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´╗┐Title: Duncan Polite - The Watchman of Glenoro
Author: MacGregor, Mary Esther Miller, 1876-1961
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Duncan Polite - The Watchman of Glenoro" ***

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DUNCAN POLITE

THE WATCHMAN OF GLENORO



BY

MARIAN KEITH



THE WESTMINSTER CO., Limited

PUBLISHERS, TORONTO



Entered According to the Act of Parliament of Canada in the Year 1905

By THE WESTMINSTER COMPANY

In the Office of the Minister of Agriculture



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

    I.  THE COVENANT
   II.  A MEMORABLE SABBATH
  III.  A WAR-MAKER AND A PEACE-MAKER
   IV.  THE SECOND JOHN McALPINE
    V.  A PASTORAL VISITATION
   VI.  THE FULFILMENT OF PROMISE
  VII.  A DISASTROUS PICNIC
 VIII.  BURSTING OF THE STORM
   IX.  THE PRESIDENT OF THE LADIES' AID SOCIETY
    X.  THE WATCHMAN'S DESPAIR
   XI.  COALS OF FIRE
  XII.  JESSIE
 XIII.  THE CANADIAN PATRIOTIC SOCIETY
  XIV.  DONALD'S RETURN
   XV.  THE SACRIFICE
  XVI.  THE COVENANT RENEWED



DUNCAN POLITE

THE WATCHMAN OF GLENORO



I

THE COVENANT

The morning sun was growing stronger as it rose higher.  Collie,
returning from driving his master's cow to the cool shade of the back
pasture, felt its rays penetrate his shaggy coat.  His tongue hung out
as he padded swiftly up the garden path where already the dew was
almost dried from the rows of marigolds and sweet William.  He dropped
with a sigh in the shadow of the old water-barrel that stood against
the house.  He felt too warm even to chase his enemy, the cat, into her
accustomed shelter of the adjacent pine tree, though she was curled up
with impudent complacence upon the top of the barrel.  Instead, he lay
in the shade, his eyes glancing furtively through the open door.  He
could see inside the old log shanty, where a figure was moving about
the bare, spotless kitchen; his tail began to thump a welcome upon the
ground, as the figure came slowly forward and stood in the doorway.  It
was an old man, tall and stooped, with a finely built frame which
suggested a less rugged constitution than is the possession of the
average pioneer.  His face was handsome, with regular, clearly cut
features and a pair of wonderful eyes, dark and deep set, with a wealth
of kindness in their brown depths and a mysterious pathos which spoke
of a poetic soul beneath.

Duncan Polite, the people of the neighbourhood called him, partly
because the name was descriptive of his gentle, courteous nature, and
partly because, among the many McDonalds of these Canadian Highlands,
to which clan he belonged, names were so often repeated that the only
appellation of any use to a man was the special and distinguishing one,
complimentary or otherwise, bestowed upon him by his neighbours.
Indeed, such was the dearth of original names that it is on record that
old Ian McAllister, the first schoolmaster in the McDonald settlement,
was often compelled as he flung his tawse across the room at some
focussed point of mischief behind the stove, to pause even at the
boiling-point of his wrath, to deliver himself of some such explanation
of the case as:

"Fiddlin' Archie's Archie, an' Squintin' Archie's Duncan, an' you,
Black Sandy More, come up here or Ah'll smash every curse o' a McDonald
in the school!"

But among all the McDonalds there was only one whose character demanded
such a title as belonged to Duncan Polite.  He stood for a moment this
morning, in his doorway, gazing over the sun-bathed fields, all green
and gold in their early summer dress, then went back into the room,
returning the next moment carrying an old leather-bound Bible.  He
spread his big red handkerchief upon the doorstep to protect his
Sabbath clothes from possible contact with dust, and seated himself
upon it, the open Book on his knee.

Everything in his little bachelor domain was in perfect order; the path
to the gate, with its bright border of flowers, was swept as clean as
the spotless floor within the log shanty; the old stove in the centre
of the kitchen, the big, high cupboard with its rows of shining dishes,
the old clock ticking in a solemn muffled tone from its place on the
dresser, and the bare pine table were all in a condition of beautiful
dazzling cleanliness.  A condition befitting the day, Duncan felt, for
it was Sabbath morning, and now he sat awaiting the coming of his old
friend, with whom it had been his custom, for more than thirty years,
to walk down the valley to church, rain or shine, snow storm or blazing
heat.

Collie looked up with eyes of dumb devotion as the man seated himself.
He wagged his tail expectantly, but, seeing the open Bible, dropped his
nose between his paws again and dozed.

But Duncan Polite did not read.  His eyes wandered away over the
landscape.  It was a scene worth contemplating--an expansive tract of
rich farm lands, stretching from the blue line of Lake Simcoe on the
south, to another blue line on the northern horizon, where Lake Oro
peeped through the sharp tops of the firs.  But to Duncan Polite, the
best of all was the little valley that sloped abruptly from his very
doorstep to the sparkling river.

His eyes followed the white road that passed his farm and wound down
into the shady depths.  He could see it twisting in and out among the
elms, and on through the village where the tall smoke-stack of the
saw-mill, the church spire and the chimneys of the houses rose out of
the green orchards.  It crossed the blue line of the river where the
old church stood, and then went winding up the opposite hill to
disappear among the pines.

The beauty of it all went to Duncan Polite's poetic heart.  The music
of the river, mingling with the chorus of the orioles that flashed
golden in the pines at his gate, found an echo in his soul, and he
crooned to its accompaniment his favourite Gaelic psalm,

  "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
  He leadeth me beside the still waters."


_His_ glen, Duncan Polite had always called this place beneath him,
though he owned not a foot of land within its green walls; but his glen
it really was in a higher sense.  More than fifty years before, old
Donald McDonald, his father, had cut down the first tree on the Oro
banks, and there, in that time of incredible hardships, he had knelt
one day by an old mossy stone on the edge of the valley and,
Jacob-like, made a covenant with the Lord, that if He would be with him
and give him a home for his children in the wilderness, they would
pledge themselves to make it a place of righteousness, as pure and
lovely as they had received it from Nature's hand.

Duncan had been a mere child then, but he had realised something of the
solemnity of the pledge.  As he grew older the feeling became stronger,
until it developed into the conviction that he had been chosen for this
special work, namely, that of keeping the little glen at his feet a
centre of all good influences.  He had set himself as a sort of
spiritual watchman to the place; everything that brought discredit upon
it gave him deepest pain; everything that tended to raise its moral
tone was, to him, a personal favour and joy.

Sometimes his task had seemed impossible; sometimes he doubted his
ability to be of any use; but on this bright Sabbath morning a new
accession of hope had made him unusually happy.  His eyes rested upon
the sun-bathed hilltops with a deep peace.  Those enduring hills had
always been of great comfort to the watchman.  As he saw the dense
forests change into fields of grain, they seemed the one immutable
feature in his surroundings and served as a familiar landmark to a
puzzled traveller.

"I will lift up mine eyes into the hills, from whence cometh mine aid,"
he quoted softly.

A brisk step sounded upon the stony road above; the old man did not
hear, his lips were still moving, his eyes still fixed in a happy
reverie upon the far-off horizon.

Collie arose slowly as a figure approached the gate.  He was too well
versed in canine etiquette to bark at his master's oldest friend, but
he felt he should mark his approach in some way.  He went forward with
waving tail and respectfully lowered head, uttering a gruff ejaculation
which could scarcely be called a bark and yet served as a form of
greeting.

The newcomer paused at the gate.  "Aye, Duncan, ye're waitin'," he said.

Duncan Polite's friend was as unlike him as a Lowland Scot can be
unlike a Highlander, which is granting a very wide difference indeed.
He was short and thick-set, with energy and force speaking from every
limb of his well-knit frame.  In spite of his near approach to
three-score-and-ten, he was erect and brisk, and, although he always
carried a stick, it was more for the purpose of emphasising his
forcible arguments than as a support for advancing age.

A stern, upright man was Andrew Johnstone, a terror to evil-doers and
so prone to carry out all the law and the prophets by physical force
that he had earned, among the irreverent youth of the community, the
name of "Splinterin' Andra."

The deep friendship between him and the gentle, poetic Duncan McDonald
was as strange as it was lasting; for, though they seemed not to
possess one characteristic in common, not once in all their long years
of comradeship had their allegiance waned.

At the sight of him, Duncan Polite started up in a bewildered fashion.

"Oh, and it will be you, Andra," he said, "Oh yes, yes, it will be time
to be going, indeed."

Collie came sadly and limply to the gate and watched them depart.  He
was a wise dog, and knew that when his master wore a black suit and
carried two books, dogs were not wanted.  The thought never entered his
sagacious canine head to attempt upsetting the established order of
things, but he could not resist a longing whine as he stood looking
through the bars of the gate, his eyes eager, his head on one side, his
whole body a quivering protest against being left at home in the
company of a mere cat.

Duncan turned and said a comforting word in Gaelic, and Collie, though
a Canadian, understood the language of his Highland ancestors, and
trotted meekly back to his despised companion on the water-barrel.

The two old men stepped out leisurely, one on either side of the road,
as was their custom, Duncan with his head bent forward, his eyes fixed
on the far-off horizon, and Andrew with his head thrown back and chest
expanded, his hands clasped behind him, his big stick waving up and
down beneath his coat-tails, except when he whirled it to the front, to
bring it crashing upon the stones in emphasis of some truth.

These walks to the church were their greatest enjoyment.  They started
at least an hour earlier than was necessary and had plenty of time to
move along at the gentle lingering pace conducive to friendly talk.
They discussed everything of interest that was in keeping with the day.
Generally their conversation was of the good old times and the great
transformations they had witnessed; and sometimes Duncan Polite hinted
at his ambition for the village, knowing he was sure of his friend's
sympathy.

They passed the first turn in the winding road and came out from behind
a fairy curtain of drooping elm boughs into full view of the river and
the orchards, before either spoke.

Andrew Johnstone showed what his thoughts had been when he broke the
silence.

"Yon Collie o' yours is jist like the young folk o' to-day, Duncan," he
said.  "They're aye wantin' away when they should bide at hame."

The old man's chief cross in life was the rising generation, of which
he considered his own son the most exasperating type.

"Aye," he repeated ruminatingly, "he's jist like the young folk, but Ah
misdoot he's got mair sense than some o' them."

But Duncan Polite had unbounded faith in Young Canada.  "Oh, indeed
they will be jist lads and lasses, Andra," he said indulgently.  "And
they will be good at heart.  The Lord will guide them aright, never
fear."

"Ah hope so, Duncan, Ah hope so, but there's oor Andra noo, he's got
nae mair sense than when he was on his mither's knee.  Him an' yon
nephews o' yours are jist as prone to evil as the sparks to fly
upwards.  They spend half o' their time in the glen wi' yon' gigglin'
licht-heided lasses o' John Hamilton's, and the ither half, fleein'
ower the country.  Ah see Sandy's gotten the bag-pipes noo, an' ma
lad's jist gone fair daft wi' the goin's on up at Betsey's."

Duncan was somewhat abashed.  He remembered with a pang of conscience
that he had admired his nephew's bag-pipes, and had laughed with his
sister, as the piper strode up and down the kitchen, playing McDonald's
reel, to the stirring and uproarious accompaniment of the six flying
feet of his brothers.

"Oh well, well," he said apologetically, "they would not be meaning any
harm, and Donal' will be at home for his holidays, and the lads will be
jist a wee bit noisy.  And, indeed, Sandy would be playing a fine
strathspey the other night."  He checked himself hurriedly, feeling
that such a subject was incongruous on the Sabbath.

Andrew Johnstone seemed to share his opinion, for he made no answer,
but walked along whacking the wayside weeds with vicious strokes of his
big stick.  This was always a bad sign, and Duncan was silent for a
time.  He had a great piece of good news regarding one of those same
nephews, but the turn the conversation had taken rendered it rather
difficult to tell his friend.

"I would be thinking this morning of the great power of prayer, Andra,"
he said, by way of introduction.  "All the good that would be coming to
Glenoro in these years the good Lord would be sending it in answer to
prayer."

Andrew Johnstone put his stick behind him; his face cleared.  "Aye,
aye, Duncan, yon's a fact.  Man, d'ye mind how your faither an' mine,
an' old Donald Fraser would meet when we were lads an' pray for the
means o' grace an' the ordinances o' God's hoose?"

"Yes, yes, Andra, yes indeed, and He would be sending Mr. McAlpine to
awaken the people, and then the church came, and Mr. Cameron."

"Man, yon were wild days, before Mr. McAlpine cam'," replied his
friend, giving himself up to the joys of retrospect.  "Yer faither used
to say the Glen was jist like the Garden o' Eden until the serpent
cam', an' it wes the tavern.  Ah mind when yon Eerish crew from the
Flats cam' up here to Pete Nash's tavern, an' the lads from the Oa cam'
doon, a' McDonalds to a man, an' ye could hear the fechtin' ower on the
Tenth.  Man, yon Murphys were a bad lot!"

Duncan's eyes shone.  He was leading up skilfully to his happy
disclosure.  "Yes, the times would be bad, but Mr. McAlpine came, and
the revival came.  He would be the man of God indeed, and it would be
jist prayer that brought him, and it would be prayer that brought the
church and Mr. Cameron among us."

"Aye, aye, Duncan; when we remember all the way He has led us, we
shouldna' lose faith."

There was a pause and Duncan began again with an effort.  It was always
difficult for him to open his heart, even to the comrade of his youth.
"I would be praying all these years for something, Andra, and it would
seem almost too great, but the Father would be answering me.  Oh, yes,
He would be kinder than we can ever know."

His friend turned and looked at him sharply, and noticed for the first
time the unusual radiance of his face.  "Aye?" he inquired.  "It would
be aboot Betsey's lads."

Duncan nodded, his face aglow.  "Donal'."

"An' what aboot him?"

"He would be studying so hard when I sent him to the school that now I
will be sending him to college next fall, an' I will be praying
that----"  He faltered, almost fearing to put his great hope into words.

Andrew Johnstone paused in his walk and stared.  He knew Duncan had
been long nursing a great ambition for his eldest nephew and had been
educating him at his own expense towards that end, but he could not
believe it was to be fulfilled.

"He'll no be thinkin' o' bein' a meenister?" he inquired, failing to
keep his utter astonishment out of his tone.

Duncan nodded, his eyes shining.  "He would not be jist promising me
yet, for Donal' says he will not be worthy, and the lad is right, for
it will be a high calling.  But he would not be refusing me when I
asked him, and he will be going to Toronto in the fall, and surely the
Lord will touch the lad's heart----"  He was off in a happy day-dream
again, a dream wherein his nephew stood in Glenoro pulpit when their
aged minister laid down the work.

Andrew Johnstone did not answer for some minutes.  He hesitated to
disturb his friend's airy castles, but in his estimation there was no
material in any of the youth of Glenoro for the making of a minister,
much less in Duncan's eldest nephew.  For one thing, the young man was
far too intimate with his own son.

"Ah houp it'll be so, Duncan," he said at last, as they turned in at
the church gate.  "Maister Cameron's an' auld man noo an' he'll soon be
wantin' to retire, an' mebby----"  He paused as though the sequel were
impossible, adding at last the rather ambiguous encouragement, "With
God, all things are possible, ye ken."



II

A MEMORABLE SABBATH

The Glenoro Presbyterian Church, which the two old men were entering,
was a bare, white structure, very grand in the eyes of the old folk who
remembered the little log building where Mr. McAlpine, their first
minister, used to preach.  But to the rising generation it appeared
much inferior to the neat brick church on the slope of the northern
hill, where the Methodists worshipped.

It was certainly not a handsome edifice, but Nature had done much where
man had been most neglectful.  It stood right by the water's edge; and
the Oro River, coming out from between its high wooded banks, made a
pretty sweep round the quiet graveyard with its white stones.  A fringe
of willows hung over the water, mirrored in its green depths, and some
woodbine from the neighbouring forest had found its way up the church
walls and covered them with a drapery green and enduring.  Verily,
beautiful for situation was the Zion of the Glenoro Presbyterians.

But inside, where man's taste had full control, everything was very
severe.  The two rows of long, stiff, black pews, the high, box-like
pulpit, the little cage for the precentor, a few oil lamps in brackets
along the walls and the huge black stove with its weary length of pipes
stretching from end to end of the building, constituted the furniture.
As for decoration, there was absolutely none, unless the high arched
panel behind the pulpit, painted a dull grey and looking like a
gigantic tombstone, or the two shining tin pails hung at the elbows of
the stove-pipes to prevent the rain from dripping upon the worshippers
could be considered ornaments.  But the floor and the walls were white
and spotless, the stove and stove-pipes shone with all the brilliancy
that polish could give them; and the big, rectangular, thirty-six paned
windows glittered like the waters of the Oro, whose music was now being
wafted through their open sashes.

And, indeed, to the two old men who were entering the church it
mattered little that man's hand had no part in adorning their Zion, for
to them the place was clothed in the beauty of holiness and filled with
the presence of Him who is the brightness of His Father's glory.

They stepped in quietly and reverently, each passing at once to his own
place, Andrew to his prominent pew at the side of the pulpit, Duncan to
his modest seat behind the stove.  They never addressed each other
after entering the sanctuary, but sat with bowed heads in meditation
and prayer until the commencement of the service.  They generally had a
long time to wait, too, for no matter at what unseasonable hour in the
morning the other worshippers might start for church, it was well nigh
impossible to get there before the elders.

Some time passed before anyone else arrived, but at last the big door
swung slowly open and Peter McNabb, elder and precentor, who was always
a good second in the stately and pious race for church, entered, and
went silently forward to his place in front of the pulpit.  The custom
of having a precentor to "raise the tune" instead of a choir and organ
was considered extremely old-fashioned by the more juvenile members of
the congregation, but the old people held tenaciously to this
time-honoured custom, in spite of much agitation for a change.  And,
indeed, had the young advocates of progress but paused to consider,
they must have been forced to confess that Peter McNabb was a much
better musical instrument than any that could ever be produced by man.
He was the village blacksmith and he put the same energy into his
singing on the Sabbath as he did into the mighty swing of his sledge on
week days.  He knew very little about musical technique; his voice may
not have been very highly cultivated; but he had an appreciation of the
psalms which only a godly man can have, and a pure, silvery voice which
could pour out floods of melody, or soften itself to the most
heart-breaking pathos as the words demanded.  For, when he sang to the
wail of _Martyrdom_,

  "Lord, from the depths to Thee I cry,"

he melted many a heart to tears.  And sometimes Duncan's musical soul
was so stirred that he found himself clutching the seat in a very
ecstasy, almost expecting the grey panel behind the minister's saintly
head to burst into inconceivable glory of cherubim and seraphim as,
with a rapturous shout, the precentor swept the congregation into the
glory of the old psalm,

  "Ye gates lift up your heads on high,
  Ye doors that last for aye,
  Be lifted up that so the King
  Of glory enter may!"


To the aged minister behind him, Peter's singing was a pillar of faith.
Mr. Cameron had travelled widely in his younger days and had heard
grand music in the cathedrals of the old world, magnificent harmonies
of trained voices with flute and violin and organ helping to interpret
the divine meaning of the old masters.  It had all been very grand and
he often longed to hear such music again; but he sometimes wondered, as
he sat in the shadow of his pulpit desk on a Sabbath morning, why there
had been nothing in all its grandeur which tended to settle so
unshakably the foundations of one's faith, as did listening to Peter
McNabb lead his Glenoro congregation slowly and solemnly in

  "Oh Lord the God of Hosts, who can
    To Thee compared be?
  The Mighty One, the Lord, Whose truth
    Doth round encompass Thee!"


There were three more elders: big John Hamilton, whose only sin was a
family of over-dressed daughters; Donald Fraser, son of the Fraser
famous for having Mr. McAlpine's first service at his place; and Peter
Farquhar, a Highlander, one of the many McDonalds.  Good men and true
they all were, who feared God and eschewed evil, veritable fathers in
Israel to the congregation.

The people soon followed.  Duncan Polite's face lit up with pleasure as
a group of five filed past him into his pew, his widowed sister and her
four boys.  The old man's gaze rested lovingly upon Donald, the lad of
his hopes.  He was a young man worthy a second glance, a straight,
lithe fellow, the kind they breed in the Canadian Highlands.  His thin,
keen face showed a striking resemblance to his uncle's in its handsome
regularity of feature, but there was nothing of Duncan Polite in the
bold flash of the young man's eye, nor in the proud swing of his fine
figure.

Duncan's attention was taken from him by a slight disturbance at his
side.  Archie, a small urchin of nine, was struggling quietly but
persistently with Neil, his senior by two years, for the honour of
sitting next his uncle.  Mrs. Neil treated the affair, as she did all
the boys' misdemeanours, with a sweet, unconscious placidity, but
Donald, who exercised a sort of muscular authority over his brothers,
put out his big foot with a quiet but emphatic kick which settled the
dispute.

Sandy looked disappointed.  "Why didn't you let the little beggars
fight it out?" he whispered, "it would give Splinterin' Andra something
to chew on."

Donald's face twitched with laughter, and from his point of vantage in
the front pew, the ruling elder caught the smile on the face of
Glenoro's future pastor and sighed to think how greatly his friend was
being deceived.

The last straggler had slipped into the back seat, the church was
filled, and every eye was turned expectantly towards the vestry door.
It opened presently and the aged minister came forth.  As he went up
the steep pulpit stair, Duncan Polite's loving eye caught signs of
added weakness in his gait, the motions of one too weary for further
effort, and his heart was smitten with fear.  He could never
contemplate the removal of his pastor without the apprehension of
coming disaster.  There was a new class of people growing up in the
church, whose broad views threatened to overturn the simple, pious ways
of their fathers.  As long as Mr. Cameron was over them Duncan felt
assured they would never go far astray, but he often looked into the
future with some misgivings.

The minister's text was characteristic, one that Duncan remembered all
his life afterwards, as his greatest stay and comfort in times of
distress: "And the Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy
soul in drought."

The sermon was not shortened because of the minister's apparent
weakness; a Glenoro sermon was never less than an hour in length and
very often reached the two-hour limit.  There were two morning sermons,
one in Gaelic immediately following the English service for the benefit
of the Highlanders who flocked down from the Oa, the Highland
settlement north of Glenoro.  Many of the Gentiles, who did not know
the chosen language, went home after the first service, and their
places were taken by the new contingent.

Andrew Johnstone always remained for the Gaelic service.  He understood
very little of the language, but he felt the presence of the elders was
necessary, and then he could walk home with Duncan and discuss the
sermon, a pleasure for which it was worth waiting.

The breaking up of the Glenoro congregation followed an established
order of procedure and varied not one Sabbath from another.  Any
departure from the order of their going would have been considered as
irregular as though the minister were to pronounce the benediction
before the sermon.  First, the young men of the back row flung
themselves through the door, noiselessly but hastily, inhaling great
breaths of relief.  Next came those who had to get their horses from
the shed, and close upon them the village folk, passing with fine
superiority their rural neighbours.  These came out last, to linger and
chat while the big double buggies were whirled into place with a
scraping sound and the families were perched aboard.  Duncan and
Andrew, as was their custom, waited for a private word with the
minister.  The former watched Donald hand his mother into the smart
single buggy and drive away through the gate.  He did not even miss the
glance of Donald's eyes towards John Hamilton's daughters, passing up
the street like a gay posy of flowers.  Duncan Polite's heart was ever
young and he smiled sympathetically as he caught the answering glance
from a pair of bright eyes beneath a big white hat.

The minister came slowly down the aisle, shaking hands with all.  He
had only time for his midday meal and then he was away again to his
other charge, a church some nine miles distant on one of the township
roads colloquially styled the Tenth.  But Mr. Cameron never hurried
away without a word with his two old friends.

"Ye're no lookin' well the day, sir," said Andrew Johnstone anxiously.
"The work's ower hard on ye in the hot weather; ye're needin' a bit
rest."

"Oh, I will be getting a rest, Andrew," he answered, smiling, "a good
long rest, and it will be soon."

Duncan Polite looked up with a sudden flash of apprehension in his
eyes, but his friend returned the glance with a reassuring smile.

"And so Donald is going to college," he said.  "Ah, that's fine,
Duncan, that's fine!  We'll make a minister of him yet, and a fine one
he'll be, I promise.  You'll live to hear him preach here when I'm
gone."

Duncan put up his hand in protest.

"Tut, tut, sir," said the elder sharply, as was his way when he was
moved, "ye'll hear him yersel' some day if he comes till it, never
fear."

The minister shook his head.  "No, Andrew, I will not hear the lad, but
it is a great comfort to me to see Donald McDonald's grandson taking up
the work he prayed for, and I hope the Father will spare you both a
long time.  But as for me----"  He paused.  The church was empty but
for the three old men; the subdued murmur of the people's voices came
through the open windows; a smile illuminated the old minister's
saintly face.  "As for me, it will not be long; 'Tarry thou here, for
the Lord hath sent me to Jordan.'"

He turned and, still smiling, walked up the aisle and into the vestry.
The two went out into the sunlight.

"Surely he wouldna' mean----" suggested Andrew Johnstone, afraid to say
more.

But Duncan Polite could not answer; in the midst of his happiness, when
his hopes were at their height, he had been stricken with a great fear.
He understood too well the significance of his pastor's words, the
farewell of Elijah, and, like Elisha, the old man could have cried out
from his very soul, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will
not leave thee!"  But he knew that this was a Jordan that must be
crossed alone.

The two friends walked up the hill in silence, one filled with a
foreboding, the other with a dread certainty of impending trouble.

"If Maister Cameron's ever ta'en awa frae us, Duncan," said the elder
gloomily, "mark ma word, there'll be trouble in the kirk.  We ha'e a
pack o' godless young folk growin' up that need the blue beech gad,
every one o' them, an' if Maister Cameron was ta'en Ah'm no sayin' what
they'd do!"

Duncan had turned and was looking down the hill at a rapidly
approaching figure.  His companion followed the direction of his gaze.
"Man, is yon Peter McNabb?" he inquired in amazement.

The feeling was quite natural.  To see an elder of the Presbyterian
Church rushing along the public highway without his coat, on the
Sabbath day, was sufficient to raise consternation in the breast of any
Glenorian.  Duncan's heart contracted with fear.  "Is it the minister?"
he asked tremulously, as the blacksmith came up to them, breathless.

Peter's ruddy face was pale beneath the tan.  His eyes fell before the
question as though he were guilty.  "Aye, it's jist that," he said with
simple sorrow; "I came for ye both."

The two turned and retraced their steps at his side.  Andrew Johnstone
was the first to speak.  "He's no gone, Peter?" he asked, with more
than his usual sternness.

"Aye," said the other in a whisper, "that's jist it, Andra, he's gone."



III

A WAR-MAKER AND A PEACE-MAKER

Duncan Polite's valley was slowly disappearing in the shadows of
evening when he stepped from his gate and somewhat hesitatingly turned
down into its purple depths.  He was experiencing a strange, almost
uncanny feeling, for, not only was he going to church alone, but he was
actually on his way to worship with the Methodists!  He had a vague
fear that he must be doing wrong.  But indeed, he was going merely in
the hope that he might hear some comforting words from the Methodist
minister; and Duncan was sadly in need of comfort.

In the long months since Mr. Cameron's death, his days had been filled
with anxiety and fear for his covenant.  When the first sharpness of
grief at the loss of his old friend had passed, the Watchman slowly
awakened to the knowledge that he was living among a strange people.
Under Mr. Cameron's wise, loving rule all classes in the congregation
had been unanimous; the elder folk believed him perfect and the younger
respected him too deeply to disagree with him.  But when the bond of
union was severed, a new party with alarmingly progressive ideas,
suddenly came to life.  They were fain to introduce many improvements
into the church service which the fathers of the sanctuary considered
unsound and irreverent.  They wanted a choir and an organ like the
Methodists; they desired to sing hymns as did their sister congregation
over on the Tenth; and, most of all, they considered it imperative that
they should stand to sing and sit to pray, as did all respectable
people.

Andrew Johnstone, who represented the old school and its traditions,
stood at the head of the ancient party as immovable as the church
foundations.  Some of the elders might counsel yielding, or at least
compromising, but not Splinterin' Andra.  He regarded all these
youthful aspirations as signs of the degeneracy of the times and a
decay of spiritual life and, therefore, to be immediately quenched.

So the two parties stood arrayed against each other and the chief cause
of their dissension was the choice of a new minister.  The more
youthful party wanted a young man, or at least one who was "lively,"
while old Glenoro held to its ideal--a man as much as possible like
Hector Cameron, or, if it were not looking for too much on this earth,
a second John McAlpine.  But the young people of the congregation had
never heard Mr. McAlpine preach, and, like the Egyptians, who did not
know Joseph, they had not the proper respect for that great leader, and
they also considered Gaelic sermons, two-hour discourses and half-hour
prayers as belonging to a past generation.

All these trials, youthful frivolity, the lack of a Gaelic service and
old Andrew Johnstone's storms, Duncan Polite had borne patiently; but
to-day's sermon had been almost too much for even his optimism, for
that morning a smart probationer had stood up in Mr. Cameron's sacred
pulpit and delivered a twenty-minute address on the Beauties of Nature!
Even the young people had been shocked, and Andrew Johnstone had, for
once, voiced the sentiments of the whole congregation as he gave his
opinion of the young man to Duncan Polite on their homeward walk.
"It's a guid thing Maister Cameron's gone till his rest," he remarked
sombrely.  "If he'd a lived to see his pulpit filled by a bit buddie
that couldna' hang on till his taxt for half an' 'oor, he'd never a
held up his heid again!"

And so Duncan had been driven to the extremity of seeking comfort in
the Methodist Church and was on his way thither, in some doubt as to
the wisdom of such a strange proceeding, and in much fear that Andrew
would disapprove.

The Methodist Church was a substantial brick building, set
picturesquely on the slope of the northern hill.  Duncan went
hesitatingly in and took a seat near the door.  He found it quite a
roomy place and well filled.  There was much more ornamentation here
than in his own place of worship; the walls were papered, the pulpit
platform was covered with a gay carpet, two shining brass chandeliers
were suspended from the ceiling, the windows were frosted glass with a
row of lurid blue and red panes around each, and behind the minister
was the centre of attraction and cynosure of all eyes, the choir and
the organ.

Duncan felt a return of his misgivings when he recognised many members
of his own church in that institution; for, such was the chaos of these
new times that the Methodist services were attended regularly by nearly
all the young Presbyterians.  And, indeed, matters had come to such a
pitch that the choir was conducted by no less a person than young
Andrew Johnstone himself, much to the wrath and shame of his pious
father.

That choir was at once the delight and torment of its members.  The
hopes and fears, the triumphs and despairs that surged within the
little railing, would have been sufficient to swamp the congregation,
could they have broken loose.  But the enjoyment outweighed the pain;
there was choir practise once a week and sometimes they were invited to
furnish the music at a neighbouring tea-meeting and both these were
unmixed joys.  Then, too, they were permitted to sing quite alone at
the regular church services, while the collection was being taken up;
and sometimes they even ventured to sing an anthem, though the evening
they sang one with a tenor solo by Sylvanus Todd, they were considered
to have gone a little too far, by even the most liberal minded, and the
offence was not repeated until more enlightened times.

Mr. Ansdell, the Methodist minister, was a benign old gentleman with an
angelic face and a heart to match.  He noted the mingling of the
different religious sects in Glenoro with humble joy, and regarded the
fact that a Presbyterian elder's son should lead the singing in the
Methodist church as a mark of the broad and kindly spirit of the age
and one of the potent signs of the millennium.

He was just the sort of man to appeal to Duncan Polite's heart.  His
sermon was like himself, gentle, loving and overflowing with goodwill
to all men.  Duncan sat and drank it in with deepest joy; surely his
covenant was in no great danger with such a man as Mr. Ansdell in his
glen!

Thereafter, in spite of old Andrew's opposition, he could not resist
the pleasure of an occasional Sabbath evening service.  He did not
always have the privilege of listening to his new friend, however.  Mr.
Ansdell had another field and preached only on alternate Sabbaths in
his Glenoro pulpit.  On the occasions of his absence the service was
generally taken by a student or a lay preacher from some place in the
vicinity.  Sometimes the preacher was anything but a man of parts, and
was too often a source of merriment to the frivolous row of young men
in the back seats.  The big college student with the long, fair hair,
who raved and foamed and battered all the fringe off the pulpit cushion
in a gallant attempt to prove that the Bible is true, a fact which,
until then, no Glenorian would have dreamed of calling in question; the
poor, halting farmer who tacked a nervous syllable to occasional words,
making his text read: "All-um we like sheep-um have gone astray-um;"
the giant from the Irish Flats who roared out a long prayer in a manner
that terrified his hearers and set all the babies crying and then ended
his bellowings with "Lord, hear our feeble breathings," all these were
a joy to the back row and the cause of much irreverent giggling in the
choir.

But whether the sermon was delivered by minister, layman or divinity
student, Duncan Polite always found something spiritually uplifting in
the service; and, indeed, so did many another, for if the preacher
sometimes lacked in oratory, he made up for it in piety, and if he
failed to shine in the pulpit, his life was nearly always a sermon
strong and convincing.

Even on the rare occasions when old Silas Todd led the service, the
time was not misspent, in the opinion of the Watchman.  Silas Todd was
one of the pillars of the church and when the local preacher failed to
appear, which contingency sometimes arose in the season of bad roads,
the duty of preaching a sermon generally devolved upon him.  He was a
pious little man, bent and thin, with a marked Cockney accent.  He had
mild pale blue eyes and a simple, almost seraphic smile which scarcely
ever left his countenance and which was the index to his character.
His wife was small and pious like himself, and had the same accent and
the same benevolent expression.  They always sat close together on the
front seat like a pair of shy children, he in his rough, loose
homespun, she in her grey wincey, a neatly folded Paisley shawl and a
brown bonnet with a pink feather--this last ornament being the pride of
Silas' heart and the one bit of finery his wife permitted herself.
They shared one hymn book and Bible, no matter how many there might be
scattered around them, and both sang in a high ecstatic key, a measure
behind the choir.  They swayed to and fro, quite carried away by the
music, and as Silas stood with his head thrown back and his eyes shut,
and his wife kept her eyes modestly upon her book, they very often
collided, to the great detriment of the singing and the disturbing of
the pink feather.  But the only sign their frequent collisions called
forth was a smile of perfect accord and redoubled energy in the singing
and swaying.

Silas was modest and never shouldered the task of leading the service
until all hope of the preacher's appearing had been given up.  On such
occasions the congregation would assemble and sit quietly expectant;
even the back row, who waited at the church shed until they were in
sufficient numbers to brave an entry into the church, having flopped
noisily into their places.  The choir would whisper and the organist
nervously turn over the leaves of the hymn book.  Then the fathers of
the church would confer, look through the window or tip-toe to the
door, confer again, and once more gaze anxiously in the direction from
which the preacher was expected to appear.

At this point there would arise from the Todd pew such a fluttering and
twittering as can be heard in the nest when the mother-bird is
encouraging her little ones to fly.  Mrs. Todd, acting as monitor,
would give Silas many pushes and nudges which he modestly resisted,
until her efforts were augmented by those of his brother officials,
when, yielding at last to their importunities, he would slowly rise and
go shyly and lingeringly up to the pulpit desk.  And the congregation
would settle back with a resigned air to listen to the simple, good old
fellow give a long and tedious recital of his spiritual experiences,
punctuated by many sighs and tearful "Amens" from beneath the
sympathetic Paisley shawl.

But in spite of much comfort afforded by the Methodists, Duncan
Polite's heart was often heavy with foreboding.  He could not help
seeing that Andrew Johnstone must soon come to open war with the new
party in the church.  In his well-meant and vigorous efforts to make
everyone tread the old paths the ruling elder produced a great amount
of friction; for, though he feared God, he did not regard man, and woe
betide the reckless youth who made himself too conspicuous in the
reform movement.

The Sabbath school was his stronghold, for there he was superintendent
and monarch absolute, and there he seized every opportunity to publicly
rebuke anyone who dared transgress his rigid laws.

But the rising generation was not to be wholly deterred from rising by
even the terrors of Splinterin' Andra; and, as Duncan Polite feared,
the inevitable conflict ensued.

The immediate cause of the rupture was a church organ, merely a myth as
yet, but real enough to arouse the apostle of ancient customs to his
best fighting mood.  The very mention of an instrument made by man to
be used in the worship of God, was to the ruling elder the extreme of
sacrilege.  But in spite of his disapproval, the young people went so
far as to hold a meeting at which to discuss the possibility of their
purchasing the coveted instrument.

Miss Cotton, the chief dress and mischiefmaker in the village, although
no longer absolutely young, was the leader of the rising generation,
and she counselled just going ahead without Splinterin' Andra's advice.

There were not many, however, who were possessed of either her courage
or her indiscretion.  They all agreed, though, that Andrew Johnstone
was the one insurmountable barrier to their hopes.  Most of the other
elders had been approached in a tentative way.  Peter McNabb was a
broad-minded man with such a passion for music that, though he looked
askance at any innovation, yet he would have welcomed anything that
would help the singing.  Old Donald Fraser considered an organ an
unmixed evil and remarked, when asked for his opinion on the subject,
that it would be "clean defyin' o' the Almighty" to introduce one into
the church.  But he had a very ambitious wife and daughter, and as the
latter had been taking music lessons and cherishing rosy dreams of one
day playing in church, the organ party felt that Mr. Fraser would not
be quite immovable.  Old John Hamilton, of course, scarcely counted.
He said "aye, aye," in a dazed way when his daughters clamoured for his
consent, adding that "he'd see what Andra said."  Peter Farquhar, they
knew, might be difficult, as he belonged to the Oa and was, therefore,
very old-fashioned; but they all agreed that if Andrew Johnstone could
be moved, all the others would follow; so some one must ask his
permission.

Miss Cotton suggested that Wee Andra, the son of old Andra, would be
the proper person to carry their request to the elder.  "Wee Andra" the
young man had been called in his babyhood, to distinguish him from his
father, and he still bore the anomalous title though he stood
six-feet-four in his moccasins and was disproportionately broad.  But
in spite of these physical securities, the young giant flatly refused
the doubtful honour of approaching his father on the sore subject; so,
after much discussion, the delicate task devolved upon Mr. Watson, the
schoolmaster.  The master had "tack" and education, Miss Cotton
explained, and was just the man for the position.  So, fortified by
this flattery, the young man went up over the hills one morning on his
dangerous quest.

