Part 4 out of 9
"I've heard o' them circus toughs," said Haley in a meditative
tone, "but never jest seen 'em before. Say, young feller, yeh came
in mighty handy fer me a' right, and seeing as yer Tim's friend put
it there." He gripped Cameron's hand and shook it heartily.
"Here's Tim with the team, and, say, there's no need to mention
anything about them fellers. Tim's real tender hearted. Well, I'm
glad to hev met yeh. Good-bye! Living here?"
"Not exactly," replied Cameron. "The truth is I'm looking for a
"A position? School teachin', mebbe?"
"No, a position on a farm."
"On a farm? Ha! ha! good! Position on a farm," repeated Haley.
"Yes," replied Cameron. "Do you know of any?"
"Position on a farm!" said Haley again, as if trying to grasp the
meaning of this extraordinary quest. "There ain't any."
"No positions?" enquired Cameron.
"Nary one! Say, young man, where do you come from?"
"Scotland," replied Cameron.
"Scotland! yeh don't say, now. Jest out, eh?"
"Yes, about a month or so."
"Well, well! Yeh don't say so!"
"Yes," replied Cameron, "and I am surprised to hear that there is
"Oh! hold on there now!" interposed Haley gravely. "If it's work
you want there are stacks of it lying round, but there ain't no
positions. Positions!" ejaculated Haley, who seemed to be
fascinated by the word, "there ain't none on my farm except one and
I hold that myself; but there's lots o' work, and--why! I want a
man right now. What say? Come along, stay's long's yeh like. I
like yeh fine."
"All right," said Cameron. "Wait till I get my bag, but I ought to
tell you I have had no experience."
"No experience, eh!" Haley pondered. "Well, we'll give it to you,
and anyway you saved me some experience to-day and you come home
When he returned he found Haley sitting on the bottom of the wagon
rapidly sinking into slumber. The effects of the bucket were
"What about the groceries, Tim?" enquired Cameron.
"We've got to git 'em," said Tim, "or we'll catch it sure."
Leaving Cameron to wonder what it might be that they were sure to
catch, Tim extracted from his father's pocket the paper on which
were listed the groceries to be purchased, and the roll of bills,
and handed both to Cameron.
"You best git 'em," he said, and, mounting to the high spring seat,
turned the team out of the yard. The groceries secured with
Cameron's help, they set off for home as the long June evening was
darkening into night.
"My! it's awful late," said Tim in a voice full of foreboding.
"And Perkins ain't no good at chores."
"How far is it to your home?" enquired Cameron.
"Nine miles out this road and three off to the east."
"And who's Perkins?"
"Perkins! Joe Perkins! He's our hired man. He's a terror to work
at plowin', cradlin', and bindin', but he ain't no good at chores.
I bet yeh he'll leave Mandy to do the milkin', ten cows, and some's
"And who's Mandy?" enquired Cameron.
"Mandy! She's my sister. She's an awful quick milker. She can
beat Dad, or Perkins, or any of 'em, but ten cows is a lot, and
then there's the pigs and the calves to feed, and the wood, too.
I bet Perkins won't cut a stick. He's good enough in the field,"
continued Tim, with an obvious desire to do Perkins full justice,
"but he ain't no good around the house. He says he ain't hired to
do women's chores, and Ma she won't ask 'im. She says if he don't
do what he sees to be done she'd see 'im far enough before she'd
ask 'im." And so Timothy went on with a monologue replete with
information, his high thin voice rising clear above the roar and
rattle of the lumber wagon as it rumbled and jolted over the rutty
gravel road. Those who knew the boy would have been amazed at his
loquacity, but something in Cameron had won his confidence and
opened his heart. Hence his monologue, in which the qualities,
good and bad, of the members of the family, of their own hired man
and of other hired men were fully discussed. The standard of
excellence for work in the neighbourhood, however, appeared to be
Perkins, whose abilities Tim appeared greatly to admire, but for
whose person he appeared to have little regard.
"He's mighty good at turnip hoeing, too," he said. "I could pretty
near keep up to him last year and I believe I could do it this
year. Some day soon I'm going to git after 'im. My! I'd like to
trim 'im to a fine point."
The live stock on the farm in general, and the young colts in
particular, among which a certain two-year-old was showing signs of
marvellous speed, these and cognate subjects relating to the farm,
its dwellers and its activities, Tim passed in review, with his own
shrewd comments thereon.
"And what do you play, Tim?" asked Cameron, seeking a point of
contact with the boy.
"Nothin'," said Tim shortly. "No time."
"Don't you go to school?"
"Yes, in fall and winter. Then we play ball and shinny some, but
there ain't much time."
"But you can't work all the time, Tim? What work can you do?"
"Oh!" replied Tim carelessly, "I run a team."
"Run a team? What do you mean?"
Tim glanced up at him and, perceiving that he was quite serious,
proceeded to explain that during the spring's work he had taken his
place in the plowing and harrowing with the "other" men, that he
expected to drive the mower and reaper in haying and harvest, that,
in short, in almost all kinds of farm work he was ready to take the
place of a grown man; and all this without any sign of boasting.
Cameron thought over his own life, in which sport had filled up so
large a place and work so little, and in which he had developed so
little power of initiative and such meagre self-dependence, and he
envied the solemn-faced boy at his side, handling his team and
wagon with the skill of a grown man.
"I say, Tim!" he exclaimed in admiration, "you're great. I wish I
could do half as much."
"Oh, pshaw!" exclaimed Tim in modest self-disdain, "that ain't
nothin', but I wish I could git off a bit."
"Get off? What do you mean?"
The boy was silent for some moments, then asked shyly:
"Say! Is there big cities in Scotland, an' crowds of people, an'
trains, an' engines, an' factories, an' things? My! I wish I
could git away!"
Then Cameron understood dimly something of the wander-lust in the
boy's soul, of the hunger for adventure, for the colour and
movement of life in the great world "away" from the farm, that
thrilled in the boy's voice. So for the next half hour he told Tim
tales of his own life, the chief glory of which had been his
achievements in the realm of sport, and, before he was aware, he
was describing to the boy the great International with Wales, till,
remembering the disastrous finish, he brought his narrative to an
"And did yeh lick 'em?" demanded Tim in a voice of intense
"No," said Cameron shortly.
"Oh, hedges! I wisht ye had!" exclaimed Tim in deep disappointment.
"It was my fault," replied Cameron bitterly, for the eager wish in
the boy's heart had stirred a similar yearning in his own and had
opened an old sore.
"I was a fool," he said, more to himself than to Tim. "I let
myself get out of condition and so I lost them the match."
"Aw, git out!" said Tim, with unbelieving scorn. "I bet yeh
didn't! My! I wisht I could see them games "
"Oh, pshaw! Tim, they are not half so worth while as plowing,
harrowing, and running your team. Why, here you are, a boy of--
"Thirteen," said Tim.
"A boy of thirteen able to do a man's work, and here am I, a man of
twenty-one, only able to do a boy's work, and not even that. But
I'm going to learn, Tim," added Cameron. "You hear me, I am going
to learn to do a man's work. If I can," he added doubtfully.
"Oh, shucks!" replied Tim, "you bet yeh can, and I'll show yeh,"
with which mutual determination they turned in at the gate of the
Haley farm, which was to be the scene of Cameron's first attempt to
do a man's work and to fill a man's place in the world.
A DAY'S WORK
The Haley farm was a survival of an ambitious past. Once the
property of a rich English gentleman, it had been laid out with an
eye to appearance rather than to profit and, though the soil was
good enough, it had never been worked to profit. Consequently,
when its owner had tired of Colonial life, he had at first rented
the farm, but, finding this unsatisfactory, he, in a moment of
disgust, advertised it for sale. Pretentious in its plan and in
its appointments, its neglected and run down condition gave it an
air of decayed gentility, depressing alike to the eye of the
beholder and to the selling price of the owner. Haley bought it
and bought it cheap. From the high road a magnificent avenue of
maples led to a house of fine proportions, though sadly needing
repair. The wide verandahs, the ample steps were unpainted and
falling into ruin; the lawn reaching from the front door to the
orchard was spacious, but overgrown with burdocks, nettles and
other noxious weeds; the orchard, which stretched from the lawn to
the road on both sides of the lane, had been allowed to run sadly
to wood. At the side of the house the door-yard was littered with
abandoned farm implements, piles of old fence rails and lumber and
other impedimenta, which, though kindly Nature, abhorring the
unsightly rubbish, was doing her utmost to hide it all beneath a
luxuriant growth of docks, milkweed, and nettles, lent an air of
disorder and neglect to the whole surroundings. The porch, or
"stoop," about the summer kitchen was set out with an assortment of
tubs and pails, pots and pans, partially filled with various evil
looking and more evil smelling messes, which afforded an excellent
breeding and feeding place for flies, mosquitoes, and other
unpleasant insects. Adjoining the door yard, and separated from it
by a fence, was the barn yard, a spacious quadrangle flanked on
three sides by barns, stables, and sheds, which were large and
finely planned, but which now shared the general appearance of
decrepitude. The fence, which separated one yard from the other,
was broken down, so that the barn yard dwellers, calves, pigs, and
poultry, wandered at will in search of amusement or fodder to the
very door of the kitchen, and so materially contributed to the
general disorder, discomfort, and dirt.
Away from the house, however, where Nature had her own way, the
farm stretched field after field on each side of the snake fenced
lane to the line of woods in the distance, a picture of rich and
varied beauty. From the rising ground on which the house was
situated a lovely vista swept right from the kitchen door away to
the remnant of the forest primeval at the horizon. On every field
the signs of coming harvest were luxuriantly visible, the hay
fields, grey-green with blooming "Timothy" and purple with the deep
nestling clover, the fall wheat green and yellowing into gold, the
spring wheat a lighter green and bursting into head, the oats with
their graceful tasselated stalks, the turnip field ribboned with
its lines of delicate green on the dark soil drills, back of all,
the "slashing" where stumps, blackened with fire, and trunks of
trees piled here and there in confusion, all overgrown with weeds,
represented the transition stage between forest and harvest field,
and beyond the slashing the dark cool masses of maple, birch, and
elm; all these made a scene of such varied loveliness as to delight
the soul attuned to nature.
