Part 5 out of 9
"Mad? Yes, I guess so--I dunno--but don't yeh do it, that's all.
She's mine! Mine! D'yeh hear?"
He stepped forward and thrust his snarling face into Cameron's.
"No, I ain't goin' to touch yeh," as Cameron stepped back into a
posture of defense, "not to-night. Some day, perhaps." Here again
his teeth came together with a snap. "But I'm not going to have
you or any other man cutting in on me with that girl. D'yeh hear
me?" and he lifted a trembling forefinger and thrust it almost into
Cameron stood regarding him in silent and contemptuous amazement.
Neither of them saw a dark form standing back out of the moonlight,
inside the door. At last Cameron spoke.
"Now what the deuce does all this mean?" he said slowly. "Is this
girl by any unhappy chance engaged to you?"
"Yes, she is--or was as good as, till you came; but you listen to
me. As God hears me up there"--he raised his shaking hand and
pointed up to the moonlit sky, and then went on, chewing on his
words like a dog on a bone--"I'll cut the heart out of your body if
I catch you monkeying round that girl again. You've got to get out
of here! Everything was all right till you came sneaking in.
You've got to get out! You've got to get out! D'yeh hear me?
You've got to get out!"
His voice was rising, mad rage was seizing him again, his fingers
were opening and shutting like a man in a death agony.
Cameron glanced towards the door.
"I'm done," said Perkins, noting the glance. "That's my last word.
You'd better quit this job." His voice again took on an imploring
tone. "You'd better go or something will sure happen to you.
Nobody will miss you much, except perhaps Mandy." His ghastly face
twisted into a snarling smile, his eyes appeared glazed in the
moonlight, his voice was husky--the man seemed truly insane.
Cameron stood observing him quietly when he had ceased speaking.
"Are you finished? Then hear me. First, in regard to this girl,
she doesn't want me and I don't want her, but make up your mind, I
promise you to do all I can to prevent her falling into the hands
of a brute like you. Then as to leaving this place, I shall go
just when it suits me, no sooner."
"All right," said Perkins, his voice low and trembling. "All
right, mind I warned you! Mind I warned you! But if you go
foolin' with that girl, I'll kill yeh, so help me God."
These words he uttered with the solemnity of an oath and turned
towards the porch. A dark figure flitted across the kitchen and
disappeared into the house. Cameron walked slowly towards the
"He's mad. He's clean daffy, but none the less dangerous," he said
to himself. "What a rotten mess all this is!" he added in disgust.
"By Jove! The whole thing isn't worth while."
But as he thought of Mandy's frightened face and imploring eyes and
the brutal murderous face of the man who claimed her as his own, he
said between his teeth:
"No, I won't quit now. I'll see this thing through, whatever it
costs," and with this resolve he set himself to the business of
getting to sleep; in which, after many attempts, he was at length
HOW THEY SAVED THE DAY
There never was such a Dominion Day for weather since the first
Dominion Day was born. Of this "Fatty" Freeman was fully assured.
Fatty Freeman was a young man for whose opinion older men were
accustomed to wait. His person more than justified his praenomen,
for Mr. Harper Freeman, Jr., was undeniably fat. "Fat, but fine
and frisky," was ever his own comment upon the descriptive
adjective by which his friends distinguished him. And fine and
frisky he was; fine in his appreciation of good eating, fine in his
judgment of good cattle and fine in his estimate of men; frisky,
too, and utterly irrepressible. "Harp's just like a young pup,"
his own father, the Reverend Harper Freeman, the old Methodist
minister of the Maplehill circuit, used to say. "If Harp had a
tail he would never do anything but play with it." On this,
however, it is difficult to hold any well based opinion. Ebullient
in his spirits, he radiated cheeriness wherever he went and was at
the bottom of most of the practical jokes that kept the village of
Maplehill in a state of ferment; yet if any man thought to turn a
sharp corner in business with Mr. Harper Freeman, Jr., he invariably
found that frisky individual waiting for him round the corner with a
cheery smile of welcome, shrewd and disconcerting. It was this
cheery shrewdness of his that made him the most successful cattle
buyer in the county and at the same time secretary of the Middlesex
Caledonian Society. As secretary of this society he was made
chiefly responsible for the success of the Dominion Day picnic and,
as with everything that he took hold of, Fatty toiled at the
business of preparation for this picnic with conscientious zeal,
giving to it all his spare hours and many of his working hours for
the three months preceding.
It was due solely to his efforts that so many distinguished county
magnates appeared eager to lend their patronage. It needed but a
little persuasion to secure the enthusiastic support of the
Honourable J. J. Patterson, M.P.P., and, incidentally, the handsome
challenge cup for hammer-throwing, for the honourable member of
Parliament was a full-blooded Highlander himself and an ardent
supporter of "the games." But only Fatty Freeman's finesse could
have extracted from Dr. Kane, the Opposition candidate for
Provincial Parliamentary honours, the cup for the hundred yards
race, and other cups from other individuals more or less deeply
interested in Dominion, Provincial, and Municipal politics. The
prize list secured, it needed only a skillful manipulation of the
local press and a judicious but persistent personal correspondence
to swell the ranks of the competitors in the various events, and
thus ensure a monster attendance of the people from the
neighbouring townships and from the city near by.
The weather being assured, Fatty's anxieties were mostly allayed,
for he had on the file in his office acceptance letters from the
distinguished men who were to cast the spell of their oratory over
the assembled multitude, as also from the big men in the athletic
world who had entered for the various events in the programme of
sports. It was a master stroke of diplomacy that resulted in the
securing for the hammer-throwing contest the redoubtable and famous
Duncan Ross of Zorra, who had at first disdained the bait of the
Maplehill Dominion Day picnic, but in some mysterious way had at
length been hooked and landed. For Duncan was a notable man and
held the championship of the Zorras; and indeed in all Ontario he
was second only to the world-famous Rory Maclennan of Glengarry,
who had been to Braemar itself and was beaten there only by a
fluke. How he came to agree to be present at the Maplehill picnic
"Black Duncan" could not quite understand, but had he compared
notes with McGee, the champion of the London police force and of
various towns and cities of the western peninsula, he would
doubtless have received some enlightenment. To the skill of the
same master hand was due the appearance upon the racing list of the
Dominion Day picnic of such distinguished names as Cahill of
London, Fullerton of Woodstock, and especially of Eugene La Belle
of nowhere in particular, who held the provincial championship for
skating and was a runner of provincial fame.
In the racing Fatty was particularly interested because his young
brother Wilbur, of whom he was uncommonly proud, a handsome lad,
swift and graceful as a deer, was to make his first essay for more
than local honours.
The lists for the other events were equally well filled and every
detail of the arrangements for the day had passed under the
secretary's personal review. The feeding of the multitude was in
charge of the Methodist Ladies' Aid, an energetic and exceptionally
businesslike organization, which fully expected to make sufficient
profit from the enterprise to clear off the debt from their church
at Maplehill, an achievement greatly desired not only by the ladies
themselves but by their minister, the Reverend Harper Freeman, now
in the third year of his incumbency. The music was to be furnished
by the Band of the Seventh from London and by no less a distinguished
personage than Piper Sutherland himself from Zorra, former Pipe
Major of "The old Forty-twa." The discovery of another piper in
Cameron brought joy to the secretary's heart, who only regretted
that an earlier discovery had not rendered possible a pipe
Early in the afternoon the crowds began to gather to MacBurney's
woods, a beautiful maple grove lying midway between the Haleys'
farm and Maplehill village, about two miles distant from each. The
grove of noble maple trees overlooking a grassy meadow provided an
ideal spot for picnicking, furnishing as it did both shade from the
sun and a fine open space with firm footing for the contestants in
the games. High over a noble maple in the centre of the grassy
meadow floated the Red Ensign of the Empire, which, with the
Canadian coat of arms on the fly, by common usage had become the
national flag of Canada. From the great trees the swings were
hung, and under their noble spreading boughs were placed the
tables, and the platform for the speech making and the dancing,
while at the base of the encircling hills surrounding the grassy
meadow, hard by the grove another platform was placed, from which
distinguished visitors might view with ease and comfort the
contests upon the campus immediately adjacent.
Through the fence, let down for the purpose, the people drove in
from the high road. They came in top buggies and in lumber wagons,
in democrats and in "three seated rigs," while from the city came a
"four-in-hand" with McGee, Cahill, and their backers, as well as
other carriages filled with good citizens of London drawn thither
by the promise of a day's sport of more than usual excellence or by
the lure of a day in the woods and fields of God's open country. A
specially fine carriage and pair, owned and driven by the honourable
member of Parliament himself, conveyed Piper Sutherland, with
colours streaming and pipes playing, to the picnic grounds. Warmly
was the old piper welcomed, not only by the frisky cheery secretary,
but by many old friends, and by none more warmly than by the
Reverend Alexander Munro, the douce old bachelor Presbyterian
minister of Maplehill, a great lover of the pipes and a special
friend of Piper Sutherland. But the welcome was hardly over when
once more the sound of the pipes was heard far up the side line.
"Surely that will be Gunn," said Mr. Munro.
Sutherland listened for a minute or two.
"No, it iss not Gunn. Iss Ross coming? No, yon iss not Ross.
That will be a stranger," he continued, turning to the secretary,
but the secretary remained silent, enjoying the old man's surprise
"Man, that iss not so bad piping! Not so bad at all! Who iss it?"
he added with some impatience, turning upon the secretary again.
