Part 3 out of 4
'It was well done,' he said; and I felt proud. I confess I was
thankful to be so well out of it, for Graeme got off with a bone in
his wrist broken, and I with a couple of ribs cracked; but had it
not been for the open barrel of whisky which kept them occupied for
a time, offering too good a chance to be lost, and for the timely
arrival of Nelson, neither of us had ever seen the light again.
We found Craig sound asleep upon his couch. His consternation on
waking to see us torn, bruised, and bloody was laughable; but he
hastened to find us warm water and bandages, and we soon felt
Baptiste was radiant with pride and light over the fight, and
hovered about Graeme and me giving vent to his feelings in admiring
French and English expletives. But Abe was disgusted because of
the failure at Slavin's; for when Nelson looked in, he saw Slavin's
French-Canadian wife in charge, with her baby on her lap, and he
came back to Shaw and said, 'Come away, we can't touch this'; and
Shaw, after looking in, agreed that nothing could be done. A baby
held the fort.
As Craig listened to the account of the fight, he tried hard not to
approve, but he could not keep the gleam out of his eyes; and as I
pictured Graeme dashing back the crowd thronging the barricade till
he was brought down by the chair, Craig laughed gently, and put his
hand on Graeme's knee. And as I went on to describe my agony while
Idaho's fingers were gradually nearing the knife, his face grew
pale and his eyes grew wide with horror.
'Baptiste here did the business,' I said, and the little Frenchman
nodded complacently and said--
'Dat's me for sure.'
'By the way, how is your foot?' asked Graeme.
'He's fuss-rate. Dat's what you call--one bite of--of--dat leel
bees, he's dere, you put your finger dere, he's not dere!--what you
'Flea!' I suggested.
'Oui!' cried Baptiste. 'Dat's one bite of flea.'
'I was thankful I was under the barrels,' I replied, smiling.
'Oui! Dat's mak' me ver mad. I jump an' swear mos' awful bad.
Dat's pardon me, M'sieu Craig, heh?'
But Craig only smiled at him rather sadly. 'It was awfully risky,'
he said to Graeme, 'and it was hardly worth it. They'll get more
whisky, and anyway the League is gone.'
'Well,' said Graeme with a sigh of satisfaction, 'it is not quite
such a one-sided affair as it was.'
And we could say nothing in reply, for we could hear Nixon snoring
in the next room, and no one had heard of Billy, and there were
others of the League that we knew were even now down at Slavin's.
It was thought best that all should remain in Mr. Craig's shack, not
knowing what might happen; and so we lay where we could and we
needed none to sing us to sleep.
When I awoke, stiff and sore, it was to find breakfast ready and
old man Nelson in charge. As we were seated, Craig came in, and I
saw that he was not the man of the night before. His courage had
come back, his face was quiet and his eye clear; he was his own man
'Geordie has been out all night, but has failed to find Billy,' he
We did not talk much; Graeme and I worried with our broken bones,
and the others suffered from a general morning depression. But,
after breakfast, as the men were beginning to move, Craig took down
his Bible, and saying--
'Wait a few minutes, men!' he read slowly, in his beautiful clear
voice, that psalm for all fighters--
'God is our refuge and strength,'
and soon to the noble words--
'The Lord of Hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.'
How the mighty words pulled us together, lifted us till we grew
ashamed of our ignoble rage and of our ignoble depression!
And then Craig prayed in simple, straight-going words. There was
acknowledgement of failure, but I knew he was thinking chiefly of
himself; and there was gratitude, and that was for the men about
him, and I felt my face burn with shame; and there was petition for
help, and we all thought of Nixon, and Billy, and the men wakening
from their debauch at Slavin's this pure, bright morning. And then
he asked that we might be made faithful and worthy of God, whose
battle it was. Then we all stood up and shook hands with him in
silence, and every man knew a covenant was being made. But none
saw his meeting with Nixon. He sent us all away before that.
Nothing was heard of the destruction of the hotel stock-in-trade.
Unpleasant questions would certainly be asked, and the proprietor
decided to let bad alone. On the point of respectability the
success of the ball was not conspicuous, but the anti-League men
were content, if not jubilant.
Billy Breen was found by Geordie late in the afternoon in his own
old and deserted shack, breathing heavily, covered up in his
filthy, mouldering bed-clothes, with a half-empty bottle of whisky
at his side. Geordie's grief and rage were beyond even his Scotch
control. He spoke few words, but these were of such concentrated
vehemence that no one felt the need of Abe's assistance in
Poor Billy! We carried him to Mrs. Mavor's home; put him in a warm
bath, rolled him in blankets, and gave him little sips of hot
water, then of hot milk and coffee; as I had seen a clever doctor
in the hospital treat a similar case of nerve and heart depression.
But the already weakened system could not recover from the awful
shock of the exposure following the debauch; and on Sunday
afternoon we saw that his heart was failing fast. All day the
miners had been dropping in to inquire after him, for Billy had
been a great favourite in other days, and the attention of the town
had been admiringly centred upon his fight of these last weeks. It
was with no ordinary sorrow that the news of his condition was
received. As Mrs. Mavor sang to him, his large coarse hands moved
in time to the music, but he did not open his eyes till he heard
Mr. Craig's voice in the next room; then he spoke his name, and Mr.
Craig was kneeling beside him in a moment. The words came slowly--
'Oi tried--to fight it hout--but---oi got beaten. Hit 'urts to
think 'E's hashamed o' me. Oi'd like t'a done better--oi would.'
'Ashamed of you, Billy!' said Craig, in a voice that broke. 'Not
'An'--ye hall--'elped me so!' he went on. 'Oi wish oi'd 'a done
better--oi do,' and his eyes sought Geordie, and then rested on
Mrs. Mavor, who smiled back at him with a world of love in her
'You hain't hashamed o' me--yore heyes saigh so,' he said looking
'No, Billy,' she said, and I wondered at her steady voice, 'not a
bit. Why, Billy, I am proud of you.'
He gazed up at her with wonder and ineffable love in his little
eyes, then lifted his hand slightly toward her. She knelt quickly
and took it in both of hers, stroking it and kissing it.
'Oi haught t'a done better. Oi'm hawful sorry oi went back on 'Im.
Hit was the lemonaide. The boys didn't mean no 'arm--but hit
started the 'ell hinside.'
Geordie hurled out some bitter words.
'Don't be 'ard on 'em, Geordie; they didn't mean no 'arm,' he said,
and his eyes kept waiting till Geordie said hurriedly--
'Na! na! lad--a'll juist leave them till the Almichty.'
Then Mrs. Mavor sang softly, smoothing his hand, 'Just as I am,'
and Billy dozed quietly for half an hour.
When he awoke again his eyes turned to Mr. Craig, and they were
troubled and anxious.
'Oi tried 'ard. Oi wanted to win,' he struggled to say. By this
time Craig was master of himself, and he answered in a clear,
'Listen, Billy! You made a great fight, and you are going to win
yet. And besides, do you remember the sheep that got lost over the
mountains?'--this parable was Billy's special delight--'He didn't
beat it when He got it, did he? He took it in His arms and carried
it home. And so He will you.'
And Billy, keeping his eyes fastened on Mr. Craig, simply said--
'Sure!' said Craig.
'Will 'E?' he repeated, turning his eyes upon Mrs. Mavor.
'Why, yes, Billy,' she answered cheerily, though the tears were
streaming from her eyes. 'I would, and He loves you far more.'
He looked at her, smiled, and closed his eyes. I put my hand on
his heart; it was fluttering feebly. Again a troubled look passed
over his face.
'My--poor--hold--mother,' he whispered, 'she's--hin--the--wukus.'
'I shall take care of her, Billy,' said Mrs. Mavor, in a clear
voice, and again Billy smiled. Then he turned his eyes to Mr.
Craig, and from him to Geordie, and at last to Mrs. Mavor, where
they rested. She bent over and kissed him twice on the forehead.
'Tell 'er,' he said, with difficulty, "E's took me 'ome.'
'Yes, Billy!' she cried, gazing into his glazing eyes. He tried to
lift her hand. She kissed him again. He drew one deep breath and
lay quite still.
'Thank the blessed Saviour!' said Mr. Craig, reverently. 'He has
taken him home.'
But Mrs. Mavor held the dead hand tight and sobbed out passionately,
'Oh, Billy, Billy! you helped me once when I needed help! I cannot
And Geordie, groaning, 'Ay, laddie, laddie,' passed out into the
fading light of the early evening.
Next day no one went to work, for to all it seemed a sacred day.
They carried him into the little church, and there Mr. Craig spoke
of his long, hard fight, and of his final victory; for he died
without a fear, and with love to the men who, not knowing, had been
his death. And there was no bitterness in any heart, for Mr. Craig
read the story of the sheep, and told how gently He had taken Billy
home; but, though no word was spoken, it was there the League was
They laid him under the pines, beside Lewis Mavor; and the miners
threw sprigs of evergreen into the open grave. When Slavin,
sobbing bitterly, brought his sprig, no one stopped him, though all
thought it strange.
As we turned to leave the grave, the light from the evening sun
came softly through the gap in the mountains, and, filling the
valley, touched the trees and the little mound beneath with glory.
