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´╗┐Title: Sowing Seeds in Danny
Author: McClung, Nellie L., 1873-1951
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 "Sowing Seeds in Danny" ***

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Celebration of Women Writers" and by Gardner Buchanan.
HTML version by Al Haines.



Sowing Seeds in Danny


by

Nellie L. McClung



This story is lovingly dedicated to my dear mother.

   "SO MANY FAITHS--SO MANY CREEDS,--
   SO MANY PATHS THAT WIND AND WIND
   WHILE JUST THE ART OF BEING KIND,--
   IS WHAT THE OLD WORLD NEEDS!"



People of the Story

MRS. BURTON FRANCIS--a dreamy woman, who has beautiful theories.

MR. FRANCIS--her silent husband.

CAMILLA ROSE--a capable young woman who looks after Mrs. Francis's
   domestic affairs, and occasionally helps her to apply her theories.

THE WATSON FAMILY, consisting of--

   JOHN WATSON--a man of few words who works on the "Section."

   MRS. WATSON--who washes for Mrs. Francis.

   PEARL WATSON--an imaginative, clever little girl, twelve years old,
      who is the mainstay of the family.

   MARY WATSON--a younger sister.

   TEDDY WATSON.

   BILLY WATSON.

   JIMMY WATSON.

   PATSEY WATSON.

   TOMMY WATSON.

   ROBERT ROBLIN WATSON, known as "Bugsey."

   DANIEL MULCAHEY WATSON--"Wee Danny."

   "Teddy will be fourteen on St. Patrick's Day and Danny
   will be four come March."

MRS. McGUIRE--an elderly Irishwoman of uncertain temper who lives
   on the next lot.

DR. BARNER--the old doctor of the village, clever man in his
   profession, but of intemperate habits.

MARY BARNER--his beautiful daughter.

DR. HORACE CLAY--a young doctor, who has recently come to the village.

REV. HUGH GRANTLEY--the young minister.

SAMUEL MOTHERWELL--a well off but very stingy farmer.

MRS. MOTHERWELL--his wife.

TOM MOTHERWELL--their son.

ARTHUR WEMYSS--a young Englishman who is trying to learn to farm.

JIM RUSSELL--an ambitious young farmer who lives near the Motherwells.

JAMES DUCKER--a retired farmer, who has political aspirations.



CONTENTS

     I.  Sowing Seeds in Danny
    II.  The Old Doctor
   III.  The Pink Lady
    IV.  The Band of Hope
     V.  The Relict of the Late McGuire
    VI.  The Musical Sense
   VII.  "One of Manitoba's Prosperous Farmers"
  VIII.  The Other Doctor
    IX.  The Live Wire
     X.  The Butcher Ride
    XI.  How Pearl Watson Wiped out the Stain
   XII.  From Camilla's Diary
  XIII.  The Fifth Son
   XIV.  The Faith that Moveth Mountains
    XV.  "Inasmuch"
   XVI.  How Polly Went Home
  XVII.  "Egbert and Edythe"
 XVIII.  The Party at Slater's
   XIX.  Pearl's Diary
    XX.  Tom's New Viewpoint
   XXI.  The Crack in the Granite
  XXII.  Shadows
 XXIII.  Saved
  XXIV.  The Harvest
   XXV.  Cupid's Emissary
  XXVI.  The Thanksgiving
 Conclusion: Convincing Camilla



Sowing Seeds in Danny



CHAPTER I

SOWING SEEDS IN DANNY

In her comfortable sitting room Mrs. J. Burton Francis sat, at peace
with herself and all mankind. The glory of the short winter afternoon
streamed into the room and touched with new warmth and tenderness the
face of a Madonna on the wall.

The whole room suggested peace. The quiet elegance of its furnishings,
the soft leather-bound books on the table, the dreamy face of the
occupant, who sat with folded hands looking out of the window, were all
in strange contrast to the dreariness of the scene below, where the one
long street of the little Manitoba town, piled high with snow,
stretched away into the level, white, never-ending prairie. A farmer
tried to force his tired horses through the drifts; a little boy with a
milk-pail plodded bravely from door to door, sometimes laying down his
burden to blow his breath on his stinging fingers.

The only sound that disturbed the quiet of the afternoon in Mrs.
Francis's sitting room was the regular rub-rub of the wash-board in the
kitchen below.

"Mrs. Watson is slow with the washing to-day," Mrs. Francis murmured
with a look of concern on her usually placid face. "Possibly she is not
well. I will call her and see."

"Mrs. Watson, will you come upstairs, please?" she called from the
stairway.

Mrs. Watson, slow and shambling, came up the stairs, and stood in the
doorway wiping her face on her apron.

"Is it me ye want ma'am?" she asked when she had recovered her breath.

"Yes, Mrs. Watson," Mrs. Francis said sweetly. "I thought perhaps you
were not feeling well to-day. I have not heard you singing at your
work, and the washing seems to have gone slowly. You must be very
careful of your health, and not overdo your strength."

While she was speaking, Mrs. Watson's eyes were busy with the room, the
pictures on the wall, the cosey window-seat with its numerous cushions;
the warmth and brightness of it all brought a glow to her tired face.

"Yes, ma'am," she said, "thank ye kindly, ma'am. It is very kind of ye
to be thinkin' o' the likes of me."

"Oh, we should always think of others, you know," Mrs. Francis replied
quickly with her most winning smile, as she seated herself in a
rocking-chair. "Are the children all well? Dear little Danny, how is
he?"

"Indade, ma'am, that same Danny is the upsettinest one of the nine, and
him only four come March. It was only this morn's mornin' that he sez
to me, sez he, as I was comin' away, 'Ma, d'ye think she'll give ye pie
for your dinner? Thry and remimber the taste of it, won't ye ma, and
tell us when ye come home,' sez he."

"Oh, the sweet prattle of childhood," said Mrs. Francis, clasping her
shapely white hands. "How very interesting it must be to watch their
young minds unfolding as the flower! Is it nine little ones you have,
Mrs. Watson?"

"Yes, nine it is, ma'am. God save us. Teddy will be fourteen on St.
Patrick's Day, and all the rest are younger."

"It is a great responsibility to be a mother, and yet how few there be
that think of it," added Mrs. Francis, dreamily.

"Thrue for ye ma'am," Mrs. Watson broke in. "There's my own man, John
Watson. That man knows no more of what it manes than you do yerself
that hasn't one at all at all, the Lord be praised; and him the father
of nine."

"I have just been reading a great book by Dr. Ernestus Parker, on
'Motherhood.' It would be a great benefit to both you and your husband."

"Och, ma'am," Mrs. Watson broke in, hastily, "John is no hand for books
and has always had his suspicions o' them since his own mother's
great-uncle William Mulcahey got himself transported durin' life or
good behaviour for havin' one found on him no bigger'n an almanac, at
the time of the riots in Ireland. No, ma'am, John wouldn't rade it at
all at all, and he don't know one letther from another, what's more."

"Then if you would read it and explain it to him, it would be so
helpful to you both, and so inspiring. It deals so ably with the
problems of child-training. You must be puzzled many times in the
training of so many little minds, and Dr. Parker really does throw
wonderful light on all the problems that confront mothers. And I am
sure the mother of nine must have a great many perplexities."

Yes, Mrs. Watson had a great many perplexities--how to make trousers
for four boys out of the one old pair the minister's wife had given
her; how to make the memory of the rice-pudding they had on Sunday last
all the week; how to work all day and sew at night, and still be brave
and patient; how to make little Danny and Bugsey forget they were cold
and hungry. Yes, Mrs. Watson had her problems; but they were not the
kind that Dr. Ernestus Parker had dealt with in his book on
"Motherhood."

"But I must not keep you, Mrs. Watson," Mrs. Francis said, as she
remembered the washing. "When you go downstairs will you kindly bring
me up a small red notebook that you will find on the desk in the
library?"

"Yes ma'am," said Mrs. Watson, and went heavily down the stairs. She
found the book and brought it up.

While she was making the second laborious journey down the softly
padded stairs, Mrs. Francis was making an entry in the little red book.

   Dec. 7, 1903. Talked with one woman to-day RE Beauty
   of Motherhood. Recommended Dr. Parker's book. Believe
   good done.

Then she closed the book with a satisfied feeling. She was going to
have a very full report for her department at the next Annual
Convention of the Society for Propagation of Lofty Ideals.

In another part of the same Manitoba town lived John Watson,
unregenerate hater of books, his wife and their family of nine. Their
first dwelling when they had come to Manitoba from the Ottawa Valley,
thirteen years ago, had been C. P. R. box-car No. 722, but this had
soon to be enlarged, which was done by adding to it other car-roofed
shanties. One of these was painted a bright yellow and was a little
larger than the others. It had been the caboose of a threshing outfit
that John had worked for in '96. John was the fireman and when the
boiler blew up and John was carried home insensible the "boys" felt
that they should do something for the widow and orphans. They raised
one hundred and sixty dollars forthwith, every man contributing his
wages for the last four days. The owner of the outfit, Sam Motherwell,
in a strange fit of generosity, donated the caboose.

The next fall Sam found that he needed the caboose himself, and came
with his trucks to take it back. He claimed that he had given it with
the understanding that John was going to die. John had not fulfilled
his share of the contract, and Sam felt that his generosity had been
misplaced.

John was cutting wood beside his dwelling when Sam arrived with his
trucks, and accused him of obtaining goods under false pretences. John
was a man of few words and listened attentively to Sam's reasoning.
From the little window of the caboose came the discordant wail of a
very young infant, and old Sam felt his claims growing more and more
shadowy.

John took the pipe from his mouth and spat once at the woodpile. Then,
jerking his thumb toward the little window, he said briefly:

"Twins. Last night."

Sam Motherwell mounted his trucks and drove away. He knew when he was
beaten.

The house had received additions on every side, until it seemed to
threaten to run over the edge of the lot, and looked like a section of
a wrecked freight train, with its yellow refrigerator car.

The snow had drifted up to the windows, and entirely over the little
lean-to that had been erected at the time that little Danny had added
his feeble wail to the general family chorus.

But the smoke curled bravely up from the chimney into the frosty air,
and a snug pile of wood by the "cheek of the dure" gave evidence of
John's industry, notwithstanding his dislike of the world's best
literature.

Inside the floor was swept and the stove was clean, and an air of
comfort was over all, in spite of the evidence of poverty. A great
variety of calendars hung on the wall. Every store in town it seems had
sent one this year, last year and the year before. A large poster of
the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition hung in the parlour, and a
Massey-Harris self-binder, in full swing, propelled by three maroon
horses, swept through a waving field of golden grain, driven by an
adipose individual in blue shirt and grass-green overalls. An enlarged
picture of John himself glared grimly from a very heavy frame, on the
opposite wall, the grimness of it somewhat relieved by the row of
Sunday-school "big cards" that were stuck in around the frame.

On the afternoon that Mrs. Watson had received the uplifting talk on
motherhood, and Mrs. Francis had entered it in the little red book,
Pearlie Watson, aged twelve, was keeping the house, as she did six days
in the week. The day was too cold for even Jimmy to be out, and so all
except the three eldest boys were in the kitchen variously engaged.
Danny under promise of a story was in the high chair submitting to a
thorough going over with soap and water. Patsey, looking up from his
self-appointed task of brushing the legs of the stove with the
hair-brush, loudly demanded that the story should begin at once.

"Story, is it?" cried Pearlie in her wrath, as she took the hair-brush
from Patsey. "What time have I to be thinkin' of stories and you that
full of badness. My heart is bruck wid ye."

"I'll be good now," Patsey said, penitently, sitting on the wood-box,
and tenderly feeling his skinned nose. "I got hurt to-day, mind that,
Pearlie."

"So ye did, poor bye," said Pearlie, her wrath all gone, "and what will
I tell yez about, my beauties?"

"The pink lady where Jimmy brings the milk," said Patsey promptly.

"But it's me that's gettin' combed," wailed Danny. "I should say what
ye'r to tell, Pearlie."

"True for ye," said Pearlie, "Howld ye'r tongue, Patsey. What will I
tell about, honey?"

"What Patsey said'll do" said Danny with an injured air, "and don't
forget the chockalut drops she had the day ma was there and say she
sent three o' them to me, and you can have one o' them, Pearlie."

"And don't forget the big plate o' potatoes and gravy and mate she gave
the dog, and the cake she threw in the fire to get red of it," said
Mary, who was knitting a sock for Teddy.

"No, don't tell that," said Jimmy, "it always makes wee Bugsey cry."

"Well," began Pearlie, as she had done many times before. "Once upon a
time not very long ago, there lived a lovely pink lady in a big house
painted red, with windies in ivery side of it, and a bell on the front
dure, and a velvet carpet on the stair and--"

"What's a stair?' asked Bugsey.

"It's a lot of boxes piled up higher and higher, and nailed down tight
so that ye can walk on them, and when ye get away up high, there is
another house right farninst ye--well anyway, there was a lovely pianny
in the parlow, and flowers in the windies, and two yalla burds that
sing as if their hearts wud break, and the windies had a border of
coloured glass all around them, and long white curtings full of holes,
but they like them all the better o' that, for it shows they are owld
and must ha' been good to ha' stood it so long. Well, annyway, there
was a little boy called Jimmie Watson"--here all eyes were turned on
Jimmy, who was sitting on the floor mending his moccasin with a piece
of sinew. "There was a little boy called Jimmy Watson who used to carry
milk to the lady's back dure, and a girl with black eyes and white
teeth all smiley used to take it from him, and put it in a lovely
pitcher with birds flying all over it. But one day the lady, herself,
was there all dressed in lovely pink velvet and lace, and a train as
long as from me to you, and she sez to Jimmy, sez she, 'Have you any
sisters or brothers at home,' and Jim speaks up real proud-like, 'Just
nine,' he sez, and sez she, swate as you please, 'Oh, that's lovely!
Are they all as purty as you?' she sez, and Jimmy sez, 'Purtier if
anything,' and she sez, 'I'll be steppin' over to-day to see yer ma,'
and Jim ran home and told them all, and they all got brushed and combed
and actin' good, and in she comes, laving her carriage at the dure, and
her in a long pink velvet cape draggin' behind her on the flure, and
wide white fer all around it, her silk skirts creakin' like a bag of
cabbage and the eyes of her just dancin' out of her head, and she says,
'These are fine purty childer ye have here, Mrs. Watson. This is a rale
purty girl, this oldest one. What's her name?' and ma ups and tells her
it is Rebecca Jane Pearl, named for her two grandmothers, and Pearl
just for short. She says, 'I'll be for taking you home wid me, Pearlie,
to play the pianny for me,' and then she asks all around what the
children's names is, and then she brings out a big box, from under her
cape, all tied wid store string, and she planks it on the table and
tearin' off the string, she sez, 'Now, Pearlie, it's ladies first,
tibby sure. What would you like to see in here?' And I says up
quick--'A long coat wid fer on it, and a handkerchief smellin' strong
of satchel powder,' and she whipped them out of the box and threw them
on my knee, and a new pair of red mitts too. And then she says, 'Mary,
acushla, it's your turn now.' And Mary says, 'A doll with a real head
on it,' and there it was as big as Danny, all dressed in green satin,
opening its eyes, if you plaze."

"Now, me!" roared Danny, squirming in his chair.

"'Daniel Mulcahey Watson, what wud you like?' she says, and Danny ups
and says, 'Chockaluts and candy men and taffy and curren' buns and
ginger bread,' and she had every wan of them."

"'Robert Roblin Watson, him as they call Bugsey, what would you like?'
and 'Patrick Healy Watson, as is called Patsey, what is your choice?'
says she, and--"

In the confusion that ensued while these two young gentlemen thus
referred to stated their modest wishes, their mother came in, tired and
pale, from her hard day's work.

"How is the pink lady to-day, ma?" asked Pearlie, setting Danny down
and beginning operations on Bugsey.

"Oh, she's as swate as ever, an' can talk that soft and kind about
children as to melt the heart in ye."

Danny crept up on his mother's knee "Ma, did she give ye pie?" he
asked, wistfully.

"Yes, me beauty, and she sent this to you wid her love," and Mrs.
Watson took a small piece out of a newspaper from under her cape. It
was the piece that had been set on the kitchen table for Mrs. Watson's
dinner. Danny called them all to have a bite.

"Sure it's the first bite that's always the best, a body might not like
it so well on the second," said Jimmy as he took his, but Bugsey
refused to have any at all. "Wan bite's no good," he said, "it just
lets yer see what yer missin."

"D'ye think she'll ever come to see us, ma?" asked Pearlie, as she set
Danny in the chair to give him his supper. The family was fed in
divisions. Danny was always in Division A.

"Her? Is it?" said Mrs. Watson and they all listened, for Pearlie's
story to-day had far surpassed all her former efforts, and it seemed as
if there must be some hope of its coming true. "Why och! childer dear,
d'ye think a foine lady like her would be bothered with the likes of
us? She is r'adin' her book, and writin' letthers, and thinkin' great
thoughts, all the time. When she was speakin' to me to-day, she looked
at me so wonderin' and faraway I could see that she thought I wasn't
there at all at all, and me farninst her all the time--no childer,
dear, don't be thinkin' of it, and Pearlie, I think ye'd better not be
puttin' notions inter their heads. Yer father wouldn't like it. Well
Danny, me man, how goes it?" went on Mrs. Watson, as her latest born
was eating his rather scanty supper. "It's not skim milk and dhry bread
ye'd be havin', if you were her child this night, but taffy candy
filled wid nuts and chunks o' cake as big as yer head." Whereupon Danny
wailed dismally, and had to be taken from his chair and have the
"Little Boy Blue" sung to him, before he could be induced to go on with
his supper.

The next morning when Jimmy brought the milk to Mrs. Francis's back
door the dark-eyed girl with the "smiley" teeth let him in, and set a
chair beside the kitchen stove for him to warm his little blue hands.
While she was emptying the milk into the pitcher with the birds on it,
Mrs. Francis, with a wonderful pink kimono on, came into the kitchen.

"Who is this boy, Camilla?" she asked, regarding Jimmy with a critical
gaze.

"This is Master James Watson, Mrs. Francis," answered Camilla with her
pleasant smile. "He brings the milk every morning."

"Oh yes; of course, I remember now," said Mrs. Francis, adjusting her
glasses. "How old is the baby, James?"

"Danny is it?" said Jim. "He's four come March."

"Is he very sweet and cunning James, and do you love him very much?"

"Oh, he's all right," Jim answered sheepishly.

"It is a great privilege to have a little brother like Daniel. You must
be careful to set before him a good example of honesty and sobriety. He
will be a man some day, and if properly trained he may be a useful
factor in the uplifting and refining of the world. I love little
children," she went on rapturously, looking at Jimmy as if he wasn't
there at all, "and I would love to train one, for service in the world
to uplift and refine."

"Yes ma'am," said Jimmy. He felt that something was expected of him,
but he was not sure what.

"Will you bring Daniel to see me to-morrow, James?" she said, as
Camilla handed him his pail. "I would like to speak to his young mind
and endeavour to plant the seeds of virtue and honesty in that fertile
soil."

When Jimmy got home he told Pearlie of his interview with the pink
lady, as much as he could remember. The only thing that he was sure of
was that she wanted to see Danny, and that she had said something about
planting seeds in him.

Jimmy and Pearlie thought it best not to mention Danny's proposed visit
to their mother, for they knew that she would be fretting about his
clothes, and would be sitting up mending and sewing for him when she
should be sleeping. So they resolved to say "nothin' to nobody."

The next day their mother went away early to wash for the Methodist
minister's wife, and that was always a long day's work.

Then the work of preparation began on Danny. A wash-basin full of snow
was put on the stove to melt, and Danny was put in the high chair which
was always the place of his ablutions.

Pearlie began to think aloud. "Bugsey, your stockin's are the best. Off
wid them, Mary, and mend the hole in the knees of them, and, Bugsey,
hop into bed for we'll be needin' your pants anyway. It's awful stylish
for a little lad like Danny to be wearin' pants under his dresses, and
now what about boots? Let's see yours, Patsey. They're all gone in the
uppers, and Billy's are too big, even if they were here, but they're
off to school on him. I'll tell you what Mary, hurry up wid that sock
o' Ted's and we'll draw them on him over Bugsey's boots and purtind
they're overstockin's, and I'll carry him all the way so's not to dirty
them."

Mary stopped her dish-washing, and drying her hands on the thin towel
that hung over the looking glass, found her knitting and began to knit
at the top of her speed.

"Isn't it good we have that dress o' his, so good yet, that he got when
we had all of yez christened. Put the irons on there Mary; never mind,
don't stop your knittin'. I'll do it myself. We'll press it out a bit,
and we can put ma's handkerchief, the one pa gev her for Christmas,
around his neck, sort o' sailor collar style, to show he's a boy. And
now the snow is melted, I'll go at him. Don't cry now Danny, man, yer
going' up to the big house where the lovely pink lady lives that has
the chocaklut drops on her stand and chunks of cake on the table wid
nuts in them as big as marbles. There now," continued Pearlie, putting
the towel over her finger and penetrating Danny's ear, "she'll not say
she can plant seeds in you. Yer ears are as clean as hers," and Pearlie
stood back and took a critical view of Danny's ears front and back.

"Chockaluts?" asked Danny to be sure that he hadn't been mistaken.

"Yes," went on Pearlie to keep him still while she fixed his shock of
red hair into stubborn little curls, and she told again with ever
growing enthusiasm the story of the pink lady, and the wonderful things
she had in the box tied up with store string.

At last Danny was completed and stood on a chair for inspection. But
here a digression from the main issue occurred, for Bugsey had grown
tired of his temporary confinement and complained that Patsey had not
contributed one thing to Danny's wardrobe while he had had to give up
both his stockings and his pants.

Pearlie stopped in the work of combing her own hair to see what could
be done.

"Patsey, where's your gum?" she asked. "Git it for me this minute," and
Patsey went to the "fallen leaf" of the table and found it on the
inside where he had put it for safe keeping.

"Now you give that to Bugsey," she said, "and that'll make it kind o'
even though it does look as if you wuz gettin' off pretty light."

Pearlie struggled with her hair to make it lie down and "act dacint,"
but the image that looked back at her from the cracked glass was not
encouraging, even after making allowance for the crack, but she
comforted herself by saying, "Sure it's Danny she wants to see, and she
won't be lookin' much at me anyway."

Then the question arose, and for a while looked serious-- What was
Danny to wear on his head? Danny had no cap, nor ever had one. There
was one little red toque in the house that Patsey wore, but by an
unfortunate accident, it had that very morning fallen into the milk
pail and was now drying on the oven door. For a while it seemed as if
the visit would have to be postponed until it dried, when Mary had an
inspiration.

"Wrap yer cloud around his head and say you wuz feart of the earache,
the day is so cold."

This was done and a blanket off one of the beds was pressed into
service as an outer wrap for Danny. He was in such very bad humour at
being wrapped up so tight that Pearlie had to set him down on the bed
again to get a fresh grip on him.

"It's just as well I have no mitts," she said as she lifted her heavy
burden. "I couldn't howld him at all if I was bothered with mitts. Open
the dure, Patsey, and mind you shut it tight again. Keep up the fire,
Mary. Bugsey, lie still and chew your gum, and don't fight any of yez."

When Pearlie and her heavy burden arrived at Mrs. Francis's back door
they were admitted by the dark-haired Camilla, who set a rocking-chair
beside the kitchen stove for Pearlie to sit in while she unrolled
Danny, and when Danny in his rather remarkable costume stood up on
Pearlie's knee, Camilla laughed so good humouredly that Danny felt the
necessity of showing her all his accomplishments and so made the face
that Patsey had taught him by drawing down his eyes, and putting his
fingers in his mouth. Danny thought she liked it very much, for she
went hurriedly into the pantry and brought back a cookie for him.

The savoury smell of fried salmon, for it was near lunch time,
increased Danny's interest in his surroundings, and his eyes were big
with wonder when Mrs. Francis herself came in.

"And is this little Daniel!" she cried rapturously. "So sweet; so
innocent; so pure! Did Big Sister carry him all the way? Kind Big
Sister. Does oo love Big Sister?"

"Nope," Danny spoke up quickly, "just like chockaluts."

"How sweet of him, isn't it, really?" she said, "with the world all
before him, the great untried future lying vast and prophetic waiting
for his baby feet to enter. Well has Dr. Parker said; 'A little child
is a bundle of possibilities and responsibilities.'"

"If ye please, ma'am," Pearlie said timidly, not wishing to contradict
the lady, but still anxious to set her right, "it was just this blanket
I had him rolled in."

At which Camilla again retired to the pantry with precipitate haste.

"Did you see the blue, blue sky, Daniel, and the white, white snow, and
did you see the little snow-birds, whirling by like brown leaves?" Mrs.
Francis asked with an air of great childishness.

"Nope," said Danny shortly, "didn't see nothin'."

"Please, ma'am," began Pearlie again, "it was the cloud around his head
on account of the earache that done it."

"It is sweet to look into his innocent young eyes and wonder what
visions they will some day see," went on Mrs. Francis, dreamily, but
there she stopped with a look of horror frozen on her face, for at the
mention of his eyes Danny remembered his best trick and how well it had
worked on Camilla, and in a flash his eyes were drawn down and his
mouth stretched to its utmost limit.

"What ails the child?" Mrs. Francis cried in alarm. "Camilla, come
here."

Camilla came out of the pantry and gazed at Danny with sparkling eyes,
while Pearlie, on the verge of tears, vainly tried to awaken in him
some sense of the shame he was bringing on her. Camilla hurried to the
pantry again, and brought another cookie. "I believe, Mrs. Francis,
that Danny is hungry," she said. "Children sometimes act that way," she
added, laughing.

"Really, how very interesting; I must see if Dr. Parker mentions this
strange phenomenon in his book."

"Please, ma'am, I think I had better take him home now," said Pearlie.
She knew what Danny was, and was afraid that greater disgrace might
await her. But when she tried to get him back into the blanket he lost
every joint in his body and slipped to the floor. This is what she had
feared--Danny had gone limber.

"I don't want to go home" he wailed dismally. "I want to stay with her,
and her; want to see the yalla burds, want a chockalut."

"Come Danny, that's a man," pleaded Pearlie, "and I'll tell you all
about the lovely pink lady when we go home, and I'll get Bugsey's gum
for ye and I'll--"

"No," Danny roared, "tell me how about the pink lady, tell her, and
her."

"Wait till we get home, Danny man." Pearlie's grief flowed afresh.
Disgrace had fallen on the Watsons, and Pearlie knew it.

"It would be interesting to know what mental food this little mind has
been receiving. Please do tell him the story, Pearlie."

Thus admonished, Pearlie, with flaming cheeks began the story. She
tried to make it less personal, but at every change Danny screamed his
disapproval, and held her to the original version, and when it was
done, he looked up with his sweet little smile, and said to Mrs.
Francis nodding his head. "You're it! You're the lovely pink lady."
There was a strange flush on Mrs. Francis's face, and a strange feeling
stirring her heart, as she hurriedly rose from her chair and clasped
Danny in her arms.

"Danny! Danny!" she cried, "you shall see the yellow birds, and the
stairs, and the chocolates on the dresser, and the pink lady will come
to-morrow with the big parcel."

Danny's little arms tightened around her neck.

"It's her," he shouted. "It's her."

When Mrs. Burton Francis went up to her sitting-room, a few hours later
to get the "satchel" powder to put in the box that was to be tied with
the store string, the sun was shining on the face of the Madonna on the
wall, and it seemed to smile at her as she passed.

The little red book lay on the table forgotten. She tossed it into the
waste-paper basket.



CHAPTER II

THE OLD DOCTOR

Close beside Mrs. Francis's comfortable home stood another large house,
weather-beaten and dreary looking, a house whose dilapidated verandas
and broken fence clearly indicated that its good days had gone by. In
the summer-time vines and flowers grew around it to hide its scars and
relieve its grimness, pathetic as a brave smile on a sad face.

Dr. Barner, brilliant, witty and skilful, had for many years been a
victim of intemperance, but being Scotch to the backbone, he never
could see how good, pure "Kilmarnock," made in Glasgow, could hurt
anyone. He knew that his hand shook, and his brain reeled, and his eyes
were bleared; but he never blamed the whiskey. He knew that his
patients sometimes died while he was enjoying a protracted drunk, but
of course, accidents will happen, and a doctor's accidents are soon
buried and forgotten. Even in his worst moments, if he could be induced
to come to the sick bed, he would sober up wonderfully, and many a
sufferer was relieved from pain and saved from death by his gentle and
skilful, though trembling, hands. He might not be able to walk across
the room, but he could diagnose correctly and prescribe successfully.

When he came to Millford years ago, his practice grew rapidly. People
wondered why he came to such a small place, for his skill, his wit, his
wonderful presence would have won distinction anywhere.

His wife, a frail though very beautiful woman, at first thought nothing
of his drinking habits--he was never anything but gentlemanly in her
presence. But the time came when she saw honour and manhood slowly but
surely dying in him, and on her heart there fell the terrible weight of
a powerless despair. Her health had never been robust and she quickly
sank into invalidism.

The specialist who came from Winnipeg diagnosed her case as chronic
anaemia and prescribed port wine, which she refused with a queer little
wavering cry and a sudden rush of tears. But she put up a good fight
nevertheless. She wanted to live so much, for the sake of Mary, her
beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter.

Mrs. Barner did not live to see the whole work of degeneration, for the
end came in the early spring, swift and sudden and kind.

The doctor's grief for his wife was sincere. He always referred to her
as "my poor Mildred," and never spoke of her except when comparatively
sober.

Mary Barner took up the burden of caring for her father without
question, for she loved him with a great and pitying love, to which he
responded in his best moments. In the winter she went with him on his
drives night and day, for the fear of what might happen was always in
her heart. She was his housekeeper, his office-girl, his bookkeeper;
she endured all things, loneliness, poverty, disgrace, without
complaining or bitterness.

One day shortly after Mrs. Barner's death big John Robertson from "the
hills" drove furiously down the street to the doctor's house, and
rushed into the office without ringing the bell. His little boy had
been cut with the mower-knives, and he implored the doctor to come at
once.

The doctor sat at his desk, just drunk enough to be ugly-tempered, and
curtly told Mr. Robertson to go straight to perdition, and as the poor
man, wild with excitement, begged him to come and offered him money, he
yawned nonchalantly, and with some slight variations repeated the
injunction.

Mary hearing the conversation came in hurriedly.

"Mary, my dear," the doctor said, "please leave us. This gentleman is
quite forgetting himself and his language is shocking." Mary did not
even look at her father. She was packing his little satchel with all
that would be needed.

"Now pick him up and take him," she said firmly to big John. "He'll be
all right when he sees your little boy, never mind what he says now."

Big John seized the doctor and bore him struggling and protesting to
the wagon.

The doctor made an effort to get out.

"Put him down in the bottom with this under his head"--handing Big John
a cushion--"and put your feet on him," Mary commanded.

Big John did as she bid him, none too gently, for he could still hear
his little boy's cries and see that cruel jagged wound.

"Oh, don't hurt him," she cried piteously, and ran sobbing into the
house. Upstairs, in what had been her mother's room, she pressed her
face against her mother's kimono that still hung behind the door. "I am
not crying for you to come back, mother," she sobbed bitterly, "I am
just crying for your little girl."

The doctor was asleep when John reached his little shanty in the hills.
The child still lived, his Highland mother having stopped the blood
with rude bandaging and ashes, a remedy learned in her far-off island
home.

John shook the doctor roughly and cursed him soundly in both English
and Gaelic, without avail, but the child's cry so full of pain and
weakness roused him with a start. In a minute Dr. Frederick Barner was
himself. He took the child gently from his mother and laid him on the
bed.

For two days the doctor stayed in John's dirty little shanty, caring
for little Murdock as tenderly as a mother. He cooked for the child, he
sang to him, he carried him in his arms for hours, and soothed him with
a hundred quaint fancies. He superintended the cleaning of the house
and scolded John's wife soundly on her shiftless ways; he showed her
how to bake bread and cook little dishes to tempt the child's appetite,
winning thereby her undying gratitude. She understood but little of the
scolding, but she saw his kindness to her little boy, for kindness is
the same in all languages.

On the third day, the little fellow's fever went down and, peeping over
the doctor's shoulder, he smiled and chattered and asked for his
"daddy" and his "mathar."

Then Big John broke down utterly and tried to speak his gratitude, but
the doctor abruptly told him to quit his blubbering and hitch up, for
little Murdock would be chasing the hens again in a week or two.

The doctor went faithfully every day and dressed little Murdock's wound
until it no longer needed his care, remaining perfectly sober
meanwhile. Hope sprang up in Mary's heart--for love believeth all
things.

At night when he went to bed and she carefully locked the doors and
took the keys to her room, she breathed a sigh of relief. One more day
won!

But alas for Mary's hopes! They were built upon the slipping, sliding
sands of human desire. One night she found him in the office of the
hotel; a red-faced, senseless, gibbering old man, arguing theology with
a brother Scotchman, who was in the same condition of mellow
exhilaration.

Mary's white face as she guided her father through the door had an
effect upon the men who sat around the office. Kind-hearted fellows
they were, and they felt sorry for the poor little motherless girl,
sorry for "old Doc" too. One after another they went home, feeling just
a little ashamed.

The bartender, a new one from across the line, a dapper chap with
diamonds, was indignant. "I'll give that old man a straight pointer,"
he said, "that his girl has to stay out of here. This is no place for
women, anyway"--which is true, God knows.

Five years went by and Mary Barner lived on in the lonely house and did
all that human power could do to stay her father's evil course. But the
years told heavily upon him. He had made some fatal mistakes in his
prescribing, and the people had been compelled to get in another
doctor, though a great many of those who had known him in his best days
still clung to the "old man" in spite of his drinking. They could not
forget how he had fought with death for them and for their children.