"Oh, that's Haley's team and I guess that's his hired man, a young
fellow just out from Scotland," replied the secretary indifferently.
"I am no great judge of the pipes myself, but he strikes me as a
crackajack and I shouldn't be surprised if he would make you all sit
But the old piper's ear was closed to his words and open only to
the strains of music ever drawing nearer.
"Aye, yon's a piper!" he said at length with emphasis. "Yon's a
"I only wish I had discovered him in time for a competition," said
"Aye," said Sutherland. "Yon's a piper worth playing against."
And very brave and gallant young Cameron looked as Tim swung his
team through the fence and up to the platform under the trees where
the great ones of the people were standing in groups. They were
all there, Patterson the M.P.P., and Dr. Kane the Opposition
candidate, Reeve Robertson, for ten years the Municipal head of his
county, Inspector Grant, a little man with a massive head and a
luminous eye, Patterson's understudy and generally regarded as his
successor in Provincial politics, the Reverend Harper Freeman,
Methodist minister, tall and lank, with shrewd kindly face and a
twinkling eye, the Reverend Alexander Munro, the Presbyterian
minister, solid and sedate, slow to take fire but when kindled a
very furnace for heat. These, with their various wives and
daughters, such as had them, and many others less notable but no
less important, constituted a sort of informal reception committee
under Fatty Freeman's general direction and management. And here
and there and everywhere crowds of young men and maidens,
conspicuous among the latter Isa MacKenzie and her special friends,
made merry with each other, as brave and gallant a company of
sturdy sun-browned youths and bonnie wholesome lassies as any land
or age could ever show.
"Look at them!" cried the Reverend Harper Freeman, waving his hand
toward the kaleidoscopic gathering. "There's your Dominion Day
oration for you, Mr, Patterson."
"Most of it done in brown, too," chuckled his son, Harper Freeman,
"Yes, and set in jewels and gold," replied his father.
"You hold over me, Dad!" cried his son. "Here!" he called to
Cameron, who was standing aloof from the others. "Come and meet a
brother Scot and a brother piper, Mr. Sutherland from Zorra, though
to your ignorant Scottish ear that means nothing, but to every
intelligent Canadian, Zorra stands for all that's finest in brain
and brawn in Canada."
"And it takes both to play the pipes, eh, Sutherland?" said the
"Oh aye, but mostly wind," said the piper.
"Just like politics, eh, Mr. Patterson?" said the Reverend Harper
"Yes, or like preaching," replied the M.P.P.
"One on you, Dad!" said the irrepressible Fatty.
Meantime Sutherland was warmly complimenting Cameron on his
"You haf been well taught," he said.
"No one taught me," said Cameron. "But we had a famous old piper
at home in our Glen, Macpherson was his name."
"Macpherson! Did he effer play at the Braemar gathering?"
"Yes, but Maclennan beat him."
"Maclennan! I haf heard him." The tone was quite sufficient to
classify the unhappy Maclennan. "And I haf heard Macpherson too.
You iss a player. None of the fal-de-rals of your modern players,
but grand and mighty."
"I agree with you entirely," replied Cameron, his heart warming at
the praise of his old friend of the Glen Cuagh Oir. "But," he
added, "Maclennan is a great player too."
"A great player? Yes and no. He has the fingers and the notes,
but he iss not the beeg man. It iss the soul that breathes through
the chanter. The soul!" Here he gripped Cameron by the arm.
"Man! it iss like praying. A beeg man will neffer show himself in
small things, but when he will be in communion with his Maker or
when he will be pouring out his soul in a pibroch then the beegness
of the man will be manifest. Aye," continued the piper, warming to
his theme and encouraged by the eager sympathy of his listener,
"and not only the beegness but the quality of the soul. A mean man
can play the pipes, but he can neffer be a piper. It iss only a
beeg man and a fine man and, I will venture to say, a good man, and
there are not many men can be pipers."
"Aye, Mr. Sutherland," broke in the Reverend Alexander Munro, "what
you say is true, but it is true not only of piping. It is true
surely of anything great enough to express the deepest emotions of
the soul. A man is never at his best in anything till he is
expressing his noblest self."
"For instance in preaching, eh!" said Dr. Kane.
"Aye, in preaching or in political oratory," replied the minister.
At this, however, the old piper shook his head doubtfully.
"You do not agree with Mr. Munro in that?" said the M.P.P.
"No," replied Sutherland, "speaking iss one thing, piping iss
"And that is no lie, and a mighty good thing too it is," said Dr.
"It iss no lie," replied the old piper with dignity. "And if you
knew much about either of them you would say it deeferently."
"Why, what is the difference, Mr. Sutherland?" said Dr. Kane,
anxious to appease the old man. "They both are means of expressing
the emotions of the soul, you say."
"The deeference! The deeferenee iss it? The deeference iss here,
that the pipes will neffer lie."
There was a shout of laughter.
"One for you, Kane!" cried the Reverend Harper Freeman. "And," he
continued when the laughing had ceased, "we will have to take our
share too, Mr. Munro."
But the hour for beginning the programme had arrived and the
secretary climbed to the platform to announce the events for the
"Ladies and gentlemen!" he cried, in a high, clear, penetrating
voice, "the speech of welcome will be delivered toward the close of
the day by the president of the Middlesex Caledonian Society, the
Honourable J. J. Patterson, M.P.P. My duty is the very simple one
of announcing the order of events on the programme and of expressing
on behalf of the Middlesex Caledonian Society the earnest hope that
you all may enjoy the day, and that each event on the programme will
prove more interesting than the last. The programme is long and
varied and I must ask your assistance to put it through on schedule
time. First there are the athletic competitions. I shall endeavour
to assist Dr. Kane and the judges in running these through without
unnecessary and annoying delays. Then will follow piping, dancing,
and feasting in their proper order, after which will come the
presentation of prizes and speeches from our distinguished visitors.
On the platform over yonder there are places for the speakers, the
officials, and the guests of the society, but such is the very
excellent character of the ground that all can be accommodated with
grand stand seats. One disappointment, and one only, I must
announce, the Band of the Seventh, London, cannot be with us
"But we will never miss them," interpolated the Reverend Alexander
Munro with solemn emphasis.
"Exactly so!" continued Fatty when the laugh had subsided. "And
now let's all go in for a good old time picnic, 'where even the
farmers cease from grumbling and the preachers take a rest.' Now
take your places, ladies and gentlemen, for the grand parade is
about to begin."
The programme opened with the one hundred yard flat race. For this
race there were four entries, Cahill from London, Fullerton from
Woodstock, La Belle from nowhere in particular, and Wilbur Freeman
from Maplehill. But Wilbur was nowhere to be seen. The secretary
came breathless to the platform.
"Where's Wilbur?" he asked his father.
"Wilbur? Surely he is in the crowd, or in the tent perhaps."
At the tent the secretary found his brother nursing a twisted ankle,
heart-sick with disappointment. Early in the day he had injured his
foot in an attempt to fasten a swing upon a tree. Every minute
since that time he had spent in rubbing and manipulating the injured
member, but all to no purpose. While the pain was not great, a race
was out of the question. The secretary was greatly disturbed and as
nearly wrathful as ever he allowed himself to become. He was set on
his brother making a good showing in this race; moreover, without
Wilbur there would be no competitor to uphold the honour of
Maplehill in this contest and this would deprive it of much of its
"What the dickens were you climbing trees for?" he began
impatiently, but a glance at his young brother's pale and woe-
stricken face changed his wrath to pity. "Never mind, old chap,"
he said, "better luck next time, and you will be fitter too."
Back he ran to the platform, for he must report the dismal news to
his mother, whose chief interest in the programme for the day lay
in this race in which her latest born was to win his spurs. The
cheery secretary was nearly desperate. It was an ominous beginning
for the day's sports. What should he do? He confided his woe to
Mack and Cameron, who were standing close by the platform.
"It will play the very mischief with the programme. It will spoil
the whole day, for Wilbur was the sole Maplehill representative in
the three races; besides, I believe the youngster would have shown
"He would that!" cried Mack heartily. "He was a bird. But is
there no one else from the Hill that could enter?"
"No, no one with a chance of winning, and no fellow likes to go in
simply to be beaten."
"What difference?" said Cameron. "It's all in a day's sport."
"That's so," said Mack. "If I could run myself I would enter. I
wonder if Danny would--"
"Danny!" said the secretary shortly. "You know better than that.
Danny's too shy to appear before this crowd even if he were dead
sure of winning."
"Say, it is too bad!" continued Mack, as the magnitude of the
calamity grew upon him. "Surely we can find some one to make an
appearance. What about yourself, Cameron? Did you ever race?"
"Some," said Cameron. "I raced last year at the Athole Games."
Fatty threw himself upon him.
"Cameron, you are my man! Do you want to save your country, and
perhaps my life, certainly my reputation? Get out of those
frills," touching his kilt, "and I'll get a suit from one of the
jumpers for you. Go! Bless your soul, anything you want that's
mine you can have! Only hustle for dear life's sake! Go! Go! Go!
Take him away, Mack. We'll get something else on!"
Fatty actually pushed Cameron clear away from the platform and
after him big Mack.
"There seems to be no help for it," said Cameron, as they went to
the tent together.
"It's awful good of you," replied Mack, "but you can see how hard
Fatty takes it, though it is not a bit fair to you."
