Part 1 out of 9
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CORPORAL CAMERON OF THE NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE
A TALE OF THE MACLEOD TRAIL
by RALPH CONNOR
I THE QUITTER
II THE GLEN OF THE CUP OF GOLD
III THE FAMILY SOLICITOR
IV A QUESTION OF HONOUR
V A LADY AND THE LAW
VI THE WASTER'S REFUGE
VII FAREWELL TO CUAGH OIR
VIII WILL HE COME BACK?
I HO FOR THE OPEN!
II A MAN'S JOB
III A DAY'S WORK
IV A RAINY DAY
V HOW THEY SAVED THE DAY
VI A SABBATH DAY IN LATE AUGUST
VII THE CHIVAREE
VIII IN APPLE TIME
I THE CAMP BY THE GAP
II ON THE WINGS OF THE STORM
III THE STONIES
IV THE DULL RED STAIN
V SERGEANT CRISP
VI A DAY IN THE MACLEOD BARRACKS
VII THE MAKING OF BRAVES
VIII NURSE HALEY
IX "CORPORAL" CAMERON
"Oh-h-h-h, Cam-er-on!" Agony, reproach, entreaty, vibrated in the
clear young voice that rang out over the Inverleith grounds. The
Scottish line was sagging!--that line invincible in two years of
International conflict, the line upon which Ireland and England had
broken their pride. Sagging! And because Cameron was weakening!
Cameron, the brilliant half-back, the fierce-fighting, erratic
young Highlander, disciplined, steadied by the great Dunn into an
instrument of Scotland's glory! Cameron going back! A hush fell
on the thronged seats and packed inner-circle,--a breathless,
dreadful hush of foreboding. High over the hushed silence that
vibrant cry rang; and Cameron heard it. The voice he knew. It was
young Rob Dunn's, the captain's young brother, whose soul knew but
two passions, one for the captain and one for the half-back of the
And Cameron responded. The enemy's next high punt found him
rock-like in steadiness. And rock-like he tossed high over his
shoulders the tow-headed Welshman rushing joyously at him, and
delivered his ball far down the line safe into touch. But after
his kick he was observed to limp back into his place. The fierce
pace of the Welsh forwards was drinking the life of the Scottish
An hour; then a half; then another half, without a score. And now
the final quarter was searching, searching the weak spots in their
line. The final quarter it is that finds a man's history and
habits; the clean of blood and of life defy its pitiless probe, but
the rotten fibre yields and snaps. That momentary weakness of
Cameron's like a subtle poison runs through the Scottish line; and
like fluid lightning through the Welsh. It is the touch upon the
trembling balance. With cries exultant with triumph, the Welsh
forwards fling themselves upon the steady Scots now fighting for
life rather than for victory. And under their captain's directions
these fierce, victory-sniffing Welsh are delivering their attack
upon the spot where he fancies he has found a yielding. In vain
Cameron rallies his powers; his nerve is failing him, his strength
is done. Only five minutes to play, but one minute is enough.
Down upon him through a broken field, dribbling the ball and
following hard like hounds on a hare, come the Welsh, the tow-head
raging in front, bloody and fearsome. There is but one thing for
Cameron to do; grip that tumbling ball, and, committing body and
soul to fate, plunge into that line. Alas, his doom is upon him!
He grips the ball, pauses a moment--only a fatal moment,--but it is
enough. His plunge is too late. He loses the ball. A surge of
Welshmen overwhelm him in the mud and carry the ball across. The
game is won--and lost. What though the Scots, like demons suddenly
released from hell, the half-back Cameron most demon-like of all,
rage over the field, driving the Welshmen hither and thither at
will, the gods deny them victory; it is for Wales that day!
In the retreat of their rubbing-room the gay, gallant humour which
the Scots have carried with them off the field of their defeat,
vanishes into gloom. Through the steaming silence a groan breaks
now and then. At length a voice:
"Oh, wasn't it rotten! The rank quitter that he is!"
"Quitter? Who is? Who says so?" It was the captain's voice,
sharp with passion.
"I do, Dunn. It was Cameron lost us the game. You know it, too.
I know it's rotten to say this, but I can't help it. Cameron lost
the game, and I say he's a rank 'quitter,' as Martin would say."
"Look here, Nesbitt," the captain's voice was quiet, but every man
paused in his rubbing. "I know how sore you are and I forgive you
that; but I don't want to hear from you or from any man on the team
that word again. Cameron is no quitter; he made--he made an
error,--he wasn't fit,--but I say to you Cameron is no quitter."
While he was speaking the door opened and into the room came a
player, tall, lanky, with a pale, gaunt face, plastered over the
forehead with damp wisps of straight, black hair. His deep-set,
blue-grey eyes swept the room.
"Thanks, Dunn," he said hoarsely. "Let them curse me! I deserve
it all. It's tough for them, but God knows I've got the worst of
it. I've played my last game." His voice broke huskily.
"Oh, rot it, Cameron," cried Dunn. "Don't be an ass! Your first
big game--every fellow makes his mistake--"
"Mistake! Mistake! You can't lie easily, Dunn. I was a fool and
worse than a fool. I let myself down and I wasn't fit. Anyway,
I'm through with it." His voice was wild and punctuated with
unaccustomed oaths; his breath came in great sobs.
"Oh, rot it, Cameron!" again cried Dunn. "Next year you'll be
twice the man. You're just getting into your game."
Right loyally his men rallied to their captain:
"Right you are!"
"Why, certainly; no man gets into the game first year!"
"We'll give 'em beans next year, Cameron, old man!"
They were all eager to atone for the criticism which all had held
in their hearts and which one of them had spoken. But this
business was serious. To lose a game was bad enough, but to round
on a comrade was unpardonable; while to lose from the game a half-
back of Cameron's calibre was unthinkable.
Meanwhile Cameron was tearing off his football togs and hustling on
his clothes with fierce haste. Dunn kept his eye on him, hurrying
his own dressing and chatting quietly the while. But long before
he was ready for the street, Cameron had crushed his things into a
bag and was looking for his hat.
"Hold on! I'm with you; I'm with you in a jiffy," said Dunn.
"My hat," muttered Cameron, searching wildly among the jumble.
"Oh, hang the hat; let it go! Wait for me, Cameron. Where are you
going?" cried Dunn.
"To the devil," cried the lad, slamming the door behind him.
"And, by Jove, he'll go, too!" said Nesbitt. "Say, I'm awfully
sorry I made that break, Dunn. It was beastly low-down to round on
a chap like that. I'll go after him."
"Do, old chap! He's frightfully cut up. And get him for to-night.
He may fight shy of the dinner. But he's down for the pipes, you
know, and--well, he's just got to be there. Good-bye, you chaps;
I'm off! And--I say, men!" When Dunn said "men" they all knew it
was their captain that was speaking. Everybody stood listening.
Dunn hesitated a moment or two, as if searching for words. "About
the dinner to-night: I'd like you to remember--I mean--I don't want
any man to--oh, hang it, you know what I mean! There will be lots
of fellows there who will want to fill you up. I'd hate to see any
of our team--" The captain paused embarrassed.
"We tumble, Captain," said Martin, a medical student from Canada,
who played quarter. "I'll keep an eye on 'em, you bet!"
Everybody roared; for not only on the quarter-line but also at the
dinner table the little quarter-back was a marvel of endurance.
"Hear the blooming Colonist!" said Linklater, Martin's comrade on
the quarter-line, and his greatest friend. "We know who'll want
the watching, but we'll see to him, Captain."
"All right, old chap! Sorry I'll have to cut the van. I'm afraid
my governor's got the carriage here for me."
But the men all made outcry. There were other plans for him.
"But, Captain; hold on!"
"Aw, now, Captain! Don't forsake us!"
"But I say, Dunn, see us through; we're shy!"
"Don't leave us, Captain, or you'll be sorry," sang out Martin.
"Come on, fellows, let's keep next him! We'll give him 'Old
Already a mighty roar was heard outside. The green, the drive, the
gateways, and the street were blocked with the wildest football
fanatics that Edinburgh, and all Scotland could produce. They were
waiting for the International players, and were bent on carrying
their great captain down the street, shoulder high; for the
enthusiasm of the Scot reaches the point of madness only in the
hour of glorious defeat. But before they were aware, Dunn had
shouldered his mighty form through the opposing crowds and had got
safely into the carriage beside his father and his young brother.
But the crowd were bound to have him.
"We want him, Docthor," said a young giant in a tam-o'-shanter.
"In fac', Docthor," he argued with a humourous smile, "we maun hae
"Ye'll no' get him, Jock Murchison," shouted young Rob, standing in
front of his big brother. "We want him wi' us."
The crowd laughed gleefully.
"Go for him, Jock! You can easy lick him," said a voice
"Pit him oot, Docthor," said Jock, who was a great friend of the
family, and who had a profound respect for the doctor.
"It's beyond me, Jock, I fear. See yon bantam cock! I doubt ye'll
hae to be content," said the doctor, dropping into Jock's kindly
"Oh, get on there, Murchison," said Dunn impatiently. "You're not
going to make an ass of me; make up your mind to that!"
Jock hesitated, meditating a sudden charge, but checked by his
respect for Doctor Dunn.
"Here, you fellows!" shouted a voice. "Fall in; the band is going
to play! Get into line there, you Tam-o'-shanter; you're stopping
the procesh! Now then, wait for the line, everybody!" It was
Little Martin on top of the van in which were the Scottish players.
"Tune, 'Old Grimes'; words as follows. Catch on, everybody!"
"Old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn,
Old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn,
Old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn,
Old Dunn, old Dunn, old Dunn."