Of all his former skill but little remained now except his wonderful
presence in the sick-room.

He could still inspire the greatest confidence and hope. Still at his
coming a sick man's fears fell away from him, and in their stead came
hope and good cheer. This was the old man's good gift that even his
years of sinning could not wholly destroy. God had marked him for a
great physician.



CHAPTER III

THE PINK LADY

When Mrs. Francis decided to play the Lady Bountiful to the Watson
family, she not only ministered to their physical necessity but she
conscientiously set about to do them good, if they would be done good
to. Mrs. Francis's heart was kind, when you could get to it; but it was
so deeply crusted over with theories and reflections and abstract
truths that not very many people knew that she had one.

When little Danny's arms were thrown around her neck, and he called her
his dear sweet, pink lady, her pseudo-intellectuality broke down before
a power which had lain dormant. She had always talked a great deal of
the joys of motherhood, and the rapturous delights of mother-love. Not
many of the mothers knew as much of the proper care of an infant during
the period of dentition as she. She had read papers at mothers'
meetings, and was as full of health talks as a school physiology.

But it was the touch of Danny's soft cheek and clinging arms that
brought to her the rapture that is so sweet it hurts, and she realised
that she had missed the sweetest thing in life. A tiny flame of real
love began to glimmer in her heart and feebly shed its beams among the
debris of cold theories and second-hand sensations that had filled it
hitherto.

She worried Danny with her attentions, although he tried hard to put up
with them. She was the lady of his dreams, for Pearl's imagination had
clothed her with all the virtues and graces.

Hers was a strangely inconsistent character, spiritually minded, but
selfish; loving humanity when it is spelled with a capital, but knowing
nothing of the individual. The flower of holiness in her heart was like
the haughty orchid that blooms in the hothouse, untouched by wind or
cold, beautiful to behold but comforting no one with its beauty.

Pearl Watson was like the rugged little anemone, the wind flower that
lifts its head from the cheerless prairie. No kind hand softens the
heat or the cold, nor tempers the wind, and yet the very winds that
blow upon it and the hot sun that beats upon it bring to it a grace, a
hardiness, a fragrance of good cheer, that gladdens the hearts of all
who pass that way.

Mrs. Francis found herself strongly attracted to Pearl. Pearl, the
housekeeper, the homemaker, a child with a woman's responsibility,
appealed to Mrs. Francis. She thought about Pearl very often.

Noticing one day that Pearl was thin and pale, she decided at once that
she needed a health talk. Pearl sat like a graven image while Mrs.
Francis conscientiously tried to stir up in her the seeds of right
living.

"Oh, ma!" Pearl said to her mother that night, when the children had
gone to bed and they were sewing by the fire. "Oh, ma! she told me more
to-day about me insides than I would care to remember. Mind ye, ma,
there's a sthring down yer back no bigger'n a knittin' needle, and if
ye ever broke it ye'd snuff out before ye knowed what ye was doin', and
there's a tin pan in yer ear that if ye got a dinge in it, it wouldn't
be worth a dhirty postage stamp for hearin' wid, and ye mustn't skip
ma, for it will disturb yer Latin parts, and ye mustn't eat seeds, or
ye'll get the thing that pa had--what is it called ma?"

Her mother told her.

"Yes, appendicitis, that's what she said. I never knowed there were so
many places inside a person to go wrong, did ye, ma? I just thought we
had liver and lights and a few things like that."

"Don't worry, alannah," her mother said soothingly, as she cut out the
other leg of Jimmy's pants. "The Lord made us right I guess, and he
won't let anything happen to us."

But Pearl was not yet satisfied. "But, oh ma," she said, as she hastily
worked a buttonhole. "You don't know about the diseases that are goin'
'round. Mind ye, there's tuberoses in the cows even, and them that sly
about it, and there's diseases in the milk as big as a chew o' gum and
us not seein' them. Every drop of it we use should be scalded well, and
oh, ma, I wonder anyone of us is alive for we're not half clean! The
poison pours out of the skin night and day, carbolic acid she said, and
every last wan o' us should have a sponge bath at night--that's just to
slop yerself all up and down with a rag, and an oliver in the mornin'.
Ma, what's an oliver, d'ye think?"

"Ask Camilla," Mrs. Watson said, somewhat alarmed at these hygienic
problems. "Camilla is grand at explaining Mrs. Francis's quare ways."

Pearl's brown eyes were full of worry.

"It's hard to git time to be healthy, ma," she said; "we should keep
the kittle bilin' all the time, she says, to keep the humanity in the
air--Oh, I wish she hadn't a told me, I never thought atin' hurt
anyone, but she says lots of things that taste good is black pison.
Isn't it quare, ma, the Lord put such poor works in us and us not there
at the time to raise a hand."

They sewed in silence for a few minutes.

Then Pearl said: "Let us go to bed now, ma, me eyes are shuttin'. I'll
go back to-morrow and ask Camilla about the 'oliver.'"



CHAPTER IV

THE BAND OF HOPE

Mary Barner had learned the lesson early that the only easing of her
own pain was in helping others to bear theirs, and so it came about
that there was perhaps no one in Millford more beloved than she.
Perhaps it was the memory of her own lost childhood that caused her
heart to go out in love and sympathy to every little boy and girl in
the village.

Their joys were hers; their sorrows also. She took slivers from little
fingers with great skill, beguiling the owners thereof with wonderful
songs and stories. She piloted weary little plodders through pages of
"homework." She mended torn "pinnies" so that even vigilant mothers
never knew that their little girls had jumped the fence at all. She
made dresses for concerts at short notice. She appeased angry parents,
and many a time prevented the fall of correction's rod.

When Tommy Watson beguiled Ignatius McSorley, Jr., to leave his
mother's door, and go swimming in the river, promising faithfully to
"button up his back"--Ignatius being a wise child who knew his
limitations--and when Tommy Watson forgot that promise and basely
deserted Ignatius to catch on the back of a buggy that came along the
river road, leaving his unhappy friend clad in one small shirt, vainly
imploring him to return, Ignatius could not go home, for his mother
would know that he had again yielded to the siren's voice; so it was to
the Barner back door that he turned his guilty steps. Miss Barner was
talking to a patient in the office when she heard a small voice at the
kitchen door full of distress, whimpering:

"Please Miss Barner, I'm in a bad way. Tommy Watson said he'd help me
and he never!"

Miss Barner went quickly, and there on the doorstep stood a tiny cupid
in tears, tightly clasping his scanty wardrobe to his bosom.

"He said he'd help me and he never!" he repeated in a burst of rage as
she drew him in hastily.

"Never mind, honey," she said, struggling to control her laughter.
"Just wait till I catch Tommy Watson!"

Miss Barner was the assistant Band of Hope teacher. On Monday afternoon
it was part of her duty to go around and help the busy mothers to get
the children ready for the meeting. She also took her turn with Mrs.
White in making taffy, for they had learned that when temperance
sentiment waned, taffy, with nuts in it, had a wonderful power to bind
and hold the wavering childish heart.

There was no human way of telling a taffy day--the only sure way was to
go every time. The two little White girls always knew, but do you think
they would tell? Not they. There was secrecy written all over their
blond faces, and in every strand of their straw-coloured hair. Once
they deliberately stood by and heard Minnie McSorley and Mary Watson
plan to go down to the creamery for pussy-willows on Monday
afternoon--there were four plates of taffy on their mother's pantry
shelf at the time and yet they gave no sign--Minnie McSorley and Mary
Watson went blindly on and reaped a harvest of regrets.

There was no use offering the White girls anything for the information.
Glass alleys, paint cards or even popcorn rings were powerless to
corrupt them. Once Jimmy Watson became the hero of an hour by
circulating the report that he had smelled it cooking when he took the
milk to Miss Barner's; but alas, for circumstantial evidence.

Every child went to Band of Hope that Monday afternoon eager and
expectant; but it was only a hard lesson on the effect of alcohol on
the lining of the stomach that they got, and when Mrs. White
complimented them on their increased attendance and gave out the
closing hymn,

   Oh, what a happy band are we!

the Hogan twins sobbed.

When the meeting was over, Miss Barner exonerated Jimmy by saying it
was icing for a cake he had smelled, and the drooping spirits of the
Band were somewhat revived by her promise that next Monday would surely
be Taffy Day.

On the last Monday of each month the Band of Hope had a programme
instead of the regular lesson. Before the programme was given the
children were allowed to tell stories or ask questions relating to
temperance. The Hogan twins were always full of communications, and on
this particular Monday it looked as if they would swamp the meeting.

William Henry Hogan (commonly known as Squirt) told to a dot how many
pairs of shoes and bags of flour a man could buy by denying himself
cigars for ten years. During William Henry's recital, John James Hogan,
the other twin, showed unmistakable signs of impatience. He stood up
and waved his hand so violently that he seemed to be in danger of
throwing that useful member away forever. Mrs. White gave him
permission to speak as soon as his brother had finished, and John James
announced with a burst of importance:

"Please, teacher, my pa came home last night full as a billy-goat."

Miss Barner put her hand hastily over her eyes. Mrs. White gasped, and
the Band of Hope held its breath.

Then Mrs. White hurriedly announced that Master James Watson would
recite, and Jimmy went forward with great outward composure and recited:

   As I was going to the lake
   I met a little rattlesnake;
   I fed him with some jelly-cake,
   Which made his little--

But Mrs. White interrupted Jimmy just then by saying that she must
insist on temperance selections at these programmes, whereat Pearlie
Watson's hand waved appealingly, and Miss Barner gave her permission to
speak.

"Please ma'am," Pearl said, addressing Mrs. White, "Jimmy and me
thought anything about a rattlesnake would do for a temperance piece,
and if you had only let Jimmy go on you would have seen what happened
even a snake that et what he hadn't ought to, and please ma'am, Jimmy
and me thought it might be a good lesson for all of us."

Miss Barner thought that Pearlie's point was well taken, and took Jimmy
with her into the vestry from which he emerged a few minutes later,
flushed and triumphant, and recited the same selection, with a possible
change of text in one place:

   As I was going to the lake
   I met a little rattlesnake;
   I fed him on some jelly-cake,
   Which made his little stomach ache.

The musical committee then sang:

   We're for home and mother,
   God and native land,
   Grown up friend and brother,
   Give us now your hand.

and won loud applause. Little Sissy Moore knew only the first verse,
but it would never have been known that she was saying
dum--dum--dum--dum--dum--dum--dum--dum dum-dum-dum, if Mary Simpson
hadn't told.

Wilford Ducker, starched as stiff as boiled and raw starch could make
him, recited "Perish, King Alcohol, we will grow up," but was accorded
a very indifferent reception by the Band of Hopers. Wilford was allowed
to go to Band of Hope only when Miss Barner went for him and escorted
him home again. Mrs. Ducker had been very particular about Wilford from
the first.

Then the White girls recited a strictly suitable piece. It was entitled
"The World and the Conscience."

Lily represented a vain woman of the world bent upon pleasure with a
tendency toward liquid refreshment. Her innocent china-blue eyes and
flaxen braids were in strange contrast to the mad love of glittering
wealth which was supposed to fill her heart:

   Give to me the flowing bowl,
      And Pleasure's glittering crown;
   The path of Pride shall be my goal,
      And conscience's voice I'll drown!

Then Blanche sweetly admonished her:

   Oh! lay aside your idle boasts,
      No Pleasure thus you'll find;
   The flowing bowl a serpent is
      To poison Soul and Mind.

   Oh, sign our pledge, while yet you can,
      Nor look upon the Wine
   When it is red within the Cup,
      Let not its curse be thine!

Thereupon the frivolous creature repents of her waywardness, and the
two little girls join hands and recite in unison:

   We will destroy this giant King,
   And drive him from our land;
   And on the side of Temp-er-ance
   We'll surely take our stand!

and the piece was over.

Robert Roblin Watson (otherwise known as Bugsey), who had that very day
been installed as a member of the Band of Hope, after he had avowed his
determination "never to touch, taste nor handle alcoholic stimulants in
any form as a beverage and to discourage all traffic in the same," was
the next gentleman on the programme. Pearlie was sure Bugsey's
selection was suitable. She whispered to him the very last minute not
to forget his bow, but he did forget it, and was off like a shot into
his piece.

   I belong to the Band of Hope,
   Never to drink and never to smoke;
   To love my parents and Uncle Sam,
   Keep Alcohol out of my diaphragm;
   To say my prayers when I go to bed,
   And not put the bedclothes over my head;
   Fill up my lungs with oxygen,
   And be kind to every living thing.

There! I guess there can't be no kick about that, Pearl thought to
herself as Bugsey finished, and the applause rang out loud and louder.

Pearlie had forgotten to tell Bugsey to come down when he was done, and
so he stood irresolute, as the applause grew more and more deafening.
Pearl beckoned and waved and at last got him safely landed, and when
Mrs. White announced that to-day was Taffy Day, owing to Miss Barner's
kindness, Bugsey's cup of happiness was full. Miss Barner said she had
an extra big piece for the youngest member, Master Danny Watson.
Pearlie had not allowed any person to mention taffy to him because
Danny could not bear to be disappointed.

But there were no disappointments that day. Taffy enough for every one,
amber-coloured taffy slabs with nuts in it, cream taffy in luscious
nuggets, curly twists of brown and yellow taffy. Oh look, there's
another plateful! and it's coming this way. "Have some more, Danny. Oh,
take a bigger piece, there's lots of it." Was it a dream?

When the last little Band of Hoper had left the vestry, Mary Barner sat
alone with her thoughts, looking with unseeing eyes at the red and
silver mottoes on the wall. Pledge cards which the children had signed
were gaily strung together with ribbons across the wall behind her. She
was thinking of the little people who had just gone--how would it be
with them in the years to come?--they were so sweet and pure and lovely
now. Unconsciously she bowed her head on her hands, and a cry quivered
from her heart. The yellow sunlight made a ripple of golden water on
the wall behind her and threw a wavering radiance on her soft brown
hair.

It was at that moment that the Rev. Hugh Grantley, the new Presbyterian
minister, opened the vestry door.



CHAPTER V

THE RELICT OF THE LATE MCGUIRE

Close beside the Watson estate with its strangely shaped dwelling stood
another small house, which was the earthly abode of one Mrs. McGuire,
also of Irish extraction, who had been a widow for forty years. Mrs.
McGuire was a tall, raw-boned, angular woman with piercing black eyes,
and a firm forbidding jaw. One look at Mrs. McGuire usually made a book
agent forget the name of his book. When she shut her mouth, no lips
were visible; her upturned nose seemed seriously to contemplate running
up under her sun bonnet to escape from this wicked world with all its
troubling, and especially from John Watson, his wife and his family of
nine.

One fruitful cause of dispute between Mrs. McGuire and the Watsons was
the boundary line between the two estates. In the spring Mrs. Watson
and the boys put up a fence of green poplar poles where they thought
the fence should be, hoping that it might serve the double purpose of
dividing the lots and be a social barrier between them and the relict
of the late McGuire. The relict watched and waited and said not a word,
but it was the ominous silence that comes before the hail.

Mrs. McGuire hated the Watson family collectively, but it was upon John
Watson, the man of few words, that she lavished the whole wealth of her
South of Ireland hatred, for John Watson had on more than one occasion
got the better of her in a wordy encounter.

One time when the boundary dispute was at its height, she had burst
upon John as he went to his work in the morning, with a storm of
far-reaching and comprehensive epithets. She gave him the history of
the Watson family, past, present, and future--especially the future;
every Watson that ever left Ireland came in for a brief but pungent
notice.

John stood thoughtfully rubbing his chin, and when she stopped, not
from lack of words, but from lack of breath, he slowly remarked:

"Mistress McGuire, yer a lady."

"Yer a liar!" she snapped back, with a still more eloquent burst of
invectives.

John lighted his pipe with great deliberation, and when it was drawing
nicely he took it from his mouth and said, more to himself than to her:

"Stay where ye are, Pat McGuire. It may be hot where ye are, but it
would be hotter for ye if ye were here, and ye'd jist have the throuble
o' movin'. Stay where ye are, Pat, wherever ye are." He walked away
leaving Mrs. McGuire with the uncomfortable feeling that he had some
way got the best of her.

The Watsons had planted their potatoes beside the fence, and did not
dream of evil. But one morning in the early autumn, the earliest little
Watson who went out to get a basin of water out of the rain barrel, to
wash the "sleeps" out of his eyes, dropped the basin in his
astonishment, for the fence was gone--it was removed to Mrs. McGuire's
woodpile, and the lady herself was industriously digging the potatoes.

Bugsey, for he was the early little bird, ran back into the house
screaming:

"She's robbed us! She's robbed us! and tuk our fence."

The Watson family gathered as quickly as a fire brigade at the sound of
the gong, but in the scramble for garments some were less fortunate
than others. Wee Tommy, who was a little heavier sleeper than the
others, could find nothing to put on but one overshoe and an old chest
protector of his mother's, but he arrived at the front, nevertheless.
Tommy was not the boy to desert his family for any minor consideration
such as clothes.

Mrs. McGuire leaned on her hoe and nonchalantly regarded the gathering
forces. She had often thought out the scene, and her air of
indifference was somewhat overdone.

The fence was on her ground, so it was, and so were two rows of the
potatoes. She could do what she liked with her own, so she could. She
didn't ask them to plant potatoes on her ground. If they wanted to
stand there gawkin' at her, they wur welcome. She always did like
comp'ny; but she was afraid the childer would catch cowld, they were
dressed so loight for so late in the season. She picked up the last
pailful as she spoke, and retired into her own house, leaving the
Watson family to do the same.

Mrs. Watson counselled peace. John ate his breakfast in silence; but
the young Watsons, and even Pearlie, thirsted for revenge. Bugsey
Watson forgot his Band of Hope teaching of returning good for evil, and
standing on the disputed territory, he planted his little bare legs far
apart and shouted, dancing up and down to the rhythm:

   Chew tobacco, chew tobacco,
      Spit, spit, spit!
   Old McGuire, old McGuire,
      Nit, nit, nit!

Mrs. McGuire did occasionally draw comfort from an old clay pipe--but
Bugsey's punishment was near.

A long shadow fell upon him, and turning around he found himself face
to face with Mary Barner who stood spellbound, listening to her lately
installed Band of Hoper!

Bugsey's downfall was complete! He turned and ran down the road and
round behind an elevator, where half an hour later Pearl found him
shedding penitential tears, not alas! because he had sinned, but
because he had been found out.

The maternal instinct was strong in Pearlie. Bugsey in tears was in
need of consolation; Bugsey was always in need of admonition. So she
combined them:

"Don't cry, alannah. Maybe Miss Barner didn't hear yez at all at all.
Ladies like her do be thinkin' great thoughts and never knowin' what's
forninst them. Mrs. Francis never knows what ye'r sayin' to her at the
toime; ye could say 'chew tobacco, chew tobacco' all ye liked before
her; but what for did ye sass owld lady McGuire? Haven't I towld ye
time out of mind that a soft answer turns away wrath, and forbye makes
them madder than anything ye could say to them?"

Bugsey tearfully declared he would never go to Band of Hope again.
Taffy or no taffy, he could not bear to face her.

"Go tell her, Bugsey man," Pearlie urged. "Tell her ye'r sorry. I
w'uldn't mind tellin' Miss Barner anything. Even if I'd kilt a man and
hid his corp, she's the very one I'd git to help me to give me a h'ist
with him into the river, she's that good and swate."

The subject of this doubtful compliment had come down so early that
morning believing that Mrs. McGuire was confined to her bed with
rheumatism. Seeing the object of her solicitude up and about, she would
have returned without knowing what had happened; but Bugsey's
remarkable musical turn decided her that Mrs. McGuire was suffering
from worse than a rheumatic knee. She went into the little house, and
heard all about it.

When she went home a little later she found Robert Roblin Watson, with
resolute heart but hanging head, waiting for her on the back step. What
passed between them neither of them ever told, but in a very few
minutes Robert Roblin ran gaily homeward, happy in heart, shriven of
his sin, and with one little spot on his cheek which tingled with
rapture. Better still, he went, like a man, and made his peace with
Mrs. McGuire!



CHAPTER VI

THE MUSICAL SENSE

Mrs. Francis, in the sweetest of tea gowns, was intent upon Dr.
Ernestus Parker's book on "Purposeful Motherhood." It was the chapter
dealing with the "Musical Sense in Children" which engrossed Mrs.
Francis's attention. She had just begun subdivision C in the chapter,
"When and How the Musical Sense Is Developed," when she thought of
Danny. She fished into the waste-paper basket for her little red
note-book, and with her silver mounted pencil she made the following
entry:

   DANIEL WATSON,
   AGED 4.
   MUS. SENSE. DEVELOPED. IF SO, WHEN. IF NOT,
   HOW, AND AT ONCE.

She read on feverishly. She felt herself to be in the throes of a great
idea.

Then she called Camilla. Camilla is always so practical, she thought.

To Camilla she elaborated the vital points of Dr. Parker's theory of
the awakening of the musical sense, reading here and there from the
book, rapidly and unintelligibly. She was so excited she was
incoherent. Camilla listened patiently, although her thoughts were with
her biscuits in the oven below.

"And now, Camilla," she said when she had gone all over the subject,
"how can we awaken the musical sense in Daniel? You know I value your
opinion so much."

Camilla was ready.

"Take him to hear Professor Welsman play," she said. "The professor
will give his recital here on the 15th."

Mrs. Francis wrote rapidly. "I believe," she said looking up, "your
suggestion is a good one. You shall have the credit of it in my notes."

   Plan of awakening mus. sense suggested by C--.

Camilla smiled. "Thank you, Mrs. Francis. You are very kind."

When Camilla went back to the kitchen and took the biscuits from the
oven, she laughed softly to herself.

"This is going to be a good time for some further suggestions. Pearl
must go with Danny. What a treat it will be for poor little Pearl! Then
we must have a new suit for Danny, new dress for Pearl, new cap for D.,
new hat for P., all suggested by C. There are a few suggestions which
C. will certainly make."

On the evening of the professor's recital there were no two happier
people in the audience than Pearlie Watson and her brother Daniel
Mulcahey Watson; not because the great professor was about to interpret
for them the music of the masters--that was not the cause of their
happiness--but because of the good supper they had had and the good
clothes they wore, their hearts were glad. They had spent the afternoon
at Mrs. Francis's (suggested by C.). Danny's new coat had a velvet
collar lovely to feel (suggested by C.). Pearl had a wonderful new
dress--the kind she had often dreamed of--made out of one of Mrs.
Francis's tea gowns. (Not only suggested but made by C.). It had real
buttons on it, and there was not one pin needed. Pearl felt she was
just as well dressed as the little girl on the starch box. Her only
grief was that when she had on her coat--which was also new, and
represented one-half month of Camilla's wages--the velvet on her dress
did not show. But Camilla, anticipating this difficulty, laid back the
fronts in stunning lapels, and to complete the arrangement, put one of
her own lace collars around the neck of the coat, the ends coming down
over the turned-back fronts. When Pearl looked in the glass she could
not believe her eyes!

Mr. Francis did not attend piano recitals, nor the meetings of the
Browning Club. Mrs. Francis was often deeply grieved with James for his
indifference in regard to these matters. But the musical sense in James
continued to slumber and sleep.

The piano recital by Professor Welsman was given under the auspices of
the Ladies' Aid of the Methodist Church, the proceeds to be given
toward defraying the cost of the repairs on the parsonage.

The professor was to be assisted by local talent, it said on the
programmes. Pearl was a little bit disappointed about the programmes.
She had told Danny that there would be a chairman who would say: "I see
the first item on this here programme is remarks by the chair, but as
yez all know I ain't no hand at makin' a speech we'll pass on to the
next item." But there was not a sign of a chairman, not even a chair.
The people just came up themselves, without anybody telling them, and
did their piece and went back. It looked sort of bold to Pearl.

First the choir came in and sang: "Praise Waiteth for Thee, O Lord, in
Zion." Pearl did not like the way they treated her friend Dr. Clay.
Twice when he began to sing a little piece by himself, doing all right,
too, two or three of them broke in on him and took the words right out
of his mouth. Pearl had seen people get slapped faces for things like
that. Pearl thought it just served them right when the doctor stopped
singing and let them have it their own way.

When the professor came up the aisle everybody leaned forward to have a
good look at him. "He is just like folks only for his hair," Pearl
thought. Pearl lifted Danny on her knee and told him to look alive now.
She knew what they were there for.

Then the professor began to play. Indifferently at first after the
manner of his kind, clever gymnastics to limber up his fingers perhaps,
and perhaps to show how limber they are; runs and trills, brilliant
execution, one hand after the other in mad pursuit, crossing over, back
again, up and down in the vain endeavour to come up with the other
hand; crescendo, diminuendo, trills again!

Danny yawned widely.

"When's he goin' to begin?" he asked, sleepily.

Mrs. Francis watched Danny eagerly. The musical sense was liable to
wake up any minute. But it would have to hurry, for Daniel Mulcahey was
liable to go to sleep any minute.

Pearl was disgusted with the professor and her thoughts fell into
vulgar baseball slang:

"Playin' to the grand stand, ain't ye? instead o' gettin' down to work.
That'll do for ketch and toss. Play the game! Deliver the goods!"

Then the professor began the full arm chords with sudden fury, writhing
upon the stool as he struck the angry notes from the piano. Pearl's
indignation ran high.

"He's lost his head--he's up in the air!" she shouted, but the words
were lost in the clang of musical discords.

But wait! Pearl sat still and listened. There was something doing. It
was a Welsh rhapsodie that he was playing. It was all there--the
mountains and the rivers, and the towering cliffs with glimpses of the
sea where waves foam on the rocks, and sea-fowl wheel and scream in the
wind, and then a bit of homely melody as the country folk drive home in
the moonlight, singing as only the Welsh can sing, the songs of the
heart; songs of love and home, songs of death and sorrowing, that stab
with sudden sweetness. A child cries somewhere in the dark, cries for
his mother who will come no more. Then a burst of patriotic fire, as
the people fling defiance at the conquering foe, and hold the mountain
passes till the last man falls. But the glory of the fight and the
march of many feet trail off into a wailing chant--the death song of
the brave men who have died. The widow mourns, and the little children
weep comfortless in their mountain home, and the wind rushes through
the forest, and the river foams furiously down the mountain, falling in
billows of lace over the rocks, and the sun shines over all, cold and
pitiless.

"Why, Pearlie Watson, what are you crying for?" Mrs. Francis whispered
severely. Pearl's sobs had disturbed her. Danny lay asleep on Pearl's
knees, and her tears fell fast on his tangled curls.

"I ain't cryin', I ain't cryin' a bit. You leave me alone," Pearl
blubbered rudely, shaking off Mrs Francis's shapely hand.

Mrs. Francis was shocked. What in the world was making Pearl cry?

The next morning Mrs. Francis took out her little red book to enter the
result of her experiment, and sat looking long and earnestly at its
pages. Then she drew a writing pad toward her and wrote an illuminative
article on "Late Hours a Frequent and Fruitful Cause of Irritability in
Children."



CHAPTER VII

"ONE OF MANITOBA'S PROSPEROUS FARMERS"

Mr. Samuel Motherwell was a wealthy farmer who lived a few miles from
Millford. Photographs of Mr. Motherwell's premises may be seen in the
agricultural journals, machinery catalogues, advertisements for woven
wire, etc.--"the home of one of Manitoba's prosperous farmers."

The farm buildings were in good repair; a large red barn with white
trimmings surmounted by a creaking windmill; a long, low machine shed
filled with binders, seeders, disc-harrows--everything that is needed
for the seed-time and harvest and all that lies between; a large stone
house, square and gray, lonely and bare, without a tree or a shrub
around it. Mr. Motherwell did not like vines or trees around a house.
They were apt to attract lightning and bring vermin.

Potatoes grew from the road to the house; and around the front door, as
high as the veranda, weeds flourished in abundance, undisturbed and
unnoticed.

Behind the cookhouse a bed of poppies flamed scarlet against the
general sombreness, and gave a strange touch of colour to the common
grayness. They seemed out of place in the busy farmyard. Everything
else was there for use. Everybody hurried but the poppies; idlers of
precious time, suggestive of slothful sleep, they held up their brazen
faces in careless indifference.

Sam had not planted them--you may be sure of that. Mrs. Motherwell
would tell you of an English girl she had had to work for her that
summer who had brought the seed with her from England, and of how one
day when she sent the girl to weed the onions, she had found her
blubbering and crying over what looked to Mrs. Motherwell nothing more
than weeds. The girl then told her she had brought the seed with her
and planted it there. She was the craziest thing, this Polly Bragg. She
went every night to see them because they were like a "bit of home,"
she said. Mrs. Motherwell would tell you just what a ridiculous
creature she was!

"I never see the beat o' that girl," Mrs. Motherwell would say. "Them
eyes of hers were always red with homesickness, and there was no reason
for it in the world, her gettin' more wages than she ever got before,
and more'n she was earnin', as I often told her. Land! the way that
girl would sing when she had got a letter from home, the queerest songs
ye ever heard:

   Down by the biller there grew a green willer,
   Weeping all night with the bank for a piller.

Well, I had to stop her at last," Mrs. Motherwell would tell you with
an apologetic swallow, which showed that even generous people have to
be firm sometimes in the discharge of unpleasant duties.

"And, mind you," Mrs. Motherwell would go on, with a grieved air, "just
as the busy time came on didn't she up and take the fever--you never
can depend on them English girls--and when the doctor was outside there
in the buggy waitin' for her--he took her to the hospital--I declare if
we didn't find her blubberin' over them poppies, and not a flower on
them no mor'n nothing."

Sam Motherwell and his wife were nominally Presbyterians. At the time
that the Millford Presbyterian Church was built Sam had given
twenty-five dollars toward it, the money having been secured in some
strange way by the wiles of Purvis Thomas, the collector. Everybody was
surprised at Sam's prodigality. The next year, a new collector--for
Purvis Thomas had gone away--called on Mr. Motherwell.

The grain was just beginning to show a slight tinge of gold. It was one
of those cloudless sunshiny days in the beginning of August, when a
faint blue haze lies on the Tiger Hills, and the joy of being alive
swells in the breast of every living thing. The creek, swollen with the
July rain, ran full in its narrow channel, sparkling and swirling over
its gravelly bed, and on the green meadow below the house a herd of
shorthorns contentedly cropped the tender after-grass.

In the farmyard a gigantic turkey-gobbler marched majestically with
arched neck and spreading wings, feeling himself very much the king of
the castle; good-natured ducks puddled contentedly in a trough of dirty
water; pigeons, white winged and graceful, circled and wheeled in the
sunshine; querulous-voiced hens strutted and scratched, and gossiped
openly of mysterious nests hidden away.

Sam stood leaning on a pitchfork in front of the barn door. He was a
stout man of about fifty years of age, with an ox-like face. His
countenance showed the sullen stolidity of a man who spoke little but
listened always, of a man who indulged in suspicious thoughts. He knew
everything about his neighbours, good and bad. He might forget the
good, but never the evil. The tragedies, the sins, the misdeeds of
thirty years ago were as fresh in his memory as the scandal of
yesterday. No man had ever been tempted beyond his strength but Sam
Motherwell knew the manner of his undoing. He extended no mercy to the
fallen; he suggested no excuse for the erring.

The collector made known his errand. Sam became animated at once.

"What?" he cried angrily, "ain't that blamed thing paying yet? I've a
good notion to pull my money out of it and be done with it. What do you
take me for anyway?"

The collector ventured to call his attention to his prosperous
surroundings, and evident wealth.

"That's like you town fellows," he said indignantly. "You never think
of the hired help and twine bills, and what it costs to run a place
like this. I pay every time I go, anyway. There ain't a time that I let
the plate go by me, when I'm there. By gosh! you seem to think I've
money to burn."

The collector departed empty-handed.

The next time Sam went to Millford he was considerably surprised to
have the young minister, the Reverend Hugh Grantley, stop him on the
street and hand him twenty-five dollars.

"I understand, sir, that you wish to withdraw the money that you
invested in the Lord's work," he said as he handed the money to Sam,
whose fingers mechanically closed over the bills as he stared at the
young man.

The Rev. Hugh Grantley was a typical Scotchman, tall and broad
shouldered, with an eye like cold steel. Not many people had
contradicted the Rev. Hugh Grantley, at least to his face. His voice
could be as sweet as the ripple of a mountain stream, or vibrate with
the thunder of the surf that beats upon his own granite cliffs.

"The Lord sends you seed-time and harvest," he said, fixing his level
gray eye on the other man, who somehow avoided his gaze, "has given you
health of body and mind, sends you rain from heaven, makes his sun to
shine upon you, increases your riches from year to year. You have given
Him twenty-five dollars in return and you regret it. Is that so?"

"I don't know that I just said that," the other man stammered. "I don't
see no need of these fine churches and paid preachers. It isn't them as
goes to church most that is the best."

"Oh, I see," the young man said, "you would prefer to give your money
for the relief of the poor, for hospitals or children's homes, or
something like that. Is that so?"

"I don't know as there's any reason for me givin' up the money I work
hard for." Sam was touched on a vital spot.

"Well, I'll tell you the reason," the minister said; his voice was no
louder, but it fell with a sledge-hammer emphasis. He moved a step
nearer his companion, and some way caught and held his wavering vision.
"God owns one-tenth of all that stuff you call your own. You have
cheated Him out of His part all these years, and He has carried you
over from year to year, hoping that you will pay up without harsh
proceedings. You are a rich man in this world's goods, but your soul is
lean and hungry and naked. Selfishness and greed have blinded your
eyes. If you could see what a contemptible, good-for-nothing creature
you are in God's sight, you would call on the hills to fall on you.
Why, man, I'd rather take my chances with the gambler, the felon, the
drunkard, than with you. They may have fallen in a moment of strong
temptation; but you are a respectable man merely because it costs money
to be otherwise. The Lord can do without your money. Do not think for a
minute that God's work will not go on. 'He shall have dominion from sea
to sea,' but what of you? You shall lie down and die like the dog. You
shall go out into outer darkness. The world will not be one bit better
because you have passed through it."