Upon this scene of vivid contrasts, on one side house and barn and
yard, and on the other the rolling fields and massive forest,
Cameron stood looking in the early light of his first morning on
the farm, with mingled feelings of disgust and pleasure. In a few
moments, however, the loveliness of the far view caught and held
his eye and he stood as in a dream. The gentle rolling landscape,
with its rich variety of greens and yellows and greys, that swept
away from his feet to the dark masses of woods, with their
suggestions of cool and shady depth, filled his soul with a deep
joy and brought him memory of how the "Glen of the Cup of Gold"
would look that morning in the dear home-land so far away. True,
there were neither mountains nor moors, neither lochs nor birch-
clad cliffs here. Nature, in her quieter mood, looked up at him
from these sloping fields and bosky woods and smiled with kindly
face, and that smile of hers it was that brought to Cameron's mind
the sunny Glen of the Cup of Gold. It was the sweetest, kindliest
thing his eye had looked on since he had left the Glen.
A harsh and fretful voice broke in upon his dreaming.
"Pa-a-w, there ain't a stick of wood for breakfast! There was none
last night! If you want any breakfast you'd best git some wood!"
"All right, Mother!" called Haley from the barn yard, where he was
assisting in the milking. "I'm a comin'."
Cameron walked to meet him.
"Can I help?" he enquired.
"Why, of course!" shouted Haley. "Here, Ma, here's our new hand,
the very man for you."
Mrs. Haley, who had retired to the kitchen, appeared at the door.
She was a woman past middle age, unduly stout, her face deep lined
with the fret of a multitude of cares, and hung with flabby folds
of skin, browned with the sun and wind, though it must be confessed
its color was determined more by the grease and grime than by the
tan upon it. Yet, in spite of the flabby folds of flesh, in spite
of the grime and grease, there was still a reminiscence of a one-
time comeliness, all the more pathetic by reason of its all too
obvious desecration. Her voice was harsh, her tone fretful, which
indeed was hardly to be wondered at, for the burden of her life was
by no means light, and the cares of the household, within and
without, were neither few nor trivial.
For a moment or two Mrs. Haley stood in silence studying and
appraising the new man. The result did not apparently inspire her
"Come on now, Pa," she said, "stop yer foolin' and git me that
wood. I want it right now. You're keepin' me back and there's an
awful lot to do."
"But I ain't foolin', Ma. Mr. Cameron is our new hand. He'll
knock yeh off a few sticks in no time." So saying, Haley walked
off with his pails to the milking, leaving his wife and the new
hand facing each other, each uncertain as to the next move.
"What can I do, Mrs. Haley?" enquired Cameron politely.
"Oh, I don't know," said Mrs. Haley wearily. "I want a few sticks
for the breakfast, but perhaps I can get along with chips, but
chips don't give no steady fire."
"If you would show me just what to do," said Cameron with some
hesitation, "I mean, where is the wood to be got?"
"There," she said, in a surprised tone, pointing to a pile of long
logs of ash and maple. "I don't want much." She gathered her
apron full of chips and turned away, all too obviously refusing to
place her hope of wood for the breakfast fire upon the efforts of
the new man. Cameron stood looking alternately at the long, hard,
dry logs and at the axe which he had picked up from the bed of
chips. The problem of how to produce the sticks necessary to
breakfast by the application of the one to the other was one for
which he could see no solution. He lifted his axe and brought it
down hard upon a maple log. The result was a slight indentation
upon the log and a sharp jar from the axe handle that ran up his
arm unpleasantly. A series of heavy blows produced nothing more
than a corresponding series of indentations in the tough maple log
and of jars more or less sharp and painful shooting up his arms.
The result was not encouraging, but it flashed upon him that this
was his first attempt to make good at his job on the farm. He
threw off his coat and went at his work with energy; but the
probability of breakfast, so far as it depended upon the result of
his efforts, seemed to be growing more and more remote.
"Guess ye ain't got the knack of it," said a voice, deep, full, and
mellow, behind him. "That axe ain't no good for choppin', it's a
Turning, he saw a girl of about seventeen, with little grace and
less beauty, but strongly and stoutly built, and with a good-
natured, if somewhat stupid and heavy face. Her hair was dun in
colour, coarse in texture, and done up loosely and carelessly in
two heavy braids, arranged about her head in such a manner as to
permit stray wisps of hair to escape about her face and neck.
She was dressed in a loose pink wrapper, all too plainly of home
manufacture, gathered in at the waist, and successfully obliterating
any lines that might indicate the existence of any grace of form,
and sadly spotted and stained with grease and dirt. Her red stout
arms ended in thick and redder hands, decked with an array of
black-rimmed nails. At his first glance, sweeping her "tout
ensemble," Cameron was conscious of a feeling of repulsion, but in a
moment this feeling passed and he was surprised to find himself
looking into two eyes of surprising loveliness, dark blue, well
shaped, and of such liquid depths as to suggest pools of water under
"They use the saw mostly," said the girl.
"The saw?" echoed Cameron.
"Yes," she said. "They saw 'em through and then split 'em with the
Cameron picked up the buck-saw which lay against a rickety saw
horse. Never in his life had he used such an instrument. He gazed
helplessly at his companion.
"How do you use this thing?" he enquired.
"Say! are you funny," replied the girl, flashing a keen glance upon
him, "or don't ye know?"
"Never saw it done in my life," said Cameron solemnly.
"Here!" she cried, "let me show you."
She seized the end of a maple log, dragged it forward to the
rickety saw horse, set it in position, took the saw from his hands,
and went at her work with such vigour that in less than a minute as
it seemed to Cameron she had made the cut.
"Give me that axe!" she said impatiently to Cameron, who was
preparing to split the block.
With a few strong and skillful blows she split the straight-grained
block of wood into firewood, gathered up the sticks in her arms,
and, with a giggle, turned toward the house.
"I won't charge you anything for that lesson," she said, "but
you'll have to hustle if you git that wood split 'fore breakfast."
"Thank you," said Cameron, grateful that none of the men had
witnessed the instruction, "I shall do my best," and for the next
half hour, with little skill, but by main strength, he cut off a
number of blocks from the maple log and proceeded to split them.
But in this he made slow progress. From the kitchen came cheerful
sounds and scents of cooking, and ever and anon from the door
waddled, with quite surprising celerity, the unwieldy bulk of the
mistress of the house.
"Now, that's jest like yer Pa," Cameron heard her grumbling to her
daughter, "bringin' a man here jest at the busy season who don't
know nothin'. He's peckin' away at 'em blocks like a rooster
"He's willin' enough, Ma," replied the girl, "and I guess he'll
"Learn!" puffed Mrs. Haley contemptuously. "Did ye ever see an
old-country man learn to handle an axe or a scythe after he was
growed up? Jest look at 'im. Thank goodness! there's Tim."
"Here, Tim!" she called from the door, "best split some o' that
wood 'fore breakfast."
Tim approached Cameron with a look of pity on his face.
"Let me have a try," he said. Cameron yielded him the axe. The
boy set on end the block at which Cameron had been laboring and,
with a swift glancing blow of the axe, knocked off a slab.
"By Jove!" exclaimed Cameron admiringly, "how did you do that?"
For answer the boy struck again the same glancing blow, a slab
started and, at a second light blow, fell to the ground.
"I say!" exclaimed Cameron again, "I must learn that trick."
"Oh, that's easy!" said Tim, knocking the slabs off from the
outside of the block. "This heart's goin' to be tough, though; got
a knot in it," and tough it proved, resisting all his blows.
"You're a tough sucker, now, ain't yeh?" said Tim, through his shut
teeth, addressing the block. We'll try yeh this way." He laid the
end of the block upon a log and plied the axe with the full
strength of his slight body, but the block danced upon the log and
resisted all his blows.
"Say! you're a tough one now!" he said, pausing for breath.
"Let me try that," said Cameron, and, putting forth his strength,
he brought the axe down fairly upon the stick with such force that
the instrument shore clean through the knot and sank into the log
"Huh! that's a cracker," said Tim with ungrudging admiration. "All
you want is knack. I'll slab it off and you can do the knots," he
added with a grin.
As the result of this somewhat unequal division of labor, there lay
in half an hour a goodly pile of fire wood ready for the cooking.
It caught Haley's eye as he came in to breakfast.
"I say, Missus, that's a bigger pile than you've had for some time.
Guess my new man ain't so slow after all."
"Huh!" puffed his wife, waddling about with great agility, "it was
Tim that done it."
"Now, Ma, ye know well enough he helped Tim, and right smart too,"
said the daughter, but her mother was too busy getting breakfast
ready for the hungry men who were now performing their morning
ablutions with the help of a very small basin set upon a block of
wood outside the kitchen door to answer.
There were two men employed by Haley, one the son of a Scotch-
Canadian farmer, Webster by name, a stout young fellow, but slow in
his movements, both physical and mental, and with no further
ambition than to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. He was
employed by the month during the busier seasons of the year. The
other, Perkins, was Haley's "steady" man, which means that he was
employed by the year and was regarded almost as a member of the
family. Perkins was an Englishman with fair hair and blue eyes, of
fresh complexion, burned to a clear red, clean-cut features, and a
well knit, athletic frame. He was, as Tim declared, a terror to
work; indeed, his fame as a worker was well established throughout
the country side. To these men Cameron was introduced as being
from Scotland and as being anxious to be initiated into the
mysteries of Canadian farm life.