And I thought of that other glory, which is brighter than the sun,
and was not sorry that poor Billy's weary fight was over; and I
could not help agreeing with Craig that it was there the League had
WHAT CAME TO SLAVIN
Billy Breen's legacy to the Black Rock mining camp was a new
League, which was more than the old League re-made. The League was
new in its spirit and in its methods. The impression made upon the
camp by Billy Breen's death was very remarkable, and I have never
been quite able to account for it. The mood of the community at
the time was peculiarly susceptible. Billy was one of the oldest
of the old-timers. His decline and fall had been a long process,
and his struggle for life and manhood was striking enough to arrest
the attention and awaken the sympathy of the whole camp. We
instinctively side with a man in his struggle for freedom; for we
feel that freedom is native to him and to us. The sudden collapse
of the struggle stirred the men with a deep pity for the beaten
man, and a deep contempt for those who had tricked him to his doom.
But though the pity and the contempt remained, the gloom was
relieved and the sense of defeat removed from the men's minds by
the transforming glory of Billy's last hour. Mr. Craig, reading of
the tragedy of Billy's death, transfigured defeat into victory, and
this was generally accepted by the men as the true reading, though
to them it was full of mystery. But they could all understand and
appreciate at full value the spirit that breathed through the words
of the dying man: 'Don't be 'ard on 'em, they didn't mean no 'arm.'
And this was the new spirit of the League.
It was this spirit that surprised Slavin into sudden tears at the
grave's side. He had come braced for curses and vengeance, for all
knew it was he who had doctored Billy's lemonade, and instead of
vengeance the message from the dead that echoed through the voice
of the living was one of pity and forgiveness.
But the days of the League's negative, defensive warfare were over.
The fight was to the death, and now the war was to be carried into
the enemy's country. The League men proposed a thoroughly equipped
and well-conducted coffee-room, reading-room, and hall, to parallel
the enemy's lines of operation, and defeat them with their own
weapons upon their own ground. The main outlines of the scheme
were clearly defined and were easily seen, but the perfecting of
the details called for all Craig's tact and good sense. When, for
instance, Vernon Winton, who had charge of the entertainment
department, came for Craig's opinion as to a minstrel troupe and
private theatricals, Craig was prompt with his answer--
'Anything clean goes.'
'A nigger show?' asked Winton.
'Depends upon the niggers,' replied Craig with a gravely comic
look, shrewdly adding, 'ask Mrs. Mavor'; and so the League Minstrel
and Dramatic Company became an established fact, and proved, as
Craig afterwards told me, 'a great means of grace to the camp.'
Shaw had charge of the social department, whose special care it was
to see that the men were made welcome to the cosy, cheerful reading
room, where they might chat, smoke, read, write, or play games,
according to fancy.
But Craig felt that the success or failure of the scheme would
largely depend upon the character of the Resident Manager, who,
while caring for reading-room and hall, would control and operate
the important department represented by the coffee-room.
'At this point the whole business may come to grief,' he said to
Mrs. Mavor, without whose counsel nothing was done.
'Why come to grief?' she asked brightly.
'Because if we don't get the right man, that's what will happen,'
he replied in a tone that spoke of anxious worry.
'But we shall get the right man, never fear.' Her serene courage
never faltered. 'He will come to us.'
Craig turned and gazed at her in frank admiration and said--
'If I only had your courage!'
'Courage!' she answered quickly. 'It is not for you to say that';
and at his answering look the red came into her cheek and the
depths in her eyes glowed, and I marvelled and wondered, looking at
Craig's cool face, whether his blood were running evenly through
his veins. But his voice was quiet, a shade too quiet I thought,
as he gravely replied--
'I would often be a coward but for the shame of it.'
And so the League waited for the man to come, who was to be
Resident Manager and make the new enterprise a success. And come
he did; but the manner of his coming was so extraordinary, that I
have believed in the doctrine of a special providence ever since;
for as Craig said, 'If he had come straight from Heaven I could not
have been more surprised.'
While the League was thus waiting, its interest centred upon
Slavin, chiefly because he represented more than any other the
forces of the enemy; and though Billy Breen stood between him and
the vengeance of the angry men who would have made short work of
him and his saloon, nothing could save him from himself, and after
the funeral Slavin went to his bar and drank whisky as he had never
drunk before. But the more he drank the fiercer and gloomier he
became, and when the men drinking with him chaffed him, he swore
deeply and with such threats that they left him alone.
It did not help Slavin either to have Nixon stride in through the
crowd drinking at his bar and give him words of warning.
'It is not your fault, Slavin,' he said in slow, cool voice, 'that
you and your precious crew didn't sent me to my death, too. You've
won your bet, but I want to say, that next time, though you are
seven to one, or ten times that, when any of you boys offer me a
drink I'll take you to mean fight, and I'll not disappoint you, and
some one will be killed,' and so saying he strode out again,
leaving a mean-looking crowd of men behind him. All who had not
been concerned in the business at Nixon's shack expressed approval
of his position, and hoped he would 'see it through.'
But the impression of Nixon's words upon Slavin was as nothing
compared with that made by Geordie Crawford. It was not what he
said so much as the manner of awful solemnity he carried. Geordie
was struggling conscientiously to keep his promise to 'not be 'ard
on the boys,' and found considerable relief in remembering that he
had agreed 'to leave them tae the Almichty.' But the manner of
leaving them was so solemnly awful, that I could not wonder that
Slavin's superstitious Irish nature supplied him with supernatural
terrors. It was the second day after the funeral that Geordie and
I were walking towards Slavin's. There was a great shout of
laughter as we drew near.
Geordie stopped short, and saying, 'We'll juist gang in a meenute,'
passed through the crowd and up to the bar.
'Michael Slavin,' began Geordie, and the men stared in dead,
silence, with their glasses in their hands. 'Michael Slavin, a'
promised the lad a'd bear ye nae ill wull, but juist leave ye tae
the Almichty; an' I want tae tell ye that a'm keepin' ma wur-r-d.
But'--and here he raised his hand, and his voice became
preternaturally solemn--'his bluid is upon yer han's. Do ye no'
His voice rose sharply, and as he pointed, Slavin instinctively
glanced at his hands, and Geordie added--
'Ay, and the Lord will require it o' you and yer hoose.'
They told me that Slavin shivered as if taken with ague after
Geordie went out, and though he laughed and swore, he did not stop
drinking till he sank into a drunken stupor and had to be carried
to bed. His little French-Canadian wife could not understand the
change that had come over her husband.
'He's like one bear,' she confided to Mrs. Mavor, to whom she was
showing her baby of a year old. 'He's not kees me one tam dis day.
He's mos hawful bad, he's not even look at de baby.' And this
seemed sufficient proof that something was seriously wrong; for she
went on to say--
'He's tink more for dat leel baby dan for de whole worl'; he's tink
more for dat baby dan for me,' but she shrugged her pretty little
shoulders in deprecation of her speech.
'You must pray for him,' said Mrs. Mavor, 'and all will come
'Ah! madame!' she replied earnestly, 'every day, every day, I pray
la sainte Vierge et tous les saints for him.'
'You must pray to your Father in heaven for him.'
'Ah! oui! I weel pray,' and Mrs. Mavor sent her away bright with
smiles, and with new hope and courage in her heart.
She had very soon need of all her courage, for at the week's end
her baby fell dangerously ill. Slavin's anxiety and fear were not
relieved much by the reports the men brought him from time to time
of Geordie's ominous forebodings; for Geordie had no doubt but that
the Avenger of Blood was hot upon Slavin's trail; and as the
sickness grew, he became confirmed in this conviction. While he
could not be said to find satisfaction in Slavin's impending
affliction, he could hardly hide his complacency in the promptness
of Providence in vindicating his theory of retribution.
But Geordie's complacency was somewhat rudely shocked by Mr.
Craig's answer to his theory one day.
'You read your Bible to little profit, it seems to me, Geordie: or,
perhaps, you have never read the Master's teaching about the Tower
of Siloam. Better read that and take that warning to yourself.'
Geordie gazed after Mr. Craig as he turned away, and muttered--
'The toor o' Siloam, is it? Ay, a' ken fine aboot the toor o'
Siloam, and aboot the toor o' Babel as weel; an' a've read, too,
about the blaspheemious Herod, an' sic like. Man, but he's a hot-
heided laddie, and lacks discreemeenation.'
'What about Herod, Geordie?' I asked.
'Aboot Herod?'--with a strong tinge of contempt in his tone.
'Aboot Herod? Man, hae ye no' read in the Screepturs aboot Herod
an' the wur-r-ms in the wame o' him?'
'Oh yes, I see,' I hastened to answer.
'Ay, a fule can see what's flapped in his face,' with which bit of
proverbial philosophy he suddenly left me. But Geordie thenceforth
contented himself, in Mr. Craig's presence at least, with ominous
head-shakings, equally aggravating, and impossible to answer.
That same night, however, Geordie showed that with all his theories
he had a man's true heart, for he came in haste to Mrs. Mavor to
'Ye'll be needed ower yonder, a'm thinkin'.'
'Why? Is the baby worse? Have you been in?'