Sam was incoherent with rage. "See here," he sputtered, "what do you
know about it? I pay my debts. Everybody knows that."

"Hold on, hold on," the young man said gently, "you pay the debts that
the law compels you to pay. You have to pay your hired help and your
threshing bills, and all that, because you would be 'sued' if you
didn't. There is one debt that is left to a man's honour, the debt he
owes to God, and to the poor and the needy. Do you pay that debt?"

"Well, you'll never get a cent out of me anyway. You have a mighty poor
way of asking for money--maybe if you had taken me the right way you
might have got some."

"Excuse me, Mr. Motherwell," the young man replied with unaffected good
humour, "I did not ask you for money at all. I gave you back what you
did give. No member of our congregation will ask you for any, though
there may come a time when you will ask us to take it."

Sam Motherwell broke into a scornful laugh, and, turning away, went
angrily down the street. The fact that the minister had given him back
his money was a severe shock to some of his deep-rooted opinions. He
had always regarded churches as greedy institutions, looking and
begging for money from everyone; ministers as parasites on society,
living without honest labour, preying on the working man. Sam's
favourite story was the old one about the woman whose child got a coin
stuck in its throat. She did not send for the doctor, but for the
minister! Sam had always seen considerable truth in this story and had
told it to every minister he had met.

He told himself now that he was glad to get back the money, twenty-five
dollars was not picked up every day. But he was not glad. The very
touch of the bills was distasteful to him!

He did not tell his wife of the occurrence. Nor did he put the money in
the black bag, where their money was always kept in the bureau drawer,
safe under lock and key. He could not do that without telling his wife
where it came from. So he shoved it carelessly into the pocket of the
light overcoat that he was wearing. Sam Motherwell was not a careless
man about money, but the possession of this particular twenty-five
dollars gave him no pleasure.



CHAPTER VIII

THE OTHER DOCTOR

The young minister went down the street with a thoughtful face.

"I wonder if I did right," he was thinking. "It is a hard thing to talk
that way to a human being, and yet it seems to be the only thing to do.
Oh, what it would mean for God's work if all these rich farmers were
saved from their insatiable greed."

He turned into Dr. Clay's office.

"Oh, Clay!" he burst out when he had answered the young man's friendly
greeting, "it is an awful thing to lay open a mean man's meanness, and
tell him the plain truth about himself."

"It is, indeed," the young doctor answered, "but perhaps it is heroic
treatment your man needed, for I would infer that you have been reading
the law to someone. Who was it?"

"Sam Motherwell," the minister answered.

"Well, you had a good subject," the doctor said gravely. "For
aggravated greed, and fatty degeneration of the conscience, Mr.
Motherwell is certainly a wonder. When that poor English girl took the
fever out here, it was hard to convince Sam that she was really sick.
'Look at them red cheeks of hers,' he said to me, 'and her ears ain't
cold, and her eyes is bright as ever. She's just lookin' for a rest, I
think, if you wuz to ask me.'"

"How did you convince him?"

"I told him the girl would have to have a trained nurse, and would be
sick probably six weeks, and then they couldn't get the poor girl off
their hands quick enough. 'I don't want that girl dyin' round here,'
Sam said."

"Is Mrs. Motherwell as close as he is?" the minister asked after a
pause.

"Some say worse," the doctor replied, "but I don't believe it. She
can't be."

The minister's face was troubled. "I wish I knew what to do for them,"
he said sadly.

"I'll tell you something you can do for me," the doctor said sitting up
straight, "or at least something you may try to do."

"What is it?" the minister asked.

"Devise some method, suggest some course of treatment, whereby my tried
and trusty horse Pleurisy will cease to look so much like a saw-horse.
I'm afraid the Humane Society will get after me."

The minister laughed.

Everybody knew Dr. Clay's horse; there was no danger of mistaking him
for any other. He was tall and lean and gaunt. The doctor had bought
him believing him to be in poor condition, which good food and good
care would remedy. But as the months went by, in spite of all the
doctor could do, Pleurisy remained the same, eating everything the
doctor brought him, and looking for more, but showing no improvement.

"I've tried everything except egg-nog," the doctor went on, "and pink
pills, and I would like to turn over the responsibility to someone
else. I think perhaps his trouble must be mental--some gnawing sorrow
that keeps him awake at night. I don't mind driving Pleurisy where
people know me and know that I do feed him occasionally, but it is
disconcerting when I meet strangers to have kind-looking old ladies
shake their heads at me. I know what they're thinking, and I believe
Pleurisy really enjoys it, and then when I drive past a farmhouse to
see the whole family run out and hold their sides is not a pleasure.
Talk about scattering sunshine! Pleurisy leaves a trail of merriment
wherever he goes."

"What difference does it make what people think when your conscience is
clear. You do feed your horse, you feed him well, so what's the odds,"
inquired the Rev. Hugh Grantley, son of granite, child of the heather,
looking with lifted brows at his friend.

"Oh, there you go!" the doctor said smiling. "That's the shorter
catechism coming out in you--that Scotch complacency is the thing I
wish I had, but I can't help feeling like a rogue, a cheat, an
oppressor of the helpless, when I look at Pleurisy."

"Horace," the minister said kindly, with his level gray eyes fixed
thoughtfully on his friend's handsome face, "a man in either your
calling or mine has no right to ask himself how he feels. Don't feel
your own pulse too much. It is disquieting. It is for us to go on,
never faltering and never looking behind."

"In other words, to make good, and never mind the fans," the doctor
smiled. Then he became serious. "But Grantley, I am not always so sure
I am right as you are. You see a sinner is always a sinner and in
danger of damnation, for which there is but one cure, but a sick man
may have quinsy or he may have diphtheria, and the treatment is
different. But oh! Grantley, I wish I had that Scotch-gray confidence
in myself that you have. If you were a doctor you would tell a man he
had typhoid, and he'd proceed to have it, even if he had only set out
to have an ingrowing toe-nail. But my patients have a decided will of
their own. There's young Ab Cowan--they sent for me last night to go
out to see him. He has a bad attack of quinsy, but it is the strangest
case I ever saw."

The gaiety had died out of the young man's face, and he looked
perplexed and anxious.

"I do wish the old doctor and I were on speaking terms," he concluded.

"And are you not?" the minister asked in surprise. "Miss Barner told me
that you had been very kind--and I thought--" There was a flush on the
minister's face, and he hesitated.

"Oh, Miss Barner and I are the best of friends," the doctor said. "I
say, Grantley, hasn't that little girl had one lonely life, and isn't
she the brave little soul!"

The minister was silent, all but his eyes.

The doctor went on:

"'Who hath sorrow, who hath woe, who hath redness of eyes?' Solomon,
wasn't it, who said it was 'they who tarry long at the wine'? I think
he should have added 'those who wait at home.' Don't you think she is a
remarkably beautiful girl, Grantley?" he asked abruptly.

"I do, indeed," the minister answered, giving his friend a searching
glance. "But how about the doctor, why will he not speak to you?" He
was glad of a chance to change the subject.

"I suppose the old man's pride is hurt every time he sees me. He
evidently thinks he is all the medical aid they need around here. But I
do wish he would come with me to see this young Cowan; it's the most
puzzling case I've ever met. There are times, Grantley, when I think I
should be following the plough."

The minister looked at him thoughtfully.

"A man can only do his best, Horace," he said kindly.



CHAPTER IX

THE LIVE WIRE

"Who is this young gentleman or lady?" Dr. Clay asked of Pearlie Watson
one day when he met her wheeling a baby carriage with an abnormally fat
baby in it.

"This is the Czar of all the Rooshia," Pearl answered gravely, "and I'm
his body-guard."

The doctor's face showed no surprise as he stepped back to get a better
look at the czar, who began to squirm at the delay.

"See the green plush on his kerridge," Pearl said proudly, "and every
stitch he has on is hand-made, and was did for him, too, and he's fed
every three hours, rain or shine, hit or miss."

"Think of that!" the doctor exclaimed with emphasis, "and yet some
people tell us that the Czar has a hard time of it."

Pearl drew a step nearer, moving the carriage up and down rapidly to
appease the wrath of the czar, who was expressing his disapproval in a
very lumpy cry.

"I'm just 'tendin', you know, about him bein' the czar," she said
confidentially. "You see, I mind him every day, and that's the way I
play. Maudie Ducker said one day I never had no time to play cos we wuz
so pore, and that started me. It's a lovely game."

The doctor nodded. He knew something of "'tendin' games" too.

"I have to taste everything he eats, for fear of Paris green," Pearl
went on, speaking now in the loud official tone of the body-guard. "I
have to stand between him and the howlin' mob thirstin' for his gore."

"He seems to howl more than the mob," the doctor said smiling.

"He's afraid we're plottin'," Pearl whispered. "Can't trust no one. He
ain't howlin'. That's his natcheral voice when he's talkin' Rooshan. He
don't know one English word, only 'Goo!' But he'll say that every time.
See now. How is a precious luvvy-duvvy? See the pitty man, pull um baby
toofin!"

At which the czar, secure in his toothlessness, rippled his fat face
into dimples, and triumphantly brought forth a whole succession of
"goos."

"Ain't he a peach?" Pearlie said with pride. "Some kids won't show off
worth a cent when ye want them to, but he'll say 'goo' if you even
nudge him. His mother thinks 'goo' is awful childish, and she is at him
all the time to say 'Daddy-dinger,' but he never lets on he hears her.
Say, doctor"--Pearlie's face was troubled--"what do you think of his
looks? Just between ourselves. Hasn't he a fine little nub of a nose?
Do you see anything about him to make his mother cry?"

The doctor looked critically at the czar, who returned his gaze with
stolid indifference.

"I never saw a more perfect nub on any nose," he answered honestly.
"He's a fine big boy, and his mother should be proud of him."

"There now, what did I tell you!" Pearlie cried delightedly, nodding
her head at an imaginary audience.

"That's what I always say to his mother, but she's so tuk up with
pictures of pretty kids with big eyes and curly hair, she don't seem to
be able to get used to him. She never says his nose is a pug, but she
says it's 'different,' and his voice is not what she wanted. He cries
lumpy, I know, but his goos are all right. The kid in the book she is
readin' could say 'Daddy-dinger' before he was as old as the czar is,
and it's awful hard on her. You see, he can't pat-a-cake, or
this-little-pig-went-to-market, or wave a bye-bye or nothin'. I never
told her what Danny could do when he was this age. But I am workin'
hard to get him to say 'Daddy-dinger.' She has her heart set on that.
Well, I must go on now."

The doctor lifted his hat, and the imperial carriage moved on.

She had gone a short distance when she remembered something:

"I'll let you know when he says it, doc!" she shouted.

"All right, don't forget," he smiled back.

When Pearlie turned the next corner she met Maudie Ducker. Maudie
Ducker had on a new plaid dress with velvet trimming, and Maudie knew
it.

"Is that your Sunday dress," she asked Pearl, looking critically at
Pearlie's faded little brown winsey.

"My, no!" Pearlie answered cheerfully. "This is just my morning dress.
I wear my blue satting in the afternoon, and on Sundays, my purple
velvet with the watter-plait, and basque-yoke of tartaric plaid,
garnished with lace. Yours is a nice little plain dress. That stuff
fades though; ma lined a quilt for the boys' bed with it and it faded
gray."

Maudie Ducker was a "perfect little lady." Her mother often said so;
Maudie could not bear to sit near a child in school who had on a dirty
pinafore or ragged clothes, and the number of days that she could wear
a pinafore without its showing one trace of stain was simply wonderful!
Maudie had two dolls which she never played with. They were propped up
against the legs of the parlour table. Maudie could play the "Java
March" and "Mary's Pet Waltz" on the piano. She always spoke in a
hushed vox tremulo, and never played any rough games. She could not
bear to touch a baby, because it might put a sticky little finger on
her pinafore. All of which goes to show what a perfect little lady she
was.

When Maudie made inquiries of Pearl Watson as to her Sabbath-day
attire, her motives were more kindly than Pearl thought. Maudie's
mother was giving her a party. Hitherto the guests upon such occasions
had been selected with great care, and with respect to social standing,
and blue china, and correct enunciation. This time they were selected
with greater care, but with respect to their fathers' politics. All
conservatives and undecided voters' children were included. The
fight-to-a-finish-for-the-grand-old-party Reformers were tabooed.

Algernon Evans, otherwise known as the Czar of all the Rooshias, only
son of J. H. Evans, editor of the Millford Mercury, could not be
overlooked. Hence the reason for asking Pearl Watson, his body-guard.

Millford had two weekly newspapers--one Conservative in its tendencies
and the other one Reform. Between them there existed a feud, long
standing, unquenchable, constant. It went with the printing press, the
subscription list and the good-will of the former owner, when the paper
changed hands.

The feud was discernible in the local news as well as in the
editorials. In the Reform paper, which was edited at the time of which
we write by a Tipperary man named McSorley, you might read of a
distressing accident which befell one Simon Henry (also a Reformer),
while that great and good man was abroad upon an errand of mercy,
trying to induce a drunken man to go quietly to his home and family.
Mr. Henry was eulogised for his kind act, and regret was expressed that
Mr. Henry should have met with such rough usage while endeavouring to
hold out a helping hand to one unfortunate enough to be held in the
demon chains of intemperance.

In the Conservative paper the following appeared:

   We regret to hear that Simon Henry, secretary of the
   Young Liberal Club, got mixed up in a drunken brawl
   last evening and as a result will be confined to his
   house for a few days. We trust his injuries are not
   serious, as his services are indispensable to his
   party in the coming campaign.

Reports of concerts, weddings, even deaths, were tinged with partyism.
When Daniel Grover, grand old Conservative war-horse, was gathered to
his fathers at the ripe age of eighty-seven years, the Reform paper
said that Mr. Grover's death was not entirely unexpected, as his health
had been failing for some time, the deceased having passed his
seventieth birthday.

McSorley, the Liberal editor, being an Irishman, was not without
humour, but Evans, the other one, revelled in it. He was like the
little boys who stick pins in frogs, not that they bear the frogs any
ill-will, but for the fun of seeing them jump. He would sit half the
night over his political editorials, smiling grimly to himself, and
when he threw himself back in his chair and laughed like a boy the
knife was turned in someone!

One day Mr. James Ducker, lately retired farmer, sometimes insurance
agent, read in the Winnipeg Telegram that his friend the Honourable
Thomas Snider had chaperoned an Elk party to St. Paul. Mr. Ducker had
but a hazy idea of the duties of a chaperon, but he liked the sound of
it, and it set him thinking. He remembered when Tom Snider had entered
politics with a decayed reputation, a large whiskey bill, and about
$2.20 in cash. Now he rode in a private car, and had a suite of rooms
at the Empire, and the papers often spoke of him as "mine host" Snider.
Mr. Ducker turned over the paper and read that the genial Thomas had
replied in a very happy manner to a toast at the Elks' banquet.
Whereupon Mr. Ducker became wrapped in deep thought, and during this
passive period he distinctly heard his country's call! The call came in
these words: "If Tom Snider can do it, why not me?"

The idea took hold of him. He began to brush his hair artfully over the
bald spot. He made strange faces at his mirror, wondering which side of
his face would be the best to have photographed for his handbills. He
saw himself like Cincinnatus of old called from the plough to the
Senate, but he told himself there could not have been as good a thing
in it then as there is now, or Cincinnatus would not have come back to
the steers.

Mr. Ducker's social qualities developed amazingly. He courted his
neighbours assiduously, sending presents from his garden, stopping to
have protracted conversations with men whom he had known but slightly
before. Every man whose name was on the voters' list began to have a
new significance for him.

There was one man whom he feared--that was Evans, editor of the
Conservative paper. Sometimes when his fancy painted for him a gay and
alluring picture of carrying "the proud old Conservative banner that
has suffered defeat, but, thank God! never disgrace in the face of the
foe" (quotation from speech Mr. Ducker had prepared), sometimes he
would in the midst of the most glowing and glorious passages
inadvertently think of Evans, and it gave him goose-flesh. Mr. Ducker
had lived in and around Millford for some time. So had Evans, and Evans
had a most treacherous memory. You could not depend on him to forget
anything!

When Evans was friendly with him, Mr. Ducker's hopes ran high, but when
he caught Evans looking at him with that boyish smile of his twinkling
in his eyes, the vision of chaperoning an Elk party to St. Paul became
very shadowy indeed.

Mr. Ducker tried diplomacy. He withdrew his insurance advertisement
from McSorley's paper, and doubled his space in Evans's, paying in
advance. He watched the trains for visitors and reported them to Evans.
He wrote breezy little local briefs in his own light cow-like way for
Evans's paper.

But Mr. Ducker's journalistic fervour received a serious set back one
day. He rushed into the Mercury office just as the paper went to press
with the news that old Mrs. Williamson had at last winged her somewhat
delayed flight. Evans thanked him with some cordiality for letting him
know in time to make a note of it, and asked him to go around to Mrs.
Williamson's home and find out a few facts for the obituary.

Mr. Ducker did so with great cheerfulness, rather out of keeping with
the nature of his visit. He felt that his way was growing brighter.
When he reached the old lady's home he was received with all courtesy
by her slow-spoken son. Mr. Ducker bristled with importance as he made
known his errand, in a neat speech, in which official dignity and
sympathy were artistically blended. "The young may die, but the old
must die," he reminded Mr. Williamson as he produced his pencil and
tablet. Mr. Williamson gave a detailed account of his mother's early
life, marriages first and second, and located all her children with
painstaking accuracy. "Left to mourn her loss," Mr. Ducker wrote.

"And the cause of her death?" Mr. Ducker inquired gently, "general
breaking down of the system, I suppose?" with his pencil poised in the
air.

Mr. Williamson knit his shaggy brows.

"Well, I wouldn't say too much about mother's death if I were you.
Stick to her birth, and the date she joined the church, and her
marriages--they're sure. But mother's death is a little uncertain, just
yet."

A toothless chuckle came from the adjoining room. Mrs. Williamson had
been an interested listener to the conversation.

"Order my coffin, Ducker, on your way down, but never mind the flowers,
they might not keep," she shrilled after him as he beat a hasty retreat.

When Mr. Ducker, crestfallen and humiliated, re-entered the Mercury
office a few moments later, he was watched by two twinkling Irish eyes,
that danced with unholy merriment at that good man's discomfiture. They
belonged to Ignatius Benedicto McSorley, the editor of the other paper.

But Mrs. Ducker was hopeful. A friend of hers in Winnipeg had already a
house in view for them, and Mrs. Ducker had decided the church they
would attend when the session opened, and what day she would have, and
many other important things that it is well to have one's mind made up
on and not leave to the last. Maudie Ducker had been taken into the
secret, and began to feel sorry for the other little girls whose papas
were contented to let them live always in such a pokey little place as
Millford. Maudie also began to dream dreams of sweeping in upon the
Millford people in flowing robes and waving plumes and sparkling
diamonds, in a gorgeous red automobile. Wilford Ducker only of the
Ducker family was not taken into the secret. He was too young, his
mother said, to understand the change.

The nomination day was drawing near, which had something to do with the
date of Maudie Ducker's party. Mrs. Ducker told Maudie they must invite
the czar and Pearl Watson, though, of course, she did not say the czar.
She said Algernon Evans and that little Watson girl. Maudie, being a
perfect little lady objected to Pearl Watson on account of her scanty
wardrobe, and to the czar's moist little hands; but Mrs. Ducker,
knowing that the czar's father was their long suit, stood firm.

Mr. Ducker had said to her that very morning, rubbing his hands, and
speaking in the conspirator's voice: "We must leave no stone unturned.
This is the time of seed-sowing, my dear. We must pull every wire."

The czar was a wire, therefore they proceeded to pull him. They did not
know he was a live wire until later.

Pearl Watson's delight at being asked to a real party knew no bounds.
Maudie need not have worried about Pearl's appearing at the feast
without the festal robe. The dress that Camilla had made for her was
just waiting for such an occasion to air its loveliness. Anything that
was needed to complete her toilet was supplied by her kind-hearted
mistress, the czar's mother.

But Mrs. Evans stood looking wistfully after her only son as Pearl
wheeled him gaily down the walk. He was beautifully dressed in the
finest of mull and valenciennes; his carriage was the loveliest they
could buy; Pearl in her neat hat and dress was a little nurse girl to
be proud of. But Mrs. Evans's pretty face was troubled. She was
thinking of the pretty baby pictures in the magazines, and Algernon was
so--different! And his nose was--strange, too, and she had massaged it
so carefully, too, and when, oh when, would he say "Daddy-dinger!"

But Algeron was not envious of any other baby's beauty that afternoon,
nor worried about his nose either as he bumped up and down in his
carriage in glad good humour, and delivered full-sized gurgling "goos"
at every person he met, even throwing them along the street in the
prodigality of his heart, as he waved his fat hands and thumped his
heavy little heels.

Pearl held her head high and was very much the body-guard as she lifted
the weighty ruler to the ground. Mrs. Ducker ran down the steps and
kissed the czar ostentatiously, pouring out such a volume of admiring
and endearing epithets that Pearl stood in bewilderment, wondering why
she had never heard of this before. Mrs. Ducker carried the czar into
the house, Pearl following with one eye shut, which was her way of
expressing perplexity.

Two little girls in very fluffy short skirts, sat demurely in the
hammock, keeping their dresses clean and wondering if there would be
ice-cream. Within doors Maudie worried out the "Java March" on the
piano, to a dozen or more patient little listeners. On the lawn several
little girls played croquet. There were no boys at the party. Wilford
was going to have the boys--that is, the Conservative boys the next
day. Mrs. Ducker did not believe in co-education. Boys are so rough,
except Wilford. He had been so carefully brought up, he was not rough
at all. He stood awkwardly by the gate watching the girls play croquet.
He had been left without a station at his own request. Patsey Watson
rode by on a dray wagon, dirty and jolly. Wilford called to him
furtively, but Patsey was busy holding on and did not hear him. Wilford
sighed heavily. Down at the tracks a freight train shunted and
shuddered. Not a boy was in sight. He knew why. The farmers were
loading cattle cars.

Pearl went around to the side lawn where the girls were playing
croquet, holding the czar's hand tightly.

"What are you playin'?" she asked.

They told her.

"Can you play it?" Mildred Bates asked.

"I guess I can," Pearl said modestly. "But I'm always too busy for
games like that!"

"Maudie Ducker says you never play," Mildred Bates said with pity in
her voice.

"Maudie Ducker is away off there," Pearl answered with dignity. "I have
more fun in one day than Maudie Ducker'll ever have if she lives to be
as old as Melchesidick, and it's not this frowsy
standin'-round-doin'-nothin' that you kids call fun either."

"Tell us about it, Pearl," they shouted eagerly. Pearl's stories had a
charm.

"Well," Pearl began, "ye know I wash Mrs. Evans's dishes every day, and
lovely ones they are, too, all pink and gold with dinky little ivy
leaves crawlin' out over the edges of the cups. I play I am at the
seashore and the tide is comin' in o'er and o'er the sand and 'round
and 'round the land, far as eye can see--that's out of a book. I put
all the dishes into the big dish pan, and I pertend the tide is risin'
on them, though it's just me pourin' on the water. The cups are the
boys and the saucers are the girls, the plates are the fathers and
mothers and the butter chips are the babies. Then I rush in to save
them, but not until they cry 'Lord save us, we perish!' Of course, I
yell it for them, good and loud too--people don't just squawk at a time
like that--it often scares Mrs. Evans even yet. I save the babies
first, I slush them around to clean them, but they never notice that,
and I stand them up high and dry in the drip-pan. Then I go in after
the girls, and they quiet down the babies in the drip-pan; and then the
mothers I bring out, and the boys and the fathers. Sometimes some of
the men make a dash out before the women, but you bet I lay them back
in a hurry. Then I set the ocean back on the stove, and I rub the
babies to get their blood circlin' again, and I get them all put to bed
on the second shelf and they soon forget they were so near death's
door."

Mary Ducker had finished the "Java March" and "Mary's Pet Waltz," and
had joined the interested group on the lawn and now stood listening in
dull wonder.

"I rub them all and shine them well," Pearl went on, "and get them all
packed off home into the china cupboard, every man jack o' them singin'
'Are we yet alive and see each other's face,' Mrs. Evans sings it for
them when she's there.

"Then I get the vegetable dishes and bowls and silverware and all that,
and that's an excursion, and they're all drunk, not a sober man on
board. They sing 'Sooper up old boys,' 'We won't go home till mornin'
and all that, and crash! a cry bursts from every soul on board. They
have struck upon a rock and are going down! Water pours in at the
gunnel (that's just me with more water and soap, you know), but I ain't
sorry for them, for they're all old enough to know that 'wine is a
mocker, strong drink is ragin', and whosoever is deceived thereby is
not wise.' But when the crash comes and the swellin' waters burst in
they get sober pret' quick and come rushin' up on deck with pale faces
to see what's wrong, and I've often seen a big bowl whirl 'round and
'round kind o' dizzy and say 'woe is me!' and sink to the bottom.  Mrs.
Evans told me that. Anyway I do save them at last, when they see what
whiskey is doin' for them. I rub them all up and send them home. The
steel knives--they're the worst of all. But though they're black and
stained with sin, they're still our brothers, and so we give them the
gold cure--that's the bath-brick, and they make a fresh start.

"When I sweep the floor I pertend I'm the army of the Lord that comes
to clear the way from dust and sin, let the King of Glory in. Under the
stove the hordes of sin are awful thick, they love darkness rather than
light, because their deeds are evil! But I say the 'sword of the Lord
and of Gideon!' and let them have it! Sometimes I pertend I'm the woman
that lost the piece of silver and I sweep the house diligently till I
find it, and once Mrs. Evans did put ten cents in a corner just for fun
for me, and I never know when she's goin' to do something like that."

Here Maudie Ducker, who had been listening with growing wonder
interrupted Pearl with the cry of "Oh, here's pa and Mr. Evans. They're
going to take our pictures!"

The little girls were immediately roused out of the spell that
Pearlie's story had put upon them, and began to group themselves under
the trees, arranging their little skirts and frills.

The czar had toddled on his uncertain little fat legs around to the
back door, for he had caught sight of a red head which he knew and
liked very much. It belonged to Mary McSorley, the eldest of the
McSorley family, who had brought over to Mrs. Ducker the extra two
quarts of milk which Mrs. Ducker had ordered for the occasion.

Mary sat on the back step until Mrs. Ducker should find time to empty
her pitcher. Mary was strictly an outsider. Mary's father was a
Reformer. He ran the opposition paper to dear Mr. Evans. Mary was never
well dressed, partly accounted for by the fact that the angels had
visited the McSorley home so often. Therefore, for these reasons, Mary
sat on the back step, a rank outsider.

The czar, who knew nothing of these things, began to "goo" as soon as
he saw her. Mary reached out her arms. The czar stumbled into them and
Mary fell to kissing his bald head. She felt more at home with a baby
in her arms.

It was at this unfortunate moment that Mr. Ducker and Mr. Evans came
around to the rear of the house. Mr. Evans was beginning to think
rather more favourably of Mr. Ducker, as the prospective Conservative
member. He might do all right--there are plenty worse--he has no
brains--but that does not matter. What need has a man of brains when he
goes into politics? Brainy men make the trouble. The Grits made that
mistake once, elected a brainy man, and they have had no peace since.

Mr. Ducker had adroitly drawn the conversation to a general discussion
of children. He knew that Mr. Evans's weak point was his little son
Algernon.

"That's a clever looking little chap of yours, Evans," he had remarked
carelessly as they came up the street. (Mr. Ducker had never seen the
czar closely.) "My wife was just saying the other day that he has a
wonderful forehead for a little fellow."

"He has," the other man said smiling, not at all displeased. "It runs
clear down to his neck!"

"He can hardly help being clever if there's anything in heredity," Mr.
Ducker went on with infinite tact, feeling his rainbow dreams of
responding to toasts at Elk banquets drawing nearer and nearer.

Then the Evil Genius of the House of Ducker awoke from his slumber, sat
up and took notice! The house that the friend in Winnipeg had selected
for them fell into irreparable ruins! Poor Maudie's automobile vanished
at a touch. The rosy dreams of Cincinnatus, and of carrying the grand
old Conservative banner in the face of the foe turned to clay and ashes!

They turned the corner, and came upon Mary McSorley who sat on the back
step with the czar in her arms. Mary's head was hidden as she kissed
the czar's fat neck, and in the general babel of voices, within and
without, she did not hear them coming.

"Speaking about heredity," Mr. Ducker said suavely, speaking in a low
voice, and looking at whom he supposed to be the latest McSorley, "it
looks as if there must be something in it over there. Isn't that
McSorley over again? Low forehead, pug nose, bulldog tendencies." Mr.
Ducker was something of a phrenologist, and went blithely on to his own
destruction.

"Now the girl is rather pleasant looking, and some of the others are
not bad at all. But this one is surely a regular little Mickey. I
believe a person would be safe in saying that he would not grow up a
Presbyterian."--Mr. Evans was the worshipful Grand Master of the Loyal
Orange Lodge, and well up in the Black, and this remark Mr. Ducker
thought he would appreciate.

"McSorley will never be dead while this little fellow lives," Mr.
Ducker laughed merrily, rubbing his hands.

The czar looked up and saw his father. Perhaps he understood what had
been said, and saw the hurt in his father's face and longed to heal him
of it; perhaps the time had come when he should forever break the
goo-goo bonds that had lain upon his speech. He wriggled off Mary's
knee, and toddling uncertainly across the grass with a mighty mental
conflict in his pudgy little face, held out his dimpled arms with a
glad cry of "Daddy-dinger!"

That evening while Mrs. Ducker and Maudie were busy fanning Mr. Ducker
and putting wet towels on his head, Mr. Evans sat down to write.

"Some more of that tiresome election stuff, John," his pretty little
wife said in disappointment, as she proudly rocked the emancipated czar
to sleep.

"Yes, dear, it is election stuff, but it is not a bit tiresome," he
answered smiling, as he kissed her tenderly. Several times during the
evening, and into the night, she heard him laugh his happy boyish laugh.

James Ducker did not get the nomination.



CHAPTER X

THE BUTCHER-RIDE

Patsey Watson waited on the corner of the street. It was in the early
morning and Patsey's face bore marks of a recent and mighty conflict
with soap and water. Patsey looked apprehensively every now and then at
his home; his mother might emerge any minute and insist on his wearing
a coat; his mother could be very tiresome that way sometimes.

It seemed long this morning to wait for the butcher, but the only way
to be sure of a ride was to be on the spot. Sometimes there were delays
in getting away from home. Getting on a coat was one; finding a hat was
the worst of all. Since Bugsey got the nail in his foot and could not
go out the hat question was easier. The hat was still hard to find, but
not impossible.

Wilford Ducker came along. Wilford had just had a dose of electric oil
artfully concealed in a cup of tea, and he felt desperate. His mother
had often told him not to play with any of the Watson boys, they were
so rough and unladylike in their manner. Perhaps that was why Wilford
came over at once to Patsey. Patsey did not care for Wilford Ducker
even if he did live in a big house with screen doors on it. Mind you,
he did not wear braces yet, only a waist with white buttons on it, and
him seven! Patsey's manner was cold.

"You goin' fer butcher-ride?" Wilford asked.

"Yep," Patsey answered with very little warmth.

"Say, Pat, lemme go," Wilford coaxed.

"Nope," Patsey replied, indifferently.

"Aw, do, Pat, won't cher?"

Mrs. Ducker had been very particular about Wilford's enunciation. Once
she dismissed a servant for dropping her final g's. Mrs. Ducker
considered it more serious to drop a final g than a dinner plate. She
often spoke of how particular she was. She said she had insisted on
correct enunciation from the first. So Wilford said again:

"Aw, do, Pat, won't cher?"

Patsey looked carelessly down the street and began to sing:

   How much wood would a wood-chuck chuck
   If a wood-chuck could chuck wood.

"What cher take fer butcher-ride, Pat?" Wilford asked.

"What cher got?"

Patsey had stopped singing, but still beat time with his foot to the
imaginary music.

Wilford produced a jack-knife in very good repair.

Patsey stopped beating time, though only for an instant. It does not do
to be too keen.

"It's a good un," Wilford said with pride. "It's a Rodger, mind ye--two
blades."

"Name yer price," Patsey condescended, after a deliberate examination.

"Lemme ride all week, ord'rin' and deliv'rin'."

"Not much, I won't," Patsey declared stoutly. "You can ride three days
for it."

Wilford began to whimper, but just then the butcher cart whirled around
the corner.

Wilford ran toward it. Patsey held the knife.

The butcher stopped and let Wilford mount. It was all one to the
butcher. He knew he usually got a boy at this corner.

Patsey ran after the butcher cart. He had caught sight of someone whom
Wilford had not yet noticed. It was Mrs. Ducker. Mrs. Ducker had been
down the street ordering a crate of pears. Mrs. Ducker was just as
particular about pears as she was about final g's, so she had gone
herself to select them.

When she saw Wilford, her son, riding with the butcher--well, really,
she could not have told the sensation it gave her. Wilford could not
have told, either, just how he felt when he saw his mother. But both
Mrs. Ducker and her son had a distinct sensation when they met that
morning.

She called Wilford, and he came. No sooner had he left his seat than
Patsey Watson took his place. Wilford dared not ask for the return of
the knife: his mother would know that he had had dealings with Patsey
Watson, and his account at the maternal bank was already overdrawn.

Mrs. Ducker was more sorrowful than angry.

