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Title: Old Man Savarin Stories - Tales of Canada and Canadians
Author: Thomson, Edward William
Language: English
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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 "Old Man Savarin Stories - Tales of Canada and Canadians" ***

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[Illustration: Portrait of the Author—Edward William Thomson]



                       *Old Man Savarin Stories*

                    _Tales of Canada and Canadians_


                                   BY

                         EDWARD WILLIAM THOMSON

                       F.R.S.L. (United Kingdom)
                            F.R.S. (Canada)



                             ILLUSTRATED BY
                          CHARLES W. JEFFERYS



                      TORONTO :: :: :: S. B. GUNDY

                PUBLISHER IN CANADA FOR HUMPHREY MILFORD



                            COPYRIGHT, 1917
                       BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



                                   TO
                        SIR A. T. QUILLER-COUCH
                                  WHO
                        "GAVE ME THE GOOD WORD"
                               IN SEASON

                      "I’VE A FRIEND OVER THE SEA"



My thanks are here due to Messrs. T. Y. Crowell & Co., N. Y., for
liberty to include in this volume sundry stories from "Old Man Savarin";
to the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, for liberty
to include "Dour Davie’s Drive," and "Petherick’s Peril"; to the
University Magazine, Montreal, for liberty to include "Miss Minnely’s
Management"; to the Century Company, N. Y., for liberty to include "The
Swartz Diamond."

E. W. THOMSON



                               *CONTENTS*


The Canadian Abroad

Privilege of the Limits

The Waterloo Veteran

John Bedell, U. E. Loyalist

Old Man Savarin

Great Godfrey’s Lament

McGrath’s Bad Night

Shining Cross of Rigaud

Dour Davie’s Drive

Petherick’s Peril

Little Baptiste

Red-Headed Windego

The Ride By Night

"Drafted"

A Turkey Apiece

The Swartz Diamond

Boss of the World

Miss Minnely’s Management



                            *ILLUSTRATIONS*


Portrait of the Author . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

He knocked the two of them over with the post

Old John marched in full regimentals

Dey’s fight like dat for more as four hours

We stood looking at my father’s white face

My leg is broke

Back and forward they dashed

Baptiste and Jawnny looked at the place in the wildest terror

Absalom sprang up, staggered, shouted



                       *OLD MAN SAVARIN STORIES*
__



                         _THE CANADIAN ABROAD_

    _When the croon of a rapid is heard on the breeze,_
      _With the scent of a pine-forest gloom,_
    _Or the edge of the sky is of steeple-top trees,_
      _Set in hazes of blueberry bloom,_
    _Or a song-sparrow sudden from quietness trills_
      _His delicate anthem to me,_
    _Then my heart hurries home to the Ottawa hills,_
      _Wherever I happen to be._

    _When the veils of a shining lake vista unfold,_
      _Or the mist towers dim from a fall,_
    _Or a woodland is blazing in crimson and gold,_
      _Or a snow-shroud is covering all,_
    _Or there’s honking of geese in the darkening sky,_
      _When the spring sets hepatica free,_
    _Then my heart’s winging north as they never can fly,_
      _Wherever I happen to be._

    _When the swallows slant curves of bewildering joy_
      _As the cool of the twilight descends,_
    _And rosy-cheek maiden and hazel-hue boy_
      _Listen grave while the Angelus ends_
    _In a tremulous flow from the bell of a shrine,_
      _Then a faraway mountain I see,_
    _And my soul is in Canada’s evening shine,_
      _Wherever my body may be._



                       *PRIVILEGE OF THE LIMITS*


"Yes, indeed, my grandfather wass once in jail," said old Mrs. McTavish,
of the county of Glengarry, in Ontario, Canada; "but that wass for debt,
and he wass a ferry honest man whateffer, and he would not broke his
promise—no, not for all the money in Canada.  If you will listen to me,
I will tell chust exactly the true story about that debt, to show you
what an honest man my grandfather wass.

"One time Tougal Stewart, him that wass the poy’s grandfather that keeps
the same store in Cornwall to this day, sold a plough to my grandfather,
and my grandfather said he would pay half the plough in October, and the
other half whateffer time he felt able to pay the money.  Yes, indeed,
that was the very promise my grandfather gave.

"So he was at Tougal Stewart’s store on the first of October early in
the morning pef ore the shutters wass taken off, and he paid half chust
exactly to keep his word.  Then the crop wass ferry pad next year, and
the year after that one of his horses wass killed py lightning, and the
next year his brother, that wass not rich and had a big family, died,
and do you think wass my grandfather to let the family be disgraced
without a good funeral?  No, indeed. So my grandfather paid for the
funeral, and there was at it plenty of meat and drink for eferypody, as
wass the right Hielan’ custom those days; and after the funeral my
grandfather did not feel chust exactly able to pay the other half for
the plough that year either.

"So, then, Tougal Stewart met my grandfather in Cornwall next day after
the funeral, and asked him if he had some money to spare.

"’Wass you in need of help, Mr. Stewart?’ says my grandfather, kindly.
’For if it’s in any want you are, Tougal,’ says my grandfather, ’I will
sell the coat off my back, if there is no other way to lend you a loan’;
for that wass always the way of my grandfather with all his friends, and
a bigger-hearted man there never wass in all Glengarry, or in Stormont,
or in Dundas, moreofer.

"’In want!’ says Tougal—’in want, Mr. McTavish!’ says he, very high.
’Would you wish to insult a gentleman, and him of the name of Stewart,
that’s the name of princes of the world?’ he said, so he did.

"Seeing Tougal had his temper up, my grandfather spoke softly, being a
quiet, peaceable man, and in wonder what he had said to offend Tougal.

"’Mr. Stewart,’ says my grandfather, ’it wass not in my mind to anger
you whatefer. Only I thought, from your asking me if I had some money,
that you might be looking for a wee bit of a loan, as many a gentleman
has to do at times, and no shame to him at all,’ said my grandfather.

"’A loan?’ says Tougal, sneering.  ’A loan, is it?  Where’s your memory,
Mr. McTavish? Are you not owing me half the price of the plough you’ve
had these three years?’

"’And wass you asking me for money for the other half of the plough?’
says my grandfather, very astonished.

"’Just that,’ says Tougal.

"’Have you no shame or honor in you?’ says my grandfather, firing up.
’How could I feel able to pay that now, and me chust yesterday been
giving my poor brother a funeral fit for the McTavishes’ own
grand-nephew, that wass as good chentleman’s plood as any Stewart in
Glengarry.  You saw the expense I wass at, for there you wass, and I
thank you for the politeness of coming, Mr. Stewart,’ says my
grandfather, ending mild, for the anger would never stay in him more
than a minute, so kind was the nature he had.

"’If you can spend money on a funeral like that, you can pay me for my
plough,’ says Stewart; for with buying and selling he wass become a poor
creature, and the heart of a Hielan’man wass half gone out of him, for
all he wass so proud of his name of monarchs and kings.

"My grandfather had a mind to strike him down on the spot, so he often
said; but he thought of the time when he hit Hamish Cochrane in anger,
and he minded the penances the priest put on him for breaking the silly
man’s jaw with that blow, so he smothered the heat that wass in him, and
turned away in scorn.  With that Tougal Stewart went to court, and sued
my grandfather, puir mean creature.

"You might think that Judge Jones—him that wass judge in Cornwall before
Judge Jarvis that’s dead—would do justice.  But no, he made it the law
that my grandfather must pay at once, though Tougal Stewart could not
deny what the bargain wass.

"’Your Honor,’ says my grandfather, ’I said I’d pay when I felt able.
And do I feel able now?  No, I do not,’ says he.  ’It’s a disgrace to
Tougal Stewart to ask me, and himself telling you what the bargain
wass,’ said my grandfather.  But Judge Jones said that he must pay, for
all that he did not feel able.

"’I will nefer pay one copper till I feel able,’ says my grandfather;
’but I’ll keep my Hielan’ promise to my dying day, as I always done,’
says he.

"And with that the old judge laughed, and said he would have to give
judgment.  And so he did; and after that Tougal Stewart got out an
execution.  But not the worth of a handful of oatmeal could the bailiff
lay hands on, because my grandfather had chust exactly taken the
precaution to give a bill of sale on his gear to his neighbor, Alexander
Frazer, that could be trusted to do what was right after the law play
was over.

"The whole settlement had great contempt for Tougal Stewart’s conduct;
but he wass a headstrong body, and once he begun to do wrong against my
grandfather, he held on, for all that his trade fell away; and finally
he had my grandfather arrested for debt, though you’ll understand, sir,
that he was owing Stewart nothing that he ought to pay when he didn’t
feel able.

"In those times prisoners for debt wass taken to jail in Cornwall, and
if they had friends to give bail that they would not go beyond the posts
that wass around the sixteen acres nearest the jail walls, the prisoners
could go where they liked on that ground.  This was called ’the
privilege of the limits.’  The limits, you’ll understand, wass marked by
cedar posts painted white about the size of hitching-posts.

"The whole settlement wass ready to go bail for my grandfather if he
wanted it, and for the health of him he needed to be in the open air,
and so he gave Tuncan Macdonnell of the Greenfields, and Æneas Macdonald
of the Sandfields, for his bail, and he promised, on his Hielan’ word of
honor, not to go beyond the posts.  With that he went where he pleased,
only taking care that he never put even the toe of his foot beyond a
post, for all that some prisoners of the limits would chump ofer them
and back again, or maybe swing round them, holding by their hands.

"Efery day the neighbors would go into Cornwall to give my grandfather
the good word, and they would offer to pay Tougal Stewart for the other
half of the plough, only that vexed my grandfather, for he wass too
proud to borrow, and, of course, every day he felt less and less able to
pay on account of him having to hire a man to be doing the spring
ploughing and seeding and making the kale-yard.

"All this time, you’ll mind, Tougal Stewart had to pay five shillings a
week for my grandfather’s keep, the law being so that if the debtor
swore he had not five pounds’ worth of property to his name, then the
creditor had to pay the five shillings, and, of course, my grandfather
had nothing to his name after he gave the bill of sale to Alexander
Frazer.  A great diversion it was to my grandfather to be reckoning up
that if he lived as long as his father, that was hale and strong at
ninety-six, Tougal would need to pay five or six hundred pounds for him,
and there was only two pound five shillings to be paid on the plough.

"So it was like that all summer, my grandfather keeping heartsome, with
the neighbors coming in so steady to bring him the news of the
settlement.  There he would sit, just inside one of the posts, for to
pass his jokes, and tell what he wished the family to be doing next.
This way it might have kept going on for forty years, only it came about
that my grand-father’s youngest child—him that was my father—fell sick,
and seemed like to die.

"Well, when my grandfather heard that bad news, he wass in a terrible
way, to be sure, for he would be longing to hold the child in his arms,
so that his heart was sore and like to break.  Eat he could not, sleep
he could not: all night he would be groaning, and all day he would be
walking around by the posts, wishing that he had not passed his Hielan’
word of honor not to go beyond a post; for he thought how he could have
broken out like a chentleman, and gone to see his sick child, if he had
stayed inside the jail wall.  So it went on three days and three nights
pefore the wise thought came into my grandfather’s head to show him how
he need not go beyond the posts to see his little sick poy.  With that
he went straight to one of the white cedar posts, and pulled it up out
of the hole, and started for home, taking great care to carry it in his
hands pefore him, so he would not be beyond it one bit.

"My grandfather wass not half a mile out of Cornwall, which was only a
little place in those days, when two of the turnkeys came after him.

"’Stop, Mr. McTavish,’ says the turnkeys.

"’What for would I stop?’ says my grandfather.

"’You have broke your bail,’ says they.

"’It’s a lie for you,’ says my grandfather, for his temper flared up for
anybody to say he would broke his bail.  ’Am I beyond the post?’ says my
grandfather.

"With that they run in on him, only that he knocked the two of them over
with the post, and went on rejoicing, like an honest man should, at
keeping his word and overcoming them that would slander his good name.
The only thing pesides thoughts of the child that troubled him was
questioning whether he had been strictly right in turning round for to
use the post to defend himself in such a way that it was nearer the jail
than what he wass.  But when he remembered how the jailer never
complained of prisoners of the limits chumping ofer the posts, if so
they chumped back again in a moment, the trouble went out of his mind.

[Illustration: HE KNOCKED THE TWO OF THEM OVER WITH THE POST]

"Pretty soon after that he met Tuncan Macdonnell of Greenfields, coming
into Cornwall with the wagon.

"’And how is this, Glengatchie?’ says Tuncan.  ’For you were never the
man to broke your bail.’

"Glengatchie, you’ll understand, sir, is the name of my grandfather’s
farm.

"’Never fear, Greenfields,’ says my grandfather, ’for I’m not beyond the
post.’

"So Greenfields looked at the post, and he looked at my grandfather, and
he scratched his head a wee, and he seen it was so; and then he fell
into a great admiration entirely.

"’Get in with me, Glengatchie—it’s proud I’ll be to carry you home’; and
he turned his team around.  My grandfather did so, taking great care to
keep the post in front of him all the time; and that way he reached
home.  Out comes my grandmother running to embrace him; but she had to
throw her arms around the post and my grandfather’s neck at the same
time, he was that strict to be within his promise. Pefore going ben the
house, he went to the back end of the kale-yard which was farthest from
the jail, and there he stuck the post; and then he went back to see his
sick child, while all the neighbors that came round was glad to see what
a wise thought the saints had put into his mind to save his bail and his
promise.

"So there he stayed a week till my father got well.  Of course the
constables came after my grandfather, but the settlement would not let
the creatures come within a mile of Glengatchie. You might think, sir,
that my grandfather would have stayed with his wife and weans, seeing
the post was all the time in the kale-yard, and him careful not to go
beyond it; but he was putting the settlement to a great deal of trouble
day and night to keep the constables off, and he was fearful that they
might take the post away, if ever they got to Glengatchie, and give him
the name of false, that no McTavish ever had.  So Tuncan Greenfields and
Æneas Sandfield drove my grandfather back to the jail, him with the post
behind him in the wagon, so as he would be between it and the jail.  Of
course Tougal Stewart tried his best to have the bail declared
forfeited; but old Judge Jones only laughed, and said my grandfather was
a Hielan’ gentleman, with a very nice sense of honor, and that was chust
exactly the truth.

"How did my grandfather get free in the end?  Oh, then, that was because
of Tougal Stewart being careless—him that thought he knew so much of the
law.  The law was, you will mind, that Tougal had to pay five shillings
a week for keeping my grandfather in the limits.  The money wass to be
paid efery Monday, and it wass to be paid in lawful money of Canada,
too.  Well, would you belief that Tougal paid in four shillings in
silver one Monday, and one shilling in coppers, for he took up the
collection in church the day pefore, and it wass not till Tougal had
gone away that the jailer saw that one of the coppers was a Brock
copper,—a medal, you will understand, made at General Brock’s death, and
not lawful money of Canada at all.  With that the jailer came out to my
grandfather.

"’Mr. McTavish,’ says he, taking off his hat, ’you are a free man, and
I’m glad of it.’  Then he told him what Tougal had done.

"’I hope you will not have any hard feelings toward me, Mr. McTavish,’
said the jailer; and a decent man he wass, for all that there wass not a
drop of Hielan’ blood in him.  ’I hope you will not think hard of me for
not being hospitable to you, sir,’ says he; ’but it’s against the rules
and regulations for the jailer to be offering the best he can command to
the prisoners.  Now that you are free, Mr. McTavish,’ says the jailer,
’I would be a proud man if Mr. McTavish of Glengatchie would do me the
honor of taking supper with me this night.  I will be asking your leave
to invite some of the gentlemen of the place, if you will say the word,
Mr. McTavish,’ says he.

"Well, my grandfather could never bear malice, the kind man he was, and
he seen how bad the jailer felt, so he consented, and a great company
came in, to be sure, to celebrate the occasion.

"Did my grandfather pay the balance on the plough?  What for should you
suspicion, sir, that my grandfather would refuse his honest debt?  Of
course he paid for the plough, for the crop was good that fall.

"’I would be paying you the other half of the plough now, Mr. Stewart,’
says my grandfather, coming in when the store was full.

"’Hoich, but YOU are the honest McTavish!’ says Tougal, sneering.

"But my grandfather made no answer to the creature, for he thought it
would be unkind to mention how Tougal had paid out six pounds four
shillings and eleven pence to keep him in on account of a debt of two
pound five that never was due till it was paid."



                         *THE WATERLOO VETERAN*


Is Waterloo a dead word to you? the name of a plain of battle, no more?
Or do you see, on a space of rising ground, the little long-coated man
with marble features, and unquenchable eyes that pierce through rolling
smoke to where the relics of the old Guard of France stagger and rally
and reach fiercely again up the hill of St. Jean toward the squares,
set, torn, red, re-formed, stubborn, mangled, victorious beneath the
unflinching will of him behind there,—the Iron Duke of England?

Or is your interest in the fight literary? and do you see in a pause of
the conflict Major O’Dowd sitting on the carcass of Pyramus refreshing
himself from that case-bottle of sound brandy?  George Osborne lying
yonder, all his fopperies ended, with a bullet through his heart?
Rawdon Crawley riding stolidly behind General Tufto along the front of
the shattered regiment where Captain Dobbin stands heartsick for poor
Emily?

Or maybe the struggle arranges itself in your vision around one figure
not named in history or fiction,—that of hour grandfather, or his
father, or some old dead soldier of the great wars whose blood you exult
to inherit, or some grim veteran whom you saw tottering to the rollcall
beyond when Queen Victoria was young and you were a little boy.

For me the shadows of the battle are so grouped round old John Locke
that the historians, story-tellers, and painters may never quite
persuade me that he was not the centre and real hero of the action.  The
French cuirassiers in my thought-pictures charge again and again vainly
against old John; he it is who breaks the New Guard; upon the ground
that he defends the Emperor’s eyes are fixed all day long.  It is John
who occasionally glances at the sky with wonder if Blucher has failed
them.  Upon Shaw the Lifeguardsman, and John, the Duke plainly most
relies, and the words that Wellington actually speaks when the time
comes for advance are, "Up, John, and at them!"

How fate drifted the old veteran of Waterloo into our little Canadian
Lake Erie village I never knew.  Drifted him?  No; he ever marched as if
under the orders of his commander.  Tall, thin, white-haired,
close-shaven, and always in knee-breeches and long stockings, his was an
antique and martial figure. "Fresh white-fish" was his cry, which he
delivered as if calling all the village to fall in for drill.

So impressive was his demeanor that he dignified his occupation.  For
years after he disappeared, the peddling of white-fish by horse and cart
was regarded in that district as peculiarly respectable.  It was a
glorious trade when old John Locke held the steelyards and served out
the glittering fish with an air of distributing ammunition for a long
day’s combat.

I believe I noticed, on the first day I saw him, how he tapped his left
breast with a proud gesture when he had done with a lot of customers and
was about to march again at the head of his horse.  That restored him
from trade to his soldiership—he had saluted his Waterloo medal!  There
beneath his threadbare old blue coat it lay, always felt by the heart of
the hero.

"Why doesn’t he wear it outside?" I once asked.

"He used to," said my father; "till Hiram Beaman, the druggist, asked
him what he’d ’take for the bit of pewter.’"

"What did old John say, sir?"

"’Take for the bit of pewter!’ said he, looking hard at Beaman with
scorn.  ’I’ve took better men’s lives nor ever yours was for to get it,
and I’d sell my own for it as quick as ever I offered it before.’

"’More fool you,’ said Beaman.

"’You’re nowt,’ said old John, very calm and cold, ’you’re nowt but
walking dirt.’  From that day forth he would never sell Beaman a fish;
he wouldn’t touch his money."

It must have been late in 1854 or early in 1855 that I first saw the
famous medal.  Going home from school on a bright winter afternoon, I
met old John walking very erect, without his usual fish-supply.  A dull
round white spot was clasped on the left breast of his coat.

"Mr. Locke," said the small boy, staring with admiration, "is that your
glorious Waterloo medal?"

"You’re a good little lad!"  He stooped to let me see the noble pewter.
"War’s declared against Rooshia, and now it’s right to show it. The old
regiment’s sailed, and my only son is with the colors."

Then he took me by the hand and led me into the village store, where the
lawyer read aloud the news from the paper that the veteran gave him.  In
those days there was no railway within fifty miles of us.  It had
chanced that some fisherman brought old John a later paper than any
previously received in the village.

"Ay, but the Duke is gone," said he, shaking his white head, "and it’s
curious to be fighting on the same side with another Boney."

All that winter and the next, all the long summer between, old John
displayed his medal. When the report of Alma came, his remarks on the
French failure to get into the fight were severe.  "What was they ever,
at best, without Boney?" he would inquire.  But a letter from his son
after Inkermann changed all that.

"Half of us was killed, and the rest of us clean tired with fighting,"
wrote Corporal Locke.  "What with a bullet through the flesh of my right
leg, and the fatigue of using the bayonet so long, I was like to drop.
The Russians was coming on again as if there was no end to them, when
strange drums came sounding in the mist behind us.  With that we closed
up and faced half-round, thinking they had outflanked us and the day was
gone, so there was nothing more to do but make out to die hard, like the
sons of Waterloo men.  You would have been pleased to see the looks of
what was left of the old regiment, father. Then all of a sudden a French
column came up the rise out of the mist, screaming, ’_Vive l’Empereur!_’
their drums beating the charge.  We gave them room, for we were too dead
tired to go first.  On they went like mad at the Russians, so that was
the end of a hard morning’s work.  I was down,—fainted with loss of
blood,—but I will soon be fit for duty again.  When I came to myself
there was a Frenchman pouring brandy down my throat, and talking in his
gibberish as kind as any Christian.  Never a word will I say agin them
red-legged French again."

"Show me the man that would!" growled old John.  "It was never in them
French to act cowardly.  Didn’t they beat all the world, and even stand
up many’s the day agen ourselves and the Duke?  They didn’t beat,—it
wouldn’t be in reason,—but they tried brave enough, and what more’d you
ask of mortal men?"

With the ending of the Crimean War our village was illuminated.  Rows of
tallow candles in every window, fireworks in a vacant field, and a
torchlight procession!  Old John marched at its head in full
regimentals, straight as a ramrod, the hero of the night. His son had
been promoted for bravery on the field.  After John came a dozen gray
militiamen of Queenston Heights, Lundy’s Lane, and Chippewa; next some
forty volunteers of ’37.  And we boys of the U. E. Loyalist settlement
cheered and cheered, thrilled with an intense vague knowledge that the
old army of Wellington kept ghostly step with John, while aerial
trumpets and drums pealed and beat with rejoicing at the fresh glory of
the race and the union of English-speaking men unconsciously celebrated
and symbolized by the little rustic parade.

[Illustration: OLD JOHN MARCHED IN FULL REGIMENTALS]

After that the old man again wore his medal concealed.  The Chinese War
of 1857 was too contemptible to celebrate by displaying his badge of
Waterloo.

Then came the dreadful tale of the Sepoy mutiny—Meerut, Delhi, Cawnpore!
After the tale of Nana Sahib’s massacre of women and children was read
to old John he never smiled, I think.  Week after week, month after
month, as hideous tidings poured steadily in, his face became more
haggard, gray, and dreadful. The feeling that he was too old for use
seemed to shame him.  He no longer carried his head high, as of yore.
That his son was not marching behind Havelock with the avenging army
seemed to cut our veteran sorely.  Sergeant Locke had sailed with the
old regiment to join Outram in Persia before the Sepoys broke loose.  It
was at this time that old John was first heard to say, "I’m ’feared
something’s gone wrong with my heart."

Months went by before we learned that the troops for Persia had been
stopped on their way and thrown into India against the mutineers.  At
that news old John marched into the village with a prouder air than he
had worn for many a day.  His medal was again on his breast.

It was but the next month, I think, that the village lawyer stood
reading aloud the account of the capture of a great Sepoy fort.  The
veteran entered the post-office, and all made way for him.  The reading
went on:—

"The blowing open of the Northern Gate was the grandest personal exploit
of the attack. It was performed by native sappers, covered by the fire
of two regiments, and headed by Lieutenants Holder and Dacre, Sergeants
Green, Carmody, Macpherson, and Locke."

The lawyer paused.  Every eye turned to the face of the old Waterloo
soldier.  He straightened up to keener attention, threw out his chest,
and tapped the glorious medal in salute of the names of the brave.

"God be praised, my son was there!" he said.  "Read on."

"Sergeant Carmody, while laying the powder, was killed, and the native
havildar wounded.  The powder having been laid, the advance party
slipped down into the ditch to allow the firing party, under Lieutenant
Dacre, to do its duty.  While trying to fire the charge he was shot
through one arm and leg.  He sank, but handed the match to Sergeant
Macpherson, who was at once shot dead.  Sergeant Locke, already wounded
severely in the shoulder, then seized the match, and succeeded in firing
the train.  He fell at that moment, literally riddled with bullets."

"Read on," said old John, in a deeper voice. All forbore to look twice
upon his face.

"Others of the party were falling, when the gate was blown to fragments,
and the waiting regiments of infantry, under Colonel Campbell, rushed
into the breach."

There was a long silence in the post-office, till old John spoke once
more.

"The Lord God be thanked for all his dealings with us!  My son, Sergeant
Locke, died well for England, Queen, and Duty."

Nervously fingering the treasure on his breast, the old soldier wheeled
about, and marched proudly straight down the middle of the village
street to his lonely cabin.

The villagers never saw him in life again. Next day he did not appear.
All refrained from intruding on his mourning.  But in the evening, when
the Anglican minister heard of his parishioner’s loss, he walked to old
John’s home.

There, stretched upon his straw bed, he lay in his antique regimentals,
stiffer than At Attention, all his medals fastened below that of
Waterloo above his quiet heart.  His right hand lay on an open Bible,
and his face wore an expression as of looking for ever and ever upon
Sergeant Locke and the Great Commander who takes back unto Him the
heroes He fashions to sweeten the world.



                    *JOHN BEDELL, U. E. LOYALIST[1]*


[1] The United Empire Loyalists were American Tories who forsook their
homes and property after the Revolution in order to live in Canada under
the British Flag.  It is impossible to understand Canadian feeling for
the Crown at the present day without understanding the U. E. Loyalist
spirit, which, though Canadians are not now unfriendly to the United
States, is still the most important political force in the Dominion, and
holds it firmly in allegiance to the Crown.


"A renegade!  A rebel against his king! A black-hearted traitor!  You
dare to tell me that you love George Winthrop!  Son of canting, lying
Ezra Winthrop!  By the Eternal, I’ll shoot him on sight if he comes this
side!"

While old John Bedell was speaking, he tore and flung away a letter,
reached for his long rifle on its pins above the chimney-place, dashed
its butt angrily to the floor, and poured powder into his palm.

"For Heaven’s sake, father!  You would not!  You could not!  The war is
over.  It would be murder!" cried Ruth Bedell, sobbing.

"Wouldn’t I?"  He poured the powder in. "Yes, by gracious, quicker’n I’d
kill a rattlesnake!"  He placed the round bullet on the little square of
greased rag at the muzzle of his rifle.  "A rank traitor—bone and blood
of those who drove out loyal men!"—he crowded the tight lead home,
dashed the ramrod into place, looked to the flint.  "Rest there,—wake up
for George Winthrop!" and the fierce old man replaced rifle and
powder-horn on their pegs.

Bedell’s hatred for the foes who had beaten down King George’s cause,
and imposed the alternative of confiscation or the oath of allegiance on
the vanquished, was considered intense, even by his brother Loyalists of
the Niagara frontier.

"The Squire kind o’ sees his boys’ blood when the sky’s red," said they
in explanation. But Bedell was so much an enthusiast that he could
almost rejoice because his three stark sons had gained the prize of
death in battle. He was too brave to hate the fighting-men he had so
often confronted; but he abhorred the politicians, especially the
intimate civic enemies on whom he had poured scorn before the armed
struggle began.  More than any he hated Ezra Winthrop, the lawyer,
arch-revolutionist of their native town, who had never used a weapon but
his tongue.  And now his Ruth, the beloved and only child left to his
exiled age, had confessed her love for Ezra Winthrop’s son!  They had
been boy and girl, pretty maiden and bright stripling together, without
the Squire suspecting—he could not, even now, conceive clearly so wild a
thing as their affection!  The confession burned in his heart like
veritable fire,—a raging anguish of mingled loathing and love.  He stood
now gazing at Ruth dumbly, his hands clenched, head sometimes
mechanically quivering, anger, hate, love, grief, tumultuous in his
soul.

Ruth glanced up—her father seemed about to speak—she bowed again,
shuddering as though the coming words might kill.  Still there was
silence,—a long silence.  Bedell stood motionless, poised, breathing
hard—the silence oppressed the girl—each moment her terror
increased—expectant attention became suffering that demanded his
voice—and still was silence—save for the dull roar of Niagara that more
and more pervaded the air.  The torture of waiting for the words—a curse
against her, she feared—overwore Ruth’s endurance.  She looked up
suddenly, and John Bedell saw in hers the beloved eyes of his dead wife,
shrinking with intolerable fear.  He groaned heavily. flung up his hands
despairingly, and strode out toward the river.

How crafty smooth the green Niagara sweeps toward the plunge beneath
that perpetual white cloud above the Falls!  From Bedell’s clearing
below Navy Island, two miles above the Falls, he could see the swaying
and rolling of the mist, ever rushing up to expand and overhang.  The
terrible stream had a profound fascination for him, with its racing
eddies eating at the shore; its long weeds, visible through the clear
water, trailing close down to the bottom; its inexorable, eternal,
onward pouring.  Because it was so mighty and so threatening, he
rejoiced grimly in the awful river.  To float, watching cracks and
ledges of its flat bottom-rock drift quickly upward; to bend to his oars
only when white crests of the rapids yelled for his life; to win escape
by sheer strength from points so low down that he sometimes doubted but
the greedy forces had been tempted too long; to stake his life, watching
tree-tops for a sign that he could yet save it, was the dreadful pastime
by which Bedell often quelled passionate promptings to revenge his
exile.  "The Falls is bound to get the Squire, some day," said the
banished settlers.  But the Squire’s skiff was clean built as a
pickerel, and his old arms iron-strong. Now when he had gone forth from
the beloved child, who seemed to him so traitorous to his love and all
loyalty, he went instinctively to spend his rage upon the river.

Ruth Bedell, gazing at the loaded rifle, shuddered, not with dread only,
but a sense of having been treacherous to her father.  She had not told
him all the truth.  George Winthrop himself, having made his way
secretly through the forest from Lake Ontario, had given her his own
letter asking leave from the Squire to visit his newly made cabin.  From
the moment of arrival her lover had implored her to fly with him.  But
filial love was strong in Ruth to give hope that her father would yield
to the yet stronger affection freshened in her heart. Believing their
union might be permitted, she had pledged herself to escape with her
lover if it were forbidden.  Now he waited by the hickory wood for a
signal to conceal himself or come forward.

When Ruth saw her father far down the river, she stepped to the
flagstaff he had raised before building the cabin—his first duty being
to hoist the Union Jack!  It was the largest flag he could procure; he
could see it flying defiantly all day long; at night he could hear its
glorious folds whipping in the wind; the hot old Loyalist loved to fancy
his foeman cursing at it from the other side, nearly three miles away.
Ruth hauled the flag down a little, then ran it up to the mast-head
again.

At that, a tall young fellow came springing into the clearing, jumping
exultantly over brush-heaps and tree-trunks, his queue waggling, his
eyes bright, glad, under his three-cornered hat.  Joying that her father
had yielded, he ran forward till he saw Ruth’s tears.

"What, sweetheart!—crying?  It was the signal to come on," cried he.

"Yes; to see you sooner, George.  Father is out yonder.  But no, he will
never, never consent."

"Then you will come with me, love," he said, taking her hands.

"No, no; I dare not," sobbed Ruth.  "Father would overtake us.  He
swears to shoot you on sight!  Go, George!  Escape while you can! Oh, if
he should find you here!"

"But, darling love, we need not fear.  We can escape easily.  I know the
forest path. But—"  Then he thought how weak her pace.

"We might cross here before he could come up!" cried Winthrop, looking
toward where the Squire’s boat was now a distant blotch.

"No, no," wailed Ruth, yet yielding to his embrace.  "This is the last
time I shall see you forever and forever.  Go, dear,—good-bye, my love,
my love."

But he clasped her in his strong arms, kissing, imploring, cheering
her,—and how should true love choose hopeless renunciation?

                     *      *      *      *      *

Tempting, defying, regaining his lost ground, drifting down again,
trying hard to tire out and subdue his heart-pangs, Bedell dallied with
death more closely than ever.  He had let his skiff drift far down
toward the Falls. Often he could see the wide smooth curve where the
green volume first lapses vastly on a lazy slope, to shoulder up below
as a huge calm billow, before pitching into the madness of waves whose
confusion of tossing and tortured crests hurries to the abyss.  The
afternoon grew toward evening before he pulled steadily home, crawling
away from the roarers against the cruel green, watching the ominous
cloud with some such grim humor as if under observation by an
overpowering but baffled enemy.

Approaching his landing, a shout drew Bedell’s glance ashore to a group
of men excitedly gesticulating.  They seemed motioning him to watch the
American shore.  Turning, he saw a boat in midstream, where no craft
then on the river, except his own skiff, could be safe, unless manned by
several good men.  Only two oars were flashing.  Bedell could make out
two figures indistinctly.  It was clear they were doomed,—though still a
full mile above the point whence he had come, they were much farther out
than he when near the rapids.  Yet one life might be saved!  Instantly
Bedell’s bow turned outward, and cheers flung to him from ashore.

At that moment he looked to his own landing-place, and saw that his
larger boat was gone.  Turning again, he angrily recognized it, but kept
right on—he must try to rescue even a thief.  He wondered Ruth had not
prevented the theft, but had no suspicion of the truth.  Always he had
refused to let her go out upon the river—mortally fearing it for her.

Thrusting his skiff mightily forward,—often it glanced, half-whirled by
up-whelming and spreading spaces of water,—the old Loyalist’s heart was
quit of his pangs, and sore only with certainty that he must abandon one
human soul to death.  By the time that he could reach the larger boat
his would be too near the rapids for escape with three!

When George Winthrop saw Bedell in pursuit, he bent to his ash-blades
more strongly, and Ruth, trembling to remember her father’s threats,
urged her lover to speed.  They feared the pursuer only, quite
unconscious that they were in the remorseless grasp of the river. Ruth
had so often seen her father far lower down than they had yet drifted
that she did not realize the truth, and George, a stranger in the
Niagara district, was unaware of the length of the cataracts above the
Falls.  He was also deceived by the stream’s treacherous smoothness, and
instead of half-upward, pulled straight across, as if certainly able to
land anywhere he might touch the American shore.

Bedell looked over his shoulder often.  When he distinguished a woman,
he put on more force, but slackened soon—the pull home would tax his
endurance, he reflected.  In some sort it was a relief to know that one
was a woman; he had been anticipating trouble with two men equally bent
on being saved.  That the man would abandon himself bravely, the Squire
took as a matter of course.  For a while he thought of pulling with the
woman to the American shore, more easily to be gained from the point
where the rescue must occur.  But he rejected the plan, confident he
could win back, for he had sworn never to set foot on that soil unless
in war.  Had it been possible to save both, he would have been forced to
disregard that vow; but the Squire knew that it was impossible for him
to reach the New York shore with two passengers—two would overload his
boat beyond escape.  Man or woman—one must go over the Falls.

Having carefully studied landmarks for his position, Bedell turned to
look again at the doomed boat, and a well-known ribbon caught his
attention!  The old man dropped his oars, confused with horror.  "My
God, my God! it’s Ruth!" he cried, and the whole truth came with another
look, for he had not forgotten George Winthrop.

"Your father stops, Ruth.  Perhaps he is in pain," said George to the
quaking girl.

She looked back.  "What can it be?" she cried, filial love returning
overmasteringly.

"Perhaps he is only tired."  George affected carelessness,—his first
wish was to secure his bride,—and pulled hard away to get all advantage
from Bedell’s halt.

"Tired!  He is in danger of the Falls, then!" screamed Ruth.  "Stop!
Turn!  Back to him!"

Winthrop instantly prepared to obey.  "Yes, darling," he said, "we must
not think of ourselves.  We must go back to save him!"  Yet his was a
sore groan at turning; what Duty ordered was so hard,—he must give up
his love for the sake of his enemy.

But while Winthrop was still pulling round, the old Loyalist resumed
rowing, with a more rapid stroke that soon brought him alongside.

In those moments of waiting, all Bedell’s life, his personal hatreds,
his loves, his sorrows, had been reviewed before his soul.  He had seen
again his sons, the slain in battle, in the pride of their young might;
and the gentle eyes of Ruth had pleaded with him beneath his dead wife’s
brow.  Into those beloved, unforgotten, visionary eyes he looked with an
encouraging, strengthening gaze,—now that the deed to be done was as
clear before him as the face of Almighty God.  In accepting it the
darker passions that had swayed his stormy life fell suddenly away from
their hold on his soul.  How trivial had been old disputes! how good at
heart old well-known civic enemies! how poor seemed hate! how mean and
poor seemed all but Love and Loyalty!

Resolution and deep peace had come upon the man.

The lovers wondered at his look.  No wrath was there.  The old eyes were
calm and cheerful, a gentle smile flickered about his lips.  Only that
he was very pale, Ruth would have been wholly glad for the happy change.

"Forgive me, father," she cried, as he laid hand on their boat.

"I do, my child," he answered.  "Come now without an instant’s delay to
me."

"Oh, father, if you would let us be happy!" cried Ruth, heart-torn by
two loves.

"Dear, you shall be happy.  I was wrong, child; I did not understand how
you loved him. But come!  You hesitate!  Winthrop, my son, you are in
some danger.  Into this boat instantly! both of you!  Take the oars,
George. Kiss me, dear, my Ruth, once more.  Good-bye, my little girl.
Winthrop, be good to her. And may God bless you both forever!"

As the old Squire spoke, he stepped into the larger boat, instantly
releasing the skiff.  His imperative gentleness had secured his object
without loss of time, and the boats were apart with Winthrop’s readiness
to pull.

"Now row!  Row for her life to yonder shore!  Bow well up!  Away, or the
Falls will have her!" shouted Bedell.

"But you!" cried Winthrop, bending for his stroke.  Yet he did not
comprehend Bedell’s meaning.  Till the last the old man had spoken
without strong excitement.  Dread of the river was not on George; his
bliss was supreme in his thought, and he took the Squire’s order for one
of exaggerated alarm.

"Row, I say, with all your strength!" cried Bedell, with a flash of
anger that sent the young fellow away instantly.  "Row!  Concern
yourself not for me.  I am going home.  Row! for her life, Winthrop!
God will deliver you yet.  Good-bye, children.  Remember always my
blessing is freely given you."

"God bless and keep you forever, father!" cried Ruth, from the distance,
as her lover pulled away.

They landed, conscious of having passed a swift current, indeed, but
quite unthinking of the price paid for their safety.  Looking back on
the darkling river, they saw nothing of the old man.

"Poor father!" sighed Ruth, "how kind he was!  I’m sore-hearted for
thinking of him at home, so lonely."

Left alone in the clumsy boat, Bedell stretched with the long, heavy
oars for his own shore, making appearance of strong exertion. But when
he no longer feared that his children might turn back with sudden
understanding, and vainly, to his aid, he dragged the boat slowly,
watching her swift drift down—down toward the towering mist.  Then as he
gazed at the cloud, rising in two distinct volumes, came a thought
spurring the Loyalist spirit in an instant.  He was not yet out of
American water! Thereafter he pulled steadily, powerfully, noting
landmarks anxiously, studying currents, considering always their trend
to or from his own shore.  Half an hour had gone when he again dropped
into slower motion.  Then he could see Goat Island’s upper end between
him and the mist of the American Fall.

Now the old man gave himself up to intense curiosity, looking over into
the water with fascinated inquiry.  He had never been so far down the
river.  Darting beside their shadows, deep in the clear flood, were now
larger fishes than he had ever taken, and all moved up as if hurrying to
escape.  How fast the long trailing, swaying, single weeds, and the
crevices in flat rock whence they so strangely grew, went up stream and
away as if drawn backward. The sameness of the bottom to that higher up
interested him—where then _did_ the current begin to sweep clean?  He
should certainly know that soon, he thought, without a touch of fear,
having utterly accepted death when he determined it were base to carry
his weary old life a little longer, and let Ruth’s young love die.  Now
the Falls’ heavy monotone was overborne by terrible sounds—a mingled
clashing, shrieking, groaning, and rumbling, as of great bowlders
churned in their beds.

Bedell was nearing the first long swoop downward at the rapids’ head
when those watching him from the high bank below the Chippewa River’s
mouth saw him put his boat stern with the current and cease rowing
entirely, facing fairly the up-rushing mist to which he was being
hurried.  Then they observed him stooping, as if writing, for a time.
Something flashed in his hands, and then he knelt with head bowed down.
Kneeling, they prayed, too.

Now he was almost on the brink of the cascades.  Then he arose, and,
glancing backward to his home, caught sight of his friends on the high
shore.  Calmly he waved a farewell. What then?  Thrice round he flung
his hat, with a gesture they knew full well.  Some had seen that
exultant waving in front of ranks of battle.  As clearly as though the
roar of waters had not drowned his ringing voice, they knew that old
John Bedell, at the poise of death, cheered thrice, "Hurrah!  Hurrah!
Hurrah for the King!"