'Na, na,' replied Geordie cautiously, 'a'll no gang where a'm no
wanted. But yon puir thing, ye can hear ootside weepin' and
'She'll maybe need ye tae,' he went on dubiously to me. 'Ye're a
kind o' doctor, a' hear,' not committing himself to any opinion as
to my professional value. But Slavin would have none of me, having
got the doctor sober enough to prescribe.
The interest of the camp in Slavin was greatly increased by the
illness of his baby, which was to him as the apple of his eye.
There were a few who, impressed by Geordie's profound convictions
upon the matter, were inclined to favour the retribution theory,
and connect the baby's illness with the vengeance of the Almighty.
Among these few was Slavin himself, and goaded by his remorseful
terrors he sought relief in drink. But this brought him only
deeper and fiercer gloom; so that between her suffering child and
her savagely despairing husband, the poor mother was desperate with
terror and grief.
'Ah! madame,' she sobbed to Mrs. Mavor, 'my heart is broke for him.
He's heet noting for tree days, but jis dreenk, dreenk, dreenk.'
The next day a man came for me in haste. The baby was dying and
the doctor was drunk. I found the little one in a convulsion lying
across Mrs. Mavor's knees, the mother kneeling beside it, wringing
her hands in a dumb agony, and Slavin standing near, silent and
suffering. I glanced at the bottle of medicine upon the table and
asked Mrs. Mavor the dose, and found the baby had been poisoned.
My look of horror told Slavin something was wrong, and striding to
me he caught my arm and asked--
'What is it? Is the medicine wrong?'
I tried to put him off, but his grip tightened till his fingers
seemed to reach the bone.
'The dose is certainly too large; but let me go, I must do
He let me go at once, saying in a voice that made my heart sore for
him, 'He has killed my baby; he has killed my baby.' And then he
cursed the doctor with awful curses, and with a look of such
murderous fury on his face that I was glad the doctor was too drunk
His wife hearing his curses, and understanding the cause, broke out
into wailing hard to bear.
'Ah! mon petit ange! It is dat wheeskey dat's keel mon baby. Ah!
mon cheri, mon amour. Ah! mon Dieu! Ah, Michael, how often I say
that wheeskey he's not good ting.'
It was more than Slavin could bear, and with awful curses he passed
out. Mrs. Mavor laid the baby in its crib, for the convulsion had
passed away; and putting her arms about the wailing little
Frenchwoman, comforted and soothed her as a mother might her
'And you must help your husband,' I heard her say. 'He will need
you more than ever. Think of him.'
'Ah oui! I weel,' was the quick reply, and from that moment there
was no more wailing.
It seemed no more than a minute till Slavin came in again, sober,
quiet, and steady; the passion was all gone from his face, and only
the grief remained.
As we stood leaning over the sleeping child the little thing opened
its eyes, saw its father, and smiled. It was too much for him.
The big man dropped on his knees with a dry sob.
'Is there no chance at all, at all?' he whispered, but I could give
him no hope. He immediately rose, and pulling himself together,
stood perfectly quiet.
A new terror seized upon the mother.
'My baby is not--what you call it?' going through the form of
baptism. 'An' he will not come to la sainte Vierge,' she said,
'Do not fear for your little one,' said Mrs. Mavor, still with her
arms about her. 'The good Saviour will take your darling into His
But the mother would not be comforted by this. And Slavin too, was
'Where is Father Goulet?' he asked.
'Ah! you were not good to the holy pere de las tam, Michael,' she
replied sadly. 'The saints are not please for you.'
'Where is the priest?' he demanded.
'I know not for sure. At de Landin', dat's lak.'
'I'll go for him,' he said. But his wife clung to him, beseeching
him not to leave her, and indeed he was loth to leave his little
I found Craig and told him the difficulty. With his usual
promptness, he was ready with a solution.
'Nixon has a team. He will go.' Then he added, 'I wonder if they
would not like me to baptize their little one. Father Goulet and I
have exchanged offices before now. I remember how he came to one
of my people in my absence, when she was dying, read with her,
prayed with her, comforted her, and helped her across the river.
He is a good soul, and has no nonsense about him. Send for me if
you think there is need. It will make no difference to the baby,
but it will comfort the mother.'
Nixon was willing enough to go; but when he came to the door Mrs.
Mavor saw the hard look in his face. He had not forgotten his
wrong, for day by day he was still fighting the devil within that
Slavin had called to life. But Mrs. Mavor, under cover of getting
him instructions, drew him into the room. While listening to her,
his eyes wandered from one to the other of the group till they
rested upon the little white face in the crib. She noticed the
change in his face.
'They fear the little one will never see the Saviour if it is not
baptized,' she said, in a low tone.
He was eager to go.
'I'll do my best to get the priest,' he said, and was gone on his
sixty miles' race with death.
The long afternoon wore on, but before it was half gone I saw Nixon
could not win, and that the priest would be too late, so I sent for
Mr. Craig. From the moment he entered the room he took command of
us all. He was so simple, so manly, so tender, the hearts of the
parents instinctively turned to him.
As he was about to proceed with the baptism, the mother whispered
to Mrs. Mavor, who hesitatingly asked Mr. Craig if he would object
to using holy water.
'To me it is the same as any other,' he replied gravely.
'An' will he make the good sign?' asked the mother timidly.
And so the child was baptized by the Presbyterian minister with
holy water and with the sign of the cross. I don't suppose it was
orthodox, and it rendered chaotic some of my religious notions, but
I thought more of Craig that moment than ever before. He was more
man than minister, or perhaps he was so good a minister that day
because so much a man. As he read about the Saviour and the
children and the disciples who tried to get in between them, and as
he told us the story in his own simple and beautiful way, and then
went on to picture the home of the little children, and the same
Saviour in the midst of them, I felt my heart grow warm, and I
could easily understand the cry of the mother--
'Oh, mon Jesu, prenez moi aussi, take me wiz mon mignon.'
The cry wakened Slavin's heart, and he said huskily--
'Oh! Annette! Annette!'
'Ah, oui! an' Michael too!' Then to Mr. Craig--
'You tink He's tak me some day? Eh?'
'All who love Him,' he replied.
'An' Michael too?' she asked, her eyes searching his face, 'An'
But Craig only replied: 'All who love Him.'
'Ah, Michael, you must pray le bon Jesu. He's garde notre mignon.'
And then she bent over the babe, whispering--
'Ah, mon cheri, mon amour, adieu! adieu! mon ange!' till Slavin put
his arms about her and took her away, for as she was whispering her
farewells, her baby, with a little answering sigh, passed into the
House with many rooms.
'Whisht, Annette darlin'; don't cry for the baby,' said her
husband. 'Shure it's better off than the rest av us, it is. An'
didn't ye hear what the minister said about the beautiful place it
is? An' shure he wouldn't lie to us at all.' But a mother cannot
be comforted for her first-born son.
An hour later Nixon brought Father Goulet. He was a little
Frenchman with gentle manners and the face of a saint. Craig
welcomed him warmly, and told him what he had done.
'That is good, my brother,' he said, with gentle courtesy, and,
turning to the mother, 'Your little one is safe.'
Behind Father Goulet came Nixon softly, and gazed down upon the
little quiet face, beautiful with the magic of death. Slavin came
quietly and stood beside him. Nixon turned and offered his hand.
But Slavin said, moving slowly back--
'I did ye a wrong, Nixon, an' it's a sorry man I am this day for
'Don't say a word, Slavin,' answered Nixon, hurriedly. 'I know how
you feel. I've got a baby too. I want to see it again. That's
why the break hurt me so.'
'As God's above,' replied Slavin earnestly, 'I'll hinder ye no
more.' They shook hands, and we passed out.
We laid the baby under the pines, not far from Billy Breen, and the
sweet spring wind blew through the Gap, and came softly down the
valley, whispering to the pines and the grass and the hiding
flowers of the New Life coming to the world. And the mother must
have heard the whisper in her heart, for, as the Priest was saying
the words of the Service, she stood with Mrs. Mavor's arms about
her, and her eyes were looking far away beyond the purple mountain-
tops, seeing what made her smile. And Slavin, too, looked
different. His very features seemed finer. The coarseness was
gone out of his face. What had come to him I could not tell.
But when the doctor came into Slavin's house that night it was the
old Slavin I saw, but with a look of such deadly fury on his face
that I tried to get the doctor out at once. But he was half drunk
and after his manner was hideously humorous.
'How do, ladies! How do, gentlemen!' was his loud-voiced salutation.
'Quite a professional gathering, clergy predominating. Lion and Lamb
too, ha! ha! which is the lamb, eh? ha! ha! very good! awfully sorry
to hear of your loss, Mrs. Slavin; did our best you know, can't help
this sort of thing.'
Before any one could move, Craig was at his side, and saying in a
clear, firm voice, 'One moment, doctor,' caught him by the arm and
had him out of the room before he knew it. Slavin, who had been
crouching in his chair with hands twitching and eyes glaring, rose
and followed, still crouching as he walked. I hurried after him,
calling him back. Turning at my voice, the doctor saw Slavin
approaching. There was something so terrifying in his swift
noiseless crouching motion, that the doctor, crying out in fear
'Keep him off,' fairly turned and fled. He was too late. Like a
tiger Slavin leaped upon him and without waiting to strike had him
by the throat with both hands, and bearing him to the ground,
worried him there as a dog might a cat.