With a delighted cheer the crowd formed in line, and, led by the
little quarter-back on top of the van, they set off down the
street, two men at the heads of the doctor's carriage horses,
holding them in place behind the van. On went the swaying crowd
and on went the swaying chant, with Martin, director of ceremonies
and Dunn hurling unavailing objurgations and entreaties at Jock's
Through the uproar a girl's voice reached the doctor's ear:
"Aren't they lovely, Sir?"
The doctor turned to greet a young lady, tall, strong, and with the
beauty of perfect health rather than of classic feature in her
face. There was withal a careless disregard of the feminine
niceties of dress.
"Oh, Miss Brodie! Will you not come up? We can easily make room."
"I'd just love to," cried the girl, "but I'm only a humble member
of the procession, following the band and the chariot wheels of the
conqueror." Her strong brown face was all aglow with ardour.
"Conqueror!" growled Dunn. "Not much of a conqueror!"
"Why not? Oh fudge! The game? What matters the game? It's the
play we care about."
"Well spoken, lassie," said the doctor. "That's the true sport."
"Aren't they awful?" cried Dunn. "Look at that young Canadian
idiot up there."
"Well, if you ask me, I think he's a perfect dear," said Miss
Brodie, deliberately. "I'm sure I know him; anyway I'm going to
encourage him with my approval." And she waved her hand at Martin.
The master of ceremonies responded by taking off his hat and making
a sweeping bow, still keeping up the beat. The crowd, following
his eyes, turned their attention to the young lady, much to Dunn's
"Oh," she gasped, "they'll be chanting me next! Good-bye! I'm
off!" And she darted back to the company of her friends marching
on the pavement.
At this point Martin held up both arms and called for silence.
"Second verse," he shouted, "second verse! Get the words now!"
"Old Dunn ain't done, old Dunn ain't done,
Old Dunn, old Dunn ain't done,
Old Dunn ain't done, old Dunn ain't done,
Old Dunn, old Dunn ain't done."
But the crowd rejected the Colonial version, and rendered in their
own good Doric:
"Old Dunn's no' done, old Dunn's no' done,
Old Dunn, old Dunn's no' done,
Old Dunn's no' done, old Dunn's no' done,
Old Dunn, old Dunn's no' done."
And so they sang and swayed, following the van till they neared
Queen Street, down which lay the doctor's course.
"For heaven's sake, can't they be choked off?" groaned Dunn.
The doctor signalled Jock to him.
"Jock," he said, "we'll just slip through at Queen Street."
"We'd like awfully to do Princes Street, Sir," pleaded Jock.
"Princes Street, you born ass!" cried Dunn wrathfully.
"Oh, yes, let them!" cried young Rob, whose delight in the glory of
his hero had been beyond all measure. "Let them do Princes Street,
But the doctor would not have it. "Jock," he said quietly, "just
get us through at Queen Street."
"All right, Sir," replied Jock with great regret. "It will be as
Under Jock's orders, when Queen Street was reached, the men at the
horses' heads suddenly swung the pair from the crowd, and after
some struggling, got them safely into the clear space, leaving the
procession to follow the van, loudly cheering their great
International captain, whose prowess on the field was equalled only
by his modesty and his hatred of a demonstration.
"Listen to the idiots," said Dunn in disgust, as the carriage bore
them away from the cheering crowd.
"Man, they're just fine! Aren't they, Father?" said young Rob in
an ecstasy of joy.
"They're generous lads, generous lads, boy," said Doctor Dunn, his
old eyes shining, for his son's triumph touched him deeply.
"That's the only way to take defeat."
"That's all right, Sir," said Dunn quickly, "but it's rather
embarrassing, though it's awfully decent of them."
The doctor's words suggested fresh thoughts to young Rob. "But it
was terrible; and you were just on the win, too, I know."
"I'm not so sure at all," said his brother.
"Oh, it is terrible," said Bob again.
"Tut, tut, lad! What's so terrible?" said his father. "One side
has to lose."
"Oh, it's not that," said Rob, his lip trembling. "I don't care a
sniff for the game."
"What, then?" said his big brother in a voice sharpened by his own
"Oh, Jack," said Rob, nervously wreathing his hands, "he--it looked
as if he--" the lad could not bring himself to say the awful word.
Nor was there need to ask who it was the boy had in mind.
"What do you mean, Rob?" the captain's voice was impatient, almost
Then Rob lost his control. "Oh, Jack, I can't help it; I saw it.
Do you think--did he really funk it?" His voice broke. He
clutched his brother's knee and stood with face white and
quivering. He had given utterance to the terrible suspicion that
was torturing his heroic young soul. Of his two household gods one
was tottering on its pedestal. That a football man should funk--
the suspicion was too dreadful.
The captain glanced at his father's face. There was gloom there,
too, and the same terrible suspicion. "No, Sir," said Dunn, with
impressive deliberation, answering the look on his father's face,
"Cameron is no quitter. He didn't funk. I think," he continued,
while Rob's tear-stained face lifted eagerly, "I know he was out of
condition; he had let himself run down last week, since the last
match, indeed, got out of hand a bit, you know, and that last
quarter--you know, Sir, that last quarter was pretty stiff--his
nerve gave just for a moment."
"Oh," said the doctor in a voice of relief, "that explains it.
But," he added quickly in a severe tone, "it was very reprehensible
for a man on the International to let himself get out of shape,
very reprehensible indeed. An International, mind you!"
"It was my fault, Sir, I'm afraid," said Dunn, regretfully. "I
ought to have--"
"Nonsense! A man must be responsible for himself. Control, to be
of any value, must be ultroneous, as our old professor used to
"That's true, Sir, but I had kept pretty close to him up to the
last week, you see, and--"
"Bad training, bad training. A trainer's business is to school his
men to do without him."
"That is quite right, Sir. I believe I've been making a mistake,"
said Dunn thoughtfully. "Poor chap, he's awfully cut up!"
"So he should be," said the doctor sternly. "He had no business to
get out of condition. The International, mind you!"
"Oh, Father, perhaps he couldn't help it," cried Rob, whose loyal,
tender heart was beating hard against his little ribs, "and he
looks awful. I saw him come out and when I called to him he never
looked at me once."
There is no finer loyalty in this world than that of a boy below
his teens. It is so without calculation, without qualification,
and without reserve. Dr. Dunn let his eyes rest kindly upon his
little flushed face.
"Perhaps so, perhaps so, my boy," he said, "and I have no doubt he
regrets it now more than any of us. Where has he gone?"
"Nesbitt's after him, Sir. He'll get him for to-night."
But as Dunn, fresh from his bath, but still sore and stiff, was
indulging in a long-banished pipe, Nesbitt came in to say that
Cameron could not be found.
"And have you not had your tub yet?" said his captain.
"Oh, that's all right! You know I feel awfully about that beastly
remark of mine."
"Oh, let it go," said Dunn. "That'll be all right. You get right
away home for your tub and get freshened up for to-night. I'll
look after Cameron. You know he is down for the pipes. He's
simply got to be there and I'll get him if I have to bring him in a
crate, pipes, kilt and all."
And Nesbitt, knowing that Dunn never promised what he could not
fulfil, went off to his tub in fair content. He knew his captain.
As Dunn was putting on his coat Rob came in, distress written on
"Are you going to get Cameron, Jack?" he asked timidly. "I asked
Nesbitt, and he said--"
"Now look here, youngster," said his big brother, then paused. The
distress in the lad's face checked his words. "Now, Rob," he said
kindly, "you needn't fret about this. Cameron is all right."
The kind tone broke down the lad's control. He caught his
brother's arm. "Say, Jack, are you sure--he didn't--funk?" His
voice dropped to a whisper.
Then his big brother sat down and drew the lad to his side, "Now
listen, Rob; I'm going to tell you the exact truth. CAMERON DID
NOT FUNK. The truth is, he wasn't fit,--he ought to have been, but
he wasn't,--and because he wasn't fit he came mighty near quitting--
for a moment, I'm sure, he felt like it, because his nerve was
gone,--but he didn't. Remember, he felt like quitting and didn't,
And that's the finest thing a chap can do,--never to quit, even
when he feels like it. Do you see?"
The lad's head went up. "I see," he said, his eyes glowing. "It
was fine! I'm awfully glad he didn't quit, 'specially when he felt
like it. You tell him for me." His idol was firm again on his
"All right, old chap," said his big brother. "You'll never quit, I
"Not if I'm fit, will I?"
"Right you are! Keep fit--that's the word!"
And with that the big brother passed out to find the man who was
writhing in an agony of self-contempt; for in the face of all
Scotland and in the hour of her need he had failed because he
After an hour Dunn found his man, fixed in the resolve to there and
then abandon the game with all the appurtenances thereof, and among
these the dinner. Mightily his captain laboured with him, plying
him with varying motives,--the honour of the team was at stake; the
honour of the country was at stake; his own honour, for was he not
down on the programme for the pipes? It was all in vain. In
dogged gloom the half-back listened unmoved.
At length Dunn, knowing well the Highlander's tender heart,
cunningly touched another string and told of Rob's distress and
subsequent relief, and then gave his half-back the boy's message.
"I promised to tell you, and I almost forgot. The little beggar
was terribly worked up, and as I remember it, this is what he said:
'I'm awfully glad he didn't quit, 'specially when he felt like it.'
Those were his very words."
Then Cameron buried his face in his hands and groaned aloud, while
Dunn, knowing that he had reached his utmost, stood silent,
waiting. Suddenly Cameron flung up his head:
"Did he say I didn't quit? Good little soul! I'll go; I'd go
through hell for that!"
And so it came that not in a crate, but in the gallant garb of a
Highland gentleman, pipes and all, Cameron was that night in his
place, fighting out through the long hilarious night the fiercest
fight of his life, chiefly because of the words that lay like a
balm to his lacerated heart:
"He didn't quit, 'specially when he felt like it."