"Glad to see you!" said Perkins, shaking him heartily by the hand.
"We'll make a farmer of you, won't we, Tim? From Scotland, eh?
Pretty fine country, I hear--to leave," he added, with a grin at
his own humour. Though his manner was pleasant enough, Cameron
became conscious of a feeling of aversion, which he recognised at
once as being as unreasonable as it was inexplicable. He set it
down as a reflection of Tim's mental attitude toward the hired man.
Perkins seized the tin basin, dipped some water from the rain
barrel standing near, and, setting it down before Cameron, said:
"Here, pile in, Scotty. Do they wash in your country?"
"Yes," replied Cameron, "they are rather strong on that," wondering
at the same time how the operation could be performed successfully
with such a moderate supply of water. After using a second and
third supply, however, he turned, with hands and face dripping, and
looked about for a towel. Perkins handed him a long roller towel,
black with dirt and stiff with grease. Had his life depended upon
it Cameron could not have avoided a shuddering hesitation as he
took the filthy cloth preparatory to applying it to his face.
"'Twon't hurt you," laughed Perkins. "Wash day ain't till next
week, you know, and this is only Wednesday." Suddenly the towel
was snatched from Cameron's hands.
"Gimme that towel!" It was the girl, with face aflame and eyes
emitting blue fire. "Here; Mr. Cameron, take this," she said.
"Great Jerusalem, Mandy! You ain't goin' to bring on a clean towel
the middle of the week?" said Perkins in mock dismay. "Guess it's
for Mr. Cameron," he continued with another laugh.
"We give clean towels to them that knows how to use 'em," said
Mandy, whisking wrathfully into the house.
"Say, Scotty!" said Perkins, in a loud bantering tone, "guess
you're makin' a mash on Mandy all right."
"I don't know exactly what you mean," said Cameron with a quick
rising of wrath, "but I do know that you are making a beastly cad
"Oh, don't get wrathy, Scotty!" laughed Perkins, "we're just having
a little fun. Here's the comb!" But Cameron declined the article,
which, from its appearance, seemed to be intended for family use,
and, proceeding to his room, completed his toilet there.
The breakfast was laid in the kitchen proper, a spacious and
comfortable room, which served as living room for the household.
The table was laden with a variety and abundance of food that
worthily sustained the reputation of the Haleys of being "good
feeders." At one end of the table a large plate was heaped high
with slices of fat pork, and here and there disposed along its
length were dishes of fried potatoes, huge piles of bread, hot
biscuits, plates of butter, pies of different kinds, maple syrup,
and apple sauce. It was a breakfast fit for a lord, and Cameron
sat down with a pleasurable anticipation induced by his early
rising and his half hour's experience in the fresh morning air with
the wood pile. A closer inspection, however, of the dishes
somewhat damped the pleasure of his anticipation. The food was
good, abundant, and well cooked, but everywhere there was an utter
absence of cleanliness. The plates were greasy, the forks and
knives bore the all too evident remains of former meals, and
everywhere were flies. In hundreds they swarmed upon the food,
while, drowned in the gravy, cooked in the potatoes, overwhelmed in
the maple syrup, buried in the butter, their ghastly carcasses were
to be seen. With apparent unconcern the men brushed aside the
living and picked out and set aside the remains of the dead, the
unhappy victims of their own greed or temerity, and went on calmly
and swiftly with their business. Not a word was spoken except by
Cameron himself, who, constrained by what he considered to be the
ordinary decencies of society, made an effort to keep up a
conversation with Mr. Haley at the head of the table and
occasionally ventured a remark to his wife, who, with Mandy, was
acting as a waiter upon the hungry men. But conversation is a
social exercise, and Cameron found himself compelled to abandon his
well meant but solitary efforts at maintaining the conventions of
the breakfast table. There was neither time nor occasion for
conversation. The business of the hour was something quite other,
namely, that of devouring as large a portion of the food set before
them as was possible within the limits of time assigned for the
meal. Indeed, the element of time seemed to be one of very
considerable importance, as Cameron discovered, for he was still
picking his way gingerly and carefully through his pork and potatoes
by the time that Perkins, having completed a second course
consisting of pie and maple syrup, had arrived at the final course
of bread and butter and apple sauce.
"Circulate the butter!" he demanded of the table in general. He
took the plate from Cameron's hand, looked at it narrowly for a
moment, then with thumb and forefinger drew from the butter with
great deliberation a long dun-coloured hair.
"Say!" he said in a low voice, but perfectly audible, "they forgot
to comb it this morning."
Cameron was filled with unspeakable disgust, but, glancing at Mrs.
Haley's face, he saw to his relief that both the action and the
remark had been unnoticed by her. But on Mandy's face he saw the
red ensign of shame and wrath, and in spite of himself he felt his
aversion towards the ever-smiling hired man deepen into rage.
Finding himself distanced in his progress through the various
courses at breakfast, Cameron determined to miss the intermediate
course of pie and maple syrup and, that he might finish on more
even terms with the others, proceeded with bread and butter and
"Don't yeh hurry," said Mrs. Haley with hearty hospitality. "Eat
plenty, there's lots to spare. Here, have some apple sauce." She
caught up the bowl which held this most delicious article of food.
"Where's the spoon?" she said, glancing round the table. There was
none immediately available. "Here!" she cried, "this'll do." She
snatched a large spoon from the pitcher of thick cream, held it
dripping for a moment in obvious uncertainty, then with sudden
decision she cried "Never mind," and with swift but effective
application of lip and tongue she cleansed the spoon of the
dripping cream, and, stirring the apple sauce vigourously, passed
the bowl to Cameron. For a single moment Cameron held the bowl,
uncertain whether to refuse or not, but before he could make up his
mind Mandy caught it from his hands.
"Oh, Ma!" she exclaimed in a horrified tone.
"What's the matter?" exclaimed her mother. "A little cream won't
But Mandy set the bowl at the far end of the table and passed
another to Cameron, who accepted it with resolute determination and
continued his breakfast.
But Perkins, followed by Webster and Tim, rose from the table and
passed out into the yard, whence his voice could be heard in
explosions of laughter. Cameron in the meantime was making heroic
attempts to cover up the sound by loud-voiced conversation with
Haley, and, rendered desperate by the exigencies of the situation,
went so far as to venture a word of praise to Mrs. Haley upon the
excellence and abundance of her cooking.
"She ain't got no chance," said her husband. "She's got too much
to do and it's awful hard to get help. Of course, there's Mandy."
"Of course, there's Mandy," echoed his wife. "I guess you'd just
better say, 'There's Mandy.' She's the whole thing is Mandy. What
I'd do without her goodness only knows."
But Mandy was no longer present to enjoy her mother's enconiums.
Her voice could be heard in the yard making fierce response to
Perkins' jesting remarks. As Cameron was passing out from the
kitchen he heard her bitter declaration: "I don't care, it was
real mean of you, and I'll pay you for it yet, Mr. Perkins--before
a stranger, too." Mandy's voice suggested tears.
"Oh, pshaw, Mandy!" remonstrated Perkins, "it was all a joke, and
who cares for him anyway, unless it's yourself?"
But Mandy, catching sight of Cameron, fled with fiery face behind
the kitchen, leaving Perkins gazing after her with an apologetic
grin upon his countenance.
"She's rather hot under the collar," he confided to Cameron, "but
she needn't get so, I didn't mean nothin'."
Cameron ignored him. He was conscious mainly of a resolute
determination that at all costs he must not yield to his almost
uncontrollable desire to wipe off the apologetic smile with a well
directed blow. Mr. Denman's parting advice was in his mind and he
was devoting all his powers to the business of adjusting himself to
his present environment. But to his fastidious nature the
experiences of the morning made it somewhat doubtful if he should
be able to carry out the policy of adjustment to the extreme of
schooling himself to bear with equal mind the daily contact with
the dirt and disorder which held so large a place in the domestic
economy of the Haley household. One thing he was firmly resolved
upon, he would henceforth perform his toilet in his own room, and
thereby save himself the horror of the family roller towel and the
Breakfast over, the men stood waiting orders for the day.
"We'll have to crowd them turnips through, Tim," said his father,
who seemed to avoid as far as possible giving direct orders to his
men. "Next week we'll have to git at the hay." So to the turnip
field they went.
It is one of the many limitations of a city-bred boy that he knows
nothing of the life history and the culture of the things that grow
upon a farm. Apples and potatoes he recognises when they appear as
articles of diet upon the table; oats and wheat he vaguely
associates in some mysterious and remote way with porridge and
bread, but whether potatoes grow on trees or oats in pods he has no
certain knowledge. Blessed is the country boy for many reasons,
but for none more than this, that the world of living and growing
things, animate and inanimate, is one which he has explored and
which he intimately knows; and blessed is the city boy for whom his
wise parents provide means of acquaintance with this wonder
workshop of old mother Nature, God's own open country.
Turnip-hoeing is an art, a fine art, demanding all the talents of
high genius, a true eye, a sure hand, a sensitive conscience,
industry, courage, endurance, and pride in achievement. These and
other gifts are necessary to high success. Not to every man is it
given to become a turnip-hoer in the truest sense of that word.
The art is achieved only after long and patient devotion, and,
indeed, many never attain high excellence. Of course, therefore,
there are grades of artists in this as in other departments. There
are turnip-hoers and turnip-hoers, just as there are painters and
painters. It was Tim's ambition to be the first turnip-hoer of his
district, and toward this end he had striven both last season and
this with a devotion that deserved, if it did not achieve, success.
Quietly he had been patterning himself upon that master artist,
Perkins, who for some years had easily held the championship for
the district. Keenly Tim had been observing Perkins' excellencies
and also his defects; secretly he had been developing a style of
his own, and, all unnoted, he had tested his speed by that of
Perkins by adopting the method of lazily loafing along and then
catching up by a few minutes of whirlwind work. Tim felt in his
soul the day of battle could not be delayed past this season;
indeed, it might come any day. The very thought of it made his
slight body quiver and his heart beat so quickly as almost to choke
To the turnip field hied Haley's men, Perkins and Webster leading
the way, Tim and Cameron bringing up the rear.
