Sample K06 from Louis Zara, Dark Rider. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1961. Pp. 40-44. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,059 words228 (11.1%) quotesK06

Used by permission of Louis Zara.0010-1830

Louis Zara, Dark Rider. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1961. Pp. 40-44.

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With a sneer , the man spread his legs and , a third time , confronted them .

Once more , Katie reared , and whinnied in fear . For a moment , boy and mount hung in midair . Stevie twisted and , frantically , commanded the mare to leap straight ahead . But the stranger was nimbler still . With a bold arm , he dared once more to obstruct them . Katie reared a third time , then , trembling , descended .

The stranger leered . Seizing the bridle , he tugged with all his might and forced Katie to her knees . It was absurd . Stevie could feel himself toppling . He saw the ground coming up -- and the stranger's head . With incredible ferocity , he brought his fists together and struck . The blow encountered silky hair and hard bone . The man uttered a weird cry , spun about , and collapsed in the sand .

Katie scrambled to her feet , Stevie agilely retaining his seat . Again Katie reared , and now , wickedly , he compelled her to bring her hooves down again and again upon the sprawled figure of the stranger . He could feel his own feet , iron-shod , striking repeatedly until the body was limp . He gloated , and his lips slavered . He heard himself chortling .

They rode around and around to trample the figure into the sand . Only the top of the head , with a spot bare and white as a clamshell , remained visible . Stevie was shouting triumphantly .

A train hooted . Instantly , he chilled . They were pursuing him . He was frightened ; ; his fists clutched so tightly that his knuckles hurt . Then Katie stumbled , and again he was falling , falling ! !

`` Stevie ! ! Stevie '' ! !

His mother was nudging him , but he was still falling . His head hung over the boards of Katie's stall ; ; before it was sprawled the mangled corpse of the bearded stranger .

`` Stevie , wake up now ! ! We're nearly there '' .

He had been dreaming . He was safe in his Mama's arms .

The train had slowed . Houses winked as the cars rolled beside a little depot . `` Po' Chavis '' ! ! The trainman called . He came by and repeated , `` Po' Chavis '' ! !

Chapter 6 Bong ! ! Bong ! ! Startled him awake . The room vibrated as if a giant hand had rocked it . Bong ! ! A dull boom and a throbbing echo . The walls bulged , the floor trembled , the windowpanes rattled . He stared at the far morning , expecting a pendulum to swing across the horizon . Bong ! ! He raced to the window and yanked at the sash . Bong ! ! The wood was old , the paint alligatored . Bong ! ! A fresh breeze saluted him . Six o'clock ! !

He put his head out . There was the slate roof of the church ; ; ivy climbed the red brick walls like a green-scaled monster . The clock which had struck presented an innocent face .

In the kitchen Mama was wiping the cupboards .

`` There's a tower and a steeple on the church a million feet high . And the loudest clock in the whole world '' ! !

`` I know , Stephen '' , she smiled . `` They say that our steeple is one hundred and sixty-two feet high . The clock you heard strike -- it's really the town clock -- was installed last April by Mrs. Shorter , on her birthday '' .

He dressed , and sped outdoors . He crossed Broome Street to Orange Square . The steeple leaned backward , while the church advanced like a headless creature in a long , shapeless coat . The spire seemed to hold up the sky .

Port Jervis , basking in the foothills , was the city of God . The Dutch Reformed Church , with two steeples and its own school was on Main Street ; ; the Episcopal Church was one block down Sussex Street ; ; the Catholic Saint Mary's Church , with an even taller steeple and a cross on top , stood on Ball Street . The Catholics had the largest cemetery , near the Neversink River where Main Street ran south ; ; Stevie whistled when he passed these alien grounds .

God was everywhere , in the belfry , in the steeple , in the clouds , in the trees , and in the mountains hulking on the horizon . Somewhere , beyond , where shadows lurked , must be the yawning pit of which Papa preached and the dreadful Lake of Fire .

So , walking in awe , he became familiar with God , who resided chiefly in Drew Centennial Church with its high steeple and clock . There was no church like Drew Church , no preacher like Papa , who was intimate with Him , and could consign sinners to hellfire . To know God he must follow in Papa's footsteps . He was fortunate , and proud .

The veterans , idling on their benches in the Square , beneath the soldiers' monument , got to their feet when Papa approached : `` Morning , Reverend '' ! ! His being and His will -- Stevie could not divide God from his Papa -- illumined every parish face , turned the choir into a band of angels , and the pulpit into the tollgate to Heaven .

`` We have nine hundred and eleven members in our charge '' , Mama announced , `` and three hundred and eighty Sunday-school scholars '' .

When Papa went out to do God's work , Stevie often accompanied him in the buggy , which was drawn by Violet , the new black mare . Although they journeyed westerly as far as Germantown , beyond the Erie roundhouse and the machine shop , and along the Delaware and Hudson Canal , and northward to Brooklyn , below Point Peter , he could see the church spire wherever he looked back . Sometimes they went south and rolled past the tollhouse -- `` Afternoon , Reverend '' ! ! -- and crossed the suspension bridge to Matamoras ; ; that was Pennsylvania .

In the Delaware River , three long islands were overgrown with greening trees and underbrush . South of Laurel Grove Cemetery , and below the junction of the Neversink and the Delaware , was the Tri-State Rock , from which Stevie could spy New Jersey and Pennsylvania , as well as New York , simply by spinning around on his heel .