The schoolmaster was a young man who was born for agitation; he loved
to throw himself heart and soul into some new enterprise, and upon this
occasion he had the satisfaction at least of getting up plenty of
excitement.  What transpired in that fatal interview between him and
the ruling elder could never be accurately learned from the former.
When questioned upon the subject, he confined his remarks to dark hints
regarding antediluvian pig-headedness and backwoods ignorance, but Wee
Andra, who in his heart was rather proud of his sire's fighting
qualities, spread the account of the schoolmaster's defeat over the
whole neighbourhood, with the result that for a season the agitators
left their common enemy to turn upon and rend each other.

On the evening after the encounter, Duncan Polite sat expectantly on
his door-step.  He knew that Andrew would be sure to come down to tell
him of the affair, and he was waiting in some trepidation, hoping that
his fiery old friend had not said something which would wreck forever
the peace of Glenoro church.

Duncan scarcely felt equal to shouldering any more burdens that day,
for only the morning before Donald had left for college.  The old man
had sent him away with high hopes for his future; but he missed his boy
more than he could tell.  For Donald had been as his own son ever since
the Neil boys had been left fatherless.  "The Neil boys" they were
always called, for their father, as well as their mother, had been a
McDonald and, of necessity, his sons used his first name only.  Neil
McDonald had died when Archie was an infant, and had left Donald at the
head of the family, a circumstance which might have proved disastrous
to both Donald and the family had it not been for Duncan Polite.  For
in his boyhood Donald had bade fair to inherit his father's fame, and
in the good old fighting days when men used their axes in argument,
Neil More was the fiercest warrior between the two lakes.  But as
manhood approached, discretion had tempered young Donald's valour; he
had grown up under the gentle but potent influence of his uncle and had
developed a character of which Duncan Polite was justly proud.

But now Donald was gone; and Duncan was sitting thinking sadly of his
loss and of this coming trouble, when a sturdy, square figure came down
the darkening road.

"Come away in, Andra," said Duncan Polite rising, while Collie bowed
his respectful welcome, "come away in, for you will be finding it cool
on the step, whatever."

But Andrew preferred to sit out of doors.

Duncan divined at once from his manner that he was in a very bad frame
of mind, and so attempted to lead the conversation into a safe channel.
"I hear we will be having a fine young man next Sabbath," he commenced
hopefully, "Mr. Murray.  I would be hearing Mr. Cameron speak of him
often."

Andrew Johnstone grunted.

"Aye, mebby," he remarked sourly.  "Whatever he's like he'll suit the
young folk anyway, for he'll be new, an' that's a' they want.  Man,
Duncan, the youth o' this day are jist fair daft!  The Athenians were
naething to them, for their one desire is to possess some new thing.
They've got a new church, an' they're goin' to hae a new meenister, an'
they're wantin' them new bit tinklin' hymns; aye, an' they're wantin'
new elders, Ah'm sure o' that.  When you an' me an' a few more o' the
auld buddies slip awa, they'll jist be gettin' a new God an' then Ah
houp they'll be setisfied!"

"Och, och, Andra," said Duncan Polite soothingly.  "Lads and lassies
will be young, an' we would be that way ourselves once, and they will
be better than you know.  There's your own lad now, an' Sandy----"

"Andra!  Oor Andra!" cried that young man's father.  "The maist
upsettin' scamp in the hale pack, an' it's his ain faither has to say
it in shame an' humiliation!  Him an' Sandy are jist gone fair daft.
It's fleein' here to this tea-meetin' an stravagin' yonder to some bit
choir practise, an' here awa, there awa, until Ah dinna ken what's to
be the end o' it!  Aye, an' the next thing they've gotten intill their
bit heids is that they must get a bit o' an idolatrous music boax for
the kirk!  Yon bit thistle heid o' a schoolmaister cam' till me aboot
the thing the day; what d'ye think o' yon?"

"Dear, dear, that would be a peety," said the champion of youth,
somewhat disconcerted.

"Aye, they've come till it at last!  Ah've kenned weel they've been
hatchin' plans this while back an' that oor Andra was in it, aye, an'
Donal' afore he gaed away, but Ah jist gave no heed to their bit noise,
an' Andra kenned his faither better than to come till him wi' his norms
till yon bit slippery, feather-heided crater cam' till me this mornin'."

"An' would he be asking you if they could get one?"

"Askin' me!  He didna jist order me to hae the thing bought, but it was
michty near't.  Sez he, 'We hae gotten the consent o' a' the ither
elders, _Maister_ Johnstone, an' we know ye jist can't refuse us; we'd
like to hae it afore the new meenister comes,'--the danderin' bit
eejit!"

"I hope you would not be too hard on him, Andra, Mr. Watson would be
meaning no harm----"

"No harm!  And are ye the man, Duncan McDonald, to ask an elder of the
Kirk to countenance evil?  Ah wes not half so hard on the buddy as he
deserved, but Ah jist telled him pretty plain what Ah thought o' them
a' turnin' the hoose o' God into a circus!  'Ye hae the consent o' a'
the elders, hae ye?' Ah sez.  'An' noo it's ma consent ye want, is it?
Weel, ye hae it!' Ah sez;' for if ye're that set on gettin' yer bit
screechin' boax ma advice'll no hold ye back, so ye may get yer piece
o' idolatory,' Ah sez; 'but mark ma word!' Ah sez, 'mark ma word, the
day yon thing raises its noise an' pollutes the holy place--  Ah'll no
resign.  Oh! no, that's what ye're lookin' for,' Ah sez, for Ah'd heerd
rumours--'Ah'll no resign,' Ah sez, 'but Ah'll jist wait till the
Sabbath's ower an' Ah'll get ma ax,' Ah sez, 'an by the help o' the
Almichty Ah'll smash the abomination into a thoosand splinters!'"

His stick came down upon the doorstone with a crash that prophesied
total destruction to the offending instrument.

"Hoots, toots, Andra!" cried Duncan Polite reprovingly, "it's jist
violent you will be; and, indeed, I will be thinkin' it would not be
right to drive the young folks."

"The Maister drove oot wi' a scourage them as misused the hoose o'
God," responded the apostle of force severely.

"Aye, the Master," said Duncan, his fine face lighting up.  "The
Master!" he repeated the word tenderly.  "Eh, but that would be a fine
word, Andra, a fine word.  Yes, He would be doing that once, but that
would not be His spirit, ah, no indeed!  For He was led as a lamb to
the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened
not His mouth!  Eh, eh, and yet He would be the Master o' the whole
Universe!"  His voice died away, he sat motionless, his long slender
hands hanging at his side, his eyes seeing wondrous sights on the
purple slope of the opposite hillside.

Andrew Johnstone ceased his vicious whacking of Duncan's asters and
conveyed his stick to its decorous Sabbath position behind him.  His
friend's sublime spirituality always cooled Splinterin' Andra's wrath.

There was a long silence, the sound of a bell tinkling away in the dark
forest opposite and the distant murmur of the village alone broke the
stillness.  Andrew rose to go in a much better frame of mind.  "You an'
me, Duncan," he said with some sadness, "belong to a past generation.
Maister Cameron's gone, an' the auld buddies are slippin' awa fast, an'
whiles Ah hae little patience wi' the new fangled notions.  Will the
country be a God-fearin' one, Ah wonder, when we're a' awa?"

It was the question and also the tragedy of their lives, the question
Duncan Polite's whole life was given up towards answering.

"We must jist be trusting that to the Lord, Andra," he said with his
usual hopefulness.  "Whatever changes come, He is the same yesterday,
to-day and forever."

But Duncan Polite realised the affair was not ended.  He knew it was
not likely that the young people would defy Splinterin' Andra and drive
him to violence, but the fire of gossip would be set going and he
feared his friend's life would be embittered.  He was thinking deeply
and sadly over the problem the next morning as he dug up the potatoes
from his garden.  There was Coonie, now, if he set his sharp tongue
going against the elder there would be no end to the trouble.  He
glanced up and saw the subject of his thoughts coming slowly down the
road in his old buckboard.

Why the Glenoro mail-carrier was called Coonie instead of Henry Greene,
which was his real name, was, like all that gentleman's personal
affairs, shrouded in mystery.  Some doubted that Coonie himself knew,
though if he did it was not at all likely he would divulge the secret,
for he guarded very carefully his own private business.  Whatever
concerned himself held a monopoly of his reticence, however, for in
matters of current gossip he was second to none in the whole township
of Oro.  He beat even Miss Cotton and Mrs. Fraser, for, whereas they
might arrive at a stage when they had nothing more to tell, not so
Coonie.  If he found himself without some startling news he
manufactured it to suit the occasion.

His vehicle was an old buckboard with a wide seat, and a rickety old
chariot it was.  His custom was to sit slouching at one end of the
seat, one foot upon the dashboard, the other dangling down in the dust,
thus making the other end of the seat stick away up in the air, as
though to suggest to any chance pedestrian that he was almost crowded
out already and could accommodate no one.

His horse was a poor, decrepit, old creature, whom he had named Bella,
after the eldest of the pretty Hamilton girls, much to that young
lady's disgust.  In spite of old Bella's skeleton appearance and
hobbling gait, Coonie took great pride in her and offered many times to
trot her against Sandy Neil's racer.  Her extreme lameness seemed quite
appropriate, however, for in this respect she was the fitting
complement to her master.  For poor Coonie was a cripple, scarcely able
to bear his long body on his weak ankles, and when the villagers saw
him stumble painfully out of his vehicle at the post-office and drag
himself to the veranda, even the person outraged by his latest flight
of fancy forgave and pitied him.  Everyone felt that the nimbleness of
his tongue was perhaps only some slight compensation for the
uselessness of his feet.

His daily drive through Glenoro was something of an event to all the
inhabitants, for he was willing to stop everywhere and anywhere and
tell the latest news.  Old Andrew considered him a most pernicious
individual and a breeder of evil in the Glen, and for that reason as
well as on general principles, Coonie took a particular delight in
libelling the ruling elder.  He pulled up as he reached Duncan's gate.
He never passed without a few words with the old man.  Not because he
ever heard or told any gossip at Duncan Polite's, but Coonie could
never forget a certain dark night when the mail bag was lost and the
drunken mail-carrier in danger of finding himself behind prison bars, a
night when Duncan Polite had toiled over the hills through mud and
rain, and had rescued him.  Not a person in the whole countryside,
except the two, knew of the affair, but Coonie remembered, and in his
queer way tried to repay the man who had saved him.

"Mornin'!" he called, somewhat crustily, as was his wont in opening a
conversation.  "How's things this mornin'?"

Duncan had hurried into the house and now emerged with a dipperful of
creamy buttermilk.  Coonie drank it off in one long pull.

"Ginger, that's prime!" he cried, drawing a long breath.  "Goes right
to the dry spot.  How's your potatoes?"

"Oh, they will be very good, very good indeed," said Duncan.  He
hesitated a moment and then continued.  "You would be hearing about the
master and the organ?" he questioned in some embarrassment.

Coonie shot out a look of surprise from his small bright eyes; that
Duncan Polite should open any such subject was an amazing thing.

"Yep," he answered sharply.  "Why?"

"I will be having no right to interfere, Coonie."  Duncan Polite never
by the slightest gesture hinted that he had any claim on the
mail-carrier's gratitude.  "I will be having no right to interfere, but
this will be a thing that will do harm to the church and the Lord's
work, and if it is talked about,----"  Duncan's reticence was
overcoming him again after this unusual outburst.

Coonie nodded in perfect comprehension.  He planted his foot upon the
dashboard once more.  "You don't want folks to be gabbin' about yours
truly up on the hill yonder?"  He jerked his thumb over his shoulder in
the direction where Andrew Johnstone's house appeared far up the slope.
"Well, I guess I'll have to choke off a few.  Gedap thar, whatter ye
doin'!"  He gave old Bella a lash with the whip which she noticed
merely by a switch of her tail.  His shoulders sank to their accustomed
limpness and he took no notice of Duncan's thanks as he drove off.  He
was really disappointed, for he had prepared such a version of the
story, purporting to have come from the Oa, as would set Splinterin'
Andra in a rage forever.  He sighed over his loss.

But his attention was soon diverted by a welcome sight.  Sim
Baskerville, the village store-keeper and postmaster, commonly called
Basketful in accordance with the custom of the country, could already
be seen, even from this height, coming out upon the veranda at short
intervals to see if the mail were coming.  Nothing annoyed the
postmaster so much as to have the mail arrive late, and nothing pleased
the mail-carrier so much as to annoy the postmaster.  Mr. Basketful was
a choleric Englishman, and one of Coonie's chief diversions was to put
him into a rage by a dilatory approach to the village.  So, seeing his
enemy on the lookout, he let old Bella crawl down the hill with
maddening slowness, looking round, meanwhile, for somebody with whom he
might stop and talk.

The first opportunity presented itself with the whirring of a sewing
machine, coming from a little house on the edge of the village.  It was
a tiny white cottage, apparently kept from encroaching upon the road by
a thick rope of lilacs, a trim little place, painfully neat.  When that
sound emanated from within, Coonie knew that the village dressmaker was
at home; and as she bore a fierce hatred to him and all his doings, he
never failed to give her a call when possible.  He drew up his
buckboard before the lilac bushes, therefore, happily conscious of
certain vigorous gesticulations from the post-office veranda, of a
character calculated to encourage rapid approach.

"Hello! in there!" he shouted.

There was no response, except for a more determined whizzing of the
machine.

"Got a message for you, 'Liza!"

To the angry occupant of the house it was agony to go on sewing.  Who
knew but that, for once, the old fool might be telling the truth, she
reflected.  Perhaps someone in the Oa had sent word with him that she
was wanted there for a day's sewing, and she knew nothing would please
Coonie better than to have her refuse to listen.

But by this time her tormentor, despairing of ever enticing her out by
fair words, resolved to launch a bomb which he knew was sure to bring
the besieged raging to the walls.  "Got a message from Tom Poole!" he
roared, loud enough to be heard at Mrs. Fraser's across the valley.
"He says to tell you he's comin' down sparkin' to-morrow night!"

Miss Cotton flashed into the doorway, white with rage.  She, who had
never seen the man who dared to pay her loverlike attentions, to have
her name bawled out over the countryside coupled with that of a man who
was a widower of six months with a family of as many children!  She
shook her scissors in his face.

"If you don't shut up your tomfoolery, you blatherin' old idiot!" she
cried, in a sort of shrieking whisper, "I'll throw boilin' water over
you!"

Coonie stared in injured righteousness.  "Well I never!  That's all the
thanks I get for obligin' you.  I can't help it if he's gone spooney on
you; next time I bring you a message----"

"Yes, next time you bring me a message it'll be the last you'll take to
a livin' soul.  Drive your old hearse away from my door, will you, an'
tell your lies to somebody that's big enough fool to believe you!"

The door slammed and the sewing machine buzzed wrathfully, and Coonie
sent Bella scrambling down the hill, his drooping shoulders heaving
with convulsive laughter.  To put 'Liza Cotton into a rage, while Sim
Basketful, in a similar condition, was popping in and out of his store
door like a jack-in-the-box, was worth the whole day's drive.  He
meandered along chuckling loudly, but suddenly checked his mirth as he
espied Maggie Hamilton standing at the gate beneath the oaks and
holding a bundle under her arm.  This was evidently intended for him,
so he drove to the opposite side of the road and crawled along with
drooping shoulders and abstracted mien.

But this particular Miss Hamilton understood Coonie's dark ways and
knew how to deal with him.  She darted across the road and caught old
Bella by the head.

"Hold on now, smarty!" she said.  "You needn't pretend you've turned
deaf and blind all at once, you're stupid enough without.  Here's a
parcel for Aunt Mary McLean, Coonie, and mother wants you to take it to
her, please, like an old duck.  You know Aunt Mary thinks you're the
handsomest fellow in Oro."

But Coonie was not be flattered into obliging anyone.  "Look here,
you," he growled, "what d'ye think I run this mail for, anyhow?  Think
it's a charitable institution?  You tell your Aunt Mary Maria
stick-in-the-mud that if she thinks the Almighty created me to cart
truck over the country for lazy lumps like you that thinks they're too
good to walk, she'd better go an' get informed all over again."

But Maggie had expected this and was prepared.  "Jess!  Sarah!  Bell!"
she cried, "come out here quick and settle this old donkey!  He's gone
balky again!"

There was a chorus of shrieks, a swish of skirts down the garden path,
and reinforcements in the shape of three more young ladies emerged from
the gate and fell upon the rebellious mail-carrier.  They climbed into
the shaking old buckboard and Maggie seized the reins and turned old
Bella up the hill again.

"Now, we'll drive you clean back to Lakeview, if you don't speak up
smart and say you'll take it!" she cried.

But Coonie did not mind.  Mr. Basketful was by this time in the middle
of the road, so he prolonged the encounter as long as possible.

"Go ahead," he said, settling himself comfortably in his seat; "you'll
soon be at the Oa, if you keep on.  I bet that's where Jessie wants to
go to see what's the latest news from Don Neil."

"Yes, and you want to go up the hill and talk to 'Liza Cotton,"
retorted Jessie.

"That's it," laughed Maggie, pulling the old horse almost into the
ditch, "you'd trot off with a bundle quick enough if she asked you."

Coonie roared.  "Well, that's true.  Haw!  Haw!  I'd start off that
quick I'd never git stopped.  Gosh! but ain't she the old scorpion!" he
exclaimed with feeling, "Say, if her an' me was the only folks left in
the world, I'd kill her an' live alone.  See here, you scalawags, clear
out an' leave that poor brute alone, an' I'll take your trash."

It was a surrender.  The victorious quartette leaped from the buckboard
and retired, with many admonitions for his guidance in his future
dealings with them, warnings which Coonie pretended not to hear.

His shoulders sagged again as he slowly approached the post-office.  He
paused a few moments on the bridge, to gaze meditatively into the
water, then he spent some time gesticulating to an imaginary person
down at the mill-dam, and at last, slowly and with every appearance of
insupportable weariness, dragged up to the post-office door.

"Kind of hot," he remarked genially, noticing the perspiring
countenance of the indignant postmaster.

Mr. Basketful took the mail-bag with a withering air.  "Kind o'," he
remarked sarcastically.  "Guess your 'orse 'ad a sunstroke on the road.
'Ere 'Syl, tend to that hanimal, will you?"

A stylishly dressed young man came down with elegant leisure from his
position on a cracker barrel and proceeded to water Coonie's horse.
The mail-carrier's helpless condition called for assistance which was
always freely rendered.  The person to whom the task generally fell was
Mr. Sylvanus Todd, who, by reason of his leisurely habits, found plenty
of time, when not assisting his father in the cheese factory, to lounge
around the post-office and look up the street to see what the Hamilton
girls were doing.  Sylvanus always assisted Coonie most willingly; he
was a young man who was noted all over the township of Oro for his
obliging ways and his mannerly deportment.  Indeed, Mr. Todd posed as
an authority on all matters of etiquette.  He even went so far once as
to admonish Wee Andra on the errors of his pedestrianism.  "When you're
walkin' with a lady, Andra," Sylvanus had said kindly, "you'd ought to
let her walk up agin' the buildin's."  But so far from improving the
giant's manners this good advice only caused him to place his adviser
in a tank of cheese factory whey and to continue thereafter to walk as
seemed right in his own eyes.

Coonie did not care for Syl Todd; he had much of the simple
guilelessness of his parents and did not take teasing with any
pleasurable degree of asperity.  So the mail-carrier generally treated
him with silent contempt.  He swung himself from the buckboard and
hobbled painfully to the store veranda.

"Business seems pressin' with you, Mr. Todd," he remarked as he lit his
pipe.  "You're always in an awful rush."

Mr. Todd gave a doubtful grin.  "Well say, Coonie, this here's the
backwoodsest place I ever seen; us Americans can't stand it."

Sylvanus had spent six months in the United States, managing a gigantic
business firm, he had hinted, from which enterprise he had returned to
the parental roof, a sadder if not a wiser man, to take up the more
lucrative employment of making cheese.  He never quite outlived the
glory of his travels, however.

Coonie grunted.  "You should a' stayed over there an' been President.
They must be awful lonesome since you left.  Any noos?"

"Well, I should snicker if there wasn't!  The master's got into an
awful row!"

His listener sighed deeply.  What an opportunity this would have been
to set his version of the story going!

"What's eatin' him?" he asked with wonderful self-control.  "Neil kids
been lickin' him again?"

"Worse nor that; he's got into a row with Splinterin' Andra!"

"Gosh!"  Coonie's amazement would have deceived a much more astute
individual than Sylvanus Todd.  "What's that old wind-mill got himself
flappin' about now?"

"About gettin' the organ for the Presbyterian church.  Watson spoke to
Splinterin' Andra about it an' the old fellow gave him Hail Columbia,
as they say in the States."

Mr. Basketful was coming out with the mall-bag.

"It's true, every word of it, Coonie," he said, his wrath having
vanished.  "That's the way with them Presbyterians; they're that stiff
they can't 'elp 'avin' trouble."

Coonie scrambled into his buckboard, feeling doubly crippled in the
galling restriction that had been put upon his unruly member.  He drove
off without a word, not even stopping at Mrs. Fraser's gate at the top
of the hill.  Syl Todd sat upon the veranda of the store, watching
until his old buckboard sank behind the south hill, wondering if he
were ill.

Duncan had never before tried to exercise a restraining influence upon
Coonie's tongue, though as he watched his old buckboard straying down
into the valley, crossing and recrossing the road, to allow its owner
to joke and gossip with this one and that, the Watchman often thought
what a power for good Coonie might be in Glenoro if only his heart were
touched by the grace of God.  His first attempt at stemming the tide of
the mail-carrier's gossip met with wonderful success, however.  People
discovered that for some inexplicable reason, Coonie seemed to have no
interest whatever in Splinterin' Andra's behaviour over the proposal of
an organ, and with the chief stoker idle, the fire of gossip soon died
for want of fuel.  The young people postponed their project
indefinitely, and gradually the affair dropped out of the public
interest, making way for a much more important matter.



IV

THE SECOND JOHN McALPINE

Donald's first year at college passed uneventfully.  He returned the
next spring to his work on the farm, covered with honours, full of
tales of his studies or his freshman adventures, but never a word of
his final destiny, though Duncan Polite anxiously awaited it.  He was
in some trouble about Donald.  He had set up a high standard for his
boy and was pained and surprised when he failed to attain it.  If only
Mr. Cameron were living, he often reflected with a sigh, he would soon
set Donald's feet in the right path.  The lack of a pastor was a great
grief to Duncan Polite.  What would happen to his covenant if the flock
were left so long shepherdless?

And then into the midst of his doubts and fears, his anxiety for the
future and his regrets for the past, there came such a rich and
abounding blessing, such an abundant answer to all his prayers, that
for a season the Watchman was overwhelmed with contrite joy.  For,
after nearly a year of dissension, the congregations of Glenoro and the
Tenth concession of Oro at last made choice of a minister, a choice
which won the unanimous approval of both churches and suited everyone
from old Andrew Johnstone to the Hamilton girls.  He seemed to possess
every requisite to suit the varied tastes of the varied people of
Glenoro church.  The old folk overlooked his youth, and the Oa forgot
his lack of Gaelic in the light of his great achievement, for he
possessed one quality that made it possible for him to bind together in
peace and harmony the different factions of the church.  It was not
that he was very handsome, that he had a free, winning manner, it was
not that he had had a brilliant career at college or that his
professors prophesied a great future for him, it was not that he was an
eloquent preacher and was filled with zeal for his Master.  All these
were important; but they sank into insignificance before his cardinal
virtue, that which placed him immeasurably above all other probationers
and made Duncan Polite look upon him as the embodiment of all his
hopes, for was he not a grandson of Glenoro's hero, and himself John
McAlpine Egerton?

What more could Glenoro hope for on this earth?  What more could be
desired?  Mr. McAlpine come back to them!  It seemed too good to be
true.  He did not even need to preach for a call.  In fact, he had had
no intention of doing so, but Peter Farquhar and Donald Fraser had
heard him preach one Sabbath in Toronto when they went to the
Exhibition, and they brought home such a glowing report of this second
John McAlpine that at the close of his college term they all with one
consent invited him to come and be their pastor.  Even the Oa went for
him solidly; a Gaelic preacher seemed an impossible luxury in these
degenerate times, anyway, and, as Peter Farquhar said, "Mr. McAlpine's
grandson without the Gaelic was better than any other man with it."

There had not been such a congregation in the Glenoro church since the
days of the first John McAlpine as there was the Sabbath after the
young man's induction.  All the old people who had not come out to
church since Mr. Cameron's death were there.  Many of them remembered
their young pastor's grandfather, whose fiery zeal and burning
eloquence melted the hearts of those who had gone astray and shook to
the very foundations of their being the most hardened sinners,--and
here was his counterpart raised up to take his place!

As the young man stood up during the singing of the first psalm, many
aged eyes noted with loving eagerness certain resemblances in voice and
gesture to their hero.  His face was handsome and clear-cut and lit by
a pair of kindly, frank, blue eyes, a face which betokened a generous
and amiable disposition.  And the way he held up his fine head and
straightened his broad shoulders was so like the first John McAlpine
that many an old couple nudged each other with delight.

Miss Cotton had never seen the first McAlpine, but as she sat at the
end of the Hamilton pew she could not resist giving Maggie a nudge when
the handsome young man's eyes travelled in their direction, a nudge so
pregnant of meaning that Maggie giggled and transferred the same to
Sarah, whence it passed down the long row, setting ribbons and flowers
quivering, all to the extreme disapproval of Mrs. Fraser, who was not
too much occupied with the new minister to overlook any of the
misdemeanours of the Hamilton pew.

John Hamilton, himself, was in a state of dazed joy and quite oblivious
of his daughters.  Any sort of a minister was an object of reverent
delight to the pious old man, but this one was so much better than he
had ever dreamed, that he looked at him with something akin to awe.

Andrew Johnstone sat at the end of his pew as straight and forbidding
as ever, but the gleam of his eyes, from underneath his bristling
brows, showed that his spirit was rejoicing.

Back in the last row, the young men of the church sat regarding the new
minister with approval and some envy.  Syl Todd, who did not follow
after his parents' form of religion, but went now to the Presbyterian
Church and now to the Methodist, with impartial irregularity,
emphatically declared Mr. Egerton the most stylish looking fellow he
had seen since he left the States, and during the sermon silently
registered a vow that he would part his hair in the middle, too, just
as soon as he got home.

Peter McNabb's voice seemed charged with the universal rejoicing.  Not
since he had missed Mr. Cameron behind him had the precentor let his
notes roll out so tumultuously glorious as when he led the first psalm,

  "Oh come let us sing to the Lord,
  Come let us everyone
  A joyful noise make to the Rock
  Of our Salvation!"


But of all the happy hearts in that congregation, there was none like
Duncan Polite's.  He looked up at the young divine standing, like Saul,
head and shoulders above the people, and there came to his mind the
words spoken by the Lord to Samuel, "Behold the man whom I spoke to
thee of!"  This was the man of promise, the man of his dreams.

The very air of the church seemed electric as the young minister opened
the Bible and began his sermon.  The earnest for the future contained
in the text thrilled Duncan's soul, "For I am determined to know
nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified."  "Nothing but
Jesus Christ and him crucified!"  Duncan Polite repeated the words to
himself again and again.  Ah, what a transformation was coming over his
glen, what a glorious fulfilment of his covenant--"Nothing but Jesus
Christ!"

The discourse surpassed even their expectations.  It was a fine sermon,
sound enough in doctrine to suit the ruling elder and brilliant enough
in delivery to keep Syl Todd awake.  Indeed, Miss Cotton declared
afterwards that it was the cleverest sermon she ever listened to, for
she didn't understand more than half of it.

But Glenoro's literary attainments were not represented by Eliza
Cotton.  The bulk of the congregation carried the sermon to their homes
to discuss it until another one came, and Duncan and Andrew stood so
long at the former's gate, going carefully over it point by point, that
they forgot time and place and were almost late for Sabbath school.

After the service the congregation pressed about their new pastor,
welcoming him with hearty handshakes.  He went down the aisle in his
free, kindly manner, grasping the outstretched hands, and almost
overcome by the tearful greeting from the old people.  His own eyes
were moist when at last he was able to get away and out into the
street.  The people stood crowding the steps to watch him pass up the
hill accompanied by the precentor.  Mrs. McNabb had been a school
teacher in her younger days, and on account of this distinction the
McNabb household was the recognised stopping place for any genteel
visitor in the Glen.  Consequently, they had the honour of boarding the
minister, and, as he walked out of the gate and up the road, the McNabb
family moved reverently in his wake, resplendent in his reflected glory.

For the next two days after that happy Sabbath, Duncan Polite moved
about in a radiant dream.  He was waiting in childlike faith for the
blessings which were to descend.  His whole thought was turned upon
Donald.  Here was the man to influence him and bring him to a sense of
the great work awaiting his efforts.  He was sitting at his door one
evening a few days after the new minister's advent, looking down into
his glen.  His hopes for the valley had never been so high.  The little
ravine lay in purple shadow, but on the crest of the opposite hill he
saw one tall pine standing up erect and grand and all ablaze where it
caught the last gleam of the dying sun, a pine tree with golden needles
like the one in the fairy tale.  Duncan's heart, always in keen
sympathy with Nature, thrilled at the sight.  It seemed to him the
bright promise of a new and greater day.  He turned and saw Donald
coming up the path.

"Oh, and will you be going to the Glen?" he asked, making room for the
young man on the doorstep beside him.

"Yes, but I can't sit down, Uncle.  Anything to look after?"

"Oh, no, it will be good of you to be always remembering the old man;
no, but--will you be seeing the minister, I wonder?"

"Yes, sure, I'm going to the Hamiltons'"--Donald essayed to make this
remark in a casual tone, as though this were not his almost daily
habit--"I'm going to the Hamiltons' and Archie said Mr. Egerton was to
be there to-night.  They asked him down to meet some of the young
folks."

Duncan's face beamed.  "Oh, indeed, and that would be a fine thing!" he
cried enthusiastically.  He did not detain his nephew longer, for once
he was anxious to see the boy off for the village.  Formerly, he had
suffered much anxiety because Donald and Sandy spent their evenings
hanging around the corner with a crowd of idlers, or at the Hamiltons',
where there was nothing but frivolity and gaiety, but now all this was
changed, for had not Mr. McAlpine returned to them?  And was not the
Glen a place of blessing to any young person who entered it?

A few minutes after Donald had reached his destination, the young
minister passed out of Peter McNabb's gate on the slope of the north
hill and in company with the boys and girls of his boarding place, went
away down towards the Hamiltons'.  He walked along buoyantly, filled
with admiration of the lovely little valley stretched at his feet.
Although the dusk was gathering, his movements were noted and commented
upon by everyone within seeing distance.  The cane he carried came in
for special notice, opinion upon it varying from Syl Todd, who was
hurrying, oiled and perfumed, towards the Hamiltons' from the opposite
direction and who was overcome with envious admiration, to Mrs. Fraser,
who, from the post-office veranda, noted the implement of fashion with
some misgiving.  Of course, it was all right for a minister to carry
one if he chose.  He was too far above the rest of the community to be
judged by ordinary standards; but there was no denying that a slim cane
savoured of "pride," and might prove a stumbling-block to Donald Neil
and wee Andra and such wayward youths as were easily led astray.

Meanwhile, the object of all this interest had arrived at the gate
between the big oaks.  The house was a blaze of light, notwithstanding
the early hour.  Bars of pink lamp-light stretched out across the dusky
lawn and into the dark corners of the orchard.  Someone was playing a
lively jig on the organ.  There was a mingled sound of talking,
laughter, screams and hurrying feet, and all the usual evening hubbub
of this lively place.

The Hamilton family consisted of seven girls who were allowed more
clothes and liberty than was considered quite respectable in Glenoro
society.  The Hamilton parents were not usually reckoned in speaking of
the household and were at best only accessory.  Old John Hamilton lived
in a state of good-natured bewilderment when in the bosom of his lively
family.  He spent the day at his flour mill down the river road and in
the evenings read his Bible and his weekly paper undisturbed and happy
amid all the rush and din.  His wife was a bright little woman who,
having had a hard time in her own youth, felt there was some
compensation in allowing the girls to "have their fling," as she termed
it, until they "settled down."

As the minister approached, Mrs. Hamilton was standing at the gate
waiting to welcome him, Miss Cotton beside her.  Being the village
dressmaker, Miss Cotton had the open sesame to every home in the
neighbourhood and held its occupants at the mercy of her sharp tongue
and needle.  To-night she chose to bestow her company upon the
Hamiltons, determined to lose nothing of the excitement consequent upon
the new minister's introduction to society.

The big sitting-room, to which Mrs. Hamilton led her guest, was full of
young folks, the Frasers, the Duffys, the Baskervilles, the Balfs and a
crowd of McDonalds; college students, farmers and mill-hands, for
Glenoro knew no social lines.

But amid all the crowd, the stranger's eye picked out a girl at the
other end of the room.  She was seated on the organ-stool playing, and
turned at the sudden silence announcing the minister's entrance.  She
was dressed in a transparent white gown with a blue ribbon wound round
her slender throat; the lamp on the organ above shed a soft glow upon a
dainty head of clustering brown curls and a face of exquisite shape and
feature.

The newcomer took this all in with a glance, experiencing a sensation
of decided pleasure, but his attention was called by his hostess, who
proceeded to introduce him to the assembly.  The laughing, chattering
groups broke up and all stood back against the wall, stiff and silent,
while Mrs. Hamilton triumphantly piloted her guest down the long rows.
He shook hands cordially with all and gave a pleasant word of
recognition to the few he had met before.  The young men received him
with a hasty and somewhat limp handshake and an awkward "how d'ye do;"
the young women were more graceful, but quite as diffident, and all
were painfully respectful.  But there was one young man who displayed
neither awkwardness nor shyness.  He stood leaning easily against the
organ, but straightened himself as the minister approached and was thus
between him and the girl at the instrument.

"This is another Mr. McDonald," Mrs. Hamilton was saying for the fifth
time, adding the usual vague explanation, "Mr. Neil More, Donald Neil
More, you know, Mr. Egerton."

Mr. Egerton did not know, but he could not help feeling that this young
man was quite capable of distinguishing himself, even though he bore an
ambiguous name.  He was tall enough to let his eyes look down just a
trifle as he shook hands, but perhaps that was because of the way he
held his head.  He was friendly and kind; but the young minister,
accustomed to the adulation of rural friends, somehow missed the look
of deference from his fearless dark eyes and instinctively experienced
a slight feeling of constraint.

But the next introduction was an unmixed pleasure, when a pair of sweet
grey eyes were raised for an instant to his face and Mrs. Hamilton
said, unable to keep a tremor of pride from her voice, "And this is our
Jessie, Mr. Egerton."

He was sorry that she did not speak, but she gave him her hand with an
alluring shyness, and then he understood why the Hamiltons' was such a
centre of attraction.

The introductions were finished at last and the visitor found himself
anchored rather insecurely to a slippery haircloth sofa and seated
beside a small, youngish woman with a very haughty air, who, he
learned, was the schoolmaster's wife.

The buzz of talk had commenced again, though much subdued, and he was
at liberty to examine the company.  They were four grown-up Hamilton
girls, he noticed, and three little ones.  With the exception of the
beauty on the organ-stool, the young ladies were rather puzzling to a
stranger.  They were all tall and fair and pretty, but the minister's
quick eye soon noted distinguishing characteristics.  Bella, the eldest
and the one to whom the young Johnstone giant was paying such obvious
attentions, was the tallest and fairest.  Sarah, the one with the
affected air of discontent, was the third in the quartette.  He also
discovered afterwards that she was the cleverest and quite aware of the
fact, and the noisy rattle-brain who was up to some mischief in a
corner and to whom Mrs. Hamilton was making gesticulatory appeals, was
Maggie, the fourth girl.

But he was compelled to give his attention to his immediate neighbours;
with Mrs. Watson on one side and Miss Cotton on the other, he was soon
possessed of an exhaustive history of everyone present.  Sarah Hamilton
went to the High School and was dreadful stuck up about it; Allan
Fraser, the pale young man talking to her, was studying medicine, and
young Donald Neil was going to be a minister.  Both ladies agreed,
however, that Mr. Egerton would consider Donald's conduct anything but
clerical, though he was good to his mother, poor woman--a bad time she
had with those noisy rascals----

The steady flow of information was interrupted by the appearance of Mr.
Hamilton.  He had been struggling with his coat and a clean collar ever
since the minister's arrival, and now came stumbling hurriedly into the
room.

"Eh, eh, good evening, Mr. Egerton," he cried heartily, "good evening,
sir, Ah'm jist that glad to see ye in the hoose, came awa into the
other room, come awa, man, an' we'll have a quiet word."

"Now, pa," protested Mrs. Hamilton, who had been hovering round her
guest, "don't take Mr. Egerton away out there!"

"Tuts, mother, Ah'll bring him back to the lassies, never fear!" he
cried, with ingenuous indiscretion.  "Come awa, sir!"

The young man followed his host across the hall and into the dining
room.  It was a big, rag-carpeted room; a large easy chair was set
beside the long table and a number of newspapers were strewn about.
The evening breeze blew in cool and sweet, setting the stiff, white
curtains swaying and bringing the refreshing scent of the river.

"No, jist ye set doon here, Mr. Egerton," said his host heartily, "an'
mind, as long's ye're in Glenoro, ye canna come too often!  The lassies
cut up a bit dust in the room yonder, but there's always a quiet corner
here, an' me an' Mr. Watson here,--tuts, tuts, Ah was forgettin'--this
is Maister Watson, our schoolmaster, aye, aye!"

A small, slim, young man, with a dark, thin face and bristling hair
jumped briskly from the depths of an easy chair and grasped Mr.
Egerton's hand.

"Pleased to meet you, sir, pleased to meet you, I'm sure," he cried
effusively.  "I've been most anxious to meet you, especially since
Sunday, sir.  That sermon was the best I've ever heard in Ontario, sir;
yes, sir, the very best, patriotism, patriotism, from beginning to end!
That's the thing!  That's what the country needs, sir!"

He pumped his auditor's hand up and down vigorously while he spoke,
then, at the end, flung it from him, stepped back a pace and, striking
an attitude, stood gazing up admiringly at the young minister.