Immediately Craig and I were upon him, but though we lifted him
clear off the ground we could not loosen that two-handed strangling
grip. At we were struggling there a light hand touched my
shoulder. It was Father Goulet.
'Please let him go, and stand away from us,' he said, waving us
back. We obeyed. He leaned over Slavin and spoke a few words to
him. Slavin started as if struck a heavy blow, looked up at the
priest with fear in his face, but still keeping his grip.
'Let him go,' said the priest. Slavin hesitated. 'Let him go!
quick!' said the priest again, and Slavin with a snarl let go his
hold and stood sullenly facing the priest.
Father Goulet regarded him steadily for some seconds and then
'What would you do?' His voice was gentle enough, even sweet, but
there was something in it that chilled my marrow. 'What would you
do?' he repeated.
'He murdered my child,' growled Slavin.
'He was drunk and poisoned him.'
'Ah! who gave him drink? Who made him a drunkard two years ago?
Who has wrecked his life?'
There was no answer, and the even-toned voice went relentlessly on--
'Who is the murderer of your child now?'
Slavin groaned and shuddered.
'Go!' and the voice grew stern. 'Repent of your sin and add not
Slavin turned his eyes upon the motionless figure on the ground and
then upon the priest. Father Goulet took one step towards him,
and, stretching out his hand and pointing with his finger, said--
And Slavin slowly backed away and went into his house. It was an
extraordinary scene, and it is often with me now: the dark figure
on the ground, the slight erect form of the priest with
outstretched arm and finger, and Slavin backing away, fear and fury
struggling in his face.
It was a near thing for the doctor, however, and two minutes more
of that grip would have done for him. As it was, we had the
greatest difficulty in reviving him.
What the priest did with Slavin after getting him inside I know
not; that has always been a mystery to me. But when we were
passing the saloon that night after taking Mrs. Mavor home, we saw
a light and heard strange sounds within. Entering, we found
another whisky raid in progress, Slavin himself being the raider.
We stood some moments watching him knocking in the heads of casks
and emptying bottles. I thought he had gone mad, and approached
'Hello, Slavin!' I called out; 'what does this mean?'
He paused in his strange work, and I saw that his face, though
resolute, was quiet enough.
'It means I'm done wid the business, I am,' he said, in a
determined voice. 'I'll help no more to kill any man, or,' in a
lower tone, 'any man's baby.' The priest's words had struck home.
'Thank God, Slavin!' said Craig, offering his hand; 'you are much
too good a man for the business.'
'Good or bad, I'm done wid it,' he replied, going on with his work.
'You are throwing away good money, Slavin,' I said, as the head of
a cask crashed in.
'It's meself that knows it, for the price of whisky has riz in town
this week,' he answered, giving me a look out of the corner of his
eye. 'Bedad! it was a rare clever job,' referring to our Black
Rock Hotel affair.
'But won't you be sorry for this?' asked Craig.
'Beloike I will; an' that's why I'm doin' it before I'm sorry for
it,' he replied, with a delightful bull.
'Look here, Slavin,' said Craig earnestly; 'if I can be of use to
you in any way, count on me.'
'It's good to me the both of yez have been, an' I'll not forget it
to yez,' he replied, with like earnestness.
As we told Mrs. Mavor that night, for Craig thought it too good to
keep, her eyes seemed to grow deeper and the light in them to glow
more intense as she listened to Craig pouring out his tale. Then
she gave him her hand and said--
'You have your man at last.'
'The man you have been waiting for.'
'I never thought of it.'
'No more did he, nor any of us.' Then, after a pause, she added
gently, 'He has been sent to us?'
'Do you know, I believe you are right,' Craig said slowly, and then
added, 'But you always are.'
'I fear not,' she answered; but I thought she liked to hear his
The whole town was astounded next morning when Slavin went to work
in the mines, and its astonishment only deepened as the days went
on, and he stuck to his work. Before three weeks had gone the
League had bought and remodelled the saloon and had secured Slavin
as Resident Manager.
The evening of the reopening of Slavin's saloon, as it was still
called, was long remembered in Black Rock. It was the occasion of
the first appearance of 'The League Minstrel and Dramatic Troupe,'
in what was described as a 'hair-lifting tragedy with appropriate
musical selections.' Then there was a grand supper and speeches
and great enthusiasm, which reached its climax when Nixon rose to
propose the toast of the evening--'Our Saloon.' His speech was
simply a quiet, manly account of his long struggle with the deadly
enemy. When he came to speak of his recent defeat he said--
'And while I am blaming no one but myself, I am glad to-night that
this saloon is on our side, for my own sake and for the sake of
those who have been waiting long to see me. But before I sit down
I want to say that while I live I shall not forget that I owe my
life to the man that took me that night to his own shack and put me
in his own bed, and met me next morning with an open hand; for I
tell you I had sworn to God that that morning would be my last.'
Geordie's speech was characteristic. After a brief reference to
the 'mysteerious ways o' Providence,' which he acknowledged he
might sometimes fail to understand, he went on to express his
unqualified approval of the new saloon.
'It's a cosy place, an' there's nae sulphur aboot. Besides a'
that,' he went on enthusiastically, 'it'll be a terrible savin'.
I've juist been coontin'.'
'You bet!' ejaculated a voice with great emphasis.
'I've juist been coontin',' went on Geordie, ignoring the remark
and the laugh which followed, 'an' it's an awfu'-like money ye pit
ower wi' the whusky. Ye see ye canna dae wi' ane bit glass; ye
maun hae twa or three at the verra least, for it's no verra forrit
ye get wi' ane glass. But wi' yon coffee ye juist get a saxpence-
worth an' ye want nae mair.'
There was another shout of laughter, which puzzled Geordie much.
'I dinna see the jowk, but I've slippit ower in whusky mair nor a
Then he paused, looking hard before him, and twisting his face into
extraordinary shapes till the men looked at him in wonder.
'I'm rale glad o' this saloon, but it's ower late for the lad that
canna be helpit the noo. He'll not be needin' help o' oors, I
doot, but there are ithers'--and he stopped abruptly and sat down,
with no applause following.
But when Slavin, our saloon-keeper, rose to reply, the men jumped
up on the seats and yelled till they could yell no more. Slavin
stood, evidently in trouble with himself, and finally broke out--
'It's spacheless I am entirely. What's come to me I know not, nor
how it's come. But I'll do my best for yez.' And then the yelling
broke out again.
I did not yell myself. I was too busy watching the varying lights
in Mrs. Mavor's eyes as she looked from Craig to the yelling men on
the benches and tables, and then to Slavin, and I found myself
wondering if she knew what it was that came to Slavin.
THE TWO CALLS
With the call to Mr. Craig I fancy I had something to do myself.
The call came from a young congregation in an eastern city, and was
based partly upon his college record and more upon the advice of
those among the authorities who knew his work in the mountains.
But I flatter myself that my letters to friends who were of
importance in that congregation were not without influence, for I
was of the mind that the man who could handle Black Rock miners as
he could was ready for something larger than a mountain mission.
That he would refuse I had not imagined, though I ought to have
known him better. He was but little troubled over it. He went
with the call and the letters urging his acceptance to Mrs. Mavor.
I was putting the last touches to some of my work in the room at
the back of Mrs. Mavor's house when he came in. She read the
letters and the call quietly, and waited for him to speak.
"Well?' he said; 'should I go?'
She started, and grew a little pale. His question suggested a
possibility that had not occurred to her. That he could leave his
work in Black Rock she had hitherto never imagined; but there was
other work, and he was fit for good work anywhere. Why should he
not go? I saw the fear in her face, but I saw more than fear in
her eyes, as for a moment or two she let them rest upon Craig's
face. I read her story, and I was not sorry for either of them.
But she was too much a woman to show her heart easily to the man
she loved, and her voice was even and calm as she answered his
'Is this a very large congregation?'
'One of the finest in all the East,' I put in for him. 'It will be
a great thing for Craig.'
Craig was studying her curiously. I think she noticed his eyes
upon her, for she went on even more quietly--
'It will be a great chance for work, and you are able for a larger
sphere, you know, than poor Black Rock affords.'
'Who will take Black Rock?' he asked.
'Let some other fellow have a try at it,' I said. 'Why should you
waste your talents here?'
'Waste?' cried Mrs. Mavor indignantly.
'Well, "bury," if you like it better,' I replied.
'It would not take much of a grave for that funeral,' said Craig,
'Oh,' said Mrs. Mavor, 'you will be a great man I know, and perhaps
you ought to go now.'
But he answered coolly: 'There are fifty men wanting that Eastern
charge, and there is only one wanting Black Rock, and I don't think
Black Rock is anxious for a change, so I have determined to stay
where I am yet a while.'
Even my deep disgust and disappointment did not prevent me from
seeing the sudden leap of joy in Mrs. Mavor's eyes, but she, with a
great effort, answered quietly--
'Black Rock will be very glad, and some of us very, very glad.'
Nothing could change his mind. There was no one he knew who could
take his place just now, and why should he quit his work? It
annoyed me considerably to feel he was right. Why is it that the
right things are so frequently unpleasant?
