Part 4 out of 4
school afforded unrivaled opportunities for repose. Further
acquaintance reveals to me the fact that it is the seething center
of the most nerve-racking excitement. The life of the school is
reflected in the life of the community, and the throbs of excitement
that vibrate from the school are felt in every home of the section.
We are in the thick of preparations for a deadly contest with the
insolent, benighted, boastful, but hitherto triumphant Front, in the
matter of shinny. You know my antipathy to violent sports, and you
will find some difficulty in picturing me an enthusiastic trainer
and general director of the Twentieth team, flying about, wildly
gesticulating with a club, and shrieking orders, imprecations,
cautions, encouragements, in the most frantic manner, at as furious
a company of little devils as ever went joyously to battle.
"Then, as if this were not excitement enough, I am made the
unwitting spectator of a truly Homeric contest, bloodier by far
than many of those fought on the plains of windy Troy, between the
rival leaders of the school, to wit, Hughie of the angelic face and
OTHER-angelic temper, and an older and much heavier boy, who
rejoices in the cognomen of 'Foxy,' as being accurately descriptive
at once of the brilliance of his foliage and of his financial
"It appears that for many months this rivalry has existed, but I am
convinced that there is more in the struggle than appears on the
surface. There is some dark and deadly mystery behind it all that
only adds, of course, to the thrilling interest it holds for me.
"Long before I arrived on the arena, which was an open space in the
woods in front of what Foxy calls his store, wild shrieks and yells
fell upon my ears, as if the aboriginal denizens of the forest had
returned. Quietly approaching, I soon guessed the nature of the
excitement, and being unwilling to interfere until I had thoroughly
grasped the ethical and other import of the situation, I shinned up
a tree, and from this point of vantage took in the spectacle. It
appeared from Foxy's violent accusations that Hughie had been
guilty of wrecking the store, which, by the way, the latter utterly
despises and contemns. The following interesting and striking
conversation took place:
"'What are you doing in my store, anyway?' says he of the brilliant
foliage. 'You're just a thief, that's what you are, and a sneaking
"Promptly the lie comes back. 'I wasn't touching your rotten
stuff!' and again the lie is exchanged.
"Immediately there is demand from the spectators that the matter be
argued to a demonstration, and thereupon one of the larger boys,
wishing to precipitate matters and to furnish a casus belli, puts a
chip upon Hughie's shoulder and dares Foxy to knock it off. But
Hughie flings the chip aside.
"'Go away with yourself and your chip. I'm not going to fight for
"Yells of derision, 'Cowardy, cowardy, custard,' 'Give him a good
cuffing, Foxy,' 'He's afraid,' and so forth. And indeed, Hughie
appears none too anxious to prove his innocence and integrity upon
the big and solid body of his antagonist.
"Foxy, much encouraged by the clamor of his friends, deploys in
force in front of his foe, shouting, 'Come on, you little thief!'
"'I'm not a thief! I didn't touch one of your things!'
"'Whether you touched my things or not, you're a thief, anyway, and
you know you are. You stole money, and I know it, and you know it
"To this Hughie strangely enough makes no reply, wherein lies the
mystery. But though he makes no reply he faces up boldly to Foxy
and offers battle. This is evidently a surprise to Foxy, who
contents himself with threats as to what he can do with his one
hand tied behind his back, and what he will do in a minute, while
Hughie waits, wasting no strength upon words.
"Finally Foxy strides to his store door, and apparently urged to
frenzy by the sight of the wreckage therein, comes back and lands a
sharp cuff on his antagonist's ear.
"It is all that is needed. As if he had touched a spring, Hughie
flew at him wildly, inconsequently making a windmill of his arms.
But fortunately he runs foul of one of Foxy's big fists, and falls
back with spouting nose. Enthusiastic yells from Foxy's following.
And Foxy, having done much better than he expected, is encouraged
to pursue his advantage.
"Meantime the blood is being mopped off Hughie's face with a
snowball, his tears flowing equally with his blood.
"'Wait till to-morrow,' urges Fusie, his little French fidus
"'To-morrow!' yells Hughie, suddenly. 'No, but now! I'll kill the
lying, sneaking, white-faced beast now, or I'll die myself!' after
which heroic resolve he flings himself, blood and tears, upon the
waiting Foxy, and this time with better result, for Foxy, waiting
the attack with arms up and eyes shut, finds himself pummeled all
over the face, and after a few moments of ineffectual resistance,
turns, and in quite the Homeric way seeks safety in flight,
followed by the furious and vengeful Achilles, and the jeering
shouts of the bloodthirsty but disappointed rabble.
