The End of the Rainbow
by Marian Keith
THE END OF THE RAINBOW
Author of 'Lisbeth of the Dale,
Treasure Valley, Duncan Polite, etc.
McCLELLAND AND STEWART
PUBLISHERS : : TORONTO
BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
THE END OF THE RAINBOW
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. “THE
GREATEST OF THE
CHAPTER IV. SIDE
“DEAF TO THE
CHAPTER X. “THE
CHAPTER XI. “THE
CHAPTER I. THE GLEAM
All afternoon the little town had lain dozing under the lullaby of a
June rain. It was not so much a rain as a gentle dewy mist, touching
the lawns and gardens and the maple trees that lined each street into
more vivid green, and laying a thick moist carpet over the dust of the
highways. And the little town, ringed by forest and lake, and canopied
by maple boughs, had lain there enjoying it, now blinking half-awake in
the brief glimpses of sunlight, now curling up again and going to
In the late afternoon the silent tournament between sunshine and
shadow resulted in a conquest for the sun. His victorious lances swept
the enemy from the clean blue skies; they glanced over the lake, lodged
in every treetop, and glittered from every church spire. The little
town began to stir. The yellow dogs, that had slept all afternoon on
the shop steps, roused themselves and resumed their fight in the middle
of Main Street. Now and then a clerk ran across to a rival firm to get
change for a customer. A few belated shoppers hurried homeward. A
farmer's double-buggy backed out of the hotel yard with a scraping
sound, and went rattling up the street towards the country. Everything
seemed pervaded with an atmosphere of expectancy, a tense air of
unrest, as though the whole place were holding itself in readiness for
And then it came: the great consummation of the day's work. From the
tower of the fire-hall burst forth the loud peal of the town bell. Six
o'clock! Like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty the town leaped into
life. The whistles of the saw-mills down by the lake broke into shrieks
of joy. The big steam pipe of Thornton's foundry responded with a
delighted roar. The flour mill, the wheel-factory and the tannery
joined in a chorus of yells. From factory and shop, office and store,
came pouring forth the relieved workers, laughing and calling across
the street to each other above the din. There was a noisy tramp, tramp
of feet, a hurrying this way and that, a confusion of happy voices. And
over all the clamour, the big bell in the tower continued to fling out
far over the town and the lake and the woods the joyous refrain that
the day's work was done, was done, was done.
Near the corner of Main Street, on a leafy thoroughfare that ran up
into the region of lawns and gardens, stood a neat row of red-brick
office buildings, with wide doors and shiny windows. Over the widest
door and on the shiniest window, in letters of gold, was the legend:
EDWARD BRIANS, Barrister, etc.
Never a man passed this door on his homeward way without saluting
Hello, Ed! Coming home?Hurrah, Ed! Will you be along if we wait
ten minutes?Ed! Hurry up and come along!
No one appeared in response to the summons; but from within came
refusals, roared out in a thunderous voice, each roar growing more
exasperated than the last.
The streets were almost deserted when, at last, the owner of the big
voice came to his door. He was a man of about thirty-five; of middle
height, straight, strong and alert. His fair hair had a tendency
towards red, and also towards standing on end, and his bright blue eyes
had a tendency to blaze suddenly in wrath or shut up altogether in
consuming laughter. He had practised law in Algonquin for ten years,
and as he had been brought up in the town and was related to one-half
the population, and loved by the whole of it, he was spoken of
familiarly as Lawyer Ed.
A tall man, leading a little boy by the hand, followed him slowly
down the steps. The man was not past middle age, but he was stooped and
worn with a life of heavy toil.
Well, Angus, Lawyer Ed was saying, his deep musical voice
thrilling with sympathy, that'll make you comfortable for a while now,
until you're better, anyway. And there's no need for me, or any one, to
tell you not to worry over it.
The older man smiled. No, no. Tut, tut! Worry! That would be but a
poor way to treat the Father's care, indeed. His dark eyes shone with
an inner light. If He needs my farm, He'll show me how to lift the
mortgage. And if He needs me to do any more work for Him here, He'll
give me back my health. But if not he paused and his hand went
instinctively to the shoulder of the little boy looking up at him with
big wondering eyesif notwell, well, never fear, He knows the way.
An old light wagon and a horse with hanging head were standing by
the sidewalk. The man clambered slowly to the seat and gathered up the
lines. Lawyer Ed picked up the little boy and swung him up beside his
father. He shook him well before he set him down, boxed his ears,
pulled his hair, and finally, diving into his pockets, brought out a
big handful of pink bull's-eyes and showered them into his hat. The
little fellow shouted with delight, and having crammed his mouth full,
he doubled up his small fists and challenged his friend to another
But Lawyer Ed shook his head.
No! That's enough nonsense to-day, you young rascal! Good-bye,
Angus, and his musical voice became low and softand God bless
Angus McRae's smile, as he drove away, was like the sun breaking out
over Lake Algonquin, and the lawyer felt as if their positions were
reversed, and he had just put a mortgage on his farm and Angus were
trying to comfort him.
He stood for a moment on the sidewalk, his bright eyes grown misty,
and watched the pair drive down the hill. Then he looked across the
street and saw Doctor Archibald Blair climbing into his mud-splashed
buggy, satchel in hand. Lawyer Ed walked across to him, his shining
boots sinking in the soft mud.
By descent Lawyer Ed was partly Scotch, by nature he was entirely
Irish. He possessed a glib tongue of the latter order and his habit was
to address every one he met, be he Indian, Highland Scot, or French
Canadian, in the dialect which the person was supposed to favour. So he
roared out in his magnificent baritone, as he picked his way among the
Hoot! Losh! Is yon yersel', Aerchie mon?
Doctor Blair glared down at him from under lowering brows.
Dear me, Ed, you're an object of pity, when you try to get that
clumsy tongue of yours, hampered as it is by a brogue from Cork, around
the most musical sounds of the most musical language under heaven. Give
it up, man! Give it up!
Haud yer whisht! Or whisht yer blethers!whichever way that
outlandish, heathenish gibberish your forebears jabbered, would have
it. You see, Archie, one great advantage of being Irishand it's not
your fault that you're not, man, I don't blame youone great advantage
is that you can speak all languages with equal ease. Now a Scotchman's
tongue is like his sense of humour and his brainsa bit hard to
'Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung,
A heart that warmly seems to feel'
quoted Doctor Blair, who was always ready with his Burns. He shoved
his black satchel under the seat, and hauled the muddy lap-robe over
Do you want anything in the line of common sense, or did you just
come over here to blather?
I came to see what you thought of Angus. Is he very sick?
Angus McRae? Yes he is, Ed, I'm sorry to say. I felt I ought to
tell him to quit work altogether, but he can't afford it.
Is it anything dangerous?
Well, if anything should happena shock or strain of any kind on
his hearthe'd be laid upmaybe put out of business altogether.
And to-day he put a mortgage on his place, to help pay the debts of
Peter McDuff and a dozen other old leeches that live on him.
The two friends looked at each other and nodded silently.
He's a wonderful man, that Angus McRae, said Dr. Blair.
He's the finest man living! cried Lawyer Ed, always enthusiastic.
I owe that man more than I can ever paynot money, something more
valuablenearly everything I have that's worth while.
His friend nodded. There were few men in Algonquin who were not
indebted to Angus McRae for something of value.
Angus is rich in that sort of wealth, said Archie Blair.
It's no in titles nor in rank;
It's no in wealth like Lon'on bank,
To purchase peace and rest.
It's no in makin' muckle mair;
It's no in books; it's no in lear;
To make us truly blest.'
But Angus knows where it is, and he's not like most people who go
to church and sing and pray one day in the week and cheat their
neighbours the other six!
The doctor cracked his whip and drove off in high good humour, for
he had made a smart slap at the church, as he always loved to do in
Lawyer Ed's presence, and had escaped before that glib Irishman could
answer. He could catch something roared out behind him, about a man who
could stay home from church so that he might be a hypocrite seven days
in the week and half the nights too, but he pretended not to hear.
Meanwhile Angus McRae and his little son rattled away down one
street and along another and out upon the country road. Just where the
town and country met stretched a row of ragged, tumble-down buildings.
There was an ill-smelling hotel, with two or three loungers smoking on
the sagging veranda, a long fence covered with tattered and glaring
circus posters, a half-dozen patched and weather-beaten houses and a
row of abandoned sheds and barns.
Algonquin proper was a pretty little town, all orchards and gardens
and winding hilly streets smothered in trees. And the dreary
wretchedness of its back entrance, as it might be called, was all the
more painful in contrast. Willow Lane, this miserable little street was
named; but Angus McRae had long termed it, in his secret heart, the
Jericho Road. For the old tavern at the end of it had proved the
downfall of many a traveller on that highway, and many a man had Angus
picked up, who had fallen there among thieves.
Every one on the Jericho Road knew him well, and went to him for
help in time of trouble and, though they did not realise it, he was
indeed their neighbour in precisely the way his Master meant him to be.
The lane turned into the country road, and once more all was
fragrance and beauty. It curved around the southern shore of Lake
Algonquin; on one side the forest, dark and cool, its dim floor
splashed with golden light, its arches ringing with the call of the
Canada bird, on the other side the blue and white of the lake, laughing
and tumbling beneath the blue and white of the sky.
When the gleam of the water came into view, the little boy clapped
his hands and churned up and down in delight. The fresh, damp wind
fanned his face, and he shouted to the white-winged gulls dipping and
soaring out there in their free ocean of air. He looked up laughingly
into his father's face, but quickly became grave. His father's eyes
were wistful; he had not spoken for a long time. The child remembered
vague hints of trouble that afternoon in Lawyer Ed's office.
You won't have to work when I get a big man, Daddy, he said
comfortingly. I'll work for you. An' I'll get rich, an' you'll have
lots an' lots of money.
His father smiled down at him lovingly. Och, indeed, it's your
father will be the happy man when Roderick grows up. He'll have nothing
to do at all at all.
What was Lawyer Ed doing? queried the child, after a moment's
thought. Is he goin' to let Jock McPherson take away our house?
No, no, child. You must not be troubling your head with such
thoughts. It was just some business Roderick is not old enough to
The little fellow sat swinging his short legs and gazing out over
the lake, struggling with a vague sense of danger. He had been brought
up on the edge of poverty, but had been joyously unconscious of the
fact. His father, Aunt Kirsty, Collie, his dog, and the farm had been
his world, a world of love and enjoyment and plenty. But now he felt
the nearness of some unseen foe, something that had made Lawyer Ed and
Doctor Blair look so grave, and was now keeping his father quiet and
thoughtful. He had a notion that it all had something to do with money.
If you only had a pot o' gold, he said at last, still staring out
over the lake.
A pot of gold! repeated his father, with a laugh. And what would
be putting that into your foolish little head?
A pot o' gold would buy anything you wanted, Peter says. He told me
about it, Peter Fiddle did. Once a boy found a pot o' gold hangin' on
to the end of a rainbow. There's always one there, Daddy. Yes, there
is, Peter Fiddle says so. An' a boy travelled a long, long way to the
end of a rainbow, an' he found itthe pot o' gold. An' he was rich,
an' he gave money to all the poor people an' made them happy.
And so Peter's been telling you more fairy-tales, eh? Well, well,
it will be a pretty one. And now, I suppose the first rainbow you see,
you'll be off to get that pot of gold.
He nodded excitedly. Wouldn't I just! he cried.
Angus McRae was not despondent over the mortgage which his ill
health and his extravagant expenditure for oil and wine and inn-fees
had compelled him to put on his little farm. He was one of those glad
souls, with such a perfect faith in his Father, that he could not but
believe that what might seem to be a bane was in reality a blessing.
But he was a little puzzled and thoughtful. The solution of the problem
was in his Father's hands, of course, but he could not help wondering
just how it would be worked out, and if he himself were using his every
faculty for the best ends.
The greatest part of his problem was the Lad. His boy had been the
very centre of all his thoughts since the day She had left him, with
only faith in God and the Lad's baby hands to hold him up from despair.
She had always hoped that the Lad would have an education, and Angus
had planned that he should. But if the little farm was to go, the Lad
would have to work for his father and Aunt Kirsty just as soon as he
was big enough. And She had always hoped he should be a minister some
day, or even, perhaps, a missionary to a heathen land.
And next to the Lad was his ministry to his neighbours. What was to
become of that? Ministry was not the word Angus McRae would have used
in speaking of his humble calling,the mere working of a little market
garden farm and the selling of what it produced. And yet he had made it
a real and beautiful ministry to both God and his fellow-man. He
considered the selling of sweet turnips and sound cabbage and unspotted
potatoes to his customers as much a religious rite, as did the most
devout Israelite the offering of that which was perfect on the altar of
Jehovah. For indeed everything Angus sent off his little farm, whether
sold for a legitimate price or given away, as it so often was, to a
needy neighbour, was truly an offering to the Most High.
So he was a little puzzled, though not at all saddened, by the
thought that his ministry was to be curtailed, perhaps stopped. He had
hoped to be always able to give a bag of potatoes to a poor neighbour,
or to bring to his home any one who had fallen on the Jericho Road. But
then, if the Father wanted him to stop that, He surely had other work
for him. So he flapped his old horse with the lines and, leaning
forward, hummed the hymn that was his watchword in times of stress:
My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise,
The hosts of sin are pressing hard,
To draw thee from the skies!
The Lad interrupted constantly with eager questions about this
flower and that tree, and his old horse demanded much attention, to
keep her from turning off the road and regaling herself on the green
grass. He flapped her at regular intervals with the lines, saying in a
tone of gentle remonstrance, Tut, tut, Betsy, get up now, get up.
Betsy had had so many years' intimate acquaintance with her master
that this encouragement to greater speed had long ago lost its real
meaning to her. She had come to regard its gentle reiteration as a sort
of pleasant lullaby, and jogged along more peacefully than ever.
They slowly rounded a curve in the road and came into view of their
home, the little weather-beaten house facing the lake, with Aunt
Kirsty's garden a glory of sweet-peas, the long rows of neat vegetable
beds sloping down to the water, the straggling lane with the big oak at
the gate. And there was Collie bounding down the lane, uttering yelping
barks and twisting himself almost out of joint in his efforts to wag
his tale hard enough to express his welcome. The Lad leaped down and
ran to open the gate; Collie knocked him over in his ecstasy, and his
father smiled indulgently as the two rolled over and over on the grass.
Run away in to Aunt Kirsty and tell her we are home, Lad, he
cried, as he drove past to the barn. The boy put the pin in the old
gate and went frolicking along the lane, the dog circling about him.
The lane ran straight past the house down to the water, hedged by an
old rail fence and fringed with raspberry and alder bushes. From it a
little gate led into Aunt Kirsty's garden, which surrounded the house.
The boy paused with his hand on the latch of the gate, looking down at
the water. And then he gave a loud, ecstatic Oh! that made Collie
bark, and stood perfectly still. He could see Lake Algonquin spread out
before him, stretching away to the north in lovely curves like a great
river. Its gleaming floor was dotted with green, feathery islands. To
the west, in a silver haze, lay the town; to the east, a low, wooded
shore where the spire of the little Indian church pointed up like a
shining finger out of the green. Great masses of clouds were piled high
in the west, where the sunset was turning all the world into glory. But
it was not the beauty of the scene that was holding the little boy
spellbound. Down there, straight ahead of him, was a most marvellous
thing, the fulfilment of his dreams. Across the radiant water,
stretching from some fairy island in the heavens, far over to the
opposite shore, hung a rainbow! And more wonderful still, right down
there at its foot, just beyond Wanda Island, gleaming and beckoning,
hung the pot of gold!
The Lad's heart gave a great leap. There it was, just as Peter
Fiddle had described it! Why should he not go after it, right now, and
bring it home to his father? He went tearing down the hill, Collie
leaping at his side. Peter Fiddle had said that the reason more folks
did not get the rainbow gold and be rich and happy ever after, was
because they did not go after it right at once. For the pot of gold did
not hang there very long, and might slip into the water with a big
splash any minute, and be gone forever. So the Lad ran in frantic
haste, and the dog bounded ahead and nearly rushed into the water, in
his mistaken idea that he was to catch the gulls that came swooping so
near and were off and away before he could snap. The old green boat
belonging to his father was lying on its side half in the water; the
Lad tugged at it madly without moving it an inch. He glanced about him
and spied with delight Peter Fiddle's canoe lying upside down under the
birches. Peter worked for his father, when not away fishing or playing
the fiddle or spinning yarns; and when he went away by land his canoe
was always at home, and sometimes the Lad had paddled out in it alone.
He pulled and tugged at it manfully, and after great exertions that
left him panting, he managed to launch it. Collie, just returned from a
mad charge after the gulls, leaped in beside him. The boy seized the
paddle and pushed off hurriedly. He seated himself on the thwart and
looked out to get his direction. Yes, there it still hung, away out
there at the end of the island, gleaming bigger and brighter than ever.
The canoe was large, and the paddle clumsy, but he was filled with such
a passion to get that gold that he made wonderful progress. He leaned
far over the side, splashing the heavy paddle into, the water, until,
what with his unsteady stroke, his dangerous position on the thwart,
and Collie's mad attempts to catch the passing gulls, the wonder was
that the rainbow expedition did not come to grief as soon as it was
launched. But the Lad had been brought up on the water, and had already
had many a lesson in canoeing from Peter Fiddle, and, after the first
excitement, he realised his mistake. So he slid to his knees and
ordered Collie to the bottom of the canoe in front of him. Then, gazing
intently ahead, he paddled, in a zigzag course, out towards the
wonderful golden haze.
Somehow it had a strange, elusive way of seeming to be in one place
and then appearing in another. The canoeist grew hot, and panting with
his efforts. The perspiration stood out on his round, rosy face, and
the curls on his forehead became wet. He flung off his hat, and
redoubled his efforts. He bent his head to his task, as his paddle
bumped and splashed its way into the water. When he looked up again, he
found, to his dismay, that Wanda Island lay right between him and his
This little garden of spruce and cedar had heretofore marked the
bounds of his excursions. His father had often allowed him to go out
alone in the boat or Peter's canoe, but only when he was watching from
the fields or the shore, and then he was permitted to go only up and
down in the shelter of the island. But he did not hesitate to go
farther, fearing the magic gold might vanish while he lingered. He
revived his flagging energies by picturing his father's joy and wonder
when he returned and came staggering up the path with the money. And
then his father could wear his Sunday blacks every day in the week, and
never work any more, but just ride to and from town all day long in a
new buggy, a painted one like Doctor Blair's. And they would hire Peter
Fiddle and young Peter every day in the year to hoe the fields, and
they would give away everything they grew. And the people in Willow
Lane would all be good and happy ever after. Oh, there would never be
any trouble of any kind when he came home with that pot of gold!
He paddled manfully round the island, pushing through the reeds of
the little bay and just skimming the rocks at the western extremity.
But his arms ached so, that he had to pause a moment to rest. As he did
so, he heard a loud whistle, and the steamer, Inverness, came
round a far point and turned her long bowsprit towards the town, lying
off to the left in a shining mist. The boy grabbed his paddle again and
redoubled his efforts. Peter had gone down to Barbay that morning on
the Inverness, and was in all likelihood on board, and although
the young adventurer intended to reward Peter liberally for the use of
his canoe, he felt it would be safer for him to have it on shore before
its owner returned. He took one tremendous splashing stroke, and, as he
did so, he felt a strange, sharp pain in his right arm. It made him cry
out so loud that Collie turned quickly to him with a whine of grieved
sympathy. The boy dropped the paddle across his knee and caught his
arm. Gradually the pain left and he took up the paddle again. But
somehow the glory of the expedition seemed to have vanished. He wanted
Aunt Kirsty when that pain came into his arm, more than he wanted all
the gold of all the rainbows he had ever seen. He bent to his paddle
with much less vim, and slowly and painfully round the island he came,
and out into the open lake. And then,where, oh, where, was the pot of
gold? And where was the rainbow? He seemed to have come out with one
stroke of his paddle from a world that was all colour and light to one
that was cold, grey and dreary. He looked about him amazed. All the
beauty of the lake had faded into mist. The rainbow was gone! A chill,
damp breeze fanned his hot face, coming down from the north, where the
clouds had grown black. The little mariner sat on his heels in the
bottom of his canoe and looked about him in dismay. Surely the pot of
gold had not gone. Perhaps it was hidden away behind those dark clouds
and would come gleaming out again right in front of him. But though he
sat and waited, the world only grew greyer and darker. Collie stood up
again and barked defiance at a heron that sailed away overhead, but his
little master sharply bade him lie down. The pain in his arm gave
another twinge, and slowly and sadly he took up his paddle and turned
his canoe homeward.
As he did so he felt a light breeze lift him. It came from the
north, where those dark clouds had swallowed up his rainbow. A strange,
weird thing was happening up there in those clouds, and the boy paused
to watch. Down the shimmering floor of the lake, sweeping slowly
towards him, came a great army. Stealthy, hurrying shapes, with bent,
grey-cowled heads, and trailing garments, rank on rank they stole
forward, mystery and fear in their every movement. Many a time, on an
autumn evening, the boy had watched the fog start away up the lake and
come stealing down, until the islands and the town and the forest were
covered as with a blanket. But he had never seen anything so awesome as
this. The strange shapes into which the light gusts of wind had driven
the mist made them look like an army of ghosts driven out of the haunts
of night. They were bringing night in their train, too. For as they
swept silently onward, everything in earth and lake and sky was blotted
out. One by one the islands vanished; the far-off eastern shore was
wiped away as if by some magic hand. The tower of the little Indian
church stood out for a moment above the flood and then sank engulfed;
and the next moment the great host had swept over the little sailor and
he was walled in and cut off from land and water, alone in a cloudy sea
with neither shore nor sky nor surface. The boy turned swiftly towards
his home, and when he saw that it, too, was gone, he uttered a cry of
terror. Daddy, oh, Daddy! he wailed. Collie came close and licked his
face and whined, then looked about him and growled disapprovingly at
the weird thing that surrounded them. The boy put his arms tight around
the dog's neck and hugged him. Oh, Collie! he cried, we're lost, and
I don't know where home is and where Daddy is. It was not the loss of
gold that troubled him now. He stared about him in the greyness,
striving to make out some object. The fog was so thick that he could
see only the length of the canoe, but a big, darker mass of shadow in a
world of shadows, told him where Wanda Island lay, and grasping his
paddle, he started in what he believed to be the direction of home. He
paddled until he was out of breath, rested a moment, then went at it
again with all his might. The pain in his arm returned, but he dared
not stop. And as he worked madly in his efforts to reach home, the
gentle wind was slowly but surely carrying him out to the open lake.
Every few minutes the thought of his father would overcome him and
he would drop his paddle and, sinking down beside Collie, would sob
aloud. Then he would rise again bravely and go at his task, but each
time with feebler efforts. The pain in his arm, which kept returning at
intervals, was sometimes so bad he had to stop and nurse it. He was wet
to the skin now, and Collie's hair was dripping. Whenever he rested, he
spent the interval calling loudly for his father, while Collie helped
him by barking, but though he listened till his ears were strained,
only the soft lap, lap, of the waves against the canoe answered. As
night came on the thick pall grew heavier and blacker, and at last he
could not see even the length of the canoe.
The sore arm became almost helpless at last, and he could paddle
only a few strokes at long intervals. He slipped down beside Collie,
hugging him close, and sobbed out on his sympathetic head his sorrow
for the rash venture. He even confessed that he wished he had left his
friend at home. Aunt Kirsty and Daddy will be that lonesome, Collie,
he wailed, without either of us. But I couldn't do without you at all,
Collie! he added. And Collie licked his face again, and whined his
appreciation of the compliment. They seemed to drift on and on for
hours and hours. The boy's imagination, fed by the wild tales from
Peter Fiddletales of shipwrecks at sea, and dead men's bones cast
upon haunted islands, became a prey to every terror. There were
ghosts and goblins out here, and water fairies, that might spirit you
away to a land whence there was no returning; and there were those
other creatures so terrible that Peter had not dared even to describe
them, called Bawkins. He shivered at the thought of them, and clung
to the dog, too frightened to cry out. He had been trying to pray in
broken snatches, but now, in his extremity of fear, he felt he must put
up a petition of more force. He scrambled to his knees and tried to get
Collie to join him by bowing his head. But Collie seemed of an
altogether irreverent nature, and only licked his little master's face
all the more. So the Lad gave it up, and, putting his hands together
behind the dog's head, whispered: Oh, dear Lord, we're lost, me and
Collie. Please send Father and Peter Fiddle with the boat to find us.
Please don't let us get drownded or don't let the Bawkins get us. And
please don't mind Collie not prayin' right, 'cause he's only a dog, but
he's lost, too; and please bring us safe home. And oh, Dear Jesus, I'm
sorry I came out alone to hunt for the pot o' gold, but I didn't know
it was so far, and please won't you make Daddy and Peter Fiddle hurry,
'cause I'm so cold and so hungry and my arm's awful sore and I can't
paddle no more. And please, if Peter Fiddle ain't home yet and has gone
off and got drunk, won't you please send young Peter with Daddy. And
please send them in a hurry. He paused, but felt he must end in a more
becoming way. It was his first extemporaneous prayer of any length, and
he scarcely knew how to close. Then he remembered how Dr. Leslie, in
the church where he went every Sabbath with his father, was wont to
bring his morning petition to a close, so he added, Only please,
please, don't let Peter Fiddle get drunk to-nightworld wifout
There were some more tears after that, but not such bitter ones; for
Angus McRae's son could not but believe that God heard prayer, and he
waited for his answer in a child's faith. He's sure to send Daddy
soon, Collie, he said comfortingly; and then, quaveringly, after a few
moments of intense listening and waiting, It wouldn't be like God not
to, now, would it, Collie?
There was another period of calling into the darkness and of silent
waiting, broken only by the wash of the little ripples against the
canoe. And then there was a spasmodic attempt at paddling, followed by
another season of prayer and a piteous plea for haste. Then the Lad
bethought himself of his father's hymn, the one he sang so often when
he was in danger; though the son often was puzzled as to what sort of
danger it was that assailed his father. There was no doubt about his
own danger just now, so the child lifted a tremulous voice and tried to
My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise,
The hosts of sin are pressing hard,
To draw thee from the skies!
But the singing was a failure. He was hoarse with crying and
shouting, and fearful that the Bawkins would hear, and come and carry
his canoe through the air, away, away, to the land of mists and dead
people. And the poor sounds he managed to make seemed to strike Collie
as the most grievous thing of all this disastrous voyage, for he put
back his head and howled dismally. So the Lad gave it up and took to
praying again, sure that though Father and Aunt Kirsty and Peter Fiddle
were far away, that God was near. He was wet and chilled through now,
and was so exhausted that at last his head sank on Collie's neck. He
was lying there, half asleep, when the dog suddenly gave a leap and a
loud bark that roused him in terror. He clutched Collie and held him
down with stern threats. But his terror changed to wild hope. Away
behind him was a dim yellow light making a long tunnel through the fog.
And down it a far, far voice was calling, Roderick! Roderick, my son,
where are you?
Daddy! Oh, Daddy! the boy answered with a hoarse scream. Here I
am in the canoe with Collie! There was no need to announce the dog's
presence, for Collie was barking madly and leaping so his little master
could hardly hold him. But he was not nearly so careful as he would
have been a few minutes before, for it did not seem to matter even if
the canoe did upset, when his father was near!
The next moment a boat swept alongside with a blinding glare of
light, and such a crowd of people!Peter Fiddle at the oars, and young
Peter at the rudder, and Lawyer Ed! And there seemed to be lights
suddenly appearing on every side, and the whole lake was ringing with
shouts! But the boy heard only his father's voice, saw only his
outstretched arms. He fairly tumbled out of the canoe into them, and
there sobbed out all his terror and exhaustion, while Collie leaped and
barked and tried his best to upset the boat.
Oh, Daddy, the little boy sobbed, with the wisdom born of
adversity, I didn't get the goldbutIdon't want anything everif
I've just got you!
CHAPTER II. THE GREATEST OF THE
Angus McRae had been an intimate friend of Edward Brians, ever since
the days when the latter was a little boy and the former a young man
living on adjoining farms. Angus had, early in life, taken upon himself
the rôle of Good Samaritan, watching with especial care over this young
neighbour, and many a time the headlong lad might have fallen among
thieves had a friend's example and assistance not been always at hand.
And now Lawyer Ed's mind was busy with schemes for returning a
little of that life-long assistance, as he set out for his office the
morning after young Roderick's rainbow expedition. I've got to get
some money, and I will get it, he announced to the blooming syringa
bush at his door, if I have to take it by assault and battery.
He had come home very late the night before, but he was astir none
the less early for that. For though he was usually the last man in the
town to go to bed, and often worked nearly all night, he always
appeared in good time the next morning, looking as fresh and
well-groomed as though he had just come home from a month's vacation.
Like all the other professional folk of Algonquin, Lawyer Ed lived
up on the hill to the north of the town. His widowed sister kept his
house and wondered, with all the rest of the town, why on earth Ed
didn't get married. Her brother answered all enquiries on the subject
according to the age and sex of the enquirer; and had nearly every
young lady in the place convinced that he was secretly pining for her.
He came swinging down his steps this bright June morning humming a tune
in his deep melodious voice. He picked a rosebud and fastened it in his
button-hole and strode down the street, stopping at the gate of every
one of his friendsand who wasn't his friend?to hail the owner and
summon him to his work. He ran into Rosemount, the big brick house
where the handsome Miss Armstrongs lived, to make arrangements for a
Choral Society practice, he drummed up a half-dozen recreant
Sunday-school teachers within the space of two blocks, and he roared
across the street to Doctor Archie Blair to be sure not to forget that
thae bit bills for the Scotchmen's picnic maun be gotten oot that week.
For Lawyer Ed belonged to every organisation of the town in church or
state, except the Ladies' Aidand he often attended even its meetings
when he wanted something, and always got what he wanted, too. So,
although he had started early, it was rather late when at last he
reached the home of his special friend, J. P. Thornton, and hammered
loudly on the gate. So late, in fact, that J. P. had gone. He went on
alone very much disappointed. When any one in Algonquin was in trouble
he went to Lawyer Ed, but when Lawyer Ed was in trouble himself, he
went to his old chum, J. P. Thornton. And he was in trouble this
morning, none the less deep that it was another's. He looked down the
street towards his office, knowing a big day's work awaited him there.
You can just wait, he remarked to the trim red brick building.
I've got to get Angus off my mind; and he whirled in at the Manse
gate and went up the steps in two springs.
The Manse was a broad-bosomed, wide-armed house, opposite the
church, looking as if it wanted to embrace every one who approached its
big doorway. Its appearance was not deceiving. No matter at what hour
one went inside its gate, one found at least half the congregation
there, the sad ones sitting in the doctor's study, the happy ones
spread out over the lawn. As Lawyer Ed remarked, the Lord had purposely
given the Leslies no children, so that they might adopt the
congregation and bring it up in the way it should go.
Mrs. Leslie was at the other end of the garden, cutting roses; she
waved a spray at him, heavy with dew, and he took off his hat and made
her a profound bow. He would have shouted a greeting to any other woman
in Algonquin, but he never roared at Mrs. Leslie. There was something
In the stately old-world atmosphere surrounding the lady of the Manse,
that made even Lawyer Ed treat her with deference.
The door was open and he went straight in and along the hall towards
the minister's study. As he did so a door at the opposite end of the
hall opened suddenly and admitted a round black face and an ample
Good mawnin', Missy Viney! drawled the visitor. I done wanta see
de ministah, bress de Lawd!
Viney's white eyeballs and shining teeth flashed him a welcome.
Laws-a-me, Lawya Ed! Is you-all gwine get marrit?
Viney was a fat, jolly young woman, whom Mrs. Leslie had lured from
the little negro settlement in the township of Oro, a few miles from
Algonquin. She felt the responsibility of her position fully, and
showed a marked interest in the affairs of every one of the
congregation. But of all living things she loved Lawyer Ed most. His
presence never failed to put her in the highest spirits, and his
bachelorhood was her perennial joke.
Yassum, he answered, hanging his head shyly, if you done hab me,
Viney. I bin wantin' you for years, but I bin too bashful.
Viney screamed and flapped her red apron at him. You go 'long, you
triflin' lawya-man! she cried, going off into a gale of giggles; but
just then the study door opened, the minister's head came out, and the
Ah, I thought it was you, Edward, by the joyful noise, said Dr.
Leslie, smiling. He took his visitor by the hand and drew him in.
Come away, come. I was hoping you would drop in this morning.
They sat down, the minister in his arm-chair before his desk. Lawyer
Ed balanced on the arm of another, protesting that he must not stay. It
was his way when he dropped in at the Manse and remained a couple of
hours or so, to bustle about, hat and stick in hand, changing from one
chair to another, to assure himself that he was just going. Dr. Leslie
understood, and did not urge him to sit down.
Though not an old man, the minister had seen Lawyer Ed grow up from
the position of a scholar in his Sabbath School, and quite the most
riotous and mischievous one there, to the superintendency of it, and to
a seat in the session; and he had a special fatherly feeling towards
his youngest elder. Dr. Leslie was the only man in Algonquin, too, folk
said, whom Lawyer Ed feared, and to whose opinion he deferred without
And have you heard from Angus this morning,or the wee lad?
Archie came home about an hour ago. The little rascal's all right,
except for a sore arm. I guess he nearly put it out of joint, paddling.
Angus was better, too; but I'm bothered about Angus, Dr. Leslie. That's
what I came in for.
He moved about the room, fingering ornaments, picking up books and
laying them down again.
Archie Blair says the anxiety was so bad for his heart, that he's
got to stop work right away, for all summer anyway, and perhaps longer.
And his place is all planted, and yesterday, at my advice, he put a
mortgage on it.
He stopped before his minister and looked at him with appealing,
troubled eyes. I feel as if I shouldn't have let him, but I didn't
Dr. Leslie sat drumming his fingers on the table, his face very
We can't see Angus McRae want, Edward. We're all indebted to him
for somethingevery one of the session, and the minister most of all.
The session! Lawyer Ed jumped off the arm of the sofa where he had
just perched. There's an idea. If you laid it before them, they'd do
something; and J. P. and I'll push it and Archie Blair will help.
The minister shook his head. The session is a big body, Edward,
and he smiled,it has wives and daughters. This must not be talked
about. If we help Angus, we mustn't kill him at the same time by
hurting his Highland pride.
Lawyer Ed whacked a sofa cushion impatiently with his cane.
There it is, of course! Hang Scotchmen, anyway! You can't treat
them like human beings. That abominable thing they call their
pridealways clogs your wheels whichever way you go.
Don't revile the tree from which you sprung, Edward, said the
Thank the Lord, the limb I grew on had a few good green Irish
shamrocks mixed with the thistles. If Angus had been as fortunate we'd
have him out of distress to-morrow.
Angus McRae will be the least distressed of us all. I thought of
Paul last night when I saw him, 'troubled on every side, yet not
distressed, perplexed but not in despair.' We must think of some way in
which we can help him quietlyso quietly he may not know it himself.
Who has the mortgage?
Jock McPherson, of course, who else?
The minister's face brightened. Jock McPherson! Well, well, that is
fortunate, Edward. Jock's heart is big enough to put the whole church
inside provided you find the right key.
Yes, but it's a ticklish job fitting it when you do find it. Some
small item in the business will strike him the wrong way and he will
get slow and stiff and arise to the occasion with, 'I feel, Mister
Moterator, that it is my juty to object.'
His imitation of Mr. McPherson's deliberate manner, when in his
sadly frequent rôle of objector in the session, could not but bring a
smile to the minister's face.
I have no fear of your not being able to overcome his objections,
should any arise. Now, sit down just a few minutes, and let us see what
is to be done.
The two talked far into the morning, and laid their plans well. Mr.
McPherson was to be persuaded to remove the mortgage, and instead, as
Angus was in need of the money, to rent the farm. Lawyer Ed was to see
that it was let for a goodly sum that would keep its owner beyond
anxiety, and whatever Jock stood to lose by the bargain was to be
returned to him in whole or part by a little circle of friends. It was
a great scheme, worthy of a legal mind, Dr. Leslie said, and Lawyer Ed
went away well pleased with it.
He went two blocks out of his way, so that he could reach J. P.
Thornton's office without passing his own, and spent another hour
laying the scheme before him.
So, when he finally got to his place of business, irate clients were
buzzing about it like angry bees. But little cared Lawyer Ed. He
laughed and joked them all into good humour and dropping into the chair
at his desk, he drove through a mass of business in an incredibly short
time, telephoning, writing notes, hailing passers-by on the street, and
attending to his correspondence, all while he was holding personal
interviews,doing half-a-dozen things at once and doing them as though
they were holiday sport.
The rush of the day's business kept him from speaking to Jock
McPherson until late in the evening, when, at the end of the session
meeting, he found himself walking away from the church with Mr.
McPherson on one side and his friend, J. P. Thornton, on the other. He
felt just a little anxious over the outcome of the interview. He had no
fear that Jock would be unwilling to help Angus McRae, but he had every
fear, and with good reason, that he would want to do it in his own way.
If Jock were in a good humour, he would fall in with the plan, if not,
he would do exactly as he pleased and spoil everything.
And, as ill-luck would have it, when they were coming down the steps
under the checkered light from the arc-lamp shining through the leaves,
Lawyer Ed made the most unfortunate remark he could have chosen.
He was carrying home a Book of Praise under his arm and was humming
a psalm in a rich undertone. And the unwise thing he said was: I'd
like to sing the Amen at the end of the psalms, as well as the
hymns. What do you say, J. P.?
An excellent idea, Ed, said Mr. Thornton heartily. The psalms
would sound much more finished He stopped suddenly, realising that
they had made a fatal mistake. Mr. McPherson had overheard, and uttered
a disgusted snort. For he hated the new appendage to the hymns, and
looked upon its importation into the church service much as if the use
of incense had been introduced. He was a little man, with a shrewd eye
and a slow tonguebut a tongue that could give a deadly thrust when he
got ready to use it.
The Aye-men, he said with great deliberation, and when he was most
deliberate, he was most to be feared. Inteet, and you'll be putting
that tail to the end o' the psawlms too. He tapped Lawyer Ed on the
arm with his spectacle case. Jist be waiting a bit till you get
permission, young man. You and John Thornton are not jist awl the
Mr. McPherson was the senior elder, the champion of all things
orthodox, and he was inclined to regard Lawyer Ed and J. P. as
Hoot toot, mon, shouted Lawyer Ed jovially. What's wrong wi' a
bit Aye-men foreby? It's in the Scriptur', 'Let all the people say
Amen'and here you would forbid them!
Jock was a Highlander, and Lawyer Ed's habit of addressing him in a
Lowland dialect was particularly irritating as the mischievous young
elder well knew.
Yus. You know the Scriptures ferry well indeed, but if you would be
reading a little farther you will find that it will be saying, 'How
shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen?'
This tickled Lawyer Ed and he laughed loudly. Tut, tut, Jock! It's
a small thing to make a fuss about. You and Jimmie McTavish and a lot
more of you fellows are dead set against all sorts of things that you
accept in the end. Why, man, I can remember the day when you two
objected to the little organ in the old church, and you got used to it
and liked it.
I liked it? Indeed, and when would that be?
Well, you stopped kicking, anyway, until we got the big one, which
was clean unreasonable, whatefer.
No, sir. Mr. McPherson's spectacle case tapped the younger man's
arm peremptorily. I was perfectly logical then, as I am now. I
objected when the wee squeaking thing was brought in, and I objected
more when you and the weemin filled up the end o' the church with a
machine to turn us all deef. As I say, I was perfectly logical, the
greater the organ, the greater the objection.
J. P. hid a smile in the darkness and hastened to interpose, for
when Jock once got riding his objection hobby he would agree with
nothing under the sun.
There's an article in the British Weekly on the evolution of
the church service he began; but his impetuous friend was bent on
setting Jock right in his own way, and hastened to his destruction.
And on the same principle, the more Amen, the more objection, eh?
he cried laughingly. But now, look here, if you'll only consider this
thing with a fair mind you can't help seeing that, as J. P. says, a
hymn or a psalm sounds unfinished without an Amen at the end. Take any
hymn for example
They had reached the McPherson gate by this time, where an arc
light, high up in its leafy perch, was sputtering away shedding a white
glow over the side-walk and embroidering it with an exquisite pattern
worked out in leaf-shadows. Lawyer Ed paused under the lamp and opened
the Book of Praise.
I defy you to find one that isn't improved and finished and rounded
off by an Amen at the end. He selected a hymn at random, and sang a
stanza in his rich voice that poured itself out gloriously on the
Faith and hope and love we see
Joining hands in unity,
But the greatest of the three
And the best is love. Amen.
The beautiful words, sung in Lawyer Ed's melodious voice, were
enough to move even Jock's orthodox heart. He was silent for a moment,
then the noise of a window being raised above their heads interrupted.
Mrs. McPherson was accustomed to after-session meetings, and noisy
ones too, at her gate. But when they were accompanied by singing and
shouting, at the disgraceful hour of eleven P. M. she felt it time to
interfere. So she opened the window noisily and enquired if there was a
There was. It blazed up in Lawyer Ed's heart, so enraged was he at
this very inopportune interruption, coming just when he thought he saw
Jock wavering. He shouted at her to go in and mind her own business.
No one in Algonquin heeded what Lawyer Ed said when he was angry,
but Mr. McPherson was in no mood to put up with even him. He became
deadly slow and deliberate. He turned his back on the turbulent young
man, and addressed the open window:
No, it will not be a fire, Mary, he called. It's just an
Eerishman got loose, and we'll haf to let him talk off his noise. He
reminds me, he continued, still addressing the window, though it had
closed with a bang, he reminds me of that Chersey cow, my Cousin
McNabb had in Islay. She wasn't much for giffin' milk, and it was vurry
thin at that, but she was a great musician. You could hear her bawlin'
across two concessions.
J. P. Thornton was a jolly young Englishman, very prone to mirth,
and this was too much for him. He turned traitor and laughed aloud.
Lawyer Ed glared angrily at him; but Jock's face underwent a peculiar
twist. He had had no notion of saying anything witty, he had been too
angry for that; but he had learned by experience that he never knew
when he was going to make a joke. He was often surprised in the midst
of a speech by a burst of laughter from his friends, Lawyer Ed
generally first. Then he would pause and survey the path he had
travelled, to find that all unconsciously he had stumbled upon a
humorous vein. So when J. P. laughed he stopped to consider. The enemy
flew to defend his bawlin' and there was no time to see if he really
had made a joke. But he was suspicious, and the suspicion put him into
a good humour. A sudden inspiration seized him; he caught the book
Lawyer Ed was brandishing and, opening it, laid it carefully on the top
of the gate-post.
It's more feenished and rounded off, with the 'Aye-men, is
it? he enquired with deep sarcasm. But you would not be feenishing it
after all. If ye're bound and deturmined to put a tail on the end o'
the hime, why don't ye sing awl that's in the book. You would be
leaving out a bit.
He took his glasses from their case, fitted them on, and held the
book carefully towards the electric light.
If ye want it feenished, this is the way it should be sung.
Now, not even Mrs. Jock, who believed her husband the cleverest man
in Algonquin, could say he was a singer, and it was with a terribly
discordant wail that he lifted his voice in the melancholy words of the
hymn before him:
There are no pardons in the toomb,
And brief is mercy's day.
The awful Amen, drawled out to an indefinite length, with the
author's name, on the end, was irresistible. J. P. broke into a shout
of laughter. For a moment, Lawyer Ed's eyes gleamed in the darkness,
but only for a moment, then he too gave way, and when Lawyer Ed
laughed, a really good hearty laugh, it was a musical performance that
did not stop until every one within hearing was joining in the chorus.
And then Jock began to realise that he had been witty again. He
paused and bethought himself of what he had done, and he too saw how
funny it was. He did not laugh right out at first. Jock's mirth, like
his wit, was too deliberate for that. He began by uttering a low
subterranean sort of chuckle, which finally worked to the surface in a
rhythmic shaking of his whole sturdy little body. By this time J. P.
was leaning against a tree wiping his eyes, and everybody up and down
the street was smiling and saying, That's Lawyer Ed's laugh. What's he
up to now, I wonder? Jock checked his mirth quickly; it was not seemly
to rejoice too heartily over one's own humour, but before the joy of it
had left, by an adroit turn, J. P. had sent the conversation into its
A good joke on you, Ed! he cried. I must tell that to Angus
McRae. Angus doesn't love the 'Amen' too much either, Jock.
Angus is in great trouble, exclaimed Lawyer Ed, wiping his eyes
and trying to look serious. Did you hear about it, Jock?
Jock had not heard, so the story of little Roderick's rainbow
expedition and his father's consequent heart affection was quickly
told. And when the splendid plan to help was adroitly unfolded, Jock
was quick to respond. It was the psychological moment; Thomas Hastings
had driven away all dourness and Angus McRae's case was safe.
The two friends walked homeward under the shadows of the maples, the
night-air sweet with the perfume of many gardens. They were both very
happy, so happy indeed, that, as usual, they walked miles before they
finally settled for the night.
First, J. P. recollected again that fine article in the British
Weekly, and strolled up the hill with his friend while he gave a
synopsis of it. When they reached the gate, Lawyer Ed remembered that
he should have told J. P. about old man Cassidy's will and the trouble
Mike was in over it, and so returned to J. P.'s gate. The Cassidy will
was finished and J. P. in the midst of another fascinating article on
Imperial Federation, when they reached there, and Lawyer Ed made him
come up the hill again so that he might hear it. It was their usual
manner of going home after a session meeting.
And may I ask, said J. P., when their personal part in the
financing of Angus's affairs had been finally settled, and they stood
at his gate for the third and last time, may I ask, if it is not too
curious on my part, if you intend to appropriate church funds for your
contribution, or just rob the bank? For J. P. knew well that Lawyer
Ed's extravagant generosity always kept him on the edge of poverty.
Well, neither. Jock mightn't think the first was orthodox. I don't
believe he'd object so strongly to the second, but it mightn't be
successful. I think,yes, I'm afraid, I must draw on the Jerusalem
Of course, I knew you would. Let me see; that's seven times we've
stayed home from the Holy Land, isn't it?the perfect number. A person
naturally thinks of sevens in connection with Bible places.
Lawyer Ed laughed light-heartedly. Ever since the days when these
two had tried to sit together in Sunday-school, and been separated by
Doctor Leslie, they had planned that some time, they would make a visit
together to Bible lands. Many a time since the trip had almost
materialised, but Lawyer Ed's money would fade away, or J. P.'s
business interfere or some other contingency arise to make them stay at
home. The final plans had been laid for the coming autumn, and now it
was again to be postponed.
But J. P. was not deceived into supposing Lawyer Ed was merely
drawing upon a holiday fund.
I believe you have somewhere about five dollars laid away for that
trip, haven't you?
Four-and-a-half, to be correct, said his friend brazenly.
I thought so. And where's the rest going to spring from? He was
accustomed to keeping a stern eye on Ed's affairs or the extravagant
young man would have given away his house and office and all their
contents long ago.
Lawyer Ed did not answer for a moment. He looked like a naughty
schoolboy caught In a foolish prank. The confession came out at last.
I'd almost decided not to go in with Will Graham's scheme. I don't
see how I can leave here just now, that's a fact.
Ed! cried his friend, half-admiring, half-impatient. Why, man,
it's the chance of your life. Bill's making money so fast he can't keep
count of it. You'll be a rich man and a famous one too in a few years
if you go in with him, do you realise that?
Oh, there are lots more chances.
Yes, and they'll slip away like this one. I,can't I help a little
No. And don't talk any more about it. It's just this way, Jock,
I've no choice in the matter. If it was my last cent, and I knew I'd go
to jail for it to-morrow, I'd help Angus. I just couldn't see him want.
It's all right. I'll stay on in Algonquin a few more years, and we'll
see what'll happen. Good-night.
Yes, and good-night to all your ambitions and the Holy Land too.
Not a bit of it! Ambition be hanged. I don't care about that. But
we're going to the Holy Land yet, if we put it off until seventy times
seven. We'll wait till young Roderick's grown up and pays us back, and
then we'll go. Indeed, I'm going to refuse positively to go to the New
Jerusalem until I've seen the old!
He swung away up the street as bright and gay as though he had just
accepted a fine new position instead of refusing one. He was so happy
that he softly sang the hymn that had opened the good work of the
evening. It was very appropriate:
Faith and hope and love we see
Joining hands in unity,
But the greatest of the three
And the best is love.