THE GLEN OF THE CUP OF GOLD
Just over the line of the Grampians, near the head-waters of the
Spey, a glen, small and secluded, lies bedded deep among the
hills,--a glen that when filled with sunlight on a summer day lies
like a cup of gold; the gold all liquid and flowing over the cup's
rim. And hence they call the glen "The Cuagh Oir," The Glen of the
Cup of Gold.
At the bottom of the Cuagh, far down, a little loch gleams, an oval
of emerald or of sapphire, according to the sky above that smiles
into its depths. On dark days the loch can gloom, and in storm it
can rage, white-lipped, just like the people of the Glen.
Around the emerald or sapphire loch farmlands lie sunny and warm,
set about their steadings, and are on this spring day vivid with
green, or rich in their red-browns where the soil lies waiting for
the seed. Beyond the sunny fields the muirs of brown heather and
bracken climb abruptly up to the dark-massed firs, and they to the
Cuagh's rim. But from loch to rim, over field and muir and forest,
the golden, liquid light ever flows on a sunny day and fills the
Cuagh Oir till it runs over.
On the east side of the loch, among some ragged firs, a rambling
Manor House, ivy-covered and ancient, stood; and behind it, some
distance away, the red tiling of a farm-cottage, with its steading
clustering near, could be seen. About the old Manor House the lawn
and garden told of neglect and decay, but at the farmhouse order
reigned. The trim little garden plot, the trim lawn, the trim
walks and hedges, the trim thatch of the roof, the trim do'-cote
above it, the trim stables, byres, barns and yard of the steading,
proclaimed the prudent, thrifty care of a prudent, thrifty soul.
And there in the steading quadrangle, amidst the feathered
creatures, hens, cocks and chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys and
bubbly-jocks, stood the mistress of the Manor and prudent, thrifty
manager of the farm,--a girl of nineteen, small, well-made, and
trim as the farmhouse and its surroundings, with sunny locks and
sunny face and sunny brown eyes. Her shapely hands were tanned and
coarsened by the weather; her little feet were laced in stout
country-made brogues; her dress was a plain brown winsey, kilted
and belted open at the full round neck; the kerchief that had
fallen from her sunny, tangled hair was of simple lawn, spotless
and fresh; among her fowls she stood, a country lass in habit and
occupation, but in face and form, in look and poise, a lady every
inch of her. Dainty and daunty, sweet and strong, she stood, "the
bonny like o' her bonny mither," as said the South Country nurse,
Nannie, who had always lived at the Glen Cuagh House from the time
that that mother was a baby; "but no' sae fine like," the nurse
would add with a sigh. For she remembered ever the gentle airs and
the high-bred, stately grace of Mary Robertson,--for though married
to Captain Cameron of Erracht, Mary Robertson she continued to be
to the Glen folk,--the lady of her ancestral manor, now for five
years lain under the birch trees yonder by the church tower that
looked out from its clustering firs and birches on the slope beyond
the loch. Five years ago the gentle lady had passed from them, but
like the liquid, golden sunlight, and like the perfume of the
heather and the firs, the aroma of her saintly life still filled
A year after that grief had fallen, Moira, her one daughter, "the
bonny like o' her bonny mither, though no' sae fine," had somehow
slipped into command of the House Farm, the only remaining portion
of the wide demesne of farmlands once tributary to the House. And
by the thrift which she learned from her South Country nurse in the
care of her poultry and her pigs, and by her shrewd oversight of
the thriftless, doddling Highland farmer and his more thriftless
and more doddling womenfolk, she brought the farm to order and to a
basis of profitable returns. And this, too, with so little "clash
and claver" that her father only knew that somehow things were more
comfortable about the place, and that there were fewer calls than
formerly upon his purse for the upkeep of the House and home.
Indeed, the less appeared Moira's management, both in the routine
of the House and in the care of the farm, the more peacefully
flowed the current of their life. It seriously annoyed the Captain
at intervals when he came upon his daughter directing operations in
barnyard or byre. That her directing meant anything more than a
girlish meddling in matters that were his entire concern and about
which he had already given or was about to give orders, the Captain
never dreamed. That things about the House were somehow prospering
in late years he set down to his own skill and management and his
own knowledge of scientific farming; a knowledge which, moreover,
he delighted to display at the annual dinners of the Society for
the Improvement of Agriculture in the Glen, of which he was
honourary secretary; a knowledge which he aired in lengthy articles
in local agricultural and other periodicals; a knowledge which,
however, at times became the occasion of dismay to his thrifty
daughter and her Highland farmer, and not seldom the occasion of
much useless expenditure of guineas hard won from pigs and poultry.
True, more serious loss was often averted by the facility with
which the Captain turned from one scheme to another, happily
forgetful of orders he had given and which were never carried out;
and by the invincible fabianism of the Highland farmer, who,
listening with gravest attention to the Captain's orders delivered
in the most definite and impressive terms, would make reply, "Yess,
yess indeed, I know; she will be attending to it immediately--
tomorrow, or fery soon whateffer." It cannot be said that this
capacity for indefinite procrastination rendered the Highlander any
less valuable to his "tear young leddy."
The days on which Postie appeared with a large bundle of mail were
accounted good days by the young mistress, for on these and
succeeding days her father would be "busy with his correspondence."
And these days were not few, for the Captain held many honourary
offices in county and other associations for the promotion and
encouragement of various activities, industrial, social, and
philanthropic. Of the importance of these activities to the county
and national welfare, the Captain had no manner of doubt, as his
voluminous correspondence testified. As to the worth of his
correspondence his daughter, too, held the highest opinion,
estimating her father, as do all dutiful daughters, at his own
valuation. For the Captain held himself in high esteem; not simply
for his breeding, which was of the Camerons of Erracht; nor for his
manners, which were of the most courtly, if occasionally marred by
fretfulness; nor for his dress, which was that of a Highland
gentleman, perfect in detail and immaculate, but for his many and
public services rendered to the people, the county, and the nation.
Indeed his mere membership dues to the various associations,
societies and committees with which he was connected, and his
dining expenses contingent upon their annual meetings, together
with the amounts expended upon the equipment and adornment of his
person proper to such festive occasions, cut so deep into the
slender resources of the family as to give his prudent daughter
some considerable concern; though it is safe to say that such
concern her father would have regarded not only as unnecessary but
almost as impertinent.
The Captain's correspondence, however extensive, was on the whole
regarded by his daughter as a good rather than an evil, in that it
secured her domestic and farm activities from disturbing incursions.
This spring morning Moira's apprehensions awakened by an extremely
light mail, were realized, as she beheld her father bearing down
upon her with an open letter in his hand. His handsome face was set
in a fretful frown.
"Moira, my daughter!" he exclaimed, "how often have I spoke to you
about this--this--unseemly--ah--mussing and meddling in the
"But, Papa," cried his daughter, "look at these dear things! I
love them and they all know me, and they behave so much better when
I feed them myself. Do they not, Janet?" she added, turning to the
stout and sonsy farmer's daughter standing by.
"Indeed, then, they are clever at knowing you," replied the maid,
whose particular duty was to hold a reserve supply of food for the
fowls that clamoured and scrambled about her young mistress.
"Look at that vain bubbly-jock there, Papa," cried Moira, "he loves
to have me notice him. Conceited creature! Look out, Papa, he
does not like your kilts!" The bubbly-jock, drumming and scraping
and sidling ever nearer to the Captain's naked knees, finally with
great outcry flew straight at the affronting kilts.
"Get off with you, you beast!" cried the Captain, kicking vainly at
the wrathful bird, and at the same time beating a wise retreat
before his onset.
Moira rushed to his rescue. "Hoot, Jock! Shame on ye!" she cried.
"There now, you proud thing, be off! He's just jealous of your
fine appearance, Papa." With her kerchief she flipped into
submission the haughty bubbly-jock and drew her father out of the
steading. "Come away, Papa, and see my pigs."
But the Captain was in no humour for pigs. "Nonsense, child," he
cried, "let us get out of this mess! Besides, I wish to speak to
you on a matter of importance." They passed through the gate. "It
is about Allan," he continued, "and I'm really vexed. Something
terrible has happened."
"Allan!" the girl's voice was faint and her sunny cheek grew white.
"About Allan!" she said again. "And what is wrong with Allan,
"That's what I do not know," replied her father fretfully; "but I
must away to Edinburgh this very day, so you'll need to hasten with
my packing. And bid Donald bring round the cart at once."
But Moira stood dazed. "But, Papa, you have not told me what is
wrong with Allan." Her voice was quiet, but with a certain
insistence in it that at once irritated her father and compelled
"Tut, tut, Moira, I have just said I do not know."
"Is he ill, Papa?" Again the girl's voice grew faint.
"No, no, not ill. I wish he were! I mean it is some business
matter you cannot understand. But it must be serious if Mr. Rae
asks my presence immediately. So you must hasten, child."
In less than half an hour Donald and the cart were waiting at the
door, and Moira stood in the hall with her father's bag ready
packed. "Oh, I am glad," she said, as she helped her father with
his coat, "that Allan is not ill. There can't be much wrong."
"Wrong! Read that, child!" cried the father impatiently.
She took the letter and read, her face reflecting her changing
emotions, perplexity, surprise, finally indignation. "'A matter
for the police,'" she quoted, scornfully, handing her father the
letter. "'A matter for the police' indeed! My but that Mr. Rae is
the clever man! The police! Does he think my brother Allan would
cheat?--or steal, perhaps!" she panted, in her indignant scorn.