"As I have said, the mystery behind it remains unsolved, but Foxy's
reign is at an end, and with him goes the store, for which I am
"I would my tale ended here with the downfall of Foxy, but, my dear
Ned, I have to record a sadder and more humiliating downfall than
that--the abject and utter collapse of my noble self. I have once
more played the fool, and played into the hands of the devil, mine
own familiar and well-beloved devil.
"The occasion I need not enlarge upon; it always waits. A long
day's skate, a late supper with some of the wilder and more
reckless outcasts of this steady-going community that frequent the
back store, results in my appearing at the manse door late at
night, very unsteady of leg and incoherent of speech. By a most
unhappy chance, a most scurvy trick my familiar devil played upon
me, the door is opened by the minister's wife. I can see her look
of fear, horror, and loathing yet. It did more to pull me together
than a cold bath, so that I saved myself the humiliation of speech
and escaped to my room.
"And now, what do you think? Reproaches, objurgations, and final
dismissal on the part of the padre, tearful exhortations to
repentance on the part of his wife? Not a bit. If you believe me,
sir, my unhappy misadventure remains a secret with her. She told
not a soul. Remarkably fine, I call that. And what more, think
you? A cold and haughty reserve, or a lofty pity, with the fearful
expectation of judgment? Not in the least. Only a little added
kindness, a deeper note to the frank, sympathetic interest she has
always shown, and that is all. My dear chap, I offered to leave,
but when she looked at me with those great hazel-brown eyes of hers
and said, 'Why should you go? Would it be better for you any place
else?' I found myself enjoying the luxury of an entirely new set of
emotions, which I shall not analyze to you. But I feel more
confident than ever that I shall either die early or end in being a
"And now, do you know, she persists in ignoring that anything has
taken place, talks to me about her young men and her hopes for
them, the work she would do for them, and actually asks my
assistance! It appears that ever since their Great Revival, which
is the beginning of days to them, events being dated from before
the Great Revival or after, some of these young men have a desire
to be ministers, or think they have. It is really her desire, I
suspect, for them. The difficulty is, preparation for college. In
this she asks my help. The enormous incongruity of the situation
does not appear to strike her, that I, the--too many unutterable
things--should be asked to prepare these young giants, with their
'tremenjous' religious convictions, for the ministry; nevertheless
I yield myself to do anything and everything she lays upon me. I
repeat, I shall without doubt end in being a saint myself, and
should not be surprised to find myself with these 'tremenjous'
young men on the way to Holy Orders. Fancy the good Doctor's face!
He would suspect a lurking pleasantry in it all.
"This letter, I know, will render chaotic all your conceptions of
me, and in this chaos of mind I can heartily sympathize. What the
next chapter will be, God only knows! It depends upon how my
familiar devil behaves himself. Meantime, I am parleying with him,
and with some anxiety as to the result subscribe myself,
THE FIRST ROUND
The challenge from the Front was for the best two out of three, the
first game to be played the last day of the year. Steadily, under
Craven's coaching, the Twentieth team were perfected in their
systematic play; for although Craven knew nothing of shinny, he had
captained the champion lacrosse team of the province of Quebec, and
the same general rules of defense and attack could be applied with
equal success to the game of shinny. The team was greatly
strengthened by the accession of Thomas Finch and Don Cameron, both
of whom took up the school again with a view to college. With
Thomas in goal, Hughie said he felt as if a big hole had been
filled up behind him.
The master caused a few preliminary skirmishes with neighboring
teams to be played by way of practice, and by the time the end of
the year had come, he felt confident that the team would not
disgrace their school. His confidence was not ill-founded.
"We have covered ourselves with glory," he writes to his friend Ned
Maitland, "for we have whipped to a finish the arrogant and mighty
Front. I am more than ever convinced that I shall have to take a
few days off and get away to Montreal, or some other retired spot,
to recover from the excitement of the last week.
"Under my diligent coaching, in which, knowing nothing whatever of
shinny, I have striven to introduce something of the lacrosse
method, our team got into really decent fighting trim. Under the
leadership of their captain, who has succeeded in infusing his own
fierce and furious temper into his men, they played like little
demons, from the drop of the ball till the game was scored.
'Furious' is the word, for they and their captain play with
headlong fury, and that, I might say, is about their only defect,
for if they ever should run into a bigger team, who had any
semblance of head about them, and were not merely feet, they would
surely come to grief.
"I cannot stay to recount our victory. Let it suffice that we were
driven down in two big sleigh-loads by Thomas Finch, the back wall
of our defense, and Don Cameron, who plays in the right of the
forward line, both great, strapping fellows, who are to be
eventually, I believe, members of my preparatory class.