John Egerton was decidedly surprised and a trifle disconcerted.  He had
not considered his sermon at all patriotic, though he did remember a
slight allusion to the greatness of the heritage of Canadians, but he
was a cordial young man and had come to Glenoro prepared to meet all
sorts of people.  Besides, he was still very young and had not yet got
over feeling a thrill of pleasure when his sermon was praised.

"I am glad you liked it," he said smilingly, as he seated himself.  "So
you think we need more patriotism?"

"Patriotism!  Well I should think so!  It's the crying need of this
country, sir!  I'm glad I've got some one to sympathise with me at
last.  Do you know, Mr. Egerton," he drew up his chair closer and
lowered his voice confidentially, "you'll find this an awfully backward
place in that respect.  If all rural Canadian places are as bad, I
don't know what's to become of this country, sir!  Why, the absence of
any public spirit is simply appalling!  Why, Mr. Hamilton here can tell
you that when Mrs. Watson and I came here two years ago there wasn't a
flag in Glenoro, sir!"

Mr. Hamilton acquiesced apologetically; he opened his mouth as if to
speak, looked ashamed, and said nothing.

"Yes, sir," the schoolmaster was rattling along, "Mrs. Watson and I
were in the States for a number of years and I can tell you there's
where they know how to do things.  Great country that, I tell you, sir,
isn't it?  Well, they know how to be patriotic there, I can tell you;
flags waving, bands playing and crowds cheering.  It's inspiring!  But
we could make something even of Canada if her people only had a little
more go.  What do you think about our organising a patriotic society
here, sir?"

John Egerton sat back in his chair, and together the two young men
settled the destiny of Canada and her provinces, as well as of Britain
and her colonies, while their host sat in rapt attention.  He told
Peter McNabb at the blacksmith shop the next day that it was, without
doubt, the most edifying talk to which he had ever listened.  It was
interrupted by a summons to the sitting room to join in the singing.
Wee Andra, who was the leader in musical circles and who had as his
equipment for the position a bass voice in proportion to his size, was
marshalling his forces around the instrument.  They made room for the
minister in the best position.  He found it very pleasant to stand and
look over Jessie's bright curls as he sang.  They rendered a number of
gospel hymns and a new anthem which they were preparing for the
Methodist service next Sabbath evening, the four parts going very
harmoniously.  Those young Presbyterians who had a vague fear of their
minister discovering that they sang in the Methodist choir, were both
relieved and pleased when he cried out, at the end of the anthem, "Why,
that's grand!  I think I shall turn Methodist myself!"  And the
Methodists present laughed delightedly.

Then Sandy Neil, who was an imp of mischief, produced the college song
book which Allan Fraser had introduced into Glenoro the summer before.
The girls were shocked at the thought of showing such a frivolous thing
to the minister, and Bella Hamilton tried to conceal it behind the
sofa; but, to the astonishment of all, he exclaimed as he caught sight
of it, "The College Song Book!  Why, here's an old friend!  I've sung
everything in that book till I've cracked my voice more times than I
can tell.  Come along, boys, let's have 'The Three Crows!'"

The boys let him have them with a rare good will, till the house rang.
Sandy Neil got up on the back of the sofa, where the minister could not
see him, and flapped his arms and cawed and altogether imitated the
antics of a crow to such perfection that the girls around him were
ready to die of smothered laughter.  They sang all the old favourites,
and when they came to one they did not know, the minister sang it
alone.  He had a fine deep musical voice, and when he rendered the
history of "The Walloping Window Blind," he was rewarded with a hearty
and unanimous round of applause.

Wee Andra quite fell in love with him, his diffidence entirely
disappearing under the other's frank manner.

"My, I wish you'd get a choir in our church, Mr. Egerton!" he exclaimed
in a burst of confidence when they had rendered another anthem with the
minister's aid.  But John Egerton was too astute to respond to this,
otherwise than by a smile.  He had learned something already of
Glenoro's divided opinions and knew better than to take either side.
But he sat down beside the choir leader and they talked about music and
the newest anthems and the conducting of choral societies until Wee
Andra was completely charmed.

They were interrupted by a commotion at the other end of the room; a
group of young people were trying to learn a new game, and Mr. Sylvanus
Todd was initiating them into its mysteries.  But partly from a
defective memory, and partly from terror of Maggie Hamilton's sharp and
reviling tongue, he was getting woefully puzzled.  The minister sprang
up and came to his assistance.  He knew the game well, explained it
with a few bright, quick words and soon had the whole room joining.  He
was so free and unaffected, so absolutely one of themselves, that he
won all hearts.  Very soon all the restraint of his presence had melted
away.  They joined in the games with even more than their usual vim.
The room rang with merriment.  They played "Kitchen Furniture" and
"Handkerchief"--yes, and even "Old Dan Tucker."  This latter was
suggested by Sandy Neil, of course, to the horror of the staider ones,
for "Dan Tucker" perilously resembled dancing and was proscribed in
most houses.  Indeed, even at the Hamiltons' it was indulged in only
behind closed doors and when Mrs. Hamilton was at a safe distance.  But
the minister was ready for anything; he went into the jolly circling
ring of boys and girls as "Dan Tucker" himself, and when the time for
changing partners came, he caught Jessie Hamilton's hand just as Donald
Neil was reaching for it and swung her into the centre, her eyes
dancing, her curls flying.

There was never quite such a grand time before, even at the Hamiltons';
the noise increased, the laughter grew wilder and the dust flew out of
the carpet.

They ended up with an uproarious game of "Blind Man's Buff," in which
Julia Duffy, a big muscular Irish girl, caught Mr. Egerton round the
neck in a strangling grasp, and when she discovered whom she was
embracing, she shrieked in horrified dismay, "Murderin' blazes!  If it
ain't the preacher!"

The crowd went off into roars of laughter, none joining so heartily as
the minister himself, who was compelled to lean against the wall for
support, and wipe the tears from his eyes.

"Shades of Mr. McAlpine!" said Donald Neil to his chum, as he found
himself driven into a corner, "he's up-to-date and no mistake!"

"The Oa'll rear up on its hind legs when it hears," whispered Wee Andra
with a broad grin.  "There's no flies on him, though, I can tell you.
I do like to see a minister actin' like a human being!"

Donald made no reply.  He had been brought up under Duncan Polite's
influence and was not quite prepared to agree with his friend.

Supper was announced at this moment.  Jessie and Bella had slipped away
some time before to assist in its preparation, for as soon as the
minister had left the dining room Mrs. Hamilton had proceeded to bring
up all her culinary triumphs of the morning and spread them out in
magnificent array.  Eliza Cotton, who assisted the girls to lay the
table, gave up exclaiming at last, and resolved she would make Mrs.
Fraser just green with envy telling her about it.  For, of course, if
one didn't do one's best at a visit from the minister, what possible
combination of circumstances could call it forth?

The young man for whom the feast had been prepared was properly amazed
as he took his seat at the long table, crowded with glass and gaily
decorated with china and huge bouquets of tulips, and loaded with cakes
and pies and tarts and jellies and cold meats and great heaps of snowy
bread and great cups of creamy tea.

The schoolmaster sat next him and gave him his ideas upon the
practicability of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Mrs. Hamilton on
the other side heaped his plate at short intervals, without stopping to
ask permission.  There was a great deal of noise and laughter at the
other end of the table, for Maggie and Wee Andra and Sandy Neil were
there.  The guest did not fail to notice that Jessie was quieter than
her sisters; her big eyes had a thoughtful expression.  He caught
himself wondering, more than once, what sort of girl she was; surely a
person with a face like that could not be anything but perfect.

Mr. Hamilton sat at the head of the table, beaming good-nature all
round, though he said very little except "Aye, oh aye," in a reflective
tone.  But, during a lull in the lively conversation at the other end
of the table, he leaned over towards the minister with a question, "An'
what are ye, Mr. Egerton?  Of course, we all ken ye're part Highland
Scotch, but not all, Ah hope."

The whole tableful was silent now and every eye was turned towards the
young man addressed.  The question was one of great importance.  John
Egerton laughed.  "Oh, don't be alarmed," he said gaily, "I have plenty
of Lowland blood, too, Mr. Hamilton; the Highland Scotch is only the
McAlpine side.  The Egertons are English, though."

Mr. Hamilton looked doubtful.  "Oh aye," he said.  "They never taught
you the Gaelic, though.  Man, the Oa folk would a' been pleased if ye
could speak it."

The young man raised his eyebrows with a comical affectation of despair.

"Don't I wish I could!" he exclaimed.  "But I'm not so ignorant as they
think.  I know more than ten words of Gaelic.  You fellows from the Oa
remember to tell that!"

There was a hearty laugh round the table.  "By Jove, I will tell it,"
said Donald Neil, when the conversation had become general again, "I'll
tell Catchach!"

"Tell him what?" inquired Wee Andra.

"That the minister speaks Gaelic."

A shriek of laughter from those who heard greeted this announcement,
and Wee Andra thumped his chum upon the back in the exuberance of his
delight.

"Great head, Don!" he roared.  "Catchach'll swallow him with joy before
he has time to deny it."

"Don Neil," cried Jessie, "you surely wouldn't play a trick on a
minister!"

"It would be fearful wicked," put in Sandy piously.

"He'll never know," laughed Donald.  "We'll let Catchach foam a while
and then bring him down to earth before he does any damage."

"Well, a minister should be considered above such things," said Sarah
loftily.

"Not this minister," said Don with conviction, "he's able to take care
of himself.  Eh, Andra?"

"You bet.  There's nothin' o' the old hearse about him.  He's jist like
the rest of us.  It'll be a howlin' circus--" and he chuckled
prodigiously.

"If you boys are up to any mischief about the minister," warned Bella,
"I'll tell your father.  Andra--Hish!"

For the minister had arisen and was returning thanks for the food of
which they had partaken.  The noise was hushed and every head instantly
lowered.

The company broke up with the unanimous verdict that they had had a
grand time and that the new minister was beyond praise.  The young man
walked up the hill with Flora McNabb in an equal state of satisfaction.
He had the pleasant assurance that his young flock liked him and he
felt sure he was going to be very happy in Glenoro.  He wondered
laughingly what his fastidious Helen would say could she have seen him
playing "Blind Man's Buff" with Miss Duffy.  He wrote her a very
laughable account of the affair before he retired, and went to bed to
dream that he and she lived in the little manse by the bend in the
river.

So the evening which Duncan Polite had prayed over so fervently came to
an end and, as the young shepherd of the flock slept peacefully in his
comfortable home in the valley, well pleased with himself and the
world, the old Watchman lay awake in his little shanty on the hilltop,
hoping and praying that the young servant of the Master had dropped
some words that would lead Donald and the young people of the Glen into
a higher and nobler life.



V

A PASTORAL VISITATION

No sooner was he settled in Glenoro than the young pastor commenced a
thorough and systematic course of visiting.  He found it very slow
work, however, in spite of his activity.  Each family of his flock vied
with the other in lavishing upon him its hospitality.  He was detained
for nearly a day at each place, and dinners, teas and lunches, so many
and so elaborate, were forced upon him that he was divided between the
fear of giving offence by refusing to partake and the dread of becoming
a chronic dyspeptic.

His earliest visits, he felt, should be paid to the homes of his
elders, so, a few days after the lively evening spent at the
Hamiltons', he took his slim cane and went up over the northern wall of
Glenoro to pay his respects to old Andrew Johnstone.  A somewhat
difficult task he knew it would be, for he had already been warned by
Mrs. McNabb that Splinterin' Andra was a dour old man.  But he felt no
apprehensions; his sunny smile and his charming manner had often swept
away greater obstacles than this old fellow's crustiness.  So he strode
along in high spirits, flicking the tops off the wayside weeds,
whistling a gay operatic air and incidentally wondering whether her
eyes were blue or grey.

When he climbed the northern hill of Glenoro and came out upon the
broad, sun-flooded highlands, he found that the country sloped gently
upwards, rising in great sweeping terraces of green pastureland and
fields of early grain, until it reached its highest altitude on the
shores of Lake Oro.  Andrew Johnstone lived on the borderland between
the highlands and the lowlands; his house, a substantial red brick,
surrounded by orchards, stood on the edge of one of the wide terraces
and commanded a view of the country for miles around.  Every step of
the way was a pleasure to the newcomer; the sky was dazzling and
unclouded, the air was intoxicating with the scent of clover, and the
tinkling music of the bobolinks sounded as though all the fairies on
the Oro hills were setting out their tiny cups and saucers for a
banquet.

He was strolling along, revelling in the beauty of the perfect day and
in the sight of the rich slopes of farm lands coming down towards him
like a magnificent staircase, when his attention was attracted by a
figure on the road ahead approaching with remarkable haste.  It proved
to be a man, somewhat past middle age; he was of medium height and had
a fiery red beard which flew back from his face and accentuated the
general air of desperate hurry in his whole appearance.

His face was even redder than his beard, and his wild blue eyes blazed
out in fierce contrast.  An old Scotch bonnet sat upon the side of his
head and a faded tartan plaid flying from his shoulders gave the
finishing touches to his fantastic appearance.  This rather alarming
person was bearing down upon the young minister and he drew off to the
side of the road and grasped his stick more firmly.  John Egerton did
not lack courage any more than his grandfather had done, but he felt it
would be scarcely ministerial to have a fight on the public highway the
first week of his pastorate.  He had not been long enough in Glenoro to
recognise the fiery Highlander who kept the Oa in a ferment and who
went by the weird name of Catchach.  Allister McBeth he really was,
but, with their usual avoidance of baptismal names, the neighbours had
given him a more descriptive title.  He had earned it himself, for he
was named after the strange guttural sound which he was in the habit of
making deep in his throat, whenever his anger was roused.  This was a
contingency which arose on an average once an hour and which, when in
the company of any mischief-loving youth of the village, became
Catchach's chronic state.

His pride was so fierce, and his temper so inflammable, that he was an
unfailing source of merriment, especially to the Neil boys and their
friends.  There was not a kinder or tenderer heart in all the Ontario
Highlands than poor Catchach's, but he was always in the throes of a
feud with someone, for he loved a fight and might be said never to be
at peace except when he was at war.

It was this militant gentleman who was descending upon the unsuspecting
young clergyman, setting the stones and dust flying in his haste.  But
there was no sign of war about him now, only a beaming peace and
goodwill.  His eyes were shining, his mouth was expanded in a terrible
smile, displaying two rows of long, irregular, yellow teeth and his big
red hands were outstretched in greeting.  He shouted when he was some
half-dozen yards distant, "They tell me you will pe hafing the Gaelic!"

"I--I am not quite sure that I understand you," said the grandson of
John McAlpine, coming to a standstill and wishing with all his heart
that his cane was not so slim.

"My name will pe McBess, Allister McBess!" cried the rubicund
personage, grasping a rather unwilling hand and shaking it wildly,
"Allister McBess, oh yes, inteet, an' they will pe telling me you will
pe a real Hielanman, though how coult a Hielanman pe hafing such a name
as Egerton, it is a missery to me, whatefer!"

There was no mistaking the good feeling in Catchach's beaming
countenance.  John Egerton smiled and shook his hand in return.  "I am
afraid there is a slight mistake," he answered cordially, "I can't
boast of being altogether Highland Scotch, and who has been telling you
I could speak Gaelic?"  He pronounced it Galic and a change came over
Catchach's face.

"Tonal Neil, Tonal Neil, whatefer; he will pe saying the new minister
will pe Hielan' an' will pe hafing the beautiful Gaelic!"

The look of good-natured indulgence died from John Egerton's face at
the mention of Donald's name.  The young man with the easy air of
equality had been taking liberties!  "I am sorry to disappoint you, Mr.
McBess," he said stiffly, making the fatal error of failing to detect
McBeth in Catchach's lisp, "I am neither Highland Scotch nor can I
speak the Gaelic."

Catchach let go his coat; a quiver of mortal disappointment passed over
his face.

"And whoever has told you such falsehoods," continued the young man
with some heat, "is an untruthful mischiefmaker!"

Catchach's fiery countenance became rigid.  He stepped back and stared
so wildly at the minister that the young man hastened to add for his
own personal safety, "But I have much Highland blood, you know, and
plenty of Lowland Scotch, too."

Alas! how little he knew of the spirit of the McBeth!  "A Lowlander!"
It was all Catchach could utter, but the tone in which he said it
showed plainly that if Mr. Egerton had confessed to being a full-blood
native of the South Sea Islands it would have been infinitely better.
"A Lowlander!" repeated the Highlander with withering scorn, "Tonal
Neil, Tonal Neil will pe saying she would haf the Gaelic----"  The rest
was lost to the ears of the despised Lowlander in a wild outpouring of
Gaelic as Catchach turned and went raging down the road to wreak
vengeance on the author of his disappointment.

The young minister continued on his way in great annoyance.  Under any
other circumstances the humour of the situation would have appealed to
him, but the name of Donald Neil had driven away all the fun.  In spite
of his free and easy manner, John Egerton was intensely sensitive about
his dignity as a minister, and to find himself the victim of a
practical joke at the hands of the most influential young man of his
congregation was anything but pleasant.

Had he seen the huge figure of young Andrew Johnstone disentangle
itself from the raspberry bushes by the roadside and steal quietly
along the edge of the field to where his idle team was standing, he
would have been still more incensed; and had he chanced to look back
when he reached the hilltop and noticed the same young man leaning
weakly against his horses and wiping the tears from his eyes, he would
have felt like administering a sound thrashing to at least two of the
young people of his congregation.

He arrived at the Johnstone household at a time when he was
particularly welcome to his host.  Old Andrew had spent the early part
of the afternoon arguing with his son upon certain hard points of
doctrine.  That a youth of Wee Andra's professions should presume to
give any sort of an opinion whatever upon the Shorter Catechism was, in
his father's eyes, nothing short of impious.  But, as the young man was
of that class that rush in where angels fear to tread, he had given his
views on predestination without any hesitancy and had gone off to the
field leaving his father in a very bad humour.  Wee Andra himself was
particularly happy, for he took an unfilial delight in troubling his
paternal relative.  At heart he was respectful and dutiful and if any
one had dared to breathe a word against his father in his presence,
Splinterin' Andra's son would soon have shown himself worthy of his
sire's appellation; nevertheless, partly from love of fun and partly
through a good-natured stupidity, he proved a veritable thorn in the
flesh to his unhappy father.  So old Andrew was looking forward to the
visit of his pastor with the hope that his example and admonition would
have a steadying effect upon his frivolous son.  Like Duncan Polite,
the elder looked upon the young minister as the deliverer of the people
of Glenoro church from the spirit of worldliness which he felt
characterised them.  So, when his daughter came to summon him to the
house to put on a coat and collar, as the minister had been sighted on
the road not half a mile away, he hurried in with great alacrity to
greet his visitor.

Tea at Elder Johnstone's was no light ceremony under any circumstances.
His was not a place where people went for relaxation and jollity,
except on the rare occasions when the old folks were away and Wee Andra
held sway.  The young minister, anxious to please and be friendly, felt
from the moment he opened the gate and went up the path, where neat
beds of onions and cabbages encroached upon the very doorstep, that it
was going to be something of an ordeal.

His opinion did not alter when he found himself seated at the
well-laden table in the big spotless dining room.  He could not help
contrasting the stiff formality with the ease and gaiety of the
Hamilton household.  Old Andrew sat, stern and dignified, at the head
of the table.  Ordinarily he was talkative, but on this evening he
restrained himself, for a gentleman of the old school did not consider
it good manners to talk too much in the presence of so superior a
person as the minister.  At the other end of the table Mrs. Johnstone,
red-faced and anxious, bustled nervously with the new china cups and
saucers.  Beside the minister sat Janet, the only daughter, a fair, shy
girl of sixteen, afraid to look up, and the son of the house sat
opposite in his shirtsleeves responding to Mr. Egerton's friendly
advances with monosyllabic answers, a puzzling contrast to his
uproarious geniality at their former meetings.  Of course, John Egerton
could not guess that the young man was holding down his laughter by
superhuman efforts and could not afford to waste any strength upon
conversation.

There was a very depressing atmosphere over the whole table, but the
visitor had plenty of tact to overcome it.  He put Mrs. Johnstone at
her ease by a cautiously worded compliment upon the repast, for he had
learned that a true Scotch woman must ever be approached warily with
flattery.  He set Janet into a flutter of happiness by relating to her
a humourous account of some of his sister's attempts at housekeeping,
an art in which Janet was well versed, and he soon had her laughing at
the city girl's mistakes with quite a feeling of superiority.  Wee
Andra was more difficult,--horses, foot-ball, farm work, music, he rose
to none of these baits.  But he came to life in a most surprising
manner when, in dilating upon the beauties of Glenoro scenery, the
minister happened to mention the enjoyment he had experienced in his
afternoon walk up the green slopes.

This seemed to be the one topic in which the son of the house was
interested.  He looked up suddenly and remarked, "Awful quiet road;
s'pose you didn't meet anybody?"

"Yes, I did meet a man," responded the other readily, glad at having
made an impression at last, "a man named McBess or some such name."

"McBeth it would be," said old Andrew, "Allister McBeth,--Catchach they
call him.  He's a danderin' bit o' a firebrand."

"Were you speakin' to him?"  Wee Andra shot out the question and took
refuge in a huge gulp of tea.  John Egerton glanced across the table
quickly.  He was beginning to suspect that Donald Neil's chum had had a
hand in this childish affair, but he was too wise to show any annoyance.

"I didn't get a chance to say much to him," he said, laughing good
naturedly; "he did the talking.  He seemed to have become possessed of
the idea that I was past-master of the art of Gaelic, and when I
confessed my culpable ignorance of the language, he flew into a rage.
He seemed to lay the blame upon your friend, young McDonald."  He
looked steadily at Wee Andra as he spoke.

Old Andrew shot a suspicious glance at his son; that young man's face
was an innocent blank which did not deceive his parent.

"Aye," he grunted, "it's quite likely he was to blame.  Yon Neil lads
are aye up to some ill.  Ye hae a hard set o' young people to deal wi'
in this place, Maister Egerton, an' Ah houp the Lord'll gie ye grace to
wrastle wi' them!"

Mr. Egerton looked uncomfortable.  He saw quite plainly that, though
the Elder was addressing him, he was talking at his son, and tried to
turn the conversation.  But old Andrew felt that here was an
opportunity to warn the new minister of the difficulties and dangers
which beset him, an opportunity no honourable man could let pass, so he
launched forth.  He was perfectly innocent of any double meaning in his
words, but as he railed away against the lightness and giddiness of the
rising generation, the young minister felt his indignation rising.  Did
this old man mean to point out to him the proper line of conduct?  If
so, he would soon let him see that John McAlpine Egerton would be
dictated to by no man of his congregation, no more than would his
grandfather before him!  But Splinterin' Andra sailed on and when he
had finished he had given the young pastor a dark and most discouraging
picture of the youth of his flock.

"Aye, sir," he concluded, "they're jist given over to lichtness an'
foolish talkin'.  It's the blue beech gad they want; they didna get
enough o't when they were bairns.  Ah'm pleased that ye're come among
them to show them a proper way o' conductin' themsels!"

Wee Andra cast a humorous glance at the uncomfortable visitor.  He had
his own opinion as to whether his pastor was a model of staid and sober
conduct and was, in consequence, enjoying his father's tirade hugely.

John Egerton was very much relieved when the meal was ended, but the
feeling was of short duration, for when they repaired to the parlour
matters grew steadily worse.  The appearance of the room with its black
haircloth furniture, its bristling white lace curtains, its
coffin-plate of a former Mrs. Johnstone in a black frame on the centre
table, its smooth white walls adorned with strange and wonderfully
constructed hair and feather wreaths in huge frames, and over all the
close, damp odour, made a combination which was anything but cheerful.

The family followed him into the parlour and seated themselves stiffly
around the walls.  Kirsty McDuff, the servant girl, and Jimmie Bailey,
the chore boy, entered also a few minutes later.  The young minister
noticed, with something of the sensations of a felon going to his
execution, that each person held a Bible and Psalm Book, distributed
solemnly by Mrs. Johnstone as they entered, and that Janet and the
Bailey boy were further provided with catechisms.  He glanced at the
daughter of the house and pictured himself sitting before the whole
household inquiring after her spiritual welfare.  The comical side of
it struck him and almost upset his gravity.

But there was very little food for mirth in the task before him.  He
had no idea of what a pastoral visitation meant to the Johnstones.  Of
course, he had heard very often of the strange old ways of his
grandfather's time, but considered them as belonging to the dim past.
But Glenoro had not quite emerged from the ancient ways.  In the good
old days, so lately gone, when Mr. Cameron had visited the members of
his congregation, a pastoral visitation was not merely a social
function, but a solemn religious ceremony.  The minister might discuss
with the heads of the family such light matters as the crops or the
weather before or during tea; but afterwards, when the family gathered
in the best room with their pastor in the midst, temporal affairs were
put aside and there was a season of deep heart-searching.  There were
the Catechism and Scripture verses to be heard from the younger members
of the family and personal questions to be asked.  The minister must
know just what progress each one was making on the upward road.  There
were virtues to commend and mistakes to rebuke.  Then, after the
reading of a chapter from the Book and the singing of a psalm, there
were a few deep, earnest words from the pastor, words which steadied
many a careless youth and instilled into the hearts of the children the
knowledge that God and Right are the only factors to be reckoned with
in this world.  The ceremony was concluded with a long and fervent
prayer by the minister, as old and young knelt around the family altar,
a prayer which included a distinct comprehensive petition for each
member of the family and one from which they all arose strengthened and
bettered and ready for the battle against wrong.

Still more solemn had been the visitations of John Egerton's
grandfather.  That grand old apostle lived in the hard, rough days, and
his coming was often looked forward to with dread.  His scorching
rebuke of sin, his powerful personality and his complete consecration
combined to make his visits a sort of foreshadowing of the great
judgment day.

But John McAlpine Egerton belonged to a different era.  He honestly
wanted to do his duty, but his duty on this occasion, he felt,
consisted in making himself agreeable to the Johnstone family, not
knowing that the head of the household cared not a whit how
disagreeable his pastor might be so long as he was solemn.  The old
man, ashamed of his harsh remarks, was silent and moody.  His young
pastor's interests were his own and he had spoken from the highest
motives.  But he sighed when he thought how much better Duncan Polite
would have dealt with the situation.  Wee Andra was the only one who
was quite at his ease; he seemed to realise that this pastoral
visitation was something less rigid than former affairs of the sort,
and chewed a straw with unconscious impudence.  Mrs. Johnstone talked a
little, but nervously and in an absent-minded manner, fearing that
every word she uttered was keeping the minister from giving voice to
the solemn truths he was waiting to pour forth.  Janet sat on the
extreme edge of the sofa, her hands folded, her golden head drooping
and the unhappy young pastor sat at the other end and made desperate
efforts to raise the social atmosphere.

He spoke kindly to Kirsty, a tall, fine-looking girl, very much more
composed than the daughter of the house; and he asked Jimmie Bailey
about the calves and the lambs, wondering all the while at the
oppressive silence.  Then he turned to Janet and tried to open up a
conversation with her.  He had noticed that the stern visage of the
ruling elder relaxed almost into tenderness whenever his eye fell upon
his daughter and the wily young man guessed that he might reach the
father's heart through her.  He inquired if Janet played the organ,
and, learning that she did, he requested her to favour them with some
music.

"Go on, Jinny," said her brother with suspicious heartiness, "give us a
rousin' old jig."

Janet glanced at her mother in alarm.  To play the organ when the
minister was making a pastoral call was surely not to be thought of.
But her mother nodded, as Mr. Egerton insisted, and the girl went
reluctantly forward, feeling as if she were guilty of sacrilege.  She
stumbled awkwardly through a loud, noisy march, which made the visitor
want to grind his teeth, and as she finished Wee Andra came to life
again.

"Won't you sing something, Mr. Egerton?" he asked cordially.  "He can
sing jist boss, father; you ought to hear him."

Old Andrew drew in a deep breath, but made no reply.  The minister
demurred at first, but finally yielded.  If there was anything in the
old adage that "music hath charms," he told himself grimly that now was
the time to put it to the test.  He took up a hymn book and selected a
hymn Janet could play.  The leader of the Methodist Choir condescended
to flop down noisily from his oblique position and join him.  Janet's
sweet, timid voice made a pleasant third and the trio rendered some
gospel hymns very musically.

When they had finished Wee Andra begged so hard for a song that the
visitor could not well refuse and, taking Janet's place at the organ,
he played and sang "Sailing" in splendid style.  Jimmie Bailey, who was
always threatening to run away on a Lake Huron boat, was enchanted and
called for more, but something in the elder's face warned the young
minister that he had sung enough.  He went back to his uncomfortable
seat on the sofa and strove to carry on a conversation, but without
success.

At length, despairing of ever making friends with this strange family,
he made up his mind to depart.  He asked for a Bible and Mrs. Johnstone
handed him a ponderous volume, bound in gilt-edged leather, which she
took, with deep reverence and some pride, from beneath the
coffin-plate.  Old Andrew drew a breath of relief.  Now at last he
would see if this young man were really worthy of his high calling and
the name he bore; now surely he would speak and show that his mind was
set on higher things.  Likely he would say something that would set Wee
Andra thinking and put some solemn truths in his empty head.

But John Egerton's one thought was to get away as quickly as possible.
He read a very short psalm, in a spiritless voice, and they all knelt
for a moment while he led in prayer.  He took a hurried farewell of the
family; the elder scarcely spoke and Mrs. Johnstone regarded him with a
puzzled expression.

He walked homeward in the soft summer dusk, down the great wide
staircase, which grew a deeper purple towards the bottom, his heart
very heavy.  He had tried so hard to do his best, but there was
something sadly wrong, he could not quite understand what.

He was beginning to fear that Mrs. McNabb's warning that "Glenoro
church was full of old cranks" was only too true.

He was passing slowly down the sloping, faintly pink road, absorbed in
his unhappy reflections when, glancing up as he neared the edge of the
valley, he noticed an old man standing at the gate of a little log
shanty.  The young minister remembered shaking hands with him at
church--a quiet old fellow with a handsome, refined face.  He had
opened his gate and stood as though waiting, looking so kind, so
sympathetic and so altogether different from old Andrew Johnstone that
the young man felt drawn towards him.  He paused involuntarily.  "Good
evening," he said pleasantly, "Mr.--Polite, I think?"

Duncan's smile grew more radiant.  "Oh, indeed, they will be calling me
that foolish name, whatever," he said apologetically, "but my name will
be jist McDonald, Duncan McDonald; oh yes, and you will be coming in
for a little rest?"

His manner was so eager and kindly that John Egerton readily accepted.
He could not account, however, for the look of joy that overspread the
old man's face as he led him up the flower-bordered path; for he was
unaware that Duncan was saying to himself that Donald would be sure to
drop in on his way to the Glen, as he always did, and at last he would
see those two together and the Lord would do the rest.

The visitor sat down on the chair beside the lilac bush, having
persuaded his host that he preferred to sit out of doors.  He leaned
back with a sigh of relief and gazed around him.  The whole landscape
was darkly radiant with that wonderful life-like pulsation which we
call the after-glow.  The sky was a suggestion of rose and amber
fainting into a delicate green and deepening again into a transparent
blue where one star hung above Duncan's pines.  A world of insect life
hummed sleepily in the long grass of the meadow; across the road in the
darkness of the woods, a whip-poor-will was whistling away at his
plaintive little tune; and from far down in the valley at their feet
came up the laughter and shouts of children at play.

"This is a lovely spot," said the young man, feeling soothed and
rested.  Duncan Polite's face beamed; he did not answer, from sheer
joy, but waited in silence for such words of wisdom as his pastor might
be pleased to utter.  John Egerton talked easily when his company was
pleasant, and he was soon chatting away upon such topics as he
considered congenial to the old farmer--the crops, the prospects for
the haying, the mill in the valley, the amount of lumber sawn and the
money realised.

And all the time Duncan Polite's whole soul was waiting for his guest
to speak of the one great subject, the subject that would make it
possible for him to tell this young disciple of his Master that all his
hope for Glenoro and Donald lay in him.  But the minister continued his
friendly chat upon indifferent topics, until it was interrupted by a
noise upon the road above, a sound of loud talking and louder laughter
drawing near.  He paused to listen and involuntarily the faces of both
men broke into smiles in reflection of the mirth which was apparently
convulsing those who approached.

"Ah, those foolish lads, hoots, toots, what a noise!" said Duncan
apologetically, for he recognised Donald's voice and Sandy's, too, in
the uproarious shouts of laughter.

But as they came nearer the smile faded from John Egerton's face.  He
caught the word Catchach, and suddenly the whole truth flashed upon
him.  Wee Andra had witnessed the meeting of that afternoon and was
giving to the Neil boys what they apparently considered a
side-splitting description of the affair.  All his ministerial dignity
rose to meet the insult.

Sandy's voice could be heard distinctly above the others, interspersed
with convulsive haw haws.

"Great snakes!  You did it that time, Don!  Bet it scared next Sunday's
sermon clean out o' his head!"

Then Wee Andra's deep voice, "Jimminy!  It was a better show than all
the monkeys at the circus!"

"Was he scared?"  It was Donald Neil who dared to ask that question.

"Looked mighty skittish for a minit, but I was weepin' that hard I
couldn't see very good.  Catchach swore like a trooper.  I could tell
that by the way he was grinnin', but the fearful pity was neither me
nor his Reverence could understand it!"

They went off again with such utter abandon that Duncan feared the
minister might be shocked by such uproarious behaviour on the public
road.  He did not at all comprehend the meaning of their conversation
himself, in fact he scarcely listened to it, so eagerly was he watching
for Donald.

The noisy crowd passed the house, and one tall figure detached itself
from the group and, swinging open the gate, came up the path.  Donald
never forgot to give his uncle a call, as he passed on his way to the
Glen.  Duncan rose in a tremor of joy.  He did not notice that his
nephew gave a start at the sight of the minister.  Mr. Egerton rose
also and for an instant the two young men looked into each other's eyes
with an expression of anything but amity.

"Oh and it will be you, Donal'," cried the old man in a voice which
trembled with pleasure.  "Here is the minister come to call."

Donald came forward, clinging desperately to the forlorn hope that the
conversation had not been overheard.

"Good evening, Mr. Egerton," he said in a rather constrained voice,
holding out his hand; but the other young man did not seem to notice;
perhaps the dusk accounted for his mistake.

"Good evening, Mr. McDonald," he said stiffly.  "I have remained rather
long," he continued, speaking to Duncan Polite and incidentally turning
his back upon Donald.  He shook hands with his host and without so much
as a nod towards the younger man, started for the gate.  Duncan
followed him, protesting, but the minister could not stay.  He did not
seem to hear the old man's timid suggestion that Donald would be going
down to the village, too, and would be glad to accompany him, but
strode off alone, indignation displayed in every line of his fine,
straight figure.



VI

THE FULFILMENT OF PROMISE

There was not one dissenting voice in the chorus of admiration sung by
the young people of Glenoro after their new pastor's social triumph at
the Hamiltons'.  Everybody liked him and there went through the older
folk a thrill of joy that their pastor should be the leader of the
young and unsteady set, to bring them to a higher and nobler plane of
life.

Even Mrs. Fraser, the hypochondriac, was pleased with him in a mournful
sort of way.  Of course, she was somewhat alarmed when Miss Cotton
declared that the minister was "jist a terror to cut up and could play
'Dan Tucker' better than Sandy Neil himself."  But Annie Fraser
explained that Mr. Egerton had done it just to show that he wasn't
stiff or "stuck up."

This phase of the matter was a relief to her mother.  Mrs. Fraser was a
person to whom the world and everything in it was one series of
ever-recurring disaster.  She was a doleful body, taking pleasure only
in funerals and the laying out of the dead.  With her peculiar taste
for sorrow and distress, she had come to be self-appointed nurse to the
whole neighbourhood.  She was always due at the house of affliction
and, with her kindly heart and a certain skill in nursing, she proved a
sort of melancholy blessing.  Her predilection for disaster caused her
to be regarded as a bird of ill-omen, for where Mrs. Fraser was, there
would calamities be gathered together, and to see her issue from the
big gate on the brow of the south hill with her ominous-looking black
bag was sufficient to raise apprehension in every heart.  Indeed, Mrs.
Duffy, who lived nearly opposite the Frasers and who regarded the
village nurse with something akin to superstitious fear, would throw up
her hands at the sight of the herald of misfortune passing the door and
exclaim, "God bless me sowl, who's dead now?"

So if Mrs. Fraser was willing to look hopefully on the actions of the
new minister, the rest of the congregation might feel themselves
secure.  But he was not long in showing that he could be quite as
energetic in his church affairs as in playing "Dan Tucker."

He plunged into the work with a vim and ardour which commanded the
admiration of a thrifty and hard-working people.

The young folk were no longer the drones in the hive; he had not been
among them a month before he had stirred them all up to an activity and
interest in church affairs they had never dreamed of before.

He organised a Young People's Society of Christian Endeavour and, with
the help of Mr. Watson, a Young Men's Christian Association.  He joined
the Sons of Temperance and infused new life into that organisation.  He
even went so far as to get the older women out of their homes and
before they knew what they were doing they had formed a Ladies' Aid
Society and were making plans to carpet and decorate the church.

Miss Cotton was the president of this latter organisation and worked up
the interest to such a pitch that even Mrs. Neil More went to one of
the meetings, and Archie set fire to the house while she was absent,
probably feeling that as the established order of the universe had been
completely overturned, the total destruction of all material things
should naturally follow.

The Methodists were incited to emulation by all this activity and Sim
Basketful started an Epworth League.  Then Mr. Egerton, in his
free-hearted way, proposed that the two societies join and hold
alternate meetings in the two churches, a suggestion which met with
hearty approval and raised the young minister to the status of a saint
in the eyes of Mr. Ansdell.

He soon established himself on friendly terms with "the boys" who met
at the corner in the evenings.  He entered into all their sports.
Whether it was throwing quoits in the middle of the road, playing
foot-ball in the river pastures below the mill, swimming in the milldam
or walking the logs on the pond, he was the leader.  He was a favourite
with all classes.  Mr. Watson, who was rumoured to have loose notions
on religion, was his constant companion.  Syl Todd, the village dandy,
worshipped him, and Pat Duffy, who was rather a liberal-minded
Catholic, declared him "a blazin' fine chap" and gave as his opinion
that it was "a relief to see a parson that didn't look scared when a
fellow swore a little"--which indulgence was a conversational necessity
to Mr. Duffy.