"Mr. Rae is a careful man and a very able lawyer," replied her
"Able! Careful! He's an auld wife, and that's what he is! You
can tell him so for me." She was trembling and white with a wrath
her father had never before seen in her. He stood gazing at her in
"Papa," cried Moira passionately, answering his look, "do you think
what he is saying? I know my brother Allan clean through to the
heart. He is wild at times, and might rage perhaps and--and--break
things, but he will not lie nor cheat. He will die first, and that
I warrant you."
Still her father stood gazing upon her as she stood proudly erect,
her pale face alight with lofty faith in her brother and scorn of
his traducer. "My child, my child," he said, huskily, "how like
you are to your mother! Thank God! Indeed it may be you're right!
God grant it!" He drew her closely to him.
"Papa, Papa," she whispered, clinging to him, while her voice broke
in a sob, "you know Allan will not lie. You know it, don't you,
"I hope not, dear child, I hope not," he replied, still holding her
"Papa," she cried wildly, "say you believe me."
"Yes, yes, I do believe you. Thank God, I do believe you. The boy
At that word she let him go. That her father should not believe in
Allan was to her loyal heart an intolerable pain. Now Allan would
have someone to stand for him against "that lawyer" and all others
who might seek to do him harm. At the House door she stood
watching her father drive down through the ragged firs to the
highroad, and long after he had passed out of sight she still stood
gazing. Upon the church tower rising out of its birches and its
firs her eyes were resting, but her heart was with the little mound
at the tower's foot, and as she gazed, the tears gathered and fell.
"Oh, Mother!" she whispered. "Mother, Mother! You know Allan
would not lie!"
A sudden storm was gathering. In a brief moment the world and the
Glen had changed. But half an hour ago and the Cuagh Oir was lying
glorious with its flowing gold. Now, from the Cuagh as from her
world, the flowing gold was gone.
THE FAMILY SOLICITOR
The senior member of the legal firm of Rae & Macpherson was
perplexed and annoyed, indeed angry, and angry chiefly because he
was perplexed. He resented such a condition of mind as reflecting
upon his legal and other acumen. Angry, too, he was because he had
been forced to accept, the previous day, a favour from a firm--Mr.
Rae would not condescend to say a rival firm--with which he for
thirty years had maintained only the most distant and formal
relations, to wit, the firm of Thomlinson & Shields. Messrs. Rae &
Macpherson were family solicitors and for three generations had
been such; hence there gathered about the firm a fine flavour of
assured respectability which only the combination of solid
integrity and undoubted antiquity can give. Messrs. Rae &
Macpherson had not yielded in the slightest degree to that
commercialising spirit which would transform a respectable and
self-respecting firm of family solicitors into a mere financial
agency; a transformation which Mr. Rae would consider a degradation
of an ancient and honourable profession. This uncompromising
attitude toward the commercialising spirit of the age had doubtless
something to do with their losing the solicitorship for the Bank of
Scotland, which went to the firm of Thomlinson & Shields, to Mr.
Rae's keen, though unacknowledged, disappointment; a disappointment
that arose not so much from the loss of the very honourable and
lucrative appointment, and more from the fact that the appointment
should go to such a firm as that of Thomlinson & Shields. For the
firm of Thomlinson & Shields were of recent origin, without
ancestry, boasting an existence of only some thirty-five years,
and, as one might expect of a firm of such recent origin,
characterised by the commercialising modern spirit in its most
pronounced and objectionable form. Mr. Rae, of course, would never
condescend to hostile criticism, dismissing Messrs. Thomlinson &
Shields from the conversation with the single remark, "Pushing, Sir,
very pushing, indeed."
It was, then, no small humiliation for Mr. Rae to be forced to
accept a favour from Mr. Thomlinson. "Had it been any other than
Cameron," he said to himself, as he sat in his somewhat dingy and
dusty office, "I would let him swither. But Cameron! I must see
to it and at once." Behind the name there rose before Mr. Rae's
imagination a long line of brave men and fair women for whose name
and fame and for whose good estate it had been his duty and the
duty of those who had preceded him in office to assume
"Young fool! Much he cares for the honour of his family! I wonder
what's at the bottom of this business! Looks ugly! Decidedly
ugly! The first thing is to find him." A messenger had failed to
discover young Cameron at his lodgings, and had brought back the
word that for a week he had not been seen there. "He must be
found. They have given me till to-morrow. I cannot ask a further
stay of proceedings; I cannot and I will not." It made Mr. Rae
more deeply angry that he knew quite well if necessity arose he
would do just that very thing. "Then there's his father coming in
this evening. We simply must find him. But how and where?"
Mr. Rae was not unskilled in such a matter. "Find a man, find his
friends," he muttered. "Let's see. What does the young fool do?
What are his games? Ah! Football! I have it! Young Dunn is my
man." Hence to young Dunn forthwith Mr. Rae betook himself.
It was still early in the day when Mr. Rae's mild, round, jolly,
clean-shaven face beamed in upon Mr. Dunn, who sat with
dictionaries, texts, and class notebooks piled high about him,
burrowing in that mound of hidden treasure which it behooves all
prudent aspirants for university honours to diligently mine as the
fateful day approaches. With Mr. Dunn time had now come to be
measured by moments, and every moment golden. But the wrathful
impatience that had gathered in his face at the approach of an
intruder was overwhelmed in astonishment at recognising so
distinguished a visitor as Mr. Rae the Writer.
"Ah, Mr. Dunn," said Mr. Rae briskly, "a moment only, one moment, I
assure you. Well do I know the rage which boils behind that genial
smile of yours. Don't deny it, Sir. Have I not suffered all the
pangs, with just a week before the final ordeal? This is your
final, I believe?"
"I hope so," said Mr. Dunn somewhat ruefully.
"Yes, yes, and a very fine career, a career befitting your father's
son. And I sincerely trust, Sir, that as your career has been
marked by honour, your exit shall be with distinction; and all the
more that I am not unaware of your achievements in another
department of--ah--shall I say endeavour. I have seen your name,
Sir, mentioned more than once, to the honour of our university, in
athletic events." At this point Mr. Rae's face broke into a smile.
An amazing smile was Mr. Rae's; amazing both in the suddenness of
its appearing and in the suddenness of its vanishing. Upon a face
of supernatural gravity, without warning, without beginning, the
smile, broad, full and effulgent, was instantaneously present.
Then equally without warning and without fading the smile ceased to
be. Under its effulgence the observer unfamiliar with Mr. Rae's
smile was moved, to a responsive geniality of expression, but in
the full tide of this emotion he found himself suddenly regarding a
face of such preternatural gravity as rebuked the very possibility
or suggestion of geniality. Before the smile Mr. Rae's face was
like a house, with the shutters up and the family plunged in gloom.
When the smile broke forth every shutter was flung wide to the
pouring sunlight, and every window full of flowers and laughing
children. Then instantly and without warning the house was blank,
lifeless, and shuttered once more, leaving you helplessly
apologetic that you had ever been guilty of the fatuity of
associating anything but death and gloom with its appearance.
To young Mr. Dunn it was extremely disconcerting to discover
himself smiling genially into a face of the severest gravity, and
eyes that rebuked him for his untimely levity. "Oh, I beg pardon,"
exclaimed Mr. Dunn hastily, "I thought--"
"Not at all, Sir," replied Mr. Rae. "As I was saying, I have
observed from time to time the distinctions you have achieved in
the realm of athletics. And that reminds me of my business with
you to-day,--a sad business, a serious business, I fear." The
solemn impressiveness of Mr. Rae's manner awakened in Mr. Dunn an
awe amounting to dread. "It is young Cameron, a friend of yours, I
"Cameron, Sir!" echoed Dunn.
"Yes, Cameron. Does he, or did he not have a place on your team?"
Dunn sat upright and alert. "Yes, Sir. What's the matter, Sir?"
"First of all, do you know where he is? I have tried his lodgings.
He is not there. It is important that I find him to-day, extremely
important; in fact, it is necessary; in short, Mr. Dunn,--I believe
I can confide in your discretion,--if I do not find him to-day, the
police will to-morrow."
"The police, Sir!" Dunn's face expressed an awful fear. In the
heart of the respectable Briton the very mention of the police in
connection with the private life of any of his friends awakens a
feeling of gravest apprehension. No wonder Mr. Dunn's face went
pale! "The police!" he said a second time. "What for?"
Mr. Rae remained silent.
"If it is a case of debts, Sir," suggested Mr. Dunn, "why, I would
Mr. Rae waved him aside. "It is sufficient to say, Mr. Dunn, that
we are the family solicitors, as we have been for his father, his
grandfather and great-grandfather before him."
"Oh, certainly, Sir. I beg pardon," said Mr. Dunn hastily.
"Not at all; quite proper; does you credit. But it is not a case
of debts, though it is a case of money; in fact, Sir,--I feel sure
I may venture to confide in you,--he is in trouble with his bank,
the Bank of Scotland. The young man, or someone using his name,
has been guilty of--ah--well, an irregularity, a decided
irregularity, an irregularity which the bank seems inclined to--
to--follow up; indeed, I may say, instructions have been issued
through their solicitors to that effect. Mr. Thomlinson was good
enough to bring this to my attention, and to offer a stay of
proceedings for a day."
"Can I do anything, Sir?" said Dunn. "I'm afraid I've neglected
him. The truth is, I've been in an awful funk about my exams, and
I haven't kept in touch as I should."
"Find him, Mr. Dunn, find him. His father is coming to town this
evening, which makes it doubly imperative. Find him; that is, if
you can spare the time."
"Of course I can. I'm awfully sorry I've lost touch with him.
He's been rather down all this winter; in fact, ever since the
International he seems to have lost his grip of himself."