And if I had had any doubt about the matter next Sabbath evening
would have removed it. For the men came about him after the
service and let him feel in their own way how much they approved
his decision, though the self-sacrifice involved did not appeal to
them. They were too truly Western to imagine that any inducements
the East could offer could compensate for his loss of the West. It
was only fitting that the West should have the best, and so the
miners took almost as a matter of course, and certainly as their
right, that the best man they knew should stay with them. But
there were those who knew how much of what most men consider worth
while he had given up, and they loved him no less for it.
Mrs. Mavor's call was not so easily disposed of. It came close
upon the other, and stirred Black Rock as nothing else had ever
stirred it before.
I found her one afternoon gazing vacantly at some legal documents
spread out before her on the table, and evidently overcome by their
contents. There was first a lawyer's letter informing her that by
the death of her husband's father she had come into the whole of
the Mavor estates, and all the wealth pertaining thereto. The
letter asked for instructions, and urged an immediate return with a
view to a personal superintendence of the estates. A letter, too,
from a distant cousin of her husband urged her immediate return for
many reasons, but chiefly on account of the old mother who had been
left alone with none nearer of kin than himself to care for her and
cheer her old age.
With these two came another letter from her mother-in-law herself.
The crabbed, trembling characters were even more eloquent than the
words with which the letter closed.
'I have lost my boy, and now my husband is gone, and I am a lonely
woman. I have many servants, and some friends, but none near to
me, none so near and dear as my dead son's wife. My days are not
to be many. Come to me, my daughter; I want you and Lewis's
'Must I go?' she asked with white lips.
'Do you know her well?' I asked.
'I only saw her once or twice,' she answered; 'but she has been
very good to me.'
'She can hardly need you. She has friends. And surely you are
She looked at me eagerly.
'Do you think so?' she said.
'Ask any man in the camp--Shaw, Nixon, young Winton, Geordie. Ask
Craig,' I replied.
'Yes, he will tell me,' she said.
Even as she spoke Craig came up the steps. I passed into my studio
and went on with my work, for my days at Black Rock were getting
few, and many sketches remained to be filled in.
Through my open door I saw Mrs. Mavor lay her letters before Mr.
Craig, saying, 'I have a call too.' They thought not of me.
He went through the papers, carefully laid them down without a word
while she waited anxiously, almost impatiently, for him to speak.
'Well?' she asked, using his own words to her; 'should I go?'
'I do not know,' he replied; 'that is for you to decide--you know
all the circumstances.'
'The letters tell all.' Her tone carried a feeling of
disappointment. He did not appear to care.
'The estates are large?' he asked.
'Yes, large enough--twelve thousand a year.'
'And has your mother-in-law any one with her?'
'She has friends, but, as she says, none near of kin. Her nephew
looks after the works--iron works, you know--he has shares in
'She is evidently very lonely,' he answered gravely.
'What shall I do?' she asked, and I knew she was waiting to hear
him urge her to stay; but he did not see, or at least gave no heed.
'I cannot say,' he repeated quietly. 'There are many things to
consider; the estates--'
'The estates seem to trouble you,' she replied, almost fretfully.
He looked up in surprise. I wondered at his slowness.
'Yes, the estates,' he went on, 'and tenants, I suppose--your
mother-in-law, your little Marjorie's future, your own future.'
'The estates are in capable hands, I should suppose,' she urged,
'and my future depends upon what I choose my work to be.'
'But one cannot shift one's responsibilities,' he replied gravely.
'These estates, these tenants, have come to you, and with them come
'I do not want them,' she cried.
'That life has great possibilities of good,' he said kindly.
'I had thought that perhaps there was work for me here,' she
'Great work,' he hastened to say. 'You have done great work. But
you will do that wherever you go. The only question is where your
'You think I should go,' she said suddenly and a little bitterly.
'I cannot bid you stay,' he answered steadily.
'How can I go?' she cried, appealing to him. 'Must I go?'
How he could resist that appeal I could not understand. His face
was cold and hard, and his voice was almost harsh as he replied--
'If it is right, you will go--you must go.'
Then she burst forth--
'I cannot go. I shall stay here. My work is here; my heart is
here. How can I go? You thought it worth your while to stay here
and work, why should not I?'
The momentary gleam in his eyes died out, and again he said coldly--
'This work was clearly mine. I am needed here.'
'Yes, yes!' she cried, her voice full of pain; 'you are needed, but
there is no need of me.'
'Stop, stop!' he said sharply; 'you must not say so.'
'I will say it, I must say it,' she cried, her voice vibrating with
the intensity of her feeling. 'I know you do not need me; you have
your work, your miners, your plans; you need no one; you are
strong. But,' and her voice rose to a cry, 'I am not strong by
myself; you have made me strong. I came here a foolish girl,
foolish and selfish and narrow. God sent me grief. Three years
ago my heart died. Now I am living again. I am a woman now, no
longer a girl. You have done this for me. Your life, your words,
yourself--you have showed me a better, a higher life, than I had
ever known before, and now you send me away.'
She paused abruptly.
'Blind, stupid fool!' I said to myself.
He held himself resolutely in hand, answering carefully, but his
voice had lost its coldness and was sweet and kind.
'Have I done this for you? Then surely God has been good to me.
And you have helped me more than any words could tell you.'
'Helped!' she repeated scornfully.
'Yes, helped,' he answered, wondering at her scorn.
'You can do without my help,' she went on. 'You make people help
you. You will get many to help you; but I need help, too.' She
was standing before him with her hands tightly clasped; her face
was pale, and her eyes deeper than ever. He sat looking up at her
in a kind of maze as she poured out her words hot and fast.
'I am not thinking of you.' His coldness had hurt her deeply. 'I
am selfish; I am thinking of myself. How shall I do? I have grown
to depend on you, to look to you. It is nothing to you that I go,
but to me--' She did not dare to finish.
By this time Craig was standing before her, his face deadly pale.
When she came to the end of her words, he said, in a voice low,
sweet, and thrilling with emotion--
'Ah, if you only knew! Do not make me forget myself. You do not
guess what you are doing.'
'What am I doing? What is there to know, but that you tell me
easily to go? She was struggling with the tears she was too proud
to let him see.
He put his hands resolutely behind him, looking at her as if
studying her face for the first time. Under his searching look she
dropped her eyes, and the warm colour came slowly up into her neck
and face; then, as if with a sudden resolve, she lifted her eyes to
his, and looked back at him unflinchingly.
He started, surprised, drew slowly near, put his hands upon her
shoulders, surprise giving place to wild joy. She never moved her
eyes; they drew him towards her. He took her face between his
hands, smiled into her eyes, kissed her lips. She did not move; he
stood back from her, threw up his head, and laughed aloud. She
came to him, put her head upon his breast, and lifting up her face
said, 'Kiss me.' He put his arms about her, bent down and kissed
her lips again, and then reverently her brow. Then putting her
back from him, but still holding both her hands, he cried--
'Not you shall not go. I shall never let you go.'
She gave a little sigh of content, and, smiling up at him, said--
'I can go now'; but even as she spoke the flush died from her face,
and she shuddered.
'Never!' he almost shouted; 'nothing shall take you away. We shall
work here together.'
'Ah, if we could, if we only could,' she said piteously.
'Why not?' he demanded fiercely.
'You will send me away. You will say it is right for me to go,'
she replied sadly.
'Do we not love each other?' was his impatient answer.
'Ah! yes, love,' she said; 'but love is not all.'
'No!' cried Craig; 'but love is the best'
'Yes!' she said sadly; 'love is the best, and it is for love's sake
we will do the best.'
'There is no better work than here. Surely this is best,' and he
pictured his plans before her. She listened eagerly.
'Oh! if it should be right,' she cried, 'I will do what you say.
You are good, you are wise, you shall tell me.'
She could not have recalled him better. He stood silent some
moments, then burst out passionately--
'Why then has love come to us? We did not seek it. Surely love is
of God. Does God mock us?'
He threw himself into his chair, pouring out his words of
passionate protestation. She listened, smiling, then came to him
and, touching his hair as a mother might her child's, said--
'Oh, I am very happy! I was afraid you would not care, and I could
not bear to go that way.'
'You shall not go,' he cried aloud, as if in pain. 'Nothing can
make that right.'
But she only said, 'You shall tell me to-morrow. You cannot see
to-night, but you will see, and you will tell me.'
He stood up and, holding both her hands, looked long into her eyes,
then turned abruptly away and went out.
She stood where he left her for some moments, her face radiant, and
her hands pressed upon her heart. Then she came toward my room.
She found me busy with my painting, but as I looked up and met her
eyes she flushed slightly, and said--
'I quite forgot you.'
'So it appeared to me.'
'And saw,' I replied boldly. 'It would have been rude to
interrupt, you see.'
'Oh, I am so glad and thankful.'
'Yes; it was rather considerate of me.'
'Oh, I don't mean that,' the flush deepening; 'I am glad you know.'
'I have known some time.'
'How could you? I only knew to-day myself.'
'I have eyes.' She flushed again.
'Do you mean that people--' she began anxiously.
'No; I am not "people." I have eyes, and my eyes have been
'Yes, by love.'
Then I told her openly how, weeks ago, I struggled with my heart
and mastered it, for I saw it was vain to love her, because she
loved a better man who loved her in return. She looked at me shyly
'I am sorry.'