"You promised to show me how to do it, Tim," said Cameron.
"Remember I shall be very slow."
"Oh, shucks!" replied Tim, "turnip-hoeing is as easy as rollin' off
a log if yeh know how to do it."
"Exactly!" cried Cameron, "but that is what I don't. You might
give me some pointers."
"Well, you must be able to hit what yeh aim at."
"Ah! that means a good eye and steady hand," said Cameron. "Well,
I can do billiards some and golf. What else?"
"Well, you mustn't be too careful, slash right in and don't give a
"Ah! nerve, eh!" said Cameron. "Well, I have done some Rugby in my
day--I know something of that. What else? This sounds good."
"Then you've got to leave only one turnip in one place and not a
weed; and you mustn't leave any blanks. Dad gets hot over that."
"Indeed, one turnip in each place and not a weed," echoed Cameron.
"Say! this business grows interesting. No blanks! Anything else?"
"No, I guess not, only if yeh ever git into a race ye've got to
keep goin' after you're clear tuckered out and never let on. You
see the other chap may be feelin' worse than you."
"By Jove, Tim! you're a born general!" exclaimed Cameron. "You
will go some distance if you keep on in that line. Now as to
racing let me venture a word, for I have done a little in my time.
Don't spurt too soon."
"Eh!" said Tim, all eagerness.
"Don't get into your racing stride too early in the day, especially
if you are up against a stronger man. Wait till you know you can
stay till the end and then put your best licks in at the finish."
"By Jimminy! you're right," he cried, a glad light in his eye, and
a touch of colour in his pale cheek, and Cameron knew he was
The turnip field, let it be said for the enlightening of the
benighted and unfortunate city-bred folk, is laid out in a series
of drills, a drill being a long ridge of earth some six inches in
height, some eight inches broad on the top and twelve at the base.
Upon each drill the seed has been sown in one continuous line from
end to end of the field. When this seed has grown each drill will
discover a line of delicate green, this line being nothing less
than a compact growth of young turnip plants with weeds more or
less thickly interspersed. The operation of hoeing consists in the
eliminating of the weeds and the superfluous turnip plants in order
that single plants, free from weeds, may be left some eight inches
apart in unbroken line, extending the whole length of the drill.
The artistic hoer, however, is not content with this. His artistic
soul demands not only that single plants should stand in unbroken
row from end to end along the drill top, but that the drill itself
should be pared down on each side to the likeness of a house roof
with a perfectly even ridge.
"Ever hoe turnips?" enquired Perkins.
"Never," said Cameron, "and I am afraid I won't make much of a fist
"Well, you've come to a good place to learn, eh, Tim! We'll show
him, won't we?"
Tim made no reply, but simply handed Cameron a hoe and picked up
"Now, show me, Tim," said Cameron in a low voice, as Perkins and
Webster set off on their drills.
"This is how you do it," replied Tim. "Click-click," forward and
back went Tim's sharp shining instrument, leaving a single plant
standing shyly alone where had boldly bunched a score or more a
moment before. "Click-click-click," and the flat-topped drill
stood free of weeds and superfluous turnip plants and trimmed to
its proper roof-like appearance.
"I say!" exclaimed Cameron, "this is high art. I shall never reach
your class, though, Tim."
"Oh, shucks!" said Tim, "slash in, don't be afraid." Cameron
slashed in. "Click-click," "Click-click-click," when lo! a long
blank space of drill looked up reproachfully at him.
"Oh, Tim! look at this mess," he said in disgust.
"Never mind!" said Tim, "let her rip. Better stick one in though.
Blanks look bad at the END of the drill." So saying, he made a
hole in Cameron's drill and with his hoe dug up a bunch of plants
from another drill and patted them firmly into place, and, weeding
out the unnecessary plants, left a single turnip in its proper
"Oh, come, that isn't so bad," said Cameron. "We can always fill
up the blanks."
"Yes, but it takes time," replied Tim, evidently with the racing
fever in his blood. Patiently Tim schooled his pupil throughout
the forenoon, and before the dinner hour had come Cameron was
making what to Tim appeared satisfactory progress. It was greatly
in Cameron's favor that he possessed a trained and true eye and a
steady hand and that he was quick in all his movements.
"You're doin' splendid," cried Tim, full of admiration.
"I say, Scotty!" said Perkins, coming up and casting a critical eye
along Cameron's last drill, "you're going to make a turnip-hoer all
"I've got a good teacher, you see," cried Cameron.
"You bet you have," said Perkins. "I taught Tim myself, and in two
or three years he'll be almost as good as I am, eh, Tim!"
"Huh!" grunted Tim, contemptuously, but let it go at that.
"Perhaps you think you're that now, eh, Tim?" said Perkins, seizing
the boy by the back of the neck and rubbing his hand over his hair
in a manner perfectly maddening. "Don't you get too perky, young
feller, or I'll hang your shirt on the fence before the day's
Tim wriggled out of his grasp and kept silent. He was not yet
ready with his challenge. All through the afternoon he stayed
behind with Cameron, allowing the other two to help them out at the
end of each drill, but as the day wore on there was less and less
need of assistance for Cameron, for he was making rapid progress
with his work and Tim was able to do, not only his own drill, but
almost half of Cameron's as well. By supper time Cameron was
thoroughly done out. Never had a day seemed so long, never had he
known that he possessed so many muscles in his back. The continuous
stooping and the steady click-click of the hoe, together with the
unceasing strain of hand and eye, and all this under the hot burning
rays of a June sun, so exhausted his vitality that when the cow bell
rang for supper it seemed to him a sound more delightful than the
strains of a Richter orchestra in a Beethoven symphony.
On the way back to the field after supper Cameron observed that Tim
was in a state of suppressed excitement and it dawned upon him that
the hour of his challenge of Perkins' supremacy as a turnip-hoer
was at hand.
"I say, Tim, boy!" he said earnestly, "listen to me. You are going
to get after Perkins this evening, eh?"
"How did you know?" said Tim, in surprise.
"Never mind! Now listen to me; I have raced myself some and I have
trained men to race. Are you not too tired with your day's work?"
"Tired! Not a bit," said the gallant little soul scornfully.
"Well, all right. It's nice and cool and you can't hurt yourself
much. Now, how many drills do you do after supper as a rule?"
"Down and up twice," said Tim.
"How many drills can you do at your top speed, your very top speed,
"About two drills, I guess," replied Tim, after a moment's thought.
"Now, listen to me!" said Cameron impressively. "Go quietly for
two and a half drills, then let yourself out and go your best.
And, listen! I have been watching you this afternoon. You have
easily done once and a half what Perkins has done and you are going
to lick him out of his boots."
Tim gulped a moment or two, looked at his friend with glistening
eyes, but said not a word. For the first two and a half drills
Cameron exerted to the highest degree his conversational powers
with the two-fold purpose of holding back Perkins and Webster and
also of so occupying Tim's mind that he might forget for a time the
approaching conflict, the strain of waiting for which he knew would
be exhausting for the lad. But when the middle of the second last
drill had been reached, Tim began unconsciously to quicken his
"I say, Tim," called Cameron, "come here! Am I getting these
spaces too wide?" Tim came over to his side. "Now, Tim," said
Cameron, in a low voice, "wait a little longer; you can never wear
him out. Your only chance is in speed. Wait till the last drill."
But Tim was not to be held back. Back he went to his place and
with a rush brought his drill up even with Webster, passed him, and
in a few moments like a whirlwind passed Perkins and took the lead.
"Hello, Timmy! where are you going?" asked Perkins, in surprise.
"Home," said Tim proudly, "and I'll tell 'em you're comin'."
"All right, Timmy, my son!" replied Perkins with a laugh, "tell
them you won't need no hot bath; I'm after you."
"Click-click," "Click-click-click" was Tim's only answer. It was a
distinct challenge, and, while not openly breaking into racing
speed, Perkins accepted it.
For some minutes Webster quickened his pace in an attempt to follow
the leaders, but soon gave it up and fell back to help Cameron up
with his drill, remarking, "I ain't no blamed fool. I ain't going
to bust myself for any man. THEY'RE racing, not me."
"Will Tim win?" enquired Cameron.
"Naw! Not this year! Why, Perkins is the best man in the whole
country at turnips. He took the Agricultural Society's prize two
"I believe Tim will beat him," said Cameron confidently, with his
eyes upon the two in front.
"Beat nothing!" said Webster. "You just wait a bit, Perkins isn't
letting himself out yet."
In a short time Tim finished his drill some distance ahead, and
then, though it was quitting time, without a pause he swung into
"Hello, Timmy!" cried Perkins good-naturedly, "going to work all
night, eh? Well, I'll just take a whirl out of you," and for the
first time he frankly threw himself into his racing gait.
"Good boy, Tim!" called out Cameron, as Tim bore down upon them,
still in the lead and going like a small steam engine. "You're all
right and going easy. Don't worry!"
But Perkins, putting on a great spurt, drew up within a hoe-handle
length of Tim and there held his place.
"All right, Tim, my boy, you can hold him," cried Cameron, as the
racers came down upon him.
"He can, eh?" replied Perkins. "I'll show him and you," and with
an accession of speed he drew up on a level with Tim.
"Ah, ha! Timmy, my boy! we've got you where we want you, I guess,"
he exulted, and, with a whoop and still increasing his speed, he
drew past the boy.
