty will be sending me home. Mr. Hart says, "My word, sleep in a barn" as if it were a terrible experience. It wasn't very funny anyway. Mrs. Wilson thought it amusing and got us a good breakfast, which was much to my liking. Surely it was a great day. What experiences we have in this western country!