"Ah, indeed!" said Mr. Rae. "I remember that occasion; in fact, I
was present myself," he admitted. "I occasionally seek to renew my
youth." Mr. Rae's smile broke forth, but anxiety for his friend
saved Mr. Dunn from being caught again in any responsive smile.
"Bring him to my office, if you can, any time to-day. Good-bye,
Sir. Your spirit does you credit. But it is the spirit which I
should expect in a man who plays the forward line as you play it."
Mr. Dunn blushed crimson. "Is there anything else I could do?
Anyone I could see? I mean, for instance, could my father serve in
"Ah, a good suggestion!" Mr. Rae seized his right ear,--a
characteristic action of his when in deep thought,--twisted it into
a horn, and pulled it quite severely as if to assure himself that
that important feature of his face was firmly fixed in its place.
"A very good suggestion! Your father knows Mr. Sheratt, the
manager of the bank, I believe."
"Very well, Sir, I think," answered Mr. Dunn. "I am sure he would
see him. Shall I call him in, Sir?"
"Nothing of the sort, nothing of the sort; don't think of it! I
mean, let there be nothing formal in this matter. If Mr. Dunn
should chance to meet Mr. Sheratt, that is, casually, so to speak,
and if young Cameron's name should come up, and if Mr. Dunn should
use his influence, his very great influence, with Mr. Sheratt, the
bank might be induced to take a more lenient view of the case. I
think I can trust you with this." Mr. Rae shook the young man
warmly by the hand, beamed on him for one brief moment with his
amazing smile, presented to his answering smile a face of
unspeakable gravity, and left him extremely uncertain as to the
proper appearance for his face, under the circumstances.
Before Mr. Rae had gained the street Dunn was planning his
campaign; for no matter what business he had in hand, Dunn always
worked by plan. By the time he himself had reached the street his
plan was formed. "No use trying his digs. Shouldn't be surprised
if that beast Potts has got him. Rotten bounder, Potts, and worse!
Better go round his way." And oscillating in his emotions between
disgust and rage at Cameron for his weakness and his folly, and
disgust and rage at himself for his neglect of his friend, Dunn
took his way to the office of the Insurance Company which was
honoured by the services of Mr. Potts.
The Insurance Company knew nothing of the whereabouts of Mr. Potts.
Indeed, the young man who assumed responsibility for the information
appeared to treat the very existence of Mr. Potts as a matter of
slight importance to his company; so slight, indeed, that the
company had not found it necessary either to the stability of its
business or to the protection of its policy holders--a prime
consideration with Insurance Companies--to keep in touch with Mr.
Potts. That gentleman had left for the East coast a week ago, and
that was the end of the matter as far as the clerk of the Insurance
Company was concerned.
At his lodgings Mr. Dunn discovered an even more callous indifference
to Mr. Potts and his interests. The landlady, under the impression
that in Mr. Dunn she beheld a prospective lodger, at first received
him with that deferential reserve which is the characteristic of
respectable lodging-house keepers in that city of respectable
lodgers and respectable lodging-house keepers. When, however, she
learned the real nature of Mr. Dunn's errand, she became immediately
transformed. In a voice shrill with indignation she repudiated Mr.
Potts and his affairs, and seemed chiefly concerned to re-establish
her own reputation for respectability, which she seemed to consider
as being somewhat shattered by that of her lodger. Mr. Dunn was
embarrassed both by her volubility and by her obvious determination
to fasten upon him a certain amount of responsibility for the
character and conduct of Mr. Potts.
"Do you know where Mr. Potts is now, and have you any idea when he
may return?" inquired Mr. Dunn, seizing a fortunate pause.
"Am I no' juist tellin' ye," cried the landlady, in her excitement
reverting to her native South Country dialect, "that I keep nae
coont o' Mr. Potts' stravagins? An' as to his return, I ken
naething aboot that an' care less. He's paid what he's been owing
me these three months an' that's all I care aboot him."
"I am glad to hear that," said Mr. Dunn heartily.
"An' glad I am tae, for it's feared I was for my pay a month back."
"When did he pay up?" inquired Mr. Dunn, scenting a clue.
"A week come Saturday,--or was it Friday?--the day he came in with
a young man, a friend of his. And a night they made of it, I
remember," replied the landlady, recovering command of herself and
of her speech under the influence of Mr. Dunn's quiet courtesy.
"Did you know the young man that was with him?"
"Yes, it was young Cameron. He had been coming about a good deal."
"Oh, indeed! And have you seen Mr. Cameron since?"
"No; he never came except in company with Mr. Potts."
And with this faint clue Mr. Dunn was forced to content himself,
and to begin a systematic search of Cameron's haunts in the various
parts of the town. It was Martin, his little quarter-back, that
finally put him on the right track. He had heard Cameron's pipes
not more than an hour ago at his lodgings in Morningside Road.
"But what do you want of Cameron these days?" inquired the young
Canadian. "There's nothing on just now, is there, except this
Dunn hesitated. "Oh, I just want him. In fact, he has got into
"There you are!" exclaimed Martin in disgust. "Why in thunder
should you waste time on him? You've taken enough trouble with him
this winter already. It's his own funeral, ain't it?"
Dunn looked at him a half moment in surprise. "Well, you can't go
back on a fellow when he's down, can you?"
"Look here, Dunn, I've often thought I'd give you a little wise
advice. This sounds bad, I know, but there's a lot of blamed rot
going around this old town just on this point. When a fellow gets
on the bum and gets into a hole he knows well that there'll be a
lot of people tumbling over each other to get him out, hence he
deliberately and cheerfully slides in. If he knew he'd have to
scramble out himself he wouldn't be so blamed keen to get in. If
he's in a hole let him frog it for awhile, by Jingo! He's hitting
the pace, let him take his bumps! He's got to take 'em sooner or
later, and better sooner than later, for the sooner he takes 'em
the quicker he'll learn. Bye-bye! I know you think I'm a semi-
civilised Colonial. I ain't; I'm giving you some wisdom gained
from experience. You can't swim by hanging on to a root, you bet!"
Dunn listened in silence, then replied slowly, "I say, old chap,
there's something in that. My governor said something like that
some time ago: 'A trainer's business is to train his men to do
"There you are!" cried Martin. "That's philosophy! Mine's just
"Still," said Dunn thoughtfully, "when a chap's in you've got to
lend a hand; you simply can't stand and look on." Dunn's words,
tone, and manner revealed the great, honest heart of human sympathy
which he carried in his big frame.
"Oh, hang it," cried Martin, "I suppose so! Guess I'll go along
with you. I can't forget you pulled me out, too."
"Thanks, old chap," cried Dunn, brightening up, "but you're busy,
"Busy! By Jingo, you'd think so if you'd watch me over night and
hear my brain sizzle. But come along, I'm going to stay with you!"
But Dunn's business was private, and could be shared with no one.
It was difficult to check his friend's newly-aroused ardour. "I
say, old chap," he said, "you really don't need to come along. I
"Oh, go to blazes! I know you too well! Don't you worry about me!
You've got me going, and I'm in on this thing; so come along!"
Then Dunn grew firm. "Thanks, awfully, old man," he said, "but
it's a thing I'd rather do alone, if you don't mind."
"Oh!" said Martin. "All right! But say, if you need me I'm on.
You're a great old brick, though! Tra-la!"
As Martin had surmised, Dunn found Cameron in his rooms. He was
lying upon his bed enjoying the luxury of a cigarette. "Hello!
Come right in, old chap!" he cried, in gay welcome. "Have a--no,
you won't have a cigarette--have a pipe?"
Dunn gazed at him, conscious of a rising tide of mingled emotions,
relief, wrath, pity, disgust. "Well, I'll be hanged!" at last he
said slowly. "But you've given us a chase! Where in the world
have you been?"
"Been? Oh, here and there, enjoying my emancipation from the
thralldom in which doubtless you are still sweating."
"And what does that mean exactly?"
"Mean? It means that I've cut the thing,--notebooks, lectures,
professors, exams, 'the hale hypothick,' as our Nannie would say at
"Oh rot, Cameron! You don't mean it?"
"Circumspice. Do you behold any suggestion of knotted towels and
the midnight oil?"
Dunn gazed about the room. It was in a whirl of confusion. Pipes
and pouches, a large box of cigarettes, a glass and a half-empty
decanter, were upon the table; boots, caps, golf-clubs, coats, lay
piled in various corners. "Pardon the confusion, dear sir," cried
Cameron cheerfully, "and lay it not to the charge of my landlady.
That estimable woman was determined to make entry this afternoon,
but was denied." Cameron's manner one of gay and nervous bravado.
"Come, Cameron," said Dunn sadly, "what does this mean? You're not
serious; you're not chucking your year?"
"Just that, dear fellow, and nothing less. Might as well as be
"And what then are you going to do?" Dunn's voice was full of a
great pity. "What about your people? What about your father?
And, by Jove, that reminds me, he's coming to town this evening.
You know they've been trying to find you everywhere this last day
"And who are 'they,' pray?"
"Who? The police," said Dunn bluntly, determined to shock his
friend into seriousness.
Cameron sat up quickly. "The police? What do you mean, Dunn?"
"What it means I do not know, Cameron, I assure you. Don't you?"
"The police!" said Cameron again. "It's a joke, Dunn."
"I wish to Heaven it were, Cameron, old man! But I have it
straight from Mr. Rae, your family solicitor. They want you."
"Old Rae?" exclaimed Cameron. "Now what the deuce does this all
"Don't you really know, old chap?" said Dunn kindly, anxiety and
relief struggling in his face.
"No more than you. What did the old chap say, anyway?"
"Something about a Bank; an irregularity, he called it, a serious
irregularity. He's had it staved off for a day."
"The Bank? What in Heaven's name have I got to do with the Bank?