But Cameron, who was narrowly observing the combatants and their
work, called out again:
"Don't worry, Tim, you're doing nice clean work and doing it
easily." The inference was obvious, and Perkins, who had been
slashing wildly and leaving many blanks and weeds behind him where
neither blanks nor weeds should be, steadied down somewhat, and,
taking more pains with his work, began to lose ground, while Tim,
whose work was without flaw, moved again to the front place. There
remained half a drill to be done and the issue was still uncertain.
With half the length of a hoe handle between them the two clicked
along at a furious pace. Tim's hat had fallen off. His face
showed white and his breath was coming fast, but there was no
slackening of speed, and the cleanness and ease with which he was
doing his work showed that there was still some reserve in him.
They were approaching the last quarter when, with a yell, Perkins
threw himself again with a wild recklessness into his work, and
again he gained upon Tim and passed him.
"Steady, Tim!" cried Cameron, who, with Webster, had given up their
own work, it being, as the latter remarked, "quitting time anyway,"
and were following up the racers. "Don't spoil your work, Tim!"
continued Cameron, "don't worry."
His words caught the boy at a critical moment, for Perkins' yell
and his fresh exhibition of speed had shaken the lad's nerve. But
Cameron's voice steadied him, and, quickly responding, Tim settled
down again into his old style, while Perkins was still in the lead,
but slashing wildly.
"Fine work, Tim," said Cameron quietly, "and you can do better
yet." For a few paces he walked behind the boy, steadying him now
and then with a quiet word, then, recognising that the crisis of
the struggle was at hand, and believing that the boy had still some
reserve of speed and strength, he began to call on him.
"Come on, Tim! Quicker, quicker; come on, boy, you can do better!"
His words, and his tone more than his words, were like a spur to
the boy. From some secret source of supply he called up an
unsuspected reserve of strength and speed and, still keeping up his
clean cutting finished style, foot by foot he drew away from
Perkins, who followed in the rear, slashing more wildly than ever.
The race was practically won. Tim was well in the lead, and
apparently gaining speed with every click of his hoe.
"Here, you fellers, what are yeh hashin' them turnips for?" It was
Haley's voice, who, unperceived, had come into the field. Tim's
reply was a letting out of his last ounce of strength in a perfect
fury of endeavour.
"There--ain't--no--hashin'--on this--drill--Dad!" he panted.
The sudden demand for careful work, however, at once lowered
Perkins' rate of speed. He fell rapidly behind and, after a few
moments of further struggle, threw down his hoe with a whoop and
called out, "Quitting time, I guess," and, striding after Tim, he
caught him by the arms and swung him round clear off the ground.
"Here, let me go!" gasped the boy, kicking, squirming, and trying
to strike his antagonist with his hoe.
"Let the boy go!" said Cameron. The tone in his voice arrested
"What's your business?" he cried, with an oath, dropping the boy
and turning fiercely upon Cameron.
"Oh, nothing very much, except that Tim's my candidate in this race
and he mustn't be interfered with," replied Cameron in a voice
still quiet and with a pleasant smile.
Perkins was white and panting; in a moment more he would have
hurled himself at the man who stood smiling quietly in his face.
At this critical moment Haley interposed.
"What's the row, boys?" he enquired, recognising that something
serious was on.
"We have been having a little excitement, Sir, in the form of a
race," replied Cameron, "and I've been backing Tim."
"Looks as if you've got him wound up so's he can't stop," replied
Haley, pointing to the boy, who was still going at racing pace and
was just finishing his drill. "Oh, well, a boy's a boy and you've
got to humour him now and then," continued Haley, making conversation
with diplomatic skill. Then turning to Perkins, as if dismissing a
trivial subject, he added, "Looks to me as if that hay in the lower
meadow is pretty nigh fit to cut. Guess we'd better not wait till
next week. You best start Tim on that with the mower in the
mornin'." Then, taking a survey of the heavens, he added, "Looks
as if it might be a spell of good weather." His diplomacy was
successful and the moment of danger was past. Meantime Cameron had
sauntered to the end of the drill where Tim stood leaning quietly on
"Tim, you are a turnip-hoer!" he said, with warm admiration in his
tone, "and what's more, Tim, you're a sport. I'd like to handle
you in something big. You will make a man yet."
Tim's whole face flushed a warm red under the coat of freckles.
For a time he stood silently contemplating the turnips, then with
difficulty he found his voice.
"It was you done it," he said, choking over his words. "I was beat
there and was just quittin' when you came along and spoke. My!" he
continued, with a sharp intake of his breath, "I was awful near
quittin'," and then, looking straight into Cameron's eyes, "It was
you done it, and--I--won't forget." His voice choked again, but,
reading his eyes, Cameron knew that he had gained one of life's
greatest treasures, a boy's adoring gratitude.
"This has been a great day, Tim," said Cameron. "I have learned
to hoe turnips, and," putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, "I
believe I have made a friend." Again the hot blood surged into
Tim's face. He stood voiceless, but he needed no words. Cameron
knew well the passionate emotion that thrilled his soul and shook
the slight body, trembling under his hand. For Tim, too, it had
been a notable day. He had achieved the greatest ambition of his
life in beating the best turnip-hoer on the line, and he, too, had
found what to a boy is a priceless treasure, a man upon whom he
could lavish the hero worship of his soul.
A RAINY DAY
It was haying time. Over the fields of yellowing fall wheat and
barley, of grey timothy and purple clover, the heat shimmered in
dancing waves. Everywhere the growing crops were drinking in the
light and heat with eager thirst, for the call of the harvest was
ringing through the land. The air was sweet with scents of the hay
fields, and the whole country side was humming with the sound of
the mowers. It was the crowning time of the year; toward this
season all the life of the farm moved steadily the whole year long;
the next two months or three would bring to the farmer the fruit of
long days of toil and waiting. Every minute of these harvest days,
from the early grey dawn, when Mandy called the cows in for the
milking, till the long shadows from the orchard lay quite across
the wide barley field, when Tim, handling his team with careless
pride, drove in the last load for the day, every minute was packed
full of life and action. But though busy were the days and full of
hard and at times back-breaking and nerve-straining work, what of
it? The colour, the rush, the eager race with the flying hours,
the sense of triumph, the promise of wealth, the certainty of
comfort, all these helped to carry off the heaviest toil with a
swing and vim that banished aches from the body and weariness from
To Cameron, all unskilled as he was, the days brought many an hour
of strenuous toil, but every day his muscles were knitting more
firmly, his hands were hardening, and his mastery of himself
growing more complete.
In haying there is no large place for skill. This operation,
unlike that of turnip-hoeing, demands chiefly strength, quickness,
and endurance, and especially endurance. To stand all day in the
hay field under the burning sun with its rays leaping back from the
super-heated ground, and roll up the windrows into huge bundles and
toss them on to the wagon, or to run up a long line of cocks and
heave them fork-handle high to the top of a load, calls for
something of skill, but mainly for strength of arm and back. But
skill had its place, and once more it was Tim who stood close to
Cameron and showed him all the tricks of pitching hay. It was Tim
who showed him how to stand with his back to the wagon so as to get
the load properly poised with the least expenditure of strength; it
was Tim who taught him the cunning trick of using his thigh as a
fulcrum in getting his load up, rather than doing it by "main
strength and awkwardness"; it was Tim who demonstrated the method
of lifting half a cock by running the end of the fork handle into
the ground so that the whole earth might aid in the hoisting of the
load. Of course in all this Cameron's intelligence and quickness
stood him in the place of long experience, and before the first
day's hauling was done he was able to keep his wagon going.
But with all the stimulus of the harvest movement and colour,
Cameron found himself growing weary of the life on the Haley farm.
It was not the long days, and to none on the farm were the days
longer than to Cameron, who had taken upon himself the duty of
supplying the kitchen with wood and water, no small business,
either at the beginning or at the end of a long day's work; it was
not the heavy toil; it was chiefly the continuous contact with the
dirt and disorder of his environment that wore his body down and
his spirit raw. No matter with how keen a hunger did he approach
the dinner table, the disgusting filth everywhere apparent would
cause his gorge to rise and, followed by the cheerful gibes of
Perkins, he would retire often with his strength unrecruited and
his hunger unappeased, and, though he gradually achieved a certain
skill in picking his way through a meal, selecting such articles of
food as could be less affected than others by the unsavoury
surroundings, the want of appetising and nourishing food told
disastrously upon his strength. His sleep, too, was broken and
disturbed by the necessity of sharing a bed with Webster. He had
never been accustomed to "doubling up," and under the most
favourable circumstances the experience would not have been
conducive to sound sleep, but Webster's manner of life was not such
as to render him an altogether desirable bed-fellow. For, while
the majority of farm lads in the neighbourhood made at least semi-
weekly pilgrimages to the "dam" for a swim, Webster felt no
necessity laid upon him for such an expenditure of energy after a
hard and sweaty day in the field. His ideas of hygiene were of the
most elementary nature; hence it was his nightly custom, when
released from the toils of the day, to proceed upstairs to his room
and, slipping his braces from his shoulders, allow his nether
garments to drop to the floor and, without further preparation,
roll into bed. Of the effeminacy of a night robe Webster knew
nothing except by somewhat hazy rumour. Once under the patchwork
quilt he was safe for the night, for, heaving himself into the
middle of the bed, he sank into solid and stertorous slumber, from
which all Cameron's prods and kicks failed to arouse him till the
grey dawn once more summoned him to life, whereupon, resuming the
aforesaid nether garments, he was once more simply, but in his
opinion quite sufficiently, equipped for his place among men. Many
nights did it happen that the stertorous melody of Webster's all
too odourous slumbers drove Cameron to find a bed upon the floor.
Once again Tim was his friend, for it was to Tim that Cameron owed
the blissful experience of a night in the hay loft upon the newly
harvested hay. There, buried in its fragrant depths and drawing
deep breaths of the clean unbreathed air that swept in through the
great open barn doors, Cameron experienced a joy hitherto undreamed
of in association with the very commonplace exercise of sleep.