The Glen grew livelier every day and the meetings at the Hamiltons'
larger and more frequent.  John Egerton fell into the habit of dropping
in there very often.  The whole family were most hospitable and Miss
Jessie was very charming.  He saw from the first that she and young
Neil were avowed sweethearts.  Mrs. McNabb informed him that Jessie and
Donald had been lovers ever since the day at school when he had
thrashed Pat Duffy for taking a forcible and liberal bite out of her
one apple.  The young minister assured himself that he was very much
interested in the pretty rural romance and wrote an account of it to
Helen.

But, though he admired the village belle, he could not bring himself to
have any warmth of feeling for Donald.  He met him almost every evening
either at the Hamiltons' or down at the corner and, while he could find
no fault in the young man's conduct, he never quite forgave the prank
he had played and did not unbend to him as he did to the others.
Donald's honest heart was filled with remorse for the mischief he had
unwittingly caused and in his straightforward fashion he went to the
minister to make an explanation and, if need be, offer an apology.  But
his friendly advances were met with such cold politeness on the part of
his pastor that the apology died on Donald's lips.  Instead, he made
matters worse by referring to the disagreeable incident and from that
time forward relations between him and the minister were somewhat
strained.

They were not improved by an incident that occurred shortly.  One
afternoon Duncan Polite sent his nephew on an errand to some relatives
who lived down by Lake Simcoe and he was not able to return until the
next morning.  Mr. Egerton noticed, with a feeling of relief, that he
was absent from the Epworth League that evening and at the close of the
meeting the thought struck him that there would surely be no harm in
his walking down the hill with Jessie Hamilton.  He had no sooner
thought of it than his mind was made up and after the close of the
meeting he found himself, somewhat to his amusement, standing with the
crowd of young men who waited, at the gate, the coming of their
respective chosen.

The young ladies crowded out, some hurriedly and anxiously, others,
sure of their power, with provoking leisureliness.  The Hamilton girls
were among the last.  Wee Andra seized Bella and disappeared into the
darkness as suddenly as if they had been engulfed in oblivion.  Sarah
followed, very disgusted at being accompanied by Peter McNabb, Junior,
who worked in his father's blacksmith shop and did not even know that
there were such things in existence as Euclid and Algebra.  Jessie came
next; John Egerton stepped out from the ranks and raised his hat.  "And
may I have the pleasure of walking down the hill with you, Miss
Jessie?" he asked, and the girl, murmuring some faint, shy words of
consent, they walked side by side down the leafy path where the
moonbeams through the trees made flecks of light upon her white dress.

The few stragglers still standing at the gate noticed the little scene
and many were the comments upon what would likely transpire if the
minister took to "keeping company with Don Neil's girl."

There was one who had noted the affair with perfect approval.  Sylvanus
Todd had long worshipped Maggie Hamilton from afar with absolutely no
success; but so far from being disheartened by continuous rebuffs, he
only seemed to increase in ardour under them.  He adored Mr. Egerton's
elegant ease and tried to copy it upon all occasions.  His manner of
addressing Jessie he considered irresistible and felt sure it would not
fail with even so hardhearted a divinity as was his.  Maggie was just
emerging from the church, talking and laughing in a way that would have
scandalised old Andrew Johnstone, when Syl stepped forward to put his
new formula to the test.  Raising his hat in precise imitation of the
young minister's easy grace, he said, in as near an approach to Mr.
Egerton's deep, musical tone as he could manage, "And may I have the
pleasure of walking down the hill with you, _Miss_ Maggie?"

But the result was quite different.  Maggie turned and stared at him in
genuine consternation.  "Merciful gracious!" she screamed, "he's gone
clean, stark, staring crazy!"

Mr. Todd was about to reply with some dignity, when Allan Fraser, who
followed the more expeditious if less elegant method of the ordinary
young man of Glenoro and never asked permission, caught Maggie's arm
and swept her unceremoniously from underneath Sylvanus' nose.

Meanwhile, John Egerton, strolling slowly down the leafy path at
Jessie's side, was enjoying himself.  This was the first time he had
ever been alone with the girl and by tactful questions he found out
more about her in their short walk than in all of their previous
acquaintance.  His discoveries were all pleasant.  As he had surmised,
she was more serious than her sisters; she had read a little,
too,--Dickens and Scott and some of Tennyson.  They stood at the gate
in the moonlight for a long time, talking of books.  He found she had a
thirst for them and he promised to lend her as many as she could read.
It was late when at last he left her; the radiant moonlight, the heavy
scent of the dewy garden, the soft rushing sound of the river and the
slim, graceful girl beneath the wide oaks had made a combination which
was intoxicating.  He did not describe this scene to Helen, however, as
he had done so many others.

But of course Donald heard of it, and very soon.  When Coonie came down
with the mail the next morning, Syl Todd confided his troubles to the
mail-carrier as he watered his horse.  "Now, that there Allan Fraser
ain't got no more manners than if he'd never been outside of Glenoro,"
he said in conclusion of his mournful recital; "he don't know nothin'
about how to treat a lady."  Syl was the only young man in Glenoro who
gave "the girls" the dignified title of "ladies."

"Always the way with them college chaps," agreed Coonie.  "They think
they're some punkins and they don't know enough to make cheese."

"That's true," assented Mr. Todd, warmed by this unwonted sympathy.
"An' there's Don Neil; he's another that's been puttin' on airs, but
I'll bet he'll quit now; mind you, Coonie, the minister went home with
Jessie last night."

"Gosh!" exclaimed Coonie, expectorating copiously, "that's noos!"

"You bet!  Don'll be hoppin' when he hears it.  All the fellows has
been sayin' they bet Mr. Egerton would have liked to go with Jessie
ever since he come here if Don didn't keep him shooed off.  Wait till
he goes back to college and the minister'll have his turn.  Long's he
don't go hangin' 'round Maggie, _I_ won't bother him."  And Mr. Todd
put his head on one side and gazed sentimentally up the hill, a pose
which was slightly damaged by old Bella throwing up her head and
spattering him with water.

As Donald Neil came cantering homeward, he met the mail driver dropping
down the Glenoro hills towards the Flats.  "Hello, Coonie!" called the
young man, "how's yourself to-day?"

Coonie pulled up his old horse, which stopped with as much difficulty
as she started.  He was very glad to meet Donald.  "Oh, jist chawin'
an' spittin'," he answered with suspicious cordiality.  "What kind o' a
new apostle's this you've got up here?"

"Who?  Mr. Egerton?  Oh! he's all right," said Donald, giving Bella a
poke in the ribs with his whip.  "Haven't you seen him?"

Coonie spat disapprovingly.  "Yes, you bet.  Seen him this mornin'
showin' off the soles o' his boots on Peter McNabb's veranda an'
readin' novels.  Soft snap them preacher fellows have.  Nothin' in the
world to do but run after the girls.  Don't wonder that you're headin'
that way yourself; guess Mr. Egerton thinks you're tryin' to get up to
him in the religion business, so he'll race you in the sparkin' line.
Haw!  Haw!"

Donald looked down at him calmly.  "Go on," he said quietly, "you've
got something on your mind, Coonie, and you'll never be easy till it's
off.  I saw you were loaded when I was half a mile back; what's the
trouble?"

Coonie did not enjoy this; Donald Neil was not the right sort of person
to torment.  He took that sort of thing too indifferently and one was
always left in the tantalising doubt as to whether he cared or not.
Coonie did not believe in casting his pearls before swine, so he
cracked his long whip with the usual admonitory inquiry, "Gedap there!
What're ye doin'?"

Bella gave her preliminary scramble, stopped, tried again and slowly
shambled off.  But her driver could not resist turning in his teetering
seat, as the dust began to rise, to shout back, "If I'd a girl I was as
spooney over as you are, I'd keep an eye skinned for chaps as good
lookin' as the parson.  Haw!  Haw!--_Gedap_!"

Donald rode off with a laugh, but his face became grave as he climbed
the hill.  A dark suspicion that the minister might some day be his
rival had long been forming in his mind.  Perhaps jealousy was the
cause of his unforgiving spirit.  He went to Wee Andra for an
explanation of just what Coonie meant and his mind was not eased by it.
He had never had a dangerous rival before and he was forced to confess
that the minister was certainly a very captivating young man.

Duncan Polite had hoped that ere this his nephew and Mr. Egerton would
have been firm friends.  He wondered sadly over his failure to bring
them together at his house.  He wondered over other things, too.  He
regarded the revival of activity in the church with a heart of
overflowing joy, but a joy tinged with a puzzled uncertainty.  He knew
that the young people of the congregation were now taking a greater
interest in religious matters than they had ever done, and yet he could
not quite understand why it was that, though the boys went regularly to
the meetings of the various organisations and were constant in their
attendance at the weekly prayer-meeting, which they had formerly
eschewed, still they showed no consequent change of conduct.  Sandy's
fiddling and dancing went on uninterruptedly, parallel with his
Christian Endeavour meetings.  Wee Andra was even more irreverent than
formerly and Donald showed no signs of an added desire to enter the
ministry.  Donald's case was particularly disappointing.  He wanted
Donald to sit at his young pastor's feet and learn the lesson of true
consecration.  He never dreamed that those two whom he desired to be
fast friends were in great danger of becoming enemies, and that events
were shaping themselves to widen the breach between them.



VII

A DISASTROUS PICNIC.

Dominion Day was approaching, the day upon which Glenoro had held a
picnic in Isaac Thompson's maple grove, about half a mile down the
river, ever since there was a Dominion Day.

The affair was ostensibly for the Presbyterian Sabbath School, but all
Glenoro and the surrounding neighbourhood attended.  The people from
the Oa and the Flats and even from over on the Tenth flocked to
Thompson's grove and swung in the trees and joined the swimming matches
and helped on the festivity.  Besides the sports and other attractions,
there was always a programme of music and speeches after tea.  Andrew
Johnstone, as superintendent of the Sabbath School, was responsible for
this part of the entertainment.  The young men erected a platform of
new pine boards from the mill and the young women decorated it with
evergreen boughs and the visiting clergymen and township orators seated
themselves upon it in dignified array.  Peter McNabb led the whole
assembly in a psalm or paraphrase and then Mr. Cameron and the
Methodist minister and all others honoured with a seat upon the
platform delivered addresses to the people seated in semi-circles on
the ground.  Some of the speeches were sound and edifying, some were of
a lighter tone and were sprinkled with judicious jokes culled from many
sources for the occasion.  Old Mr. Lawton, an itinerant Baptist
preacher who, no matter what his peregrinations might be, always
happened to be in Glenoro on Dominion Day, had told the same jokes
annually within the memory of the oldest picnicker, but, as they came
only once a year, they were quite fresh after their long rest and the
audience laughed at them each season with unabated mirth.

When Mr. Watson participated in the Glenoro picnic for the first time,
he was filled with a deep disapproval.  He was an energetic,
well-meaning young man, rather injudicious and fiercely patriotic after
the spread-eagle manner of his cousins across the international
boundary.  The Glenoro picnic struck him as being nothing short of
disloyal.  There was not a flag to be seen anywhere in the woods, only
one of the speakers mentioned the fact that it was Dominion Day, and
then in a mere incidental way, and at the closing they actually sang
"Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow" instead of "God Save the
Queen!"  The schoolmaster made up his mind that if he lived till the
next first of July, he would show the people what a Dominion Day
celebration ought to be.  For this purpose he sought the co-operation
of the minister.  Old Andrew Johnstone was ruining the rising
generation, he explained, and it was time somebody showed him that he
and his old-fashioned ideas were antediluvian.  John Egerton hesitated
at first.  He did not like the idea of running counter to his ruling
elder, but he secretly agreed with Mr. Watson that that old man had too
much to do with the affairs of the church.  He felt also that this
would be a fine opportunity to come in touch with the boys and girls;
so, after some demurring, he finally yielded and consented to give a
helping hand in the patriotic demonstration.

Mr. Watson set to work with wonderful zest.  As the picnic was for the
Sabbath school, the children should properly be the entertainers, he
declared, so the public school pupils were detained every day after
school hours and the minister came down and helped drill them in
patriotic songs and exercises.  Of course, they needed a musical
instrument, so they hired the Temperance Society's organ, and Jessie
Hamilton was asked to play.  The whole arrangement proved highly
satisfactory to the young minister.  He found himself looking forward
to the practise hour with pleasure, for he would walk down to the
Hamiltons', call for Jessie, and together they would stroll across the
bridge and up the river road beneath the trees to the school house
where they spent an hour in each other's company.

The undertaking had its drawbacks as well as its pleasure, however.
The chief one was young Neil Neil, a worse imp than Sandy even, and an
unfailing source of disorder.  He and his bosom companion in iniquity,
a wild Irishman from the Flats by the name of Patrick Regan, conspired
to make the practise hour a burden to both their instructors.  John
Egerton was sometimes tempted to wonder if Donald Neil was taking his
revenge by inciting his young relative to acts of rebellion.  Then,
too, some of the parents grumbled because their children did not return
home in time to do "the chores."  This gave the schoolmaster very
little trouble, however.  He paid no attention to such base sentiments;
patriotism must be inculcated in the minds of young Canada, whether the
calves were fed or not.

But in spite of all discouragements the work progressed.  There were
flag drills and motion songs, patriotic songs and public spirited
recitations and when the programme was finally completed Mr. Watson
heaved a sigh of content.  There was to be only one speech, for Mr.
Egerton insisted that Mr. Ansdell be asked to say "a few words."  They
quite forgot, however, that the superintendent of the Sabbath school
had always given the opening address and that Sim Basketful, though a
Methodist, had never missed contributing to the programme.  For the
postmaster was undoubtedly the orator of Glenoro and had never before
seen a picnic bill between the Oa and the Flats without his name on it
in large type.  Mr. Watson brushed away any doubts the minister had
regarding the innovation.  "Was he going to be ruled by Splinterin'
Andra, or was he not?" he inquired, and John Egerton had responded that
he most decidedly was not, so the preparations went on unabated.

To Donald Neil the new arrangement was anything but pleasing.  He never
seemed to be able to see Jessie any more.  She was always trying over
some new songs with the minister or reading a book he had given her, or
in consultation with him over their preparations for the picnic.
Donald's opinion of his pastor was not improved by this.  He was too
jealous to be quite impartial in his judgment and, therefore, did not
realise that his rival was more careless than culpable.  Donald's
conception of a minister heretofore had been the Glenoro ideal,
heightened by Duncan Polite's teachings,--a holy man, set apart from
ordinary humanity for the Lord's special work.  John Egerton was a
revelation to him.  Was this the sort of man his uncle worshipped? he
asked himself.  Was this the sort of man he was to emulate?  He
concluded by deciding that if John Egerton was a good sample of the
ministry, then Donald McDonald would have nothing to do with the
profession.

Meanwhile, John Egerton went happily on his way, all unconscious that
he was doing any harm.  As the date of the picnic approached he found,
to his intense amusement, that there was still another faction in
Glenoro church.  This one was not at all formidable, however, for it
was neither religious nor national, but merely culinary and
geographical, namely, a strong rivalry in the production of pies and
cakes between the matrons north of Glenoro and those beyond the
southern hill.  It broke out violently twice a year, at the first of
July picnic and at the New Year's tea-meeting.  When the date of these
functions drew near, it was the custom for the North to muster their
forces at the house of Andrew Johnstone, while the South flocked to
their standard at Donald Fraser's and each made stupendous efforts to
out-bake the other.  But very rarely was there an advantage on either
side.  If one party got ahead of the other by so much as a cookie at
one festivity, the defeated were sure to produce some unheard-of
ammunition at the next.  One New Year's Eve the South came charging up
with thirty different varieties of pie, causing rout and dismay in the
ranks of the enemy.  But on the next Dominion Day the North responded
gallantly with an eleven-story iced cake looking like a triumphal
monument to celebrate their victory, and the balance of power was
restored.

This summer, with the inspiring presence of the new minister, efforts
were redoubled and for several days before the picnic the houses of the
Johnstones and the Frasers were turned into bake-shops, and pies and
cookies and tarts and story cakes were produced in such quantities and
with such elaboration that the producers themselves were rather alarmed.

The great day arrived at last and Nature did her part nobly.  It was
one of those intensely clear, sunny days which only our Lady of the
Sunshine can produce, a day when the thermometer announces that it is
very hot, but when Nature denies the slander and the blood dances to
the time set by the bracing air.

The blood was dancing in Mr. Watson's veins, at any rate.  He was up
early and had all his plans laid before noon.  He collected his pupils
at the school house early in the afternoon and gave them copious
instructions.  As soon as a sufficient crowd had collected at the
picnic grounds, they were to walk in procession with him down to the
grove, and just at their entry into the woods to burst into song and
march in twos up to the platform, waving their banners and singing of
the glory of Canada.  After this they were to be given the freedom of
the woods until such time as the performance should commence.

The idea had been Mr. Egerton's and had been planned by him with great
care.  He felt that the sight would be inspiring enough to please even
Splinterin' Andra.  For the ruling elder looked with dark disfavour
upon any prominent performance by children and his young minister was
rather anxious as to the effect the programme would have upon him.

John Egerton assisted his colleague at the school house and then
repaired to the grove ahead of the procession, on purpose to be able to
report afterwards upon its appearance.  When he arrived, the picnic
grounds presented a lively and pleasing appearance.  Away back among
the trees, in the flecking light and shade, the long, white tables were
already being laid.  White-aproned girls, among whom he recognised
Jessie's trim figure, were flitting about them, setting cups and
saucers with a musical clatter.  Away in the background, a blue column
of smoke rose straight into the treetops from the old stove where Mrs.
Fraser and Miss Cotton were superintending the boiling of the tea and
at a table near by, piled with baskets, the matrons of the North and
South laughed and chatted over their rival productions.  Over in an
open space of sunlight the boys and young men of the village were
engaged in athletic sports, jumping, racing and throwing the shoulder
stone.  As he looked, he saw the slim, lithe figure of Donald Neil go
up over a bar with easy grace, amid the applause of the surrounding
spectators.  Between the trees to the right flashed a line of blue and
silver, where the shouting and splashing of the swimmers had already
commenced.  Everywhere to right and left there were swings--little
swings and big swings.  The latter were patronised by young ladies and
their attendant swains and manned by two stalwart young men who sent
their burden of sober dun-coloured masculinity and fluttering muslin
and ribbon swaying far into the treetops, to the accompaniment of many
personal and highly mirth-provoking remarks from the crowd waiting to
be in the same position.

There was a mingling of shouts, laughter, neighing of horses, scraping
of turning buggies and clattering of dishes, harmonised by that
wonderful power which the forest possesses of turning all discordant
sounds within her bosom to perfect music.

The young minister moved about from group to group with a pleasant word
for all.  He swung with Maggie Hamilton and Annie Fraser and Julia
Duffy; he entered keenly into the young men's athletic competitions; he
carried water for Miss Cotton and waited on the young ladies at the
tables; and finally he strolled over towards the platform where the
fathers of Glenoro were gathered.  They sat on mossy logs or stumps,
with drooping shoulders, smoking their pipes in solemn content,
discussing crops and creeds, horses and heresies and enjoying life to
the full.  Old Andrew Johnstone was there; but Duncan Polite was not
with him.  Duncan never went anywhere except to church.  The ruling
elder seemed in a rather mild frame of mind in spite of the fact that
the reins of government had been taken out of his hands.  The young
pastor could not know that Duncan Polite's influence had soothed his
wrath.  He sat beside the old man and chatted away genially, while
Splinterin' Andra watched him solemnly and with a certain wistfulness
in his stern face.

But John Egerton did not rest long; he was beginning to wonder why Mr.
Watson and his flock had not by this time startled them all into
admiration by their appearance.  The time set for their arrival had
long passed and still the burst of music and the gleam of banners which
was to herald their approach did not come.  He arose and walked towards
the road to see if they were in sight, when he saw the schoolmaster
approaching alone and with a haste which betokened disaster.  His
friend hurried to meet him.  "Why, what has happened?" he cried.
"Where are the children?"

But Mr. Watson was in a state of speechless wrath.  The heat of the
summer sun combined with the internal burning of his indignation would
have produced apoplexy in a less cadaverous person.  Some minutes
passed before he could quite explain the situation.  When at length he
could tell it, it appeared that he had collected his flock at the
school in proper order and supplied them all with full instructions.
Then he delivered a flag to each boy and a maple branch to each girl,
to be waved as they entered the woods singing.  Mr. Watson had an eye
for the artistic, and had at first decreed that each flag should march
beside a maple bough; but the proposition was received with such
hysterical squeals and giggles from beneath the Canadian emblems and
such dark looks of terrible rebellion from the red banners that the
schoolmaster was compelled to change the order of their going.  So the
boys led the procession, going two and two, with the girls tripping
demurely behind, as was compatible with the masculine idea of the
fitness of things.  The procession marched along quietly enough.  Only
one digression occurred, when Neil Neil and Patsy Regan halted long
enough to hold a muscular dispute as to who should lead the van, a
contest in which both the Flag that Braved a Thousand Years and the
Maple Leaf Forever were trampled in the dust of the highway.  The
matter was settled by their teacher setting the two belligerents, with
sundry cuffs and jerks, to march side by side, which they did in
perfect peace until they reached the grove.

And then it occurred--the great disaster!  Just how it was managed, or
whether it was impromptu or with malice aforethought, the schoolmaster
did not know.  But just as they entered the leafy path and he was
clearing his throat to give the keynote of "Upon the Heights of
Queenston," without warning or disturbance, the flags of their country
were flung to the ground and the disloyal young Britons were scurrying
off through the woods in twenty different directions, leaping over
fallen logs, crashing through underbrush and whooping like a pack of
wild Indians.  The crucial moment had proved too much for schoolboy
modesty.  Mr. Watson glared around to find himself left with only a
handful of embarrassed and giggling girls.  Just one boy remained,
little Tommy Basketful, who was too small to run away and who held to
his sister's hand.  There was no use trying to have the procession now;
the master dismissed the girls in a choking voice and went raging
through the woods to find Mr. Egerton, his progress and his wrath
accelerated by snatches of the interrupted song coming in high falsetto
voice or deep bass growl, from tree-top or hollow stump.

"I'll wager my next year's salary it's that young Turk, Neil, who's at
the bottom of it all!" he cried when he had finished the dismal recital
and wiped the perspiration from his face.  "By Jove, if it isn't a fix!
There's Splinterin' Andra over by the platform; he'll never get over
it!  Yes sir, it's young Neil Neil's done it all, with Patsy Regan's
help.  They think they're safe because it's holidays, but I'll lay my
rawhide on to them next term or my name's not George Watson!"

"Never mind," said the minister, with his usual kindly cheerfulness,
"we shall have the programme at any rate."

"Programme!  That's just what we won't have!  Those young reprobates
are gone for good.  I know them!  The girls can't do the drills alone
and there won't be one piece fit to be given!"

The case was certainly more serious than the minister had at first
thought.  They had advertised their entertainment far and wide and the
people were expecting something unique.  If Neil Neil would not bring
back his rebel band the whole affair would be a complete failure; he
and Mr. Watson would be the laughing stock of the community and
Splinterin' Andra would be grimly pleased.  The young man's face
darkened when he reflected that it was Donald Neil's brother who had
wrought all this mischief.  Was that whole family in league against
him?  The two looked at each other in dismay.

"Those Neil boys are a bad lot!" Mr. Watson burst forth again.
"They've been the plague of Glenoro school ever since Donald
started----  By Jove!"  He started up suddenly, his face aglow, "I have
it!  Don can make young Neil do anything.  We'll get him to order the
young rascal back and to bring the others with him!  Let's hunt him up!"

John Egerton drew back; he knew his relations with Donald Neil had not
improved since Jessie had begun to help with the picnic programme and
he did not at all relish the idea of asking his assistance in his
dilemma.  But Mr. Watson was already tearing off impetuously and, as
there seemed no other way out of the difficulty and he could not leave
his friend to bear the burden alone, he reluctantly followed.

A rapid survey of the grove showed that Donald was not at the sports,
nor at the swings.  Mr. Egerton noted with satisfaction that he was not
with Jessie.  She had put aside her apron and was on one of the big
swings with a youth from the Tenth, her muslin dress swaying in the
breeze, her brown curls flying.  But Mr. Watson would not suffer him to
stop one moment to admire the picture.

"He'll be down at the water," he cried, plunging headlong into a little
path which led to the river.  "Come along, we've no time to lose--if I
only had my rawhide on that young Turk's back!"

The path they were following dipped suddenly into a little hollow where
it was completely concealed from the picnickers by thick clumps of
cedar and, at a sudden turn in the most secluded part, Mr. Watson
almost ran against the object of their search.  He was hurrying up from
the river; his face was flushed, his hair damp and curly; he had
evidently just emerged from the water.  He drew back suddenly to let
the schoolmaster pass.

"Are you playing tag?" he asked.

But Mr. Watson was in no mood for joking.  "You're just the chap we're
looking for, Don!  Mr. Egerton and I are in a beast of a pickle.  That
young brother of yours has got to be looked after; he upset the
procession from the school, and he's cleared off with all the other
boys and we can't have any programme without them, and our whole
entertainment's ruined!"

Donald glanced past him at the minister, standing in dignified silence,
awaiting the issue, and for an instant a gleam of mischievous pleasure
flashed in his eyes, a glance John Egerton did not fail to detect and
at that moment he would have preferred to let the whole picnic be
ruined rather than ask a favour of Donald Neil.

"What have I to do with it?" Donald was asking gravely.

"Oh, you know," returned the schoolmaster in a wheedling tone; "you can
make Neil do anything.  You order him to come back and bring the other
chaps, and we'll be eternally grateful; that's a good fellow, Don."

Donald's eyes were beginning to twinkle again; he could not help
enjoying his pastor's discomfort.  "Why don't you discipline him
yourself?" he asked teasingly.  "If he's amenable to neither religion
nor education"--he glanced at the minister again--"I am afraid I can do
nothing with him."

John Egerton's face flushed angrily.  "I think you should feel yourself
responsible for your brother's action, Mr. McDonald," he said coldly.
"I must say he has been an unmitigated nuisance ever since we commenced
to practise, and now he promises to spoil everything.  If you have the
slightest interest in the entertainment, you will see that he does his
duty."

Donald looked steadily into his pastor's eyes.  For an instant a wild
desire to refuse help, to even command Neil to see that the programme
was a failure, entered his heart.  But it was only momentary; Donald
was incapable of being petty.  But he could not resist the retort, "I
couldn't think of assuming such honours in the presence of the
clergyman and the schoolmaster, but I can at least produce the cause of
this serious mishap."  He put his fingers to his lips and gave three
sharp whistles, ending in a long musical note.  A moment later a boy
came bounding up the path from the river; he was barefooted, his coat
was off and he was plainly preparing for a swim.  He stopped suddenly a
few paces away when he saw who was with his brother and hung his black
curly head sheepishly.

"What d'ye want?" he called.

"Come here," said Donald quietly, and Neil obeyed; he knew that
whatever judgment was to be meted out to him, Don would see that he got
justice.  "Mr. Egerton and Mr. Watson have something to say to you."

The culprit's bright eyes took on a look of alarm; he wriggled his
small bare toes in the dead leaves.

Donald pushed him towards the minister half mockingly.  "Here," he said
with suspicious gravity, "you must judge this grave matter for
yourself."

John Egerton's sensitive face flushed hotly.  He felt himself to be in
an extremely ludicrous position, Mr. Watson stood in the background
ready to second anything he might say, but very glad to be able to take
a subordinate position in the affair, and Donald leaned back against a
tree and looked upon the little scene with an extravagant solemnity
which was maddening.

At that moment the young clergyman would have enjoyed turning upon the
insolent fellow standing there with his arms folded so evidently
enjoying his discomfiture and thrashing him soundly, had he been able
to find an excuse.  Unhappily he had none, however, and his wrath all
burst forth upon the boy.

"What did you mean by breaking up Mr. Watson's procession and leading
all the boys away?" he demanded hotly.

Neil's inbred reverence for the cloth had suffered somewhat under Mr.
Egerton's efforts to teach him to sing, so he answered promptly, "I
never!  I jist cut off with the other fellows."

The minister's temper was fast slipping from his control.  "Don't dare
to tell me that!" he cried, snatching the boy's arm.  "You know you
planned this disgraceful affair!"

But the lad had darted a glance at his brother, and the keen instinct
of childhood had perceived that Donald was not in league with his
judges.  So he looked up into the minister's face and said with
incisive impudence, "It's a lie!"

John Egerton might have restrained his rage even then, had he not again
caught the gleam of laughter in Donald's eyes.  The double insult was
too much.  He promptly caught the saucy boy a sounding box upon the ear
which sent him sprawling upon the ground.

The next instant Donald was in front of him.  "Try something nearer
your own size, you coward!" he was saying, and barely giving his
opponent time to prepare, he planted a blow right between the
minister's eyes and sent him reeling back against a tree.

He was up and at Donald in an instant, and so sudden and terrible was
his onslaught that the champion boxer of Glenoro had a distinct
impression that he was meeting his match.  Donald was just settling to
the fierce joy of battle when the schoolmaster flung himself upon them.

"There's somebody coming!  Stop, Donald!  For heaven's sake stop, Mr.
Egerton!" he implored frantically.

The antagonists parted with a sudden awakening to their position.  The
minister was fighting with one of his church members!  For an instant
the two young men stood back and regarded each other with something
like horror.  Donald looked at the dark bruise on the other's lately
handsome face, and, realising who it was he had struck, his generous
heart smote him.

The approaching group turned off into another path, and as their voices
died away a terrible silence fell upon the four.  Donald was the first
to break it.  Duncan Polite's nephew could be courteous even in the
midst of his anger.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Egerton," he said with quiet dignity; "I should
not have struck you; I forgot your position."

But John Egerton's rage was still shaking him.  "I regret very much
that my position makes it impossible for me to give you the thrashing
you deserve.  If I were not the minister of this place----"  His voice
choked with anger.

Donald's lips grew tight at this reception of his apology.  "You are
happy in your choice of profession, sir," he said quietly.  "It is at
least--safe."

The other stepped forward, his hands clenched.  "Do you intend to
insult me again?" he demanded, his face white.

"I was merely going to add," said Donald with a smile, "that it's
rather hard on the profession."

Mr. Watson caught his pastor round the waist in a determined grasp.

"Splinterin' Andra's coming down the path!" he whispered wildly.
"He'll be here in two minutes!  Don Neil, you ought to be ashamed of
yourself!  Mr. Egerton," he implored, "for goodness' sake come away!"
He dragged the unwilling young man out of the pathway.  "If this gets
out you'll not be able to stay in Glenoro another day!  Think of
yourself!  Think how it would look!"

Donald stood for a moment after they had left, torn between anger and
shame.  The small cause of all this commotion stood shifting from one
foot to another and looking up at his big brother with frightened eyes.
"I never made the other fellows cut off, Don," he whispered as they
stepped quickly out of the way of the elder, "honor bright, I didn't."

"I know," said Donald dully.  "It's all right; run off now.  And look
here, Neil, not a word about this to anyone, remember, and you and the
other boys be at the platform when Mr. Watson wants you."

Neil promised and ran swiftly back to the river.  Left alone, Donald
glanced about anxiously and was much relieved to see no one near.
Personally, he did not care if he had been seen, but he knew that
Duncan Polite's happiness would be at an end if he knew his nephew had
been fighting the minister.  With a heavy heart he walked slowly back
to where the boys were pitching quoits.  He was equally enraged at
himself for starting the fight and for not insisting upon finishing it,
yes, even though all the congregation of Glenoro Presbyterian Church,
elders included, had been watching.  But above all, the sense of the
disgrace he had brought upon himself and all that his uncle held dear
weighed upon the boy's heart.  Jessie was at leisure now, standing with
a group of girls near the swing, but he could not go and ask her to
swing with him after what he had done.  He was tormented by the thought
that she might blame him if she knew.  So he turned and wandered off
alone into the depths of the woods, farther down the river, full of
anger and misery.

The first tables were being filled when he returned.  He found an
excited group gathered around one of them.

"Mr. Egerton's sick!" cried Wee Andra, as Donald approached; "Watson
took him home."

"I wonder if it was a sunstroke, poor young man!" exclaimed Mrs.
McNabb, bustling about with motherly anxiety.  "I'm going to run home
and see, and if he isn't any better I'll not come back.  Liza, you and
Mrs. Johnstone'll have to 'tend to those sandwiches.  Dear, dear, isn't
it a dreadful pity!"

Mrs. Fraser was already on her way to the afflicted one, and in the
bustle and consternation Donald was able to hide his perturbation.  He
was filled with compunction at the havoc he had unwittingly wrought,
for he knew the minister's disfigured face prevented his appearance in
public.

A gloom seemed to be thrown over the whole festivity.  The minister's
sudden affliction was the one subject of conversation at the tea-table.
The usual mirth and jollity gave place to a quiet gravity which might
have satisfied even Splinterin' Andra.  The schoolmaster did not
return, so the original programme was dropped altogether.  Instead of
the grand-march and chorus which was to open the exercises, they sang
the twenty-third psalm, and Mr. Ansdell led in prayer, adding a fervent
petition that the young pastor might speedily be restored to health.
Then there were some speeches after all.  Sim Basketful, who was always
ready, and old Andrew Johnstone, as was his unfailing custom, gave
long, earnest addresses, and they sang the Doxology and went home.

Mrs. Fraser returned just before the assembly broke up with the news
that Mr. Egerton was not ill, but had had a nasty accident.  Mr. Watson
said that he had stumbled and fallen when they were running through the
woods, and had cut his face upon a stone.  Mrs. Fraser considered it a
mercy that he was not killed.  Poor young man!  In the midst of life
they were in death, and likely Providence had sent this as a warning to
the young people who were careless about their future state.

Miss Cotton didn't know what in the world the minister wanted to go
tearing through the bush like that for, anyhow.  It wasn't very
becoming, she thought, and it was likely if Providence meant any kind
of a warning it was for himself.



VIII

BURSTING OF  THE STORM

Duncan Polite stepped out of the little gate one Sabbath afternoon,
late in July, and joined his old friend on his way to Sabbath school.
To-day the service was to be of unusual interest, for Mr. Egerton was
to pay his first visit to the Sabbath school.  Though he had been some
months in Glenoro, he had never had such an opportunity before, on
account of the afternoon service at his other charge.  But to-day the
service at the Tenth was to be taken by a visiting clergyman, and the
superintendent of the Sabbath school was looking forward grimly to his
pastor's visitation.

A few months previous this event would have been hailed by Duncan as a
blessing from on high, but he had learned to expect much less from his
pastor than in the early days of his ministry.  He still hoped and
prayed for great results, for to confess, even to himself, that the
young man was a failure seemed like pronouncing his own doom.  Still,
it was being slowly but surely borne in upon him that Mr. McAlpine's
grandson was neither a prophet like his relative nor a shepherd like
his predecessor.  Duncan's hopes for his valley were beginning to wane.
What better were they now than four months ago?  What better was
Donald?  And at the thought of his nephew, Duncan's heart ached.  What
was the matter with his boy?  Some strange, unpleasant change seemed to
have come over him; he never went to church, and it was whispered so
loudly that it was heard even in the Watchman's exclusive little shanty
that Donald Neil and the minister had quarrelled, and that Jessie
Hamilton was the cause.  Just how badly fate was using his boy Duncan
could not know.  In his honest endeavours to guard the young minister
from the rumours afloat regarding the picnic Donald fell under his
sweetheart's suspicion.  It was their first quarrel, nothing serious at
first, but Donald withdrew indignantly and devoted himself to his farm
work.  Full of repentance Jessie watched and waited for his return, and
finally, as a means of hastening him to her side, she accepted
cordially the kindly attentions of the minister.

And this was the condition of affairs at a time when Duncan Polite had
hoped to see the two young men in perfect sympathy over a common
cause--that of raising the spiritual life of his glen.  The old
Watchman's eyes grew deeper and more mournful every day over the fading
of his cherished hopes.  His promise to his father was not being kept.
The covenant the founder of Glenoro had made, and which his son had
renewed, was forgotten, and often in the distress of his soul the cry
of Job came to Duncan's lips, "Oh that I might have my request and that
God would grant me the thing I long for!"

But in the presence of Andrew Johnstone, the peacemaker was careful to
hide his fears.  He knew that his friend's dissatisfaction with the
young minister was smouldering ominously and he watched Splinterin'
Andra with ever-increasing anxiety.

On this Sabbath, Andrew was in such a sour frame of mind that the
peacemaker's task was an especially difficult one.  He plunged into the
dangerous subject as soon as Duncan joined him.

"We're to hae oor bit meenister the day," he announced sourly.  "We
need na expec' ony great thing though, Ah'm thinkin'," he added
soberly.  "Ah suppose Ah'll ask him to take the Bible class."

"Oh, that will be a fine thing," said Duncan, with a great show of
hopefulness.  "The young man will be knowing his Bible well, and he
will jist be giving the young folk some grand thoughts.  Oh yes,
indeed."

"Mebby."  Andrew Johnstone's voice was anything but hopeful.  "He could
learn them plenty aboot fit-ball and croquet better, though."

Duncan saw the danger and hastened into the breach with soothing words.
"It would be too soon to look for results," he declared.  They must be
patient.  He managed to guide the conversation into smoother channels,
and by the time they reached the church the danger of an outburst had
been once more averted.

Mr. Egerton taught the Bible class in a most kindly and pleasant manner
considering the ungracious way the superintendent requested his
services.  But Jessie Hamilton sat in one corner of it, her sweet face
half hidden beneath her wide drooping hat, and that may have partially
accounted for the feeling of pleasure with which he undertook the task.

During the remainder of the exercises he sat with the pupils, a silent
spectator of old Andrew's methods.  The superintendent was more
impressively solemn than usual, and to the young minister, accustomed
mostly to city Sabbath schools where the average boy conducted himself
with considerable freedom, the place was oppressively rigid.  He was
amazed at the solemn silence.  The children were unusually well
behaved; even Mr. Hamilton's class was exemplary, for beside the usual
terror of Splinterin' Andra, the presence of the minister demanded the
very best conduct.