He was passing near Jock's house so he roared out the Amen in the
hope that the elder had not yet gone to sleep. And Mrs. Leslie's Viney
declared the next morning that she done heah dat Lawyah Ed and J. P.
Thornton gwine home straight ahead all de bressed night, and she did
'clar dey was still goin' when she put on de oatmeal mush for de
CHAPTER III. LIFE'S YOUNG MARINER
On a hazy August afternoon the little steamer Inverness,Captain, James McTavishcame sailing across Lake Simcoe with her
long white bowsprit pointing towards the cedar-fringed gates opening
into Lake Algonquin. She was a trim little craft, painted all blue and
white like the water she sailed. Captain McTavish, who was also her
owner, had named her after his birthplace. He loved the little steamer,
and pronounced her name with a tender lingering on the last syllable,
and a softening of the consonants, that no mere Sassenach tongue could
There were not many passengers to-day; the majority were mothers
with their children, the latter chasing each other about the deck or
clambering into all forbidden and dangerous places, the former sitting
in the shade, darning or sewing or embroidering according to their
station in life. A few young ladies sat in groups, and chatted and ate
candies, or read and ate candies while one young man, in white flannels
and a straw hat waited upon them with stools and wraps and drinks of
water, and magazines, fetching and carrying in a most abject manner.
There was always a sad dearth of young men on the Inverness,
except on a public holiday; but as the girls said, they could always
depend on Alf. He was Algonquin's one young gentleman of leisure, and
beside having a great deal of money to spend on ice-cream and bon-bons,
had also an unlimited amount of good nature to spend with it.
He seemed to be the only one on board who had much to do. Down
below, old Sandy McTavish, the engineer and the captain's brother, was
seated on a nail keg smoking and spinning yarns to a couple of young
Indians. His assistant, Peter McDuff the younger, who did such work as
had to be done to make the Inverness move, was lounging against
the engine-room door, listening.
Up in the little pilot house in the bow, the captain was also at
leisure. He was perched upon a stool watching, with deep interest and
admiration, the young man who was guiding the wheel.
Ah, ha! ye haven't forgotten, I see! he exclaimed proudly, as the
strong young hands gave the vessel a wide sweep around a little reedy
island. I was wondering if you would be remembering the Sand Bar,
I've taken the Inverness on too many Sunday-school picnics
to forget your lessons, Captain. There's the Pine Point shoal next, and
after you round that, you head her for the Cedars on the tip of Loon
Island, and then straight as the crow flies for the Gates and then
He shook his straight broad shoulders with a boyish gesture of
impatience, as though he would like to jump overboard and swim home.
Eh, well, well! It's your father will be the happy man, and to
think you are coming home to stay, too. The captain rubbed his hands
along his knees, joyfully.
The young man smiled, but did not answer. His eager, dark eyes were
turned upon the scene ahead, marking every dearly familiar point.
Already he could see, through an opening in the forest, the soft gleam
of Lake Algonquin. There was Rock Bass Island where he and his father
and Peter Fiddle used to fish, and the slash in the middle of it
whither he rowed Aunt Kirsty every August to help harvest the
blackberries. A soft golden haze hung over the water, reminding him of
that illusive gleam he had followed, one evening so long ago, when he
set out to find the treasure at the foot of the rainbow.
He smiled at the recollection of his childish fancy. For he was a
man now, with a university degree, and far removed from any such folly.
Nevertheless there was something in the quick movement of his strong
brown hands, and the look of impulsive daring in his bright eyes, that
hinted that he might be just the lad to launch his canoe on life's
waters and paddle away in haste towards the lure of a rainbow gleam.
When Captain McTavish had answered a stream of questions regarding
all and sundry in Algonquin, he left him in charge of the wheel and
went rambling over the deck on a hospitable excursion, for he regarded
every one on board as his especial guest. He had aged much in the
eighteen years since he had joined the search party for young Roderick
McRae. The Inverness had been overhauled and painted and made
smart many times in the years that had elapsed, but her captain had
undergone no such renewing process. But he was still famous from one
end of the lakes to the other for the hospitality of the Inverness. For though his eye had grown dim, it was as kindly as ever, and if his
step was not so brisk as in former years, his heart was as swift to
help as it had ever been.
He pulled the Algonquin Chronicle out of his pocket, smoothed
it out carefully, and moving with his wide swaying stride across the
deck to where a young girl was seated alone, he offered it to her as
the finest weekly paper in Canada, whatefer, and a good sound Liberal
into the bargain.
The girl smiled her thanks, and, taking the paper, glanced over it
with an indifferent eye. She was the only stranger on board, and had
sat apart ever since she had left Barbay. Of course every one in
Algonquin knew that a new teacher had been appointed for the East Ward.
And as school opened the next day, the passengers on the Inverness
had rightly guessed that this must be she. She had been the subject of
much discussion amongst the young ladies, for she was very pretty, and
her blue cloth suit was cut after the newest city fashion, and the one
young man seemed in danger of presenting himself, and begging to be
allowed to fetch and carry for her also. Several of the older women,
with motherly hearts, had spoken to her, but she had continued to sit
aloof, discouraging all advances. It was not because she was of an
unsociable nature, but the struggle to keep back the tears of
homesickness took all her attention. There was no place on the little
steamer where one might be alone, so she had sat all afternoon, with
her back to every one gazing over the water. Nevertheless many a pretty
sight had passed her unnoticed. Sometimes the Inverness had
slipped so close to the shore that the overhanging birches bent down
and touched her fair hair with a welcoming caress, and again she ran
away out over the tumbling blue waves, where the gulls soared and
dipped with a flash of white wings. But the strange girl's mind was far
away. She was fairly aching with longing for homethe home that was no
more. And she was longing too for that other homethe beautiful dream
home which was to have been hers, but which was now only a dream. Again
and again the tears had gathered, but she had forced them back,
striving bravely to give her attention to the passing beauties of land
Captain Jimmie's kindly eye had noted the stranger as soon as she
had come on board, and he had set himself to make the drooping little
figure and the big sad eyes look less forlorn.
He had helped her on board, as she came down from the railway
station, her trunk wheeled behind her, and had shaken hands and
welcomed her warmly to Algonquin, saying she would be sure to like the
school and he knew the Miss Armstrongs would be very kind indeed.
She had looked up in surprise, not yet knowing the wisdom of
Algonquin folk concerning the doings of their neighbours.
Och, indeed I will be knowing all about you, the captain said,
smiling broadly. You will be Miss Murray, the young leddy that's to
teach. Lawyer Edthat's Mr. Brians, you knowwould be telling me. And
you will be boarding at the Miss Armstrongs'. They told me I was to be
bringing you up, he added, with an air of proprietorship, that made
her feel a little less lonely. And indeed, he added, with the gallant
air, which was truly his own, it is a fortunate pair of ladies the
Miss Armstrongs will be, whatefer.
Many times during the afternoon he had stopped beside her with a
kindly word. And once he sat by her side and pointed out places of
interest, while some uncertain pilot at the wheel sent the Inverness
unheeded on a happy zigzag course. Yon was Hughie McArthur's farm they
were passing now. Hughie had done well. He was own nephew to the
captain, as his eldest sister had married on Old Archie's Hughie. Old
Archie had been the first settler in these parts, and him and his wife
had it hard in the early days. His father had told him many a time that
Old Archie's wife had walked into where Algonquin now stoodthey
called it the Gates in those days,twenty mile away if it was one,
with a sack of wheat on her back to be ground at the mill, and back
again with the flour, while the eldest girl, then only fifteen, looked
after the family and the stock. That was when Archie was away at the
front the time of the rebellion. Yes, it was hard times for the women
folk in those days. Times was changed now to be sure. Take Hughie, now,
his sister's son. That was his new silo over yonder, that she could
see. Hughie had a gasoline engine and it did everything, Hughie said,
but get the hired man up in the morning, and he was going to have it
fixed so it would do that. The captain paused, pleased to see that
Hughie's wit was appreciated. They had the engine fixed to run the
churn and the washer, and Hughie's woman hadn't anything to do but sit
and play the organ or drive herself to town. And just behind yon strip
of timber was where his father had settled first when they came out
from Inverness. All that land she could see now, up to the
topmost hill was the township of Oro, and a great place for Highlanders
it was in the early days, though he feared it had sadly deteriorated.
Folks said you could scarcely hear the Gaelic at all now.
The captain looked at her now, trying to fix her attention on the
little newspaper and he suddenly bethought himself of something else he
could do for her and bustled away down the little steep stair. Whenever
the Inverness sighted the entrance to Lake Algonquin of a summer
afternoon, Captain Jimmie went immediately below and brewed tea for the
whole passenger list. He had always done it, and this mid-voyage
refreshment had come to be one of the institutions of the trip, as
indispensable as the coal to run the engine. He appeared shortly with a
huge teapot in one hand and a jug of hot water in the other, calling
hospitably, Come away, and have a cup-a-tea, whatefer. Come away.
Mr. Alfred Wilbur, the young man in the white flannels ran to help
him. The fact that he was given to rendering his services at all
functions in Algonquin where tea was poured, had brought upon him an
ignominious nickname. His title in full as engraved on his visiting
cards, was Alfred Tennyson Wilbur, and a rude young man of the town had
taken liberties with the initials, and declared they stood for
Afternoon Tea Willie.
It must be confessed that, while Afternoon Tea Willie was the most
obliging young man in all Canada, he was not entirely disinterested in
his desire to assist the captain to-day. He saw in that big tea-pot a
chance to serve the handsome young lady with the city hat and the smart
suit. He secured a second teapot and was heading her way in bustling
haste when the captain, all unconscious, slipped in ahead of him, and
the unkind young ladies whom poor Alf had slaved for all afternoon,
laughed aloud over his discomfiture.
As soon as the cup-a-tea had been served the captain went back to
the pilot house. They had entered the Channel, a toy river, low-banked
and reed-fringed, that led by many a pretty curve into Lake Algonquin.
Two bridges spanned the Channel at its narrowest part, which was named
the Gates, and Captain Jimmie allowed no one but himself, however
expert, to take the Inverness through here.
Relieved from his duties, Roderick strolled away. Like the strange
girl, he, too, had attracted much attention, especially among the young
ladies, and at their bidding Alfred Tennyson had several times
attempted to lure him into joining their circle. But Roderick was shy
and constrained in the presence of young ladies. He had had no time to
cultivate their acquaintance in his school and college days, and had
admired them only from afar in a diffident way; so when Alfred
approached him and begged him once more to come and be introduced he
slipped away downstairs to talk with his old boyhood friend, the
Hello, Pete, we'll soon be in Lake Algonquin! he cried joyfully,
as he leaned over the low door and watched the young man heaving coal
into the Inverness's hot jaws.
Young Peter slammed the furnace door and came up to get a breath of
cool air. He put a black hand on Roderick's arm, Say, I'm awful glad
you're home, Rod, he said, smiling broadly.
And I'm just as awful glad to be home, Pete, old boy. I say, do you
do all the work while the Ancient Mariner there smokes and orders you
The crew of the Inverness, consisting of an engineer and a
fireman, was, whether in port or on the high seas, in a state of frank
mutiny. The Ancient Mariner, as every one called Sandy McTavish, was
the captain's elder brother, and he made no secret of the fact that he
intended to run the Inverness as he pleased, if he ran her to
Davy Jones. Accordingly he smoked and spun yarns all day long in true
nautical fashion, and young Peter McDuff did the work.
But Peter looked at Roderick puzzled, and grinned good naturedly. He
did not understand that there was anything unjust in the arrangement
old Sandy had made of the work. Poor Peter had been born to injustice.
His father was a drunkard and the boy had started life dull of brain
and heavy of foot. His slow mind had not questioned why the burdens of
life should have been so unevenly divided.
But Roderick McRae felt something of the tragedy of Peter's
handicapped life. He put his hands affectionately on the young man's
heavy shoulders. They had been brought up side by side on the shores of
Lake Algonquin, but how different their lots had been!
Ah, it's all a hard job for you, Pete, old boy! he cried.
Peter's dull eyes lit up.
Oh, no, it ain't! It will be a great job, Rod. Your father would be
getting it for me. Your father's been awful good to us, Rod. Say, tell
me about the city. Is it an awful big place?
Roderick studied the young man's heavy face, as he talked. Here was
one of his father's neighbours of the Jericho Road. For twenty years or
more, he could remember his father struggling to bring Peter Fiddle to
a life of sobriety and righteousness and to bring up his son in the
same. And what had he to show for it all? Old Peter was a worse
drunkard than he had been twenty years ago, and poor Young Peter was
the hopeless result of that drinking. Roderick's kindly heart
sympathised with his father's efforts, but his head pronounced judgment
upon them. He confessed he could see very little use in bothering with
the sort of folk that were forever stumbling on the Jericho Roads of
Peter went back reluctantly to the engine-room, and Roderick ran up
on deck to see the Inverness enter the Gates. He had not been
home for a whole long year, and he was eager as a child to get the
first glimpse of Algonquin and the little cove where the old farm lay.
As he was passing round to the wheel-house, he noticed again the
young stranger who had come on board at Barbay. He had been puzzled
then by the recollection of having seen her before, and he walked
slowly, looking at her and trying to recall where and when it could
have been. As he approached, she turned in his direction, her eyes
following the sweep of a gull's white wing, and he recognised her. He
remembered her quite distinctly, for he could count on his fingers the
number of young ladies he had met in his busy college days, and Miss
Murray was not one that could be easily forgotten. He stood at the
railing and recalled the scene. It had been at the home of Mrs.
Carruthers, Billy Parker's aunt. That kind lady made it a blessed habit
to invite hungry students to her home on Sunday nights. And the suppers
she gave! Billy had taken Roderick that evening, and there were a
half-dozen more. And this Miss Murray had dropped in after church with
Richard Wells. Wells was a medical in his last year, and Roderick had
met him often before. Miss Murray had worn some sort of soft white
dress, he remembered, and a big white hat, and she had been very bright
and gay then, not sad and pensive as she seemed now.
He did not realise that he was staring intently at her, while he
recalled all this, until she turned and looked at him. She gave a start
of surprised recognition mingled with something of dismay. For an
instant she looked irresolute; then she bowed, and Roderick came
quickly forward. She gave him her hand, a vague look in her deep
grey-blue eyes. She remembered him; Roderick's appearance was too
striking to be easily forgotten; but it was plain she could not recall
It was a Sunday evening, last fallat Mrs. Carruthers', he
stammered. She smiled reassuringly.
Oh, yes, it was stupid of me to forget. You were in law, weren't
Yes, in my last year. I'm just on my way home now, to practise in
Algonquin. Are you going to visit friends here?
No, I'm going to teach. She did not seem to want to speak of
herself. Algonquin is a very pretty place, I hear.
It's is the most lovely place in Canada, said Roderick
enthusiastically. He was not as shy in her presence as he usually was
with young women. He could not help seeing, that for some unaccountable
reason, she was embarrassed at meeting him, and her distress made him
forget himself. He tried to put her at her ease in a flurried way.
How people scatter! The half-dozen that were at Mrs. Carruthers'
that night are all over the world. Billy Parker's gone to Victoria to
practise law, and Withers is in Germany, and Wells,he graduated with
honours, didn't he? Where did Dick Wells go?
Roderick had no sooner uttered the name than he saw he had made a
mistake. The girl's face flushed; a slow colour creeping up over neck
and brow and dyeing her cheeks crimson. But she looked up at him with
brave steady eyes as she answered quietly:
I am not sure where he is. I heard he had gone to Montreal. And
when she had said it she became as white as the dainty lawn blouse she
Roderick made a blundering attempt to apologise for something, he
scarcely knew what, and only made matters worse.
II beg your pardon, he said, I shouldn't have askedbut I
thoughtwe understoodat least I mean Billy said, he floundered
about hopelessly, and she came to his aid.
That Dr. Wells and I were engaged? She was looking at him directly
now, sitting erect with a sparkle in her eye.
Yes, he whispered.
It was truethen. But it is not now.
I am so sorry I spoke faltered Roderick.
You need not be, she broke in. It was quite naturalonly she
looked at him keenly for a moment as though taking his measure. May I
ask a favour of you, Mr. McRae?
Oh, yes, I should be so glad, he broke out, anxious to make
Then if you would be so good as to make no mention ofof this. I
shall be living in Algonquin now for some time probably.
She stopped falteringly. She could not confess to this strange young
man that she had come away to this little town where no one knew her
just to escape the curiosity and pity of acquaintances and friends, and
that she was dismayed at meeting one on its very threshold who knew her
secret. She was relieved to find him more anxious to keep it than she
He assured her that he would not even think of it again, and then he
stumbled upon a remark about the fishing in Lake Algonquin, and the
duck-shooting, two things, he recollected afterwards, in which she
could not possibly be interested, and finally he made his escape. He
leaned over the bow, watching the channel opening out its green arms to
the Inverness, and tried to recall all that he had heard about
Dick Wells. Billy Parker, who knew all college gossip, had told him
much to which he had scarcely listened. But he remembered something
concerning a broken engagement. Wells was to have been married in June
to the pretty Miss Murray, Billy had said. She had her trousseau all
ready, and then Dick had gone on a trip to the Old Country alone. No
one knew the reason, though Billy had declared it was the same old
Roderick McRae's chivalry had never before been called into action
where young women were concerned. Now he felt something new and strong
rising within him. He was suddenly filled with the old spirit which
sent a knight out upon the highway to do doughty deeds for the honour
of a lady, or to right her wrongs. His warm heart was filled with
conflicting emotions, rage at himself for having brought the hurt look
into those soft blue eyes, rage at Wells for being the primary cause of
it, and underneath all a strange, quite unreasonable, feeling of
exhilaration over the fact that he and the girl with the golden hair
and the sad eyes had a secret between them.
They were in the Gates now, passing slowly through the railroad
bridge. The softly tinted glassy water of Lake Algonquin, with the
green islands mirrored in its clear depths was opening out to view. The
channel too, was clear and still like crystal, save where the swell
from the bows of the Inverness rolled away to the low shore and
set the bulrushes nodding a stately welcome. The echoes of the little
engine clattered away into the deep woods, startlingly clear. An ugly
brown bittern, with a harsh exclamation of surprise at the intrusion
into his quiet domain, shot across the bow and disappeared into the
swamp. A great heron sailed majestically down the channel ahead of the
boat, his broad blue wings gleaming in the sunlight. It was all so
still and beautiful that a sense of peace and content awoke in
The Inverness was making her way slowly towards the second
bridge. The channel was very narrow and shallow here and the captain's
little whistle that communicated with the powers below was squeaking
frantically. Just as the bridge began to turn, a man in a mud-splashed
buggy dashed up, a moment too late to cross, and stood there holding
his horse, which went up indignantly on its heels every time the
Inverness snorted. His fair face was darkened with anger, his blue
eyes were blazing. He leaned over the dashboard and shook his fist at
the little wheel-house which held the captain.
Get along there you, Jimmie McTavish! He roared in a voice that
was rich and musical even in its anger. Can't you see I'm in a hurry,
you thundering old mud-turtle? I could sail a ship across the Atlantic
while you are dawdling here. Get out of my road, I tell you! I've got
to be in town before that five train goes out, and here's that old
dromedary of yours stuck in the mud.How? What? Oh, what in the name
of? He choked, spluttering with wrath, for with a final squeak the
Inverness stopped altogether.
The captain darted out of the wheel-house to call down an indignant
enquiry of the Ancient Mariner as to the cause of the delay. Much
sailing in all weathers in the keen air of the northern lakes had
ruined Captain McTavish's voice, which, at best, had never been
intended for any part but a high soprano. And now it was almost
inaudible with anger. It ill became the dignity of a sea captain to be
thus publicly berated in the presence of his passengers.
If ye'd whisht ye're noise, he screamed, I'd be movin' queek
enough. Come away, Sandy! Come away, Peter, man!
For all his sailing, the captain was a true landsman, and when under
pressure his thin nautical veneer slipped off him, and his language was
not of the sea.
Come away, Sandy, he called artlessly, and gee her a bit. Gee!
I can have the law on you for obstructing the King's Highway!
thundered the man on the bridge.
The water will be jist as much the King's Highway as the road!
retorted the captain indignantly. If you would be leafing other folks'
business alone, and attending to your own, you would be knowing the law
better. It is a rule of the sea that effery vessel
The sea! the enemy burst in with an overwhelming roar. The sea! A
vessel! A miserable fish pond, and an old tub like that, the sea and a
vessel! Get away with you! Get out of my sight!
He waved a hand as if he would wipe the Inverness from off
the face of the waters.
During the altercation, Roderick McRae had been leaning far over the
railing, striving to attract the attention of the madman in the buggy.
But his voice was drowned in the laughter and cheers of the passengers
who were enjoying the battle immensely. At this moment he put his
fingers to his teeth and uttered a long, sharp whistle. Ho! Lawyer
Ed! he shouted. The man on the bridge started. His angry face, with
the quickness of lightning, broke into radiance.
Roderick!Rod! Are you there? Hooray! He caught off his hat and
waved it in the air. Come on home with me! I dare you to jump it!
The Inverness was at a perilous distance from the bridge, but
the young man did not hesitate a moment before the half-laughing
challenge. He leaped lightly upon the railing, poised a moment and,
with a mighty spring, landed upon the bridge. The onlookers gave a gasp
and then a relieved and admiring cheer.
Another spring put Roderick into the buggy, where his friend
hammered him on the back, and they laughed like a couple of
school-boys. And that was what they really were, for though Roderick
McRae was nearly twenty-four, he was feeling like a boy in his
home-coming joy, and as for Lawyer Ed he hadn't grown an hour older,
either in feeling or appearance, but lived perennially somewhere near
the joyous age of eighteen.
Meanwhile the real captain of the Inverness had begun to
bestir himself. The Ancient Mariner cared not the smallest lump of coal
that went into the furnace door for the command of his brother-captain;
but he had a wholesome fear of Lawyer Ed, and doubted the wisdom of
rousing him again. So he gave an order to Peter, and with a great deal
of boiling and churning of the water the Inverness slowly began
to move. The bridge, worked by a dozen youngsters who always roosted
there, began to turn into place. With a defiant yell of her whistle,
the Inverness sailed out of the Gates, and the buggy dashed
across the bridge and away down the dusty road. But though Lawyer Ed
was bubbling over with good humour now, he turned, Marmion like, to
shake his gauntlet of defiance at the retreating vessel, and to call
out insulting remarks to which the captain responded with spirit.
Well inteet, said the Ancient Mariner, as he settled once more to
his pipe, it will be a great peety that Lawyer Ed has neither the
Gawlic nor the profanity, for when he will be getting into a rage he
will jist be no use at all, at all!
All unconscious of his verbal deficiencies, and uproariously happy,
Lawyer Ed sped away down the Pine Road towards town. He had been
looking forward for a long time to this day, when Roderick should come
back to Algonquin to be his partner.
It's great to see you again, Lad, he exclaimed joyfully, surveying
the young man's fine figure and frank face with pride. I was getting
nervous for fear you were going West after all.
I can't pretend I didn't want to go, he confessed, though I
didn't like the idea of another fellow in my place in your office. You
see I'm a good bit of a dog in the manger, and when Father's last
letter arrived I felt I must come.
That's right, my boy. Your place is with your father just now. And
you're looking as fine and fit as if you'd been away camping.
I'm ready for anything. You and J. P. Thornton can start for the
Holy Land to-morrow.
I prophesied once, about a score or so years ago; that I'd go when
you could manage my practice, and I'll be hanged if I don't think it's
coming true. J. P.'s talking about it, anyway. Does your arm ever
bother you now?
Roderick doubled up his right fist, stretched out his arm, and
slowly drew it up, showing his splendid muscle. Sometimes, but not
anything to bother about, only a twinge once in a while when it's damp.
I can still paddle my good canoe, and if you'd like a boxing bout he
turned and squared up to his friend, receiving a lightning-like blow
that nearly knocked him into the road. And the two went off into an
uproarious sparring match like a couple of youngsters.
Lawyer Ed had never yet married though he still made love to every
woman, girl and baby in Algonquin. But Roderick McRae had grown to be
like a son to him, filling every desire of his big warm heart, and now
the proud day had come when his boy was to be his partner. He and Angus
had talked for hours of the wonderful things that were to be
accomplished in the town and church and on the Jericho Road when the
Lad came home, and had laid great plans at which the Lad himself only
guessed. They had feared for a time that all were to be ruined when,
after his graduation, he had been kept in the city in the employ of a
firm, and had received from them an offer of a position in the West.
But he had refused, to their joy, and was to settle in Algonquin and
relieve Lawyer Ed of his altogether too burdensome practice.
As they spun along, for the five-o'clock train was still to be
caught, the elder man poured out all the news of the town; J. P.'s last
great speech, Algonquin's lacrosse victories, the latest battle in the
session,for Jock McPherson was still a valiant and stubborn
objector,the last tea-meeting at McClintock's Corners, where the
Highland Quartette, of whom Lawyer Ed was leader, had sung, the errand
over to Indian Head, where he had just been, etc., etc. It was not half
told when they came to the point in the road opposite Roderick's home,
and the Lad leaped down, promising to run up to the office that night
when he went into town for his trunk.
He lost no time on the rest of the journey. It was a dash through
the dim woods where the white Indian Pipes raised their tiny, waxen
tapers, and the squirrels skirled indignantly at him from the
tree-tops; a leap across the stream where the water-lilies made a fairy
bridge of green and gold, a scramble through the underbrush, and he was
at the edge of the little pasture-field, and saw the old home buried in
orchard trees, and Aunt Kirsty's garden a blaze of sun-flowers and
asters. And there at the gate, gazing eagerly down the lane in quite
the wrong direction, stood his father!
The years had told heavily on the Good Samaritan, and Roderick's
loving eye could detect changes even in the last year of his absence.
Old Angus's tall figure was stooped and thin, and he carried a staff,
but he still held up his head as though facing the skies, and his eyes
were as young and as kindly as ever. The Lad gave a boyish shout and
came bounding towards him. The old man dropped his stick and held out
both his hands. He said not a word, but his eyes spoke very eloquently
all his pride and joy and love. He put his two hands on his son's head
and uttered a low prayer of thanksgiving.
Aunt Kirsty came bustling out as fast as her accumulating flesh
would permit. Poor Aunt Kirsty had grown to a great bulk these later
days and could not hurry, but indeed had she used up all the energy on
moving forward that she mistakenly put into swaying violently from side
to side, she would have made tremendous speed. Roderick ran to meet
her, and she took him into her ample bosom and kissed him and patted
him on the back and poured out a dozen Gaelic synonyms for darling, and
then shoved him away, and burying her face in her apron, began to cry
because he was such a man and not her baby any more!
The father's heart was too full for words; but after supper when
they sat out on the porch in the soft misty twilight, he found many
things to ask, and many questions to answer. Roderick sat on the step
facing the lake, filled with a great content. The sunset gleam of the
water through the darkening trees, the soft plaintive call of the
phoebes from the woods, the sleepy drone of Bossy's bell from the
pasture, and the scents of the garden made up the atmosphere of home.
Well, well, and you have come to stay, his father said for the
tenth time, rubbing his hands along his knee in ecstasy, to stay.
It'll be great to know that I don't have to run away at the end of
the summer, won't it?
It'll jist be the answer to all my prayers, Lad. I feel I am no use
in the world at all, now that you have made me give up all work. He
gave his son a glance of loving reproach. For while Roderick had
managed to get his education, he had managed too, to do wonderful
things with the little farm, so that his father had long ago given up
the work he had resumed after his year's illness. And Aunt Kirsty had a
servant-girl in the kitchen now, and devoted all her time to her garden
and her Bible.
You've jist made your father a useless old body. But I jist can't
be minding, for I see how you can be taking up all my work. There's the
Jericho Road waiting for you, Lad.
The young man smiled indulgently. And what do you think I can do
there, Father? Unless Mike Cassidy goes to law as usual.
Ah, but is jist you that can. Edward will be finding great
opportunities for helping folk and he has not the time now. There's
that poor bit English body, Perkins, and his family, and there's Mike
as you say, though Father Tracy would be straightening him up something
fine. But you must jist see that he doesn't go to law any more. And
then there's poor Peter Fiddle.
The younger man laughed. Peter is the kind of poor we have with us
always, Dad. Is he behaving any better?
Och, indeed I sometime think I see a decided improvement,
exclaimed Old Angus, with the optimism that had refused to give Peter
Fiddle up through years of drunkenness and failure. We must jist keep
hold of him, and the good Lord will save Peter yet, never fear.
Roderick was silent. Personally he had no faith in Peter McDuff the
elder. He had gone on through the years fiddling and singing and
telling stories, his drunken sprees showing a constantly diminishing
interval between. Every one in Algonquin, except Angus McRae, had given
him up long ago, but his old friend still held on to him with a faith
which was really the only thing that kept old Peter from complete ruin.
But Roderick had the impatience of youth with failure, and though he
had inherited his father's warm heart, he was not at all happy at the
thought of becoming guardian of all the poor unfortunates of the town
who in one way or the other had fallen among thieves.
Eh yes, yes, there is a great ministry for you here, Lad. I have
sometimes been sorry that you did not feel called to the preaching, but
I was jist thinking the last time Edward and I talked the work over,
that I was glad now you hadn't. For you will be able to help the poor
folk that need you jist as well here, though I would be far from
putting anything above the preaching of the Gospel. But there will be
many ways of preaching the Gospel, Lad, and the lawyer has a great
chance. It will be by jist being neighbour to the folk in want. Folk go
more often to the lawyer or the doctor, Archie Blair says, when they
are in trouble, than they do to their minister, and I am afraid it's
true. And a great many of the folk that will come to you to get you to
do their business, Lad, will be folk in trouble, many who have fallen
among thieves on the Jericho Road, and you will be pouring in the oil
and the wine that the dear Lord has given you, and you will be doing it
all in His name. He sighed happily. Oh, yes, indeed and indeed, it
will be a great ministry, Roderick, my son.
Roderick was silent. His heart was touched. He resolved he would do
the best he could for any friend of his father who was in trouble. But
his eye was set on far prospects of great achievement, where Algonquin
and the Jericho Road had no place.
Their talk was interrupted by Aunt Kirsty, who came to the door to
demand of him what he had done with his clothes. Had he come home, the
rascal, with nothing but what was on his back after the six pairs of
new socks she had sent him only last spring?
Roderick sprang up. My trunk! It will be on the wharf. I yelled at
Peter to put it off there, just as we were driving away, and said I'd
paddle over and get it. I forgot all about it, Aunt Kirsty. The father
and son looked at each other and smiled. It was easy to forget when
they were together.
I'll go after it right now. It's mostly old books and soiled
clothes, Auntie, but there's one nice thing in it. You ought to see the
peach of a shawl I got you. He ran in for his cap, and she followed
him to the door, scolding him for his foolish extravagance, but not
deceiving any one into thinking that she was not highly pleased.
Angus stood long at the water's edge watching the Lad's canoe slip
away out on the mirror of the lake. The shore was growing dark, but the
water still reflected the rose of the sunset. The soft dip of his
paddle disturbed its stillness and a long golden track marked the road
he was taking out into the light. Away ahead of him, beyond the network
of islands, shone the glory of the departing day. The Lad was paddling
straight for the Gleam. The father's mind went back to that evening of
stormy radiance, when the little fellow had paddled away to find the
His eyes followed the straight, alert young figure yearningly. He
was praying that in the voyage of life before him, his boy might never
be led away by false lights. He recalled the words of the poem Archie
Blair had recited the evening before at a young folks' meeting in the
Not of the sunlight
Not of the moonlight
Not of the starlight,
Oh young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions
Launch your vessel
And crowd your canvas
And e'er it vanish
Over the margin
After it; follow it;
Follow the gleam!
It held the burden of his prayer for the Lad; that, ever unswerving,
he might follow the true Gleam until he found it, shining on the
forehead of the blameless King.
CHAPTER IV. SIDE LIGHTS
Roderick was not thinking of that Gleam upon which his father's mind
was set, as he glided silently out upon the golden mirror of Lake
Algonquin. The still wonder of the glowing lake and sky and the mystery
of the darkening shore and islands carried his thoughts somehow to a
new wonder and dream; the light that had shone in the girl's brave
eyes, the colour that had flooded her face at his awkward words. They
were beautiful eyes but sad, and there were tints in her hair like the
gold on the water. Roderick had known scarcely any young women. His
life had been too busy for thatwhen he was away, books had claimed
all his attention, when he was home, the farm. But in the background of
his consciousness, shadowy and unformed, but none the less present,
dwelt a vague picture of his ideal woman; the woman that was to be his
one day. She was really the picture of his mother, as painted by his
father's hand, and as memory furnished a light here or a detail there.
Roderick had not had time to think of his ideal; his heart was a boy's
heart stilluntried and unspoiled, but this evening her shadowy form
seemed to have become more definite, and it wore golden brown hair and
had sad blue-grey eyes.
He swept silently around the end of Wanda Island, and his dreams
were suddenly interrupted by a startling sight; for directly in front
of him, just between the little bay and the lake beyond, bobbed an
upturned canoe and two heads!
To the youthful native of Algonquin an upset into the lake was not a
serious matter; and to the young lady and gentleman swimming about
their capsized craft, the affair, up to a few moments previous, had
been rather a good joke. How it had happened that two such expert
canoeists as Leslie Graham and Fred Hamilton could fall out of anything
that sailed the water, was a question those who knew them could not
have solved. They had been over to Mondamin Island to gather golden-rod
and asters for a party the young lady was to give the next evening.
They had been paddling merrily homeward, the space between them piled
with their purple and golden treasure, and as they paddled they talked,
or rather the young lady did, for where Miss Leslie Graham was, no one
else had much chance to say anything.
There's the Inverness at the dock, she said, when they came
within view of the town. Aunt Elinor's boarder must have come on it,
the girl that's going to teach in Miss Hasting's room.
I thought your aunt said you weren't to call her a boarder.
The girl put her paddle across the canoe and leaned back with a
burst of laughter. She was handsome at any time, but particularly so
when she laughed, showing a row of perfect teeth and a merry gleam in
her black eyes.
Poor old Auntie! Isn't she a joke? She's scared the family
escutcheon of the Armstrongs will be sullied forever with the blot of a
boarder on it. Auntie Bell is nearly as bad too. My! I hope they won't
expect us to trot her around in our set.
Why? asked young Mr. Hamilton. He was always interested in new
Too many girls in it already. You know that, Fred Hamilton.
Well, I say, I believe you're right, Les, he ventured, but with
some hesitation. He was a rather nice young fellow, with the inborn
idea that, theoretically, there couldn't be too many girls, but there
was no denying the fact that Algonquin seemed to have more than her
fair share. Only, Leslie was always so startlingly truthful, it was
sometimes rather disconcerting to hear one's half-formed thoughts
spoken out incisively as was her way.
There does seem to be an awful swarm of them, he admitted
reluctantly, especially since the Harrisons and the Wests came to
town. I danced twenty-five times without drawing breath at Polly's last
spree, and never twice with the same girl. Where did she pick 'em all
That was the last remark they could remember having made. And the
girl was wont to explain that the thing which happened next was a just
judgment upon the young man for uttering such sentiments, and a fearful
warning for his future. But the most elaborate explanations could never
quite solve the mystery, for they never knew how it chanced that the
next moment the canoe was over and they were in the water. To a girl of
Algonquin, a canoe upset was inexcusable; to a boy, a disgrace never to
be lived down. So when Leslie Graham and Fred Hamilton, who had been
born and brought up on the shores of the lake and had learned to swim
and walk simultaneously, found themselves in the water, the first
expression in their eyes, after an instant's startled surprise, was one
What on earth did you do? gasped the girl, and What on earth did
you do? sputtered the boy.
And then, being the girl she was, Leslie Graham burst out laughing,
'What on the water,' would be more appropriate. Well, Fred Hamilton, I
never thought you'd upset!
I didn't! he cried indignantly. You jumped, I saw you.
Jumped! I never did! And even if I did, I don't see why you should
have turned a somersault. I could dance the Highland Fling in a canoe
and not upset. Oh dear! all my flowers are gone! They put their hands
on the upturned craft and floated easily.
What are you going to do about it? she asked. We're a long way
from shore, and the walking's damp.
He glanced about. They were a good distance from land, but the only
danger he anticipated was the danger of a rescue. He would be disgraced
forever if some fellow paddled out from home and picked them up. But a
little island lay between them and the town, screening them from
Do? Why, just hop in again. Here, help me heave her over!
Many a time in younger days, just for fun, they had pitched
themselves out of their canoe, righted it again, scooped and rocked
the water out, and scrambled back over bow and stern. But that was
always when they wore bathing suits and there were no paddles and
cushions floating about to be collected. But they were ready for even
this difficult feat. They tumbled the canoe over to its proper
position, and the young man, by balancing himself upon one end and
swimming rapidly, sent the stern up into the air and scooped most of
the water out. Then they rocked it violently from side to side, to
empty the remainder, while the girl sang gaily Rocked in the Cradle of
the Deep, her dancing eyes no less bright than the water drops
glistening on her black curly hair.
But the emptying process was longer than they had anticipated, and
the evening air was growing cool. By the time the canoe was ready to
enter, the girl had stopped singing.
Hustle up, Freddie! she called, giving a little shiver, as he shot
away through the water for a paddle. This water's getting wetter every
minute. When he returned, he placed himself at the stern and the girl
at the bow.
Now, he cried, when I say go, you climb like a cat, Les. Don't
hurry, just crawl in easy. Ready? Go!
She placed her hands on the gunwale and drew herself up, while her
companion, with an eye on her progress, slowly crawled over the stern.
But the heavy drag of her soaked cloth skirt was too much for the
girl's strength. She paused, failed at the critical moment, slipped to
one side, and they were once more in the water, the canoe bottom up.
Oh, hang! exclaimed the young man. Then apologetically, Never
mind, heave her over, and we'll do it again.
But the girl's teeth had begun to chatter, and the work of emptying
the canoe the second time was not such a joke. And the second attempt
to get in and the third also proved a failure.
What's the matter, anyhow? grumbled the boy impatiently. You've
done that three times, Leslie!
He was amazed and dismayed to see her lip quiver. I can't do it,
Fred. I'm all tired out. II believe I'm going to yell for help.
Oh, Great Scott, Leslie! groaned the young man. Then
encouragingly, You're all right. Cheer up! I'll get you into this
thing in no time.
He set to work again briskly, but though the girl helped, it was
without enthusiasm. She was going through an entirely new experience.
In all her happy life, untouched by sorrow or privation of any kind,
she had never felt the need of help. Fred and she had been chums since
they were babies, and were going to be married some day, perhaps. Fred
was a good, jolly fellow, he was well off, well-dressed, and quite the
leader of all the young men of the town. But now, for the first time,
her dauntless gay spirit was forsaking her, and a vision of how
inadequate Fred might be in time of stress was coming dimly to her
awakening woman's heart. She would almost rather have drowned than play
the coward. But she wanted Fred to be afraid for her. She was more of a
woman than she knew.
And then, just as a wave of fear was coming over her, Roderick
McRae, in his canoe, came out around the point and paddled straight
She gave a cry of joyful relief. A canoe! Oh, look, Fred!
Somebody's coming this way from McRae's cove!
The young man turned with some apprehension mingling with his joy.
He would almost as soon be detected appropriating funds from the bank
where he clerked, as be caught in this ignominious plight. There was
just a slight sense of relief, however, for they had been a long time
in the water. But he would not admit that.
Pshaw! he grumbled. I wish they'd waited a minute longer.
Well, I don't! cried his companion tremulously.
The boy looked across the canoe at her. Never, in the twenty years
he had known Leslie Graham intimately, had he before seen her daunted.
What's up? he demanded. You're not losing your nerve, Leslie?
No, I'm not! she snapped, trying desperately to hide an unexpected
quaver in her voice. But
You're not chilled, are you?
No. Not much.
Well, you're all right then. Goodness, you've been in the water
hours longer than this, heaps of times. Cheer up, old girl, you're all
right. What's the matter, anyhow?
But she did not answer, for she hardly knew herself. She had no real
fear of being drowned, that seemed impossible. But strange new feelings
had begun to stir in the heart, that so far had been only the care-free
heart of a girl, almost the heart of a daring boy. She did not realise
that what she really wanted was that Fred should be solicitous about
her. If he had shown the slightest anxiety over her she would have
become recklessly daring. But young Fred would as soon have shown
tender care for a frisky young porpoise in the water, as Leslie, even
had it been his nature to care unduly for any one but Fred Hamilton.
The canoe was approaching swiftly, and the man in it was near enough
to be recognised. I say, cried Fred, it's Rod McRae. I didn't know
he was home. Ship ahoy, there! he shouted gaily. Hurrah, and give us
a lift; it's too damp for the lady to walk home!
Leslie Graham looked at the approaching canoeist. She and Fred
Hamilton had both attended the same school, Sunday-school and church as
Roderick McRae. But she could remember him but dimly as an awkward
country boy, in her brief High School days, before she finished with
a year at a city boarding-school. Her life at school had been all fun
and mischief, and rushing away from irksome lessons to more fun at
home; his had been all serious hard work, and rushing away from the
fascination of his lessons to harder work on the farm. Fred Hamilton
had never worked at school, but he knew him better; the free-masonry of
boyhood had made that possible.
Why, what's happened? cried Roderick as he swept alongside the
wreck. Fred Hamilton! Surely you're not upset?
Doesn't look like it, does it? enquired the young man in the water
rather sarcastically. Here, give this thing a hoist, will you, Rod? I
can't understand how such an idiotic thing happened? Miss Graham and I
were paddling along as steadily as you are now, and
But Roderick was paying no attention to him. He was looking at the
girl hanging to the upturned canoe, her eyes grieved and frightened.
With a quick stroke he placed himself at her side.
Why, you're all tired out, he cried. You must get in here.
She looked up at him gratefully. She had never realised how welcome
a sympathetic voice could sound. She answered, not the least like the
dauntless Leslie, I just can't! I can't climb over the bow. It's no
Roderick was at his best where any one was in distress. His knightly
young heart prompted him to do the right thing.
You don't need to, he said gently. I can take you in over the
side. Here, Fred, come round and help.
Fred came to her, and Roderick slipped down into the bottom of the
canoe. He leaned heavily to the side opposite the girl, and extended
his hand. Now, you can do it quite easily, he said encouragingly.
Catch the thwart; thereno, sidewaysthat's it! Steady, Fred, don't
hurry her. There you are. Now! She had rolled in somehow over the
side, and sat soaked and heavy, half-laughing and half-tearful, right
at his feet.
Oh, she said, I'm making you all wet.
Well, that's the neatest ever, cried Fred Hamilton in involuntary
The work of emptying the other canoe, with the help of such an
expert, was an easy matter. When it was ready Roderick held it while
Fred tumbled in. Stray cushions and paddles, and even an armful of
soaking golden-rod were rescued, and then the two young men looked
involuntarily at the girl.
Hop over the fence, Leslie! cried Fred. He was in high good humour
now, for Rod McRae would never tell on a fellow, or chaff him in public
about an upset.
But Leslie Graham shook her head. Something strange had happened,
she had grown very quiet and grave.
No, she said in a low voice, I don't want any more adventures
to-night. You'll take me home, won't youRoderick? She hesitated just
a moment over the name, but remembering she had called him that at
school, she ventured.
It would give me the greatest pleasure, he cried cordially. His
diffidence had all vanished, he was master of the situation.
He glanced half-enquiringly at the other young man, to see relief
expressed quite frankly on his face.
All right, Leslie! Thanks ever so, Rod. I can scoot over to the
boathouse and get some dry togs, before I go home. And sayyou won't
say anything about this now, Les, will you?
The girl's spirits were returning. Why not? she asked teasingly.
It wouldn't be fair to keep such a gallant rescue a secret.
Oh, please don't! cried Roderick in dismay.
But it would make such a nice column for The Chronicle,
said the girl demurely. I really can't promise, Fred. Tom Allen would
give me ten dollars for it, I am sure.
If you dare! cried the young man wrathfully. I'd never hear the
end of it. And your mother would never let you out on the water again,
you know that, Les, he added threateningly.
That's so, she admitted. Well, I'll see, Freddy. Cheer up. If I
do tell I promise to make you the hero of the adventure.
She waved her hand to him laughingly, as Roderick's long strokes
sent them skimming away over the darkening water. When they were beyond
earshot, she turned to her rescuer.
It's all right to joke about it now, she said, her tone tremulous,
but it was beginning to be anything but a joke. II do believe Why,
I just know that you saved my life, Roderick McRae. And there is one
person I am going to tell, I don't care who objects, and that's my
father. And you'll hear from him; for he thinks, the poor mistaken man,
that his little Leslie is the whole thing!
And even though Roderick protested vigorously, he could not help
feeling that it would be a great stroke of good fortune to have
Algonquin's richest and most powerful man feel he was in his debt.
CHAPTER V. FOLLOWING THE GLEAM
When the Inverness bumped against the wharf at Algonquin, the
strange girl, standing with her bag in her hand, waiting to step
ashore, was surprised to see the late enemy of the boat drive down upon
the dock. She was still more surprised to see that his face was beaming
with good nature, as he hailed the captain. But then, she did not, as
yet, know Lawyer Edward Brians.
Hech, Jamie, lad! he shouted. Hoot! Awa wi ye, mon! Are ye no
gaun tae get the fowk ashore the nicht?
And then there was a long outpouring of strange indistinguishable
sounds, which caused the Ancient Mariner to stop smoking and
expectorate into Lake Algonquin with a disgusted Huh! For Lawyer Ed's
Gaelic, though fluent, was a thing to make Highland ears shudder.
At the first appearance of the buggy, the captain had turned away in
haughty silence, and went on with his task of seeing that his
passengers were safely landed, without so much as a glance at his
But his frigid reception seemed only to tickle Lawyer Ed's sense of
amusement. He leaned back in his seat, shut up his eyes, and laughed
loudly. Well, for downright pigheadedness and idiotic pertinacity,
commend me to a Scotchman every time, he cried delightedly.
He threw the lines over the dashboard, and sprang out of the buggy,
straight, alert and vigorous.
It's no use, your trying that air of dignity on me, Jimmie
McTavish! he cried, striding over the gang-plank. You nearly made me
lose a train and a client into the bargain. And if I had lost him, that
bit of business of yours wouldn't have been worth a puff of smoke, my
braw John Hielanman! He slapped the captain on the back, and a
peculiar change came over the latter's face. There was no man in
Algonquin who could remain angry at Lawyer Ed and be hammered by him on
the back. He was voted the most exasperating person in the world, by
people of all ages, and many a time an indignant individual would
announce publicly that dire vengeance was about to be launched upon his
wicked head. But when all Algonquin waited for the blow to fall,
presently Lawyer Ed and the injured party would appear in the most
jovial companionship, and once more his execution was postponed. It was
as usual this time, the captain's wrath broke, shattered by that
friendly blow upon the back. He still kept up a show of taciturnity, by
a grumbling monologue concerning the undignified procedure of Irishmen
in general, but the Irishman laughed so loud that Captain Jimmie was
deceived into thinking he had said something very witty indeed, and
laughed too, in spite of himself.
I'm hunting a young lady, cried Lawyer Ed; the new teacher. Miss
Armstrong hailed me in passing and said I was to drive her up.
Oh, yes, Mr. Brians, cried Alfred Wilbur, bustling up, she's over
there. I was going to show her the way up myself. It's too bad to
trouble you, when you're so busy.
Lawyer Ed eyed him sternly.
What! Do you think I'd allow you, in all your magnificence, to
burst upon the vision of an innocent young girl, first go off, and have
her fall in love with you, and get her heart broken? Not much, young
man! We'll bring you on the stage gradually. A few ugly old married men
like Jimmie here, or a withered old bachelor like myself, will do as
preliminaries, and in about six months or so,ah, well, well,How do
you do, my dear young lady? I'm chairman of the school board and I just
drove down to tell you that you are very welcome to Algonquin.
He had pushed Afternoon Tea Willie quite out of sight and followed
the captain to where the new teacher stood alone. He took her hand and
shook it vigorously, his kind blue eyes beaming a welcome.
I'm sure we are glad you've come! he declared again, still more
heartily, for he saw the homesickness in the big eyes. You'll be as
happy here as a bob-o-link in a field of clover. I needn't ask you if
Captain McTavish took good care of you on the way up. He couldn't help
it, with that Hieland heart of his, eh, Jimmie, lad? Whenever we want
to make a good impression upon a stranger, Miss Murray, we always see
that he comes to Algonquin by boat, for by the time the Inverness
carries him for an afternoon, he's so prejudiced in our favour, he
never gets over it. Eh, my braw John Hielanman?
