Upon seeing the horseback preacher drawing a shotgun, Mrs. Smyth's face drew pale as she took two steps backward to block the cellar door.
"What is this? her words choked with surprise as tears began to well in her grey eyes. Did you not come to pray and heal? Did you not come to bring a work of God?
John and Murdock stopped in front of her and listened to her finish.
"Did you not come to bring God instead of a GUN?"
"We have come to bring life to you and all who remain living in your household and in your community. We come to end the death in this valley."
Stella did not wipe the tears as they streamed down her face and dropped from her cheeks. Her surprised and trembling voice turned harsh as she had become angry.
"You bring death! My husband, my sons are sick and you so called men of God have come this far just to kill my family as if they were rabid animals?"
"They are already dead woman, you know this to be true. Your beloved are no longer living. We must have your permission to finish this."
"Leave my family alone! Leave us this instance!"
John handed the Gemmer over to Murdock and asked him to retrieve the horses.
"Is that all?, asked Tom.
"That is all." replied Murdock as he turned to walk back to the oak.
"You've come far preacher. Please tell me that you are not just leaving without doing something for my friends." said Tom.
"There is nothing that can be done. We have no authority here." replied John.
Mrs. Smyth stood in front of the door as the spirits on the other side began to laugh through the throats of the dead. The ungodly sounds they made were otherworldly and dreadful.
Mrs. Smyth's eyes rolled back into her head and she swooned.
John caught her as her legs gave out beneath her. The dead began beating from within the root cellar and started calling out to the preachers by name. There was no way that they would have known unless it was by demonic sense. Tom Campbell jumped back and away from the cellar ~ his face as pale as death. Murdock immediately returned without the horses still grasping the Genner.
"I've never heard Graham or any of his boys talk like that!" exclaimed Tom. "I've never heard that kind of tone from any man ~ or anyone with such a foul mouth or ghastly voice."
"That is no longer your friend, but the body defiled by demonic presence." answered John.
"Well now that she's passed out, can't you just go ahead and put an end to it?" asked Tom.
"No." said John, as he picked up Mrs. Smyth and carried her to the house.
Murdock approached Tom Campbell and asked if they could distance themselves from the terrible commotion and talk by yon oak. Tom walked with him. His hands were shaking and his body slightly trembling from the shouts from the cellar. Tom seem to calm as they put a little distance from the sounds and the shouts.
"You and your brother have come a long way and yet you refuse because you don't have permission of some sort. She gave it to you. I heard her tell you this. Just go in and end it while she is no longer blocking the doorway."
"It doesn't work like that Mr. Campbell. It is not God's way to coerce man. Man must choose to obey. Man must choose to surrender to God's will. God's desire is to free man, but we must each willfully become his slaves."
Tom was still rattled but had become a little agitated, "You talk riddles, but what I think you're saying is you don't have her permission and so God's not going to make things right here!"
"Close enough." answered Murdock.
John returned and mounted his horse.
"Do you know the way back?" asked Tom.
"We'll make it alright." replied John.
Murdock shook Tom's hand and gave him instruction. "Tell her to leave that door shut and locked. There is no reason on earth to go in or near it. This is an even more perilous place now because the demons have been exposed. They know why we were here today. This is not a safe place."
"What am I to do? I can not leave her hear defenseless." exclaimed Tom
"She has left herself defenseless. There is nothing we can do here."
John nudged his horse over to the two men. "Tom, what do you know of Jesus, of his life, death and resurrection?
"I heard of it, but they were always just stories to me. I never was much of a believer in such things..." He looked over toward the cellar doors and pondered on the voices still coming from beyond. "...but I now have reason to believe, to pray that there is greater good that can counter this evil that I have now laid witness."
John smiled down and the man looking up at him. "Can you read Tom?"
We must leave here immediately," interrupted Murdock as he mounted, "Where do you live?
"About an hour's ride north of here", replied Tom.
"May we come and stay with you for a few days before heading back?"
"You have my permission ~ If you don't mind a small cabin with mud for a floor."
"We don't mind."
The three set out together.
"Tom", said John, "I'm going to give you my Bible."
"I can't take your holy book preacher. I do have one. It is the family Bible that my mother gave me before she died. I kept it as a keepsake of her."
"Let's get you reading it. It is my hope that this book becomes more than a keepsake for you."
They road up from the valley leaving the Graham farm behind. John and Murdock did not look back, but Tom did, several times until it was out of sight.
"I'm not going to get over this. I want to help her and her remaining young'uns."
"You can Tom Campbell, but you must come back with the Holy Spirit and properly equipped. When you are able to return, you may very well be able to help Mrs. Graham in convincing her to let us return to free her from the curse. We will return if she ever changes her mind."
"What if she refuses." asked Tom.
"Then you'll leave as we left and do your best to keep people from there." replied Murdock.
"This has been a waste of time men, and for that I am sorry to have brought you out."
Murdock looked over his shoulder to Tom, "This has not been a waste Mr. Campbell."
"Why is that?" asked Tom.
"We have come for you."