"Wilford!" she said with great dignity, regarding the downcast little
boy with exaggerated scorn, "and you a Ducker!"

She escorted the fallen Ducker sadly homeward, but, oh, so glad that
she had saved him from the corroding influence of the butcher boy.

While Wilford Ducker was unfastening the china buttons on his waist,
preparatory to a season of rest and retirement, that he might the
better ponder upon the sins of disobedience and evil associations,
Patsey Watson was opening and shutting his new knife proudly.

"It was easy done," he was saying to himself. "I'm kinder sorry I jewed
him down now. Might as well ha' let him have the week. Sure, there's no
luck in being mane."



CHAPTER XI

HOW PEARL WATSON WIPED OUT THE STAIN

Mrs. Motherwell felt bitterly grieved with Polly for failing her just
when she needed her the most; "after me keepin' her and puttin' up with
her all summer," she said. She began to wonder where she could secure
help. Then she had an inspiration!

The Watsons still owed ten dollars on the caboose. The eldest Watson
girl was big enough to work. They would get her. And get ten dollars'
worth of work out of her if they could.

The next Saturday night John Watson announced to his family that old
Sam Motherwell wanted Pearlie to go out and work off the caboose debt.

Mrs. Watson cried, "God help us!" and threw her apron over her head.

"Who'll keep the dandrew out of me hair?" Mary said tearfully, "if
Pearlie goes away?"

"Who'll make me remember to spit on me warts?" Bugsey asked.

"Who'll keep house when ma goes to wash?" wee Tommy wailed dismally.

Danny's grievance could not be expressed in words. He buried his tousy
head in Pearl's apron, and Pearl saw at once that her whole house were
about to be submerged in tears, idle tears.

"Stop your bleatin', all of yez!" she commanded in her most
authoritative voice. "I will go!" she said, with blazing eyes. "I will
go, I will wipe the stain off me house once and forever!" waving her
arm dramatically toward the caboose which formed the sleeping apartment
for the boys. "To die, to die for those we love is nobler far than wear
a crown!" Pearl had attended the Queen Esther cantata the winter
before. She knew now how poor Esther felt.

On the following Monday afternoon everything was ready for Pearl's
departure. Her small supply of clothing was washed and ironed and
neatly packed in a bird-cage. It was Mary who thought of the bird-cage
"sittin' down there in the cellar doin' nothin', and with a handle on
it, too." Mary was getting to be almost as smart as Pearl to think of
things.

Pearl had bidden good-bye to them all and was walking to the door when
her mother called her back to repeat her parting instructions.

"Now, mind, Pearlie dear, not to be pickin' up wid strangers, and
speakin' to people ye don't know, and don't be showin' yer money or
makin' change wid anyone."

Pearl was not likely to disobey the last injunction. She had seventeen
cents in money, ten cents of which Teddy had given her, and the
remaining seven cents had come in under the heading of small sums, from
the other members of the family.

She was a pathetic little figure in her brown and white checked dress,
with her worldly effects in the bird-cage, as she left the shelter of
her father's roof and went forth into the untried world. She went over
to Mrs. Francis to say good-bye to her and to Camilla.

Mrs. Francis was much pleased with Pearl's spirit of independence and
spoke beautifully of the opportunities for service which would open for
her.

"You must keep a diary, Pearl," she said enthusiastically. "Set down in
it all you see and feel. You will have such splendid opportunities for
observing plant and animal life--the smallest little insect is
wonderfully interesting. I will be so anxious to hear how you are
impressed with the great green world of Out of Doors! Take care of your
health, too, Pearl; see that your room is ventilated."

While Mrs. Francis elaborated on the elements of proper living, Camilla
in the kitchen had opened the little bundle in the cage, and put into
it a pair of stockings and two or three handkerchiefs, then she slipped
in a little purse containing ten shining ten-cent pieces, and an
orange. She arranged the bundle to look just as it did before, so that
she would not have to meet Pearl's gratitude.

Camilla hastily set the kettle to boil, and began to lay the table. She
could hear the velvety tones of Mrs. Francis's voice in the library.

"Mrs. Francis speaks a strange language," she said, smiling to herself,
"but it can be translated into bread and butter and apple sauce, and
even into shoes and stockings, when you know how to interpret it. But
wouldn't it be dreadful if she had no one to express it in the tangible
things of life for her. Think of her talking about proper diet and aids
to digestion to that little hungry girl. Well, it seems to be my
mission to step into the gap--I'm a miss with a mission"--she was
slicing some cold ham as she spoke--"I am something of a health talker,
too."

Camilla knocked at the library door, and in answer to Mrs. Francis's
invitation to enter, opened the door and said:

"Mrs. Francis, would it not be well for Pearl to have a lunch before
she starts for her walk into the country; the air is so exhilarating,
you know."

"How thoughtful you are, Camilla!" Mrs. Francis exclaimed with honest
admiration.

Thus it happened that Pearlie Watson, aged twelve, began her journey
into the big unknown world, fully satisfied in body and soul, and with
a great love for all the world.

At the corner of the street stood Mrs. McGuire, and at sight of her
Pearl's heart stopped beating.

"It's bad luck," she said. "I'd as lief have a rabbit cross me path as
her."

But she walked bravely forward with no outward sign of her inward
trembling.

"Goin' to Sam Motherwell's, are ye?" the old lady asked shrilly.

"Yes'm," Pearl said, trembling.

"She's a tarter; she's a skinner; she's a damner; that's what she is.
She's my own first cousin and I know HER. Sass her; that's the only way
to get along with her. Tell her I said so. Here, child, rub yer j'ints
with this when ye git stiff." She handed Pearl a black bottle of
home-made liniment.

Pearl thanked her and hurried on, but at the next turn of the street
she met Danny.

Danny was in tears; Danny wasn't going to let Pearlie go away; Danny
would run away and get lost and runned over and drownded, now! Pearl's
heart melted, and sitting on the sidewalk she took Danny in her arms,
and they cried together. A whirr of wheels aroused Pearl and looking up
she saw the kindly face of the young doctor.

"What is it, Pearl?" he asked kindly. "Surely that's not Danny I see,
spoiling his face that way!"

"It's Danny," Pearl said unsteadily. "It's hard enough to leave him
widout him comin' afther me and breakin' me heart all over again."

"That's what it is, Pearl," the doctor said, smiling. "I think it is
mighty thoughtless of Danny the way he is acting."

Danny held obstinately to Pearl's skirt, and cried harder than ever. He
would not even listen when the doctor spoke of taking him for a drive.

"Listen to the doctor," Pearl commanded sternly, "or he'll raise a
gumboil on ye."

Thus admonished Danny ceased his sobs; but he showed no sign of
interest when the doctor spoke of popcorn, and at the mention of
ice-cream he looked simply bored.

"He's awful fond of 'hoo-hung' candy," Pearlie suggested in a whisper,
holding her hand around her mouth so that Danny might not hear her.

"Ten cents' worth of 'hoo-hung' candy to the boy that says good-bye to
his sister like a gentleman and rides home with me."

Danny dried his eyes on Pearl's skirt, kissed her gravely and climbed
into the buggy beside the doctor. Waterloo was won!

Pearl did not trust herself to look back as she walked along the deeply
beaten road.

The yellow cone-flowers raised their heads like golden stars along the
roadside, and the golden glory of the approaching harvest lay upon
everything. To the right the Tiger Hills lay on the horizon wrapped in
a blue mist. Flocks of blackbirds swarmed over the ripening oats, and
angrily fought with each other.

"And it not costin' them a cent!" Pearl said in disgust as she stopped
to watch them.

The exhilaration of the air, the glory of the waving grain, the
profusion of wild flowers that edged the fields with purple and yellow
were like wine to her sympathetic Irish heart as she walked through the
grain fields and drank in all the beauties that lay around, and it was
not until she came in sight of the big stone house, gloomy and bare,
that she realised with a start of homesickness that she was Pearl
Watson, aged twelve, away from home for the first time, and bound to
work three months for a woman of reputed ill-temper.

"But I'll do it," Pearl said, swallowing the lump that gathered in her
throat, "I can work. Nobody never said that none of the Watsons
couldn't work. I'll stay out me time if it kills me."

So saying, Pearl knocked timidly at the back door. Myriads of flies
buzzed on the screen. From within a tired voice said, "Come in."

Pearl walked in and saw a large bare room, with a long table in the
middle. A sewing machine littered with papers stood in front of one
window.

The floor had been painted a dull drab, but the passing of many feet
had worn the paint away in places. A stove stood in one corner. Over
the sink a tall, round-shouldered woman bent trying to get water from
an asthmatic pump.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" she said in a tone so very unpleasant that Pearl
thought she must have expected someone else.

"Yes'm," Pearl said meekly. "Who were ye expectin'?"

Mrs. Motherwell stopped pumping for a minute and looked at Pearl.

"Why didn't ye git here earlier?" she asked.

"Well," Pearl began, "I was late gettin' started by reason of the
washin' and the ironin', and Jimmy not gettin' back wid the boots. He
went drivin' cattle for Vale the butcher, and he had to have the boots
for the poison ivy is that bad, and because the sugar o' lead is all
done and anyway ma don't like to keep it in the house, for wee Danny
might eat it--he's that stirrin' and me not there to watch him now."

"Lord! what a tongue you have! Put down your things and go out and pick
up chips to light the fire with in the morning."

Pearl laid her bird-cage on a chair and was back so soon with the chips
that Mrs. Motherwell could not think of anything to say.

"Now go for the cows," she said, "and don't run them home!"

"Where will I run them to then, ma'am?" Pearl asked innocently.

"Good land, child, have I to tell you everything? Folks that can't do
without tellin' can't do much with, I say. Bring the cows to the bars,
and don't stand there staring at me."

When Pearl dashed out of the door, she almost fell over the old dog who
lay sleepily snapping at the flies which buzzed around his head. He
sprang up with a growl which died away into an apologetic yawn as she
stooped to pat his honest brown head.

A group of red calves stood at the bars of a small field plaintively
calling for their supper. It was not just an ordinary bawl, but a
double-jointed hyphenated appeal, indicating a very exhausted condition
indeed.

Pearl looked at them in pity. The old dog, wrinkling his nose and
turning away his head, did not give them a glance. He knew them. Noisy
things! Let 'em bawl. Come on!

Across the narrow creek they bounded, Pearl and old Nap, and up the
other hill where the silver willows grew so tall they were hidden in
them. The goldenrod nodded its plumy head in the breeze, and the tall
Gaillardia, brown and yellow, flickered unsteadily on its stem.

The billows of shadow swept over the wheat on each side of the narrow
pasture; the golden flowers, the golden fields, the warm golden
sunshine intoxicated Pearl with their luxurious beauty, and in that
hour of delight she realised more pleasure from them than Sam
Motherwell and his wife had in all their long lives of barren
selfishness. Their souls were of a dull drab dryness in which no flower
took root, there was no gold to them but the gold of greed and gain,
and with it they had never bought a smile or a gentle hand pressure or
a fervid "God bless you!" and so it lost its golden colour, and turned
to lead and ashes in their hands.

When Pearl and Nap got the cows turned homeward they had to slacken
their pace.

"I don't care how cross she is," Pearl said, "if I can come for the
cows every night. Look at that fluffy white cloud! Say, wouldn't that
make a hat trimming that would do your heart good. The body of the hat
blue like that up there, edged 'round with that cloud over there, then
a blue cape with white fur on it just to match. I kin just feel that
white stuff under my chin."

Then Pearl began to cake-walk and sing a song she had heard Camilla
sing. She had forgotten some of the words, but Pearl never was at a
loss for words:

   The wild waves are singing to the shore
   As they were in the happy days of yore.

Pearl could not remember what the wild waves were singing, so she sang
what was in her own heart:

   She can't take the ripple from the breeze,
   And she can't take the rustle from the trees;
   And when I am out of the old girl's sight
   I can-just-do-as-I-please.

"That's right, I think the same way and try to act up to it," a man's
voice said slowly. "But don't let her hear you say so."

Pearl started at the sound of the voice and found herself looking into
such a good-natured face that she laughed too, with a feeling of
good-fellowship.

The old dog ran to the stranger with every sign of delight at seeing
him.

"I am one of the neighbours," he said. "I live over there"--pointing to
a little car-roofed shanty farther up the creek. "Did I frighten you? I
am sorry if I did, but you see I like the sentiment of your song so
much I could not help telling you. You need not think it strange if you
find me milking one of the cows occasionally. You see, I believe in
dealing directly with the manufacturer and thus save the middleman's
profit, and so I just take what milk I need from So-Bossie over there."

"Does she know?" Pearl asked, nodding toward the house.

"Who? So-Bossie?"

"No, Mrs. Motherwell."

"Well, no," he answered slowly. "You haven't heard of her having a fit,
have you?"

"No," Pearl answered wonderingly.

"Then we're safe in saying that the secret has been kept from her."

"Does it hurt her, though?" Pearl asked.

"It would, very much, if she knew it," the young man replied gravely.

"Oh, I mean the cow," Pearl said hastily.

"It doesn't hurt the cow a bit. What does she care who gets the milk?
When did you come?"

"To-night," Pearl said. "I must hurry. She'll have a rod in steep for
me if I'm late. My name's Pearl Watson. What's yours?"

"Jim Russell," he said. "I know your brother Teddy."

Pearl was speeding down the hill. She shouted back:

"I know who you are now. Good-bye!" Pearl ran to catch up to the cows,
for the sun was throwing long shadows over the pasture, and the
plaintive lowing of the hungry calves came faintly to her ears.

A blond young man stood at the bars with four milk pails.

He raised his hat when he spoke to Pearl.

"Madam says you are to help me to milk, but I assure you it is quite
unnecessary. Really, I would much prefer that you shouldn't."

"Why?" Pearl asked in wonder.

"Oh, by Jove! You see it is not a woman's place to work outside like
this, don't you know."

"That's because ye'r English," Pearl said, a sudden light breaking in
on her. "Ma says when ye git a nice Englishman there's nothing nicer,
and pa knowed one once that was so polite he used to say 'Haw Buck' to
the ox and then he'd say, 'Oh, I beg yer pardon, I mean gee.' It wasn't
you, was it?"

"No," he said smiling, "I have never driven oxen, but I have done a
great many ridiculous things I am sure."

"So have I," Pearl said confidentially, as she sat down on a little
three-legged stool to milk So-Bossie. "You know them fluffy white
things all made of lace and truck like that, that is hung over the beds
in rich people's houses, over the pillows, I mean?"

"Pillow-shams?" he asked.

"Yes, that's them! Well, when I stayed with Camilla one night at Mrs.
Francis's didn't I think they were things to pull down to keep the
flies off ye'r face. Say, you should have heard Camilla laugh, and ma
saw a girl at a picnic once who drank lemonade through her veil, and
she et a banana, skin and all."

Pearl laughed heartily, but the Englishman only smiled faintly.
Canadian ways were growing stranger all the time.

"Say," Pearl began after a pause, "who does the cow over there with the
horns bent down look like? Someone we both know, only the cow looks
pleasanter."

"My word!" the Englishman exclaimed, "you're a rum one."

Pearl looked disappointed.

"Animals often look like people," she said. "We have two cows at home,
one looks like Mrs. White, so good and gentle, wouldn't say boo to a
goose; the other one looks just like Fred Miller. He works in the mill,
and his hair goes in a roll on the top; his mother did it that way with
a hair-pin too long, I guess, and now it won't go any other way, and I
know an animal that looks like you; he's a dandy, too, you bet. It is
White's dog, and he can jump the fence easy as anything."

"Oh, give over, give over!" the Englishman said stiffly.

Pearl laughed delightedly.

"It's lots of fun guessing who people are like," she said. "I'm awful
smart at it and so is Mary, four years younger'n me. Once we could not
guess who Mrs. Francis was like, and Mary guessed it. Mrs. Francis
looks like prayer--big bug eyes lookin' away into nothin', but hopin'
it's all for the best. Do you pray?"

"I am a rector's son," he answered.

"Oh, I know, minister's son, isn't that lovely? I bet you know prayers
and prayers. But it isn't fair to pray in a race is it? When Jimmy
Moore and my brother Jimmy ran under twelve, Jimmie Moore prayed, and
some say got his father to pray, too; he's the Methodist minister, you
know, and, of course, he won it; but our Jimmy could ha' beat him easy
in a fair race, and no favours; but he's an awful snoopie kid and prays
about everything. Do you sing?"

"I do--a little," the Englishman said modestly.

"Oh, my, I am glad," Pearl cried rapturously. "When I was two years old
I could sing 'Hush my babe lie,' all through--I love singin'--I can
sing a little, too, but I don't care much for my own. Have they got an
organ here?"

"I don't know," he answered, "I've only been in the kitchen."

"Say, I'd like to see a melodeon. Just the very name of it makes me
think of lovely sounds, religious sounds, mountin' higher and higher
and swellin' out grander and grander, rollin' right into the great
white throne, and shakin' the streets of gold. Do you know the 'Holy
City,'" she asked after a pause.

The Englishman began to hum it in a rich tenor.

"That's it, you bet," she cried delightedly. "Just think of you coming
all the way across the ocean and knowing that just the same as we do. I
used to listen at the keyhole when Mrs. Francis had company, and I was
there helping Camilla. Dr. Clay sang that lots of times."

The Englishman had not sung since he had left his father's house. He
began to sing now, in a sweet, full voice, resonant on the quiet
evening air, the cows staring idly at him. The old dog came down to the
bars with his bristles up, expecting trouble.

Old Sam and his son Tom coming in from work stopped to listen to these
strange sounds.

"Confound them English!" old Sam said. "Ye'd think I was payin' him to
do that, and it harvest-time, too!"

When Dr. Clay, with Danny Watson gravely perched beside him, drove
along the river road after saying good-bye to Pearl, they met Miss
Barner, who had been digging ferns for Mrs. McGuire down on the river
flat.

The doctor drew in his horse.

"Miss Barner," he said, lifting his hat, "if Daniel Mulcahey Watson and
I should ask you to come for a drive with us, I wonder what you would
say?"

Miss Barner considered for a moment and then said, smiling:

"I think I would say, 'Thank you very much, Mr. Watson and Dr. Clay, I
shall be delighted to come if you have room for me.'"

Life had been easier for Mary Barner since Dr. Clay had come to
Millford. It was no longer necessary for her to compel her father to go
when he was sent for, and when patients came to the office, if she
thought her father did not know what he was doing, she got Dr. Clay to
check over the prescriptions.

It had been rather hard for Mary to ask him to do this, for she had a
fair share of her father's Scotch pride; but she had done too many hard
things in her life to hesitate now. The young doctor was genuinely glad
to serve her, and he made her feel that she was conferring, instead of
asking, a favour.

They drove along the high bank that fell perpendicularly to the river
below and looked down at the harvest scene that lay beneath them. The
air was full of the perfume of many flowers and the chatter of birds.

The Reverend Hugh Grantley drove swiftly by them, whereupon Danny made
his presence known for the first time by the apparently irrelevant
remark:

"I know who Miss Barner's fellow is! so I do."

Now if Dr. Clay had given Danny even slight encouragement, he would
have pursued the subject, and that might have saved complications in
the days to come.



CHAPTER XII

FROM CAMILLA'S DIARY

It is nearly six months since I came to live with Mrs. Francis, and I
like housework so well and am so happy at it, that it shows clearly
that I am not a disguised heiress. My proud spirit does not chafe a bit
at having to serve meals and wear a cap (you should see how sweet I
look in a cap). I haven't got the fear on my heart all day that I will
make a mistake in a figure that will rise up and condemn me at the end
of the month as I used to be when I was book-keeping on a high stool,
for the Western Hail and Fire Insurance Company (peace to its ashes!).
"All work is expression," Fra Elbertus says, so why may I not express
myself in blueberry pie and tomato soup?

Mrs. Francis is an appreciative mistress, and she is not so entirely
wrapped up in Browning as to be insensible to a good salad either, I am
glad to say.

One night after we had company and everything had gone off well, Mr.
Francis came out into the kitchen, and looked over his glasses at me.
He opened his mouth twice to speak, but seemed to change his mind. I
knew what was struggling for utterance. Then he laid fifty cents on the
window sill, pointed at it, nodded to me, and went out hurriedly. My
first impulse was to hand it back--then I thought better of it--words
do not come easily to him. So he expressed himself in currency. I put
the money into my purse for a luck penny.

Mrs. Francis is as serene as a summer sea, and can look at you without
knowing you are there. Mr. Francis is a peaceful man, too. He looks at
his wife in a helpless way when she begins to explain the difference
between the Elizabethan and the Victorian poets--I don't believe he
cares a cent for either of them.

Mrs. Francis entertains quite a bit; I like it, too, and I do not go
and cry into the sink because I have to wait on the guests. She
entertains well and is a delightful hostess, but some of the people
whom she entertains do not appreciate her flights of fancy.

I do not like to see them wink at each other, although I know it is
funny to hear Mrs. Francis elaborate on the mother's influence in the
home and the proper way to deal with selfishness in children; but she
means well, and they should remember that, no matter how funny she gets.

April 18th.--She gave me a surprise to-day. She called me upstairs and
read to me a paper she was preparing to read before some society--she
belongs to three or four--on the domestic help problem. Well, it hadn't
very much to do with the domestic help problem, but of course I could
not tell her that so when she asked me what I thought of it I said:

"If all employers were as kind as you and Mr. Francis there would be no
domestic help problem."

She looked at me suddenly, and something seemed to strike her. I
believe it came to her that I was a creature of like passions with
herself, capable of gratitude, perhaps in need of encouragement.
Hitherto I think she has regarded me as a porridge and coffee machine.

She put her arm around me and kissed me.

"Camilla," she said gently--she has the softest, dreamiest voice I ever
heard--"I believe in the aristocracy of brains and virtue. You have
both."

Farewell, oh Soulless Corporation! A long, last, lingering farewell,
for Camilla E. Rose, who used to sit upon the high stool and add
figures for you at ten dollars a week, is far away making toast for two
kindly souls, one of whom tells her she has brains and virtue and the
other one opens his mouth to speak, and then pushes fifty cents at her
instead.

Danny Watson, bless his heart! is bringing madam up. He has wound
himself into her heart and the "whyness of the what" is packing up to
go.

May 1st.--Mrs. Francis is going silly over Danny. A few days ago she
asked me if I could cut a pattern for a pair of pants. I told her I had
made pants once or twice and meekly inquired whom she wanted the pants
for. She said for a boy, of course--and she looked at me rather
severely. I knew they must be for Danny, and cut the pattern about the
size for him. She went into the sewing-room, and I only saw her at meal
times for two days. She wrestled with the garment.

Last night she asked me if I would take a parcel to Danny with her
love. I was glad to go, for I was just dying to see how she had got
along.

When I held them up before Mrs. Watson the poor woman gasped.

"Save us all!" she cried. "Them'll fit none of us. We're poor, but,
thank God, we're not deformed!"

I'll never forget the look of those pants. They haunt me still.

May 15th.--Pearl Watson is the sweetest and best little girl I know.
Her gratitude for even the smallest kindness makes me want to cry. She
told me the other day she was sure Danny was going to be a doctor. She
bases her hopes on the questions that Danny asks. How do you know you
haven't got a gizzard? How would you like to be ripped clean up the
back? and Where does your lap go to when you stand up? She said, "Ma
and us all have hopes o' Danny."

Mrs. Francis has a new role, that of matchmaker, though I don't suppose
she knows it. She had Mary Barner and the young minister for tea
to-night. Mary grows dearer and sweeter every day. People say it is not
often one girl praises another; but Mary is a dear little gray-eyed
saint with the most shapely hands I ever saw. Reverend Hugh thinks so,
too, I have no doubt. It was really too bad to waste a good fruit salad
on him though, for I know he didn't know what he was eating. Excelsior
would taste like ambrosia to him if Mary sat opposite--all of which is
very much as it should be, I know. I thought for a while Mary liked Dr.
Clay pretty well, but I know it is not serious, for she talks quite
freely of him. She is very grateful to him for helping her so often
with her father. But those gray-eyed Scotch people never talk of what
is nearest the heart. I wonder if he knows that Mary Barner is a queen
among women. I don't like Scotchmen. They take too much for granted.



CHAPTER XIII

THE FIFTH SON

Arthur Wemyss, fifth son of the Reverend Alfred Austin Wemyss, Rector
of St. Agnes, Tilbury Road, County of Kent, England, had but recently
crossed the ocean. He and six hundred other fifth sons of rectors and
earls and dukes had crossed the ocean in the same ship and had been
scattered abroad over Manitoba and the Northwest Territories to be
instructed in agricultural pursuits by the honest granger, and
incidentally to furnish nutriment for the ever-ready mosquito or wasp,
who regarded all Old Country men as their lawful meat.

The honest granger was paid a sum varying between fifty and one hundred
fifty dollars for instructing one of these young fellows in farming for
one year, and although having an Englishman was known to be a pretty
good investment, the farmers usually spoke of them as they would of the
French-weed or the rust in the wheat. Sam Motherwell referred to his
quite often as "that blamed Englishman" and often said, unjustly, that
he was losing money on him every day.

Arthur--the Motherwells could not have told his other name--had learned
something since he came. He could pull pig-weed for the pigs and throw
it into the pen; he had learned to detect French-weed in the grain; he
could milk; he could turn the cream-separator; he could wash dishes and
churn, and he did it all with a willingness, a cheerfulness that would
have appealed favourably to almost any other farmer in the
neighbourhood, but the lines had fallen to Arthur in a stony place, and
his employer did not notice him at all unless to find fault with him.
Yet he bore it all with good humour. He had come to Canada to learn to
farm.

The only real grievance he had was that he could not get his "tub." The
night he arrived, dusty and travel-stained after his long journey, he
had asked for his "tub," but Mr. Motherwell had told him in language he
had never heard before--that there was no tub of his around the
establishment, that he knew of, and that he could go down and have a
dip in the river on Sunday if he wanted to. Then he had conducted him
with the lantern to his bed in the loft of the granary.

A rickety ladder led up to the bed, which was upon a temporary floor
laid about half way across the width of the granary. Bags of musty
smelling wheat stood at one end of this little room. Evidently Mr.
Motherwell wished to discourage sleep-walking in his hired help, for
the floor ended abruptly and a careless somnambulist would be
precipitated on the old fanning mill, harrow teeth and other debris
which littered the floor below.

The young Englishman reeled unsteadily going up the ladder. He could
still feel the chug-chug-chug of the ocean liner's engines and had to
hold tight to the ladder's splintered rungs to preserve his equilibrium.

Mr. Motherwell raised the lantern with sudden interest.

"Say," he said, more cheerfully than he had yet spoken, "you haven't
been drinking, have you?"

"Intoxicants, do you mean?" the Englishman asked, without turning
around. "No, I do not drink."

"You didn't happen to bring anything over with you, did you, for
seasickness on the boat?" Mr. Motherwell queried anxiously, holding the
lantern above his head.

"No, I did not," the young man said laconically.

"Turn out at five to-morrow morning then," his employer snapped in
evident disappointment, and he lowered the lantern so quickly that it
went out.

The young man lay down upon his hard bed. His utter weariness was a
blessing to him that night, for not even the racing mice, the musty
smells or the hardness of his straw bed could keep him from slumber.

In what seemed to him but a few minutes, he was awakened by a loud
knocking on the door below, voices shouted, a dog barked, cow-bells
jangled; he could hear doors banging everywhere, a faint streak of
sunlight lay wan and pale on the mud-plastered walls.

"By Jove!" he said yawning, "I know now what Kipling meant when he said
'the dawn comes up like thunder.'"

A few weeks after Arthur's arrival, Mrs. Motherwell called him from the
barn, where he sat industriously mending bags, to unhitch her horse
from the buggy. She had just driven home from Millford. Nobody had
taken the trouble to show Arthur how it was done.

"Any fool ought to know," Mr. Motherwell said.

Arthur came running from the barn with his hat in his hand. He grasped
the horse firmly by the bridle and led him toward the barn. As they
came near the water trough the horse began to show signs of thirst.
Arthur led him to the trough, but the horse tossed his head and was
unable to get it near the water on account of the check.

Arthur watched him a few moments with gathering perplexity.

"I can't lift this water vessel," he said, looking at the horse
reproachfully. "It's too heavy, don't you know. Hold! I have it," he
cried with exultation beaming in his face; and making a dash for the
horse he unfastened the crupper.

But the exultation soon died from his face, for the horse still tossed
his head in the vain endeavour to reach the water.

"My word!" he said, wrinkling his forehead, "I believe I shall have to
lift the water-vessel yet, though it is hardly fit to lift, it is so
wet and nasty." Arthur spoke with a deliciously soft Kentish accent,
guiltless of r's and with a softening of the h's that was irresistible.

A light broke over his face again. He went behind the buggy and lifted
the hind wheels. While he was holding up the wheels and craning his
neck around the back of the buggy to see if his efforts were
successful, Jim Russell came into the yard, riding his dun-coloured
pony Chiniquy.

He stood still in astonishment. Then the meaning of it came to him and
he rolled off Chiniquy's back, shaking with silent laughter.

"Come, come, Arthur," he said as soon as he could speak. "Stop trying
to see how strong you are. Don't you see the horse wants a drink?"

With a perfectly serious face Jim unfastened the check, whereupon the
horse's head was lowered at once, and he drank in long gulps the water
that had so long mocked him with its nearness.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Russell," the Englishman cried delightedly. "Thanks
awfully, it is monstrously clever of you to know how to do everything.
I wish I could go and live with you. I believe I could learn to farm if
I were with you."

Jim looked at his eager face so cruelly bitten by mosquitoes.

"I'll tell you, Arthur," he said smiling, "I haven't any need for a man
to work, but I suppose I might hire you to keep the mosquitoes off the
horses. They wouldn't look at Chiniquy, I am sure, if they could get a
nip at you."

The Englishman looked perplexed.

"You are learning as well as any person could learn," Jim said kindly.
"I think you are doing famously. No person is particularly bright at
work entirely new. Don't be a bit discouraged, old man, you'll be a
rich land-owner some day, proprietor of the A. J. Wemyss Stock Farm,
writing letters to the agricultural papers, judge of horses at the
fairs, giving lectures at dairy institutes--oh, I think I see you,
Arthur!"

"You are chaffing me," Arthur said smiling.

"Indeed I am not. I am very much in earnest. I have seen more unlikely
looking young fellows than you do wonderful things in a short time, and
just to help along the good work I am going to show you a few things
about taking off harness that may be useful to you when you are
president of the Agricultural Society of South Cypress, or some other
fortunate municipality."

Arthur's face brightened.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Russell," he said.

That night Arthur wrote home a letter that would have made an
appropriate circular for the Immigration Department to send to
prospective settlers.



CHAPTER XIV

THE FAITH THAT MOVETH MOUNTAINS

When supper was over and Pearl had washed the heavy white dishes Mrs.
Motherwell told her, not unkindly, that she could go to bed. She would
sleep in the little room over the kitchen in Polly's old bed.

"You don't need no lamp," she said, "if you hurry. It is light up
there."

Mrs. Motherwell was inclined to think well of Pearl. It was not her
soft brown eyes, or her quaint speech that had won Mrs. Motherwell's
heart. It was the way she scraped the frying-pan.

Pearl went up the ladder into the kitchen loft, and found herself in a
low, long room, close and stifling, one little window shone light
against the western sky and on it innumerable flies buzzed unceasingly.
Old boxes, old bags, old baskets looked strange and shadowy in the
gathering gloom. The Motherwells did not believe in giving away
anything. The Indians who went through the neighbourhood each fall
looking for "old clo'" had long ago learned to pass by the big stone
house. Indians do not appreciate a strong talk on shiftlessness the way
they should, with a vision of a long cold winter ahead of them.

Pearl gazed around with a troubled look on her face. A large basket of
old carpet rags stood near the little bed. She dragged it into the
farthest corner. She tried to open the window, but it was nailed fast.

Then a determined look shone in her eyes. She went quickly down the
little ladder.

"Please ma'am," she said going over to Mrs. Motherwell, "I can't sleep
up there. It is full of diseases and microscopes."

"It's what?" Mrs. Motherwell almost screamed. She was in the pantry
making pies.

"It has old air in it," Pearl said, "and it will give me the fever."

Mrs. Motherwell glared at the little girl. She forgot all about the
frying pan.

"Good gracious!" she said. "It's a queer thing if hired help are going
to dictate where they are going to sleep. Maybe you'd like a bed set up
for you in the parlour!"

"Not if the windies ain't open," Pearl declared stoutly.

"Well they ain't; there hasn't been a window open in this house since
it was built, and there isn't going to be, letting in dust and flies."

Pearl gasped. What would Mrs. Francis say to that?

"It's in yer graves ye ought to be then, ma'am," she said with honest
conviction. "Mrs. Francis told me never to sleep in a room with the
windies all down, and I as good as promised I wouldn't. Can't we open
that wee windy, ma'am?"

Mrs. Motherwell was tired, unutterably tired, not with that day's work
alone, but with the days and years that had passed away in gray
dreariness; the past barren and bleak, the future bringing only visions
of heavier burdens. She was tired and perhaps that is why she became
angry.

"You go straight to your bed," she said, with her mouth hard and her
eyes glinting like cold flint, "and none of your nonsense, or you can
go straight back to town."

When Pearl again reached the little stifling room, she fell on her
knees and prayed.

"Dear God," she said, "there's gurms here as thick as hair on a dog's
back, and You and me know it, even if she don't. I don't know what to
do, dear Lord--the windy is nelt down. Keep the gurms from gittin' into
me, dear Lord. Do ye mind how poor Jeremiah was let down into the mire
and ye tuk care o' him, didn't ye? Take care o' me, dear Lord. Poor ma
has enough to do widout me comin' home clutterin' up the house wid
sickness. Keep yer eye on Danny if ye can at all, at all. He's awful
stirrin'. I'll try to git the windy riz to-morrow by hook or crook, so
mebbe it's only to-night ye'll have to watch the gurms. Amen."