He slapped the captain on the back again, and his forgiveness was
Now, Miss Murray, I shall show you up to your new home. Give me
your bag. Never mind, Alfred Tennyson. You trot round there and tell
young Peter to see about that trunk. I'll send a wagon for it.
Good-bye, Jimmie. I'll see you at the meeting to-morrow night.
He helped Helen into his buggy and tucked the lap-rug around her,
while Mr. Alfred Wilbur held his horse's head, though Lawyer Ed's
horse, everyone knew, would stand for a week untethered. He jumped in
and started off with a dash that nearly precipitated poor Afternoon Tea
Willie into the lake, and away they rattled up the street to the utter
discomfiture of the yellow dog and the yellow-and-white dog that were
fighting in the middle of Main Street.
It was just the waiting time before the six-o'-clock bells and
whistles would break forth into a joyful clamour and send every one out
on the street; so the place was very quiet. The pretty streets rose up
from the lake, all cool and shady under their green canopy. It was like
a little town dropped down into the woods, and in spite of her
homesickness and the quiet loneliness of it all, the new-comer felt a
sensation of pleasure.
Lawyer Ed gave her no chance to be lonely. He chatted away
cheerfully, pointing out this and that place of interest. As they
turned off Main Street up a wide avenue of swaying elms, he touched his
horse into greater speed, and leaning far over to one side, called her
attention to something across the street.
Look there, now! he cried impressively. Isn't that a fine
building? Just take a good look at this, Miss Murray. I don't think
that in all Algonquin there is a place like it.
II don't think I saw, said Helen, looking about her puzzled, for
they had passed nothing but a row of very modest homes. She looked at
him enquiringly, to find him leaning back, his eyes shut, and shaking
Never mind. Don't hurt your eyes, child. There's nothing there. But
we've just passed my office, on the opposite side, and I saw from the
corner of my eye about a half-dozen people waiting for me, all in a bad
humour. It's just as well that I shouldn't get a better view of them.
Tut, tut, don't apologise. I don't want to hurry back. Patience is a
virtue every man should practise, and I believe in giving my clients a
whack at it whenever I can. There's the Manse. I've heard Dr. Leslie
speak of your father. We knew him by report if not personally. You'll
find Doctor Leslie a fine pastor. He'll make you feel at home.
He glanced back towards his office and laughed again. I'm trying
towell not exactly retirebut to ease off a bit on my business. And
I'm going to have a partner, the son of an old friend. Why, he came
part of the way on the boat with you.
Oh, yes, the young man who took the terrible leap, she said. She
did not want to confess she had met him before.
That's nothing for Rod! laughed Lawyer Ed. He'd jump twice that
distance. Ah, he's a great lad, is Roderick. He's going to make another
such man as his father, and that's about the highest praise I can give
him. Old Angus McRaewell you must meet him to know what he's like. I
believe I think more of Angus McRaeoutside my own immediate
familythan of any living person, of course always excepting Madame.
Bless me! You haven't met her yet, of course?
Why, no, I don't think so. Who is she?
Madame, my dear Miss Murray, is the handsomest and cleverest and
most delightful young lady in all Canada or the United States. And
she's your Principal, so you may think yourself fortunate. You two
girls will have a grand time together.
Helen felt not a little relieved. A Principal who was a girl of
about her own age, and who was evidently possessed of so many charms,
would surely not be a formidable person to face on the dread to-morrow.
They had been steadily climbing the hills, under great low-branched
maples and elms, and past scented gardens. And now they pulled up in
front of a big square brick house set primly in a square lawn.
Now, here's your boarding-house, my dear, said her guide,
springing down and helping her to alight. This is Grandma Armstrong's
place. Remember that she's grandmother to nearly all Algonquin, and
don't laugh at her peculiarities when there's any one round. You'll
have to when you're alone, just as a safety-valve. You'll like the
daughters. The elder one is a bit stiff, but they're fine ladies. He
had rung the bell by this time, and now it was opened by a tall
handsome lady, slightly over middle age. The Misses Armstrong, because
of an old acquaintance with her father, had stepped aside from the
strict rules they had hitherto followed, and had taken the new school
teacher as a boarder. Helen had often heard her father speak of them
and knew, the moment the door opened, that this was Miss Armstrong, the
eldest, who had been a belle in her father's day. She belonged so
obviously to the house, that Helen had a complete sense of fitness at
the sight of her. Like it she was tall, erect and fine looking, in a
stately, stiff fashion.
Lawyer Ed presented his charge in his most affable manner, and Miss
Armstrong smiled upon him graciously and upon her with some reserve. A
boarder, after all, had to be kept at a distance, even though she were
the daughter of an old friend.
And how is Grandma, to-day? enquired Lawyer Ed. And Annabel?
Isn't she home?
Mother has gone to bed this afternoon, Edward, but she is very
well, I thank you. She will be disappointed when she hears you were
here. Annabel has gone to the meeting of the Club. She will be back
presently. I remained at home to welcome Miss Murray.
Good-bye just now, then, my child, he said paternally, taking
Helen's hand. He saw the homesick anguish returning to her big eyes,
and he squeezed the hand until it hurt. You'll have a great time in
Algonquin, never fear. The air here will bring the roses back to your
cheeks. Won't it, Elinor?
Miss Armstrong agreed and bade him a gracious good-afternoon, moving
out on the steps to see him to the gate. She then led the way up the
long steep stair. The ceilings of Rosemount were very high, and every
step echoed weirdly. They went along another hall upstairs flanked by
two terrible pictures, one a scene of carnage on landWellington
meeting Blücher on the field of Waterloo, the other an equally dreadful
scene on waterNelson's death on the Victory. Her bedroom was a
big airy place, stiff and formal and in perfect order. The ceiling
again impressed her with its vast distance from the floor. In the
centre of this one, like the others, was a circular ornamental device
of plaster; flowers and fruit and birds, and great bunches of hard
white grapes that looked ready to fall heavily upon one's head. One end
of the room was almost filled with a black marble mantel and over it
hung a picture of Queen Victoria with her family, in the early days of
her married life. There was a big low bed of heavy walnut, four high
windows with stiff lace curtains, a circular marble-topped table and a
tiny writing desk. Miss Armstrong assisted her to remove her hat,
expressing the hope that she had had a pleasant trip from Barbay. Helen
did not say that her heart had been aching all the way. She merely
assured her that the trip had been very comfortable indeed, and that
Captain McTavish had done everything to make it enjoyable.
Jimmie McTavish is a kind creature, said Miss Armstrong. Very
ignorant, and too familiar entirely; but he is well-meaning, for all
that. Now, I hope you will feel perfectly at home with us here, Miss
Murray. Your father's daughter could not but be welcome at Rosemount.
Indeed, I am afraid, had you not been a clergyman's daughter, I should
never have consented to taking you. Having any one to board was so
foreign to our minds. But Mr. Brians begged us to take you. You see he
is chairman of the school board, and always sees to it that the young
persons who teach have suitable homes.
I am so sorry if my coming has inconvenienced you, stammered
Helen, for Miss Armstrong's manner was very impressive.
Oh, not at all, I assure you. When we heard who you were, we
consented with pleasure. We have so much more room in this big house
than we need. There is a very large family of us, Miss Murray, as you
will discover, but now there are only my mother and my sister and I
left at Rosemount. Her face grew sad. But indeed I sometimes have
thought recently, she added, growing stately again, that my dear
father would turn in his grave if he knew we were filling Rosemount
She paused a moment, and the strange girl was wondering miserably if
she should take her bag and move out to some other place, rather than
risk disturbing her father's old friend in his last long sleep, when
Miss Armstrong went on. I hope you won't mind, Miss Murray, you are to
be as one of the family, you know, and if you would be so good she
hesitated and a slight flush rose in her face.
Yes? asked Helen wonderingly.
If you would be so good as to not use the word board. I
don't know why it should be so offensive to me, she added with a
little laugh. My ears are very sensitive, I suppose. But if you
wouldn't mind saying, in the course of your conversation, that you are
staying with the Rosemount Armstrongs, it would please me so much.
Certainly, I shall remember, said Helen, much relieved.
Thank you so much. And now if you would like to rest for a little
after your journey you may. Supper will be served in the course of
Helen felt a lump growing in her throat that made the thought of
food choke her. But she dared not refuse. To remain alone in that big
echoing room, was only to invite thoughts of home and other far off and
When Miss Armstrong had left her, and her trunk had come bumping up
the back stairs and been deposited in the vast closet, she sat down on
the black haircloth chair and looked hopelessly around the big dreary
room. There rose before her a vision of her own room at the old home,
the room that she and her sister Betty had shared. It had rose-bordered
curtains and rose-festooned wall-paper and pink and white cushions. And
it had a dear mother-face peeping in at the door to chide her gently if
she sat too late writing those long letters to Dick.
The memory of it all came over her with such a rush that she felt
she must throw herself upon that broad white bed and sob herself sick.
But she sat still, holding her hands tightly clenched, and choking back
the tears. She had work to do and she must be ready for that work. To
give way in private meant inefficiency in public to-morrow.
School-teaching was a new, untried field of labour for her, and if she
went to bed and cried herself to sleep, as she wanted to do, she would
have a headache for to-morrow and she would fail. And she must not
fail, she told herself desperately; she dared not fail, for Mother was
depending upon her success. And yet she had no idea how that success
was to be gained. She knew only too well that she was not fitted for
her task. She had never wanted to teach school, and had never dreamed
she would need to. Her place had always been at home, and a big place
she had filled as Mother's help and the minister's right hand. But her
father had insisted upon her taking her teacher's certificate. It's
easy to carry about, Nellie, he was wont to say, and may come useful
So Helen had gone, with good-natured indulgence of Father's whim,
and studied at a training school, with one eye on her books and the
other watching for Dick to come up the street. And when she brought
home her despised diploma, there was a diamond ring on the hand that
placed it on her father's desk. That had been a year ago. And almost
immediately after, her father had been taken from them. The old home
went next. The boys and girls scattered to earn their own living.
Mother had gone with Betty, who had married, and who lived away in the
West. And then the last and best treasure had been taken, the diamond
with its marvellous lights and colours, and with it had gone out all
the light and colour of life.
She was just twenty-three, and she had been given the task of
working out a new strange life unaided, with nothing ahead of her but
work and loneliness.
At first she had given way to a numb despair, then necessity and the
needs of the family aroused her. There was something for her to do,
something that had to be done, and back of all the wreck of her life,
dimmed by clouds of sorrow, there stood her father's God. In spite of
all the despair and dismay she felt instinctively He must be somewhere,
behind it all. She did not know as yet, that that assurance spelled
hope. But she knew that there was work for her and there was Mother
waiting until she should make her a home.
She sprang up, as her misery threatened to overwhelm her again, and
began swiftly to change her dress and arrange her hair. She pulled back
the stiff curtains of one of the tall windows and leaned out. A soft
blue haze, the first glimpse of September's tender eyes, was settling
on the distant hills. The sun was setting, and away up the street
towards the west flamed a gold and crimson sky, and away down in the
east flamed its gold and crimson reflection on the mirror of Lake
Algonquin. From the garden below, the scent of the opening nicotine
blossoms came up to her.
She was sitting there, trying to admire the beauty of it all, but
her heart protesting against the feeling of utter loneliness it bred,
when there came a sharp tap on the door. It opened the next moment and
a young lady tripped in.
Good evening, Miss Murray. I just bounced in to say welcome to
Rosemount. I'm so glad you've come. I've just been dying to have a girl
in the house of my own age.
She caught Helen's two hands in hers with genuine kindliness.
She was a plump fair lady with fluffy yellow hair and big blue eyes.
She was dressed in a pink flowered muslin trimmed with girlish frills
and wore a big hat wreathed with nodding roses. Helen was puzzled. This
wasn't Miss Annabel, then; for her mother had said the Misses Armstrong
were both over forty.
I'm Annabel Armstrong, she said, settling the question. Helen gave
her a second look and saw that Miss Annabel carried signs of maturity
in her face and form, albeit she carried them very blithely indeed.
And I can't tell you how glad I am you've come. You'll just adore
Algonquin. It's the gayest place on earth, a dance or a tea or a bridge
or some sort of kettle-drum every day. What a love of a dress! It's the
very colour of your eyes, my dear. Come away now; you must meet Mother.
She always takes supper in her own room now, and I must carry it to
her. Our little maid is about as much use as a pussy-cat and if I'm not
in the kitchen every ten minutes to tramp on her tail she'll go to
sleep. Come along!
She danced away down the hall, Helen following her, feeling
extremely old and prim. Grandma Armstrong's bedroom was at the back of
the house overlooking the orchard and kitchen-garden. She was sitting
up in bed, a very handsome little old lady in cap and ribbons. She gave
the strange girl's hand a gentle pressure.
Here she is, Muzzy, cried Miss Annabel in an apologetic tone.
It's too bad you didn't see her sooner, but she was so busy.
Indeed I generally notice that I am left to the last, when any new
person comes to the house, said Grandma Armstrong in a grieved tone.
Well, my dear, I am pleased to see the Rev. Walter Murray's son in my
house. You look like himyes, very much, just the image of him in
fact, only of course he was a man and wore a portmanteau when I knew
Grandma Armstrong's separate faculties were all alert and as keen as
they had ever been in youth. But some strange lack of connection
between her tongue and her memory, seemed to have befallen the old
lady, so that they did not always agree, and she was wont to
intersperse her otherwise quite intelligent conversation with words
having no remotest connection with the context.
A moustache, you mean, Muzzy dear, said her daughter. Mother
forgets you know, she added, in a hasty, low apology to Helen.
Why do you interrupt me, Annabel? I said a moustache. I hope you
sleep well here, my dear. I had that room of yours for some time, but I
had to move back here, I could never get to sleep after they put up the
Israelite at the corner. It shone right over my bed. Let me see now.
You are the second daughter, are you not? Your father was a fine man,
my dear. Yes, indeed. We knew him well as a student. He preached one
summer inwhere was that, Annabel? Alaska?
Oh, yes, Muskoka, and the Rev. Walter Hislop, your father, was
there as a student.
Murray, you mean, Mother.
Don't interrupt me, Annabel. Your uncle preached there two summers,
my dear, and I thought my daughter Annabel and he
It was Elizabeth, Mother, not me! Good gracious, how old do you
think I am? demanded Miss Annabel, quite alarmed.
Oh, Elizabeth, of course. I really thought she and your brother,
the Rev. Mr. McIntosh, should have become engaged before the summer was
over. But we had other plans for our daughter, and we thought it wiser
for her to go to the sea-shore the next summer.
Now, Mother, said Miss Annabel tactfully. Miss Murray doesn't
want to hear all that ancient history. She has to get her supper. She's
tired and hungry.
Helen slept soundly that night. Two big windows of her room looked
out to the west where, beyond the town, ran a high wooded ridge, and
the low organ tones of the evening wind singing through the trees made
her forget her grief and lulled her to sleep.
She set off to her work early in the morning, nervous and
apprehensive. Her hostesses all wished her well. Miss Armstrong, in her
quiet stately fashion hoped she would find her employment congenial,
and Grandma expressed the desire that Miss Carstairs would enjoy her
work at the cemetery, a remark which the worried young teacher felt was
more appropriate than the kindly old lady guessed. Miss Annabel
followed her to the gate, with instructions regarding the road to
school. She plucked a big crimson dahlia from its bed and stuck it in
the belt of Helen's blue dress.
Good luck, dearie, and cheer up! she cried, seeing the look in the
sad blue eyes. School teaching's heaps of fun, I feel sure. Don't
worry about it. We're going to have great times in the evenings.
There's always something on. Bye bye, and good luck, and she tripped
up the garden path waving her hand gaily.
Helen had scarcely gone half a block under the elm boughs, when she
heard her name called out in a musical roar from far up the street
behind her. She had not been in Algonquin twenty-four hours, but she
knew that voice. She was just a bit scandalised as she turned to see a
man waving his cane, as he hurried to overtake her. But she had not yet
learned that no one minded being hailed half-a-mile away by Lawyer Ed.
He was accompanied by a lady, a tall woman of such ample
proportions, that she had some ado to keep up with Lawyer Ed's brisk
step. She wore a broad old-fashioned hat tied under her round chin, and
a gay flowered muslin dress that floated about her with an easy swaying
motion. She wore, too, a pair of soft low-heeled slippers, that gave
forth a soothing accompaniment to the rhythm of her movements. She was
surrounded by a perfect bodyguard of children. They danced behind her
and ahead of her, they clung to her hands and peeped from the flowing
muslin draperies, while she moved among them, serene and smiling like a
great flower surrounded by a cloud of buzzing little bees.
Good morning, good morning! shouted the chairman of the school
board. Abroad bright and early and ready for work! Well, well, well,
he added admiringly, as he shook her hands violently, if the Algonquin
air hasn't commenced to do its work already! Now, my dear, brace up and
don't be frightened. It is my duty as chairman of the school board to
introduce you to your stern principal. Miss Murray, I have the honour
of presenting you to Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, known in private life
as Mrs. Adam; but if you are as nice as you look, you may one day be
admitted to the inner circle of her friends, and then you will be
allowed to call her Madame.
As the lady took her hand and turned upon her a smile in proportion
to her size, Helen suddenly realised why she had seemed so familiar
even at the first glance. She was exactly like the wonderful fairy who
cared for the water-babies at the bottom of the sea. And the
resemblance was further heightened by the presence of the babies
themselves who came swarming about to settle all over her, and when
shoved out of the way, only came swarming back.
Bless me, what a mistake! she cried. It's you that's the
Principal and I'm the assistant. I'm so thankful you're young, my dear.
I can't stand old folks, and middle-aged people are my abhorrence. I
told Edward Brians that if he put me down there all alone with a
middle-aged woman,a young gay thing like me,I just wouldn't stand
I don't think there are any old people in Algonquin, are there?
They were moving on down the street now, and their going was
something of a triumphal procession. At every turn some one joined
them,young or old, and from every side greetings were called after
them, until the bewildered stranger felt as if she had become part of a
circus parade. She was feeling almost light-hearted as the gay throng
moved forward, when they passed their escort's office, and in the
doorway stood the young Mr. McRae who reminded her so sadly of the
Hooray, Rod, roared his chief. A graun beginnin', ma braw John
Hielanman! Come down here off that perch and do your respects to the
March of Education!
Roderick obeyed very willingly. He had been a pupil of Madame's in
his primary days, notwithstanding her extreme youth, and she welcomed
him home and hoped he would be as good a boy as he had been when she
had him. Then Lawyer Ed introduced him to the new teacher. She shook
hands, but she did not say they had met before, and Roderick tactfully
ignored the fact also, for which he fancied she gave him a glance of
gratitude. They moved on but soon the March of Education was again
interrupted. Across the street, Doctor Archie Blair, with his black
satchel in his hand and a volume of Burns beneath his arm, was
preparing to climb into his buggy for a drive into the country. He
stepped aside for a moment and crossed the street to tell Madame how
glad he was to see her back from her holidays, for the town had been a
howling wilderness without her.
This is Miss Murray, the new teacher, I know, he added before
Lawyer Ed could introduce him. You will learn soon, Miss Murray, that
if you want to find a stranger in Algonquin, especially a strange young
lady, you have just to hunt up Lawyer Brians and there she is.
And a very good place to be, Archie Blair, said Madame. If every
one looked after strangers as well as he does there wouldn't be many
Hear, hear, Madame, roared Lawyer Ed. No one knows my virtues as
you do. Did ye hear yon, Aerchie mon?
The trouble is, Miss Murray, said the doctor, without paying the
slightest attention to the other two, the trouble is that this
gentleman doesn't give any one else a chance to do a good deed. He does
everything himself. No one in Algonquin minds neglecting his duty, for
he knows that Mr. Brians would be there ahead of him and get it done
anyway, so where's the use of bothering? I'm a member of the school
board, and I might be betraying my trust if I encouraged you to neglect
your work, but I feel I ought to tell you that if any day you would
like to take a few hours off, why, do so, Mr. Brians will teach for
There was a great deal more banter and fun, and the March of
Education was resumed with small recruits in clean pinafores darting
out of homes here and there to join it. It ended at last at the
battered gate of the little schoolhouse. The East Ward was a small part
of the town, consisting mostly of lake, so the population was not very
large. There were but two grades, of which Mrs. Adam taught the
The children scampered over the yard, and swarmed into the building.
Lawyer Ed ran about, scattering pink bull's-eyes all over the floor
and yard, calling, Chukie, Chukie! with the whole school at his heels
like a flock of noisy chickens. And when he had the place in an uproar,
he shouted good-bye and rushed away in a fit of laughter.
Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby sank heavily into a chair, with a relieved
smile, and said, as Helen hung up her hat, and looked about
apprehensively, Now, my dear child, I remember my first day at
school-teaching distinctly, and if yours is anything the same, you are
scared to death. So if you want to know anything or need any help, you
just come right along into my room, and we'll fix it up. And whatever
you do, don't worry. We're going to have just a glorious time together,
you and I.
And the new teacher went to her first day's work with a heart far
less heavy than she would have believed possible. Far ahead had begun
to show the first faint glimmer of the light that was leading her
through sorrow and pain to a higher and better life. And all
unconsciously she had begun to follow its gleam.
CHAPTER VI. LAUNCHING HIS VESSEL
Roderick had been but two days in the office of Edward Brians,
barrister, and already he had learned a great deal. Two important
facts, not directly connected with the legal profession, had been
impressing themselves upon him. The first was that if he were going to
reach the goal of success that shone so alluringly ahead of him, he
must give every effort and every minute of time to his work; and the
second was that he was going to have a hard time concentrating upon it
in the various interests of the little town that seemed to demand his
And there was his chief setting him a bad example. The young man had
spent part of his first morning wandering through the mass of documents
and scraps of paper which Lawyer Ed called his book-keeping. Between
items of a professional nature were memoranda or reports of session
meetings, Highland Club meetings, political meetings, country
tea-meetings, everything and anything except law. What there was of the
latter was connected only with such clients as were of ample means. All
the poor folk for miles around came to Lawyer Ed with their troubles
and were advised, scolded, pulled or paid out of them, and never so
much as a stroke of a pen to record the good deed. If they paid him,
well and good; if they did not, so much the better. And the price of a
ticket to the Holy Land and backthat trip which had not yet
materialisedmight have been many times written down, had Lawyer Ed
known anything about book-keeping. But Lawyer Ed's policy in all his
career, had been something the same as that of his friend Doctor Blair
across the wayto keep his people of his practice well, rather than to
cure them when they were ill. So if he could manage it none of his
clients ever went into a law-court. It was good for the clients, but
bad for such things as trips abroad. Roderick did not see that side of
his chief's book-keeping. He did not know that the man could put
through more work in an hour than most men could in a day, and saw only
the meetings recorded which took so much of his time. And he said to
himself that that was not the way to become great. Some day he intended
to be one of the leading advocates of Canada. He was not conceited. His
was only the boundless hopefulness of youth coupled with the assurance
which experience had already given him, that whenever he set his mind
to anything, he accomplished it, no matter how many difficulties stood
in the way. So he was determined to concentrate all his efforts on his
work, and as for serving humanity, he could do it best, he assured
himself, by being a success in his profession.
He was just entering upon his second day when his advice was sought
from an unexpected source and in connection with an entirely new
subject. Lawyer Ed had gone out and Roderick was seated at his desk
when some one entered the hall and tapped hesitatingly on the inner
door. Roderick called an invitation to come in, and Mr. Alfred Wilbur,
in perfect white ducks and white canvas shoes, stepped inside.
So you've come to be Mr. Brians' partner, haven't you, Mr. McRae?
he enquired. Mr. Wilbur was a well-mannered young man and had never
adopted the easy familiar way of naming people which was current in the
Say rather his office-boy, for a while, said Roderick.
Mr. Wilbur protested. Oh, now, Mr. McRae, you're just quite too
modest. Every one's saying how well you did at college and school; and
that you're going to make your markyou know you are.
Roderick wondered why the young man should take such pains to be
polite to him.
Did you want to see Lawyer Ed? he asked.
No, no, thank you, he cried in alarm. He's not in, is he? No, I
just wanted to see you, Mr. McRaenot professionally you understand
butthat ispersonally,on a very sacred matter.
His voice dropped to a whisper, he crossed his feet in front of him,
then drew them under his chair, twirled his hat, smoothed down the back
of his head vigorously, and looked in dismay at the floor.
I hope I can do something for you, said Rod encouragingly, feeling
sorry for his evident distress.
Thank you so much! cried the young man gratefully. It's
aboutthat isI think, an old acquaintance of yoursMiss Murray, the
new teacher in the East Ward. She is an old acquaintance, isn't
It was Roderick's turn to feel hot and look embarrassed. He answered
his first client very shortly.
No, she isn't.
Oh! I thoughtyou went and spoke to her on the boat!
So I did.
But you met her before surely? asked the young man, aghast at the
notion of Roderick's boldness.
Is her home there?
I believe so. It was then.
Oh, you don't know her very well then?
No, I don't. And I don't know why on earth I've got to be put
through a catechism about it.
Oh, say! You really must think I'm awful! cried the poor young man
contritely. I do beg your pardon, Mr. McRae. It really must have
sounded shocking to you. But, wellIdid you ever meet a youngany
one whom you knewat first sightwas the one person in all the world
for you? His voice sank. The day was cool and breezy, but poor
Afternoon Tea Willie's face was damp and hot and he wiped it carefully
with his fine hem-stitched handkerchief, murmuring apologies.
No, I never did, said Roderick quite violently, for no reason at
I beg your pardon, I'm sure, murmured his visitor, vaguely
alarmed. You can't understand my feelings then. But that's really what
I felt when I saw her. It was a revelation, one of those swift certain
intuitions of the soul, and Iyou don't mind my telling you this, do
you, Mr. McRae?
Oh, no, not if you don't mind, said Roderick.
It's so good of you, said poor Afternoon Tea Willie. You were the
only one I could come to, the only one who seemed to know her. She
boards at Miss Armstrong's, but Miss Annabelyou know Miss Annabel?
No? Well, I wouldn't for worlds say anything against a lady, but Miss
Annabel doesn't seem to like me. I don't blame her, you know, but I
don't like to go there. ItI seem to bother her dreadfully, so I
thoughtI knew you wouldn't mind introducing me some time, would you?
I really don't know Miss Murray well enough to do that, said
Roderick decidedly. And I wish you wouldn't say anything about our
having met before. I don't think she remembers me very well. Ask Mr.
Brians to introduce you.
I did, but he refused.
Perhaps he was only in fun, try him againor Mrs. Adam. She
teaches with her.
Oh my! the very person. Mr. Wilbur sprang up. Oh, I can't think
why I never thought of her before. I'll call on Madame this afternoon.
I can't thank you enough, Mr. McRae, for the kind suggestion. The
young man hurried out, profusely expressing his gratitude. Afternoon
Tea Willie had absolutely nothing in the world to do, but he was always
in a hurry. Perhaps the reason was that the ladies of the town ordered
him about so. He was the most obliging young man, and being always
available, he was used to the utmost, and was driven like a galley
slave from dawn to dark. As he went down the steps he turned back and
looked up at Roderick rapturously.
Say! he whispered. Did you ever see such eyes? Don't they make
you feel just as if you were going down in an elevator?
But Roderick turned quickly away, with an unreasonable and very
unbusinesslike desire to kick his first client down the steps. He had
almost closed the door behind him when a loud clear voice from the
street called his name. It was just four o'clock, the hour when all the
young ladies of Algonquin, dressed in their best, walked down to the
post-office for the afternoon mail which came in a half-hour earlier.
This afternoon post-office parade was a social function, for only
people of leisure and distinction were at liberty at that hour. The
young gentlemen from the bank generally emerged about that time too,
and came striding down to the post-office looking worried and flurried
as became gentlemen with the finances of the whole town and half the
country weighing them down. After they had all met at the post-office,
they went up to the ice-cream and candy palace on Main Street, or out
on the lake, or strolled off into the park.
It was a member of the post-office parade who was hailing Roderick
so gaily. A pretty group was rustling past the office, all muslin
frills and silk sashes and flowers of every colour, and the prettiest
and best dressed of them all came running up the steps to his side,
with a swish of silken skirts and a whiff of violet perfume.
It was Miss Leslie Graham, the girl he had helped out of the lake,
not forlorn and bedraggled now, but immaculate and dainty, from the
rose wreath on her big hat to the tip of her white kid shoe.
Hello! she cried gaily. I thought you'd surely 'phone over to see
whether I needed to make my will or not. You're not much of a lawyer.
Roderick laughed. She was so frank and boyish that she put him quite
at his ease.
Well,not knowing I was the family advocate, I didn't like to, he
She laughed delightedly. You're going to be after this, I can tell
you. Daddy's out of town and he doesn't know yet!
There's no need to worry him by telling.
Oh, but there just is. I haven't told a soul yet, and I nearly had
to commit murder to keep it from Mother. Fred's in a pink fit every
minute for fear I'll let it out. I've got heaps of fun holding it over
his head. It makes him good and obedient. Is Lawyer Ed in?
No. Do you wish to see him?
No, of course not. I just wondered if he wouldn't keep house,
though, for a few minutes, while you came along and joined the bunch.
We're all going to make Alf take us for ice-cream. We spied him leaving
here. Can't you come?
Thank you, but I'm afraid I couldn't leave, said Roderick, rather
taken aback by her frankness. That ideal woman, who sat dimly enthroned
in the recesses of his heart, never offered her favours, they had to be
sued for, and she was apt to sit in judgment on the girl who departed
from her strict rule.
Come on, Les! called a voice from the lingering group she had
left. Here's Alf. He's going to treat us all. Ho! A-a-lf! The young
ladies of Algonquin, had lived in such close proximity to each other
from childhood that a playmate could always be summoned even from the
other end of the town by a clarion call, and they had never seen any
reason for changing their convenient method when long skirts and
piled-up hair might have been supposed to demand a less artless manner.
But then every one shouted across blocks, and besides, every one knew
that Afternoon Tea Willie just dearly loved to be yelled at. He whirled
about now, waved his hat, and came hurrying back, with the peculiar
jerky irregular motion of his feet, that always marked his movements.
Hurrah, Leslie! called her companions again.
Coming! she cried. So sorry you can't come, she added, turning
to Roderick, but we'll give you another invitation. She looked
disappointed, and a little inclined to pout, but she waved her hand as
she ran down the steps and joined the group of lace and flowers now
fluttering down the side-walk towards the ice cream parlour.
Leslie's made a new conquest, cried a tall girl with flashing
black eyes. He seemed frantically anxious to come with you, my dear. I
don't see how you got rid of him.
Who is he, Les? cried another. If it's a new young man come to
this girl-ridden town you simply have got to pass him round and
Why, he's Lawyer Ed's new partner, you goosie, cried a dozen
voices, for it was inexcusable for any young lady not to know all about
Lawyer Ed's business.
A lawyer, how perfectly lovely! cried a plump little girl with
pink cheeks and dancing eyes. It's such a relief to see some one
beside bank boys. I'm going to ask his advice about suing Afternoon Tea
Willie for breach of promise. What's his name, Leslie?
Why, his name's Roderick McRae, cried the young lady with the
black eyes. I remember when he used to go to school in a grey homespun
suit with the hay sticking all over it. He's the son of old Angus McRae
who used to bring our cabbage and lettuce to the back door!
Mercy! the plump little girl gave a shriek. Where in the world
did you pick him up, Leslie?
The girl whirled about and faced her companions, her eyes blazing,
her checks red. I didn't pick him up at all! she cried hotly. He
picked me up the other night, out of the lake over by Breezy Point,
where Fred Hamilton upset me out of his canoe. And if Roderick McRae
hadn't come along I'd have been drowned. So now!
It had all come out in a rush. She had fully intended to shield
Fred. But she could not see her preserver scoffed at by those Baldwin
girls. Immediately there was a chorus of enquiries and exclamations.
Afternoon Tea Willie was overcome with distress and apologised for not
being there. Old Angus McRae's son immediately became a hero.
The little plump girl with the big blue eyes sighed enviously. Oh
dear! How lucky! I think it's a shame all the good things happen to
you, Leslie; and he's so handsome!
I'm going to ask him to join our tennis club, said Leslie, looking
round rather defiantly.
Leslie Graham, by virtue of the fact that her mother belonged to the
reigning house of Armstrong, and her father was the richest man in
Algonquin, was leader of the younger social set. But Miss Anna Baldwin
of the black eyes was her most powerful rival. They were constant
companions and very dear friends, and never agreed upon anything. So
immediately upon Miss Graham's daring announcement that this new and
very exclusive club should be entered by one not in their set, Miss
Baldwin cried, Oh, how perfectly sweet and democratic! Our milkman
saved our house from burning down one morning last winter, don't you
remember, Lou? We must make Mamma ask him to her next tea!
Thereupon the group broke up into two sections, one loudly
proclaiming its democratic principles, the other as vigorously
upholding the necessity for drawing rigid social lines. And they all
swept into the ice-cream palace, like a swarm of hot, angry bees,
followed by Afternoon Tea Willie in great distress, apologising now to
one side, now to the other.
Another call from his work came to Roderick the next afternoon when
he paid his first visit to Doctor Leslie. The old Manse did not look
just as hospitable as of old, there were no crowds on the veranda and
in the orchard any more. For the foster mother of the congregation had
left her children mourning, and gone to continue her good work in a
brighter and better world.
Viney was still in the kitchen, however, doing all in her power to
make the lonely minister comfortable. She had been away from the Manse
for some years in the interval, but was now returned with a half-grown
daughter to help her. Viney had left Mrs. Leslie to marry Mahogany
Bill, a mulatto from the negro settlement out in Oro. But Bill had
been of no account, and after his not too sadly mourned demise, his
wife, promoted to the dignified title of Mammy Viney, had returned with
her little girl to the Algonquin Manse, and there she was still.
And your father has you home at last, Roderick, said the minister,
rubbing his hands with pleasure and surveying the young man's fine
honest face with affection. He has lived for this day. I hope you
won't get so absorbed in your practice that you won't be able to run
out to the farm often.
Aunt Kirsty will see to that, laughed Roderick.
The minister beamed. I'm afraid I shall get into her bad books
then, for I am going to keep you here as often as possible. You are
just the young man I want in the church, Roderickone who will be a
leader of the young men. Algonquin is changing, he added sadly.
Perhaps because it is growing rapidly. I am afraid there is a rather
fast set of young men being developed here. It makes my heart ache to
see fine young fellows like Fred Hamilton and Walter Armstrong learning
to gamble, and yet that is just what is happening. There's a great work
here for a strong young man with just your upbringing, my boy. We must
save these lads from themselves'Who knoweth,' he added with a smile,
'but thou hast come to the Kingdom for such an hour.'
There was a great deal more of the same earnest call to work, and
Roderick went away conscious of a slight feeling of impatience. It was
just what his father was always saying, but how was he to attend to his
work, if he were to have all the responsibility of the young men of the
town and all the people of Willow Lane upon him? He was inclined to
think that every man should be responsible for himself. He was
kind-hearted and generous when the impulse came, but he did not want to
be reminded that his life's work was to be his brother's keeper. His
work was to be a lawyer. He did not yet realise that in being his
brother's keeper he would make of himself the best kind of lawyer.
The next evening, when he prepared to go home, Lawyer Ed declared he
must just take his horse and drive him out to the farm and have a visit
with Angus and a drink of Aunt Kirsty's butter-milk. So, early in the
evening, they drove through the town down towards the Pine Road. Willow
Lane still stood there. The old houses were more dilapidated than ever,
and there were more now than there used to be. Doctor Blair's horse and
buggy stood before one of them. Willow Lane was on low, swampy ground,
and was the abode of fevers and diseases of all sorts.
As they whirled past it, Lawyer Ed waved his whip towards it in
disgust. That place is a disgrace to Algonquin, he blustered. We
boast of our town being the most healthful and beautiful in Ontario,
and it's got the ugliest and the most unsanitary spot just right there
that you'd find in Canada. If J. P. gets to be mayor next year he'll
fix it up. He's having it drained already. I hope you'll get interested
in municipal affairs, Rod. I tell you it's great. I'm so glad I'll have
more time for town affairs now that you're here. But you must get going
there too. There's nothing so bad for a professional man as to get so
tied down to his work that he can't see an inch beyond it. You can't
help getting interested in this place. It's going ahead so. Now, the
lake front there
Lawyer Ed was off on his pet scheme, the beautifying of that part of
the lake front that was now made hideous by factory and mill and
railroad track and rows of tumble-down boathouses.
And Roderick listened half-heartedly, interested only because it
interested his friend. They passed along the Jericho Road, with its
sweet-smelling pines; the soft mists of early autumn clothed Lake
Algonquin in a veil of amethyst. The long heavy grass by the roadside,
and masses of golden-rod shining dimly in the evening-light told that
summer had finished her task. She was waiting the call to leave.
Lawyer Ed was not half through with the esplanade along the lake
front when they reached Peter McDuff's home. It was a forlorn old
weather-beaten house with thistles and mullen and sturdy burdocks
growing close to the doorway. An old gnarled apple-tree, weary and
discouraged looking, stood at one side of the house, its blackened
branches touching the ground. At the other lay a broken plow, on top of
a heap of rubbish. A sagging wood-pile and a sorry-looking pump
completed the dreariness.
And yet there were signs of a better day. The dilapidated barn was
well-built, the fences had once been strong and well put together, and
around the house were the struggling remains of an old garden, with
many a flower run wild among the thistles. The history of the home had
followed that of its owner. Peter Fiddle had once been a highly
respected man, with not a little education. His wife had been a good
woman, and when their boy came, for a time, the father had given up his
wild ways and his drinking and had settled down to work his little
farm. But he never quite gave up the drink, though Angus McRae's hand
held him back from it many and many a time. But Angus had been ill for
a couple of years, and Peter had gone very far astray when the helping
hand was removed.
He had gone steadily downward until his powers were wasted and his
health ruined. His wife gave up the struggle, when young Peter was but
a child, and closed her tired eyes on the dirt and misery of her ruined
home. Then Angus McRae had regained his health and his grip on Peter,
and since then, with many disappointments and backslidings, he had
managed to bring him struggling back to a semblance of his old manhood.
He was not redeemed yet. But old Angus never gave up hope.
Poor Young Peter had grown up dull of brain and heavy of foot,
handicapped before birth by the drink. But he had clung doggedly to
that one idea which Angus McRae had drilled into him, that he must, as
he valued his life, avoid that dread thing which had ruined his father
and killed his mother.
Lawyer Ed pulled up his horse before the house. Young Peter had not
yet come in with the Inverness, but he looked about for Peter
Fiddle. He had been sober for a much longer time than usual in this
interval, and both he and Angus were keeping an anxious, hopeful eye
I wonder where Peter is, he said.
For answer Roderick pointed down the road before them. A horse and
wagon stood close to the road-side. They drove up to it, and there,
stretched on the seat of his wagon, his horse cropping the grass by the
way-side, lay poor old Peter, dead drunk.
Well, well, well! cried Lawyer Ed in mingled disgust and
disappointment. He's gone again, and your father had such hopes of
him! He gave the lines to Roderick and leaped out.
Hi, Peter! he shouted, shaking the man violently. Wake up! It's
time for breakfast, man!
But Peter Fiddle made no more response than a log. And then a look
of boyish mischief danced into Lawyer Ed's young eyes.
Come here, Rod! he cried. Let's fix him up and see what he'll do
when we get back.
Roderick alighted and helped unhitch the old horse from the wagon.
They led him back to the house, watered him, put him into the old
stable and fed him. When they returned, Peter still lay asleep on the
wagon seat, and they drove off. Lawyer Ed in a fit of boyish mirth.
It was heavy news for old Angus when they sat around the supper
table, eating Aunt Kirsty's apple pie and cream; but the good Samaritan
was not discouraged. Well, well, he said with a sigh, he kept away
from it longer this time than ever. He's improving. Eh, eh, poor body,
It would seem as if the work of the Good Samaritan is never done,
Angus, said Lawyer Ed. I suppose there will always be thieves on the
I was just wondering to-day, said Angus thoughtfully, if, while
we go on picking up the men on the Jericho Road, we couldn't be doing
something to keep the thieves from doing their evil work. There's Peter
now. If we can't keep him away from the drink, don't you think we ought
to try to keep the drink away from him?
Lawyer Ed'll have to get a local option by-law passed in Algonquin,
Father, said Roderick.
Eh, Lad, cried the old man, his face radiant, it is your father
would be the happy man to see that day. There is a piece of work for
you two now.
I'm ready, cried Lawyer Ed enthusiastically. If I could only see
that cursed traffic on the run it would be the joy of my life to
encourage it with a good swift kick. We'll start a campaign right away.
Won't we, Rod?
All right, cried Roderick, pleased at the look in his father's
face. You give your orders. I'm here to carry them out.
There, Angus! You've got your policeman for the Jericho Road. We'll
do it yet. If we get the liquor business down, as Grandma Armstrong
says, we'll knock it conscientious.
Old Angus followed them to the gate when they drove away, his heart
swelling with high hope. He would live to see all his ambitions
realised in Roderick. He sat up very late that night and when he went
to bed and remembered how the Lad had promised to help rid Peter of the
drink curse, he could not sleep until he had sung the long-meter
doxology. He sang it very softly, for Kirsty was asleep and it might be
hard to explain to her if she were disturbed; nevertheless he sang it
with an abounding joy and faith.
As Roderick and Lawyer Ed drove homeward, down the moon-lit length
of the Pine Road; they were surprised to hear ahead of them, within a
few rods of Peter Fiddle's house, the sound of singing. Very wavering
and uncertain, now loud and high, now dropping to a low wail, came the
slow splendid notes of Kilmarnock to the sublime words of the 103rd
The two in the buggy looked at each other. Peter! cried Lawyer Ed
When Old Peter was only a little bit drunk he inclined to frivolity
and gaiety, and was given to playing the fiddle and dancing, but when
he was very drunk, he was very solemn, and intensely religious. He gave
himself to the singing of psalms, and if propped up would preach a
sermon worthy of Doctor Leslie himself.
A turn in the road brought him into sight. There, between the silver
mirror of the moonlit lake and the dark scented green of the forest,
insensible to the beauty of either, sat the man. He was perched
perilously on the seat of his wagon and was swaying from side to side,
swinging his arms about him and singing in a loud maudlin voice, the
fine old psalm that he had learned long, long ago before he became less
than a man.
Lawyer Ed pulled up before him.
Oh Peter, Peter! he cried, is this you?
Peter Fiddle stopped singing, with the righteously indignant air of
one whose devotions have been interrupted by a rude barbarian.
And who will you be, he demanded witheringly, that dares to be
speaking to the McDuff in such a fashion? Who will you be, indeed?
Come, come, Peter, none of that, said his friend soothingly. I
cannot think who you are. You surely can't be my old friend, Peter
McDuff, sitting by the roadside this way. Who are you, anyway?
Peter became suddenly grave. The question raised a terrible doubt in
his mind. He looked about him with the wavering gaze of a man on board
a heaving ship. His unsteady glance fell on the empty wagon shafts
lying on the ground. He looked at them in bewilderment, then took off
his old cap and scratched his head.
How is this, I'd like to know? demanded Lawyer Ed, pushing his
advantage. If you're not Peter McDuff, who are you? And where is the
Roderick climbed out of the buggy, smothering his laughter, and
leaving the two to argue the question, he went after the truant horse
which might help to establish his master's lost identity. Lawyer Ed
dismounted and helped him hitch it, and apparently satisfied by its
reappearance, Peter stretched himself on the seat and went soundly
asleep again. He lay all undisturbed while they drove him in at his
gate, and put his horse away once more. And he did not move even when
they lifted him from his perch and, carrying him into the house, put
him into his bed.
And just as they entered the town they met poor young Peter plodding
slowly and heavily towards his dreary home.
We must do something for those two, Rod, said Lawyer Ed, shaking
his head pityingly. We must get Local Option or something that'll help
But Roderick was thinking of what Miss Leslie Graham had said, and
wondering if it might mean that he would be asked to handle the big
affairs of Graham and Company.
CHAPTER VII. MOVING TO MELODY
The first Sunday that Angus McRae drove along the lake shore and up
to the church with Lawyer Ed's partner sitting at his side, he was
praying, all the way, to be delivered from the sin of pride. They left
Aunt Kirsty at home as usual, with her Bible and her hymn-book, for the
poor lady had grown so stout that she could not be lifted into buggy or
boat or conveyance of any kind. They started early, but stopped so
often on the road that they were none the earlier in arriving. For
Angus must needs pause at the McDuff home, to see that young Peter was
ready for church, and that old Peter was thoroughly sobered. And there
was a huge bouquet of Aunt Kirsty's asters to be left at Billy
Perkins's for the little girl who was sick. There were sounds of strife
in Mike Cassidy's home too, and Angus dismounted and went in to reason
with Mike and the wife on the incongruity of throwing the dishes at
each other, when they had spent the morning at mass.
So when the Good Samaritan had attended to all on the Jericho Road
there was not much time left, and the church bells were ringing when
they drove under the green tunnel of Elm Street; the Anglican, high,
resonant and silvery, the Presbyterian, with a slow, deep boom, and
between the two, and harmonising with both, the mellow, even roll of
the Methodist bell. The call of the bells was being given a generous
obedience, for already the streets were crowded with people. From the
hills to the north and the west, from the level plain to the south they
came, on foot, and in buggies. Even the people who lived across the
lake or away down the shore were there, some having crossed the water
in boats or launches. This means of conveyance, however, was regarded
with some disfavour, as it too perilously resembled Sunday boating. The
matter had even been brought up in the session by Mr. McPherson, who
declared he objected to it, for there was no good reason why Christian
people could not walk on the earth the Almighty had provided for them,
on the Sabbath day.
Roderick put away the horse into the shed, smiling tenderly when he
found his father waiting at the gate for him. He wanted to walk around
to the church door with his boy, so that they might meet his friends
together. They were received in a manner worthy of the occasion, for
the four elders who were ushering all left their posts and came forward
to greet Angus McRae, knowing something of what a great day in his life
this Sabbath was. J. P. Thornton and Jock McPherson ushered on one side
of the church, Lawyer Ed and Captain McTavish on the other, a very
fitting arrangement, which mingled the old and the new schools. Only
Lawyer Ed could never be kept in his own place, but ran all over the
church and ushered wheresoever he pleased.
The elders of Algonquin Presbyterian church were at their best when
showing the people to their seats on a Sabbath morning. Each man did it
in a truly characteristic manner. Captain Jimmie received the
worshippers in a breezy fashion, as though the church were the
Inverness and he were calling every one to come aboard and have a
bit run on the lake and a cup-a-tea, whatever. Mr. McPherson shook
hands warmly with the old folk, but kept the young people in their
places, and well did every youngster know that did he not conduct
himself in the sanctuary with becoming propriety, the cane the elder
carried would likely come rapping down smartly on his unrighteous
knuckles. J. P. Thornton's welcome was kindly but stately. He had grown
stout and slightly pompous-looking during the passing years, and his
fine, well-dressed figure lent quite an air of dignity to the whole
church. But Lawyer Ed, ushering a stranger into the church, was a
heart-warming sight. He seemed made for the part. He met one half-way
down the steps with outstretched hands, marched him to the best seat in
the place, even if he had to dislodge one of the leading families to do
it, thrust a Bible and a hymn-book into his hand, and enquired if he
were sure he would be comfortable, all in a manner that made the
newcomer feel as if the Algonquin church had been erected, a minister
and ciders appointed, and a congregation assembled all for the express
purpose of edifying him on this particular Sabbath morning.