They found his body a week afterward, floating with the heaving water in
the gorge below the Falls.  Though beaten almost out of recognition,
portions of clothing still adhered to it, and in a waistcoat pocket they
found the old Loyalist’s metal snuff-box, with this inscription
scratched by knife-point on the cover: "God be praised, I die in British
waters! JOHN BEDELL."



                           *OLD MAN SAVARIN*


Old Ma’ame Paradis had caught seventeen small doré, four suckers, and
eleven channel-catfish before she used up all the worms in her
tomato-can.  Therefore she was in a cheerful and loquacious humor when I
came along and offered her some of my bait.

"Merci; non, M’sieu.  Dat’s ’nuff fishin’ for me.  I got too old now for
fish too much.  You like me make you present of six or seven doré? Yes?
All right.  Then you make me present of one quarter dollar."

When this transaction was completed, the old lady got out her short
black clay pipe, and filled it with _tabac blanc_.

"Ver’ good smell for scare mosquitoes," said she.  "Sit down, M’sieu.
For sure I like to be here, me, for see the river when she’s like this."

Indeed the scene was more than picturesque. Her fishing-platform
extended twenty feet from the rocky shore of the great Rataplan Rapid of
the Ottawa, which, beginning to tumble a mile to the westward, poured a
roaring torrent half a mile wide into the broader, calm brown reach
below.  Noble elms towered on the shores.  Between their trunks we could
see many whitewashed cabins, whose doors of blue or green, or red
scarcely disclosed their colors in that light.

The sinking sun, which already touched the river, seemed somehow the
source of the vast stream that flowed radiantly from its blaze. Through
the glamour of the evening mist and the maze of June flies we could see
a dozen men scooping for fish from platforms like that of Ma’ame
Paradis.

Each scooper lifted a great hoop-net set on a handle some fifteen feet
long, threw it easily up stream, and swept it on edge with the current
to the full length of his reach.  Then it was drawn out and at once
thrown upward again, if no capture had been made.  In case he had taken
fish, he came to the inshore edge of his platform, and upset the net’s
contents into a pool separated from the main rapid by an improvised wall
of stones.

"I’m too old for scoop some now," said Ma’ame Paradis, with a sigh.

"You were never strong enough to scoop, surely," said I.

"No, eh?  All right, M’sieu.  Then you hain’t nev’ hear ’bout the time
Old Man Savarin was catched up with.  No, eh?  Well, I’ll tol’ you ’bout
that."  And this was her story as she told it to me.

                     *      *      *      *      *

"Der was fun dose time.  Nobody ain’t nev’ catch up with dat old rascal
ony other time since I’ll know him first.  Me, I’ll be only fifteen den.
Dat’s long time ’go, eh?  Well, for sure, I ain’t so old like what I’ll
look.  But Old Man Savarin was old already.  He’s old, old, old, when
he’s only thirty; an’ mean—_baptême_!  If de old Nick ain’ got de
hottest place for dat old stingy—yes, for sure!

"You’ll see up dere where Frawce Seguin is scoop?  Dat’s the Laroque
platform by right.  Me, I was a Laroque.  My fader was use for scoop
dere, an’ my gran’fader—the Laroques scoop dere all de time since ever
dere was some Rapid Rataplan.  Den Old Man Savarin he’s buyed the land
up dere from Felix Ladoucier, an’ he’s told my fader, ’You can’t scoop
no more wisout you pay me rent.’

"’Rent!’ my fader say.  ’_Saprie_!  Dat’s my fader’s platform for scoop
fish!  You ask anybody.’

"’Oh, I’ll know all ’bout dat,’ Old Man Savarin is say.  ’Ladoucier let
you scoop front of his land, for Ladoucier one big fool.  De lan’s mine
now, an’ de fishin’ right is mine. You can’t scoop dere wisout you pay
me rent.’

"’_Baptême_!  I’ll show you ’bout dat,’ my fader say.

"Next mawny he is go for scoop same like always.  Den Old Man Savarin is
fetch my fader up before de magistrate.  De magistrate make my fader pay
nine shillin’!

"’Mebbe dat’s learn you one lesson,’ Old Man Savarin is say.

"My fader swear pretty good, but my moder say: ’Well, Narcisse, dere
hain’ no use for take it out in _malediction_.  De nine shillin’ is
paid. You scoop more fish—dat’s the way.’

"So my fader he is go out early, early nex’ mawny.  He’s scoop, he’s
scoop.  He’s catch plenty fish before Old Man Savarin come.

"’You ain’t got ’nuff yet for fishin’ on my land, eh?  Come out of dat,’
Old Man Savarin is say.

"’_Saprie_!  Ain’t I pay nine shillin’ for fish here?’ my fader say.

"’Old—you pay nine shillin’ for fish here _wisout_ my leave.  But you
ain’t pay nothin’ for fish here _wis_ my leave.  You is goin’ up before
de magistrate some more.’

"So he is fetch my fader up anoder time. An’ de magistrate make my fader
pay twelve shillin’ more!

"’Well, I s’pose I can go fish on my fader’s platform now,’ my fader is
say.

"Old Man Savarin was laugh.  ’Your honor, dis man tink he don’t have for
pay me no rent, because you’ll make him pay two fines for trespass on my
land.’

"So de magistrate told my fader he hain’t got no more right for go on
his own platform than he was at the start.  My fader is ver’ angry.
He’s cry, he’s tear his shirt; but Old Man Savarin only say, ’I guess I
learn you one good lesson, Narcisse.’

"De whole village ain’t told de old rascal how much dey was angry ’bout
dat, for Old Man Savarin is got dem all in debt at his big store.  He is
grin, grin, and told everybody how he learn my fader two good lesson.
An’ he is told my fader: ’You see what I’ll be goin’ for do wis you if
ever you go on my land again wisout you pay me rent.’

"’How much you want?’ my fader say.

"’Half de fish you catch.’

"’_Monjee_!  Never!’

"’Five dollar a year, den.’

"’_Saprie_, no.  Dat’s too much.’

"’All right.  Keep off my lan’, if you hain’t want anoder lesson.’

"’You’s a tief,’ my fader say.

"’Hermidas, make up Narcisse Laroque bill,’ de old rascal say to his
clerk.  ’If he hain’t pay dat bill to-morrow, I sue him.’

"So my fader is scare mos’ to death.  Only my moder she’s say, ’_I’ll_
pay dat bill, me.’

"So she’s take the money she’s saved up long time for make my weddin’
when it come. An’ she’s paid de bill.  So den my fader hain’t scare no
more, an’ he is shake his fist good under Old Man Savarin’s ugly nose.
But dat old rascal only laugh an’ say, ’Narcisse, you like to be fined
some more, eh?’

"’_Tort Dieu_.  You rob me of my place for fish, but I’ll take my
platform anyhow,’ my fader is say.

"’Yes, eh?  All right—if you can get him wisout go on my land.  But you
go on my land, and see if I don’t learn you anoder lesson,’ Old Savarin
is say.

"So my fader is rob of his platform, too. Nex’ ting we hear, Frawce
Seguin has rent dat platform for five dollars a year.

"Den de big fun begin.  My fader an Frawce is cousin.  All de time
before den dey was good friend.  But my fader he is go to Frawce
Seguin’s place an’ he is told him, ’Frawce, I’ll goin’ lick you so hard
you can’t nev’ scoop on my platform.’

"Frawce only laugh.  Den Old Man Savarin come up de hill.

"’Fetch him up to de magistrate an’ learn him anoder lesson,’ he is say
to Frawce.

"’What for?’ Frawce say.

"’For try to scare you.’

"’He hain’t hurt me none.’

"’But he’s say he will lick you.’

"’Dat’s only because he’s vex,’ Frawce say.

"’_Baptême_!  Non!’ my fader say.  ’I’ll be goin’ for lick you good,
Frawce.’

"’For sure?’ Frawce say.

"’_Saprie_!  Yes; for sure.’

"’Well, dat’s all right den, Narcisse.  When you goin’ for lick me?’

"’First time I’ll get drunk.  I’ll be goin’ for get drunk dis same day.’

"’All right, Narcisse.  If you goin’ get drunk for lick me, I’ll be
goin’ get drunk for lick you’—_Canadien_ hain’t nev’ fool ’nuff for
fight, M’sieu, only if dey is got drunk.

"Well, my fader he’s go on old Marceau’s hotel, an’ he’s drink all day.
Frawce Seguin he’s go cross de road on Joe Maufraud’s hotel, an’ _he’s_
drink all day.  When de night come, dey’s bose stand out in front of de
two hotel for fight.

"Dey’s bose yell an’ yell for make de oder feller scare bad before dey
begin.  Hermidas Laronde an’ Jawnny Leroi dey’s hold my fader for fear
he’s go ’cross de road for keel Frawce Seguin dead.  Pierre Seguin an’
Magloire Sauve is hold Frawce for fear he’s come ’cross de road for keel
my fader dead.  And dose men fight dat way ’cross de road, till dey
hain’t hardly able for stand up no more.

"My fader he’s tear his shirt and he’s yell, ’Let me at him!’  Frawce
he’s tear his shirt and he’s yell, ’Let me at him!’  But de men hain’t
goin’ for let dem loose, for fear one is strike de oder ver’ hard.  De
whole village is shiver ’bout dat offle fight—yes, seh, shiver bad!

"Well, dey’s fight like dat for more as four hours, till dey hain’t able
for yell no more, an’ dey hain’t got no money left for buy wheeskey for
de crowd.  Den Marceau and Joe Maufraud tol’ dem bose it was a shame for
two cousins to fight so bad.  An’ my fader he’s say he’s ver’ sorry dat
he lick Frawce so hard, and dey’s bose sorry.  So dey’s kiss one anoder
good—only all their close is tore to pieces.

[Illustration: DEY’S FIGHT LIKE DAT FOR MORE AS FOUR HOURS]

"An’ what you tink ’bout Old Man Savarin? Old Man Savarin is just stand
in front of his store all de time, an’ he’s say: ’I’ll tink I’ll fetch
’him _bose_ hup to de magistrate, an’ I’ll learn him _bose_ a lesson.’

"Me, I’ll be only fifteen, but I hain’t scare ’bout dat fight same like
my moder is scare. No more is Alphonsine Seguin scare.  She’s seventeen,
an’ she wait for de fight to be all over.  Den she take her fader home,
same like I’ll take my fader home for bed.  Dat’s after twelve o’clock
of night.

"Nex’ mawny early my fader he’s groaned and he’s groaned: ’Ah—ugh—I’m
sick, sick, me.  I’ll be goin’ for die dis time, for sure.’

"’You get up an’ scoop some fish,’ my moder she’s say, angry.  ’Den you
hain’t be sick no more.’

"’Ach—ugh—I’ll hain’t be able.  Oh, I’ll be so sick.  An’ I hain’ got no
place for scoop fish now no more.  Frawce Seguin has rob my platform.’

"’Take de nex’ one lower down,’ my moder she’s say.

"’Dat’s Jawnny Leroi’s.’

"’All right for dat.  Jawnny he’s hire for run timber to-day.’

"’Ugh—I’ll not be able for get up.  Send for M’sieu le Curé—I’ll be
goin’ for die for sure.’

"’_Misère_, but dat’s no _man_!  Dat’s a drunk pig,’ my moder she’s say,
angry.  ’Sick, eh? Lazy, lazy—dat’s so.  An’ dere hain’t no fish for de
little chilluns, an’ it’s Friday mawny.’  So my moder she’s begin for
cry.

"Well, M’sieu, I’ll make de rest short; for de sun is all gone now.
What you tink I do dat mawny?  I take de big scoop-net an’ I’ll come up
here for see if I’ll be able for scoop some fish on Jawnny Leroi’s
platform.  Only dere hain’t nev’ much fish dere.

"Pretty quick I’ll look up and I’ll see Alphonsine Seguin scoop, scoop
on my fader’s old platform.  Alphonsine’s fader is sick, sick, same like
my fader, an’ all de Seguin boys is too little for scoop, same like my
brudders is too little.  So dere Alphonsine she’s scoop, scoop for
breakfas’.

"What you tink I’ll see some more?  I’ll see Old Man Savarin.  He’s
watchin’ from de corner of de cedar bush, an I’ll know ver’ good what
he’s watch for.  He’s watch for catch my fader go on his own platform.
He’s want for learn my fader anoder lesson.  _Saprie!_ dat’s make me
ver’ angry, M’sieu!

"Alphonsine she’s scoop, scoop plenty fish. I’ll not be scoop none.
Dat’s make me more angry.  I’ll look up where Alphonsine is, an’ I’ll
talk to myself:—

"’Dat’s my fader’s platform,’ I’ll be say. ’Dat’s my fader’s fish what
you catch, Alphonsine. You hain’t nev’ be my cousin no more. It is mean,
mean for Frawce Seguin to rent my fader’s platform for please dat old
rascal Savarin.’  Mebby I’ll not be so angry at Alphonsine, M’sieu, if I
was able for catch some fish; but I hain’t able—I don’t catch none.

"Well, M’sieu, dat’s de way for long time—half-hour mebby.  Den I’ll
hear Alphonsine yell good.  I’ll look up de river some more. She’s try
for lift her net.  She’s try hard, hard, but she hain’t able.  De net is
down in de rapid, an’ she’s only able for hang on to de hannle. Den I’ll
know she’s got one big sturgeon, an’ he’s so big she can’t pull him-up.

"_Monjee!_ what I care ’bout dat!  I’ll laugh me.  Den I’ll laugh good
some more, for I’ll want Alphonsine for see how I’ll laugh big. And I’ll
talk to myself:—

"’Dat’s good for dose Seguins,’ I’ll say. ’De big sturgeon will pull
away de net.  Den Alphonsine she will lose her fader’s scoop wis de
sturgeon.  Dat’s good ’nuff for dose Seguins!  Take my fader platform,
eh?’

"For sure, I’ll want for go an’ help Alphonsine all de same—she’s my
cousin, an’ I’ll want for see de sturgeon, me.  But I’ll only just
laugh, laugh.  _Non, M’sieu_; dere was not one man out on any of de oder
platform dat mawny for to help Alphonsine.  Dey was all sleep ver’ late,
for dey was all out ver’ late for see de offle fight I told you ’bout.

"Well, pretty quick, what you tink?  I’ll see Old Man Savarin goin’ to
my fader’s platform. He’s take hold for help Alphonsine, an’ dey’s bose
pull, and pretty quick de big sturgeon is up on de platform.  I’ll be
more angry as before.

"Oh, _tort Dieu_!  What you tink come den? Why, dat Old Man Savarin is
want for take de sturgeon!

"First dey hain’t speak so I can hear, for de Rapid is too loud.  But
pretty quick dey’s bose angry, and I hear dem talk.

"’Dat’s my fish,’ Old Man Savarin is say. ’Didn’t I save him?  Wasn’t
you goin’ for lose him, for sure?’

"Me—I’ll laugh good.  Dass _such_ an old rascal.

"’You get off dis platform, quick!’ Alphonsine she’s say.

"’Give me my sturgeon,’ he’s say.

"’Dat’s a lie—it hain’t your sturgeon.  It’s my sturgeon,’ she’s yell.

"’I’ll learn you one lesson ’bout dat,’ he’s say.

"Well, M’sieu, Alphonsine she’s pull back de fish just when Old Man
Savarin is make one grab.  An’ when she’s pull back, she’s step to one
side, an’ de old rascal he is grab at de fish, an’ de heft of de
sturgeon is make him fall on his face, so he’s tumble in de Rapid when
Alphonsine let go de sturgeon.  So der’s Old Man Savarin floating in de
river—and me! I’ll don’ care eef he’s drown one bit!

"One time he is on his back, one time he is on his face, one time he is
all under de water. For sure he’s goin’ for be draw into de culbute an’
get drown’ dead, if I’ll not be able for scoop him when he’s go by my
platform.  I’ll want for laugh, but I’ll be too much scare.

"Well, M’sieu, I’ll pick up my fader’s scoop and I’ll stand out on de
edge of de platform. De water is run so fast, I’m mos’ ’fraid de old man
is boun’ for pull me in when I’ll scoop him.  But I’ll not mind for dat,
I’ll throw de scoop an’ catch him; an’ for sure, he’s hold on good.

"So dere’s de old rascal in de scoop, but when I’ll get him safe, I
hain’t able for pull him in one bit.  I’ll only be able for hold on an’
laugh, laugh—he’s look ver’ queer!  All I can do is to hold him dere so
he can’t go down de _culbute_.  I’ll can’t pull him up if I’ll want to.

"De old man is scare ver’ bad.  But pretty quick he’s got hold of de
cross-bar of de hoop, an’ he’s got his ugly old head up good.

"’Pull me in,’ he say, ver’ angry.

"’I’ll hain’t be able,’ I’ll say.

"Jus’ den Alphonsine she’s come ’long, an’ she’s laugh so she can’t
hardly hold on wis me to de hannle.  I was laugh good some more. When de
old villain see us have fun, he’s yell: ’I’ll learn you bose one lesson
for this.  Pull me ashore!’

"’Oh! you’s learn us bose one lesson, M’sieu Savarin, eh?’ Alphonsine
she’s say.  ’Well, den, us bose will learn M’sieu Savarin one lesson
first.  Pull him up a little,’ she’s say to me.

"So we pull him up, an’ den Alphonsine she’s say to me: ’Let out de
hannle, quick’—and he’s under de water some more.  When we stop de net,
he’s got hees head up pretty quick.

"’_Monjee!_  I’ll be drown’ if you don’t pull me out,’ he’s mos’ _cry_.

"’Ver’ well—if you’s drown, your family be ver’ glad,’ Alphonsine she’s
say.  ’Den they’s got all your money for spend quick, quick.’

"M’sieu, dat scare him offle.  He’s begin for cry like one baby.

"’Save me out,’ he’s say.  ’I’ll give you anything I’ve got.’

"’How much?’ Alphonsine she’s say.

"He’s tink, and he’s say, ’Quarter dollar.’

"Alphonsine an’ me is laugh, laugh.

"’Save me,’ he’s cry some more.  ’I hain’t fit for die dis mawny.’

"’You hain’t fit for live no mawny,’ Alphonsine she’s say.  ’One quarter
dollar, eh? Where’s my sturgeon?’

"’He’s got away when I fall in,’ he’s say.

"’How much you goin’ give me for lose my big sturgeon?’ she’s ask.

"’How much you’ll want, Alphonsine?’

"’Two dollare.’

"’Dat’s too much for one sturgeon,’ he’s say.  For all he was not feel
fit for die, he was more ’fraid for pay out his money.

"’Let him down some more,’ Alphonsine she’s say.

"’Oh, _misère, misère_!  I’ll pay de two dollare,’ he’s say when his
head come up some more.

"’Ver’ well, den,’ Alphonsine she’s say; ’I’ll be willin’ for save you,
_me_.  But you hain’t scooped by _me_.  You’s in Marie’s net.  I’ll only
come for help Marie.  You’s her sturgeon’; an’ Alphonsine she’s laugh
an’ laugh.

"’I didn’t lost no sturgeon for Marie,’ he’s say.

"’No, eh?’ I’ll say mysef.  ’But you’s steal my fader’s platform.  You’s
take his fishin’ place.  You’s got him fined two times.  You’s make my
moder pay his bill wis _my_ weddin’ money.  What you goin’ pay for all
dat?  You tink I’ll be goin’ for mos’ kill mysef pullin’ you out for
noting?  When you ever do someting for anybody for noting, eh, M’sieu
Savarin?’

"’How much you want?’ he’s say.

"’Ten dollare for de platform, dat’s all.’

"’Never—-dat’s robbery,’ he’s say, an’ he’s begin to cry like ver’ li’ll
baby.

"’Pull him hup, Marie, an’ give him some more,’ Alphonsine she’s say.

"But de old rascal is so scare ’bout dat, dat he’s say he’s pay right
off.  So we’s pull him up near to de platform, only we hain’t big ’nuff
fool for let him out of de net till he’s take out his purse an’ pay de
twelve dollare.

"_Monjee_, M’sieu!  If ever you see one angry old rascal!  He not even
stop for say: ’T’ank you for save me from be drown’ dead in the
_culbute_!’  He’s run for his house an’ he’s put on dry clo’es, and’
he’s go up to de magistrate first ting for learn me an’ Alphonsine one
big lesson.

"But de magistrate hain’ ver’ bad magistrate. He’s only laugh an’ he’s
say:—

"’M’sieu Savarin, de whole river will be laugh at you for let two young
girl take eet out of smart man like you like dat.  Hain’t you tink your
life worth twelve dollare?  Didn’t dey save you from de _culbute_?
_Monjee_!  I’ll tink de whole river not laugh so ver’ bad if you pay
dose young girl one hunder dollare for save you so kind.’

"’One hunder dollare!’ he’s mos’ cry. ’Hain’t you goin’ to learn dose
girl one lesson for take advantage of me dat way?’

"’Didn’t you pay dose girl yoursef?  Didn’t you took out your purse
yoursef?  Yes, eh? Well, den, I’ll goin’ for learn you one lesson
yourself, M’sieu Savarin,’ de magistrate is say. ’Dose two young girl is
ver’ wicked, eh?  Yes, dat’s so.  But for why?  Hain’t dey just do to
you what you been doin’ ever since you was in beesness?  Don’ I know?
You hain’ never yet got advantage of nobody wisout you rob him all you
can, an’ dose wicked young girl only act just like you give dem a lesson
all your life.’

"An’ de best fun was de whole river did laugh at M’sieu Savarin.  An’ my
fader and Frawce Seguin is laugh most of all, till he’s catch hup wis
bose of dem anoder time.  You come for see me some more, an’ I’ll tol’
you ’bout dat."



                        *GREAT GODFREY’S LAMENT*


"Hark to Angus!  Man, his heart will be sore the night!  In five years I
have not heard him playing ’Great Godfrey’s Lament,’" said old Alexander
McTavish, as with him I was sitting of a June evening, at sundown, under
a wide apple-tree of his orchard-lawn.

When the sweet song-sparrows of the Ottawa valley had ceased their
plaintive strains, Angus McNeil began on his violin.  This night,
instead of "Tullochgorum" or "Roy’s Wife" or "The March of the McNeils,"
or any merry strathspey, he crept into an unusual movement, and from a
distance came the notes of an exceeding strange strain blent with the
meditative murmur of the Rataplan Rapids.

I am not well enough acquainted with musical terms to tell the method of
that composition in which the wail of a Highland coronach seemed mingled
with such mournful crooning as I had heard often from Indian voyageurs
north of Lake Superior.  Perhaps that fancy sprang from my knowledge
that Angus McNeil’s father had been a younger son of the chief of the
McNeil clan, and his mother a daughter of the greatest man of the Cree
nation.

"Ay, but Angus is wae," sighed old McTavish. "What will he be seeing the
now?  It was the night before his wife died that he played yon last.
Come, we will go up the road. he does be liking to see the people gather
to listen."

We walked, maybe three hundred yards, and stood leaning against the
ruined picket-fence that surrounds the great stone house built by Hector
McNeil, the father of Angus, when he retired from his position as one of
the "Big Bourgeois" of the famous Northwest Fur Trading Company.

The huge square structure of four stories and a basement is divided,
above the ground floor, into eight suites, some of four, and some of
five rooms.  In these suites the fur-trader, whose ideas were all
patriarchal, had designed that he and his Indian wife, with his seven
sons and their future families, should live to the end of his days and
theirs.  That was a dream at the time when his boys were all under nine
years old, and Godfrey little more than a baby in arms.

The ground-floor is divided by a hall twenty-five feet wide into two
long chambers, one intended to serve as a dining-hall for the multitude
of descendants that Hector expected to see round his old age, the other
as a withdrawing-room for himself and his wife, or for festive
occasions.  In this mansion Angus McNeil now dwelt alone.

He sat out that evening on a balcony at the rear of the hall, whence he
could overlook the McTavish place and the hamlet that extends a quarter
of a mile further down the Ottawa’s north shore.  His right side was
toward the large group of French-Canadian people who had gathered to
hear him play.  Though he was sitting, I could make out that his was a
gigantic figure.

"Ay—it will be just exactly ’Great Godfrey’s Lament,’" McTavish
whispered.  "Weel do I mind him playing yon many’s the night after
Godfrey was laid in the mools.  Then he played it no more till before
his ain wife died. What is he seeing now?  Man, it’s weel kenned he has
the second sight at times.  Maybe he sees the pit digging for himself.
He’s the last of them."

"Who was Great Godfrey?" I asked, rather loudly.

Angus McNeil instantly cut short the "Lament," rose from his chair, and
faced us.

"Aleck McTavish, who have you with you?" he called imperiously.

"My young cousin from the city, Mr. McNeil," said McTavish, with
deference.

"Bring him in.  I wish to spoke with you, Aleck McTavish.  The young man
that is not acquaint with the name of Great Godfrey McNeil can come with
you.  I will be at the great door."

"It’s strange-like," said McTavish, as we went to the upper gate.  "He
has not asked me inside for near five years.  I’m feared his wits is
disordered, by his way of speaking. Mind what you say.  Great Godfrey
was most like a god to Angus."

When Angus McNeil met us at the front door I saw he was verily a giant.
Indeed, he was a wee bit more than six and a half feet tall when he
stood up straight.  Now he was stooped a little, not with age, but with
consumption,—the disease most fatal to men of mixed white and Indian
blood.  His face was dark brown, his features of the Indian cast, but
his black hair had not the Indian lankness.  It curled tightly round his
grand head.

Without a word he beckoned us on into the vast withdrawing room.
Without a word he seated himself beside a large oaken centre-table, and
motioned us to sit opposite.

Before he broke silence, I saw that the windows of that great chamber
were hung with faded red damask; that the heads of many a bull moose,
buck, bear, and wolf grinned among guns and swords and claymores from
its walls; that charred logs, fully fifteen feet long, remained in the
fireplace from the last winter’s burning; that there were three dim
portraits in oil over the mantel; that the room contained much frayed
furniture, once sumptuous of red velvet; and that many skins of wild
beasts lay strewn over a hard-wood floor whose edges still retained
their polish and faintly gleamed in rays from the red west.

That light was enough to show that two of the oil paintings must be
those of Hector McNeil and his Indian wife.  Between these hung one of a
singularly handsome youth with yellow hair.

"Here my father lay dead," cried Angus McNeil, suddenly striking the
table.  He stared at us silently for many seconds, then again struck the
table with the side of his clenched fist.  "He lay here dead on this
table—yes!  It was Godfrey that straked him out all alone on this table.
You mind Great Godfrey, Aleck McTavish."

"Well I do, Mr. McNeil; and your mother yonder,—a grand lady she was."
McTavish spoke with curious humility, seeming wishful, I thought, to
comfort McNeil’s sorrow by exciting his pride.

"Ay—they’ll tell hereafter that she was just exactly a squaw," cried the
big man, angrily. "But grand she was, and a great lady, and a proud.
Oh, man, man! but they were proud, my father and my Indian mother.  And
Godfrey was the pride of the hearts of them both. No wonder; but it was
sore on the rest of us after they took him apart from our ways."

Aleck McTavish spoke not a word, and big Angus, after a long pause, went
on as if almost unconscious of our presence:—

"White was Godfrey, and rosy of the cheek like my father; and the blue
eyes of him would match the sky when you’ll be seeing it up through a
blazing maple on a clear day of October.  Tall, and straight, and grand
was Godfrey, my brother.  What was the thing Godfrey could not do?  The
songs of him hushed the singing-birds on the tree, and the fiddle he
would play to take the soul out of your body.  There was not white one
among us till he was born.

"The rest of us all were just Indians—ay, Indians, Aleck McTavish.
Brown we were, and the desire of us was all for the woods and the river.
Godfrey had white sense like my father, and often we saw the same look
in his eyes.  My God, but we feared our father!"

Angus paused to cough.  After the fit he sat silent for some minutes.
The voice of the great rapid seemed to fill the room.  When he spoke
again, he stared past our seat with fixed, dilated eyes, as if tranced
by a vision.

"Godfrey, Godfrey—you hear!  Godfrey, the six of us would go over the
falls and not think twice of it, if it would please you, when you were
little.  Oich, the joy we had in the white skin of you, and the fine
ways, till my father and mother saw we were just making an Indian of
you, like ourselves!  So they took you away; ay, and many’s the day the
six of us went to the woods and the river, missing you sore.  It’s then
you began to look on us with that look that we could not see was
different from the look we feared in the blue eyes of our father.  Oh,
but we feared him, Godfrey!  And the time went by, and we feared and we
hated you that seemed lifted up above your Indian brothers!"

"Oich, the masters they got to teach him!" said Angus, addressing
himself again to my cousin.  "In the Latin and the Greek they trained
him.  History books he read, and stories in song.  Ay, and the manners
of Godfrey! Well might the whole pride of my father and mother be on
their one white son.  A grand young gentleman was Godfrey,—Great Godfrey
we called him, when he was eighteen.

"The fine, rich people that would come up in bateaux from Montreal to
visit my father had the smile and the kind word for Godfrey; but they
looked upon us with the eyes of the white man for the Indian.  And that
look we were more and more sure was growing harder in Godfrey’s eyes.
So we looked back at him with the eyes of the wolf that stares at the
bull moose, and is fierce to pull him down, but dares not try, for the
moose is too great and lordly.

"Mind you, Aleck McTavish, for all we hated Godfrey when we thought he
would be looking at us like strange Indians—for all that, yet we were
proud of him that he was our own brother.  Well, we minded how he was
all like one with us when he was little; and in the calm looks of him,
and the white skin, and the yellow hair, and the grandeur of him, we had
pride, do you understand?  Ay, and in the strength of him we were glad.
Would we not sit still and pleased when it was the talk how he could run
quicker than the best, and jump higher than his head—ay, would we!  Man,
there was none could compare in strength with Great Godfrey, the
youngest of us all!

"He and my father and mother more and more lived by themselves in this
room.  Yonder room across the hall was left to us six Indians. No
manners, no learning had we; we were no fit company for Godfrey.  My
mother was like she was wilder with love of Godfrey the more he grew and
the grander, and never a word for days and weeks together did she give
to us.  It was Godfrey this, and Godfrey that, and all her thought was
Godfrey!

"Most of all we hated him when she was lying dead here on this table.
We six in the other room could hear Godfrey and my father groan and
sigh.  We would step softly to the door and listen to them kissing her
that was dead,—them white, and she Indian like ourselves,—and us not
daring to go in for the fear of the eyes of our father.  So the soreness
was in our hearts so cruel hard that we would not go in till the last,
for all their asking.  My God, my God, Aleck McTavish, if you saw her!
she seemed smiling like at Godfrey, and she looked like him then, for
all she was brown as November oak-leaves, and he white that day as the
froth on the rapid.

"That put us farther from Godfrey than before.  And farther yet we were
from him after, when he and my father would be walking up and down, up
and down, arm in arm, up and down the lawn in the evenings.  They would
be talking about books, and the great McNeils in Scotland.  The six of
us knew we were McNeils, for all we were Indians, and we would listen to
the talk of the great pride and the great deeds of the McNeils that was
our own kin.  We would be drinking the whiskey if we had it, and saying:
’Godfrey to be the only McNeil!  Godfrey to take all the pride of the
name of us!’  Oh, man, man! but we hated Godfrey sore."

Big Angus paused long, and I seemed to see clearly the two fair-haired,
tall men walking arm in arm on the lawn in the twilight, as if
unconscious or careless of being watched and overheard by six
sore-hearted kinsmen.

"You’ll mind when my father was thrown from his horse and carried into
this room, Aleck McTavish?  Ay, well you do.  But you nor no other
living man but me knows what came about the night that he died.

"Godfrey was alone with him.  The six of us were in yon room.  Drink we
had, but cautious we were with it, for there was a deed to be done that
would need all our senses.  We sat in a row on the floor—we were
Indians—it was our wigwam—we sat on the floor to be against the ways of
them two.  Godfrey was in here across the hall from us; alone he was
with our white father.  He would be chief over us by the will, no
doubt,—and if Godfrey lived through that night it would be strange.

"We were cautious with the whiskey, I told you before.  Not a sound
could we hear of Godfrey or of my father.  Only the rapid, calling and
calling,—I mind it well that night. Ay, and well I mind the striking of
the great clock,—tick, tick, tick, tick, tick,—I listened and I dreamed
on it till I doubted but it was the beating of my father’s heart.

"Ten o’clock was gone by, and eleven was near.  How many of us sat
sleeping I know not; but I woke up with a start, and there was Great
Godfrey, with a candle in his hand, looking down strange at us, and us
looking up strange at him.

"’He is dead,’ Godfrey said.

"We said nothing.

"’Father died two hours ago,’ Godfrey said.

"We said nothing.

"’Our father is white,—he is very white,’ Godfrey said, and he trembled.
’Our mother was brown when she was dead.’

"Godfrey’s voice was wild.

"’Come, brothers, and see how white is our father,’ Godfrey said.

"No one of us moved.

"’Won’t you come?  In God’s name, come,’ said Godfrey.  ’Oich—but it is
very strange! I have looked in his face so long that now I do not know
him for my father.  He is like no kin to me, lying there.  I am alone,
alone.’

"Godfrey wailed in a manner.  It made me ashamed to hear his voice like
that—him that looked like my father that was always silent as a
sword—him that was the true McNeil.

"’You look at me, and your eyes are the eyes of my mother,’ says
Godfrey, staring wilder.  ’What are you doing here, all so still?
Drinking the whiskey?  I am the same as you. I am your brother.  I will
sit with you, and if you drink the whiskey, I will drink the whiskey,
too.’

"Aleck McTavish! with that he sat down on the floor in the dirt and
litter beside Donald, that was oldest of us all.

"’Give me the bottle,’ he said.  ’I am as much Indian as you, brothers.
What you do I will do, as I did when I was little, long ago.’

"To see him sit down in his best,—all his learning and his grand manners
as if forgotten,—man, it was like as if our father himself was turned
Indian, and was low in the dirt!

"What was in the heart of Donald I don’t know, but he lifted the bottle
and smashed it down on the floor.

"’God in heaven! what’s to become of the McNeils!  You that was the
credit of the family, Godfrey!’ says Donald with a groan.

"At that Great Godfrey jumped to his feet like he was come awake.

"’You’re fitter to be the head of the McNeils than I am, Donald,’ says
he; and with that the tears broke out of his eyes, and he cast himself
into Donald’s arms.  Well, with that we all began to cry as if our
hearts would break. I threw myself down on the floor at Godfrey’s feet,
and put my arms round his knees the same as I’d lift him up when he was
little.  There I cried, and we all cried around him, and after a bit I
said:—

"’Brothers, this was what was in the mind of Godfrey.  He was all alone
in yonder.  We are his brothers, and his heart warmed to us, and he said
to himself, it was better to be like us than to be alone, and he thought
if he came and sat down and drank the whiskey with us, he would be our
brother again, and not be any more alone.’

"’Ay, Angus, Angus, but how did you know that?’ says Godfrey, crying;
and he put his arms round my neck, and lifted me up till we were breast
to breast.  With that we all put our arms some way round one another and
Godfrey, and there we stood sighing and swaying and sobbing a long time,
and no man saying a word.

"’Oh, man, Godfrey dear, but our father is gone, and who can talk with
you now about the Latin, and the history books, and the great
McNeils—and our mother that’s gone?’ says Donald; and the thought of it
was such pity that our hearts seemed like to break.

"But Godfrey said: ’We will talk together like brothers.  If it shames
you for me to be like you, then I will teach you all they taught me, and
we will all be like our white father.’

"So we all agreed to have it so, if he would tell us what to do.  After
that we came in here with Godfrey, and we stood looking at my father’s
white face.  Godfrey all alone had straked him out on this table, with
the silver-pieces on the eyes that we had feared.  But the silver we did
not fear.  Maybe you will not understand it, Aleck McTavish, but our
father never seemed such close kin to us as when we would look at him
dead, and at Godfrey, that was the picture of him, living and kind.

[Illustration: WE STOOD LOOKING AT MY FATHER’S WHITE FACE]

"After that you know what happened yourself."

"Well I do, Mr. McNeil.  It was Great Godfrey that was the father to you
all," said my cousin.

"Just that, Aleck McTavish.  All that he had was ours to use as we
would,—his land, money, horses, this room, his learning.  Some of us
could learn one thing and some of us could learn another, and some could
learn nothing, not even how to behave.  What I could learn was the
playing of the fiddle.  Many’s the hour Godfrey would play with me while
the rest were all happy around.

"In great content we lived like brothers, and proud to see Godfrey as
white and fine and grand as the best gentleman that ever came up to
visit him out of Montreal.  Ay, in great content we lived all together
till the consumption came on Donald, and he was gone.  Then it came and
came back, and came back again, till Hector was gone, and Ranald was
gone, and in ten years’ time only Godfrey and I were left.  Then both of
us married, as you know. But our children died as fast as they were
born, almost,—for the curse seemed on us.  Then his wife died, and
Godfrey sighed and sighed ever after that.

"One night I was sleeping with the door of my room open, so I could hear
if Godfrey needed my help.  The cough was on him then. Out of a dream of
him looking at my father’s white face I woke and went to his bed.  He
was not there at all.

"My heart went cold with fear, for I heard the rapid very clear, like
the nights they all died.  Then I heard the music begin down stairs,
here in this chamber where they were all laid out dead,—right here on
this table where I will soon lie like the rest.  I leave it to you to
see it done, Aleck McTavish, for you are a Highlandman by blood.  It was
that I wanted to say to you when I called you in.  I have seen himself
in my coffin three nights. Nay, say nothing; you will see.

"Hearing the music that night, down I came softly.  Here sat Godfrey,
and the kindest look was on his face that ever I saw.  He had his fiddle
in his hand, and he played about all our lives.

"He played about how we all came down from the North in the big canoe
with my father and mother, when we were little children and him a baby.
He played of the rapids we passed over, and of the rustling of the
poplar-trees and the purr of the pines.  He played till the river you
hear now was in the fiddle, with the sound of our paddles, and the fish
jumping for flies.  He played about the long winters when we were young,
so that the snow of those winters seemed falling again.  The ringing of
our skates on the ice I could hear in the fiddle.  He played through all
our lives when we were young and going in the woods yonder together and
then it was the sore lament began!

"It was like as if he played how they kept him away from his brothers,
and him at his books thinking of them in the woods, and him hearing the
partridges’ drumming, and the squirrels’ chatter, and all the little
birds singing and singing.  Oich, man, but there’s no words for the
sadness of it!"

Old Angus ceased to speak as he took his violin from the table and
struck into the middle of "Great Godfrey’s Lament."  As he played, his
wide eyes looked past us, and the tears streamed down his brown cheeks.
When the woful strain ended, he said, staring past us: "Ay, Godfrey, you
were always our brother."

Then he put his face down in his big brown hands, and we left him
without another word.



                         *McGRATH’S BAD NIGHT*


"Come, then, childer," said Mrs. McGrath, and took the big iron pot off.
They crowded around her, nine of them, the eldest not more than
thirteen, the youngest just big enough to hold out his yellow crockery
bowl.

"The youngest first," remarked Mrs. McGrath, and ladled out a portion of
the boiled cornmeal to each of the deplorable boys and girls.  Before
they reached the stools from which they had sprung up, or squatted again
on the rough floor, they all burned their mouths in tasting the mush too
eagerly.  Then there they sat, blowing into their bowls, glaring into
them, lifting their loaded iron spoons occasionally to taste cautiously,
till the mush had somewhat cooled.

Then, _gobble-de-gobble-de-gobble_, it was all gone!  Though they had
neither sugar, nor milk, nor butter to it, they found it a remarkably
excellent sample of mush, and wished only that, in quantity, it had been
something more.

Peter McGrath sat close beside the cooking-stove, holding Number Ten, a
girl-baby, who was asleep, and rocking Number Eleven, who was trying to
wake up, in the low, unpainted cradle.  He never took his eyes off
Number Eleven; he could not bear to look around and see the nine
devouring the corn-meal so hungrily.  Perhaps McGrath could not, and
certainly he would not,—he was so obstinate,—have told why he felt so
reproached by the scene.  He had felt very guilty for many weeks.

Twenty, yes, a hundred times a day he looked in a dazed way at his big
hands, and they reproached him, too, that they had no work.

"Where is our smooth, broad-axe handle?" asked the fingers, "and why do
not the wide chips fly?"

He was ashamed, too, every time he rose up, so tall and strong, with
nothing to do, and eleven children and his wife next door to starvation;
but if he had been asked to describe his feelings, he would merely have
growled out angrily something against old John Pontiac.

"You’ll take your sup now, Peter?" asked Mrs. McGrath, offering him the
biggest of the yellow bowls.  He looked up then, first at her forlorn
face, then at the pot.  Number Nine was diligently scraping off some
streaks of mush that had run down the outside; Numbers Eight, Seven,
Six, and Five were looking respectfully into the pot; Numbers Four,
Three, Two, and One were watching the pot, the steaming bowl, and their
father at the same time.  Peter McGrath was very hungry.

"Yourself had better eat, Mary Ann," he said.  "I’ll be having mine
after it’s cooler."

Mrs. McGrath dipped more than a third of the bowlful back into the pot,
and ate the rest with much satisfaction.  The numerals watched her
anxiously but resignedly.