"Oh, nobody knows me here," said Cameron, "and I don't mind being a
But as Mack saw him get into his jersey and shorts he began to
wonder a bit.
"Man, it would be great if you should beat yon Frenchman!" he
"Yes! La Belle. He is that stuck on himself; he thinks he is a
winner before he starts."
"It's a good way to think, Mack. Now let us get down into the
woods and have a bit of a practise in the 'get away.' How do they
start here? With a pistol?"
"No," replied Mack. "We are not so swell. The starter gives the
word this way, 'All set? Go!'"
"All right, Mack, you give me the word sharp. I am out of practise
and I must get the idea into my head."
"You are great on the idea, I see," replied Mack.
"Right you are, and it is just the same with the hammer, Mack."
"Aye, I have found that out."
For twenty minutes or so Cameron practised his start and at every
attempt Mack's confidence grew, so that when he brought his man
back to the platform he announced to a group of the girls standing
near, "Don't say anything, but I have the winner right here for
"Why, Mr. Cameron," cried Isa, "what a wonder you are! What else
can you do? You are a piper, a dancer, a hammer-thrower, and now a
"Jack-of-all-trades," laughed Perkins, who, with Mandy, was
"Yes, but you can't say 'Master of none,'" replied Isa sharply.
"Better wait," said Cameron. "I have entered this race only to
save Mr. Freeman from collapse."
"Collapse? Fatty? He couldn't," said Isa with emphasis.
"Lass, I do not know," said Mack gravely. "He looked more hollow
than ever I have seen him before."
"Well, we'll all cheer for you, Mr. Cameron, anyway," cried Isa.
"Won't we, girls? Oh, if wishes were wings!"
"Wings?" said Mandy, with a puzzled air. "What for? This is a
"Didn't you never see a hen run, Mandy?" laughed Perkins.
"Yes, I have, but I tell you Mr. Cameron ain't no hen," replied
Mandy angrily. "And more! He's going to win."
"Say, Mandy, that is the talk," said Mack, when the laugh had
passed. "Did you hear yon?" he added to Cameron.
"It is a good omen," he said. "I am going to do my best."
"And, by Jingo! if you only had a chance," said Mack, "I believe
you would lick them all."
At this Fatty bustled up.
"All ready, eh? Cameron, I shall owe you something for this. La
Belle kicked like a steer against your entering at the last minute.
It is against the rules, you know. But he's given in."
Fatty did not explain that he had intimated to La Belle that there
was no need for anxiety as far as the "chap from the old country"
was concerned; he was there merely to fill up.
But if La Belle's fears were allayed by the secretary's disparaging
description of the latest competitor, they sprang full grown into
life again when he saw Cameron "all set" for the start, and more
especially so when he heard his protest against the Frenchman's
method in the "get away."
"I want you to notice," he said firmly to Dr. Kane, who was acting
as starter, "that this man gets away WITH the word 'Go' and not
AFTER it. It is an old trick, but long ago played out."
Then the Frenchman fell into a rage.
"Eet ees no treeck!" sputtered La Belle. "Eet ees too queeck for
"All right!" said Dr. Kane. "You are to start after the word 'Go.'
Remember! Sorry we have no pistol."
Once more the competitors crouched over the scratch.
"All set? Go!"
Like the releasing of a whirlwind the four runners spring from the
scratch, La Belle, whose specialty is his "get away," in front,
Fullerton and Cameron in second place, Cahill a close third. A
blanket would cover them all. A tumult of cheers from the friends
of the various runners follows them along their brief course.
"Who is it? Who is it?" cries Mandy breathlessly, clutching Mack
by the arm.
"Cameron, I swear!" roars Mack, pushing his way through the crowd
to the judges.
"No! No! La Belle! La Belle!" cried the Frenchman's backers from
the city. The judges are apparently in dispute.
"I swear it is Cameron!" roars Mack again in their ears, his eyes
aflame and his face alight with a fierce and triumphant joy. "It
is Cameron I am telling you!"
"Oh, get out, you big bluffer!" cries a thin-faced man, pressing
close upon the judges. "It is La Belle by a mile!"
"By a mile, is it?" shouts Mack. "Then go and hunt your man!" and
with a swift motion his big hand falls upon the thin face and
sweeps it clear out of view, the man bearing it coming to his feet
in a white fury some paces away. A second look at Mack, however,
calms his rage, and from a distance he continues leaping and
yelling "La Belle! La Belle!"
After a few moments' consultation the result is announced.
"A tie for the first place between La Belle and Cameron! Time
eleven seconds! The tie will be run off in a few minutes."
In a tumult of triumph big Mack shoulders Cameron through the crowd
and carries him off to the dressing tent, where he spends the next
ten minutes rubbing his man's legs and chanting his glory.
"Who is this Cameron?" enquired the M.P.P., leaning over the
Quick came the answer from the bevy of girls thronging past the
"Cameron? He's our man!" It was Mandy's voice, bold and strong.
"Your man?" said the M.P.P., laughing down into the coarse flushed
"Yes, OUR man!" cried Isa MacKenzie back at him. "And a winner,
you may be sure."
"Ah, happy man!" exclaimed the M.P.P. "Who would not win with such
backers? Why, I would win myself, Miss Isa, were you to back me
so. But who is Cameron?" he continued to the Methodist minister at
"He is Haley's hired man, I believe, and that first girl is Haley's
"Poor thing!" echoed Mrs. Freeman, a kindly smile on her motherly
face. "But she has a good heart has poor Mandy."
"But why 'poor'?" enquired the M.P.P.
"Oh, well," answered Mrs. Freeman with hesitation, "you see she is
so very plain--and--well, not like other girls. But she is a good
worker and has a kind heart."
Once more the runners face the starter, La Belle gay, alert,
confident; Cameron silent, pale, and grim.
"All set? Go!" La Belle is away ere the word is spoken. The
bell, however, brings him back, wrathful and less confident.
Once more they stand crouching over the scratch. Once more the
word releases them like shafts from the bow. A beautiful start,
La Belle again in the lead, but Cameron hard at his heels and
evidently with something to spare. Thus for fifty yards, sixty,
"La Belle! La Belle! He wins! He wins!" yell his backers
frantically, the thin-faced man dancing madly near the finishing
tape. Twenty yards to go and still La Belle is in the lead. High
above the shouting rises Mack's roar.
"Now, Cameron! For the life of you!"
It was as if his voice had touched a spring somewhere in Cameron's
anatomy. A great leap brings him even with La Belle. Another,
another, and still another, and he breasts the tape a winner by a
yard, time ten and three fifths seconds. The Maplehill folk go
mad, and madder than all Isa and her company of girl friends.
"I got--one--bad--start--me! He--pull--me back!" panted La Belle
to his backers who were holding him up.
"Who pulled you back?" indignantly cried the thin-faced man,
looking for blood.
"That sacre startair!"
"You ran a fine race, La Belle!" said Cameron, coming up.
"Non! Peste! I mak heem in ten and one feeft," replied the
disgusted La Belle.
"I have made it in ten," said Cameron quietly.
"Aha!" exclaimed La Belle. "You are one black horse, eh? So! I
race no more to-day!"
"Then no more do I!" said Cameron firmly. "Why, La Belle, you will
beat me in the next race sure. I have no wind."
Under pressure La Belle changed his mind, and well for him he did;
for in the two hundred and twenty yards and in the quarter mile
Cameron's lack of condition told against him, so that in the one
he ran second to La Belle and in the other third to La Belle and
The Maplehill folk were gloriously satisfied, and Fatty in an
ecstasy of delight radiated good cheer everywhere. Throughout the
various contests the interest continued to deepen, the secretary,
with able generalship, reserving the hammer-throwing as the most
thrilling event to the last place. For, more than anything in the
world, men, and especially women, love strong men and love to see
them in conflict. For that fatal love cruel wars have been waged,
lands have been desolated, kingdoms have fallen. There was the
promise of a very pretty fight indeed between the three entered for
the hammer-throwing contest, two of them experienced in this
warfare and bearing high honours, the third new to the game and
unskilled, but loved for his modest courage and for the simple,
gentle heart he carried in his great body. He could not win, of
course, for McGee, the champion of the city police force, had many
scalps at his girdle, and Duncan Ross, "Black Duncan," the pride of
the Zorras, the unconquered hero of something less than a hundred
fights--who could hope to win from him? But all the more for this
the people loved big Mack and wished him well. So down the sloping
sides of the encircling hills the crowds pressed thick, and on the
platform the great men leaned over the rail, while they lifted
their ladies to places of vantage upon the chairs beside them.
"Oh, I cannot see a bit!" cried Isa MacKenzie, vainly pressing upon
the crowding men who, stolidly unaware of all but what was doing in
front of them, effectually shut off her view.
"And you want to see?" said the M.P.P., looking down at her.
"Oh, so much!" she cried.
"Come up here, then!" and, giving her a hand, he lifted her,
smiling and blushing, to a place on the platform whence she with
absorbing interest followed the movements of big Mack, and
incidentally of the others in as far as they might bear any
relation to those of her hero.
And now they were drawing for place.
"Aha! Mack is going to throw first!" said the Reverend Alexander
Munro. "That is a pity."
"It's a shame!" cried Isa, with flashing eyes. "Why don't they put
one of those older--ah--?"
"Stagers?" suggested the M.P.P.
"Duffers," concluded Isa.