He captured Angus McRae and showed him to his seat this morning with
a happy bustle, for his pride and joy in the Lad's return was only
second to his own father's. Roderick sat beside his father in their old
pew near the rear of the church, gazing about him happily at the
familiar scene. The people were filling up the aisles, with a soft
hushed rustle. There was Fred Hamilton and his father, and Dr. Archie
Blair and his family. Dr. Blair was rarely too busy to get to church on
a Sunday morning, though he made a loud pretence of being very
irreligious. It was rumoured that he carried a volume of Burns to
church in his pocket instead of a Bible, a tale which the Doctor
enjoyed immensely and took care not to contradict. There was a silken
rustle at Roderick's right hand, a breath of perfume, and Leslie
Graham, in a wonderful rose silk dress and big plumed hat, came up the
aisle, followed by her father and mother. The Grahams were the most
fashionable people in the church, and Mr. Graham was the only man who
wore a high silk hat. He had been the first to wear the frock coat, but
while many had followed his example in this regard, he was the only man
who had, as yet, gone the length of the silk hat. Of course, Doctor
Leslie had one, but every one felt that it was quite correct for a
minister to wear such a thing. It was part of the clerical garb, and
anyway he wore it only at weddings and funerals, showing it belonged to
the office, rather than to the man. So Alexander Graham's millinery was
looked upon with some disfavour. He was a quiet man though, sensitive
and retiring, and not given to vain display, and people felt that the
sin of the silk hat very likely lay at the door of his fashionable wife
The Grahams were no sooner seated than Leslie turned her handsome
head, and glancing across the church towards Roderick, gave him a
brilliant smile. But the young man did not catch the gracious favour;
he was looking just then at a group passing up the aisle to a seat
almost in front of him; Grandma Armstrong moving very slowly on her
eldest daughter's arm, Miss Annabel in a youthful blue silk dress, and
behind them a girlish figure in a white gown with a wealth of shining
hair gleaming from beneath her wide hat.
Helen Murray had come to church this first Sunday with some fear.
Her father's voice spoke to her yet in every minister's tones, and the
place and the hour were all calculated to bring up memories hard to
bear in public. She was just seated between Grandma and Miss Annabel
when the former pulled her sleeve and enquired if she did not think the
new gladiators very pretty. The girl followed the old lady's eyes and
saw they were indicating the shiny brass electroliers suspended from
the ceiling. In happier days Helen had found laughter very easy. Her
sense of humour had not been deadened by sorrow, it was only in
abeyance, and now she felt it stirring into life. The little incident
made her look around with interest. Certainly the Algonquin church was
not a place calculated to make one indulge in melancholy. The
Presbyterian congregation was a virile one, bright and friendly and
full of energy, and with very few exceptions, every one was at least
fairly well off. With the aid of a generous expenditure of money they
had expressed their congregational life in the decoration of the
church; so the place was comfortable and well lighted, and exceedingly
bright in colouring. Around three sides ran a gallery with an
ornamental railing, tinted pink. The walls were the same colour, except
for a bright green dado beneath the gallery, and the vaulted ceiling
was decorated with big bouquets of flowers in a shade of pink and green
slightly deeper than the walls and the dado. The carpet and the
cushionsevery inch of the floor was carpeted and every pew
cushionedwere a warm bright crimson to match the organ pipes. The
high Gothic windows were of brilliant stained glass, which, when the
morning sun shone, threw a riot of colour over the worshippers. And
indeed everything was warm and bright and shining, from the glittering
new electroliers suspended from the pink ceiling, to the crimson baize
doors which swung inward so hospitably at one's approach.
The church had been slowly filling, the choir filed into their
places, the organ stopped playing Cavalleria Rusticana, a hush fell
over the place and Doctor Leslie, his white hair and black gown passing
through the changing lights of the windows, came slowly out of the
vestry and up to the pulpit. He was an old man now, but a vigorous one,
and his sermons were still strong and full of the fire of his earlier
years. He had never walked quite so smartly, nor spoken with quite his
old vim since the day he had been left alone in the Manse. But through
his bereavement his eye had grown a little kindlier, his handshake a
little more sympathetic, his voice a little more tender.
As he stood up and opened the Book of Praise to announce the first
hymn, his glance involuntarily travelled, as it always did at the
beginning of the service, to where old Angus's white head shone in the
amber light of the window, as though a halo of glory were about it. Old
Angus had long ago learned to look for that glance, and returned it by
a glow from his deep eyes. Whenever they sang the 112th psalm in
Algonquin Presbyterian church,
How blest the man who fears the Lord,
And makes His law his chief delight,
the minister looked down and thought how well the words described
the sunny-faced old saint, and Angus looked up and felt how aptly they
fitted his pastor.
Dr. Leslie had had Angus in his mind this morning when he chose the
111th psalm for their opening praise, knowing how the old man's heart
would be lifted to his God this morning.
Praise ye the Lord; with my whole heart
The Lord's praise I'll declare.
They sang it to Gainsborough, the favourite tune of the old folk,
for it gave an opportunity for restful lingering on every word, and had
in it all those much-loved trills and quavers that made up the true
accompaniment of a Scottish psalm. They sang it spiritedly, as
Algonquin Presbyterians always sang; the choir and the organ on one
side, the congregation on the other, each striving to gain the greater
volume and power. For many years the choir had won out, for Lawyer Ed
was leader, and the whole congregation would have been no match for him
alone. But lately he had handed the leadership over to a young man whom
he had trained up from the Sunday-school, and gone down to the
opposition, where he sometimes gave the organist and the choir all they
could do to be heard. And this morning, in his happiness over
Roderick's home-coming, he was at his best.
There was only one little rift in the harmony of the whole
congregation. In spite of Mr. McPherson's objections, Lawyer Ed and J.
P. Thornton had succeeded in putting the Amen at the end of the
psalms, as well as the hymns, and when the objectionable word came this
morning, Jock sat down as he always did, heavily and noisily, exactly
on the last word of the psalm proper, and pulled Mrs. Jock's silk wrap
to make her give a like condemnation to the bit of popery. Lawyer Ed
sat in the pew opposite Jock and heard the protesting creak of Jock's
seat when he descended and, in a spirit of mischief, he turned round
till he faced the McPherson and rolled out the Amen directly at its
objector. It was shocking conduct for an elder, as J. P. said
afterwards, but then every one knew that though he should become
Moderator of the General Assembly, Lawyer Ed would never grow up.
The sermon was to young people. It was a call to them to give their
lives in their morning to the true Master and Lord of life. Dr. Leslie
took for his text the scene enacted on that great morning when two
young fishermen had heard across the shining water that call which,
once truly heard by the heart's ear, cannot be resisted, Come ye after
Me. There were young people in the church that morning who heard it as
truly as the fisher lads that far gone morning on Galilee, and as truly
obeyed it. Helen Murray listened, struggling with tears. She had grown
up in a Christian home where the influence of father and mother were
such that it was inevitable that she should early become a disciple of
the Master they served. But she had faltered in her service since her
griefs had come upon her in such a flood. She would never have allowed
herself to grow selfish over her joys but sorrow had absorbed her. She
did not realise, until this morning, that she was growing selfish over
her trouble. The tender call came againCome ye after Me, sounding
just as sweetly and impelling in the night of sorrow and stress as it
ever did in the joyous morning.
Roderick McRae was listening to the sermon too, but he did not hear
the Voice. For in his young, eager ears was ringing the siren song of
success. He had gone to church regularly in his absence from home,
because he knew that the weekly letter to his father would lose half
its charm did the son not give an account of the sermon he had heard
the Sabbath before. But much listening to sermons had bred in the young
man the inattentive heart, even though the ear was doing its duty.
Roderick accepted sermons and church-going good-naturedly, as a
necessary, respectable formality of life. That it must have a bearing
on all life or be utterly meaningless he did not realise. His plans for
life had nothing to do with church, and the divine call fell upon his
When the sermon was drawing to a close, Lawyer Ed scribbled
something on a scrap of paper and when he rose to take the offering he
passed it up to the minister. Lawyer Ed never in his life got through a
sermon without writing at least one note. This one was a request for
St. George's, Edinburgh, as the closing psalm. He knew it was not the
one selected, but something in the stirring words of the sermon,
coupled with his joy over his boy's return, had roused him so that
nothing but the hallelujahs of that great anthem could express his
When Dr. Leslie arose at the close and announced, instead of the
regular doxology, the 24th psalm, Harry Lauder, the leader of the
choir, looked down at Lawyer Ed and smiled, and Lawyer Ed smiled back
at him. The young man's name was really Harry Lawson, but as he had a
beautiful tenor voice, and could sing a funny Scottish song far better,
every one in Algonquin said, than the great Scotch singer himself, he
had been honored by the slight but significant change in his name. And
when Harry Lauder smiled down at Lawyer Ed at the announcement of St.
George's, Edinburgh, every one knew what it meant. When Lawyer Ed had
given up the choir, under the pressure of other duties, and put Mr.
Lawson in his place, he delivered this ultimatum to his successor: Now
look here, youngster. I am not used to being led by any one, either in
singing or in anything else, but I promise that as far as I can, I'll
follow you in the church service. But there's one tune in which I'll
follow no living man, no, nor congregation of massed bands, and that's
St. George's, Edinburgh. I just can't help it, Harry; when the first
note of that tune comes rolling out, I am neither to hold nor to bind.
Now I don't want to have it spoiled by see-sawing, that would be
blasphemous. So you just tell the organist that I have a weakness comes
over me when that tune is sung, and tell him to listen, and follow me.
And you do the same.
So every one knew that when St. George's, Edinburgh, was sung,
Lawyer Ed became the leader of the choir and congregation pro tem. No
one needed to be told, however, for none could help following him. And
he had never thrown himself into it with more abandon than on this
sunny morning with the Eternal Call sounding again in the ears of all
who had truly heard the sermon.
Ye gates lift up your heads on high!
He was glorious on the first stanza, he was magnificent on the
second. He climbed grandly up the heights of its crescendo:
Ye doors that last for aye,
Be lifted up that so the King of glory enter may,
in ever growing power and volume; up to the wonder of the question
But who is He that is the King of glory?
up to the rapture of the response:
The Lord of Hosts and none but He
The King of Glory is.
And then out he came upon the heights of the refrain, with all the
universe conquered and at his feet. When the first Hallelujah burst
from the congregation, mounting splendidly at his side, the leader
closed his book. He flung it upon the seat, tore off his glasses,
clasped his hands behind him, and let himself go. And with a mighty
roar he swept congregation, choir, organ, everybody, up into a thunder
Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Amen, Amen.
It might not have been considered finished by a musical critic, it
may have lacked restraint and nicety of shading; but no one who heard
the Algonquin congregation that morning singing Ye Gates lift up your
heads, led by Lawyer Edward Brians, could doubt that it was surely
some such fine fresh rapture that rang through the aisles of Heaven on
that creation day when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons
of God shouted for joy.
Helen Murray bowed her head for the benediction, the stinging tears
rushing to her eyes, but they were not tears of sorrow. For the moment
she had forgotten there was such a thing as pain. She had lost it as
she had been swept up to the glad peaks of song. For one trembling
moment she had caught a glimpse of a new wonder, the whole world
moving, through sorrow and pain and dull misunderstanding, surely and
swiftly up to God. And for that instant her soul had leaped forward,
too, to meet Him. She came down from the heights; no mortal could live
there, seeing things that were not lawful to utter. But from that first
Sunday in Algonquin church her outlook on her new life was changed. She
had seen the end of her rainbow. It was back of mists and clouds and
storms, but it was there! And she could never again be quite so sad.
The congregation slowly filed put of the pews and down the aisles,
chatting in soft hushed voices, until the organist pulled out all the
stops and played a lively air, and then the conversation rose to suit
the accompaniment. Mr. McPherson had objected to the pipe-organ, to the
hired organist from the city, and finally and most vigorously to the
musical dispersion of the congregation. If the body must play for the
church service, Jock conceded, well, he must; but why he must paw and
trample and harry the noisy thing, when church was over and done with,
was a mystery that no right thinking person could solve. The organist,
when approached with the elder's objections, had answered with dignity
that all the city churches did it, and Jock's case was hopelessly lost.
For when Algonquin was told that in the city they did thus and so, then
Algonquin would do that thing too if it had meant burning down the
church. So the congregation went down the aisles, sailing merrily on a
flood of gay music, and as they went, Miss Annabel introduced the new
teacher to several of the young folk of the church, who asked her to
join the Christian Endeavor and the Young Women's Society, and the
Young People's Bible class and to come to the picnic to-morrow
afternoon in the park and the moonlight sail on Friday evening, and
assured her that she would like Algonquin, and wasn't it a very pretty
As they passed down the steps, a slim young man, dressed
immaculately in the height of fashion, came tripping up to them and
addressed Miss Annabel in the most abjectly polite manner.
Good morning, Mr. Wilbur, said the lady coldly, I am sure you
must welcome Sunday. I suppose you are working so hard these days. It
was very cruel of Miss Annabel, for poor Afternoon Tea Willie had not
yet been able to get an introduction to the lady of his dreams, and he
really did work very hard indeed, and his was the employment from which
there was no respite even on Sundays. But she hurried Helen on without
further notice of him. Roderick was watching the little play with some
amusement as he stood waiting for his father, who had stopped to have a
word with the minister. As he did so he was puzzled to see Fred
Hamilton pass him without so much as a word. He was concluding that his
old acquaintance had not seen him, when he heard a merry laugh at his
elbow and there stood Miss Leslie Graham.
Did you see poor Freddy? she cried. Oh, dear, dear, I told on him
after all, and he's mad at everybody in the town, you included,
evidently. Now here's Daddy. He's dying to meet you. Here, Dad, this is
the man that did the deed.
Mr. Graham took Roderick's hand and held it while he thanked him, in
a voice that trembled, for saving his daughter's life. Roderick was
attempting to disclaim any heroism in the matter, when Mrs. Graham fell
upon him with a rustle of silks, and fairly overwhelmed him with
gratitude. Then two or three others came up and demanded to know what
it was all about and Roderick was overcome with embarrassment and was
thankful when his father appeared and he could make his escape.
Lawyer Ed came to the buggy to say good-bye to Angus and to enquire
what was the collie-shankie at the kirk door, and when he heard, he
slapped Roderick on the back. Well, well, look here, my lad, he
cried, why, your fortune is as good as made. Sandy Graham has been mad
at me for the space of twenty-five years or more about something or
otherwhat was it now? Bless me if I haven't forgotten what. But he
nearly left the church over it, and entirely left the law firm of
Brians &Co. The bereaved head of the firm put back his head at the
recollection, shut his eyes, and laughed long and heartily. But you've
got him back again all right, and I tell you this, my lad, if you get
his business your fortune is just about made. Only don't go and lose
your heart to the handsome young lady while you need a steady head!
They drove away, and while the father talked on the drive home of
the sermon, the son answered absently; his thoughts were all with the
piece of good luck which had come his way by such a mere chance.
CHAPTER VIII. FLOATED THE GLEAM
Ever since Leslie Graham was old enough to know what she wanted she
had always managed to get it. She was the only child of wealthy
parents, as Algonquin counted wealth. Her father was absorbed in
business, and felt he had done his duty by his daughter when he gave
her money enough to be the best dressed girl in the town. Her mother's
creed in regard to bringing up children was to give the dears a good
time when they were young, they would grow old soon enough. So Leslie's
time and energies were bent to the two main tasks of life,
unconsciously set her by her parents, to spend as much money as
possible on clothes, and to have a good time.
She had been named, as many another girl of the congregation,
Margaret Leslie, after the minister's wife; she was a member of the
church; she had been brought up to attend Sunday-school and mission
band, and to be helpful in all social functions of the congregation;
and withal she was frankly and happily, and entirely pagan.
The earliest lesson life had taught her was that, if she wanted
anything, screams generally produced the desired object. The second
lesson was that, when screams failed, one must scramble down from one's
high chair and go after the prize and wrest it from table or sideboard
or high eminence, no matter how much hard climbing or bumps were
So when Roderick McRae became desirable in her eyes, in her usual
straightforward manner, she frankly sought him out and demanded his
attention. His sudden appearance on the evening of her loss of
self-confidence, the appeal his rescue had made to her girlish
imagination, and the charm of the forbidden that hung over Old Angus
McRae's son made him a real Prince Charming. She was quite certain that
he needed only to know that she liked him, to be immediately her slave.
He seemed very shy and hard to convince that she cared, but that was
natural, considering the wide difference in their social positions.
On the Monday morning after her father's arrival home, when he was
ready to go down to the bank, she suddenly appeared, dressed in her
prettiest white gown and announced her intention of accompanying him.
Well, well, I feel highly flattered, he declared, as they walked
down the garden path together. Then, as he opened the gate for her, he
asked, with a knowing twinkle in his eye, for he was an astute business
man, and accustomed to divining people's motives, Now, what do you
want to wheedle out of me this morning? You've been for a trip already,
and it can't be a new dress.
She laughed and, as was her way, went straight to the point. No,
it's a new young man, Daddy. I want you to do something nice for
Roderick McRae. Haven't you a big chunk of business you need a lawyer
Her father frowned. Tut, tut, if I've got to give some work to
every young man that does you a favour, my business will be gone to the
dogs in a month.
A favour! Why, Father Graham, he saved my life! cried the girl
Yes, dear, I realise that, and I'd like to do something for him.
But Ed Brians, I can't stand. He wants to run everything in the town.
He pretty nearly does, but he's not going to run my business. You mind
Though Lawyer Ed had completely forgotten the cause of the trouble
between them, Alexander Graham had not. Upon a certain date, years
earlier, the belligerent young elder had tramped into a managers'
meeting, denounced a money-saving scheme of Manager Graham's, and
called the assembled brethren all misers and skinflints. The managers
had succumbed, in the most friendly manner, all except Sandy Graham. He
had resigned instead, and had tended his grievance carefully until,
from a small shoot, in ten years it had grown up into a flourishing
tree with deep and tenacious roots.
There was another cause of dissension, too. Alexander Graham had a
brother named William, a lawyer, who lived in New York and was reputed
fabulously wealthy. And he was an old and staunch friend of Lawyer Ed,
who could not and would not be moved from his loyalty, no matter how
many grievances Sandy placed before him. Bill was forever putting
business in the way of Edward Brians, and his brother's jealousy and
ill-feeling grew stronger as the years passed.
Lawyer Ed paid not the slightest attention to Sandy Graham's enmity.
He invariably treated the old friend with an overwhelming good-humour
which only served to increase the irritation.
Leslie Graham knew all this, but she cared not a pin's worth for her
father's quarrels. She was not going to have her plans spoiled by a
Now, Daddy dear! she cried, knowing exactly how to manage him, I
should think you'd have wit enough to see that Lawyer Ed would hate you
to give your business to his young partner far worse than to give it to
Willoughby. There's that new lumber scheme. You can give Roderick that
and tell him Lawyer Ed's not to know anything about it, eh?
The man hesitated. He was at that moment on his way to the law firm
of Willoughby and Baldwin to put into their hands the work of
negotiating with the British North American R. R. Company regarding
some timber limits in New Ontario. It was a complicated piece of
business, needing careful handling. He had not much faith in
Willoughbyhe was too old, and less in Baldwin, who was too young.
This young McRae, being the son of Angus McRae, would be honest, there
was no doubt of that, and evidently he had ability. And while he
hesitated, and his daughter argued and cajoled, they came to the door
of Lawyer Ed's office. Roderick was standing there alone, having just
seen his partner off down the street. Miss Leslie Graham took matters
into her own hands with her usual charming audacity.
Good morning, Mr. Roderick McRae, she cried. Here's my respected
parent can't make up his mind about a piece of backwoods he owns away
back of beyond somewhere, so I just steered him down here. He was just
saying on the way down that he would rather have the firm of Brians and
McRae do his business than any one he knew of. Weren't you, Papa? Now
you go in there with Roderick, and I shall call for you when I come
back from my shopping. Bye, bye.
She shoved him up the steps and right in at the door, and skipped
away, laughing over her shoulder at the trick she had played. Her
father stood a moment looking after her, not knowing whether to be
angry or amused. She turned and winked at him when she reached the
bottom of the steps, and his anger vanished. He laughed indulgently,
threw up his hands with a helpless gesture and followed Roderick into
the office. And before he stated his business he spent a half-hour
telling how much his daughter was to him and how grateful he was to
Roderick for what he had done.
Roderick's eyes shone when the new work was laid before him. It was
a big thing, bigger than had ever come the way of that little office in
all the years it had done business in Algonquin. It fired his ambition
to make good. The shrewd business man saw the look in the young
lawyer's eye, and he did not regret the step Leslie had forced him to
If you see that those rascals don't get the better of us, Mr.
McRae, he said in parting, I need not tell you that you will profit
by it as well as ourselves.
Roderick thanked him for his trust. When Mr. Brians comes in he
commenced, but his client interrupted.
I want it to be distinctly understood that this is your work
entirely, Mr. McRae, he said. Mr. Brians will understand.
Lawyer Ed did understand, and laughed long and loud over what he
called Sandy Graham's extreme Scotchness. But he was vastly pleased
that Roderick was to have a chance of showing what he could do, and
that the wide business interests of Graham and Company were to be once
more in their hands.
And now Roderick plunged into work with all his might. When the news
spread that Graham and Co. had given a big transaction into the hands
of Lawyer Ed's young partner, others followed. Lawyer Ed himself was a
shrewd advocate, but every one knew that his business tendencies ran on
certain lines. His chief concern had always been to settle family
troubles, rather than to make money out of them. Many a puzzled farmer
he had saved from losing in an unjust bargain when the opposite course
would have meant money for himself. Many a family on the verge of
disintegration over a will had been brought together and made happy,
because their lawyer was more bent on their welfare than his own.
Roderick intended fully to keep up the fine old standards of the firm
as far as possible. But he was determined to be much more than the
legal adviser of all the folk living around Algonquin who couldn't do
He took his mid-day meal at the Algonquin House, the leading hotel,
and won the favour of Mr. Crofter, the proprietor. And there came to
the office of Brians and McRae one day, much to the senior partner's
amazement, Mr. Crofter himself, with some mining concerns he had in the
north. Mr. Crofter had never quite seen eye to eye with Lawyer Ed,
since the latter had declared flatly and loudly, at a tea-meeting given
by the Sons of Temperance, that a man who sold liquor over a bar was a
curse to the community. But Mr. Crofter knew when he wanted his
business well done. He distrusted almost every one in Algonquin, but he
knew old Angus McRae's son would be incapable of dishonesty.
The second surprise came a few months later when the success of
Crofter's deal had made the young lawyer's name. Alexander Graham took
all his business out of the hands of the Willoughby firm, and gave it
to Brians &McRae.
That evening Roderick was asked to the Grahams for dinner, as a
further honour. He went with some trepidation, as it was his first
venture into society. Mr. Graham was exceedingly genial, and Leslie was
charming, but the lady of the house was rather distant. She could not
help seeing Leslie's partiality towards Roderick and resented it. As
her husband's lawyer, the young man was quite acceptable, but as a
possible aspirant to his daughter's favour he would be entirely out of
place. Fred Hamilton was the only other one present outside the family.
The young man sat in sulky silence most of the evening, a circumstance
which seemed to put his pretty hostess into a high good humour.
The invitation to the Grahams was the signal for other doors to
open. Roderick was invited everywhere. And wherever he went there was
Miss Leslie Graham, the belle of every occasion, and always ready to
bestow her greatest favours upon him. He always looked about him at
these gay gatherings of young people half-expecting to see the young
lady he had met on the Inverness; but he was always
disappointed, and wondered why she did not appear.
Helen Murray, herself, often wondered why she was not bidden to the
many festivities of which she heard the gay Miss Annabel talk.
You will probably be invited out a great deal, Miss Murray, Miss
Armstrong cautioned her, and I hope you will select very carefully the
places you visit. You see you are practically one of our family, and
though we respect all grades of society, you must realise that we have
a position to maintain. And I hope you won't think me interfering, my
dear; but if you would consult Annabel and me, as to accepting an
invitation, I think it would be wise. We should like so much to have
you of our set.
Helen obeyed, a little puzzled, but afraid to act against the
judgment of her august hostess. So she found herself soon bidden to
afternoon teas and receptions and all the affairs where the older set
attended. She met no one of her own age, however, except Miss Annabel
who called them all old frumps, and declared married folk were deadly
dull, and she would never go near their parties again so long as she
lived. And she fell into a state of nervous apprehension, when the
approach of the next afternoon tea was rumoured abroad, lest she should
not be invited. Poor Miss Annabel was being slowly but surely pushed on
into the older set by the younger generation. She hated her position,
but it was the only one left, and it was better than the dread
desolation of no position at all.
Helen kept away from the whirl, finding her duties at school
sufficient excuse. She often longed for some young life, however, and
wondered why she did not meet the daughters of the ladies who were so
kind to her when she went out under Miss Armstrong's wing.
She did not know as yet that the reason was two-fold. First, the
younger set were a little more exclusive than the one in which the
Misses Armstrong moved. Young Algonquin had but recently awakened to
the fact that society was not society unless you built a fence about it
and kept somebodyit didn't matter much whoout. The other and more
potent reason was Helen's unfortunate sex. There were already far too
many young ladies in Algonquin. A young man with exactly her claims to
recognition would have been received with acclaim. But, except in
holiday time, there was always a sad dearth of young men in Algonquin,
if not an actual famine. So no wonder the young ladies rather resented
the appearance of another girl to join their already too swollen ranks,
and especially a girl so undeniably attractive as the new school
Quite unconscious of all this, Helen spent many a lonely evening at
her window looking down at the gay crowds passing along the street
towards the lake, and listening drearily to their happy voices floating
under the leafy tunnel of the trees.
She dared not join the groups that would have welcomed her, the
young folk who earned their living and who made the church a centre of
social intercourse for the lonely. Miss Armstrong had politely given
her to understand that she would not be welcome in Rosemount, if she
associated with the girls who stood behind the counter, or worked in a
She often saw Miss Leslie Graham as she darted into the house and
out again, on a flying visit to her grandmother, but she had no
opportunity of meeting her.
So in spite of her brave attempts to forget her grief in her work,
and in spite of Madame's unfailing kindness and help, the girl was
often very lonely. The big echoing house of Rosemount was always
deserted of an evening. Grandma went to bed, and either Helen or the
little maid was left on guard, while the two ladies went to a
dinner-party or an evening at cards.
One soft languorous September evening, the loneliness promised to be
unbearable, and she determined to go alone for a walk. Madame was
always too tired for a tramp after school, and she knew no one else who
would accompany her.
She spoke of it at the tea-table in the faint hope that Miss Annabel
might suggest coming too, but was disappointed.
Why that'll be lovely, dearie, she cried, go and have a run in
the park. It will do you good. I'd dearly love to go with you, but
there's Mrs. Captain Willoughby's musicale. There won't be a soul there
that isn't old enough to be in her dotage, but I promised that nothing
short of sudden death would make me miss it.
Annabel, I am surprised at you, said her sister reprovingly. I
wouldn't go far in the evening alone, Miss Murray, she added in her
stately way. It does not seem justwellexactly proper, don't you
Nonsense, Elinor. How's the poor child to help going alone, when
there's no one to go with her?
Helen had learned to look for these slight altercations at the
table. While the sisters were apparently of one mind on all the larger
issues of life, they had a habit of arguing and cavilling over the
little things that often left their young boarder in a state of wonder.
She slipped away as soon as the meal was over, for the evenings were
growing short and she wanted to see the lake in its sunset glory. The
night was warm and all the young people were on the lake. The streets
were deserted. But on the pretty vine-clad verandas, the heads of
families sat sewing or reading and smoking, with the little ones
tumbling about the grass. On one veranda a gramophone, the first in the
town, screeched out a strain from a Grand Opera to the wonder and
admiration of all the neighbours. Helen moved along the street more
lonely than ever in the midst of all this home happiness. She passed a
little cottage where a young man and woman were tying up a rose vine,
beaten down by recent rains. Madame had told her they had been married
just the week before. They looked very happy, laughing and whispering
like a couple of nest-building robins, as they worked together to make
their little home more beautiful. She had to hurry away from the pretty
scene. Some one had promised her once that there should be a rose vine
over their porch in the new home he had been planning for her.
She turned a corner and was alarmed by a great churning and puffing
noise ahead, as though the Inverness had left her native element
and come sailing up Main Street. But it was only Captain Willoughby in
his new automobile. It was the first, and as yet the only machine in
Algonquin, and its unhappy owner would have sold it to the lowest
bidder could he have found any one foolish enough to bid at all. For so
far, the captain had had no opportunity to learn to run it. His first
excursions abroad had been attended with such disaster, such mad
careering of horses, and plunging into ditches, such dismaying
paralysis of the engine right in the middle of a neighbour's gateway,
such inexplicable excursions onto the sidewalk and through plate glass
windows, such harrowing overturning of baby-carriages, that Mrs.
Captain Willoughby took an attack of nerves every time he went abroad,
and the town fathers finally requested that the captain take out his
Juggernaut car only at such hours as the streets were clear. So on
quiet evenings such as this one, when there were not likely to be any
horses abroad, Mrs. Willoughby telephoned all her friends and told them
to take in the children for the captain was coming. And so, heralded,
like the Lady Godiva, the trembling motorist went forth, while the
streets immediately became as empty as those of Coventry, with rows of
peeping Toms, safe inside their fences, jeering at the unhappy man's
uneven progress. He whizzed past Helen at a terrible speed, grazing the
side-walk and giving her almost as great a fright as he got himself,
and went whirring up the hill.
She did not want to join the crowds in the park so she followed the
familiar street past the school, and out along the Pine Road toward the
lake shore. But when she found her way was leading her through Willow
Lane, where all the dirty and poor people of Algonquin lived, she
turned off into a path that crossed a field and led to the water. Helen
had some little pupils from Willow Lane, and their appearance did not
invite a closer acquaintance with their homes.
She did not know that she was passing near the back of Old Peter
McDuff's farm, but she noticed that the fences were conveniently broken
down, and left a path clear down to the water's edge.
Lake Algonquin lay before her in its evening glory, a glory veiled
and softened by the amethyst veil the autumn was weaving. The water was
as still and as clear as a mirror. To her left the town nestled in a
soft purple mist, the gay voices from the park were softened and
sweetened by the distance. Straight ahead of her lay Wawa island, an
airy thing floating lightly on the water, and reflected perfectly in
At one end of its dark greenery autumn had hung out a banner to
herald her cominga scarlet sumach. A yellowing maple leaf fell at
Helen's feet as she passed. Along the water's edge where the birches
grew thick arose a great twittering and chattering. The long southern
flight was already being discussed. Away out beyond the island a canoe
drifted along on the golden water. Some one seated in it was picking a
mandolin and singing, Good-bye, Summer.
Helen slipped down the path where the birches and elms, entwined
with the bitter-sweet, hung over the water. A little point jutted out
with a big rock on the end of it. She took off her hat, seated herself
upon the rock, and drank in the silence and peace of the calm evening.
A little launch went rap-rap-rap across the clear glass of the
water, leaving a long trail of light behind it like a comet, and the
sweet evening odours were mingled with the unsavoury scent of gasoline.
Helen had often sped joyfully over the bay at home in just such a noisy
little craft, quite unconscious of being obnoxious to any one else. It
was not the first time she had found her view-point was changing. She
seemed to have been drifted ashore in a wreck, and to be sitting
looking on at the life she had lived with wonder and sometimes with
disapproval. The launch passed, the evening shadows deepened, but she
still sat wrapped in the deeper shadows of her own sad thoughts.
She had no idea how long she had sat there when she was roused by
the sudden appearance of a canoe right at her side. It had stolen up
silently, propelled by the noiseless stroke of a practised paddler, and
went past her like a ghost. The young man kneeling in the stern had
something of the perfectly balanced play of muscle, and poise of lithe
figure that belonged to the Indian. For in spite of his Anglo-Saxon
blood, Roderick McRae was as much a product of this land of lake and
forest as the Red Skin. He had almost passed her, when he looked up and
saw her for the first time. He gave a start; it seemed too good to be
true. But she bowed so distantly that his hesitating paddle dipped
again. He went on slowly, too shy to intrude. He had taken but a few
strokes when from away behind her on the darkening land, came a loud
sound of singing. Peter Fiddle was drunk again. Feeling very grateful
to Peter for the excuse, Roderick turned about, with an adroit twist of
his paddle, and glided back till he was opposite her.
Excuse me, Miss Murray, he stammered, feeling his old shyness
return, butare you alone here?
Yes, said the girl a slight wonder in her voice at the question.
I came down for a walk and she turned and glanced behind her and
gave an exclamation at the darkness of the woods. She had forgotten the
magic power the water has of gathering and holding the sunset light
long after darkness has wrapped the earth. Oh, I had no idea it was so
late! she cried in dismay.
Roderick joyfully ran his canoe up close to the rock. The fear in
her voice made him forget his embarrassment. I don't wish to trouble
you, he said, but it isn't wise to go home that path through the
woods alone. He hesitated. He did not like to tell her that Old Peter
might come down there raging drunk, and that at the head of Willow Lane
she might meet with another drunken row between Mike Cassidy and his
wife. Oh dear! she cried, how could I be so foolish? I never dreamed
of its being so dark and I forgot
If you will let me I'll take you home, said Roderick eagerly, in
He was immeasurably relieved at her answer.
Let you? she cried gratefully. Why, I'll be ever so much obliged
to you. I am sorry to be such a trouble. I don't see how I was so
careless, she added in frank apology.
Roderick knew he ought to say it was no trouble, but a pleasure. But
he was too shy and too happy. He succeeded only in mumbling, Oh, not
at all, or something equally vague.
He brought the canoe close to the rock and held out his hand. She
stepped in very carefully, and with something the air of one venturing
out on a very thin piece of ice.
It's the first time I ever stepped into a canoe, she said a little
tremulously. He steadied her with his hand, smiling a little at her
graceful awkwardness. Then he showed her how to place herself in the
little seat in the centre, with a cushion at her back. He did it
clumsily enough for he was embarrassed and nervous in her presence. In
all his years of paddling about the lake it was but the second time he
had taken a young lady into his canoe, and the first one he had rescued
out of the water, and this one off a lonely point of land. So he was
not versed in the proper things to say to a lady when taking her for a
The canoe slipped silently out from the rock and slid along the
darkening shore. Only the faintest suggestion of the sunset glow lay on
the softly glimmering surface of the water. But they had gone only a
few yards, when there came a new miracle to remake the scene. From
behind the black bulk of the pine clad island peeped a great round
harvest moon, and suddenly the whole world of land and water was
painted anew in softer golden tints veiled in silver. The girl sat
silent and awe-struck. Was there never to be an end to the wonders of
this place? Oh, she said in a whisper, isn't it beautiful?
Roderick looked, and was silent too.
Yes, it was very wonderful he thought, more wonderful to him than
she dreamed. He felt as if he could paddle on forever over the shining
lake with the magic colours of moon-rise and sunset meeting in the
golden hair of the girl opposite him. They went on for a long time in
silence. They passed into the shadow of the island with silver lances
through the trees barring their path. The dewy scent of pine and cedar
stole out from the dark shore. The silver light grew brighter, the
whole lake was lit up with a soft white radiance.
Have you always lived here? she asked at last in a whisper, an
unspoken fear in her voice lest a sound disturb the fair surroundings
and they vanish, leaving them in a common, every day world of material
Always, said Roderick in the same hushed tone, though for a
different reason. I was born on the old farm back here.
Then I wonder if you know how lovely it all is?
Perhaps not. But it is home to me, you know, and that gives an
Yes, she said and checked a sigh. And you've always paddled about
here I suppose.
I never remember when I learned. But I remember my first excursion
alone. I was just six. Old Peter McDuff who lives on the next farm used
to tell me fairy tales. And he told me there was a pot of gold at the
end of the rainbow, waiting for the man bold enough to go after it. I
felt that I was the man, and I paddled off one evening when there was a
rainbow in the sky. I got lost in the fog, and my father and a
search-party found me drifting away out on the lake. And I didn't bring
home the pot of gold.
Nobody ever does, she said drearily. And every one is hunting
it. They were silent for a moment, the girl thinking of how she too
had gone after a vanishing rainbow. Then the memory of that vision of
the first Sunday morning in Algonquin church came to her. There was a
rainbow somewhere, with the treasure at the foot; one that did not
vanish either if one persisted in its pursuit.
She tried to say something of this to Roderick, fearing her sombre
words had set him to recalling her secret.
I suppose it is perfect happiness, he said. If so, I never met
any one who had found it, exceptyes, I believe I know one.
Who? she asked eagerly.
My father, answered Roderick gently.
I have heard of him, she said, smiling at the glow of pride in the
son's eyes. And where did he discover it?
Roderick laughed. I suppose it's in the heart, after all; but my
father is never so happy as when he is in the midst of misery. His pot
of gold seems to lie down on Willow Lane.
On Willow Lane? Why that's where all those dreadfully poor, dirty
people live, isn't it?
Yes. They are an unsavoury bunch down there. That's where Mr. and
Mrs. Cassidy throw the household furniture at each other, and Billy
Perkins starves his family for drink, and where the celebrated Peter
McDuff plays the fiddle every night at the tavern. He might have
serenaded you, if you had gone back home by the road.
She smiled gratefully and her smile was very beautiful. But her
thoughts were in Willow Lane. There were worse things there that
Roderick did not mention, but she had heard of them. It was a strange
and wonderful thing that the saintly-faced old man with the white hair,
whom she had seen with Roderick at church, should find his happiness
among such people.
Roderick had paddled as slowly as it was possible to move, but he
could not prolong the little voyage any further. They were at the
I have made you come away back here, she said, and now you will
be so late getting home. I must let you go back at once. Good night,
and thank you.
Roderick had been hoping that he might walk up to Rosemount with
her, but felt he was dismissed. He wanted, too, to ask her if she would
not come out on the lake again, but his shyness kept him silent.
As he helped her out, the yellow light of the wharf lamp fell upon
her light dress and shone on the gold of her hair, and at the same
moment a canoe slid silently out of the dimness beyond and glided
across the track of the moon. In the stern knelt one of Algonquin's
young men wielding a lazy paddle, and in the low seat opposite, with a
filmy scarf about her dark hair, reclined Miss Leslie Graham. She sat
up straight very suddenly, and stared at the girl who was stepping from
the canoe. But she did not speak, and Roderick was too absorbed to
notice who had passed. And the young man with the lazy paddle wondered
all the way home what had happened to make the lively young lady so
silent and absent-minded.
Helen Murray thought many times of what Roderick had told her about
his father's interest in Willow Lane. She could not help wondering if
others could find there the peace that shone in the old man's eyes. She
was wondering if she should go down and visit the place, when, one day,
Willow Lane came to her. It was a warm languorous October day, a day
when all nature seemed at a standstill. Her work was done, she was
resting under her soft coverlet of blue gossamer, preparing for her
long sleep. Helen had had a hard day, for she had not yet learned her
new strange task. The room was noisy, fifty little heads were bent over
fifty different schemes for mischief, and fifty sibilant whispers
delivered forbidden messages. The teacher was writing on the board, and
turned suddenly at the sound of a heavy footstep in the hall. The door
was open, letting in the breeze from the lake, and in it stood a big
hairy man with a bushy black head and wild blue eyes. Helen stood and
stared at him half-frightened.
The fifty small heads suddenly whirled about and a hundred eyes
stared at the visitor, but there was no fear in them. A giggling
whisper ran like fire over the room. It's Peter Fiddle! The man shook
his fist at them, and the teacher went with some apprehension towards
Can I do anything for you, sir? she enquired, outwardly calm, but
inwardly quaking. He took off his big straw hat and made her a profound
I'll be Peter McDuff, he said with a stately air, an' I'll loss a
II don't think it's here, faltered Helen, dismayed at a visit
from the notorious McDuff. You might ask some other place, she
I'll be wantin' the bairns to be lookin' for it, he said, making
another bow. He turned to the children, now sitting, for the first time
since their teacher had set eyes on them, absolutely still and
If you see a pig wis a curly tail, he announced, that's me!
The whole school burst into a shout of laughter, and the man's face
flamed with anger. He shook his fist at them again, moving a step into
the room. Ye impident young upstarts! he shouted. I'll be Peter
McDuff! he cried proudly. And I'll be having you know they will not
be laughing at the McDuff whatefer!
II'm sure they didn't mean to be rude, Mr. McDuff, ventured the
My name'll be Peter McDuff, he insisted, coming further into the
room while she stepped back in terror. I'll be sixty years of old, and
I'll neffer be casting a tory vote! An' if you'll be gifing me a man my
own beeg and my own heavy he brandished his fists fiercely.
The McDuff turned. Behind him stood Angus McRae, his gentle face
distressed. He laid his hand on Peter's shoulder with an air of quiet
power. Come away home with me, Peter man, he said soothingly. We'll
be finding the pig on the road.
Peter stumbled out grumbling, and Angus McRae, pausing a moment to
deliver an apology to Helen, followed. Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby came
along the hall rocking with laughter.
You poor child! she cried. I heard him, and was coming to the
rescue when I saw old Angus. I knew you'd be scared. But Peter wouldn't
hurt a hair of a woman's head.
That Mr. McRae seemed to have some strange power over him,
whispered Helen, watching, with some apprehension, the two climb into
an old wagon.
So he has. And he's the only one that has. He keeps Peter in order
when he's drunk and keeps him sober, when he can. Ah, dear me! dear me!
There's a clever man all gone wrong. Angus McRae's been working with
him for years. He lives out there past what they call Willow Lane. Ever
been down there?
No, but I've heard of it often.
It's that bit of street that runs from the end of the town where
that old hotel is. I'm going down there after school to see about
Minnie Perkins. Come along for a walk. Now, you children, go right back
there, do you hear me? For the primary grade had overflowed and was
flooding the halls. And Madame swept them back and slammed her door.
When school was dismissed and the last noisy youngster had gone
storming forth Helen went down the hall to her friend's room. Madame
came swaying out carrying a bunch of gay spiked gladiolus, her
draperies floating about her with cherubs peeping from their folds,
like a saint in an old picture.
She dismissed her satellites firmly at the first corner, except
those who lived beyond or on Willow Lane, a ceremony that necessitated
a great deal of shooing and scolding.
The first eye-sore on Willow Lane was the old hotel, still standing
there, forlorn and ugly, as though ashamed of all the evil it had
As the years passed there was always a new generation of loungers to
sit and smoke and spit on its sagging veranda. From it ran the old high
board fence plastered with ugly advertisements of soap or circus or
patent medicine. It disfigured the whole street and shut off a possible
glimpse of the lake. Away on the other side of it was a meadow where in
spring-time the larks soared and sang, and beyond it the lake and the
woods where the mocking bird and the bee made music. But here in Willow
Lane was neither sound nor sight that was pleasant.
The street consisted of a single sorry-looking row of houses with
narrow box-like yards shoved up close to the road, as though there were
not acres and acres of open free meadow land behind them. The hills
upon which Algonquin was situated ceased abruptly here, and the land
spread away in a flat plain along the lake shore. The ground was low
and damp, and every house in Willow Lane that had the misfortune to
possess a cellar was the abode of disease. A deep ditch ran parallel to
the rickety board side-walk. There had just been a week of unceasing
rain and it was full of green water.
Oh dear! said Helen, in distress. I had no idea there was such a
place as this in Algonquin.
People have lived here for years and still seem to have no idea,
said Madame. She paused and looked back. Do you see that house 'way up
on the hill yonder? The one with the tower sticking up between the
trees? That's Alexander Graham's mansion. And he makes a good deal of
his money out of the rents of these houses, and nobody seems to care
very much. The people of the churches send down turkeys and plum
puddings, and everything good at Christmas time, and seem to think that
will do for another year. But the only man who tries to do anything all
the time is Angus McRae. I suppose you know that Lawyer Ed calls him
the Good Samaritan, and this the Jericho Road.
The first house in the dreary row was the turbulent home of Mr.
Cassidy, the gentleman who commanded so much of Lawyer Ed's attention.
Mrs. Cassidy was on the front veranda washing. It was a pastime she
seldom indulged in, for there was never much water in the old leaky
rain barrel at the corner of the house. For while Willow Lane had
water, water everywhere, the inhabitants had not any drop in which to
wash themselves. But the overflowing rain-barrels had tempted Judy
to-day, and so her little figure was bobbing up and down over the
washboard like a play Judy in a show. She was scrubbing her own
clothes, but not her husband's, for Mr. Cassidy and his wife lived each
an entirely independent life. They occupied different sections of the
house even, and the lady saw to it that her husband's apartments were
the coldest in winter and the hottest in summer. This arrangement had
been held to, ever since the day that Mike thrashed Judy. It had not
been without some provocation, it is true; for though very small, Mrs.
Cassidy had a valiant spirit, and had many and varied ways of
exasperating her husband's inflammable temper. But Lawyer Ed had
appealed to Father Tracy, and that muscular shepherd of his flock had
come down upon Willow Lane and thrashed Mike thoroughly and soundly.
Since then there had been a sort of armed neutrality in the home of the
Good day, Mrs. Cassidy, called Madame over the little fence. It's
a beautiful day after the rain.
Aw, well now and is that you, Mrs. Adam? enquired Judy, her little
face peering out of the clouds of steam. Sure it's yerself would be
bringin' beautiful weather, aven if it was poorin'.
Her voice was soft, her manner ingratiating, there was no sign of
the warrior spirit beneath.
I hope the rain'll keep off till you get your clothes dry, said
Madame pleasantly, but passing resolutely on, for Mrs. Cassidy showed
sighs of a desire to come to the gate and have a friendly chat. We
must get out of her way. If she starts to talk we'll never escape, she
whispered. Just look at that will you!
The second place was one where some pitiful attempts at beautifying
had been made. The yard was swept clean and a little drain had been dug
at the side to let the water run off. A few drowned flowers leaned over
on their hard clay beds, and there was a neat curtain and a mosquito
netting on each window. But right against the window that overlooked
the Cassidys' yard, Mrs. Cassidy had piled all the old boards, boxes
and rubbish she could find, to obstruct the view to the town, of her
too ambitious neighbour. Now, what do you think of that? cried
Madame. Isn't she the malicious little soul?
Good day, Mrs. Kent, and how are you to-day?
Good day, Mrs. Adam, from a sharp-faced neat woman, sitting at the
doorway of the barricaded house, knitting rapidly.
It's a beautiful day, isn't it? said Madame ingratiatingly.
Lovely, responded the woman. It's a great thing we had so much
rain, we need a lot down here, we're that dry.
Madame chose to take the sarcasm as a joke, and laughed blithely.
But the woman did not smile. She's had to work too hard, poor
soul, whispered the visitor when they had passed. She's clean and
thrifty but she has to wash to support a crippled boy and a consumptive
girl. No wonder she's sour.
They passed two or three more sorry-looking houses and finally
paused before the gate of the home of Madame's little pupil. The bare
grassless yard was filled with old boxes and rubbish. A big lumbering
lad of about fourteen sprawled over the doorstep playing with a string.
He looked up with vacant eyes, and clutched at the visitors' skirts,
muttering and jabbering in idiot glee.
Madame put her hand tenderly on his small, ill-shaped head.
Poor Eddie, she whispered, poor boy.
She fumbled in her big black satchel and brought out a gay candy
stick. He grabbed it with strange cries of joy. The sounds brought a
ragged little ghost of a woman to the door, carrying a tiny bundle on
Well, well, is that you, Madame? she cried, smiling a broad
toothless smile. I thought it was you, an' Minnie she says, I believe
that's my teacher, Ma.
Madame climbed the steep steps, Helen following. The room was dirty
and untidy. A rusty stove and table, three chairs and an ill-smelling
cupboard in the corner, with some gaudy glass dishes upon it, were the
And how are you, Mrs. Perkins? This is the new teacher, Miss
Murray. When Minnie passes out of my room, she'll he under this lady's
care. And how is my little girl this afternoon?
Madame passed to the door of the tiny bedroom. The bed filled the
whole space with just room enough to stand left between it and the
wall. A little girl was lying on it, her hollow cheeks pink, her eyes
bright. The sun poured in at the bare window and the room was hot and
breathless. The swarming flies covered her face and arms. She brushed
them away fretfully, and stretched out her hot hands for the flowers.
Oh, teacher, she cried, trying to strangle her cough, I watched and
I watched for you all day and I was scared you wasn't comin'.
Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby sat down on the edge of the dirty bed and
put her cool hand on the little girl's burning forehead.
Helen placed herself rather gingerly on a proffered chair, and
looked at the wee bundle in the woman's arms.
Why, it's a baby, she whispered in awe. The mother's faded face
lit up with pride. She held the little scrap of humanity towards the
visitor. 'E's a grite little rascal, 'e is, she exclaimed fondly. As
smart as a weasel, an' 'im only a fo'tnight old last Sunday.
Helen was positively afraid to touch the little bundle, but the look
of utter exhaustion on the woman's face overcame her repugnance. She
held out her arms and the mother dropped the baby into them and sank
upon a chair with a sigh of relief.
Only a little over two weeks, gasped Helen, looking at the wee
wrinkled face peeping from the bundle.