'Don't worry,' I said cheerfully. 'I didn't break my heart, you
know; I stopped it in time.'
'Oh!' she said, slightly disappointed; then her lips began to
twitch, and she went off into a fit of hysterical laughter.
'Forgive me,' she said humbly; 'but you speak as if it had been a
'Fever is nothing to it,' I said solemnly. 'It was a near thing.'
At which she went off again. I was glad to see her laugh. It gave
me time to recover my equilibrium, and it relieved her intense
emotional strain. So I rattled on some nonsense about Craig and
myself till I saw she was giving no heed, but thinking her own
thoughts: and what these were it was not hard to guess.
Suddenly she broke in upon my talk--
'He will tell me that I must go from him.'
'I hope he is no such fool,' I said emphatically and somewhat
rudely, I fear; for I confess I was impatient with the very
possibility of separation for these two, to whom love meant so
much. Some people take this sort of thing easily and some not so
easily; but love for a woman like this comes once only to a man,
and then he carries it with him through the length of his life, and
warms his heart with it in death. And when a man smiles or sneers
at such love as this, I pity him, and say no word, for my speech
would be in an unknown tongue. So my heart was sore as I sat
looking up at this woman who stood before me, overflowing with the
joy of her new love, and dully conscious of the coming pain. But I
soon found it was vain to urge my opinion that she should remain
and share the work and life of the man she loved. She only
'You will help him all you can, for it will hurt him to have me
The quiver in her voice took out all the anger from my heart, and
before I knew I had pledged myself to do all I could to help him.
But when I came upon him that night, sitting in the light of his
fire, I saw he must be let alone. Some battles we fight side by
side, with comrades cheering us and being cheered to victory; but
there are fights we may not share, and these are deadly fights
where lives are lost and won. So I could only lay my hand upon his
shoulder without a word. He looked up quickly, read my face, and
said, with a groan--
'I could not help it. But why groan?'
'She will think it right to go,' he said despairingly.
'Then you must think for her; you must bring some common-sense to
bear upon the question.'
'I cannot see clearly yet,' he said; 'the light will come.'
'May I show you how I see it?' I asked.
'Go on,' he said.
For an hour I talked; eloquently, even vehemently urging the reason
and right of my opinion. She would be doing no more than every
woman does, no more than she did before; her mother-in-law had a
comfortable home, all that wealth could procure, good servants, and
friends; the estates could be managed without her personal
supervision; after a few years' work here they would go east for
little Majorie's education; why should two lives be broken?--and so
I went on.
He listened carefully, even eagerly.
'You make a good case,' he said, with a slight smile. 'I will take
time. Perhaps you are right. The light will come. Surely it will
come. But,' and here he sprang up and stretched his arms to full
length above his head, 'I am not sorry; whatever comes I am not
sorry. It is great to have her love, but greater to love her as I
do. Thank God! nothing can take that away. I am willing, glad to
suffer for the joy of loving her.'
Next morning, before I was awake, he was gone, leaving a note for
'MY DEAR CONNOR,--I am due at the Landing. When I see you again I
think my way will be clear. Now all is dark. At times I am a
coward, and often, as you sometimes kindly inform me, an ass; but I
hope I may never become a mule.
I am willing to be led, or want to be, at any rate. I must do the
best--not second best--for her, for me. The best only is God's
will. What else would you have? Be good to her these days, dear
old fellow.--Yours, CRAIG.'
How often those words have braced me he will never know, but I am a
better man for them: 'The best only is God's will. What else would
you have?' I resolved I would rage and fret no more, and that I
would worry Mrs. Mavor with no more argument or expostulation, but,
as my friend had asked, 'Be good to her.'
LOVE IS NOT ALL
Those days when we were waiting Craig's return we spent in the
woods or on the mountain sides, or down in the canyon beside the
stream that danced down to meet the Black Rock river, I talking and
sketching and reading, and she listening and dreaming, with often a
happy smile upon her face. But there were moments when a cloud of
shuddering fear would sweep the smile away, and then I would talk
of Craig till the smile came back again.
But the woods and the mountains and the river were her best, her
wisest, friends during those days. How sweet the ministry of the
woods to her! The trees were in their new summer leaves, fresh and
full of life. They swayed and rustled above us, flinging their
interlacing shadows upon us, and their swaying and their rustling
soothed and comforted like the voice and touch of a mother. And
the mountains, too, in all the glory of their varying robes of
blues and purples, stood calmly, solemnly about us, uplifting our
souls into regions of rest. The changing lights and shadows
flitted swiftly over their rugged fronts, but left them ever as
before in their steadfast majesty. 'God's in His heaven.' What
would you have? And ever the little river sang its cheerful
courage, fearing not the great mountains that threatened to bar its
passage to the sea. Mrs. Mavor heard the song and her courage
'We too shall find our way,' she said, and I believed her.
But through these days I could not make her out, and I found myself
studying her as I might a new acquaintance. Years had fallen from
her; she was a girl again, full of young warm life. She was as
sweet as before, but there was a soft shyness over her, a half-
shamed, half-frank consciousness in her face, a glad light in her
eyes that made her all new to me. Her perfect trust in Craig was
touching to see.
'He will tell me what to do,' she would say, till I began to
realise how impossible it would be for him to betray such trust,
and be anything but true to the best.
So much did I dread Craig's home-coming, that I sent for Graeme and
old man Nelson, who was more and more Graeme's trusted counsellor
and friend. They were both highly excited by the story I had to
tell, for I thought it best to tell them all; but I was not a
little surprised and disgusted that they did not see the matter in
my light. In vain I protested against the madness of allowing
anything to send these two from each other. Graeme summed up the
discussion in his own emphatic way, but with an earnestness in his
words not usual with him.
'Craig will know better than any of us what is right to do, and he
will do that, and no man can turn him from it; and,' he added, 'I
should be sorry to try.'
Then my wrath rose, and I cried--
'It's a tremendous shame! They love each other. You are talking
sentimental humbug and nonsense!'
'He must do the right,' said Nelson in his deep, quiet voice.
'Right! Nonsense! By what right does he send from him the woman
'"He pleased not Himself,"' quoted Nelson reverently.
'Nelson is right,' said Graeme. 'I should not like to see him
'Look here,' I stormed; 'I didn't bring you men to back him up in
his nonsense. I thought you could keep your heads level.'
'Now, Connor,' said Graeme, 'don't rage--leave that for the
heathen; it's bad form, and useless besides. Craig will walk his
way where his light falls; and by all that's holy, I should hate to
see him fail; for if he weakens like the rest of us my North Star
will have dropped from my sky.'
'Nice selfish spirit,' I muttered.
'Entirely so. I'm not a saint, but I feel like steering by one
when I see him.'
When after a week had gone, Craig rode up one early morning to his
shack door, his face told me that he had fought his fight and had
not been beaten. He had ridden all night and was ready to drop
'Connor, old boy,' he said, putting out his hand; 'I'm rather
played. There was a bad row at the Landing. I have just closed
poor Colley's eyes. It was awful. I must get sleep. Look after
Dandy, will you, like a good chap?'
'Oh, Dandy be hanged,!' I said, for I knew it was not the fight,
nor the watching, nor the long ride that had shaken his iron nerve
and given him that face. 'Go in and lie down I'll bring you
'Wake me in the afternoon,' he said; 'she is waiting. Perhaps you
will go to her'--his lips quivered--'my nerve is rather gone.'
Then with a very wan smile he added, 'I am giving you a lot of
'You go to thunder!' I burst out, for my throat was hot and sore
with grief for him.
'I think I'd rather go to sleep,' he replied, still smiling. I
could not speak, and was glad of the chance of being alone with
When I came in I found him sitting with his head in his arms upon
the table fast asleep. I made him tea, forced him to take a warm
bath, and sent him to bed, while I went to Mrs. Mavor. I went with
a fearful heart, but that was because I had forgotten the kind of
woman she was.
She was standing in the light of the window waiting for me. Her
face was pale but steady, there was a proud light in her fathomless
eyes, a slight smile parted her lips, and she carried her head like
'Come in,' she said. 'You need not fear to tell me. I saw him
ride home. He has not failed, thank God! I am proud of him; I
knew he would be true. He loves me'--she drew in her breath
sharply, and a faint colour tinged her cheek--'but he knows love is
not all--ah, love is not all! Oh! I am glad and proud!'
'Glad!' I gasped, amazed.
'You would not have him prove faithless!' she said with proud
'Oh, it is high sentimental nonsense,' I could not help saying.
'You should not say so,' she replied, and her voice rang clear.
'Honour, faith, and duty are sentiments, but they are not
In spite of my rage I was lost in amazed admiration of the high
spirit of the woman who stood up so straight before me. But, as I
told how worn and broken he was, she listened with changing colour
and swelling bosom, her proud courage all gone, and only love,
anxious and pitying, in her eyes.
'Shall I go to him?' she asked with timid eagerness and deepening
'He is sleeping. He said he would come to you,' I replied.
'I shall wait for him,' she said softly, and the tenderness in her
tone went straight to my heart, and it seemed to me a man might
suffer much to be loved with love such as this.