Pearl braided her hair into two little pigtails, with her little
dilapidated comb. When she brought out the contents of the bird-cage
and opened it in search of her night-dress, the orange rolled out,
almost frightening her. The purse, too, rattled on the bare floor as it
fell.

She picked it up, and by going close to the fly-specked window she
counted the ten ten-cent pieces, a whole dollar. Never was a little
girl more happy.

"It was Camilla," she whispered to herself. "Oh, I love Camilla! and I
never said 'God bless Camilla,'"--with a sudden pang of remorse.

She was on her knees in a moment and added the postscript.

"I can send the orange home to ma, and she can put the skins in the
chist to make the things smell nice, and I'll git that windy open
to-morrow."

Clasping her little purse in her hand, and with the orange close beside
her head, she lay down to sleep. The smell of the orange made her
forget the heavy air in the room.

"Anyway," she murmured contentedly, "the Lord is attendin' to all that."

Pearl slept the heavy sleep of healthy childhood and woke in the gray
dawn before anyone else in the household was stirring. She threw on
some clothing and went down the ladder into the kitchen. She started
the fire, secured the basin full of water and a piece of yellow soap
and came back to her room for her "oliver."

"I can't lave it all to the Lord to do," she said, as she rubbed the
soap on her little wash-rag. "It doesn't do to impose on good nature."

When Tom, the only son of the Motherwells, came down to light the fire,
he found Pearl setting the table, the kitchen swept and the kettle
boiling.

Pearl looked at him with her friendly Irish smile, which he returned
awkwardly.

He was a tall, stoop-shouldered, rather good-looking lad of twenty. He
had heavy gray eyes, and a drooping mouth.

Tom had gone to school a few winters when there was not much doing, but
his father thought it was a great deal better for a boy to learn to
handle horses and "sample wheat," and run a binder, than learn the
"pack of nonsense they got in school nowadays," and when the pretty
little teacher from the eastern township came to Southfield school,
Mrs. Motherwell knew at one glance that Tom would learn no good from
her--she was such a flighty looking thing! Flowers on the under side of
her hat!

So poor Tom grew up a clod of the valley. Yet Mrs. Motherwell would
tell you, "Our Tom'll be the richest man in these parts. He'll get
every cent we have and all the land, too; and I guess there won't be
many that can afford to turn up their noses at our Tom. And, mind ye,
Tom can tell a horse as well as the next one, and he's a boy that won't
waste nothin', not like some we know. Look at them Slaters now! Fred
and George have been off to college two years, big over-grown hulks
they are, and young Peter is going to the Agricultural College in
Guelph this winter, and the old man will hire a man to take care of the
stock, and him with three boys of his own. Just as if a boy can learn
about farmin' at a college! and the way them girls dress, and the old
lady, too, and her not able to speak above a whisper. The old lady
wears an ostrich feather in her bonnet, and they're a terrible costly
thing, I hear. Mind you they only keep six cows, and they send every
drop they don't use to the creamery. Everybody can do as they like, I
suppose, but I know they'll go to the wall, and they deserve it too!"

And yet!

She and Mrs. Slater had been girls together and sat in school with arms
entwined and wove romances of the future, rosy-hued and golden. When
they consulted the oracle of "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich
man, poor man, beggar man, thief," the buttons on her gray winsey dress
had declared in favour of the "rich man." Then she had dreamed dreams
of silks and satins and prancing steeds and liveried servants, and
ease, and happiness--dreams which God in His mercy had let her forget
long, long ago.

When she had become the mistress of the big stone house, she had
struggled hard against her husband's penuriousness, defiantly
sometimes, and sometimes tearfully. But he had held her down with a
heavy hand of unyielding determination. At last she grew weary of
struggling, and settled down in sullen submission, a hopeless
heavy-eyed, spiritless women, and as time went by she became greedier
for money than her husband.

"Good-morning," Pearl said brightly. "Are you Mr. Tom Motherwell?"

"That's what!" Tom replied. "Only you needn't mind the handle."

Pearl laughed.

"All right," she said, "I want a little favor done. Will you open the
window upstairs for me?"

"Why?" Tom asked, staring at her.

"To let in good air. It's awful close up there, and I'm afraid I'll get
the fever or somethin' bad."

"Polly got it," Tom said. "Maybe that is why Polly got it. She's awful
sick now. Ma says she'll like as not die. But I don't believe ma will
let me open it."

"Where is Polly?" Pearl asked eagerly. She had forgotten her own
worries. "Who is Polly? Did she live here?"

"She's in the hospital now in Brandon," Tom said in answer to her rapid
questions. "She planted them poppies out there, but she never seen the
flowers on them. Ma wanted me to cut them down, for Polly used to put
off so much time with them, but I didn't want to. Ma was mad, too, you
bet," he said, with a reminiscent smile at his own foolhardiness.

Pearl was thinking--she could see the poppies through the window,
bright and glowing in the morning light. They rocked lightly in the
wind, and a shower of crimson petals fell. Poor Polly! she hadn't seen
them.

"What's Polly's other name?" she asked quickly.

"Polly Bragg," he answered. "She was awful nice, Polly was, and jolly,
too. Ma thought she was lazy. She used to cry a lot and wish she could
go home; but my! she could sing fine."

Pearl went on with her work with a preoccupied air.

"Tom, can you take a parcel for me to town to-day?"

"I am not goin'," he said in surprise. "Pa always goes if we need
anything. I haven't been in town for a month."

"Don't you go to church?" Pearl asked in surprise.

"No, you bet I don't, not now. The preacher was sassy to pa and tried
to get money. Pa says he'll never touch wood in his church again, and
pa won't give another cent either, and, mind you, last year we gave
twenty-five dollars."

"We paid fourteen dollars," Pearl said, "and Mary got six dollars on
her card."

"Oh, but you town people don't have the expenses we have."

"That's true, I guess," Pearl said doubtfully--she was wondering about
the boot bills. "Pa gets a dollar and a quarter every day, and ma gets
seventy-five cents when she washes. We're gettin' on fine."

Then Mrs. Motherwell made her appearance, and the conversation came to
an end.

That afternoon when Pearl had washed the dishes and scrubbed the floor,
she went upstairs to the little room to write in her diary. She knew
Mrs. Francis would expect to see something in it, so she wrote
laboriously:

   I saw a lot of yalla flowers and black-burds. The rode
   was full of dust and wagging marks. I met a man with
   a top buggy and smelt a skunk. Mrs. M. made a kake
   to-day--there was no lickens.

   I'm goin' to tidy up the granary for Arthur. He's
   offel nice--an' told me about London Bridge--it hasn't
   fallen down at all, he says, that's just a song.

All day long the air had been heavy and close, and that night while
Pearl was asleep the face of the heavens was darkened with
storm-clouds. Great rolling masses came up from the west, shot through
with flashes of lightening, and the heavy silence was more ominous than
the loudest thunder would have been. The wind began in the hills, gusty
and fitful at first, then bursting with violence over the plain below.
There was a cutting whine in it, like the whang of stretched steel,
fateful, deadly as the singing of bullets, chilling the farmer's heart,
for he knows it means hail.

Pearl woke and sat up in bed. The lightning flashed in the little
window, leaving the room as black as ink. She listened to the whistling
wind.

"It's the hail," she whispered delightedly. "I knew the Lord would find
a way to open the windy without me puttin' my fist through it--I'll
have a look at the clouds to see if they have that white edge on them.
No--I won't either--it isn't my put in. I'll just lave the Lord alone.
Nothin' makes me madder than when I promise Tommy or Mary or any of
them something and then have them frettin' all the time about whether
or not I'll get it done. I'd like to see the clouds though. I'll bet
they're a sight, just like what Camilla sings about:

   Dark is His path on the wings o' the storm.

In the kitchen below the Motherwells gathered with pale faces. The
windows shook and rattled in their casings.

"Keep away from the stove, Tom," Mrs. Motherwell said, trembling.
"That's where the lightnin' strikes."

Tom's teeth were chattering.

"This'll fix the wheat that's standing, every--bit of it," Sam said. He
did not make it quite as strong as he intended. Something had taken the
profanity out of him.

"Hadn't you better go up and bring the kid down, ma?" Tom asked,
thinking of Pearl.

"Her!" his father said contemptuously. "She'll never hear it." The wind
suddenly ceased. Not a breath stirred, only a continuous glare of
lightning. Then crack! crack! crack! on the roof, on the windows,
everywhere, like bad boys throwing stones, heavier, harder, faster,
until it was one beating, thundering roar.

It lasted but a few minutes, though it seemed longer to those who
listened in terror in the kitchen.

The roar grew less and less and at last ceased altogether, and only a
gentle rain was falling.

Sam Motherwell sat without speaking, "You have cheated the Lord all
these years, and He has borne with you, trying to make you pay up
without harsh proceedings"--he found himself repeating the minister's
words. Could this be what he meant by harsh proceedings? Certainly it
was harsh enough taking away a man's crop after all his hard work.

Sam was full of self-pity. There were very few men who had ever been
treated as badly as he felt himself to be.

"Maybe there'll only be a streak of it hailed out," Tom said, breaking
in on his father's dismal thoughts.

"You'll see in the mornin'," his father growled, and Tom went back to
bed.

When Pearl woke it was with the wind blowing in upon her; the morning
breeze fragrant with the sweetness of the flowers and the ripening
grain. The musty odours had all gone, and she felt life and health in
every breath. The blackbirds were twittering in the oats behind the
house, and the rising sun was throwing long shadows over the field.
Scattered glass lay on the floor.

"I knew the dear Lord would fix the gurms," Pearl said as she dressed,
laughing to herself. But her face clouded in a moment. What about the
poppies?

Then she laughed again. "There I go frettin' again. I guess the Lord
knows they're, there and He isn't going to smash them if Polly really
needs them."

She dressed herself hastily and ran down the ladder and around behind
the cookhouse, where a strange sight met her eyes. The cookhouse roof
had been blown off and placed over the poppies, where it had sheltered
them from every hailstone.

Pearl looked under the roof. The poppies stood there straight and
beautiful, no doubt wondering what big thing it was that hid them from
the sun.

When Tom and his father went out in the early dawn to investigate the
damage done by the storm, they found that only a narrow strip through
the field in front of the house had been touched.

The hail had played a strange trick; beating down the grain along this
narrow path, just as if a mighty roller had come through it, until it
reached the house, on the other side of which not one trace of damage
could be found.

"Didn't we get off lucky?" Tom exclaimed "and the rest of the grain is
not even lodged. Why, twenty-five dollars would cover the whole loss,
cookhouse roof and all."

His father was looking over the rippling field, green-gold in the rosy
dawn. He started uncomfortably at Tom's words.

Twenty-five dollars!



CHAPTER XV

INASMUCH

After sundown one night Pearl's resolve was carried into action. She
picked a shoe-box full of poppies, wrapping the stems carefully in wet
newspaper. She put the cover on, and wrapped the box neatly.

Then she wrote the address. She wrote it painfully, laboriously, in
round blocky letters. Pearl always put her tongue out when she was
doing anything that required minute attention. She was so anxious to
have the address just right that her tongue was almost around to her
ear. The address read:

   Miss Polly Bragg, english gurl
   and sick with fever
   Brandon Hospittle
   Brandon.

Then she drew a design around it. Jimmy's teacher had made them once in
Jimmy's scribbler, just beautiful. She was sorry she could not do a
bird with a long strip of tape in his mouth with "Think of Me" or "From
a Friend" or "Love the Giver" on it. Ma knew a man once who could do
them, quick as wink. He died a drunkard with delirium trimmings, but
was terrible smart.

Then she stuck, under the string, a letter she had written to Camilla.
Camilla would get them sent to Polly.

"I know how to get them sent to Camilla too, you bet," she murmured.
"There are two ways, both good ones, too. Jim Russell is one way. Jim
knows what flowers are to folks."

She crept softly down the stairs. Mrs Motherwell had left the kitchen
and no one was about. The men were all down at the barn.

She turned around the cookhouse where the poppies stood straight and
strong against the glowing sky. A little single red one with white
edges swayed gently on its slender stem and seemed to beckon to her
with pleading insistence. She hurried past them, fearing that she would
be seen, but looking back the little poppy was still nodding and
pleading.

"And so ye can go, ye sweetheart," she whispered. "I know what ye
want." She came back for it.

"Just like Danny would be honin' to come, if it was me," she murmured
with a sudden blur of homesickness.

Through the pasture she flew with the speed of a deer. The tall
sunflowers along the fence seemed to throw a light in the gathering
gloom.

A night hawk circled in the air above her, and a clumsy bat came
bumping through the dusk as she crossed the creek just below Jim's
shanty.

Bottles, Jim's dog, jumped up and barked, at which Jim himself came to
the door.

"Come back, Bottles," he called to the dog. "How will I ever get into
society if you treat callers that way, and a lady, too! Dear, dear, is
my tie on straight? Oh, is that you Pearl? Come right in, I am glad to
see you."

Over the door of Jim's little house the words "Happy Home" were printed
in large letters and just above the one little window another sign
boldly and hospitably announced "Hot Meals at all Hours."

Pearl stopped at the door. "No, Jim," she said, "it's not visitin' I
am, but I will go in for a minute, for I must put this flower in the
box. Can ye go to town, Jim, in a hurry?"

"I can," Jim replied.

"I mean now, this very minute, slappet-bang!"

Jim started for the door.

"Howld on, Jim!" Pearl cried, "don't you want to hear what ye'r goin'
for? Take this box to Camilla--Camilla E. Rose at Mrs. Francis's--and
she'll do the rest. It's flowers for poor Polly, sick and dyin' maybe
with the fever. But dead or alive, flowers are all right for folks,
ain't they, Jim? The train goes at ten o'clock. Can ye do it, Jim?"

Jim was brushing his hair with one hand and reaching for his coat with
the other.

"Here's the money to pay for the ride on the cars," Pearl said,
reaching out five of her coins.

Jim waved his hand.

"That's my share of it," he said, pulling his cap down on his head.
"You see, you do the first part, then me, then Camilla--just like the
fiery cross." He was half way to the stable as he spoke.

He threw the saddle on Chiniquy and was soon galloping down the road
with the box under his arm.

Camilla came to the door in answer to Jim's ring.

He handed her the box, and lifting his hat was about to leave without a
word, when Camilla noticed the writing.

"From Pearl," she said eagerly. "How is Pearl? Come in, please, while I
read the letter--it may require an answer."

Camilla wore a shirt-waist suit of brown, and the neatest collar and
tie, and Jim suddenly became conscious that his boots were not
blackened.

Camilla left him in the hall, while she went into the library and read
the contents of the letter to Mr. and Mrs. Francis.

She returned presently and with a pleasant smile said, holding out her
hand, "You are Mr. Russell. I am glad to meet you. Tell Pearl the
flowers will be sent to-night."

She opened the door as she spoke, and Jim found himself going down the
steps, wondering just how it happened that he had not said one word--he
who was usually so ready of speech.

"Well, well," he said to himself as he untied Chiniquy, "little Jimmy's
lost his tongue, I wonder why?"

All the way home the vision of lovely dark eyes and rippling brown hair
with just a hint of red in it, danced before him. Chiniquy, taking
advantage of his master's preoccupation, wandered aimlessly against a
barbed wire, taking very good care not to get too close to it himself.
Jim came to himself just in time to save his leg from a prod from the
spikes.

"Chiniquy, Chiniquy," he said gravely, "I understand now something of
the hatred the French bear your illustrious namesake. But no matter
what the man's sins may have been, surely he did not deserve to have a
little flea-bitten, mangey, treacherous, mouse-coloured deceiver like
you named for him."

When Camilla had read Pearl's letter to Mr. and Mrs. Francis, the
latter was all emotion. How splendid of her, so sympathetic, so full of
the true inwardness of Christian love, and the sweet message of the
poppy, the emblem of sleep, so prophetic of that other sleep that knows
no waking! Is it not a pagan thought, that? What tender recollections
they will bring the poor sufferer of her far away, happy childhood home!

Mrs. Francis's face was shining with emotion as she spoke. Then she
became dreamy.

"I wonder is her soul attune to the melodies of life, and will she feel
the love vibrations of the ether?"

Mr. Francis had noiselessly left the room when Camilla had finished her
rapid explanation. He returned with his little valise in his hand.

He stood a moment irresolutely looking, in his helpless dumb way, at
his wife, who was so beautifully expounding the message of the flowers.

Camilla handed him the box. She understood.

Mrs. Francis noticed the valise in her husband's hand.

"How very suddenly you make up your mind, James," she said. "Are you
actually going away on the train to-night? Really James, I believe I
shall write a little sketch for our church paper. Pearl's
thoughtfulness has moved me, James. It really has touched me deeply. If
you were not so engrossed in business, James, I really believe it would
move you; but men are so different from us, Camilla. They are not so
soulful. Perhaps it is just as well, but really sometimes, James, I
fear you give business too large a place in your life. It is all
business, business, business."

Mrs. Francis opened her desk, and drawing toward her her gold pen and
dainty letter paper, began her article.

Camilla followed Mr. Francis into the hall, and helped him to put on
his overcoat. She handed him his hat with something like reverence in
her manner.

"You are upon the King's business to-night," she said, with shining
eyes, as she opened the door for him.

He opened his mouth as if to speak, but only waved his hand with an
impatient gesture and was gone.



CHAPTER XVI

HOW POLLY WENT HOME

"We'll have to move poor Polly, if she lives thro' the night," the
nurse said to the house doctor in the hospital that night. "She is
making all the patients homesick. To hear her calling for her mother or
for 'someone from 'ome' is hard on the sick and well."

"What are her chances do you think?" the doctor asked gravely.

He was a wiry little man with a face like leather, but his touch
brought healing and his presence, hope.

"She is dying of homesickness as well as typhoid," the nurse said
sadly, "and she seems so anxious to get better, poor thing! She often
says 'I can't die miss, for what'll happen mother.' But for the last
two days, in her delirium, she seems to be worrying more about her work
and her flowers. I think they were pretty hard people she lived with.
'Surely she'll praise me this time,' she often says, 'I've tried my
'ardest.' The strenuous life has been too much for poor Polly. Listen
to her now!"

Polly was singing. Clear and steady and sweet, her voice rang over the
quiet ward, and many a fevered face was raised to listen. Polly's mind
was wandering in the shadows, but she still sang the songs of home in a
strange land:

   Down by the biller there grew a green willer
   A weeping all night with the bank for a piller.

And over and over again she sang with a wavering cadence, incoherently
sometimes, but always with tender pleading, something about "where the
stream was a-flowin', the gentle kine lowin', and over my grave keep
the green willers growin'."

"It is pathetic to hear her," the nurse said, "and now listen to her
asking about her poppies."

"In the box, miss; I brought the seed hacross the hocean, and they wuz
beauties, they wuz wot came hup. They'll be noddin' and wavin' now red
and 'andsome, if she hasn't cut them. She wouldn't cut them, would she,
miss? She couldn't 'ave the 'eart, I think."

"No indeed, she hasn't cut them," the nurse declared with decision,
taking Polly's burning hand tenderly in hers. "No one could cut down
such beauties. What nonsense to think of such a thing, Polly. They're
blooming, I tell you, red and handsome, almost as tall as you are,
Polly."

The office-boy touched the nurse's arm.

"A gentleman who gave no name left this box for one of the typhoid
patients," he said, handing her the box.

The nurse read the address and the box trembled in her hands as she
nervously opened it and took out the contents.

"Polly, Polly!" she cried, excitedly, "didn't I tell you they were
blooming, red and handsome."

But Polly's eyes were burning with delirium and her lips babbled
meaninglessly.

The nurse held the poppies over her.

Her arms reached out caressingly.

"Oh, miss!" she cried, her mind coming back from the shadows. "They
have come at last, the darlin's, the sweethearts, the loves, the
beauties." She held them in a close embrace. "They're from 'ome,
they're from 'ome!" she gasped painfully, for her breath came with
difficulty now. "I can't just see them, miss, the lights is movin' so
much, and the way the bed 'eaves, but, tell me, miss, is there a little
silky one, hedged with w'ite? It was mother's favourite one of hall.
I'd like to 'ave it in my 'and, miss."

The nurse put it in her hand. She was only a young nurse and her face
was wet with tears.

"It's like 'avin' my mother's 'and, miss, it is," she murmured softly.
"Ye wouldn't mind the dark if ye 'ad yer mother's 'and, would ye, miss?"

And then the nurse took Polly's throbbing head in her strong young
arms, and soothed its restless tossing with her cool soft touch, and
told her through her tears of that other Friend, who would go with her
all the way.

"I'm that 'appy, miss," Polly murmured faintly. "It's like I was goin'
'ome. Say that again about the valley," and the nurse repeated tenderly
that promise of incomparable sweetness:

   Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
   of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me,
   thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

"It's just like 'avin' mother's 'and to 'old the little silky one,"
Polly murmured sleepily.

The nurse put the poppies beside Polly's face on the pillow, and
drawing a screen around her went on to the next patient. A case of
urgent need detained her at the other end of the ward, and it was not
until the dawn was shining blue in the windows that she came back on
her rounds.

Polly lay just as she had left her. The crimson petals lay thick upon
her face and hair. The homesickness and redness of weeping had gone
forever from her eyes, for they were looking now upon the King in his
beauty! In her hand, now cold and waxen, she held one little silky
poppy, red with edges of white. Polly had gone home.

There was a whisper among the poppies that grew behind the cookhouse
that morning as the first gleam of the sun came yellow and wan over the
fields; there was a whisper and a shivering among the poppies as the
morning breezes, cold and chill, rippled over them, and a shower of
crystal drops mingled with the crimson petals that fluttered to the
ground. It was not until Pearl came out and picked a handful of them
for her dingy little room that they held up their heads once more and
waved and nodded, red and handsome.



CHAPTER XVII

"EGBERT AND EDYTHE"

When Tom Motherwell called at the Millford post office one day he got
the surprise of his life.

The Englishman had asked him to get his mail, and, of course, there was
the Northwest Farmer to get, and there might be catalogues; but the
possibilities of a letter addressed to Mr. Thos. Motherwell did not
occur to him.

But it was there!

A square gray envelope with his own name written on it. He had never
before got a real letter. Once he had a machinery catalogue sent to
him, with a typewritten letter inside beginning "Dear Sir," but his
mother had told him that it was just money they were after, but what
would she say if she saw this?

He did not trust himself to open it in the plain gaze of the people in
the office. The girl behind the wicket noticed his excitement.

"Ye needn't glue yer eye on me," Tom thought indignantly. "I'll not
open it here for you to watch me. They're awful pryin' in this office.
What do you bet she hasn't opened it?" He moved aside as others pressed
up to the wicket, feeling that every eye was upon him.

In a corner outside the door, Tom opened his letter, and laboriously
made out its contents. It was written neatly with carefully shaded
capitals:

   Dear Tom: We are going to have a party to-morrow night,
   because George and Fred are going back to college next
   week. We want you to come and bring your Englishman.
   We all hope you will come.

   Ever your friend,

   NELLIE SLATER.

Tom read it again with burning cheeks. A party at Slater's and him
invited!

He walked down the street feeling just the same as when his colt got
the prize at the "Fair." He felt he was a marked man--eagerly sought
after--invited to parties--girls writing to him! That's what it was to
have the cash!--you bet pa and ma were right!--money talks every time!

When he came in sight of home his elation vanished. His father and
mother would not let him go, he knew that very well. They were afraid
that Nellie Slater wanted to marry him. And Nellie Slater was not
eligible for the position of daughter-in-law. Nellie Slater had never
patched a quilt nor even made a tie-down. She always used baking powder
instead of cream of tartar and soda, and was known to have a leaning
toward canned goods. Mrs. Motherwell considered her just the girl to
spend a man's honest earnings and bring him to seedy ruin. Moreover,
she idled away her time, teaching cats to jump, and her eighteen years
old, if she was a day!

Tom knew that if he went to the party it must be by stealth. When he
drove up to the kitchen door his mother looked up from her ironing and
asked:

"What kept you, Tom?"

Tom had not been detained at all, but Mrs. Motherwell always used this
form of salutation to be sure.

Tom grumbled a reply, and handing out the mail began to unhitch.

Mrs. Motherwell read the addresses on the Englishman's letters:

   Mr. Arthur Wemyss,
   c/o Mr. S. Motherwell,
   Millford P.O.,
   Manitoba, Canada,
   Township 8, range 16, sec't. 20. North America.

"Now I wonder who's writing to him?" she said, laying the two letters
down reluctantly.

There was one other letter addressed to Mr. Motherwell, which she took
to be a twine bill. It was post-marked Brandon. She put it up in the
pudding dish on the sideboard.

As Tom led the horse to the stable he met Pearl coming in with the eggs.

"See here, kid," he said carelessly, handing her the letter.

Tom knew Pearl was to be trusted. She had a good head, Pearl had, for a
girl.

"Oh, good shot!" Pearl cried delightedly, as she read the note. "Won't
that be great? Are your clothes ready, though?" It was the eldest of
the family who spoke.

"Clothes," Tom said contemptuously. "They are a blamed sight readier
than I am."

"I'll blacken your boots," Pearl said, "and press out a tie. Say, how
about a collar?"

"Oh, the clothes are all right, but pa and ma won't let me go near
Nellie Slater."

"Is she tooberkler?" Pearl asked quickly.

"Not so very," Tom answered guardedly. "Ma is afraid I might marry her."

"Is she awful pretty?" Pearl asked, glowing with pleasure. Here was a
rapturous romance.

"You bet," Tom declared with pride. "She's the swellest girl in these
parts"--this with the air of a man who had weighed many feminine charms
and found them wanting.

"Has she eyes like stars, lips like cherries, neck like a swan, and a
laugh like a ripple of music?" Pearl asked eagerly.

"Them's it," Tom replied modestly.

"Then I'd go, you bet!" was Pearl's emphatic reply. "There's your
mother calling."

"Yes'm, I'm comin'. I'll help you, Tom. Keep a stout heart and all will
be well."

Pearl knew all about frustrated love. Ma had read a story once, called
"Wedded and Parted, and Wedded Again." Cruel and designing parents had
parted young Edythe (pronounced Ed'-ith-ee) and Egbert, and Egbert just
pined and pined and pined. How would Mrs. Motherwell like it if poor
Tom began to pine and turn from his victuals. The only thing that saved
Egbert from the silent tomb where partings come no more, was the old
doctor who used to say, "Keep a stout heart, Egbert, all will be well."
That's why she said it to Tom.

Edythe had eyes like stars, mouth like cherries, neck like a swan, and
a laugh like a ripple of music, and wasn't it strange, Nellie Slater
had, too? Pearl knew now why Tom chewed Old Chum tobacco so much. Men
often plunge into dissipation when they are crossed in love, and maybe
Tom would go and be a robber or a pirate or something; and then he
might kill a man and be led to the scaffold, and he would turn his
haggard face to the howling mob, and say, "All that I am my mother made
me." Say, wouldn't that make her feel cheap! Wouldn't that make a woman
feel like thirty cents if anything would. Here Pearl's gloomy
reflections overcame her and she sobbed aloud.

Mrs. Motherwell looked up apprehensively

"What are you crying for, Pearl?" she asked not unkindly.

Then, oh, how Pearl wanted to point her finger at Mrs. Motherwell, and
say with piercing clearness, the way a woman did in the book:

"I weep not for myself, but for you and for your children." But, of
course, that would not do, so she said:

"I ain't cryin'--much."

Pearl was grating horse-radish that afternoon, but the tears she shed
were for the parted lovers. She wondered if they ever met in the
moonlight and vowed to be true till the rocks melted in the sun, and
all the seas ran dry. That's what Egbert had said, and then a rift of
cloud passed athwart the moon's face, and Edythe fainted dead away
because it is bad luck to have a cloud go over the moon when people are
busy plighting vows, and wasn't it a good thing that Egbert was there
to break her fall? Pearl could just see poor Nellie Slater standing
dry-eyed and pale at the window wondering if Tom could get away from
his lynx-eyed parents who dogged his every footstep, and Pearl's tears
flowed afresh.

But Nellie Slater was not standing dry-eyed and pale at the window.

"Did you ask Tom Motherwell?" Fred, her brother, asked, looking up from
a list he held in his hand.

"I sent him a note," Nellie answered, turning around from the
baking-board. "We couldn't leave Tom out. Poor boy, he never has any
fun, and I do feel sorry for him."

"His mother won't let him come, anyway," Fred said smiling. "So don't
set your heart on seeing him, Nell."

"How discouraging you are Fred," Nellie replied laughing. "Now, I
believe he will come. Tom would be a smart boy if he had a chance, I
think. But just think what it must be like to live with two people like
the Motherwells. You do not realise it, Fred, because you have had the
superior advantages of living with clever people like your brother
Peter and your sister Eleanor Mary; isn't that so, Peter?"

Peter Slater, the youngest of the family, who had just come in, laid
down the milk-pails before replying.

"We have done our best for them all, Nellie," he said modestly. "I hope
they will repay us. But did I hear you say Tom Motherwell was coming?"

"You heard Nell say so," Fred answered, checking over the names. "Nell
seems to like Tom pretty well."

"I do, indeed," Nellie assented, without turning around.

"You show good taste, Eleanor," Peter said as he washed his hands.

"Who is going to drive into town for Camilla?" Nellie asked that
evening.

"I am," Fred answered promptly.

"No, you're not, I am," Peter declared.

George looked up hastily.

"I am going to bring Miss Rose out," he said firmly.

Then they laughed.

"Father," Nellie said gravely, "just to save trouble among the boys,
will you do it?"

"With the greatest of pleasure," her father said, smiling.

Under Pearl's ready sympathy Tom began to feel the part of the stricken
lover, and to become as eager to meet Nellie as Egbert had been to meet
the beautiful Edythe. He moped around the field that afternoon and let
Arthur do the heavy share of the work.

The next morning before Mrs. Motherwell appeared Pearl and Tom decided
upon the plan of campaign. Pearl was to get his Sunday clothes taken to
the bluff in the pasture field, sometime during the day. Then in the
evening Tom would retire early, watch his chance, slip out the front
door, make his toilet on the bluff, and then, oh bliss! away to Edythe.
Pearl had thought of having him make a rope of the sheets; but she
remembered that this plan of escape was only used when people were
leaving a place for good--such as a prison; but for coming back again,
perhaps after all, it was better to use the front door. Egbert had used
the sheets, though.

Fortune favoured Pearl's plans that afternoon. A book agent called at
the back door with the prospectus of a book entitled, "Woman's
Influence in the Home." While he was busy explaining to Mrs. Motherwell
the great advantages of possessing a copy of this book, and she was
equally busy explaining to him her views on bookselling as an
occupation for an able-bodied man, Pearl secured Tom's suit, ran down
the front stairs, out the front door and away to the bluff.

Coming back to the house she had an uneasy feeling that she was doing
something wrong. Then she remembered Edythe, dry-eyed and pale, and her
fears vanished. Pearl had recited once at a Band of Hope meeting a poem
of her own choosing--this was before the regulations excluding secular
subjects became so rigid. Pearl's recitation dealt with a captive
knight who languished in a mouldy prison. He begged a temporary
respite--his prayer was heard--a year was given him. He went back to
his wife and child and lived the year in peace and happiness. The hour
came to part, friends entreated--wife and child wept--the knight alone
was calm.

He stepped through the casement, a proud flush on his cheek, casting
aside wife, child, friends. "What are wife and child to the word of a
knight?" he said. "And behold the dawn has come!"

Pearl had lived the scene over and over; to her it stood for all that
was brave and heroic. Coming up through the weeds that day, she was
that man. Her step was proud, her head was thrown back, her brown eyes
glowed and burned; there was strength and grace in every motion.

When Tom Motherwell furtively left his father's house, and made his way
to the little grove where his best clothes were secreted, his movements
were followed by two anxious brown eyes that looked out of the little
window in the rear of the house.

The men came in from the barn, and the night hush settled down upon the
household. Mr. and Mrs. Motherwell went to their repose, little
dreaming that their only son had entered society, and, worse still, was
exposed to the baneful charms of the reckless young woman who was known
to have a preference for baking powder and canned goods, and curled her
hair with the curling tongs.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE PARTY AT SLATER'S

"I wonder how we are going to get all the people in to-night," Edith
Slater said gravely as the family sat at supper. "I am afraid the walls
will be bulged out to-morrow."

"The new chicken-house and the cellar will do for the overflow
meetings," George remarked.

"I borrow the pantry if it comes to a crush, you and I, Camilla," Peter
Slater said, helping himself to another piece of pie. Camilla had come
out in the afternoon to help with the preparations.

"No, Camilla is my partner," Fred said severely. "Peter is growing up
too fast, don't you think so, mother? Since I lent him my razor to play
with there's no end to the airs he gives himself. I think he should go
to bed at eight o'clock to-night, same as other nights."

Peter laughed scornfully, but Nellie interposed.

"You boys needn't quarrel over Camilla for Jim Russell is coming, and
when Camilla sees him, what chance do you suppose you'll have?"

"And when Jim sees Camilla, what chance will you have, Nell?" George
asked.

"Not one in a hundred; but I am prepared for the worst," Nellie
answered, good-naturedly.

"That means she has asked Tom Motherwell," Peter explained.

Then Mrs. Slater told them to hurry along with their supper for the
people would soon be coming.

It was Mrs. Slater who had planned the party. Mrs. Slater was the
leading spirit in everything in the household that required dash and
daring. Hers was the dominant voice, though nothing louder than a
whisper had been heard from her for years. She laughed in a whisper,
she cried in a whisper. Yet in some way her laugh was contagious, and
her tears brought comfort to those with whom she wept.