"The lot determines the place, Miss Isa," said Mr. Freeman, with a
smile at her. "But the best man will win."
"Oh, I am not so sure of that!" cried the girl in a distressed
voice. "Mack might get nervous."
"Nervous?" laughed the M.P.P. "That giant?"
"Yes, indeed, I have seen him that nervous--" said Isa, and stopped
"Ah! That is quite possible," replied the M.P.P. with a quizzical
"And there is young Cameron yonder. He is not going to throw, is
he?" enquired Mr. Munro.
"He is coaching Mack," explained Isa, "and fine he is at it. Oh,
there! He is going to throw! Oh, if he only gets the swing! Oh!
Oh! Oh! He has got it fine!"
A storm of cheers followed Mack's throw, then a deep silence while
the judges took the measurement.
"One hundred and twenty-one feet!"
"One hundred and twenty-one!" echoed a hundred voices in amazement.
"One hundred and twenty-one! It is a lie!" cried McGee with an
oath, striding out to personally supervise the measuring.
"One hundred and twenty-one!" said Duncan Ross, shaking his head
doubtfully, but he was too much of a gentleman to do other than
wait for the judges' decision.
"One hundred and twenty-one feet and two inches," was the final
verdict, and from the crowd there rose a roar that rolled like
thunder around the hills.
"It's a fluke, and so it is!" said McGee with another oath.
"Give me your hand, lad," said Duncan Ross, evidently much roused.
"It iss a noble throw whateffer, and worthy of beeg Rory himself.
I haf done better, howeffer, but indeed I may not to-day."
It was indeed a great throw, and one immediate result was that
there was no holding back in the contest, no playing 'possum.
Mack's throw was there to be beaten, and neither McGee nor even
Black Duncan could afford to throw away a single chance. For
hammer-throwing is an art requiring not only strength but skill as
well, and not only strength and skill but something else most
difficult to secure. With the strength and the skill there must go
a rhythmic and perfect coordination of all the muscles in the body,
with exactly the proper contracting and relaxing of each at exactly
the proper moment of time, and this perfect coordination is a
result rarely achieved even by the greatest throwers, but when
achieved, and with the man's full strength behind it, his record
throw is the result.
Meantime Cameron was hovering about his man in an ecstasy of
"Oh, Mack, old man!" he said. "You got the swing perfectly. It
was a dream. And if you had put your full strength into it you
would have made a world record. Why, man, you could add ten feet
"It is a fluke!" said McGee again, as he took his place.
"Make one like it, then, my lad," said Black Duncan with a grim
But this McGee failed to do, for his throw measured ninety-seven
"A very fair throw, McGee," said Black Duncan. "But not your best,
and nothing but the best will do the day appearingly."
With that Black Duncan took place for his throw. One--twice--
thrice he swung the great hammer about his head, then sent it
whirling into the air. Again a mighty shout announced a great
throw and again a dead silence waited for the measurement.
"One hundred and fourteen feet!"
"Aha!" said Black Duncan, and stepped back apparently well
It was again Mack's turn.
"You have the privilege of allowing your first throw to stand,"
said Dr. Kane.
"Best let it stand, lad, till it iss beat," advised Black Duncan
kindly. "It iss a noble throw."
"He can do better, though," said Cameron.
"Very well, very well!" said Duncan. "Let him try."
But Mack's success had keyed him up to the highest pitch. Every
nerve was tingling, every muscle taut. His first throw he had
taken without strain, being mainly anxious, under Cameron's
coaching, to get the swing, but under the excitement incident to
the contest he had put more strength into the throw than appeared
either to himself or to his coach. Now, however, with nerves and
muscles taut, he was eager to increase his distance, too eager it
seemed, for his second throw measured only eighty-nine feet.
A silence fell upon his friends and Cameron began to chide him.
"You went right back to your old style, Mack. There wasn't the
sign of a swing."
"I will get it yet, or bust!" said big Mack between his teeth.
McGee's second throw went one hundred and seventeen feet. A cheer
arose from his backers, for it was a great throw and within five
feet of his record. Undoubtedly McGee was in great form and he
might well be expected to measure up to his best to-day.
Black Duncan's second throw measured one hundred and nineteen feet
seven, which was fifteen feet short of his record and showed him to
be climbing steadily upward.
Once more the turn came to Mack, and once more, with almost savage
eagerness, he seized the hammer preparatory to his throw.
"Now, Mack, for heaven's sake go easy!" said Cameron. "Take your
swing easy and slow."
But Mack heeded him not. "I can beat it!" he muttered between his
shut teeth, "and I will." So, with every nerve taut and every
muscle strained to its limit, he made his third attempt. It was in
vain. The measure showed ninety-seven feet six. A suppressed
groan rose from the Maplehill folk.
"A grand throw, lad, for a beginner," said Black Duncan.
The excitement now became intense. By his first throw of one
hundred and twenty-one feet two, Mack remained still the winner.
But McGee had only four feet to gain and Black Duncan less than two
to equal him. The little secretary went skipping about aglow with
satisfaction and delight. The day was already famous in the
history of Canadian athletics.
Again McGee took place for his throw, his third and last. The
crowd gathered in as near as they dared. But McGee had done his
best for that day, and his final throw measured only one hundred
and five feet.
There remained yet but a single chance to wrest from Mack Murray
the prize for that day, but that chance lay in the hands of Duncan
Ross, the cool and experienced champion of many a hard-fought
fight. Again Black Duncan took the hammer. It was his last throw.
He had still fifteen feet to go to reach his own record, and he had
often beaten the throw that challenged him to-day, but, on the
other hand, he had passed through many a contest where his throw
had fallen short of the one he must now beat to win. A hush fell
upon the people as Black Duncan took his place. Once--twice--and,
with ever increasing speed, thrice he swung the great hammer, then
high and far it hurtled through the air.
"Jerusalem!" cried Mack. "What a fling!"
"Too high," muttered Black Duncan. "You have got it, lad, you have
got it, and you well deserve it."
"Tut-tut, nonsense!" said Mack impatiently. "Wait you a minute."
Silent and expectant the crowd awaited the result. Twice over the
judges measured the throw, then announced "One hundred and twenty-
one feet." Mack had won by two inches.
A great roar rose from the crowd, round Mack they surged like a
flood, eager to grip his hands and eager to carry him off shoulder
high. But he threw them off as a rock throws back the incoming
tide and made for Duncan Ross, who stood, calm and pale, and with
hand outstretched, waiting him. It was a new experience for Black
Duncan, and a bitter, to be second in a contest. Only once in many
years had he been forced to lower his colours, and to be beaten by
a raw and unknown youth added to the humiliation of his defeat.
But Duncan Ross had in his veins the blood of a long line of
Highland gentlemen who knew how to take defeat with a smile.
"I congratulate you, Mack Murray," he said in a firm, clear voice.
"Your fame will be through Canada tomorrow, and well you deserve
But Mack caught the outstretched hand in both of his and, leaning
toward Black Duncan, he roared at him above the din.
"Mr. Ross, Mr. Ross, it is no win! Listen to me!" he panted.
"What are two inches in a hundred and twenty feet? A stretching of
the tape will do it. No, no! Listen to me! You must listen to me
as you are a man! I will not have it! You can beat me easily in
the throw! At best it is a tie and nothing else will I have
to-day. At least let us throw again!" he pleaded. But to this
Ross would not listen for a moment.
"The lad has made his win," he said to the judges, "and his win he
But Mack declared that nothing under heaven would make him change
his mind. Finally the judges, too, agreed that in view of the
possibility of a mistake in measuring with the tape, it would be
only right and fair to count the result a tie. Black Duncan
listened respectfully to the judges' decision.
"You are asking me a good deal, Mack," he said at length, "but you
are a gallant lad and I am an older man and--"
"Aye! And a better!" shouted Mack.
"And so I will agree."
Once more the field was cleared. And now there fell upon the
crowding people a hush as if they stood in the presence of death
"Ladies and gentlemen!" said the M.P.P. "Do you realise that you
are looking upon a truly great contest, a contest great enough to
be of national, yes, of international, importance?"
"You bet your sweet life!" cried the irrepressible Fatty. "We're
going some. 'What's the matter with our Mack?'" he shouted.
"'HE'S--ALL--RIGHT!'" came back the chant from the surrounding
hills in hundreds of voices.
"And what's the matter with Duncan Ross?" cried Mack, waving a hand
above his head.
Again the assurance of perfect rightness came back in a mighty roar
from the hills. But it was hushed into immediate silence, a
silence breathless and overwhelming, for Black Duncan had taken
once more his place with the hammer in his hand.
"Oh, I do wish they would hurry!" gasped Isa, her hands pressed
hard upon her heart.
"My heart is rather weak, too," said the M.P.P. "I fear I cannot
last much longer. Ah! There he goes, thank God!"
"Amen!" fervently responds little Mrs. Freeman, who, in the
intensity of her excitement, is standing on a chair holding tight
by her husband's coat collar.
Not a sound breaks the silence as Black Duncan takes his swing.
It is a crucial moment in his career. Only by one man in Canada
has he ever been beaten, and with the powers of his antagonist all
untried and unknown, for anyone could see that Mack has not yet
thrown his best, he may be called upon to surrender within the next
few minutes the proud position he has held so long in the athletic
world. But there is not a sign of excitement in his face. With
great care, and with almost painful deliberation, he balances the
hammer for a moment or two, then once--twice--and, with a tremendous
quickening of speed,--thrice--he swings, and his throw is made. A
great throw it is, anyone can see, and one that beats the winner.
