From the Pulpit to Perdition

Chapter 3

The Cyclone

While the festivities were going forward a great cloud had been silently gathering in the heavens, black as ink, that had closed down all the horizon in utter darkness and shut out every star.

The brilliant lights in the streets, and the multitude of electric lights in the church had so dispersed all gloom that the great, merry throng had not noticed the intense darkness without. The sexton of the church had closed and locked the huge oaken doors from the inside in order to keep out a group of hungry boys of the street who were anxious to at least feast their eyes upon the delicious food within.

There was no thunder and no wind to give warning of the approaching storm that was directly to break with such fury upon the city. The black night without was as still as death. Not a leaf moved or a bird chirped. It seemed as if all nature held her breath in awful suspense, and then with crashing thunderbolts, in leaping lightning, a cyclone burst upon the city.

White Temple Church stood full in its awful path of death. The roof was lifted from the building, the great walls seemed to spring out from each other; the joists supporting the auditorium floor were drawn from their sockets in the walls, and with one tremendous crash the floor fell in upon the shrieking multitude below. Not one escaped. The next moment the swaying, massive walls fell in upon the floor, mashing it down upon the victims beneath with vast tons of weight, and was gone in a few moments, leaving fearful wreck and death behind.

The church was smitten so suddenly that not one of all the multitude within had time for an effort to escape. There were a few moments of wild excitement, a few loud screams for mercy, then the crash of the falling floors, followed by the thunder of the falling walls, and then all was still.