After his first night in the hay mow, which he shared with Tim, he
awoke refreshed in body and with a new courage in his heart.
"By Jove, Tim! That's the finest thing I ever had in the way of
sleep. Now if we only had a tub."
"Tub! What for?"
"A dip, my boy, a splash."
"To wash in?" enquired Tim, wondering at the exuberance of his
friend's desires. "I'll get a tub," he added, and, running to the
house, returned with wash tub and towel.
"Tim, my boy, you're a jewel!" exclaimed Cameron.
From the stable cistern they filled the vessel full and first
Cameron and, after persuasion and with rather dubious delight, Tim
tasted the joy of a morning tub. Henceforth life became distinctly
more endurable to Cameron.
But, more than all the other irritating elements in his environment
put together, Cameron chafed under the unceasing rasp of Perkins'
wit, clever, if somewhat crude and cumbrous. Perkins had never
forgotten nor forgiven his defeat at the turnip-hoeing, which he
attributed chiefly to Cameron. His gibes at Cameron's awkwardness
in the various operations on the farm, his readiness to seize every
opportunity for ridicule, his skill at creating awkward situations,
all these sensibly increased the wear on Cameron's spirit. All
these, however, Cameron felt he could put up with without endangering
his self-control, but when Perkins, with vulgar innuendo, chaffed
the farmer's daughter upon her infatuation for the "young Scotty,"
as he invariably designated Cameron, or when he rallied Cameron upon
his supposed triumph in the matter of Mandy's youthful affections,
then Cameron raged and with difficulty kept his hands from his
cheerful and ever smiling tormentor. It did not help matters much
that apparently Mandy took no offense at Perkins' insinuations;
indeed, it gradually dawned upon Cameron that what to him would seem
a vulgar impertinence might to this uncultured girl appear no more
than a harmless pleasantry. At all costs he was resolved that under
no circumstances would he allow his self-control to be broken
through. He would finish out his term with the farmer without any
violent outbreak. It was quite possible that Perkins and others
would take him for a chicken-hearted fool, but all the same he would
maintain this attitude of resolute self-control to the very end.
After all, what mattered the silly gibes of an ignorant boor? And
when his term was done he would abandon the farm life forever. It
took but little calculation to make quite clear that there was not
much to hope for in the way of advancement from farming in this part
of Canada. Even Perkins, who received the very highest wage in that
neighbourhood, made no more than $300 a year; and, with land at
sixty to seventy-five dollars per acre, it seemed to him that he
would be an old man before he could become the owner of a farm. He
was heart sick of the pettiness and sordidness of the farm life,
whose horizon seemed to be that of the hundred acres or so that
comprised it. Therefore he resolved that to the great West he would
go, that great wonderful West with its vast spaces and its vast
possibilities of achievement. The rumour of it filled the country
side. Meantime for two months longer he would endure.
A rainy day brought relief. Oh, the blessed Sabbath of a rainy
day, when the wheels stop and silence falls in the fields; and time
tired harvest hands recline at ease upon the new cut and sweet
smelling hay on the barn floor, and through the wide open doors
look out upon the falling rain that roars upon the shingles, pours
down in cataracts from the eaves and washes clean the air that
wanders in, laden with those subtle scents that old mother earth
releases only when the rain falls. Oh, happy rainy days in harvest
time when, undisturbed by conscience, the weary toilers stretch and
slumber and wake to lark and chaff in careless ease the long hours
In the Haleys' barn they were all gathered, gazing lazily and with
undisturbed content at the steady downpour that indicated an all-
day rest. Even Haley, upon whose crops the rain was teeming down,
was enjoying the rest from the toil, for most of the hay that had
been cut was already in cock or in the barn. Besides, Haley worked
as hard as the best of them and welcomed a day's rest. So let it
While they lay upon the hay on the barn floor, with tired muscles
all relaxed, drinking in the fragrant airs that stole in from the
rain-washed skies outside, in the slackening of the rain two
neighbours dropped in, big "Mack" Murray and his brother Danny, for
a "crack" about things in general and especially to discuss the
Dominion Day picnic which was coming off at the end of the following
week. This picnic was to be something out of the ordinary, for, in
addition to the usual feasting and frolicking, there was advertised
an athletic contest of a superior order, the prizes in which were
sufficiently attractive to draw, not only local athletes, but even
some of the best from the neighbouring city. A crack runner was
expected and perhaps even McGee, the big policeman of the London
City force, a hammer thrower of fame, might be present.
"Let him come, eh, Mack?" said Perkins. "I guess we ain't afraid
of no city bug beating you with the hammer."
"Oh! I'm no thrower," said Mack modestly. "I just take the thing
up and give it a fling. I haven't got the trick of it at all."
"Have you practised much?" said Cameron, whose heart warmed at the
accent that might have been transplanted that very day from his own
"Never at all, except now and then at the blacksmith's shop on a
rainy day," replied Mack. "Have you done anything at it?"
"Oh, I have seen a good deal of it at the games in the north of
Scotland," replied Cameron.
"Man! I wish we had a hammer and you could show me the trick of
it," said Mack fervently, "for they will be looking to me to throw
and I do not wish to be beaten just too easily."
"There's a big mason's hammer," said Tim, "in the tool house, I
"Get it, Tim, then," said Mack eagerly, "and we will have a little
practise at it, for throw I must, and I have no wish to bring
discredit on my country, for it will be a big day. They will be
coming from all over. The Band of the Seventh is coming out and
Piper Sutherland from Zorra will be there."
"A piper!" echoed Cameron. "Is there much pipe playing in this
"Indeed, you may say that!" said Mack, "and good pipers they are
too, they tell me. Piper Sutherland, I think, was of the old
Forty-twa. Are you a piper, perhaps?" continued Mack.
"Oh, I play a little," said Cameron. "I have a set in the house."
"God bless my soul!" cried Mack, "and we never knew it. Tell Danny
where they are and he will fetch them out. Go, Danny!"
"Never mind, I will get them myself," said Cameron, trying to
conceal his eagerness, for he had long been itching for a chance to
play and his fingers were now tingling for the chanter.
It was an occasion of great delight, not only to big Mack and his
brother Danny and the others, but to Cameron himself. Up and down
the floor he marched, making the rafters of the big barn ring with
the ancient martial airs of Scotland and then, dropping into a
lighter strain, he set their feet a-rapping with reels and
"Man, yon's great playing!" cried Mack with fervent enthusiasm to
the company who had gathered to the summons of the pipes from the
house and from the high road, "and think of him keeping them in his
chest all this time! And what else can you do?" went on Mack, with
the enthusiasm of a discoverer. "You have been in the big games,
too, I warrant you."
Cameron confessed to some experience of these thrilling events.
"Bless my soul! We will put you against the big folk from the
city. Come and show us the hammer," said Mack, leading the way out
of the barn, for the rain had ceased, with a big mason's hammer in
his hand. It needed but a single throw to make it quite clear to
Cameron that Mack was greatly in need of coaching. As he said
himself he "just took up the thing and gave it a fling." A mighty
fling, too, it proved to be.
"Twenty-eight paces!" cried Cameron, and then, to make sure,
stepped it back again. "Yes," he said, "twenty-eight paces, nearly
twenty-nine. Great Caesar! Mack, if you only had the Braemar
swing you would be a famous thrower."
"Och, now, you are just joking me!" said Mack modestly.
"You can add twenty feet easily to your throw if you get the
swing," asserted Cameron. "Look here, now, get this swing," and
Cameron demonstrated in his best style the famous Braemar swing.
"Thirty-two paces!" said Mack in amazement after he had measured
the throw. "Man alive! you can beat McGee, let alone myself."
"Now, Mack, get the throw," said Cameron, with enthusiasm. "You
will be a great thrower." But try though he might Mack failed to
get the swing.
"Man, come over to-night and bring your pipes. Danny will fetch
out his fiddle and we will have a bit of a frolic, and," he added,
as if in an afterthought, "I have a big hammer yonder, the
regulation size. We might have a throw or so."
"Thanks, I will be sure to come," said Cameron eagerly.
"Come, all of you," said Mack, "and you too, Mandy. We will clear
out the barn floor and have a regular hoe-down."
"Oh, pshaw!" giggled Mandy, tossing her head. "I can't dance."
"Oh, come along and watch me, then," said Mack, in good humour,
who, with all his two hundred pounds, was lightfooted as a girl.
The Murrays' new big bank barn was considered the finest in the
country and the new floor was still quite smooth and eminently
suited to a "hoe-down." Before the darkness had fallen, however,
Mack drew Cameron, with Danny, Perkins, and a few of the neighbours
who had dropped in, out to the lane and, giving him a big hammer,
"Try that," he said, with some doubt in his tone.
Cameron took the hammer.
"This is the right thing. The weight of it will make more
difference to me, however, than to you, Mack."
"Oh, I'm not so sure," said Mack. "Show us how you do it."
The first throw Cameron took easily.
"Twenty-nine paces!" cried Mack, after stepping it off. "Man!
that's a great throw, and you do it easy."
"Not much of a throw," laughed Cameron. "Try it yourself."
Ignoring the swing, Mack tried the throw in his own style and
hurled the hammer two paces beyond Cameron's throw.
"You did that with your arms only," said Cameron. "Now you must
put legs and shoulders into it."
"Let's see you beat that throw yourself," laughed Perkins, who was
by no means pleased with the sudden distinction that had come to
Cameron took the hammer and, with the easy slow grace of the
Braemar swing, made his throw.
"Hooray!" yelled Danny, who was doing the measuring. "You got it
yon time for sure. Three paces to the good. You'll have to put
your back into it, Mack, I guess."
Once more Mack seized the hammer. Then Cameron took Mack in hand
and, over and over again, coached him in the poise and swing.
"Now try it, and think of your legs and back. Let the hammer take
care of itself. Now, nice and easy and slow, not far this time."