"Sure it’ll be cold entirely, Peter, dear," she said, "and the warmth is
so comforting.  Give me little Norah now, the darlint! and be after
eating your supper."

She had ladled out the last spoonful of mush, and the pot was being
scraped inside earnestly by Nine, Eight, Seven, and Six.  Peter took the
bowl, and looked at his children.

The earlier numbers were observing him with peculiar sympathy, putting
themselves in his place, as it were, possessing the bowl in imagination;
the others now moved their spoons absent-mindedly around in the pot,
brought them empty to their mouths, mechanically, now and again, sucked
them more or less, and still stared steadily at their father.

His inner walls felt glued together, yet indescribably hollow; the smell
of the mush went up into his nostrils, and pungently provoked his palate
and throat.  He was famishing.

"Troth, then, Mary Ann," he said, "there’s no hunger in me to-night.
Sure, I wish the childer wouldn’t leave me the trouble of eating it.
Come, then, all of ye!"

The nine came promptly to his call.  There were just twenty-two large
spoonfuls in the bowl; each child received two; the remaining four went
to the four youngest.  Then the bowl was skilfully scraped by Number
Nine, after which Number Seven took it, whirled a cup of water artfully
round its interior, and with this put a fine finish on his meal.

Peter McGrath then searched thoughtfully in his trousers pockets,
turning their corners up, getting pinches of tobacco dust out of their
remotest recesses; he put his blouse pocket through a similar process.
He found no pockets in his well-patched overcoat when he took it down,
but he pursued the dust into its lining, and separated it carefully from
little dabs of wool.  Then he put the collection into an extremely old
black clay pipe, lifted a coal in with his fingers, and took his supper.

It would be absurd to assert that, on this continent, a strong man could
be so poor as Peter, unless he had done something very wrong or very
foolish.  Peter McGrath was, in truth, out of work because he had
committed an outrage on economics.  He had been guilty of the enormous
error of misunderstanding, and trying to set at naught in his own
person, the immutable law of supply and demand.

Fancying that a first-class hewer in a timber shanty had an inalienable
right to receive at least thirty dollars a month, when the demand was
only strong enough to yield him twenty-two dollars a month, Peter had
refused to engage at the beginning of the winter.

"Now, Mr. McGrath, you’re making a mistake," said his usual employer,
old John Pontiac. "I’m offering you the best wages going, mind that.
There’s mighty little squared timber coming out this winter."

"I’m ready and willing to work, boss, but I’m fit to arn thirty dollars,
surely."

"So you are, so you are, in good times, neighbor, and I’d be glad if
men’s wages were forty. That could only be with trade active, and a fine
season for all of us; but I couldn’t take out a raft this winter, and
pay what you ask."

"I’d work extra hard.  I’m not afeard of work."

"Not you, Peter.  There never was a lazy bone in your body.  Don’t I
know that well? But look, now: if I was to pay you thirty, I should have
to pay all the other hewers thirty; and that’s not all.  Scorers and
teamsters and road-cutters are used to getting wages in proportion to
hewers.  Why, it would cost me a thousand dollars a month to give you
thirty! Go along, now, that’s a good fellow, and tell your wife that
you’ve hired with me."

But Peter did not go back.  "I’m bound to have my rights, so I am," he
said sulkily to Mary Ann when he reached the cabin.  "The old boss is
getting too hard like, and set on money.  Twenty-two dollars!  No!  I’ll
go in to Stambrook and hire."

Mary Ann knew that she might as well try to convince a saw-log that its
proper course was up-stream, as to protest against Peter’s obstinacy.
Moreover, she did think the offered wages very low, and had some hope he
might better himself; but when he came back from Stambrook, she saw
trouble ahead.  He did not tell her that there, where his merits were
not known, he had been offered only twenty dollars, but she surmised his
disappointment.

"You’d better be after seeing the boss again, maybe, Peter dear," she
said timidly.

"Not a step," he answered.  "The boss’ll be after me in a few days,
you’ll see."  But there he was mistaken, for all the gangs were full.

After that Peter McGrath tramped far and wide, to many a backwoods
hamlet, looking vainly for a job at any wages.  The season was the worst
ever known on the river, and before January the shanties were
discharging men, so threatening was the outlook for lumbermen, and so
glutted with timber the markets of the world.

Peter’s conscience accused him every hour, but he was too stubborn to go
back to John Pontiac.  Indeed, he soon got it into his stupid head that
the old boss was responsible for his misfortunes, and he consequently
came to hate Mr. Pontiac very bitterly.

After supping on his pipeful of tobacco-dust, Peter sat,
straight-backed, leaning elbows on knees and chin on hands, wondering
what on earth was to become of them all next day.  For a man out of work
there was not a dollar of credit at the little village store; and work!
why, there was only one kind of work at which money could be earned in
that district in the winter.

When his wife took Number Eleven’s cradle into the other room, she heard
him, through the thin partition of upright boards, pasted over with
newspapers, moving round in the dim red flickering fire-light from the
stove-grating.

The children were all asleep, or pretending it; Number Ten in the big
straw bed, where she lay always between her parents; Number Eleven in
her cradle beside; Nine crosswise at the foot; Eight, Seven, Six, Five,
and Four in the other bed; One, Two, and Three curled up, without taking
off their miserable garments, on the "locks" of straw beside the kitchen
stove.

Mary Ann knew very well what Peter was moving round for.  She heard him
groan, so low that he did not know he groaned, when he lifted off the
cover of the meal barrel, and could feel nothing whatever therein.  She
had actually beaten the meal out of the cracks to make that last pot of
mush.  He knew that all the fish he had salted down in the summer were
gone, that the flour was all out, that the last morsel of the pig had
been eaten up long ago; but he went to each of the barrels as though he
could not realize that there was really nothing left.  There were four
of those low groans.

"O God, help him! do help him! please do!" she kept saying to herself.
Somehow, all her sufferings and the children’s were light to her, in
comparison, as she listened to that big, taciturn man groan, and him
sore with the hunger.

When at last she came out, Peter was not there.  He had gone out
silently, so silently that she wondered, and was scared.  She opened the
door very softly, and there he was, leaning on the rail fence between
their little rocky plot and the great river.  She closed the door
softly, and sat down.

There was a wide steaming space in the river, where the current ran too
swiftly for any ice to form.  Peter gazed on it for a long while. The
mist had a friendly look; he was soon reminded of the steam from an
immense bowl of mush!  It vexed him.  He looked up at the moon.  The
moon was certainly mocking him; dashing through light clouds, then
jumping into a wide, clear space, where it soon became motionless, and
mocked him steadily.

He had never known old John Pontiac to jeer any one, but there was his
face in that moon,—Peter made it out quite clearly.  He looked up the
road to where he could see, on the hill half a mile distant, the shimmer
of John Pontiac’s big tin-roofed house.  He thought he could make out
the outlines of all the buildings,—he knew them so well,—the big barn,
the stable, the smoke-house, the store-house for shanty supplies.

Pork barrels, flour barrels, herring kegs, syrup kegs, sides of frozen
beef, hams and flitches of bacon in the smoke-house, bags of beans,
chests of tea,—he had a vision of them all!  Teamsters going off to the
woods daily with provisions, the supply apparently inexhaustible.

And John Pontiac had refused to pay him fair wages!

Peter in exasperation shook his big fist at the moon; it mocked him
worse than ever. Then out went his gaze to the space of mist; it was
still more painfully like mush steam. His pigsty was empty, except of
snow; it made him think again of the empty barrels in the cabin.

The children empty too, or would be to-morrow,—as empty as he felt that
minute. How dumbly the elder ones would reproach him! and what would
comfort the younger ones crying with hunger?

Peter looked again up the hill, through the walls of the store-house.
He was dreadfully hungry.


"John!  John!"  Mrs. Pontiac jogged her husband. "John, wake up! there’s
somebody trying to get into the smoke-house."

"Eh—ugh—ah!  I’m ’sleep—ugh."  He relapsed again.

"John!  John! wake up!  There _is_ somebody!"

"What—ugh—eh—what you say?"

"There’s somebody getting into the smoke-house."

"Well, there’s not much there."

"There’s ever so much bacon and ham.  Then there’s the store-house
open."

"Oh, I guess there’s nobody."

"But there is, I’m sure.  You must get up!"

They both got up and looked out of the window.  The snow-drifts, the
paths through them, the storehouse, the smoke-house, and the other
white-washed out-buildings could be seen as clearly as in broad day.
The smoke-house door was open!

Old John Pontiac was one of the kindest souls that ever inhabited a
body, but this was a little too much.  Still he was sorry for the man,
no matter who, in that smoke-house,—some Indian probably.  He must be
caught and dealt with firmly; but he did not want the man to be too much
hurt.

He put on his clothes and sallied forth.  He reached the smoke-house;
there was no one in it; there was a gap, though, where two long flitches
of bacon _had_ been!

John Pontiac’s wife saw him go over to the store-house, the door of
which was open too. He looked in, then stopped, and started back as if
in horror.  Two flitches tied together with a rope were on the floor,
and inside was a man filling a bag with flour from a barrel.

"Well, well! this is a terrible thing," said old John Pontiac to
himself, shrinking around a corner.  "Peter McGrath!  Oh, my! oh, my!"

He became hot all over, as if he had done something disgraceful himself.
There was nobody that he respected more than that pig-headed Peter.
What to do?  He must punish him of course; but how?  Jail?—for him with
eleven children!  "Oh, my! oh, my!"  Old John wished he had not been
awakened to see this terrible downfall.

"It will never do to let him go off with it," he said to himself after a
little reflection.  "I’ll put him so that he’ll know better another
time."

Peter McGrath, as he entered the store-house, had felt that bacon
heavier than the heaviest end of the biggest stick of timber he had ever
helped to cant.  He felt guilty, sneaking, disgraced; he felt that the
literal Devil had first tempted him near the house, then all
suddenly—with his own hunger pangs and thoughts of his starving
family—swept him into the smoke-house to steal.  But he had consented to
do it; he had said he would take flour too,—and he would, he was so
obstinate!  And withal, he hated old John Pontiac worse than ever; for
now he accused him of being the cause of his coming to this.

Then all of a sudden he met the face of Pontiac looking in at the door.

Peter sprang back; he saw Stambrook jail—he saw his eleven children and
his wife—he felt himself a detected felon, and that was worst of all.

"Well, Peter, you’d ought to have come right in," were the words that
came to his ears, in John Pontiac’s heartiest voice.  "The missis would
have been glad to see you.  We did go to bed a bit early, but there
wouldn’t have been any harm in an old neighbor like you waking us up.
Not a word of that—hold on! listen to me.  It would be a pity if old
friends like you and me, Peter, couldn’t help one another to a trifling
loan of provisions without making a fuss over it."  And old John, taking
up the scoop, went on filling the bag as if that were a matter of
course.

Peter did not speak; he could not.

"I was going round to your place to-morrow," resumed John, cheerfully,
"to see if I couldn’t hire you again.  There’s a job of hewing for you
in the Conlonge shanty,—a man gone off sick.  But I can’t give more’n
twenty-two, or say twenty-three, seeing you’re an old neighbor.  What do
you say?"

Peter still said nothing; he was choking.

"You had better have a bit of something more than bacon and flour,
Peter," he went on, "and I’ll give you a hand to carry the truck home.
I guess your wife won’t mind seeing me with you; then she’ll know that
you’ve taken a job with me again, you see.  Come along and give me a
hand to hitch the mare up.  I’ll drive you down."

"Ah—ah—Boss—Boss!" spoke Peter then, with terrible gasps between.
"Boss—O, my God, Mr. Pontiac—I can’t never look you in the face again!"

"Peter McGrath—old neighbor,"—and John Pontiac laid his hand on the
shaking shoulder,—"I guess I know all about it; I guess I do.  Sometimes
a man is driven he don’t know how.  Now we will say no more about it.
I’ll load up, and you come right along with me. And mind, I’ll do the
talking to your wife."


Mary Ann McGrath was in a terrible frame of mind.  What had become of
Peter?

She had gone out to look down the road, and had been recalled by Number
Eleven’s crying. Number Ten then chimed in; Nine, too, awoke, and
determined to resume his privileges as an infant.  One after another
they got up and huddled around her—craving, craving,—all but the three
eldest, who had been well practised in the stoical philosophy by the
gradual decrease of their rations.  But these bounced up suddenly at the
sound of a grand jangle of bells.

Could it be?  Mr. Pontiac they had no doubt about; but was that real
bacon that he laid on the kitchen table?  Then a side of beef, a can of
tea; next a bag of flour, and again an actual keg of sirup.  Why, this
was almost incredible! And, last, he came in with an immense round loaf
of bread!  The children gathered about it; old John almost sickened with
sorrow for them, and hurrying out his jackknife, passed big hunks
around.

"Well, now, Mrs. McGrath," he said during these operations, "I don’t
hardly take it kindly of you and Peter not to have come up to an old
neighbor’s house before this for a bit of a loan. It’s well I met Peter
to-night.  Maybe he’d never have told me your troubles—not but what I
blame myself for not suspecting how it was a bit sooner.  I just made
him take a little loan for the present.  No, no; don’t be talking like
that!  Charity! tut! tut! it’s just an advance of wages.  I’ve got a job
for Peter; he’ll be on pay to-morrow again."

At that Mary Ann burst out crying again. "Oh, God bless you, Mr.
Pontiac! it’s a kind man you are!  May the saints be about your bed!"

With that she ran out to Peter, who still stood by the sleigh; she put
the baby in his arms, and clinging to her husband’s shoulder, cried more
and more.

And what did obstinate Peter McGrath do? Why, he cried, too, with gasps
and groans that seemed almost to kill him.

"Go in," he said; "go in, Mary Ann—go in—and kiss—the feet of him.
Yes—and the boards—he stands on.  You don’t know what he’s done—for me.
It’s broke I am—the bad heart of me—broke entirely—with the goodness of
him.  May the heavens be his bed!"

"Now, Mrs. McGrath," cried old John, "never you mind Peter; he’s a bit
light-headed to-night.  Come away in and get a bite for him. I’d like a
dish of tea myself before I go home."  Didn’t that touch on her Irish
hospitality bring her in quickly!

"Mind you this, Peter," said the old man, going out then, "don’t you be
troubling your wife with any little secrets about to-night; that’s
between you and me.  That’s all I ask of you."

Thus it comes about that to this day, when Peter McGrath’s fifteen
children have helped him to become a very prosperous farmer, his wife
does not quite understand the depth of worship with which he speaks of
old John Pontiac.

Mrs. Pontiac never knew the story of the night.

"Never mind who it was, Jane," John said, turning out the light, on
returning to bed, "except this,—it was a neighbor in sore trouble."

"Stealing—and you helped him!  Well, John, such a man as you are!"

"Jane, I don’t ever rightly know what kind of a man I might be, suppose
hunger was cruel on me, and on you, and all of us!  Let us bless God
that he’s saved us from the terriblest temptations, and thank him most
especially when he inclines our hearts—inclines our hearts—that’s all."



                       *SHINING CROSS OF RIGAUD*


                                  *I*


When Mini was a fortnight old his mother wrapped her head and shoulders
in her ragged shawl, snatched him from the family litter of straw, and,
with a volley of cautionary objurgations to his ten brothers and
sisters, strode angrily forth into the raw November weather. She went
down the hill to the edge of the broad, dark Ottawa, where thin slices
of ice were swashing together.  There sat a hopeless-looking little man
at the clumsy oars of a flat-bottomed boat.

"The little one’s feet are out," said the man.

"So much the better!  For what was another sent us?" cried Mini’s
mother.

"But the little one must be baptized," said the father, with mild
expostulation.

"Give him to me, then," and the man took off his own ragged coat.
Beneath it he had nothing except an equally ragged guernsey, and the
wind was keen.  The woman surrendered the child carelessly, and drawing
her shawl closer, sat frowning moodily in the stern. Mini’s father
wrapped him in the wretched garment, carefully laid the infant on the
pea-straw at his feet, and rowed wearily away.

They took him to the gray church on the farther shore, whose tall cross
glittered coldly in the wintry sun.  There Madame Lajeunesse, the
skilful washerwoman, angry to be taken so long from her tubs, and
Bonhomme Hamel, who never did anything but fish for _barbotes_, met
them.  These highly respectable connections of Mini’s mother had a
disdain for her inferior social status, and easily made it understood
that nothing but a Christian duty would have brought them out.  Where
else, indeed, could the friendless infant have found sponsors? It was
disgraceful, they remarked, that the custom of baptism at three days old
should have been violated.  While they answered for Mini’s spiritual
development he was quiet, neither crying nor smiling till the old priest
crossed his brow.  Then he smiled, and that, Bonhomme Hamel remarked,
was a blessed sign.

"Now he’s sure of heaven when he does die!" cried Mini’s mother, getting
home again, and tossed him down on the straw, for a conclusion to her
sentence.

But the child lived, as if by miracle.  Hunger, cold, dirt, abuse, still
left him a feeble vitality.  At six years old his big dark eyes wore so
sad a look that mothers of merry children often stopped to sigh over
him, frightening the child, for he did not understand sympathy.  So
unresponsive and dumb was he that they called him half-witted.  Three
babies younger than he had died by then, and the fourth was little
Angélique.  They said she would be very like Mini, and there was reason
why in her wretched infancy.  Mini’s was the only love she ever knew.
When she saw the sunny sky his weak arms carried her, and many a night
he drew over her the largest part of his deplorable coverings.  She,
too, was strangely silent.  For days long they lay together on the
straw, quietly suffering what they had known from the beginning.  It was
something near starvation.

When Mini was eight years old his mother sent him one day to beg food
from Madame Leclaire, whose servant she had been long ago.

"It’s Lucile’s Mini," said Madame, taking him to the door of the cosey
sitting-room, where Monsieur sat at _solitaire_.

"_Mon Dieu_, did one ever see such a child!" cried the retired notary.
"For the love of Heaven, feed him well, Marie, before you let him go!"

But Mini could scarcely eat.  He trembled at the sight of so much food,
and chose a crust as the only thing familiar.

"Eat, my poor child.  Have no fear," said Madame.

"But Angélique," said he.

"Angélique?  Is it the baby?"

"Yes, Madame, if I might have something for her."

"Poor little loving boy," said Madame, tears in her kind eyes.  But Mini
did not cry; he had known so many things so much sadder.

When Mini reached home his mother seized the basket.  Her wretched
children crowded around.  There were broken bread and meat in plenty.
"Here—here—and here!"  She distributed crusts, and chose a well-fleshed
bone for her own teeth.  Angélique could not walk, and did not cry, so
got nothing..  Mini, however, went to her with the tin pail before his
mother noticed it.

"Bring that back!" she shouted.

"Quick, baby!" cried Mini, holding it that Angélique might drink.  But
the baby was not quick enough.  Her mother seized the pail and tasted;
the milk was still almost warm. "Good," said she, reaching for her
shawl.

"For the love of God, mother!" cried Mini, "Madame said it was for
Angélique."  He knew too well what new milk would trade for.  The woman
laughed and flung on her shawl.

"Only a little, then; only a cupful," cried Mini, clutching her,
struggling weakly to restrain her.  "Only a little cupful for
Angélique."

"Give her bread!"  She struck him so that he reeled, and left the cabin.
_Then_ Mini cried, but not for the blow.

He placed a soft piece of bread and a thin shred of meat in Angélique’s
thin little hand, but she could not eat, she was so weak.  The elder
children sat quietly devouring their food, each ravenously eyeing that
of the others.  But there was so much that when the father came he also
could eat.  He, too, offered Angélique bread.  Then Mini lifted his hand
which held hers, and showed beneath the food she had refused.

"If she had milk!" said the boy.

"My God, if I could get some," groaned the man, and stopped as a
shuffling and tumbling was heard at the door.

"She is very drunk," said the man, without amazement.  He helped her in,
and, too far gone to abuse them, she soon lay heavily breathing near the
child she had murdered.

Mini woke in the pale morning thinking Angélique very cold in his arms,
and, behold, she was free from all the suffering forever.  So he _could_
not cry, though the mother wept when she awoke, and shrieked at his
tearlessness as hardhearted.

Little Angélique had been rowed across the great river for the last
time; night was come again, and Mini thought he must die; it could not
be that he should be made to live without Angélique!  Then a wondrous
thing seemed to happen.  Little Angélique had come back.  He could not
doubt it next morning, for, with the slowly lessening glow from the last
brands of fire had not her face appeared?—then her form?—and lo! she was
closely held in the arms of the mild Mother whom Mini knew from her
image in the church, only she smiled more sweetly now in the hut.
Little Angélique had learned to smile, too, which was most wonderful of
all to Mini.  In their heavenly looks was a meaning of which he felt
almost aware; a mysterious happiness was coming close and closer; with
the sense of ineffable touches near his brow, the boy dreamed.  Nothing
more did Mini know till his mother’s voice woke him in the morning.  He
sprang up with a cry of "Angélique," and gazed round upon the familiar
squalor.



                                  *II*


From the summit of Rigaud Mountain a mighty cross flashes sunlight all
over the great plain of Vaudreuil.  The devout _habitant_, ascending
from vale to hill-top in the county of Deux Montagnes, bends to the sign
he sees across the forest leagues away.  Far off on the brown Ottawa,
beyond the Cascades of Carillon and the Chute à Blondeau, the keen-eyed
_voyageur_ catches its gleam, and, for gladness to be nearing the
familiar mountain, more cheerily raises the _chanson_ he loves.  Near
St. Placide the early ploughman—while yet mist wreathes the fields and
before the native Rossignol has fairly begun his plaintive
flourishes—watches the high cross of Rigaud for the first glint that
shall tell him of the yet unrisen sun. The wayfarer marks his progress
by the bearing of that great cross, the hunter looks to it for an
unfailing landmark, the weatherwise farmer prognosticates from its
appearances. The old watch it dwindle from sight at evening with long
thoughts of the well-beloved vanished, who sighed to its vanishing
through vanished years; the dying turn to its beckoning radiance; happy
is the maiden for whose bridal it wears brightness; blessed is the child
thought to be that holds out tiny hands for the glittering cross as for
a star.  Even to the most worldly it often seems flinging beams of
heaven, and to all who love its shining that is a dark day when it
yields no reflection of immortal meaning.

To Mini the Cross of Rigaud had as yet been no more than an indistinct
glimmering, so far from it did he live and so dulled was he by his
sufferings.  It promised him no immortal joys, for how was he to
conceive of heaven except as a cessation of weariness, starvation, and
pain? Not till Angélique had come in the vision did he gain certainty
that in heaven she would smile on him always from the mild Mother’s
arms.  As days and weeks passed without that dream’s return, his
imagination was ever the more possessed by it.  Though the boy looked
frailer than ever, people often remarked with amazement how his eyes
wore some unspeakable happiness.

Now it happened that one sunny day after rain Mini became aware that his
eyes were fixed on the Cross of Rigaud.  He could not make out its form
distinctly, but it appeared to thrill toward him.  Under his intent
watching the misty cross seemed gradually to become the centre of such a
light as had enwrapped the figures of his dream.  While he gazed,
expecting his vision of the night to appear in broad day on the far
summit, the light extended, changed, rose aloft, assumed clear tints,
and shifted quickly to a great rainbow encircling the hill.

Mini believed it a token to him.  That Angélique had been there by the
cross the little dreamer doubted not, and the transfiguration to that
arch of glory had some meaning that his soul yearned to apprehend.  The
cross drew his thoughts miraculously; for days thereafter he dwelt with
its shining; more and more it was borne in on him that he could always
see dimly the outline of little Angélique’s face there; sometimes,
staring very steadily for minutes together, he could even believe that
she beckoned and smiled.

"Is Angélique really there, father?" he asked one day, looking toward
the hill-top.

"Yes, there," answered his father, thinking the boy meant heaven.

"I will go to her, then," said Mini to his heart.


Birds were not stirring when Mini stepped from the dark cabin into gray
dawn, with firm resolve to join Angélique on the summit.  The Ottawa,
with whose flow he went toward Rigaud, was solemnly shrouded in
motionless mist, which began to roll slowly during the first hour of his
journey.  Lifting, drifting, clinging, ever thinner and more pervaded by
sunlight, it was drawn away so that the unruffled flood reflected a sky
all blue when he had been two hours on the road.  But Mini took no note
of the river’s beauty.  His eyes were fixed on the cloudy hilltop,
beyond which the sun was climbing.  As yet he could see nothing of the
cross, nor of his vision; yet the world had never seemed so glad, nor
his heart so light with joy. _Habitants_, in their rattling _calèches_,
were amazed by the glow in the face of a boy so ragged and forlorn.
Some told afterward how they had half doubted the reality of his rags;
for might not one, if very pure at heart, have been privileged to see
such garments of apparent meanness change to raiment of angelic texture?
Such things had been, it was said, and certainly the boy’s face was a
marvel.

His look was ever upward to where fibrous clouds shifted slowly, or
packed to level bands of mist half concealing Rigaud Hill, as the sun
wheeled higher, till at last, in mid-sky, it flung rays that trembled on
the cross, and gradually revealed the holy sign outlined in upright and
arms.  Mini shivered with an awe of expectation; but no nimbus was
disclosed which his imagination could shape to glorious significance.
Yet he went rapturously onward, firm in the belief that up there he must
see Angèlique face to face.

As he journeyed the cross gradually lessened in height by disappearance
behind the nearer trees, till only a spot of light was left, which
suddenly was blotted out too.  Mini drew a deep breath, and became
conscious of the greatness of the hill,—a towering mass of brown rock,
half hidden by sombre pines and the delicate greenery of birch and
poplar.  But soon, because the cross was hidden, he could figure it all
the more gloriously, and entertain all the more luminously the belief
that there were heavenly presences awaiting him.  He pressed on with all
his speed, and began to ascend the mountain early in the afternoon.

"Higher," said the women gathering pearly-bloomed blueberries on the
steep hillside. "Higher," said the path, ever leading the tired boy
upward from plateau to plateau,—"higher, to the vision and the radiant
space about the shining cross!"

Faint with hunger, worn with fatigue, in the half-trance of physical
exhaustion, Mini still dragged himself upward through the afternoon. At
last he knew he stood on the summit level very near the cross.  There
the child, awed by the imminence of what he had sought, halted to
control the rapturous, fearful trembling of his heart.  Would not the
heavens surely open? What words would Angélique first say?  Then again
he went swiftly forward through the trees to the edge of the little
cleared space. There he stood dazed.

The cross was revealed to him at a few yards’ distance.  With woful
disillusionment Mini threw himself face downward on the rock, and wept
hopelessly, sorely; wept and wept, till his sobs became fainter than the
up-borne long notes of a hermit-thrush far below on the edge of the
plain.

A tall mast, with a shorter at right angles, both covered by tin
roofing-plates, held on by nails whence rust had run in streaks,—that
was the shining Cross of Rigaud!  Fragments of newspaper, crusts of
bread, empty tin cans, broken bottles, the relics of many picnics
scattered widely about the foot of the cross; rude initial letters cut
deeply into its butt where the tin had been torn away;—these had Mini
seen.

The boy ceased to move.  Shadows stole slowly lengthening over the
Vaudreuil champaign; the sun swooned down in a glamour of painted
clouds; dusk covered from sight the yellows and browns and greens of the
August fields; birds stilled with the deepening night; Rigaud Mountain
loomed from the plain, a dark long mass under a flying and waning moon;
stars came out from the deep spaces overhead, and still Mini lay where
he had wept.



                          *DOUR DAVIE’S DRIVE*


Pinnager was on snow-shoes, making a bee-line toward his field of
sawlogs dark on the ice of Wolverine River.  He crossed shanty roads,
trod heaps of brush, forced his way through the tops of felled pines,
jumped from little crags into seven feet of snow—Pinnager’s men called
him "a terror on snow-shoes."  They never knew the direction from which
he might come—an ignorance which kept them all busy with axe, saw,
cant-hook, and horses over the two square miles of forest comprising his
"cut."

It was "make or break" with Pinnager.  He had contracted to put on the
ice all the logs he might make; for every one left in the woods he must
pay stumpage and forfeit.  Now his axemen had done such wonders that
Pinnager’s difficulty was to get his logs hauled out.

Teams were scarce that winter.  The shanty was eighty miles from any
settlement; ordinary teamsters were not eager to work for a small
speculative jobber, who might or might not be able to pay in the spring.
But Pinnager had some extraordinary teamsters, sons of farmers who
neighbored him at home, and who were sure he would pay them, though he
should have to mortgage his land.

The time was late February; seven feet of snow, crusted, on the level; a
thaw might turn the whole forest floor to slush; but if the weather
should "hold hard" for six weeks longer, Pinnager might make and not
break. Yet the chances were heavily against him.

Any jobber so situated would feel vexed on hearing that one of his best
teams had suddenly been taken out of his service.  Pinnager, crossing a
shanty road with the stride of a moose, was hailed by Jamie Stuart with
the news:

"Hey, boss, hold on!  Davie McAndrews’ leg’s broke.  His load slewed at
the side hill—log catched him against a tree."

"Where is he?" shouted Pinnager furiously.

"Carried him to shanty."

"Where are his horses?"

"Stable."

"Tell Aleck Dunbar to go get them out.  He must take Davie’s
place—confound the lad’s carelessness!"

"Davie says no; won’t let any other man drive his horses."

"He won’t?  I’ll show him!" and Pinnager made a bee-line for his shanty.
He was choking with rage, all the more so because he knew that nothing
short of breaking Davie McAndrews’ neck would break Davie McAndrews’
stubbornness, a reflection that cooled Pinnager before he reached the
shanty.

The cook was busy about the caboose fire, getting supper for fifty-three
devourers, when Pinnager entered the low door, and made straight for one
of the double tier of dingy bunks.  There lay a youth of eighteen, with
an unusual pallor on his weather-beaten face, and more than the usual
sternness about his formidable jaw.

"What’s all this, Davie?  You sure the leg’s broke?  I’d ’a thought you
old enough to take care."

"You would?" said Davie grimly.  "And yourself not old enough to have
yon piece of road mended—you that was so often told about it!"

"When you knew it was bad, the more you should take care."

"And that’s true, Pinnager.  But no use in you and me choppin’ words.
I’m needing a doctor’s hands on me.  Can you set a bone?"

"No, I’ll not meddle with it.  Maybe Jock Scott can; but I’ll send you
out home.  A fine loss I’ll be at!  Confound it—and me like to break for
want of teams!"

"I’ve thocht o’ yer case, Pinnager," said Davie, with a curious judicial
air.  "It’s sore hard for ye; I ken that well.  There’s me and me
feyther’s horses gawn off, and you countin’ on us.  I feel for ye, so I
do.  But I’ll no put you to ony loss in sendin’ me out."

"Was you thinking to tough it through here, Davie?  No, you’ll not
chance it.  Anyway, the loss would be the same—more, too.  Why, if I
send out for the doctor, there’s a team off for full five days, and the
expense of the doctor! Then he mightn’t come.  Wow, no! it’s out you
must go."

"What else?" said Davie coolly.  "Would I lie here till spring and my
leg mendin’ into the Lord kens what-like shape?  Would I be lettin’ ony
ither drive the horses my feyther entrustit to my lone?  Would I be
dependin’ on Mr. Pinnager for keep, and me idle?  Man, I’d eat the
horses’ heads off that way; at home they’d be profit to my feyther.  So
it’s me and them that starts at gray the morn’s morn."

"Alone!" exclaimed Pinnager.

"Just that, man.  What for no?"

"You’re light-headed, Davie.  A lad with his leg broke can’t drive three
days."

"Maybe yes and maybe no.  I’m for it, onyhow."

"It may snow, it may——"

"Aye, or rain, or thaw, or hail; the Lord’s no in the habit o’ makin’
weather suit ony but himsel’.  But I’m gawn; the cost of a man wi’ me
would eat the wages ye’re owing my feyther."

"I’ll lose his team, anyhow," said Pinnager, "and me needing it bad.  A
driver with you could bring back the horses."

"Nay, my feyther will trust his beasts to nane but himsel’ or his sons.
But I’ll have yer case in mind, Pinnager; it’s a sore needcessity you’re
in.  I’ll ask my feyther to send back the team, and another to the tail
of it; it’s like that Tam and Neil will be home by now.  And I’ll spread
word how ye’re needin’ teams, Pinnager; it’s like your neighbors will
send ye in sax or eight spans."

"Man, that’s a grand notion, Davie!  But you can’t go alone; it’s clean
impossible."

"I’m gawn, Pinnager."

"You can’t turn out in seven feet of snow when you meet loading.  You
can’t water or feed your horses.  There’s forty miles the second day,
and never a stopping-place; your horses can’t stand it."

"I’m wae for the beasts, Pinnager; but they’ll have no force but to
travel dry and hungry if that’s set for them."

"You’re bound to go?"

"Div you tak’ me for an idjit to be talkin’ and no meanin’ it?  Off wi’
ye, man!  The leg’s no exactly a comfort when I’m talkin’."

"Why, Davie, it must be hurting you terrible!"  Pinnager had almost
forgotten the broken leg, such was Davie’s composure.

"It’s no exactly a comfort, I said.  Get you gone, Pinnager; your men
may be idlin’.  Get you gone, and send in Jock Scott, if he’s man enough
to handle my leg.  I’m wearyin’ just now for my ain company."

As Davie had made his programme, so it stood.  His will was inflexible
to protests. Next morning at dawn they set him on a hay-bed in his low,
unboxed sleigh.  A bag of oats supported his back; his unhurt leg was
braced against a piece of plank spiked down.  Jock Scott had pulled the
broken bones into what he thought their place, and tied that leg up in
splints of cedar.

The sleigh was enclosed by stakes, four on each side, all tied together
by stout rope.  The stake at Davie’s right hand was shortened, that he
might hang his reins there.  His water-bucket was tied to another stake,
and his bag of provisions to a third.  He was warm in a coon-skin coat,
and four pairs of blankets under or over him.

At the last moment Pinnager protested: "I must send a man to drive.  It
sha’n’t cost you a cent, Davie."

"Thank you, kindly, Pinnager," said Davie gravely.  "I’ll tell that to
your credit at the settlement.  But ye’re needin’ all your help, and I’d
take shame to worsen your chances. My feyther’s horses need no drivin’
but my word."

Indeed, they would "gee," "haw," or "whoa" like oxen, and loved his
voice.  Round-barrelled, deep-breathed, hardy, sure-footed, active,
gentle, enduring, brave, and used to the exigencies of "bush roads,"
they would take him through safely if horses’ wit could.

Davie had uttered never a groan after those involuntary ones forced from
him when the log, driving his leg against a tree, had made him almost
unconscious.  But the pain-sweat stood beaded on his face during the
torture of carrying him to the sleigh.  Not a sound from his lips,
though!  They could guess his sufferings from naught but his hard
breathing through the nose, that horrible sweat, and the iron set of his
jaw.  After they had placed him, the duller agony that had kept him
awake all night returned; he smiled grimly, and said, "That’s a
comfort."

He had eaten and drunk heartily; he seemed strong still; but what if his
sleigh should turn over at some sidling place of the rude, lonely, and
hilly forest road?

As Davie chirruped to his horses and was off, the men gave him a cheer;
then Pinnager and all went away to labor fit for mighty men, and the
swinging of axes and the crashing of huge pines and the tumbling of logs
from rollways left them fancy-free to wonder how Davie could ever brace
himself to save his broken leg at the cahots.

The terrible _cahots_—plunges in snow-roads! But for them Davie would
have suffered little more than in a shanty bunk.  The track was mostly
two smooth ruts separated by a ridge so high and hard that the
sleigh-bottom often slid on it.  Horses less sure-footed would have
staggered much, and bitten crossly at one another while trotting in
those deep, narrow ruts, but Davie’s horses kept their "jog" amiably,
tossing their heads with glee to be traveling toward home.

The clink of trace-chains, the clack of harness, the glide of runners on
the hard, dry snow, the snorting of the frosty-nosed team, the long
whirring of startled grouse—Davie heard only these sounds, and heard
them dreamily in the long, smooth flights between cahots.

Overhead the pine tops were a dark canopy with little fields of clear
blue seen through the rifts of green; on the forest floor small firs
bent under rounding weights of snow which often slid off as if moved by
the stir of partridge wings; the fine tracery of hemlocks stood clean;
and birches snuggled in snow that mingled with their curling rags.
Sometimes a breeze eddied downward in the aisles, and then all the
undergrowth was a silent commotion of snow, shaken and falling.  Davie’s
eyes noted all things unconsciously; in spite of his pain he felt the
enchantment of the winter woods until—another _cahot!_ he called his
team to walk.

Never was one _cahot_ without many in succession; he gripped his stake
hard at each, braced his sound leg, and held on, feeling like to die
with the horrible thrust of the broken one forward and then back; yet
always his will ordered his desperate senses.

Eleven o’clock!  Davie drew up before the half-breed Peter Whiteduck’s
midwood stopping-place, and briefly explained his situation.

"Give my horses a feed," he went on. "There’s oats in this bag.  I’ll no
be moved mysel’.  Maybe you’ll fetch me a tin of tea; I’ve got my own
provisions."  So he ate and drank in the zero weather.

"You’ll took lil’ drink of whiskey," said Peter, with commiseration, as
Davie was starting away.

"I don’t use it."

"You’ll got for need some ’fore you’ll see de Widow Green place.  Dass
twenty-tree mile."

"I will need it, then," said Davie, and was away.

Evening had closed in when the bunch of teamsters awaiting supper at
Widow Green’s rude inn heard sleigh-bells, and soon a shout outside:

"Come out, some one!"

That was an insolence in the teamsters’ code. Come out, indeed!  The
Widow Green, bustling about with fried pork, felt outraged.  To be
called out!—of her own house!—like a dog!—not she!

"Come out here, somebody!" Davie shouted again.

"G’ out and break his head one of you," said fighting Moses Frost.  "To
be shoutin’ like a lord!"  Moses was too great a personage to go out and
wreak vengeance on an unknown.

Narcisse Larocque went—to thrash anybody would be glory for Narcisse,
and he felt sure that Moses would not, in these circumstances, let
anybody thrash him.’

"What for you shout lak’ dat?  Call mans hout, hey?" said Narcisse.
"I’ll got good mind for broke your head, me!"

"Hi, there, men!"  Davie ignored Narcisse as he saw figures through the
open door. "Some white man come out.  My leg’s broke."

[Illustration: MY LEG IS BROKE]

Oh, then the up-jumping of big men!  Moses, striding forth, ruthlessly
shoved Narcisse, who lay and cowered with legs up as a dog trying to
placate an angry master.  Then Moses carried Davie in as gently as if
the young stalwart had been a girl baby, and laid him on the widow’s one
spare bed.

That night Davie slept soundly for four hours, and woke to consciousness
that his leg was greatly swollen.  He made no moan, but lay in the
darkness listening to the heavy breathing of the teamsters on the floor.
They could do nothing for him; why should he awaken them?  As for
pitying himself, Davie could do nothing so fruitless.  He fell to plans
for getting teams in to Pinnager, for this young Scot’s practical mind
was horrified at the thought that the man should fail financially when
ten horses might give him a fine profit for his winter’s work.

Davie was away at dawn, every slight jolt giving his swollen leg pain
almost unendurable, as if edges of living bone were griding together and
also tearing cavities in the living flesh; but he must endure it, and
well too, for the teamsters had warned him he must meet "strings of
loadin’" this day.

The rule of the long one-tracked road into the wilderness is, of course,
that empty outgoing sleighs shall turn out for incoming laden ones.
Turn out into seven feet of snow!  Davie trusted that incoming teamsters
would handle his floundering horses, and he set his mind to plan how
they might save him from tumbling about on his turned-out sleigh.

About nine o’clock, on a winding road, he called, "Whoa!" and his bays
stood.  A sleigh piled with baled hay confronted him thirty yards
distant.  Four others followed closely; the load drawn by the sixth team
was hidden by the woodland curve.  No teamsters were visible; they must
be walking behind the procession; and Davie wasted no strength in
shouting.  On came the laden teams, till the steam of the leaders
mingled with the clouds blown by his bays.  At that halt angry
teamsters, yelling, ran forward and sprang, one by one, up on their
loads, the last to grasp reins being the leading driver.

"Turn out, you fool!" he shouted.  Then to his comrades behind, "There’s
a blamed idyit don’t know enough to turn out for loading!"

Davie said nothing.  It was not till one angry man was at his horses’
heads and two more about to tumble his sleigh aside that he spoke:

"My leg is broke."

"Gah!  G’way!  A man driving with his leg broke!  You’re lying!  Come,
get out and tramp down snow for your horses!  It’s your back ought to be
broke—stoppin’ loadin’!"

"My leg is broke," Davie calmly insisted.

"You mean it?"

Davie threw off his blankets.

"Begor, it is broke!"  "And him drivin’ himself!"  "It’s a terror!"
"Great spunk entirely!"  Then the teamsters began planning to clear the
way.

That was soon settled by Davie’s directions: "Tramp down the crust for
my horses; onhitch them; lift my sleigh out on the crust; pass on; then
set me back on the road."

Half an hour was consumed by the operation—thrice repeated before twelve
o’clock. Fortunately Davie came on the last "string" of teams halted for
lunch by the edge of a lake. The teamsters fed and watered his horses,
gave him hot tea, and with great admiration saw him start for an
afternoon drive of twenty-two miles.