Let's see; I was there a week or ten days ago with--" he paused.
"Hang it, I can't remember!" He ran his hands through his long
black locks, and began to pace the room.
Dunn sat watching him, hope and fear, doubt and faith filling his
heart in succession.
Cameron sat down with his face in his hands. "What is it, old man?
Can't I help you?" said Dunn, putting his hand on his shoulder.
"I can't remember," muttered Cameron. "I've been going it some,
you know. I had been falling behind and getting money off Potts.
Two weeks ago I got my monthly five-pound cheque, and about ten
days ago the usual fifty-pound cheque to square things up for the
year, fees, etc. Seems to me I cashed those. Or did Potts?
Anyway I paid Potts. The deuce take it, I can't remember! You
know I can carry a lot of Scotch and never show it, but it plays
the devil with my memory." Cameron was growing more and more
"Well, old chap, we must go right along to Mr. Rae's office. You
"Mind? Not a bit. Old Rae has no love for me,--I get him into too
much trouble,--but he's a straight old boy. Just wait till I brush
up a bit." He poured out from a decanter half a glass of whiskey.
"I'd cut that out if I were you," said Dunn.
"Later, perhaps," replied Cameron, "but not to-day."
Within twenty minutes they were ushered into Mr. Rae's private
office. That gentleman received them with a gravity that was
portentous in its solemnity. "Well, Sir, you have succeeded in
your task," he said to Mr. Dunn. "I wish to thank you for this
service, a most valuable service to me, to this young gentleman,
and to his family; though whether much may come of it remains to be
"Oh, thanks," said Dunn hurriedly. "I hope everything will be all
right." He rose to go. Cameron looked at him quickly. There was
no mistaking the entreaty in his face.
Mr. Rae spoke somewhat more hurriedly than his wont. "If it is not
asking too much, and if you can still spare time, your presence
might be helpful, Mr. Dunn."
"Stay if you can, old chap," said Cameron. "I don't know what this
thing is, but I'll do better if you're in the game, too." It was
an appeal to his captain, and after that nothing on earth could
have driven Dunn from his side.
At this point the door opened and the clerk announced, "Captain
Mr. Rae rose hastily. "Tell him," he said quickly, "to wait--"
He was too late. The Captain had followed close upon the heels of
the clerk, and came in with a rush. "Now, what does all this
mean?" he cried, hardly waiting to shake hands with his solicitor.
"I beg your pardon, Captain," said Mr. Rae calmly, "let me present
Mr. Dunn, Captain Dunn, I might say, of International fame." The
solicitor's smile broke forth with its accustomed unexpectedness,
but had vanished long before Mr. Dunn in his embarrassment had
finished shaking hands with Captain Cameron.
The Captain then turned to his son. "Well, Sir, and what is this
affair of yours that calls me to town at a most inconvenient time?"
His tone was cold, fretful, and suspicious.
Young Cameron's face, which had lighted up with a certain eagerness
and appeal as he had turned toward his father, as if in expectation
of sympathy and help, froze at this greeting into sullen reserve.
"I don't know any more than yourself, Sir," he answered. "I have
just come into this office this minute."
"Well, then, what is it, Mr. Rae?" The Captain's voice and manner
were distinctly imperious, if not overbearing.
Mr. Rae, however, was king of his own castle. "Will you not be
seated, Sir?" he said, pointing to a chair. "Sit down, young
His quiet dignity, his perfect courtesy, recalled the Captain to
himself. "I beg your pardon, Mr. Rae, but I am really much
disturbed. Can we begin at once?" He glanced as he spoke at Mr.
Dunn, who immediately rose.
"Sit down, Mr. Dunn," said Mr. Rae quietly. "I have asked this
young gentleman," he continued, turning to the Captain, "to remain.
He has already given me valuable assistance. I fancy he may be
able to serve us still further, if he will be so good."
Mr. Dunn bowed in silence.
"Now let us proceed with what must be an exceedingly painful matter
for us all, and out of which nothing but extreme candour on the
part of Mr. Allan here, and great wisdom on the part of us all, can
possibly extract us." Mr. Rae's glance rested upon the Captain,
who bowed, and upon his son, who made no sign whatever, but
remained with his face set in the same sullen gloom with which he
had greeted his father.
Mr. Rae opened a drawer and brought forth a slip of paper. "Mr.
Allan," he said, with a certain sharpness in his tone, "please look
Cameron came to the desk, picked up the paper, glanced at it. "It
is my father's cheque," he said, "which I received about a week
"Look at the endorsement, please," said Mr. Rae.
Cameron turned it over. A slight flush came to his pale face. "It
is mine to--" he hesitated, "Mr. Potts."
"Mr. Potts cashed it then?"
"I suppose so. I believe so. I owed him money, and he gave me
"How much did you owe him?"
"A considerable amount. I had been borrowing of him for some
"As much as fifty pounds?"
"I cannot tell. I did not keep count, particularly; Potts did
The Captain snorted contemptuously. "Do you mean to say--?" he
"Pardon me, Captain Cameron. Allow me," said Mr. Rae.
"Now, Mr. Allan, do you think you owed him as much as the amount of
"I do not know, but I think so."
"Had you any other money?"
"No," said Allan shortly; "at least I may have had a little
remaining from the five pounds I had received from my father a few
"You are quite sure you had no other money?"
"Quite certain," replied Allan.
Again Mr. Rae opened his desk and drew forth a slip and handed it
to young Cameron. "What is that?" he said.
Cameron glanced at it hurriedly, and turned it over. "That is my
father's cheque for five pounds, which I cashed."
Mr. Rae stretched out his hand and took the cheque. "Mr. Allan,"
he said, "I want you to consider most carefully your answer." He
leaned across the desk and for some moments--they seemed like
minutes to Dunn--his eyes searched young Cameron's face. "Mr.
Allan," he said, with a swift change of tone, his voice trembling
slightly, "will you look at the amount of that cheque again?"
Cameron once more took the cheque, glanced at it. "Good Lord!" he
cried. "It is fifty!" His face showed blank amazement.
Quick, low, and stern came Mr. Rae's voice. "Yes," he said, "it is
for fifty pounds. Do you know that that is a forgery, the
punishment for which is penal servitude, and that the order for
your arrest is already given?"
The Captain sprang to his feet. Young Cameron's face became
ghastly pale. His hand clutched the top of Mr. Rae's desk. Twice
or thrice he moistened his lips preparing to speak, but uttered not
a word. "Good God, my boy!" said the Captain hoarsely. "Don't
stand like that. Tell him you are innocent."
"One moment, Sir," said Mr. Rae to the Captain. "Permit me." Mr.
Rae's voice, while perfectly courteous, was calmly authoritative.
"Mr. Allan," he continued, turning to the wretched young man, "what
money have you at present in your pockets?"
With shaking hands young Cameron emptied upon the desk the contents
of his pocketbook, from which the lawyer counted out ten one-pound
notes, a half-sovereign and some silver. "Where did you get this
money, Mr. Allan?"
The young man, still silent, drew his handkerchief from his pocket,
touched his lips, and wiped the sweat from his white face.
"Mr. Allan," continued the lawyer, dropping again into a kindly
voice, "a frank explanation will help us all."
"Mr. Rae," said Cameron, his words coming with painful
indistinctness, "I don't understand this. I can't think clearly.
I can't remember. That money I got from Potts; at least I must
have--I have had money from no one else."
"My God!" cried the Captain again. "To think that a son of mine
"Pardon me, Captain Cameron," interrupted Mr. Rae quickly and
somewhat sharply. "We must not prejudge this case. We must first
At this point Dunn stepped swiftly to Cameron's side. "Brace up,
old chap," he said in a low tone. Then turning towards the Captain
he said, "I beg your pardon, Sir, but I do think it's only fair to
give a man a chance to explain."
"Allow me, gentlemen," said Mr. Rae in a firm, quiet voice, as the
Captain was about to break forth. "Allow me to conduct this
Cameron turned his face toward Dunn. "Thank you, old man," he
said, his white lips quivering. "I will do my best, but before
God, I don't understand this."
"Now, Mr. Allan," continued the lawyer, tapping the desk sharply,
"here are two cheques for fifty pounds, both drawn by your father,
both endorsed by you, one apparently cashed by Mr. Potts, one by
yourself. What do you know about this?"
"Mr. Rae," replied the young man, his voice trembling and husky, "I
tell you I can't understand this. I ought to say that for the last
two weeks I haven't been quite myself, and whiskey always makes me
forget. I can walk around steadily enough, but I don't always know
what I am doing--"
"That's so, Sir," said Dunn quickly, "I've seen him."
"--And just what happened with these cheques I do not know. This
cheque," picking up the one endorsed to Potts, "I remember giving
to Potts. The only other cheque I remember is a five-pound one."
"Do you remember cashing that five-pound cheque?" inquired Mr. Rae.
"I carried it about for some days. I remember that, because I once
offered it to Potts in part payment, and he said--" the white face
suddenly flushed a deep red.
"Well, Mr. Allan, what did he say?"
"It doesn't matter," said Cameron.
"It may and it may not," said Mr. Rae sharply. "It is your duty to
"Out with it," said his father angrily. "You surely owe it to me,
to us all, to let us have every assistance."
Cameron paid no attention to his father's words. "It has really
no bearing, Sir, but I remember saying as I offered a five-pound
cheque, 'I wish it was fifty.'"
"And what reply did Mr. Potts make?" said Mr. Rae, with quiet
indifference, as if he had lost interest in this particular feature
of the case.
Again Cameron hesitated.
"Come, out with it!" said his father impatiently.
His son closed his lips as if in a firm resolve. "It really has
nothing whatever to do with the case."