In the early afternoon Graeme came to her. She met him with both
hands outstretched, saying in a low voice--
'I am very happy.'
'Are you sure?' he asked anxiously.
'Oh, yes,' she said, but her voice was like a sob; 'quite, quite
They talked long together till I saw that Craig must soon be
coming, and I called Graeme away. He held her hands, looking
steadily into her eyes and said--
'You are better even than I thought; I'm going to be a better man.'
Her eyes filled with tears, but her smile did not fade as she
'Yes! you will be a good man, and God will give you work to do.'
He bent his head over her hands and stepped back from her as from a
queen, but he spoke no word till we came to Craig's door. Then he
said with humility that seemed strange in him, 'Connor, that is
great, to conquer oneself. It is worth while. I am going to try.'
I would not have missed his meeting with Craig. Nelson was busy
with tea. Craig was writing near the window. He looked up as
Graeme came in, and nodded an easy good-evening; but Graeme strode
to him and, putting one hand on his shoulder, held out his other
for Craig to take.
After a moment's surprise, Craig rose to his feet, and, facing him
squarely, took the offered hand in both of his and held it fast
without a word. Graeme was the first to speak, and his voice was
deep with emotion--
'You are a great man, a good man. I'd give something to have your
Poor Craig stood looking at him, not daring to speak for some
moments, then he said quietly--
'Not good nor great, but, thank God, not quite a traitor.'
'Good man!' went on Graeme, patting him on the shoulder. 'Good
man! But it's tough.'
Craig sat down quickly, saying, 'Don't do that, old chap!'
I went up with Craig to Mrs. Mavor's door. She did not hear us
coming, but stood near the window gazing up at the mountains. She
was dressed in some rich soft stuff, and wore at her breast a bunch
of wild-flowers. I had never seen her so beautiful. I did not
wonder that Craig paused with his foot upon the threshold to look
at her. She turned and saw us. With a glad cry, 'Oh! my darling;
you have come to me,' she came with outstretched arms. I turned
and fled, but the cry and the vision were long with me.
It was decided that night that Mrs. Mavor should go the next week.
A miner and his wife were going east, and I too would join the
The camp went into mourning at the news; but it was understood that
any display of grief before Mrs. Mavor was bad form. She was not
to be annoyed.
But when I suggested that she should leave quietly, and avoid the
pain of saying good-bye, she flatly refused--
'I must say good-bye to every man. They love me and I love them.'
It was decided, too, at first, that there should be nothing in the
way of a testimonial, but when Craig found out that the men were
coming to her with all sorts of extraordinary gifts, he agreed that
it would be better that they should unite in one gift. So it was
agreed that I should buy a ring for her. And were it not that the
contributions were strictly limited to one dollar, the purse that
Slavin handed her when Shaw read the address at the farewell supper
would have been many times filled with the gold that was pressed
upon the committee. There were no speeches at the supper, except
one by myself in reply on Mrs. Mavor's behalf. She had given me
the words to say, and I was thoroughly prepared, else I should not
have got through. I began in the usual way: 'Mr. Chairman, ladies
and gentlemen, Mrs. Mavor is--' but I got no further, for at the
mention of her name the men stood on the chairs and yelled until
they could yell no more. There were over two hundred and fifty of
them, and the effect was overpowering. But I got through my
speech. I remember it well. It began--
'Mrs. Mavor is greatly touched by this mark of your love, and she
will wear your ring always with pride.' And it ended with--
'She has one request to make, that you will be true to the League,
and that you stand close about the man who did most to make it.
She wishes me to say that however far away she may have to go, she
is leaving her heart in Black Rock, and she can think of no greater
joy than to come back to you again.'
Then they had 'The Sweet By and By,' but the men would not join in
the refrain, unwilling to lose a note of the glorious voice they
loved to hear. Before the last verse she beckoned to me. I went
to her standing by Craig's side as he played for her. 'Ask them to
sing,' she entreated; 'I cannot bear it.'
'Mrs. Mavor wishes you to sing in the refrain,' I said, and at once
the men sat up and cleared their throats. The singing was not
good, but at the first sound of the hoarse notes of the men Craig's
head went down over the organ, for he was thinking I suppose of the
days before them when they would long in vain for that thrilling
voice that soared high over their own hoarse tones. And after the
voices died away he kept on playing till, half turning toward him,
she sang alone once more the refrain in a voice low and sweet and
tender, as if for him alone. And so he took it, for he smiled up
at her his old smile full of courage and full of love.
Then for one whole hour she stood saying good-bye to those rough,
gentle-hearted men whose inspiration to goodness she had been for
five years. It was very wonderful and very quiet. It was
understood that there was to be no nonsense, and Abe had been heard
to declare that he would 'throw out any cotton-backed fool who
couldn't hold himself down,' and further, he had enjoined them to
remember that 'her arm wasn't a pump-handle.'
At last they were all gone, all but her guard of honour--Shaw,
Vernon Winton, Geordie, Nixon, Abe, Nelson, Craig, and myself.
This was the real farewell; for, though in the early light of the
next morning two hundred men stood silent about the stage, and then
as it moved out waved their hats and yelled madly, this was the
last touch they had of her hand. Her place was up on the driver's
seat between Abe and Mr. Craig, who held little Marjorie on his
knee. The rest of the guard of honour were to follow with Graeme's
team. It was Winton's fine sense that kept Graeme from following
them close. 'Let her go out alone,' he said, and so we held back
and watched her go.
She stood with her back towards Abe's plunging four-horse team, and
steadying herself with one hand on Abe's shoulder, gazed down upon
us. Her head was bare, her lips parted in a smile, her eyes
glowing with their own deep light; and so, facing us, erect and
smiling, she drove away, waving us farewell till Abe swung his team
into the canyon road and we saw her no more. A sigh shuddered
through the crowd, and, with a sob in his voice, Winton said: 'God
help us all.'
I close my eyes and see it all again. The waving crowd of dark-
faced men, the plunging horses, and, high up beside the driver, the
swaying, smiling, waving figure, and about all the mountains,
framing the picture with their dark sides and white peaks tipped
with the gold of the rising sun. It is a picture I love to look
upon, albeit it calls up another that I can never see but through
I look across a strip of ever-widening water, at a group of men
upon the wharf, standing with heads uncovered, every man a hero,
though not a man of them suspects it, least of all the man who
stands in front, strong, resolute, self-conquered. And, gazing
long, I think I see him turn again to his place among the men of
the mountains, not forgetting, but every day remembering the great
love that came to him, and remembering, too, that love is not all.
It is then the tears come.
But for that picture two of us at least are better men to-day.
HOW NELSON CAME HOME
Through the long summer the mountains and the pines were with me.
And through the winter, too, busy as I was filling in my Black Rock
sketches for the railway people who would still persist in ordering
them by the dozen, the memory of that stirring life would come over
me, and once more I would be among the silent pines and the mighty
snow-peaked mountains. And before me would appear the red-shirted
shantymen or dark-faced miners, great, free, bold fellows, driving
me almost mad with the desire to seize and fix those swiftly
changing groups of picturesque figures. At such times I would drop
my sketch, and with eager brush seize a group, a face, a figure,
and that is how my studio comes to be filled with the men of Black
Rock. There they are all about me. Graeme and the men from the
woods, Sandy, Baptiste, the Campbells, and in many attitudes and
groups old man Nelson; Craig, too, and his miners, Shaw, Geordie,
Nixon, and poor old Billy and the keeper of the League saloon.
It seemed as if I lived among them, and the illusion was greatly
helped by the vivid letters Graeme sent me from time to time.
Brief notes came now and then from Craig too, to whom I had sent a
faithful account of how I had brought Mrs. Mavor to her ship, and
of how I had watched her sail away with none too brave a face, as
she held up her hand that bore the miners' ring, and smiled with
that deep light in her eyes. Ah! those eyes have driven me to
despair and made me fear that I am no great painter after all, in
spite of what my friends tell me who come in to smoke my good
cigars and praise my brush. I can get the brow and hair, and mouth
and pose, but the eyes! the eyes elude me--and the faces of Mrs.
Mavor on my wall, that the men praise and rave over, are not such
as I could show to any of the men from the mountains.
Graeme's letters tell me chiefly about Craig and his doings, and
about old man Nelson; while from Craig I hear about Graeme, and how
he and Nelson are standing at his back, and doing what they can to
fill the gap that never can be filled. The three are much
together, I can see, and I am glad for them all, but chiefly for
Craig, whose face, grief-stricken but resolute, and often gentle as
a woman's, will not leave me nor let me rest in peace.
The note of thanks he sent me was entirely characteristic. There
were no heroics, much less pining or self-pity. It was simple and
manly, not ignoring the pain but making much of the joy. And then
they had their work to do. That note, so clear, so manly, so nobly
sensible, stiffens my back yet at times.
In the spring came the startling news that Black Rock would soon be
no more. The mines were to close down on April 1. The company,
having allured the confiding public with enticing descriptions of
marvellous drifts, veins, assays, and prospects, and having
expended vast sums of the public's money in developing the mines
till the assurance of their reliability was absolutely final,
calmly shut down and vanished. With their vanishing vanishes Black
Rock, not without loss and much deep cursing on the part of the men
brought some hundreds of miles to aid the company in its
extraordinary and wholly inexplicable game.