When she proposed the party the girls foresaw difficulties. The house
was small--there were so many to ask--it was a busy time.

Mrs. Slater stood firm.

"Ask everybody," she whispered. "Nobody minds being crowded at a party.
I was at a party once where we had to go outside to turn around, the
house was so small. I'll never forget what a good time we had."

Mr. Slater was dressed and ready for anything long before the time had
come for the guests to arrive. An hour before he had sat down
resignedly and said, "Come, girls, do as you think best with the old
man, scrub him, polish him, powder him, blacken his eyebrows, do not
spare him, he's yours," and the girls had laughingly accepted the
privilege.

George, whose duty it was to attend to the lamps for the occasion, came
in with a worried look, on his usually placid face.

"The aristocratic parlour-lamp is indisposed," he said. "It has balked,
refuses to turn up, and smells dreadfully."

"Bring in the plebeians, George," Fred cried gaily, "and never mind the
patrician--the forty-cent plebs never fail. I told Jim Russell to bring
his lantern, and Peter can stand in a corner and light matches if we
are short."

"It's working now," Edith called from the parlour, "burning
beautifully; mother drew her hand over it."

Soon the company began to arrive. Bashful, self-conscious girls, some
of them were, old before their time with the marks of toil, heavy and
unremitting, upon them, hard-handed, stoop-shouldered, dull-eyed and
awkward. These were the daughters of rich farmers. Good girls they
were, too, conscientious, careful, unselfish, thinking it a virtue to
stifle every ambition, smother every craving for pleasure.

When they felt tired, they called it laziness and felt disgraced, and
thus they had spent their days, working, working from the gray dawn,
until the darkness came again, and all for what? When in after years
these girls, broken in health and in spirits, slipped away to premature
graves, or, worse still, settled into chronic invalidism, of what avail
was the memory of the cows they milked, the mats they hooked, the
number of pounds of butter they made.

Not all the girls were like these. Maud Murray was there. Maud Murray
with the milkmaid cheeks and curly black hair, the typical country girl
of bounding life aid spirits, the type so often seen upon the stage and
so seldom elsewhere.

Mrs. Motherwell had warned Tom against Maud Murray as well as Nellie
Slater. She had once seen Maud churning, and she had had a newspaper
pinned to the wall in front of her, and was reading it as she worked,
and Mrs. Motherwell knew that a girl who would do that would come to no
good.

Martha Perkins was the one girl of whom Mrs. Motherwell approved.
Martha's record on butter and quilts and mats stood high. Martha was a
nice quiet girl. Mrs. Motherwell often said a "nice, quiet, unappearing
girl." Martha certainly was quiet. Her conversational attainments did
not run high. "Things is what they are, and what's the good of saying
anything," Martha had once said in defence of her silent ways.

She was small and sallow-skinned and was dressed in an anaemic gray;
her thin hay-coloured hair was combed straight back from a rather fine
forehead. She stooped a little when she walked, and even when not
employed her hands picked nervously at each other. Martha's shyness,
the "unappearing" quality, was another of her virtues in the eyes of
Tom's mother. Martha rarely left home even to go to Millford. Martha
did not go to the Agricultural Fair when her mats and quilts and butter
and darning and buttonholes on cotton got their red tickets. Martha
stayed at home and dug potatoes--a nice, quiet, unappearing girl.

When they played games at the Slaters that evening, Martha would not
play. She never cared for games she said, they tired a person so. She
would just watch the others, and she wished again that she had her
knitting.

Then the kitchen floor was cleared; table, chairs and lounge were set
outside to make room for the dancing, and when the violins rang out
with the "Arkansaw Traveller," and big John Kennedy in his official
voice of caller-off announced, "Select your partners," every person
felt that the real business of the evening had begun.

Tom had learned to dance, though his parents would have been surprised
had they known it. Out in the granary on rainy days hired men had
obligingly instructed him in the mysteries of the two-step and waltz.
He sat in a corner and watched the first dance. When Jim Russell came
into the hall, after receiving a warm welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Slater,
who stood at the door, he was conscious of a sudden thrill of pleasure.
It was the vision of Camilla, at the farther end of the dining-room, as
she helped the Slater girls to receive their guests. Camilla wore a red
dress that brought out the blue-black of her eyes, and it seemed to Jim
as he watched her graceful movements that he had never seen anyone so
beautiful. She was piloting a bevy of bashful girls to the stairway,
and as she passed him she gave him a little nod and smile that set his
heart dancing.

He heard the caller-off calling for partners for a quadrille. The
fiddlers had already tuned their instruments. From where he stood he
could see the figures forming, but Jim watched the stairway. At last
she came, with a company of other girls, none of whom he saw, and he
asked her for the first dance. Jim was not a conceited young man, but
he felt that she would not refuse him. Nor did she.

Camilla danced well and so did Jim, and many an eye followed them as
they wound in and out through the other dancers. When the dance was
over he led her to a seat and sat beside her. They had much to talk of.
Camilla was anxious to hear of Pearl, and it seemed all at once that
they had become very good friends indeed.

The second dance was a waltz. Tom did not know that it was the music
that stirred his soul with a sudden tenderness, a longing indefinite,
that was full of pain and yet was all sweetness. Martha who sat near
him looked at him half expectantly. But her little gray face and
twitching hands repelled him. On the other side of the room, Nellie
Slater, flushed and smiling was tapping her foot to the music.

He found himself on his feet. "Who cares for mats?" he muttered. He was
beside Nellie in an instant.

"Nellie, will you dance with me?" he faltered, wondering at his own
temerity.

"I will, Tom, with pleasure," she said, smiling.

His arm was around her now and they were off, one, two, three; one,
two, three; yes, he had the step. "Over the foam we glide," in and out
through the other dancers, the violins weaving that story of love never
ending. "What though the world be wide"--Nellie's head was just below
his face--"Love's golden star will guide." Nellie's hand was in his as
they floated on the rainbow-sea. "Drifting along, glad is our
song"--her hair blew against his cheek as they swept past the open
door. What did he care what his mother would say. He was Egbert now.
Edythe was in his arms. "While we are side by side" the violins sang,
glad, triumphant, that old story that runs like a thread of gold
through all life's patterns; that old song, old yet ever new,
deathless, unchangeable, which maketh the poor man rich and without
which the richest becomes poor!

When the music stopped, Tom awoke from his idolatrous dream. He brought
Nellie to a seat and sat awkwardly beside her. His old self-complacency
had left him. Nellie was talking to him, but he did not hear what she
said. He was not looking at her, but at himself. Before he knew it she
had left him and was dancing with Jim Russell. Tom looked after them,
miserable. She was looking into Jim's face, smiling and talking. What
the mischief were they saying? He tried to tell himself that he could
buy and sell Jim Russell; Jim had not anything in the world but a
quarter of scrub land. They passed him again, still smiling and
talking. "Nellie Slater is making herself mighty cheap," he thought
angrily. Then the thought came home to him with sudden bitterness--how
handsome Jim was, so straight and tall, so well-dressed, so clever,
and, bitterest of all, how different from him.

When Jim and Camilla were sitting out the second dance he told her
about Arthur, the Englishman, who sat in a corner, shy and
uncomfortable. Camilla became interested at once, and when he brought
Arthur over and introduced him, Camilla's friendly smile set him at his
ease. Then Jim generously vacated his seat and went to find Nellie
Slater.

"Select your partners for a square dance!" big John, the caller-off
announced, when the floor was cleared. This was the dance that Mr. and
Mrs. Slater would have to dance. It was in vain that Mrs. Slater
whispered that she had not danced for years, that she was a Methodist
bred and born. That did not matter. Her son Peter declared that his
mother could dance beautifully, jigs and hornpipes and things like
that. He had often seen her at it when she was down in the milkhouse
alone.

Mrs. Slater whispered dreadful threats; but her son Peter insisted, and
when big John's voice rang out "Honors all," "Corners the same," Mrs.
Slater yielded to the tide of public opinion.

Puffing and blowing she got through the "First four right and left,"
"Right and left back and ladies' chain"; but when it came to "Right
hand to partner" and "Grand right and left," it was good-bye to mother!
Peter dashed into the set to put his mother right, but mother was
always pointing the wrong way. "Swing the feller that stole the sheep,"
big John sang to the music; "Dance to the one that drawed it home,"
"Whoop 'er up there, you Bud," "Salute the one that et the beef" and
"Swing the dog, that gnawed the bone." "First couple lead to the
right," and mother and father went forward again and "Balance all!"
Tonald McKenzie was opposite mother; Tonald McKenzie did
steps--Highland fling steps they were. Tonald was a Crofter from the
hills, and had a secret still of his own which made him a sort of
uncrowned king among the Crofters. It was a tight race for popularity
between mother and Tonald in that set, and when the two stars met face
to face in the "Balance all!" Tonald surpassed all former efforts. He
cracked his heels together, he snapped his fingers; he threaded the
needle; he wrung the dishcloth--oh you should have seen Tonald!

Then big John clapped his hands together, and the first figure was over.

In the second figure for which the violins played "My Love Is but a
Lassie Yet," Mrs. Slater's memory began to revive, and the dust of
twenty years fell from her dancing experience. She went down the centre
and back again, right and left on the side, ladies' chain on the head,
right hand to partner and grand right and left, as neat as you please,
and best of all, when all the ladies circled to the left, and all the
gentlemen circled to the right, no one was quicker to see what was the
upshot of it all; and before big John told them to "Form the basket,"
mother whispered to father that she knew what was coming, and father
told mother she was a wonderful woman for a Methodist. "Turn the basket
inside out," "Circle to the left--to the centre and back, circle to the
right," "Swing the girl with the hole in her sock," "Promenade once and
a half around on the head, once and a half around on the side," "Turn
'em around to place again and balance all!" "Clap! Clap! Clap!"

Mother wanted to quit then, but dear me no! no one would let her, they
would dance the "Break-down" now, and leave out the third figure, and
as a special inducement, they would dance "Dan Tucker." She would stay
for "Dan Tucker." Peter came in for "Tucker," an extra man being
necessary, and then off they went into

   Clear the way for old Dan Tucker,
   He's too late to come to supper.

Two by two they circled around, Peter in the centre singing--

   Old Dan Tucker
   Was a fine old man--

Then back to the right--

   He washed his face
   In the frying-pan.

Then around in a circle hand in hand--

   He combed his hair
      On a wagon-wheel,
   And died with the tooth-ache
      In his heel!

As they let go of their partners' hands and went right and left, Peter
made his grand dash into the circle, and when the turn of the tune came
he was swinging his mother, his father had Tonald's partner, and Tonald
was in the centre in the title roll of Tucker, executing some of the
most intricate steps that had ever been seen outside of the Isle of
Skye.

Then the tune changed into the skirling bag-pipe lilt all Highlanders
love--and which we who know not the Gaelic profanely call "Weel may the
keel row"--and Tonald got down to his finest work.

He was in the byre now at home beyond the sea, and it is not strange
faces he will be seein', but the lads and lassies of the Glen, and it
is John McNeash who holds the drone under his arm and the chanter in
his hands, and the salty tang of the sea comes up to him and the
peat-smoke is in his nostrils, and the pipes skirl higher and higher as
Tonald McKenzie dances the dance of his forbears in a strange land.
They had seen Tonald dance before, but this was different, for it was
not Tonald McKenzie alone who danced before them, but the incarnate
spirit of the Highlands, the unconquerable, dauntless, lawless
Highlands, with its purple hills and treacherous caverns that fling
defiance at the world and fear not man nor devil.

Tonald finished with a leap as nimble as that with which a cat springs
on its victim while the company watched spellbound. He slipped away
into a corner and would dance no more that night.

When twelve o'clock came, the dancing was over, and with the smell of
coffee and the rattle of dishes in the kitchen it was not hard to
persuade big John Kennedy to sing.

Big John lived alone in a little shanty in the hills, and the prospect
of a good square meal was a pleasant one to the lonely fellow who had
been his own cook so long. Big John lived among the Crofters, whose
methods of cooking were simple in the extreme, and from them he had
picked up strange ways of housekeeping. He ate out of the frying pan;
he milked the cow in the porridge pot, and only took what he needed for
each meal, reasoning that she had a better way of keeping it than he
had. Big John had departed almost entirely from "white man's ways," and
lived a wild life free from the demands of society. His ability to
"call off" at dances was the one tie that bound him to the Canadian
people on the plain.

"Oh, I can't sing," John said sheepishly, when they urged him.

"Tell us how it happened any way John," Bud Perkins said. "Give us the
story of it."

"Go on John. Sing about the cowboy," Peter Slater coaxed.

"It iss a teffle of a good song, that," chuckled Tonald.

"Well," John began, clearing his throat, "here it's for you. I've
ruined me voice drivin' oxen though, but here's the song."

It was a song of the plains, weird and wistful, with an uncouth
plaintiveness that fascinated these lonely hill-dwellers.

   As I was a-walkin' one beautiful morning,
      As I was a-walkin' one morning in May,
   I saw a poor cowboy rolled up in his blanket,
      Rolled up in his blanket as cold as the clay!

The listener would naturally suppose that the cowboy was dead in his
blanket that lovely May morning; but that idea had to be abandoned as
the song went on, because the cowboy was very much alive in the
succeeding verses, when--

   Round the bar bummin' where bullets were hummin'
      He snuffed out the candle to show why he come!

Then his way of giving directions for his funeral was somewhat out of
the usual procedure but no one seemed to notice these little
discrepancies--

   Beat the drum slowly boys, beat the drum lowly boys,
      Beat the dead march as we hurry along.
   To show that ye love me, boys, write up above me, boys,
      "Here lies a poor cowboy who knows he done wrong."

In accordance with a popular custom, John SPOKE the last two words in a
very slow and distinct voice. This was considered a very fine thing to
do--it served the purpose of the "Finis" at the end of the book, or the
"Let us pray," at the end of the sermon.

The applause was very loud and very genuine.

Bud Perkins, who was the wit of the Perkins family, and called by his
mother a "regular cut-up," was at last induced to sing. Bud's
"Come-all-ye" contained twenty-three verses, and in it was set forth
the wanderings of one, young Willie, who left his home and native land
at a very tender age, and "left a good home when he left." His mother
tied a kerchief of blue around his neck. "God bless you, son," she
said. "Remember I will watch for you, till life itself is fled!" The
song went on to tell how long the mother watched in vain. Young Willie
roamed afar, but after he had been scalped by savage bands and left for
dead upon the sands, and otherwise maltreated by the world at large, he
began to think of home, and after shipwrecks, and dangers and
hair-breadth escapes, he reached his mother's cottage door, from which
he had gone long years before.

Then of course he tried to deceive his mother, after the manner of all
boys returning after a protracted absence--

   Oh, can you tell me, ma'm, he said,
   How far to Edinboro' town.

But he could not fool his mother, no, no! She knew him by the kerchief
blue, still tied around his neck.

When the applause, which was very generous, had been given, Jim Russell
wanted to know how young Willie got his neck washed in all his long
meanderings, or if he did not wash, how did he dodge the health
officers.

George Slater gravely suggested that perhaps young Willie used a
dry-cleaning process--French chalk or brown paper and a hot iron.

Peter Slater said he did not believe it was the same handkerchief at
all. No handkerchief could stand the pace young Willie went. It was
another one very like the one he had started off with. He noticed them
in the window as he passed, that day, going cheap for cash.

The young Englishman looked more and more puzzled. It was strange how
Canadians took things. He turned to Camilla.

"It is only a song, don't you know," he said with a distressed look.
"It is really impossible to say how he had the kerchief still tied
around his neck."

The evening would not have been complete without a song from Billy
McLean. Little Billy was a consumptive, playing a losing game against a
relentless foe; but playing like a man with unfailing cheerfulness, and
eyes that smiled ever.

   There is a bright ship on the ocean,
      Bedecked in silver and gold;
   They say that my Willie is sailing,
      Yes, sailing afar I am told,

was little Billy's song, known and loved in many a thresher's caboose,
but heard no more for many a long day, for little Billy gave up the
struggle the next spring when the snow was leaving the fields and the
trickle of water was heard in the air. But he and his songs are still
lovingly remembered by the boys who "follow the mill," when their
thoughts run upon old times.

Peter and Fred Slater came in with the coffee. Jim Russell with a white
apron around his neck followed with a basket of sandwiches, and Tom
Motherwell with a heaping plate of cake.

"Did you make this cake, Nell?" Tom whispered to Nellie in the pantry
as she filled the plate for him.

"Me!" she laughed. "Bless you no! I can't make anything but pancakes."

Martha Perkins still sat by the window. She looked older and more
careworn--she was thinking of how late it was getting. Martha could
make cakes, Tom knew that. Martha could do everything.

"Go along Tom," Nellie was saying, "give a piece to big John. Don't you
see how hungry he looks." Their eyes met. Hers were bright and smiling.
He smiled back.

Oh pshaw! pancakes are not so bad.

Jim Russell whispered to Camilla, as he passed near where she and
Arthur sat, "Will you please come and help Nellie in the pantry? We
need you badly."

Camilla called Maud Murray to take her seat. She knew Maud would be
kind to the young Englishman.

When Camilla reached the pantry she found Nellie and Tom Motherwell
happily engaged in eating lemon tarts, and evidently not needing her at
all. Jim was ready with an explanation. "I was thinking of poor Thursa,
far across the sea," he said, "what a shock it would be to her if
Arthur was compelled to write home that he had changed his mind," and
Camilla did not look nearly so angry as she should have, either.

After supper there was another song from Arthur Wemyss, the young
Englishman. He played his own accompaniment, his fingers, stiffened
though they were with hard work, ran lightly over the keys. Every
person sat still to listen. Even Martha Perkins forgot to twirl her
fingers and leaned forward. It was a simple little English ballad he
sang:

   Where'er I wander over land or foam,
   There is a place so dear the heart calls home.

Perhaps it was because the ocean rolled between him and his home that
he sang with such a wistful longing in his voice, that even his dullest
listener felt the heart-cry in it. It was a song of one who reaches
longing arms across the sea to the old home and the old friends, whom
he sees only in his dreams.

In the silence that followed the song, his fingers unconsciously began
to play Mendelssohn's beautiful air, "We Would See Jesus, for the
Shadows Lengthen." Closely linked with the young man's love of home was
his religious devotion. The quiet Sabbath morning with its silvery
chimes calling men to prayer; the soft footfalls in the aisle; the
white-robed choir, his father's voice in the church service, so full of
divine significance; the many-voiced responses and the swelling notes
of the "Te Deum"--he missed it so. All the longing for the life he had
left, all the spiritual hunger and thirst that was in his heart sobbed
in his voice as he sang:

   We would see Jesus,
      For the shadows lengthen
   O'er this little landscape of our life.
      We would see Jesus,
   Our weak faith to strengthen,
      For the last weariness, the final strife.
   We would see Jesus, other lights are paling,
      Which for long years we have rejoiced to see,
   The blessings of our pilgrimage are failing,
      We would not mourn them for we go to Thee.

He sang on with growing tenderness through all that divinely tender
hymn, and the longing of it, the prayer of it was not his alone, but
arose from every heart that listened.

Perhaps they were in a responsive mood, easily swayed by emotion.
Perhaps that is why there was in every heart that listened a desire to
be good and follow righteousness, a reaching up of feeble hands to God.
The Reverend Hugh Grantley would have said that it was the Spirit of
God that stands at the door of every man's heart and knocks.

The young man left the organ, and the company broke up soon after.
Before they parted, Mr. Slater in whom the Englishman's singing had
revived the spiritual hunger of his Methodist heart, requested them to
sing "God be with you till we meet again." Every one stood up and
joined hands. Martha, with her thoughts on the butter and eggs; Tonald
McKenzie and big John with the vision of their lonely dwellings in the
hills looming over them; Jim and Camilla; Tom and Nellie, hand in hand;
little Billy, face to face with the long struggle and its certain
ending. Little Billy's voice rang sweet and clear above the others--

   God be with you till we meet again,
      Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
      Smite death's threatening wave before you;
   God be with you till we meet again!



CHAPTER XIX

PEARL'S DIARY

When Pearl got Tom safely started for the party a great weight seemed
to have rolled from her little shoulders. Tom was going to spend the
night--what was left of it--with Arthur in the granary, and so avoid
the danger of disturbing his parents by his late home-coming.

Pearl was too excited to sleep, so she brought out from her bird-cage
the little note-book that Mrs. Francis had given her, and endeavoured
to fill some of its pages with her observations.

Mrs. Francis had told her to write what she felt and what she saw.

She had written:

August 8th.--I picked the fethers from 2 ducks to-day. I call them
cusmoodles. I got that name in a book. The cusmoodles were just full of
cheety-wow-wows. That's a pretty name, too, I think. I got that out of
my own head. The cheety-wow-wows are wanderers to-night, I guess. They
lost their feather-bed.

Arthur's got a girl. Her name is Thursa. He tells me about her, and
showed me her picter. She is beautiful beyond compare, and awful savin'
on her clothes. At first I thought she had a die-away-ducky look, but I
guess it's because she was sorry Arthur was comin' away.

August 9th.--Mrs. Motherwell is gittin' kinder, I think. When I was
gittin' the tub for Arthur yesterday, and gittin' water het, she said,
"What are you doin', Pearl?" I says, "gittin' Arthur a bath." She says,
"Dear me, it's a pity about him." I says, "Yes'm, but he'll feel better
now." She says, "Duz he want anyone to wash his back?"--I says, "I
don't know, but I'll ask him," and I did, too; but he says, "No, thanks
awfully."

August 10th.--The English Church minister called one day to see Arthur.
He read some of the Bible to us and then he gave us a dandy prayer. He
didn't make it--it was a bot one.

There's wild parsley down on the crik. Mrs. M. sed't wuz poison, but I
wanted to be sure, so I et it, and it isn't. There's wild sage all
over, purple an lovely. I pickt a big lot ov it, to taik home--we mite
have a turkey this winter.

August 11th.--I hope tom's happy; it's offel to be in love. I hope I'll
never be.

My hands are pretty sore pullin' weeds, but I like it; I pertend it's
bad habits I'm rootin' out.

Arthur's offel good: he duz all the work he can for me, and he sings
for me and tells me about his uncle the Bishop. His uncle's got
servants and leggin's and lots of things. Arthur's been kind of sick
lately.

I made verses one day, there not very nice, but there true--I saw it:

   The little lams are beautiful,
      There cotes are soft and nice,
   The little calves have ringworm,
      And the 2-year olds have lice!

Now I'm going' to make more; it seems to bad to leve it like that.

   It must be very nasty,
      But to worrie, what's the use;
   Better be cam and cheerfull,
      And appli tobaka jooce.

Sometimes I feal like gittin' lonesum but I jist keep puttin' it of. I
say to myself I won't git lonesum till I git this cow milked, and then
I say o shaw I might as well do another, and then I say I won't git
lonesum till I git the pails washed and the flore scrubbed, and I keep
settin' it of and settin' it of till I forgit I was goin' to be.

One day I wuz jist gittin' reddy to cry. I could feel tears startin' in
my hart, and my throte all hot and lumpy, thinkin' of ma and Danny an'
all of them, and I noticed the teakettle just in time--it neaded
skourin'. You bet I put a shine on it, and, of course, I couldn't dab
tears on it and muss it up, so I had to wait. Mrs. M. duzn't talk to
me. She has a morgage or a cancer I think botherin' her. Ma knowed a
woman once, and everybuddy thot she was terrible cross cos she wouldn't
talk at all hardly and when she died, they found she'd a tumult in her
insides, and then you bet they felt good and sorry, when we're cross at
home ma says it's not the strap we need, but a good dose of kastor oil
or Seany and we git it too.

I gess I got Bugsey's and Patsey's bed paid fer now. Now I'll do
Teddy's and Jimmy's. This ain't a blot it's the liniment Mrs. McGuire
gave me. I have it on me hands.

I'm gittin on to be therteen soon. 13 is pretty old I gess. I'll soon
turn the corner now and be lookin' 20 square in the face--I'll never be
homesick then. I ain't lonesome now either--it's just sleep that's in
my eyes smuggin them up.

Jim Russell is offel good to go to town he doesn't seem to mind it a
bit. Once I said I wisht I'd told Camilla to remind Jimmy to spit on
his warts every day--he's offell careless, and Jim said he'd tell
Camilla, and he often asks me if I want to tell Camilla anything, and
it's away out of his rode to go round to Mrs. Francis house too. I like
Jim you bet.



CHAPTER XX

TOM'S NEW VIEWPOINT

Pearl was quite disappointed in Tom's appearance the morning after the
party. Egbert always wore a glorified countenance after he had seen
Edythe; but Tom looked sleepy and somewhat cross.

He went to his work discontentedly. His mother's moroseness annoyed
him. His father's hard face had never looked so forbidding to him as it
did that morning. Mrs. Slater's hearty welcome, her good-natured
motherly smiles, Mr. Slater's genial and kindly ways, contrasted
sharply with his own home life, and it rankled in him.

"It's dead easy for them Slater boys to be smart and good, too," he
thought bitterly; "they are brought right up to it. They may not have
much money, but look at the fun they have. George and Fred will be off
to college soon, and it must be fun in the city,--they're dressed up
all the time, ridin' round on street cars, and with no chores to do."

The trees on the poplar bluff where he had made his toilet the evening
before were beginning to show the approach of autumn, although there
had been no frost. Pale yellow and rust coloured against the green of
their hardier neighbours, they rippled their coin-like leaves in glad
good-will as he drove past them on his way to the hayfield.

The sun had risen red and angry, giving to every cloud in the sky a
facing of gold, and long streamers shot up into the blue of the
mid-heaven.

There is no hour of the day so hushed and beautiful as the early
morning, when the day is young, fresh from the hand of God. It is a new
page, clean and white and pure, and the angel is saying unto us
"Write!" and none there be who may refuse to obey. It may be gracious
deeds and kindly words that we write upon it in letters of gold, or it
may be that we blot and blur it with evil thoughts and stain it with
unworthy actions, but write we must!

The demon of discontent laid hold on Tom that morning as he worked in
the hayfield. New forces were at work in the boy's heart, forces mighty
for good or evil.

A great disgust for his surrounding filled him. He could see from where
he worked the big stone house, bare and gray. It was a place to eat in,
a place to sleep in, the same as a prison. He had never known any real
enjoyment there. He knew it would all be his some day, and he tried to
feel the pride of possession, but he could not--he hated it.

He saw around him everywhere the abundance of harvest--the grain that
meant money. Money! It was the greatest thing in the world. He had been
taught to chase after it--to grasp it--then hide it, and chase again
after more. His father put money in the bank every year, and never saw
it again. When money was banked it had fulfilled its highest mission.
Then they drew that wonderful thing called interest, money without
work--and banked it--Oh, it was a great game!

It was the first glimmerings of manhood that was stirring in Tom's
heart that morning, the new independence, the new individualism.

Before this he had accepted everything his father and mother had said
or done without question. Only once before had he doubted them. It was
several years before. A man named Skinner had bought from Tom's father
the quarter section that Jim Russell now farmed, paying down a
considerable sum of money, but evil days fell upon the man and his
wife; sickness, discouragement, and then, the man began to drink. He
was unable to keep up his payments and Tom's father had foreclosed the
mortgage. Tom remembered the day the Skinners had left their farm, the
woman was packing their goods into a box. She was a faded woman in a
faded wrapper, and her tears were falling as she worked. Tom saw her
tears falling, and he had told her with the awful cruelty of a child
that it was their own fault that they had lost the farm. The woman had
shrunk back as if he had struck her and cried "Oh, no! No! Tom, don't
say that, child, you don't know what you say," then putting her hands
on his shoulders she had looked straight into his face--he remembered
that she had lost some teeth in front, and that her eyes were sweet and
kind. "Some day, dear," she said, "when you are a man, you will
remember with shame and sorrow that you once spoke hard to a
broken-hearted, homeless woman." Tom had gone home wondering and
vaguely unhappy, and could not eat his supper that night.

He remembered it all now, remembered it with a start, and with a sudden
tightening of his heart that burned and chilled him. The hot blood
rushed into his head and throbbed painfully.

He looked at the young Englishman who was loading the hay on the rack,
with a sudden impulse. But Arthur was wrapped in his own mask of
insular reserve, and so saw nothing of the storm that was sweeping over
the boy's soul.

Then the very spirit of evil laid hold on Tom. When the powers of good
are present in the heart, and can find no outlet in action, they turn
to evil. Tom had the desire to be kind and generous; ambition was
stirring in him. His sullenness and discontent were but the outward
signs of the inward ferment. He could not put into action the powers
for good without breaking away, in a measure at least, from his father
and mother.

He felt that he had to do something. He was hungry for the society of
other young people like himself. He wanted life and action and
excitement.

There is one place where a young man can always go and find life and
gaiety and good-fellowship. One door stands invitingly open to all.
When the church of God is cold and dark and silent, and the homes of
Christ's followers are closed except to the chosen few, the bar-room
throws out its evil welcome to the young man on the street.

Tom had never heard any argument against intemperance, only that it was
expensive. Now he hated all the petty meanness that he had been so
carefully taught.

The first evening that Tom went into the bar-room of the Millford hotel
he was given a royal welcome. They were a jolly crowd! They knew how to
enjoy life, Tom told himself. What's the good of money if you can't
have a little fun with it?

Tom had never had much money of his own, he had never needed it or
thought anything about it. Now the injustice of it rankled in him. He
had to have money. It was his. He worked for it. He would just take it,
and then if it was missed he would tell his father and mother that he
had taken it--taking your own is not stealing--and he would tell them
so and have it out with them.

Thus the enemy sowed the tares.



CHAPTER XXI

A CRACK IN THE GRANITE

While Pearl was writing her experiences in her little red book, Mr. and
Mrs. Motherwell were in the kitchen below reading a letter which Mr.
Motherwell had just brought from the post office. It read as follows:


BRANDON HOSPITAL, August 10th.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Motherwell: I know it will be at least some slight
comfort for you to know that the poppies you sent Polly reached her in
time to be the very greatest comfort to her. Her joy at seeing them and
holding them in her hands would have been your reward if you could have
seen it, and although she had been delirious up to that time for
several days, the sight of the poppies seemed to call her mind back.
She died very peacefully and happily at daybreak this morning. She was
a sweet and lovable girl and we had all grown very fond of her, as I am
sure you did, too.

May God abundantly bless you, dear Mr. and Mrs. Motherwell, for your
kind thoughtfulness to this poor lonely girl. "Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto Me."

Yours cordially,

(Nurse) AGNES HUNT.


"By Jinks."

Sam Motherwell took the letter from his wife's hand and excitedly read
it over to himself, going over each word with his blunt forefinger. He
turned it over and examined the seal, he looked at the stamp and inside
of the envelope, and failing to find any clue to the mystery he
ejaculated again:

"By Jinks! What the deuce is this about poppies. Is that them things
she sowed out there?"

His wife nodded.

"Well, who do you suppose sent them? Who would ever think of sending
them?"

Mrs. Motherwell made no reply.

"It's a blamed nice letter anyway," he said, looking it over again, "I
guess Polly didn't give us a hard name to them up there in the
'ospital, or we wouldn't ha' got a letter like this; and poor Polly's
dead. Well, she was a kind of a good-natured, willin' thing too, and
not too slow either."

Mrs. Motherwell was still silent. She had not thought that Polly would
die, she had always had great faith in the vitality of English people.
"You can't kill them," she had often said; but now Polly was dead. She
was sick, then, when she went around the house so strangely silent and
flushed. Mrs. Motherwell's memory went back with cruel
distinctness--she had said things to Polly then that stung her now with
a remorse that was new and terrible, and Polly had looked at her dazed
and wondering, her big eyes flushed and pleading. Mrs. Motherwell
remembered now that she had seen that look once before. She had helped
Sam to kill a lamb once, and it came back to her now, how through it
all, until the blow fell, the lamb had stood wondering, pleading, yet
unflinching, and she had run sobbing away--and now Polly was dead--and
those big eyes she had so often seen tearful, yet smiling, were closed
and their tears forever wiped away.

That night she dreamed of Polly, confused, troubled dreams; now it was
Polly's mother who was dead, then it was her own mother, dead thirty
years ago. Once she started violently and sat up. Someone had been
singing--the echo of it was still in the room:

   Over my grave keep the green willers growing.

The yellow harvest moon flooded the room with its soft light. She could
see through the window how it lay like a mantle on the silent fields.
It was one of those glorious, cloudless nights, with a hint of frost in
the air that come just as the grain is ripening. From some place down
the creek a dog barked; once in a while a cow-bell tinkled: a horse
stamped in the stable and then all was still. Numberless stars shone
through the window. The mystery of life and death and growing things
was around her. As for man his days are as grass; as a flower of the
field so he flourisheth--for it is soon cut off and we fly away--fly
away where?--where?--her head throbbed with the question.

The eastern sky flushed red with morning; a little ripple came over the
grain. She watched it listlessly. Polly had died at daybreak--didn't
the letter say? Just like that, the light rising redder and redder, the
stars disappearing, she wondered dully to herself how often she would
see the light coming, like this, and yet, and yet, some time would be
the last, and then what?

   We shall be where suns are not,
      A far serener clime.

came to her memory she knew not from whence. But she shuddered at it.
Polly's eyes, dazed, pleading like the lamb's, rose before her; or was
it that Other Face, tender, thorn-crowned, that had been looking upon
her in love all these long years!

She spoke so kindly to Pearl when she went into the kitchen that the
little girl looked up apprehensively.

"Are ye not well, ma'am?" she asked quickly.

Mrs. Motherwell hesitated.

"I did not sleep very well," she said, at last.

"That's the mortgage," Pearl thought to herself.

"And when I did sleep, I had such dreadful dreams," Mrs. Motherwell
went on, strangely communicative.

"That looks more like the cancer," Pearl thought as she stirred the
porridge.