On these excursions , Papa instructed him on man's chief end , which was his duty to God and his own salvation . However , a boy's lively eyes might rove . Where Cuddleback Brook purled into the Neversink was a magnificent swimming hole . Papa pointed a scornful finger at the splashing youth : `` Idle recreation '' ! ! Stevie saw no idols ; ; it troubled him that he couldn't always see what Papa saw . He was torn between the excitement in the sun-inflamed waters and a little engine chugging northward on the Monticello Branch .

`` Where you been today '' ? ? Ludie inquired every evening , pretending that he did not care . `` He'll make a preacher out of you '' ! !

`` No , he won't '' ! ! Stevie flared . `` Not me '' ! !

`` Somebody's got to be a preacher in the family . He made a will and last testament before we left Paterson . I heard them ! ! Uncle and Aunt Howe were the witnesses '' .

`` Will he die '' ? ?

`` Everybody does '' .

Ludie could be hateful . To speak of Papa dying was a sin . It could never happen as long as God was alert and the Drew steeple stood guard with its peaked lance .

Stevie was constantly slipping into the church . He pulled with all his strength at the heavy , brass-bound door , and shuffled along the wainscoted wall . The cold , mysterious presence of God was all around him . At the end of a shaft of light , the pews appeared to be broad stairs in a long dungeon . Far away , standing before a curtained window in the study room , was his father , hands tucked under his coattails , and staring into the dark church . The figure was wreathed in an extraordinary luminescence .

The boy shuddered at the deathly pale countenance with its wrinkles and gray hair . Would Papa really die ? ? The mouth was thin-lipped and wide , the long cleft in the upper lip like a slide . When Papa's slender fingers removed the spectacles , there were red indentations on the bridge of the strong nose .

`` It's time you began to think on God , Stephen . Perhaps one day He will choose you as He chose me , long ago . Therefore , give Him your affection and store up His love for you . Open your heart to Him and pray , Stephen , pray ! ! For His mercy and His guidance to spare you from evil and eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire '' .

Stevie had heard these words many times , yet on each occasion they caused him to tremble . For he feared the Lake of Fire . He strove to think of God and His eternal wrath ; ; he must pray to be spared .

Papa was disappointed that none of the brothers had heard the Call . Not George , Townley , or Ted , certainly not Ludie . Burt was at Hackettstown and Will at Albany Law School , where they surely could not hear it . Someday God would choose him . He would hear the Call and would run to tell Papa . The stern face would relax , the black-clad arms would embrace him , `` My son '' ! ! Yet how might he know the Call when it came ? ? Probably , as in Scriptures , a still , small voice would whisper . It would summon him once ; ; if he missed it , never again . What if it came when he was playing , or was asleep and dreaming ? ?

He must not fail to hear it . He was Papa's chosen ; ; therefore , nothing but good could happen to him , even in God's wrathful storms . When the skies grew dark and thunder rolled across the valley , he was unafraid . Aggie might fly into a closet , shut the door and bury her head in the clothes ; ; he dared to wait for the lightning .

Lightning could strike you blind if you were a sinner ! ! But he was good . He clenched his fists and faced the terror . Thunder crashed ; ; barrels tumbled down the mountainsides , and bounced and bounced till their own fury split them open . Lightning might strike the steeples of the other churches ; ; not of Drew Church . A flash illumined the trees as a crooked bolt twigged in several directions . Violet whinnied from the stable .

He ran out into the downpour , sped across the yard and into the buggy room . `` Don't be afraid , Violet '' ! ! He shouted , and was aghast at the echoes . `` Don't you be afraid '' ! ! He would save her . If there was a fire or a flood he would save Mama first and Violet next . Drenched and shaking , he stood near the sweet-smelling stall and dared to pat her muzzle . `` Don't you be afraid , Violet '' ! !

After the storm , the sky cleared blue and cool , and fragrant air swept the hills . When the sun came out , Stevie strode proudly into Orange Square , smiling like a landlord on industrious tenants . The fountain had brimmed over , the cannon were wet , the soldiers' monument glistened . Even before the benches had dried , the Civil War veterans were straggling back to their places . The great spire shone as if the lightning had polished it . He jumped . The pointed shadow had nearly touched him .

He trailed Ludie to the baseball game in the lot on Kingston Street near the Dutch Reformed .

`` Go on home '' ! ! Ludie screeched at him . `` Someone'll tell Papa '' ! !

No one told on Ludie , not even when he slipped live grasshoppers into the mite-box . Ludie did as he pleased .

Ludie took his slingshot and climbed to the rooftop to shoot at crows . Ludie chewed roofer's tar . Ludie had a cigar box full of marbles and shooters , and a Roman candle from last Fourth of July . Ludie hopped rides on freight cars , and was chased by Mr. Yankton , the railroad guard . He came home overheated , ran straight to the ice-chest , and gulped shivery cold water .

Stevie envied him . That Ludie ! ! He , too , cocked his cap at a jaunty angle , jingled marbles in his pocket , and swaggered down Main Street . On the Christophers' lawn , little girls in white pinafores were playing grownups at a tea party . A Newfoundland sat solemnly beside a doghouse half his size . Stevie yearned for a dog . He wondered whether God had a dog in the sky .

He meandered down Pike Street , past the First National Bank with its green window shades . He crossed the tracks to Delaware House , where ladies in gay dresses and men in straw boaters and waxed mustaches crowded the verandah . A tall lady , with a ruffled collar very low on her bosom , turned insolent green eyes upon him . She was taller than Aggie . She was so beautiful with her rosy mouth and haughty air that she had to be wicked . Fiddles screeched ; ; a piano tinkled .

`` P. J. '' -- as Ludie called the town -- was crowded with summer people who came to the mountains to escape the heat in the big cities . They stayed at hotels and boardinghouses , or at private homes . Rich people went to Delaware House , Opera House , American House or Fowler House .