Rev. Jackdaw stood outside the New Ulm post office and clutched the letter he’d waited all summer to receive. He looked heavenward; it was time to be about his high commission. He crossed the street to the mercantile for the supplies he’d need for the trip to Omaha: beans, flour, sugar, coffee, a roll of bed ticking. Before leaving the establishment, he checked the letter again and added a long length of new hemp rope to his purchases.
He put what he could in the boot of his buggy and left the rest up front on the floor. At last, everything was coming to pass. In Omaha, he’d have a community of followers, prosperous men and women who’d hold their Rev. Jackdaw in high esteem. There, he’d build his church. More. An edifice. Like the great cathedral he’d seen in Miss Myra’s stereoscope. Putting the small apparatus to his eyes, sliding the picture up and back until it came into focus, he’d stared into what settled over him like heaven. Endless arches and domes vaulting great sweeps of space spoke of man’s power and indomitable will. Thinking about it made him breathe deep. He’d teach himself to read complex building plans and instruct men to build the tallest, grandest church in Omaha. He’d be remembered as an architect of God.
He climbed into the buggy and lifted the reins. His commission was clear this time and, as it had been for Moses, it could be written on two golden tablets. The first was building that church. The second was raising sons to carry on his work after he’d gone to his eternal reward. At sixty-three, he wasn’t too old to sire them. Abraham had been even older, and from his loins had come the twelve tribes of Israel. When Isaac was born, Sarah had already advanced far past a woman’s worthwhile years. Effie was only seventeen, ripe for bearing.
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