"You’ll not likely meet any teams," they said.  "The last of the
’loading’ that’s like to come in soon is with ourselves."

How Davie got down the hills, up the hills, across the rivers and over
the lakes of that terrible afternoon he could never rightly tell.

"I’m thinkin’ I was light-heided," he said afterward.  "The notion was
in me somehow that the Lord was lookin’ to me to save Pinnager’s bits of
children.  I’d waken out of it at the _cahots_—there was mair than
enough.  On the smooth my head would be strange-like, and I mind but the
hinder end of my horses till the moon was high and me stoppit by
McGraw’s."

During the night at McGraw’s his head was cleared by some hours of sound
sleep, and next morning he insisted on traveling, though snow was
falling heavily.

"My feyther’s place is no more than a bittock ayont twenty-eight miles,"
he said.  "I’ll make it by three of the clock, if the Lord’s willin’,
and get the doctor’s hands on me.  It’s my leg I’m thinkin’ of savin’.
And mind ye, McGraw, you’ve promised me to send in your team to
Pinnager."

Perhaps people who have never risen out of bitter poverty will not
understand Davie’s keen anxiety about Pinnager and Pinnager’s children;
but the McAndrews and Pinnagers and all their neighbors of "the Scotch
settlement" had won up by the tenacious labor and thrift of many years.
Davie remembered well how, in his early boyhood, he had often craved
more food and covering.  Pinnager and his family should not be thrown
back into the gulf of poverty if Davie McAndrews’ will could save them.

This day his road lay through a country thinly settled, but he could see
few cabins through the driving storm.  The flagging horses trotted
steadily, as if aware that the road would become worse the longer they
were on it, but about ten o’clock they inclined to stop where Davie
could dimly see a long house and a shed with a team and sleigh standing
in it. Drunken yells told him this must be Black Donald Donaldson’s
notorious tavern; so he chirruped his horses onward.

Ten minutes later yells and sleigh-bells were following him at a furious
pace.  Davie turned head and shouted; still the drunken men shrieked and
came on.  He looked for a place to turn out—none!  He dared not stop his
horses lest the gallopers, now close behind him, should be over him and
his low sleigh.  Now his team broke into a run at the noises, but the
fresh horses behind sped faster.  The men were hidden from Davie by
their crazed horses.  He could not rise to appeal; he could not turn to
daunt the horses with his whip; their front-hoofs, rising high, were
soon within twenty feet of him.  Did his horses slacken, the others
would be on top of him, kicking and tumbling.

The _cahots_ were numerous; his yells for a halt became so much like
screams of agony that he took shame of them, shut his mouth firmly, and
knew not what to do.  Then suddenly his horses swerved into the
cross-road to the Scotch settlement, while the drunkards galloped away
on the main road, still lashing and yelling. Davie does not know to this
day who the men were.

Five hours later David McAndrews, the elder, kept at home by the
snowstorm, heard bells in his lane, and looked curiously out of the
sitting-room window.

"Losh, Janet!" he said, most deliberately. "I wasna expeckin’ Davie;
here he’s back wi’ the bays."

He did not hurry out to meet his fourth son, for he is a man who hates
the appearance of haste; but his wife did, and came rushing back through
the kitchen.

"It’s Davie himsel’!  He’s back wi’ his leg broke!  He’s come a’ the way
by his lone!"

"Hoot-toot, woman!  Ye’re daft!"

"I’m no daft; come and see yoursel’.  Wae’s me, my Davie’s like to die!
Me daft, indeed! Ye’ll need to send Neil straight awa’ to the village
for Doctor Aberdeen."

And so dour Davie’s long drive was past. While his brother carried him
in, his will was occupied with the torture, but he had scarcely been
laid on his bed when he said, very respectfully—but faintly—to his
father:

"You’ll be sendin’ Neil oot for the doctor, sir?  Aye; then I’d be
thankfu’ if you’d give Aleck leave to tak’ the grays and warn the
settlement that Pinnager’s needin’ teams sorely. He’s like to make or
break; if he gets sax or eight spans in time he’s a made man."

That was enough for the men of the Scotch settlement.  Pinnager got all
the help he needed; and yet he is far from as rich to-day as Davie
McAndrews, the great Brazeau River lumberman, who walks a little lame of
his left leg.



                          *PETHERICK’S PERIL*


Each story of the Shelton Cotton Factory is fifteen feet between floors;
there are seven such over the basement, and this rises six feet above
the ground.  The brick walls narrow to eight inches as they ascend, and
form a parapet rising above the roof.  One of the time-keepers of the
factory, Jack Hardy, a young man about my own age, often runs along the
brick-work, the practice giving him a singular delight that has seemed
to increase with his proficiency in it.  Having been a clerk in the
works from the beginning, I have frequently used the parapet for a
footpath, and although there was a sheer fall of one hundred feet to the
ground, have done it with ease and without dizziness.  Occasionally
Hardy and I have run races, on the opposite walls, an exercise in which
he invariably beats me, because I become timid with increase of pace.

Hopelessly distanced last Wednesday, while the men were off at noon, I
gave up midway, and looking down, observed the upturned face of an old
man gazing at me with parted lips, wide eyes, and an expression of
horror so startling that I involuntarily stepped down to the
bricklayer’s platform inside.  I then saw that the apparently frightened
spectator was Mr. Petherick, who had been for some weeks paymaster and
factotum for the contractors.

"What’s the matter, Petherick?" I called down.  He made no answer, but
walking off rapidly, disappeared round the mill.  Curious about his
demeanor, I descended, and after some little seeking found him smoking
alone.

"You quite frightened me just now, Petherick," said I.  "Did you think I
was a ghost?"

"Not just that," he replied.

"Did you expect me to fall, then?"

"Not just that, either," said he.  The old man was clearly disinclined
to talk, and apparently much agitated.  I began to joke him about his
lugubrious expression, when the one o’clock bell rang, and he shuffled
off hastily to another quarter.

Though I puzzled awhile over the incident, it soon passed so entirely
from my mind that I was surprised when, passing Petherick in the
afternoon, and intending to go aloft, he said, as I went by:

"Don’t do it again, Mr. Frazer!"

"What?" I stopped.

"That!" he retorted.

"Oh!  You mean running on the wall," said I.

"I mean going on it at all!" he exclaimed. His earnestness was so marked
that I conceived a strong interest in its cause.

"I’ll make a bargain with you, Mr. Petherick. If you tell me why you
advise me, I’ll give the thing up!"

"Done!" said he.  "Come to my cottage this evening, and I’ll tell you a
strange adventure of my own, though perhaps you’ll only laugh that it’s
the reason why it sickens me to see you fooling up there."

Petherick was ready to talk when Jack and I sat down on his doorsteps
that evening, and immediately launched into the following narrative:


I was born and grew to manhood near the highest cliffs of the Polvydd
coast.  Millions of sea-fowls make their nests along the face of those
wave-worn precipices.  My companions and I used to get much excitement,
and sometimes a good deal of pocket money, by taking their eggs.  One of
us, placing his feet in a loop at the end of a rope and taking a good
grip with his hands, would be lowered by the others to the nest.  When
he had his basket full they’d haul him up and another would go down.

Well, one afternoon I thus went dangling off.  They paid out about a
hundred feet of rope before I touched the ledge and let go.

You must know that most of the cliffs along that coast overhang the
water.  At many points one could drop six hundred feet into the sea, and
then be forty or fifty feet from the base of the rock he left.  The
coast is scooped under by the waves, and in some places the cliff wall
is as though it had been eaten away by seas once running in on higher
levels.  There will be an overhanging coping, then—some hundred feet
down—a ledge sticking out farther than that of the top; under that ledge
all will be scooped away.  In some places there are three or four such
ledges, each projecting farther than those above.

These ledges used to fall away occasionally, as they do yet, I am told,
for the ocean is gradually devouring that coast.  Where they did not
project farther than the upper coping, the egg-gatherer would swing like
a pendulum on the rope, and get on the rock, if not too far in, then put
a rock on the loop to hold it till his return.  When a ledge did project
so that one could drop straight on it, he hauled down some slack and
left the rope hanging.  Did the wind never blow it off?  Seldom, and
never out of reach.

Well, the ledge I reached was like this.  It was some ten feet wide; it
stuck out maybe six feet farther than the cliff top; the rock wall went
up pretty near perpendicular, till near the coping at the ground; but
below the ledge, the cliff’s face was so scooped away that the sea, five
hundred feet below, ran in under it nigh fifty feet.

As I went down, thousands of birds rose from the jagged places of the
precipice, circling around me with harsh screams.  Soon touching the
ledge, I stepped from the loop, and drawing down a little slack, walked
off briskly.  For fully a quarter of a mile the ledge ran along the
cliff’s face almost as level and even in width as that sidewalk.  I
remember fancying that it sloped outward more than usual, but instantly
dismissed the notion, though Gaffer Pentreath, the oldest man in that
countryside, used to tell us that we should not get the use of that
ledge always.  It had been as steady in our time as in his
grandfather’s, and we only laughed at his prophecies. Yet the place of
an old filled fissure was marked by a line of grass, by tufts of weeds
and small bushes, stretching almost as far as the ledge itself, and
within a foot or so of the cliff’s face.

Eggs were not so many as usual, and I went a long piece from my rope
before turning back. Then I noticed the very strange conduct of the
hosts of sea-fowls below.  Usually there were hundreds, but now there
were millions on the wing, and instead of darting forth in playful
motions, they seemed to be wildly excited, screaming shrilly, rushing
out as in terror, and returning in masses as though to alight, only to
wheel in dread and keep the air in vast clouds.

The weather was beautiful, the sea like glass. At no great distance were
two large brigs and, nearer, a small yacht lay becalmed, heaving on the
long billows.  I could look down her cabin stairway almost, and it
seemed scarcely more than a long leap to her deck.

Puzzled by the singular conduct of the sea-birds, I soon stopped and set
my back against the cliff, to rest while watching them.  The day was
deadly still and very warm.

I remember taking off my cap and wiping the sweat from my face and
forehead with my sleeve.  While doing this, I looked down involuntarily
to the fissure at my feet.  Instantly my blood almost froze with horror!
There was a distinct crack between the inner edge of the fissure and the
hard-packed, root-threaded soil with which it was filled!  Forcibly I
pressed back, and in a flash looked along the ledge.  The fissure was
widening under my eyes, the rock before me seemed sinking outward, and
with a shudder and a groan and roar, the whole long platform fell
crashing to the sea below!  I stood on a margin of rock scarce a foot
wide, at my back a perpendicular cliff, and, five hundred feet below,
the ocean, now almost hidden by the vast concourse of wheeling and
affrighted birds.

Can you believe that my first sensation was one of relief?  I stood
safe!  Even a feeling of interest held me for some moments.  Almost
coolly I observed a long and mighty wave roll out from beneath.  It went
forth with a high, curling crest—a solid wall of water!  It struck the
yacht stern on, plunged down on her deck, smashed through her swell of
sail, and swept her out of sight forever.

Not till then did my thoughts dwell entirely on my own position; not
till then did I comprehend its hopelessness!  Now my eyes closed
convulsively, to shut out the abyss down which my glance had fallen;
shuddering, I pressed hard against the solid wall at my back; an
appalling cold slowly crept through me.  My reason struggled against a
wild desire to leap; all the demons of despair whispered me to make an
instant end.  In imagination I _had_ leaped!  I felt the swooning
helplessness of failing and the cold, upward rush of air!

Still I pressed hard back against the wall of rock, and though nearly
faint from terror, never forgot for an instant the death at my feet, nor
the utter danger of the slightest motion.  How long this weakness lasted
I know not; I only know that the unspeakable horror of that first period
has come to me in waking dreams many and many a day since; that I have
long nights of that deadly fear; that to think of the past is to stand
again on that narrow foothold; and to look around on the earth is often
to cry out with joy that it widens away from my feet.

(The old man paused long.  Glancing sidewise at Jack, I saw that his
face was pallid.  I myself had shuddered and grown cold, so strongly had
my imagination realized the awful experience that Petherick described.
At length he resumed his story:)

Suddenly these words flashed to my brain: "Are not two sparrows sold for
a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your
Father.  Fear not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows."
My faculties were so strained that I seemed to hear the words.  Indeed,
often yet I think that I did truly hear a voice utter them very near me.

Instantly hope arose, consciously desperate indeed; but I became calm,
resourceful, capable, and felt unaccountably aided.  Careful not to look
down, I opened my eyes and gazed far away over the bright sea.  The
rippled billows told that a light outward breeze had sprung up. Slowly,
and somewhat more distant, the two brigs moved toward the horizon.
Turning my head, I could trace the narrow stone of my footing to where
my rope dangled, perhaps three hundred yards distant.

It seemed to hang within easy reach of the cliff’s face, and instantly I
resolved and as instantly proceeded to work toward it.  No time remained
for hesitation.  Night was coming on.  I reasoned that my comrades
thought me killed.  They had probably gone to view the new condition of
the precipice from a lower station, and on their return would haul up
and carry off the rope.  I made a move toward it. Try to think of that
journey!

Shuffling sidewise very carefully, I had not made five yards before I
knew that I could not continue to look out over that abyss without
glancing down, and that I could not glance down without losing my
senses.  You have the brick line to keep eyes on as you walk along the
factory wall; do you think you could move along it erect, looking down
as you would have to?  Yet it is only one hundred feet high. Imagine
five more such walls on top of that and you trying to move
sidewise—incapable of closing your eyes, forced to look down, from end
to end, yes, three times farther!  Imagine you’ve got to go on or jump
off!  Would you not, in an ecstasy of nervous agitation, fall to your
knees, get down face first at full length, clutch by your hands, and
with your shut eyes feel your way?  I longed to lie down and hold, but
of course that was impossible.

The fact that there was a wall at my back made it worse!  The cliff
seemed to press outward against me.  It did, in fact, incline very
slightly outward.  It seemed to be thrusting me off.  Oh, the horror of
that sensation!  Your toes on the edge of a precipice, and the
implacable, calm mountain apparently weighting you slowly forward.

(Beads of sweat poured out over his white face at the horror he had
called before him. Wiping his lips nervously with the back of his hand,
and looking askant, as at the narrow pathway, he paused long.  I saw its
cruel edge and the dark gleams of its abysmal water.)

I knew that with my back to the wall I could never reach the rope.  I
could not face toward it and step forward, so narrow was the ledge.
Motion was perhaps barely possible that way, but the breadth of my
shoulders would have forced me to lean somewhat more outward, and this I
dared not and could not do.  Also, to see a solid surface before me
became an irresistible desire.  I resolved to try to turn round before
resuming the desperate journey.  To do this I had to nerve myself for
one steady look at my footing.

In the depths below the myriad sea-fowl then rested on the black water,
which, though swelling more with the rising wind, had yet an unbroken
surface at some little distance from the precipice, while farther out it
had begun to jump to whitecaps, and in beneath me, where I could not
see, it dashed and churned with a faint, pervading roar that I could
barely distinguish.  Before the descending sun a heavy bank of cloud had
risen.  The ocean’s surface bore that appearance of intense and angry
gloom that often heralds a storm, but, save the deep murmur going out
from far below my perch, all to my hearing was deadly still.

Cautiously I swung my right foot before the other and carefully edged
around.  For an instant as my shoulder rubbed up against the rock, I
felt that I must fall.  I did stagger, in fact, but the next moment
stood firm, face to the beetling cliff, my heels on the very edge, and
the new sensation of the abyss behind me no less horrible than that from
which I had with such difficulty escaped.  I stood quaking. A delirious
horror thrilled every nerve.  The skin about my ears and neck, suddenly
cold, shrank convulsively.

Wild with fear, I thrust forward my head against the rock and rested in
agony.  A whir and wind of sudden wings made me conscious of outward
things again.  Then a mad eagerness to climb swept away other feeling,
and my hands attempted in vain to clutch the rock. Not daring to cast my
head backward, I drew it tortoise-like between my raised shoulders, and
chin against the precipice, gazed upward with straining of vision from
under my eyebrows.

Far above me the dead wall stretched.  Sidewise glances gave me glimpses
of the projecting summit coping.  There was no hope in that direction.
But the distraction of scanning the cliff-side had given my nerves some
relief; to my memory again returned the promise of the Almighty and the
consciousness of his regard. Once more my muscles became firm-strung.

A cautious step sidewise made me know how much I had gained in ease and
security of motion by the change of front.  I made progress that seemed
almost rapid for some rods, and even had exultation in my quick approach
to the rope.  Hence came freedom to think how I should act on reaching
it, and speculation as to how soon my comrades would haul me up.

Then the idea rushed through me that they might even yet draw it away
too soon, that while almost in my clutch it might rise from my hands.
Instantly all the terrors of my position returned with tenfold force; an
outward thrust of the precipice seemed to grow distinct, my trembling
hands told me that it moved bodily toward me; the descent behind me took
an unspeakable remoteness, and from the utmost depth of that sheer air
seemed to ascend steadily a deadly and a chilling wind.  But I think I
did not stop for an instant.  Instead a delirium to move faster
possessed me, and with quick, sidelong steps—my following foot striking
hard against that before—sometimes on the point of stumbling, stretched
out like the crucified, I pressed in mortal terror along.

Every possible accident and delay was presented to my excited brain.
What if the ledge should narrow suddenly to nothing?  Now I believed
that my heels were unsupported in air, and I moved along on tip-toe.
Now I was convinced that the narrow pathway sloped outward, that this
slope had become so distinct, so increasingly distinct, that I might at
any moment slip off into the void.  But dominating every consideration
of possible disaster was still that of the need for speed, and distinct
amid all other terrors was that sensation of the dead wall ever silently
and inexorably pressing me outward.

My mouth and throat were choked with dryness, my convulsive lips parched
and arid; much I longed to press them against the cold, moist stone.
But I never stopped.  Faster, faster, more wildly I stepped—in a frenzy
I pushed along.  Then suddenly before my staring eyes was a
well-remembered edge of mossy stone, and I knew that the rope should be
directly behind me.  Was it?

I glanced over my left shoulder.  The rope was not to be seen!  Wildly I
looked over the other—no rope!  Almighty God! and hast thou deserted me?

But what!  Yes, it moves, it sways in sight! it disappears—to return
again to view!  There was the rope directly at my back, swinging in the
now strong breeze with a motion that had carried it away from my first
hurried glances. With the relief tears pressed to my eyes and, face
bowed to the precipice, almost forgetful for a little time of the hungry
air beneath, I offered deep thanks to my God for the deliverance that
seemed so near.

(The old man’s lips continued to move, but no sound came from them.  We
waited silent while, with closed eyes and bent head, he remained
absorbed in the recollection of that strange minute of devoutness.  It
was some moments before he spoke again:)

I stood there for what now seems a space of hours, perhaps half a minute
in reality.  Then all the chances still to be run crowded upon me. To
turn around had been an attempt almost desperate, before, and certainty,
most certainly, the ledge was no wider where I now stood. Was the rope
within reach?  I feared not. Would it sway toward me?  I could hope for
that.

But could I grasp it should I be saved? Would it not yield to my hand,
coming slowly down as I pulled, unrolling from a coil above, trailing
over the ground at the top, running fast as its end approached the edge,
falling suddenly at last?  Or was it fastened to the accustomed stake?
Was any comrade near who would summon aid at my signal?  If not, and if
I grasped it, and if it held, how long should I swing in the wind that
now bore the freshness and tremors of an imminent gale?

Again fear took hold of me, and as a desperate man I prepared to turn my
face once more to the vast expanse of water and the nothing beyond that
awful cliff.  Closing my eyes, I writhed around with I know not what
motions till again my back pressed the cliff.  That was a restful
sensation.  And now for the decision of my fate!  I looked at the rope.
Not for a moment could I fancy it within my reach!  Its sidewise
swayings were not, as I had expected, even slightly inward—indeed when
it fell back against the wind it swung outward as though the air were
eddying from the wall.

Now at last I gazed down steadily.  Would a leap be certain death?  The
water was of immense depth below.  But what chance of striking it feet
or head first?  What chance of preserving consciousness in the descent?
No, the leap would be death; that at least was clear.

Again I turned to the rope.  I was now perfectly desperate, but steady,
nerved beyond the best moments of my life, good for an effort surpassing
the human.  Still the rope swayed as before, and its motion was very
regular.  I saw that I could touch it at any point of its gyration by a
strong leap.

But could I grasp it?  What use if it were not firmly secured above?
But all time for hesitation had gone by.  I knew too well that strength
was mine but for a moment, and that in the next reaction of weakness I
should drop from the wall like a dead fly.  Bracing myself, I watched
the rope steadily for one round, and as it returned against the wind,
jumped straight out over the heaving Atlantic.

By God’s aid I reached, touched, clutched, held the strong line.  And it
held!  Not absolutely.  Once, twice, and again, it gave, gave, with
jerks that tried my arms.  I knew these indicated but tightening.  Then
it held firm and I swung turning in the air, secure above the waves that
beat below.

To slide down and place my feet in the loop was the instinctive work of
a moment. Fortunately it was of dimensions to admit my body barely.  I
slipped it over my thighs up to my armpits just as the dreaded reaction
of weakness came.  Then I lost consciousness.

When I awakened my dear mother’s face was beside my pillow, and she told
me that I had been tossing for a fortnight in brain fever. Many weeks I
lay there, and when I got strong found that I had left my nerve on that
awful cliff-side.  Never since have I been able to look from a height or
see any other human being on one without shuddering.

So now you know the story, Mr. Frazer, and have had your last walk on
the factory wall.


He spoke truer than he knew.  His story has given me such horrible
nightmares ever since that I could no more walk on the high brickwork
than along that narrow ledge of the distant Polvydd coast.



                           *LITTLE BAPTISTE*


                             *OTTAWA RIVER*


Ma’ame Baptiste Larocque peered again into her cupboard and her flour
barrel, as though she might have been mistaken in her inspection twenty
minutes earlier.

"No, there is nothing, nothing at all!" said she to her old
mother-in-law.  "And no more trust at the store.  Monsieur Conolly was
too cross when I went for corn-meal yesterday. For sure, Baptiste stays
very long at the shanty this year."

"Fear nothing, Delima," answered the bright-eyed old woman.  "The good
God will send a breakfast for the little ones, and for us. In seventy
years I do not know Him to fail once, my daughter.  Baptiste may be back
to-morrow, and with more money for staying so long.  No, no; fear not,
Delima!  _Le bon Dieu_ manages all for the best."

"That is true; for so I have heard always," answered Delima, with
conviction; "but sometimes _le bon Dieu_ requires one’s inside to pray
very loud.  Certainly I trust, like you, _Memere_; but it would be
pleasant if He would send the food the day before."

"Ah, you are too anxious, like little Baptiste here," and the old woman
glanced at the boy sitting by the cradle.  "Young folks did not talk so
when I was little.  Then we did not think there was danger in trusting
_Monsieur le Curé_ when he told us to take no heed of the morrow.  But
now! to hear them talk, one might think they had never heard of _le bon
Dieu_.  The young people think too much, for sure.  Trust in the good
God, I say.  Breakfast and dinner and supper too we shall all have
to-morrow."

"Yes, _Memere_," replied the boy, who was called little Baptiste to
distinguish him from his father.  "_Le bon Dieu_ will send an excellent
breakfast, sure enough.  If I get up very early, and find some good
_doré_ (pickerel) and catfish on the night-line.  But if I did not bait
the hooks, what then?  Well, I hope there will be more to-morrow than
this morning, anyway."

"There were enough," said the old woman, severely.  "Have we not had
plenty all day, Delima?"

Delima made no answer.  She was in doubt about the plenty which her
mother-in-law spoke of.  She wondered whether small André and Odillon
and ’Toinette, whose heavy breathing she could hear through the thin
partition, would have been sleeping so peacefully had little Baptiste
not divided his share among them at supper-time, with the excuse that he
did not feel very well?

Delima was young yet,—though little Baptiste was such a big boy,—and
would have rested fully on the positively expressed trust of her
mother-in-law, in spite of the empty flour barrel, if she had not
suspected little Baptiste of sitting there hungry.

However, he was such a strange boy, she soon reflected, that perhaps
going empty did not make him feel bad!  Little Baptiste was so decided
in his ways, made what in others would have been sacrifices so much as a
matter of course, and was so much disgusted on being offered credit or
sympathy in consequence, that his mother, not being able to understand
him, was not a little afraid of him.

He was not very formidable in appearance, however, that clumsy boy of
fourteen or so, whose big freckled, good face was now bent over the
cradle where _la petite_ Seraphine lay smiling in her sleep, with soft
little fingers clutched round his rough one.

"For sure," said Delima, observing the baby’s smile, "the good angels
are very near. I wonder what they are telling her?"

"Something about her father, of course; for so I have always heard it is
when the infants smile in sleep," answered the old woman.

Little Baptiste rose impatiently and went into the sleeping-room.  Often
the simplicity and sentimentality of his mother and grandmother gave him
strange pangs at heart; they seemed to be the children, while he felt
very old.  They were always looking for wonderful things to happen, and
expecting the saints and _le bon Dieu_ to help the family out of
difficulties that little Baptiste saw no way of overcoming without the
work which was then so hard to get. His mother’s remark about the angels
talking to little Seraphine pained him so much that he would have cried
had he not felt compelled to be very much of a man during his father’s
absence.

If he had been asked to name the spirit hovering about, he would have
mentioned a very wicked one as personified in John Conolly, the village
storekeeper, the vampire of the little hamlet a quarter of a mile
distant.  Conolly owned the tavern too, and a sawmill up river, and
altogether was a very rich, powerful, and dreadful person in little
Baptiste’s view. Worst of all, he practically owned the cabin and lot of
the Larocques, for he had made big Baptiste give him a bill of sale of
the place as security for groceries to be advanced to the family while
its head was away in the shanty; and that afternoon Conolly had said to
little Baptiste that the credit had been exhausted, and more.

"No; you can’t get any pork," said the storekeeper.  "Don’t your mother
know that, after me sending her away when she wanted corn-meal
yesterday?  Tell her she don’t get another cent’s worth here."

"For why not?  My fader always he pay," said the indignant boy, trying
to talk English.

"Yes, indeed!  Well, he ain’t paid this time. How do I know what’s
happened to him, as he ain’t back from the shanty?  Tell you what: I’m
going to turn you all out if your mother don’t pay rent in advance for
the shanty to-morrow,—four dollars a month."

"What you talkin’ so for?  We doan’ goin’ pay no rent for our own
house!"

"You doan’ goin’ to own no house," answered Conolly, mimicking the boy.
"The house is mine any time I like to say so.  If the store bill ain’t
paid to-night, out you go to-morrow, or else pay rent.  Tell your mother
that for me.  Mosey off now.  ’_Marche, donc!_’ There’s no other way."

Little Baptiste had not told his mother of this terrible threat, for
what was the use?  She had no money.  He knew that she would begin
weeping and wailing, with small André and Odillon as a puzzled, excited
chorus, with ’Toinette and Seraphine adding those baby cries that made
little Baptiste want to cry himself; with his grandmother steadily
advising, in the din, that patient trust in _le bon Dieu_ which he could
not always entertain, though he felt very wretched that he could not.

Moreover, he desired to spare his mother and grandmother as long as
possible.  "Let them have their good night’s sleep," said he to himself,
with such thoughtfulness and pity as a merchant might feel in concealing
imminent bankruptcy from his family.  He knew there was but one chance
remaining,—that his father might come home during the night or next
morning, with his winter’s wages.

Big Baptiste had "gone up" for Rewbell the jobber; had gone in November,
to make logs in the distant Petawawa woods, and now the month was May.
The "very magnificent" pig he had salted down before going away had been
eaten long ago.  My! what a time it seemed now to little Baptiste since
that pig-killing! How good the _boudin_ (the blood-puddings) had been,
and the liver and tender bits, and what a joyful time they had had!  The
barrelful of salted pike and catfish was all gone too,—which made the
fact that fish were not biting well this year very sad indeed.

Now on top of all these troubles this new danger of being turned out on
the roadside! For where are they to get four dollars, or two, or one
even, to stave Conolly off?  Certainly his father was away too long; but
surely, surely, thought the boy, he would get back in time to save his
home!  Then he remembered with horror, and a feeling of being disloyal
to his father for remembering, that terrible day, three years before,
when big Baptiste had come back from his winter’s work drunk, and
without a dollar, having been robbed while on a spree in Ottawa. If that
were the reason of his father’s delay now, ah, then there would be no
hope, unless _le bon Dieu_ should indeed work a miracle for them!

While the boy thought over the situation with fear, his grandmother went
to her bed, and soon afterward Delima took the little Seraphine’s cradle
into the sleeping-room.  That left little Baptiste so lonely that he
could not sit still; nor did he see any use of going to lie awake in bed
by André and Odillon.

So he left the cabin softly, and reaching the river with a few steps,
pushed off his flat-bottomed boat, and was carried smartly up stream by
the shore eddy.  It soon gave him to the current, and then he drifted
idly down under the bright moon, listening to the roar of the long
rapid, near the foot of which their cabin stood.  Then he took to his
oars, and rowed to the end of his night-line, tied to the wharf. He had
an unusual fear that it might be gone, but found it all right, stretched
taut; a slender rope, four hundred feet long, floated here and there far
away in the darkness by flat cedar sticks,—a rope carrying short bits of
line, and forty hooks, all loaded with excellent fat, wriggling worms.

That day little Baptiste had taken much trouble with his night-line; he
was proud of the plentiful bait, and now, as he felt the tightened rope
with his fingers, he told himself that his well-filled hooks must
attract plenty of fish,—perhaps a sturgeon!  Wouldn’t that be grand?  A
big sturgeon of seventy-five pounds!

He pondered the Ottawa statement that "there are seven kinds of meat on
the head of a sturgeon," and, enumerating the kinds, fell into a
conviction that one sturgeon at least would surely come to his line.
Had not three been caught in one night by Pierre Mallette, who had no
sort of claim, who was too lazy to bait more than half his hooks,
altogether too wicked to receive any special favors from _le bon Dieu_?

Little Baptiste rowed home, entered the cabin softly, and stripped for
bed, almost happy in guessing what the big fish would probably weigh.

Putting his arms around little André, he tried to go to sleep; but the
threats of Conolly came to him with new force, and he lay awake, with a
heavy dread in his heart.

How long he had been lying thus he did not know, when a heavy step came
upon the plank outside the door.

"Father’s home!" cried little Baptiste, springing to the floor as the
door opened.

"Baptiste! my own Baptiste!" cried Delima, putting her arms around her
husband as he stood over her.

"Did I not say," said the old woman, seizing her son’s hand, "that the
good God would send help in time?"

Little Baptiste lit the lamp.  Then they saw something in the father’s
face that startled them all.  He had not spoken, and now they perceived
that he was haggard, pale, wild-eyed.

"The good God!" cried big Baptiste, and knelt by the bed, and bowed his
head on his arms, and wept so loudly that little André and Odillon,
wakening, joined his cry.  "_Le bon Dieu_ has forgotten us!  For all my
winter’s work I have not one dollar!  The concern is failed.  Rewbell
paid not one cent of wages, but ran away, and the timber has been
seized."

Oh, the heartbreak!  Oh, poor Delima! poor children! and poor little
Baptiste, with the threats of Conolly rending his heart!

"I have walked all day," said the father, "and eaten not a thing.  Give
me something, Delima."

"O holy angels!" cried the poor woman, breaking into a wild weeping.  "O
Baptiste, Baptiste, my poor man!  There is nothing; not a scrap; not any
flour, not meal, not grease even; not a pinch of tea!" but still she
searched frantically about the rooms.

"Never mind," said big Baptiste then, holding her in his strong arms.
"I am not so hungry as tired, Delima, and I can sleep."

The old woman, who had been swaying to and fro in her chair of rushes,
rose now, and laid her aged hands on the broad shoulders of the man.

"My son Baptiste," she said, "you must not say that God has forgotten
us, for He has not forgotten us.  The hunger is hard to bear, I
know,—hard, hard to bear; but great plenty will be sent in answer to our
prayers.  And it is hard, hard to lose thy long winter’s work; but be
patient, my son, and thankful, yes, thankful for all thou hast.

"Behold, Delima is well and strong.  See the little Baptiste, how much a
man!  Yes, that is right; kiss the little André and Odillon; and see!
how sweetly ’Toinette sleeps!  All strong and well, son Baptiste!  Were
one gone, think what thou wouldst have lost!  But instead, be thankful,
for behold, another has been given,—the little Seraphine here, that thou
hast not before seen!"

Big, rough, soft-hearted Baptiste knelt by the cradle, and kissed the
babe gently.

"It is true, _Memere_," he answered, "and I thank _le bon Dieu_ for his
goodness to me."

But little Baptiste, lying wide awake for hours afterwards, was not
thankful.  He could not see that matters could be much worse.  A big
hard lump was in his throat as he thought of his father’s hunger, and
the home-coming so different from what they had fondly counted on.
Great slow tears came into the boy’s eyes, and he wiped them away,
ashamed even in the dark to have been guilty of such weakness.

In the gray dawn little Baptiste suddenly awoke, with the sensation of
having slept on his post.  How heavy his heart was!  Why? He sat dazed
with indefinite sorrow.  Ah, now he remembered!  Conolly threatening to
turn them out! and his father back penniless!  No breakfast!  Well, we
must see about that.

Very quietly he rose, put on his patched clothes, and went out.  Heavy
mist covered the face of the river, and somehow the rapid seemed stilled
to a deep, pervasive murmur.  As he pushed his boat off, the morning fog
was chillier than frost about him; but his heart got lighter as he rowed
toward his night-line, and he became even eager for the pleasure of
handling his fish.  He made up his mind not to be much disappointed if
there were no sturgeon, but could not quite believe there would be none;
surely it was reasonable to expect one, perhaps two—why not three?—among
the catfish and _doré_.

How very taut and heavy the rope felt as he raised it over his gunwales,
and letting the bow swing up stream, began pulling in the line hand over
hand!  He had heard of cases where every hook had its fish; such a thing
might happen again surely!  Yard after yard of rope he passed slowly
over the boat, and down into the water it sank on his track.

Now a knot on the line told him he was nearing the first hook; he
watched for the quiver and struggle of the fish,—probably a big one, for
there he had put a tremendous bait on and spat on it for luck, moreover.
What? the short line hung down from the rope, and the baited hook rose
clear of the water!

Baptiste instantly made up his mind that that hook had been placed a
little too far inshore; he remembered thinking so before; the next hook
was in about the right place!

Hand over hand, ah! the second hook, too! Still baited, the big worm
very livid!  It must be thus because that worm was pushed up the shank
of the hook in such a queer way: he had been rather pleased when he gave
the bait that particular twist, and now was surprised at himself; why,
any one could see it was a thing to scare fish!

Hand over hand to the third,—the hook was naked of bait!  Well, that was
more satisfactory; it showed they had been biting, and, after all, this
was just about the beginning of the right place.

Hand over hand; now the splashing will begin, thought little Baptiste,
and out came the fourth hook with its livid worm!  He held the rope in
his hand without drawing it in for a few moments, but could see no
reasonable objection to that last worm.  His heart sank a little, but
pshaw! only four hooks out of forty were up yet! wait till the eddy
behind the shoal was reached, then great things would be seen. Maybe the
fish had not been lying in that first bit of current.

Hand over hand again, now! yes, certainly, _there_ is the right swirl!
What? a _losch_, that unclean semi-lizard!  The boy tore it off and
flung it indignantly into the river.  However, there was good luck in a
_losch_; that was well known.

But the next hook, and the next, and next, and next came up baited and
fishless.  He pulled hand over hand quickly—not a fish! and he must have
gone over half the line!  Little Baptiste stopped, with his heart like
lead and his arms trembling.  It was terrible!  Not a fish, and his
father had no supper, and there was no credit at the store.  Poor little
Baptiste!

Again he hauled hand over hand—one hook, two, three—oh! ho!  Glorious!
What a delightful sheer downward the rope took!  Surely the big sturgeon
at last, trying to stay down on the bottom with the hook!  But Baptiste
would show that fish his mistake.  He pulled, pulled, stood up to pull;
there was a sort of shake, a sudden give of the rope, and little
Baptiste tumbled over backward as he jerked his line up from under the
big stone!

Then he heard the shutters clattering as Conolly’s clerk took them off
the store window; at half-past five to the minute that was always done.
Soon big Baptiste would be up, that was certain.  Again the boy began
hauling in line: baited hook! baited hook! naked hook! baited hook!—such
was still the tale.

"Surely, surely," implored little Baptiste, silently, "I shall find some
fish!"  Up! up! only four remained!  The boy broke down. Could it be?
Had he not somehow skipped many hooks?  Could it be that there was to be
no breakfast for the children?  Naked hook again!  Oh, for some fish!
anything! three, two!

"Oh, send just one for my father!—my poor, hungry father!" cried little
Baptiste, and drew up his last hook.  It came full baited, and the line
was out of the water clear away to his outer buoy!

He let go the rope and drifted down the river, crying as though his
heart would break. All the good hooks useless! all the labor thrown
away! all his self-confidence come to naught!

Up rose the great sun; from around the kneeling boy drifted the last of
the morning mists; bright beams touched his bowed head tenderly.  He
lifted his face and looked up the rapid.  Then he jumped to his feet
with sudden wonder; a great joy lit up his countenance.

Far up the river a low, broad, white patch appeared on the sharp
sky-line made by the level dark summit of the long slope of tumbling
water.  On this white patch stood many figures of swaying men black
against the clear morning sky, and little Baptiste saw instantly that an
attempt was being made to "run" a "band" of deals, or many cribs lashed
together, instead of single cribs as had been done the day before.

The broad strip of white changed its form slowly, dipped over the slope,
drew out like a wide ribbon, and soon showed a distinct slant across the
mighty volume of the deep raft channel.  When little Baptiste,
acquainted as he was with every current, eddy, and shoal in the rapid,
saw that slant, he knew that his first impression of what was about to
happen had been correct.  The pilot of the band had allowed it to drift
too far north before reaching the rapid’s head.

Now the front cribs, instead of following the curve of the channel, had
taken slower water, while the rear cribs, impelled by the rush under
them, swung the band slowly across the current.  All along the front the
standing men swayed back and forth, plying sweeps full forty feet long,
attempting to swing into channel again, with their strokes dashing the
dark rollers before the band into wide splashes of white.  On the rear
cribs another crew pulled in the contrary direction; about the middle of
the band stood the pilot, urging his gangs with gestures to greater
efforts.

Suddenly he made a new motion; the gang behind drew in their oars and
ran hastily forward to double the force in front.  But they came too
late!  Hardly had the doubled bow crew taken a stroke when all drew in
their oars and ran back to be out of danger.  Next moment the front
cribs struck the "hog’s-back" shoal.

Then the long broad band curved downward in the centre, the rear cribs
swung into the shallows on the opposite side of the raft-channel, there
was a great straining and crashing, the men in front huddled together,
watching the wreck anxiously, and the band went speedily to pieces.
Soon a fringe of single planks came down stream, then cribs and pieces
of cribs; half the band was drifting with the currents, and half was
"hung up" on the rocks among the breakers.

Launching the big red flat-bottomed bow boat, twenty of the raftsmen
came with wild speed down the river, and as there had been no rush to
get aboard, little Baptiste knew that the cribs on which the men stood
were so hard aground that no lives were in danger.  It meant much to
him; it meant that he was instantly at liberty to gather in _money!_
money, in sums that loomed to gigantic figures before his imagination.

He knew that there was an important reason for hurrying the deals to
Quebec, else the great risk of running a band at that season would not
have been undertaken; and he knew that hard cash would be paid down as
salvage for all planks brought ashore, and thus secured from drifting
far and wide over the lake-like expanse below the rapid’s foot.  Little
Baptiste plunged his oars in and made for a clump of deals floating in
the eddy near his own shore.  As he rushed along, the raftsmen’s boat
crossed his bows, going to the main raft below for ropes and material to
secure the cribs coming down intact.

"Good boy!" shouted the foreman to Baptiste. "Ten cents for every deal
you fetch ashore above the raft!"

Ten cents! he had expected but five!  What a harvest!

Striking his pike-pole into the clump of deals,—"fifty at least," said
joyful Baptiste,—he soon secured them to his boat, and then pulled,
pulled, pulled, till the blood rushed to his head, and his arms ached,
before he landed his wealth.

"Father!" cried he, bursting breathlessly into the sleeping household.
"Come quick!  I can’t get it up without you."

"Big sturgeon?" cried the shantyman, jumping into his trousers.

"Oh, but we shall have a good fish breakfast!" cried Delima.

"Did I not say the blessed _le bon Dieu_ would send plenty fish?"
observed _Memere_.

"Not a fish!" cried little Baptiste, with recovered breath.  "But look!
look!" and he flung open the door.  The eddy was now white with planks.

"Ten cents for each!" cried the boy.  "The foreman told me."

"Ten cents!" shouted his father.  "_Baptême_! it’s my winter’s wages!"

And the old grandmother!  And Delima? Why, they just put their arms
round each other and cried for joy.

"And yet there’s no breakfast," said Delima, starting up.  "And they
will work hard, hard."

At that instant who should reach the door but Monsieur Conolly!  He was
a man who respected cash wherever he found it, and already the two
Baptistes had a fine show ashore.