The mother's face beamed with joy and pride. She thought that the
visitor's astonishment was for the wonderful baby, all unconscious of
Yes'm, just but a fo'tnight, and a little over. Oh 'e's a grite
little tyke, 'e is. Ain't 'e, now?
Has Doctor Blair been to see Minnie? asked Madame softly.
Yes'm. Old Angus 'e was 'ere on Monday, and 'e sent 'im. 'E says
it's 'er lungs. She looked at her visitors with child-like simplicity.
Is it very bad for Minnie to 'ave anything wrong with 'er lungs do you
think, Mrs. Adam?
Madame's gentle face was eloquent with pity. Doctor Blair is a
good, kind doctor, she said evasively. He'll do his best for her. You
do everything for her that he asks.
Yes'm. Old Angus 'e was trying to tell me wot to do, but I ain't
much of a 'and at sickness. Minnie she gets up and gets wot she wants
but I tell 'er she ought to lie abed.
The little girl had fallen into a doze, under the soothing touch of
her teacher's hand. Madame took off the veil from her hat and spread it
over the child's face as a protection from the flies. She came back
into the kitchen. The idiot boy came in and rolled about the floor
muttering and whining.
And how's Mr. Perkins? asked Madame. Is he keeping well? It was
her gentle way of asking if he was keeping sober. The woman's tired
face lit up.
Yes, ma'am. 'E is that. 'E's been keepin' fine since three weeks
come Sunday. That was the night Old Angus took 'im to the Harmy an' got
'im saved. An' 'e's ben keepin' nicely saved ever since. We've been
'avin' butter, she added proudly. Ever since 'e got 'imself
converted. But we 'ad to 'ave the doctor for pore Minnie. Her thin
little face quivered. If Minnie'd only get better now, we'd be gettin'
a good start, an' we'd all be 'appy.
Mr. Perkins has work now, hasn't he? said Madame comfortingly.
Yes'm. It's not steady, but Old Angus 'e's goin' to get 'im another
job. It's ben rather 'ard on my man, she added apologetically, just a
comin' out from the hold country. It's 'ard gettin' work at first. An'
I wan't much use with 'im a comin', she added, touching the bundle
So this is the only Canadian baby you have, said Madame.
Yes'm. The mother forgot her troubles and smiled and fawned on the
bundle in delight.
He's Johny Canuck, isn't he? asked Madame, with a feeble attempt
Oh, no, ma'am, cried the mother hastily. 'E's William 'Enery,
after 'is paw. We ain't got 'im christened yet. But jist as soon's I
can get 'im a dress the pawson,'e's a foine man,'e says 'e'll come
an' do 'im, an' if my man jist keeps nicely saved, we'll be gettin' a
dress. But it's been 'ard on my man. Eddie there 'e's not much 'elp,
poor lad. But 'e goes out on the railroad track an' picks me up a bit
o' coal. An' Old Angus 'e's been that good. Oh, we'd never a' got on
without Old Angus. But if my Minnie 'adn't took sick
She wiped a tear on the baby's dirty dress. It was the quiet,
dispassionate tear of a woman long accustomed to hardship. I'll be all
right when I get a bit stronger an' can work, she added hopefully.
The visitors rose to go. Madame held the woman's hand a long time,
trying to explain, as though to a little child, how the sick girl must
be treated. The case seemed so pitiful she was at a loss what to say.
I'm afraid I can't get back for a few days, Mrs. Perkins, she said.
I'll come and see Minnie to-morrow, said Helen Murray suddenly.
The morrow was her precious Saturday that brought a rest from the
week's hard work, but the words seemed forced from her. The look of
childish fear in the woman's face made some sort of promise necessary
for her own peace of mind.
The woman looked up at her gratefully as she took the baby.
It's awful good o' you, Miss, she cried, and indeed I'll be thet
grateful, if you'd just come and tell me the best thing to do for
Minnie. I'm not much of a 'and in sickness. She looked at the two
visitors wistfully. It does a body good jist to 'ave a word with
somebody that's sorry for you, she added.
Helen went away, her heart sore and sick with the woman's pain.
The idiot boy followed them to the gate, grinning and muttering. His
mother called him from the doorway, and he shambled towards her.
Glancing back, Helen saw his long, ungainly body folded in her little
thin arms, while she patted him tenderly on the back.
As they stepped out on the rickety side-walk, a tall girl of about
sixteen came and stood staring at them from the doorway of the next
house. She had a bold, handsome face and her hair and untidy dress were
arranged in an extravagant imitation of the latest fashion.
Good day, Gladys, said Madame kindly, but the girl answered with
only a curt nod. When the visitors had passed, she called shrilly to
some one in the house behind her.
Maw! Hurry out an' see the parade! Willow Lane's gettin' awful
high-toned! There was a loud cackle of laughter and Madame's shoulders
shook with suppressed merriment. That's Gladys Hurd, she said,
shaking her head. Poor Gladys, I'm afraid she's not a very good girl.
She's not got a very good mother.
As they were turning off Willow Lane, the rattle of a buggy behind
them made Madame turn.
There he is again, she cried. I suppose he's taken Peter home and
found his pig for him. I don't believe I could bear the thought of all
the misery on Willow Lane if I didn't know that Old Angus McRae was
doing so much to lighten it.
Helen turned. Angus had pulled up in front of the Perkins' house and
the idiot lad with queer cries of delight came stumbling out to meet
him. The girl named Gladys ran out too, and the old man handed her a
sheaf of glowing crimson dahlias. She buried her face in them and
hugged them to her in a passion of admiration for their beauty.
Look, look at Mrs. Cassidy will you? cried Madame in delight.
Mrs. Cassidy had come to the door at the first sound of the wheels,
and when she saw who was near, she darted out and swiftly and
stealthily removed the obstruction from her neighbour's window. Then
she went to the gate to greet Old Angus, suave and gentle of speech,
and as innocent looking as the meek heap of boards now lying in a
corner of her yard.
Well, well, well, laughed Madame as they walked on. Even if Old
Angus would merely drive up and down Willow Lane I believe he would
make the people better.
When Helen reached Rosemount she slipped in at the side door and up
the back stair. It was the day the Misses Armstrong entertained the
whist club, and a clatter of teacups and a hum of voices told her the
guests were not yet gone. She removed her hat, and smoothed her hair
absently; her thoughts were down on Willow Lane busy with the complex
problem of the Perkins family. The windows were opened, and the sound
of swishing skirts and laughing voices came up to her from the garden
walk. A couple of well-dressed women were going out at the gate.
Poor old things, cried one in a light merry voice. They do get up
the most comical concoctions at their teas. And Miss Annabel in a
ten-year-old dress! Will she ever grow up?
The poor dears can't afford anything better. They are just
struggling along, answered her companion. They had that house left
them, and the old lady gets her allowance, but the daughters hadn't a
cent left them, and they would both fall dead if they weren't invited
to everything. But I don't know where they get money to dress at all.
I suppose that is why they took that girl to board.
Of course, poor old Elinor is so scared The voice died away and
a sharp rap on her door took Helen from the window. She opened the door
and there, to her surprise, stood Miss Leslie Graham, looking very
handsome in the splendour of her rose silk gown. She smiled radiantly.
Good day, Miss Murray. I think you know who I am and I think it's time
we met. I ran up here to get away from that jam of people. Those women
take such an lasting age to get away. May I sit with you for a minute?
Helen offered her a chair gladly. She had often seen Miss Graham,
and her unfailing gay spirits had made her wish she could know her. The
visitor flung her silver purse upon the bed, her gloves upon the table,
her white parasol upon the bureau, and sank into the chair.
Oh I'm dead, she groaned. I've passed ten thousand cups of tea,
and twenty thousand sandwiches. Don't you pity and despise people that
don't know any better than to come to a thing indoors on a hot day?
Helen smiled. But you came, she said.
But I had to. When any of my relations give a tea I am always
tethered to a tray and a plate of biscuits. She stopped suddenly and
looked at Helen keenly, with a stare that puzzled the girl. Then she
jumped up and seated herself upon the bed, rumpling the counterpane. In
the few minutes since she had entered the room she had made the place
look as if a whirlwind had swept through it, and Helen felt a nervous
fear of Miss Armstrong's walking in and witnessing her untidy
Do you like it here? she enquired directly.
Yes, Ithink I do. Algonquin is so beautiful, but
But you can't stand my poky aunts, and Grandma's jokes, eh?
Oh, no, cried Helen aghast. Both the Misses Armstrong have been
very kind and Mrs. Armstrong is delightfulbut, of course, I get
homesick. She stopped suddenly for that was a subject upon which she
dared not dwell.
The other girl stared. My goodness. I would love to know what
homesickness is like, just for once. I've never been away from home
except for a visit somewhere in the holidays, and then I was always
having such a ripping time, that the thought of going home made me
She sat for a little while, again looking steadily at Helen. You
certainly are pretty, she exclaimed. There's no doubt about that.
I beg your pardon! said Helen amazed, and doubting if she had
Oh, nothing, never mind! cried the other with a laugh. She tore
off her costly hat and flung it on top of the table. Then she threw
herself backwards on the bed staring at the ceiling. She made such a
complete wreck of the starched pillow covers and the prim white
bedspread that were the pride of Miss Armstrong's heart, that Helen
Well, I don't wonder at you getting homesick here. These ceilings
are such a vast distance away they make you feel as if you were a
hundred miles from everywhere. I remember sleeping in this room once,
when there was an epidemic of scarlet fever or something among the
Armstrong kids. All the well ones were dumped on our aunts, after the
custom of the family, and I was sent off with a dozen others and we
were marooned upstairs, like a gang of prisoners, the girls in this
room and the boys in Grandma's. Six in a bedmore or less. I remember
we used to lie awake in the early morning before Aunt Elinor would let
us get up, and study the outburst of robins and grapes on the ceiling.
And one day we got the boys in with their toy guns and tried to shoot
the tails off the birds. Cousin Harry Armstrong hit one. Do you see the
ghastly remains of that bird without the tail? That was the one. I
never hit anything, but I tried hard enough. I am responsible for the
bangs on the ceiling. Each one tells when I missed my aim.
Helen laughed all unawares. She was surprised at herself. It was so
long since she had laughed she thought she had forgotten how.
That robin proved to be the Albatross for us, continued Leslie
Graham, sitting up again, for Aunt Elinor found out about it, and we
had no more good luck from that day till we went home. She sprang up.
Dear me! here I am jabbering away, and Mother must be gone. She
caught up her hat, dislodging a couple of books that went over on the
floor. Oh, dear, I've knocked something over. She did not make any
motion to pick them up, however. Mother says I always leave a trail
She stood before the glass arranging her hat, a radiant figure.
Helen looked at her wistfully. There was nothing this girl wanted,
surely, that she could not have; and yet she seemed so restless and
Do you go out much? she asked.
Not very much, said Helen. My school keeps me busy. She did not
say that she knew so very few young people she had no one to go with.
Miss Graham turned to the mirror again. She seemed embarrassed. The
lake's lovely here for paddling. Only the season is nearly over. Have
you been out on the water much? She did not look at the girl as she
asked the question.
No, said Helen, and the other faced round and stared at her. I
don't know how to paddle and I am rather afraid of a canoe.
Do you mean to say you've never been on the lake since you came
here? asked Leslie Graham, standing and staring with a hat-pin in her
Oh, yes, I wasonce, said Helen innocently. She did not think it
necessary to tell all about Roderick's rescue of her from the point;
for already she had heard the Misses Armstrong coupling his name with
their niece's in tones of high disapproval. I was oncebut only
Leslie Graham's face grew radiant.
Is that all? she cried in a tone expressing decided relief.
She amazed Helen by suddenly darting towards her and putting her arm
around her. Why you poor little lonesome thing, she cried, you must
learn to paddle; I will teach you myself. Now, good-bye, I think we are
going to be real good friends. She kissed Helen warmly and tripped
out, singing a gay song, and leaving her late hostess standing amazed
in the middle of her dishevelled room.
CHAPTER IX. DEAF TO THE MELODY
Autumn painted Algonquin in new and splendid tints. She coloured the
maples that lined the streets a dazzling gold, with here and there at
the corners, a scarlet tree for variety or one of rose pink or even
deep purple. And when the leaves began to fall the whole world was a
bewildering flutter of rainbows. The November rains came and washed the
gorgeous picture away, and the artist went all over it again in soberer
tints, soft greys and tender blues with a hint of coming frost in the
deep tones of the sky.
October was almost over before the busy, bustling Lawyer Ed had a
chance to think of the promise he had made in the summer to Old Angus,
and he called J. P. Thornton and Archie Blair and Roderick together
into his office one bright morning to enquire what could be done about
getting a local option by-law for Algonquin submitted on the next
municipal election day.
The general consensus of opinion was that they were too late for the
coming election on New Year's; but that they must start an educational
campaign immediately to stir up public opinion on the subject of
temperance. And they would get their petition ready for the spring and
march to victory a year from the coming January.
J. P. Thornton, who was the most energetic man on the town council,
was busy getting a drain dug through Willow Lane to carry off the
disease breeding stagnant waters that lay about the little houses. And
he declared in a fine oratorical outburst, that if they started this
temperance campaign early, and dug deep enough, by a year from the next
election day, they would have such a trench projected through Algonquin
as would carry away in a flood all the foul, death-breeding liquid that
inundated their beautiful town, and pour it into the swamps of
Lawyer Ed gave a cheer when he was through, and Archie Blair quoted
Now, Robinson, harrangue na mair,
But steek your gab forever,
Or try the wicked town of Ayr,
For there they'll think you clever.
For though, as a citizen, the doctor was convinced that a
prohibitory liquor law would be a good thing for Algonquin, personally
he was not inclined to look upon the beverage as foul death-breeding
Roderick McRae sat silently listening to the older man. He was
wondering what Alexander Graham would say, when he found his lawyer
arrayed on the side of the temperance forces. For he knew that his
wealthy client had heavy investments in breweries, and also owned
secretly, the bigger share of Algonquin's leading hotel and bar-room.
He was not long left in doubt. The ladies of the Presbyterian church
gave a turkey and pumpkin pie supper on Thanksgiving eve, with a
concert in the Sunday-school room after, all for the sum of twenty-five
cents, the proceeds to go to a new red carpet and cushions for the
choir gallery. Lawyer Ed was chairman at the concert, of course, and J.
P. Thornton was the chief speaker. And though his address was on
Imperialism, a subject through which he had grown quite famous, he
branched off into temperance and publicly announced that the local
option by-law would be submitted before long in Algonquin, and they had
better get ready.
Lawyer Ed, who always made a short speech between each item on the
programme, burst forth, almost before J. P. had sat down, with the
further announcement, accompanied by a great deal of oratory, that the
temperance forces would carry their banner to victory and mount over
every difficulty even as his Highland ancestors had stormed the heights
of Alma. For when Lawyer Ed got upon the platform, a strange
transformation always came over him. His Hibernianism fell from him
like a garment, and he was over the heather and away like any true born
The next day, Miss Leslie Graham, in a new autumn suit of ruby
velvet and a big plumed hat, dropped in at the office of Brians and
McRae and, after chattering merrily for half-an-hour with Roderick,
said that her father wanted him to come up the following evening for
Roderick went, with, as usual, the faint hope that he might see
Helen Murray there. He had not succeeded in meeting her, except
casually on the street, since that magic night when he had paddled her
home in the moonlight. But he was, as usual, disappointed. There was
only the Graham family present. Miss Leslie was as gay and charming as
ever, and her mother was slightly less stiff with him. But Mr. Graham
was exceptionally kind and hospitable. Before returning to the
drawing-room after dinner, he carried Roderick off to the library for a
little private chat. There were a few matters of business to be
discussed, and when they were finished, Mr. Graham said casually:
I suppose you run the affairs of Brians and McRae yourself these
days. I hear Ed's off after another will-o'-the-wisp as usual. Let me
see, I believe it's a temperance bee he's got in his bonnet this time.
Roderick was silent. The contemptuous tone nettled him. He would not
discuss Lawyer Ed with Alexander Graham, no matter what the
Well, well, said the host, giving the fire a poke, and laughing
good-naturedly. Those fellows must do something to take up their time.
But it's a pity to see them wasting it. For that thing won't go here in
Algonquin, Rod. Take my word for it. And if it did, it would be a great
pity, for such a law wouldn't be kept. Of course, if Ed Brians and
Archie Blair and J. P. Thornton, and a few other fanatics like that,
are bound to meddle with other people's consciences, I suppose we'll
just have to let them do it. 'If it plazes her, it don't be hurtin'
me,' as Mike Cassidy said when Judy hammered him with the broomstick. I
hope they'll enjoy themselves.
Roderick looked up quickly. It is not a mere pastime with my
father. It is a thing of great moment to him, he said.
Oh, well, of course, said Mr. Graham suavely. I can understand
that. Your father is a man who has devoted his life to drunks and
outcasts, and he looks on temperance legislation as a refuge for them.
I have no doubt he is quite sincere in the matter.
I should just say he is, said Roderick rather explosively.
That's quite true, Rod, said his patron, a little annoyed. But
your father, with many another good man, is making a great mistake when
he believes people will be benefited by temperance legislation. Some
folks seem to think that if you get local option in a town the
millennium has come. He lit a cigar, and leaned back with an air of
finality. I tell you they're awfully mistaken. People want liquor and
they'll get it as long as they want it, law or no law. And they're
going to want it till the end of time. And if those folks insist upon
forcing this by-law upon Algonquin, they will only succeed in giving
the town a bad name. It's simply ruinous to a place from a business
Roderick had no answer to make. He was inclined to believe that
Graham was right. He wanted to believe it, for the burden of this thing
was annoying him. He knew that Lawyer Ed would have met the statements
with fiery contradictions, and J. P. Thornton would have answered with
clear, convincing facts. But he had given very little thought to the
subject, and could not remember any of the arguments. And he had
certainly heard, many, many times that the temperance measure had been
a failure in other towns.
He sat silent, his elbows on his knees, his hands locked together,
looking into the glowing grate and wishing he didn't have to be
bothered with it all. What had local option to do with his work,
And then he realised that his host was talking again. In the midst
of his quiet insinuating remarks, there was a sharp tap on the door,
and Leslie swept into the room, very handsome in her soft, trailing
I'm just not going to let you two poke here any longer, she
declared, giving her father's ear a pull. You're spoiling all Rod's
evening, Daddy, by talking business. His office is for that. Come right
along into the drawing-room this minute, the Baldwin girls have come,
and we're going to have some music.
The subject of local option was not referred to again that evening,
but Roderick realised that, in some subtle way, how, he scarcely knew,
his client had conveyed to him the unmistakable intelligence that
should he identify himself with the temperance forces in any prominent
way, the business of Graham and Company would have to be placed in
Roderick scarcely understood what had been said until he was walking
home in the clear frosty air with time to think it over.
He was miserably uncomfortable the next day when he found his chief
buried head and ears in temperance affairs.
We'll have to wade into this with high-water boots, ma braw John
Hielanman! he cried radiantly. Be jabers! but I do love a fight, and
a fine old Donnybrook fair we're goin' to have! And he relapsed into a
rich Irish brogue.
Mr. Graham told me last night he'd like me to go north in a few
weeks, said Roderick in a strained voice. I may have to be gone for a
On that Beaver Landing deal? Well now, that's a big thing, Rod!
Lawyer Ed was scribbling madly at his desk while he talked, and calling
up some one on the telephone every three minutes. You've got Sandy
Graham all right. Hello, Central, are you asleep? I said I wanted J. P.
Thornton and I still say it!No you didn't, I tell you! Sandy'll
kick over the traces when we get going on this campaign, though. Not
in? Where in thunder is he? Tell him to call me the minute he gets
back. Yes, that's a fact, Rod! And he slammed the receiver down and
took to scribbling furiously again. Sandy'll put on his plug hat and
his swallow-tail coat and hike like the limited express for
Willoughby's office the minute he sees our names heading that
petition! He shut his eyes, and, leaning back, laughed in delighted
anticipation of losing their most valuable client.
Roderick felt impatient. To him the affair was no laughing matter.
To lose Graham's business was unthinkable, to keep out of this
troublesome temperance campaign seemed impossible. One moment he felt
he must come out right boldly for the cause, the next he called himself
a fool, for letting such a doubtful thing stand in the way of his best
But before the necessity for declaring himself came upon him, the
temperance campaign suffered a severe check. The trouble arose in an
unexpected quarter, not from the enemy, but in the ranks of the
advancing army itself. The temperance ship ran against the rock that
threatened to split it altogether, on the last Sunday in November. This
day was celebrated as St. Andrew's Sunday, the day when the society of
the Sons of Scotland, with bonnets on their heads, plaidies on their
shoulders and heather in their button-holes, paraded to church in a
body and had a sermon preached to them by a minister brought up from
the city for the purpose of glorifying Scotland and edifying her sons.
As nearly all the Presbyterian congregation of Algonquin was Scotch,
every one else was as much edified as the Sons themselves; but there
was one prominent exception and that was J. P. Thornton.
Mr. Thornton was an Englishman, born within the sound of Bow Bells,
and, like a true Briton, intensely proud of the fact, and though he was
as liberal in his general views as he was in politics, and had
delivered many a fine speech on Imperialism, yet some stubborn latent
prejudice arose in his heart and threatened to overflow every St.
It was not that he objected so much to the tartan-and-heather
bedecked rows occupying the front pews of the church, on St. Andrew's
Sunday. He was inclined to look upon them with some lofty amusement,
saying that if they liked that sort of child's play it was no affair of
his and they might have it. But it was the sermon that always put him
into a fighting humour. For never a preacher stood up there on St.
Andrew's Sunday but made some unfortunate reference to Bannockburn and
Scots Wha Hae, and a great many other things calculated to rouse any
Mr. Thornton had never openly rebelled, however, and the St.
Andrew's sermon came each year with only a few mild explosions
following. But this year the celebration caused a serious disturbance,
and as so often happened, it started with Lawyer Ed.
That lively Irish gentleman had already joined almost every
organisation in the town, and there suddenly came to him a great desire
to join the Sons of Scotland also. His mother was a Scottish lady of
Highland birth, and he himself had a deep-rooted affection for anything
or anybody connected with the land o' cakes. So on the eve of this St.
Andrew's celebration he joined the order and became a true Son of
Mr. Thornton had gone away for a couple of weeks on a business trip
and knew nothing of this new departure of his friend. He came home late
on Saturday night before St. Andrew's Sunday, and went to church the
next morning, all unsuspecting that at that moment Ed was falling into
line down at the lodge room, his plaidie the brightest, his bonnet the
trimmest and his heather sprig the biggest of all the procession.
The Scotchmen had turned out nearly a hundred strong this morning,
for the minister from the city was a great man with a continental
reputation. It was a beautifully clear, brilliant day, too, one of
those days that only the much maligned November can bring, with
dazzling cloudless skies and an exhilarating tang of frost-nipped
leaves in the air. So the Scotchmen were all there, even old Angus
McRae and his son, the young Highlander looking very handsome in his
Jock McPherson and the Captain of the Inverness were there
too. Captain Jimmie was in his glory, but Mr. McPherson looked as if he
were preparing to object to everything about him. Each recurring St.
Andrew's Sunday found the Elder more and more inclined to think that
this Sabbath parade was scarcely in keeping with the day. But he was a
true Scot at heart, and no amount of orthodoxy could keep him out of
it. He felt this morning, however, that matters had gone a bit too far,
for the warm day had tempted Archie Blair, and he had come out in the
kilt, his shameless bare-kneed example followed by Harry Lauder and
three other foolish youths of the Highland club.
A few minutes before the hour for the service, when the bells had
begun to roll out their invitations from the three church towers, the
procession started. And the Methodists and Baptists and Anglicans kept
themselves late for church by lingering on the side-walk to see it
pass. It was worth watching; as very stately and solemn and slow it
moved along the street and up to the church door.
Mr. McPherson moved rather stiffly, for Archie Blair was walking
beside Lawyer Ed directly in front of him, and the very tilt of his
bonnet and the swing of his kilt was a profanation of the day. Somehow,
the doctor did not at all fit in with the Sabbath. He was a big
straight man, long of limb, broad of shoulder and inclined to a
generous rotundity, and he swaggered so splendidly when he walked, and
held up his bonneted head with such a dashing air, that he gave the
distinct impression that the bagpipes were skirling out a gay march as
he swung past.
The sight of him on this Sabbath morning struck dismay to Jock's
orthodox soul, clinging tenaciously to its ancient traditions. Lawyer
Ed, too, seemed to have donned the spirit of irreverence with the
bonnet, and was conducting himself as no elder of the kirk should have
behaved even at a St. Andrew's banquet.
Eh, losh Ed, mon, cried the doctor, loud enough for Jock to hear.
Ah wush we could hae a bit strathspey frae the pipes to march wi' to
the kirk, foreby.
Lawyer Ed's face became forbidding.
Eh, eh, and that to an elder? Div ye hear yon, Jock? It's the
Heilan's comin' oot o' him!
Jock could not resist a sudden temptation. That strange twist came
over his face, which heralded a far-off joke. He spoke very slowly.
It's what you micht be expecting from the likes o' him. It's
written down in his history:
The Blairs they are a wicked race,
They set theirsels in sad disgrace,
They made the pipes and drums to play,
Through Algonquin on the Sawbbath day.
He had paraphrased a bit to suit the occasion, and the doctor
laughed so appreciatively that the elder began to feel brighter.
But Jock should have known better than to have set an example of
rhyming before Archie Blair. He turned and looked down at the elder,
and the sight of him marching peaceably beside Captain Jimmie reminded
him of an old doggerel ballad: But man, there's worse than that
written in your own history, he cried:
O-o-och, Fairshon swore a feud,
Against ta clan McTavish,
And marched into their land,
To murder and to ravish,
For he did resolve,
To extirpate ta vipers,
With four-and-twenty men
And five-and-twenty pipers!
Tut, tut, Doctor, cried Captain Jimmie, trying to hide a smile
beneath his bonnet. Be quate man, it's the Sabbath day.
Well, here's a verse that's got a quotation from Scripture or at
least an allusion to one. That's to be expected in the history of the
Fairshon had a son
That married Noah's daughter,
And nearly spoiled ta flood
By drinking all ta water,
Which he would have done
I really do believe it
Had ta mixture peen
Only half Glenlevit!
Lawyer Ed was shaking with unseemly laughter.
Ye'll hae to sing it a' when we eat the haggis the morn's night,
I don't understand how a reference to anything so unholy as the
Glenlevit got into the annals of ta Fairshons, Jock, said Doctor
Now Jock McPherson was not averse to a drop of Glenlevit
himself,for his stomach's sake, of course, for the elder could not be
unscriptural even in his eating and drinking. Archie Blair was not
averse to it either, though he frankly admitted that it was very bad
for his stomach, indeed, and for everybody else's stomach.
But in the opening temperance campaign the latter had come out
avowedly on the side of local option, and was looked upon as one of the
party's strongest speakers, while Jock had not yet declared himself. It
was a delicate subject with Mr. McPherson, and he could not endure to
be twitted about it.
He paused at the church steps and laid his hand on the doctor's
velvet sleeve. He cleared his throat, always a dangerous sign.
Yes, he said very slowly, it will be a ferry fine song indeed,
and if Edward would jist be putting big Aye-men on the tail of
it to-morrow night, it will sound more feenished. The whole procession
was waiting to enter the church, but Jock did not hurry. As for the
Glenlevit, the McPhersons were no more noted for liking their drop than
many another clan I might mention. But they were honest about it. He
paused again and then said even more deliberately: And if you would
like to be referring to the Scriptures again, you might be taking a
look at your Bible when you get home, you will be finding some ferry
good advice in Romans the 2nd chapter and 21st verse.
He turned away and marched solemnly into the church. The procession
followed and it was then that J. P. Thornton, standing at his post, and
wondering why Ed had not long ago appeared to receive the Scotchmen,
beheld the amazing spectacle of his Irish friend and very brother,
marching in their front rank, bonnet and plaid and all!
J. P. was too dignified to make a demonstration of his outraged
feelings in church, but Miss Annabel Armstrong reported afterwards that
when she passed him she heard him say something about Edward, that
sounded like You're too brutishor too bruty or something like
that, and Miss Armstrong said it was exceedingly improper language for
an elder to use in church.
J. P. was always in a state of mild irritation when he settled
himself to hear the annual St. Andrew's sermon, but this morning he was
decidedly indignant. By the time the Scotchmen had gone through two
long psalms, with Lawyer Ed leading, he was hot and disgusted, and when
the sermon came it was like acid poured upon an open wound.
The famous minister from the city made all the mistakes of his St.
Andrew's predecessors and a great many more of his own. He lingered
long at Bannockburn, he recited Scots Wha Hae in full, he quoted
portions of the death of Wallace and altogether behaved in a way to
leave the usually genial English listener with his temper red and raw
and anxious for a fight.
Monday evening Lawyer Ed was to have driven out to McClintock's
Corners with his friend, to speak at a tea meeting, and convince the
farmers that Algonquin would be a much more desirable place as a market
town with a prohibitory liquor law than it was at present.
But Lawyer Ed went to the St. Andrew's supper instead and ate haggis
and listened to the pipes play The Cock O' the North, and Archie
Blair recite Burns and Jock McPherson make a speech on Scottish
That was more than J. P. could stand. He telephoned to Roderick
early the next morning telling him to inform his chief that he, J. P.,
would go to no more temperance meetings with him. If Lawyer Ed wanted
help in his campaign let him look for it among his brother Scotchmen.
And the receiver slammed before Roderick could enquire what he meant.
There were storms bursting in other quarters too. Doctor Blair had
spent a good part of the time in church on Sunday morning in a laudable
search for the Epistle to the Romans, and had surprised all his
brethren by studying the 2nd chapter carefully. The result, however,
was not what a searching of the Scriptures is supposed to produce. For
he telephoned to Roderick the next morning that he could tell Ed, when
he came in, that he, Archie Blair, would be hanged if he would waste
any more time on local option if that was what people were saying about
him. And Captain Jimmie dropped in immediately after to say that if
something wasn't done to conciliate Jock McPherson he was afraid he
would vote against local option altogether.
So the cause of temperance suffered a check. It proved to be not a
very serious one, but it served Roderick. For it postponed the
necessity of his declaring himself on either side, and he hoped that
before the day arrived when he must join the issue, his affairs would
be less complicated.
Diplomacy was one of Lawyer Ed's strong features, and he had almost
completed a reconciliation between all the aggrieved parties when
Roderick left for a business trip to the north. It was an important
commission involving much money, and certain vague statements regarding
its outcome made by Mr. Graham had fired the Lad's imagination.
Now, I needn't warn you to do your best, Roderick, said the man
when he bade him good-bye. You'll do that, anyway. But there's more
than money in this. There's an eye on you
He would say no more, but Leslie gave him another hint. He had found
her strolling past the office as he ran out to post some letters, the
day before his departure. He was absolutely without conceit, but he
could not help noticing that somehow Miss Leslie Graham nearly always
happened, by the strangest coincidence, to be on the street just as he
was leaving the office.
He walked with her to the post-office and back, and then she
declared her fingers were frozen and she would come into the office for
ten minutes to warm them.
So you're going to fix up things with the British North American
Railroad for Daddy, are you? she said, holding out her gloved fingers
over the glowing coal-stove. That means that you'll be getting your
fingers into Uncle Will's business, too. His lawyer is up at Beaver
Whose lawyer? asked Roderick, giving her a chair by the fire and
standing before her feeling extremely uncomfortable.
Uncle Will's. You know Uncle Will Graham? He's an American now, but
he has all sorts of interests in Canada and he'swell, he's not
exactly President of the B. N. A., but he's the whole thing in it.
Uncle Will's coming home next summer, and I'm going to make him take me
back to New York with him.
Roderick's ambitious heart gave a leap. Of course he knew about
William Graham, the Algonquin man who had gone to the States and made a
million or more.
His head was filled with rosy dreams as he walked out to the farm
that evening to say good-bye. He was leaving for only a short time, but
the old people were loath to see him go. Aunt Kirsty drew him up to the
hot stove, bewailing the misfortune that was taking him away.
Dear, dear, dear, and you will be going away up north into the
bush, she said, clapping him on the back, and you will jist be frozen
with the cold indeed, and your poor arm will be bad again.
Yes, and the wolves will probably eat me, and a tree will fall on
me and I'll break through the ice and be drowned, wailed Roderick. And
she shoved him away from her for a foolish gomeril, trying not to smile
at him, and declaring it was little he cared that he was leaving her,
I have not heard you say anything about the arm for a long time,
Lad, said his father, who was watching him, with shining eyes, from
his old rocking-chair.
Oh, it's all right, Dad, he said lightly. I haven't time to
He always put off the question thus when Aunt Kirsty was within
hearing, but his father's loving eye noticed that the boy's hand
sometimes sought the arm and held it, as though in pain.
And you will not be here to help start the great fight, his father
said wistfully, when he had heard all the latest news concerning the
temperance campaign, even to the pending disaster. But you will be
finding a Jericho Road up in the bush, I'll have no doubt.
Roderick looked at the saintly old face and his heart smote him. He
felt for a moment that to please his father would surely be worth more
than all the success a man could attain in a lifetime.
And did you get a job for poor Billy, Lad? his father enquired.
Billy? Oh, the Perkins fellow? Roderick whistled in dismay. Poor
Billy Perkins had not kept nicely saved, as his brave little wife had
hoped, but had fallen among thieves in the hotel at the corner once
more. Old Angus had rescued him, put him upon his feet again, and had
commissioned his son to look for work for Billy, and his son had
forgotten about it entirely in the pressure of his work.
Oh, Dad, that's a shame, he cried contritely, I had so much on my
mind getting ready to go, I forgot. I'll tell Lawyer Ed about him, and
perhaps he can look up something. I have to start early in the morning
or I would yet.
Well, well, said his father cheerfully. There now, there is no
need to worry, for they have got him a job, but it is away from home
and I thought he'd do better here. The bit wife is lonely since the wee
girl died. But Billy will jist have to go, and it will only be for the
What's he going to do?
It will be in the shanties. He is not strong enough for the bush,
but he will be helping the cook, and the wages will be good. I'm hoping
he will not be able to get near the drink. Indeed it was the little
lassie herself that got him the job, he added, his eyes shining.
She's the great little lady, indeed.
Who is, Father? Roderick spoke absently, his eyes on the fire, his
mind on Mr. William Graham and the B. N. A. Railroad.
The young teacher lady. She will be down to see poor Mrs. Perkins
every day or so since the wee one died. And the poor bit Gladys! Eh,
she's jist making a woman out of her indeed.
Roderick's eyes came away from the fire. He was all interest. Oh,
is she? Does she visit the folks in Willow Lane? What is she doing for
Eh, indeed, what is she not doing? cried his father. It's jist an
angel we've got in Willow Lane now, Lad. I don't know how she did it,
and indeed Father Tracy says he doesn't know either, but she's got Judy
to cook a hot dinner for Mike every day, and she's teaching Gladys at
nights, and she's jist saved the poor Perkins bodies from starving. She
showed the wee woman how to make bread, and oh, indeed, I couldn't be
telling you all the good she does!
Roderick listened absorbedly. So that was where she kept herself in
the evenings. And that was why he could never meet her any place, no
matter how many nights he frittered away at parties in the hope of
And how did she get this job for Billy? he asked, just for the
sake of hearing his father talk about her.
Old Angus smiled knowingly.
Och, she has a way with her, and she can get anything she wants. It
would be through Alfred Wilburthe poor lad the boys will be calling
such a foolish name.
Yes, Afternoon Tea Willie. What's he after now?
Indeed I think he will be after Miss Murray, said the old man, his
eyes twinkling. He seems to be always following her about. And he
managed to get young Fred Hamilton to take Billy up to the camp. Fred
is going up to his father's shanties with a gang of men in about a
Roderick's heart sank. Here was a lost opportunity indeed. He had
failed to help his father, and had missed such a splendid chance to
If you've got anybody else who needs a job, Dad, I'll try to do
better next time, he said humbly.
Oh, indeed, there will always be some one needing help, his father
said radiantly. Eh, eh, it will be a fine thing for me to know you are
helping to care for the poor folk on the Jericho Road. Jist being
neighbour to them. It's a great business, the law, for helping a man to
be neighbour. The old man sat and gazed happily into the fire.
Roderick fidgeted. He was thinking that some of the work of a lawyer
did not consist so much in rescuing the man who had fallen among
thieves as falling upon him and stripping him of his raiment.
Law is a complicated business, Dad, he said, with a sigh.
There were prayers after that, and a tender farewell and benediction
from the old people, and Roderick went away, his heart strangely heavy.
He was to be absent only a short time, perhaps not over two weeks, but
he had a feeling that he was bidding his father a lifelong
farewellthat he was taking a road that led away from that path in
which the man had so carefully guided his young feet.
It was not entirely by accident that Roderick should be walking into
Algonquin just as Helen Murray was coming out of the Hurd home. He had
been very wily, for such an innocent young man. A shadow on the blind,
showing the outline of a trim little hat and fluffy hair, had sent him
back into the shadows of the Pine Road to stand and shiver until the
shadow left the window and the substance came out through the lighted
doorway. Gladys came to the gate, her arm about her teacher's waist.
They were talking softly. Gladys's voice was not so loud nor her look
so bold as it once was. She ran back calling good-night, and the little
figure of the teacher went on swiftly up the shaky frosty sidewalk. A
few strides and Roderick was at her side. She was right under the
electric light at the corner when he reached her and she turned swiftly
with such a look of annoyance that he stopped aghast.
Oh, I beg your pardon he stammered, but was immensely relieved
when she interrupted smiling.
Oh, is it you, Mr. McRae? Ididn't knowI thought it wassome
one else, she stammered.
Roderick looked puzzled, but the next moment he understood. Just
within the rays of the electric light, across the street, was Afternoon
Tea Willie, waiting faithfully with chattering teeth and benumbed toes.
He stood and stared at Roderick as they passed, and then slowly
followed at a distance, the picture of abject desolation. Roderick
found it almost impossible to keep from laughing, until he began to
consider his own case. He had plunged headlong into her presence, and
now he felt he ought to apologise. He tried to, but she stopped him
Oh, indeed, I wanted to see you, before you go away, she said, and
Roderick felt immensely flattered that she knew so much about his
affairs as to be aware that he was going away.
Yes? What can I do for you? he asked shyly.
I wanted to ask about poor Billy Perkins. Mr. Wilbur got work for
him, you know.
Indeed, my father tells me it was you did the good deed, declared
No, no, I only helped. But I am anxious about Billy. She spoke as
though Roderick were as interested in the Perkins family as his father.
Is there any one up at Mr. Hamilton's camp, I wonder, who would keep
an eye on him. He is all right if he's only watched, so that he can't
get whiskey. There's young Mr. Hamilton, he's going, isn't he?
Yes. Roderick felt that if the young man mentioned watched Fred
Hamilton and kept him from drink it was all that could be expected of
him. However, he might try. I'll speak to him, he said cordially,
and see if he can do anything for Billy. I see you've taken some of my
father's family under your care, he added admiringly.
Oh no. I'm just helping a little. I'm afraid I'm not prompted by
such unselfish motives as your father is. I visit down here just for
something to do and to keep from being lonely.
It was the first time she had made any reference to herself.
Roderick seized the opportunity.
You don't go out among the young people enough, he suggested. She
did not answer for a moment. She could not tell him that she was very
seldom invited in the circles where he moved. She had been doomed to
disappointment in Miss Graham's friendship, for after her first
generous outburst the young lady seemed to have forgotten all about
I like to come here, she said at last. I think it's more worth
while. But don't talk any more about my affairs. Tell me something
about yours. Are you going to be long in the woods?
It was a delightful walk all the way up to Rosemount, for Roderick
managed to get up courage to ask if he might go all the way, and even
kept her at the gate a few minutes before he said good-bye, and he
promised, quite of his own accord, to visit Camp Hamilton if it was not
far from Beaver Landing, his headquarters, and when he returned he
would report to her Billy's progress.
CHAPTER X. THE LIGHT RETREATED
About two weeks after Billy Perkins had gone north, Helen Murray
went down to Willow Lane from school to see his family. She had been
there only the evening before, and had found them doing well. The faded
little mother had never been quite so courageous since Minnie's death,
but Bill's new start had put them beyond the immediate possibility of
want and given fresh hope. There had been two very cheery letters from
him which Helen had read aloud, so the little wife was trying to be
happy in her loneliness, and was looking forward hopefully to Billy's
return in the spring.
But January had set in bitterly cold and there had been a heavy snow
fall during the morning. Helen feared that Eddie might not have been
able to get the wood in, so as soon as Madame and her flock had
departed, she turned down towards Willow Lane. She had been in
Algonquin only a little over three months but already the
self-forgetting tasks she had set herself, were beginning to work their
cure. She had not regained her old joyousness, and often she was still
very sad and lonely; but there had come a calm light into her deep
eyes, and an expression of sweet courage and strength to her face, that
had not been there in the old careless happy days. She was growing very
fast, these busy days, though she was quite unconscious of it in her
complete absorption in other people's troubles.
She had left the Perkins family in such comfortable circumstances,
the day before, that she was startled and dismayed to find everything
in confusion. The neighbours were running in and out of the open door,
the fire was out, the baby was crying, and the little mother lay on the
What is it? cried Helen, stopping in the open doorway in dismay.
Oh, what's the matter?
Mrs. Hurd and Judy Cassidy were moving helplessly about the room. At
the sight of their friend the latter cried out, Now praise the saints,
here's the dear young lady. Come in, Miss Murray! Och, wurra, wurra,
it's a black day for this house, indade!
Gladys was sitting on the old lounge beside the stove awkwardly
holding the baby.
Oh, Miss Murray, she cried shrilly. Somethin' awful's happened!
Billy Perkins's gone to jail. He got drunk and he's been steal
Her mother shook the broom at her. Hold your tongue, she said
sharply. For Mrs. Perkins, her face grey with suffering, had arisen on
the bed. Oh, Teacher, is that you! she cried, bursting into fresh
tears. Helen went and sat on the edge of the bed, and took her hand.
What is it? she whispered. Perhaps it's not so bad! she faltered,
making a vague attempt to comfort.
But when the pitiful story came out it was bad enough. Mrs. Perkins
told it between sobs, aided by interpolations from her neighbours.
Billy had been working steadily up till last Saturday, quite happy
because he could not get at the drink. But on Saturday he went into the
village to buy some fresh meat from a farmer for the camp. And there
was a Jericho Road up north too, it seemed, where thieves lay in wait
for the unwary. And Billy fell among them. He went into the tavern just
for a few minutes, leaving the meat on the sleigh outside, and when he
came out it was gone. Billy had gone on towards the camp despairingly,
in dread of losing his job, and praying all the way for some
intervention of Providence to avert the result of his mistake. For in
spite of many a fall before temptation, poor Billy, in a blind groping
way, clung to the belief that there was a God watching him and caring
for him. So he went on, praying desperately, and about half-way to camp
there came an answer. Right by the roadside, as if dropped there by a
miracle, lay a quarter of beef, sticking out of the snow. It was
evidently a small cache some one had placed near the trail for a short
time, and had Billy been in his normal senses he would never have
touched it. But the drink was still benumbing his brain, and quickly
digging out the miraculous find he loaded it upon his sleigh and
hurried to camp.
But retribution swiftly followed. The stolen meat had belonged to
the Graham camp, and it seemed it was a terrible crime to steal from a
rich corporation, much worse than from a half-drunken man like poor
Billy. The first thief was not arrested, but Billy was, and he was sent
to jail. He would not be home for ever and ever so long and what was to
become of them all, and what was to become of poor Billy?
The little wife, accustomed though she was to hardships and griefs,
was overcome by this crushing blow. With all his faults and weaknesses,
Billy was her husband and the stay and support of the family, and
besides, she had a dread of jail and its accompanying disgrace. By the
time the sad tale was finished, she was worn out with sobs, and sat
still, looking straight ahead of her into the fireless stove. But the
baby's cries roused her, and she took him in her arms, making a pitiful
attempt to chirrup to him. The idiot boy, feeling dimly that something
was wrong, came and rubbed his head against her like a faithful dog,
whining grievously. She stroked his hair lovingly. Pore Eddie, she
said, it'd be better if you an' me an' the biby, was with Minnie; and
then with sudden compunction, but wot would pore Bill do without us?
Helen told the sad story at the supper table at Rosemount, that
evening, and asked for help. Miss Armstrong promised to send a basket
of food down the next day, though she did not approve of the Perkins
family. She had found that to help that sort of shiftless people only
made them worse. Why, last Christmas, there was one family on Willow
Lane who received five turkeys from the Presbyterians alone, and the
Dorcas society was always sending clothes to that poor unfortunate Mrs.
Perkins. Mrs. Captain Willoughby herself, who was the President, had
seen the little Perkins girl wearing a dress just in tatters, that had
been given to her in perfectly good condition only the week before.
Wasn't the girl old enough to go out working?
The little girl died last fall of tuberculosis, said Helen, in a
low voice. She was just ten.
Miss Annabel's big blue eyes suddenly filled. Oh, the poor dear
little thing. Minnie used to be in my Sunday-school class, and I
wondered why she hadn't been there for so long. But we've been so
dreadfully busy this fall, I simply hadn't time to hunt her up. Elinor,
we must send a jar of jelly to the poor woman, and I think I shall give
her that last winter coat of mine. We'll ask Leslie for some, she
simply doesn't know what to do with all her old clothes.
Oh, please don't, said Helen in distress. She could not explain
that which she had so lately learned herself, that what a woman like
Mrs. Perkins needed was not old clothes nor even food, but a friend,
and some knowledge of how to get clothes and food. I don't think she
really needs anything to wear just now. If we could get her some light
work where she might take the baby, it would be so very much better for
Both ladies promised to see what could be done, but the Misses
Armstrong, members in good standing of the Presbyterian church, kind
hearted and fairly well off, had not a minute of time nor a cent of
money to spend on people like Mrs. Perkins. The poor ladies were
gradually discovering that the younger set, led by their own niece, and
the moneyed people now becoming prominent in Algonquin, were slowly
assuming the leadership in society. They were in danger of losing their
proud position, and every nerve had to be strained to maintain it. What
we have we'll hold, had become the despairing motto of the Misses
Armstrong, and its realisation required eternal vigilance.
It was Alfred Tennyson who once more came to the family's aid, and
Helen was forced reluctantly to accept his help. He ran up hill and
down dale and called upon every lady in the town, till at last he
succeeded in getting work for Mrs. Perkins. Mrs. Hepburn, Lawyer Ed's
sister, said she might come to her and bring the baby, one day in the
week. Mrs. T. P. Thornton and Mrs. Blair made like promises, and Dr.
Leslie persuaded Mammy Viney to let her come to the manse to wash,
while Viney Junior, in high glee, promised to take care of little
Every day, when the little mother went off to her work, with her
baby in her arms, Angus McRae drove up to Willow Lane and took Eddie
down to the farm. And with endless patience and tenderness he managed
to teach the lad a few simple tasks about the house and barn. Angus
McRae's home was the refuge of the unfit, for young Peter did the
chores in the winter when the Inverness was in the dock, and Old
Peter came and stayed indefinitely when he was recovering from a
drunken spree, and Aunt Kirsty declared that there was no place where a
body could put her foot without stepping on one of Angus's wastrels.
Roderick came back the week after Billy's arrest. As he was the
lawyer acting for Graham &Co. he could not be without some
responsibility in Billy's sad affair, and Old Angus awaited his
explanation anxiously. He knew there would be an explanation, for the
old man was possessed of the perfect assurance that his son was quite
as interested in the unfortunate folk that travelled the Jericho Roads
of life as he was himself. But Roderick had some difficulty in showing
that he was quite innocent.
He could not explain that this trip had been his probation time, and
that if he had done his work with a slack hand there would be no hope
of greater opportunities opening up before him. The big lumber firm of
Graham &Co., operating in the north, was really under Alexander
Graham's millionaire brother. And this man's lawyer from Montreal had
been there. He was a great man in Roderick's eyes, the head of a firm
of continental reputation. He had kept the young man at his side, and
had made known to him the significant fact that, one day, if he
transacted business with the keenness and faithfulness that seemed to
characterise all his actions now, there might be a bigger place
awaiting him. The man said very little that was definite, but the Lad's
sleep had been disturbed by waking dreams of a great future. That his
friend, Alexander Graham, was the mover in this he could not but
believe, but he determined to let the people in authority see that he
could depend on his own merits. So he had done his work with a rigid
adherence to law and rule that commanded the older man's admiration.