"We got bad news," Mrs. Motherwell said. "Polly is dead."

Pearl stopped stirring the porridge.

"When did she die," she asked eagerly.

"The morning before yesterday morning, about daylight."

Pearl made a rapid calculation. "Oh good!" she cried,
"goody--goody--goody! They were in time."

She saw her mistake in a moment, and hastily put her hand over her
mouth as if to prevent the unruly member from further indiscretions.
She stirred the porridge vigorously, while her cheeks burned.

"Yes, they were," Mrs. Motherwell said quietly.

Pearl set the porridge on the back of the stove and ran out to where
the poppies nodded gaily. Never before had they seemed so beautiful.
Mrs. Motherwell watched her through the window bending over them.
Something about the poppies appealed to her now. She had once wanted
Tom to cut them down, and she thought of it now.

She tapped on the window. Pearl looked up, startled.

"Bring in some," she called.

When the work was done for the morning, Mrs. Motherwell went up the
narrow stair way to the little room over the kitchen to gather together
Polly's things.

She sat on Polly's little straw bed and looked at the dismal little
room. Pearl had done what she could to brighten it. The old bags and
baskets had been neatly piled in one corner, and quilts had been spread
over them to hide their ugliness from view. The wind blew gently in the
window that the hail had broken. The floor had been scrubbed clean and
white--the window, what was left of it--was shining.

She was reminded of Polly everywhere she looked. The mat under her feet
was one that Polly had braided. A corduroy blouse hung at the foot of
the bed. She remembered now that Polly had worn it the day she came.

In a little yellow tin box she found Polly's letters--the letters that
had given her such extravagant joy. She could see her yet, how eagerly
she would seize them and rush up to this little room with them,
transfigured.

Mrs. Motherwell would have to look at them to find out Polly's mother's
address. She took out the first letter slowly, then hurriedly put it
back again in the envelope and looked guiltily around the room. But it
had to be done. She took it out again resolutely, and read it with some
difficulty.

It was written in a straggling hand that wandered uncertainly over the
lines. It was a pitiful letter telling of poverty bitter and grinding,
but redeemed from utter misery by a love and faith that shone from
every line:

   My dearest polly i am glad you like your plice and
   your misses is so kind as wot you si, yur letters are
   my kumfit di an nit. bill is a ard man and says hif
   the money don't cum i will ave to go to the workus.
   but i no you will send it der polly so hi can old my
   little plice hi got a start todi a hoffcer past hi
   that it wos the workhus hoffcer. bill ses he told im
   to cum hif hi cant pi by septmbr but hi am trustin
   God der polly e asn't forgot us. hi 'm glad the poppies
   grew. ere's a disy hi am sendin yu hi can mike the
   butonoles yet. hi do sum hevry di mrs purdy gave me
   fourpence one di for sum i mide for her hi ad a cup
   of tee that di. hi am appy thinkin of yu der polly.

"And Polly is dead!" burst from Mrs. Motherwell as something gathered
in her throat. She laid the letter down and looked straight ahead of
her.

The sloping walls of the little kitchen loft, with its cobwebbed beams
faded away, and she was looking into a squalid little room where an old
woman, bent and feeble, sat working buttonholes with trembling fingers.
Her eyes were restless and expectant; she listened eagerly to every
sound. A step is at the door, a hand is on the latch. The old woman
rises uncertainly, a great hope in her eyes--it is the letter--the
letter at last. The door opens, and the old woman falls cowering and
moaning, and wringing her hands before the man who enters. It is the
officer!

Mrs. Motherwell buried her face in her hands.

"Oh God be merciful, be merciful," she sobbed.

Sam Motherwell, knowing nothing of the storm that was passing through
his wife's mind, was out in the machine house tightening up the screws
and bolts in the binders, getting ready for the harvest. The barley was
whitening already.

The nurse's letter had disturbed him. He tried to laugh at himself--the
idea of his boxing up those weeds to send to anybody. Still the nurse
had said how pleased Polly was. By George, it is strange what will
please people. He remembered when he went down to Indiana buying
horses, how tired he got of the look of corn-fields, and how the sight
of the first decent sized wheat field just went to his heart, when he
was coming back. Someway he could not laugh at anything that morning,
for Polly was dead. And Polly was a willing thing for sure; he seemed
to see her yet, how she ran after the colt the day it broke out of the
pasture, and when the men were away she would hitch up a horse for him
as quick as anybody.

"I kind o' wish now that I had given her something--it would have
pleased her so--some little thing," he added hastily.

Mrs. Motherwell came across the yard bareheaded.

"Come into the house, Sam," she said gently. "I want to show you
something."

He looked up quickly, but saw something in his wife's face that
prevented him from speaking.

He followed her into the house. The letters were on the table, Mrs.
Motherwell read them to him, read them with tears that almost choked
her utterance.

"And Polly's dead, Sam!" she cried when she had finished the last one.
"Polly's dead, and the poor old mother will be looking, looking for
that money, and it will never come. Sam, can't we save that poor old
woman from the poorhouse? Do you remember what the girl said in the
letter, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my little
ones, ye have done it unto Me?' We didn't deserve the praise the girl
gave us. We didn't send the flowers, we have never done anything for
anybody and we have plenty, plenty, and what is the good of it, Sam?
We'll die some day and leave it all behind us."

Mrs. Motherwell hid her face in her apron, trembling with excitement.
Sam's face was immovable, but a mysterious Something, not of earth, was
struggling with him. Was it the faith of that decrepit old woman in
that bare little room across the sea, mumbling to herself that God had
not forgotten? God knows. His ear is not dulled; His arm is not
shortened; His holy spirit moves mightily.

Sam Motherwell stood up and struck the table with his fist.

"Ettie," he said, "I am a hard man, a danged hard man, and as you say
I've never given away much, but I am not so low down yet that I have to
reach up to touch bottom, and the old woman will not go to the poor
house if I have money enough to keep her out!"

Sam Motherwell was as good as his word.

He went to Winnipeg the next day, but before he left he drew a check
for one hundred dollars, payable to Polly's mother, which he gave to
the Church of England clergyman to send for him. About two months
afterwards he received a letter from the clergyman of the parish in
which Polly's mother lived, telling him that the money had reached the
old lady in time to save her from the workhouse; a heart-broken letter
of thanks from Polly's mother herself accompanied it, calling on God to
reward them for their kindness to her and her dear dead girl.



CHAPTER XXII

SHADOWS

One morning when Tom came into the kitchen Pearl looked up with a
worried look on her usually bright little face.

"What's up, kid?" he asked kindly. He did not like to see Pearl looking
troubled.

"Arthur's sick," she said gravely.

"Go on!" he answered, "he's not sick. I know he's been feeling kind of
used up for about a week, but he worked as well as ever yesterday. What
makes you think he is sick?"

"I went out last night to be sure I had shut the henhouse door, and I
heard him groanin', and I said, knockin' on the door, 'What's wrong,
Arthur?' and he said, 'Oh, I beg your pardon, Pearl, did I frighten
you?' and I said, 'No, but what's wrong?' and he said, 'Nothing at all,
Pearl, thank you'; but I know there is. You know how polite he
is--wouldn't trouble anybody. Wouldn't ask ye to slap 'im on the back
if he was chokin'. I went out two or three times and once I brought him
out some liniment, and he told me every time he would be 'well
directly,' but I don't believe him. If Arthur groans there's something
to groan for, you bet."

"Maybe he's in love," Tom said sheepishly.

"But you don't groan, Tom, do you?" she asked seriously.

"Maybe I ain't in love, though, Pearl. Ask Jim Russell, he can tell
you."

"Jim ain't in love, is he?" Pearl asked anxiously. Her responsibilities
were growing too fast. One love affair and a sick man she felt was all
she could attend to.

"Well, why do you suppose Jim comes over here every second day to get
you to write a note to that friend of yours?"

"Camilla?" Pearl asked open-mouthed. Tom nodded.

"Camilla can't leave Mrs. Francis," Pearl declared with conviction.

"Jim's a dandy smart fellow. He only stays on the farm in the summer.
In the winter he book-keeps for three or four of the stores in Millford
and earns lots of money," Tom said, admiringly.

After a pause Pearl said thoughtfully, "I love Camilla!"

"That's just the way Jim feels, too, I guess," Tom said laughing as he
went out to the stable.

When Tom went out to the granary he found Arthur dressing, but flushed
and looking rather unsteady.

"What's gone wrong with you, old man?" he asked kindly.

"I feel a bit queer," Arthur replied, "that's all. I shall be well
directly. Got a bit of a cold, I think."

"Slept in a field with the gate open like as not," Tom laughed.

Arthur looked at him inquiringly.

"You'll feel better when you get your breakfast," Tom went on. "I don't
wonder you're sick--you haven't been eatin' enough to keep a canary
bird alive. Go on right into the house now. I'll feed your team."

"It beats all what happens to our help," Mrs. Motherwell complained to
Pearl, as they washed the breakfast dishes. "It looks very much as if
Arthur is goin' to be laid up, too, and the busy time just on us."

Pearl was troubled. Why should Arthur be sick? He had plenty of fresh
air; he tubbed himself regularly. He never drank "alcoholic beverages
that act directly on the liver and stomach, drying up the blood, and
rendering every organ unfit for work." Pearl remembered the Band of
Hope manual. No, and it was not a cold. Colds do not make people groan
in the night--it was something else. Pearl wished her friend, Dr. Clay,
would come along. He would soon spot the trouble.

After dinner, of which Arthur ate scarcely a mouthful, as Pearl was
cleaning the knives, Mrs. Motherwell came into the kitchen with a hard
look on her face. She had just missed a two-dollar bill from her
satchel.

"Pearl," she said in a strained voice, "did you see a two-dollar bill
any place?"

"Yes, ma'am," Pearl answered quickly, "Mrs Francis paid ma with one
once for the washing, but I don't know where it might be now."

Mrs. Motherwell looked at Pearl keenly. It was not easy to believe that
that little girl would steal. Her heart was still tender after Polly's
death, she did not want to be hard on Pearl, but the money must be some
place.

"Pearl, I have lost a two-dollar bill. If you know anything about it I
want you to tell me," she said firmly.

"I don't know anything about it no more'n ye say ye had it and now
ye've lost it," Pearl answered calmly.

"Go up to your room and think about it," she said, avoiding Pearl's
gaze.

Pearl went up the narrow little steps with a heart that swelled with
indignation.

"Does she think I stole her dirty money, me that has money o' me own--a
thief is it she takes me for? Oh, wirra! wirra! and her an' me wuz
gittin' on so fine, too; and like as not this'll start the morgage and
the cancer on her again."

Pearl threw herself on the hot little bed, and sobbed out her
indignation and her homesickness. She could not put it off this time.
Catching sight of her grief-stricken face in the cracked looking glass
that hung at the head of the bed, she started up suddenly.

"What am I bleatin' for?" she said to herself, wiping her eyes on her
little patched apron. "Ye'd think to look at me that I'd been caught
stealin' the cat's milk"--she laughed through her tears--"I haven't
stolen anything and what for need I cry? The dear Lord will get me out
of this just as nate as He bruk the windy for me!"

She took her knitting out of the bird-cage and began to knit at full
speed.

"Danny me man, it is a good thing for ye that the shaddah of suspicion
is on yer sister Pearlie this day, for it gives her a good chance to
turn yer heel. 'Sowin' in the sunshine, sowin' in the shaddah,' only
it's knittin' I am instead of sewin', but it's all wan, I guess. I mind
how Paul and Silas were singin' in the prison at midnight. I know how
they felt. 'Do what Ye like, Lord,' they wur thinkin'. 'If it's in jail
Ye want us to stay, we're Yer men.'"

Pearl knit a few minutes in silence. Then she knelt beside the bed.

"Dear Lord," she prayed, clasping her work-worn hands, "help her to
find her money, but if anyone did steal it, give him the strength to
confess it, dear Lord. Amen."

Mrs. Motherwell, downstairs, was having a worse time than Pearl. She
could not make herself believe that Pearl had stolen the money, and yet
no one had had a chance to take it except Pearl, or Tom, and that, of
course, was absurd. She went again to have a look in every drawer in
her room, and as she passed through the hall she detected a strange
odour. She soon traced it to Tom's light overcoat which hung there.
What was the smell? It was tobacco, and something more. It was the
smell of a bar-room!

She sat down upon the step with a nameless dread in her heart. Tom had
gone to Millford several times since his father had gone to Winnipeg,
and he had stayed longer than was necessary, too; but no, no. Tom would
not spend good money that way. The habit of years was on her. It was
the money she thought of first.

Then she thought of Pearl.

Going to the foot of the stairway she called:

"Pearl, you may come down now."

"Did ye find it?" Pearl asked eagerly.

"No."

"Do ye still think I took it?"

"No, I don't, Pearl," she answered.

"All right then, I'll come right down," Pearl said gladly.



CHAPTER XXIII

SAVED!

That night Arthur's condition was, to Pearl's sharp eyes, alarming.

He tried to quiet her fears. He would be well directly, it was nothing,
nothing at all, a mere indisposition (Pearl didn't know what that was);
but when she went into the granary with a pitcher of water for him, and
found him writing letters in the feeble light of a lantern, she took
one look at him, laid down the pitcher and hurried out to tell Tom.

Tom was in the kitchen taking off his boots preparatory to going to bed.

"Tom," she said excitedly, "get back into yer boots, and go for the
doctor. Arthur's got the thing that Pa had, and it'll have to be cut
out of him or he'll die."

"What?" Tom gasped, with one foot across his knee.

"I think he has it," Pearl said, "he's actin' just like what Pa did,
and he's in awful pain, I know, only he won't let on; and we must get
the doctor or he might die before mornin', and then how'd we feel?"

Tom hesitated.

"Remember, Tom, he has a father and a mother and four brothers, and a
girl called Thursa, and an uncle that is a bishop, and how'd we ever
face them when we go to heaven if we just set around and let Arthur
die?"

"What is it, Pearl?" Mrs. Motherwell said coming into the room, having
heard Pearl's excited tones.

"It's Arthur, ma'am. Come out and see him. You'll see he needs the
doctor. Ginger tea and mustard plasters ain't a flea-bite on a pain
like what he has."

"Let's give him a dose of aconite," Tom said with conviction; "that'll
fix him."

Mrs. Motherwell and Pearl went over to the granary.

"Don't knock at the door," Pearl whispered to her as they went. "Ye
can't tell a thing about him if ye do. Arthur'd straighten up and be
polite at his own funeral. Just look in the crack there and you'll see
if he ain't sick."

Mrs. Motherwell did see. Arthur lay tossing and moaning across his bed,
his letter pad and pencil beside him on the floor.

Mrs. Motherwell did not want Tom to go to Millford that night. One of
the harvesters' excursions was expected--was probably in--then--there
would be a wild time. Besides, the two-dollar bill still worried her.
If Tom had it he might spend it. No, Tom was safer at home.

"Oh, I don't think he's so very bad," she said. "We'll get the doctor
in the morning if he isn't any better. Now you go to bed, Pearl, and
don't worry yourself."

But Pearl did not go to bed.

When Mrs. Motherwell and Tom had gone to their own rooms, she built up
the kitchen fire, and heated a frying-pan full of salt, with which she
filled a pair of her own stockings and brought them to Arthur. She
remembered that her mother had done that when her father was sick, and
that it had eased his pain. She drew a pail of fresh water from the
well, and brought a basinful to him, and bathed his burning face and
hands. Arthur received her attentions gratefully.

Pearl knew what she would do. She would run over and tell Jim, and Jim
would go for the doctor. Jim would not be in bed yet, she knew, and
even if he were, he would not mind getting up.

Jim would go to town any time she wanted anything. One time when she
had said she just wished she knew whether Camilla had her new suit made
yet, Jim jumped right up and said he'd go and see.

Mrs. Motherwell had gone to her room very much concerned with her own
troubles. Why should Tom fall into evil ways? she asked herself--a boy
who had been as economically brought up as he was. Other people's boys
had gone wrong, but she had alway thought that the parents were to
blame some way. Then she thought of Arthur; perhaps he should have the
doctor. She had been slow to believe that Polly was really sick--and
had had cause for regret. She would send for the doctor, in the
morning. But what was Pearl doing so long in the kitchen?--She could
hear her moving around--Pearl must go to her bed, or she would not be
able to get up in the morning.

Pearl was just going out of the kitchen with her hat and coat on when
Mrs. Motherwell came in.

"Where are you going, Pearl," she asked.

"To git someone to go for the doctor," Pearl answered stoutly.

"Is he worse?" Mrs. Motherwell asked quickly.

"He can't git worse," Pearl replied grimly. "If he gits worse he'll be
dead."

Mrs. Motherwell called Tom at once, and told him to bring the doctor as
soon as he could.

"Where's my overcoat mother?" Tom called from the hall.

"Take your father's" she said, "he is going to get a new one while he
is in Winnipeg, that one's too small for him now. I put yours outside
to air. It had a queer smell on it I thought, and now hurry, Tom. Bring
Dr. Barner. I think he's the best for a serious case. Dr. Clay is too
young, Anyway, the old man knowns far more than he does, if you can
only get him sober."

Pearl's heart sank.

"Arthur's as good as dead," she said as she went to the granary, crying
softly to herself. "Dr. Clay is the only man who could save him, and
they won't have him."

The sun had gone down and heavy clouds filled the sky. Not a star was
to be seen, and the night was growing darker and darker.

A sound of wheels came from across the creek, coming rapidly down the
road. The old dog barked viciously. A horse driven at full speed dashed
through the yard; Pearl ran shouting after, for even in the gathering
darkness she recognised the one person in all the world who could save
Arthur. But the wind and the barking of the dog drowned her voice, and
the sound of the doctor's wheels grew fainter in the distance.

Only for a moment was Pearl dismayed.

"I'll catch him coming back," she said, "if I have to tie binding twine
across the road to tangle up Pleurisy's long legs. He's on his way to
Cowan's, I know. Ab Cowan has quinsy. Never mind, Thursa, we'll get
him. I hope now that the old doctor is too full to come--oh, no I don't
either, I just hope he's away and Dr. Clay will have it done before he
gets here."

When Tom arrived in Millford he found a great many people thronging the
streets. One of the Ontario's harvesters' excursions had arrived a few
hours before, and the "Huron and Bruce" boys were already making
themselves seen and heard.

Tom went at once to Dr. Barner's office and found that the doctor was
out making calls, but would be back in an hour. Not at all displeased
at having some time to spend, Tom went back to the gaily lighted front
street. The crowds of men who went in and out of the hotels seemed to
promise some excitement.

Inside of the Grand Pacific, a gramophone querulously sang "Any Rags,
Any Bones, Any Bottles To-day" to a delighted company of listeners.

When Tom entered he was received with the greatest cordiality by the
bartender and others.

"Here is life and good-fellowship," Tom thought to himself, "here's the
place to have a good time."

"Is your father back yet, Tom?" the bartender asked as he served a line
of customers.

"He'll come up Monday night, I expect," Tom answered, rather proud of
the attention he was receiving.

The bartender pushed a box of cigars toward him.

"Have a cigar, Tom," he said.

"No, thank you," Tom answered, "not any." Tom could not smoke, but he
drew a plug of chewing tobacco from his pocket and took a chew, to show
that his sympathies were that way.

"I guess perhaps some of you men met Mr. Motherwell in Winnipeg. He's
in there hiring men for this locality," the bartender said amiably.

"That's the name of the gent that hired me," said one.

"Me too."

"And me," came from others. "I'd no intention of comin' here," a man
from Paisley said. "I was goin' to Souris, until that gent got a holt
of me, and I thought if he wuz a sample of the men ye raise here, I'd
hike this way."

"He's lookin' for a treat," the bartender laughed. "He's sized you up,
Tom, as a pretty good fellow."

"No, I ain't after no treat," the Paisley man declared. "That's
straight, what I told you."

Tom unconsciously put his hand in his coat pocket and felt the money
his father had put there. He drew it out wondering. The quick eyes of
the bartender saw it at once.

"Tom's getting out his wad, boys," he laughed. "Nothin' mean about Tom,
you bet Tom's goin' to do somethin'."

In the confusion that followed Tom heard himself saying:

"All right boys, come along and name yer drinks."

Tom had a very indistinct memory of what followed. He remembered having
a handful of silver, and of trying to put it in his pocket.

Once when the boys were standing in front of the bar at his invitation
he noticed a miserable, hungry looking man, who drank greedily. It was
Skinner. Then someone took him by the arm and said something about his
having enough, and Tom felt himself being led across a floor that rose
and fell strangely, to a black lounge that tried to slide away from him
and then came back suddenly and hit him.

The wind raged and howled with increasing violence around the granary
where Arthur lay tossing upon his hard bed. It seized the door and
rattled it in wanton playfulness, as if to deceive the sick man with
the hope that a friend's hand was on the latch, and then raced
blustering and screaming down to the meadows below. The fanning mill
and piles of grain bags made fantastic shadows on the wall in the
lantern's dim light, and seemed to his distorted fancy like dark and
terrible spectres waiting to spring upon him.

Pearl knelt down beside him, tenderly bathing his burning face.

"Why do you do all this for me, Pearl?" he asked slowly, his voice
coming thick and painfully.

She changed the cloth on his head before replying.

"Oh, I keep thinkin' it might be Teddy or Jimmy or maybe wee Danny,"
she replied gently, "and besides, there's Thursa."

The young man opened his eyes and smiled bravely.

"Yes, there's Thursa," he said simply.

Pearl kept the fire burning in the kitchen--the doctor might need hot
water. She remembered that he had needed sheets too, and carbolic acid,
when he had operated on her father the winter before.

Arthur did not speak much as the night wore on, and Pearl began to grow
drowsy in spite of all her efforts. She brought the old dog into the
granary with her for company. The wind rattled the mud chinking in the
walls and drove showers of dust and gravel against the little window.
She had put the lantern behind the fanning mill, so that its light
would not shine in Arthur's eyes, and in the semi-darkness, she and old
Nap waited and listened. The dog soon laid his head upon her knee and
slept, and Pearl was left alone to watch. Surely the doctor would come
soon...it was a good thing she had the dog...he was so warm beside her,
and...

She sprang up guiltily. Had she been asleep...what if he had passed
while she slept...she grew cold at the thought.

"Did he pass, Nap?" she whispered to the dog, almost crying. "Oh Nap,
did we let him go past?"

Nap yawned widely and flicked one ear, which was his way of telling
Pearl not to distress herself. Nobody had passed.

Pearl's eyes were heavy with sleep.

"This is not the time to sleep," she said, yawning and shivering.
Arthur's wash-basin stood on the floor beside the bed, where she had
been bathing his face. She put more water into it.

"Now then," she said, "once for his mother, once for his father, a big
long one for Thursa," holding her head so long below the water that it
felt numb, when she took it out. "I can't do one for each of the boys,"
she shivered, "I'll lump the boys, here's a big one for them."

"There now," her teeth chattered as she wiped her hair on Arthur's
towel, "that ought to help some."

Arthur opened his eyes and looked anxiously around him. Pearl was
beside him at once.

"Pearl," he said, "what is wrong with me? What terrible pain is this
that has me in its clutches?" The strength had gone out of the man, he
could no longer battle with it.

Pearl hesitated. It is not well to tell sick people your gravest fears.
"Still Arthur is English, and the English are gritty," Pearl thought to
herself.

"Arthur," she said, "I think you have appendicitis."

Arthur lay motionless for a few moments. He knew what that was.

"But that requires an operation," he said at length, "a very skilful
one."

"It does," Pearl replied, "and that's what you'll get as soon as Dr.
Clay gets here, I'm thinking."

Arthur turned his face into his pillow. An operation for appendicitis,
here, in this place, and by that young man, no older than himself
perhaps? He knew that at home, it was only undertaken by the oldest and
best surgeons in the hospitals.

Pearl saw something of his fears in his face. So she hastened to
reassure him. She said cheerfully:

"Don't ye be worried, Arthur, about it at all at all. Man alive! Dr.
Clay thinks no more of an operation like that than I would o' cuttin'
your nails."

A strange feeling began at Arthur's heart, and spread up to his brain.
It had come! It was here!

   From lightning and tempest; from plague, pestilence
   and famine; from battle and murder and sudden
   death;--Good Lord, deliver us!

He had prayed it many times, meaninglessly. But he clung to it now,
clung to it desperately. As a drowning man. He put his hand over his
eyes, his pain was forgotten:

   Other lights are paling--which for long years we have
   rejoiced to see...we would not mourn them for we go
   to Thee!

Yes it was all right; he was ready now. He had come of a race of men
who feared not death in whatever form it came.

   Bring us to our resting beds at night--weary and
   content and undishonoured--and grant us in the end
   the gift of sleep.

He repeated the prayer to himself slowly. That was it, weary and
content, and undishonoured.

"Pearl," he said, reaching out his burning hand until it rested on
hers, "all my letters are there in that black portmanteau, and the key
is in my pocket-book. I have a fancy that I would like no eye but yours
to see them--until I am quite well again."

She nodded.

"And if you...should have need...to write to Thursa, tell her I had
loving hands around me...at the last."

Pearl gently stroked his hand.

"And to my father write that I knew no fear"--his voice grew
steadier--"and passed out of life glad to have been a brave man's son,
and borne even for a few years a godly father's name."

"I will write it, Arthur," she said.

"And to my mother, Pearl" his voice wavered and broke--"my mother...for
I was her youngest child...tell her she was my last...and tenderest
thought."

Pearl pressed his hand tenderly against her weather-beaten little
cheek, for it was Danny now, grown a man but Danny still, who lay
before her, fighting for his life; and at the thought her tears fell
fast.

"Pearl," he spoke again, after a pause, pressing his hand to his
forehead, "while my mind holds clear, perhaps you would be good enough,
you have been so good to me, to say that prayer you learned. My father
will be in his study now, and soon it will be time for morning prayers.
I often feel his blessing on me, Pearl. I want to feel it now, bringing
peace and rest...weary and content and undishonoured,
and...undishonoured...and grant us..." His voice grew fainter and
trailed away into incoherency.

And now, oh thou dignified rector of St. Agnes, in thy home beyond the
sea, lay aside the "Appendix to the Apology of St. Perpetua," over
which thou porest, for under all thy dignity and formalism there beats
a loving father's heart. The shadows are gathering, dear sir, around
thy fifth son in a far country, and in the gathering shadows there
stalks, noiselessly, relentlessly, that grim, gray spectre, Death. On
thy knees, then, oh Rector of St. Agnes, and blend thy prayers with the
feeble petitions of her who even now, for thy house, entreats the
Throne of Grace. Pray, oh thou on whom the bishop's hands have been
laid, that the golden bowl be not broken nor the silver cord loosed,
for the breath of thy fifth son draws heavily, and the things of time
and sense are fading, fading, fading from his closing eyes.

Pearl repeated the prayer.

   --And grant, oh most merciful Father for His sake;
   That we may hereafter lead a godly, righteous and a
   sober life--

She stopped abruptly. The old dog lifted his head and listened.
Snatching up the lantern, she was out of the door before the dog was on
his feet; there were wheels coming, coming down the road in mad haste.
Pearl swung the lantern and shouted.

The doctor reined in his horse.

She flashed the lantern into his face.

"Oh Doc!" she cried, "dear Doc, I have been waitin' and waitin' for ye.
Git in there to the granary. Arthur's the sickest thing ye ever saw.
Git in there on the double jump." She put the lantern into his hand as
she spoke.

Hastily unhitching the doctor's horse she felt her way with him into
the driving shed. The night was at its blackest.

"Now, Thursa," she laughed to herself, "we got him, and he'll do it,
dear Doc, he'll do it." The wind blew dust and gravel in her face as
she ran across the yard.

When she went into the granary the doctor was sitting on the box by
Arthur's bed, with his face in his hands.

"Oh, Doc, what is it?" she cried, seizing his arm.

The doctor looked at her, dazed, and even Pearl uttered a cry of dismay
when she saw his face, for it was like the face of a dead man.

"Pearl," he said slowly, "I have made a terrible mistake, I have killed
young Cowan."

"Bet he deserved it, then," Pearl said stoutly.

"Killed him," the doctor went on, not heeding her, "he died in my
hands, poor fellow! Oh, the poor young fellow! I lanced his throat,
thinking it was quinsy he had, but it must have been diphtheria, for he
died, Pearl, he died, I tell you!"

"Well!" Pearl cried, excitedly waving her arms, "he ain't the first man
that's been killed by a mistake, I'll bet lots o' doctors kill people
by mistake, but they don't tell--and the corpse don't either, and there
ye are. I'll bet you feel worse about it than he does, Doc."

The doctor groaned.

"Come, Doc," she said, plucking his sleeve, "take a look at Arthur."

The doctor rose uncertainly and paced up and down the floor with his
face in his hands, swaying like a drunken man.

"O God!" he moaned, "if I could but bring back his life with mine; but
I can't! I can't! I can't!"

Pearl watched him, but said not a word. At last she said:

"Doc, I think Arthur has appendicitis. Come and have a look at him, and
see if he hasn't."

With a supreme effort the doctor gained control of himself and made a
hasty but thorough examination.

"He has," he said, "a well developed case of it."

Pearl handed him his satchel. "Here, then," she said, "go at him."

"I can't do it, Pearl," he cried. "I can't. He'll die, I tell you, like
that other poor fellow. I can't send another man to meet his Maker."

"Oh, he's ready!" Pearl interrupted him. "Don't hold back on Arthur's
account."

"I can't do it," he repeated hopelessly. "He'll die under my knife, I
can't kill two men in one night. O God, be merciful to a poor,
blundering, miserable wretch!" he groaned, burying his face in his
hands, and Pearl noticed that the back of his coat quivered like human
flesh.

Arthur's breath was becoming more and more laboured; his eyes roved
sightlessly around the room; his head rolled on the pillow in a vain
search for rest; his fingers clutched convulsively at the bed-clothes.

Pearl was filled with dismay. The foundations of her little world were
tottering.

All but One. There was One who had never failed her. He would not fail
her now.

She dropped on her knees.

"O God, dear God," she prayed, beating her hard little brown hands
together, "don't go back on us, dear God. Put the gimp into Doc again;
he's not scared to do it, Lord, he's just lost his grip for a minute;
he's not scared Lord; it looks like it, but he isn't. You can bank on
Doc, Lord, he's not scared. Bear with him, dear Lord, just a
minute--just a minute--he'll do it, and he'll do it right, Amen."

When Pearl rose from her knees the doctor had lifted his head.

"Do you want hot water and sheets and carbolic?" she asked.

He nodded.

When she came back with them the doctor was taking off his coat. His
instruments were laid out on the box.

"Get a lamp," he said to Pearl.

Pearl's happy heart was singing with joy. "O Lord, dear Lord, You never
fail," she murmured as she ran across to the kitchen.

When she came back with the lamp and a chair to set it on, the doctor
was pinning a sheet above the bed. His face was white and drawn, but
his hand was firm and his mouth was a straight line.

Arthur was tossing his arms convulsively.

The doctor listened with his ear a minute upon the sick man's heart,
then the gauze mask was laid upon his face and the chloroform soon did
its merciful work.

The doctor handed Pearl the bottle. "A drop or two if he moves," he
said.

Then Horace Clay, the man with a man's mistakes, his fears, his
heart-burnings, was gone, and in his place stood Horace Clay, the
doctor, keen, alert, masterful, indomitable, with the look of battle on
his face. He worked rapidly, never faltering; his eyes burning with the
joy of the true physician who fights to save, to save a human life from
the grim old enemy, Death.

"You have saved his life, Pearl," the doctor said two hours later.
Arthur lay sleeping easily, the flush gone from his face, and his
breath coming regularly.

The doctor put his hand gently on her tumbled little brown head.

"You saved him from death, Pearl, and me--from something worse."

And then Pearl took the doctor's hand in both of hers, and kissed it
reverently.

"That's for Thursa," she said, gravely.

Tom was awakened by some one shaking him gently.

"Tom, Tom Motherwell, what are you doing here?"

A woman knelt beside him; her eyes were sweet and kind and sad beyond
expression.

"Tom, how did you come here?" she asked, gently, as Tom struggled to
rise.

He sat up, staring stupidly around him. "Wha' 's a matter? Where's
this?" he asked thickly.

"You're in the sitting-room at the hotel," she said. He would have lain
down again, but she took him firmly by the arm.

"Come Tom," she said. "Come and have a drink of water."

She led him out of the hotel to the pump at the corner of the street.
Tom drank thirstily. She pumped water on his hands, and bathed his
burning face in it. The cold water and the fresh air began to clear his
brain.

"What time is it?" he asked her.

"Nearly morning," she said. "About half-past three, I think," and Tom
knew even in the darkness that she had lost more teeth. It was Mrs.
Skinner.

"Tom," she said, "did you see Skinner in there? I came down to get
him--I want him--the child is dead an hour ago." She spoke hurriedly.

Tom remembered now. Yes, he had seen Skinner, but not lately; it was a
long, long time ago.

"Now Tom, go home," she said kindly. "This is bad work for you, my dear
boy. Stop it now, dear Tom, while you can. It will kill you, body and
soul."

A thought struggled in Tom's dull brain. There was something he wanted
to say to her which must be said; but she was gone.

He drank again from the cup that hung beside the pump. Where did he get
this burning thirst, and his head, how it pounded! She had told him to
go home. Well, why wasn't he at home? What was he doing here?

Slowly his memory came back--he had come for the doctor; and the doctor
was to be back in an hour, and now it was nearly morning, didn't she
say?

He tried to run, but his knees failed him--what about Arthur? He grew
chill at the thought--he might be dead by this time.

He reached the doctor's office some way. His head still throbbed and
his feet were heavy as lead; but his mind was clear.