In hushed and strained silence the people await the result.
"One hundred and twenty-one feet nine."
Then rises the roar that has been held pent up during the last few
"It iss a good enough throw," said Black Duncan with a quiet smile,
"but there iss more in me yet. Now, lad, do your best and there
will be no hard feeling with thiss man whateffer happens."
Black Duncan's accent and idioms reveal the intense excitement that
lies behind his quiet face.
Mack takes the hammer.
"I will not beat it, you may be sure," he says. "But I will just
take a fling at it anyway."
"Now, Mack," says Cameron, "for the sake of all you love forget the
distance and show them the Braemar swing. Easy and slow."
But Mack waves him aside and stands pondering. He is "getting the
"Man, do you see him?" whispers his brother Danny, who stands near
to Cameron. "I believe he has got it."
Cameron nods his head. Mack wears an impressive air of confidence
"It will be a great throw," says Cameron to Danny.
"Easy and slow" Mack poises the great hammer in his hand, swinging
it gently backward and forward as if it had been a boy's toy, the
great muscles in arms and back rippling up and down in firm full
waves under his white skin, for he is now stripped to the waist for
Suddenly, as if at command, the muscles seem to spring to their
places, tense, alert. "Easy." Yes, truly, but by no means "slow."
"Easy," the great hammer swings about his head in whirling circles,
swift and ever swifter. Once--and twice--the great muscles in back
and arms and back and legs knotted in bunches--thrice!
"Ah-h-h!" A long, wailing, horrible sound, half moan, half cry,
breaks from the people. Mack has missed his direction, and the
great hammer, weighted with the potentialities of death, is
describing a parabola high over the heads of the crowding,
shrieking, scattering people.
"Oh, my God! My God! Oh, my God! My God!" With his hands
covering his eyes the big man is swaying from side to side like a
mighty tree before a tempest. Cameron and Ross both spring to him.
On the hillsides men stand rigid, pale, shaking; women shriek and
faint. One ghastly moment of suspense, and then a horrid sickening
thud; one more agonising second of silence, and then from a score
of throats rises a cry:
"It's all right! All right! No one hurt!"
From five hundred throats breaks a weird unearthly mingling of
strange sounds; cheers and cries, shouts and sobs, prayers and
oaths. In the midst of it all Mack sinks to his knees, with hands
outstretched to heaven.
"Great God, I thank Thee! I thank Thee!" he cries brokenly, the
tears streaming down his ghastly face. Then, falling forward upon
his hands, he steadies himself while great sobs come heaving from
his mighty chest. Cameron and Ross, still upholding him, through
the crowd a man comes pushing his way, hurling men and women right
"Back, people! And be still." It is the minister, Alexander
Munro. "Be still! It is a great deliverance that God has wrought!
Peace, woman! God is near! Let us pray."
Instantly all noises are hushed, hats come off, and all up the
sloping hills men and women fall to their knees, or remain standing
with heads bowed, while the minister, upright beside the kneeling
man, spreads his hands towards heaven and prays in a voice steady,
"Almighty God, great and wonderful in Thy ways, merciful and
gracious in Thy providence, Thou hast wrought a great deliverance
before our eyes this day. All power is in Thy hands. All forces
move at Thy command. Thine hand it is that guided this dread
hammer harmless to its own place, saving the people from death.
It is ever thus, Father, for Thou art Love. We lift to Thee our
hearts' praise. May we walk softly before Thee this day and alway.
"Amen! Amen!" On every hand and up the hillsides rises the
fervent solemn attestation.
"Rise, Mr. Murray!" says the minister in a loud and solemn voice,
giving Mack his hand. "God has been gracious to you this day. See
that you do not forget."
"He has that! He has that!" sobs Mack. "And God forgive me if
I ever forget." And, suddenly pushing from him the many hands
stretched out towards him, he stumbles his way through the crowd,
led off by his two friends towards the tent.
"Hold on there a minute! Let us get this measurement first." It
was the matter-of-fact, cheery voice of Fatty Freeman. "If I am
not mistaken we have a great throw to measure."
"Quite right, Mr. Freeman," said the minister. "Let us get the
measurement and let not the day be spoiled."
"Here, you people, don't stand there gawking like a lot of dotty
chumps!" cried the secretary, striving to whip them out of the mood
of horror into which they had fallen. "Get a move on! Give the
judges a chance! What is it, doctor?"
The judges were consulting. At length the decision was announced.
"One hundred and twenty-nine seven."
"Hooray!" yelled Fatty, flinging his straw hat high. "One hundred
and twenty-nine seven! It is a world throw! Why don't you yell,
you people? Don't you know that you have a world-beater among you?
"Three cheers for Mack Murray!" called out the Reverend Harper
Freeman from the platform, swinging his great black beaver hat over
It was what the people wanted. Again, and again, and yet again the
crowd exhausted its pent-up emotions in frantic cheers. The clouds
of gloom were rolled back, the sun was shining bright again, and
with fresh zest the people turned to the enjoyment of the rest of
"Thank you, Sir!" said Fatty amid the uproar, gripping the hand of
Mr. Munro. "You have saved the day for us. We were all going to
smash, but you pulled us out."
Meantime in the tent Duncan Ross was discoursing to his friends.
"Man, Mack! Yon's a mighty throw! Do you know it iss within five
feet of my own record and within ten of Big Rory's? Then," he said
solemnly, "you are in the world's first class to-day, my boy, and
you are just beginning."
"I have just quit!" said Mack.
"Whist, lad! Thiss iss not the day for saying anything about it.
We will wait a wee and to-day we will just be thankful." And with
that they turned to other things.
They were still in the dressing tent when the secretary thrust his
cheery face under the flap.
"I say, boys! Are you ready? Cameron, we want you on the pipes."
"Harp!" said Mack. "I am going home. I am quite useless."
"And me, too," said Cameron. "I shall go with you, Mack."
"What?" cried Fatty in consternation. "Look here, boys! Is this a
square deal? God knows I am nearly all in myself. I've had enough
to keep this thing from going to pieces. Don't you go back on me
"That is so!" said Mack slowly. "Cameron, you must stay. You are
needed. I will spoil things more by staying than by going. I
would be forever seeing that hammer crushing down--" He covered
his face with his hands and shuddered.
"All right, Mack! I will stay," said Cameron. "But what about
"Oh," said Black Duncan, "Mack and I will walk about and have a
smoke for a little."
"Thanks, boys, you are the stuff!" said Fatty fervently. "Once
more you have saved the day. Come then, Cameron! Get your pipes.
Old Sutherland is waiting for you."
But before he set off Mack called Cameron to him.
"You will see Isa," he said, "and tell her why I could not stay.
And you will take her home." His face was still pallid, his voice
"I will take care of her, Mack, never fear. But could you not
remain? It might help you."
But Mack only shook his head. His fervent Highland soul had too
recently passed through the valley of death and its shadows were
still upon him.
Four hours later Fatty looked in upon Mack at his own home. He
found him sitting in the moonlight in the open door of the big new
barn, with his new-made friend, Duncan Ross, at one door post and
old Piper Sutherland at the other, while up and down the floor in
the shadow within Cameron marched, droning the wild melody of the
"Maccrimmon Lament." Mournful and weird it sounded through the
gloom, but upon the hearts of these Highlanders it fell like a
soothing balm. With a wave of his hand Mack indicated a seat,
which Fatty took without a word. Irrepressible though he was, he
had all the instincts of a true gentleman. He knew it was the time
for silence, and silent he stood till the Lament had run through
its "doubling" and its "trebling," ending with the simple stately
movement of its original theme. To Fatty it was a mere mad and
unmelodious noise, but, reading the faces of the three men before
him in the moonlight, he had sense enough to recognise his own
At length the Lament was finished and Cameron came forward into the
"Ah! That iss good for the soul," said old piper Sutherland. "Do
you know what your pipes have been saying to me in yon Lament?
'Yea, though I walk through Death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.'
And we have been in the valley thiss day."
Mack rose to his feet.
"I could not have said it myself, but, as true as death, that is
the word for me."
"Well," said Fatty, rising briskly, "I guess you are all right,
Mack. I confess I was a bit anxious about you, but--"
"There is no need," said Mack gravely. "I can sleep now."
"Good-night, then," replied Fatty, turning to go. "Cameron, I owe
you a whole lot. I won't forget it." He set his hat upon the back
of his head, sticking his hands into his pockets and surveying the
group before him. "Say! You Highlanders are a great bunch. I do
not pretend to understand you, but I want to say that between you
you have saved the day." And with that the cheery, frisky,
irrepressible, but kindly little man faded into the moonlight and
For the fourth time the day had been saved.
A SABBATH DAY IN LATE AUGUST
It was a Sabbath day in late August, and in no month of the year
does a Sabbath day so chime with the time. For the Sabbath day is
a day for rest and holy thought, and the late August is the rest
time of the year, when the woods and fields are all asleep in a
slumberous blue haze; the sacred time, too, for in late August old
Mother Earth is breathing her holiest aspirations heavenward,
having made offering of her best in the full fruitage of the year.
