Hattie's Preacher

The Outlaw Series - Book One

by Sherry Derr-Wille

David Long gave up a promising law career when God called him to preach the word. Little did he know the red headed pianist at his church in Mortonville would capture his heart.

Hattie Fairchild knew the only proper place for a proper maiden lady to play the piano was in church. Even though she didn't believe, she found she could ignore the minister's words by staying hidden away in the balcony and reading her novels during the sermons.

When David Long came to town. Not only did he move the piano from the balcony to the main floor of the sanctuary, he also decided to restore her faith in God. In the process she found herself falling for the man who looked more like a black smith than a preacher.




Philadelphia 1881


“Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached your verdict?”

“We have, Your Honor.”

“How do you find the defendant, Willard Palmer?”

“We find him not guilty.”

David Long looked at his client. He’d defended Willard to the best of his ability, even though he knew the man was guilty as sin. Being the youngest associate in the firm, David had no other choice.

“You did it, David!” Willard exclaimed, slapping him on the back. You saved my sorry hide. My father will see to it you get a well-earned bonus.”

“Tell your father to keep his money. I know you well enough to know there will be more legal fees in the future.”

“Then I’ll make you a wealthy man.”

“Not me. This is my last case. I wish you well.”

Without waiting for Willard to make further comment, David shoved the papers littering the defense table into his briefcase and stalked out of the courthouse.

In the weeks of preparation for the trial, as well as the proceeding itself, David sensed an uneasiness settling into his being. It hadn’t been until the reading of the verdict that it struck him.

Above the voice of the foreman of the jury, David heard another, a softer more powerful one. “You are mine, David Long. The time has come for you to serve Me.”

David knew he’d heard the voice before, but then he’d been asleep. In his dreams, God told him of a life spreading the word of the Lord. Upon awakening, the dream was always vivid, its meaning always clear. It was only the weakness of his own flesh that kept him from acting upon it. What did he know about spreading the word of God? He was a lawyer; the son of a blacksmith, even though he went to church on Sunday and participated in evening devotions with his family, he wasn’t a preacher. He had neither the training nor the ….

Nor the what? He was a lawyer. He certainly wasn’t afraid of facing a packed courtroom to argue the innocence of a man he knew to be guilty. Surely, he would have no trouble facing a congregation to spread the word he knew to be the truth.

Hearing the voice as well as the words while he was awake frightened and yet exhilarated David. God wanted him, David Long, to spread his word. In his entire life, David had never heard of God speaking to a modern day man. God talked freely to men like Abraham and Moses, but not to someone in the nineteenth century.

Outside of the courthouse, David pushed through the crowd of people anxious to hear the verdict. Once away from the crush of the mob, David hurried to the building that housed his law office.

“How did it go, my boy?” Raymond Saunders, David’s employer inquired.

“We won,” David replied, flatly.

“You did a great job. There’s a raise waiting for you. I knew we made the right decision when we put you on this case.”

“Keep your raise, Mr. Saunders. I won’t need it. This is my last case. I’m leaving the law. I’m sick to my stomach over the miscarriage of justice in that courtroom today. Willard was guilty. The only reason he’s free is that I convinced the jury he was innocent.”

“Do I have to remind you that was your job? Mr. Palmer paid us handsomely for your services.”

“From now on, he’ll have to pay someone else. I will no longer take

money to lie so a guilty man can go free. I have no other cases pending.

I’m certain you’ll have no trouble replacing me.”

David turned from his astonished boss and made his way to the office he’d called his own for the past eight years. It ook only minutes

for him to stack neatly the papers from his briefcase on the large

mahogany desk. It amazed David how quickly he was able to pack

up eight years of his life.

When he arrived home, his father, like his boss, was less than favorable

“You did what?” William Long demanded.

“I quit the firm. I’ve given up the law?”

“But why?’ his mother said, wringing her hands. “Being a lawyer has been your dream.”

“It was your dream, Mama, yours and Papa’s. God wants me to do His work now.”