"Ma’ame Larocque," said Conolly, politely, putting in his head, "of
course you know I was only joking yesterday.  You can get anything you
want at the store."

What a breakfast they did have, to be sure! the Baptistes eating while
they worked.  Back and forward they dashed till late afternoon, driving
ringed spikes into the deals, running light ropes through the rings,
and, when a good string had thus been made, going ashore to haul in.  At
that hauling Delima and _Memere_, even little André and Odillon gave a
hand.

[Illustration: BACK AND FORWARD THEY DASHED]

Everybody in the little hamlet made money that day, but the Larocques
twice as much as any other family, because they had an eddy and a low
shore.  With the help of the people "the big _Bourgeois_" who owned the
broken raft got it away that evening, and saved his fat contract after
all.

"Did I not say so?" said "_Memere_" at night, for the hundredth time.
"Did I not say so? Yes, indeed, _le bon Dieu_ watches over us all."

"Yes, indeed, grandmother," echoed little Baptiste, thinking of his
failure on the night-line.  "We may take as much trouble as we like, but
it’s no use unless _le bon Dieu_ helps us. Only—I don’t know what de big
Bourgeois say about that—his raft was all broke up so bad."

"Ah, _oui_," said _Memere_, looking puzzled for but a moment.  "But he
didn’t put his trust in _le bon Dieu_; that’s it, for sure.  Besides,
maybe _le bon Dieu_ want to teach him a lesson; he’ll not try for run a
whole band of deals next time. You see that was a tempting of
Providence; and then—the big Bourgeois is a Protestant."



                          *RED-HEADED WINDEGO*


Big Baptiste Seguin, on snow-shoes nearly six feet long, strode mightily
out of the forest, and gazed across the treeless valley ahead.

"Hooraw!  No choppin’ for two mile!" he shouted.

"Hooraw!  Bully!  Hi-yi!" yelled the axemen, Pierre, "Jawnny," and
"Frawce," two hundred yards behind.  Their cries were taken up by the
two chain-bearers still farther back.

"Is it a lake, Baptiste?" cried Tom Dunscombe, the young surveyor, as he
hurried forward through balsams that edged the woods and concealed the
open space from those among the trees.

"No, seh; only a beaver meddy."

"Clean?"

"Clean!  Yesseh!  Clean’s your face.  Hain’t no tree for two mile if de
line is go right."

"Good!  We shall make seven miles to-day," said Tom, as he came forward
with immense strides, carrying a compass and Jacob’s-staff. Behind him
the axemen slashed along, striking white slivers from the pink and scaly
columns of red pines that shot up a hundred and twenty feet without a
branch.  If any underbrush grew there, it was beneath the
eight-feet-deep February snow, so that one could see far away down a
multitude of vaulted, converging aisles.

Our young surveyor took no thought of the beauty and majesty of the
forest he was leaving.  His thoughts and those of his men were set
solely on getting ahead; for all hands had been promised double pay for
their whole winter, in case they succeeded in running a line round the
disputed Moose Lake timber berth before the tenth of April.

Their success would secure the claim of their employer, Old Dan
McEachran, whereas their failure would submit him perhaps to the loss of
the limit, and certainly to a costly lawsuit with Old Rory Carmichael,
another potentate of the Upper Ottawa.

At least six weeks more of fair snow-shoeing would be needed to "blaze"
out the limit, even if the unknown country before them should turn out
to be less broken by cedar swamps and high precipices than they feared.
A few days’ thaw with rain would make slush of the eight feet of snow,
and compel the party either to keep in camp, or risk _mal de
raquette_,—strain of legs by heavy snow-shoeing.  So they were in great
haste to make the best of fine weather. Tom thrust his Jacob’s-staff
into the snow, set the compass sights to the right bearing, looked
through them, and stood by to let Big Baptiste get a course along the
line ahead. Baptiste’s duty was to walk straight for some selected
object far away on the line.  In woodland the axeman "blazed" trees on
both sides of his snow-shoe track.

Baptiste was as expert at his job as any Indian, and indeed he looked as
if he had a streak of Iroquois in his veins.  So did "Frawce," "Jawnny,"
and all their comrades of the party.

"The three pines will do," said Tom, as Baptiste crouched.

"Good luck to-day for sure!" cried Baptiste, rising with his eyes fixed
on three pines in the foreground of the distant timbered ridge.  He saw
that the line did indeed run clear of trees for two miles along one side
of the long, narrow beaver meadow or swale.

Baptiste drew a deep breath, and grinned agreeably at Tom Dunscombe.

"De boys will look like dey’s all got de double pay in deys’ pocket when
dey’s see _dis_ open," said Baptiste, and started for the three pines as
straight as a bee.

Tom waited to get from the chainmen the distance to the edge of the
wood.  They came on the heels of the axemen, and all capered on their
snow-shoes to see so long a space free from cutting.

It was now two o’clock; they had marched with forty pound or "light"
packs since daylight, lunching on cold pork and hard-tack as they
worked; they had slept cold for weeks on brush under an open tent
pitched over a hole in the snow; they must live this life of hardship
and huge work for six weeks longer, but they hoped to get twice their
usual eighty-cents-a-day pay, and so their hearts were light and jolly.

But Big Baptiste, now two hundred yards in advance, swinging along in
full view of the party, stopped with a scared cry.  They saw him look to
the left and to the right, and over his shoulder behind, like a man who
expects mortal attack from a near but unknown quarter.

"What’s the matter?" shouted Tom.

Baptiste went forward a few steps, hesitated, stopped, turned, and
fairly ran back toward the party.  As he came he continually turned his
head from side to side as if expecting to see some dreadful thing
following.

The men behind Tom stopped.  Their faces were blanched.  They looked,
too, from side to side.

"Halt, Mr. Tom, halt!  Oh, _monjee_, M’sieu, stop!" said Jawnny.

Tom looked round at his men, amazed at their faces of mysterious terror.

"What on earth has happened?" cried he.

Instead of answering, the men simply pointed to Big Baptiste, who was
soon within twenty yards.

"What is the trouble, Baptiste?" asked Tom.

Baptiste’s face was the hue of death.  As he spoke he shuddered:—

"_Monjee_, Mr. Tom, we’ll got for stop de job!"

"Stop the job!  Are you crazy?"

"If you’ll not b’lieve what I told, den you go’n’ see for you’se’f."

"What is it?"

"De track, seh."

"What track?  Wolves?"

"If it was only wolfs!"

"Confound you! can’t you say what it is?"

"Eet’s de—it ain’t safe for told its name out loud, for dass de way it
come—if it’s call by its name!"

"Windego, eh?" said Tom, laughing.

"I’ll know its track jus’ as quick’s I see it."

"Do you mean you have seen a Windego track?"

"_Monjee_, seh, _don’t_ say its name!  Let us go back," said Jawnny.
"Baptiste was at Madores’ shanty with us when it took Hermidas Dubois."

"Yesseh.  That’s de way I’ll come for know de track soon’s I see it,"
said Baptiste.  "Before den I mos’ don’ b’lieve dere was any of it.  But
ain’t it take Hermidas Dubois only last New Year’s?"

"That was all nonsense about Dubois.  I’ll bet it was a joke to scare
you all."

"Who’s kill a man for a joke?" said Baptiste.

"Did you see Hermidas Dubois killed?  Did you see him dead?  No!  I
heard all about it. All you know is that he went away on New Year’s
morning, when the rest of the men were too scared to leave the shanty,
because some one said there was a Windego track outside."

"Hermidas never come back!"

"I’ll bet he went away home.  You’ll find him at Saint Agathe in the
spring.  You can’t be such fools as to believe in Windegos."

"Don’t you say dat name some more!" yelled Big Baptiste, now fierce with
fright.  "Hain’t I just seen de track?  I’m go’n’ back, me, if I don’t
get a copper of pay for de whole winter!"

"Wait a little now, Baptiste," said Tom, alarmed lest his party should
desert him and the job.  "I’ll soon find out what’s at the bottom of the
track."

"Dere is blood at de bottom—I seen it!" said Baptiste.

"Well, you wait till _I_ go and see it."

"No!  I go back, me," said Baptiste, and started up the slope with the
others at his heels.

"Halt!  Stop there!  Halt, you fools!  Don’t you understand that if
there was any such monster it would as easily catch you in one place as
another?"

The men went on.  Tom took another tone.

"Boys, look here!  I say, are you going to desert me like cowards?"

"Hain’t goin’ for desert you, Mr. Tom, no seh!" said Baptiste, halting.
"Honly I’ll hain’ go for cross de track."  They all faced round.

Tom was acquainted with a considerable number of Windego superstitions.

"There’s no danger unless it’s a fresh track," he said.  "Perhaps it’s
an old one."

"Fresh made dis mornin’," said Baptiste.

"Well, wait till I go and see it.  You’re all right, you know, if you
don’t cross it.  Isn’t that the idea?"

"No, seh.  Mr. Humphreys told Madore ’bout dat.  Eef somebody cross de
track and don’t never come back, _den_ de magic ain’t in de track no
more.  But it’s watchin’, watchin’ all round to catch somebody what
cross its track; and if nobody don’t cross its track and get catched,
den de—de _Ting_ mebby get crazy mad, and nobody don’ know what it’s
goin’ for do.  Kill every person, mebby."

Tom mused over this information.  These men had all been in Madore’s
shanty; Madore was under Red Dick Humphreys; Red Dick was Rory
Carmichael’s head foreman; he had sworn to stop the survey by hook or by
crook, and this vow had been made after Tom had hired his gang from
among those scared away from Madore’s shanty.  Tom thought he began to
understand the situation.

"Just wait a bit, boys," he said, and started.

"You ain’t surely go’n’ for cross de track?" cried Baptiste.

"Not now, anyway," said Tom.  "But wait till I see it."

When he reached the mysterious track it surprised him so greatly that he
easily forgave Baptiste’s fears.

If a giant having ill-shaped feet as long as Tom’s snow-shoes had passed
by in moccasins, the main features of the indentations might have been
produced.  But the marks were no deeper in the snow than if the huge
moccasins had been worn by an ordinary man.  They were about five and a
half feet apart from centres, a stride that no human legs could take at
a walking pace.

Moreover, there were on the snow none of the dragging marks of striding;
the gigantic feet had apparently been lifted straight up clear of the
snow, and put straight down.

Strangest of all, at the front of each print were five narrow holes
which suggested that the mysterious creature had travelled with bare,
claw-like toes.  An irregular drip or squirt of blood went along the
middle of the indentations! Nevertheless, the whole thing seemed of
human devising.

This track, Tom reflected, was consistent with the Indian superstition
that Windegos are monsters who take on or relinquish the human form, and
vary their size at pleasure.  He perceived that he must bring the maker
of those tracks promptly to book, or suffer his men to desert the
survey, and cost him his whole winter’s work, besides making him a
laughing-stock in the settlements.

The young fellow made his decision instantly. After feeling for his
match-box and sheath-knife, he took his hatchet from his sash, and
called to the men.

"Go into camp and wait for me!"

Then he set off alongside of the mysterious track at his best pace.  It
came out of a tangle of alders to the west, and went into such another
tangle about a quarter of a mile to the east.  Tom went east.  The men
watched him with horror.

"He’s got crazy, looking at de track," said Big Baptiste, "for that’s
the way,—one is enchanted,—he must follow."

"He was a good boss," said Jawnny, sadly.

As the young fellow disappeared in the alders the men looked at one
another with a certain shame.  Not a sound except the sough of pines
from the neighboring forest was heard. Though the sun was sinking in
clear blue, the aspect of the wilderness, gray and white and severe,
touched the impressionable men with deeper melancholy.  They felt
lonely, masterless, mean.

"He was a good boss," said Jawnny again.

"_Tort Dieu!_" cried Baptiste, leaping to his feet.  "It’s a shame for
desert the young boss. I don’t care; the Windego can only kill me. I’m
going for help Mr. Tom."

"Me also," said Jawnny.

Then all wished to go.  But after some parley it was agreed that the
others should wait for the portageurs, who were likely to be two miles
behind, and make camp for the night.

Soon Baptiste and Jawnny, each with his axe, started diagonally across
the swale, and entered the alders on Tom’s track.

It took them twenty yards through the alders, to the edge of a warm
spring or marsh about fifty yards wide.  This open, shallow water was
completely encircled by alders that came down to its very edge.  Tom’s
snow-shoe track joined the track of the mysterious monster for the first
time on the edge—and there both vanished!

[Illustration: BAPTISTE AND JAWNNY LOOKED AT THE PLACE IN THE WILDEST
TERROR]

Baptiste and Jawnny looked at the place with the wildest terror, and
without even thinking to search the deeply indented opposite edges of
the little pool for a reappearance of the tracks, fled back to the
party.  It was just as Red Dick Humphreys had said; just as they had
always heard.  Tom, like Hermidas Dubois, appeared to have vanished from
existence the moment he stepped on the Windego track!


The dimness of early evening was in the red-pine forest through which
Tom’s party had passed early in the afternoon, and the belated
portageurs were tramping along the line.  A man with a red head had been
long crouching in some cedar bushes to the east of the "blazed" cutting.
When he had watched the portageurs pass out of sight, he stepped over
upon their track, and followed it a short distance.

A few minutes later a young fellow, over six feet high, who strongly
resembled Tom Dunscombe, followed the red-headed man.

The stranger, suddenly catching sight of a flame far away ahead on the
edge of the beaver meadow, stopped and fairly hugged himself.

"Camped, by jiminy!  I knowed I’d fetch ’em," was the only remark he
made.

"I wish Big Baptiste could see that Windego laugh," thought Tom
Dunscombe, concealed behind a tree.

After reflecting a few moments, the red-headed man, a wiry little
fellow, went forward till he came to where an old pine had recently
fallen across the track.  There he kicked off his snow-shoes, picked
them up, ran along the trunk, jumped into the snow from among the
branches, put on his snow-shoes, and started northwestward.  His new
track could not be seen from the survey line.

But Tom had beheld and understood the purpose of the manoeuvre.  He made
straight for the head of the fallen tree, got on the stranger’s tracks
and cautiously followed them, keeping far enough behind to be out of
hearing or sight.

The red-headed stranger went toward the wood out of which the mysterious
track of the morning had come.  When he had reached the little
brush-camp in which he had slept the previous night, he made a small
fire, put a small tin pot on it, boiled some tea, broiled a venison
steak, ate his supper, had several good laughs, took a long smoke,
rolled himself round and round in his blanket, and went to sleep.

Hours passed before Tom ventured to crawl forward and peer into the
brush camp.  The red-headed man was lying on his face, as is the custom
of many woodsmen.  His capuchin cap covered his red head.

Tom Dunscombe took off his own long sash. When the red-headed man woke
up he found that some one was on his back, holding his head firmly down.

Unable to extricate his arms or legs from his blankets, the red-headed
man began to utter fearful threats.  Tom said not one word, but
diligently wound his sash round his prisoner’s head, shoulders, and
arms.

He then rose, took the red-headed man’s own "tump-line," a leather strap
about twelve feet long, which tapered from the middle to both ends, tied
this firmly round the angry live mummy, and left him lying on his face.

Then, collecting his prisoner’s axe, snowshoes, provisions, and tin
pail, Tom started with them back along the Windego track for camp.

Big Baptiste and his comrades had supped too full of fears to go to
sleep.  They had built an enormous fire, because Windegos are reported,
in Indian circles, to share with wild beasts the dread of flames and
brands.  Tom stole quietly to within fifty yards of the camp, and
suddenly shouted in unearthly fashion. The men sprang up, quaking.

"It’s the Windego!" screamed Jawnny.

"You silly fools!" said Tom, coming forward. "Don’t you know my voice?
Am I a Windego?"

"It’s the Windego, for sure; it’s took the shape of Mr. Tom, after
eatin’ him," cried Big Baptiste.

Tom laughed so uproariously at this that the other men scouted the idea,
though it was quite in keeping with their information concerning
Windegos’ habits.

Then Tom came in and gave a full and particular account of the Windego’s
pursuit, capture, and present predicament.

"But how’d he make de track?" they asked.

"He had two big old snow-shoes, stuffed with spruce tips underneath, and
covered with dressed deerskin.  He had cut off the back ends of them.
You shall see them to-morrow. I found them down yonder where he had left
them after crossing the warm spring.  He had five bits of sharp round
wood going down in front of them.  He must have stood on them one after
the other, and lifted the back one every time with the pole he carried.
I’ve got that, too.  The blood was from a deer he had run down and
killed in the snow.  He carried the blood in his tin pail, and sprinkled
it behind him.  He must have run out our line long ago with a compass,
so he knew where it would go.  But come, let us go and see if it’s Red
Dick Humphreys."

Red Dick proved to be the prisoner.  He had become quite philosophic
while waiting for his captor to come back.  When unbound he grinned
pleasantly, and remarked:

"You’re Mr. Dunscombe, eh?  Well, you’re a smart young feller, Mr.
Dunscombe.  There ain’t another man on the Ottaway that could ’a’ done
that trick on me.  Old Dan McEachran will make your fortun’ for this,
and I don’t begrudge it.  You’re a man—that’s so.  If ever I hear any
feller saying to the contrayry he’s got to lick Red Dick Humphreys."

And he told them the particulars of his practical joke in making a
Windego track round Madore’s shanty.

"Hermidas Dubois?—oh, he’s all right," said Red Dick.  "He’s at home at
St. Agathe. Man, he helped me to fix up that Windego track at Madore’s;
but, by criminy! the look of it scared him so he wouldn’t cross it
himself. It was a holy terror!"



                          *THE RIDE BY NIGHT*


Mr. Adam Baines is a little gray about the temples, but still looks so
young that few could suppose him to have been one of the fifty-three
thousand Canadians who served Abraham Lincoln’s cause in the Civil War.
Indeed, he was in the army less than a year.  How he went out of it he
told me in some such words as these:—

An orderly from the direction of Meade’s headquarters galloped into our
parade ground, and straight for the man on guard before the colonel’s
tent.  That was pretty late in the afternoon of a bright March day in
1865, but the parade ground was all red mud with shallow pools.  I
remember well how the hind hoofs of the orderly’s galloper threw away
great chunks of earth as he splashed diagonally across the open.

His rider never slowed till he brought his horse to its haunches before
the sentry.  There he flung himself off instantly, caught up his sabre,
and ran through the middle opening of the high screen of sapling pines
stuck on end, side by side, all around the acre or so occupied by the
officers’ quarters.

The day, though sunny, was not warm, and nearly all the men of my
regiment were in their huts when that galloping was heard.  Then they
hurried out like bees from rows of hives, ran up the lanes between the
lines of huts, and collected, each company separately, on the edge of
the parade ground opposite the officers’ quarters.

You see we had a notion that the orderly had brought the word to break
camp.  For five months the Army of the Potomac had been in winter
quarters, and for weeks nothing more exciting than vidette duty had
broken the monotony of our brigade.  We understood that Sheridan had
received command of all Grant’s cavalry, but did not know but the
orderly had rushed from Sheridan himself.  Yet we awaited the man’s
re-appearance with intense curiosity.

Soon, instead of the orderly, out ran our first lieutenant, a small,
wiry, long-haired man named Miller.  He was in undress uniform,—just a
blouse and trousers,—and bare-headed. Though he wore low shoes, he
dashed through mud and water toward us, plainly in a great hurry.

"Sergeant Kennedy, I want ten men at once—mounted," Miller said.
"Choose the ten best able for a long ride, and give them the best horses
in the company.  You understand,—no matter whose the ten best horses
are, give ’em to the ten best riders."

"I understand, sir," said Kennedy.

By this time half the company had started for the stables, for fully
half considered themselves among the best riders.  The lieutenant
laughed at their eagerness.

"Halt, boys!" he cried.  "Sergeant, I’ll pick out four myself.  Come
yourself, and bring Corporal Crowfoot, Private Bader, and Private
Absalom Gray."

Crowfoot, Bader, and Gray had been running for the stables with the
rest.  Now these three old soldiers grinned and walked, as much as to
say, "We needn’t hurry; we’re picked anyhow;" while the others hurried
on.  I remained near Kennedy, for I was so young and green a soldier
that I supposed I had no chance to go.

"Hurry up! parade as soon as possible.  One day’s rations; light
marching order—no blankets—fetch over-coats and ponchos," said Miller,
turning; "and in choosing your men, favor light weights."

That was, no doubt, the remark which brought me in.  I was lanky, light,
bred among horses, and one of the best in the regiment had fallen to my
lot.  Kennedy wheeled, and his eye fell on me.

"Saddle up, Adam, boy," said he; "I guess you’ll do."

Lieutenant Miller ran back to his quarters, his long hair flying wide.
When he reappeared fifteen minutes later, we were trotting across the
parade ground to meet him.  He was mounted, not on his own charger, but
on the colonel’s famous thorough-bred bay.  Then we knew a hard ride
must be in prospect.

"What! one of the boys?" cried Miller, as he saw me.  "He’s too young."

"He’s very light, sir; tough as hickory.  I guess he’ll do," said
Kennedy.

"Well, no time to change now.  Follow me! But, hang it, you’ve got your
carbines!  Oh, I forgot!  Keep pistols only! throw down your sabres and
carbines—anywhere—never mind the mud!"

As we still hesitated to throw down our clean guns, he shouted: "Down
with them—anywhere!  Now, boys, after me, by twos! Trot—gallop!"

Away we went, not a man jack of us knew for where or what.  The colonel
and officers, standing grouped before regimental headquarters, volleyed
a cheer at us.  It was taken up by the whole regiment; it was taken up
by the brigade; it was repeated by regiment after regiment of infantry
as we galloped through the great camp toward the left front of the army.
The speed at which Miller led over a rough corduroy road was
extraordinary, and all the men suspected some desperate enterprise
afoot.

Red and brazen was the set of the sun.  I remember it well, after we got
clear of the forts, clear of the breastworks, clear of the reserves,
down the long slope and across the wide ford of Grimthorpe’s Creek,
never drawing rein.

The lieutenant led by ten yards or so.  He had ordered each two to take
as much distance from the other two in advance; but we rode so fast that
the water from the heels of his horse and from the heels of each two
splashed into the faces of the following men.

From the ford we loped up a hill, and passed the most advanced infantry
pickets, who laughed and chaffed us, asking us for locks of our hair,
and if our mothers knew we were out, and promising to report our last
words faithfully to the folks at home.

Soon we turned to the left again, swept close by several cavalry
videttes, and knew then that we were bound for a ride through a country
that might or might not be within Lee’s outer lines, at that time
extended so thinly in many places that his pickets were far out of touch
with one another.  To this day I do not know precisely where we went,
nor precisely what for.  Soldiers are seldom informed of the meaning of
their movements.

What I do know is what we did while I was in the ride.  As we were
approaching dense pine woods the lieutenant turned in his saddle,
slacked pace a little, and shouted, "Boys, bunch up near me!"

He screwed round in his saddle so far that we could all see and hear,
and said:—

"Boys, the order is to follow this road as fast as we can till our
horses drop, or else the Johnnies drop us, or else we drop upon three
brigades of our own infantry.  I guess they’ve got astray somehow; but I
don’t know myself what the trouble is.  Our orders are plain.  The
brigades are supposed to be somewhere on this road.  I guess we shall do
a big thing if we reach those men to-night.  All we’ve got to do is to
ride and deliver this despatch to the general in command.  You all
understand?"

"Yes, sir!  Yes, sir!  Yes, sir!"

"It’s necessary you all should.  Hark, now! We are not likely to strike
the enemy in force, but we are likely to run up against small parties.
Now, Kennedy, if they down me, you are to stop just long enough to grab
the despatch from my breast; then away you go,—always on the main road.
If they down you after you’ve got the paper, the man who can grab it
first is to take it and hurry forward.  So on right to the last man.  If
they down him, and he’s got his senses when he falls, he’s to tear the
paper up, and scatter it as widely as he can. You all understand?"

"Yes, sir!  Yes, sir!"

"All right, then.  String out again!"

He touched the big bay with the spur, and shot quickly ahead.

With the long rest of the winter our horses were in prime spirits,
though mostly a little too fleshy for perfect condition.  I had cared
well for my horse; he was fast and sound in wind and limb.  I was
certainly the lightest rider of the eleven.

I was still thinking of the probability that I should get further on the
way than any comrade except the lieutenant, or perhaps Crowfoot and
Bader, whose horses were in great shape; I was thinking myself likely to
win promotion before morning, when a cry came out of the darkness ahead.
The words of the challenge I was not able to catch, but I heard Miller
shout, "Forward, boys!"

We shook out more speed just as a rifle spat its long flash at us from
about a hundred yards ahead.  For one moment I plainly saw the
Southerner’s figure.  Kennedy reeled beside me, flung up his hands with
a scream, and fell. His horse stopped at once.  In a moment the
lieutenant had ridden the sentry down.

Then from the right side of the road a party, who must have been lying
round the camp-fire that we faintly saw in among the pines, let fly at
us.  They had surely been surprised in their sleep.  I clearly saw them
as their guns flashed.

"Forward!  Don’t shoot!  Ride on," shouted Miller.  "Bushwhackers!
Thank God, not mounted!  Any of you make out horses with them?"

"No, sir!  No, sir!"

"Who yelled?  who went down?"

"Kennedy, sir," I cried.

"Too bad!  Any one else?"

"No, sir."

"All safe?"

"I’m touched in my right arm; but it’s nothing," I said.  The twinge was
slight, and in the fleshy place in front of my shoulder.  I could not
make out that I was losing blood, and the pain from the hurt was
scarcely perceptible.

"Good boy!  Keep up, Adam!" called the lieutenant with a kind tone.  I
remember my delight that he spoke my front name.  On we flew.

Possibly the shots had been heard by the party half a mile further on,
for they greeted us with a volley.  A horse coughed hard and pitched
down behind me.  His rider yelled as he fell.  Then two more shots came:
Crowfoot reeled in front of me, and somehow checked his horse.  I saw
him no more.  Next moment we were upon the group with our pistols.

"Forward, men!  Don’t stop to fight!" roared Miller, as he got clear.  A
rifle was fired so close to my head that the flame burned my back hair,
and my ears rang for half an hour or more.  My bay leaped high and
dashed down a man.  In a few seconds I was fairly out of the scrimmage.

How many of my comrades had gone down I knew not, nor beside whom I was
riding. Suddenly our horses plunged into a hole; his stumbled, the man
pitched forward, and was left behind.  Then I heard a shot, the clatter
of another falling horse, the angry yell of another thrown rider.

On we went,—the relics of us.  Now we rushed, out of the pine forest
into broad moonlight, and I saw two riders between me and the
lieutenant,—one man almost at my shoulder, and another galloping ten
yards behind.  Very gradually this man dropped to the rear.  We had lost
five men already, and still the night was young.

Bader and Absalom Gray were nearest me. Neither spoke a word till we
struck upon a space of sandy road.  Then I could hear, far behind the
rear man, a sound of galloping on the hard highway.

"They’re after us, lieutenant!" shouted Bader.

"Many?"  He slacked speed, and we listened attentively.

"Only one," cried Miller.  "He’s coming fast."

The pursuer gained so rapidly that we looked to our pistols again.  Then
Absalom Gray cried:

"It’s only a horse!"

In a few moments the great gray of fallen Corporal Crowfoot overtook us,
went ahead, and slacked speed by the lieutenant.

"Good!  He’ll be fresh when the rest go down!" shouted Miller.  "Let the
last man mount the gray!"

By this time we had begun to think ourselves clear of the enemy, and
doomed to race on till the horses should fall.

Suddenly the hoofs of Crowfoot’s gray and the lieutenant’s bay thundered
upon a plank road whose hollow noise, when we all reached it, should
have been heard far.  It took us through wide orchard lands into a
low-lying mist by the banks of a great marsh, till we passed through
that fog, strode heavily up a slope, and saw the shimmer of roofs under
the moon.  Straight through the main street we pounded along.

Whether it was wholly deserted I know not, but not a human being was in
the streets, nor any face visible at the black windows.  Not even a dog
barked.  I noticed no living thing except some turkeys roosting on a
fence, and a white cat that sprang upon the pillar of a gateway and
thence to a tree.

Some of the houses seemed to have been ruined by a cannonade.  I suppose
it was one of the places almost destroyed in Willoughby’s recent raid.
Here we thundered, expecting ambush and conflict every moment, while the
loneliness of the street imposed on me such a sense as might come of
galloping through a long cemetery of the dead.

Out of the village we went off the planks again upon sand.  I began to
suspect that I was losing a good deal of blood.  My brain was on fire
with whirling thoughts and wonder where all was to end.  Out of this
daze I came, in amazement to find that we were quickly overtaking our
lieutenant’s thoroughbred.

Had he been hit in the fray, and bled to weakness?  I only know that,
still galloping while we gained, the famous horse lurched forward,
almost turned a somersault, and fell on his rider.

"Stop—the paper!" shouted Bader.

We drew rein, turned, dismounted, and found Miller’s left leg under the
big bay’s shoulder.  The horse was quite dead, the rider’s long hair lay
on the sand, his face was white under the moon!

We stopped long enough to extricate him, and he came to his senses just
as we made out that his left leg was broken.

"Forward!" he groaned.  "What in thunder are you stopped for?  Oh, the
despatch! Here! away you go!  Good-bye."

In attending to Miller we had forgotten the rider who had been long
gradually dropping behind.  Now as we galloped away,—Bader, Absalom
Gray, myself, and Crowfoot’s riderless horse,—I looked behind for that
comrade; but he was not to be seen or heard.  We three were left of the
eleven.

From the loss of so many comrades the importance of our mission seemed
huge.  With the speed, the noise, the deaths, the strangeness of the
gallop through that forsaken village, the wonder how all would end, the
increasing belief that thousands of lives depended on our success, and
the longing to win, my brain was wild.  A raging desire to be first held
me, and I galloped as if in a dream.

Bader led; the riderless gray thundered beside him; Absalom rode stirrup
to stirrup with me.  He was a veteran of the whole war. Where it was
that his sorrel rolled over I do not remember at all, though I perfectly
remember how Absalom sprang up, staggered, shouted, "My foot is
sprained!" and fell as I turned to look at him and went racing on.

[Illustration: ABSALOM SPRANG UP, STAGGERED, SHOUTED]

Then I heard above the sound of our hoofs the voice of the veteran of
the war.  Down as he was, his spirit was unbroken.  In the favorite song
of the army his voice rose clear and gay and piercing:—

    "Hurrah for the Union!
    Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
    Shouting the battle-cry of freedom!"


We turned our heads and cheered him as we flew, for there was something
indescribably inspiring in the gallant and cheerful lilt of the fallen
man.  It was as if he flung us, from the grief of utter defeat, a soul
unconquerable; and I felt the life in me strengthened by the tone.

Old Bader and I for it!  He led by a hundred yards, and Crowfoot’s gray
kept his stride. Was I gaining on them?  How was it that I could see his
figure outlined more clearly against the horizon?  Surely dawn was not
coming on!

No; I looked round on a world of naked peach-orchards, and corn-fields
ragged with last year’s stalks, all dimly lit by a moon that showed far
from midnight; and that faint light on the horizon was not in the east,
but in the west.  The truth flashed on me,—I was looking at such an
illumination of the sky as would be caused by the camp-fires of an army.

"The missing brigade!" I shouted.

"Or a Southern division!" Bader cried. "Come on!"

"Come on!"  I was certainly gaining on him, but very slowly.  Before the
nose of my bay was beyond the tail of his roan, the wide illuminations
had become more distinct; and still not a vidette, not a picket, not a
sound of the proximity of an army.

Bader and I now rode side by side, and Crowfoot’s gray easily kept the
pace.  My horse was in plain distress, but Bader’s was nearly done.

"Take the paper, Adam," he said; "my roan won’t go much further.
Good-bye, youngster. Away you go!" and I drew now quickly ahead.

Still Bader rode on behind me.  In a few minutes he was considerably
behind.  Perhaps the sense of being alone increased my feeling of
weakness.  Was I going to reel out of the saddle?  Had I lost so much
blood as that? Still I could hear Bader riding on.  I turned to look at
him.  Already he was scarcely visible. Soon he dropped out of sight; but
still I heard the laborious pounding of his desperate horse.

My bay was gasping horribly.  How far was that faintly yellow sky ahead?
It might be two, it might be five miles.  Were Union or Southern
soldiers beneath it?  Could it be conceived that no troops of the enemy
were between me and it?

Never mind; my orders were clear.  I rode straight on, and I was still
riding straight on, marking no increase in the distress of my bay, when
he stopped as if shot, staggered, fell on his knees, tried to rise,
rolled to his side, groaned and lay.

I was so weak I could not clear myself.  I remember my right spur
catching in my saddle-cloth as I tried to free my foot; then I pitched
forward and fell.  Not yet senseless, I clutched at my breast for the
despatch, meaning to tear it to pieces; but there my brain failed, and
in full view of the goal of the night I lay unconscious.

When I came to, I rose on my left elbow, and looked around.  Near my
feet my poor bay lay, stone dead.  Crowfoot’s gray!—where was Crowfoot’s
gray?  It flashed on me that I might mount the fresh horse and ride on.
But where was the gray?  As I peered round I heard faintly the sound of
a galloper.  Was he coming my way?  No; faintly and more faintly I heard
the hoofs.

Had the gray gone on then, without the despatch?  I clutched at my
breast.  My coat was unbuttoned—the paper was gone!

Well, sir, I cheered.  My God!  but it was comforting to hear those
far-away hoofs, and know that Bader must have come up, taken the papers,
and mounted Crowfoot’s gray, still good for a ten-mile ride!  The
despatch was gone forward; we had not all fallen in vain; maybe the
brigades would be saved!

How purely the stars shone!  When I stifled my groaning they seemed to
tell me of a great peace to come.  How still was the night! and I
thought of the silence of the multitudes who had died for the Union.

Now the galloping had quite died away. There was not a sound,—a slight
breeze blew, but there were no leaves to rustle.  I put my head down on
the neck of my dead horse. Extreme fatigue was benumbing the pain of my
now swelling arm; perhaps sleep was near, perhaps I was swooning.

But a sound came that somewhat revived me. Far, low, joyful, it crept on
the air.  I sat up, wide awake.  The sound, at first faint, died as the
little breeze fell, then grew in the lull, and came ever more clearly as
the wind arose.  It was a sound never to be forgotten,—the sound of the
distant cheering of thousands of men.

Then I knew that Bader had galloped into the Union lines, delivered the
despatch, and told a story which had quickly passed through wakeful
brigades.

Bader I never saw again, nor Lieutenant Miller, nor any man with whom I
rode that night.  When I came to my senses I was in hospital at City
Point.  Thence I went home invalided.  No surgeon, no nurse, no soldier
at the hospital could tell me of my regiment, or how or why I was where
I was.  All they could tell me was that Richmond was taken, the army far
away in pursuit of Lee, and a rumor flying that the great commander of
the South had surrendered near Appomattox Court House.



                              *"DRAFTED"*


Harry Wallbridge, awaking with a sense of some alarming sound, listened
intently in the darkness, seeing overhead the canvas roof faintly
outlined, the darker stretch of its ridge-pole, its two thin slanting
rafters, and the gable ends of the winter hut.  He could not hear the
small, fine drizzle from an atmosphere surcharged with water, nor
anything but the drip from canvas to trench, the rustling of hay bunched
beneath his head, the regular breathing of his "buddy," Corporal Bader,
and the stamping of horses in stables.  But when a soldier in a
neighboring tent called indistinguishably in the accents of nightmare,
Bader’s breathing quieted, and in the lull Harry fancied the soaked air
weighted faintly with steady picket-firing.  A month with the 53d
Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Cavalry had not quite disabused the young
recruit of his schoolboy belief that the men of the Army of the Potomac
must live constantly within sound of the out-posts.

Harry sat up to hearken better, and then concluded that he had mistaken
for musketry the crackle of haystalks under his poncho sheet. Beneath
him the round poles of his bed sagged as he drew up his knees and
gathered about his shoulders the gray blanket damp from the spray of
heavy rain against the canvas earlier in the night.  Soon, with slow
dawn’s approach, he could make out the dull white of his carbine and
sabre against the mud-plastered chimney.  In that drear dimness the boy
shivered, with a sense of misery rather than from cold, and yearned as
only sleepy youth can for the ease of a true bed and dry warm swooning
to slumber.  He was sustained by no mature sense that this too would
pass; it was with a certain bodily despair that he felt chafed and
compressed by his rough garments, and pitied himself, thinking how his
mother would cry if she could see him couched so wretchedly that wet
March morning, pressed all the more into loneliness by the regular
breathing of veteran Bader in the indifference of deep sleep.

Harry’s vision of his mother coming into his room, shading her candle
with her hand, to see if he were asleep, passed away as a small gust
came, shaking the canvas, for he was instantly alert with a certainty
that the breeze had borne a strong rolling of musketry.

"Bader, Bader!" he said.  "Bader!"

"Can’t you shut up, you Wallbridge?" came Orderly Sergeant Gravely’s
sharp tones from the next tent.

"What’s wrong with you, Harry, boy?" asked Bader, turning.

"I thought I heard heavy firing closer than the picket lines; twice now
I’ve thought I heard it."

"Oh, I guess not, Harry.  The Johnnies won’t come out no such night as
this.  Keep quiet, or you’ll have the sergeant on top of you.  Better
lie down and try to sleep, buddy; the bugles will call morning soon
now."

Again Harry fell to his revery of home, and his vision became that of
the special evening on which his boyish wish to go to the war had, for
the family’s sake, become resolve.  He saw his mother’s spectacled and
lamp-lit face as she, leaning to the table, read in the familiar Bible;
little Fred and Mary, also facing the table’s central lamp, bent sleepy
heads over their school-books; the father sat in the rocking-chair, with
his right hand on the paper he had laid down, and gazed gloomily at the
coals fallen below the front doors of the wood-burning stove.  Harry
dreamed himself back in his own chair, looking askance, and feeling sure
his father was inwardly groaning over the absence of Jack, the eldest
son.  Then nine o’clock struck, and Fred and Mary began to put their
books away in preparation for bed.

"Wait a little, children," Mrs. Wallbridge said, serene in tone from her
devotional reading.  "Father wants that I should tell you something.
You mustn’t feel bad about it. It’s that we may soon go out West.  Your
Uncle Ezra is doing well in Minnesota.  Aunt Elvira says so in her
letter that came to-day."

"It’s this way, children," said Mr. Wallbridge, ready to explain, now
that the subject was opened.  "Since ever your brother Jack went away
South, the store expenses have been too heavy.  It’s near five years now
he’s been gone.  There’s a sheaf of notes coming due the third of next
month; twice they’ve been renewed, and the Philadelphia men say they’ll
close me up this time sure.  If I had eight hundred dollars—but it’s no
use talking; we’ll just have to let them take what we’ve got. Times have
been bad right along around here, anyhow, with new competition, and so
many farmers gone to the war, and more gone West. If Jack had stopped to
home—but I’ve had to pay two clerks to do his work, and then they don’t
take any interest in the business.  Mind, I’m not blaming Jack, poor
fellow,—he’d a right to go where he’d get more’n his keep, and be able
to lay up something for himself,—but what’s become of him, God knows;
and such a smart, good boy as he was!  He’d got fond of New Orleans,—I
guess some nice girl there, maybe, was the reason; and there he’d stay
after the war began, and now it’s two years and more since we’ve heard
from him. Dead, maybe, or maybe they’d put him in jail, for he said he’d
never join the Confederates, nor fight against them either—he felt that
way—North and South was all the same to him. And so he’s gone; and I
don’t see my way now at all.  Ma, if it wasn’t for my lame leg, I’d take
the bounty.  It’d be something for you and the children after the
store’s gone."

"Sho, pa! don’t talk that way!  You’re too down-hearted.  It’ll all come
right, with the Lord’s help," said Harry’s mother.  How clearly he, in
the damp cold tent, could see her kind looks as she pushed up her
spectacles and beamed on her husband; how distinctly, in the still dim
dawn, he heard her soothing tones!

It was that evening’s talk which had sent Harry, so young, to the front.
Three village boys, little older than he, had already contrived to
enlist.  Every time he saw the Flag drooping, he thought shame of
himself to be absent from the ranks of its upholders; and now, just as
he was believing himself big and old enough to serve, he conceived that
duty to his parents distinctly enjoined him to go.  So in the night,
without leave-taking or consent of his parents, he departed.  The
combined Federal, State, and city bounties offered at Philadelphia
amounted to nine hundred dollars cash that dreadful winter before
Richmond fell, and Harry sent the money home triumphantly in time to pay
his father’s notes and save the store.

While the young soldier thought it all over, carbine and sabre came out
more and more distinctly outlined above the mud-plastered fireplace.
The drizzle had ceased, the drip into the trench was almost finished,
intense stillness ruled; Harry half expected to hear cocks crow from out
such silence.

Listening for them, his dreamy mind brooded over both hosts, in a vision
even as wide as the vast spread of the Republic in which they lay as two
huddles of miserable men.  For what were they all about him this woful,
wet night? they all fain, as he, for home and industry and comfort.
What delusion held them?  How could it be that they could not all march
away and separate, and the cruel war be over?  Harry caught his breath
at the idea,—it seemed so natural, simple, easy, and good a solution.
Becoming absorbed in the fancy, tired of listening, and soothed by the
silence, he was falling asleep as he sat, when a heavy weight seemed to
fall, far away. Another—another—the fourth had the rumble of distant
thunder, and seemed followed by a concussion of the air.