But the atmosphere of the place was oppressive to the bright,
high-spirited young man.  The bare severity of the building was bad
enough in church, he felt, but in Sunday school it was disastrous.  It
should be a bright place, full of light and life.  He made up his mind
he would set Miss Cotton and the Ladies' Aid to redouble their efforts
towards improving the place.  When the service ended with a long,
slowly-droned psalm and the children filed quietly out, whispering even
on the doorstep, the minister drew a deep breath of relief.

He found himself walking up the hill with old John Hamilton and Peter
McNabb.  Behind them came the superintendent and Duncan Polite.  Mr.
Hamilton turned to include them in their conversation.

"And what do ye think o' oor Sabbath school, Maister Egerton?" he was
saying.  "Maister Johnstone here has made us a fine superintendent for
mony a lang year."

"It's very good indeed," answered the young man heartily; "fine
attendance, and the order is better than I ever saw it.  But don't you
think children need a little more brightness and life in their service
to keep them interested?"  He turned to his sour-faced elder with a
charming air of deference which would have disarmed any man but
Splinterin' Andra.  But the elder's stick was already waving
threateningly behind him, like the tail of a lion aroused.  The young
man did not notice the ominous sign and hastened on to his doom.

"I believe your Sabbath school to be a most exemplary one, Mr.
Johnstone, but I hope you do not mind my saying that I believe the
children should take a more active part in the exercises.  They should
feel it is theirs.  A few good rousing hymns, now, in which they are
interested, and--" he hesitated a moment, and then remembering how
often the young people had begged him to open the subject of a musical
instrument to Splinterin' Andra, and feeling that he was doing well,
and now was his opportunity, continued--"and perhaps the use of an
organ to help the music would aid greatly and add brightness and
interest to the school."

The red rag had been shaken in the bull's face!  Shaken very politely
and gently it is true, but a maddening challenge nevertheless.  Had the
minister only left out the organ the presence of Duncan Polite might
have restrained his friend from violence, but an organ stood for
everything that was frivolous and worldly.  And now that this man who
had been the Joshua of his hopes, who was to lead the young people into
the promised land of righteousness after their old leader had gone up
to his rest, now that he had come out avowedly the promoter of
instability and the apostle of fashion, it was too much for Splinterin'
Andra.  He had loved and revered the young man so long, in spite of his
many failures, that his resentment was now in proportion to his former
confidence.

Peter McNabb saw the danger, and burst in with a not altogether
irrelevant remark about there being thunder in the air; but he was too
late; already Splinterin' Andra's stick had darted from its place like
a sword from its scabbard.

"Man!" he exclaimed, turning a face of righteous wrath upon the
well-meaning young clergyman, "man!  It's ma' opeenion, that wi' an
instrument o' wund in the pulpit, we're no in great need o' anither in
the congregation!" and sweeping a clattering shower of stones down the
hill, he tramped away ahead, leaving consternation and dismay in his
wake.

Duncan Polite walked by his friend's side in silence.  He sympathised
deeply with Andrew's feelings, but this new disaster was like to break
the old man's heart.  But Andrew Johnstone was not done.

"An organ!"  He repeated the words with all the bitterness of his
disappointed soul.  "An organ!  The Lord peety the kirk that has a fule
for a meenister!"

"Oh, you must not be saying that, Andra," said Duncan Polite.  "The
Lord will be a better judge than man----"

But old Andrew interrupted him tempestuously.

"Man, Duncan, Ah've kept it tae ma'sel for mony a day, but Ah jist
canna bide it ony mair!  Him an' his organ!  Aye, he's after some bit
balderdash a' the time.  Ah tell ye the buddy's no got the root o' the
matter in him!  He can preach, aye, Ah'll no deny yon, but what's the
gude o' what he's haverin' aboot?  This mornin' he preached jist half
an oor, aye, an' twenty meenits o' it taken up in provin' that Paul was
a gude man, a thing that no the biggest fule in the Glen would gainsay,
no, not even oor Andra'," he concluded sombrely.

Duncan sighed.  He had noticed that the sermons were steadily growing
shorter.  Indeed, from the first Sabbath of his pastorate the young
minister had deliberately set himself to abbreviate the church service,
commencing with the sermon.  He had done it so gradually that he
flattered himself it was unnoticed, but no one could depart one jot or
one tittle from the ancient ways without the argus eye of the ruling
elder spying out the offence.

"Oh well, indeed," said Duncan Polite, "it would be a clever sermon,
Andra, and I would be thinking he gave us some fine thoughts on Paul."

"Paul!" cried the other with withering scorn.  "Paul! and who sent out
meenisters to preach Paul?"

Duncan could not answer.  John McAlpine Egerton was a clever speaker
certainly, with much of his grandfather's fire, but to the brilliant
discourses on the heroes of the Bible which had constituted his sermons
lately Duncan had listened with a remote ache in his heart.  For though
Paul was a great apostle, and David the Lord's anointed King, who were
they to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Old Andrew was still talking, his stick waving furiously.  "It's
railin' agen this, and rowin' agen that: it's Socialism and Anarchism
and some other rubbishy ism every Sabbath.  Man, why can the crater no
preach the Gospel?  Aye, an' we had a half an oor o' havers aboot
infidelity last Sabbath.  Tod!  Naebody in the Glen kenned what
infidelity was till he cam' except mebby yon lad o' Silas Todd's, an'
the crater's no wise onyway!"

Duncan made a feeble attempt to stem the tide.  "But these societies,
maybe they will be doing good, whatever."

This was only fuel to the fire.  "His societies!  Man, wi' his Y. P. S.
C. E. an' his Y. M. C. A. an' his X. Y. Z., fowk's heids are fair
turned!  Jist sparkin' bees, every ane o' them!  An' him the biggest
spark o' them a'!  A Chreestian Endeavour Society!  Man, where's he
gaun to get it, wi' oot the Chreestians?  Our Andra an' yon natral o'
Silas Todd's, an' thae huzzies o' John Hamilton's, an' yon nephew o'
yours!  _A Chreestian Endeavour_!  Eh, man, does the buddy no ken he
canna mak' bricks wi'oot straw?"

Duncan made no reply.  He was as utterly crushed as though he were
guilty of all the sins imputed to the minister.  His heart was crying
out in its pain and disappointment.  Andrew's parting words sounded
like the closing forever of the door of hope.  "Aye, an' we thought he
would be anither Mr. McAlpine!  The Lord forgie us for oor meeserable
presumption!"

When the first sting of his resentment against the elder was over, John
Egerton was not sorry that the disagreeable affair had occurred.  The
quarrel had not been of his seeking, everybody knew that; and the
knowledge that he did not need to be on friendly terms with the
cantankerous old man was a distinct relief.  He realised now that the
ruling elder had been something of an encumbrance to him ever since he
came to Glenoro.  He represented everything unprogressive in the
church, and he, the minister, had always been under the unpleasant
obligation of conciliating him.  He almost drew a breath of relief when
he found it was quite proper for him to take the opposite course.

So the consequence of Andrew Johnstone's hasty words was that the young
minister joined the rising generation in all their risings.  Fortified
by his support they soared higher than they had ever dared before and
demanded every innovation that has ever been known since churches began
to follow the fashions.  And first of all they set themselves
tenaciously to the getting of a church organ.

They went about it with the wisdom of the serpent, too.  The Christian
Endeavour Society went through the congregation, collecting money from
such as were favourable to the project.  When they found themselves
with a sufficient sum, their plan was to purchase the coveted
instrument, present it to the session, and they would just like to see
how Splinterin' Andra would prevent their accepting it.

But that was exactly what Splinterin' Andra intended to do; failing
that, he determined to carry his old threat of violence into effect,
rather than allow the desecration.  He grew fiercer and more resolute
every day, and yet in spite of his strength it was plain that at last
he was approaching defeat.

Duncan Polite strove to bring about a peaceable settlement.  He
counselled yielding.

"It will be a great sin in the Lord's sight, Andra," he said
pleadingly, "these wranglings among his own people.  'Peace be within
thy walls, oh Zion!' that will be the will of the Master and, indeed, I
will be thinking if we would jist all be of the right mind, this organ
would be a source of blessing, and like David's harp that drove the
evil spirits from Saul."

Andrew gave a derisive snort.  "If ye can see ony similarity between
David and yon bit, gigglin' light-headed lass o' Donald Fraser's that
thinks she's to play the thing, ye're michty far seein', Duncan.  And
ye ken weel if the Gospel does na' touch them, they'll no be converted
by a few bit worldly squeaks from a music-boax.  No, it's jist all
vanity, Duncan, jist vanity, an' we'll no hae the thing in Maister
Cameron's church as lang as Ah've gotten the use o' ma' arms!"

But the organ party went on collecting money unheedingly, and Duncan
was in despair.  He appealed to Donald, but found very little
satisfaction.  Donald was working hard in the harvest fields, and came
to Glenoro very seldom.  Duncan could not but guess the reason; the
minister's attentions to Jessie Hamilton were growing more marked every
day.  Wherever he looked Duncan could see signs of trouble, which he
was powerless to avert.

The great day arrived when the sum of money was complete.  At the next
Endeavour meeting they would make all arrangements for purchasing the
organ.  Mr. Egerton preached a very clever and caustic sermon that
Sabbath upon narrow-mindedness, and Duncan Polite's face was drawn with
pain as he listened.

On Monday evening, the night before the final and crucial meeting the
young minister was walking briskly down the road from the Oa.  He had
been taking tea with one of his most friendly families and had stayed
rather late playing croquet with the young ladies.  As he went along
the winding thoroughfare it suddenly occurred to him that he could save
time if he went over the fields and through the woods, coming out on
the road again just above the Glen.  He was over the fence in an
instant and crossing the dusky fields, the sharp stubble of the wheat
clicking against his feet as he walked.  Then he crossed a
sweet-scented pasture, with the dim, shadowy outlines of the cows lying
here and there, the stillness broken now and then by the soft tinkle of
a disturbed bell.  Next he entered the woods, so dark and still, with
only the light of a few stars peeping through the branches.  The young
man forgot Splinterin' Andra and Donald Neil and all his worries as he
moved through the mysterious darkness.  The strange, still whisper of
the forest, that gave a sense of life, as if the whole dark
surroundings were some great breathing creature, touched him nearly.
He felt awed; the trivial things which made up so much of his life
seemed infinitesimal now, in the face of this mysterious wonder.  When
he emerged into the grey light of the open fields again, he was both
saddened and uplifted.  He climbed the fence into Duncan Polite's
pasture field and made his way round the little shanty, stepping
quietly for fear of disturbing the old man, who might be sleeping.  But
as he passed the place a sound arrested his footsteps, a sound of a
human voice full of anguish.

The minister paused and drew nearer.  The green paper window-blind was
rolled up a few inches and from beneath it shone the light of a lamp.
He stepped up to the window and peeped in.  In the middle of the bare
room knelt Duncan Polite.  His Scotch bonnet lay on the floor at his
side and the rays of the little lamp on the table touched his thin
white hair with silver.  His pallid face was upturned, his eyes closed.
Collie stood beside him, his head on one side, a look of longing on his
canine face, as though his dog's heart were striving to know and share
his master's grief.  He stiffened and bristled at the scent of the
intruder, but Duncan had begun to speak again and the dumb sympathiser
was once more all attention.

"Oh, my Father, my Father!"  The words broke from him like a cry of
pain.  "Oh, my Father, Thou knowest there will be dissension in Thy
House and trouble in Thy Holy Place!  Oh set Ye open unto us the gates
of righteousness!  Father, lead us to the light and let not Thine Holy
One be put to shame among us!"

His voice broke, and Collie gave a quivering whine.  Then the man's
tones rose again in passionate pleading.  He poured out his whole,
great soul in such an anguish-laden prayer for the young man who was
listening, that he stood for a moment overcome.  Then, unable to bear
it, he turned and slipped softly around the house and out upon the
road.  He stumbled often and he did not walk with his accustomed easy
swing.  And as he entered the valley, the lights of the village swam
below in a mist, and the sad drone of the river rose to meet him like
the echo of Duncan Polite's prayer.



IX

THE PRESIDENT OF THE LADIES' AID SOCIETY

Miss Eliza Cotton took her scissors and roll of dress patterns and
started across the street for a day's sewing at the Hamiltons'.  She
liked to sew there, for she was fond of the girls in her queer way, and
there was plenty of life and fun.  To-day she was particularly pleased
to go to some place where she could pour out the vials of her wrath
upon the minister for the ridiculous way he had acted in refusing to go
on with the organ scheme.  Next to the latest news of the
neighbourhood, Miss Cotton loved what she termed "style."  Before Mr.
Egerton's advent the Glenoro Church had been utterly devoid of this
saving quality.  Since his arrival, however, matters had improved
rapidly.  But now, just when they had got a carpet for the pulpit
stairs and matting for the aisles, and were on the eve of purchasing
the long-talked-of organ, the very prompter and head of all the
enterprise must suddenly declare a complete change of front.  To Miss
Cotton the loss of his support was an absolute disaster, as it was to
many others, especially those who had to tramp over many miles of
country to return the money they had been at such pains to collect.
Even Mrs. Fraser was disappointed in the minister's action, for she had
been in hopes that Annie would be the organist, and she sighed long and
deeply over the mutability of the young minister.  Such sudden changes
of opinion, she declared, denoted an unstable character, and she feared
he would not have a good influence over the wild and unsettled young
men of Glenoro.

Miss Cotton did not care what characteristics were denoted by the
affair.  She only knew that in her opinion Mr. Egerton had behaved
outrageously, and she went over to the Hamiltons' prepared to maintain
the same at the point of her sharp tongue.

"Well, 'Liza," said Mrs. Hamilton, as soon as the dressmaker was
settled in her corner of the wide, breezy kitchen surrounded by billows
of light blue silk, "what do you think o' the minister changing his
mind in such a hurry?"

She did not ask because she was seeking information, for Miss Cotton
had left no one in doubt as to her views on the subject, but only as a
pretext for getting launched upon the all-important subject.

Miss Cotton sniffed indignantly.  "Mighty queer, that's all I have to
say.  He knew as well as we did all along that Splinterin' Andra an' a
whole crowd o' old fogies didn't want an organ, an' to think he'd stand
up at the very last meetin' an' say it would cause trouble--cause
fiddlesticks!  I'll bet there's somethin' at the bottom o' all this;
mebby some o' you girls knows more about it than I do.  Jessie here
seems to be gettin' awful thick with him."  She glanced sharply around
at each young woman, engaged in some household duty.

"That's just to make Don jealous.  Jess is awful cute!" said Maggie,
who was making intermittent attempts to wash the breakfast dishes.

Jessie was accustomed to such attacks, for she was the
sweetest-tempered member of the family, with much of her father's grave
gentleness, and she received even more than her share of teasing.  But
her heart was still very sore over her disagreement with Donald, and
she bent lower over her sewing.

"Be quiet, Mag," said Bella, who was the only one in the Hamilton
household who exercised any authority.  "Leave Jess alone and go on
with your work."

Maggie seated herself complacently upon the sewing machine box and
swung her dish-towel to and fro.  "To tell you the truth, Liza," she
said solemnly, "I believe the minister was scared.  I think he thought
that when Splinterin' Andra got done makin' kindlin' wood o' the organ,
he'd make sausage meat o' him, an' if he was in that condition he
couldn't marry Jess----"

"To Don Neil," put in Sarah neatly.

"Mother, come and make the girls be quiet," pleaded the victim.

"Jess would make a fine minister's wife, though, Liza," continued
Maggie, knowing well that every word she uttered would be repeated
verbatim to Mrs. Fraser at the earliest possible date.  "She takes
pious fits, doesn't she, mother?"

"I never notice much piety about any of you," retorted Mrs. Hamilton
smartly.

"Oh, mother Hamilton, you ought to be ashamed to own it, and here's
Bella and Jess getting themselves fixed to join the church.  Shouldn't
wonder but I'll be doing something rash like that myself, now that I've
turned Christian Endeavourer."

"A fine specimen of a Christian Endeavorer you are," said Miss Cotton
scornfully.  "An' you an active member, too!"

"Of course!  I wouldn't be in anything where I couldn't be active.
It's heaps o' fun."

"My goodness, if you giddy folks had old Mr. Cameron over you, he'd
show you how to behave.  It's my private opinion the minister don't
know a Christian from a wheelbarrow or he wouldn't have all you
feather-heads joining his societies."

"That's true, I do believe," agreed Maggie, "or he'd never a' got you
for President of the Ladies' Aid, for you know you say heaps more than
your prayers!"

"Maggie, you're a caution; do behave!" cried her mother, glancing at
Miss Cotton with secret pride to see how she appreciated Maggie's sharp
tongue.

"Oh, she's gone daft.  Don't listen to her, 'Liza," cried Bella
impatiently.  "Whatever do you 'spose made Mr. Egerton turn 'round and
act the way he did, anyhow?"

Miss Cotton looked mysterious.  "I know a good bit more about that chap
than I've ever told," she said, nodding her head in a tantalising
manner.  "I've got a letter over home that might throw some light on
the matter."  She took up her work again, waiting for this startling
piece of intelligence to take effect.

"What in the world is it, 'Liza?" cried Mrs. Hamilton, approaching the
sewing machine.  "I jist knew by the look o' you when you came in that
you'd something in your mind that----"

"That's so, she does look queer," declared Maggie, stopping, with her
dish-cloth suspended, to examine Miss Cotton critically.  "Now, I've
seen 'Liza so often when her mind was empty----"

"Don't listen to her, 'Liza!" cried Jessie, her small mouth twitching
with laughter.  "What were you going to say?"

"Well, if that young gas-bag would shut up for half a minit, I'd tell
you something pretty queer about the minister.  But, mind you, it's a
dead secret, and you must _promise_----"

There was a chorus of solemn pledges to secrecy from the group which
collected hastily around the sewing machine.  Mrs. Hamilton left her
bread-making and came, with floury hands held carefully away from the
blue silk, to listen.

Miss Cotton leaned back in her chair and raised her scissors.  Such
moments as this were her happiest.  "Well, I don't pretend to know what
made him change his mind so sudden," she said, lowering her voice
mysteriously, "for I don't, not any more than that sewing machine; but
I do know somethin' about him, that not a soul in Glenoro knows, an' it
makes me have some idea why he acts so queer."  A solemn silence fell
over the listeners.

"I've known it for two whole days, an' never whispered it to a livin'
soul!" she added, proud of this achievement in reticence.

"My! it's a wonder you didn't explode."  Maggie's voice somewhat
relieved the tension.  The narrator paid no heed.

"Now I guess you won't believe me, but mind you, I seen that fellow
before he ever came here.  It was when I was in Toronto that fall,
visitin' Maria, an' you'd never guess where I seen him, if you was to
try from now to the crack o' doom!"

She resumed her sewing with the most aggravating coolness.

"Drunk in the street," suggested Maggie.

"Maggie, it's awful to talk about a minister like that!" cried her
mother, weakening her reproof with a laugh.

"Where in the world was it, 'Liza?"

Miss Cotton resumed her oratorical attitude.  "Well, mind you, I never
knew myself that I'd ever clapped eyes on him, till night before last,
but his face puzzled the senses out o' me ever since he came here.
Only I'd heard so much about what old McAlpine looked like, that I
thought it was because he looked like him.  But if I've told Mrs.
Fraser once, I've told her a dozen times that----"

"Oh, go on with your yarn!" Maggie's dish-cloth was waving impatiently.

"Well, you mind that fall I went to the Exhibition an' stayed with
Maria till near Christmas?  My, the sights I did see that time!  You
girls ought to take a trip to the city now, why----"

"Oh, never mind, 'Liza," said Maggie, knowing the narrator's weakness.
"Settle the minister first, an' you can talk Toronto all day after."

"My! but you're anxious about him, Maggie!  That's a bad sign.  Well,
as I was sayin', I stayed all fall, you know, an' Maria she was bound
and determined I'd see an' hear everything that was worth while, an'
her and James they jist trotted me 'round till I was near dead.  James
Turner does make Maria an awful kind man, I will say, though I ain't
got much use for men.  Well, one night we went to a high-toned concert,
got up by a lot o' college fellows.  I tell you there's where you see
the fine lookin' chaps!  Don Neil couldn't hold a candle to them, the
way they was dressed up, reg'lar doods every one o' them, an' the
style!  If I'd been a young thing like one o' you girls now, I'd a lost
my heart a dozen times over.  But if you'd a' seen the fellows that
took part in the concert, you'd a' died, the way they were rigged up!
They all came a-flippin' an' a-floppin' out onto the platform, an'
besides their pants an' coats, every mother's son o' them had on some
kind of a long cloak, for all the world like Mrs. Duffy's black dolman.
An' they had the curiousest things on their heads, jist exactly like
the black shingles that was flyin' 'round here the night the sawmill
burned down!"

"Why, they were college gowns and caps," said Sarah; "Don Neil and
Allan Fraser are both going to get them."

"Well, don't I know that, you young upstart.  An' Mrs. Fraser's in an
awful way about Allan wearin' one, too, but that don't prove that they
didn't look jist like the mischief itself."

"Dear me, do they wear them kind o' things out amongst other folks?"
inquired Mrs. Hamilton in mild alarm.  She had supposed that such
raiment would be confined to the seclusion of one's own bed chamber.

"Indeed, they jist do, Mrs. Hamilton.  If Jessie an' Don Neil makes up
this little lovers' quarrel they've got up lately, you'll have him
comin' flappin' down the hill to see her in one o' them next winter.
But reelly, you wouldn't believe what awful trollops they were; an' if
I couldn't turn out a stylisher lookin' wrapper an' a mighty better
fit, too, I'd go an' choke myself."

"You'll choke before you get this story told, if you don't quit
talkin'," said the plain-spoken Maggie.  "Did the minister have a
wrapper on?"

But Miss Cotton had a fine eye to the structure of a story.  "Oh, I'm
comin' to him, at the right time.  Well, as I was sayin', there was a
whole swarm o' these fellows came floppin' an' flounderin' onto the
platform an' they all squat down in a long row with their wrappers an'
shingles on, an' started to play like all possessed on what they call
bangjoes or some such tomfoolery."

"Banjoes," corrected Sarah.  "Lots of the boys and girls play them at
the High School."

The orator paid no attention.

"An' they set there fiddle-dee-deein' for about a quarter of an
hour,--an' now I'm comin' to the important part.  There was one tall,
good-lookin' chap, sittin' right in the middle o' the row----"

"Mr. Egerton," whispered Maggie.

"An' he was scratchin' away for dear life on some sort of a fryin'-pan
thing, an' I leans over to James an' I sez, 'James,' sez I, 'ain't it
for all the world like gratin' nutmegs?' sez I.  Well, we were bang-up
in the very front seat, for James Turner always believes in gettin' all
he pays for, an' the fellows was makin' the awfullest clatter, an' you
know, James Turner's as deaf as a post, anyhow, an'--well, now, if any
o' you scalawags lets this out I'll massacree the whole lot o' you!"

A chorus of renewed promises and entreaties to continue followed this
terrible threat.

"Well, jist as I was sayin' it, good and loud, what should that blessed
racket do but stop short, jist as if they'd all been shot dead; an'
jist at that very min'it I was yellin' 'gratin' nutmegs!' at the top o'
my lungs!"

She joined heartily in the shrieks of laughter, for Miss Cotton loved a
joke on herself, as well as on another.

"O' course, they all went at it again, with a bang," she continued,
"but them fellas heard, o' course, an' they started to shake.  An' this
tall chap in the middle, I'm tellin' you about, was the worst of all.
I thought he'd a' took a conniption fit an' when he did manage to sober
up a bit, he stared down at me that hard, that if I'd been a skit o' a
thing like one o' you girls, I'd a' blushed, sure.  But I jist stared
back at him, good and hard, I tell you, till he had to look away.

"There was lots more programme besides that, singin' an' speakin'
pieces an'--oh, land! there was one girl come switchin' in with a long
tail to her dress, that would reach clean from here to the mill, an'
the neck of it cut that low it would make a body want to get under the
seat; it was jist shameful!  An' the way she sang was jist near as bad.
She squalled an' took on as if everybody she'd ever knowed had been
massacreed, an' you couldn't make out one single word she said no more
than if it had been Eyetalian.  An' all them folks set with their
mouths open, an' seemed to think it was jist grand, low neck an' all,
an' when she finished up with a yell jist like the sawmill whistle,
they clapped fit to kill.  I'm sure I'd heaps rather listen to Julia
Duffy singin' 'Father, dear father, come home with me now,' an' you
know what that's like."

"But that ain't near the worst yet.  After all them fellas got through
some more scrabblin', out comes the tall chap again, I was tellin' you
about.  Maria said it was him, or I never would a guessed it, because,
as sure as you're standin' there, Mrs. Hamilton, he was all blackened
up and togged out with a long-tailed coat, an' a high hat, an' danced,
an' cut up jist fit to kill.  The people all went clean into fits; an'
I thought James Turner would a' died laughin'.  It was real kind o'
comical, too, the way he went on.  But now I'm comin' to the real part
o' my story.  When we were goin' home on the street car, Maria says to
me, sez she, 'Do you mind the fellow that sang the coon song?' sez she.
'Well, I should think I do,' sez I, 'an' of all the bold young
scamps!'--'Well,' sez she, 'that fellow's goin' to be a Presbyterian
minister!'  'A minister!' sez I; 'what on earth's a minister doin'
flappin' 'round in a black night-gown an' playin' on a fryin' pan an'
singin' nigger songs?  He ought to be home readin' his Bible!' sez I.
'Well,' sez Maria, 'he's goin' to be one anyhow.  He's jist in Var-city
yet,' sez she, 'an' I guess it don't matter.'  'Well,' sez I, 'Maria
Cotton, the sooner he gets out o' _Var_-city, or whatever you call it,
the better, for it must be a wicked hole!'  Well, we didn't say any
more about him, 'cause we was racin' an tearin' 'round to somethin' new
all the time, an' I clean forgot all about it, until Monday night, I
was goin' home a piece o' the road with Mrs. Fraser, an' Mrs. Basketful
called to me that there was a letter from Maria for me.  I was scairt
for a minit, for I thought her an' the children must be all dead, she
writes so seldom.  But here if she didn't write to tell me the most
surprisin' news you ever heard, no less than that my gigglin' dancin'
chap with the bangjo was no less than our own minister!"

There was a chorus of startled exclamations.  Everyone had guessed the
end of the story, but it was astounding nevertheless when put into
words.

"How I could ha' been so stupid as to forget," continued Miss Cotton,
"I can't imagine.  It's a good long time ago, though, an' Maria never
told me his name; but now what do you think o' that, Mrs. Hamilton?"

"Dear, dear, ain't it awful!" exclaimed that lady, in genuine distress.
She was of the old school, who considered a minister removed far beyond
the frivolities of ordinary mortals, and was completely bewildered.
"Mebby that was when he was sowin' his wild oats," she said at last,
with some hope.

"Pshaw, mother, ministers ain't supposed to grow wild oats!" cried
Bella piously.  She was not as much enamoured of Mr. Egerton as
formerly; for Wee Andra was openly antagonistic to him since his
mysterious disagreement with Donald Neil.

"Don't any o' you girls breathe a word o' this," warned Mrs. Hamilton.
"Andra Johnstone an' some o' the other elders aren't too well pleased
with the poor fellow now."

"My!" sighed Maggie.  "Wouldn't I love to tell Splinterin' Andra that
the minister could sing nigger songs and play a banjo.  He'd say--'Show
me the sinfu' instrument of Belial an' Ah'll smash it into a thoosand
splinters!'"  She accompanied the speech with such an exaggerated
imitation of the old man's vigorous gestures, using the poker in lieu
of a cane, that the spectators shrieked with laughter.

"I'm afraid he'd smash the minister, too," declared Sarah.

"Oh, well," said Jessie, "I don't see that there was any harm in Mr.
Egerton's singing and playing when he was young----"

"Oh, yes, o' course you'll take his part!" cried Miss Cotton.  "But
I'll tell you this much, I've got something more to tell, bigger than
all that, something that'll make _you_ think he ain't quite so perfect."

"Why, 'Liza!" cried Mrs. Hamilton in alarm, "there surely ain't more!"

"There jist is, Mrs. Hamilton, an' something pretty queer."  She was
whispering again, and her audience drew near with bated breath.  "Maria
wrote two whole pages about him, an' she left the worst to the last.
She said, 'I s'pose he's a great fella' for the girls, he always was in
Toronto, an'--Jessie's lookin' scairt, I do declare!  Well, she said
he'd better take care 'cause he was engaged to a high-toned lady in
Toronto, engaged to be _married_, mind you!  It's true, too, because
Maria knows.  She's rich, an' awful stylish, an' her name's Helen
Weir-Huntley, mind ye, one o' them high-toned names with a stroke in
the middle.  An' Mrs. McNabb told Mrs. Fraser on the sly that Mrs.
Basketful told her he wrote to a girl by that name every week o' his
life, only not to tell.  An' he gets a letter back every week, too,
with a big chunk of red wax on it, an' some kind of a business stamped
on; jist stylish folks uses that kind.  So I guess you girls had better
quit playin' organs an' doin' things for him!"

Jessie's face flushed crimson.  "I don't see what difference that would
make, 'Liza," she said with a steady look from her deep grey eyes.

"Well, well, ain't it awful!" commented Mrs. Hamilton for the fifth
time, quite overcome by this second disclosure.

"Well, I think it's a pretty queer thing, anyhow," said the narrator,
setting the sewing machine whirring again; "I don't set up for no saint
myself----"

"That's a good thing, 'Liza," interrupted Maggie, who had recovered
somewhat; "just think how it would bother you!"

"But I _do_ say," continued the other, imperturbably, "that ministers
ought to act different from common folks.  And when I heard about his
goin's on, I jist thought it wasn't any wonder he acted so queer about
the organ.  Bella, let's see if this band fits.  Goodness gracious,
girls, speak of angels!  Who's that comin' in at the front gate?"

"It's him!  It's the minister!" cried Maggie, dancing wildly around,
"Let's go an' ask him how Miss
Thingy-me-bob-with-the-stroke-in-the-middle-of-her-name is!"

"For pity's sake!" cried Mrs. Hamilton, an ejaculation of no particular
meaning, but one she always used under unusual excitement.

"Bella, run an' show him into the settin' room, while I wash my hands
out o' this bread.  Who'd a' thought of him comin' here this mornin'
an' us jist talkin' about him!"

"Mercy me, mother!  I can't go to the door in this wrapper.  Send
somebody else; Jess, you look all right."

"Yes, Jess, you trot out an' show him in.  Tell him the President of
the Ladies' Aid's here, in a most pious frame of mind, and she'd like
to hear him play the bangjo and sing the other Joe--'Old Black Joe,' or
whatever you call him, and maybe he'll dance the 'Highland Fling,' too!"

"Maggie!" implored her mother.  "He'll hear you!  There's the knocker!"

The minister's sudden appearance put an abrupt termination to Miss
Cotton's gossip, but the story did not end there.  Jessie concluded for
the time, that, though a minister, Mr. Egerton must be something of a
flirt, and as Donald was now repentant she soon found no time to bestow
upon his rival.  The young minister missed the girl's pleasant
companionship, but he soon discovered that there was much greater
trouble ahead of him.  The story of his musical attainments in his
college days rolled through Glenoro, gaining in bulk as it progressed.
For, contrary to Miss Cotton's warning but quite in accord with her
expectations, the tale leaked out.  Bella told it to Wee Andra, who
told "the boys" at the corner.  Syl Todd rehearsed it before Coonie the
next morning, and that was all that was necessary.  Coonie embellished
it to suit himself, and produced such a work of art that he shocked
Mrs. Fraser beyond speech when he delivered it to her at the top of the
hill.

By the time it reached the Oa it was to the effect that in his college
days Mr. Egerton had been a very wild and dissolute youth.  Glenoro
might not have objected to a thoroughly reformed villain, but this
young man's gay conduct left them in doubt whether at heart he was any
better now than in the past.  Old Andrew Johnstone, who had been
somewhat mollified by the young man's action in regard to the organ,
was once more aroused.  At first he paid no heed to the story, for his
son had told it to him.  Wee Andra did not think it necessary to repeat
it verbatim; he was rather vague concerning details, but extremely
serious.  Some tale 'Liza Cotton had heard, he explained.  It was quite
true, he feared, something or other about his playing a fiddle and
dancing, far worse than Sandy Neil had ever been guilty of, for this
was in a theatre.  Wee Andra knew the word theatre was to his father a
synonym for the bottomless pit.  "Mebbe the minister had been an actor
once."  Wee Andra hoped, for the sake of the Church, that it wasn't
true.

"Ah, ye tale-bearer!" cried his father with a withering contempt, which
could not quite hide his perturbation.  "It's a fine pack ye meet every
night in the Glen!  Their only thought is to hear or tell some new
thing, let it be false or true!  Ye canna' even keep yer ill tongues
aff a meenister o' the Gospel!"

"But this is true, father," declared the young man seriously.  "'Liza
Cotton saw him herself; you can ask her, if you don't believe me.
Man!" he continued, growing frivolous again, "it'll be fine here next
winter if he plays the fiddle!  Sandy Neil's goin' to ask him to learn
him some new dance tunes!"

"Ah, ye irreverent fool!" shouted his father, rising up from the dinner
table where this conversation had been held.  "Man, ye an' yon Neil
pack neither fear God nor regard man!  Get oot o' ma' sight!"

Wee Andra, having wisely deferred his last shot until his dinner was
finished, obeyed his father's injunction with alacrity, and went off to
the fields, consumed with unfilial mirth.

Meantime the subject of all this discussion was not oblivious to the
fact that some strange undercurrent of feeling was working against him.
Coonie was the instrument used to make a reality out of the intangible
thing.

The mail-carrier was coming slowly down the hill one September morning
with hanging head and sullen mien.  Eliza Cotton had been sewing down
on the Flats for over a week and he had not had any fun for a long
time.  He was just sweeping the valley with his green eyes like a huge
spider in search of prey, when he caught sight of a tempting fly.  The
young minister was coming up the leaf-strewn path by the roadside.  He
was just turning in at the McNabbs' gateway, when Coonie pulled up.  He
had brought a bundle from Lakeview for the blacksmith's wife with his
accustomed grumblings, and had intended to fling it over the gate, as
he passed, in the hope that it contained something breakable.  But now
he recognised in it an instrument in the hand of Providence to give him
the long-wished-for speech with the minister.

"Good-mornin'!" he called, rather crustily, for Coonie affected good
manners before no one, no matter what was his aim.  "Will you hand this
bundle to the Missus in there, if you're goin'.  It's some o' the fool
truck I've got to lug across the country for weemen."

Mr. Egerton stepped towards the buckboard, and Coonie grinned as he saw
the brilliant polish of his boots disappear in the grey dust of the
road.

"Hope you're likin' Glenoro," he said as he handed out the parcel.

John Egerton met the unaccustomed friendliness of the mail-carrier with
the utmost cordiality.  "Oh, yes, very well indeed, thank you!" he
answered, but without the enthusiasm he would have displayed a couple
months previous.

"Awful place for talk," replied Coonie righteously.  "Never saw the
likes.  If a fellow's ever done anythin' in his life he shouldn't a'
done, cried too much when he was a baby, or anythin' like that, they'll
find it out.  S'pose you'll find they're rakin' up all the things you
ever did?"

John Egerton looked at the questioner keenly.  He was not sufficiently
acquainted with this queer specimen to be able to answer him according
to his folly; so he said curtly, "I am perfectly willing they should,
Mr. Greene; I never did anything I am ashamed of."

Coonie's face expressed profound astonishment, not unmixed with gentle
reproof.  "Is _that_ so?  Glad to hear it, sir, glad to hear it."  He
shook his head doubtfully as he spoke, and rode away, his shoulders
drooping suspiciously.  He was in such good humour that seeing some of
the Hamilton girls on the veranda, he drew in all the breath he was
capable of and bawled, "Say, which o' yous girls is goin' to marry the
minister?  I hear you're all after him!"

There was a chorus of smothered shrieks and a sudden vanishing of
whisking skirts within the doorway, and having satisfied himself that
Mr. Egerton must have heard, Coonie swung his whip round old Bella and
clattered up to the post-office in high glee.  And Duncan Polite from
his watchtower on the hilltop witnessed his meeting with the minister
and prayed that the young servant of his Master might be speaking to
Coonie of things eternal.

John Egerton returned to his study in deep annoyance.  He now realised
certainly that someone was circulating slanderous tales about him,
tales that had caused Jessie Hamilton to avoid him.  His thoughts
instantly reverted to Donald.  He had noticed him and Jessie strolling
along the river bank nearly every evening lately; probably he was
filling the girl's mind with disagreeable untruths regarding her
pastor.  He believed young Neil capable of it.  The knowledge of his
perfect innocence in the past only served to increase his anger at
anyone who had dared to malign him.  He waited until four o'clock and
then went up to the schoolmaster's house and demanded an explanation.

Mr. Watson confessed all he knew, making the story as much like the
original as possible.  It was not Donald but 'Liza Cotton that had told
it, he explained.  At first the victim of the tale could have laughed
at the absurdity of it all, it seemed so trivial.  But that did not
explain why Jessie Hamilton had so suddenly preferred Donald to him.

"Are you sure that's all, Watson?" he demanded, "absolutely all?"

"Well--," the schoolmaster hesitated, but he was the minister's slave
and could deny him nothing.  "There was something more, about your
being engaged.  They've even got the lady's name; the post-mistress
indorsed it, too.  Aren't they a pack of jackals, anyhow!"

The young shepherd went home without denying this imputation against
his flock.  He was overcome by a feeling of impotent rage against
everyone in Glenoro.  Did ever mortal man have such a position to fill?
He must be all things to all men.  He must have the inspiration of his
grandfather in the pulpit, and the piety of Mr. Cameron in the home; he
must be a hail-fellow-well-met with every country bumpkin who came
under his notice, and he must have the manner of a judge pronouncing
death, to meet with the approval of his elders.  He must not pay
attention to any particular young lady, and yet he must dance
attendance upon all; he must have the gift of tongues in the Oa and an
Irish brogue in the Flats.  And just when he was pleasing the party he
felt to be the most influential, and to him the most congenial, they
must turn upon him and rend him for the very qualities they most
admired in him!  He was exasperated beyond endurance.  He would resign:
yes immediately, and leave the silly, gossiping place to its fate.  And
then he thought how it would look before his compeers: he, John
McAlpine Egerton, the pride of his year, the hope of the professors,
and the most promising young man in the college, could not manage this
little back-woods church for one year.  And then there was Jessie.  Of
course he was not in love with her, he told himself, but he did want
her to think well of him.  She had heard about Helen, of course.  It
was the old story.  He could not lift his hat to a girl but the whole
congregation must stand waiting for him to marry her.  He fairly
writhed in his indignation during the night, the only night his Glenoro
congregation had disturbed his slumbers, and the next morning he was no
nearer a solution of his difficulties.

