Cody is looking for a project for History Day at school and Jack Allen offers to help. Jack produces an old Western saddle that has just arrived from California that belonged to Reverend James Klinger, a circuit riding preacher in Arizona. Jack gives Cody a book about Rev. Klinger, which details some of the adventures he had as he while ministering to the Apache Indians.
The story begins as Klinger is called to the local fort and ordered not to preach to the Apaches, but insists he must follow his calling. Klinger sets out with his friend, Reese to find Messia, an old Apache Chief, who has gone on a ""desert walk,"" waiting to die. Against the wishes of her tribe, Nalicadaeh, Messia's granddaughter, offers to take Klinger and Reese to the old man, and professes belief in God. As they camp for the night, Nalicadaeh explains that her parents were killed by soldiers when she was a baby, and Klinger relates how his mother was killed by Apaches, prompting his father's suicide.
Pialsiney, an Apache scout for the U.S. Cavalry, arrives at the campsite to help them find Messia because he claims that the Apache plan to attack the white settlers when Messia dies. The men realize that Nalicadaeh has run off to find her grandfather and set off after her. Late into the night they find her with her grandfather, who is near death. Pialsiney, who has lied to the men, pulls out a knife and tries to kill Messia as revenge for killing his father and brother. Klinger and Reese save Messia, but suddenly Klinger sees a necklace that belonged to his mother in Messia’s possession. He realizes that Messia was the Apache who killed his mother, but even then Klinger won't allow Pialsiney to kill Messia because it is wrong to pay evil for evil. Because of what Klinger has done, Messia asks to hear about God as they travel back to the fort. Messia and Nalicadaeh both eventually became Christians and helped lead many in their village to Christ. Cody decides this is a great story for his History Day project.
- Reverend Klinger said that the Apache were his "calling." What did he mean by that?
- Why was it so important for Klinger to find Massia before he died?
- Pialsiney says that Massia killed his father and brother and that he should be allowed to kill Massia. Klinger tells him he is wrong. Why? Even after Klinger found that Massia killed his own mother, he was still able to forgive him. Where did he say that his strength to forgive came from?
- While the story of James Klinger is not a true story, the Apache traditions are true to history.
QuotesCody Carper: "Reverend James Klinger. Circuit rider Arizona territory. Saved by grace." What's a circuit rider? Sounds like something in a computer.
Jack Allen: I guess it does at that. But back in the Old West, a circuit wasn't anything electronic—it was a trail.
Cody Carper: Whoa! The Apaches killed Reverend Klinger's mother?
Jack Allen: That's what it says, Cody.
Cody Carper: And he still helped them?
Jack Allen: Apparently so. That's the power of God's love. It can change the heart of someone like Reese and compel a man to help the people who killed his family.
Cody Carper: Yeah.
James Klinger: We must not repay evil with evil. No matter how much we may want to, no matter how right it may seem.
Jack Allen: So do you think you might have a story for History Day now?
Cody Carper: Absolutely, Mr. Allen. This is a story that needs to be told.