“My son hears the voice of God,” his father lamented, thrusting his hands into the air. “Whoever heard of the son of a blacksmith talking to God?”

“Whoever heard of a shepherd boy killing a giant? A boy with the same name as mine slew Goliath with a rock and a sling. He did it because God guided him to do so. Today God decided to guide me to spread His word. Can I do less than obey?”

* * * *

David sat in the parlor of the parsonage. Around him, the shabby hand-me-down furniture denoted the life he would be embarking upon.

Did he know what he was doing? As a lawyer, he’d never want for money. He could easily afford a home in a fashionable neighborhood. Did he want to spend the rest of his life living in the poverty the ministry demands?

The answer came back as an overwhelming Yes.

“David,” Reverend Kanter said, as he entered the room. “What brings you here today?”

“I…I want to find out how I go about becoming a minister.”

Reverend Kanter looked over the top of his spectacles. “I thought you were well established with a good law firm. Why have you had this change of heart?”

David swallowed hard. How did he even begin? “I don’t know if you will believe this, but God has called me. He wants me to spread His word.”

Reverend Kanter leaned back in his chair, his hands clasped before him. The gesture made David more than a little uneasy.

“Have you given this matter sufficient thought? The young are often impetuous in their actions. They do not always think beyond the

moment. Have you thought beyond the moment, David?”

“I’m hardly what you would call young, Reverend Kanter. You must know I’ve passed my thirtieth birthday. I would imagine by the standards of many this would seem like a sudden decision, but I have prayed about it. I started having the dreams weeks ago. Then, in the middle of a trial, He spoke to me while I was awake. I know you must think I am doing something I might regret, but I don’t agree.”

Reverend Kanter began to smile. “I’m inclined to believe you, but I want you to take a month to consider your decision. While you do, I want you to read some books. When you finish them, come back and we will talk again.”

David left the parsonage feeling more than a little disappointed. He’d expected Reverend Kanter to welcome him with open arms. Instead, he’d filled David’s arms with books.

“What did Reverend Kanter have to say?” his mother greeted him when he returned home.

“He wants me to read these books,” David replied. “I thought…”

“You thought he would give you a church. It takes more than a desire to spread the word of God. If Reverend Kanter says you should read, then you should read.”

David reluctantly agreed with his mother. Without further conversation, he went to his room, put the books on the table, and began to pour over one of the volumes he carried in his arms.

The first book in the stack was the Bible. Although he’d memorized the verses as a child, now he read the words as a man. Among the other books, he found explanations to the passages he did not understand.

Over the next month, David left his room only for meals. The more he read the more he wanted to know. A new world opened to him.

* * * *

“It’s been a month, David,” Reverend Kanter began, once they were seated in the parlor. “What have you learned?”

From the moment David started talking, the words tumbled over one another in an attempt to be heard. Before he knew it, two hours had passed, and he’d talked non-stop the entire time.

When he finally exhausted what he had to say, Reverend Kanter smiled broadly and then laughed out loud. To David, the gesture seemed humiliating. How could this man he had sought guidance from make fun of him to his face?

As he started to get to his feet to leave, Reverend Kanter motioned for him to remain seated.

After the man regained his composure, he reached across the short

After the man regained his composure, he reached across the short space separating their chairs and clasped David’s hand.

“Please don’t misinterpret my joy, David. I expected you to see what path God intended for you to travel. Instead, you found an extensive map for your entire life. You are indeed blessed. During this time, I have contacted the church officials’ here in Philadelphia. They have assured me you should require no further schooling. In fact, they want to meet with you on Monday morning. I am to bring you to their church so they can question you before they give you your first call.”

David could hardly believe his ears. Instead of the ridicule he’d heard from his father since leaving the law, he’d found acceptance. Within a few days, his life would take a new path. The disappointment of a month earlier turned to the anticipation of his new life.

“Where do you think this call will be?”

“I have a friend, Reverend Jonathan Hill, in Mortonville, Illinois. His health is failing rapidly. I’m afraid he must give up his church. It will be a perfect first call.”

"Hattie's Preacher" by Sherry Derr-Wille


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