"Hey—Big Guns!  What’s up toward City Point?" cried Bader, sitting up.
"I tell you they’re at it.  It can’t be so far away as Butler. What?  On
the left too!  That was toward Hatcher’s Run!  Harry, the rebs are out
in earnest!  I guess you did hear the pickets trying to stop ’em.  What
a morning!  Ha—Fort Hell! see that!"

The outside world was dimly lighted up for a moment.  In the intensified
darkness that followed Bader’s voice was drowned by the crash of a great
gun from the neighboring fort. _Flash, crash—flash, crash—flash, crash_
succeeded rapidly.  Then the intervals of Fort Hell’s fire lengthened to
the regular periods for loading, and between her roars were heard the
sullen boom of more distant guns, while through all the tumult ran a
fierce undertone,—the infernal hurrying of musketry along the immediate
front.

"The Johnnies must have got in close somehow," cried Bader.  "Hey,
Sergeant?"

"Yes," shouted Gravely.  "Scooped up the pickets and supports too in the
rain, I guess. Turn out, boys, turn out! there’ll be a wild day. Kid!
Where’s the Kid?  Kid Sylvester!"

"Here!  All right, Barney; I’ll be out in two shakes," shouted the
bugler.

"Hurry, then!  I can hear the Colonel shouting already.  Man, listen to
that!"—as four of Fort Hell’s guns crashed almost simultaneously.
"Brownie!  Greasy Cook! O Brownie!"

"Here!" shouted the cook.

"Get your fire started right away, and see what salt horse and biscuit
you can scare up. Maybe we’ll have time for a snack."

"Turn out, Company K!" shouted Lieutenant Bradley, running down from the
officers’ quarters.  "Where’s the commissary sergeant?  There?—all
right—give out feed right away!  Get your oats, men, and feed instantly!
We may have time.  Hullo! here’s the General’s orderly."

As the trooper galloped, in a mud-storm, across the parade ground, a
group of officers ran out behind the Colonel from the screen of pine
saplings about Regimental Headquarters.  The orderly gave the Colonel
but a word, and, wheeling, was off again as "Boot and saddle" blared
from the buglers, who had now assembled on parade.

"But leave the bits out—let your horses feed!" cried the Lieutenant,
running down again.  "We’re not to march till further orders."

Beyond the screen of pines Harry could see the tall canvas ridges of the
officers’ cabins lighted up.  Now all the tents of the regiment, row
behind row, were faintly luminous, and the renewed drizzle of the dawn
was a little lightened in every direction by the canvas-hidden candles
of infantry regiments, the glare of numerous fires already started, and
sparks showering up from the cook-houses of company after company.

Soon in the cloudy sky the cannonade rolled about in broad day, which
was still so gray that long wide flashes of flame could be seen to
spring far out before every report from the guns of Fort Hell, and in
the haze but few of the rebel shells shrieking along their high curve
could be clearly seen bursting over Hancock’s cheering men.
Indistinguishably blent were the sounds of hosts on the move, field-guns
pounding to the front, troops shouting, the clink and rattle of metal,
officers calling, bugles blaring, drums rolling, mules screaming,—all
heard as a running accompaniment to the cannon heavily punctuating the
multitudinous din.

"Fwat sinse in the ould man bodderin’ us?" grumbled Corporal Kennedy, a
tall Fenian dragoon from the British army.  "Sure, ain’t it as plain as
the sun—and faith the same’s not plain this dirthy mornin’—that there’s
no work for cavalry the day, barrin’ it’s escortin’ the doughboys’
prisoners, if they take any?—bad ’cess to the job.  Sure it’s an
infantry fight, and must be, wid the field-guns helpin’, and the siege
pieces boomin’ away over the throops in the mud betwigst our own
breastworks and the inner line of our forts."

"Oh, by this and by that," the corporal grumbled on, "ould Lee’s not the
gintleman I tuk him for at all, at all,—discomfortin’ us in the
rain,—and yesterday an illigant day for fightin’.  Couldn’t he wait,
like the dacint ould boy he’s reported, for a dhry mornin’, instead av
turnin’ his byes out in the shlush and destroyin’ me chanst av
breakfast?  It’s spring chickens I’d ordhered."

"You may get up to spring-chicken country soon, now," said Bader.  "I’m
thinking this is near the end; it’s the last assault that Lee will ever
deliver."

"Faith, I dunno," said the corporal; "that’s what we’ve been saying
sinst last fall, but the shtay of them Johnnies bates Banagher and the
prophets.  Hoo—ow! by the powers! did you hear them yell?  Fwat?  The
saints be wid us! who’d ’a’ thought it possible?  Byes!  Bader! Harry!
luk at the Johnnies swarmin’ up the face of Hell!"

Off there Harry could dimly see, rising over the near horizon made by
tents, a straggling rush of men up the steep slope, while the rebel yell
came shrill from a multitude behind on the level ground that was hidden
from the place occupied by the cavalry regiment.  In the next moment the
force mounting Fort Hell’s slope fell away, some lying where shot down,
some rolling, some running and stumbling in heaps; then a tremendous
musketry and field-gun fire growled to and fro under the heavy smoke
round and about and out in front of the embrasures, which had never
ceased their regular discharge over the heads of the fort’s defenders
and immediate assailants.

Suddenly Harry noted a slackening of the battle; it gradually but soon
dropped away to nothing, and now no sound of small-arms in any direction
was heard in the lengthening intervals of reports from the siege pieces
far and near.

"And so that’s the end of it," said Kennedy. "Sure it was hot work for a
while!  Faix, I thought onct the doughboys was nappin’ too long, and
ould Hell would be bullyin’ away at ourselves.  Now, thin, can we have a
bite in paice?  I’ll shtart wid a few sausages, Brownie, and you may
send in the shpring chickens wid some oyshters the second coorse.  No!
Oh, by the powers, ’t is too mane to lose a breakfast like that!" and
Corporal Kennedy shook his fist at the group of buglers calling the
regiment to parade.

In ten minutes the Fifty-third had formed in column of companies.  "Old
Jimmy," their Colonel, had galloped down at them and once along their
front; then the command, forming fours from the right front, moved off
at a trot through the mud in long procession.

"Didn’t I know it?" said Kennedy; "it’s escortin’ the doughboys’
prisoners, that’s all we’re good for this outrageous day.  Oh, wirra,
wirrasthru!  Police duty! and this calls itself a cavalry rigiment.
Mounted Police duty,—escortin’ doughboys’ prisoners!  Faix, I might as
well be wid Her Majesty’s dhragoons, thramplin’ down the flesh and blood
of me in poor ould Oireland.  Begor, Harry, me bhy, it’s a mane job to
be setting you at, and this the first day ye’re mounted to save the
Union!"

"Stop coddin’ the boy, Corporal," said Bader, angrily.  "You can’t think
how an American boy feels about this war."

"An Amerikin!—an Amerikin, is it?  Let me insthruct ye thin, Misther
Bader, that I’m as good an Amerikin as the next man.  Och, be jabers, me
that’s been in the color you see ever since the Prisident first called
for men! It was for a three months’ dance he axed us first.  Me, that’s
re-enlishted twice, don’t know the feelin’s of an Amerikin!  What am I
here for?  Not poverty! sure I’d enough of that before ever I seen
Ameriky!  What am I wallopin’ through the mud for this mornin’?"

"It’s your trade, Kennedy," said Bader, with disgust.

"Be damned to you, man!" said the corporal, sternly.  "When I touched
fut in New York, didn’t I swear that I’d never dhraw swoord more,
barrin’ it was agin the ould red tyrant and oprissor of me counthry?
Wasn’t I glad to be dhrivin’ me own hack next year in Philamedink like a
gintleman?  Oh, the paice and the indipindence of it!  But what cud I do
when the counthry that tuk me and was good to me wanted an ould
dhragoon?  An Amerikin, ye say!  Faith, the heart of me is Amerikin, if
I’m a bog throtter by the tongue.  Mind that now, me bould man!"

Harry heard without heeding as the horses spattered on.  Still wavered
in his ears the sounds of the dawn; still he saw the ghostlike forms of
Americans in gray tumbling back from their rush against the sacred flag
that had drooped so sadly over the smoke; and still, far away beyond all
this puddled and cumbered ground the dreamy boy saw millions of white
American faces, all haggard for news of the armies—some looking South,
some North, yearning for the Peace that had so long ago been the boon of
the Nation.

Now the regiment was upon the red clay of the dead fight, and brought to
halt in open columns.  After a little they moved off again in fours,
and, dropping into single file, surrounded some thousands of disarmed
men, the remnant of the desperate brigades that Lee had flung through
the night across three lines of breastworks at the great fort they had
so nearly stormed.  Poor drenched, shivering Johnnies! there they stood,
not a few of them in blue overcoats, but mostly in butternut, generally
tattered; some barefoot, some with feet bound in ragged sections of
blanket, many with toes and skin showing through crazy boots lashed on
with strips of cotton or with cord; many stoutly on foot, streaming
blood from head wounds.

Some lay groaning in the mud, while their comrades helped Union surgeons
to bind or amputate.  Here and there groups huddled together in earnest
talk, or listened to comrades gesticulating and storming as they
recounted incidents of the long charge.  But far the greater number
faced outward, at gaze upon the cavalry guard, and, silently munching
thick flat cakes of corn-bread, stared into the faces of the horsemen.
Harry Wallbridge, brought to the halt, faced half round in the saddle,
and looked with quick beatings of pity far and wide over the disorderly
crowd of weather-worn men.

"It’s a Louisiana brigade," said Bader.

"Fifty-three, P.V.V.C.," spoke a prisoner, as if in reply, reading the
letters about the little crossed brass sabres on the Union hats. "Say,
you men from Pennsylvany?"

"Yes, Johnny; we come down to wake up Dixie."

"I reckon we got the start at wakin’ you this mornin’," drawled the
Southerner.  "But say,—there’s one of our boys lyin’ dyin’ over yonder;
his folks lives in Pennsylvany.  Mebbe some of you ’ud know ’em."

"What’s his name?" asked Bader,

"Wallbridge—Johnny Wallbridge."

"Why, Harry—hold on!—you ain’t the only Wallbridges there is.  What’s
up?" cried Bader, as the boy half reeled, half clambered from his
saddle.

"Hold on, Harry!" cried Corporal Kennedy.

"Halt there, Wallbridge!" shouted Sergeant Gravely.

"Stop that man!" roared Lieutenant Bradley.

But, calling, "He’s my brother!" Harry, catching up his sabre as he ran,
followed the Southerner, who had instantly divined the situation.  The
forlorn prisoners made ready way for them, and closing in behind,
stretched in solid array about the scene.

"It’s not Jack," said the boy; but something in the look of the dying
man drew him on to kneel in the mud.  "Is it _you_, Jack?  Oh, now I
know you!  Jack, I’m Harry! don’t you know me?  I’m Harry—your brother
Harry."

The Southern soldier stared rigidly at the boy, seeming to grow paler
with the recollections that he struggled for.

"_What’s_ your name?" he asked very faintly.

"Harry Wallbridge—I’m your brother."

"Harry Wallbridge!  Why, I’m _John_ Wallbridge.  Did you say Harry?
_Not Harry!_" he shrieked hoarsely.  "No; Harry’s only a little fellow!"
He paused, and looked meditatively into the boy’s eyes.  "It’s nearly
five years I’ve been gone,—he was near twelve then.  Boys," lifting his
head painfully and casting his look slowly round upon his comrades, "I
know him by the eyes; yes, he’s my brother!  Let me speak to him
alone—stand back a bit," and at once the men pushed backward into the
form of a wide circle.

"Put down your head, Harry.  Kiss me! Kiss me again!—how’s mother?  Ah,
I was afraid she might be dead—don’t tell her I’m dead, Harry."  He
groaned with the pain of the groin wound.  "Closer, Harry; I’ve got to
tell you this first—maybe it’s all I’ve time to tell.  Say, Harry,"—he
began to gasp,—"they didn’t ought to have killed me, the Union soldiers
didn’t.  I never fired—high enough—all these years.  They drafted me,
Harry—tell mother that—down in New Orleans—and I—couldn’t get away.
Ai—ai! how it hurts!  I must die soon’s I can tell you.  I wanted to
come home—and help father—how’s poor father, Harry?  Doing well now?
Oh, I’m glad of that—and the baby? there’s a new baby!  Ah, yes, I’ll
never see it, Harry."

His eyes closed, the pain seemed to leave him, and he lay almost smiling
happily as his brother’s tears fell on his muddy and blood-clotted face.
As if from a trance his eyes opened, and he spoke anxiously but calmly.

"You’ll be sure to tell them I was drafted—conscripted, you understand.
And I never fired at any of us—of you—tell all the boys _that_."  Again
the flame of life went down, and again flickered up in pain.

"Harry—you’ll stay by father—and help him, won’t you?  This cruel war—is
almost over.  Don’t cry.  Kiss me.  Say—do you remember—the old times we
had—fishing? Kiss me again, Harry—brother in blue—you’re on—my side.  Oh
I wish—I had time—to tell you.  Come close—put your arms around—my
neck—it’s old times—again."  And now the wound tortured him for a while
beyond speech.  "You’re with me, aren’t you, Harry?

"Well, there’s this," he gasped on, "about my chums—they’ve been as good
and kind—marching, us all wet and cold together—and it wasn’t their
fault.  If they had known—how I wanted—to be shot—for the Union!  It was
so hard—to be—on the wrong side!  But—"

He lifted his head and stared wildly at his brother, screamed rapidly,
as if summoning all his life for the effort to explain, "Drafted,
_drafted, drafted_—Harry, tell mother and father that.  I was _drafted_.
O God, O God, what suffering!  Both sides—I was on both sides all the
time.  I loved them all, North and South, all,—but the Union most.  O
God, it was so hard!"

His head fell back, his eyes closed, and Harry thought it was the end.
But once more Jack opened his blue eyes, and slowly said in a steady,
clear, anxious voice, "Mind you tell them I never fired high enough!"
Then he lay still in Harry’s arms, breathing fainter and fainter till no
motion was on his lips, nor in his heart, nor any tremor in the hands
that lay in the hand of his brother in blue.

"Come, Harry," said Bader, stooping tenderly to the boy, "the order is
to march.  He’s past helping now.  It’s no use; you must leave him here
to God.  Come, boy, the head of the column is moving already."

Mounting his horse, Harry looked across to Jack’s form.  For the first
time in two years the famous Louisiana brigade trudged on without their
unwilling comrade.  There he lay, alone, in the Union lines, under the
rain, his marching done, a figure of eternal peace; while Harry, looking
backward till he could no longer distinguish his brother from the clay
of the field, rode dumbly on and on beside the downcast procession of
men in gray.



                           *A TURKEY APIECE*


Not long ago I was searching files of New York papers for 1864, when my
eye caught the headline, "Thanksgiving Dinner for the Army."  I had
shared that feast.  The words brought me a vision of a cavalry brigade
in winter quarters before Petersburg; of the three-miles-distant and dim
steeples of the besieged city; of rows and rows of canvas-covered huts
sheltering the infantry corps that stretched interminably away toward
the Army of the James.  I fancied I could hear again the great guns of
"Fort Hell" infrequently punctuating the far-away picket-firing.

Rain, rain, and rain!  How it fell on red Virginia that November of ’64!
How it wore away alertness!  The infantry-men—whom we used to call
"doughboys," for there was always a pretended feud between the riders
and the trudgers—often seemed going to sleep in the night in their
rain-filled holes far beyond the breastworks, each with its little mound
of earth thrown up toward the beleaguered town. Their night-firing would
slacken almost to cessation for many minutes together.  But after the
b-o-o-oom of a great gun it became brisker usually; often so much so as
to suggest that some of Lee’s ragged brigades, their march silenced by
the rain, had pierced our fore-front again, and were "gobbling up" our
boys on picket, and flinging up new rifle-pits on the acres reclaimed
for a night and a day for the tottering Confederacy.

Sometimes the _crack-a-rac-a-rack_ would die down to a slow fire of
dropping shots, and the forts seemed sleeping; and patter, patter,
patter on the veteran canvas we heard the rain, rain, rain, not unlike
the roll of steady musketry very far away.

I think I sit again beside Charley Wilson, my sick "buddy," and hear his
uneven breathing through all the stamping of the rows of wet horses on
their corduroy floor roofed with leaky pine brush.

That _squ-ush, squ-ush_ is the sound of the stable-guard’s boots as he
paces slowly through the mud, to and fro, with the rain rattling on his
glazed poncho and streaming corded hat. Sometimes he stops to listen to
a frantic brawling of the wagon-train mules, sometimes to the reviving
picket-firing.  It crackles up to animation for causes that we can but
guess; then dies down, never to silence, but warns, warns, as the
distant glow of the sky above a volcano warns of the huge waiting forces
that give it forth.

I think I hear Barney Donahoe pulling our latch-string that November
night when we first heard of the great Thanksgiving dinner that was
being collected in New York for the army.

"Byes, did yez hear phwat Sergeant Cunningham was tellin’ av the
Thanksgivin’ turkeys that’s comin’?"

"Come in out of the rain, Barney," says Charley, feebly.

"Faith, I wish I dar’, but it’s meself is on shtable-guard.  Bedad, it’s
a rale fire ye’ve got.  Divil a better has ould Jimmy himself (our
colonel).  Ye’ve heard tell of the turkeys, then, and the pois?"

"Yes.  Bully for the folks at home!" says Charley.  "The notion of
turkey next Thursday has done me good already.  I was thinking I’d go to
hospital to-morrow, but now I guess I won’t."

"Hoshpital!  Kape clear av the hoshpital, Char-les, dear.  Sure, they’d
cut a man’s leg off behind the ears av him for to cure him av
indigestion."

"Is it going to rain all night, Barney?"

"It is, bad ’cess to it; and to-morrow and the day afther, I’m thinkin’.
The blackness av night is outside; be jabers! you could cut it like turf
with a shpade!  If it wasn’t for the ould fort flamin’ out wanst in a
whoile, I’d be thinkin’ I’d never an oi in my head, barrin’ the fires in
the tints far an’ near gives a bit of dimness to the dark.  Phwat time
is it?"

"Quarter to twelve, Barney."

"Troth, then, the relief will be soon coming. I must be thramping the
mud av Virginia to save the Union.  Good-night, byes.  I come to give
yez the good word.  Kape your heart light an’ aisy, Char-les, dear.
D’ye moind the turkeys and the pois?  Faith, it’s meself that has the
taste for thim dainties!"

"I don’t believe I’ll be able to eat a mite of the Thanksgiving," says
Charley, as we hear Barney _squ-ush_ away; "but just to see the brown on
a real old brown home turkey will do me a heap of good."

"You’ll be all right by Thursday, Charley, I guess; won’t you?  It’s
only Sunday night now."

Of course I cannot remember the very words of that talk in the night, so
many years ago. But the coming of Barney I recollect well, and the
general drift of what was said.

Charley turned on his bed of hay-covered poles, and I put my hand under
his gray blanket to feel if his legs were well covered by the long
overcoat he lay in.  Then I tucked the blanket well in about his feet
and shoulders, pulled his poncho again to its full length over him, and
sat on a cracker-box looking at our fire for a long time, while the rain
spattered through the canvas in spray.

My "buddy" Charley, the most popular boy of Company I, was of my own
age,—seventeen,—though the rolls gave us a year more each, by way of
compliance with the law of enlistment.  From a Pennsylvania farm in the
hills he came forth to the field early in that black fall of ’64,
strong, tall, and merry, fit to ride for the nation’s life,—a mighty
wielder of an axe, "bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade."

We were "the kids" to Company I.  To "buddy" with Charley I gave up my
share of the hut I had helped to build as old Bader’s "pard."  Then the
"kids" set about the construction of a new residence, which stood
farther from the parade ground than any hut in the row except the big
cabin of "old Brownie," the "greasy cook," who called us to "bean—oh!"
with so resonant a shout, and majestically served out our rations of
pork, "salt horse," coffee long-boiled and sickeningly sweet, hardtack,
and the daily loaf of a singularly despondent-looking bread.

My "buddy" and I slept on opposite sides of our winter residence.  The
bedsteads were made of poles laid lengthwise and lifted about two feet
from the ground.  These were covered thinly with hay from the bales that
were regularly delivered for horse-fodder.  There was a space of about
two feet between our bedsteads, and under them we kept our saddles and
saddle-cloths.

Our floor was of earth, with a few flour-barrel staves and cracker-box
sides laid down for rugs.  We had each an easy-chair in the form of a
cracker-box, besides a stout soap-box for guests.  Our carbines and
sabres hung crossed on pegs over the mantel-piece, above our Bibles and
the precious daguerreotypes of the dear folks at home.  When we happened
to have enough wood for a bright fire, we felt much snugger than you
might suppose.

Before ever that dark November began, Charley had been suffering from
one of those wasting diseases that so often clung to and carried off the
strongest men of both armies. Sharing the soldiers’ inveterate prejudice
against hospitals attended by young doctors, who, the men believed, were
addicted to much surgery for the sake of practice, my poor "buddy"
strove to do his regular duties.  He paraded with the sick before the
regimental doctor as seldom as possible.  He was favored by the
sergeants and helped in every way by the men, and so continued to stay
with the company at that wet season when drill and parades were
impracticable.

The idea of a Thanksgiving dinner for half a million men by sea and land
fascinated Charley’s imagination, and cheered him mightily. But I could
not see that his strength increased, as he often alleged.

"Ned, you bet I’ll be on hand when them turkeys are served out," he
would say.  "You won’t need to carry my Thanksgiving dinner up from
Brownie’s.  Say, ain’t it bully for the folks at home to be giving us a
Thanksgiving like this?  Turkeys, sausages, mince-pies! They say there’s
going to be apples and celery for all hands!"

"S’pose you’ll be able to eat, Charley?"

"Able!  Of course I’ll be able!  I’ll be just as spry as you be on
Thanksgiving.  See if I don’t carry my own turkey all right.  Yes, by
gum, if it weighs twenty pounds!"

"There won’t be a turkey apiece."

"No, eh?  Well, that’s what I figure on. Half a turkey, anyhow.  Got to
be; besides chickens, hams, sausages, and all that kind of fixin’s.  You
heard what Bill Sylvester’s girl wrote from Philamadink-a-daisy-oh?  No,
eh? Well, he come in a-purpose to read me the letter.  Says there’s
going to be three or four hundred thousand turkeys, besides them
fixin’s! Sherman’s boys can’t get any; they’re marched too far away, out
of reach.  The Shenandoah boys’ll get some, and Butler’s crowd, and us
chaps, and the blockading squadrons.  Bill’s girl says so.  We’ll get
the whole lot between us.  Four hundred thousand turkeys!  Of course
there’ll be a turkey apiece; there’s got to be, if there’s any sense in
arithmetic.  Oh, I’ll be choosin’ between breast-meat and hind-legs on
Thanksgiving,—you bet your sweet life on that!"

This expectation that there would be a turkey apiece was not shared by
Company I; but no one denied it in Charley’s hearing.  The boy held it
as sick people often do fantastic notions, and all fell into the humor
of strengthening the reasoning on which he went.

It was clear that no appetite for turkey moved my poor "buddy," but that
his brain was busy with the "whole-turkey-a-piece" idea as one
significant of the immense liberality of the folks at home, and their
absorbing interest in the army.

"Where’s there any nation that ever was that would get to work and fix
up four hundred thousand turkeys for the boys?" he often remarked, with
ecstatic patriotism.

I have often wondered why "Bill Sylvester’s girl" gave that flourishing
account of the preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner.  It was only on
searching the newspaper files recently that I surmised her sources of
information. Newspapers seldom reached our regiment until they were
several weeks old, and then they were not much read, at least by me.
Now I know how enthusiastic the papers of November, ’64, were on the
great feast for the army.

For instance, on the morning of that Thanksgiving day, the 24th of
November, the New York Tribune said editorially:—


"Forty thousand turkeys, eighty thousand turkeys, one hundred and sixty
thousand turkeys, nobody knows how many turkeys have been sent to our
soldiers.  Such masses of breast-meat and such mountains of stuffing;
drumsticks enough to fit out three or four Grand Armies, a perfect
promontory of pope’s noses, a mighty aggregate of wings.  The gifts of
their lordships to the supper which Grangousier spread to welcome
Gargantua were nothing to those which our good people at home send to
their friends in the field; and no doubt every soldier, if his dinner
does not set him thinking too intently of that home, will prove himself
a valiant trencherman."


Across the vast encampment before Petersburg a biting wind blew that
Thanksgiving day.  It came through every cranny of our hut; it bellied
the canvas on one side and tightened it on the other; it pressed flat
down the smoke from a hundred thousand mud chimneys, and swept away so
quickly the little coals which fell on the canvas that they had not time
to burn through.

When I went out towards noon, for perhaps the twentieth time that day,
to learn whether our commissary wagons had returned from City Point with
the turkeys, the muddy parade ground was dotted with groups of shivering
men, all looking anxiously for the feast’s arrival.  Officers frequently
came out, to exchange a few cheery words with their men, from the tall,
close hedge of withering pines stuck on end that enclosed the officers’
quarters on the opposite side of the parade ground.

No turkeys at twelve o’clock!  None at one! Two, three, four, five
o’clock passed by, and still nothing had been heard of our absent
wagons.  Charley was too weak to get out that day, but he cheerfully
scouted the idea that a turkey for each man would not arrive sooner or
later.

The rest of us dined and supped on "commissary."  It was not good
commissary either, for Brownie, the "greasy cook," had gone on leave to
visit a "doughboy" cousin of the Sixth Corps.

"You’ll have turkey for dinner, boys," he had said, on serving out
breakfast.  "If you’re wanting coffee, Tom can make it."  Thus we had to
dine and sup on the amateur productions of the cook’s mate.

A multitude of woful rumors concerning the absent turkeys flew round
that evening.  The "Johnnies," we heard, had raided round the army, and
captured the fowls!  Butler’s colored troops had got all the turkeys,
and had been feeding on fowl for two days!  The officers had "gobbled"
the whole consignment for their own use!  The whole story of the
Thanksgiving dinner was a newspaper hoax! Nothing was too incredible for
men so bitterly disappointed.

Brownie returned before "lights out" sounded, and reported facetiously
that the "doughboys" he had visited were feeding full of turkey and all
manner of fixings.  There were so many wagons waiting at City Point that
the roads round there were blocked for miles.  We could not fail to get
our turkeys to-morrow.  With this expectation we went, pretty happy, to
bed.

"There’ll be a turkey apiece, you’ll see, Ned," said Charley, in a
confident, weak voice, as I turned in.  "We’ll all have a bully
Thanksgiving to-morrow."

The morrow broke as bleak as the preceding day, and without a sign of
turkey for our brigade.  But about twelve o’clock a great shouting came
from the parade ground.

"The turkeys have come!" cried Charley, trying to rise.  "Never mind
picking out a big one for me; any one will do.  I don’t believe I can
eat a bite, but I want to see it. My ain’t it kind of the folks at
home!"

I ran out and found his surmise as to the return of the wagons correct.
They were filing into the enclosure around the quartermaster’s tent.
Nothing but an order that the men should keep to company quarters
prevented the whole regiment helping to unload the delicacies of the
season.

Soon foraging parties went from each company to the quartermaster’s
enclosure. Company I sent six men.  They returned, grinning, in about
half an hour, with one box on one man’s shoulders.

It was carried to Sergeant Cunningham’s cabin, the nearest to the parade
ground, the most distant from that of "the kids," in which Charley lay
waiting.  We crowded round the hut with some sinking of enthusiasm.
There was no cover on the box except a bit of cotton in which some of
the consignment had probably been wrapped.  Brownie whisked this off,
and those nearest Cunningham’s door saw disclosed—two small turkeys, a
chicken, four rather disorganized pies, two handsome bologna sausages,
and six very red apples.

We were nearly seventy men.  The comical side of the case struck the
boys instantly. Their disappointment was so extreme as to be absurd.
There might be two ounces of feast to each, if the whole were equally
shared.

All hands laughed; not a man swore.  The idea of an equal distribution
seemed to have no place in that company.  One proposed that all should
toss up for the lot.  Another suggested drawing lots; a third that we
should set the Thanksgiving dinner at one end of the parade ground and
run a race for it, "grab who can."

At this Barney Donahue spoke up.

"Begorra, yez can race for wan turkey av yez loike.  But the other wan
is goin’ to Char-les Wilson!"

There was not a dissenting voice.  Charley was altogether the most
popular member of Company I, and every man knew how he had clung to the
turkey apiece idea.

"Never let on a word," said Sergeant Cunningham.  "He’ll think there’s a
turkey for every man!"

The biggest bird, the least demoralized pie, a bologna sausage, and the
whole six apples were placed in the cloth that had covered the box.  I
was told to carry the display to my poor "buddy."

As I marched down the row of tents a tremendous yelling arose from the
crowd round Cunningham’s tent.  I turned to look behind. Some man with a
riotous impulse had seized the box and flung its contents in the air
over the thickest of the crowd.  Next moment the turkey was seized by
half a dozen hands.  As many more helped to tear it to pieces.  Barney
Donahoe ran past me with a leg, and two laughing men after him.  Those
who secured larger portions took a bite as quickly as possible, and
yielded the rest to clutching hands. The bologna sausage was shared in
like fashion, but I never heard of any one who got a taste of the pies.

"Here’s your turkey, Charley," said I, entering with my burden.

"Where’s yours, Ned?"

"I’ve got my turkey all right enough at Cunningham’s tent."

"Didn’t I tell you there’d be a turkey apiece?" he cried gleefully, as I
unrolled the lot.  "And sausages, apples, a whole pie—oh, say, ain’t
they bully folks up home!"

"They are," said I.  "I believe we’d have had a bigger Thanksgiving yet
if it wasn’t such a trouble getting it distributed."

"You’d better believe it!  They’d do anything in the world for the
army," he said, lying back.

"Can’t you eat a bite, buddy?"

"No; I’m not a mite hungry.  But I’ll look at it.  It won’t spoil before
to-morrow.  Then you can share it all out among the boys."

Looking at the turkey, the sick lad fell asleep.  Barney Donahoe softly
opened our door, stooped his head under the lintel, and gazed a few
moments at the quiet face turned to the Thanksgiving turkey.  Man after
man followed to gaze on the company’s favorite, and on the fowl which,
they knew, tangibly symbolized to him the immense love of the nation for
the flower of its manhood in the field.  Indeed, the people had
forwarded an enormous Thanksgiving feast; but it was impossible to
distribute it evenly, and we were one of the regiments that came short.

Grotesque, that scene?  Group after group of hungry, dirty soldiers,
gazing solemnly, lovingly, at a lone brown turkey and a pallid sleeping
boy!  Very grotesque.  But Charley had his Thanksgiving dinner, and the
men of Company I, perhaps, enjoyed a profounder satisfaction than if
they had feasted more materially.

I never saw Charley after that Thanksgiving day.  Before the afternoon
was half gone the doctor sent an ambulance for him, and insisted that he
should go to City Point.  By Christmas his wasted body had lain for
three weeks in the red Virginia soil.



                          *THE SWARTZ DIAMOND*


The Boer puzzled us.  It was not because he loomed so big in the haze
against the sunset; but he seemed at a mile’s distance to detect us.  We
thought the cover perfect, for the hackthorn tops were higher than our
horses’ heads.  If he from so far could see patches of khaki through
bushes, his eyes must be better than our fieldglasses.  If he did not
see us, why did he wave his hat as in salutation?

"Maybe he only suspect one patrol at de ford.  Vat you t’ink, Sergeant
McTavish?" said Lieutenant Deschamps to me.

"Perhaps he thinks some of his own kind may hold the ford," I suggested.

The others said nothing.  They were fifteen French Canadians, including
Corporal Jongers. We lay still behind our prone horses, and kept our
Krags on the Boer.

He seemed to diminish as he advanced slowly from the mirage, but still
he looked uncommonly big—and venerable, too.  His hair and beard grew
long and white, though he sat up as alert as any young man.  At ten
yards a pack-pony followed him.  When half a mile away the burgher
raised both hands above his head.

"He come for surrender, you t’ink, sergeant?"  Lieutenant Deschamps is a
gentleman. Because I was of another race he always treated me with more
than the consideration due to a good non-com.  Or possibly it was
because he knew I had been advocate in Montreal before joining the
mounted Canadian contingent.

"Better keep down and keep him covered," I replied.  "That may be a
signal."  I stared about the horizon.  The veldt was bare, except for
the straggle of hackthorns fringing the curve about the ford.  There
could be no other Boer within three miles of us, unless hidden by the
meanderings of the Wolwe, which runs twelve feet below the plain.  But
we had searched ten miles of its bed during the day. Westward lay the
kopjes from among which the old Boer had apparently ridden.

He came calmly down the breach of the opposite bank and as far as the
middle of the brawling shallow within fifty yards of us before Deschamps
cried "Halt!"  At the word we sprang up, accoutrements rattling, horses
snorting.  The old burgher looked up at us quizzically, passing his hand
down his beard and gathering its length above his mouth before he spoke.

"Take care some of those guns don’t go off," he said, with no trace of
Dutch accent.

"You surrender?" Deschamps stepped forward.

"Sir, I am going to Swartzdorp.  Did you not see me hold up my hands?"

"But for sure you could not see us here?"

He smiled and pointed up to the sky.  In the blue a vulture swung wide
above us.  "So I knew," said the burgher, "Khakis were hiding. Boers
would have come out.  They would have recognized me."

"Your name?"

"Emanuel Swartz."

"_Bon_!  The great landowner!  I have much pleasure to see you.  Come
in, monsieur.  Eef only you brought in your commando, how glad!"

"They may come yet," he said.  "It depends."  He shook his rein, and the
big bay brought him up the breach into the midst of us. The pack-pony,
which had imitated his halt, followed.

"You will not stop me.  I have private business at Swartzdorp," he said.

"Truly I regret," said Deschamps.  "But my orders!  Here you must stay,
monsieur, this night.  To-morrow General Pole.  He will be most glad to
parole you, I have hope."

"Oh, very well, lieutenant," said Swartz, philosophically.  "I dare say
he won’t send me to St. Helena."  He dismounted, leaving his Mauser
strapped to his saddle.  Then he handed me his bandoleer.  "I make you
welcome to my pack also," he said hospitably. "There’s some biltong and
meal.  Perhaps it will improve your fare."

"It will be poor stuff if it doesn’t," I told him.

"You give your parole, sir?" asked Deschamps.

"For the night, yes.  I will not try to escape."

His cordial, easy accents came with a certain surprising effect from one
who was so unkempt and, in spite of his years, so formidable.  I had
never before seen one of the great Boer land-owners.  In his manner one
could perceive, if not a certain condescension, at least the elevated
kindness of a patriarchal gentleman accustomed to warm by affability the
hearts of many descendants and dependents.  About Swartzdorp we had
heard much of his English mother, his English wife, and his lifelong
friendship with English officers and gentlemen.  It did not seem
surprising that he should have come in voluntarily now that Bloemfontein
and Pretoria were in Lord Roberts’s hands.

It was cold for us in khaki that evening by the Wolwe, though we did not
lack overcoats. The spruit tinkled icily along patches of gravel in the
blue clay, and late June’s high moon seemed pouring down a Canadian
wintriness. "No fire," ordered Deschamps, lest far-sighted Boer parties,
skilled in surprises, might locate us.  But the old burgher showed how
to make small glowing heaps of dry offal, which had been plentifully
left of old by troops of deer and antelope coming to drink at the
spruit. Over one of these tiny smokeless fires our lieutenant sat with
the prisoner.  I think I see again the reflection of the little flame
flickering on the old giant’s enormous beard and shapely outspread
hands.

We had supped heavily on his meat and meal, but sleep in that nipping
air came by dozes only, and drowsiness departed when digestion had
relieved repletion.  At midnight, when the vedettes were changed and the
moon sagged low, we all were more wakeful than early in the evening.
There had been little talk, and that in the low voices of endurance; but
now Deschamps and Swartz fell into discourse about the Kimberley mines.
This led to discussing the greater diamonds of South Africa, and so on
till the burgher began a story stranger than fiction:

"One of the biggest stones ever taken from blue clay is still uncut.  It
has never been offered for sale.  Near this very place it was found by
Vassell Swartz, my cousin.  The man is not rich even for a Free State
burgher.  He is fond of money.  He believes his diamond to be worth
twelve thousand pounds.  No man could wish harder to sell anything.  And
yet he has not offered it.  He has not even shown it.  His wife has not
seen it.  He has had it constantly near him for eleven years.  He has
handled it frequently—in its setting.  But he has not ventured to look
at it since the morning after he found it.  You wonder at that.  Is it
possible a rough diamond can shine so bright as dangerously to dazzle
the eyes?  No; Vassell would be glad to stare at it all day.  But its
setting prevents him.  And yet he set it himself."

The old burgher paused and looked about on our puzzled faces with some
air of satisfaction at their interest.

"It is quite a riddle," said Deschamps.

"So it is.  And I will make it harder.  You have been told that we Boers
think nothing of killing Kaffirs?  But all Swartzdorp could tell you
that my cousin Vassell could scarcely bear to let a Kaffir out of his
sight.  That is mysterious? Well, I will not go on talking in parables.
I will tell you the thing just as I heard it from Vassell or know about
it myself.

"Eleven years ago, Vassell and his brother, my cousin Claas, went off as
usual to Makori’s country beyond the Limpopo, elephant-hunting. Ivory
was so plenty that they trekked back a month earlier than they had
expected. On the return Vassell’s riding-horse fell lame not long after
crossing this very Wolwe spruit by a higher ford.  My cousin gave the
beast no rest till evening, and no attention until after they had made a
laager against lions and had eaten supper.  Then he took a brand from
the fire and looked into the hoof.  In it he found a whitish stone of
about the bigness of an elephant-bullet of six to the pound.  It was of
the colour of alum, and in the torchlight it glistened as the scale of a
fish.

"Vassell had never seen a rough diamond. And he had heard of diamonds as
brighter than glittering glass.  He thought only that the pebble was a
pretty stone.  The man’s heart was soft with nearing his wife and
children, so he slipped the pebble into his empty elephant-bullet pouch,
thinking to give it for a toy to his little Anna.  There it lay
forgotten until his fingers went groping for a bullet at the next
daybreak.  Kaffirs were then trying to rush my cousins’ laager.

"Wild Kaffirs these were, driven from Kimberley for unruliness in drink.
They were going back to their tribe; they had come far without food, and
they smelled the meat and meal in the wagons—so Matakit afterward told.
But no hunger could have driven them against a Boer laager.  They
mistook the wagons for the wagons of Englishmen."

The French Canadians smiled unoffended, but my jaws snapped.  Swartz
turned to me courteously:

"They mistook the wagons for those of English traders unskilled in arms
and trekking provisions to the mines.  Though their first rush showed
them their mistake, they went mad over their losses and came on twice
more.  Then they guessed, from the way my cousins reserved their fire,
that their ammunition was low.  So Matakit howled them on for a fourth
rush.

"My cousins and their six Christian Kaffirs were now in alarm, for their
cartridges were nearly all gone.  It was then that Vassell’s fingers
groped in his elephant-bullet pouch, where he felt something rounding
out the leather.  That was the forgotten pebble.  But its bigness was
too great for the muzzle-loading elephant-rifle.  So my cousin rammed it
into the wide-mouthed, old-fashioned roer, a blunderbuss that our
fathers’ fathers praised because it frightened Kaffirs more than it hurt
them.  In justice to the roer it should have been loaded with a handful
of slugs.  But with only powder and the pebble it made such flash and
noise that all the living wild blacks, but one, ran away howling.  The
one that fell before Vassell’s pebble was the biggest of all, and their
leader.  There he lay kicking and bellowing like a buffalo bull, ten
yards from the wagons.

"’While he bawled we knelt in the laager,’ Vassell told me, ’and we
offered up thanks for this our deliverance, even like unto the
deliverance of David by the pebble of the brook.’

"Then they ate breakfast while their Kaffirs inspanned, and still the
wild one roared.

"’It would be merciful, brother Vassell,’ said Claas as they drank
coffee, ’to put the Lord’s creature out of his pain.’

"’Nay,’ said Vassell; ’my conscience will not consent to what Free State
law might call murder.  And, moreover, the Kaffir’s pain is a plain
judgment of the Almighty.’  Vassell is a dopper, like Oom Paul, and a
dopper is quick to see the Almighty operating through himself. So they
left the black thief gnashing, with five more who lay still, meat for
vultures’ beaks or lions’ jaws.

"In four or five hours’ time my cousins were nigh to Truter’s drift on
the Modder.  There they saw two Englishmen and one Israelite digging
into the blue-clay shoal.

"’Good day,’ shouts Claas.  ’What are you digging for?’

"’Diamonds, Dutchman, d—n you,’ said the Englishmen, laughing.

"They came up out of the river-bed and showed my cousins four small
rough stones which they had found elsewhere.

"Vassell looked closely at the stones.  Then he knew that his pebble had
been a great gem. He put innocent, simple dopper questions about the
value of diamonds.  And the Israelite said that a first-rate stone of
the bigness of more than an elephant-bullet would be worth from twelve
to twenty thousand pounds.  Vassell felt that Israelite’s eyes piercing
him, and so he gave no more sign of excitement than a skull.  But he was
wondering if the grandfathers’ old roer had sent the pebble through the
Kaffir, which seemed unlikely.