The poor young man was treading a hard road, one which was made all the
harder because it was of his own choosing.  For he had, like the
foolish priests of olden times, tried to do, with carnal means, a holy
task which demanded heavenly, and was suffering the naturally resulting
confusion and distress.  For he had forgotten that the Jehovah who
demanded holy fire from Nadab and Abihu, does so even to-day; and the
priest who raises unconsecrated hands to His altar must even yet hear
the dread tones of the Omnipotent--"I will be sanctified in them that
come nigh Me: and before all the people I will be glorified."



X

THE WATCHMAN'S DESPAIR

The summer was gone.  The harvest days, the days of crimson and golden
woods, of smooth-shaven fields, of orchards weighed down with their
sweet burden, and of barns bursting with grain had come.  A tingle of
frost in the bracing air told that they must soon give place to winter.

One mild evening Duncan Polite sat at his shanty door, watching the sun
go down behind the flaming trees.  He knew the nights would soon be too
chill for this pleasant pastime and he cherished each moment spent at
his open door.  In his sadness and anxiety, the glorious robes assumed
by Nature at the sunset hour lifted, for a little, the shadow from his
spirit.

But to-night the sun went down in a colourless silver glow, which
prophesied winter and storms, and to Duncan the grey dreariness seemed
in keeping with his feelings.  For Donald had gone back to the city
that day, and when he had bidden the boy farewell the old man had also
parted with his great aspiration.  Donald had come to him the week
before, and with his usual frankness made known the fact that he could
never entertain any further thought of entering the ministry, and had
therefore abandoned all idea of returning to college.  The sacrifice of
his education was a great trial to Donald, but he could not return
under a false pretence.

Duncan Polite made no appeal, uttered no reproof.  He realised that he
had been expecting this all summer, and he had become so accustomed to
disappointments of the bitterest kind that this one did not move him as
he had expected.

"It will be between your own soul and your Maker, Donal'," he said
gently.  "And I will not be urging you; for only the Lord must guide
you to this great work."  He sighed deeply and at the sight of the pain
he was inflicting Donald's heart suddenly contracted.

"But you will be going back and finishing your colleging, my
lad,--yes," as Donald protested vehemently, "you will be doing this for
me, for my heart will be in it, and if the Lord will not be calling you
to the church, you will be a good man, like your grandfather, and that
will be a great thing, whatever."

Donald could not answer.  Even when he came to say good-bye, he could
find but few words of gratitude.  But the reticent Duncan understood,
and the young man went away with the fixed determination, that though
he could not attain to his uncle's ambition, he would at least, with
God's help, be such a man as would never bring dishonour upon Duncan
Polite.

When his boy left him the brightness seemed to die out of the days for
the lonely old watchman on the hilltop.  He realised now how much he
had hoped for and expected in the springtime, when Donald returned from
college and Mr. McAlpine's grandson stood in Glenoro pulpit.  When he
thought of all his great hopes, he could not forbear, in the bitterness
of his soul, saying to himself, as he saw around him the signs of a
dying season, "The harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and we are
not saved."

A figure grew out of the dusk of the road, and the gate latch clicked,
and a familiar form, erect and sturdy, came up the path.  Duncan arose
with a sensation of comfort at the sight of his friend.  Andrew
Johnstone never went down to the village without dropping in for a few
minutes at the little shanty.

Duncan brought out a chair, and together the two old men sat at the
door and watched the stars come out in the clear, pale sky, and as if
they were their earthly reflections, the lights appear in the valley.
Andrew puffed a while at his pipe in silence.

"So Donal's awa'" he said at length, guessing partly the reason of the
weary look in his friend's face.

"Yes, oh, yes,"--Duncan's voice was like a sigh--"he would be going
back to-day."

"Aye, it's jist as weel.  He'll come to nae mair harm in the city than
he would in yon gabblin' crew o' young folk in the Glen.  Man, Duncan,
the Scripter described them weel.  They're jist naething but the
cracklin' o' thorns under a pot, aye, an' yon foolish bit crater that
an ill fate has gie'n us for a meenister is the lightest o' them a'.
May the Lord forgie the man that disgraced Maister Cameron's pulpit an'
Maister McAlpine's name!"

Duncan did not seem to have the strength to combat his friend's
statements; and Splinterin' Andra sailed on, encouraged by his silence.

"Ah dinna ken what's come till the man; he acted maist strange aboot
the bit music-boax, an' whiles Ah hoped he'd got some sense intill him.
But there's nae change in him.  It's a tea-meetin' or a huskin' bee, or
ane o' his society meetin's ivery night.  Och, for a meenister wi' the
grace of God in his heart an' a hunger for souls!  We hae fallen upon
ill times, Duncan!"

Duncan Polite roused himself with an effort.  "They will not be so bad
but the Father can mend them, Andra, an' indeed it will not be like the
times when your father an' mine would be praying here for the Glen."

"Ah dinna ken that," replied old Andrew morosely.  "If they didna' have
a meenister in thae times, to show them the way o' salvation, they
didna hae a bit worldling to lead them astray."

"Oh, it may be better than we will be thinking; the young folk now are
always at the church, Andra, and at the prayer meeting."

"Hooch! an' they might jist as well be awa' for a' the good they get.
There's a pack o' godless young folk in the Glen that naething but the
terrors o' damnation'll iver reach an' they listen to a meenister who
says 'peace, peace' when there's nae peace!"

"Oh, well, indeed, indeed,"--Duncan Polite's gentle voice again stemmed
the torrent--"we must jist be praying for an awakening, Andra, like our
fathers would be doing.  And it will be coming," he added with a sudden
fire.  "But I will be fearing the sacrifice."

Andrew Johnstone paused in his fierce puffing at his pipe, and turned
to look at his friend.  The light of the dying sun touched his white
hair and his thin face and showed the sudden, mysterious, supernatural
fire in his deep eyes.  The matter-of-fact Scot felt a strange
sensation as of the presence of some greater power.

"The sacrifice, Duncan?" he asked in a tone of surprise.  "Ye ken they
will na' heed the one great Sacrifice that's already been made."

"Yes, oh yes, that's jist it, Andra."  Duncan's voice sank to a
whisper.  "They have rejected the Sacrifice and the Lord will require
one from among us.  It would be a message to me."

His voice died away; his eyes seemed to pierce the violet mists of the
valley with prophetic power.

Andrew Johnstone was silent, oppressed by a feeling he did not
understand.  Duncan continued, as though speaking to himself:

"Yes, oh yes, indeed.  There will be a sacrifice, and I will be fearing
it!  What will the Lord require?  It would be the first fruits in the
olden times, Andra, and I will be thinking of Donal' an' Sandy an' the
lads----"

"Ah, they're jist a scandalous pack!" cried the other, relieved at
again being able to pour out his feelings upon something tangible.
"Yon lad o' mine's the worst o' them a' wi' his singin' an' his
dancin'.  It's the blue beech gad they want, ivery one 'o' them.  Ah
wouldna' be botherin' wi' them lads o' Betsey's, Duncan; they're a sair
burden to ye!"

"I have a burden, Andra," said Duncan, after a long silence, and
speaking with an effort.  "But Betsey's lads will not be making it any
greater.  I----" he hesitated again.  To the reticent Duncan Polite the
confession of his heart's secret was extremely difficult.  "I have a
burden," he continued, "but it is the whole Glen I carry, day an'
night, Andra, day an' night!"

There was a wail in the old man's voice which sent a thrill of sympathy
through his old comrade.

"Yes, they will not be like they were, and the sin will be growing; the
tavern is at the lake yet; and the lads will not be heeding the word of
God, and I will be saying, what will be the end, what will be the end?"
He paused again; his friend was gazing at him wonderingly.

"My father would be praying and watching the valley all his life, for
he would be making a covenant with the Lord at the big stone over
yonder; you will be minding that, Andra.  But when he died, he would be
leaving it to me, and when he was going he would be saying, 'Duncan,
lad, remember Bethel.  God hath set you as a watchman on the hilltop
here, to warn every soul from the way of death; see that He doth not
require the blood of a soul at your hands.'  And I would be thinking,
in my presumption, that I would be like my father, and that I would be
worthy for this work.  And the Lord would be answering my father's
prayer by sending Mr. McAlpine, and I would be praying, too, for a
deliverer, but I would not be worthy; and He has punished my pride.
And I will be bringing all this sin and worldliness on the place."

"It's havers ye're talkin', Duncan!" cried old Andrew sharply.  "It's
no yer fault!  If the careless an' godless willna' listen to the Gospel
ye're no to blame, man!"

"Look you!" cried the old man, pointing down the dim valley with its
twinkling lights.  "I will be seeing this day and night, all my life,
and the Lord hath put it into my heart to be a watchman of souls.  I
have heard Him say it, 'Son of man, I have set thee a watchman .....
and if the people be not warned, and if the sword come, and take any
person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood
will I require at the watchman's hands!' .....  '_At the watchman's
hands_,' mark you, Andra; and the sword of unrighteousness will be
hanging over my father's Glen, and I will not be keeping my covenant!"

"Duncan!" cried his friend in alarm, "this is not right for you.  The
Lord doesna' lay the sins o' ithers on one man's heid.  By their own
deeds shall they stand or fall."

Duncan Polite shook his head slowly; he seemed scarcely to hear.  "He
would be showing me I was not worthy," he said, in deepest humility.
"For I would not be warning the people as my father would, and I will
be punished for my sin.  The blessing will not be coming as in my
father's time; for I will be hearing Him say, 'Bind the sacrifice with
cords even unto the horns of the altar,' and what will it be, Andra,
what will it be?  The watchman will be an unfaithful servant.  Oh,
wae's me for a worthless vessel!"

Old Andrew's sympathy moved him to rough, quick speech.  "Ye're tryin'
to carry the sins o' people who must suffer for their ain, Duncan
McDonald," he said, with a harshness Duncan did not misunderstand.
"It's nane o' your fault, man!"

"It will be my inheritance, Andra," said the other, with quiet but firm
conviction.  "I would be hearing it, 'Son of man, I have set thee a
watchman.'  It would be a message to me."

There was a long silence, broken only by the distant sounds of the
village.  To the matter-of-fact Andrew Johnstone the mystic Highlander
was a puzzle; but his faith and sympathy remained unabated.  Duncan had
never fully opened his heart before, and his friend stood awed at the
depths revealed.  He had little to say in reply; the elder was a man
whose emotions, except that of righteous indignation, were kept
suppressed.  But every word of his old friend sank deep into his heart.
He parted with a word of comfort.

"We mustna' forget that the Lord has us a' in His hands, Duncan," he
said awkwardly, as he rose to go, feeling strange in his entirely new
role of comforter to the hopeful one.  "He is all-wise, an' He kens, ye
mind."

"Oh, indeed yes, indeed yes."  Duncan's tone was full of contrition for
his late despair.  "He will be a very present help in time of trouble."

But he sat at his dark little window, looking over at the place of his
covenant until the shadowy, ethereal greyness of the dawn concentrated
itself in a glorious bar on the eastern horizon and gradually grew into
the great awakening of another day.

He had been disturbed in his meditations and prayers only once.  At
about midnight, a laughing crowd of young folk passed the house on
their way to the village.  They were returning from a husking bee.
Duncan could hear their noisy, gay chatter, and among the merriest
voices he could distinguish the one that he had once hoped would call
all the youth of his valley to a higher and better life.



XI

COALS OF FIRE

When Donald Neil left Glenoro his pastor drew a breath of relief.
Donald's conduct towards him, since the day of the picnic had been
above reproach, but try as he would, he could not help associating all
his troubles with that young man.  With his removal the minister was
not surprised to find that his affairs settled down to their old happy
level.  The story of his youthful frivolity was dying out; when Coonie
furnished a new variation of it every day, sensible people ceased to
believe even the original.  The young people, always ready to follow
him, convinced themselves, though somewhat reluctantly, that he had
acted rightly regarding the organ; and the older folk considered his
conduct in that affair wise beyond his years.

Without any volition on his part he gradually drifted into his old
intimacy with Jessie Hamilton.  Since her reconciliation with Donald he
had enjoyed very little of her company, and had missed it more than he
cared to admit.  Jessie admired him profoundly; the very fact of his
being a minister set him immeasurably above all the other young men of
her acquaintance.  He must be a wonder of goodness and unselfishness,
the girl felt, to give up his whole life to the service of God, and she
was filled with a sublime joy to find that he deigned to single her out
to assist him in his great work.  Though she never dreamed of setting
him above her hero, she felt compelled to admit that he must be a great
deal better than Don, for Don had lately scouted the idea of being a
minister.  She felt herself highly privileged to be the friend of such
a man.  And since he was engaged to be married, there could be no harm
in her being friendly with him.

Whatever mistakes John Egerton made, they were committed with the best
intentions.  He determined, while enjoying Jessie's friendship, to
maintain a strictly impartial position among the young ladies of his
congregation.  But somehow fate seemed against him.  The very night
after Donald left there was a husking bee at Big Archie Red McDonald's
in the Oa, and as he sat down in the long, noisy row of boys and girls
and helped to fill the barn with laughter and dust, he found himself
next to Jessie.  He had never seen her look prettier, and she had never
found him more entertaining.  He threw himself into the work with all
his might, and was so gay and so witty, that the common verdict was
spoken by Big Archie Red's bigger and redder son, that "they didn't
know what fun was until the minister came."  He could not resist the
pleasure of a walk down the great terraces in the moonlight in such
pleasant company as Jessie afforded.  That walk was the beginning of
it; what was to be the end, all Glenoro was in a fever to know.  There
was no doubt of one thing; the minister was "keeping company" with John
Hamilton's second girl whether his congregation liked it or not.

For a short season John Egerton experienced an uncomfortable sensation
that he was not acting just rightly.  This was at Thanksgiving time,
when he paid his first visit to Toronto.  As the train whirled him
northward again, through the sunlit spaces of brown earth and blue sky,
he told himself positively that he had gone too far with the little
village belle, and that he must hereafter walk more circumspectly.  For
when he had found himself once more in the stately home of the woman he
loved, and Helen, tall and beautiful, had swept into the spacious
drawing-room to greet him, he realised, for the first time, what a
difference lay between the queenly young woman of society and the
simple little country girl who had been absorbing such a dangerously
large amount of his time and thoughts.  Helen, so composed, so
elegantly poised, so thoroughly at home in the best social circles of
the city, would be a perfect companion for him, one in every way suited
to take her place at his side in the brilliant career he had mapped out
for himself.  Jessie would have looked out of place, he feared, in
Helen's elegant home.

But when he returned, and met the Glenoro girl coming down the northern
hill, her nut-brown curls dancing in the wind, her cheeks crimson from
its caress, her eyes as clear and radiant as the river which flashed
before her, he was forced to admit that Jessie was as perfectly in
accord with her surroundings as Helen had been in the flower-scented
drawing-room.  He was bewildered.  Was it possible, he asked himself,
for a man to have two natures, quite distinct in tastes?  He worried
himself almost to distraction over the question; but as there was no
one to answer it, he drove it from his mind by spending the evening at
the Hamiltons' teaching Jessie to play chess.

And so the autumn passed very merrily for the minister of Glenoro,
disturbed only by occasional doubts as to his course, until, with the
opening of winter, came the Christmas holidays and Donald Neil.  Duncan
Polite's heart grew happy again under his boy's sunny presence.
Donald's deep regret at the disappointment he was causing his best
friend made him assiduous in his attentions to Duncan.  He spent so
much of his time at the old shanty on the hill that the old man's cares
were for the time forgotten.

Unfortunately, Donald's advent brought anything but peace in other
quarters.  John Egerton asked himself with keen self-reproach if it
were possible that he was jealous of the young man.  He could not help
resenting Donald's cool manner of appropriating Jessie's time and
attention.  The young minister was not accustomed to being set aside in
that lordly fashion.  He felt it was high time that this haughty youth,
who had behaved so ill to him ever since his arrival in Glenoro, was
taught a lesson.  He would show him that John Egerton was to be shoved
aside by no man.  So he steadily continued his visits to the
Hamiltons', and abated not one whit his attentions to their pretty
daughter.

Those were exciting days for Glenoro.  Coonie was kept so busy
manufacturing and spreading tales of the rivals, that he quite
neglected Miss Cotton, and sometimes even forgot to linger on the road.
Jessie, herself, seemed to enjoy the excitement as much as anyone.
Perfectly secure in the knowledge that Donald loved her, and equally
sure of her love for him, she felt there could be no harm in having "a
little fun."  She was carried away by the flattery, and took a foolish
pleasure in encouraging both young men.  She lived only in the
intoxication of the moment, quite careless of the fact that she was
laying up sorrow for herself as well as for others.

The winter had opened with a severe frost preceding the snow, and the
Oro was a glittering sheet of ice.  In the daytime the school children
covered the shining expense, and when a game of shinny was in progress
Mr. Watson might ring his bell till it cracked.  But in the evenings
the grown-up youth of the village appropriated the pond.  Every night
it was black with skaters, while occasionally a group would spin away
up the river under the dark, over-shadowing banks.

The pond, however, was the centre of attraction.  For several evenings
Wee Andra had been furnishing hilarious entertainment for the village
by his agonized efforts to skate.  Donald had undertaken the herculean
task of instructing him in the art, and no one envied him his position.
For while the Glenoro giant was not utterly devoid of agility on his
native element, on the ice, and crippled by skates, he was as helpless
as an ocean steamship without an engine and almost as difficult to
navigate.  The crowd generally gave him a wide space for their
gyrations, for, when Wee Andra succumbed to the forces of gravity he
never managed to descend unaccompanied.

One evening the tutor called in reinforcements.  It was the last night
of his holidays and he did not want to spend it all on even such a
faithful friend as Andrew.  So Donald summoned Allan Fraser to assist
him in piloting his unsteady burden to the other shore.  With their
pupil hanging helpless between them, the two young men staggered
uncertainly along, followed by a noisy crowd, very merry, and very
prodigal of advice of a highly mirth-provoking order.  Between his
frantic lunges the victim was vowing death and destruction to all and
sundry, from his faithful teachers down, as soon as he was free from
the accursed shackles.  The young man's wrath was not appeased by the
fact that his supporters were weak with laughter and that Bella
Hamilton was skimming gaily up the river with Mack Fraser, the most
expert skater on the pond.

Jessie was circling around with Maggie, waiting for Donald.  She had
promised him this last evening.  He was to join her as soon as he had
dragged his friend once more over the slippery circuit.  Just as Donald
turned away, the minister came skating smoothly towards her.  He had
just arrived.  Would Miss Jessie not come up the river a little way
with him?  She glanced across the pond.  The boys were still struggling
manfully with their wobbling burden.  They could not be back for some
time, she reflected.  Don would never know if she took just one little
skate up to the school house and back.  She gave the minister her hand
and they glided up the winding silvery track to where the moonlight was
hidden by the towering river banks.

Meanwhile, Wee Andra, goaded to desperation by his absolute lack of
success and the facetious remarks which were rendering his guides weak
and incompetent, resolved to give up the hopeless struggle.  He shoved
aside his supporting comrades fiercely, and came down upon the ice with
a crash that seemed as if he had decided to end his tortures
Samson-like and die with his tormentors.  But fortunately the ice held.

He tore off his skates, and, hurling them in the direction whence had
arisen most of the remarks upon his uncertain locomotion, leaped up and
charged headlong into the ranks of the enemy.

Very much relieved, Donald skated back eagerly to Jessie.  When he
reached the spot where he had left her, he saw her disappearing with
his rival up the glittering pathway.  Donald's face grew dark with
anger.  He was too indignant to consider that he had returned much
sooner than she expected.  He realised only that she had left him on
this his last night, and for that fellow!  He turned with a fierce
jerk, and almost skated into Maggie.  That young lady was darting
wildly here and there in her efforts to elude Syl Todd.  Whatever
trouble Syl might have with his head, he was the perfection of
nimbleness with his feet, and Maggie was almost cornered.  She clutched
Donald's arm.

"Oh, Don," she cried, "get me out o' this.  That crazy little mosquito
is after me again!"

Glad of an excuse for swift motion, Donald caught her hands and swept
her forward with a force that made her gasp.  Away they spun in a mad
race up the river, Maggie propelled by the impulse of a wild glee,
Donald by the anger that was consuming him.  Neither had any thought of
the direction they were taking, neither dreamed that their winged
flight was to be a race with death.

A few moments earlier Jessie had declared that they must turn back.
They had gone farther up the river than they had ever ventured before,
and she was troubled at the thought that Donald might be waiting.  John
Egerton felt chagrined at her evident anxiety to return.  He could not
shut his eyes to the fact that Donald was very much to her, perhaps
everything.  "Let us cross here, and go down the other side," he
suggested, wishing to prolong the pleasure.  They glided out from the
shadow of the overhanging cliffs, the ice ringing beneath their feet.
Here the banks were close together, and a narrow strip of moonlight
marked the middle of the stream.  Just as they touched its silvery
edge, there came a loud crackling sound.  John Egerton realised with
appalling suddenness that he had made a fatal mistake.  With a powerful
swing of his arm he sent the girl flying forward.  "To the shore!" he
shouted.  Before Jessie could grasp his meaning she felt herself
darting forward with the impetus from his arm, and at the same instant
the ice beneath her companion gave way with a sickening crash, and he
was engulfed in the swirling black water.

The girl's wild scream of terror was scarcely uttered when there was a
rush past her; she realised as if in a dream that Maggie was beside her
and that someone was darting out towards the middle of the river,
grasping a stout rail.  The sisters clung to each other for an instant
in dumb fear, as they saw in the narrow strip of moonlight, the
minister's head, just above the black hole.  He was clinging
desperately to the edge of the ice, which broke off now and then in his
benumbed grasp.  Donald shouted a word of encouragement, and laying the
rail upon the ice he threw himself across it and worked cautiously
forward.  As he went down upon the rail there was a cry from the bank.

"Oh, Jess, Don's in too!" gasped Maggie, faint with terror.  Jessie's
heart stood still.  In the darkness of the shadow Donald's figure was
scarcely discernible to her terrified gaze.

"Oh, he's gone down," she cried; "if he drowns I'll die!"  She tore
herself from Maggie's grasp and shot down the stream calling for help.

As Donald reached cautiously forward and clutched the drowning man in
an iron grip, Jessie's cry of terror floated out to him.  He never
dreamed of applying the words to himself.  In the whirl of the moment
he scarcely grasped their meaning.  That came to him later with
overwhelming force.  With all his strength he was struggling to draw
his burden up on the ice.  But already Jessie had returned with
assistance; another rail was being propelled towards the dangerous
spot, another pair of strong arms were stretched out and in a few
moments the young minister was dragged back, unconscious, into safety.

The next morning brought to John Egerton a vivid recollection of the
last night's events.  His first impulse was to get out of his bed and
go straight to Donald and thank him from the bottom of his full and
humble heart.  But Mrs. McNabb sat at his side, sympathetic but
inexorable.  He was not to move out of his bed that day, she commanded;
Mrs. Fraser had left instructions to that effect.  The helpless
prisoner appealed to Peter Junior.  That young man came into the room
before going to his work to see if his hero had quite recovered.  "See
what your mother's doing to me, Pete," he complained, half laughingly.
"I'm as well as you are, and she won't let me get up.  I want to see
Donald.  He pulled me out all alone, didn't he?"

Peter Junior was a garrulous youth of seventeen indiscreet summers.  He
was enthusiastic over Donald's courageous deed.  "You just bet he did,
Mr. Egerton!" he cried, seating his blacksmith's overalls on the
minister's immaculate white counterpane, too eager to notice that his
mother was telegraphing frantic disapproval.  "You just bet!  Mack
Fraser got there in time to give a little pull, but Don did the most of
it.  Say! but it was fine though!  All the fellows 'round said it was
jist nip an' tuck for about a minit whether he'd go in himself or not!"

"It was simply splendid of him!" cried the minister warmly.  "I shall
never be able to thank him."

Mrs. McNabb left the room for a few minutes and her son became
confidential.

"Say, though," he exclaimed sympathetically, "all the fellows was
sayin' last night it must be kind o' awkward for you, havin' Don pull
you out.  They're all wonderin' how Jessie Hamilton'll take it."

If Mrs. McNabb had happened to take her patient's temperature at that
moment she would have been highly alarmed.  But it was impossible to
resent Peter's blundering sympathy.

"Where's Donald?" he asked, with an effort.  "I must see him."

"He went off this mornin' early.  Sandy drove him to Mapletown.  Don't
know what he was in such a fearful rush for.  Allan Fraser's goin' on
the same train an' he doesn't go till the afternoon.  Hello, there's
Flo yellin' at me.  Now, you take care o' yourself, an' do what mother
tells you," he added, rising, and gazing affectionately at the young
minister.  "You'll soon be all right.  There's been about a thousand
people here this mornin' already askin' for you."

John Egerton scarcely heard the kindly words.  Left alone he turned his
face to the wall.  He was descending the valley of bitter humiliation
and regret.  Donald Neil, the young man he had almost hated, had saved
his life at the risk of his own, and had then gone off apparently to
escape his thanks.  Did the young man despise him so much then?  His
conscience smote him relentlessly as he went over the events of the
past two weeks.  How must his conduct have looked in Donald's eyes?
And he the minister, the guide and example of the young men of the
community.  It was impossible to bear his self-accusation and lie
inactive.  In spite of his landlady's prayers and protests he insisted
upon rising.  He felt rather weak and giddy, but he got to his writing
desk and there poured out his repentant soul in a letter to Donald.  He
thanked him humbly from the bottom of his heart for the great service
he had rendered him.  He hinted that if he had ever done Donald an
injury, either in word or action, he was willing to make amends
ten-fold.  He declared that he was ready, nay anxious, to do anything
or everything that Donald might suggest that would in any small way
help to repay him for what he had done.

Donald was touched by the letter.  It was impossible not to read the
sorrow and repentance in it, not to feel its ring of truth.  He
pondered over it deeply.  A man who could write such a letter as that
could not but be honourable, he reflected.  And why should he blame him
for falling in love with Jessie?  Indeed Donald confessed that he did
not see how he could help it.  And was he justified in hating the man
because he had won that which he himself had lost?  It was hard to be
generous, but Donald's nature was so essentially honest he could not
but respond to the heartfelt words.  He intended to answer the letter
the very next evening, but was prevented by an invitation to the home
of one of his professors.

Donald was glad to escape from his own moody thoughts, so, early in the
evening, he found himself packed into a layer of fellow students
against the wall of the crowded drawing-room.  He was listening
absently to the strains of music that floated in from another room,
when he felt himself clutched violently from behind.  He turned to meet
an elegant young man, small and dapper, who was struggling eagerly to
his side.  Donald recognised him as a law student whose field of labour
was in society, and who went by the name of Dickey Deane.

"I say, McDonald," he whispered eagerly, when he had dragged Donald
aside, "don't you hail from Glenoro, or some such place, and don't you
occasionally masquerade under the title of Neil?"

Donald confessed that he was guilty on both counts.

The young man slapped him joyously upon the back.  "By Jove!" he cried
enthusiastically, "I've found you at last!  Come along here, my Eureka;
there's a young lady here waiting to fall down and worship you.  Didn't
you pull the Reverend Egerton out of a hole in the ice at Christmas?
You close beggar, why couldn't you tell people?  And Jack Egerton's
your minister!  Well, Jupiter, wouldn't that drive anyone to drink!
You'll know all about Miss Weir-Huntley, then.  She's had me doing
amateur detective work for nearly a week, running down a glorious hero
by the name of Neil.  I didn't know you had to travel incog.  Come
along here; you may be a questionable character, for all I know, but
she thinks you're Neptune's own son.  There she is, under the lamps,
the goddess in pale green.  Isn't she a stunner?  Don't you wish you
had let the Reverend Jack go under?"

Donald's grip brought the young man's headlong progress to a sudden
termination.  His brain was in a whirl.  The young lady's name had
awakened vague memories of Glenoro gossip.

"Hold on there," he said firmly, "what are you raving about?  Who is
Miss Weir-Huntley anyway, and what under the canopy does she want with
me?"

"Why, you unshorn, backwoods lamb, she's the belle of Toronto!  She's
Jack Egerton's dearly-beloved, and finally and most important of all,
she's the faithful and adoring worshipper of your glorious self!"

But Donald was in no mood for levity.  He looked across the heads of
the crowd at the regal young woman beneath the chandelier.  "Do you
mean to tell me," he asked, "that she's engaged to--to marry our
minister, Mr. Egerton?"

"Why, of course.  Everybody knows that.  She's waiting till he gets
famous.  Don't faint!  By Jove, old fellow, I believe you're hit
already!  All the fellows get that way over her; I'm a chronic case
myself.  Cheer up; shouldn't wonder if she'd throw Jack over for you.
She's awfully taken with you already, and when she sees you----"  He
broke off with an extravagant gesture of admiration which was not
altogether feigned.

Donald did not notice him; he was asking himself why he had not let the
double-dealing cad drown, but the next moment he was bowing over a
beautiful, jewelled hand and a pair of dark eyes were looking
unutterable gratitude into his, and Donald felt ashamed.  He left her
as soon as was possible without seeming rude, and went home to face the
matter squarely.  This man, this despicable creature who had won
Jessie's affection, was playing with her.  He was amusing himself
making love to the little country girl while this haughty young queen
held his heart.  Donald was torn by conflicting emotions.  Should he
write to Jessie and tell her?  He was too sorely hurt to do that,
besides she would not listen to him.  Should he write to John Egerton
and tell him in a few scorching words what he thought of him?  In the
end he did neither, and two in Glenoro who expected to hear from him
wondered at his silence.

Miss Weir-Huntley found young Mr. McDonald a difficult puzzle.  She
wanted to show her gratitude to the young man who had saved Jack's
life, but this strange youth would have none of her favours.  He
refused coldly all her invitations.  Donald could not be friendly
towards John Egerton's betrothed; Jessie's cry was still ringing in his
ears.  The young lady gave him up at last, concluding that he must be a
boor in spite of his fine appearance and his courage.  Only once was
she able to show him any attention.  She was driving home in her
carriage when she came upon Donald crossing the campus.  She insisted
upon his taking the seat at her side as far as his boarding-house.  As
Donald stepped from the carriage and stood on the sidewalk bowing his
thanks very gravely, Allan Fraser appeared at the street door.  That
young man was profoundly impressed.

"My eye!" he gasped, watching the elegant equipage disappear down the
street, "the Prince o' Wales and all the royal family!  I say, Don, is
that the girl little Deane says is all gone on you?  Who is she,
anyway?"

Donald turned his back upon him in disgust.  "Oh, shut up, will you?"
he cried, slamming the door in his friend's face.

Allan uttered a long whistle.  "Hello! it's serious, all right," he
said to himself.  "Christmas, but isn't she a daisy!  I'm glad he's got
over mooning for that little Hamilton flirt, anyway!"



XII

JESSIE

The first great January snowfall was heralded by a leaden sky and a
surly looking sunrise, and early in the forenoon down came the white
flakes, thick and fast, whirling this way and that, until the valley
and the surrounding hills lay pure and soft under their fairy covering.

In the afternoon Miss Cotton took her sewing, put a shawl over her
head, and ran over to the Hamiltons'.  She was lonely, and, besides,
she had some news to tell.

"Here's 'Liza comin'," announced Maggie to the group sitting around the
dining room stove.  "Chuck full o' news, too, I know.  I can tell by
the way she's hoppin' along.  Old Mother Fraser's jist gone away from
there; she's been tellin' her something new about Mr. Egerton, I guess!"

She ran out to the hall and flung open the door.  "Hello, 'Liza!  Come
along in; we're all here, Sarah'n all.  It was too snowy for her to go
to school.  My, but you needn't bring all the snow in; leave a little
outdoors for sleighin'."

"If you weren't such a lazy poke, Maggie Hamilton, you'd have a path
shovelled to your gate; it looks like the track to a wigwam!"

"It's jist too bad, 'Liza," said Mrs. Hamilton as she swept the snow
from her visitor's feet and skirts.  "If I've told them girls once to
sweep that path, I've told them a dozen times.  Where's Mary Fraser
been?"

"Up to see old Duncan Polite."  Miss Cotton spread her cold hands over
the stove, and surveyed the four girls sharply.  "My, but you're
pretendin' to be awful busy!  An' Maggie sewin', too, as I'm alive!
The poor old man's got brownkaties, she says."

Sarah covered her face with her French Grammar and giggled.

"Oh yes, smarty!  You've got to snicker at somethin'.  I s'pose they've
learned you some new-fangled way o' sayin' it at the High School.  But
brownkaties is good enough for ordinary folks, an' bad enough, too.
An' that's what the poor old fellow's got anyhow.  They had a doctor
out from Mapletown, an' Betsey Neil's been there three nights.  He's
had a cold all fall, Mrs. Fraser says, an' wouldn't look after it."

"Dear, dear," said Mrs. Hamilton in distress.  "One o' you girls must
run up to-morrow with some beef-tea or something.  That's too bad.  Sit
close to the fire, 'Liza, it's dreadful cold."

"You'd better send Jessie up with the stuff," remarked the visitor,
planting two trim feet upon the stove damper.  "Maybe she'll get news
o' Donald."

"How d'ye know she don't get news anyhow?" demanded Maggie.

"Well, I got some news I'll bet she never got.  Don's up sides with you
now, Miss Jessie!"

Jessie looked at her with a startled expression in her grey eyes.

"I don't know what you mean," she said with attempted lightness.

"Well, Mrs. Fraser told me to-day that Annie got a letter from Allan
yesterday and he said Donald Neil was jist gone crazy over a city lady,
a real high-flier, too, rich as a Jew, mind you; she has a carriage and
she calls at the college every afternoon for my gentleman Donald and
drives him home, coachman and footman and everything.  Now wouldn't
that kill you?  I guess nobody in Glenoro'll be good enough for Don,
now; he'll be gittin' stuck up, like all the other folks that take to
book-learnin'"--she cast a meaning glance at Sarah, who smiled good
naturedly.  She rather enjoyed being considered proud of her
educational attainments.

"Well, what do you think o' your old beau now, Jessie?" continued the
visitor.

Jessie's cheeks were very pink, but she returned Miss Cotton's gaze
steadily.  "Why, I guess he's got a right to do anything he likes," she
said indifferently.

"Well I should hope so, specially when you've been carryin' on with the
minister all fall.  I guess Don thought two could play at that game."
She looked sharply at the girl, in some doubt.  She really hoped she
did not care, for 'Liza Cotton's heart was a kindly one, and she never
told her tales from malice, but from a sheer inability to be quiet.
"You'd better look out you don't lose both your beaux," she added.
"You and the minister don't seem so chummy since Christmas.  Did you
have a tiff?"

Jessie's eyes sparkled, and the garrulous visitor knew she had gone too
far.  "I think that's my affair," said the girl quietly.

Miss Cotton laughed easily.  "There now, you needn't get mad over it.
Goodness me, I always thought you were the good-tempered one o' the
family; you'll soon be as bad as Sarah for firin' up."

Sarah flew to defend herself, and incidentally to establish more firmly
her reputation as the bad-tempered member of the household, and in the
war of words which ensued Jessie's embarrassment was forgotten.  Mrs.
Hamilton sat and stitched placidly through the altercation, breaking in
at last to ask if Mrs. Fraser had said Duncan Polite could eat
anything.  There was some chicken broth in the house she could send up
with Babbie when she came home from school.

Jessie slipped away, when the conversation turned from her affairs and
crept upstairs.  So this was the reason of Don's silence.  Someone else
had her place in his heart.  She realised with a sharp pang that it was
her own fault.  She had trifled with his love, because the minister's
attentions flattered her, and now she was reaping her just reward.  It
was the first real trial of the girl's bright, easy life.  But she came
of a stock of pioneers, hardy folk, accustomed to shoulder the
adversities of life, and she bore her burden bravely.  Only her mother
knew that the news of Donald meant more to her than wounded vanity.

Every day during Duncan Polite's illness, Mrs. Hamilton, as was her
custom in all cases of sickness in the village, sent one of the girls
to his house with some tempting delicacy, jellies or custards or gruel
or beef-tea, the best she could produce.  Jessie had refused
positively, from the first, to take her turn at these errands of mercy;
though she had always been very willing under such circumstances in the
past.  But 'Liza Cotton's words had aroused a feeling of delicacy
regarding a visit to Donald's uncle.

But one day she found it impossible to refuse.  Sarah and the little
girls were at school, Bella and Maggie were away, and her mother was
preparing to make the snowy journey up to Duncan Polite's house, when
Jessie interfered.  She would go this once, she said, but never again.

The morning was clear and bright, the world a dazzling vision of white,
with here and there intense blue shadows.  Above, stretched a cloudless
dome of the same deep azure.  The air was mild, and the girl let her
dark coat fly open, revealing a jaunty scarlet blouse; her cheeks were
pink and her eyes bright from the exercise.  So it was no wonder that
as she passed the McNabbs' a pair of admiring eyes watched her, their
owner wishing he could find some plausible excuse for going up the hill
that morning.  But it was Friday, and his sermon was not yet commenced.

Duncan Polite saw Jessie coming.  He was able to sit up at his window
by this time and look over his little hedge of blooming geraniums at
the glittering white world.  One of the little girls had always come
formerly, and he had been able to reward her with a wonderful story of
the fairies that danced on the heather in the old land, or of Bonnie
Prince Charlie, or some other charming personage.  But this young lady
was different.  Duncan had scarcely spoken to her since the days she
used to sit on his knee and have her turn at the stories.  But he had
long known that she was Donald's sweetheart, and he saw her come with
feelings of mingled embarrassment and joy.

He arose quickly with all the natural courtesy that had earned him his
name, and had the door wide open, before Jessie reached the steps.  "Oh
indeed, indeed, it would be too kind of you and your mother to be
troubling," he said deprecatingly, as he took the little tin pail.
"Come away in, come away!"

"You should not come to the door when you are sick, Mr. McDonald," said
the girl kindly.  "Are you better to-day?"