Personally it grieved me to think that my plan of returning to
Black Rock could never be carried out. It was a great compensation,
however, that the three men most representative to me of that life
were soon to visit me actually in my own home and den. Graeme's
letter said that in one month they might be expected to appear. At
least he and Nelson were soon to come, and Craig would soon follow.
On receiving the great news, I at once looked up young Nelson and
his sister, and we proceeded to celebrate the joyful prospect with
a specially good dinner. I found the greatest delight in picturing
the joy and pride of the old man in his children, whom he had not
seen for fifteen or sixteen years. The mother had died some five
years before, then the farm was sold, and the brother and sister
came into the city; and any father might be proud of them. The son
was a well-made young fellow, handsome enough, thoughtful, and
solid-looking. The girl reminded me of her father. The same
resolution was seen in mouth and jaw, and the same passion
slumbered in the dark grey eyes. She was not beautiful, but she
carried herself well, and one would always look at her twice. It
would be worth something to see the meeting between father and
But fate, the greatest artist of us all, takes little count of the
careful drawing and the bright colouring of our fancy's pictures,
but with rude hand deranges all, and with one swift sweep paints
out the bright and paints in the dark. And this trick he served me
when, one June night, after long and anxious waiting for some word
from the west, my door suddenly opened and Graeme walked in upon me
like a spectre, grey and voiceless. My shout of welcome was choked
back by the look in his face, and I could only gaze at him and wait
for his word. He gripped my hand, tried to speak, but failed to
make words come.
'Sit down, old man,' I said, pushing, him into my chair, 'and take
He obeyed, looking up at me with burning, sleepless eyes. My heart
was sore for his misery, and I said: 'Don't mind, old chap; it
can't be so awfully bad. You're here safe and sound at any rate,'
and so I went on to give him time. But he shuddered and looked
round and groaned.
'Now look here, Graeme, let's have it. When did you land here?
Where is Nelson? Why didn't you bring him up?'
'He is at the station in his coffin,' he answered slowly.
'In his coffin?' I echoed, my beautiful pictures all vanishing.
'How was it?'
'Through my cursed folly,' he groaned bitterly.
'What happened?' I asked. But ignoring my question, he said: 'I
must see his children. I have not slept for four nights. I hardly
know what I am doing; but I can't rest till I see his children. I
promised him. Get them for me.'
'To-morrow will do. Go to sleep now, and we shall arrange
everything to-morrow,' I urged.
'No!' he said fiercely; 'to-night--now!'
In half an hour they were listening, pale and grief-stricken, to
the story of their father's death.
Poor Graeme was relentless in his self-condemnation as he told how,
through his 'cursed folly,' old Nelson was killed. The three,
Craig, Graeme, and Nelson, had come as far as Victoria together.
There they left Craig, and came on to San Francisco. In an evil
hour Graeme met a companion of other and evil days, and it was not
long till the old fever came upon him.
In vain Nelson warned and pleaded. The reaction from the monotony
and poverty of camp life to the excitement and luxury of the San
Francisco gaming palaces swung Graeme quite off his feet, and all
that Nelson could do was to follow from place to place and keep
'And there he would sit,' said Graeme in a hard, bitter voice,
'waiting and watching often till the grey morning light, while my
madness held me fast to the table. One night,' here he paused a
moment, put his face in his hands and shuddered; but quickly he was
master of himself again, and went on in the same hard voice--'One
night my partner and I were playing two men who had done us up
before. I knew they were cheating, but could not detect them.
Game after game they won, till I was furious at my stupidity in not
being able to catch them. Happening to glance at Nelson in the
corner, I caught a meaning look, and looking again, he threw me a
signal. I knew at once what the fraud was, and next game charged
the fellow with it. He gave me the lie; I struck his mouth, but
before I could draw my gun, his partner had me by the arms. What
followed I hardly know. While I was struggling to get free, I saw
him reach for his weapon; but, as he drew it, Nelson sprang across
the table, and bore him down. When the row was ever, three men lay
on the floor. One was Nelson; he took the shot meant for me.'
Again the story paused.
'And the man that shot him?'
I started at the intense fierceness in the voice, and, looking upon
the girl, saw her eyes blazing with a terrible light.
'He is dead,' answered Graeme indifferently.
'You killed him?' she asked eagerly.
Graeme looked at her curiously, and answered slowly--
'I did not mean to. He came at me. I struck him harder than I
knew. He never moved.'
She drew a sigh of satisfaction, and waited.
'I got him to a private ward, had the best doctor in the city, and
sent for Craig to Victoria. For three days we thought he would
live--he was keen to get home; but by the time Craig came we had
given up hope. Oh, but I was thankful to see Craig come in, and
the joy in the old man's eyes was beautiful to see. There was no
pain at last, and no fear. He would not allow me to reproach
myself, saying over and over, "You would have done the same for
me"--as I would, fast enough--"and it is better me than you. I am
old and done; you will do much good yet for the boys." And he kept
looking at me till I could only promise to do my best.
'But I am glad I told him how much good he had done me during the
last year, for he seemed to think that too good to be true. And
when Craig told him how he had helped the boys in the camp, and how
Sandy and Baptiste and the Campbells would always be better men for
his life among them, the old man's face actually shone, as if light
were coming through. And with surprise and joy he kept on saying,
"Do you think so? Do you think so? Perhaps so, perhaps so." At
the last he talked of Christmas night at the camp. You were there,
you remember. Craig had been holding a service, and something
happened, I don't know what, but they both knew.'
'I know,' I said, and I saw again the picture of the old man under
the pine, upon his knees in the snow, with his face turned up to
'Whatever it was, it was in his mind at the very last, and I can
never forget his face as he turned it to Craig. One hears of such
things: I had often, but had never put much faith in them; but joy,
rapture, triumph, these are what were in his face, as he said, his
breath coming short, "You said--He wouldn't--fail me--you were
right--not once--not once--He stuck to me--I'm glad he told me--
thank God--for you--you showed--me--I'll see Him--and--tell Him--'
And Craig, kneeling beside him so steady--I was behaving like a
fool--smiled down through his streaming tears into the dim eyes so
brightly, till they could see no more. Thank him for that! He
helped the old man through, and he helped me too, that night, thank
God!' And Graeme's voice, hard till now, broke in a sob.
He had forgotten us, and was back beside his passing friend, and
all his self-control could not keep back the flowing tears.
'It was his life for mine,' he said huskily.
The brother and sister were quietly weeping, but spoke no word,
though I knew Graeme was waiting for them.
I took up the word, and told of what I had known of Nelson, and his
influence upon the men of Black Rock. They listened eagerly
enough, but still without speaking. There seemed nothing to say,
till I suggested to Graeme that he must get some rest. Then the
girl turned to him, and, impulsively putting out her hand, said--
'Oh, it is all so sad; but how can we ever thank you?'
'Thank me!' gasped Graeme. 'Can you forgive me? I brought him to
'No, no! You must not say so,' she answered hurriedly. 'You would
have done the same for him.'
'God knows I would,' said Graeme earnestly; 'and God bless you for
your words!' And I was thankful to see the tears start in his dry,
We carried him to the old home in the country, that he might lie by
the side of the wife he had loved and wronged. A few friends met
us at the wayside station, and followed in sad procession along the
country road, that wound past farms and through woods, and at last
up to the ascent where the quaint, old wooden church, black with
the rains and snows of many years, stood among its silent graves.
The little graveyard sloped gently towards the setting sun, and
from it one could see, far on every side, the fields of grain and
meadowland that wandered off over softly undulating hills to meet
the maple woods at the horizon, dark, green, and cool. Here and
there white farmhouses, with great barns standing near, looked out
from clustering orchards.
Up the grass-grown walk, and through the crowding mounds, over
which waves, uncut, the long, tangling grass, we bear our friend,
and let him gently down into the kindly bosom of mother earth,
dark, moist, and warm. The sound of a distant cowbell mingles with
the voice of the last prayer; the clods drop heavily with heart-
startling echo; the mound is heaped and shaped by kindly friends,
sharing with one another the task; the long rough sods are laid
over and patted into place; the old minister takes farewell in a
few words of gentle sympathy; the brother and sister, with
lingering looks at the two graves side by side, the old and the
new, step into the farmer's carriage, and drive away; the sexton
locks the gate and goes home, and we are left outside alone.
Then we went back and stood by Nelson's grave.
After a long silence Graeme spoke.
'Connor, he did not grudge his life to me--and I think'--and here
the words came slowly--'I understand now what that means, "Who
loved me and gave Himself for me."'
Then taking off his hat, he said reverently, 'By God's help
Nelson's life shall not end, but shall go on. Yes, old man!'
looking down upon the grave, 'I'm with you'; and lifting up his
face to the calm sky, 'God help me to be true.'
Then he turned and walked briskly away, as one might who had
pressing business, or as soldiers march from a comrade's grave to a
merry tune, not that they have forgotten, but they have still to
And this was the way old man Nelson came home.
GRAEME'S NEW BIRTH
There was more left in that grave than old man Nelson's dead body.
It seemed to me that Graeme left part, at least, of his old self
there, with his dead friend and comrade, in the quiet country