Roderick felt it was unfortunate that poor Billy should have come under
his disciplining hand at this time, but such cases as his were of daily
occurrence in the camp. There was no use trying to carry on a
successful business and at the same time coddle a lot of drunks and
unfits like Billy. He had been compelled to weed out a dozen such
during his stay in the north. Billy was only one of many, but when he
remembered that he must give a report of him to the two people whose
opinion he valued far more than the approval of even the great firm of
Elliot &Kent, or of William Graham of New York, he felt that here
surely was the irony of fate.
I did my best, Dad, he said, his warm heart smitten by the eager
look in the old man's eyes. But I had to protect my clients. There has
been so much of that sort of stealing up there lately that stern
measures had to be taken, and I was acting for the company. Old Angus
was puzzled. Evidently law was a machine which, if you once started
operating, you were no longer able to act as a responsible individual.
He could not understand any circumstances that would make it impossible
to help a man who had fallen by the way as Billy had, but then Roderick
knew about law, and Roderick would certainly have done the best
possible. His faith in the Lad was all unshaken.
But the young man was not so hopeful about Miss Murray's verdict.
She had put Billy in his care, and it was but a sorry report he had to
make of her trust. He was wondering if he dared call at Rosemount and
explain his part in the case, when he met her in Willow Lane. It was a
clear wintry evening, and the pines cast long blue shadows across the
snowy road ahead. Roderick was hurrying home to take supper at the
farm, and Helen was coming out of the rough little path that led from
the Perkins' home. She was feeling tired and very sad. She had been
reading a letter from the husband in prison, a sorrowful pencilled
scrawl, pathetically misspelled, but breathing out true sympathy for
his wife and children, and the deepest repentance and self-blame. And
at the end of every misconstructed sentence like a wailing refrain were
the words, I done wrong and I deserve all I got, but it's hard on you
old girl, and I thought that Old Angus's son might have got me off.
Whether right or wrong, Helen felt a sting of resentment, as she
looked up and saw Roderick swinging down the road towards her. He
seemed so big and comfortable in his long winter overcoat, so strong
and capable, and yet he had used his strength and skill against Billy.
Her woman's heart refused to see any justice in the case. She did not
return the radiant smile with which he greeted her. In spite of his
fears, he could not but be glad at the sight of her, with the rosy glow
of the sunset lighting up her sweet face and reflected in the gold of
I was so sorry to have such news of Billy I was afraid to call, he
said as humbly as though it was he who had stolen and been committed to
Oh, it's so sad I just can't bear it, she burst forth, the tears
filling her eyes. Oh, couldn't you have done something, Mr. McRae?
Roderick was overcome with dismay. IIdid all I could, he
stammered. It was impossible to save him. He stole and he had to bear
But you were on the other side, she cried vaguely but indignantly.
I don't see how you could do it.
But, Miss Murray! cried Roderick, amazed at her unexpected
vehemence. I was acting for the company I represent. It's
unreasonable, if you will pardon me for speaking so strongly, to expect
I could sacrifice their interests and allow the law to be broken. He
was really pleading his own case. There was a dread of her condemnation
in his eyes which she could not mistake. But her heart was too sore for
the Perkins family to feel any compunction for him.
I don't understand law I know, she said sadly. But I can't
understand how your father's son could see that poor irresponsible
creature sent to jail for the sake of a big rich company. His wife's
heart is broken, that's all. She was losing her self-control once
more, and she hastily bade him good-evening, and before Roderick could
speak again she was gone.
The young man walked swiftly homeward; the blackness of the
darkening pine forest was nothing to the gloom of his soul. He spent
long hours of the night and many of the next day striving to state the
case in a way that would justify himself in the girl's eyes. In his
extremity he went to Lawyer Ed for comfort.
What could I do? he asked. What would you have done in that
Lawyer Ed scratched his head. I really don't know what a fellow's
to do now, Rod, that's the truth, when he's doing business for a
skinflint like Sandy Graham. You just have to do as he wants or jump
the job, that's a fact.
But Roderick did not need to be told that his chief would have
jumped any job no matter how big, rather than hurt a poor weakling like
So those were dark days for Roderick in spite of all the brilliant
prospects opening ahead of him. He could not tell which was harder to
bear, his father's perfect faith in him, despite all evidence to the
contrary, or the girl's look of reproach, despite all his attempts to
set himself right in her eyes. He was learning, too, that not till he
had lost her good opinion did he realise that he wanted it more than
anything else in the world.
But there were compensations. When he finished his business he
received a letter of congratulation from Mr. Kent, and a commission to
do some important work for him. He found some solace, too, in the
bright approving eyes of Leslie Graham. Her perfect confidence in him
furnished a little balm to his wounded feelings. Certainly she was not
so exacting, for she cared not at all about the Perkinses and all the
other troublesome folk on the Jericho Road.
CHAPTER XI. THE LANDSKIP DARKEN'D
Roderick's work allowed him little chance for brooding over his
worries, for Lawyer Ed left more and more to him as the days went on.
Not that he did any less, but the temperance campaign was on again, all
racial and religious prejudices forgotten, in the glory of the fight.
Lawyer Ed was quite content that his young partner should let him do
all the public speaking, and so neither side was offended at the young
man's careful steering in a middle course. Roderick himself hated it,
but there seemed no other way, on the road he was determined to follow.
He was not too busy to watch Helen Murray, and serve her in every
way possible. He tried to atone for his past neglect of the Perkins
family by getting Billy a good position on his return, and was rewarded
by being allowed to walk up to Rosemount with Helen the night Billy
came home. He was so quietly persistent in his devotion to the girl,
making no demands, but always standing ready to serve her, that she
could not but see how matters were with him. But the revelation brought
her no joy. Her heart was still full of bitter memories, and with all
gentleness and kindness, she set about the task of showing Roderick
that his attentions were unwelcome. It was not an easy task, for she
was often very lonely and sometimes she forgot that she must not allow
him to waylay her in Willow Lane and walk up to Rosemount with her.
Again she punished herself for her laxity by being very severe with him
and at such times Roderick allowed himself to seek comfort for his
wounded feelings in Leslie Graham's company, for Leslie was always kind
One evening, Roderick and Fred Hamilton had been dining at the
Grahams and had walked home with the Misses Baldwin. They were
returning down the hill together, and Fred, who had been very sulky all
evening, grew absolutely silent. Roderick tried several topics in vain
and finally gave up the attempt at conversation and swung along
whistling, his hands in his pockets.
At last the young man spoke.
I'm going West this spring.
Oh, are you? said Roderick, glad to hear him say something.
You're lucky. That's where I'd like to be going.
Yes, likely, sneered the other. I guess any fellow can see what
direction you're going all right.
What do you mean? asked Roderick, nettled at the tone.
Oh, yes, as if you didn't know, growled his aggrieved rival. You
don't need to think I'm blind and deaf too, and a fool into the
Roderick stopped short in the middle of the snowy side-walk. Look
here, he said quietly, if you don't speak up like a man, and tell me
what you're hinting at Iwell, I'll have to make you, that's all.
Fred had run foul of Roderick McRae at school and knew from painful
experience that it was not safe to make him very angry.
Well, you needn't get so hot about it, he said half
apologetically. I merely hinted that youwell, you can't help seeing
Seeing what, you blockhead?
Seeing that shethat Leslie doesn't care two pins about anybody
but you. She'd be glad if I went West to-morrow. The hot blood rushed
into Roderick's face. He turned upon the young man, but they were
passing under an electric light and the look of misery in Fred's face
disarmed him. He burst into derisive laughter.
Well, of all the idiots! he exclaimed. You ought to be
horsewhipped for insulting a young lady so. Can't you see, you young
madman, that she's just trying to show a little bit of polite
gratitude? I know I don't deserve it, but she seems to be as grateful
to me for helping you that night on the lake, and you must be a fool if
you think anything else.
The young man walked on for a little in silence. Then he said, in
quite a changed tone, Are you sure, Rod?
Yes, of course, shouted Roderick, you ought to be shut up in a
mad house for thinking anything else.
Well, she told everybody in the town last fall that I upset her,
just to give you the glory, he said resentfully.
Pshaw, cried Roderick disgustedly. She did it for pure fun, and
you ought to have taken it that way. You don't deserve her for a
Fred seemed to be pondering this for a while, and finally he said,
Well, maybe you're right. Only Iwell, you know how I feel about
Leslie. Shewe've been chums ever since we were kids, and you may be
sure I don't like the idea of any other fellow cutting in ahead of me
Well, wait till some fellow does before you jump on him again,
said Roderick, so hotly that the other grew apologetic.
I didn't mean to be such a jay, Rod. It's all right if you say so.
I guess I was crazy. If you just give me your word that you haven't
intentions towards her, why, it'll be all right.
Roderick gave the assurance with all his heart, and Fred insisted
upon shaking hands over it, and they parted on the best of terms.
But Roderick felt covered with shame when he found himself alone on
the Pine Road. He could not deny to his heart that Fred's suspicions
had some little reason in them, and the knowledge filled him with
dismay. He was humiliated by the thought that he had accepted many
favours from Leslie's father and been a welcome guest many, many times
at her home, and he wondered miserably if Helen Murray held the same
opinion as Fred.
He came back to his office the next morning determined to avoid
Leslie Graham, no matter what the consequence.
She called him on the telephone, wrote dainty notes, and strolled
past the office at the time when he was likely to be leaving, all to no
avail. Roderick was buried in work, and slowly but surely the knowledge
began to dawn upon the girl that she, with all her attractions, was
being gently but firmly put aside.
And so the winter sped away on the swift wheels of busy days, and
when spring came the local option petition began to circulate. And once
more Roderick escaped the necessity of declaring himself.
The firm of Elliot and Kent, with whom he had worked in the North,
wished to consult him, and he was summoned to Montreal for a week.
Lawyer Ed saw him off at the station fairly puffed up with pride
over his boy's importance.
When Roderick returned, the petition was signed, and sent away, and
Lawyer Ed was jubilating over the fact that they could have got far
more names if they had wanted them. And Roderick comforted himself with
the thought that his was not needed after all.
The excitement subsided for a time after this, the real hard
preparation for voting day would not commence until the autumn, so J.
P. Thornton was seized with the grand idea that the coming summer was
surely the heaven-decreed occasion upon which to go off on that
long-deferred holiday. The inspiration came to him one day when he had
telephoned Lawyer Ed twice and called at his office three times to find
him out each time.
Is this the office of Brians and McRae or only McRae? he asked
when Roderick informed him for the third time that his chief was
Well, it isn't often like this, said the junior partner
apologetically. We'll get back to our old routine when my chief gets
over his local option excitement.
If you can run this business alone during a Local Option to-do, I
see no reason why you couldn't while we take three months holidays, do
No, I do not, said Roderick heartily. Can't you make Lawyer Ed go
to the Holy Land this spring? I'll do anything to help him go. He needs
J. P. Thornton looked at the young man smiling reminiscently. He was
recalling the night when two young men gave up that very trip and
Lawyer Ed had laughingly declared he would go some day even if he had
to wait till little Roderick grew up. And little the boy knows, said
Mr. Thornton to himself, just how much Ed gave up that time.
Well, he said aloud, this is surely poetic justice.
What is? asked Roderick puzzled. But J. P. would not explain.
We'll just make him go, he declared. You stand behind me, Rod, and
don't let him get back to work, and I'll get him off.
It was not entirely the old boyish desire to go on the
long-looked-for trip with his friend that was at the bottom of Mr.
Thornton's anxiety to get away. He could not help seeing that Ed needed
a rest and needed it very badly. Archie Blair aroused his fears
further. For one evening Lawyer Ed did an altogether unprecedented
thing and went home to bed early. Mrs. Hepburn, his sister, was so
amazed over such a piece of conduct on her brother's part, that she
called at the doctor's office the next day to ask if he thought there
was anything wrong with Ed's heart.
Doctor Blair laughed long and loud over the question, putting the
lady's fears at rest.
No, I don't think any one in Algonquin would admit there was
anything astray with Ed's heart, Mary, he said. But his head might be
vastly improved by putting a little common sense into it regarding
eating and sleeping. He's been going too hard for about twenty-five
years and he's tired, that's all. But J. P.'s going to get him off this
time, all right, and the change is just what he needs.
He spoke to J. P. about it, and the two determined that they would
make all preparations to start for the Holy Land in July and if Ed had
to be bound and gagged until the steamer sailed, they would certainly
see that he went.
Lawyer Ed consented with the greatest enthusiasm. Of course he would
go. He really believed he had enough money saved up, and Roderick was
doing everything, anyway, and he could just start off for a forty years
wandering in the wilderness if J. P. would go with him.
The whole town became quite excited when Mrs. Hepburn announced at a
tea given by Mrs. Captain Willoughby that her brother and J. P.
Thornton were really and truly, even should Algonquin go up in flames
the day before, going to sail from Montreal sometime in July for
foreign parts. There was a great deal of running to and from the
Thornton and Brians homes, and a tremendous amount of talking and
advising. And the only topic of conversation for weeks, in the town,
was the Holy Land, and the question which greeted a new-comer
invariably was, Did you hear that Lawyer Ed and J. P. have really
decided to go?
All this bustle of preparation and expectation did not deceive J. P.
into a false position of security. He was by no means confident, and he
kept a strict eye on Lawyer Ed to see that he did not launch some new
scheme that would demand his personal attention till Christmas. For
well he knew that until his friend was on board the steamer and beyond
swimming distance from the land, he was not safe. Any day something
might arise to make it seem quite impossible to go.
So he was thrown into quite a state of nervousness when, early in
June, Algonquin began to prepare for a unique celebration. The first of
July had been chosen as Old Boys' Day, and all Algonquin's exiled
sons had been invited to come back to the old home on that day and be
Old Boys' Day was an entirely new institution in Algonquin. Indeed
she did not have many sons beyond middle age, but other Ontario towns
were having these reunions, and Algonquin was never known to be behind
her contemporaries, in the matter of having anything new, even though
the newest thing was Old Boys.
So no wonder J. P. Thornton was anxious. For such a celebration was
just the sort of thing in which Lawyer Ed gloried. Fortunately it was
set a month before they were to sail, but J. P. knew that Ed would need
all that time to recover from the perfect riot of friendship into which
he would be sure to plunge on Old Boys' Day.
As the first of July approached, the whole town gave itself up to
extravagant preparations and, as J. P. expected, Lawyer Ed, turned over
his office to Roderick, put away railway time-tables and guide books
and headed every committee. There was a committee of ladies from all
the churches to serve dinner to the Old Boys on their arrival. There
was a decorating committee with instructions to cover the town with
flags and bunting and banners, no matter what the cost. There was a
committee for sports, on both land and water and, most important of
all, a reception committee, half to go down to Barbay with Captain
Jimmie and the town band to bring the Old Boys home by water, the only
proper way to approach Algonquin, and the other half to meet them at
Of course all this upheaval and bustle did not take place without
some slight discord. The first storm arose through a dispute as to
where the big dinner should be held upon the arrival of the boat. The
first suggestion was that it be held in the opera house. But
unfortunately, many of the best people of Algonquin objected to holding
anything there as a matter of principle.
It was the common case of a very good place having a bad name. Had
the opera house been called the town hall, which it really was, no one
would have found fault with it. But its name suggested actors and the
theatre, and many of the good folk, Mr. McPherson at their head, just
wouldn't countenance it at all.
Of course there was the other class who said Algonquin would be too
dull to live in were it not for the winter attractions of the opera
house which gave it such a bad name. In fact every one who had any
pretensions towards knowing what was the correct thing in city life,
went regularly to the plays, and declared they were just as high class
as you would see in Toronto.
Indeed a new play was always announced as The Greatest Attraction
in Toronto Last Week, and companies had several times come all the way
from New York just to appear in Algonquin. Then every winter there were
the Topp Brothers who came and stayed a whole week in Crofter's Hotel,
and gave a different play every night. There were all the best known
dramas, Lady Audley's Secret, and East Lynne and Uncle Tom's
Cabin, and once they even gave Faust,without music, it is true,
but a splendid reproduction nevertheless, with the biggest and tallest
Topp brother as Mephisto, all in red satin and, every one said, just
So every one who knew anything at all about what was demanded of
people moving in the best circles, pronounced the opera house the
finest institution in the town and demanded that the Old Boys be taken
to it upon their arrival and welcomed and fed. And all the other people
said it was a sinful and worldly place, and declared they would have no
Old Boys' banquet at all if it were to be served in that theatrical
The Presbyterian Sunday-school room was the next place in size, and,
to smooth matters over, Lawyer Ed offered it for the dinner.
Then the Anglican and the Catholic and the Methodist ladies met and
said it was just like the Presbyterians to want to have the banquet in
their church, to make it appear to the Old Boys that they were doing it
all. And Mrs. Captain Willoughby, the smartest woman in Algonquin and
the Convener of the dinner committee, said that if those gossipy old
cranks wanted to have the banquet in the lock-up, why they might have
it there for all she cared, but she wanted every one to know that it
would be served in the Presbyterian School room or she would have
nothing to do with it. That almost settled it for every one knew it was
utterly impossible to get up such a huge affair without Mrs. Captain
Willoughby at the head. But the very next night Jock McPherson brought
up the matter in a session meeting and objected to having the dinner in
the schoolroom, as it was not a religious gathering.
But Lawyer Ed met and overcame every difficulty. He laughed and
cajoled the opera house party into giving way. He forced the programme
committee to put Mr. McPherson down for one of the chief addresses of
welcome at the banquet, and the objections ceased. He called up his
friend Father Tracy on the telephone and bade him see that his flock
did their duty in the matter, and he took the Methodist minister's wife
and the Anglican clergyman's daughter and Mrs. Captain Willoughby all
down town together for ice cream, and there was no more trouble.
Women are ticklish things to handle, Rod, he said, wiping his
perspiring forehead when all was harmony again. The only wise way for
a man to act is to get married and hand over all such manoeuvres to his
wife. See that you get one as soon as possible.
I've heard something somewhere regarding the advantage of example
over precept, said Roderick gravely.
Hold your tongue, said his chief severely. If I wish to serve you
as a terrible warning, to be avoided, instead of an example to be
followed, you ought to be grateful in any case.
He strode away swinging his cane and whistling and Roderick watched
him with affectionate eyes. He was wondering, as all the town wondered,
except a couple of his nearest friends who knew, why Lawyer Ed had
never married. And he was thinking of a pair of soft blue eyes that had
not grown any kinder to him as the months had passed. He went back to
his work, the solace for all his troubles. He was taking no part in the
preparations for the Old Boys' celebration, and was looking forward to
the date with small pleasure. For that was the day she would likely be
leaving for her summer vacation. And who knew whether she would come
back or not? So he watched Lawyer Ed's joyous preparations for the Old
Boys' visit, without much interest, little thinking it was to be of
more moment to him than to any one else in Algonquin.
Early in the morning of the first of July the rain came pouring
down, but the clouds cleared away before ten o'clock, leaving the
little town fresh and green and glowing after its bath. Everything was
dressed in its best for the visitors. The gardens were in their
brightest summer decorations. The June roses and peonies were not yet
gone, and the syringa bushes and jessamine trees were all a-bloom. Main
Street was lined with banners and overhung with gay bunting. Lake
Algonquin smiled and twinkled and sparkled out her welcome. The fairy
islands, the surrounding woods, everything, was at its freshest and
Early in the morning the Inverness with half of the
entertainment committee, the town band, and such youngsters as Captain
Jimmie could not eject from his decks, sailed away down to Barbay to
bring the heroes home and, as the Chronicle said in a splendid
editorial, the next morning, Algonquin's heart throbbed with pride as
the goodly ship sailed into port with her precious cargo. The Barbay
Clarion, Algonquin's and the Chronicle's bitter and hasty
enemy, wearily remarked the next week that Algonquin always found
something to be proud of anyway. But there could be no doubt Algonquin
had reason on this first of July, for the Inverness carried
homeward men whose names had brought honour to the little town.
There was J. P.'s son who edited the paper read by every Canadian
from Halifax to Vancouver, except those who, wilfully blinded by
political prejudice, read the organ of the opposite party. There was
Tom Willoughby, the captain's brother, member for the Dominion House,
who tore himself away from Ottawa, every one felt, at great risk to his
country's weal, leaving the question of war in South Africa and
reciprocity with Australia in abeyance, while he rushed across the
country to do honour to the old home town. As the Chronicle
said, the next morning, being a supporter of Tom's party, not even King
Edward himself could have found fault with a loyalty that would take
such risks for home and native land.
There was Sandy Graham's brother from New York, who had made, some
said, a million in real estate deals in the West, and Lawyer Ed's own
brother, who was a professor of note in a University down East. There
were business, and professional men, young workmen from near by cities
and towns, statesmen and scholars. But of them all, none was such a
hero, and none so eagerly awaited, as Harry Armstrong. For only the
summer before, Harry had taken a Canadian lacrosse team around the
world and had vanquished everything in Europe, Asia and Africa that
dared to hold up a stick against them.
When the first far away note of the Inverness' whistle floated
across the water from the Gates, the ladies at the Presbyterian church
began putting the finishing touches to the tables and the dressing on
the salads, and half of the reception committee that had remained at
home drove down to the dock. They arranged themselves there in proper
order, with Captain Willoughby, the Mayor, at the head, or rather
almost at the head, for of course Lawyer Ed was a few steps in advance
The dock was a new and important landing place. There was a big
distinction between the dock and the wharf. The latter was the decrepit
old wooden structure, torn and jarred by ice and storms, that stood at
the foot of Main Street, where every one of the Old Boys had fished and
fallen in and nearly drowned himself many a time. But the dock, as
every one knew, was the fine new landing place, built of stone and
cement, and stretching from the town park, away out, it almost seemed,
as far as the Gates. The Inverness had had instruction to put in
at the dock, not only to impress the Old Boys with the strides
Algonquin had made, but as a delicate compliment to Tom Willoughby,
through whose political influence it had been built.
All the cabs in town had been hired and all the buggies loaned, and
they lined up along the park road waiting to take the guests up to the
church. Lawyer Ed had suggested at first that the Mayor ride down in
his automobile, but as all the horses in town had to be out at the same
time, the experiment was voted too dangerous and the Mayor drove in a
commonplace but safe cab.
Every one was at his proper station waiting when, with a blaze of
colour and a burst of music, the Inverness curved around Wanda
Island and swept into view. She was a brave sight surely! From every
side floated banners and pennons, her deck rail and her flag-staff were
covered with green boughs, Old Boys fairly swarmed the decks from stem
to stern. And up in the bow, their instruments flashing in the
sunlight, stood the band, playing loudly and gaily, Home, Sweet Home.
No one ever quite knew who was to blame that things went amiss from
that splendid moment. Captain Jimmie said it was the fault of Major
Dobie, the leader of the band, and Major Dobie was equally certain it
was the captain's fault. The Old Boys themselves were willing to take
all the blame, and perhaps they were right, for they danced on the
deck, and crowded about the wheel so that Captain Jimmie had no idea
whither he was steering. However it was, instead of turning to
starboard, as he had been instructed, and running in to the dock where
the committee waited, Captain Jimmie swept to larboard around the buoy
that marked his turning point, and made straight for his old hitching
post at the wharf.
The Mayor and the Committee shouted and waved. Lawyer Ed stood up on
the seat of a cab and roared out a command across the water that might
have been heard at the Gates, but the band and the cheers of the Old
Boys drowned his voice. Captain Jimmie pursued his mistaken course,
never once stopping in the stream of Gaelic with which he was
entertaining his Highland guests, and even the half of the Committee on
board forgot where they were to land, in their joyous excitement.
Then Lawyer Ed fairly pitched Afternoon Tea Willie into a row-boat
and sent him spinning across the water to head-off the Inverness
and make her turn to the park. But the poor boy had been working like a
slave since early morning at the Presbyterian church, and could not row
fast enough. He was only half-way across when the whistle sounded to
shut off steam. But just as the Inverness stopped with a bump,
some one of the committee came to his senses, and rushed to the
captain, pointing out the frantically waving hosts on the dock.
Cosh! Bless my soul! cried Captain Jimmie in dismay. He gave a
wrench to the wheel, shouting orders to the Ancient Mariner to gee her
around and go back, but he was too late. Before the gang-plank had been
thrown out, or rope hitched, the Old Boys had leaped ashore. Captain
Jimmie yelled at them to come back, but they paid no more heed than
they would have done twenty-five years earlier and went swarming
joyfully up Main Street.
But meanwhile a dozen of the reception committee had come tearing
down the railroad track from the park and were shouting upon them to
stop. Then the Mayor, Archie Blair, J. P. Thornton and Lawyer Ed having
leaped into a cab, and driven furiously across the town, were now
thundering down Main Street. They headed off the truant Old Boys, and
drove them back to the wharf to be received decorously and listen to
the welcoming address. As they had dashed past the Presbyterian church
at a mad gallop, every one became alarmed and the news spread that a
dreadful disaster had happened to the Inverness. But Afternoon
Tea Willie came running up out of breath and wet with perspiration to
tell them the real state of affairs. He was scolded soundly by Mrs.
Captain Willoughby, and went about pouring out apologies all day after.
So the reception took place at the wharf after all, with every one
in imminent danger of going through the rotten planks into the lake. It
was a rather informal affair. J. P. Thornton and Archie Blair tried to
preserve some dignity, but Lawyer Ed was in a towering rage and cared
not for decorum. He shook his fist at the Old Boys and told them they
were howling idiots and had lost what little manners they had learned
in Algonquin. Then he stood up on the carriage seat, his face red, his
eyes blazing, and called Captain Jimmie an old blind mole and an
ostrich and everything else in the world foolish and unthinking.
Captain Jimmie shouted back with a right good Highland spirit, from his
vantage point on the deck and all the Old Boys cheered joyously,
declaring this was the one thing needful to make them feel absolutely
Finally the proper welcome was stammered out by the Mayor, who was
even less at home making a speech than running his automobile, and they
all got away and the procession started up towards the church.
On every side were shouts of welcome: Hello, Bob! Hi, there,
Jack, you home too? Well, well, if there isn't old Bill! No place
like Algonquin, eh Bill? etc., etc. Harry Armstrong was easily the
favourite, and was the recipient of many welcoming shouts.
Roderick stood at the door watching the procession go past to the
church. He was amazed to see Lawyer Ed and his brother seated in the
same carriage as Alexander Graham. There was a ponderous man with a
double chin seated beside him, and going into a spasm of laughter every
time Lawyer Ed spoke. Roderick looked at him with keen interest. This
was William Graham, the man whose word was law with the firm of Elliot
and Kent. He had come all the way from New York for this celebration
entirely, he declared in his speech at the banquet, because Ed had
wired him to come and he could not resist Ed. They had been great
friends in boyhood days, and the big brother cared not a whit that
Sandy had a grudge at Ed. If that were so, he declared, then all the
more shame to Sandy. So he was seated between the Brians brothers,
fairly radiating joy from his big fat person, when the procession
passed Lawyer Ed's office. His chief waved his hat at Roderick and
Come awa ben the kirk, ma braw John Hielanman! and then he turned
to the portly gentleman at his side and said:
That's Angus McRae's boy, Bill. He's my partner now.
Angus McRae's son? You mean Roderick McRae? The millionaire turned
and stared at the young man keenly. He nodded to his brother.
Looks like a likely lad all right, he said. I want to see you
about him, Ed, when all the fuss is over.
Roderick had such a pile of work on the desk before him, that he did
not get up to the church until the luncheon was over and the last
speaker but one on his feet. This was Jock McPherson, and when Roderick
slipped into the crowds standing at the ends of the long glittering
tables, the little man was explaining very slowly and solemnly that as
the afternoon with its long programme was approaching he would not be
keeping them. All his oratorical rivals had had their turn at the Old
Boys and Mr. McPherson was just a bit nettled at being crowded into the
last few minutes. J. P. Thornton and Archie Blair and Lawyer Ed had got
themselves put on ahead of him and had taken all the time and said all
the complimenting things to be said. Captain Willoughby was the
chairman and, though it was agony for him to make a speech, he had
tried in his halting way to make amends to Mr. McPherson. It was a pity
that such an able speaker had been left so late, he had explained, but
there were so many on the programme that some one had to come last,
etc., etc. Jock arose after this very doubtful introduction, and spoke
so deliberately that Lawyer Ed and J. P. exchanged significant glances,
there was something coming. It iss true Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,
he said slowly, that there have been many fine speeches delivered this
afternoon. And now what shall I say? For I feel that ufferything has
already been said. He paused and gave the peculiar sniffing sound that
told he had scented a joke from afar and was going to hunt it to earth.
Yes, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, there is no doubt that there is vurry
little left to be said on any subject whatuffer. I feel vurry much like
the meenister who went into the pulpit with his sermon. He had not
looked at it since he had put it away the night before, and the mice
had got at it and had eaten all the firstly, the secondly and the
thirdly, and there was vurry little leftvurry little left, Mr.
Chairman and Gentlemen. But the meenister would jist be explaining his
dilemma to the people. 'My dearly beloved brethren,' he said, said he,
'I am vurry sorry to inform you that the mice have got at my sermon,
and have eaten firstly, secondly and thirdly, but as it cannot be
helped, my dearly beloved brethren, we will jist be commencing where
the mice left off!'
Even the mice had to join in the laugh on themselves, and when Jock
had given the few words of his fourthly which were left, every one,
himself included, was in fine humour.
The last speaker was Alexander Graham's wealthy brother. William
Graham had been the most successful, from one point of view, of all
Algonquin's returning sons. He had got together enough wealth, folk
said, to buy out Algonquin twice over. Beside, he had become quite
famous in political life in his adopted country, and rumour had it that
he might have been President of the United States had he not been born
in Canada. William himself denied this, but he could not deny the
honours his adopted country had showered upon him. His name was a power
in Washington circles, and he had more than once, gone abroad on
international matters of grave import.
Nevertheless, Algonquin received him with some embarrassment mingled
with her joy and pride. Bill Graham, the Algonquin boy, was a welcome
sight to every one, for he had always been popular. But, W. H. Graham,
the great American, was quite another matter, and many of his warmest
friends had an uncomfortable feeling that they were committing an act
of disloyalty to Britain in thus making him publicly welcome. It was
all right to make money out of the Yankees, and Bill was commended for
his millions, but to join the enemy and help it work out its problems
was a dangerous precedent to set before the youth of the town.
He made a very wise speech, saying very little about the States, and
a great deal about his joy at getting home again, but when he sat down,
the applause was not quite as enthusiastic as had been given the other
home-comers and Lawyer Ed's warm heart was grieved. As they stood up to
sing the National Anthem before dispersing, like true sons of
Algonquin, J. P. whispered:
Too bad about old Bill, can't we do something better for him?
Lawyer Ed was just swinging the crowd into the thunder of God Save
our gracious King, but he heard, and a sudden inspiration thrilled
him. He nodded reassuringly to J. P. and waved his arms to beat time,
for Major Dobie and the band were getting far behind.
Just as the last words of the national anthem were uttered, with a
flourish of his hand to the band to continue, and another towards Bill
to show that the graceful tribute was intended for him, Lawyer Ed burst
forth into My country 'tis of thee. The band caught up the strain
again, another wave of the leader's hand, and the Old Boys joined and
every one burst generously into the second line Sweet land of
liberty, with smiling eyes turned towards the American millionaire.
Graham smiled radiantly back. Down in his heart he cared not a
Canadian copper cent for the American national anthem, but he did care
a great deal for the love of his old friends, and he was touched and
But alas for the generous tribute to the American. No one knew a
word of the song beyond the second line. Lawyer Ed started off with a
splendid shout, Land where the but got no further. The band and the
drum thundered gallantly over the lapse, but the singing dwindled away.
The leader cast one agonised glance towards the American but Bill sent
back a hopeless negative, and cleared his throat and twitched his New
York tie. The Old Boys began to grin, and Lawyer Ed began to grow hot
at the fear of making a fiasco of what he had intended for a grand
finale. But he kept doggedly on, for Lawyer Ed never in his life gave
up anything he started out to do, and even if he had had no tune as
well as no words he would have sung that song through to the bitter
end. So far above the band and the drum his voice rang out splendidly,
Land where the lee la lay,
Land where the doo da day
Then, hearing the laughter rising like a tide about him, he flung
the American tribute to the winds, and roared out strong and distinct,
the whole congress of Old Boys following in a burst of relief,
Long to reign over us,
God save our King.
The banquet broke up in a storm of laughter, the American
millionaire's loudest of all.
Oh, Ed, he cried, wiping his eyes, stick to the old version.
You're more loyal than you knew!
Roderick was leaving the room with the crowd, when Leslie Graham, in
a bewitching white cap and tiny apron, caught his arm.
Don't run away! she cried, I was told to fetch you to Uncle Will,
he wants to meet you. If he's going to make a Yankee out of you, see
that you resist him strenuously.
One American in your family is enough, isn't it, Les? said Anna
Baldwin, her big black eyes staring very innocently at Roderick.
Roderick blushed like a girl, but Leslie Graham laughed delightedly.
Isn't Anna shocking? she asked, glancing coyly at Roderick, as
they moved back through the crowd. But he did not hear her, and she was
surprised at a sudden light that sprang to his eyes. She looked in
their direction, and saw Helen Murray in a blue gown and a white cap
and apron. She was standing in the doorway leading to the kitchen.
Madame was talking to her and the girl's usually grave face was
animated and lighted with a lovely smile. Leslie Graham looked at her
then back swiftly to Roderick. There was a look in his eyes she had
never seen there before. The old suspicion roused the night she had
seen him help Miss Murray out of his canoe returned. Her gay chatter
suddenly ceased. She presented Roderick to her uncle and quickly turned
away and was lost in the crowd.
Roderick scarcely noticed that she had gone, he was wondering if the
summer holidays were to be spent in Algonquin after all, and then he
noticed that the man he had been anxious to meet was shaking his hand.
I'm glad to see Angus McRae's son! the big man was saying. Yes, yes,
I'd know you by your father. And how is he? I must see him before I
leave. Sandy's been telling me about your work here. And Ed too. Do you
intend to settle in Algonquin?
I hope not, sir, not permanently at least.
That's right. Algonquin's a fine place to have in the background of
one's life, but it's rather small for any expansion. Did you know I've
had an eye on you since you were up north last winter?
On me? cried Roderick amazed.
Yes, just on you. The portly figure shook with a good humoured
amusement at the young man's modest amazement. I heard about you from
my brother and then from Kent. Let me see, I suppose there will be high
doings all day to-day. What about to-morrow? Could I see you for a
little talk to-morrow morning?
Roderick set the hour for the appointment, silently wondering. His
heart was throbbing with expectation, vague, wonderful. Some great
event was surely pending. He went home that night, full of high
expectations. When he made a great success of his life and came back to
Algonquin, rich and with a name, he would go to her and show her he had
been right, and she had been wrong.
CHAPTER XII. THE MELODY DEADEN'D
And you don't mean to tell me you were such a fool as to say he
might go? J. P. Thornton, walking up the hill for the fourth time on
the way home from a session meeting with Lawyer Ed, asked the question
again in an extremity of indignation.
And Lawyer Ed answered as he had done each time before:
I couldn't stand in the boy's way, Jack; I just couldn't.
They had argued the question for an hour, up and down the hills
between their two homes, and had come to no agreement. That Roderick
had had an offer to tempt any young man there was no doubt. A
partnership in the firm of Elliot and Kent, solicitors for the British
North American Transcontinental Railroad, was such a chance as came the
way of few at his age.
And yet Mr. Thornton declared that he should have refused it
unconditionally. Not so Lawyer Ed; his generous heart condoned the boy.
It's the chance of a life-time, Jack, he declared. It would be
shameful to keep him out of it, and, mind you, he wouldn't say he would
go until I urged it.
Oh, blow him! J. P. was a very dignified gentleman and did not
revert to his boyhood's slang except under extreme provocation. He
shouldn't have allowed you to urge him. And what about the brilliant
prospect you gave up once just because his father was in need?
Well, never mind that, said Lawyer Ed, hurriedly. He doesn't know
anything about that and he's not going to either.
And it was Bill Graham who wanted you, and you wouldn't go. And now
Bill's taking him away from you. He ought to be ashamed!
Bill thought he was doing me a kindness. He knew Rod's success is
J. P. was silent from sheer exhaustion of all sane argument. He was
grieved and bitterly disappointed for his friend's sake. Ed was in
imperative need of a rest and just when life was looking a little
easier to him, and the long-deferred holiday was within reach, Roderick
If they could only have visited the Holy Land before he left, it
would not have seemed so bad. But though Roderick had consented to
remain until his chief returned, Lawyer Ed had felt he could not go,
for he must busy himself gathering up the threads of his work which he
had been dropping with such relief.
Roderick had not come to his final decision without much argument
with himself. His head said Go, but he could not quite convince his
heart that he was right in leaving Lawyer Ed so soon. He had argued the
question with himself during many sleepless nights, but the lure of
success had proved the stronger. And he was going late in the autumn to
take up his new work.
To Old Angus the news was like the shutting out of the light of day.
Roderick was going away. At first that was all he could comprehend. But
he did not for one moment lose his sublime faith either in his boy or
in his God. The Lord's hand was in it all, he told himself. He was
leading the Lad out into larger service and his father must not stand
in the way. He said not one word of his own loss, but was deeply
concerned over Lawyer Ed's. He was worried lest the Lad's going might
mean business difficulties for his friend.
If the Father will be wanting the Lad, Edward, he said one golden
autumn afternoon, when Lawyer Ed stopped at the farm gate in passing,
then we must not be putting our little wills in His way. I would not
be minding for myself, oh, no, not at all the old man's smile was
more pathetic than tears. The dear Lord will be giving me so many
children on the Jericho Road, that He feels I can spare Roderick.
Eddie Perkins was stumbling about the lane trying to rake up the
dead leaves into neat piles as Angus had instructed him. He came
whimpering up with a bruised finger which he held up to the old man.
Angus comforted him tenderly, telling him Eddie must be a man and not
mind a little scratch. He looked down at this most helpless of his
children and gently stroked the boy's misshapen head.
Yes, He would be very kind, giving me so many of His little ones to
care for, and He feels I can spare Roderick. The Lad is strong his
voice faltered a moment, but he went on bravely.
But it was you I was thinking of, Edward. I could not but be
fearing that you were making a great sacrifice. There is your visit to
the Holy Landand the business. It will be hard for you, Edward?
Lawyer Ed, seated in his mud-splashed buggy at the gate, turned
quickly away, the anxiety in Old Angus's voice was almost too much for
his tender heart. There was a wistful plea in it that he should
vindicate Roderick from a shadow of suspicion. He jerked his horse's
head violently and demanded angrily what in thunder it meant by trying
to eat all the grass off the roadside like a fool of an old cow, and
then he rose valiantly to the Lad's defence.
Hut, tut, Angus! he cried blusteringly. Such nonsense! You know
as well as I do that the Lad didn't want to leave. I fairly drove him
away. Pshaw! never mind the Holy Land. We're all journeying to it
together, anyway. And as for my businesssomebody else'll turn up. I
always felt Algonquin would be too small for Rod. You'll see he'll make
a name for himself that'll make us all proud.
He did it splendidly, and Angus was comforted. He blamed himself for
what he termed his lack of faith in the boy and in his Father. And many
a night, as he sat late by his fire, trying to reason himself into
cheerful resignation, he recalled Edward's words hopefully. Yes, he
surely ought to be proud and glad that the Lad was going out into a
wider service. He was leaving him alone, on his Jericho Road, here, but
that was only because the Father needed him for a busier highway, where
thieves were crueller and more numerous.
As the autumn passed and the time for leaving approached, the Lad
ran out very often to the farm. His visits were a constantly increasing
source of discomfortboth to heart and conscience. His father's
gallant attempts at cheerfulness, and his sublime assurance that his
son was going away to do a greater work for the Master stung Roderick
to the quick. That Master, whom he had long ago left out of his life's
plan, had said, Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. And from even the
little Roderick had seen of the affairs of Elliot and Kent, he knew
only too well that to serve that firm and humanity at the same time
would be impossible.
There were others who did not possess his father's faith in his
purpose, and they spoke to him plainly on the matter. J. P. Thornton,
remembering indignantly all that Lawyer Ed had once given up for Old
Angus's sake, and further maddened by being forbidden to disclose it,
expressed his disapproval of Roderick's leaving so soon, in strong
His remarks succeeded only in angering the young man, and making him
more determined in his course. Doctor Leslie was the next to speak
plainly on the matter, and his kindly, deep-searching words were harder
to set aside. Roderick was passing the Manse one day when Mammy Viney
Honey, de minesta' want you, she called, in her soft rich tones.
An' you'se gwine away, an' leavin' you ole Auntie Kirsty, she said
reproachfully, as he came up the steps and shook hands with her.
But you wouldn't want me to stay and bother Aunt Kirsty in the
kitchen all my life, now, would you, Mammy Viney? I thought men were a
Men's jus' a trouble eberywhar, she said sternly. Dat Mahogany
Bill he was jus' like all de res', an' here you doin' de same, goin'
off an' leabin' folks in de lurch, with all de hard work to do. I'se
shame of youdat I is!
Roderick laughed good-naturedly, as he followed her into the house,
but Mammy Viney tossed her head. Eberybody say dat it pretty mean o'
you, anyhow, she said with the air of one who could tell a great deal
if she wished. 'Deed dey's sayin' dat you no business make Lawya Ed
Roderick did not wait to hear any more of what Algonquin was saying
about him. Mammy Viney rather enjoyed recounting such remarks, and
never took one jot or one tittle from that which she passed along.
Doctor Leslie met him at the study door, with outstretched hands.
Now tell me all about this going away scheme, he said; and Roderick
told him eagerly, about the brilliant prospects ahead of him, and when
he finished there was the implied question in the boy's eyes. Would he
not be blind to his and every one's best interests to remain in
Algonquin in the face of such inducements?
Doctor Leslie sat and looked out at the orchard trees, with their
wealth of red and gold apples falling with soft thuds upon the grass.
How often had that question come to him in his youth, and when he had
examined his own heart and his reasons for obeying the call to go away,
he had been compelled to remain.
He saw Roderick's position, and sympathised with the youthful
longing to be away and to do great deeds; but he was afraid the way had
not yet truly opened up into which Angus McRae's son could step. He had
learned, in the year Roderick had spent in Algonquin, that the young
man was not vitally interested in the things that are eternal. His
outlook on life was not his father's. The minister felt impelled to
I feel sure, he said slowly, turning his eyes from the garden, and
letting them rest kindly upon the boy's frank face, I feel sure,
Roderick, that no young man who lacks ambition will be of much use to
the world. But ambition is a dangerous guide alone. If you are anxious
to make the best of your life, my boy, the Lord will open the way to
great opportunities. But the time and the way will be plainly shown. If
this is a door of greater opportunity, then enter it, and God give you
great and large blessing. But if you are leaving with any doubts as to
its being the right course, if you fear that there are other
obligations you must yet fulfil, then I charge you to examine your
heart carefully, lest you fight against God. It is no use trying to do
that. One day or other His love will hedge us about. If it cannot draw
us into the way it meets us on the Damascus Road and blinds us with its
light. But some of us miss the best of life before that happens. Don't
lose the way, Lad; your father instructed you well in it.
For days the warning followed Roderick, tormenting him. He dared not
examine his motives carefully, lest he find them false. He was out on
life's waters, paddling hard for the gleam of gold, and he had no time
to stop and consider whither it was leading him. It might vanish while
There was another person whose opinion he was anxious to get on this
vexed question. He wondered every waking hour what she would think of
his going. Perhaps she didn't think about it at all, he speculated
miserably. He still continued to waylay her in Willow Lane, as he went
to and from home, and one evening he ran upon his poor rival, Afternoon
Tea Willie, doing the same sentinel duty.
Roderick had been home for supper and was returning to the office
early to do some left over work, when he overtook him slowly walking
Good evening, Mr. Roderick, he said in a melancholy tone. May I
walk into town with you?
Roderick slackened his stride to suit the young man. He was rather
impatient at having to endure his company, but he soon changed his
mind, for Alfred was in a confidential mood.
I might as well go home, he said gloomily. She's gone.
Who's gone? asked Roderick perversely.
Why, Miss Murray. She slipped away somehow, and I don't know how
she did it. But I've waited down here for her for the last time. He
choked for a moment, then continued firmly. She's showed me plainly
she doesn't want me, and I'm too proud to force my company upon her.
Roderick did not know what to say; he wanted to laugh, but it was
impossible to keep just a little of the fellow-feeling that makes us
wondrous kind from creeping into his heart.
Well, it's too bad, he said at last. But if she doesn't want you,
of course there is only one thing for you to do.
I have been faithful to her for a year, said the rejected lover.
I never before was attentive to any lady, no matter how charming, for
that length of time, and she needn't have treated me that way.
The subject was the most interesting one in the world to Roderick,
and he could not resist encouraging the young man to go on.
And poor Afternoon Tea Willie, unaccustomed to a sympathetic
hearing, poured out all his long heartache.
I am telling you this in strict confidence you know, Roderick, he
said. It is such a relief to tell some one and it seems right I should
tell you the end of this sad romance, for you helped me and were kind
to me at its very beginning. He paused for a moment, to reflect sadly
on his disappointed hopes.
You may be sure your confidence will never be betrayed, said
Roderick, and murmuring his gratitude the young man went on.
It was Miss Annabel Armstrong who put her against me from the
first, I feel sure, though I must never bear a grudge against a lady.
But you know, Roderick (I know you will never betray a confidence),
Miss Annabel hates me. I proposed to her once, shortly after I came to
Algonquin. It was just a mad infatuation on my part, not love at all. I
did not know then what real love was. But Miss Annabelwell, she is a
ladybut I, I really couldn't tell you what she said to me when I
offered her all a man could, my heart and my hand and all my property.
It was awful! I really sometimes wake up in the night yet and think
about it. And she never forgave me. And I don't know why. He paused
and drew a deep breath at the remembrance.
And I know she poisoned Miss Murray's mind against mebut I shan't
hold a grudge against a lady. Now, Miss Murray herself was so gentle
and kind when she refused mewhat? II didn't mean any harm. For his
sympathetic listener had turned upon him.
How dared you do such a thing? Roderick cried indignantly.
I just couldn't help it, wailed Alfred. You couldn't yourself
now, Roderick; and Roderick was forced to confess inwardly that likely
Well, never mind, go on, he said, all unabashed that he was taking
advantage of the poor young man merely to be able to hear something
I just couldn't help it. But I only asked her twice and the first
time she refused so nicely, I thought perhaps she'd change her mind. I
never heard any one refuse apersonsoso sweetly and kindly. But
this last time was unmistakable, and I feel as if it were all over. I
am not going to be trampled upon any more.
That's right, said Roderick. Just brace up and never mind; you'll
soon get over it.
The young man shook his head. I shall never be the same, he said.
But I have pride. I am not going to let her see that she has made a
wreck of my life. But I thought she might have had more sympathy when
she had had a sorrow like that herself.
Roderick felt his resentment rising. He did not mind listening to
poor Alfred's love stories, but he did not want to hear hers discussed.
But before he could interrupt, Alfred was saying something that held
his attention and made him long for more.
But she is all over that now. She told me herself.
All over what? Roderick could not hold the question back.
Caring about the young man she was engaged to. There was a young
man named Richard Wells in Toronto, you know, and they were engaged.
When she was away for her holidays last summer, I was so lonesome I
just couldn't stand it, so I wrote to my cousin Flossy Wilbur and asked
her to find out how she was or her address or something. And Flossy
wrote such a comforting letter and said she was staying with her
married brother, Norman Murrayhe lives on Harrington Street, and
Floss lives just a couple of blocks away on a beautiful avenue
What were you saying about Wells? Roderick interrupted.
Flossy knows him and told me all about it. I had a letter just last
week. He met another girl he liked betterno, that couldn't be true,
nobody who once saw her could care for any one else, I am sure. But
this other girl was rich, and so he broke the engagement. If I ever
meet that man! Afternoon Tea Willie stood on the side-walk, the
electric light shining through the autumn leaves making a golden
radiance about his white face. If I ever meet that man II shall
certainly treat him with the coldest contempt, Roderick. I wouldn't
speak to him!
But you said she didn't care, suggested Roderick impatiently.
Not now. But Flossy said her poor little heart must have been
broken at first, though she did not show it. She came up to Algonquin
right away. I saw her on board the Inverness the day she came
and I knew then
How do you know she doesn't care about Wells?