"My cousins traded the flesh of a springbok for cartridges, and the
English went away up the spruit, while Claas got ready to cross at
Truter’s.  But Vassell made delay; he said that hunger was rummaging his
inside.

"’And that was the truth, Emanuel,’ he told me later, ’for we had
trekked since dawn.  But it is not always needful to tell all the truth.
Was I to arouse in Claas a greedy desire to share in the diamond?
True,’ said Vassell, ’we had agreed to share and share alike in the
hunt, but the stone was not ivory, skin, nor meat, and I alone found it.
We are commanded to agree with our adversary "in the way with him."  And
by halting in that place for the boiling of coffee there would be time
to pray for direction. If the Almighty would have us trek back to the
wounded Kaffir, it would be wise to turn before crossing at Truter’s.’

"Of course my cousin Claas, when he heard of Vassell’s hunger, felt
hungry too, and the Kaffirs were told to prepare the meal. Meantime
Vassell took his Bible from the wagon-box and fell on his knees.  He
expected the Lord would order him back to the Wolwe, and so it happened.
But to induce Claas to obey the Lord’s direction without understanding
the whole thing was the trouble.

"Like an inspiration a familiar text came to Vassell’s mind.  ’Blessed
are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’  He showed this to Claas
as his reason for turning about.  The text had a new meaning for
Vassell.  I tell you again he felt that he had been inspired to remember
it.  You have to bear that in mind, or you will not rightly understand
how his brain was afterward affected.

"’But it would be foolishness to apply the text to a wild Kaffir four
hours’ trek back,’ said Claas.

"’Nay, not if the Kaffir be subdued,’ said Vassell.

"’He is more than subdued; he is dead,’ said Claas.

"’Nay, he may not yet have perished,’ said Vassell.  But he felt sure
the black was dead. And he felt equally sure he had been inspired to
understand that he himself should obtain mercy in the shape of the
diamond if he returned even as the good Samaritan to the Kaffir fallen
by the way.  Still Claas was stiff-necked, until Vassell opened the Book
at Jeremiah iii. 12: ’Return, ... for I am merciful, saith the Lord.’
He handed it to Claas without a word.

"Claas naturally supposed that Vassell had opened the Bible at random,
as the doppers often do when they are seeking direction.  And hence
Claas saw in this text a clear leading back to the Wolwe.  Yet he wished
to rest and smoke tobacco for a long hour after eating. But Vassell was
greatly inspired with texts that day.  He pointed to I Samuel xx. 38:
’Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not.’  Then he
fell into such a groaning and sighing about it that Claas could not
smoke in peace.

"’Anything is better than your rumblings,’ said Claas, and so they
hastened on the backward course.  ’For,’ as Vassell told me, ’I was in
deep tribulation of fear lest the vultures might gulp down the diamond,
or some beak strike it afar.’"

Here the huge old burgher sat up straighter and paused so unexpectedly
that his sudden silence was startling.  I imagined he listened to
something far off in the stillness of the waning moon.  Lieutenant
Deschamps and the French Canadians sat indifferent, but I sprang up and
put hands to my ears.  Nothing could I hear but the occasional stamping
of our horses, the walking hoofs of our vedettes by the river’s bend,
and the clinking of swift water over gravel.

"Did you hear something strange?" the patriarch asked me.

"Did you?" I asked.

"Is it likely that a great-grandfather’s ears can hear better than a
young man’s?" he asked courteously.

"But you stopped to listen," I replied.

Then he shamed me by saying gently: "An old voice may need a little
rest.  But now I will go on:

"My cousins trekked back as fast as their oxen could walk.  They found
the Kaffir still squirming, and covering his eyes from the vultures.
This went to Vassell’s heart.  He could not cut the diamond out of the
living.  And perhaps it was not in the man.  Vassell drove away the
vultures and examined the wound. Then his heart was lifted up
exceedingly, for as he told me, ’fear had been heavy in me lest the
diamond had gone clear through the Kaffir and been lost on the veldt.
But now my fingers felt it under the flesh of his back.  An inch more
had sent it through.  And it seemed so sure the pagan must die before
morning that my conscience was clear against extracting the stone in
haste.’

"This Wolwe Veldt was then Lion Veldt, and Vassell thought it prudent to
carry the Kaffir into the night-laager, for lions bolt big chunks, and
the diamond might be in one of them.  Claas consented, and so the tame
Kaffirs lugged the wild one into one of the ivory-wagons, and left him
to die at his leisure.

"Late in the night Vassell, wakened by Claas snoring, felt a strong
temptation.  He might get up and knife out the stone unseen.  ’But I put
the temptation away,’ he told me, ’for my movement might waken Claas, or
the Kaffir might kick or groan under the knife, and my brother might spy
on me.  So I mercifully awaited the hour when the Lord would let the
diamond come into my hands without Claas suspecting anything.  Besides,
it was against my conscience to cut the Kaffir up warm when it seemed so
sure he would be cold before morning.’

"But next morning the Kaffir was neither dead nor alive.  And my cousins
were keen to see their wives and children.  They must trek on.  But
Vassell could not leave the diamond. ’And to end the Kaffir’s life was,’
he told me, ’more than ever against my conscience.  That first text,
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy," kept coming
back into my mind.  It scared me.  It seemed to mean I should have the
diamond to myself only if I spared the Kaffir.  If I killed him Claas
might see me extract the stone and claim half.  Moreover, I felt sure
the jolting of the wagon would end the pagan soon.’

"So they trekked.  When they outspanned at Swartzdorp, two days later,
the Kaffir was more alive than on the first day.  No reward yet for
conscientious Vassell!  He stayed only a day with his wife, and then
trekked for Bloemfontein with the Kaffir in his horse-wagon.  Claas
stayed at Swartzdorp.  And all at Swartzdorp thought Vassell had gone
crazy about the black.

"I was then, residing in Bloemfontein, attending a meeting of the Raad.
There I saw Vassell gaping at me in the market-place. Never before had I
seen trouble in the man’s face.  When he told me he had brought a hurt
Kaffir all the miles from Swartzdorp I felt sure the man was mad.

"’It may be the Kaffir saved your life from lions?’ I asked him.

"’Nay; I saved his life,’ he groaned.  ’For we are commanded to do good
unto our enemies. And, moreover, this is the Kaffir I fired it into.’

"’Fired what?’ I asked, not then knowing a word of it all.

"’Emanuel,’ he said, ’my soul is deep in trouble, and surely God has
sent you to counsel me.  He commanded me to bring the Kaffir here.  The
text he put into my mind will not go out of my mind.  I dream of it each
night, and I dream of the Kaffir with it, so it must mean him.  And to
be merciful that I may obtain the promised mercy I have brought him to
the hospital.’

"’What does this rant mean?  Put it in plain Taal,’ I said.

"Vassell looked all about the market-place, tiptoed his lips to my ears,
and whispered, ’Come into my horse-wagon.’

"I climbed up in front under the cover, and then heard breathing behind
the seat.  There lay the Kaffir.  I turned on Vassell with ’You said you
brought him to the hospital.’

"’I am afraid to take him there.’

"’Afraid they will require you to pay?’

"’Nay, that is not the trouble.  I will reveal all to you.’

"Then he whispered to me all that I have told you, my friends.

"’It was borne in on me,’ Vassell said, ’that the surgeons would cut out
the diamond to save the Kaffir’s life, and thus I should obtain the
mercy.  But now I am in fear they will not let me be present at the
operation.  They will keep the diamond if they get time to examine it.’

"’Drive to the hospital,’ I said.  ’They will let you be present.  I
will arrange that.  Have you money?’

"Yes; he had sold his four best tusks for English gold.  So he had
plenty to pay the doctors if a bribe should prove necessary.

"But it was not needed.  The house-surgeon had the Kaffir carried in,
and they examined him in our presence.  Then they told Vassell it was a
beautiful case involving the kidneys in some extraordinary way, and they
wished to watch what would happen if Matakit lived—that was the
outrageous Kaffir’s name.  To cut the bullet out, they said—for you may
be sure Vassell never mentioned diamond to them—would kill the Kaffir.
And if they killed him quickly, medical science might forego valuable
knowledge which it might gain if they didn’t operate an hour before he
was quite out of danger by the wound.

"Think of my conscientious cousin’s sad situation!"  The old giant gazed
about on us as if without guile.  "Twelve thousand pounds! And the
surgeons would not let him take the Kaffir away.  Nor would they let
Vassell stay in the ward with his diamond!  And he dared not tell the
doctors why the operation would have comforted him, lest they should
secretly explore the Kaffir as diamondiferous clay!"

Here again the tale paused.  A sardonic tone had for an instant been
steely in the genial voice.  But the face of the old man was as in a
placid dream.  We volunteers, trusting all to our vedettes, grinned,
thinking only of Vassell’s dilemma.  The burgher seemed to ponder on it;
or maybe, I thought, he was resting his voice again.  So ten seconds
passed. Then I heard the rush and grunt of a flac-flarc, the veldt pig.
It seemed to have been startled out of the spruit by a vedette, for we
faintly heard a horse snort and a man scold.  The moon was now very low,
but all seemed unchanged except for an increasing restlessness of the
picketed horses.  They had replied to the snort of the vedette’s beast.
In an interval of tense silence, the old Africander stared about on our
faces with a curious inspection that I now think of as having been one
of such pity as the deaf perceive in other men’s faces.  But at the time
I supposed he but wished to assure himself that all were attentively
awaiting the rest of his story.

Yet when the old burgher spoke again he seemed to have forgotten the
great Swartz diamond.

"Such silence on this veldt!" he murmured. "I remember it alive with
great game.  Not twenty miles from here I have lain often awake in the
night to a concert of lions and hyenas and jackals, with the stamping of
wildebeests, and the barking of quaggas, and the rushing away of
springbok and blesbok as the breeze gave them our scent.  Now we hear
nothing, my friends—nothing whatever moving on the plain?"

"Only the horses and the pickets and the stream," said Deschamps.

"But I," said the old burgher, "hear more. I hear the sounds of ghosts
of troops of great game.  And I hear with those sounds other sounds as
of the ghosts of a needless war."  He sighed heavily, and seemed to sink
into sad reverie.

Deschamps and his French volunteers would not interrupt him, but I was
impatient.  "How did your cousin get at the diamond?" I asked.

"He did not get at it."  The whitebeard roused up amiably and resumed
his tale:

"And yet he did not part with it.  For six weeks the Kaffir improved in
the Bloemfontein hospital.  Then the day came when the surgeons told my
cousin they could learn nothing more of the lovely case from outside.  I
do not know whether they really meant to vivisect the Kaffir, but
Vassell was sure of it, for he had that diamond on the brain.  He longed
to have the Kaffir live out his allotted span—at Swartzdorp.

"’Surely I must be with Matakit at his ending,’ said Vassell to me.

"Now Matakit had been told how Vassell had mercifully saved him, and he
wished for nothing better than to be Vassell’s man.  So, in the night,
after my cousin had whispered to the Kaffir that the surgeons meant to
cut him open, Matakit jumped out of the hospital window and hurried to
Vassell’s horse-wagon waiting on the Modder road.

"My friends, to tell you all the sad experience of my cousin with that
Kaffir I should need to be with you for a week.  Our time for talk
together is too short—indeed, I seem to hear it going in the hackthorn
tops.  But still I can give you a little more.

"Consider, then, that Vassell’s family already thought him demented for
bringing the wild black from the Wolwe.  Trekking with him to
Bloemfontein was worse, and carrying him back appeared complete lunacy.
But Vassell was the head of a Boer family and must be obeyed by his
household, from Tante Anna, his wife, to the smallest Kaffir baby bred
on his farm.

"He told no one but me of the battle in his soul.  It was this: the more
he longed to knife the diamond out, the more his conscience was warned
with that text the Lord had sent him. He had now a fixed idea that he
would somehow lose the diamond unless he was merciful to Matakit.

"Out of sight of the Kaffir my cousin could not be easy, he feared so
much the black would run away.  To prevent that, Vassell at first
carried a loaded rifle all day long.  At night he locked the Kaffir in
the room partitioned from his own.  Its windows he barred with iron
bars. This was to save Matakit from the Christian Kaffirs on the farm.
At first they were likely to kill him in the dark, such was their
jealousy of the wild man honored by a bed in the house of the baas,
while their own Christian bones had to rest in the huts and the sheds.

"But their jealousy changed to deadly fear of Matakit.  They imagined
that he had bewitched the baas.  Matakit, being no fool, soon smelled
out that fear.  As a witch doctor he lorded it over them.  He began to
roll in fat, for they brought to his teeth the best of their food.  As
for their women!

"At last Tante Anna looked into this thing. Then the blood of her mother
of the Great Trek ran hot in her.  I happened to be visiting there at
the time.  She herself went at the pagan with the sjambok.  Vassell
turned his back, for he approved the lashing, but the Kaffir so groveled
and howled under the whip that my cousin’s conscience rose up untimely.
It told him that he would be guilty, for the diamond’s sake, of
complicity in the killing if he did not interfere.  Whereupon he took
the sjambok from Tante Anna’s hands, and ordered her to deal kindly with
the Kaffir, as before.

"’Kindly!  The black beast is destroying Christianity on our farm!’ she
wailed.  ’I will slay him with my own hands.  And I hope I have done it
already!!’

"’Alas! no, Anna,’ said Vassell.  ’He will live.  You have given him a
reason to run away.’

"’Run away?  I wish to the Lord he would run away!’

"’No, no, my woman,’ Vassell whispered. ’You do not understand.  Tell it
to nobody—but the Kaffir is worth twelve thousand English pounds to me!’

"She turned to me laughing.  ’Twelve thousand pounds.  My poor demented
man!’

"’When he dies I will prove it,’ said Vassell.

"’What!  A dead Kaffir worth a fortune?’  She was all contempt for
Vassell’s folly.

"Of course he wished to explain to her.  But he had an opinion that
Matakit’s days might be few if Tante Anna came to understand the meaning
of the lump on Matakit’s black back. Vassell’s uncontrollable conscience
required her to be no more unmerciful to Matakit.  If Anna’s sjambok cut
out the stone, it might be lost in the litter of the yard.

"Well, my friends, the word went up and down the Orange Free State, and
far into the Colony, and away across the Vaal, that Burgher Vassell
Swartz was crazy with kindness for a wild Kaffir!  Of course I denied
it, and that carried weight, but the mystery grew, for I could not
explain the case, so strong was Vassell in holding me to secrecy.  To
get my cousin out of his trouble I advised him to lend Matakit to me,
but he would not agree.  Possibly he suspected me of wishing to dig for
the diamond.

"Ten years this sorrow lasted, and all the time Matakit grew fatter,
till he could scarcely walk.  He was the most overbearing black in all
South Africa.  What he suspected I do not know, but when he became sure
Vassell would not let him be hurt much he wantonly abused the patience
of even his devoted baas.  Poor Vassell!  Sometimes, to ease his
sorrows, he used the sjambok on Matakit, but always too gently.  Often
he raised his gun to end it all; indeed, he got into a way of thinking
that the devil was continually instigating him to kill the Kaffir.  And
every dopper knows that to yield consciously to the devil is the
unforgivable sin."

The ancient burgher paused once more. And again we, whose senses were
trained but to the narrow spaces between Canadian woodlands, heard
nothing but a sudden louder tumult of gathered horses, the hoofs of the
vedettes, and the tinkle of the spruit.  I could not guess why old
Emanuel looked so well pleased.  He loomed taller, it seemed, as he
squatted.  It was as if with new vivacity that he spoke on:

"The strange things my poor cousin did!  I will tell you of at least one
more.  Five years of Matakit went by, and never again had Vassell gone
hunting afar, for he could not leave the fat Kaffir behind, and he
feared Matakit would run away if he got near the country of his tribe.
But in the sixth year a new inspiration came to Vassell.  The Lord might
send a lion if he took Matakit where lions might be convenient for
sending.  Doppers always regard lions as dispensations of Providence
when they kill pagan Kaffirs.  So he brought Matakit afar to the Lion
Veldt.  There Vassell would not let his men make a laager—he slept in a
wagon himself.  And the Lord did send a lion in the night.  The blacks
lay by the fire.  And when it fell low that lion bore a man away out
into the darkness at two leaps.

"’Baas! baas!’ Vassell heard his Kaffirs shout.  ’Baas!  The lion has
taken Matakit!’  For they had been dozing, and now missed the fat black.

"The Lord had sent the lion, but the devil was carrying away the
diamond.  Vassell must be in at the ending, as he had planned.  So out
with his rifle he sprang, seized a brand, and ran, whirling it into
flame, on the dragged body’s spoor.

"’Come back!  Oh, baas, come back!  The veldt is full of lions!’  So the
Kaffirs shrieked. But twelve thousand pounds is not forsaken by a Boer
hunter for fear of lions.  On Vassell ran.  He would beat off the lion
with the torch. Happy would be his rich life without Matakit! Plainly
the Lord would be merciful to him because he had been merciful as
commanded by the text.

"But from the wagons came now a bawl: ’Baas!  Baas!  I am here, I,
Matakit!  I was in a wagon.’  He had sneaked away from the fire.  ’It is
but Impugan that the lion has taken.’

"Back went Vassell in rage.  Now he would finish the Kaffir!  For what
would his other Kaffirs, the Christians he had bred, his best hunters,
too—what would they think but that he valued the accursed pagan above
brave old Impugan and all the rest of them?  Yet he only beat out his
torch on Matakit’s head before the diseased conscience stayed his hand
once more."

Again the white-beard burgher paused.  The picketed horses were now
still.  The moon was gone, and the spruit chattered in starlit darkness.
There was no sound of the vedettes, but that was not strange.  Yet
uneasiness came over me.  My comrades shared it.  We all stared at the
gigantic prisoner with some suspicion that I could not define.  He
seemed uncanny.  From an old man, and especially an old Boer, sneers
seemed unnatural.  Some diabolical amusement seemed to animate him.  As
he jeered his cousin he seemed to jeer us.  At first I had liked his
genial tone.  Now he gave me a sense of repulsion.  For this I was
trying to account when the old burgher stooped and freshened the fire
with mealie cobs.  The sparks flew high.  In that momentary light he
resumed his story:

"My cousin Vassell was of my Swartzdorp commando when this war began,
but he is now a prisoner in St. Helena.  Before he left home with his
boys he instructed his wife about Matakit.

"’Be as good to him as you can,’ Vassell ordered.  ’But if he should
come to his end before I return,’ then be careful to bury him deeper
than jackals or hyenas dig.  Bury him carefully by’—no matter where;
Vassell showed Tante Anna precisely the place.

"The woman wept and fell on her husband’s neck, and cried: ’Farewell,
and fight well; and God bring you and the boys back to me, Vassell, my
old heart.  You need have no fear but I will carefully bury the Kaffir!’

"_Gentlemen!_"  We all sprang up at the change in the old voice.
"_Gentlemen_—you are my prisoners."  The burgher rose up, very hard of
face.

Deschamps drew his pistol.  I thrust mine almost into the burgher’s
face.  But he spoke firmly:

"What!  Shoot your prisoner, with his commando surrounding you.  Fifty
Mausers are levelled on you.  Pooh!  No!  It would be the end of you
all.  Lieutenant, your horses are seized.  Your vedettes are prisoners.
They were knocked off their saddles long ago, when you heard nothing but
the horses stamping. There was a Boer among them then.  He provoked that
stamping.  It was the signal to strike down your vedettes.  Fifty
burghers are listening to my voice now.  Here, men!"  And at the word
the Boer surprise came on.  "Oom Emanuel!  Oh, Oom Emanuel!" was the
cry.

"I truly grieve for you, gentlemen," said the old burgher ten minutes
later.  "You were such good listeners—you had ears for nothing but my
story.  And because of that I leave you food for a whole day.  It will
be sufficient, if you march well on foot, to take you to my old friend
General Pole.  I beg you to give him my compliments.  But he will not be
in good humour to-morrow.  Every one of his patrols within twenty miles
has been captured to-night, unless something has gone wrong with De Wet,
which is unlikely.  Do not be cast down, lieutenant.  You were not to
blame.  Your ears were not trained to the veldt.  Good-bye.  I invite
you to visit me, lieutenant, after this war ends, at my Swartzdorp farm.
Then I will tell you the rest of the diamond story."

"But that is not fair, sir," said Deschamps, whimsically.  "I have
interest in de story, and I want to know how she end."

"It has no end yet."  The old burgher smiled broadly.  "I was on my way
to end it when you stopped me.  I hoped to get through more easily
without my burghers’ aid, but I told them to follow if they saw me
stopped.  You missed us in searching the spruit this morning.

"I have really private business at Swartzdorp. Word was brought to me
three days ago that Tante Anna dutifully buried Matakit months ago.
Vassell was the Kaffir’s life; I will be his resurrection.  A great
diamond of the first water is very salable, and the treasury of the
republic is running low."

"But it may not be a diamond of the first water," said I.

"It must be," said the patriarch.  "Anything less would be too shabby a
mercy to Vassell."



                          *BOSS OF THE WORLD*


About one-tenth of the people in Boston are British Canadians, mostly
from the Maritime Provinces, an acquisitive prudent folk who see naught
to be gained by correcting casual acquaintances who mistake them for
down-east Yankees.  Often, indeed, they are descendants of Hezekiahs and
Priscillas who, having been Royalists during the War of Independence,
found subsequent emigration to a British country incumbent on their
Puritan consciences.  These Americans, returned to the ancestral New
England after four or five generations of absence, commonly find Boston
ways surprisingly congenial, though they continue to cherish pride in
British origin, and a decent warmth of regard for fellow natives of the
Maritime Provinces.  Hence a known Canadian is frequently addressed by
an unsuspected one with, "I am from Canada, too."  Having learned this
from ten years’ experience, I was little surprised when old Adam Bemis,
meeting me on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets, in May, 1915,
stopped and stealthily whispered, "I am from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia."

"Really!  I have always taken you for one of the prevalent minority, a
man from the State of Maine."

"Most folks do.  It doesn’t vex me any more.  But I’ve wanted to tell
you any time the last ten years."

"Then, why didn’t you?"

"It’s not my way to hurry.  You will understand that well when I
explain.  I’m needing friendly advice."

He had ever worn the air of preoccupation during our twelve years’
acquaintance, but that seemed proper to an inventor burdened with the
task of devising and selecting novelties for the Annual Announcement by
which Miss Minnely’s Prize Package Department furthers the popularity of
her famous Family Blessing. The happy possessor of five new subscription
certificates, on remitting them to Adam’s Department, receives by mail,
prepaid, Number 1 Prize Package.  Number 2 falls to the collector of ten
such certificates; and so on, in gradations of Miss Minnely’s shrewd
beneficence. The magnifico of one thousand certificates obtains choice
between a gasoline auto-buggy and a New England farm.  To be ever adding
to or choosing from the world’s changing assortment of moral mechanical
toys, celluloid table ornaments, reversible albums, watches warranted
gold filled, books combining thrill with edification, and more or less
similar "premiums" to no calculable end, might well account for Old
Adam’s aspect, at once solemn and unsettled.

"What is your trouble?" I enquired.

"The Odistor.  My greatest discovery!" he whispered.

"Indeed!  For your Department?"

"We will see about that.  It is something mighty wonderful—I don’t know
but I should say almighty."

"Goodness!  What is its nature?"

"I won’t say—not here.  You couldn’t believe me without seeing it work—I
wouldn’t have believed it myself on anybody’s word.  I will bring it on
to your lodgings—that’s a good place for the exhibition.  No—I won’t
even try to explain here—we might be overheard."  He glanced up and down
Tremont Street, then across—"Sh—there she is herself!"  He dodged into a
drug store opposite the Touraine.

Miss Mehitable Minnely, sole proprietor of The Family Blessing, was
moving imposingly from the Boylston Street front of the hotel toward her
auto-brougham.  At the top step she halted and turned her cordial,
broad, dominant countenance in both directions as if to beam on streets
crowded with potential prize-package takers.  She then spoke the
permitting word to two uniformed deferential attendants, who proceeded
to stay her carefully by the elbows, in her descent of the stone steps.
Foot passengers massed quickly on both sides of her course, watching her
large, slow progress respectfully.  When the porters had conveyed her
across the pavement, and with deferential, persistent boosting made of
her an ample lading for the "auto," the chauffeur touched his
wide-peaked cap, and slowly rolled her away towards Brimstone Corner _en
route_ to the Blessing Building.  Adam came out of the drug store
looking relieved.

"She doesn’t like to see any of us on the street, office hours," he
explained with lips close to my ear.  "Not that I ought to care one
mite."  He smiled somewhat defiantly and added, "To see me dodging the
old lady’s eye you’d never guess I’m _her_ boss.  But I am."  He eyed my
wonder exultantly and repeated, "It’s so.  She doesn’t know it.  Nobody
knows, except me.  But I _am_ her boss.  Just whenever I please."

On my continued aspect of perturbation he remarked, coolly:—"Naturally
you think my head is on wrong.  But you will know better this evening.
I’m the World’s boss whenever I choose to take the responsibility.  If I
don’t choose, _she_ goes on being my boss, and, of course, I’ll want to
hold down my job.  Well, good-day for the present.  Or, say—I
forgot—will it suit you if I come about half-past-five? I can’t get
there _much_ earlier.  She’s not too well pleased if any of us leave
before Park Street clock strikes five."

"Very well, Mr. Bemis—half past.  I shall expect you."

"Expect a surprise, too."

He walked circumspectly across Boylston Street through the contrary
processions of vehicles, to the edging pavement of the Common, on his
way toward the new Old State House, and Miss Minnely’s no less immense
Family Blessing Building.

It was precisely twenty-six minutes past five when Adam entered my
private office in the rear room of the ground floor of a sky-scraper
which overlooks that reach of Charles River lying between the Union Boat
Club House and the long, puritanic, impressive simplicity of Harvard
Bridge.  He did not greet me, being preoccupied with the brown
paper-covered package under his left arm.  With a certain eagerness in
his manner, he placed this not heavy burden on the floor, so that it was
hidden by the broad table-desk at which I sat.  He stooped.  I could
hear him carefully untie the string and open the clattering paper.

He then placed on the green baize desk-cover a bulbous object of some
heavy metal resembling burnished steel.  It was not unlike a large white
Bermuda onion with a protuberant stem or nozzle one inch long,
half-an-inch in diameter, and covered by a metal cap.  Obviously; the
bulb was of two equal parts, screwed together on a plane at right angles
to the perpendicular nozzle.  An inch of the upper edge of the lower or
basic part was graduated finely as a vernier scale.  The whole lower
edge of the upper half was divided, apparently into three hundred and
sixty degrees, as is the horizontal circle of a theodolite.  The parts
were fitted with a clamp and tangent screw, by which the vernier could
be moved with minutest precision along the graduated circle.

"I was four years experimenting before I found out how to confine it,"
said Adam.

"What?  A high explosive!"

"No—nothing to be nervous about.  But what it is I can’t exactly say."

"A scientific mystery, eh?"

"It might be called so, seeing as I don’t myself know the real nature of
the force any more than electricians know what electricity is. They
understand how to generate and employ it, that’s all.  Did you ever see
a whirlwind start?"

"No."

"Think again.  Not even a little one?"

"Of course I have often seen little whirlwinds on the street carrying up
dust and scraps of paper, sometimes dropping them instantly, sometimes
whirling them away."

"On calm days?"

"Really I can’t remember.  But I think not. It doesn’t stand to reason."

"That’s where you are mistaken.  It is in the strongest kind of sunshine
on dead calm days that those little whirlwinds do start.  What do you
suppose starts them?"

"I never gave it a thought."

"Few do.  I’ve given it years of close thinking. You have read of ships
on tropic seas in dead calm having top-sails torn to rags by whirlwinds
starting ’way up there, deck and sea quiet as this room?"

"I’ve read of that.  But I don’t believe all the wonderful items I read
in the papers."

"There are more wonders than the papers print.  I saw that happen twice
in the Indian Ocean, when I was a young man.  I have been studying more
or less on it ever since.  Now I will show you the remainder of my
Odistor.  I call it that because folks when I was young used to talk of
a mysterious Odic force."

To the desk he lifted a black leather grip-sack, as narrow, as low, and
about twice as long as one of those in which surgeons carry their
implements.  From this he extracted a simple-seeming apparatus which I
still suppose to have been of the nature of an electric machine.
Externally it resembled a rectangular umbrella box of metal similar to
that of the bulb.  It was about four feet in length and four inches in
height and in breadth.  That end which he placed nearest the window was
grooved to receive one-half the bulb accurately.  Clamped longitudinally
to the top of the box was a copper tube half-an-inch in exterior
diameter, and closed, except for a pinhole sight, at the end farthest
from the window.  The other, or open end, was divided evenly by a
perpendicular filament apparently of platinum.

Adam placed this sighted box on the green baize, its longer axis
pointing across the Charles River to Cambridge, through the window.  He
carefully propped up the wire-net sash.  Stooping at the desk he looked
through the pin-hole sight and shifted the box to his satisfaction.

"Squint along the line of sight," he said, giving place to me.  I
stooped and complied.

"You see Memorial Hall tower right in the line?"

"Precisely."

"But what is nearest on the Cambridge shore?"

"The stone revetment wall."

"I mean next beyond that."

"The long shed with the big sign ’Builders’ in black letters."

"All right.  Sit here and watch that shed. No matter if it blows away.
They were going to tear it down anyway."  He placed my chair directly
behind the sighted tube.

With an access of eagerness in his countenance, and something of tremor
apparent in his clutching fingers, he lifted the bulb, unscrewed its
metal cap and worked the tangent screw while watching the vernier
intently.  He was evidently screwing the basal half closer to the
nozzle-bearing upper portion.

From a minute orifice in the nozzle or stem something exuded that
appeared first as a tiny, shimmering, sunbright, revolving globule.  At
that instant he placed the bulb on its base in its niche or groove at
the outer or window end of the sighted box.  Thus the strange revolving
globule was rising directly in the line of sight.

"Watch that shed," Adam ordered hoarsely.

I could not wholly take my eyes off the singular sphere, which resembled
nothing that I have elsewhere seen so much as a focus of sun rays from a
burning glass.  But this intensely bright spot or mass—for it appeared
to have substance even as the incandescent carbon of an Edison lamp
seems to possess substance exterior to the carbon—rose expanding in an
increasing spiral within an iridescent translucent film that clung by a
tough stem to the orifice of the nozzle, somewhat as a soap-bubble
clings to the pipe whence it is blown.  Yet this brilliant, this
enlarging, this magic globule was plainly whirling on its perpendicular
axis as a waterspout does, and that with speed terrific. The mere
friction of its enclosing film on the air stirred such wind in the room
as might come from an eighteen-inch electric fan.  In shape the infernal
thing rapidly became an inverted cone with spiral convolutions.  It
hummed like a distant, idly-running circular saw, a great top, or the
far-off, mysterious forewarning of a typhoon.

"Now!"  Adam touched a button on the top of the metal box.

The gleaming, whirling, humming, prismatic spiral was then about
eighteen inches high.  It vanished without sound or spark, as if the
film had been totally destroyed and the contained incandescence quenched
on liberation.  For one instant I experienced a sense of suffocation, as
if all the air had been drawn out of the room. The inner shutters
clashed, the holland sunshade clattered, the door behind me snicked
open, air from the corridor rushed in.

"See the river!"  Adam was exultant, but not too excited to replace the
metal cap on the nozzle.

Certainly the Charles River was traversed by a gust that raised white
caps instantly.  A bulk-headed sailing-dory, owned by a Union Boat
Clubman whom I knew, lay over so far that her sail was submerged, and
her centre-board came completely out of water.  Only the head and
clutching forearms of the two men aboard her could be seen.  Afterward
they told me they had been quite surprised by the squall. Beyond the
Cambridge revetment wall a wide cloud of dust sprang up, hiding the
"Builders" shed.

When this structure reappeared Adam gasped, then stood breathless, his
countenance expressive of surprise.

He looked down at the Odistor, pondering, left hand fingers pressing his
throbbing temple. Lifting the bulb he inspected the vernier, laid it
down again, put on his spectacles and once more peered intently at the
graduated scale.

"I see," he said, "I was the least thing too much afraid of doing damage
in Cambridge back of the shed.  But you saw the wind?"

"Certainly I saw wind."

"You know how it started?"

"I don’t know what to think.  It was very strange.  What is the stuff?"

"Tell me what starts the whirlwind or the cyclone, and I can tell you
that.  All I’m sure of is that I can originate the force, control it,
and release it in any strength I choose.  Do you remember the chap
called Æolus we used to read about in the Latin book at school, he that
bagged up the winds long ago?  I guess there was truth at the back of
that fable.  He found out the secret before me, and he used it to some
extent.  It died with him, and they made a god out of his memory—they
had some right to be grateful that he spared them.  It must go to the
grave with me—so far as I’ve reasoned on the situation.  But that’s all
right. What’s worrying me is the question—Shall I make any use of it?"

"I can see no use for it."

"What!  Think again.  It is the Irresistible Force.  There is no
withstanding it.  I can start a stronger hurricane than ever yet blew.
You remember what happened to that Hawaiian Island in the tornado last
year?  That was a trifle to what I can do.  It is only a matter of
confining a larger quantity in a stronger receiver and giving it a
swifter send off with a more powerful battery.  I can widen the track
and lengthen the course to any extent."

"Suppose you can.  Still it is only a destroyer.  What’s the good of
it?"

"What’s the good of a Krupp gun.  Or a shell.  Or a bullet?"

"They are saleable."

He looked keenly at me for some seconds. "Do you see that far, or do you
only not see how it could be used as a weapon?  That’s it, eh!  Well,
I’ll tell you.  There’s England spending more’n ten million dollars a
day in the war.  Suppose I go to Lord Kitchener. He’s a practical, quick
man—in half an hour he sees what I can do.  ’What will you give,’ I ask
him, ’to have the Crown Prince and the rest of them Prussians blown
clear away?’  ’What is your price?’ he inquires.  ’Ten million pounds
would be cheap,’ I reply.  ’Take five,’ he says, ’we are not made of
money.’  ’Well, seeing it’s you,’ I tell him."

"It is a considerable discount, Adam.  But then you are a British
subject."

"Yes—kind of.  But the conversation was imaginary.  Discount or no
discount, I feel no special call to blow away whole armies of Germans.
If I could set the Odistor on the Kaiser, and the Crown Prince, and a
dozen or so more of the Prussian gang, I’d do it, of course.  But how
could I find just where they were?  Blowing away whole armies of men
don’t seem right to me."

"But you needn’t do that yourself.  Sell your secret outright to the
British Government."

Adam stared as one truly astonished.

"Now what you think you’re talking about?" he remonstrated.  "Can’t you
see farther than that?  Suppose I sell the secret to Kitchener. Suppose
he clears out all the Germans with it. What next?  Why, Ireland!
Kitchener is a Jingo Imperialist, which I never was and never will be.
I’ve heard of Jingoes saying time and again that England’s interests
would be suited if Ireland was ten feet under water.  Or suppose he only
blows the Irish out of Connaught, just to show the others they’d better
cut out the Sinn Finn.  What then?  First place, I like the Irish.  My
wife’s Irish.  Next, consider all the world.  Suppose England has got
the irresistible weapon.  There’s no opposing it. Suppose France was to
try, some time after this war is over.  Away go her cities, farms,
vineyards, people, higher than Gilroy’s kite.  What next?  All the rest
of the world then know they must do what the English say—Germans,
Italians, Russians, Yankees, Canadians.  Now I’m a cosmopolitan, I am.
All kind of folk look good to me."

"But England ruling the world means universal peace," I said
enthusiastically.  "Free trade, equal rights, all the grand altruistic
English ideals established forever and ever! Adam, let England have it!
You’ll be remembered as the greatest benefactor of humanity.  A Bemis
statue in Trafalgar Square, London!  Sure!  Think of that glory, Adam."

"For putting the English on top," he replied dryly.  "I can’t seem to
want to.  Not but what the English are all right.  But my kind of
Maritime Province Canadians are considerably more American than English,
though they never rightly know it till they’ve lived here and in the old
country.  We’re at home with Yankee ways and Yankee notions.  In England
we’re only colonials.  Not but what the war may change that a bit."

"Take your secret to Washington then. President Wilson will see that you
get all that you can reasonably ask for it."

"Sure—but while the pro-German microbe is active in Washington, I will
not offer the thing there.  Yet my first notion was to let the United
States have it—on conditions."

"What conditions?"

"Well, I’d bargain they must leave Canada alone.  Woodrow would boss the
rest of the world, I was thinking, just the way I’ll do it myself if
ever I _do_ make up my mind.  _No_ bossing—everybody free and equal and
industrious—no aristocracy, except just enough to laugh at—no
domineering.  But I ain’t so pleased with Woodrow as I was when he
started presidenting.  He ain’t set the Filipinos free yet.  And he
knowing how bad they was treated by this Republic.  Why, the worst grab
ever England made wasn’t a circumstance to Yankees allying with
Aguinaldo, and then seizing his country."

"To what government will you sell?" I inquired patiently.

"Well, now, if I was going to sell to any government it would be Sir
Wilfrid Laurier’s. But he’s got no government, now.  Ontario folks beat
him last election, for being too reasonable.  If ever there was the
makings of a good benevolent Despot, Laurier’s the man. I used to be
saying to myself while I was perfecting the Odistor, says I inwardly,
’I’ll give it to Laurier.’  Of course, I was calculating he’d use it
first thing to annex the United States to Canada.  That would be good
for both countries—if Laurier was on top.  He’d give this Republic
Responsible Government, stop letting it be run by hole-and-corner
committees and trusts and billionaires, and, first of all, he’d
establish Free Trade all over the continent. That would be good for Nova
Scotia apple-growers, and, mind you, I’d like to do something for my
native Province before I die. Statue in Trafalgar Square, says you.
Think of a statue in Halifax—erected to me! ’ADAM BEMIS, BENEFACTOR OF
NOVA SCOTIA!’  And a big apple-tree kind of surrounding my figure with
blessings! Sounds kind of good, eh.  Why don’t I give it to Laurier?
Well he’s getting old.  He ain’t any too strong in health, either.  He
mightn’t live long enough to get things running right. And he’d be sure
to tell his colleagues how the Odistor is worked—he’s such a strong
party man.  That’s the only fault he’s got.  Well, now, think what
happens after he drops out. Why, some ordinary cuss of his Party takes
over the Bossdom of the world.  Now, all ordinary Canadian politicians
are hungry to be knighted, or baroneted.  Laurier’s successor, likely
enough, would give away the Odistor to England, in return for a handle
to his name. And once England got the Odistor—why, you know what I told
you before."

"Well, what Government will you sell to?"

"To none.  Germany’s out of the question, of course.  France, Russia,
Italy, Japan—they’re all unfitter than England, Canada or the States.
Once I planned to raise up the people that are down—the Poles, Irish,
Armenians, Filipinos, and so on.  Then I got to fancying the Irish with
power to blow everything above rock in England out to sea.  Would they
be satisfied with moving the Imperial Parliament to College Green,
giving England a Viceroy and local councils, putting a Catholic King in
George’s shoes and fixing the coronation oath to abjuring Protestant
errors?  I can’t seem to think they’d be so mild.  What would the Poles
do to the Prussians, Austrians, and Russians; or the Armenians to the
Turks, if I gave them the Odistor?  No—I won’t take such risks.  If I
gave the thing to one Nation the only fair deal would be to give it to
all, big and little alike, making the smallest as powerful as the
biggest, everyone with power to blow all the others off the footstool.
What then? Would mutual fear make them live peaceably? I’m feared not.
Probably every one would be so afraid of every other that each would be
for getting its Odistors to work first.  There’d be cyclones jamming
into cyclones all over outdoors, a teetotal destruction of crops, and
everything and everybody blown clean away at once.  Wonder where they’d
light?"

His query, did not divert me from the main matter.  "If you won’t sell,
how can you get any money out of it?" I asked.

"No difficulty getting money out of it.  Here I am able to blow
everything away—say Berlin and thereabouts for a starter, just to show
how the thing works.  Then all hands would know I could blow away all
Europe—except maybe the Alps.  I don’t know exactly how strong the
Odistor could blow.  Wouldn’t all the Governments unite to pay me _not_
to do it.  See? All the money John Rockefeller ever handled wouldn’t pay
five minutes’ interest on what I ought to get for just _not_ doing it.
No harm in not hurting anybody—see?  And me working for Miss Minnely for
forty-five dollars a week!"

"Resign, Adam," I said earnestly, for the financial prospect was
dazzling.  "Take me in as junior partner.  Let us get at this thing
together."

"What?  Blackmailing the nations!  And you a professional Liberal like
myself!  No! It wouldn’t be straight.  I can’t have a partner—you’ll see
that before I get through.  But now I suppose that you will admit that I
_could_ get any amount of money out of the thing?"

"You have thought it all out wonderfully, Adam."