A lamp was burning in the office but no one was in. It seemed a month
ago since he had been there before. The air of the office was close and
stifling, and heavy with stale tobacco smoke. Tom sat down, wearily, in
the doctor's armchair; his heart beat painfully--he'll be dead--he'll
be dead--he'll be dead--it was pounding. The clock on the table was
saying it too. Tom got up and walked up and down to drown the sound. He
stopped before a cabinet and gazed horrified at a human skeleton that
grinned evilly at him. He opened the door hastily, the night wind
fanned his face. He sat down upon the step, thoroughly sober now, but
sick in body and soul.

Soon a heavy step sounded on the sidewalk, and the old doctor came into
the patch of light that shone from the door.

"Do you want me?" he asked as Tom stood up.

"Yes," Tom answered; "at once."

"What's wrong?" the doctor asked brusquely.

Tom told him as well as he could.

"Were you here before, early in the evening?"

Tom nodded.

"Hurry up then and get your horse," the doctor said, going past him
into the office.

"Yes, I thought so," the doctor said gathering up his instruments. "I
ought to know the signs--well, well, the poor young Englishman has had
plenty of time to die from ten in the evening till four the next
morning, without indecent haste either, while this young fellow was
hitting up the firewater. Still, God knows, I shouldn't be hard on him.
I've often kept people waiting for the same reason and," he added
grimly, "they didn't always wait either."

When Tom and the old doctor drove into the yard everything was silent.
The wind had fallen, and the eastern sky was bright with morning.

The old dog who lay in front of the granary door raised his head at
their approach and lifted one ear, as if to command silence.

Tom helped the doctor out of the buggy. He tried to unhitch the horse,
but the beating of his heart nearly choked him--the fear of what might
be in the granary. He waited for the exclamation from the doctor which
would proclaim him a murderer. He heard the door open again--the doctor
was coming to tell him--Tom's knees grew weak--he held to the horse for
support--who was this who had caught his arm--it was Pearl crying and
laughing.

"Tom, Tom, it's all over, and Arthur's going to get well," she
whispered. "Dr. Clay came."

But Pearl was not prepared for what happened.

Tom put his head down upon the horse's neck and cried like a child--no,
like a man--for in the dark and terrible night that had just passed,
sullied though it was by temptations and yieldings and neglect of duty,
the soul of a man had been born in him, and he had put away childish
things forever.

Dr. Clay was kneeling in front of the box cleaning his instruments,
with his back toward the door, when Dr. Barner entered. He greeted the
older man cordially, receiving but a curt reply. Then the professional
eye of the old doctor began to take in the situation. A half-used roll
of antiseptic lint lay on the floor; the fumes of the disinfectants and
of the ansthetic still hung on the air. Tom's description of the case
had suggested appendicitis.

"What was the trouble?" he asked quickly.

The young doctor told him, giving him such a thoroughly scientific
history of the case that the old doctor's opinion of him underwent a
radical change. The young doctor explained briefly what he had
attempted to do by the operation; the regular breathing and apparently
normal temperature of the patient was, to the old doctor, sufficient
proof of its success.

He stooped suddenly to examine the dressing that the young doctor was
showing him, but his face twitched with some strong emotion--pride,
professional jealousy, hatred were breaking down before a stronger and
a worthier feeling.

He turned abruptly and grasped the young doctor's hand.

"Clay!" he cried, "it was a great piece of work, here, alone, and by
lamplight. You are a brave man, and I honour you." Then his voice
broke. "I'd give every day of my miserable life to be able to do this
once more, just once, but I haven't the nerve, Clay"; the hand that the
young doctor held trembled. "I haven't the nerve. I've been going on a
whiskey nerve too long."

"Dr. Barner," the young man replied, as he returned the other's grasp,
"I thank you for your good words, but I wasn't alone when I did it. The
bravest little girl in all the world was here and shamed me out of my
weakness and," he added reverently, "I think God Himself steadied my
hand."

The old man looked up wondering.

"I believe you, Clay," he said simply.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE HARVEST

Tom went straight to his mother that morning and told her
everything--the party he had gone to, his discontent, his desire for
company and fun, and excitement, taking the money, and the events of
the previous night.

Mrs. Motherwell saw her boy in a new light as she listened, and Tom had
a glorified vision of his mother as she clasped him in her arms crying:
"It is our fault Tom, mine and your father's; we have tried to make you
into a machine like we are ourselves, and forgot that you had a soul,
but it's not too late yet, Tom. I hate the money, too, if it's only to
be hoarded up; the money we sent to Polly's mother has given me more
pleasure than all the rest that we have."

"Mother," Tom said, "how do you suppose that money happened to be in
that overcoat pocket?"

"I don't know," she answered; "your father must have left it there when
he wore it last. It looks as if the devil himself put it there to tempt
you, Tom."

When his father came back from Winnipeg, Tom made to him a full
confession as he had to his mother; and was surprised to find that his
father had for him not one word of reproach. Since sending the money to
Polly's mother Sam had found a little of the blessedness of giving, and
it had changed his way of looking at things, in some measure at least.
He had made up his mind to give the money back to the church, and now
when he found that it had gone, and gone in such a way, he felt vaguely
that it was a punishment for his own meanness, and in a small measure,
at least, he was grateful that no worse evil had resulted from it.

"Father, did you put that money there?" Tom asked.

"Yes, I did Tom," he answered. "I ought to be ashamed of myself for
being so careless, too."

"It just seemed as if it was the devil himself," Tom said. "I had no
intention of drinking when I took out that money."

"Well, Tom," his father said, with a short laugh, "I guess the devil
had a hand in it, he was in me quite a bit when I put it there, I kin
tell ye."

The next Sunday morning Samuel Motherwell, his wife and son, went to
church. Sam placed on the plate an envelope containing fifty dollars.

On the following morning Sam had just cut two rounds with the binder
when the Reverend Hugh Grantley drove into the field. Sam stopped his
binder and got down.

"Well, Mr. Motherwell," the minister said, holding out his hand
cordially as he walked over to where Sam stood, "how did it happen?"

Sam grasped his hand warmly.

"Ask Tom," he said, nodding his head toward his son who was stooking
the grain a little distance away. "It is Tom's story."

Mr. Grantley did ask Tom, and Tom told him; and there in the sunshine,
with the smell of the ripe grain in their nostrils as the minister
helped him to carry the sheaves, a new heaven and a new earth were
opened to Tom, and a new life was born within him, a life of godliness
and of brotherly kindness, whose blessed influence has gone far beyond
the narrow limits of that neighbourhood.

It was nearly noon when the minister left him and drove home through
the sun-flooded grain fields, with a glorified look on his face as one
who had seen the heavens opened.

Just before he turned into the valley of the Souris, he stopped his
horse, and looked back over the miles and miles of rippling gold. The
clickety-click-click of many binders came to his ears. Oh what a day it
was! all sunshine and blue sky! Below him the river glinted through the
trees, and the railway track shimmered like a silver ribbon, and as he
drove into the winding valley, the Reverend Hugh Grantley sang, despite
his Cameronian blood, sang like a Methodist:

   Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
   Praise Him all creatures here below,
   Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
   Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.



CHAPTER XXV

CUPID'S EMISSARY

Mrs. McGuire did not look like Cupid's earthly representative as she
sat in her chintz-covered rocking-chair and bitterly complained of the
weather. The weather was damp and cloudy, and Mrs. McGuire said her
"jints were jumpin'."

The little Watsons were behaving so well that even with her rheumatism
to help her vision she could find no fault with them, "just now"; but
she reckoned the mischief "was hatchin'."

A change was taking place in Mrs. McGuire, although she was unconscious
of it; Mary Barner, who was a frequent and welcome visitor, was having
an influence even on the flinty heart of the relict of the late
McGuire. Mary "red up" her house for her when her rheumatism was bad.
She cooked for her, she sang and read for her. Above all things, Mary
was her friend, and no one who has a friend can be altogether at war
with the world.

One evening when Mary was reading the "Pilgrim's Progress" to her, the
Reverend Hugh Grantley came in and begged to be let stay and enjoy the
reading, too. He said Miss Barner's voice seemed to take the tangles
out of his brain, whereupon Mrs. McGuire winked at herself.

That night she obligingly fell asleep just where Christian resolved to
press on to the Heavenly City at all costs, and Mistrust and Timorous
ran down the hill.

After that the minister came regularly, and Mrs. McGuire, though she
complained to herself that it was hard to lose so much of the reading,
fell asleep each night, and snored loudly. She said she had been young
herself once, and guessed she knew how it was with young folks. Just
hoped he was good enough for Mary, that was all; men were such
deceivers--they were all smooth as silk, until it came to livin' with
'em, and then she shook her head grimly, thinking no doubt of the
vagaries of the late McGuire.

The Reverend Hugh Grantley walked up and down the floor of his study in
deep meditation. But his thoughts were not on his Sunday sermon nor yet
on the topic for the young people's meeting, though they were serious
enough by the set of his jaw.

His friend Clay had just left him. Clay was in a radiant humour. Dr.
Barner's friendly attitude toward him had apparently changed the aspect
of affairs, and now the old doctor had suggested taking him into
partnership.

"Think of it, Grantley," the young man had exclaimed, "what this will
mean to me. He is a great man in his profession, so clever, so witty,
so scholarly, everything. He was the double gold medallist in his year
at McGill, and he has been keeping absolutely sober lately--thanks to
your good offices"--at which the other made a gesture of dissent--"and
then I would be in a better position to look after things. As it has
been, any help I gave Mary in keeping the old man from killing people
had to be done on the sly."

The minister winced and went a shade paler at the mention of her name,
but the doctor did not notice.

"Mary is anxious to have it brought about, too," he went on, "for it
has always been a worry to her when he was away, but now he will do the
office work, and I will do the driving. It will be a distinct advantage
to me, though of course I would do it anyway for her sake."

Then it was well for the minister that he came of a race that can hold
its features in control. This easy naming of her name, the apparent
proprietorship, the radiant happiness in Clay's face, could mean but
one thing. He had been blind, blind, blind!

He heard himself saying mechanically.

"Yes, of course, I think it is the only thing to do," and Clay had gone
out whistling.

He sat for a few minutes perfectly motionless. Then a shudder ran
through him, and the black Highland blood surged into his face, and
anger flamed in his eyes. He sprang to his feet with his huge hands
clenched.

"He shall not have her," he whispered to himself. "She is mine. How
dare he name her!"

Only for a moment did he give himself to the ecstasy of rage. Then his
arms fell and he stood straight and calm and strong, master of himself
once more.

"What right have I?" he groaned wearily pressing his hands to his head.
"Who am I that any woman should desire me. Clay, with his easy grace,
his wit, his manliness, his handsome face, no wonder that she prefers
him, any woman would, and Clay is worthy, more worthy," he thought in
an agony of renunciation. He thought of Clay's life as he had known it
now for years. So fair and open and clean. "Yes, Clay is worthy of
her." He repeated it dully to himself as he walked up and down.

Every incident of the past three months came back to him now with cruel
distinctness--the sweetness of her voice, the glorious beauty of her
face, so full sometimes of life's pain, so strong too in the overcoming
of it, and her little hands--oh what pretty little hands they were--he
had held them once only for a moment, but she must have felt the love
that throbbed in his touch, and he had thought that perhaps--perhaps
Oh, unutterable blind fool that he was!

He pressed his hands again to his head and groaned aloud; and He who
hears the cry of the child or of the strong man in agony drew near and
laid His pierced hands upon him in healing and benediction.

The next Sunday the Reverend Hugh Grantley was at his best, and his
sermons had a new quality that appealed to and comforted many a weary
one who, like himself, was traveling by the thorn-road.

In Mrs. McGuire's little house there was nothing to disturb the reading
now, for the minister came no more, but the joyousness had all gone
from Mary's voice, and Mrs. McGuire found herself losing all interest
in Christian's struggles as she looked at Mary's face.

Once she saw the minister pass and she beat upon the window with her
knitting needle, but he hurried by without looking up. Then the anger
of Mrs. McGuire was kindled mightily, and she sometimes woke up in the
night to express her opinion of him in the most lurid terms she could
think of, feeling meanwhile the futility of human speech. It was a hard
position for Mrs. McGuire, who had always been able to settle her own
affairs with ease and grace.

One day when this had been going on about a month, Mrs. McGuire sat in
her chintz-covered rocking-chair and thought hard, for something had to
be done. She narrowed her black eyes into slits and thought and
thought. Suddenly she started as if she heard something, and perhaps
she did--the angel who brought the inspiration may have whirred his
wings a little.

Mary Barner was coming that afternoon to "red up" a little for her, for
her rheumatism had been very bad. With wonderful agility she rose and
made ready for bed. First, however, she carefully examined the latch on
her kitchen door. Now this latch had a bad habit of locking itself if
the door was closed quickly. Mrs. McGuire tried it and found it would
do this every time, and with this she seemed quite satisfied.

About half after three o'clock Mary came and began to set the little
house in order. When this was done Mrs. McGuire asked her if she would
make her a few buttermilk biscuits, she had been wishing for them all
day.

When she saw Mary safely in the kitchen her heart began to beat. Now if
the minister was at home, the thing was as good as done.

She watched at the window until Jimmy Watson came from school, and
then, tapping on the glass, beckoned him to come in, which he did with
great trepidation of spirit.

She told him to go at once and tell Mr. Grantley to come, for she
needed him very badly.

Then she got back into bed, and tried to compose her features into some
resemblance of invalidism.

When Mr. Grantley came she was resting easier she said (which was
true), but would he just get her a drink of water from the kitchen, and
would he please shut the door quick after him and not let the cat up.

Mr. Grantley went at once and she heard the door shut with a snap.

Just to be sure that it was "snibbed," Mrs. McGuire tiptoed after him
in her bare feet, a very bad thing for a sick-a-bed lady to do, too,
but to her credit, be it written, she did not listen at the keyhole.

She got back into bed, exclaiming to herself with great emphasis:

"There, now, fight it out among yerselves."

When the minister stepped quickly inside the little kitchen, closing
the door hurriedly behind him to prevent the invasion of the cat (of
which there wasn't one and never had been any), he beheld a very busy
and beautiful young woman sifting flour into a baking-dish.

"Mary!" he almost shouted, hardly believing his senses.

He recovered himself instantly, and explained his errand, but the
pallor of his face was unmistakable.

When Mary handed him the cup of water she saw that his hand was
shaking; but she returned to her baking with the greatest composure.

The minister attempted to lift the latch, he rattled the door in vain.

"Come out this way," Mary said as sweetly as if she really wanted him
to go.

She tried to open the outside door, also in vain. Mrs. McGuire had
secured it from the outside with a clothes-line prop and a horse nail.

The minister came and tried it, but Mrs. McGuire's work held good. Then
the absurdity of the position struck them both, and the little house
rang with their laughter--laughter that washed away the heartaches of
the dreary days before.

The minister's reserve was breaking down.

"Mary," he said, taking her face between his hands, "are you going to
marry Horace Clay?"

"No," she answered, meeting his eyes with the sweetest light in hers
that ever comes into a woman's face.

"Well, then," he said, as he drew her to him, "you are going to marry
me."

The day had been dark and rainy, but now the clouds rolled back and the
sunshine, warm and glorious, streamed into the kitchen. The teakettle,
too, on the stove behind them, threw up its lid and burst into a
thunder of bubbles.

The next time they tried the door it yielded, Mrs. McGuire having made
a second barefoot journey.

When they came up from the little kitchen, the light ineffable was
shining in their faces, but Mrs. McGuire called them back to earth by
remarking dryly:

"It's just as well I wasn't parchin' for that drink."



CHAPTER XXVI

THE THANKSGIVING

The prairie lay sere and brown like a piece of faded tapestry beneath
the November sun that, peering through the dust-laden air, seemed old
and worn with his efforts to warm the poor old faded earth.

The grain had all been cut and gathered into stacks that had dotted the
fields, two by two, like comfortable married couples, and these in turn
had changed into billowy piles of yellow straw, through which herds of
cattle foraged, giving a touch of life and colour to the unending
colourless landscape. The trees stood naked and bare. The gardens where
once the corn waved and the hollyhocks flaunted their brazen beauty,
now lay a tangled litter of stalks, waiting the thrifty farmer's torch
to clear them away before the snow came. The earth had yielded of her
fruits and now rested from her labour, worn and spent, taking no
thought of comeliness, but waiting in decrepit indifference for her
friend, the North Wind, to bring down the swirling snow to hide her
scars and heal her unloveliness with its kindly white mantle.

But although the earth lay sere and brown and dust-laden, the granaries
and elevators were bursting with a rich abundance. Innumerable
freight-trains loaded with wheat wound heavily up the long grade,
carrying off all too slowly the produce of the plain, and still the
loads of grain came pouring in from the farms. The cellars were full of
the abundance of the gardens--golden turnips, rosy potatoes and rows of
pale green cabbages hanging by their roots to the beams gave an air of
security against the long, cold, hungry winter.

Inside of John Watson's home, in spite of November's dullness, joy and
gladness reigned, for was not Pearl coming home? Pearl, her mother's
helper and adviser; Pearl, her silent father's wonder and delight, the
second mother of all the little Watsons! Pearl was coming home.

Events in the Watson family were reckoned from the time of Pearl's
departure or the time of her expected home-coming. "Pa got raised from
one dollar and a quarter to one dollar and a half just six weeks from
the day Pearl left, lackin' two days," and Mrs. Evans gave Mary a new
"stuff" dress, "on the Frida' as Pearl left or the Thursda' three weeks
before," and, moreover, the latest McSorley baby was born "on the
Wednesda' as Pearl was comin' home on the Saturda' four weeks after."

Domestic affairs were influenced to some degree by Pearl's expected
arrival. "Don't be wearin' yer sweater now, Tommy man, I'm feart the
red strip'll run in it when its washed; save it clean till Pearlie
comes, there's a man."

"Patsey, avick, wobble yer tooth now man alive. Don't be havin' that
loose thing hangin' in yer jaw, and Pearlie comin' home so soon."

The younger children, whose appetites were out of all proportion to the
supply, were often "tided over" what might have been a tearful time by
a promise of the good time coming. When Danny cried because the bottom
of his porridge plate was "always stickin' through," and later in the
same day came home in the same unmanned condition because he had
smelled chickens cooking down at the hotel when he and Jimmy went with
the milk, Mary rose to the occasion and told him in a wild flight of
unwarranted extravagance that they would have a turkey when Pearl came
home. 'N cranberry sauce. 'N brown gravy. No-ow!

The house had undergone some preparations for the joyous event.
Everything was scrubbed that could be scrubbed. An elaborately
scalloped newspaper drape ornamented the clock shelf; paper chains,
made of blue and yellow sale-bills, were festooned from the elbow of
the stove pipes to the window curtains; the wood box was freshly
papered with newspaper; red flannel was put in the lamps.

The children were scrubbed until they shone. Bugsey's sweater had a
hole in the "chist," but you would never know it the way he held his
hand. Tommy's stocking had a hole in the knee, but he had artfully
inserted a piece of black lining that by careful watching kept up
appearances.

Mrs. Watson, instigated by Danny, had looked at the turkeys in the
butcher shop that morning, asked the price and came away sorrowful.
Even Danny understood that a turkey was not to be thought of. They
compromised on a pot-roast because it makes so much gravy, and with
this and the prospect of potatoes and turnips and prune-pie, the family
had to be content.

On the day that Pearlie was expected home, Mrs. Watson and Mary were
busy preparing the evening meal, although it was still quite early in
the afternoon. Wee Danny stood on a syrup keg in front of the window,
determined to be the first to see Pearlie.

Mrs. Watson was peeling the potatoes and singing. Mrs. Watson sang
because her heart was glad, for was not Pearlie coming home. She never
allowed her singing to interfere with more urgent duties; the singing
could always wait, and she never forgot just where she had left it, but
would come back and pick up at the exact place she had discarded it.

"Sure ain't it great the way ma never drops a stitch in her singin',"
her eldest son Teddy had said admiringly one day. "She can lave a note
half turned up in the air, and go off and lave it, and ye'd think she'd
forgot where she left it, but never a fear o' ma, two days afther
she'll rache up for it and bring it down and slip off into the choon
agin, nate as nate."

On this particular day Mrs. Watson sang because she couldn't help it,
for Pearlie was coming home--

   From Greenland's icy mountains,
   From India's coral strands,

she sang, as she peeled the potatoes--

   Where Africa's sunny fount--

"Come, Mary alanna, and scour the knives, sure an' I forgot them at
noon to-day.

      -tains
   Flow down their crimson sands;
   From many an ancient river
   And many a sandy--

Put a dhrop more wather in the kittle Tommy--don't ye hear it spittin'?"

      -plain
   They call us to deliver--

Here a shout sounded outside, and Bugsey came tumbling in and said he
thought he had seen Pearlie coming away down the road across the track,
whereupon Danny cried so uproariously that Bugsey, like the gentleman
he was, withdrew his statement, or at least modified it by saying it
might be Pearlie and it might not.

But it was Pearl, sure enough, and Danny had the pleasure of giving the
alarm, beating on the window, maudlin with happiness, while Pearl said
good-bye to Tom Motherwell, who had brought her home. Tommy and Bugsey
and Patsey waited giggling just inside the door, while Mary and Mrs.
Watson went out to greet her.

Pearl was in at last, kissing every little last Watson, forgetting she
had done Tommy and doing him over again; with Danny holding tightly to
her skirt through it all, everybody talking at once.

Then the excitement calmed down somewhat, but only to break right out
again, for Jimmy who had been downtown came home and found the box
which Tom Motherwell had left on the step after Pearl had gone in. They
carried it in excitedly and eager little hands raised the lid, eager
little voices shouted with delight.

"Didn't I tell ye we'd have a turkey when Pearlie came home," Mary
shouted triumphantly.

Pearlie rose at once to her old position of director-in-chief.

"The turkey'll be enough for us, and it'll be done in time yet, and
we'll send the chicken to Mrs. McGuire, poor owld lady, she wuz good to
me the day I left. Now ma, you sit down, me and Mary'll git along. Here
Bugsey and Tommy and Patsey and Danny, here's five cents a piece for ye
to go and buy what ye like, but don't ye buy anything to ate, for ye'll
not need it, but yez can buy hankies, any kind ye like, ye'll need them
now the winter's comin' on, and yez'll be havin' the snuffles."

When the boys came back with their purchases they were put in a row
upon their mother's bed to be out of the way while the supper was being
prepared, all except wee Bugsey, who went, from choice, down to the
tracks to see the cars getting loaded--the sizzle of the turkey in the
oven made the tears come.

Two hours later the Watson family sat down to supper, not in sections,
but the whole family. The table had long since been inadequate to the
family's needs, but two boards, with a flour-sack on them, from the end
of it to the washing machine overcame the difficulty.

Was there ever such a turkey as that one? Mrs. Watson carved it herself
on the back of the stove.

"Sure yer poor father can't be bothered with it, and it's a thing he
ain't handy at, mirover, no more'n meself; but the atin' is on it,
praise God, and we'll git at it someway."

Ten plates were heaped full of potatoes and turnips, turkey, brown
gravy, and "stuffin"; and still that mammoth turkey had layers of meat
upon his giant sides. What did it matter if there were not enough
plates to go around, and Tommy had to eat his supper out of the
saucepan; and even if there were no cups for the boys, was not the pail
with the dipper in it just behind them on the old high-chair.

When the plates had all been cleaned the second time, and the turkey
began to look as if something had happened to it, Mary brought in the
surprise of the evening--it was the jelly Mrs. Evans had sent them when
she let Mary come home early in the afternoon, a present from Algernon,
she said, and the whipped cream that Camilla had given Jimmy when he
ran over to tell her and Mrs. Francis that Pearlie had really come.
Then everyone saw the advantage of having their plates licked clean,
and not having more turkey than they knew what to do with. Danny was
inarticulate with happiness.

"Lift me down, Pearlie," he murmured sleepily as he poked down the last
spoonful, "and do not jiggle me."

When Patsey and Bugsey and Tommy and Danny had gone to bed, and Mary
and Mrs. Watson were washing the dishes (Pearlie was not allowed to
help, being the guest of honour), John Watson sat silently smoking his
pipe, listening with delight while Pearl related her experiences of the
last three months.

She was telling about the night that she had watched for the doctor.
Not a word did she tell about, her friend, the doctor's agitation, nor
what had caused it on that occasion, and she was very much relieved to
find that her listeners did not seem to have heard about the
circumstances of Ab Cowan's death.

"Oh, I tell ye, Doctor Clay's the fellow," she said, her eyes sparkling
with enthusiasm. "He knew what was wrong wid Arthur the minute he
clapped his eyes on him--tore open his little satchel, slapped the
chloroform into his face, whisked out his knives and slashed into him
as aisy as ma wud into a pair of pants for Jimmie there, and him
waitin' for them."

"Look at that now!" her father exclaimed, pulling out the damper of the
stove and spitting in the ashes. "Yon's a man'll make his mark wherever
he goes."

A knock sounded on the door. Teddy opened it and admitted Camilla and
Jim Russell.

"I've got a letter for you Pearl," Jim said when the greetings were
over. "When Tom brought the mail this evening this letter for you was
in with the others, and Arthur brought it over to see if I would bring
it in. I didn't really want to come, but seeing as it was for you,
Pearl, I came."

Camilla was not listening to him at all.

Pearl took the letter wonderingly. "Read it Camilla," she said, handing
it to her friend.

Camilla broke the seal and read it. It was from Alfred Austin Wemyss,
Rector of St. Agnes, Tillbury Road, County of Kent, England.

It was a stately letter, becoming a rector, dignified and chaste in its
language. It was the letter of a dignitary of the Church to an unknown
and obscure child in a distant land, but it told of a father and
mother's gratitude for a son's life saved, it breathed an admiration
for the little girl's devotion and heroism, and a love for her that
would last as long as life itself.

Pearl sat in mute wonder, as Camilla read--that could not mean her!

We do not mean to offer money as a payment for what you have done, dear
child (Camilla read on), for such a service of love can only be paid in
love; but we ask you to accept from us this gift as our own daughter
would accept it if we had had one, and we will be glad to think that it
has been a help to you in the securing of an education. Our brother,
the bishop, wishes you to take from him a gift of 20 pounds, and it is
his desire that you should spend it in whatever way will give you the
most pleasure. We are, dear Pearl,

Your grateful friends, ALFRED A. and MARY WEMYSS.

"Here is a Bank of England draft for 120 pounds, nearly $600," Camilla
said, as she finished the letter.

The Watson family sat dumb with astonishment.

"God help us!" Mrs. Watson cried at last.

"He has," Camilla said reverently.

Then Pearl threw her arms around her mother's neck and kissed her over
and over again.

"Ma, dear," she cried, "ye'll git it now, what I always wanted ye to
have, a fur-lined cape, and not lined wid rabbit, or squirrel or skunk
either, but with the real vermin! and it wasn't bad luck to have Mrs.
McGuire cross me path when I was going out. But they can't mane me,
Camilla, sure what did I do?"

But Camilla and Jim stood firm, the money was for her and her only.
Everyone knew, Jim said, that if she had not stayed with Arthur that
long night and watched for the doctor, that Arthur would have been dead
in the morning. And Arthur had told him a dozen times, Jim said, that
Pearl had saved his life.

"Well then, 't was aisy saved," Pearl declared, "if I saved it."

Just then Dr. Clay came in with a letter in his hand.

"My business is with this young lady," he said as he sat on the chair
Mrs. Watson had wiped for him, and drew Pearl gently toward him.
"Pearl, I got some money to-night that doesn't belong to me."

"So did I," Pearl said.

"No, you deserve all yours, but I don't deserve a cent. If it hadn't
been for this little girl of yours, Mr. Watson, that young Englishman
would have been a dead man."

"Faith, that's what they do be sayin', but I don't see how that wuz.
You're the man yerself Doc," John replied, taking his pipe from his
mouth.

"No," the doctor went on. "I would have let him die if Pearl hadn't
held me up to it and made me operate."

Pearl sprang up, almost in tears. "Doc," she cried indignantly,
"haven't I towld ye a dozen times not to say that? Where's yer sense,
Doc?"

The doctor laughed. He could laugh about it now, since Dr. Barner had
quite exonerated him from blame in the matter, and given it as his
professional opinion that young Cowan would have died any way--the
lancing of his throat having perhaps hastened, but did not cause his
death.

"Pearl," the doctor said smiling, "Arthur's father sent me 50 pounds
and a letter that will make me blush every time I think of it. Now I
cannot take the money. The operation, no doubt, saved his life, but if
it hadn't been for you there would have been no operation. I want you
to take the money. If you do not, I will have to send it back to
Arthur's father and tell him all about it."

Pearl looked at him in real distress.

"And I'll tell everyone else, too, what kind of a man I am--Jim here
knows it already"--the doctor's eyes were smiling as he watched her
troubled little face.

"Oh, Doctor Clay," she cried, "you're worse 'n Danny when you get a
notion inter yer head. What kin I do with ye?"

"I do not know," the doctor laughed, "unless you marry me when you grow
up."

"Well," Pearl answered gravely, "I can't do that till ma and me git the
family raised, but I'm thinkin' maybe Mary Barner might take ye."

"I thought of that, too," the doctor answered, while a slight shadow
passed over his face, "but she seems to think not. However, I'm not in
a hurry Pearl, and I just think I'll wait for you."

After Camilla and Jim and the doctor had gone that night, and Teddy and
Billy and Jimmy had gone to bed, Pearl crept into her father's arms and
laid her head on his broad shoulder.

"Pa," she said drowsily, "I'm glad I'm home."

Her father patted her little brown hand.

"So am I, acushla," he said; after a pause he whispered, "yer a good
wee girl, Pearlie," but Pearl's tired little eyes had closed in sleep.

Mrs. Watson laid more wood on the fire, which crackled merrily up the
chimney.

"Lay her down, John dear," she whispered. "Yer arms'll ache, man."

On the back of the stove the teakettle simmered drowsily. There was no
sound in the house but the regular breathing of the sleeping children.
The fire burned low, but John Watson still sat holding his little
sleeping girl in his arms. Outside the snow was beginning to fall.



CONCLUSION

CONVINCING CAMILLA

"If you can convince me, Jim, that you are more irresponsible and more
in need of a guiding hand than Mrs. Francis--why then I'll--I'll be--"

Jim sprang from his chair.

"You'll be what, Camilla? Tell me quick," he cried eagerly.

"I'll be--convinced," she said demurely, looking down.

Jim sat down again and sighed.

"Will you be anything else?" he asked.

"Convince me first," she said firmly.

"I think I can do it," he said, "I always have to write down what I
want to do each day, and what I need to buy when I come in here, and
once, when I wrote my list, nails, coffee, ploughshare, mail, I forgot
to put on it, 'come back,' and perhaps you may remember I came here
that evening and stayed and stayed--I was trying to think what to do
next."

"That need not worry you again, Jim," she said sweetly. "I can easily
remember that, and will tell you every time."

"To 'come back'?" he said. "Thank you, Camilla, and I will do it too."

She laughed.

"Having to make a list isn't anything. Poor Mrs. Francis makes a list
and then loses it, then makes a second list, and puts on it to find the
first list, and then loses that; and Jim, she once made biscuits and
forgot the shortening."

"I made biscuits once and forgot the flour," Jim declared proudly.

Camilla shook her head.

"And, Camilla," Jim said gravely, "I am really very irresponsible, you
know Nellie Slater--she is a pretty girl, isn't she?"

"A very pretty girl," Camilla agreed.

"About your size--fluffy hair--"

"Wavy, Jim," Camilla corrected.

"Hers is fluffy, yours is wavy," Jim said firmly--"lovely dark
eyes--well, she was standing by the window, just before the lamps were
lighted, and I really am very absent-minded you know--I don't know how
it happened that I mistook her for you."

Camilla reached out her hand.

He seized it eagerly.

"Jim--I am convinced," she said softly.

Fifteen minutes afterwards Camilla said:

"I cannot tell her, Jim, I really cannot. I don't how know to begin to
tell her."

"Why do you need to tell her?" Jim asked. "Hasn't the lady eyes and
understanding? What does she think I come for?"

"She doesn't know you come. She sees somebody here, but she thinks it's
the grocery-boy waiting until I empty his basket."

"Indeed," Jim said a little stiffly, "which one, I wonder."

"Don't you remember the night she said to me 'And what did you say this
young man's name is, Camilla'--no, no, Jim, she hasn't noticed you at
all."

Jim was silent a moment.

"Well now," he said at last, "she seemed to be taking notice that
morning I came in without any very good excuse, and she said 'How does
it happen that you are not harvesting this beautiful day, Mr. Russell?'"

"Yes, and what did you say?" Camilla asked a trifle severely.

Jim looked a little embarrassed.

"I said--I had not felt well lately, and I had come in to see the
doctor."

"And what was that?" Camilla was still stern.

"The ingenious device of an ardent lover," he replied quickly.

"'Ardened sinner you mean, Jim," she laughed. "But the next time you
had a splendid excuse, you had a message from Pearl. Was my new suit
done?"

"Yes, and then I came to see--"

There was a frou-frou of skirts in the hall. Camilla made a quick move
and Jim became busy with the books on the table.

Mrs. Francis entered.

"Camilla," she began after she had spoken cordially to Jim, "Mr.
Francis is in need of a young man to manage his business for him, and
he has made up his mind--quite made up his mind, Camilla, to take Mr.
Russell into partnership with him if Mr. Russell will agree. Mr.
Francis needs just such a young man, one of education, good habits and
business ability and so, Camilla, I see no reason why your marriage
should not take place at once."

"Marriage!" Camilla gasped.

"Yes," Mrs. Francis said in her richest tones. "Your marriage, Camilla,
at once. You are engaged are you not?"

"I am--convinced," Camilla said irrelevantly.

And then it was Mrs. Francis who laughed as she held out a hand to each
of them.

"I do see--things--sometimes," she said.





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