Oh, when Flossy wrote me that last week, I went to see her at the
schoolI don't dare go to Rosemountand I asked her to forgive me for
proposing to her. I told her, or at least I hinted at the tragedy in
her life, and I said I wanted to beg her pardon on my knees for
troubling her as I had done,and that I couldn't forgive myself. Oh,
she just acted like an angelthere is no other word to describe her.
She asked me at first how I found out and then she said so sweetly and
gently, that she thanked me for my consideration. And then, just
because she was so goodI did it again! I really didn't mean it, but
before I knew what I was doing, I was asking her again if there was any
hope for me. And, oh dear! oh dear! she said 'no' again. Gave me not
the least hope. I was so overcomeyou don't know how a man feels about
such things, Roderick. I was so overcome I burst out and said I felt
just as if I would have given all I possessed to meet that Wells man. I
said I could just treat him with the coldest contempt if I ever met him
on the street. And she answered so sweetly that I must not worry on her
account. She said she had cared once, but that was all over, and that
she was glad now that it had been so. And she addedand I don't see
hew any one with such eyes could be so cruelshe said I must never,
never speak of such a subject to her again, and that if I ever did she
would not let me even come near her. So it's all over with me. I am not
going to follow her about any more. I have still been coming down to
Willow Lane, but I am coming no more after to-night. This is the end!
They had reached the office door and paused. Roderick's sympathy
seemed to have suddenly vanished. In the very face of the other young
man's despair, he turned upon him ruthlessly.
That's a wise resolution, Alf, he said distinctly. And I'm going
to advise you strongly to stick to it. You keep the width of the town
between you and Miss Murray from now on, do you understand?
Whatwhatever do you mean? stammered the boy, aghast at the
cruelty of one who had seemed a friend.
Just what I say. On your own showing, you've been tormenting her;
andIwell, I won't have itthat's all. I feel sure you have the
good sense to stick to your resolution, his tone was a trifle
kindlier, and for your own sake I hope you do. If not, look out! He
made a significant gesture, that made the other jump out of his way in
terror. And look here, Alf, he added. If you tell any soul in
Algonquin that Miss Murray was engaged to any one I'llI'll murder
you. Do you hear?
He ran up the steps and into the office. And the cruellest part of
it all to poor Afternoon Tea Willie, as the door slammed in his face
leaving him alone in the darkness, was that he could hear his false
friend whistling merrily.
Roderick felt like whistling in the days that followed. He had found
out something he had been longing to know for over a year. He did not
have to stay away from her now. And the very next evening he marched
straight up to Rosemount and asked to see Miss Murray. She was out,
much to his disappointment, but the next Sunday he met her as they were
leaving the church. And she expressed her regret so kindly that he was
once more filled with hope. He had stood watching for her while his
father paused for a word with Dr. Leslie, but as usual he had been
joined by Alexander Graham and his daughter. There was a subtle air of
triumph about the man, ever since Roderick had decided to go to
Montreal, an air almost of proprietorship especially noticeable when
Lawyer Ed was about.
Good morning, Rod, he said genially. All packed yet?
Not quite, said Roderick shortly. He winced, for the thought of
the actual parting with his father was a subject upon which he did not
care to speak.
I don't believe you are a bit sorry you are going, said Leslie,
shaking the heavy plumes of her velvet hat at him, and pouting, for
never a regret had he expressed to her.
I actually believe you're glad. And I don't blame you. I'd be just
jumping for joy if I were going. It's a dreadfully dull little place
here, in the winter especially.
He looked at her in surprise. It was so unlike her to express
discontent. She had always seemed so happy. Why, I thought you
couldn't be ever induced to live any other place, he cried in
The idea! I wish somebody'd try me! she flashed out the answer,
with just the faintest emphasis on a significant word.
Roderick looked down at her again in wonder, to see her eyes droop,
her colour deepen. They passed down the church steps, side by side; her
father dropped behind with Dr. Blair, and they were left alone
together. Roderick, always shy in a young woman's presence, was
overcome with a vague feeling of dismay, which he did not at all
understand and which rendered him speechless.
He was relieved when Miss Annabel Armstrong, with a girlish skip,
came suddenly to her niece's side. Good morning, Mr. Roderick McRae.
Good morning, niecy dear! Come here a moment and walk with me, Leslie
darling. I want to ask you something. She slipped her arm into the
girl's and drew her back. Here, Mr. McRae, you walk by Miss Murray,
just for a moment, please.
She shoved Helen forward into Leslie's place, and pulling her niece
close, whispered fiercely.
You are a young idiot, Leslie Graham! I heard Mrs. Captain
Willoughby and the Baldwin girls laughing and talking about you just
this minute as they came out of church. I am just deadly ashamed. How
can we ever keep our position in society if you act so? Anna Baldwin
said you were simply throwing yourself at that young McRae's headand
his father a common farmer! And his Aunt!
The girl jerked her arm from Miss Annabel's grasp, her eyes and
cheeks blazing. Anna Baldwin is crazy about him herself! she cried
violently. And she's made a fool of herself more times than I can
tell! And his father is far better than your father ever was, or mine
either! She stopped as some one looked at her in passing. I shall
just do exactly as I please, Aunt Annabel Armstrong, she added
determinedly. It's just like an old maid to be always interfering in
other people's affairs!
Miss Annabel turned white with anger. She was proud of her niece,
and yet she almost disliked her. Leslie, young and gay and successful,
the inheritor of everything for which her aunt had scrimped and striven
and hungered all her life and never attained, was a constant source of
irritation and discontent to Miss Annabel. Her heart and hopes were as
young as Leslie's, and she was forced to find herself pushed aside into
the place of age, while this radiant girl walked all unheeding into
everything that her girlhood should have been. And this intimation
concerning her age and estate was unbearable. She grew intensely quiet.
Leslie, she said, you may heed me or not as you wish. But if you
had eyes in your head, you would see for yourself that that young man
doesn't care the snap of his finger for you and all your money. He's
madly in love with Helen Murray. He's always hanging about Rosemount!
she added, growing reckless. He was there only last night. Just look
at him now!
The startled eyes of the girl obeyed. Roderick was walking beside
Helen Murray, and looking down at her with the joy of her presence
shining in his face. He was not schooled in hiding his feelings, and
his eyes told his secret so plainly that Leslie Graham could not but
She said not another word. They had reached a corner and she
suddenly left her aunt and walked swiftly homeward alone. She had had a
revelation. For a long time she had suspected and feared. Now she knew.
In all her gay thoughtless life she had never wanted anything very
badly that she had not been able to get. Now, the one thing she wanted
most, the thing which had all unconsciously become the supreme desire
of her life, she had learned in one flash was already another's. She
was as certain of it as though Roderick had proclaimed his feelings
from the church pulpit. Her thoughts ran swiftly back over the months
of their acquaintance and picked up here and there little items of
remembrance that should have shown her earlier the true state of
things. She was forced to confess that not once had he shown her any
slightest preference, except as her father's daughter. And yet she had
refused to look and listen. And then, upon knowledge, came shame and
humiliation and rage at finding she had boldly proffered herself and
was found undesirable. It was the birth of her woman's heart. The
happy, careless girl's heart was dying, and the new life did not come
without much anguish of soul.
As soon as she could escape from the dinner table she fled to her
room to face this dread thing which had come upon her. All
undisciplined and unused to pain, through her mother's careless
indulgence, entirely pagan, too, for her religious experience had been
but one of form, the girl met this crisis in her life alone.
At first the smarting sense of her humiliation predominated and her
heart cried for recompense. She would show him what would happen If he
dared set her aside. Well she knew she could injure Roderick's chances
for success if she set her mind to the task; for was it not her
influence that had helped to give him those chances?
The force of her anger drove her to action. She threw on her plumed
hat and her velvet coat, and slipping out unseen, walked swiftly out of
the town and up the lake shore. Every little breeze from the waters
sent a shower of golden leaves dropping about her. But the air was
still in the woods. It was a perfect autumn day, a true Sabbath day in
Nature's world, with everything in a beautiful state of rest after
labour. The bronze oaks, the yellow elms and the crimson maples along
the shore, now and then dropped a jewel too heavy to be held into the
coloured waters beneath. The tower of the little Indian church across
the lake pointed a silver finger up out of a soft blue haze. The whole
world seemed at peace, in contrast to the tumult within the girl's
She seated herself on a fallen log beside the water, the warm, hazy
sunshine falling through the golden branches upon her. And sitting
there, she felt the spirit of the serene day steal over hers. Wiser and
nobler thoughts came to her sorely tried young heart. Some strong
unknown Spirit rose up within her and demanded that she do what was
right. It was her only guide, she could not reason with it, but she
blindly obeyed. There would be long days of pain and hard struggle
ahead of her, she well knew, but the Spirit heeded them not at all. She
must do what was right. She must act the strong, the womanly part, let
the future bring what it would.
And she went back from the soft rustling peace of the woods, not a
careless, selfishly happy girl any more, but a strong, steady-purposed
Roderick was so busy and happy during the ensuing week that he had
almost forgotten the existence of Miss Leslie Graham, when she was
brought to his dismayed senses by the sound of her voice over the
Tra-la-la-la, Mr. Roderick McRae, she sang out in her merriest
voice. Why don't you come round and say good-bye to your friends? Are
you going to fold your tent like the Arabs and silently steal away?
Roderick began to stammer out an explanation, but she cut him off
Don't apologise, you are going to be punished for your sins, she
called laughingly. For you can't come now. I am off to-day to Toronto
with Aunt Annabel. We took a sudden notion we wanted to go to the city.
We're going to spend a whole month in a riotous purchasing of autumn
hats. So, as I am a good meek and forgiving person and as you'll be
gone before we get back I just thought I'd say 'Bon Voyage' to you
before I leave.
She talked so fast that Roderick had scarcely any chance to reply.
He tried to stammer out his thanks to her for her kindness, but she
laughingly interrupted him. It was quite too bad they couldn't say
good-bye, Daddy would do that for her. But Mamma was coming to Toronto
with them. They were both dreadfully sorry and Mamma sent her best
regards. They all hoped he'd have a lovely time, and come home very
rich; and before he could answer, she had called a gay Good-bye and
good-luck, and had rung off.
Roderick was conscious of a slight feeling of surprise, and a
decided feeling of relief.
She's a great girl, he said to himself admiringly. She's just a
splendid good friend and a brick, and I'll write and tell her so!
And he had no idea of how very much she merited his praise.
As the time for leaving approached, Roderick grew busier every day.
It was hard to get Lawyer Ed in the office long enough to settle
things. He was striving to take up the burden of his old work again
cheerfully, but the new civic and social and church duties he had
assumed in the year were hard to drop. Then the Local Option campaign
was at its height and demanded his attention.
To Roderick, and to most of the town people, he seemed to be
shouldering all his old burdens with his usual energy and
light-heartedness, but J. P. missed a familiar note of joyousness in
his tone, and Archie Blair noticed that Ed did not go up the steps of
his office in one leap now as he had always done, but walked up like
other people. But to the casual observer, Lawyer Ed was the same. He
was here, there and everywhere, making sure that this one and that was
going to vote the right way. And Roderick, watching him, remembered how
anxious he had been over the effect the campaign would have upon his
business. And now that he was not required to enter it, he often longed
to plunge in and help his friend to victory.
On the whole, the campaign helped Lawyer Ed materially, in the hard
days preceding the parting with his boy. After all, there was nothing
so dear to his Irish heart as a fight, and the rounding up of his
troops before the battle kept him busy and happy. And everything was
pointing to victory. Father Tracy had promised to see to it that his
flock voted the right way, and Jock McPherson had declared himself on
the side of the temperance cause. Whatever Lawyer Ed may have had to do
with influencing his fellow Irishmen, he could take no credit for
Jock's conversion. He had set out to interview the McPherson one night
after a session meeting, but fortunately J. P. Thornton prevented his
impetuous friend making the mistake of approaching the elder on that
difficult subject. Jock was still feeling a little dour over the
temperance question and the wise Englishman knew that whichever side of
the cause was presented first that was the side to which the McPherson
was most likely to object.
Leave him to the other fellows, Ed, advised his friend. They are
almost certain to work their own destruction.
He was right; for not a week later Lawyer Ed came up the steps of
the Thornton home, staggering with laughter, to report that Jock was as
staunch on the temperance question as Dr. Leslie himself, and to
explain how it came about.
As J. P. had prophesied, Jock had come over to their side because a
particularly offensive person interested in the liquor business, had
claimed him as a friend. It had happened on the Saturday afternoon
before. Jock was down town, standing on the sidewalk in front of
Crofter's hotel discussing the bad state of the roads with a farmer
friend, when Mr. Crofter came forth, and after introducing the subject
of Local Option in a friendly fashion, said:
Well, sir, I'm glad to see one good Presbyterian who hasn't gone
off his head over this tom-foolery. Here he made the fatal mistake of
slapping Mr. McPherson on the shoulder. It does me good to see a man
who isn't a fanatic, but can take a glass and leave it alone, and give
every other fellow the same privilege.
Yus. Jock drew in his breath with a peculiar snuffing sound that
would have warned any one who knew him well that there was danger in
the air. Yus, he repeated the word very slowly, and take another
glass, and leave it alone.
What did you say? enquired Mr. Crofter, a little puzzled. I don't
think I quite caught you, Mr. McPherson.
I would be thinking, said Jock with dreadful deliberation, that
it must be a grand sight, but I nuffer saw one.
Never saw what?
A man that could take a glass and leave it alone. He always took
Mr. Crofter went back into the hotel with something of the feeling
of a baseball player who has made a mighty swing with his bat and
And Jock informed Dr. Leslie the next day that he had intended all
along to vote for Local Option, but had omitted to say so earlier. The
case of Father Tracy had brought even greater joy. One day Mike Cassidy
came raging into Lawyer Ed's office with the tale of another fight with
his enemies the Duffys, and the information that he was going to court
with it this time if he died for it. Roderick was out, and on the
pretence that he must consult his young partner, Lawyer Ed managed to
get Mike to consider the matter for an hour, and in the interval he
went to see Father Tracy.
The Catholic priest and the Presbyterian elder were good friends,
for his reverence was a jolly Irishman, very proud of his title of the
Protestant Priest. It was whispered that he was not in favour in
ecclesiastical circles, but little cared he, for he was in the highest
favour with everybody in Algonquin, especially those in need, and the
hero of every boy who could wave a lacrosse stick.
Good mornin', Father O'Flynn, cried Lawyer Ed, as, swinging his
cane, he was ushered into the priest's sanctum. Sure and I suppose
it's yer owld job ye're at
Checkin' the crazy ones, urgin' the aisy ones,
Helpin' the lazy ones on wid a stick.
It is that, then, said Father Tracy, his blue eyes dancing. And
here's wan o' the crazy ones. Sit ye down, man, till I finish this
note, and I'll be checkin' ye all right. I'll not be a minute.
Lawyer Ed of course could not sit down, but wandered about the room
examining the pictures on the wall, a few photographs of popes and
Sure this is a terrible place for a heretic like me to be in,
Father, he exclaimed. Oi'm getting clane narvous. If it wasn't called
a Presbytry, I'd niver dare venture. It's got a good name. By the way,
I don't see John Knox here, he added, anxiously examining the
Father Tracy's pen signed his name with a flourish. You'll see John
Knox soon enough if ye don't mend your ways, Edward Brians, he said.
Now, what do ye want of me this morning? But the two Irishmen could
not let such a good joke pass unnoticed; when they had laughed over it
duly, the business was stated.
He'll go to no law, said the shepherd of this wayward sheep. I'll
see him to-night, and it's grateful I am to you, Edward, for your
interest. I hear the boys are getting together to see about a junior
league. Algonquin ought to get the championship this year
But Lawyer Ed knew better than to let Father Tracy get off onto the
subject of lacrosse. I wish Algonquin would take the championship vote
for Local Option next January, Father, he said tentatively. He waited,
but Father Tracy said nothing. He was not so much noted for his
leanings towards teetotalism as towards lacrosse.
It would keep Mike Cassidy straight, ventured the visitor again.
I can keep Mike Cassidy straight without the aid of any such
heretic props, said Father Tracy, looking decidedly grim.
Lawyer Ed burst out laughing. 'Pon me word you're right, he
exclaimed. Man, I wish sometimes that our Protestant priests had the
power that you have. But I'm not here to urge you, mind that. I'm not
such a fool as to go down to the Rainy Rapids and try to turn them back
with a pebble. But I just thought I might as well ask you what your
opinion was, when I was here. A great many people of your flock tell me
they will vote just as the Father tells them. He glanced back at his
host as he moved to the door.
Yes, and they'd better, said the Father. So you'd like to know
what to say to them, eh?
I certainly would. He waited anxiously.
Father Tracy stood watching him go down the steps, his portly figure
filling up the doorway, his good-natured face beaming. And if it's
news ye're after I suppose ye'll rest neither day nor night till ye get
Well Father Tracy was enjoying the other's anxiety and was as
deliberate as Jock McPhersonwell, if you meet any of my stray sheep
that look as if they were goin' to vote for the whiskey, ye can tell
them for me that I'd say mass for a dead dog before I'd meddle wid
their lost souls.
Lawyer Ed went down the street, half a block at a stride, in the
direction of J. P.'s office.
Archie Blair's horse and buggy were standing in front of a house
next to the Catholic church. The temptation, combined with his
desperate hurry, was too much. He leaped in and, without so much as By
your leave, he tore down the street and never drew rein until he
fairly fell out of the vehicle in front of J. P.'s office. He burst in
with the glorious news: I've got four hundred new votes promised me
for local option. Hurrah! That's better than going to the Holy Land any
day in the year!
But when the day came at last that was to take Roderick from him,
even Lawyer Ed's love of battle failed him. It was a dreary day, with
Nature in accord with his gloom. A chill wind had blown all night from
the north, lashing Lake Algonquin into foam and making the pines along
the Jericho Road moan sadly. Early in the day the snow began to drive
down from the north and by afternoon the roads were drifted.
Roderick was to leave on the afternoon train for Toronto, and there
take the night express for Montreal and he came into Algonquin in the
morning, to bid his friends good-bye. The sudden change in the weather
had, as usual, been accompanied by the return of the old pain in his
arm. It had been more frequent this autumn, but he had paid little heed
to it. But to-day it added just the last burden required to make him
thoroughly miserable. Lawyer Ed was stamping about, complaining loudly
of the cold, blowing his nose, and talking about everything and
anything but Roderick's pending departure. The Lad's drooping spirits
went lower at the sight of him.
As he went about saying farewell he realised that he had not known
how many friends he had made. Alexander Graham was full of expressions
of congratulation and good-will.
You must make good, Rod, my boy, he said. We'll be watching you,
you know, and of course the blame will fall on me if you don't. But I
have no fears. He laughed in a patronising way that made Roderick feel
very small indeed.
I'm so sorry you couldn't come up again. The wife and Leslie took a
sudden notion that they must go to Toronto for a monthor Leslie took
it rather, and made her mother and aunt go with her. I'm sorry they are
not herebut they are in Toronto and you might he paused
knowingly,I guess I don't need to tell you where they are staying.
Miss Leslie probably left her address. He laughed in such an
insinuating way that Roderick's face grew crimson.
No, Miss Graham did not give me her address, he said, so stiffly
that the man looked at him in wonder, then laughed again. This was some
of Leslie's nonsense, as usual, just to tease him. She had forced a
little lover's quarrel probably and gone without saying good-bye. But
he knew Leslie could make it all right just when she chose.
He parted from Roderick in quite a fatherly manner, but the young
man went away feeling more uncomfortable and downhearted than ever.
There was one person who seemed frankly glad to see him go. Mr. Fred
Hamilton did not actually express his joy, but he looked it, and
Roderick felt something of the same feeling when they said good-bye.
Dr. Leslie and several other old friends came next. Archie Blair had
gone to the city to a medical congress, and he missed him. But he had
bidden almost every one else in Algonquin farewell when at last he sent
his trunk to the station, and taking Lawyer Ed's horse and cutter,
drove out to the farm for the severest ordeal of that hard day.
As he passed the school, the children came storming out to their
afternoon recess, pelting each other with snowballs. Roderick hesitated
a moment before the gate, but the wild onslaught of some fifty
shrieking youngsters frightened the horse, and it dashed away down the
road, so he decided to leave his farewell with her to the last.
The bleak wind was sweeping down from the lake and the old board
fence and the frail houses on Willow Lane creaked before it. The water
roared up on the beach as he passed along the Pine Road, and the snow
drove into his eyes and half blinded him. The McDuff home was deserted.
There was no track to the door through the snow, no smoke from the old
broken chimney. Peter Fiddle was either out at the farm or down in the
warm tavern on Willow Lane singing and playing.
The dull pain in Roderick's arm had increased to a steady ache that
did not help to make the soreness of his heart any easier. The bare
trees along the way; creaked and moaned, cold grey clouds gathered and
spread across the sky.
Hitherto Roderick had felt nothing but impatience at the thought of
staying in Algonquin all his life to watch Old Peter and Eddie Perkins
and Mike Cassidy and their like, but now that the day had come for him
to leave, it seemed as though everything was calling upon him to stay,
every finger post pointing towards home. Doctor Leslie's farewell, a
warning to again consider. Lawyer Ed's patient, cheery acceptance of
the situation, J. P. Thornton's open disapproval, Helen Murray's smile
the other evening at the door of Rosemount, his father's love and
confidence in him, all pulled him back with strong hands. The rainbow
gold shone but dimly that day, and he would fain have turned his back
upon it for the sure chance of a life like his father's in Algonquin.
He found Old Angus watching for him at the window. His brave
attempts at cheerfulness made Roderick's trial doubly hard. He bustled
about, even trying to hum a tune, his old battle song, My Love, be on
I'll be back before you know I'm gone, Auntie, said the Lad, when
Aunt Kirsty appeared and burst into tears at the sight of him. He tried
to laugh as he said it, but he made but a feeble attempt. They sat by
the fire, the Lad trying to talk naturally of his trip, his father
making pathetic attempts to help him, and Aunt Kirsty crying silently
over her knitting. At last, as Roderick glanced at the clock. Old Angus
took out the tattered Bible from the cup-board drawer. It had always
been the farewell ceremony in all the Lad's coming and going, the
reading of a few words of comfort and courage and a final prayer. Old
Angus read, as he so often did when his son was leaving, the one
hundred and thirty-ninth psalm, the great assurance that no matter how
far one might go from home and loved ones, one might never go away from
the presence of God.
If I ascend up into Heaven thou art there. If I make my bed in hell
behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in
the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and
thy right hand shall uphold me.
The prayer was simple and direct, as were all Old Angus's communions
with his Father. He had come to-day to a place where the way was very
puzzling, and Roderick, knowing him so well, understood why he prayed
for himself, that he might not be troubled with the why of it all, but
that he might know that God was guiding them all aright. But there was
an anguished note in his voice new to the Lad, and one that made the
pain in his heart grow almost unbearable. He had heard that sound in
his father's voice once before; and was puzzled to remember when. And
then there came vividly to his heart's ear, the cry that had rung out
over the dark waters to him the night the little boy was lost.
Roderick, my son, where are you? The father's heart was uttering that
cry now, and the son's heart heard it. There were tears in the eyes of
both men when they arose from their knees.
Aunt Kirsty came to him for her farewell with a big bundle in her
arms. It was done up carefully in a newspaper and tied with yarn, and
contained a huge lunch, composed of all the good things she had been
able to cook in a day's baking. Roderick felt as if he could not eat
anything between home and Montreal, but he took the bulky parcel
gratefully and tenderly. She put her arms about him, the tears
streaming down her face, then fled from the room as fast as her ample
size would permit, and gave vent to her grief in loud sobs and wails.
Old Angus followed his son out to the cutter in the shed. He stumbled a
little. He seemed to have suddenly become aged and decrepit. It was not
the physical parting that was weighing him down so heavily. Had
Roderick been called to go as a missionary to some far-off land, as his
father had so often dreamed in his younger days that he might, Old
Angus would have sent him away with none of the foreboding which filled
his heart to-day when he saw his boy leave to take a high position in
the work of the world.
Roderick caught the blanket off the horse, and as he did so his arm
gave a sudden, sharp twinge. His face twisted.
Is it the old pain in your arm, Roderick, my son? his father asked
It's nothing, said the Lad lightly. It'll be all right
You should see a doctor, admonished his father. There will be
great doctors in Montreal.
Perhaps I shall, said the boy. Now, Father, don't stand there in
the cold! He caught the old man's hand in both his. Father! he cried
sharply. IohI feel I shouldn't leave you!
Hoots, toots, Lad! The man clapped him upon the back comfortingly.
You must not be saying that whatever. Indeed it's a poor father I
would be to want you always by me. No, no, you must go, but Roderick
The old man's face was pale and intense. You will not be leaving
the Heavenly Father. Oh mind, mind and hold to Him!
Roderick pressed his hand, and felt for the first time something of
the utter bitterness of that road to success. I'll try, Father, he
faltered. Oh, I will!
He sprang into the cutter and took the lines, the old man put his
hands for a moment on the Lad's bowed head praying for a blessing upon
him, and then the horse dashed out of the gate and away down the lane.
At the turn Roderick looked back. His father was standing on the snowy
threshold where he had left him, waving his cap. A yellow gleam of
wintry sunlight through ragged clouds lit up his face, the wind
fluttered his old coat and his silver hair, and, standing there in his
loneliness, he was making a desperate attempt at a smile that had more
anguish in it than a rain of tears.
Roderick drove swiftly down the snowy road, his eyes blinded. For
one moment he hated success and money and fame and would have thrown
them all away to be able to go back to his father. Well he knew the
parting was more, far more than a temporal leave-taking. It was a
departure from the old paths where his father had taught him to walk.
As he sped along, his head down, he did not see a figure on the road
ahead of him. He was almost upon it when he suddenly jerked his horse
out of the way. It was Old Peter. Evidently he had drunk just enough to
make him tremendously polite. He stepped to the side of the road and
Roderick made an attempt to pull up his horse and say good-bye. A
sudden impulse to take Peter home to his father seized him. Old Angus
would be so comforted to think that his boy's last act was giving a
helping hand on the Jericho Road. But his horse was impatient, and
Peter had already turned in at his own gate and was plunging through
the snow to his house. A bottle was sticking out of his pocket.
Evidently he intended to make a night of it. The sight of it made the
young man change his mind. There was no use, as he had so often said,
bothering with Peter Fiddle. He was determined to drink himself to
death and he would.
Roderick let his horse go and went spinning down the road. Then he
realised that he had given his arm a wrench, when he had pulled his
horse out of Peter's way. The pain in it grew intense for a few
moments. He resolved that as soon as he was settled at his new work he
would have it attended to. It was the relic of his old rainbow
expedition and though it had annoyed him only at intervals it had never
ceased to remind him that there was trouble there for him some future
He had another hard parting to face, but one with hope in it for the
future. When he tied his horse at the school gate and went in he was
wondering how he would tell Helen how much the farewell meant to him.
For he was determined that she must know. The school was quiet, for the
hour for dismissing had not come. As he entered the hall, Madame came
swaying out of Miss Murray's room with a group of cherubs peeping from
behind her. Now you, Johnnie Pickett, she was saying, you just come
and tell me if anybody's bad and I'll fix them. Then she saw Roderick,
and greeted him with a rapturous smile.
There's a dear boy, she cried, to come and say good-bye to your
old teacher. Now, you Johnnie Pickett, what are you following me out
here for? Aren't you to watch the room for Miss Murray? Go on back.
Well, and you are really going this afternoon? she said, turning to
her visitor again. And how is your father standing it? What's the
A small youngster with blazing eyes shot from the room and launched
himself upon her.
Please, teacher, he cried, his voice shrill with wrath, them
kids, they won't mind me at all. Dutchy Scott's makin' faces, and the
girls is talkin', an' Pie-face Hurd he's calling names. He said I was a
nigger! His blue eyes and white hair belied the accusation, but his
voice rose to a scream at the indignity. Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby
marched the deposed monitor hack to the room to restore order,
explaining volubly that it was quite as wicked a crime to call a boy
Pie-face as for that boy to call one a nigger.
I've got Miss Murray's room in charge, she said, returning to
Roderick smiling and breathless. Go on back there, now! I see you
looking out there, you, Jimmie Hurd. Just wait till I catch you!
She isn't sick, is she? asked Roderick dismayed.
No. Oh, no! She went with a crowd of young folks to a tea-meeting
at Arrow Head. They started early, and I made her run home an hour
before the time to bundle up. Now, Johnnie Pickett, leave that chalk
alone! You don't need to think I don't see you
Roderick went on his journey miserably disappointed. She had gone on
a sleigh ride and she must have known, indeed she did know, he intended
to call and say good-bye to her. Each farewell had been harder than the
last and now this absence of farewell was the hardest of all. There was
one moreLawyer Ed's. Like Old Angus, he was making an attempt at
cheerfulness that was heartbreaking. He tramped about, singing loudly,
scolding every one who came near him, and proclaiming his joy over the
Lad's going in a manner that drove poor Roderick's sore heart to
desperation. He drove with him to the station, carried his bag on
board, loaded him with books and magazines and bade him a joyful
farewell, with not a word of regret. But he gave way as the train moved
out and Roderick saw him hastily wipe his eyes and as he looked back
for one last glimpse of his beloved figure, the Lad saw Lawyer Ed move
slowly away, showing for the first time in his life the signs of
That night Old Angus sat late over his kitchen fire. He was mentally
following the Lad. He was in Toronto now; later, on the way to
Montreal, lying asleep in his berth probably. Old Angus's faith forbade
his doubting that God's hand was in his boy's departure. But the
remembrance of all his joyous plans on the day the Lad started in
Algonquin persisted in coming up to haunt him. He sat far into the
night trying to reason himself back into his former cheerfulness. The
storm had risen anew, and gusts of wind came tearing up from the lake,
lashing the trees and shaking the old house. The snow beat with a soft,
quick pad-pad upon the window-pane. Occasionally the jingle of bells
came to him muffled in the snow. Finally, he heard a new sound, some
one singing. It was probably a sleigh-load of young folk returning from
a country tea-meeting, he reflected. Then he suddenly sat up straight.
Something familiar in the fitful sounds made him slip out to the door
and listen. The wind was lulled for a moment, and he could dimly
discern a figure going along the road. And he could hear a voice raised
loud and discordant in the 103rd psalm! Old Angus came back into the
house swiftly. He caught up his coat and cap. Peter had fallen among
thieves once more! And he would probably be left by the road-side to
freeze were he not rescued. He hastily lit a lantern and carefully
closed up the stove. Then, softly opening the door, he hurried out into
He found the lane and the road beyond badly drifted, but he plunged
along, his swaying lantern making a faint yellow star in the swirling
white mists of the storm. He reached the road. Peter's voice came to
him fitfully on the wind. He had probably started out to come to him
and had lost his bearings. There was nothing to do but follow and bring
him back. He plunged into the road and staggered forward in the
direction of the voice.
The snow had stopped falling but the wind that was driving it into
drifts was growing bitterly cold. Old Angus needed all his strength to
battle with it, as he forced his way forward, sinking sometimes almost
to his waist. He struggled on. Peter was somewhere there ahead, perhaps
fallen to freeze by the roadside, and the Good Samaritan must not give
in till he found him. But his own strength was going fast. In his
thought for Peter he had forgotten that he was not able to battle with
such a wind. He fell again and again, and each time he rose it was with
an added sense of weakness. He kept calling to Peter, but the roar of
the lake on the one hand and the answering roar of the pines on the
other drowned his voice. He was almost exhausted when he stumbled over
a dark object half buried in snow in the middle of the road. He
staggered to his feet and turned his lantern upon it. It was Peter,
lain down in a drunken stupor to die of cold.
Peter! Peter! Angus McRae tried to speak his name, but his
benumbed lips refused to make an articulate sound. He dropped the
lantern beside him and tried to raise the prostrate figure. As he did
so he felt the light of the lantern grow dim. It faded away, and the
Good Samaritan and the man who had fallen among thieves lay side by
side in the snow.
CHAPTER XIII. THE MASTER WHISPERED
When Roderick stepped on board the night train for Montreal he was
surprised and pleased to find Doctor Archie Blair bustling into the
opposite compartment. That delightful person, with a suit-case, a pile
of medical journals, a copy of Burns, and a new book of poems, had left
Algonquin the day before, and was now setting out on a tremendous
journey all the way to Halifax, to attend a great medical congress. He
welcomed his young fellow-townsman hilariously, pulled him into his
seat, jammed him into a corner, and scowling fiercely, with his fists
brandished in the young man's face and his eyes flashing, he spent an
hour demonstrating to Roderick that he had just discovered a young
Canadian singer of the spirit if not the power of his great Scottish
bard. The other occupants of the sleeping-car watched the violent big
man with the terrible eye, nervously expecting him every moment to
spring upon his young victim and throttle him. But to those who were
within earshot, the sternest thing he said was,
Then gently scan thy brother man,
Still gentler sister woman,
Though they may gang a keenin' wrang,
To step aside is human.
The charm of the doctor's conversation, drove away much of
Roderick's homesickness and despondency, but it could not make him
forget the pain in his arm, which was hourly growing more insistent.
And so you're leaving Algonquin for good, said Archie Blair at
last, when the black porter sent them to the smoker while he made up
their berths. Well, there's a great future ahead of you in that firm.
Not many young fellows have such a chance as that. I wish Ed could have
gone away before you left, though, to Jericho, or Sodom and Gomorrah,
or wherever it is he and J. P. Thornton are heading for.
Archie Blair, as every one in Algonquin knew, lived as near to the
rules of life set forth in the Bible as any man in the town. But he
delighted in being known as a wicked and irreligious person, and always
made a fine pretence at being at sea when speaking of anything
Yes, sir, it's rather hard on old Ed; and there's J. P. too. He's
been waiting for Ed ever since the Holy Land was discovered, as
faithfully as Ruth waited for Jacob or whoever it was. I can't remember
when those two chaps weren't planning to take that trip, and it looks
as if they'd get to the New Jerusalem first. Cracky, now, I believe you
were the one that stopped their first trip and here you're interrupting
another one! He laughed delightedly.
I? inquired Roderick. How was that?
Oh, Ed wouldn't say so. He'd be sure it was the hand of Providence.
It was the time you went off hunting the rainbow and got lost, don't
you remember? and your father got sick on the head of it. Ed stayed
home that time.
But it was Jock McPherson who came to poor father's rescue that
time, said Roderick. Lawyer Ed told me himself.
Doctor Blair made a grimace.
Roderick McRae, he said, after a moment, I have a fatal weakness.
I suppose it's the poet in me. I like to think it is. I'm forever
pouring out the thoughts of my inmost heart which I really ought to
keep to myself. That was the way with Bobby ye mind:
'Is there a whim-inspired fool
Owre fast for thought, owe hot for rule.'
And here I've been telling tales I should keep tae ma'sel!
Well, you've got to finish, now that you've started, cried
Roderick. Do you mean to tell me that Lawyer Ed
No, I don't mean to tell you anything, but I've done it, and I
might as well make a full confession. Of course it was Lawyer Ed did
it. He always does things like that, he's got them scattered all over
Butwhy didn't I know? cried Roderick sharply. And what did he
Because he didn't want it. I'm the only person in Algonquin that
knows, except J. P., of course. J. P. knows the innermost thoughts that
pass through Ed's mind. There's another secret between us three. He
smiled half-sadly. I suppose, though, your father knows this onethat
Ed was to have married J. P.'s only sister. She was tall and willowy
and just like a flower, and she died a week before the wedding day.
They buried her in her white satin wedding dress with her veil and
orange blossoms. Archie Blair's voice had sunk to a tender whisper. I
saw her in her coffin, with a white lily in her hand.
He was silent so long that Roderick brought him back to the starting
point. But you haven't told me yet how he helped Father.
So Archie Blair began at the beginning and told him all, happily
unconscious of how he was harrowing Roderick's feelings in the telling.
It was the old story of his father's mortgage, his own hunt for the
rainbow, which, the doctor declared, argued that he should have been a
poet, his father's illness, and Lawyer Ed's postponement of his trip,
and greatest of all, his setting aside of the chance to leave Algonquin
as partner with his old chum, William Graham, now millionaire.
Your father sort of brought Ed up, you know, Rod, made him walk the
straight and narrow way as he has done with many a man. I want to take
my hat off every time I see that father of yours. He saw the distress
in Roderick's face and was rather disconcerted. Your father paid him
every cent with interest, of course, Lad, you know that, he added
hurriedly. But there are some things can't be paid in money. Well,
wellwhere did I start? Oh, at Jerusalem, and I've wandered from Dan
to Beersheba and haven't got anywhere yet. Well, that was how Ed got
started on the habit of staying home from the Holy Land, and he doesn't
seem to be able to get out of it. You know it's a good thing. I'm
always sorry Wordsworth ever went to Yarrow. It's a hundred times
better to keep your dream-country a dream.
'Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown!
It must, or we shall rue it.'
And if he ever goes, it'll never be what he thinks. His dreams of
Galilee and the Rose of Sharon and Mount Carmel will vanish when he
sees the poor reality. You see, in his Palestine, the Lord is always
there. He dropped his voice
'And in those little lanes of Nazareth
Each morn His holy feet would come and go.'
Roderick was not listening. He sat with downcast eyes and burning
cheek. Lawyer Ed had done all this for his father, for him,and this
was his reward! The man had given up his chance in life for his father
and then the son had come and done this abominable thing. Surely the
gleam of the rainbow-gold was beginning to mock him already. And yet,
as he sat there, overcome with humiliation, his mind was busy arranging
swift compromises, as it had always done. He would pay Lawyer Ed, oh,
five fold, and send him away for a year's travel. And yet when all his
generous schemes had been exhausted, he knew they were not what Lawyer
Ed wanted. It was the love and devotion of his friend's son he
preferred above all worldly gain.
He came to a knowledge of his surroundings, called back by a sudden
exclamation from the doctor.
I believe you're sick, Rod! You look like an advanced and violent
case of sea-sickness.
Roderick became conscious that his arm was paining him severely and
said so. He could have said quite truthfully that the pain in his heart
was quite as bad.
That old arm, cried Archie Blair in distress. I tell you, Lad,
you've got to have that thing looked after. Here, get to bed and I'll
have a look at it when you're undressed.
He came into Roderick's berth later and with rough kindness handled
the swollen, aching limb. I always told you something would come of
this, he grumbled. And like everybody, you won't listen till it's too
late. There's some serious trouble there, Rod, or I'm very badly
mistaken. Now, look here, you promise me on your word and honour you'll
go straight to a doctor when you get to Montrealto Doctor Nicholls.
Here, I'll give you his address. Now, will you promise to go to-morrow
morning, or must I stop off and miss my train to Halifax to see you do
Roderick promised and lay down in his berth, but not to sleep. The
pain in his arm was severe enough to keep him awake, but it was no
worse than his heartache. It was a tender heart, not yet calloused by
constant pursuit of selfish aims. That state would certainly be arrived
at, on the road he was travelling, but he was still young and his very
soul was longing to go back to his father and Lawyer Ed. Again and
again he tried to comfort himself with the promise that he would make
up to them for all they had done, oh, many times over, and in the end,
they would both realise that the course he had pursued was for the
As he made this firm resolution, for the tenth time, the train drew
up at a little station in the woods. Roderick looked out at the steam
hissing from beneath his window and the dim light in the little
station. He recognised it as the junction, where a branch line ran from
the main road, across the country, through forest and by lake shore,
straight to Algonquin. The home train was approaching now. He could
hear its rumbling wheels and its clanging bell far down the curving
track, and the next moment, with a flare of light upon the snow, it
came tearing up out of the forest and roared into the little station.
Its brilliant windows flashed past his dazzled eyes. It stopped with a
great exhaled breath of relief and stood panting and puffing after its
long run. Roderick knew that if he chose he could slip out, leap on
that train and go speeding away up through the forest and be in
Algonquin before morning. He felt for a moment an almost irresistible
impulse to do it, to fling away everything and go back. But he would
look like a fool, and the people would laugh at him, and quite rightly.
He could not go back now.
There was a gentle movement, and slowly and smoothly he began to
glide past those home-going lights. In a moment more he was speeding
eastward into the white night.
When he reached Montreal he went immediately to the hotel. He was to
meet Mr. Graham and the head of the firm there that evening, when
everything regarding his immediate duties was to be settled. He
registered, and found a room awaiting him, a luxurious room, finer than
any he could afford. It was the beginning of his new life. He went down
to breakfast, but could eat nothing, for the pain in his arm. He was
not at all averse to obeying Dr. Blair's injunction, and as soon as he
went back to his room, he telephoned the doctor whose address he had
been given. He felt a strange dizziness and, fearing to go out, he
asked if the doctor would call. When Roderick gave the name of the firm
he represented, there was an immediate rise in the temperature at the
other end of the telephone. Evidently the young lady in charge of
Doctor Nicholls's office knew her business. All uncertainty as to the
physician's movements immediately vanished.
Doctor Nicholls would call in the course of half an hour if
convenient to Mr. McRae, he was just about to visit the Bellevue House
in any case.
Roderick felt again the advantages of his new position. The
sensation of power was very pleasant, but it could not keep his arm
from aching. The pain grew steadily worse, until at last he lay on the
bed waiting impatiently.
In a short time there came a tap on the door. Thinking it was the
doctor, Roderick sprang up relieved. But it was only the boy in buttons
with a telegram. He signed the paper indifferently. Even the most
urgent business of Elliot &Kent could not arouse his interest, he was
feeling so sick and miserable and down-hearted. He opened the yellow
paper slowly, and then sprang up with a cry that made the boy stop in
the hall and listen. Roderick stood in the middle of the room reading
the terse message again and again:
Father ill. Come at once. E. L. Brians.
He leaped to the telephone, then dropped the receiver at the sight
of a railway guide he had left upon the table. The first train he could
take for home left at fifteen minutes past three in the afternoon. And
it was not yet ten o'clock! He sat down on the bed, a dread fear
possessing his soul. Wild surmises rushed through his mind. What could
have happened? It was not twenty-four hours since he had seen his
father standing in the doorway waving him farewell, the sunlight on his
face and that gallant, anguished attempt at a smile! Roderick groaned
aloud as he remembered. He took up the telegram again, striving to
extract from its cruelly brief words some inkling of what had preceded
it, some hope for the future.
A second tap at the door sent him to open it with a bound. Before
him stood a professional looking man, well-dressed and well-groomed,
with a small leather bag.
Are you my patient? he asked briskly.
Patient? Roderick stared at him stupidly.
Yes; Mr. McRae, I believe? I am Doctor Nicholls.
Oh, said Roderick. I had forgotten all about it. Yes, come in.
He stepped back and the physician eyed him curiously. He looked
desperately ill, sure enough.
Roderick answered briefly and absently all the doctor's questions.
Beside this awful thing which threatened him, his arm seemed so
trivial, that he was impatient at the attention he was compelled to
give it. Evidently the physician was of another opinion as to its
importance. His face was imperturbable, but after a careful examination
he said very gravely:
You'll have to have this attended to immediately, Mr. McRae.
Immediately. It's a case, if my judgment is correct, that has been
delayed much too long already. Could you come to the hospitalthis
I have to leave here on the three-fifteen this afternoon, said
Roderick. I have just received a telegram that my father is very
illI can't have anything done to-day.
Ah, quite sad indeed. Not serious I hope?
I don't know, said Roderick dully.
I must urge you especially to come to-day. We have Dr. Berger here,
from New York. He is going to the congress at Halifax. You have heard
of him, of course. He is coming to see some patients of mine this
morning, and I should like him to see you too. Indeed, I feel I must
urge you, Mr. McRae. You are trifling with your health, perhaps your
life, he went on, puzzled by Roderick's indifference. It is
imperative that something be done at once. How about coming with me
now? It leaves plenty of time for your train.
Roderick considered a moment. He could not meet Mr. Graham now in
any case. He must leave a message for him that he had been called back
to Algonquin and telegraph home for more specific news. That was all he
could do until train time, so he decided he might as well obey the
When he had despatched a telegram and written a message for Mr.
Graham he followed the doctor to his car. The professional man seemed
eagerly delighted, as though Roderick were merely a wonderful new
specimen he had found and upon which he intended to experiment. He
chattered away happily on the way to the hospital.
Yes, Berger will be very much interested. Yours is really a rare
case, from a medical standpoint, Mr. McRae. Quite unique. You said you
believed it was injured when you were only six years old?
He seemed almost pleased, but Roderick did not care. The pain in his
arm and that fiercer pain raging in his heart made him indifferent. My
father! My father! he was repeating to himself in anguished inquiry.
What had happened to his father? Perhaps he was dying, while his son
lingered far away from him. And what an age he had to wait for that
train, and what another age to wait till it crawled back to Algonquin!
He remembered with wonder the strange wild impulse he had had the night
before to leap across into the home-bound train and go back. He
speculated upon what might have happened, until his brain reeled. And
when would he get another telegram? And why had not Lawyer Ed told him
more? He asked himself these futile questions over and over in wild
impatience. The fever of the night before had returned, his head was
hot, and ached as if it would burst.
He obeyed the doctor's orders mechanically. His mind was focussed on
the time for the train to leave and in the interval he did not care
what they did with him. So he let himself be put into a bare little
white room, heavy with the smell of disinfectants, while a nurse in a
blue uniform and a young house surgeon in white and a silent footed
orderly moved about him.
The nurse's blue dress reminded him of another blue gown, one for
which he used to watch at the office window on summer mornings. He
followed it with his eyes, as the great surgeon took him in hand and
examined and questioned him. He answered mechanically, his parched lips
uttering things with which his fevered brain seemed to have no
He listened in a detached way, as though the doctor were speaking of
some one else as, with many technical terms, he diagnosed the case.
Doctor Nicholls was there, and two young house surgeons, all eagerly
listening, but the patient's mind was away in the old farm house on the
shore of Lake Algonquin desperately seeking relief from its suspense.
He scarcely noticed when they left the room, but he came to himself
completely when they returned, and Dr. Nicholls announced to him
briskly and almost joyfully that Dr. Berger's ultimatum was an
No, you won't, said the patient with sudden vigour. I have to
leave this afternoon for home on the three-fifteen.
The great man looked down at him. Young man, he said quietly, and
there was a still strength in his manner that carried conviction, you
will do as you please of course, but if you don't take my advice and
have that limb attended to immediately, you'll go to your long home,
and not much later than 3.15 either. Yours is a most critical case. If
you refuse you are committing suicide. Now, Doctor Nicholls, I have
just half-an-hour to see your other patients.
He walked out of the room. And Roderick sat up in the bed and stared
after them stupefied. A young house-surgeon, who had been regarding the
patient with eyes holding more than professional interest, came to his
side. He tried to speak cheerfully.
It's a most unusual thing to operate in such a hurry, but it's
better for a patient, I think. It's all over quickly you know, and no
long weary waiting.
But my father! cried Roderick. My father is critically ill. I've
got to go home! I've got to, I tell you! I can have this
The fever flush deepened to a hot crimson. He got to his feet, then
staggered back, dizzy with pain. The young physician laid him on the
bed. Look here, now, you mustn't get worked up like that, Roderick,
Roderick looked up at him. The young man had come into the room with
Dr. Berger, but not till this moment had he noticed him. He stared, and
a light, brighter even than the fever had brought, leaped into his
Wells! he cried. Is it Dick Wells?
Dick Wells, it is, said the other, smiling, pleased that he had
created such a complete diversion. He took the patient's left hand and
shook it with a cordiality that was not returned.
I haven't seen you since old 'Varsity days, Rod. And 'pon my word I
didn't know you for a minute. We'll see you through this all right;
Roderick was staring at him in a disconcerting way.
Where have you been since you graduated? he asked.
That harsh unsmiling manner was not at all like the Roderick McRae
he had known in college, but the young man laid the change to his
Here, in Montreal. Next year I hope to go to Europe. He made a
sign to the nurse who entered, and quietly began preparing the arm for
its operation. Roderick did not pay any attention to even her blue
uniform this time, his eyes were fixed with a fierce intentness upon
the young doctor's face. Wells had always been known as a very handsome
fellow, but his appearance had not improved; he had grown stouter and
coarser. He was still good-looking, however, and his manner had the old
easy kindness Roderick remembered. He was just going to ask him another
abrupt question, when the young doctor slipped his finger over the
patient's pulse, and began talking quietly and soothingly.
And you went back to your old home town, didn't you? Let me see
his casual air did not deceive his alert listenerAlgonquin's your
home, isn't it?