"Wish I could stop thinking about it.  I’m only taking you gradually
over the field—not telling my conclusions yet—but only some of my
thoughts by the way.  In fact it’s years since I gave up the notion of
opening the secret to any nation, or to all nations.  For one thing I
couldn’t get into any nation’s possession if I wanted to.  Suppose, for
instance, I offered it to the Washington Administration.  Naturally the
President orders experts to report on it—say six army engineers.  I show
them how. What happens?  Why, those six men are bosses of the
Administration, the nation and all the world.  They can’t but see that
right away if they’ve got any gumption.  Will they abstain from using
the power?  Scarcely.  Will they stick together _and_ boss?  They won’t,
because they can’t.  It is not in human nature. Common sense, common
logic, would compel each one to try to get his private Odistor going
first, for fear each of the others might be for blowing him and the
other four away in order to boss alone.  Fact is, the moment I showed
the process to any other man—and this is why I can’t take you in as
partner—I’d have to blow him straight away out beyond Cape Cod, for fear
he would send me flying soon as he saw universal Bossdom in his hands."

"That seems inevitable," I admitted.

"Certainly.  I can’t risk the human race under any Boss except myself—or
somebody that I am sure means as well as I do."

"Our political principles are in many respects the same," I suggested,
hopefully.

"Will you—will any man except me—would even Laurier stay Liberal if he
had absolute power?  What would _you_ do with the Odistor anyway?"

"Get a fortune out of it."

"How?"

"Well, we might try this scheme—detain ocean liners in port until the
Companies agreed to pay what the traffic will bear."

"Gosh—you think I’ve got the conscience of a Railway Corporation?  No,
sir!  But what use in prolonging this part of our talk?  I have thought
of a thousand ways of using the thing on a large scale, but they are all
out of the question, for one good and sufficient reason—folks would lock
me up or kill me if I once convinced ’em of the power I possess.  I
couldn’t blame them, they _must_ do it to feel safe themselves. The only
sure way for me to get big money out of it safely would be by retiring
to a lonely sea island and advertising what I intended to do on a
specified day—blow away some forest on the mainland, say, or send a
blast straight overland to the Rockies and clear them of snow in a path
fifty miles wide.  Of course, folks would laugh at the advertisement—to
say nothing of the expense of inserting it—and to convince them I’d have
to _do_ it.  After that I might call on the civilised governments to
send me all the gold, diamonds, and fine things I could think of.  But
what good would fine things do me? I should be afraid to let any ship
land its cargo, or any other human being come on the island. I couldn’t
even have a cook, for fear she might be bribed to poison me or bust the
Odistor—and I’ve got no fancy to do my own cooking.  What good to Boss
the World at that price?  The Kaiser himself wouldn’t pay it.
Universally feared as he is already hated—but not bound to live alone.
For a while I was thinking to seclude myself that way in self-sacrifice
to the general good.  I thought of issuing an order to all governments
to stop fighting, stop governing and just let real freedom be
established—the brotherhood of man, share and share alike, equal wages
all round, same kind of houses and grub and clothes, perfect democracy!
But suppose the Governments didn’t obey?  Politicians are smart—they’d
soon see I dursn’t leave my island to go travelling and inspecting what
was going on all over.  I couldn’t receive deputations coming to me for
redress of grievances, for fear they might be coming to rid the world of
its benevolent despot.  Shrewd folks ashore would soon catch on to my
fix—me there all alone, busy keeping ten or a dozen Odistors blowing
gales off shore for fifty miles or so to keep people out of any kind of
striking distance, and everlastingly sending hurricanes upward to clear
the sky of Zeppelins and aeroplanes that might be sent to drop
nitro-glycerine on me.  Next thing some speculator would be pretending
to be my sole agent, and ordering the world to fetch _him_ the wealth.
How could I know, any more than God seems to, what things were done in
my name?"

"Employ Marconi," I suggested; "have him send you aerial news of what’s
going on everywhere. Then you could threaten wrong-doers everywhere with
the Odistor.

"Marconi is a good man, mebby, but think of the temptation to him.  How
could I be sure he was giving me facts.  He could stuff me with good
reports, and all the time be bossing the world himself, forcing the
nations to give up to him by the threat that I’d back him and blow the
disobedient to Kingdom Come.  Besides, I don’t know how to operate
Marconi’s instruments, and, if I did, all my time would be taken up
receiving his reports.  No, _sir_.  There is no honest, safe,
comfortable way for me to get rich out of the Odistor.  I have known
that for a considerable time."

"Then, why did you wish to consult me?"

"Well, first place, I wanted some friend to know what kind of a
self-denying ordinance I’m living under.  To be comprehended by at least
one person is a human need.  Besides that, I want your opinion on a
point of conscience. Is the Odistor mine?"

"Yours?  Isn’t it your exclusive discovery?"

"But isn’t it Miss Minnely’s property?  I experimented in her time."

"During office hours?"

"Mostly.  And did all the construction in her workshop with her
materials.  She supposed I was tinkering up a new attraction for the
Annual Announcement.  Isn’t it hers by rights?  She’s been paying me
forty-five dollars a week right along.  When she hired me she told me
she expected exclusive devotion to the interests of the Family Blessing.
And I agreed.  Seems I’m bound in honour to give it up to her."

"For nothing?"

"Well, she’s dead set against raising wages. But I was thinking she
might boost me up to fifty a week."

"That seems little for making her Boss of the World."

"Oh, Miss Minnely wouldn’t go in for _that_. A man would.  A woman is
too conservative. Miss Minnely’s one notion is the _Blessing_. It’s not
money she is after, but doing good. She’s sure the way to improve the
world is to get the Blessing regularly into every family.  I don’t know
but she’s right too.  It’s harmless, anyway."

I could not but regard Adam’s conscience as too tender.  Yet it was
pathetic to see this old man, potentially master of mankind (if he were
not mistaking the Odistor’s powers), feeling morally so bound by the
ethics of the trusty employee.  I had perused thousands of editorials
designed to imbue the proletariat with precisely Adam’s idea of duty to
Capital.  How to advise him was a serious problem.

"What would Miss Minnely do with it?" I inquired, to gain time.

"She would put it on the list of attractions in the Prize Package
Department."

"Good heavens!  And place absolute power in the hands of subscribers to
the Blessing! Anarchy would ensue!  They would all set about bossing the
world."

"Not they," said Adam.  "She would send out Odistors gauged to only
certain specified strengths.  For five subscription certificates the
subscriber would get a breeze to dry clothes or ventilate cellars.
Prize Odistor number two might clear away snow; number three might run
the family windmill.  Clubs of fifty new subscribers could win a machine
that would clear fog away from the bay or the river, mornings.
Different strengths for different premiums.  See?  It would prove a
first-class attraction for the Announcement."

"Adam," I remonstrated, for the financial prospect was too alluring,
"you are not required to give this thing to Miss Minnely. Resign.  Remit
a million as conscience money to her.  Let us go into the manufacture
together. You gauge the Odistors.  I will run the business end of the
concern."

"No!  Miss Minnely has the first right.  If anybody gets it she must.
What bothers me most is this—will she bounce me if I tell her?"

"Bounce you?  Why?"

"Think me crazy.  I tell you she is _conservative_. And she is ready to
throw me out—thinks I’m a back number.  I can hardly blame her.  Fact
is, I have given so much time and thought to the Odistor of late years
that I haven’t found or invented half enough attractions for the
Announcement.  Last week she gave me an assistant—a Pusher.  That means
she is intending him to supersede me about two years from now.  Yet I
could invent a man with twice his brains in half the time. Sometimes I
am tempted to put the Odistor on the small job of blowing him out into
Massachusetts Bay.  But he is not to blame for being as God made him.
Then, again, I think how I could down him by simply showing the thing to
Miss Minnely.  But the cold fit comes again—what if she thinks me crazy?
I’d lose my forty-five dollars a week and might be driven to Bossing the
World.  It’s hard for old men to get new jobs in Boston.  They draw the
dead-line at fifty.  Just when a man’s got some experience they put a
boy of twenty-six on top of him.  On the other hand, suppose she _does_
consider it, and _does_ see the whole meaning of it.  First thing she
might do with _her_ Odistor would be to put a cyclone whirling me."  He
sighed heavily.  "Fact is I’ve got myself into a kind of hole.  What do
you advise?"

"Bury the Odistor.  Forget it, Adam. Then, with your mind free, you can
invent new things for the Announcement.  I see no other escape from your
predicament."

"I expected you to advise that in the end," said Adam, and began
repacking his singular mechanism.  "Bury it I will.  But how can I
forget it?  May be it has exhausted my inventive powers.  What then?
I’m bounced.  It’s tough to have to begin all over again at sixty-three,
and me Boss of the World if I could only bring myself _to_ boss.  If I
do get bounced and do get vexed, maybe I’ll unbury it and show Miss
Minnely what it _can_ do.  Well, good evening, and thank you for your
interest and advice."

He departed with the old, solemn unsettled look on his honest Nova
Scotian countenance.

Since that day I have frequently seen Adam, but he gives me no
recognition.  He goes about with eyes on the ground, probably studying
the complicated and frightful situation of a World Power animated by
liberalism and dominated by conscience.  Some in the Blessing office
tell me that Miss Minnely’s disapproving eye is often on her old
employee.  They say she will soon lift the Pusher over Adam’s white
head.

What will he do then?  I remember with some trepidation the vague threat
with which he left me.  At night, when a high gale happens to be
blowing, I listen in wild surmise that Adam was bounced yesterday, and
that the slates, bricks and beams of the Family Blessing Building are
hurtling about the suburbs as if in signal that he has liberated a large
specimen of the mysterious globule and embarked, of necessity, on the
woeful business of bossing the world.



                      *MISS MINNELY’S MANAGEMENT*


                                  *I*


George Renwick substituted "limb" for "leg," "intoxicated" for "drunk,"
and "undergarment" for "shirt," in "The Converted Ringmaster," a
short-story-of-commerce, which he was editing for "The Family Blessing."
When he should have eliminated all indecorum it would go to Miss
Minnely, who would "elevate the emotional interest."  She was sole owner
of "The Blessing," active director of each of its multifarious
departments.  Few starry names rivalled hers in the galaxy of American
character-builders.

Unaware of limitations to her versatility, Miss Minnely might have
dictated all the literary contents of the magazine, but for her acute
perception that other gifted pens should be enlisted.  Hence many minor
celebrities worshipped her liberal cheques, whilst her more extravagant
ones induced British titled personages to assuage the yearning of the
American Plain People for some contact with rank.

Renwick wrought his changes sardonically, applying to each line a set of
touchstones—"Will it please Mothers?"  "Lady school-teachers?"
"Ministers of the Gospel?"  "Miss Minnely’s Taste?"  He had not entirely
converted The Ringmaster when his door was gently opened by the Chief
Guide to the Family Blessing Building.

Mr. Durley had grown grey under solemn sense of responsibility for
impressions which visitors might receive.  With him now appeared an
unusually numerous party of the usual mothers, spinsters, aged good men,
and anxious children who keep watch and ward over "The Blessing’s"
pages, in devotion to Miss Minnely’s standing editorial request that
"subscribers will faithfully assist the Editors with advice,
encouragement, or reproof."  The Mature, with true American gentleness,
let the Young assemble nearest the open door.  All necks craned toward
Renwick.  Because Mr. Durley’s discourse to so extensive a party was
unusually loud, Renwick heard, for the first time, what the Chief Guide
was accustomed to murmur at his threshold: "De-ar friends, the gentleman
we now have the satisfaction of beholding engaged in a sitting posture
at his editorial duties, is Mr. George Hamilton Renwick, an American in
every——."

"He _looks_ like he might be English," observed a matron.

Mr. Durley took a steady look at Renwick: "He _is_ some red complected,
Lady, but I guess it’s only he is used to out of doors."  He resumed his
customary drone:—"Mr. Renwick, besides he is American in every fibre of
his being, is a first rate general purpose editor, and also a noted
authority on yachting, boating, canoeing, rowing, swimming, and every
kind of water amusements of a kind calculated to build up character in
subscribers. Mr. George Hamilton Renwick’s engagement by ’The Family
Blessing’ exclusively is a recent instance of many evidences that Miss
Minnely, the Sole Proprietress, spares no expense in securing talented
men of genius who are likewise authorities on every kind of specialty
interesting, instructive, and improving to first-class respectable
American families.  Ladies and gentlemen, and de-ar children, girls, and
youths, we will now pass on to Room Number Sixteen, and behold Mr.
Caliphas C. Cummins, the celebrated author and authority on Oriental and
Scriptural countries.  Mr. Cummins is specially noted as the author of
’Bijah’s Bicycle in Babylonia,’ ’A Girl Genius at Galilee,’ and many
first-class serials published exclusively in ’The Family Blessing.’  He
may——"

Mr. Durley softly closed Renwick’s door.

The Improving Editor, now secluded, stared wrathfully for some moments.
Then he laughed, seized paper, and wrote in capitals:—


"When the editor in this compartment is to be exhibited, please notify
him by knocking on this door before opening it.  He will then rise from
his sitting posture, come forward for inspection, and turn slowly round
three times, if a mother, a school teacher, or a minister of the Gospel
be among the visiting subscribers."


Renwick strode to his door.  While pinning the placard on its outside he
overheard the concluding remarks of Mr. Durley on Mr. Cummins, whose
room was next in the long corridor: "Likewise talented editor of the
Etiquette Department and the Puzzle Department. Mr. Cummins, Sir, seven
lady teachers from the State of Maine are now honouring us in this
party."

Renwick stood charmed to listen.  He heard the noted author clack
forward to shake hands all round meantime explaining in thin, high,
affable volubility: "My de-ar friends, you have the good fortune to
behold me in the very act of composing my new serial of ten Chapters,
for ’The Blessing’ exclusively, entitled ’Jehu and Jerusha in
Jerusalem,’ being the experiences of a strenuous New England brother and
sister in the Holy Land, where our Lord innogerated the Christian
religion, now, sad to say, under Mohammetan subjection.  In this tale I
am incorporating largely truthful incidents of my own and blessed wife’s
last visit to the Holy Places where——"

Renwick slammed his door.  He flung his pen in a transport of derision.
Rebounding from his desk, it flew through an open window, perhaps to
fall on some visitor to "The Blessing’s" lawn.  He hastened to look
down. Nobody was on gravel path or bench within possible reach of the
missile.  Renwick, relieved, mused anew on the singularities of the
scene.

The vast "Blessing" Building stands amid a city block devoted largely to
shaven turf, flower beds, grassed mounds, and gravel paths.  It is
approached from the street by a broad walk which bifurcates at thirty
yards from the "Richardson" entrance, to surround a turfed truncated
cone, from which rises a gigantic, severely draped, female figure.  It
is that bronze of Beneficence which, in the words of the famous New
England sculptress, Miss Angela C. Amory Pue, "closely features Miss
Martha Minnely in her grand early womanhood."  In the extensive arms of
the Beneficence a bronze volume so slants that spectators may read on
its back, in gilt letters, "THE FAMILY BLESSING."  Prettily pranked out
in dwarf marginal plants on the turfy cone these words are pyramided:
"LOVE.  HEAVEN.  BENEFICENCE. THE LATEST FASHIONS.  MY COUNTRY, ’TIS OF
THEE."

Not far from the statue slopes a great grassed mound which displays
still more conspicuously in "everlastings," "THE FAMILY BLESSING.
CIRCULATION 1915, 1,976,709. MONTHLY.  COME UNTO ME ALL YE WEARY AND
HEAVILY LADEN.  TWO DOLLARS A YEAR."

The scheme ever puzzled Renwick.  Had some demure humour thus addressed
advertisements as if to the eternal stars?  Or did they proceed from a
pure simplicity of commercial taste?  From this perennial problem he was
diverted by sharp rapping at his door.  Durley again?  But the visitor
was Mr. Joram B. Buntstir, veteran among the numerous editors of "The
Blessing," yet capable of jocularities. He appeared perturbed.

"Renwick, you are rather fresh here, and I feel so friendly to you that
I’d hate to see you get into trouble unwarned.  Surely you can’t wish
Miss Minnely to see _that_."

"What?  Oh, the placard!  That’s for Durley. He must stop exhibiting
me."

"Mr. Durley won’t understand.  Anyway, he couldn’t stop without
instructions from Miss Minnely.  He will take the placard to her for
orders.  You do not wish to hurt Miss Minnely’s feelings, I am sure."
Mr. Buntstir closed the door behind him.

"Bah—Miss Minnely’s feelings can’t be so tender as all that!"

"No, eh?  Do you know her so thoroughly?"

"I don’t know her at all.  I’ve been here three months without once
seeing Miss Minnely. Is she real?  Half the time I doubt her existence."

"You get instructions from her regularly."

"I get typewritten notes, usually voluminous, signed ’M. Minnely,’ twice
a week.  But the Business Manager, or Miss Heartly, may dictate them,
for all I know."

"Pshaw!  Miss Minnely presides in seclusion. Her private office has a
street entrance. She seldom visits the Departments in office hours.  Few
of her staff know her by sight. She saves time by avoiding personal
interviews. But she keeps posted on everybody’s work.  I hope you may
not have to regret learning how very real Miss Minnely can be.  She took
me in hand, once, eight years ago.  I have been careful to incur no more
discipline since—kind as she was.  If she sees your placard——"

"Well, what?"

"Well, she can be very impressive.  I fear your offer to turn round
before visitors may bring you trouble."

"I am looking for trouble.  I’m sick and tired of this life of
intellectual shame."

"Then quit!" snapped Buntstir, pierced. "Be consistent.  Get out.  Sell
your sneers at a great established publication to some pamphlet
periodical started by college boys for the regeneration of Literature.
Don’t jeer what you live by.  That is where intellectual shame should
come in."

"You are right.  A man should not gibe his job.  I must quit.  The
’Blessing’ is all right for convinced devotees of the mawkish.  But if a
man thinks sardonically of his daily work, that damns the soul."

"It may be an effect of the soul trying to save itself," said Buntstir,
mollified.  "Anyway, Renwick, remember your trouble with ’The Reflex.’
Avoid the name of a confirmed quitter. Stay here till you can change to
your profit. Squealing won’t do us any good.  A little grain of literary
conscience ought not to make you _talk_ sour.  It’s cynical to satirize
our bread and butter—imprudent, too."

"That’s right.  I’ll swear off, or clear out. Lord, how I wish I could.
My brain must rot if I don’t.  ’The Blessing’s’ ’emotional’!  Oh,
Buntstir, the stream of drivel!  And to live by concocting it for
trustful subscribers.  Talk of the sin of paregoricking babies!"

"Babies take paregoric because they like it. Pshaw, Renwick, you’re
absurdly sensitive. Writing-men must live, somehow—usually by
wishy-washiness.  Unpleasant work is the common lot of mankind.  Where’s
_your_ title to exemption?  Really, you’re lucky.  Miss Minnely
perceives zest in your improvements of copy. She says you are naturally
gifted with ’The Blessing’s’ taste."

"For Heaven’s sake, Buntstir!"

"She did—Miss Heartly told me so.  And yet—if she sees that placard—no
one can ever guess what she may do in discipline.  You can’t wish to be
bounced, dear boy, with your family to provide for.  Come, you’ve blown
off steam. Take the placard off your door."

"All right.  I will.  But Miss Minnely can’t bounce me without a year’s
notice.  That’s how I engaged."

"A year’s notice to quit a life of intellectual shame!"

"Well, it is one thing to jump out of the window, and another to be
bounced.  I wouldn’t stand that."

Buntstir laughed.  "I fancy I see you, you sensitive Cuss, holding on,
or jumping off or doing anything contra to Miss Minnely’s intention."
He went to the door.  "Hello, where’s the placard?" he cried, opening
it.

"Gone!"  Renwick sprang up.

"Gone, sure.  No matter how.  It is already in Miss Minnely’s hands.
Well, I told you to take it down twenty minutes ago."

"Wait, Buntstir.  What is best to be done?"

"Hang on for developments—and get to work."

Buntstir vanished as one hastens to avoid infection.



                                  *II*


Renwick resumed his editing of "The Converted Ringmaster" with resolve
to think on nothing else.  But, between his eyes and the manuscript,
came the woeful aspect of two widows, his mother and his sister, as they
had looked six months earlier, when he threw up his political editorship
of "The Daily Reflex" in disgust at its General Manager’s sudden
reversal of policy.  His sister’s baby toddled into the vision.  He had
scarcely endured to watch the child’s uncertain steps during the weeks
while he wondered how to buy its next month’s modified milk.  To "The
Reflex" he could not return, because he had publicly burned his boats,
with the desperate valour of virtue conscious that it may weaken if
strained by need for family food.

Out of that dangerous hole he had been lifted by the Sole Proprietress
of "The Family Blessing."  She praised his "public stand for principle"
in a note marked "strictly confidential," which tendered him a
"position."  He had secretly laughed at the cautious, amiable offer,
even while her laudation gratified his self-importance.  Could work on
"The Blessing" seem otherwise than ridiculous for one accustomed to
chide presidents, monarchs, bosses, bankers, railway magnates?  But it
was well paid, and seemed only too easy.  The young man did not foresee
for himself that benumbing of faculty which ever punishes the writer who
sells his facility to tasks below his ambition.  At worst "The Blessing"
seemed harmless.  Nor could his better nature deny a certain esteem to
that periodical which affectionate multitudes proclaimed to be justly
named.

Renwick, viewing himself once more as a recreant breadwinner, cursed his
impetuous humour.  But again he took heart from remembrance of his
engagement by the year, little suspecting his impotency to hold on where
snubs must be the portion of the unwanted. Twelve months to turn round
in!  But after? What if an editor, already reputed impractical by "The
Reflex" party, should be refused employment everywhere, after forsaking
"The Blessing" office, in which "positions" were notoriously sought or
coveted by hundreds of "literary" aspirants to "soft snaps"?  So his
veering imagination whirled round that inferno into which wage earners
descend after hazarding their livelihood.

From this disquiet he sprang when his door was emphatically knocked.  It
opened. Mr. Durley reappeared with a throng closely resembling the last,
except for one notable wide lady in street costume of Quakerish gray.
Her countenance seemed to Renwick vaguely familiar. The fabric and cut
of her plain garb betokened nothing of wealth to the masculine eye, but
were regarded with a degree of awe by the other ladies present.  She
appeared utterly American, yet unworldly, in the sense of seeming
neither citified, suburbanish, nor rural. The experienced placidity of
her countenance reminded Renwick of a familiar composite photograph of
many matrons chosen from among "The Blessing’s" subscribers.

"Her peculiarity is that of the perfect type," he pondered while
listening to Durley’s repetition of his previous remarks.

At their close, he briskly said: "Mr. Renwick, Sir, Miss Minnely wishes
you to know that your kind offer is approved.  We are now favoured with
the presence of four mothers, six lady teachers, and a minister of the
Gospel."

Renwick flushed.  His placard approved! It promised that he would come
forward and turn round thrice for inspection.  Durley had received
instructions to take him at his word! Suddenly the dilemma touched his
facile humour.  Explanation before so many was impossible.  Gravely he
approached the visitors, held out the skirts of his sack coat, turned
slowly thrice, and bowed low at the close.

The large lady nodded with some reserve. Other spectators clearly
regarded the solemnity as part of "The Blessing’s" routine.  Mr. Durley
resumed his professional drone:—"We will now pass on to Room Number
Sixteen, and behold Mr. Caliphas C. Cummins in——"  Renwick’s door
closed.

Then the large lady, ignoring the attractions of Mr. Cummins, went to
the waiting elevator, and said "down."

Renwick, again at his desk, tried vainly to remember of what or whom the
placid lady had reminded him.  A suspicion that she might be Miss
Minnely fled before recollection of her street costume.  Still—she
_might_ be.  If so—had his solemnly derisive posturing offended her?
She had given no sign.  How could he explain his placard to her?  Could
he not truly allege objections to delay of his work by Durley’s frequent
interruptions?  He was whirling with conjecture and indecision when four
measured ticks from a lead pencil came on his outer door.

There stood Miss Heartly, Acting Manager of the Paper Patterns
Department.  Her light blue eyes beamed the confidence of one born
trustful, and confirmed in the disposition by thirty-five years of
popularity at home, in church, in office.  In stiff white collar, lilac
tie, trig grey gown, and faint, fading bloom of countenance, she well
represented a notable latter day American type, the Priestess of
Business, one born and bred as if to endow office existence with some
almost domestic touch of Puritan nicety.  That no man might sanely hope
to disengage Miss Heartly from devotion to "The Family Blessing" was as
if revealed by her unswerving directness of gaze in speech.

"I have called, Mr. Renwick, by instruction of the Sole Proprietress.
Miss Minnely wishes me, first, to thank you for this."

It was the placard!

Renwick stared, unable to credit the sincerity in her face and tone.
She must be making game of him while she spoke in measured links, as if
conscientiously repeating bits each separately memorized:

"Mr. Renwick—Miss Minnely desires you to know that she has been rarely
more gratified—than by this evidence—that your self-identification with
’The Blessing’—is cordial and complete.  But—Miss Minnely is inclined to
hope—that your thoughtful and kind proposal—of turning round for
inspection—may be—modified—or improved.  For instance—if you would
carefully prepare—of course for revision by her own taste—a short and
eloquent welcoming discourse—to visitors—that could be elevated to an
attraction—for subscribers—of that she is almost, though not yet quite,
fully assured.  Miss Minnely presumes, Mr. Renwick, that you have had
the pleasure of—hearing Mr. Cummins welcome visitors.  Of course, Mr.
Renwick, Miss Minnely would not have _asked_ you—but—as you have
volunteered—in your cordial willingness—_that_ affords her an
opportunity—for the suggestion.  But, Mr. Renwick, if you do not _like_
the idea—then Miss Minnely would not wish—to pursue the suggestion
further."  A child glad to have repeated its lesson correctly could not
have looked more ingenuous.

In her fair countenance, open as a daybook, Renwick could detect no
guile.  Her tone and figure suggested curiously some flatness, as of the
Paper Patterns of her Department.  But through this mild deputy Miss
Minnely must, he conceived, be deriding him.  With what subtlety the
messenger had been chosen!  It seemed at once necessary and impossible
to explain his placard to one so guiltless of humour.

"I hoped it might be understood that I did not intend that placard to be
taken literally, Miss Heartly."

"Not literally!" she seemed bewildered.

"To be pointed at as ’a first class general purpose editor’ is rather
too much, don’t you think?"

"I know, Mr. Renwick," she spoke sympathetically.  "It sort of got onto
your humility, I presume.  But Miss Minnely thinks you _are_ first
class, or she would never have instructed Mr. Durley to _say_ first
class.  That is cordial to you, and good business—to impress the
visitors, I mean."

"Miss Minnely is very appreciative and kind. But the point is that I did
not engage to be exhibited to flocks of gobemouches."

Miss Heartly pondered the term.  "Please, Mr. Renwick, what are
gobemouches?"

"I should have said The Plain People."

"Perhaps there have been rude ones—not subscribers," she said anxiously.

"No, all have acted as if reared on ’The Blessing.’"

She sighed in relief—then exclaimed in consternation:—"Can Mr. Durley
have been—_rude_?"  She hesitated to pronounce the dire word.

"Not at all, Miss Heartly.  I do not blame Mr. Durley for exhibiting us
as gorillas."

"But how _wrong_."  There was dismay in her tone.  "Miss Minnely has
warned him against the least bit of deception."

"Oh, please, Miss Heartly—I was speaking figuratively."

Her fair brow slightly wrinkled, her fingers went nervously to her
anxious lips, she looked perplexed;—"Figuratively!  If you would kindly
explain, Mr. Renwick.  I am not very literary."

"Do the ladies of the Paper Patterns Department _like_ to be exhibited?"
he ventured.

"Well, I could not exactly be warranted to say ’like’—Scripture has such
warnings against the sinfulness of vanity.  But we are, of course,
cordially pleased to see visitors—it is so good for the Subscription
Department."

"I see.  And it is not hard on you individually. There you are, a great
roomful of beautiful, dutiful, cordial young ladies.  You keep one
another in countenance.  But what if you were shown each in a separate
cage?"

Her face brightened.  "Oh, now I understand, Mr. Renwick!  You mean it
would be nicer for the Editors, too, to be seen all together."

Renwick sighed hopelessly.  She spoke on decisively: "That may be a
valuable suggestion, Mr. Renwick."  On her pad she began pencilling
shorthand.  "Of course I will credit you with it.  Perhaps you do not
know that Miss Minnely always pays well for valuable suggestions."  She
wrote intently, murmuring: "But is it practicable?  Let me think.  Why,
surely practicable!  But Miss Minnely will decide.  All partitions on
the Editorial Flat could be removed!  Make it cool as Prize Package or
Financial Department!"  She looked up from her paper, glowing with
enterprise, and pointed her pencil straight at Renwick.  "And so
impressive!"  She swept the pencil in a broad half circle, seeing her
picture.  "Thirty Editors visible at one comprehensive glance!  All so
literary, and busy, and intelligent, and cordial!  Fine!  I take the
liberty, temporarily, of calling that a first-class suggestion, Mr.
Renwick.  It may be worth hundreds to you, if Miss Minnely values it. It
may be forcibly felt in the Subscription List—if Miss Minnely approves.
It may help to hold many subscribers who try to get away after the first
year.  I feel almost sure Miss Minnely will approve.  I am so glad.  I
thought something important was going to come when Miss Minnely
considered your placard so carefully."

"But some of the other Editors may not wish to be exhibited with the
whole collection," said Renwick gravely.  "For instance, consider Mr.
Cummins’ literary rank.  Would it gratify him to be shown as a mere unit
among Editors of lesser distinction?"

"You are most fore-thoughtful on every point, Mr. Renwick.  That is so
_fine_.  But Mr. Cummins is also most devoted.  I feel sure he would
cordially yield, if Miss Minnely approved.  I presume you will wish me
to tell her that you are grateful for her kind message?"

"Cordially grateful seems more fitting.  Miss Heartly—and I
am—especially for her choice of a deputy."

"Thank you, Mr. Renwick.  I will tell her that, too.  And may I say that
you will be pleased to adopt her suggestion that you discourse a little
to visitors, pending possible changes in this Flat, instead of just
coming forward and turning around.  Literary men are so
clever—and—ready."  He fleetingly suspected her of derision.

"Please say that I will reflect on Miss Minnely’s suggestion with an
anxious wish to emulate, so far as my fallen nature will permit, Miss
Heartly’s beautiful devotion to ’The Blessing’s’ interests."

"Oh, thank you again, so much, Mr. Renwick." And the fair Priestess of
Business bowed graciously in good bye.


                                 *III*


Renwick sat dazed.  From his earliest acquaintance with "The Family
Blessing" he had thought of its famous Editress and Sole Proprietress as
one "working a graft" on the Plain People by consummate sense of the
commercial value of cordial cant.  Now he had to conceive of her as
perfectly ingenuous.  Had she really taken his placard as one written in
good faith? He remembered its sentences clearly:


"When the editor in this compartment is to be exhibited, please notify
him by knocking on this door before opening it.  He will then rise from
his sitting posture, come forward for inspection, and turn slowly around
three times if a school teacher, a mother, or a minister of the Gospel
be among the visiting subscribers."


Miss Minnely took that for sincere!  Renwick began to regard "The
Blessing" as an emanation of a soul so simple as to be incapable of
recognizing the diabolic element, derision.  He was conceiving a
tenderness for the honesty which could read his placard as one of
sincerity. How blessed must be hearts innocent of mockery!  Why should
he not gratify them by discoursing to visiting subscribers?  The idea
tickled his fancy.  At least he might amuse himself by writing what
would edify Durley’s parties if delivered with gravity.  He might make
material of some of Miss Minnely’s voluminous letters of instruction to
himself. From his pigeon-hole he drew that file, inspected it rapidly,
laughed, and culled as he wrote.

Twenty minutes later he was chuckling over the effusion, after having
once read its solemnities aloud to himself.

"Hang me if I don’t try it on Durley’s next party!" he was telling
himself, when pencil tickings, like small woodpecker tappings, came
again on his outer door.  "Miss Heartly back!  I will treat her to it!"
and he opened the door, discourse in hand.

There stood the wide, wise-eyed, placid, gray-clad lady!

"I am Miss Minnely, Mr. Renwick.  Very pleased to introduce myself to a
gentleman whose suggestion has pleased me deeply."  Her wooly voice was
as if steeped in a syrup of cordial powers.  Suddenly he knew she had
reminded him of Miss Pue’s gigantic bronze Beneficence.

"Thank you, Miss Minnely.  I feel truly honoured."  Renwick, with some
concealed trepidation, bowed her to his revolving chair.

"Mr. Renwick."  She disposed her amplitude comfortably; then streamed on
genially and authoritatively, "You may be gratified to learn that I was
pleased—on the whole—by your cordial demeanour while—er—revolving—not
long ago—on the occasion of Mr. Durley’s last visiting party.  Only—you
will permit me to say this in all kindness—I did not regard the—the
display of—er—form—as precisely _adapted_.  Otherwise your appearance,
tone, and manner were eminently suitable—indeed such as mark you
strongly, Mr. Renwick, as conforming—almost—to my highest ideal for the
conduct of Editors of ’The Blessing.’  Consequently I deputed Miss
Heartly—with a suggestion.  She has informed me of your cordial
willingness, Mr. Renwick—hence I am here to thank you again—and
instruct. Your short discourse to visitors will—let me explain—not only
edify, but have the effect of, as it were, obviating any necessity for
the—er—revolving—and the display of—er—form. Now, you are doubtless
aware that I invariably edit, so to speak, every single thing done on
behalf of our precious ’Family Blessing.’  For due performance of that
paramount duty I must give account hereafter.  My peculiar gift is
Taste—you will understand that I mention this fact with no more personal
vanity that if I mentioned that I have a voice, hands, teeth, or any
other endowment from my Creator—_our_ Creator, in fact.  Taste—true
sense of what our subscribers like on their _higher_ plane.  My great
gift must be entitled to direct what we say to visitors, just as it
directs what ’The Blessing’ publishes on its story pages, its editorial
columns, its advertisements, letter heads, everything of every kind done
in ’The Blessing’s’ name.  I am thorough.  And so, Mr. Renwick, I desire
to hear your discourse beforehand.  What?  You have already prepared it?
Excellent!  Promptitude—there are few greater business virtues!  We will
immediately use your draft as a basis for further consultation."

So imposing was her amiable demeanour that Renwick had no wish but to
comply.  He glanced over what he had written, feeling now sure that its
mock gravity would seem nowise sardonic to Miss Minnely.

"In preparing these few words," he remarked, "I have borrowed liberally
from your notes of instruction to me, Miss Minnely."

"Very judicious.  Pray give me the pleasure."

He tendered the draft.

"But no, please _deliver_ it."  She put away the paper.  "Suppose me to
be a party of our de-ar visiting subscribers.  I will stand here, you
there.  Now do not hesitate to be audible, Mr. Renwick."  She beamed as
a Brobdignagian child at a new game.

Renwick, quick to all humours, took position, and began with unction:
"Dear friends, dear visitors——"

She interrupted amiably:—"De-ar friends, de-ar visitors.  Make two
syllables of the de-ar. The lingering is cordial in effect.  I have
observed that carefully—de-ar softens hearts. Dwell on the
word—dee-ar—thus you will cause a sense of affectionate regard to cling
to visitors’ memories of ’The Blessing’s’ editorial staff.  You
understand, Mr. Renwick?"

He began again: "De-ar friends, de-ar visitors, de-ar mothers, de-ar
teachers," but again she gently expostulated, holding up a fat hand to
stop his voice.

"Please, Mr. Renwick—no, I think not—it might seem invidious to
discriminate by specifying some before others.  All alike are our de-ar
friends and visitors."

"De-ar friends, de-ar visitors," Renwick corrected his paper, "I cannot
hope to express adequately to you my feelings of delight in being
introduced to your notice as a first class general purpose editor, and
eminent authority on——"

She graciously interposed:—"It might be well to pencil _this_ in, Mr.
Renwick, ’introduced to you by our de-ar colleague, Mr. Durley, the most
experienced of our guides to the "Family Blessing" Building, as general
purpose editor, etc.’  That would impress, as hinting at our corps of
guides, besides uplifting the rank of our valued colleague, Mr. Durley,
and by consequence ’The Blessing,’ through the respectful mention made
of one of our more humble employees.  Elevate the lowly, and you elevate
all the superior classes—that is a sound American maxim.  In business it
is by such fine attention to detail that hearts and therefore
subscribers are won.  But, Mr. Renwick, _nothing_ could be better than
your ’I cannot hope to express adequately my feelings of delight,’
etc.—that signifies cordial emotion—it is very good business, indeed."

Sincerity was unclouded in her gaze.  He pencilled in her amendment, and
read on:—"and eminent authority on water amusements of a character to
build up character in first-class respectable American families."

"Very good—I drilled Mr. Durley in that," she put in complacently.

"Dear friends," he resumed.

"De-ar," she reminded him.

"De-ar friends, you may naturally desire to be informed of the nature of
the duties of a general purpose editor, therefore——"

"Let me suggest again, Mr. Renwick. Better say ’Dear friends, closely
associated with "The Family Blessing," as all must feel who share the
privilege of maintaining it, you will naturally desire to be informed,’
etc.  Don’t you agree, Mr. Renwick?  It is well to neglect no
opportunity for deepening the sense of our de-ar subscribers that the
’Blessing’ is a privilege to their households.  I do everything possible
to make our beloved ones feel that they own ’The Blessing,’ as in the
highest sense they do.  They like that.  It is remunerative, also."

Renwick jotted in the improvement, and read on: "A general purpose
editor of ’The Blessing’ is simply one charged with promoting the
general purpose of ’The Blessing.’  To explain what that is I cannot do
better than employ the words of the Sole Proprietress, Miss Minnely
herself, and——."

The lady suggested, "_I cannot do so well as to employ the words of_—it
is always effective to speak most respectfully of the absent
Proprietress—that touches their imagination favourably.  It is good
business."

"I appreciate it, Miss Minnely.  And now I venture to adapt, _verbatim_,
parts of your notes to me."

"It was forethoughtful to preserve them, Mr. Renwick.  I am cordially
pleased."

He read on more oratorically:—"De-ar friends, ’The Blessing’ has a
Mission, and to fulfil that Mission it must, first of all, entertain its
subscribers on their _higher plane_.  This cannot be done by stimulating
in them any latent taste for coarse and inelegant laughter, but by
furnishing entertainingly the wholesome food from which mental pabulum
is absorbed and mental growth accomplished."

"Excellent!  My very own words."

"The varieties of this entertaining pabulum must be _conscientiously_
prepared, and administered in small quantities so that each can be
assimilated unconsciously by Youth and Age without mental mastication.
Mind is not Character, and——"

"How true.  Character-building publications must never be addressed to
mere _Mind_."

"The uplifting of the Mind, or Intellect," Renwick read on, "is not the
general purpose of ’The Family Blessing.’  It is by the Literature of
the Heart that Character is uplifted. Therefore a general purpose editor
of ’The Blessing’ must ever seek to maintain and to present the _truly
cordial_.  That is what most widely attracts and pleases all these
sections of the great American people who are uncorrupted by worldly and
literary associations which tend to canker the Soul with cynicism."

"I remember my glow of heart in writing those inspiring, blessed, and
inspired words!" she exclaimed.  "Moreover, they are true. Now, I think
that is about enough, Mr. Renwick. Visitors should never be too long
detained by a single attraction.  Let me advise you to memorize the
discourse carefully.  It is cordial.  It is impressive.  It is
informative of ’The Blessing’s’ ideal.  It utters my own thoughts in my
own language.  It is admirably adapted to hold former subscribers, and
to confirm new.  All is well."  She pondered silently a few moments.
"Now, Mr. Renwick, I would be strictly just.  The fact that an editor,
and one of those not long gathered to our happy company, has suggested
and devoted himself to this novel attraction, will have noblest effect
in rousing our colleagues of every Department to emulative exertion.
Once more, I thank you cordially.  But the Sole Proprietress of the
remunerative ’Blessing’ holds her place in trust for all colleagues, and
she is not disposed to retire with mere thanks to one who has identified
himself so effectually with her and its ideals.  Mr. Renwick, your
honorarium—your weekly pay envelope," again she paused reflectively, "it
will hereafter rank you with our very valued colleague, Mr. Caliphas C.
Cummins himself!  No—no-no, Mr. Renwick—do not thank me—thank your happy
inspiration—thank your cordial devotion—thank your Taste—thank your
natural, innate identification, in high ideals, with me and ’The Family
Blessing.’  As for me—it is for me to thank you—and I do so, again,
cordially, cordially, cordially!"  She beamed, the broad embodiment of
Beneficence, in going out of the room.

Renwick long stared, as one dazed, at the story of "The Converted
Ringmaster."  It related in minute detail the sudden reformation of that
sinful official.  The account of his rapid change seemed no longer
improbable nor mawkish. Any revolution in any mind might occur, since
his own had been so swiftly hypnotized into sympathy with Miss Minnely
and her emanation "The Blessing."  How generous she was!  Grateful mist
was in his eyes, emotion for the safety of the widows and the orphan
whose bread he must win.

Yet the derisive demon which sat always close to his too sophisticated
heart was already gibing him afresh:—"You stand engaged," it sneered,
"as assistant ringmaster to Durley’s exhibition of yourself!"

New perception of Miss Minnely and Miss Heartly rose in his mind.  Could
mortal women be really as simple as those two ladies had seemed?  Might
it not be they had managed him with an irony as profound as the
ingenuousness they had appeared to evince?





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