Again and again Mack practised the swing.
"You're getting it!" cried Cameron enthusiastically, "but you are
trying too hard. Forget the distance this time and think only of
the easy slow swing. Let your muscles go slack." So he coached
At length, after many attempts, Mack succeeded in delivering his
hammer according to instructions.
"Man! you are right!" he exclaimed. "That's the trick of it and it
is as smooth as oil."
"Keep it up, Mack," said Cameron, "and always easy."
Over and over again he put the big man through the swing till he
began to catch the notion of the rhythmic, harmonious cooperation
of the various muscles in legs and shoulders and arms so necessary
to the highest result.
"You've got the swing, Mack," at length said Cameron. "Now then,
this time let yourself go. Don't try your best, but let yourself
out. Easy, now, easy. Get it first in your mind."
For a moment Mack stood pondering. He was "getting it in his
mind." Then, with a long swing, easy and slow, he gave the great
hammer a mighty heave. With a shout the company crowded about.
"Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven!
Hooray! bully for you, Mack. You are the lad!"
"Get the line on it," said Mack quietly. The measuring line showed
one hundred and eleven and a half feet. The boys crowded round
him, exclaiming, cheering, patting him on the back. Mack received
the congratulations in silence, then, turning to Cameron, said very
"Man! yon's as easy as eating butter. You have done me a good turn
"Oh, that's nothing, Mack," said Cameron, who was more pleased than
any of them. "You got the swing perfectly that time. You can put
twenty feet to that throw. One hundred and eleven feet! Why, I
can beat that myself."
"Man alive! Do you tell me now!" said Mack in amazement, running
his eyes over Cameron's lean muscular body.
"I have done it often when I was in shape."
"Oh, rats!" said Perkins with a laugh. "Where was that?"
Cameron flushed a deep red, then turned pale, but kept silent.
"I believe you, my boy," said Mack with emphasis and facing sharply
upon Perkins, "and if ever I do a big throw I will owe it to you."
"Oh, come off!" said Perkins, again laughing scornfully. "There
are others that know the swing besides Scotty here. What you have
got you owe to no one but yourself, Mack."
"If I beat the man McGee next week," said Mack quietly, "it will be
from what I learned to-night, and I know what I am saying. Man!
it's a lucky thing we found you. But that will do for just now.
Come along to the barn. Hooray for the pipes and the lassies!
They are worth all the hammers in the world!" And, putting his arm
through Cameron's, he led the way to the barn, followed by the
"If Scotty could only hoe turnips and tie wheat as well as he can
play the pipes and throw the hammer," said Perkins to the others as
they followed in the rear, "I guess he'd soon have us all leaning
against the fence to dry."
"He will, too, some day," said Tim, whose indignation at Perkins
overcame the shyness which usually kept him silent in the presence
of older men.
"Hello, Timmy! What are you chipping in for?" said Perkins,
reaching for the boy's coat collar. "He thinks this Scotty is the
whole works, and he is great too--at showing people how to do
"I hear he showed Tim how to hoe turnips," said one of the boys
slyly. The laugh that followed showed that the story of Tim's
triumph over the champion had gone abroad.
"Oh, rot!" said Perkins angrily. "Tim's got a little too perky
because I let him get ahead of me one night in a drill of turnips."
"Yeh done yer best, didn't he, Webster?" cried Tim with indignation.
"Well, he certainly was making some pretty big gashes in them
drills," said Webster slowly.
"Oh, get out!" replied Perkins. "Though all the same Tim's quite a
turnip-hoer," he conceded. "Hello! There's quite a crowd in the
barn, Danny. I wish I had my store clothes on."
At this a girl came running to meet them.
"Come on, Danny! Tune up. I can hardly keep my heels on my
"Oh, you'll not be wanting my little fiddle after you have heard
Cameron on the pipes, Isa."
"Never you fear that, Danny," replied Isa, catching him by the arm
and hurrying him onward.
"Wait a minute. I want you to meet Mr. Cameron," said Danny.
"Come away, then," replied Isa. "I am dying to get done with it
and get the fiddle going."
But Cameron was in the meantime engaged, for Mack was busy
introducing him to a bevy of girls who stood at one corner of the
"My! but he's a braw lad!" said Isa gayly, as she watched Cameron
making his bows.
"Yes, he is that," replied Danny with enthusiastic admiration, "and
a hammer-thrower, too, he is."
"What! yon stripling?"
"You may say it. He can beat Mack there."
"Mack!" cried Isa, with scorn. "It's just big lies you are telling
"Indeed, he has beaten Mack's best throw many a time."
"And how do you know?" exclaimed Isa.
"He said so himself."
"Ah ha!" said Isa scornfully. "He is good at blowing his own horn
whatever, and I don't believe he can beat Mack--and I don't like
him a bit," she continued, her dark eyes flashing and the red
colour glowing in her full round cheek.
"Come, Isa!" cried Mack, catching sight of her in the dim light.
"Come here, I want Mr. Cameron to meet you."
"How do you do?" said the girl, giving Cameron her hand and
glancing saucily into his face. "I hear you are a piper and a
hammer-thrower and altogether a wonderful man."
"A wonderfully lucky man, to have the pleasure of meeting you,"
said Cameron, glancing boldly back at her.
"And I am sure you can dance the fling," continued Isa. "All the
"Not all," said Cameron. "But with certain partners all Highlanders
would love to try."
"Oh aye," with a soft Highland accent that warmed Cameron's blood.
"I see you have the tongue. Come away, Danny, now, strike up, or I
will go on without you." And the girl kilted her skirts and began
a reel, and as Mack's eyes followed her every step there was no
mistaking their expression. To Mack there was only one girl in the
barn, or in all the world for that matter, and that was the leal-
hearted, light-footed, black-eyed Isa MacKenzie. Bonnie she was,
and that she well knew, the belle of the whole township, driving
the men to distraction and for all that holding the love of her own
sex as well. But her heart was still her own, or at least she
thought it was, for all big Mack Murray's open and simple-hearted
adoration, and she was ready for a frolic with any man who could
give her word for word or dance with her the Highland reel.
With the courtesy of a true gentleman, Danny led off with his
fiddle till they had all got thoroughly into the spirit and swing
of the frolic, and then, putting his instrument back into its bag,
he declared that they were all tired of it and were waiting for the
"Not a bit of it!" cried Isa. "But we will give you a rest, Danny,
and besides I want to dance a reel with you myself--though Mr.
Cameron is not bad," she added, with a little bow to Cameron, with
whom she had just finished a reel.
Readily enough Cameron tuned his pipes, for he was aching to get
at them and only too glad to furnish music for the gay company of
kindly hearted folk who were giving him his first evening's
pleasure since he had left the Cuagh Oir.
From reel to schottische and from schottische to reel, foursome and
eightsome, they kept him playing, ever asking for more, till the
gloaming passed into moonlight and still they were not done. The
respite came through Mandy, who, solid in weight and heavy of foot,
had laboured through the reels as often as she could get a partner,
and at other times had sat gazing in rapt devotion upon the piper.
"Whoop her up again, Scotty!" cried Perkins, when Cameron paused at
the end of a reel.
"Don't you do it!" said Mandy sharply, her deep voice booming
through the barn. "He's just tired of it, and I'm tired looking at
There was a shout of laughter which covered poor Mandy with
"Good for you, Mandy," cried Perkins with a great guffaw. "You
want some music now, don't you? So do I. Come on, Danny."
"No, I don't," snapped Mandy, who could understand neither the
previous laugh nor that which greeted Perkins' sally.
"Allan," she said, sticking a little over the name, "is tired out,
and besides it's time we were going home."
"That's right, take him home, Mandy, and put the little dear to
bed," said Perkins.
"You needn't be so smart, Joe Perkins," said Mandy angrily.
"Anyway I'm going home. I've got to be up early."
"Me too, Mandy," said Cameron, packing up his pipes, for his
sympathy had been roused for the girl who was championing him so
bravely. "I have had a great night and I have played you all to
death; but you will forgive me. I was lonely for the chanter. I
have not touched it since I left home."
There was a universal cry of protest as they gathered about him.
"Indeed, Mr. Cameron, you have given us all a rare treat," cried
Isa, coming close to him, "and I only wish you could pipe and dance
at the same time."
"That's so!" cried Mack, "but what's the matter with the fiddle,
Isa? Come, Danny, strike up. Let them have a reel together."
Cameron glanced at Mandy, who was standing impatiently waiting.
Perkins caught the glance.
"Oh, please let him stay, Mandy," he pleaded.
"He can stay if he likes," sniffed Mandy scornfully. "I got no
string on him; but I'm goin' home. Good-night, everybody."
"Good-night, Mandy," called Perkins. "Tell them we're comin'."
"Just a moment, Mandy!" said Cameron, "and I'm with you. Another
time I hope to do a reel with you, Miss MacKenzie," he said,
bidding her good-night, "and I hope it will be soon."
"Remember, then," cried Isa, warmly shaking hands with him. "I
will keep you to your promise at the picnic."
"Fine!" said Cameron, and with easy grace he made his farewells and
set off after Mandy, who by this time was some distance down the
"You needn't come for me," she said, throwing her voice at him over
"What a splendid night we have had!" said Cameron, ignoring her
wrath. "And what awfully nice people."
Mandy grunted and in silence continued her way down the lane,
picking her steps between the muddy spots and pools left by the
After some minutes Cameron, who was truly sorry for the girl,
ventured to resume the conversation.
"Didn't you enjoy the evening, Mandy?"
"No, I didn't!" she replied shortly. "I can't dance and they all
"Why don't you learn, Mandy? You could dance if you practised."
"I can't. I ain't like the other girls. I'm too clumsy."
"Not a bit of it," said Cameron. "I've watched you stepping about
the house and you are not a bit clumsy. If you only practised a
bit you would soon pick up the schottische."