"Oh, yes indeed, yes indeed, I will jist be all right," cried Duncan,
sweeping the snow from her small, neat boots.  "And now you will jist
be sitting by the fire for a rest after your long walk."

His tone was so eager that Jessie's heart was touched.  She took the
proffered seat, and Duncan in his pleasure and overwhelming hospitality
began to cram the stove full of wood.

"Oh, I'm not cold, Mr. McDonald," she said, "not a little bit.  Why, I
was _hot_ coming up the hill, the sun is so strong."

Duncan smiled at the bright, beautiful face.  "Ah, it will be good to
be young," he said, sinking into his old rocking chair again.  "Oh yes,
indeed.  Then you will be taking off your things for a little?" he
questioned nervously.

The girl slipped off her jacket and fur cap, and sat by the window, her
curly head and her bright dress making a pretty picture in the bare
little room.  Duncan regarded her with a wistful admiration.

"Oh yes, yes," he sighed.  "You will be minding me o' the times when
Betsey would be a lass, and my father and mother would be here."

Jessie's soft grey eyes were full of sympathy.  "I suppose everything
has changed for you since then, hasn't it?"

Duncan nodded.  How sadly things had changed for him, the girl could
not guess.

"Father always says," she continued, "that people aren't nearly as good
now as they were in the old times, when Mr. McAlpine used to come here.
He says we young folks have too good a time."  She gave a little
half-apologetic laugh.

Duncan looked up suddenly with a feeling of joyful surprise.  He had
not dreamed that this bright young creature would understand or
appreciate his troubles, but she had touched the keynote at once.  His
sensitive nature opened to sympathy as a morning glory to the sunrise:
his reticent tongue was immediately loosened.

"I will be afraid that sometimes us old folk will not be giving the
young ones the credit they deserve," he said indulgently.  "But indeed
the lads and lasses in the Glen will be doing work in the church we
would never be having in my young days.  There will be this new
society, whatever, the Christian Endeavour."

Jessie looked out through the red and green of the geraniums at the
brilliant blue and silver of the landscape.  She knew that the purpose
of the new society was above reproach, but somehow she could not quite
understand just what good it did.  "Yes," she said vaguely.

"And you will be a member of the church now," Duncan ventured gently.
"And I would be very glad to see all the young folk that would be
coming to the Lord's table at the last communion, for it will be a very
holy consecration to God."

Jessie felt her cheeks growing hot; she looked down at the bare, white
floor.

"It will be a fine thing to be giving up the life to the Lord's work in
youth," continued Duncan softly.

The girl looked up with an effort.  She knew that her joining the
church had had nothing whatever to do with giving up her life to the
Lord's work.  She had taken that step at the last communion because
Bella and a large number of the young people of the church were doing
the same, and because she had arrived at the time of life when, in her
opinion, everyone was supposed to join a church; and most of all,
because Mr. Egerton had asked her.  _He_ had never said anything about
a holy consecration.  She knew her catechism perfectly and could repeat
whole chapters of the Bible; she had never done anything wicked in her
life, not even what _she_ considered wicked, and she had supposed these
qualifications were sufficient.  Mr. Egerton had given her the
impression that he had thought so at least.  Duncan Polite's conception
of the act seemed entirely different.

"I know we all joined the church, but it didn't seem,--I didn't think
it was like that," she faltered.  "I don't think I'm any different."

"Oh, indeed, you will be a good lassie, yes indeed, oh, yes!  But when
the Lord calls His chosen to take of His broken body and His shed
blood"--he whispered the sacred words tenderly--"He will be expecting
them to do much for Him."

"I don't think I'm like that.  I know I'm not," burst out the girl.
"Mr. McDonald"--she looked at him, suddenly resolved to ask him some
questions that puzzled her.  She had never been able to bring herself
to ask her father, and Mr. Egerton would not understand.  "Is it wrong
for all us girls and boys to belong to the church, and just go on
acting the same?  I--I like nice clothes, and fun, and--and it's just
the same now, I don't see any difference."  She stopped, overcome.

Duncan's brown eyes were radiating kindness.  "My child," he said
tenderly, "I will not be wise to tell you these things, but----" he
hesitated a moment and a tenderer light came over his face; his voice
sank to a whisper--"but if you would be having the _vision_, the vision
of Calvary; if you would be seeing how the Lord Jesus put away His life
for us, you would be knowing then that His work is all and these other
things will be just nothing."

Jessie's bright head drooped, her eyes filled with tears.  She was
looking at her half-hearted, worldly interest in the work of the Master
in comparison with Duncan Polite's devotion.  The old man's words were
not all; piety creates its surrounding atmosphere, stronger than any
verbal expression of it, and Duncan's manner said far more than his
tongue.  He saw her emotion and with his usual tact changed the
conversation to lighter subjects.  Jessie's face grew brighter after
that, and she chatted away unreservedly until it was time for her to
leave.  Just before she rose, Duncan lifted his old leather-bound Bible
from the table and glanced at her timidly.  "Would you be minding if I
would read jist a word?" he inquired eagerly.

"Oh, I should like it so much," said the girl gently.

Duncan opened the Book reverently, his face glowing; then he paused and
looked at her again.  "Oh, but it is you will be the fine reader, and
my eyes will not be so good, indeed, since this cold, and maybe you
would jist be reading this now, and I would be much obliged, whatever."

Jessie took the Bible, and read where he had indicated.  It was the
sweet story of Mary, who sat at the Master's feet.  She had read it
many times before, but it had never seemed quite the same, for, when
she finished, Duncan Polite said softly, "Yes, that will be it, oh yes,
indeed, jist to sit at His feet and learn of Him."

That was the first of many visits the girl paid the old man.  Duncan
never left his own house, though his sister begged him to spend the
winter with her.  But the watchman must not leave his post, he felt,
and his loneliness was more than compensated for by Jessie's visits.
Through his long, weary convalescence the girl came regularly two or
three times a week, with the dainties her mother was in the habit of
lavishing upon the sick.  At first her sisters teased her about her
sudden change of mind regarding visiting Duncan Polite.  Maggie
declared she liked to go because she had to pass the McNabbs' and would
likely see the minister, but Sarah gave it as her opinion that she went
to get the latest news of Donald.

Jessie paid no heed to their raillery beyond smiling enigmatically.
They little guessed her real motive.  She looked forward to her visits
eagerly as the winter progressed.  Gradually her heart was opening to
the old man's teaching.  He said very little, but every word he uttered
the girl carried away in her heart.  The visit always ended by their
reading a few verses of the Bible together, and one day, before she
left, Duncan laid his hand gently upon her curls and said softly, "The
Lord bless thee, and keep thee!" and she went away feeling that a
benediction had fallen upon her.

At the time of these visits to Duncan Polite, Jessie was studying, with
the other members of the Christian Endeavour Society, the life of
Christ.  The meetings were well attended, and Mr. Egerton gave them a
most graphic and interesting account of the historical and picturesque
aspect of the wondrous season upon earth of the Son of the Most High.
But Jessie went up to the little shanty on the hilltop for the
spiritual side.  Under Duncan's gentle, humble dealing with the divine
mystery, the girl gradually came to comprehend, in a measure, what
Duncan had termed "the vision."  She understood, at last, the meaning
of the Great Sacrifice, beside which all possible human sacrifice
stands poor and mean.  She caught a gleam of the light from Calvary,
and in its searching effulgent blaze all the faint glitter of worldly
achievement grew dim and disappeared.

Among other things which she saw for the first time in their proper
light was her association with the young minister.  She knew now that
only her poor pride in the envy she excited had made her desire his
attentions.  She looked at the man himself with new eyes, and though
slow to blame another in her new-found humility, she could not help
thinking how different it might have been with her and Donald had their
pastor had more of the spirit of Duncan Polite.

But she did not criticise him; her own idle, careless life she found
too full of faults to censure another.  That life was gradually being
turned to higher aims, for a new Jessie Hamilton had been born that
winter, and one who was destined to help fulfil the old watchman's
great desire.



XIII

THE CANADIAN PATRIOTIC SOCIETY

The winter passed swiftly and merrily in Glenoro.  Since the accident
on the river skating had fallen into disfavour, but the minister loved
coasting, someone discovered, and the young people turned the south
hill into such a splendid slide that the teams could scarcely get down
to the mill with their saw-logs.  Then there were parties and
tea-meetings, and the weekly meetings of the many organisations in
connection with the church.  The young pastor and his youthful friends
lived in a constant whirl.

This state of affairs brought down many a wrathful condemnation from
the ruling elder upon the heads of the young minister and all his
generation.  Andrew Johnstone had well-nigh lost all hope of the young
man's ever accomplishing any good.  But he and Duncan Polite still
clung to one straw.  Every winter the Methodists held a series of
revival services, and this year the Presbyterian Church was to be asked
to join them.  Such friendly relations had been established between the
two denominations since Mr. Egerton's arrival in Glenoro that this was
at last possible.  Andrew and his friend looked to this period of
special services as an anchor in the great tide of worldliness which,
to them, seemed to be sweeping away their church.

But when the Methodist minister approached his brother clergyman with
the proposition, Mr. Egerton was compelled to give a reluctant refusal.
He was grieved at his inability to help Mr. Ansdell in any undertaking,
but he had already promised all his spare time and energy to a scheme
of the schoolmaster's.  Early in the winter Mr. Watson had dropped into
the minister's study, his small, thin face full of eagerness.

"Look here, Mr. Egerton," he said, tilting his chair back against the
wall, "let's get up a patriotic society this winter; it'll keep things
lively."

The young clergyman was already beginning to realise that he had very
little time for reading or study and scarcely relished the thought of
additional engagements.  "What should you do at the meetings, for
instance?" he asked.

"Oh, stir up a spirit of loyalty.  I'm not just sure how; but you'd be
sure to find a way."

"Why not make it a literary society, and study one of the poets; don't
you think that would be better?"

Mr. Watson did not look satisfied.  "I don't believe you're half
patriotic," he said banteringly, "but I'll make a bargain with you.  I
know a literary society would be a good thing, and I'll go in for it
head and feet, if you'll promise to call it the Canadian Patriotic
Society, and let's talk about Canada for ten minutes or so before you
begin on your poets."

John Egerton was rather pleased with the idea.  Certainly young
Canadians were grievously ignorant of their own country, and a literary
society would supply a great want.

So the Canadian Patriotic Society was duly organised and from the first
was a great success.

But a quiet weekly meeting at a private house was not sufficient for
the insatiable energy and fervid patriotism of Mr. Watson.  He decided
that the Canadian Patriotic Society must come before the public.  His
last attempt at a patriotic demonstration had met with such humiliating
disaster that he had abandoned all such projects for a time, but here
was a grand opportunity to educate the public.  They would give a
patriotic concert that very winter and astonish all the township of
Oro.  Of course the society was ready for anything and was soon plunged
in monster preparations for the event.  It was at this juncture that
Mr. Egerton was asked to assist in the period of revival services.  But
this new society and its concert completely filled his spare time, so
the two weeks of special meetings, when the old minister laboured
faithfully to bring souls to Christ, were carried on without help from
his young confederate.  The attendance was smaller than on former
occasions, and the interest seemed faint.  John Egerton was sorely
troubled.  He felt he could not be blamed, and yet his conscience
rebuked him.

In spite of its immense popularity the Canadian Patriotic Society met
with some opposition.  As the minister was taking such an active part
in it, Duncan Polite watched its development with a faint hope.  But
Splinterin' Andra soon dispelled his illusions.  "It's jist some more
o' his balderdash to keep young folk oot o' their beds at night," he
declared bitterly.  "Man, if the buddie'd be faithful to his Maister,
he needna' fear for his country!"

Old Mark Middleton, whose forebears were United Empire Loyalists, was
another active dissenter.  Mark's ancestry placed him in a position to
speak with authority upon such subjects and his opinion had some weight
with the community.  He declared that the whole thing savoured of
rebellion, and he, for one, would be very glad if he were sure the
schoolmaster and the Presbyterian minister weren't hatching some Irish
plot against the Government.

Coonie found this a tempting morsel, and delivered it duly to the
schoolmaster the first Saturday he found him at the corner.  "Awful
sorry to hear about the row you'n the minister are gettin' into," he
remarked sympathetically, as he crawled into the store, and pulled his
poor, half-frozen limbs up to the stove.

Mr. Watson turned sharply from the contemplation of the pound of butter
Mrs. Watson had cautioned him to bring home, and stared at the speaker.

"What on earth do you mean?" he inquired incredulously.

"Why, didn't you hear?"  Coonie's tone was a master-piece of pained
amazement.  "Why, old Middleton's kickin' like a steer about this
patriotic concert you're gettin' up.  Says he bets it's another
Mackenzie business all over, and he'll have the law if it ain't
stopped.  An' Splinterin' Andra says that a minister o' the Gospel
who----"

"Oh, go along, Coonie!" cried the other, much relieved.  "You're surely
old enough to know that Mr. Egerton's got more sense than to pay
attention to anything quite so pre-historic as Splinterin' Andra!  And
as for old Mark," he continued impressively, "you can tell him, from
me, that if there'd been a few more concerts like this long ago,
William Lyon Mackenzie couldn't have raised a rebellion and wouldn't
have wanted to if he could."

Coonie shook his head doubtfully.  "'Fraid it would only make trouble.
Mark says it's all danged nonsense.  Awful language that old man uses!"
He sighed piously, and, lighting his pipe, proceeded to make himself
comfortable.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing," he continued seriously, putting his
feet on the top of the stove and expectorating into the open damper at
a perilous distance, "I'll tell you one thing.  This here dispenser o'
religion you've got in this town tries to run too many shows at once.
He's tryin' to keep the Gospel trade hummin' an' have his eye on all
the fun that's goin' at the same time.  I ain't up in the religion
business myself; there ain't likely to be any wings sproutin' 'round
where I'm at, but I can tell a minister from an alligator seven days in
the week, an' without specs, too, an' the first time I laid eyes on
that chap you've got now, I knew he wasn't the sort that made folks hop
along to Heaven any faster than they wanted to go."

"You certainly ought to be a competent judge of a minister's duty,
Coonie," replied the schoolmaster sarcastically.

Mr. Basketful paused in the operation of weighing the butter.
"Coonie's right," he said, with conviction.  "Mr. Egerton can preach,
but 'e's not wot I call spiritually minded."

"That's it!" cried Coonie.  "That's the word I'm rummagin' for; he's a
sort o' sleigh-ridin', tea-meetin' parson.  I didn't take much stock in
old Cameron when he was livin'; you couldn't take a chaw o' tobacco
without him knowin' about it, but all the same he was the genu-_ine_
article.  It was uncomfortable times for sinners when he was 'round.
This chap's different grade; he needs a label on him."

Mr. Watson went out, banging the door in disgust, and Coonie kept
himself warm for many a mile past Glenoro, chuckling over his joke.

But the schoolmaster was too enthusiastic to be depressed by such
ignorant opposition.  He felt that he was creating an epoch in Canadian
history; he was stirring up a sentiment which would permeate the whole
country from Halifax to Vancouver and from the international boundary
to the north pole, a sentiment which would fire the lukewarm blood of
this people and bring glory and honour upon Canada and George Watson.

If he had remained long enough in Glenoro, he might have witnessed a
condition of affairs which would have surprised him.  Could he have
seen the boys he had taught in the school, grown to men, pushing and
jostling each other in their jealous and frantic efforts to be of the
glorious chosen few who marched away to uphold the old flag on the
African veldt, could he have foreseen that the disloyal young Neil, who
had been the first on that shameful Dominion Day to throw away his flag
and desert his country, would one day face a whole regiment for Queen
and Empire, he might have confessed that he had mistaken British
reticence for lack of sentiment.  But the schoolmaster, though
whole-souled and well-meaning, was not by any means far-seeing, so he
went on stirring up a spirit of loyalty with an energy worthy of a
better cause.

Through it all John Egerton was dissatisfied and worried.  He felt
positively grieved over the loss of an opportunity to show his
appreciation of Mr. Ansdell's friendship, and he knew that the elder
people of his own congregation blamed him.  He had another trouble,
too, which he scarcely confessed to himself; it was the strange, subtle
change in Jessie Hamilton.  When Donald ignored his humble letter, his
repentant mood had slowly vanished.  He told himself the young man was
all he had suspected, and not worth his trouble.  He would have resumed
his attentions to Jessie with a clear conscience, but was met by a
gentle but firm opposition.  He was puzzled and annoyed by the change
in her.  She was as sweet and friendly towards him as of old, but her
manner of timid deference seemed to have changed to an intangible air
of superiority.  The young pastor could not know that she had passed
far beyond him on the spiritual road, and the distance between them
bewildered him.  He began to realise too, to his chagrin, that she was
avoiding him.  No matter what pains he took to seek her company, she
managed, in some mysterious way, to elude him.  He wondered gloomily
how much Donald Neil had to do with the change.

But soon all personal affairs had to be set aside, for the date of Mr.
Watson's great celebration had arrived.  Whatever diverse opinions
there may have been in the community regarding the aims of the
patriotic society, all seemed unanimous in regard to attending their
entertainment.  The concert was to be given in the Methodist Church,
while tea was served previously in the Temperance Hall across the
street.

At an early hour eager spectators began to pour in.

Inside the hall, waiters, struggling through the crowd around the
tables, left more cake and pie upon the human obstructions around them
than they carried to the hungry folks already seated.  Turkey,
sandwiches, cake and pie disappeared as if by magic, as the long tables
were filled again and again.

Waiters flew, dishes rattled, babies cried and everyone talked and
laughed and made a noise.  And every five minutes the door would fly
open, creaking on its frosty hinges, to admit a rush of chill, fresh
air and still another crowd.

The cooking had been done on a tremendous scale, and the results were
beyond praise.  The North and the South had "played a drawn game," Wee
Andra declared; for even Mr. Egerton, seated with the Methodist
minister at the head of the longest and most heavily-laden board, was
unable to detect one slight shade of greater excellence in one than the
other and ate Northern pies and Southern tarts with an impartial relish.

He and Mr. Watson succeeded after supper in extricating themselves from
the hungry crowd.  They crossed the street to where the windows of the
church gleamed warm and bright.

"Well, Watson," said the minister encouragingly, "the crowd is here at
any rate, whether it's a patriotic one or not."

"Yes siree!"  The schoolmaster was in high spirits.  "If it's not
patriotic now, I'll bet my head it will be before we're done with them.
This is all owing to our efforts!"

But John Egerton did not share his enthusiasm.  He was watching
morosely three figures that were just disappearing into the church
ahead of him.  They were Jessie and her father and mother.  She had
formed the habit lately of going out only with her parents, and when
they remained at home she stayed with them, much to their wonder and
delight.  When he entered the church he found her safely ensconced
between the two, and knew there was no opportunity for him to gain a
word with her.

"Here comes the choir!" announced a voice from the back, as the broad
shoulders of Wee Andra heralded their approach.  That august body
walked leisurely to their seats of honour in a bower of evergreens
behind the organ, secure in the knowledge that the meeting could not
possibly commence without them.  They were soon settled in their
places, and Syl Todd found to his unspeakable delight that he was
seated next to Maggie Hamilton.  His father and mother, seated in the
front row, nudged each other in ecstasy at the sight of their son
sitting up there on the platform with the minister and the schoolmaster
and looking far handsomer and better dressed than either of them.

But poor Syl did not derive as much enjoyment from his proud position
as did his parents.  Maggie was extremely difficult.  "Ain't the
decorations lovely," he remarked, by way of a propitiatory opening of
conversation.  "If it hadn't a' been for you, Maggie, them flags
wouldn't a' been hung near so graceful."

His divinity jerked herself round impatiently.  "Oh, my goodness, I
wish something else had been hung besides flags," she said with
heartless meaning.

Syl laughed nervously.  "Oh Maggie, you are such a tease!  I never seen
such a monkey of a girl as you.  Look here what I got you."  He handed
her a little white candy tablet on which was printed a sentimental
inscription.  "I bought three pounds of them congregational lozengers
at Basketful's to-day jist for you."

Maggie glared at the unoffending piece of confectionery, but did not
deign to touch it.  "My, but you must have thought I could eat like a
horse!" she remarked scathingly.  "You can give them to Julia Duffy,"
and she flounced out of the seat to another at some distance, leaving
Syl to endure an evening of tormenting doubt as to whether he might see
her home.

Mr. Watson came bustling over nervously to confer with the choir
leader.  "The crowd's nearly all here, do you think we'd better start,
Andrew?"

"Jist as you like," was the reply.  Wee Andra was of too huge
proportions to be moved by any excitement.  "There's Mr. Thomas Hayes,
M. P., no less, comin' in at the door now!" he added, stretching his
neck to get a view of the other end of the church and sending a rather
unstable cedar tree and a deluge of flags crashing upon the organ.
"Gosh, I've pulled down the whole shootin' match!"

Mr. Hayes was the Member of Parliament for Glenoro's constituency, as
well as the Burke of the Flats, Oro's Irish settlement.  He was the
only orator honoured with an invitation to address the meeting.  Mr.
Watson hurried down the aisle to welcome the distinguished visitor,
amid a hail-storm of conversation lozenges.  When he had been brought
to the platform and duly honoured everything was in readiness.

Glenoro custom demanded that all such affairs should be opened with
prayer, but in his capacity of chairman, Mr. Watson did not see fit to
call upon either clergyman to perform that ceremony; the programme was
long enough, he reflected, and the praying could be dispensed with
easier than anything else.  The audience settled into expectant silence
as Mr. Egerton arose and in a few well-chosen words explained the
double mission of the Patriotic Society, and the aim of its
entertainment.  His audience listened attentively, and, judging from
the applause that followed, seemed to be quite in sympathy with the
movement.  It is true that some of the babies, not yet old enough to
realise their glorious heritage, occasionally interrupted his remarks,
and one disloyal youth shied a "congregational lozenger" across the
room; but the speaker did not appear at all disturbed.

The programme which followed was one calculated to arouse the most
sluggish soul present.  The choir sang quite thrillingly "The Maple
Leaf Forever"; the mouth organ and concertina band played "Upon the
Heights of Queenston" four times through without stopping to take
breath; while the boys at the back of the church kept time vigorously
with their feet.  During the performance Sim Basketful made several
ineffectual excursions to that abandoned region to demand order, but
was met by a fusillade of confectionery.  Wee Andra roared out "The
Battle of the Baltic" at the top of his prodigious lungs, and was
thunderously encored.  The fact that in his exit he once more knocked
over the evergreen tree with its burden of flags detracted not one whit
from either his or Nelson's glory.  Then Annie Fraser played "The
Battle of Waterloo" on the organ with an execution quite worthy of the
carnage of that event.  The only drawback to it was that Sandy Neil,
who had been detailed to announce each different part of the action,
and apprise the audience of the fact that certain sounds meant
"cannonade," while others symbolised the "cries of the wounded," as
usual allowed his spirit of mischief to carry him away.  He sang out
the names of the different movements in the long-drawn-out tone
associated with "calling-off" at a dance, much to the horror of the
staider portion of the audience.  Mrs. Fraser told 'Liza Cotton
afterwards that it just gave her a turn with her heart to see her Annie
sitting right up there in the midst of such iniquity.

Crooked Sandy McDonald, who was as straight as a pine stem, but who
lived under the misfortune of his ancestor's distinguishing
appellation, and who, next to Syl Todd, was the best elocutionist in
the neighbourhood, recited "The Charge of the Light Brigade"; and
though he said "Half a leak" owing to the inconvenience of a Highland
accent, he rendered the selection with such vim that his efforts
brought down the house, and a deluge of lozenges.

Such a warlike programme had never before been heard in the township of
Oro.  The very air seemed to smell of gunpowder.  The schoolmaster was
electrified.  He sprang to his feet almost before the Light Brigade had
ceased charging, and announced in a voice high and tremulous with
emotion that the auspicious moment had come, for they were now to be
favoured with the great feature of the evening, a patriotic address by
Mr. Thomas Hayes, Member of Parliament!

Mr. Hayes arose with the ease and deliberation of an old election
campaigner.  He was a tall, lean man, with bright penetrating eyes, and
a delightful suspicion of an Irish brogue, a man with hands horny from
the plough and a brain that belongs only to the rulers of men.  He
represented a political party that had its stronghold in Glenoro and
its impregnable fortress in the Oa; so he took his place upon the
platform amid uproarious stamping and cheering.

Canada could not well have had a better champion.  He spoke in the most
glowing terms of his beloved land, of her wonderful scenery, her
healthful climate, her free, hardy people, her glorious future.  He
reeled off enough information about her mines, her fisheries, her
agricultural resources and her manufactures to fill an encyclopedia.
He dilated upon the beauty and grandeur of Canadian scenery.  He stood
his audience upon the heights of Quebec and showed them the whole
panorama of their wonderful country in one sentence.  He swept from
ocean to ocean; he swam the great lakes and sailed down innumerable
rivers; he scooped out a canal to Port Nelson and shot across Hudson's
Bay; he rolled across the prairies; he hewed down the forest belt; he
dug gold in British Columbia; and, finally, he climbed the highest
snow-capped peak of the Rocky Mountains and poured down from its dizzy
heights the torrents of his eloquence; and when his bewildered hearers
recovered from the delightful deluge, they found that the exponent of
the Canadian Patriotic Society had skipped across the Atlantic and was
thundering forth upon the wonders and beauty of Ireland!

This was a long way from Canada and the aims of the Canadian Patriotic
Society, and the chairman's face lost its rapt look.  John Egerton hid
a smile behind the pulpit desk and that part of the audience that was
of Irish extraction applauded uproariously.  When, after nearly half an
hour's lauding of the Emerald Isle, the orator did stop, he was so
carried away by his own feelings that he wound up with a stanza,
recited most thrillingly, from "Erin-go-Bragh" and sat down amid
deafening applause without referring in the remotest way to his
original text.

Mr. Watson was rising to announce the next piece, in a rather doubtful
mood, when a voice from the back called out, with no uncertain sound as
to either the sentiments or the origin of its owner, "Wot's the matter
with England?"

There was a roar of laughter and a loud clapping of hands.  Mr. Hayes
arose again.  He was too old a politician not to see that he had made a
mistake in his one-sided speech.  He was about to supplement it, and
was beginning "Ladies and Gentlemen," when a loud voice from the centre
of the church interrupted him.

Mr. Sim Basketful had sat with an expression of utter boredom during
the latter portion of the member's speech, finally working himself up
into a volcanic mood as it neared an end.  His face was purple and his
short, thick neck showed veins standing out dangerously.  He might have
held down his righteous indignation had it not been for the challenge
from the back of the room, but the sight of that "blathering Irishman"
rising in response to it was too much.  Mr. Basketful was not of Mr.
Hayes' political opinions and, besides that, was his rival upon
tea-meeting platforms.  He had convinced himself that it was due to the
Presbyterian minister's interference that he, a Methodist, had been
denied the honour of being the speaker of the evening.  He, a
class-leader in the very church where the performance was given, to be
set aside for that Irish Catholic!  He would show them all a thing or
two before he sat down.  He was standing now, looking straight ahead of
him, and grasping the back of the seat before him, with true Saxon
doggedness.

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen," he shouted, and Mr. Hayes, who
had met Sim Basketful many a time in his political campaigns, sat down,
somewhat disconcerted.

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies _and_ Gentlemen, if there's anybody in this 'ere
haudience wants to know wot's the matter with Hingland, I'm 'ere
prepared to state, sir, that there ain't one bloomin' thing the matter
with 'er!"  (Loud cheers from his Anglo-Saxon hearers.)  "And wot's
more, _Ladies_ and Gentlemen _and_ Mr. Chairman, I think it's 'igh time
we were 'earin' just a little about that country that's made us all wot
we are!"  (Applause, mingled with noises of an indefinite character.)
"We've been 'earin' a lot o' nonsense about Hireland and Hirish scenery
and Hirish soldiers, but wot I'd like to be hinformed about, Ladies and
Gentlemen _and_ Mr. Chairman, is if anybody in this 'ere haudience is
under the himpression that a Canadian Patriotic Society is a _Hirish_
society!"

The withering contempt of the last words, and the cheers they elicited,
brought the first speaker indignantly to his feet.  Not one word could
he get in, however.  Mr. Basketful was a true Briton, and with the aid
of a voice which drowned all competitors he clung to his theme with
magnificent tenacity.  When the noise calmed sufficiently for him to be
heard, the audience found that he was discoursing fiercely and doggedly
upon the inimitable land of his birth.

Sandy Neil, his eyes dancing, slipped out of his place in the choir,
and made his way softly down the aisle at the side of the church.
"Catchach's down there," he whispered to the choir leader as he passed;
"I'm goin' to stir him up;" and Wee Andra threw back his head with a
laugh which blew out the lamp on the organ.

But none of these things moved the patriotic Englishman.  He was
launched upon his favourite theme, his native land, and was
irresistible.  England was the only country in the world.  He stamped,
he sawed the air, he used metaphors and similes and hyperboles in a
vain endeavour to give some idea of her glory.  He eulogized her
commerce, her statesmen, her Queen.  He brought up her infantry, he
charged with her cavalry, he poured upon his hearers her heavy
artillery.  And at last, backed by the whole great English navy, he
swept every other country off the face of the globe and retired to his
seat behind the stove, the Wellington of one last, grand, oratorical
Waterloo.

Mr. Egerton reached over and, catching the distracted chairman by the
sleeve, shouted above the din that if he wanted to avoid further
trouble he must either close the meeting or make the choir sing
something, and be quick about it.  The chairman arose and strove to
make his voice heard above the noise, but the chirping of a sparrow in
a tempest would have been as effectual.

For down at the other end of the church a most alarming tumult was in
progress.  Cries of "Order!" and "Sit down!" were mingled with "Go on,
Catchach; speak up!  Scotland forever!" and equally ominous sounds.

Through the struggling crowd a man was fighting his way fiercely to the
platform.

"Order!  Order!" shrieked the chairman.  But the disorderly person had
reached the platform, his red whiskers flying, his blue eyes blazing,
and his big fists brandishing threateningly above his head.  It was
Catchach!  The schoolmaster sat down very discreetly and hastily.  It
was Catchach, worked up to a white fury over the insult to
Scotland--Scotland, the flower of creation, to be neglected, while the
scum of the earth was being exalted!

"Mister Chairman, Ladies an' Chentlemen!" he shouted, "I will not pe a
public spoke, as you will pe knowing, put--" he went off into a storm
of Gaelic, but suddenly checked himself, at the roars of laughter from
his Sassenach enemies.  The ridicule saved him--and Scotland.  He had
been incoherent with rage, but that laugh steadied him, and settled him
into a cold fury.  He would make a speech for the glory of Scotland
now, if they pulled the church down about his ears.  And he did it
well, too.  England was forgotten, Ireland was in oblivion, Canada did
not exist.  But Scotland! the land of the Heather and the Thistle!
Catchach grew wildly poetic over her.  The noise of English groans and
Irish jeers and Scottish applause was so great that much of the
effusion was lost, but in the intervals of the uproar could be caught
such snatches as, "Who iss it that hass won efery great pattle in the
last century?  Ta Hielanders!"  "Who won ta pattle of Palacklafa?  Ta
Hielanders!" "Who stormed ta heights of Awlma?  Ta Hielanders!"

On he swept down to the last page of history, shouting the answers to
this glorious catechism with a ferocious defiance that challenged
denial; and at every shout there was an answering roar from the
inhabitants of the Oa which threatened to dislodge the roof.

The distracted chairman had not the courage to attempt to stem the
torrent.  He did not care to obtrude himself inside Catchach's range of
vision, for before he was done with Scotland the orator was rolling up
his sleeves and calling out like Goliath of Gath for all the township
of Oro to come forward and contradict him.  Many of the audience became
alarmed, and some of the older folk were starting for the door, when at
last the flow of fiery eloquence ceased.  How he ever managed to stop,
no one could understand; some people said they supposed he had come to
the limit of his English.  If Catchach had been able to address his
audience in Gaelic, it is likely they would not have seen their homes
until morning.

But he did stop at last, and went tearing down the aisle and out of the
door, shaking the dust of the place from off his feet.  The back row
arose in a body, and went roaring after him, for Catchach in a rage was
better than all the patriotic demonstrations on earth.

The meeting broke up in complete disorder.  The hour was unconscionably
late, and the remainder of the long inspiriting programme had perforce
to be omitted.  Those of the audience who remained sang "God Save the
Queen" in a rather distracted fashion and hurried away with the firm
conviction that a patriotic concert was an exceedingly improper
performance.

As the unhappy chairman and his confederate were leaving the scene of
their disappointment Sim Basketful brushed violently past the Irish
orator and confronted them.  He informed them in a choking voice that
if the Presbyterians were contemplating getting up any more such
disgraceful performances, they would see that they were held in their
own church, as the Methodists objected to having their place of worship
turned into a den of thieves.



XIV

DONALD'S RETURN

In the rush of preparation for the concert the winter had slipped away,
and by the time it was over the days had come when the sun was too
ardent for the snow's white resistance, when the roads became soft and
almost impassable, and spring began peeping at the wintry world in
brilliant sunrises and sunsets.

When the young minister of Glenoro found that the long winter evenings,
in which he had planned to accomplish so much, had gone, he could not
help looking back over the past season of feverish activity with
regret.  One evening in early spring as he walked down the great
stairway that led into Glenoro he was reviewing his winter's work with
the feeling of self-dissatisfaction that was so common to him now.
Every step he took seemed to lead him into greater depths of
despondency.

The evening was one which might have raised the most discouraged soul.
Before him lay the white valley overspread with the soft radiance of a
late winter sunset.  The gold of the hilltops where the sun's rays had
full play, the soft rose, the delicate green and the faint lilac where
the shadows of the valley met and mingled with the brightness, the deep
purple-and-grey tones of the woods by the river made a picture such as
only the magic of winter can paint.  The air was motionless, and the
smoke from the houses in the village rose in stately columns straight
into the still atmosphere, colourless and ethereal in the shadow of the
hills, but changing into pearl-white as they rose beyond their rim, and
blossoming, where the sun's rays caught them, into gigantic
frost-flowers of rose and amethyst and violet.

The noise of children playing on the millpond, the barking of a dog,
the musical clang of Peter McNabb's anvil arose to the hills where the
minister walked.  Away across the valley a sleigh was moving slowly
down the winding road; he could hear the clear tinkle of the bells as
though they were at his side.

But the young man was too absorbed in his own sad reflections to notice
his surroundings.  He was asking himself what progress he had made in
Glenoro with his tremendous activity and his multiplicity of meetings?
What had he accomplished in the past winter?  He thought with disgust
of the Canadian Patriotic Society.  He had given up the revival
services for the concert and Mr. Watson's romantic nonsense, with the
result that it had brought upon him both ridicule and discredit.  He
could not help wondering, now that he was on such intimate terms with
all the young people of the congregation, what was to be the result.
Were the pleasant relations he had established to be the means to a
better end or was this all?  Was he really going to be their pastor in
the true sense of the word, or merely an agreeable companion?

He sighed deeply over these perplexing and haunting questions.  He did
not confess, even to himself, however, that their burden was augmented
greatly by another problem that had vexed him all winter.  It had
assumed a graver aspect that very day, owing to a piece of news he had
heard at the dinner-table.

Peter McNabb, Junior, whose tongue was the McNabb's family skeleton,
had started the meal with, "Say, folks, Don Neil's comin' home
to-morrow.  Neil told me to-day."

"Indeed," said the blacksmith as he heaped Mr. Egerton's plate with
fried pork and potatoes, "he's home early this spring."

"He's jist comin' for the Easter holidays; Sandy sent for him to come
an' help with the logs.  He's goin' back again after.  Sandy an' all
his gang are at the camp back o' the lake there waitin' for the ice to
break, an' I seen Jimmy Archie Red yisterday, an' he says they're
havin' a whale o' a time, drinkin' an' cuttin' up like sin."

"Aye, aye," said Peter, Senior, shaking his head sadly, "poor Sandy's
goin' like his father, Ah'm afraid; Neil More was too fond o' the
drink.  Duncan Polite'll be feelin' terrible, if he hears it."

"Mebby Don'll straighten them up when he comes," suggested Flora, who
secretly admired the handsome young student.

"Indeed," broke in her mother, busy with the tea-cups, "I'm just afraid
Donald's not much better.  He seemed to be a steady boy once, but I
guess he's got his head turned in the city.  They say he's just filled
with infidel notions."

"I've heard that he don't go to church, since him an' Jessie Hamilton
split up last fall," declared Peter, Junior, injudiciously.  He turned
to his sister a face of indignant reproach.  "What on earth are you
jabbin' your feet into me for, Flo?  It's true, every word.  Mack
Fraser says Allan wrote home----"

"Pass Mr. Egerton the pickles, Peter," said Mrs. McNabb, with a warning
wink from behind the tea-pot.  And Peter shoved the cucumbers across
the table in sulky silence, wondering why on earth it was that he could
never be allowed to speak at the table without some mysterious
interruption.

But John Egerton understood perfectly, and this evening, as he walked
down the hillside, his conscience was once more asking troublesome
questions.  Was he responsible for Donald's changed conduct?  This man
who had saved his life, had he really come between him and Jessie?
Then there were those wild young men at the lumber camp; he knew most
of them personally.  As their pastor, should he not go to them?  That
would be rather difficult with Donald there.  And then, he asked
himself bitterly, what good would he do if he did go?  He had always
been a good fellow among the boys, but what more?  His conscience
forbade a satisfactory answer, and his spirits sank to a very low ebb.

He was aroused from his melancholy heart-searchings by the sight of
Duncan Polite's little shanty by the roadside, with the sunset glow
reflected in flame from the window panes.  He must call and see if the
old man's cold were better.  He was not at all remiss in his duties of
this sort and was so kind and sympathetic in time of sickness that he
was always welcome.  But he had not visited Duncan Polite very often,
though the old man had been ill all winter.  Ever since the night John
Egerton had heard him wrestling in prayer, and had guessed dimly at
what manner of man the silent old hermit was, he had felt uncomfortable
in his presence.  But to-night he realised that he should not pass
without dropping in just a moment to see how he was progressing.

Duncan Polite answered his knock.  He had an old plaid of the McDonald
tartan over his shoulders, his face was white and emaciated, and a
cough frequently interrupted his utterance.  But his eyes were as
bright as ever, and his face full of kindness.  He welcomed his young
pastor warmly.