You've been practising law there, haven't you? He took out his
watch and looked at it.
A smile passed over the young physician's face, as of pleasant
reminiscence. Algonquin, he repeatedpretty name. You don't happen
to knowera Miss Murray there, do you? A teacher.
Yes, said Roderick, I've met her, and held his breath for the
I've met her tooseveral times. He laughed, glancing at Roderick
in a shamefaced manner. I think when you go home, if you'll take me,
I'll go along as travelling physician. I'd like most awfully well to
see that town of yours.
Roderick involuntarily jerked his wrist from the other's grasp. Had
he not done so, the doctor would have been amazed at the leap of the
already bounding pulse.
I thoughtrumour had it at collegethat your affections were in
process of transition when you graduated. Roderick looked straight at
him. It was impossible to keep from his voice something of the
bitterness rising in his heart. He was risking his own secret. But he
felt he must know.
Dick Wells' eyes dropped to his watch again. He was silent for a
moment. The nurse left the room and he immediately spoke in a low tone.
It a fellow plays the fool once in life, he said, that's no
reason why he should take it up as a steady profession. I've dropped it
for good and all. And if you behave yourself and have this operation
right away I'll come and take Christmas dinnerno, that's holiday
timeI'll come and prescribe for you shortly after New Year's! He
laughed joyfully. I hope you'll welcome me, he said, half-shyly. For
I've reason to believe I'm going to be welcomed in other quarters.
Dr. Wells, you are wanted in the corridor, said the nurse,
He left the room, and Roderick lay back and stared at the ceiling.
He caught the word amputation, and he knew they were talking about his
arm. They were going to cut it off, then. The knowledge did not seem to
add anything to the overwhelming weight which had fallen upon him, and
was crushing him. The whole structure of his life was tumbling about
him, and he lay caught helpless in its fall. His new position was gone,
for well he knew the company could not waitindeed, would not
waitfor so insignificant a servant as he. His fatherperhaps his
father was gone. And now the rosy hope that had steadily and surely
arisen in his heart, since the day he had seen Helen Murray on board
the Inverness, until it had lighted up his whole life, had
suddenly vanished in darkness. His fighting spirit rose against these
odds. He shoved the deft hands of the nurse aside and sat up.
I'm going home, he said hoarsely. Then the nurse, and the little
white table by the bedside with the bottles on it, and the white
uniformed man standing outside the doorway, swung up to the ceiling and
became an indistinct blur. He recovered almost immediately. The nurse
slipped a little thermometer under his tongue, and put a cool finger on
I must go home, mumbled Roderick. Where's Dr. Wells?
Dr. Wells is wanted in the operating room, she said soothingly.
You will be glad to know he is going to assist. I understand you are
old friends. She looked at him anxiously. He was in the worst possible
condition mentally for an operation.
If you'd just brace up, you know, she said encouragingly. If you
would get hold of yourself. She had prepared many a patient for the
operating table, and had seen few so exercised as this one. You must
be courageous, she said. The operation may not be serious. And it
will be over soon.
Roderick looked at her uncomprehendingly. He cared not at all for
the operation itself, but it was the trap that had caught him, and he
was writhing to be free.
Her next words put a new face on it.
If you have any message to send to your friends, she said gently,
I should be glad to have it attended to. Have you anyproperty or
anything that should be settled. We hope this operation will be simple;
but if notyou should be prepared, Mr. McRae.
There's nothing, said Roderick. Nothing.
Everything in the world was slipping from him. The props of life had
given way one by one, and now perhaps life itself was going. He lay
there on the small cot-bed, watching the nurse and orderly hurry to and
fro, and looked squarely at the situation. It was desperate. Always he
had taken hold of difficulties and wrenched them out of his path and
gone proudly on his way. But here he was helpless. For the first time
in his strong, successful youth he realised that which his father had
striven all his years to teach him, man's utter impotence before God.
He was bound hand and foot, helpless, just as the door of success had
flung open at his touch. He had paddled out bravely into the open sea
of life after the rainbow gold, only to find it vanish and leave him
lost in a world of mists and shadows. He remembered Dr. Leslie's words:
If His love cannot draw us into the way, it meets us on the Damascus
road and blinds us with its light.
He lay there for what seemed an interminable time. He was clinging
to one faint hope. Lawyer Ed would surely answer his telegram. But the
nurse returned with the word that there had been no message, and that
the doctors were preparing. He was to go down to the operating room in
It seemed as if with that word the last feeble support gave way, and
then Roderick McRae's soul went down to the black brink of despair. He
was utterly alone, without help or friend. Everything, his success, his
health, his father, his love, had been snatched from him in one moment.
There was even no God for him. He had been so long dependent
entirely upon himself, that God had become a meaningless word. And now,
if God were real, His cruel Hand was behind that fearful black mist
that was closing about him shutting him off from hope. He lay like a
log, staring at the white ceiling of the little hospital room. The
nurse and the orderly were bidding him brace up and were shaking their
heads over him. He paid no more attention to them than to the strong
odour of drugs or the soft click-click of heels on the hardwood floor
of the corridor. Some subtle trick of memory had taken him back to the
one other time of despair in his experience. He was back again in that
night, years ago, when he was lost on the lake, drifting away in the
darkness to unknown terrors; and just as he had cried out that night,
his whole soul rose in one desperate demand upon his Father for help.
Oh, God! he groaned, starting up, oh, God, help me!
And then it happened; the great wonder. The light from his Father's
boat! The sound of his Father's voice! Just as, long ago, lost in mists
and darkness, a prey to every terror, his father's voice, calling down
the shaft of light, had caught him up from despair to the heights of
joy, so it was now. Suddenly, without reason, there fell upon the young
man's writhing soul a great calm. He lay back on his pillow, perfectly
still, his whole being held in awe of what had happened. For there, in
the common light of day, within the bare walls of the hospital room,
not visible to the human eye, but plain to the eye of the soul, staring
beyond the things that are seen for a gleam of hope, a Presence was
quietly standing. Serene, omnipotent, all-calming, the gracious One
stood, close to his side, and fear and pain fled before Him.
Roderick was conscious of no feeling of surprise or wonder. He felt
only a great serenity, and an absolute safety. He asked no questions,
felt no desire to ask any. There had been another young man once, who
had met this same One in a like headlong career, planned by his own
strong right hand, and he had cried out in fear, Who art thou, Lord?
But Roderick knew just as well as he had known his father's voice that
night coming out of the mists and darkness. His Eternal Father was at
his side. That was all he knew now. It was all he cared to know. He lay
there in perfect peace and, close to his side, silent and strong, stood
The orderly pushed up the little wheeled conveyance to the bedside,
the nurse took his wrist in her hand again. She beamed happily. Good
for you, she said, as she placed her hand upon his forehead. Why,
you're splendid. You've got your nerve all right, and she stared in
amazement when Roderick smiled at her. He did not answer, though, he
was listening to something. All the old promises he had learned at his
father's knee and that had meant nothing to him for so long, were
flooding over his peaceful soul, coming serenely and softly from the
Presence standing by his pillow.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee and
through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest
through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame
kindle upon thee... Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that
walketh in darkness.
Now, sir, said the orderly, we'll just move you onto this truck.
But Roderick rose up strongly. Why can't I walk down? he asked. The
nurse stared and again felt the patient's pulse for some explanation of
this transformation. The quiet steady beat in the wrist was the
strangest part of it all.
Well, she cried admiringly, I never saw anything like you. You're
perfectly able to walk; but you'd better save your strength. Just lie
down on this. You'll be all over your operation in no time! Roderick
obeyed, and the orderly wheeled him away to the elevator; and along the
bare hospital corridor moved with him that strong Presence. And he went
with a perfect faith and as little fear as if he had been going along
the Pine Road to his home. What did it matter as to the result, or what
did it matter that his father back in Algonquin did not know? He and
his father were safe, upheld by the everlasting arms. It was well, no
matter what the outcome. When he reached the operating room the
Presence was there, just as real as the muffled doctors standing ready
to do their work, and when he was stretched upon the table taking the
anaesthetic, he felt as peaceful as on that night when he sank asleep
in his father's arms and was borne safely homeward.
It seemed that the next moment he awoke in the room he had so
recently left. Dr. Nicholls was at his side. A normal pulse, he said,
smiling into Rod's enquiring face. You're a wonder. What do you think
of that, nurse?
I expected that, she said, smiling.
You've behaved so well, continued the doctor, that I believe
you're able to receive two pieces of good news.
My father, whispered Roderick. The doctor nodded happily. A
telegram came half-an-hour ago. It reads, 'Out of danger, no need to
come, will write. E. Brians.' Roderick felt the tears slipping over
his cheek. The nurse wiped them away. He was remembering it all now.
The Presence had been with his father too.
You haven't asked about my other news, said the doctor.
Roderick looked at him enquiringly. He was thinking of Helen, and
had forgotten all about the operation.
Berger saved your arm. And it will be as fit as ever in a few
months. It was the most delicate kind of operation, and one of the
finest he ever did. I shall tell you more about it later, you must be
quiet now. But I must give you Dr. Berger's message. He had to leave
for Halifax, but he said he wished he could congratulate you on your
nerve. I don't know what you did to get hold of yourself in such a
hurry, but you saved your own life. Now, I've told you enough. You must
neither speak nor be spoken to until I see you again.
He smiled again, radiant with the true scientist's joy over such a
triumph of skill as Roderick's arm presented, and left the room.
And Roderick, who knew so much more about it all than mere science
could ever teach, closed his eyes and lay still, his whole soul raising
to its new-found God one inarticulate note of thanksgiving.
CHAPTER XIV. FOLLOW THE GLEAM
It was the first trip of the season and the Inverness was
crowded from stem to stern. The picnic was given by the Sons of
Scotland, so every Presbyterian in the town was there. But there were
many more, for Lawyer Ed had gone out into the highways and byways of
other denominations and nationalities and had compelled Methodists and
Anglicans and Baptists and folk of every creed to come over to the
Island and hear the bagpipes and see Archie Blair toss the caber.
Your father's got to come, Rod, he said, the evening before the
picnic. So don't you dare show your nose here without him to-morrow.
But Old Angus laughingly refused his son's pleading. Tuts, tuts,
he said reprovingly, it's the foolish boy that Edward is. He is
younger than you, Lad. Indeed I'll not be going, and I think you should
jist stay at home yourself, my son. The night air will be damp and you
will not be jist too strong yet.
Roderick laughed. Father, you will soon be as bad as Aunt Kirsty. I
do believe she is bitterly disappointed that I didn't remain an invalid
for a year, so that she might coddle me. I wouldn't miss this picnic
for all Algonquin. It will be my first festivity since I was sick, and
I want you to be in it.
The old man looked up into his son's face, his eyes shining. This
new Roderick who had come back to him, maimed and weakened, right from
the very gates of death was even more to him than the old Roderick. Not
that his love had grown, nor his faith, that was impossible. But while
he had always had high hopes that the Lad would one day fulfil all his
fondest dreams, now he saw those dreams being fulfilled right before
his eyes. There was a strong sentinel on the Jericho Road now, and the
Good Samaritan could scarcely bear to part with him even for a day.
But he shook his head happily. No, no; Peter was coming over in the
morning to look at the north field, and they would just row out as far
as Wanda Island and hear the pipes, when the Inverness went
past, and they would come back and stay at home with Aunt Kirsty like a
pair of sensible old bodies.
Roderick managed to catch Lawyer Ed in the office for a few moments
in the morning and reported his failure. His chief called him many hard
names, as he rushed out to catch a passer-by and make him come to the
picnic, and Roderick locked the office door and went down to the wharf.
There lay the Inverness, her gunwale sinking to the water's edge
under her joyous freight, banners flying from every place a banner
could be flown, and the band, and Harry Lauder's piper brother making
the town and the lake and the woods beyond ring with music.
Immediately after Roderick's disappointing message had been
delivered, Lawyer Ed rushed down Main Street and spied Afternoon Tea
Willie driving the Baldwin girls down town to buy some almond cream to
take to the picnic, in case of sunburn. And in his usual high-handed
way, he had hailed them, sent the girls home on foot, and the young man
spinning out to the McRae farm with stern commands not to dare return
without Old Angus.
So when Roderick was standing on the wharf talking to Dr. Archie
Blair, all resplendent in his kilt he was amazed to see coming down
Main Street, the smartest buggy in the town, and in it Alf. Wilbur,
driving his father, and more amazing still, by his side sat old Peter,
with his fiddle in a case across his knee. They drew up at the edge of
the wharf with a splendid flourish, and Afternoon Tea Willie with his
innate good manners, sprang out to help the two old men alight with as
great deference as if they had been a couple of charming young ladies
just come to town.
Roderick sprang forward and caught his father's hand as he stepped
out, laughing in sheer delight. His eyes were misty with deep feeling.
In the first quick glance he had turned upon the faces of the two old
men, smiling in a half-ashamed, half-pleased way, like a couple of boys
caught running away from school; Roderick had been struck with their
strange resemblance. His father's refined face and his white hair had
once made an absolute contrast to poor Old Peter's bloated countenance,
but with the last half-year, Old Peter's face and form had been
undergoing a change. Not since that terrible winter night when he had
almost caused the death of his best friend had he fallen. It had been a
hard fight sometimes, but the great victory won by the temperance folk
on New Year's Day had been a victory for Peter. On the first of May the
bar-rooms of Algonquin had closed. And now Peter walked the streets
unafraid. And with his new courage and hope, his manhood had returned
and he was slowly and surely growing like the man whose life-long
devotion had brought him salvation.
Doctor Blair saw them and came swinging up to make the old men
welcome. Then Doctor Leslie sighted them and came forward in delighted
amazement, and Captain Jimmie spied them from the wheel house and
called out joyfully, Hoots, toots, Angus! And is that you, Peter Lad?
And the Ancient Mariner left off smoking, and, pouring out a stream of
Gaelic above the roar of the pipes, came right out on the wharf to make
sure his eyes had not deceived him.
Roderick guided the two to seats up on the deck near to the
captain's pilot house, finding the way thither a veritable triumphal
The crowds were still coming down Main Street; nervous mothers with
babies bouncing wildly in their little buggies, embarrassed fathers
with great sagging baskets and hysterical children with their newly
starched attire already wildly rumpled.
Roderick scanned each new group eagerly, wondering if Helen Murray
would come. He had seen little of her since his return. A long illness
following the critical operation had kept him at home, and when at last
he was able to go out again and take up his work he found that gossip
had it that Miss Murray, the pretty girl who taught in the East Ward
school had had a young man to visit her. Miss Annabel had been quite
excited over him, for he was very handsome and was a successful
surgeon, and Miss Armstrong had pronounced him a splendid match for any
girl. Roderick had been spared a visit from Dick Wells, and had
wondered that the young man had not kept his promise. He had longed and
yet dreaded to see him. He had been able to learn nothing about the
visit except what gossip said, and to-day he was full of hope and fear,
as he watched. His fears were stronger, but he was young and he could
not keep from hoping.
The Inverness, as every one in Algonquin knew, gave ample
warning of her leave-taking. At exactly half-an-hour before the hour
set for sailing, she always blew one long blast from her whistle. At
fifteen minutes to the hour she blew two shorter toots, and just on the
eve of departure three blasts loud and sharp. This final warning, which
Doctor Blair had profanely named the last trump, had been sounded, and
Roderick began to look anxious for she had not yet appeared nor Mrs.
Adams either. But he had gone sailing on picnics via the Inverness
too many times to be seriously alarmed. The door of the little
wheel-house where the captain had now taken his stand, commanded a view
of Main Street rising up from the water, and no native of Algonquin
could do him the injustice to suppose that he would sail away while any
one was waving to him from the hill.
A half dozen women were signalling him now, and the captain blew a
reassuring blast. And then round the corner from Elm Street, moving
leisurely, came a stout swaying figure, with floating draperies.
Children clung to her hands, children hung by her skirts, children ran
after her and children danced before her. And long before she reached
the water's edge could be heard her admonitions, Now, you, Johnnie
Pickett, don't you dare to walk down there in the dirt. Maddie Willis,
just you tie that hat on your head again, you'll get a sunstroke, you
know you will. Jimmie Hurd, you leave that poor little dog alone
Roderick looked eagerly beyond the lady, and there she was, at the
rear of the procession, bringing up the stragglers. She was wearing a
dress of that dull blue he liked to see her wear, the blue that was
just a shade paler than her eyes, and she wore a big white shady hat.
As she came nearer he could see she was laughing at Johnnie Pickett's
wicked antics. Her face had lost all its old sadness. Roderick's heart
was filled with a great foreboding. Had Dick Wells' visit brought that
new colour to her cheek and the sparkle to her eyes? He wanted to go
down and help her and her flock on board, for Gladys Hurd and Mrs.
Perkins and Eddie and the baby were with her, and a half-dozen little
folk were asking each a half-dozen questions of her at one moment. But
he stood back shyly watching her from a distance, as Dr. Blair and
Harry Lauder and the rest of the Highland Club helped them on board,
the Piper meanwhile circling around Madame much to her disgust.
When they were all on board and the Inverness had again given
the three short shrieks which announced she was really and truly
starting, Roderick suddenly realised that Lawyer Ed was not on board.
Now a Scotchman's picnic without Lawyer Ed was an absurd and
unthinkable thing, beside which Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark
would have seemed perfectly reasonable and natural. He ran to the
captain, but there were several ahead of him with the dire news. For
the Inverness had no sooner begun to move from the wharf than
the awful truth had dawned upon a dozen folk at once. They had rushed
from three directions and attacked the captain and Young Peter and the
Ancient Mariner and demanded of them what they meant by such outrageous
conduct. Very much abashed by her mistake the Inverness came
surging back, the captain taking refuge in the Gaelic to express his
dismay. They were just in time, for there he was tearing down the
street in his buggy, Miss Annabel Armstrong and Mrs. Captain Willoughby
squeezed in beside him and the horse going at such a breakneck pace
that the dust and stones flew up on every side and there was danger
that they would drive right into the lake. They stopped just on the
brink. Lawyer Ed leaped out, flung the lines to a lounger on the dock
bidding him take the horse back to the stable, helped the ladies
alight, and had rushed them on board before the gang-plank could be put
in place. The crowd cheered, and he waved his hat and shouted with
laughter, over the narrow escape; but the ladies looked a little
ruffled. They had not intended to come to the picnic; the day of
private launches and motor-cars was dawning over Algonquin, and these
public picnics were not in favour among the best people, therefore Mrs.
Captain Willoughby had felt that she did not care to go, and the Misses
Armstrong had felt they did not dare to go. But Lawyer Ed did not
approve of social distinctions of any sort whatever, and he was
determined that the best people should come out and have a good time
like the worst. So he had gone right into the enemy's camp and carried
off two of the leaders captive, and here they were half-laughing and
half-annoyed and explaining carefully to their friends how they had not
had the slightest intention of coming in such a mixed crowd but that
dreadful man just made them.
Once more the Inverness gave her last agonised shriek, the
captain shouted to the Ancient Mariner to get away there, for what was
he doing whatever, and with a great deal of fussing and steaming and
whistling the voyage was again commenced. The band gave place to the
Piper, and he marched out to the tune of The Cock o' the North,
looking exactly like a great giant humming-bird, his plumage flashing
in the sunlight, as he went buzzing around the deck. Harry Lauder and
the doctor and two or three others of the frivolous young folk in the
kilts went away off to where the minister could not see them and danced
a Highland reel. The people who did not quite approve of public picnics
gathered in a group by themselves, Miss Annabel Armstrong and Mrs.
Captain Willoughby in the centre, and told each other all the latest
news about Toronto, and yawned and wished they could have a game of
whist, but Dr. Leslie would be sure to see them. The tired mothers who
seldom went beyond their garden gate, handed over their children to
Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, and settled themselves contentedly in a
circle to have a good old-fashioned visit. Up in the bow, a group of
the older men surrounded Dr. Leslie. Old Angus McRae was so seldom seen
at any festivity that his presence had made the picnic an event to his
old friends. Again and again Dr. Leslie placed his hand on the old
man's knee and said, Well, well, Angus, it's a treat to see you here.
And Peter Fiddle, the outcast and drunkard, sat in the group and
listened eagerly to their talk like a man who had been long away and
was eager to hear again the speech of his native land. And indeed poor
Peter had been for many years in a far country, and his return had
opened up a new life to him. Roderick sat behind his father's chair and
listened as they talked and wondered to hear Peter take his part with a
fine intelligence. He looked at his father and thought of all the weary
years he had toiled for Peter, and he was filled with a great gratitude
that this was the sort of splendid work to which he had been called. He
would take his father's place on the Jericho Road. It might be a
highway here in Algonquin, the future was all unquestioned, but
wherever it was the Vision would stand by him as He had stood in that
hour of despair. And how glorious to think he might pick up a Peter
from the dirt and help to restore him to his manhood.
J. P. Thornton had led the conversation to theological subjects. J.
P. read along many lines, and it was whispered that he had queer ideas
about the Bible.
Lawyer Ed had been balancing himself on the railing of the deck
listening for some time but it was impossible that he could stay in the
one place long when the whole boat was crowded with his intimate
friends. So when J. P. intimated that modern criticism pointed to two
Isaiahs and Jock McPherson strongly objected to the second one, Lawyer
Ed yawned, and telling them he would be back in an instant, he wandered
Come awa, ma braw John Hielanman, he whispered to Roderick. This
is a heavy subject for a pair of young fellows like you and me on a
picnic day, come along and see what Archie Blair's up to. I'll bet my
new bonnet and plume he's dancing the Highland fling in some obscure
Roderick went most willingly. He knew Lawyer Ed would go straight to
Madame, and where Madame was, there would she be also.
Afternoon Tea Willie who had finally come on board with a dozen
young ladies, was running here and there at their beck and call in
desperate haste. Lawyer Ed paused to chat with the girls, for he could
never pass even one, and Roderick turned to Alfred and thanked him for
the service to his father.
Oh, that's nothing at all! cried the young man. You did me a
favour lots of times, Rod. When I had no one else to talk to and tell
my trouble! He smiled at the remembrance of them. His cheek was
flushed and his eyes were glowing. He looked as though he possessed
some great secret. He came close and began to speak hesitatingly and
Roderick knew he was going to be the recipient of more confidences.
Say, Rod, do you see that young lady over there beside Anna Baldwin?
Roderick looked and saw the latest arrival in Algonquin, a very
handsome and well-dressed young lady who was visiting the Misses
Baldwin. Yes, said Roderick in a very callous manner, I see her. He
drew Roderick away a little distance from the group and whispered:
WellIthis is in strict confidence, you know, Roderick; I would
not confide in any one but you, you know. Butwellthat is she!
She? who? asked Roderick.
Alfred looked pained. Why the only she in all the world for me. Her
name is Eveline Allan. Did you ever hear anything more musical? She
came here just last week to visit the Baldwin girls, and they asked me
to go to the station to meet her with them, and the moment I set eyes
on her I just knew she was the only one in the world for me. I have
sometimes imagined myself to be in love, but it was all imagination. I
never really knew before.
Roderick found it impossible to conceal a smile.
Oh, I know what you are thinking about, you are wondering if I have
forgotten Miss Murray. But I have lived that down long ago. It was
madness for me to think of one who was in love with another man.
Roderick looked at him so eloquently that he went on.
I never really cared for her, in that way, anyway. I realise that
now, and now that the man she was engaged to has come back
What? asked Roderick sharply.
The man she was engaged to. Don't you remember my telling you about
him? Why, they have made up again. He was here to see her last winter
and he was in Toronto to see her in the Easter holidays when she was
down there. I was very glad that it has all turned out so, for I found
out my mistake as soon as I set eyes on Eveline. I know I ought not to
call her that yet, and I don't to her of course. Don't you think she
has wonderful eyes? I always felt that dark eyes are much more
expressive than blue or even hazel ones, don't you? Oh, there is Anna
calling me. Excuse me, I must run.
He flew back to the group, and Roderick was left to digest what he
had told him. Unfortunately Alfred had a reputation for finding out
things and he had no reason to doubt his assertion. He slowly followed
Lawyer Ed about. They made their way down the length of the deck, his
chief shaking hands with every one, and at last away in the stern under
a shady awning he saw her. She was seated with Madame on one side,
little Mrs. Perkins on the other, Gladys Hurd and Eddie at her feet,
the Perkins' baby on her knee and a crowd of children about her. There
was no hope of having a word with her even had he the courage to go
forward and speak to her.
The children were sitting open mouthed, staring up into the face of
Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby, while in low thrilling tones she was telling
how the dreadful big giant came slowly up the stairs, every step
creaking under him, and the lovely Princess behind the door just
squeezed herself into a teenty weenty crack and held her breath till he
Lawyer Ed burst into the story with a roar, and every one leaped and
shrieked as if the giant himself had sprung into their midst. He caught
two of the youngsters and bumped their heads together, he chased a
shrieking half dozen to a refuge behind a pile of life-preservers, he
tossed a couple up in the air and pretended he was going to fling them
overboard, and finally he took out a great package from his pocket and
sent a shower of pink gum-drops raining down over the deck, and the
whole boat was turned into a mad and joyful riot!
Roderick lingered about for a few minutes until Miss Murray nodded
and smiled to him across a surging sea of little heads, then he
wandered down below to where the Ancient Mariner was seated spinning
yarns to a crowd of young people.
Indeed and I could tell you many as good a one as that, he was
saying in response to the sighs of amazement. I haff a great head for
the tales. If I would jist be hafing the grammar I would challenge
anybody to beat me at them. Take Scott now. He had the grammar. That's
what makes folk think his stories are so great. But if I had just had
his chance! You get an eddication, you young people. There's nothing
like the grammar indeed!
Roderick leaned over the little pit of the engine room and talked
with Young Peter. The dull eyes were shining. This was a great day for
Did you see him? he whispered to Roderick. Did you see my father?
driving down with your father? Jist like any gentleman! Eh, but it was
Yes, it's splendid to see them together at last, Pete, said
Roderick sympathetically. And then he had to listen again to the tale
Young Peter never tired telling, how Rod's father had saved his father
that stormy night on the Jericho Road. How Lawyer Ed could not sleep
because Roderick had left him, and how he had driven out to the farm in
the night to comfort Angus and had found the two on the road nearly
frozen! Young Peter had an attentive listener, for Roderick could not
tire of hearing the wonderful story.
They had passed through the Gates, and the news went around that the
Island was near. It was a beautiful big stretch of green with a sloping
shingly beach at one end, and a high range of white cliffs at the
other, which J. P. Thornton said made him homesick, for they always
reminded him of England.
There were many islands in Lake Algonquin; nevertheless when you
said The Island every one knew you meant that big, lovely, grassy place
away out beyond the Gates, swept by the cool breezes of Lake Simcoe
where Algonquin always went for her picnics.
When the cry went forth that the Island was at hand every one ran to
the railing and leaned over to watch the Inverness slip in
between the big stone breakwater and the dock which stretched out to
meet them. Captain Jimmie from his wheel-house called to them,
threateningly and beseechingly, commanding every one to go back or
she'd be going over whatever. As usual no one heeded him and so the
accident happened. Perhaps it was the lure of the Piper, now skirling
madly from the bow, with flying ribbons, that distracted the captain,
as well as the disobedience of the passengers; whatever was the reason,
the Inverness, generally so stately and staid, suddenly gave a
lurch, and went crash into the wharf as though she intended to ride
right over the Island. Of course in a tourney with the Inverness, there could be only one result. The wharf heaved up and went over like
an unhorsed knight accompanied by a terrible creaking and ripping and
groaning as of armour being rent asunder. Disaster always stripped
Captain Jimmie of his nautical cloak and left him the true landsman. He
dashed out of his little house and leaning over the railing shouted to
the Ancient Mariner: Sandy, ye gomeril! Back her up, back up, man,
she's goin' over!
There were shouts and shrieks from the passengers even above the din
of the Piper who played gallantly on. The crowd rushed to the side to
see what had happened, and there might have been a real catastrophe had
not Lawyer Ed taken command. While the captain and the Ancient Mariner
were fiercely arguing the question of whose fault it was, he dashed
into the crowd and bade every one in a voice of thunder to go back to
his or her seats and be quiet. Lawyer Ed was a terrifying sight when he
was angry, and he was promptly obeyed. The excited crowd scattered, the
children were collected, the alarm subsided and they all waited
laughingly to see what was to be done.
Meantime Dr. Blair and Harry Lauder had launched a canoe that was on
board and were paddling round the wharf to investigate.
I'm afraid it's hopeless, Jimmie! shouted the doctor. For the
floor of the landing place had almost assumed the perpendicular.
Nobody could land here that wasn't a chipmunk!
This was disconcerting news and a wail arose from Madame's flock.
Haud yer whist! roared Lawyer Ed. We'll get to land somehow, if I
have to swim to shore with you all on my back. Hi! he gave a shout
that made the beech woods on the Island ring.
Hi! Archie, mon! You and Harry paddle over and bring that scow!
We'll load her and go ashore like Robinson Crusoes!
A big scow or float, used as a rest for row boats and canoes lay
near the end of the dock moored to the shore. A couple of agile young
men leaped upon the upturned wharf, and making their way on all fours
along it, they reached the scow in time to assist the doctor and Harry
Lauder to bring it to the side of the boat. Meanwhile Lawyer Ed stood
up on the deck and roared out superfluous orders in a broad Scottish
dialect that was rather overdone.
The rescuing vessel was received with cheers and the gang-plank was
put in place.
Women and children first! cried Ed heroically, but Madame, in the
centre of her flock called out an indignant refusal.
No, indeed, the children are not going first. You, Johnnie Pickett
and Jimmie Hurd, you come right back off that thing, do you hear me?
You go along yourself some of you Scotchmen, and see if it will hold,
and then I'll bring my babies. You're in your bathing suits anyway,
she added cruelly, for Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby was not a Scotchwoman,
and did not know how to appreciate the kilts.
So the Piper marched out upon the scow, playing magnificently; some
dozen young men followed him and with poles pushed themselves ashore.
Then, amid cheers a couple of volunteers came back for another load
from the wrecked vessel. When several trips had been made successfully
and Madame and the children had been safely landed, Alfred Wilbur came
forward and offered to pole a crowd over. Of course the crowd consisted
of young ladies with the Baldwin girls and their pretty guest as the
Alfred placed himself upon the scow, pole in hand and with many
gallant remarks from Lawyer Ed the young ladies were handed on board.
One by one they tripped out over the gang-plank, laughing gaily, their
muslins and ribbons, their sashes and bracelets, their pink cheeks and
bright eyes transforming the old scow into a floating garden. No wonder
Alfred became excited over captaining such a fair cargo. In his nervous
zeal he encouraged more than his sailing capacity would admit, and when
the scow was almost crowded he saw to his dismay that the Baldwin girls
and their guest had not yet come on board. He had pictured himself,
pole in hand, shoving off before all the picnickers with Miss Allan
clinging to his arm, and he began to grow anxious lest she be carried
off in one of the row boats now come to the rescue.
Move over further, won't you, girls, please, he called to his
laughing, chattering crew. I mean move a little aft won't you, please.
I beg your pardon for troubling you, Belle! Alice! If you and
FlossieCome, Anna. Come, Louise! Anna, bring Miss Allan; there's
acres of room yet.
Thus encouraged, another group tripped over the gang-plank and at
the same moment, those already on board, anxious to oblige Alf, who was
always obliging them, crowded over to the farther side. But so much
weight suddenly placed on one end of the scow brought dire disaster.
Without a moment's warning, down went the heavy end three feet into the
water, half submerging its shrieking passengers, and up came the light
end with the unfortunate pilot perched upon it like Hiawatha's
Adjidaumo, on the end of his Cheemaun!
Fortunately the water was not deep, and in a moment a dozen young
men had plunged in and righted the capsized craft. But there were
shrieks from all sides and threats of fainting, and dreadful anathemas
heaped upon the innocent cause of the disaster, as the bedraggled young
ladies, lately so trim, crawled back to the Inverness.
The catastrophe could not possibly have happened to any one whom it
would distress more than Alf. He stood in speechless dismay watching
the dripping procession pass. And when the pretty guest of the Baldwin
girls splashed past him with a look which would have been withering had
she not been so drenched, his despair was complete. He looked for a few
moments as if he were about to throw himself into the lake, then he
flung down his pole, and crept away aft to hide his diminished head
behind a pile of life-preservers. Roderick captured a row-boat, and
placed his father and Old Peter and a couple of their friends in it,
and with the huge basket Aunt Kirsty had packed for them he rowed to
When they landed, the old men seated themselves on a grassy mound
under a big elm, and the basket was snatched from Roderick's hand and
whirled away to the commissariat department in a big pavilion near at
In a short time the long white tables were set beneath the trees
with a musical tinkling of cups; there was a table for the Sons
themselves and their friends, a table for the commoner folk and,
farther up the shore, here and there, little groups of friends gathered
by themselves. There was Madame seated on the ground away off at the
edge of the beech grove, like the queen of the fairies holding court.
The fairies were all there, too, seated in a wide circle, too busy to
talk, as the sandwiches and cake and pie disappeared. Roderick had not
once lost sight of Helen. She was there too, with Mrs. Perkins and
Gladys. But he had to turn his back on the pretty group and join his
father at the table spread for the Sons of Scotland. Dr. Leslie stood
up at the head of it, his white hair ruffled by the lake breeze, and
asked a blessing on the feast. And when the Scotchmen had put on their
bonnets again and were seated the Piper tuned up once more and swept
around the tables playing a fine strathspey. Lawyer Ed had a seat near
the head of the table but he was too happy to sit still and kept it
only at intervals. He ran up and down the tables, darted away to this
group and that, taking a bite here and a drink there, until Dr. Blair
declared that Ed had eaten seven different and separate meals by the
time the tables were cleared away.
He stopped at a little group seated around a white table cloth laid
upon the grass, to inquire if they would like some more hot water.
No, said Mrs. Captain Willoughby, whose party it was. We've
plenty. We've been in hot water, in fact, ever since we started.
Annabel and I are having a dispute we want settled. Come here, Edward,
I'm sure you can decide.
It's perfect nonsense, broke in Miss Annabel. Leslie is no more
likely to marry him than you are, Margaret!
Marry whom? asked Lawyer Ed eagerly, Me?
Miss Annabel screamed and said he was perfectly dreadful, but Mrs.
Willoughby broke in.
No, not you, you conceited thing, but your partner. I thought
Leslie claimed him as her property. She practically told the Baldwin
girls she intended to marry Roderick McRae. And now she's left him and
gone off to be a nurse.
Miss Annabel's fair face flushed hotly. How utterly preposterous.
Why, if you lived at Rosemount you'd know whom Mr. McRae would be
likely to marry. As for Leslie, she never cared any more for him than
you did. You know how she loves fun. She was just enjoying herself. I
admit that she might have found a better way of putting in the time,
but it was only a girl's nonsense. I was just dreadful that way myself
when I was Leslie's age, a few years ago.
Indeed you were, Annabel, cried Lawyer Ed, scenting danger and
wisely steering to a safer subject, You were a dreadful flirt. Many a
heart you broke and I am afraid you haven't reformed either.
This put the lady into a good humour at once. She laughed gaily,
confessing that she was really awfully giddy she knew, but she could
not help it. And Mrs. Captain Willoughby, who never encouraged Miss
Annabel in her youthfulness, said very dryly that she supposed they had
all been silly when they were girls but she believed there was a time
Lawyer Ed saw conversational rocks ahead once more and piloted
around them. What is this I hear about Leslie? he asked. Is she
going to be a nurse?
Oh, dear, groaned Miss Annabel. That girl will break her mother's
heart, and all our hearts. Just think of Leslie who never did a thing
harder than put up her own hair going to be a nurse. It is perfectly
absurd, but she has gone and Elizabeth will just have to let her go on
until experience teaches her better.
I think it's the most sensible thing she ever did, declared Mrs.
Willoughby, and you shouldn't discourage her. She'll make a fine wife
for that boy of yours, Edward.
Lawyer Ed shook his head. He had had his own shrewd suspicions
regarding Roderick for some time and Miss Annabel's hint had set him
I've been such a conspicuous failure in any attempt to get a wife
of my own, he said in the deepest melancholy, that I wouldn't presume
to prescribe for any other man. And he hastened back to his own table.
It was a great day. The Scotchmen ran races, and tossed the caber
and walked the greasy pole across from the capsized dock to the
Inverness. The Piper played, and the band played, and everybody ate
all the ice cream and popcorn and drank all the lemonade possible.
At exactly seven o'clock the Inverness gave a terrible roar.
This was to warn every one that going home time had arrived. Mrs.
Doasyouwouldbedoneby began collecting the fairies for the difficult
task of getting them on the scow and thence to the Inverness.
All day Lawyer Ed had been keeping an eye on Roderick and had no
difficulty in confirming his suspicion that the Lad was unhappy, and he
immediately conceived of a plan to help him. He called a half-dozen
young men together and just as Madame was ready to walk across the
Island to the scow, Lawyer Ed came rowing round the bend with a fleet
of boats to carry them all down to the Inverness. Then such a
joyful scrambling and climbing as there was, while Mrs.
Doasyouwouldbedoneby got her water-babies afloat. Lawyer Ed had seen to
it that Roderick was in charge of the one canoe, and as a row-boat in
the eyes of Algonquin youths, was a thing to be despised, all the older
water-babies screamed with joy at the sight of him, and as soon as he
had run it up on the sand they swarmed into it filling it to
This was likely to ruin all Lawyer Ed's fine plan and he charged
down upon them with a terrible roar and chased them all to the shelter
of Madame's skirts.
Get away back there, you young rascals! he shouted. You ought to
know better than to try a load like that, Rod, you simpleton. Two
passengers at the most are all you want with that arm of yours! He
glanced about him. Helen Murray was standing near with the Perkins baby
in her arms, while the little mother, free from all care for the first
time in many hard years, was wandering happily about with her hands
full of wild roses.
Here, Miss Murray, he cried, you jump in. You are just the right
weight for this maimed pilot. 'Ere, William 'Enry, you come to me! But
William Henry, now a sturdy little fellow of a-year-and-a-half,
tightened his arms around his friend's neck and yelled his disapproval
Well, now, will yer look at that! cried the little mother proudly.
Wot'll Daddy say w'en I tell 'im? The little rascal's so took with the
young loidy. 'Ush up there now, bless 'is 'eart. See, 'e'll go with
mammy. She dropped her roses into Gladys's hands, and held out her
arms, and the fickle young gentleman, let go his grip on his friend,
and leaped upon his mother, crowing and squealing with delight. Helen
waved him farewell as she stepped into the canoe, and the baby waved
her a fat square paw in return. Gladys and Eddie were about to follow
her, when the Lawyer Ed again interposed.
No, you mustn't take a load, Rod, this is your first paddle, so get
away with you. Now you kids, hop into this boat and you'll be there
just as soon as Miss Murray! he roared. Roderick pushed off afraid to
look at his chief lest the overwhelming gratitude he felt might be seen
in his face.
Lawyer Ed turned and watched them for a moment. They made a fine
picture as they glided up the curving shore under the drooping birches
and alders. Roderick kneeling in the stern, straight and strong, with
no sign now of the illness he had been through, and the girl in the
bow, her blue gown and her uncovered golden head making a bit of
colouring perfectly harmonious with the sparkling waves and the sunlit
But Lawyer Ed's gaze was fixed on Roderick. The joy in the Lad's
eyes, answered in his own. Lawyer Ed's joys were all of the vicarious
sort. He was always happy because he made other people so, but to be
able to make Rod happy; that was his crowning joy.
Roderick was more afraid than happy. It seemed too good to be true,
that she was here with him alone. At first he could do nothing but look
at her in silence. She was so much more beautiful than he had thought,
with that new radiance in her eyes. And then his own brief happiness
waned, as he wondered miserably if it had been brought there by Dick
She was the first to speak. Are you getting quite strong again?
she asked kindly.
Oh yes, I am quite myself. I feel ready for any kind of work now.
Then I suppose you will be going back to Montreal?
No. Roderick had made that decision long ago. No, I could not go
with the firm that engaged menow. He was thinking how impossible
those mining deals would be in the eyes of one who had been granted a
glimpse into the unseen. Henceforth he knew there was no such work for
him. For mine eyes hath seen the King, he often repeated to himself.
She misunderstood him. Oh, she said, I thoughtI was told that
Mr. Graham's lawyers wanted you, that the position had been kept for
Yes, they were very kind, but I could not. Something happened that
made it impossible for me to take up their work again. So for the
present I am a fixture in Algonquin, until Lawyer Ed grows tired of
She laughed at that, for Lawyer Ed's love for Roderick was a proverb
in Algonquin. He had never heard her laugh before. The sound was very
You will stay a long time then, she said. Algonquin is a good
place to live in.
You like it? he asked eagerly.
Yes, ever so much. I shall be sorry to leave at the mid-summer
Roderick's heart stood still. II didn't know, he faltered. I
thought you were staying for the whole year.
She looked up at him, and then her eyes fell. The mingled adoration
and hunger and dismay written plainly in the Lad's frank eyes were
impossible to misunderstand. She had seen that look there before many
times in the past winter. She had been afraid of it then, and she had
run away from his good-bye that snowy day when he had left Algonquin.
For then she had not wanted to see that look in the eyes of any man.
She had seen it once before and had yielded to its spell, and the
love-light had died out and left her life desolate. But since she had
last talked with Roderick McRae, she had seen those eyes again, lit
with the old love, and to her amazement she had found no answer in her
heart. She had far outgrown Dick Wells in her self-forgetful life she
had taken up in Algonquin. She had taken up the burdens of others just
to ease her own pain, promising herself that when this or that task was
finished she could turn to her own grief and nurse it. But the
self-indulgence had been so long postponed that when the opportunity
came and she had gone back to her old sorrow, behold it was gone. And
in its place sat the memory of Roderick McRae's unspoken devotion, his
chivalrous silent waiting for his opportunity.
So when poor Roderick all unschooled in hiding his feelings let her
see in one swift glance all that her going meant to him she was
speechless before the joy of it. She stooped and trailed her fingers in
the green water, to hide her happy confusion. Then remembering she was
leaving him under a misunderstanding she glanced up at him swiftly.
I don't, she said breathlessly, I didn't mean I was going away to
stay. I meant only for the summer holidays.
The transformation of his countenance was a further revelation, had
she needed any.
Oh, he said, and then paused. Oh, I'm so glad! Very simple words
but they contained volumes. He was silent for a moment unable to say
any more, and she filled in the awkward pause nervously, scarcely
knowing what she said.
You were sorry too, were you not, when you went away?
It was the hardest task I ever met in my life, said Roderick. And
you didn't let me say good-bye to you. He was growing quite reckless
now to speak thus to a young lady who might be going to announce her
She had not gained anything by her headlong plunge into conversation
so she tried again.
Not even your operation? she asked. That was worse, wasn't it?
My operation wasn't hard, said Roderick dreamily, his mind going
back to the sacred wonder of that hour. No, I hadhelp. He said it
hesitatingly. It was hard to mention that event, even to her. He had
spoken of it to no living person but his father.
Indeed, I heard about how brave you were, she said. I was told
that there was never any one with such self-control.
Roderick looked at her in alarm. Who told you? he asked abruptly.
She looked straight across at him and her eyes were very steady, though
her colour rose. Doctor Wells told me. He assisted, didn't he?
Roderick's eyes fell. He tried to answer but he sat before her dumb
and dismayed. She saw his confusion, and rightly guessed the cause. Her
nature was too simple and direct to pretend, she wanted to tell him the
truth and she did not know how.
Doctor Wells was here last winter, she faltered, as a beginning,
then could get no further. Roderick made a desperate effort to regain
control of himself, and spoke with an attempt at nonchalance.
Yes, he told me he was coming. He promised to come and see me too,
but he didn't.
No, she caught a twig of cedar from a branch that brushed her
fragrantly as she passed. Her fingers trembled as she held it to her
lips. Hehe told you he was coming? she asked.
Yes, said poor Roderick briefly.
Thenthen, perhaps he told you why? She was examining the cedar
sprig carefully, and Roderick was thankful. He would not have cared for
her to see his face just then. She was going to tell him of her renewed
engagement he knew.
Yes, he told me, he said. She was silent for a little, looking
away over the ripples of Lake Simcoe to the green arms of the channel
that showed the way to Algonquin.
Would itwould you think it right to tell me what he said?
He said, repeated Roderick, wishing miserably that Wells' words
did him less credit, he said that even if a fellow played the fool
once in his life that was no reason why he should take it up as a
life's profession. He paused and then came out in the boldness of
desperation with the rest. And he said that he was pretty sure he
would get a welcome when he came. She flushed at that, and there came
a proud sparkle into her eyes.
She sat erect and looked Roderick straight in the eyes. And now,
since you have told me,and I thank you for it,I must give you his
message. He left one for you.
Yes? Roderick braced himself as for a blow.
Yes, he left a message for you. I did not intend to deliver it but
since he confided in you I feel I am doing no harm. He said to tell you
the reason he couldn't wait to see you was that he had played the fool
once more, and that was when he thought a woman couldn't forget.
She dropped her eyes when she had finished. Her fine courage was
gone. She dipped one trembling hand into the water again and laid it
against her hot cheek.
Roderick sat and looked at her for a moment uncomprehending. It took
some time to grasp all that her confession meant. When finally its
meaning dawned upon him, he drew in a great breath.
Oh! he said in a wondering whisper. I never was so happy in my
life! It was not a very eloquent speech, it did not seem at all
relevant, but she seemed to understand. She glanced up for an instant
with a shy smile, and then Lawyer Ed with Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby and
such a load of water-babies, that they looked as if they might sink
into their native caves, came shouting round the point, and bore down
The sun was sinking into the island maze of Lake Algonquin and the
moon was coming up out of Lake Simcoe when the Inverness sailed
homeward through the Gates. The little breeze that had danced all day
out on the larger lake had gone to sleep here in the shelter of the
islands, and Algonquin lay as still as a golden mirror. A faint shimmer
of colour was spread over it like a shining veil. It was scarcely
discernible where the crystal water lay motionless, but as the
Inverness sailed across the delicate web it broke into waves of
amber and lilac and rose. The little islands did not seem to touch the
water but floated in the air like dream-islands, deep purple and bronze
in the shadows. From their depths arose vesper songs. Bob White's
silver whistle, clear and sweet, the White throat's long call of
Canada, Canada, Canada, as though the little patriot could never tell
all his love and joy in his beautiful home, the loon's eery laugh far
away down the golden channel, and the whippoorwill and the cat-bird and
the veery in the tree-tops. It was a wonderful night.
As the sunset colours grew fainter, and the moon's silver
brightened, the passengers became quieter. The Piper went below and
listened to the Ancient Mariner spin a yarn, and let the birds along
the shore furnish music. The babies fell asleep in the arms of Mrs.
Doasyouwouldbedoneby, lovers drifted away in pairs to retired nooks. In
a quiet corner J. P. Thornton and Lawyer Ed sat and laid once more
their final plans for a trip to the Holy Land, certain this time of
their realisation. The older people sat by the wheel house and talked
of their younger days. Roderick left his father the centre of the
group, and went in search of Helen. He found her sitting in a sheltered
nook with Gladys. The Perkins baby had fallen asleep in her arms, and
as Roderick approached the younger girl lifted the baby to carry him to
his mother. He slipped into her seat by Helen's side. She smiled at
him. It seemed quite natural and right that he should take that place
without asking permission.
They leaned over the railing, the brightness of the sunset reflected
in their faces and talked of many things, of the first time he had seen
her here on the Inverness, of his hopes and ambitions for a
career of greatness, as he had counted greatness, of his chasing the
shifting rainbow gold, until a Voice had said Thus far shalt thou go.
He even hinted at the Vision that had come to him when he went down
into the Valley named of the Shadow, and of how he knew now the value
of that real gold at the end of life's rainbow. And she told him how
she too had found her rainbow gold. Its gleam had led her through
storms and lonely journeyings, but she had followed, and she had found
it at last, found it in the new light of hope that had awakened in many
dull eyes in Willow Lane.
They were silent then, there was no more to be said. For the story
of each had been the story of the journey that ended in their meeting.
Henceforth, for them, there would be one gleam, and they would follow
They had been slipping past the shadow of Wanda Island and now came
out once more into the gold of the sunlight. Algonquin lay before them
buried in purpling woods. Away above the little town, beyond the
circling forest, and beyond the hills shone the last gleam of the day.
The Inverness was going straight up the track of the Sun.