You have read humorous moral stories, but how many Christian humorous stories have you come across?

Uncle Bentley and the Roosters
by Hayden Carruth

The burden of Uncle Bentley has always rested heavily on our town. Having not a shadow of business to attend to, he has made other people’s business his own, and looked after it in season and out---especially out. If there is a thing which nobody wants done, to this Uncle Bentley applies his busy hand.

One warm summer Sunday we were all at church. Our pastor had taken the passage on turning the other cheek, or one akin to it, for his text, and was preaching on peace and quiet and non-resistance. He soon had us in a devout mood which must have been beautiful to see and encouraging to the good man.

Of course, Uncle Bentley was there---he always was, and forever in a front pew, with his neck craned up looking backward to see if there was anything that didn’t need doing which he could do. He always tinkered with the fires in the winter and fussed with the windows in the summer, and did his worst with each. His strongest church point was ushering. Not content to usher the stranger within our gates, he would usher all of us, and always thrust us into pews with just the people we didn’t want to sit with. If you failed to follow him when he took you in tow, he would stop and look back reproachfully, describing mighty indrawing curves with his arm; and if you pretended not to see him, he would give a low whistle to attract your attention, the arm working right along, like a Holland windmill.

On this particular warm summer Sunday Uncle Bentley was in place wearing his long, full-skirted coat, a queer, dark bottle-green, purplish blue. He had ushered to his own exceeding joy, and got two men in one pew, and given them a single hymn-book, who wouldn’t on week-days speak to each other. I ought to mention that we had long before made a verb of Uncle Bentley. To unclebentley was to do the wrong thing. It was a regular verb, unclebentley, unclebenteleyed, unclebentleying. Those two rampant enemies in the same pew had been unclebentleyed.

The minister was floating along smoothly on the subject of peace, when Uncle Bentley was observed to throw up his head. He had heard a sound outside. It was really nothing but one of Deacon Plummer’s young roosters crowing. The Deacon lived near, and vocal offerings from his poultry were frequent and had ceased to interest any one except Uncle Bentley. Then, in the pauses between the preacher’s periods we heard the flapping of wings, with sudden stoppings and startings. Those unregenerate fowls, unable to understand the good man’s words, were fighting. Even this didn’t interest us---we were committed to peace. But Uncle Bentley shot up like a jack-in-a-box and cantered down the aisle. Of course, his notion was that the roosters were disturbing the services, and that it was his duty to go out and stop them. We heard vigorous “Shoos!” and “Take that’s!” and “Consairn yous!” and then Uncle Bentley came back looking very important, and as he stalked up the aisle he glanced around and nodded his head, saying as clearly as words, “There, where would you be without me?”

Another defiant crow floated in at the window. The next moment the rushing and beating of wings began again, and down the aisle went Uncle Bentley, the long tails of that coat fairly floating like a cloud behind him. There was further uproar outside, and again Uncle Bentley scuttled away, returning shortly to his pew, this time turning around and whispering hoarsely, “I fixed ‘em!” But such was not the case, for twice more the very same thing was repeated. The last time Uncle Bentley came back he wore a calm, smug expression, as if to say, “Now I have fixed ‘em!”

We should have liked it better if the roosters had fixed Uncle Bentley. But nobody paid much attention except Deacon Plummer. The thought occurred to him that perhaps Uncle Bentley had killed the fowls…but he hadn’t.

However, there was no more disturbance without, and after a time the sermon closed. There was some sort of a special collection to be taken up. Of course, Uncle Bentley always insisted on taking up all the collections. He hopped up on this occasion and seized the plate with more than usual vigor. His struggles with the roosters had evidently stimulated him. He soon made the rounds and approached the table in front of the pulpit to deposit his harvest. As he did so we saw to our horror that the long tails of that ridiculous coat were violently agitated. A sickening suspicion came over us. The next moment one of those belligerent young roosters thrust a head out of either of those coat-tail pockets. One uttered a raucous crow, the other responded with a vicious peck. Uncle Bentley dropped the plate with a scattering of coin, seized a coat skirt in each hand, and drew it front. This dumped both fowls out on the floor, where they went at it hammer and tongs. What happened after this is a blur in most of our memories. All that is certain is that there was an uproar in the congregation, especially the younger portion; that the Deacon began making unsuccessful dives for his poultry; that the organist struck up “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” and that the minister waved us away without a benediction amid loud shouts of, “Shoo!”, “I swanny!” and, “Drat the pesky critters!” from your Uncle Bentley.

Did this debacle serve to subdue Uncle Bentley? Not in the least; he survived to do worse things.

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