"Oh, you're just saying that because you know I'm mad," said Mandy,
"Not at all. I firmly believe it. I saw you try a schottische
to-night with Perkins and--"
"Oh, shucks!" said Mandy. "He don't give me no show. He gets mad
when I tramp on him."
"All you want is practise, Mandy," replied Cameron.
"Oh, I ain't got no one to show me," said Mandy. "Perkins he won't
be bothered, and--and--there's no one else," she added shyly.
"Why, I--I would show you," replied Cameron, every instinct of
chivalry demanding that he should play up to her lead, "if I had
"When?" said Mandy simply.
"When?" echoed Cameron, taken aback. "Why, the first chance we
As he spoke the word they reached the new bridge that crossed the
deep ditch that separated the lane from the high road.
"Here's a good place right here on this bridge," said Mandy with a
"But we have no music," stammered Cameron, aghast at the prospect
of a dancing lesson by moonlight upon the public highway.
"Oh, pshaw!" said Mandy. "We don't need music. You can just
count. I seen Isa showin' Mack once and they didn't have no music.
But," she added, regarding Cameron with suspicion, "if you don't
"Oh, I shall be glad to, but wouldn't the porch be better?" he
replied in desperation.
"The porch! That's so," assented Mandy eagerly. "Let's hurry
before the rest come home." So saying, she set off at a great
pace, followed by Cameron ruefully wondering to what extent the
lesson in the Terpsichorean art might be expected to go.
As soon as the porch was reached Mandy cried--
"Now let's at the thing. I'm going to learn that schottische if it
costs a leg."
Without stopping to enquire whose leg might be in peril, Cameron
proceeded with his lesson, and he had not gone through many paces
till he began to recognise the magnitude of the task laid upon him.
The girl's sense of time was accurate enough, but she was
undeniably awkward and clumsy in her movements and there was an
almost total absence of coordination of muscle and brain. She had,
however, suffered too long and too keenly from her inability to
join with the others in the dance to fail to make the best of her
opportunity to relieve herself of this serious disability.
So, with fierce industry she poised, counted and hopped, according
to Cameron's instructions and example, with never a sign of
weariness, but alas with little indication of progress.
"Oh, shucks! I can't do it!" she cried at length, pausing in
despair. "I think we could do it better together. That's the way
Mack and Isa do it. I've seen them at it for an hour."
Cameron's heart sank within him. He had caught an exchange of
glances between the two young people mentioned and he could quite
understand how a lesson in the intricacies of the Highland
schottische might very well be extended over an hour to their
mutual satisfaction, but he shrank with a feeling of dismay, if not
disgust, from a like experience with the girl before him.
He was on the point of abruptly postponing the lesson when his eye
fell upon her face as she stood in the moonlight which streamed in
through the open door. Was it the mystic alchemy of the moon on
her face, or was it the glowing passion in her wonderful eyes that
transfigured the coarse features? A sudden pity for the girl rose
in Cameron's heart and he said gently, "We will try it together,
He took her hand, put his arm about her waist, but, as he drew her
towards him, with a startled look in her eyes she shrank back
"I guess I won't bother you any more to-night. You've been awfully
good to me. You're tired."
"Not a bit, Mandy, come along," replied Cameron briskly.
At that moment a shadow fell upon the square of moonlight on the
floor. Mandy started back with a cry.
"My! you scairt me. We were--Allan--Mr. Cameron was learnin' me
the Highland schottische." Her face and her voice were full of
It was Perkins. White, silent, and rigid, he stood regarding them,
for minutes, it seemed, then turned away.
"Let's finish," said Cameron quietly.
"Oh! no, no!" said Mandy in a low voice. "He's awful mad! I'm
scairt to death! He'll do something! Oh! dear, dear! He's awful
when he gets mad."
"Nonsense!" said Cameron. "He can't hurt you."
"No, but you!"
"Oh, don't worry about me. He won't hurt me."
Cameron's tone arrested the girl's attention.
"But promise me--promise me!" she cried, "that you won't touch
him." She clutched his arm in a fierce grip.
"Certainly I won't touch him," said Cameron easily, "if he behaves
himself." But in his heart he was conscious of a fierce desire
that Perkins would give him the opportunity to wipe out a part at
least of the accumulated burden of insult he had been forced to
bear during the last three weeks.
"Oh!" wailed Mandy, wringing her hands. "I know you're going to
fight him. I don't want you to! Do you hear me?" she cried,
suddenly gripping Cameron again by the arm and shaking him. "I
don't want you to! Promise me you won't!" She was in a transport
"Oh, this is nonsense, Mandy," said Cameron, laughing at her.
"There won't be any fight. I'll run away."
"All right," replied the girl quietly, releasing his arm.
"Remember you promised." She turned from him.
"Good night, Mandy. We will finish our lesson another time, eh?"
he said cheerfully.
"Good night," replied Mandy, dully, and passed through the kitchen
and into the house.
Cameron watched her go, then poured for himself a glass of milk
from a pitcher that always stood upon the table for any who might
be returning home late at night, and drank it slowly, pondering the
situation the while.
"What a confounded mess it is!" he said to himself. "I feel like
cutting the whole thing. By Jove! That girl is getting on my
nerves! And that infernal bounder! She seems to-- Poor girl! I
wonder if he has got any hold on her. It would be the greatest
satisfaction in the world to teach HIM a few things too. But I
have made up my mind that I am not going to end up my time here
with any row, and I'll stick to that; unless--" and, with a
tingling in his fingers, he passed out into the moonlight.
As he stepped out from the door a dark mass hurled itself at him, a
hand clutched at his throat, missed as he swiftly dodged back, and
carried away his collar. It was Perkins, his face distorted, his
white teeth showing in a snarl as of a furious beast. Again with a
beast-like growl he sprang, and again Cameron avoided him; while
Perkins, missing his clutch, stumbled over a block of wood and went
crashing head first among a pile of pots and pans and, still unable
to recover himself and wildly grasping whatever chanced to be
within reach, fell upon the board that stood against the corner of
the porch to direct the rain into the tub; but the unstable board
slid slowly down and allowed the unfortunate Perkins to come
sitting in the tub full of water.
"Very neatly done, Perkins!" cried Cameron, whose anger at the
furious attack was suddenly transformed into an ecstasy of delight
at seeing the plight of his enemy.
Like a cat Perkins was on his feet and, without a single moment's
pause, came on again in silent fury. By an evil chance there lay
in his path the splitting axe, gleaming in the moonlight. Uttering
a low choking cry, as of joy, he seized the axe and sprang towards
his foe. Quicker than thought Cameron picked up a heavy arm chair
that stood near the porch to use it as a shield against the
"Are you mad, Perkins?" he cried, catching the terrific blow that
came crashing down, upon the chair.
Then, filled with indignant rage at the murderous attack upon him,
and suddenly comprehending the desperate nature of the situation,
he sprang at his antagonist, thrusting the remnants of the chair in
his face and, following hard and fast upon him, pushed him backward
and still backward till, tripping once more, he fell supine among
the pots and pans. Seizing the axe that had dropped from his
enemy's hand, Cameron hurled it far beyond the wood pile and then
stood waiting, a cold and deadly rage possessing him.
"Come on, you dog!" he said through his shut teeth. "You have been
needing this for some time and now you'll get it."
"What is it, Joe?"
Cameron quickly turned and saw behind him Mandy, her face blanched,
her eyes wide, and her voice faint with terror.
"Oh, nothing much," said Cameron, struggling to recover himself.
"Perkins stumbled over the tub among the pots and pans there. He
made a great row, too," he continued with a laugh, striving to get
his voice under control.
"What is it, Joe?" repeated Mandy, approaching Perkins. But
Perkins stood leaning against the corner of the porch in a kind of
"You've been fighting," she said, turning upon Cameron.
"Not at all," said Cameron lightly, "but, if you must know, Perkins
went stumbling among these pots and pans and finally sat down in
the tub; and naturally he is mad."
"Is that true, Joe?" said Mandy, moving slowly nearer him.
"Oh, shut up, Mandy! I'm all wet, that's all, and I'm going to
His voice was faint as though he were speaking with an effort.
"You go into the house," he said to the girl. "I've got something
to say to Cameron here."
"You are quarreling."
"Oh, give us a rest, Mandy, and get out! No, there's no quarreling,
but I want to have a talk with Cameron about something. Go on,
For a few moments she hesitated, looking from one to the other.
"It's all right, Mandy," said Cameron quietly. "You needn't be
afraid, there won't be any trouble."
For a moment more she stood, then quietly turned away.
"Wait!" said Perkins to Cameron, and followed Mandy into the house.
For some minutes Cameron stood waiting.
"Now, you murderous brute!" he said, when Perkins reappeared.
"Come down to the barn where no girl can interfere." He turned
towards the barn.
"Hold on!" said Perkins, breathing heavily. "Not to-night. I want
to say something. She's waiting to see me go upstairs."
Cameron came back.
"What have you got to say, you cur?" he asked in a voice filled
with a cold and deliberate contempt.
"Don't you call no names," replied Perkins. "It ain't no use."
His voice was low, trembling, but gravely earnest. "Say, I might
have killed you to-night." His breath was still coming in quick
"You tried your best, you dog!" said Cameron.
"Don't you call no names," panted Perkins again. "I might--a--
killed yeh. I'm mighty--glad--I didn't." He spoke like a man who
had had a great deliverance. "But don't yeh," here his teeth
snapped like a dog's, "don't yeh ever go foolin' with that girl
again. Don't yeh--ever--do it. I seen yeh huggin' her in there
and I tell yeh--I tell yeh--," his breath began to come in sobs, "I
won't stand it--I'll kill yeh, sure as God's in heaven
"Are you mad?" said Cameron, scanning narrowly the white distorted