Hence a Sabbath day in late August chimes marvellously well with
And this particular Sabbath day was perfect of its kind, a dreamy,
drowsy day, a day when genial suns and hazy cool airs mingle in
excellent harmony, and the tired worker, freed from his week's
toil, basks and stretches, yawns and revels in rest under the
orchard trees; unless, indeed, he goes to morning church. And to
morning church Cameron went as a rule, but to-day, owing to a dull
ache in his head and a general sense of languor pervading his
limbs, he had chosen instead, as likely to be more healing to his
aching head and his languid limbs, the genial sun, tempered with
cool and lazy airs under the orchard trees. And hence he lay
watching the democrat down the lane driven off to church by
Perkins, with Mandy beside him in the front seat, the seat of
authority and of activity, and Mr. Haley alone in the back seat,
the seat of honour and of retirement. Mrs. Haley was too overborne
by the heat and rush of the busy week to adventure the heat and
dust of the road, and to sustain the somewhat strenuous discourse
of the Reverend Harper Freeman, to whose flock the Haleys belonged.
This, however, was not Mrs. Haley's invariable custom. In the
cooler weather it was her habit to drive on a Sunday morning to
church, sitting in the back seat beside her husband, with Tim and
Mandy occupying the front seat beside the hired man, but during the
heat and hurry of the harvest time she would take advantage of the
quietness of the house and of the two or three hours' respite from
the burden of household duties to make up arrears of sleep
accumulated during the preceding week, salving her conscience, for
she had a conscience in the matter, with a promise that she might
go in the evening when it was cooler and when she was more rested.
This promise, however, having served its turn, was never fulfilled,
for by the evening the wheels of household toil began once more to
turn, and Mrs. Haley found it easier to worship vicariously,
sending Mandy and Tim to the evening service. And to this service
the young people were by no means loath to go, for it was held on
fair evenings in MacBurney's woods, two miles away by the road, one
mile by the path through the woods. On occasion Perkins would
hitch up in the single buggy Dexter, the fiery young colt, too
fiery for any other to drive, and, as a special attention to his
employer's daughter, would drive her to the service. But since the
coming of Cameron, Mandy had allowed this custom to fall into
disuse, at first somewhat to Perkins' relief, for the colt was
restless and fretted against the tie rein; and, besides, Perkins
was not as yet quite prepared to acknowledge any special relationship
between himself and the young lady in question before the assembled
congregation, preferring to regard himself and to be regarded by
others as a free lance. Later, however, as Mandy's preference for
a walk through the woods became more marked, Perkins, much to his
disgust, found himself reduced to the attitude of a suppliant,
urging the superior attraction of a swift drive behind Dexter as
against a weary walk to the service. Mandy, however, with the
directness of her simple nature, had no compunction in frankly
maintaining her preference for a walk with Tim and Cameron through
the woods; indeed, more than once she allowed Perkins to drive off
with his fiery colt, alone in his glory.
But this Sabbath morning, as Cameron lay under the orchard trees,
he was firmly resolved that he would give the whole day to the
nursing of the ache in his head and the painful languor in his
body. And so lying he allowed his mind to wander uncontrolled over
the happenings of the past months, troubled by a lazy consciousness
of a sore spot somewhere in his life. Gradually there grew into
clearness the realisation of the cause of this sore spot.
"What is the matter with Perkins?" he asked of Tim, who had
declined to go to church, and who had strolled into the orchard to
be near his friend.
"What is the matter with Perkins?" Cameron asked a second time, for
Tim was apparently too much engaged with a late harvest apple to
"How?" said the boy at length.
"He is so infernally grumpy with me."
"Grumpy? He's sore, I guess."
"You bet! Ever since I beat him in the turnips that day."
"Ever since YOU beat him?" asked Cameron in amazement. "Why should
he be sore against me?"
"He knows it was you done it," said Tim.
"Nonsense, Tim! Besides, Perkins isn't a baby. He surely doesn't
hold that against me."
"Huh, huh," said Tim, "everybody's pokin' fun at him, and he hates
that, and ever since the picnic, too, he hates you."
"But why in the world?"
"Oh, shucks!" said Tim, impatient at Cameron's density. "I guess
you know all right."
"Know? Not I!"
"Honor bright, Tim," replied Cameron, sitting up. "Now, honestly,
tell me, Tim, why in the world Perkins should hate me."
"You put his nose out of joint, I guess," said Tim with a grin.
"Oh, rot, Tim! How?"
"Every how," said Tim, proceeding to elaborate. "First when you
came here you were no good--I mean--" Tim checked himself hastily.
"I know what you mean, Tim. Go on. You are quite right. I
couldn't do anything on the farm."
"Now," continued Tim, "you can do anything jist as good as him--
except bindin', of course. He's a terror at bindin', but at
pitchin' and shockin' and loadin' you're jist as good."
"But, Tim, that's all nonsense. Perkins isn't such a fool as to
hate me because I can keep up my end."
"He don't like you," said Tim stubbornly.
"But why? Why in the name of common sense?"
"Well," said Tim, summing up the situation, "before you come he
used to be the hull thing. Now he's got to play second fiddle."
But Cameron remained unenlightened.
"Oh, pshaw!" continued Tim, making further concessions to his
friend's stupidity. "At the dances, at the raisin's, runnin',
jumpin'--everythin'--Perkins used to be the King Bee. Now--"
Tim's silence furnished an impressive close to the contrast. "Why!
They all think you are just fine!" said Tim, with a sudden burst of
"All the boys. Yes, and the girls, too," said Tim, allowing his
solemn face the unusual luxury of a smile.
"Aw, yeh know well enough--the Murray girls, and the MacKenzies,
and the hull lot of them. And then--and then--there's Mandy, too."
Here Tim shot a keen glance at his friend, who now sat leaning
against the trunk of an apple tree with his eyes closed.
"Now, Tim, you are a shrewd little chap"--here Cameron sat upright--
"but how do you know about the girls, and what is this you say
about Mandy? Mandy is good to me--very kind and all that, but--"
"She used to like Perkins pretty well," said Tim, with a kind of
"Oh, he thought he jist owned her. Guess he ain't so sure now,"
added Tim. "I guess you've changed Mandy all right."
It was the one thing Cameron hated to hear, but he made light of
"Oh, nonsense!" he exclaimed. "But if I did I would be mighty glad
of it. Mandy is too good for a man like Perkins. Why, he isn't
"He's a terror," replied Tim seriously. "They are all scairt of
him. He's a terror to fight. Why, at MacKenzie's raisin' last
year he jist went round foamin' like an old boar and nobody dast
say a word to him. Even Mack Murray was scairt to touch him. When
he gets like that he ain't afraid of nothin' and he's awful quick
Tim proceeded to enlarge upon this theme, which apparently
fascinated him, with tales of Perkins' prowess in rough-and-tumble
fighting. But Cameron had lost interest and was lying down again
with his eyes closed.
"Well," he said, when Tim had finished his recital, "if he is that
kind of a man Mandy should have nothing to do with him."
But Tim was troubled.
"Dad likes him," he said gloomily. "He is a good hand. And ma
likes him, too. He taffies her up."
"And Mandy?" enquired Cameron.
"I don't know," said Tim, still more gloomy. "I guess he kind of
makes her. I'd--I'd jist like to take a lump out of him." Tim's
eyes blazed into a sudden fire. "He runs things on this farm
altogether too much."
"Buck up then, Tim, and beat him," said Cameron, dismissing the
subject. "And now I must have some sleep. I have got an awful
Tim was quick enough to understand the hint, but still he hovered
"Say, I'm awful sorry," he said. "Can't I git somethin'? You
didn't eat no breakfast."
"Oh, all I want is sleep, Tim. I will be all right tomorrow,"
replied Cameron, touched by the tone of sympathy in Tim's voice.
"You are a fine little chap. Trot along and let me sleep."
But no sleep came to Cameron, partly because of the hammer knocking
in his head, but chiefly because of the thoughts set going by Tim.
Cameron was not abnormally egotistical, but he was delightedly
aware of the new place he held in the community ever since the now
famous Dominion Day picnic, and, now that the harvest rush had
somewhat slackened, social engagements had begun to crowd upon him.
Dances and frolics, coon hunts and raisings were becoming the vogue
throughout the community, and no social function was complete
without the presence of Cameron. But this sudden popularity had
its embarrassments, and among them, and threatening to become
annoying, was the hostility of Perkins, veiled as yet, but none the
less real. Moreover, behind Perkins stood a band of young fellows
of whom he was the recognised leader and over whom his ability in
the various arts and crafts of the farm, his physical prowess in
sports, his gay, cheery manner, and, it must be said, the
reputation he bore for a certain fierce brute courage in rough-and-
tumble fighting, gave him a sort of ascendency.
But Perkins' attitude towards him did not after all cause Cameron
much concern. There was another and more annoying cause of
embarrassment, and that was Mandy. Tim's words kept reiterating
themselves in his brain, "You've changed Mandy all right." Over
this declaration of Tim's, Cameron proceeded to argue with himself.
He sat bolt upright that he might face himself on the matter.
"Now, then," he said to himself, "let's have this thing out."
"Most willingly. This girl was on the way to engagement to this
young man Perkins. You come on the scene. Everything is changed."
"Well! What of it? It's a mighty good thing for her."
"But you are the cause of it."
"The occasion, rather."
"No, the cause. You have attracted her to you."
"I can't help that. Besides, it is a mere passing whim. She'll
get over all that?" And Cameron laughed scornfully in his own
"Do you know that? And how do you know it? Tim thinks differently."