"Play the game, old man," said Dunn quietly.
"Oh, all right!" said Cameron. "It makes no difference anyway. He
said in a joke, 'You could easily make this fifty; it is such
mighty poor writing.'"
Still Mr. Rae showed no sign of interest. "He suggested in a joke,
I understand, that the five-pound cheque could easily be changed
into fifty pounds. That was a mere pleasantry of Mr. Potts',
doubtless. How did the suggestion strike you, Mr. Allan?"
Allan looked at him in silence.
"I mean, did the suggestion strike you unpleasantly, or how?"
"I don't think it made any impression, Sir. I knew it was a joke."
"A joke!" groaned his father. "Good Heavens! What do you think--?"
"Once more permit me," said Mr. Rae quietly, with a wave of his
hand toward the Captain. "This cheque of five pounds has evidently
been altered to fifty pounds. The question is, by whom, Mr. Allan?
Can you answer that?" Again Mr. Rae's eyes were searching the
young man's face.
"I have told you I remember nothing about this cheque."
"Is it possible, Mr. Allan, that you could have raised this cheque
yourself without your knowing--?"
"Oh, nonsense!" said his father hotly, "why make the boy lie?"
His son started as if his father had struck him. "I tell you once
more, Mr. Rae, and I tell you all, I know nothing about this
cheque, and that is my last word." And from that position nothing
could move him.
"Well," said Mr. Rae, closing the interview, "we have done our
best. The law must take its course."
"Great Heavens!" cried the Captain, springing to his feet. "Do you
mean to tell me, Allan, that you persist in this cursed folly and
will give us no further light? Have you no regard for my name, if
not for your own?" He grasped his son fiercely by the arm.
But his son angrily shook off his grasp. "You," he said, looking
his father full in the face, "you condemned me before you heard a
word from me, and now for my name or for yours I care not a
tinker's curse." And with this he flung himself from the room.
"Follow him," said Mr. Rae to Dunn, quietly; "he will need you.
And keep him in sight; it is important."
"All right, Sir!" said Dunn. "I'll stay with him." And he did.
A QUESTION OF HONOUR
Mr. Rae in forty years' experience had never been so seriously
disturbed. To his intense humiliation he found himself abjectly
appealing to the senior member of the firm of Thomlinson & Shields.
Not that Mr. Thomlinson was obdurate; in the presence of mere
obduracy Mr. Rae might have found relief in the conscious
possession of more generous and humane instincts than those
supposed to be characteristic of the members of his profession.
Mr. Thomlinson, however, was anything but obdurate. He was eager
to oblige, but he was helpless. The instructions he had received
were simple but imperative, and he had gone to unusual lengths in
suggesting to Mr. Sheratt, the manager of the Bank, a course of
greater leniency. That gentleman's only reply was a brief order to
proceed with the case.
With Mr. Sheratt, therefore, Mr. Rae proceeded to deal. His first
move was to invite the Bank manager to lunch, in order to discuss
some rather important matters relative to one of the great estates
of which Mr. Rae was supposed to be the guardian. Some fifty
years' experience of Mr. Sheratt as boy and man had let Mr. Rae
into a somewhat intimate knowledge of the workings of that
gentleman's mind. Under the mollifying influences of the finest of
old port, Mr. Rae made the discovery that as with Mr. Thomlinson,
so with Mr. Sheratt there was every disposition to oblige, and
indeed an eagerness to yield to the lawyer's desires; it was not
Mr. Sheratt, but the Bank that was immovable. Firm-fixed it stood
upon its bedrock of tradition that in matters of fraud, crime
should be punished to the full limit of the law.
"The estate of the criminal, high or low," said Mr. Sheratt
impressively, "matters not. The Bank stands upon the principle,
and from this it cannot be moved." Mr. Sheratt began to wax
eloquent. "Fidelity to its constituency, its shareholders, its
depositors, indeed to the general public, is the corner-stone of
its policy. The Bank of Scotland is a National Institution, with a
certain National obligation."
Mr. Rae quietly drew from his pocket a pamphlet, opened it slowly,
and glanced at the page. "Ay, it's as I thought, Mr. Sheratt," he
said dryly. "At times I wondered where Sir Archibald got his
Mr. Sheratt blushed like a boy caught copying.
"But now since I know who it is that writes the speech of the
Chairman of the Board of Directors, tell me, Sheratt, as man to
man, is it you or is it Sir Archibald that's at the back of this
prosecution? For if it is you, I've something to say to you; if
not, I'll just say it where it's most needed. In some way or other
I'm bound to see this thing through. That boy can't go to prison.
Now tell me, Tom? It's for auld sake's sake."
"As sure as death, Rae, it's the Chairman, and it's God's truth I'm
telling ye, though I should not." They were back again into the
speech and spirit of their boyhood days.
"Then I must see Sir Archibald. Give me time to see him, Tom."
"It's a waste of time, I'm tellin' ye, but two days I'll give ye,
Sandy, for auld sake's sake, as you say. A friendship of half a
hundred years should mean something to us. For your sake I'd let
the lad go, God knows, and there's my han' upon it, but as I said,
that lies with Sir Archibald."
The old friends shook hands in silence.
"Thank ye, Tom, thank ye," said Mr. Rae; "I knew it."
"But harken to me, ye'll no' move Sir Archibald, for on this
particular point he's quite mad. He'd prosecute the Duke of
Argyll, he would. But two days are yours, Sandy. And mind with
Sir Archibald ye treat his Bank with reverence! It's a National
Institution, with National obligations, ye ken?" Mr. Sheratt's
wink conveyed a volume of meaning. "And mind you, Rae," here Mr.
Sheratt grew grave, "I am trusting you to produce that lad when
"I have him in safe keeping, Tom, and shall produce him, no fear."
And with that the two old gentlemen parted, loyal to a lifelong
friendship, but loyal first to the trust of those they stood
pledged to serve; for the friendship that gives first place to
honour is the only friendship that honourable men can hold.
Mr. Rae set off for his office through the drizzling rain. "Now
then, for the Captain," he said to himself; "and a state he will be
in! Why did I ever summon him to town? Then for Mr. Dunn, who
must keep his eye upon the young man."
In his office he found Captain Cameron in a state of distraction
that rendered him incapable of either coherent thought or speech.
"What now, Rae? Where have you been? What news have you? My God,
this thing is driving me mad! Penal servitude! Think of it, man,
for my son! Oh, the scandal of it! It will kill me and kill his
sister. What's your report? Come, out with it! Have you seen Mr.
Sheratt?" He was pacing up and down the office like a beast in a
"Tut, tut, Captain Cameron," said Mr. Rae lightly, "this is no way
for a soldier to face the enemy. Sit down and we will just lay out
But the Captain's soldiering, which was of the lightest, had taught
him little either of the spirit or of the tactics of warfare.
"Campaign!" he exclaimed. "There's no campaign about it. It's a
complete smash, horse, foot, and artillery."
"Nonsense, Captain Cameron!" exclaimed Mr. Rae more briskly than
his wont, for the Captain irritated him. "We have still fighting
to do, and hence we must plan our campaign. But first let us get
comfortable. Here Davie," he called, opening the office door,
"here, mend this fire. It's a winter's day this," he continued to
the Captain, "and goes to the marrow."
Davie, a wizened, clean-shaven, dark-visaged little man, appeared
with a scuttle of coal. "Ay, Davie; that's it! Is that cannel?"
"Ay, Sir, it is. What else? I aye get the cannel."
"That's right, Davie. It's a gran' coal."
"Gran' it's no'," said Davie shortly, who was a fierce radical in
politics, and who strove to preserve his sense of independence of
all semblance of authority by cultivating a habit of disagreement.
"Gran' it's no'," he repeated, "but it's the best the Farquhars
hae, though that's no' saying much. It's no' what I call cannel."
"Well, well, Davie, it blazes finely at any rate," said Mr. Rae,
determined to be cheerful, and rubbing his hands before the blazing
"Ay, it bleezes," grumbled Davie, "when it's no' smootherin'."
"Come then, Davie, that will do. Clear out," said Mr. Rae to the
old servant, who was cleaning up the hearth with great diligence
But Davie was not to be hurried. He had his regular routine in
fire-mending, from which no power could move him. "Ay, Sir," he
muttered, brushing away with his feather besom. "I'll clear oot
when I clear up. When a thing's no' dune richt it's no dune ava."
"True, Davie, true enough; that's a noble sentiment. But will that
no' do now?" Mr. Rae knew himself to be helpless in Davie's hands,
and he knew also that nothing short of violence would hasten Davie
from his "usual."
"Ay, that'll dae, because it's richt dune. But that's no' what I
call cannel," grumbled Davie, glowering fiercely at the burning
coal, as if meditating a fresh attack.
"Well, well," said Mr. Rae, "tell the Farquhars about it."
"Ay, Sir, I will that," said Davie, as he reluctantly took himself
off with his scuttle and besom.
The Captain was bursting with fretful impatience. "Impudent old
rascal!" he exclaimed. "Why don't you dismiss him?"
"Dismiss him!" echoed Mr. Rae in consternation. "Dismiss him!" he
repeated, as if pondering an entirely new idea. "I doubt if Davie
would consider that. But now let us to work." He set two arm-
chairs before the fire, and placed a box of cigars by the Captain's
elbow. "I have seen Sheratt," he began. "I'm quite clear it is
not in his hands."
"In whose then?" burst forth the Captain.
Mr. Rae lit his cigar carefully. "The whole matter, I believe,
lies now with the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sir Archibald
"Brodie!" cried the Captain. "I know him. Pompous little fool!"