"Eh, Mr. Egerton," he cried, smiling brightly at this young man who was
breaking his heart.  "Indeed it would be kind to come and see an old
man, and the roads breaking up, whatever.  Come away in, come away;" he
drew up his best chair to the fire, and set his guest into it, bustling
around and in every way he could ministering to his comfort.

The young man put his feet upon the damper of the stove, and tilted his
chair back in the free and easy manner which had charmed Glenoro.  "And
how's that troublesome cough to-day, Mr. McDonald? better, I hope?"

"Oh jist, jist!  It will be nearly gone, indeed.  Betsey will be giving
me drugs; but hoots, toots, the weemen must be potterin' about a body.
I will not be sick at all, oh no indeed."

The minister knew that he ought to ask after Donald, but he could not
bring himself to do so.  Instead, he said, "I hear your nephew has a
fine quantity of logs to bring down to the mill."

"Oh that would be Sandy."  Duncan's face grew suddenly grave.  "Yes, he
will be a great lumberman, and Donald will be coming home to-morrow to
help him"--he paused and looked at his guest.  A great resolution
seized him.  "Mr. Egerton," he said suddenly.

The young man looked up in some surprise.  Duncan was leaning forward,
his thin hands trembling, his face aglow with eagerness.

"Yes?" inquired the visitor encouragingly.

Duncan's humility was almost overmastering him, but he struggled on.
"I will be very bold, to be asking you," he faltered.  "It would be
about Sandy and the lads.  They would be good lads, but jist a wee bit
careless, and I would be thinking they would be listening to the
minister----"

He had spoken the very thought which had been troubling the young man
on the road.  "You mean you would like me to visit the camp?" he asked
kindly.

Duncan's eyes were burning with hope.  "Yes, oh yes!  An' jist to be
saying a word, you will be knowing best what."

He stopped, for his guest had started suddenly and was gazing eagerly
out at the window.  Duncan did not know that his eye had caught a
bewitching glimpse of a blue velvet cap, with a wealth of golden brown
curls nestling beneath.  Jessie was walking into the village alone!
The young man rose to his feet.  He had scarcely had an opportunity to
see the girl or speak to her for nearly a month.  Surely there would be
no harm in his taking this happy chance of a walk with her.

Donald would be home the next day, and it would be the last time.

"I am sorry I cannot stay and talk this matter over with you, Mr.
McDonald," he said kindly; "it is almost dark and I should have been
home much earlier.  But if I have a moment to spare I shall run up to
the camp and see the boys.  Good-night."  He hurried to the door,
Duncan following him.  "I hope your cough will soon be better," he
called over his shoulder as he strode down the path, "Good-night!"--and
then he was away through the gate and down the dusky road.

Duncan sat for a long time after he had left with his head bowed and
his face buried in his thin, trembling hands.  A racking cough shook
his frame occasionally, but he did not rise to mend the dying fire.
The room grew chilly, and at last Collie rose and went to his master.

The old man arose slowly at the gentle touch of a cold nose against his
face.  He replenished the fire, and moved listlessly about the room,
preparing his supper.  His face looked whiter and thinner than before
the minister's visit, and his movements were painfully slow.  There was
something more serious than a persistent cough undermining Duncan
Polite's health.

But there was no word or look of complaint from him.  He went about his
work as usual, tidying the room, and stirring the pot of oatmeal
porridge which was cooking for his supper.  His habits were of the
simplest; a bowl of oatmeal, or pease brose, and a pitcher of milk
sufficed for his supper as well as for his breakfast.  He set the
frugal meal upon the bare pine table, then lit his one small lamp,
which had been well trimmed and polished, and pulled down the green
paper window blinds.  He noticed there was still a brightness over the
eastern heavens, though the colours of the sunset had faded.  Duncan
shut out the world and sat down to his lonely meal.  Collie lay quietly
at his feet, waiting his turn, giving an occasional thump of his tail
upon the floor, to remind his master that he was hungry; but when
Duncan bowed his head over the repast for a few moments, the dog lay
motionless until he raised it again.  The dancing light from the wide
damper of the old stove and the rays of the little lamp could not
penetrate to the corners of the room, but they lit up Duncan's white,
patient face and his silver hair, and shone on the glass doors of his
cupboard, revealing the rows of shining dishes, and threw into relief
the bare dark rafters of the ceiling.

Duncan stirred his porridge absently.  His appetite had been poor all
winter, and to-night he could not eat.  He sat staring ahead of him
with sad, unseeing eyes.  Suddenly Collie raised his head and sniffed
suspiciously.  A quick bounding footstep was crunching the snow on the
little pathway to the gate.  The dog leaped up with a joyous bark and
the next instant the door flew open, and a young man burst into the
room.

Duncan arose, speechless with joy and surprise at the sight of the
stalwart figure and handsome face.  "Donal'!" was all he could say.

"Hello, Uncle!" the boy cried in his old ringing tones, catching the
old man's hand and shaking it violently; then he put a hand upon his
uncle's shoulder and stepped back from him.  "Why, you never told me
you were sick!" he cried sharply.

"Hoots, toots!" exclaimed Duncan, laughing from sheer joy.  "It will be
jist a bit of a cold.  Eh, eh, and we would not be expecting you till
to-morrow, and your mother would be telling the lads they must meet
you.  And would you be walking all the way from the station?"

"Oh, no, only it would have been better than driving.  I came
scratching along with Mack Fraser.  How is mother?"

"Oh, your poor mother will be jist fine indeed, and the lads.  Eh, and
you will be getting to be a great man, Donal'; I will be thinking you
will be a boy no more."

Donald laughed.  "It's surely time.  Why didn't Sandy tell me you were
sick?"

"Hoots, that would be jist foolishness, for there would be nothing
wrong, whatever."

"But there has been," said Donald, looking at him steadily.  He hung
his coat and cap in their accustomed place behind the stove, and turned
to the old man again.  His heart smote him as he took in the changes on
the beloved face.  He wondered if his refusal to enter the ministry had
had anything to do with their cause.

But Duncan was bustling about the room in aimless delight.  "Dear,
dear, you must be having your supper, lad!" he cried; "you will be
hungry."

"I should think I am.  I felt the Glenoro air and the Glenoro appetite
strike me at the same instant.  Here, sit down and let me get it."

"Indeed, perhaps your poor mother will be saying I should not be
keeping you."

"I'll get home all the sooner if I'm fortified inside.  Oatmeal
porridge!" he continued joyfully, as he lifted the lid from the pot and
seized the wooden ladle.  "I say, Uncle Dunc, this is royal!"

"Indeed it will be jist common fare for such a great city man as you
will be getting to be."  Duncan regarded him with tender pride.

Donald laughed derisively as he tumbled the contents of the porridge
pot into a bowl.  "And buttermilk, too, by all that's fortunate!  And a
festival like this on top of six months' boarding house hash!"

He seated himself at the table and attacked the homely fare with a
country boy's hearty appetite.  Duncan forgot his own supper in the joy
of watching him.

"Well, how's things? as Coonie says.  You said mother is well, and the
boys?"

"Yes, she will be fine indeed, and Weil and wee Archie, too.  They will
be growing up to be fine lads.  And Sandy will be at the camp waiting
for you."  He looked at Donald yearningly, as though he would fain tell
him more about Sandy, but could not.

"I'm just in time, then.  And Wee Andra and--all the rest?"

The old man gave him as full an account as he was able of the doings of
the neighbourhood, but Duncan Polite lived in a world apart, and Donald
missed the information he was seeking.

Then it was Donald's turn to be catechised.  He had to satisfy his
uncle in regard to his work at college, his coming examinations, his
professors, his friends, his sports and all other college lore.

Duncan sat listening to the recital in silent delight, thinking much
more of the speaker than of the words he uttered.  But as he rattled on
the old man became conscious of a vague fear entering his heart.  He
could not define its cause, but somehow Donald seemed changed.  There
was a recklessness in his manner and an occasional irreverence in his
speech which struck his foster-father painfully.  He tried several
times to lead the conversation to questions regarding Donald's
spiritual welfare.

"Mr. Egerton was here jist a few minutes before you came," he said by
way of commencement.  If he had known that Donald had met him and
Jessie Hamilton walking into the Glen together he might have refrained
from mentioning the young minister, and would perhaps have understood
his nephew's reckless demeanour.

"That's so?"  Donald's answer was rather sharp, and he added
sarcastically, "It's a great pity I missed the beneficial influence of
his pastoral visitation."

"Why is it you would never be liking him, Donal'?" inquired the old man
remorsefully.  "He would be speaking very highly of you last Christmas,
and I feel he will be trying to do the Lord's work."

Donald laughed scornfully.  "Perhaps he is.  But if that's so, I'm
sorry for the Lord's work; it seems to be a mighty mean business
sometimes."

Duncan winced as if with acute pain.  "Donal'," he said gravely, "it
will not be right to be speaking this way of God's minister.  I am
thinking you would not be doing it before you went away, lad."

Donald was smitten with remorse.  He looked across the table at the old
man's gentle, white face, and a lump rose in his throat.  "I don't mean
to say anything disparaging of the ministry, Uncle," he said
contritely, "but I know Mr. Egerton better than anyone thinks,
and,--well, he's not a gentleman, that's all."

"It is only the Lord who can judge a man, Donal'," said Duncan Polite,
after a moment's pained silence.  "Mr. Egerton will be the Lord's
servant and his Master will know all his work better than we will."

But Donald had almost finished his second year at college and was very
confident of himself.  "Well, here's something I don't understand,
Uncle.  There's a fellow in my year, who makes no profession of
Christianity, who doesn't believe one-half the Bible, in fact, and yet
I know he does twice the good in the world that Mr. Egerton does."

"Ah, but the Father will be all-kind, Donal'," said Duncan Polite
gently but firmly, "and He will be accepting the service of His
followers no matter how poor and mean it would be.  But what would the
Judge be saying of the man who would not own His only begotten Son?"

Donald arose from the table and walked up and down the bare little
room.  Duncan watched him with a look of yearning.  "Would this young
man be a friend of yours, Donal'?" he inquired tremulously.

Donald paused and looked down into the dancing flames, his hands dug
into his pockets, his brow drawn together in perplexity.  "He's my
roommate," he answered.  "You used to wish I could be intimate with Mr.
Egerton, Uncle, but I tell you honestly he can't be compared to Mark
Seymour.  He's the soul of honour, as fine a man as you could wish to
know, and I'd rather accept his creed than that of a man who spends his
time praying for sinners better than himself."

Duncan's face was white.  "I will not be quite understanding you,
Donal'," he said steadily.  "Is it that you would be leaving the
Saviour out of your life, my lad?"

Donald turned; the look in the old man's face brought him to his side.
He laid his hands on Duncan Polite's shoulders.  "I would rather do
anything than hurt you, Uncle," he cried.  "But you always taught me,
above all things, never to deceive you, and I must tell you, honestly,
I cannot see that religion has much to do with a man's life.  But there
is another thing I can say truthfully," he looked the old man straight
in the eyes, "I have never done anything I should be ashamed to tell
you!"

For an instant a wave of joy and pride swept away the despair that was
clutching Duncan's heart.  He arose and patted the boy on the back as
he used to do in his childhood, murmuring Gaelic expressions of
endearment.  "Oh, indeed, indeed, I will be knowing that, laddie!" he
cried, his eyes moist.  "Yes, indeed, and that would be a blessing to
my very soul.  But, eh, my child, my child, if you would be losing your
hold on Christ, I would be fearing for you, Donal'!  There is no other
name under Heaven whereby we may be saved; it will be the Word of
Omnipotence, Donal', and any man who would be trying another way would
be failing.  And if I would be losing you, Donal'----" he stopped
overcome.

Donald turned away; he felt guilty of the worst brutality.  He put on
his overcoat silently, and then came back to the old armchair.  "I've
been nothing but a burden and a trouble to you all my life," he said
bitterly.

"Wheesh, wheesht, laddie!" cried Duncan Polite.  "What would my life be
without you?  You must not be saying such things, child, for you would
be a credit to us all, indeed.  And I will jist be praying that the
Shepherd will be leading you to the fold."

Donald went away, humble and heart-sore.  His home-coming had been a
double grief to him.  His faint hopes of a reconciliation with Jessie
had been crushed, and now he was wounding most cruelly his best friend.
He took no thought of another Friend, still kinder, whom he was
wounding.  And indeed had Donald been able, by an effort of his will,
to be at that moment all his uncle desired, he would have done so.  But
he had cast away his anchor, in a moment of self-sufficiency and it
would be hard to find it again.  He could not know that a season was
coming swiftly upon him, a season of storm and stress, when that
discarded anchor would be his only stay, and the nearness with which he
came to missing his hold upon it forever changed his whole future life.



XV

THE SACRIFICE

If Donald could have guessed that someone in Glenoro was watching and
waiting for him in alternate hope and fear, he might not have been in
such haste to get away.  But he remained only one day at home, and
then, without even visiting the village, set off to join Sandy at the
camp.

He found the men ensconced in a rough shanty in the woods north of Lake
Oro.  A large belt of timber in that region belonged to the Neil boys
and Sandy had taken the contract of supplying the Glenoro mill with
logs for the coming season.  But he found that commanding such an
enterprise was no easy task, and he handed over the responsibility with
much relief to Donald.  The cutting and hauling had been almost
completed, and now all that was needed was an open lake to float the
logs across to the river and thence down to the village.  The Oro was
already free of ice, rushing along, high and swollen with the melting
snow.  A few days more of sun and wind would clear the lake also, and
send its winter fetters crashing up on the shore.

So when Donald arrived the camp was not very busy, though it was
exceedingly lively.  The men had plenty of leisure, and they spent it
and their winter's wages at a little old tavern, a remnant of earlier
and rougher days, which stood where the river left Lake Oro.  Under any
other circumstances Donald would have exercised a restraining influence
upon Sandy and the boys of his acquaintance, but just now his heart was
angry and reckless.  So the wild revelry suffered no abatement because
of his presence.

Duncan Polite waited anxiously for the boys' return, the dread of
impending disaster hanging over his spirit.  The weather changed to
sudden warmth, however, and brought to the old man a renewal of
strength and the hope that Donald would soon be with him.  He was well
enough to go to church the next Sabbath, the first time in many months.
Andrew Johnstone was so pleased to have his old friend with him again
that his stick never moved from its peaceful position in the rear, and
he even forbore to make any caustic remarks about the minister.

His spirits were only in keeping with the day.  Spring had descended
upon the world with a sudden dazzling rush.  The air was clear and
intoxicatingly fresh; blinding white clouds raced joyously across the
radiant blue.  As Duncan passed through the gate an early robin,
swinging in the tall elm, poured out his ecstatic little heart in
hysterical song.  Everywhere was water, water, rushing down the hills
in a thousand mad rivulets, flashing in the sunlight like chains of
diamonds and filling the air with their song of wild freedom.  And
through the valley came the river, a monster now, roaring down its
narrow channel and swirling out past the church as if it would carry
away the village.

As the two old men walked slowly up the hill on the way home they heard
the news for which Duncan had been anxiously waiting: the ice on the
lake had broken, and the boys intended to bring down their lumber on
the morrow.

The next day passed, warm and sunshiny, but Donald Neil's logs did not
appear in the Glenoro millpond.  Duncan sat at his window in the dusk
of the evening, expecting every moment to see Donald coming up the path
to tell him their work was finished.  But the night was descending, and
Donald had not come.  A great dread had taken hold of the old man's
heart, a dread he could not explain.  He knew that both Donald and
Sandy were expert river drivers, but he could not reason himself out of
the fear that the crisis had come.  This sacrifice towards which he had
been looking for so many months, was it near?  And what would it be?

He had set his door open, owing to the warmth of the night, and through
it came the sound of ceaseless pouring of water.  Sitting with his face
pressed against the pane, thinking of his high hopes of just one year
ago, he mournfully shook his head.

"The sacrifice," he murmured, "it must come, but, oh, my Father, must
it be Donal'?  'Bind ye the sacrifice with cords even unto the horns of
the altar.'  Ah, it would be a message, a message--and will it be
Donal'? must I give him up, oh, my Father?"  His hands clasped and
unclasped, his face stood out from the darkness of the room, white with
pain.

He had not noticed a little figure making its way rapidly down the
road; but his eye caught it as it entered the gate.  His heart stood
still as he saw Archie, his sister's youngest boy, come running up the
path.  "What will you be wanting, laddie?" he asked, almost in a
whisper, as the little fellow paused in the doorway.

"Oh, are you there, Uncle Duncan!" cried the child, groping his way
across the room.  "It's so awful dark here.  Jimmie Archie's folks is
sugarin' off to-night in the bush down alongside the river, and I want
to go over, an' mother she wouldn't let me go alone.  Now, ain't that
mean, Uncle Duncan?"

Duncan breathed a great sigh of relief.  "Will the boys not be down
with the logs yet?"

"Nop; Jimmie Archie said all the fellows Sandy and Don had was drunk at
the tavern to-day, an' the logs was all ready to bring out into the
river, mind ye, an' Crummie Bailey--it was at school, you know--an'
Crummie said he'd bet Don an' Sandy was drunker than 'em all; an' I
thumped him good, you bet, uncle, an' he's eleven an' I'm only ten an'
a half!"

Duncan put his hand upon the child's head with a feeling of helpless
woe.  "Yes, yes, laddie," he said absently.

"Mother said I couldn't go to the sugar bush without somebody with me,"
Archie broke out again.  "Aw, shucks, I ain't a kid!"  The dignity of
ten years and a half was being sadly ruffled.  He leaned upon the arm
of Duncan's chair and looked up coaxingly.

"I guess I'll have to stay away, 'cause there's nobody to go with me,
an' mother said I wasn't to ask you, 'cause it would make your cold
worse."

He sighed prodigiously over this self-denial, and with his
characteristic self-forgetfulness Duncan put aside his own trouble.
"Oh, indeed it is a great man you will be some day," he said.  "But
what if I would be going with you?"

"Oh, man! but I wish you could!  Only I ain't such a baby as to have
somebody luggin' me 'round."

Duncan patted his head lovingly.  "Hoots, toots, but you surely won't
leave a poor old man like your uncle to find his way alone," he said,
with great tact.  "I will not be at Jimmie Archie's sugar bush for many
a year, and you will jist be showing me the road."

Archie's pride was somewhat mollified by this aspect of the case, and
being further soothed by a huge slab of bread and jam, he set off with
his uncle in high glee.  Duncan put on his bonnet and plaid and with
Collie bounding in front, half mad with joy at this unexpected
excursion, they stepped out upon the road.  The moon was shining, but
its rays were obscured by the mild night mists.  A soft, suffused light
shrouded the landscape, giving an unreal and weird appearance to all
objects.  A rising wind shifted the ghostly clouds here and there; it
was a strangely uncanny night.

Jimmie Archie McDonald's farm lay up the river, next to Andrew
Johnstone's.  But the belt of maples with the sugar camp was quite
near.  So when Duncan Polite and the child had gone a short distance up
the road they climbed a fence and crossed the soft, yielding fields
until they reached the line of timber that bordered the stream.

"There's a path jist along by the river that goes straight to Jimmie
Archie's bush," explained Archie importantly, strutting ahead.  "Ain't
you glad I called for you, Uncle Duncan?"  He dashed into the woods
whooping and yelling, with Collie circling about him in noisy delight,
and darted back again at short intervals to ask a dozen unanswerable
questions.  "What made the moon look so queer?  And what was the moon
made of, anyhow?  Sandy said it was made of green cheese; but Don said
if that was true they must have got a chunk of the moon to make Sandy's
head.  And Don ought to know, since he'd been to college.  And what
made the moon shine?  The master told the Fourth Class that the moon
didn't have any light of its own.  And Crummie Bailey said that was a
howlin' lie, 'cause any fool could see it.  And the master heard him
saying it at recess, and he licked Crummie good for it, too.  And was
the shadow on the moon really a man?"

Duncan replied at random.  Ordinarily he was Archie's most interesting
chum, but to-night he was silent and absent.  The boy concluded it was
because his uncle had been sick all winter.  He was too excited over
the prospect of a visit to the sugar bush and unlimited taffy to care
very much, however, and went dancing along over the ghostly patches of
snow and through the weird, shifting mists, his tongue keeping pace
with his feet.

"Don't you wish there was tagers and lions in the bush here, Uncle?  I
bet I'd shoot them if there was.  Sandy says there's lions down in the
river bed, but I bet he jist said that to see if I'd get scared.  He
can't scare me, though.  What kind of a noise does a lion make.  Uncle
Dune?  Listen, do you hear that funny noise ahead?"  He drew closer to
his uncle.  "Is that the kind of a noise a lion makes?"

"It will jist be the river you hear, child," said Duncan reassuringly.

"No, I don't mean that squashy noise; it's that bangin' sound," he
insisted anxiously.  "Listen!"

They stood still, the child holding the man's fingers, and above the
sighing of the bare treetops and the rushing of the river there came
the sound of dull, booming thuds.

"We will jist see," said Duncan, striving to hide his apprehension.
They hurried through the underbrush towards the river, where a few
cedar clumps overhung its edge.  Duncan seized one and, leaning over,
looked down into the dark ravine.  The pale moonlight touched the water
and revealed the cause of the unusual sounds.  Strange dark forms were
hurrying along its glinting surface.  Down the foaming tide they came,
shooting past, swift and stealthy.  As far up the river as Duncan's eye
could pierce still they appeared, whirling silently forward.  But
farther down was a sight that made the old man's heart stand still.  A
few yards below him, and just at the turn in the river above the
village were the "Narrows," where the most careful navigation of logs
was necessary to prevent a jam.  And there, wedged in the narrow
channel, hurled together into fantastic shapes and augmented each
moment by the oncoming logs which struck the heap with a resounding
boom, was piled a wild jumbled mass of timber!

Like most of the early settlers of Glenoro, Duncan was an experienced
river-driver, and instantly realised the gravity of the situation.  If
the jam of logs were permitted long to impede the progress of the river
in its high, swollen condition, there would be a disastrous flood in
the village.  In a flash there passed before his mind a picture of the
havoc it would cause,--death and destruction swift and certain upon the
unwarned inhabitants, men and women hurried into Eternity unprepared!
And Donald,--Donald would be held responsible!  This jam must have
resulted through his carelessness.  Before the world he would be
disgraced; before his Maker--the thought struck the old man with a
paralysing fear.  He stood for a moment motionless, watching the
shifting, heaving, rumbling mass,--and then life seemed suddenly to
return.

"Run to the Glen, Archie!" he cried to the frightened boy.  "Run,
laddie, and tell the folk at Peter McNabb's shop there will be a jam at
the Narrows!"

Archie was off down a cross track like a hare, Collie after him.
Duncan stooped down, feeling among the underbrush, and caught up a
stout pole.  Grasping it he made his way hurriedly down the bank and
along the water's edge to the quaking, seething mass.  Cautiously he
climbed out upon it, the water hissing about him in angry, spurting
jets.  He could feel the pile rising beneath him with fearful rapidity.
A swift examination convinced Duncan of two startling truths--first,
the jam must be broken immediately, or it would be too late, and
second, he might break it, even with the small pole he held, but he was
neither young enough nor nimble enough to do it and save his own life.

And then, of a sudden, a thought struck him, as if a great light had
broken over his soul, an illumination which chased away all the dark,
weary shadows and fears of the past months.  _The Sacrifice_!  The
trial he had been dreading!  Was this it?  Merely the giving of a poor,
worn-out life, and the promised blessing would descend?  He had failed
to save Donald and his father's home from sin and worldliness; but now
if he gave his life to save his boy from life-long regret and despair,
and his friends from sudden death, would not the Father accept this and
send the reward?  A sense of overwhelming joy and hope seized the old
man.  He grasped his pole tightly and went resolutely forward.

With the skilled eye of an old river-driver he soon discovered the
"key."  Right beneath him lay the log that could unlock the huge,
groaning gateway, and let the impeded tide sweep safely down the
valley.  Duncan leaned forward and pried at it with his pole, putting
into the work a strange strength he had not felt for many a year.  The
mass creaked ominously.  A gust of wind caught his old Scotch bonnet,
sending it whirling away into the darkness and tossing his white hair.
He struggled on, throwing his whole weight upon the pole with a
desperate energy, and praying with all the passion of his soul that the
High Priest would accept his humble sacrifice.  The great hope that
perhaps he would be considered worthy to imitate, even in the feeblest
manner, the atonement that his Master had made was filling him and
lending his arm an unnatural strength.  Behind him the waters surged
and the piling logs boomed threateningly.  But to Duncan there was no
menace in the sound.  It brought to his mind the words of his favourite
psalm, as Peter McNabb sang it in the little church by the river,

  "The Lord's voice on the waters is;
  The God of Majesty
  Doth thunder--"


"Oh, my Father, my Father!" he was praying with passionate fervour, as
he struggled with the stubborn beam, "accept this poor sacrifice, and
may Donal' and my father's Glen be saved!"

The answer came in a thunderous roar.  Like a wild animal let loose,
the wall of lumber leaped up and hurled itself forward.  It caught the
old man as if he had been a feather and flung him away into the
whirling blackness.  For an instant his white hair shone out like a
snowflake on the dark river, for an instant only, and then the great
billow of liberated water came roaring forward and swept over him on
its way down the valley.



XVI

THE COVENANT RENEWED

The party from the village which arrived at the Narrows, armed with
lanterns, cant-hooks and poles, only to find the jam broken, searched
all night for the man who had saved their lives at the sacrifice of his
own.  The news of the heroic act and the averted disaster spread
swiftly, and all night long lights wandered up and down and shout
answered shout across the dark water.

There were many very sorrowful hearts among the searchers, but none so
heavy as was borne by an old man who kept apart from the crowd.  He
stumbled along in a bewildered fashion over rocks and underbrush, his
cap gone, his grey hair dishevelled by the wind.  He paused often to
peer over the swollen waters, and Peter McNabb's heart was smitten with
pity as he passed him once and heard him whisper, "Duncan, lad, whaur
are ye?"

And it was Andrew Johnstone who found him.  Just as the first grey
light of the morning stole in at the eastern doorway of the valley he
came upon him, lying peacefully beneath the overhanging willows, beside
the churchyard.  It seemed fitting that Duncan Polite should have found
a harbour in the shelter of his Zion, the place that had been the
centre of all his hopes.

They covered the quiet, peaceful face and carried him very
tenderly,--Peter McNabb and Andrew Johnstone and some of his other
lifelong friends,--into John Hamilton's house.

They laid him in the darkened sitting-room, and Mrs. Fraser, in her
never failing kindness of heart, went to tell his bereaved sister,
while Wee Andra drove off to Lake Oro to find Donald and Sandy.

All day the neighbours came in, silently and sorrowfully, to see the
man who had saved the village and to speak of the brave deed he had
done at such cost.

But none of all the crowd guessed at the meaning of the sacrifice,
except one man.  He did not weep nor lament nor speak one word of
sorrow.  But his shoulders were bent from their accustomed
straightness, and his eyes lacked their steady gleam.  He sat by the
side of his friend all that day and through the next night, refusing to
eat or take rest, and motionless, except when he stooped to pat the dog
that lay at his feet and that raised his head occasionally with a
mournful whine.  Andrew Johnstone made no complaint nor did he say
anything when his friends came to sympathise with him.  But Mrs.
Fraser, who had visited the room in company with Duncan's stricken
sister, heard Splinterin' Andra whisper softly as they left the place,
"Ma hert is very sair for thee, Jonathan, ma brother!"

The roads were in such an impassable condition that by nine o'clock at
night Wee Andra had not returned, and Duncan Polite had been laid in
his coffin, ready for his long rest.  One dim lamp burned near the head
of the bier, and at its foot sat old Andrew, his head bowed, his face
in his hands.  Across the hall the sorrowing neighbours had gathered in
the dining-room, where some of Duncan Polite's friends were leading in
prayer for the bereaved relatives.  Peter McNabb had asked the minister
to open the service, but had accepted his refusal in silent sympathy,
wondering somewhat at the young man's grief-stricken face.  Mr.
Ansdell's gentle voice was raised in a petition that the brave deed
might be a lesson to all, and the house was very still, when the front
door opened softly and a man glided into the parlour.  He crossed the
room silently and stood gazing down at the figure in the coffin.  At
the sight of him, the dog lying by old Andrew's side arose and,
crossing to where he stood, crouched at his feet, whining pitifully as
though begging for help.

Aroused by the movement the old man raised his head.

"Donald!" he cried aloud, startled by the sight of the young man's
ghastly face and wild eyes.

But Donald did not seem to be aware of his presence.  He looked around
the room as if dazed.

"It's true, then!" he cried in a harsh whisper, "it's true."

His eyes were fixed unmeaningly on the elder.

"He was more than a father to me; and I murdered him," he added
distinctly.

Andrew Johnstone rose stiffly and came over to where the boy stood.
"Wheesht, Donald!" he whispered in alarm.  "Wheesht, lad, it is the
Lord's will!"

Donald stared at him stupefied.  Even half-crazed as he was, there came
to his tossed soul a kind of vague wonder that Splinterin' Andra did
not scourge him with a pitiless condemnation.  "I did it," he repeated,
clinging to the one thought he was capable of comprehending.  "We were
at the tavern when the boom broke--I murdered him!"

"Come awa', lad, an' sit ye doon here, till Ah tell ye"--Andrew
Johnstone took hold of the boy's shoulder gently.  A wonderful change
seemed to have come over the stern old man during the vigil by his
dead; the mantle of Duncan Polite seemed to have fallen upon him.
"Come awa," he whispered.

But Donald flung off the hand fiercely.  He turned again to look at his
uncle, and the fire slowly died from his eyes as he gazed at the
beloved face.  His strength seemed to suddenly leave him.  Andrew
Johnstone stepped towards him fearing he would fall, but with one more
glance at the dead Donald turned and groped his way to the door like
one blind.

The prayers were still going on in the dining-room.  Peter McNabb's
deep, resonant voice could now be heard, and Jessie, who had come in
from the kitchen, was standing in a dark corner of the hall waiting to
enter.  She was weeping silently, not only for the loss of the old man,
who was very dear to her, but for the grief and the blame it must bring
upon the one she loved the most.  She raised her eyes at the sound of
the front door opening and caught a glimpse of his ghastly face and
desperate eyes as Donald slipped out.  There was the depth of despair
in his look.  All the girl's heart went out to him in love and pity
winged by a terrible fear.  He looked like one who might do himself
harm.  She forgot their estrangement, forgot that he might love
another, everything but that Donald was in dire distress.  She darted
noiselessly to the door.  "Don!" she whispered eagerly into the
darkness.  A figure was passing out of the gate and turning down
towards the river.  A wild terror seized the girl.  She flew down the
path and caught his arm.  "Don, Don," she cried, "where are you going?"

He turned and looked down at her dully.  Just then he was capable of
realising only that she was striving to turn him from his purpose.
"Let go!" he said savagely.  "I killed him, I tell you!"

But Jessie clung to his arm desperately.

"Oh, Don," she sobbed, "come back to the house with me, please do come!"

The sight of her tears seemed to affect him.  He stared at her as if a
gleam of comprehension had come to him.  "Why do you want to stop me?"
he asked sullenly.  "You don't care!"

The girl realised that this desperate situation was no time for false
pride.  "Oh, Don," she whispered softly, "how can you say that, how can
you think it?  You know I care, more than anyone!"

He ceased his resistance and stood a moment as if trying to understand.
Jessie was praying with all her heart for strength and wisdom to meet
and grapple with the despair that was driving him to destruction.  She
turned and gently led him back to the gate, and as they went she spoke
to him as Jessie Hamilton could never have spoken had she not learned
through Duncan Polite's help the true meaning of all sorrow and
happiness, spoke to him of his mother, of his duty, of his God.  It was
the hour of Donald's weakness and trial, when Satan desired to sift him
as wheat, an hour in which he might have fared ill had the woman who
loved him not stood by with her new strength.  But it passed in
victory, and when at last he laid his head down upon the top of the
gate where they stood and convulsive sobs shook his frame, she knew
that he was saved.

The day was one of promising spring when they laid Duncan Polite beside
Mr. Cameron under the elms.  The hepaticas were peeping out around his
covenant stone on the hilltop, the river was gay and smiling and all
the world seemed glad.  And it was well, for an eternal springtime had
dawned for the old watchman of Glenoro.

When they carried him into the church for his last service the place
was packed to the doors.  Everyone had come to do honour to the man who
had done so much for them.  Even Coonie was there.  He had hurried into
Glenoro, early, for the first time in his life.  His shoulders drooped
more than ever, his wrinkled brown face was even unusually sullen, and
his small green eyes were filled with a fierce sorrow.  Mr. Ansdell
preached the funeral sermon.  To the wonder of all, Andrew Johnstone
desired it, and everyone felt he must yield a deference to his wishes.
As for John Egerton, he was relieved.  Remembering his last interview
with Duncan Polite and how he might have averted this catastrophe had
he been faithful to his duty, he felt he could not bear the ordeal.

The minister's text was a strange one for a funeral sermon, but that,
too, was Andrew Johnstone's choice.  "Son of man, I have set thee a
watchman."  The old clergyman was the very one for his task.  He spent
no time in eulogising the dead; but he told simply and tenderly the
story of Duncan Polite's covenant, how he had striven to keep it,
giving at length his all, even his life, to serve the people of his
Glen.

There was not a person in the congregation who did not take the lesson
to heart.  The story of the old man's unselfish interest in the
spiritual life of the place took a firm hold upon the listeners and
roused them to better and nobler aims.  But there was one to whom the
sermon was a fiery ordeal.  For even Donald, well-nigh crushed with the
weight of his grief and the knowledge of all he had missed, was no more
torn by the old clergyman's words than the young minister who sat
reviewing his past self-satisfied year in Glenoro in the light of
Duncan Polite's hopes.

The May days had come, and Glenoro was all pink and white in a burst of
apple blossoms when Donald next returned from college.  On the evening
after his arrival he walked down the village street with mingled
feelings of joy and pain.  Jessie was waiting for him at the gate; he
almost fancied he could detect her white dress through the trees even
at this distance, but he had just passed an old house on the hilltop, a
house at which he had always stopped in the past, and now it was silent
and empty.  As he turned from behind the elms and came in full view of
the village, he suddenly paused.  The minister was just emerging from
Peter McNabb's gate; he turned up the hill and he and Donald came face
to face.

The two young men stood for an instant, and then, with a common
impulse, stretched out their hands.  John Egerton grasped the hand of
Duncan Polite's nephew with a pang of regret.  If he had done this long
before, what a different turn affairs might have taken.

Donald was the first to speak.  "This is very kind of you, Mr.
Egerton," he said with his accustomed frankness.  "I have misjudged you
so often----"

"Don't say anything about what is past, Mr. McDonald," said the other
hastily; "I can never forget what I owe you, and it would be the
deepest of my many regrets in leaving Glenoro if you and I could not
part friends."

"There need be no doubt of that," said Donald simply; "I am sorry you
are leaving."

John Egerton's face was overcast.  "I must.  I came here not knowing
what was required of me.  In fact, I never realised what was required
of my calling until I had a glimpse into a life of real Christian
consecration.  I am going to another field, to do better work, I hope."

Donald was touched by the honest confession.  This did not seem the
gay, self-sufficient young man he had met on former occasions.  "I
cannot pretend to criticise another man's life, knowing my own," he
answered humbly.  "I am sure I wish you all success in your new place."

"Thank you.  Success does not mean quite the same to me now as it did a
few months ago.  There is one thing I would like to say to you before I
go, Mr. McDonald"--he hesitated--"I believe your uncle wished you to
enter the ministry?"

Donald made a motion of assent.  That was a subject upon which, as yet,
he could not trust himself to speak.

"I thought so.  And part of his hope was that I should help you to it,"
he added bitterly.  "But I have hoped and prayed every day since that
God would lead you to it.  Have you decided yet?"

Donald's voice was not quite steady.  "I have.  A man surely does not
need a second lesson such as I have had to show him the way."

John Egerton held out his hand again.  "I am very, very glad," he said
earnestly.  "Do not make my mistake.  There is no sting like the sting
of regret; you and I both know that."

Donald was silent.  He was not given to much speaking at any time, and
now the depth of his feeling closed his lips.  But he took his pastor's
hand with a heart-warming grip, and without another word the two parted
in mutual understanding and sympathy.

But at the sight of Jessie leaning over the gate between the oaks all
other thoughts fled from Donald's mind.  She wore a soft white dress,
with a blue ribbon, his favourite colour, at her throat.  Her uncovered
head, with its wealth of golden brown curls, was poised like a flower
on a slender stem.  Her deep eyes were aglow with welcome.  "I saw you
talking to Mr. Egerton," she said, when Donald had opened the gate for
her and they were passing down the village street.

"Yes, he's an honest man, Jessie; I never understood him before."

"He's changed, too," said the girl gravely.  "I am sure he will do much
good in his new charge."

When they had walked down the leafy street and reached the little
churchyard gate a silence fell between them.  They had planned this
walk before Donald's return, and their thoughts were serious.  Together
they passed around the old white building.  The grass beneath their
feet was an intense emerald, and the young, fresh leaves of the
woodbine covering the church walls glistened in the light of the fading
sunset.

They paused before a new white stone under a tall elm.  Donald caught
his breath as he stooped to read the lettering in the gathering dusk:
"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man
is peace."

He gazed at it so long that Jessie put out her hand and touched his
sleeve in silent sympathy.

"Here is the other one, Don," she whispered.  He started and turned.
"Wee Andra and Sandy brought it down this morning.  Mr. Johnstone
wanted it."

Donald put his hand upon the rough stone that had been Duncan Polite's
Bethel.  "It was kind of him," he said softly.

They were shut out from the village by the church; the soft grass of
the graveyard was under their feet, the elms with their small, green,
fairy-like leaves hung over them, and the river murmured softly at
their side.  He took her hands in his.  "Can't we renew that covenant
here, you and I, Jessie, for his sake?" Donald whispered.

"And for the sake of One who suffered more than he did, Don," added the
girl gently.  And standing together by Duncan Polite's covenant stone
they gave their young lives anew to the work that had been his life's
aim.

The vow which Donald and Jessie took that day has been fulfilled in the
little glen and the memory of Duncan Polite is cherished and his
influence abides in many a home of humble piety and simple happiness.
So the Watchman accomplished by his death that which had been denied
him in life, and as all knowledge and peace are his, he must surely see
of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.



THE END





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Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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