"Oh, confound it all! I see that I shall have to get out of here."
"A wise decision truly, and the sooner the better. Do you propose
to go at once?"
"At once? Well, I should like to spend the winter here. I have
made a number of friends and life is beginning to be pleasant."
"Exactly! It suits your convenience, but how about Mandy?"
"Oh, rubbish! Must I be governed by the fancies of that silly
girl? Besides, the whole thing is absurdly ridiculous."
"But facts are stubborn, and anyone can see that the girl is--"
"Hang it all! I'll go at the end of the month."
"Very well. And in the leave-taking--?"
"It is pleasant to be appreciated and to carry away with one
memories, I will not say tender, but appreciative."
"I can't act like a boor. I must be decent to the girl. Besides,
she isn't altogether a fool."
"No, but very crude, very primitive, very passionate, and therefore
"All right, I shall simply shake hands and go."
So, with the consequent sense of relief that high resolve always
brings, Cameron lay down again and fell into slumber and dreams of
From these dreams of home Mandy recalled him with a summons to
dinner. As his eye, still filled with the vision of his dreams,
fell upon her in all the gorgeous splendour of her Sunday dress, he
was conscious of a strong sense of repulsion. How coarse, how
crude, how vulgar she appeared, how horribly out of keeping with
those scenes through which he had just been wandering in his
"I want no dinner, Mandy," he said shortly. "I have a bad head and
I am not hungry."
"No dinner?" That a man should not want dinner was to Mandy quite
inexplicable, unless, indeed, he were ill.
"Are you sick?" she cried in quick alarm.
"No, I have a headache. It will pass away," said Cameron, turning
over on his side. Still Mandy lingered.
"Let me bring you a nice piece of pie and a cup of tea."
"No," he said, "bring me nothing. I merely wish to sleep."
But Mandy refused to be driven away.
"Say, I'm awful sorry. I know you're sick."
"Nonsense!" said Cameron, impatiently, waiting for her to be gone.
Still Mandy hesitated.
"I'm awful sorry," she said again, and her voice, deep, tender,
full-toned, revealed her emotion.
Cameron turned impatiently towards her.
"Look here, Mandy! There's nothing wrong with me. I only want a
little sleep. I shall be all right to-morrow."
But Mandy's fears were not to be allayed.
"Say," she cried, "you look awful bad."
"Oh, get out, Mandy! Go and get your dinner. Don't mind me."
Cameron's tone was decidedly cross.
Without further remonstrance Mandy turned silently away, but before
she turned Cameron caught the gleam of tears in the great blue
eyes. A swift compunction seized him.
"I say, Mandy, I don't want to be rude, but--"
"Rude?" cried the girl. "You? You couldn't be. You are always
good--to me--and--I--don't--know--" Here her voice broke.
"Oh, come, Mandy, get away to dinner. You are a good girl. Now
leave me alone."
The kindness in his voice quite broke down Mandy's all too slight
control. She turned away, audibly sniffling, with her apron to her
eyes, leaving Cameron in a state of wrathful perplexity.
"Oh, confound it all!" he groaned to himself. "This is a rotten
go. By Jove! This means the West for me. The West! After all,
that's the place. Here there is no chance anyway. Why did I not
He rose from the grass, shivering with a sudden chill, went to his
bed in the hay mow, and, covering himself with Tim's blankets and
his own, fell again into sleep. Here, late in the afternoon, Tim
found him and called him to supper.
With Mandy's watchful eye upon him he went through the form of
eating, but Mandy was not to be deceived.
"You ain't eatin' nothin'," she said reproachfully as he rose from
"Enough for a man who is doing nothing," replied Cameron. "What I
want is exercise. I think I shall take a walk."
"Going to church?" she enquired, an eager light springing into her
"To church? I hadn't thought of it," replied Cameron, but,
catching the gleam of a smile on Perkins' face and noting the
utterly woebegone expression on Mandy's, he added, "Well, I might
as well walk to church as any place else. You are going, Tim?"
"Huh huh!" replied Tim.
"I am going to hitch up Deck, Mandy," said Perkins.
"Oh, I'm goin' to walk!" said Mandy, emphatically.
"All right!" said Perkins. "Guess I'll walk too with the crowd."
"Don't mind me," said Mandy.
"I don't," laughed Perkins, "you bet! Nor anybody else."
"And that's no lie!" sniffed Mandy, with a toss of her head.
"Better drive to church, Mandy," suggested her mother. "You know
you're jist tired out and it will be late when you get started."
"Tired? Late?" cried Mandy, with alacrity. "I'll be through them
dishes in a jiffy and be ready in no time. I like the walk through
"Depends on the company," laughed Perkins again. "So do I. Guess
we'll all go together."
True to her promise, Mandy was ready within half an hour. Cameron
shuddered as he beheld the bewildering variety of colour in her
attire and the still more bewildering arrangement of hat and hair.
"You're good and gay, Mandy," said Perkins. "What's the killing?"
Mandy made no reply save by a disdainful flirt of her skirts as
she set off down the lane, followed by Perkins, Cameron and Tim
bringing up the rear.
The lane was a grassy sward, cut with two wagon-wheel tracks, and
with a picturesque snake fence on either side. Beyond the fences
lay the fields, some of them with stubble raked clean, the next
year's clover showing green above the yellow, some with the grain
standing still in the shock, and some with the crop, the late oats
for instance, still uncut, but ready for the reaper. The turnip
field was splendidly and luxuriantly green with never a sign of the
brown earth. The hay meadow, too, was green and purple with the
second growth of clover.
So down the lane and between the shorn fields, yellow and green,
between the clover fields and the turnips, they walked in silence,
for the spell of the Sabbath evening lay upon the sunny fields,
barred with the shadows from the trees that grew along the fence
lines everywhere. At the "slashing" the wagon ruts faded out and
the road narrowed to a single cow path, winding its way between
stumps and round log piles, half hidden by a luxuriant growth of
foxglove and fireweed and asters, and everywhere the glorious
goldenrod. Then through the bars the path led into the woods, a
noble remnant of the beech and elm and maple forest from which the
farm had been cut some sixty years before. Cool and shadowy they
stood, and shot through with bright shafts of gold from the
westering sun, full of mysterious silence except for the twittering
of the sleepy birds or for the remonstrant call of the sentinel
crow from his watch tower on the dead top of a great elm. Deeper
into the shade the path ran until in the gloom it faded almost out
Soothed by the cool shade, Cameron loitered along the path, pausing
to learn of Tim the names of plants and trees as he went.
"Ain't yeh never comin'?" called Mandy from the gloom far in front.
"What's all the rush?" replied Tim, impatiently, who loved nothing
better than a quiet walk with Cameron through the woods.
"Rush? We'll be late, and I hate walkin' up before the hull crowd.
Come on!" cried his sister in impatient tone.
"All right, Mandy, we're nearly through the woods. I begin to see
the clearing yonder," said Cameron, pointing to where the light was
beginning to show through the tree tops before them.
But they were late enough, and Mandy was glad of the cover of the
opening hymn to allow her to find her way to a group of her girl
friends, the males of the party taking shelter with a neighbouring
group of their own sex near by.
Upon the sloping sides of the grassy hills and under the beech
and maple trees, the vanguard of the retreating woods, sat the
congregation, facing the preacher, who stood on the grassy level
below. Behind them was the solid wall of thick woods, over them
time spreading boughs, and far above the trees the blue summer sky,
all the bluer for the little white clouds that sailed serene like
ships upon a sea. At their feet lay the open country, checkered by
the snake fences into fields of yellow, green, and brown, and
rolling away to meet the woods at the horizon.
The Sabbath rest filled the sweet air, breathed from the shady
woods, rested upon the checkered fields, and lifted with the hymn
to the blue heaven above. A stately cathedral it was, this place
of worship, filled with the incense of flowers and fields, arched
by the high dome of heaven, and lighted by the glory of the setting
Relieved by the walk for a time from the ache in his head, Cameron
surrendered himself to the mysterious influences of the place and
the hour. He let his eyes wander over the fields below him to the
far horizon, and beyond--beyond the woods, beyond the intervening
leagues of land and sea--and was again gazing upon the sunlit
loveliness of the Cuagh Oir. The Glen was abrim with golden light
this summer evening, the purple was on the hills and the little
loch gleamed sapphire at the bottom.
The preacher was reading his text.
"Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to
every man according to his several ability, and straightway took
his journey," and so on to the end of that marvellously wise tale,
wise with the wisdom of God, confirmed by the wisdom of human
The Reverend Harper Freeman's voice could hardly, even by courtesy,
be called musical; in fact, it was harsh and strident; but this
evening the hills, and the trees, and the wide open spaces,
Nature's mighty modulator, subdued the harshness, so that the voice
rolled up to the people clear, full, and sonorous. Nor was the
preacher possessed of great learning nor endued with the gift of
eloquence. He had, however, a shrewd knowledge of his people and
of their ways and of their needs, and he had a kindly heart, and,
more than all, he had the preacher's gift, the divine capacity for
For a time his words fell unheeded upon Cameron's outer ear.
"To every man his own endowments, some great, some small, but, mark
you, no man left quite poverty-stricken. God gives every man his
chance. No man can look God in the face, not one of you here can
say that you have had no chance."
Cameron's vagrant mind, suddenly recalled, responded with a quick
assent. Opportunity? Endowment? Yes, surely. His mind flashed
back over the years of his education at the Academy and the
University, long lazy years. How little he had made of them!