"Fool, Captain Cameron! Make no mistake. Sir Archibald may have--
ah--the self-importance of a self-made man somewhat under the
average height, but he is, without doubt, the best financier that
stands at this moment in Scotland, and during the last fifteen
years he has brought up the Bank of Scotland to its present
position. Fool! He's anything but that. But he has his weak
spots--I wish I knew what they were!--and these we must seek to
find out. Do you know him well?"
"Oh, yes, quite well," said the Captain; "that is, I've met him at
various functions, where he always makes speeches. Very common, I
call him. I know his father; a mere cottar. I mean," added the
Captain hurriedly, for he remembered that Mr. Rae was of the same
humble origin, "you know, he is thoroughly respectable and all
that, but of no--ah--social or family standing; that is--oh, you
"Quite," said Mr. Rae drily.
"Yes, I shall see him," continued the Captain briskly. "I shall
certainly see him. It is a good suggestion. Sir Archibald knows
my family; indeed, his father was from the Erracht region. I shall
see him personally. I am glad you thought of that, Mr. Rae. These
smaller men, Sheratt and the rest, I do not know--in fact, I do not
seem to be able to manage them,--but with Sir Archibald there will
be no difficulty, I feel quite confident. When can you arrange the
Mr. Rae sat gazing thoughtfully into the fire, more and more
convinced every moment that he had made a false move in suggesting
a meeting between the Captain and Sir Archibald Brodie. But labour
as he might he could not turn the Captain from his purpose. He was
resolved to see Sir Archibald at the earliest moment, and of the
result of the meeting he had no manner of doubt.
"He knew my family, Sir," insisted the Captain. "Sir Archibald
will undoubtedly accede to my suggestion--ah--request to withdraw
his action. Arrange it, Mr. Rae, arrange it at once."
And ruefully enough Mr. Rae was compelled to yield against his
It was discovered upon inquiry that Sir Archibald had gone for a
day or two to his country estate. "Ah, much better," said the
Captain, "away from his office and away from the--ah--commercial
surroundings of the city. Much better, much better! We shall
proceed to his country home."
Of the wisdom of this proposal Mr. Rae was doubtful. There seemed,
however, no other way open. Hence, the following morning found
them on their way to Sir Archibald's country seat. Mr. Rae felt
that it was an unusual course to pursue, but the time was short,
the occasion was gravely critical, and demanded extreme measures.
During their railway journey Mr. Rae strove to impress upon the
Captain's mind the need of diplomacy. "Sir Archibald is a man of
strong prejudices," he urged; "for instance, his Bank he regards
with an affection and respect amounting to veneration. He is a
bachelor, you understand, and his Bank is to him wife and bairns.
On no account must you treat his Bank lightly."
"Oh, certainly not," replied the Captain, who was inclined to
resent Mr. Rae's attempts to school him in diplomacy.
"He is a great financier," continued Mr. Rae, "and with him finance
is a high art, and financial integrity a sacred obligation."
"Oh, certainly, certainly," again replied the Captain, quite
unimpressed by this aspect of the matter, for while he considered
himself distinctly a man of affairs, yet his interests lay more in
matters of great public moment. Commercial enterprises he regarded
with a feeling akin to contempt. Money was an extremely desirable,
and indeed necessary, appendage to a gentleman's position, but how
any man of fine feeling could come to regard a financial institution
with affection or veneration he was incapable of conceiving.
However, he was prepared to deal considerately with Sir Archibald's
peculiar prejudices in this matter.
Mr. Rae's forebodings as to the outcome of the approaching
interview were of the most gloomy nature as they drove through the
finely appointed and beautifully kept grounds of Sir Archibald
Brodie's estate. The interview began inauspiciously. Sir
Archibald received them with stiff courtesy. He hated to be
pursued to his country home with business matters. Besides, at
this particular moment he was deeply engrossed in the inspection of
his pigs, for which animals he cherished what might almost be
called an absorbing affection. Mr. Rae, who was proceeding with
diplomatic caution and skill to approach the matter in hand by way
of Sir Archibald's Wiltshires, was somewhat brusquely interrupted
by the Captain, who, in the firm conviction that he knew much
better than did the lawyer how to deal with a man of his own class,
plunged at once into the subject.
"Awfully sorry to introduce business matters, Sir Archibald, to the
attention of a gentleman in the privacy of his own home, but there
is a little matter in connection with the Bank in which I am
somewhat deeply interested."
Sir Archibald bowed in silence.
"Rather, I should say, it concerns my son, and therefore, Sir
Archibald, myself and my family."
Again Sir Archibald bowed.
"It is, after all, a trivial matter, which I have no doubt can be
easily arranged between us. The truth is, Sir Archibald--," here
the Captain hesitated, as if experiencing some difficulty in
stating the case.
"Perhaps Captain Cameron will allow me to place the matter before
you, Sir Archibald," suggested Mr. Rae, "as it has a legal aspect
of some gravity, indeed of very considerable gravity. It is the
case of young Mr. Cameron."
"Ah," said Sir Archibald shortly. "Forgery case, I believe."
"Well," said Mr. Rae, "we have not been able as yet to get at the
bottom of it. I confess that the case has certainly very grave
features connected with it, but it is by no means clear that--"
"There is no need for further statement, Mr. Rae," said Sir
Archibald. "I know all about it. It is a clear case of forgery.
The facts have all been laid before me, and I have given my
"And what may these be, may I inquire?" said the Captain somewhat
"The usual instructions, Sir, where the Bank of Scotland is
concerned, instructions to prosecute." Sir Archibald's lips shut
in a firm, thin line. As far as he was concerned the matter was
"But, Sir," exclaimed. the Captain, "this young man is my son."
"I deeply regret it," replied Sir Archibald.
"Yes, Sir, he is my son, and the honour of my family is involved."
Sir Archibald bowed.
"I am here prepared to offer the fullest reparation, to offer the
most generous terms of settlement; in short, I am willing to do
anything in reason to have this matter--this unfortunate matter--
"Hushed up!" exclaimed Sir Archibald. "Captain Cameron, it is
impossible. I am grieved for you, but I have a duty to the Bank in
"Do you mean to say, Sir," cried the Captain, "that you refuse to
consider any arrangement or compromise or settlement of any kind
whatever? I am willing to pay the amount ten times over, rather
than have my name dragged through legal proceedings."
"It is quite impossible," said Sir Archibald.
"Come, come, Sir Archibald," said the Captain, exercising an
unusual self-control; "let us look at this thing as two gentlemen
should who respect each other, and who know what is due to our--
It was an unfortunate remark of the Captain's.
"Our class, Sir? I presume you mean the class of gentlemen. All
that is due to our class or any other class is strict justice, and
that you, Sir, or any other gentleman, shall receive to the very
fullest in this matter. The honour of the Bank, which I regard as
a great National Institution charged with National responsibilities,
is involved, as is also my own personal honour. I sincerely trust
your son may be cleared of every charge of crime, but this case must
be prosecuted to the very fullest degree."
"And do you mean to tell me, Sir Archibald," exclaimed the Captain,
now in a furious passion, "that for the sake of a few paltry pounds
you will blast my name and my family name in this country?--a name,
I venture to say, not unknown in the history of this nation. The
Camerons, Sir, have fought and bled for King and country on many a
battlefield. What matters the question of a few pounds in
comparison with the honour of an ancient and honourable name? You
cannot persist in this attitude, Sir Archibald!"
"Pounds, Sir!" cried Sir Archibald, now thoroughly aroused by the
contemptuous reference to what to him was dearer than anything in
life. "Pounds, Sir! It is no question of pounds, but a question
of the honour of a National Institution, a question of the lives
and happiness of hundreds of widows and orphans, a question of the
honour of a name which I hold as dear as you hold yours."
Mr. Rae was in despair. He laid a restraining hand upon the
Captain, and with difficulty obtained permission to speak. "Sir
Archibald, I crave your indulgence while I put this matter to you
as to a business man. In the first place, there is no evidence
that fraud has been committed by young Mr. Cameron, absolutely
none.--Pardon me a moment, Sir Archibald.--The fraud has been
committed, I grant, by someone, but by whom is as yet unknown. The
young man for some weeks has been in a state of incapacity; a most
blameworthy and indeed shameful condition, it is true, but in a
state of incapacity to transact business. He declares that he has
no knowledge of this act of forgery. He will swear this. I am
prepared to defend him."
"Very well, Sir," interrupted Sir Archibald, "and I hope, I
sincerely hope, successfully."
"But while it may be difficult to establish innocence, it will be
equally difficult to establish guilt. Meantime, the young man's
life is blighted, his name dishonoured, his family plunged into
unspeakable grief. I venture to say that it is a case in which the
young man might be given, without injury to the Bank, or without
breaking through its traditional policy, the benefit of the doubt."
But Sir Archibald had been too deeply stirred by Captain Cameron's
unfortunate remarks to calmly weigh Mr. Rae's presentation of the
case. "It is quite useless, Mr. Rae," he declared firmly. "The
case is out of my hands, and must be proceeded with. I sincerely
trust you may be able to establish the young man's innocence. I
have nothing more to say."
And from this position neither Mr. Rae's arguments nor the
Captain's passionate pleadings could move him.
Throughout the return journey the Captain raged and swore. "A
contemptible cad, Sir! a base-born, low-bred cad, Sir! What else
could you expect from a fellow of his breeding? The insolence of
these lower orders is becoming insupportable. The idea! the very
idea! His bank against my family name, my family honour!
"Honour is honour, Captain Cameron," replied Mr. Rae firmly, "and
it might have been better if you had remembered that the honour of
a cottar's son is as dear to him as yours is to you."
And such was Mr. Rae's manner that the Captain appeared to consider
it wise to curb his rage, or at least suppress all reference to
questions of honour in as far as they might be related to the
question of birth and breeding.