Others had turned them into the gold of success. He wondered how
old Dunn was getting on, and Linklater, and little Martin. How far
away seemed those days, and yet only some four or five months
separated him from them.
"One was a failure, a dead, flat failure," continued the preacher.
"Not so much a wicked man, no murderer, no drunkard, no gambler,
but a miserable failure. Poor fellow! At the end of life a
wretched bankrupt, losing even his original endowment. How would
you like to come home after ten, twenty, thirty years of experiment
with life and confess to your father that you were dead broke and
Again Cameron's mind came back from its wandering with a start. Go
back to his father a failure! He drew his lip down hard over his
teeth. Not while he lived! And yet, what was there in prospect
for him? His whole soul revolted against the dreary monotony and
the narrowness of his present life, and yet, what other path lay
open? Cameron went straying in fancy over the past, or in
excursions into the future, while, parallel with his rambling, the
sermon continued to make its way through its various heads and
"Why?" The voice of the preacher rose clear, dominant, arresting.
"Why did he fail so abjectly, so meanly, so despicably? For there
is no excuse for a failure. Listen! No man NEED fail. A man who
is a failure is a mean, selfish, lazy chump." Mr. Freeman was
colloquial, if anything. "Some men pity him. I don't. I have no
use for him, and he is the one thing in all the world that God
himself has no use for."
Again Cameron's mind was jerked back as a runaway horse by a rein.
So far his life had been a failure. Was there then no excuse for
failure? What of his upbringing, his education, his environment?
He had been indulging the habit during these last weeks of shifting
responsibility from himself for what he had become.
"What was the cause of this young man's failure?" reiterated the
preacher. The preacher had a wholesome belief in the value of
reiteration. He had a habit of rubbing in his points. "He blamed
the boss. Listen to his impudence! 'I knew thee to be a hard
man.' He blamed his own temperament and disposition. 'I was
afraid.' But the boss brings him up sharp and short. 'Quit
lying!' he said. 'I'll tell you what's wrong with you. You've got
a mean heart, you ain't honest, and you're too lazy to live. Here,
take that money from him and give it to the man that can do most
with it, and take this useless loafer out of my sight.' And served
him right, too, say I, impudent, lazy liar."
Cameron found his mind rising in wrathful defense of the unhappy
wretched failure in the story. But the preacher was utterly
relentless and proceeded to enlarge upon the character of the
"Impudent! The way to tell an impudent man is to let him talk.
Now listen to this man cheek the boss! 'I knew you,' he said.
'You skin everybody in sight.' I have always noticed," remarked
the preacher, with a twinkle in his eye, "that the hired man who
can't keep up his end is the kind that cheeks the boss. And so it
is with life. Why, some men would cheek Almighty God. They turn
right round and face the other way when God is explaining things to
them, when He is persuading them, when He is trying to help them.
Then they glance back over their shoulders and say, 'Aw, gwan! I
know better than you.' Think of the impudence of them! That's
what many a man does with God. With GOD, mind you! GOD! Your
Father in heaven, your Brother, your Saviour, God as you know him
in the Man of Galilee, the Man you always see with the sick and the
outcast and the broken-hearted. It is this God that owns you and
all you've got--be honest and say so. You must begin by getting
right with God."
"God!" Once more Cameron went wandering back into the far away
days of childhood. God was very near then, and very friendly. How
well he remembered when his mother had tucked him in at night and
had kissed him and had put out the light. He never felt alone and
afraid, for she left him, so she said, with God. It was God who
took his mother's place, near to his bedside. In those days God
seemed very near and very kind. He remembered his mother's look
one day when he declared to her that he could hear God breathing
just beside him in the dark. How remote God seemed to-day and how
shadowy, and, yes, he had to confess it, unfriendly. He heard no
more of the sermon. With a curious ache in his heart he allowed
his mind to dwell amid those happy, happy memories when his mother
and God were the nearest and dearest to him of all he knew. It may
have been the ache in his head or the oppressive languor that
seemed to possess his body, but throughout the prayer that followed
the sermon he was conscious chiefly of a great longing for his
mother's touch upon his head, and with that a longing for his
boyhood's sense of the friendly God in his heart.
And so as the preacher led them up to God in prayer, Cameron bowed
his head with the others, thankful that he could still believe
that, though clouds and darkness might be about Him, God was not
beyond the reach of the soul's cry nor quite unmoved by human need.
And for the first time for years he sent forth as a little child
his cry of need, "God help me! God help me!"
There was still light enough to see. The last hymn was announced.
Cameron was conscious of a deep, poignant emotion. He glanced
swiftly about him. The eyes of all were upon the preacher's face
while he read in slow sonorous tones the words of the old Methodist
"Come, Thou Fount of every blessing!
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;"
all except the group of young men of whom Perkins was the centre,
who, by means of the saccharine medium known as conversation
lozenges, were seeking to divert the attention of the band of young
girls sitting before them. Among these sat Mandy. As his eye
rested upon the billowy outlines of her figure, struggling with the
limitations of her white blouse, tricked out with pink ribbons, he
was conscious of a wave of mingled pity and disgust. Dull, stupid,
and vulgar she looked. It was at her that Perkins was flipping his
conversation lozenges. One fell upon her hymn book. With a start
she glanced about. Not an eye except Cameron's was turned her way.
With a smile and a blush that burned deep under the dull tan of her
neck and cheek she took the lozenge, read its inscription, burning
a deeper red. The words which she had read she took as Cameron's.
She turned her eyes full upon his face. The light of tremulous joy
in their lovely depths startled and thrilled him. A snicker from
the group of young men behind roused in him a deep indignation.
They were taking their coarse fun out of this simple-minded girl.
Cameron's furious glance at them appeared only to increase their
amusement. It did not lessen Cameron's embarrassment and rage that
now and then during the reading of the hymn Mandy's eyes were
turned upon him as if with new understanding. Enraged with
himself, and more with the group of hoodlums behind him, Cameron
stood for the closing hymn with his arms folded across his breast.
At the second verse a hand touched his arm. It was Mandy offering
him her book. Once more a snicker from the group of delighted
observers behind him stirred his indignation on behalf of this
awkward and untutored girl. He forced himself to listen to the
words of the third verse, which rose clear and sonorous in the
"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home."
The serene assurance of the old Methodist hymn rose triumphant in
the singing, an assurance born of an experience of past conflict
ending in triumph. That note of high and serene confidence
conjured up with a flash of memory his mother's face. That was her
characteristic, a serene, undismayed courage. In the darkest hours
that steady flame of courage never died down.
But once more he was recalled to the service of the hour by a
voice, rich, full, low, yet of wonderful power, singing the old
words. It took him a moment or two to discover that it was Mandy
singing beside him. Her face was turned from him and upwards
towards the trees above her, through the network of whose leaves
the stars were beginning to shine. Amazed, enthralled, he listened
to the flowing melody of her voice. It was like the song of a
brook running deep in the forest shade, full-toned yet soft, quiet
yet thrilling. She seemed to have forgotten her surroundings. Her
soul was holding converse with the Eternal. He lost sight of the
coarse and fleshly habiliments in the glimpse he caught of the soul
that lived within, pure, it seemed to him, tender, and good. His
heart went out to the girl in a new pity. Before the hymn was done
she turned her face towards him, and, whether it was the magic of
her voice, or the glorious splendour of her eyes, or the mystic
touch of the fast darkening night, her face seemed to have lost
much of its coarseness and all of its stupidity.
As the congregation dispersed, Cameron, in silence, and with the
spell of her voice still upon him, walked quietly beside Mandy
towards the gap in the fence leading to the high road. Behind him
came Perkins with his group of friends, chaffing with each other
and with the girls walking in front of them. As Cameron was
stepping over the rails where the fence had been let down, one of
the young men following stumbled heavily against him, nearly
throwing him down, and before he could recover himself Perkins had
taken his place by Mandy's side and seized her arm. There was a
general laugh at what was considered a perfectly fair and not
unusual piece of jockeying in the squiring of young damsels. The
proper procedure in such a case was that the discomfited cavalier
should bide his time and serve a like turn upon his rival, the
young lady meanwhile maintaining an attitude purely passive. But
Mandy was not so minded. Releasing herself from Perkins' grasp,
she turned upon the group of young men following, exclaiming
angrily, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Sam Sailor!" Then,
moving to Cameron's side, she said in a clear, distinct voice:
"Mr. Cameron, would you please take my book for me?"
"Come on, boys!" said Perkins, with his never failing laugh. "I
guess we're not in this."
"Take your medicine, Perkins," laughed one of his friends.
"Yes, I'll take it all right," replied Perkins. But the laugh
could not conceal the shake of passion in his voice. "It will
work, too, you bet!"
So saying, he strode off into the gathering gloom followed by his
"Come along, Mr. Cameron," said Mandy with a silly giggle. "I
guess we don't need them fellows. They can't fool us, can they?"
Her manner, her speech, her laugh rudely dissipated all Cameron's
new feeling towards her. The whole episode filled him only with
disgust and annoyance.
"Come, then," he said, almost roughly. "We shall need to hurry,
for there is a storm coming up."
Mandy glanced at the gathering clouds.
"My goodness!" she cried; "it's comin' up fast. My! I hate to git
my clothes wet." And off she set at a rapid pace, keeping abreast
of her companion and making gay but elephantine attempts at