"The Front came forth, cheerful, big, confident, trusting in the
might of their legs. We are told that the Lord taketh no pleasure
in the legs of man, and this is true in the game of shinny. Not
legs alone, but heart and head win, with anything like equal
"Game called, 2:30; Captain Hughie has the drop; seizes the ball,
passes it to Fusie, who rushes, passes back to Hughie, who has
arrived in the vicinity of the enemy's goal, and shoots, swift and
straight, a goal. Time, 30 seconds.
"Again and again my little demons pierce the heavy, solid line of
the Front defense, and score, the enemy, big and bewildered, being
chiefly occupied in watching them do it. By six o'clock that
evening I had them safe at the manse in a condition of dazed
jubilation, quite unable to realize the magnificence of their
achievement. They had driven twelve miles down, played a two
hours' game of shinny, score eight to two, and were back safe and
sound, bearing with them victory and some broken shins, equally
proud of both.
"There is a big supper at the manse, prepared, I believe, with the
view of consolation, but transformed into a feast of triumph, the
minister being enthusiastically jubilant over the achievement of
his boys, his wife, if possible, even more so. The heroes feed
themselves to fullness, amazing and complete, the minister holds a
thanksgiving service, in which I have no doubt my little demons
most earnestly join, after which they depart to shed the radiance
of their glory throughout the section.
"And now I have to recount another experience of mine, quite unique
and altogether inexplicable. It appears that in this remarkable
abode--I would call it 'The Saint's Rest' were it not for the
presence of others than saints, and for the additional fact that
there is little rest for the saint who makes her dwelling here--in
this abode there prevails the quaint custom of watching the death
of the old year and the birth of the new. It is made the occasion
of religious and heart-searching rite. As the solemn hour of
midnight draws on, a silence falls upon the family, all of whom,
with the exception of the newest infant, are present. It is the
family festival of the year.
"'And what will they be doing at your home, Mr. Craven?' inquires
the minister. The contrast that rose before my mind was vivid
enough, for having received my invitation to a big dance, I knew my
sweet sisters would be having a jolly wild time about that moment.
My answer, given I feel in a somewhat flippant tone, appears to
shock my shinny captain of the angelic face, who casts a honor-
stricken glance at his mother, and waits for the word of reproof
that he thinks is due from the padre's lips.
"But before it falls the mother interposes with 'They will miss you
greatly this evening.' It was rather neatly done, and I think I
"The rite proceeds. The initial ceremony is the repeating of a
verse of Scripture all round, and to save my life nothing comes to
my mind but the words, 'Remember Lot's wife.' As I cannot see the
appropriateness of the quotation, I pass.
"Five minutes before the stroke of twelve, they sing the Scottish
paraphrase beginning, 'O God of Bethel.' I do not suppose you ever
heard it, but it is a beautiful hymn, and singularly appropriate to
the hour. In this I lend assistance with my violin, the tune being
the very familiar one of 'Auld Lang Syne,' associated in my mind,
however, with occasions somewhat widely diverse from this. I
assure you I am thankful that my part is instrumental, for the
whole business is getting onto my emotions in a disturbing manner,
and especially when I allow my eyes to linger for a moment or two
on the face of the lady, the center of the circle, who is
deliberately throwing away her fine culture and her altogether
beautiful soul upon the Anakim here, and with a beautiful
unconsciousness of anything like sacrifice, is now thanking God for
the privilege of doing so. I have some moments of rare emotional
luxury, those moments that are next to tears.
"Then the padre offers one of those heart-racking prayers of his
that, whether they reach anything outside or not, somehow get down
into one's vitals, and stir up remorses, and self-condemnings, and
longings unutterable. Then they all kiss the mother and wish her a
"My boy, my dear boy, I have never known deeper moments than those.
And when I went to shake hands with her, she seemed so like a queen
receiving homage, that without seeming to feel I was making a fool
of myself, I did the Queen Victoria act, and saluted her hand. It
is wonderful how great moments discover the lady to you. She must
have known how I was feeling, for with a very beautiful grace, she
said, 'Let me be your mother for to-night,' and by Jove, she kissed
me. I have been kissed before, and have kissed some women in my
time, but that is the only kiss I can remember, and s'help me Bob,
I'll never kiss another till I kiss my wife.
"And then and there, Maitland, I swore by all that I knew of God,
and by everything sacred in life, that I'd quit the past and be
worthy of her trust; for the mischief of it is, she will persist in
trusting you, puts you on your honor noblesse oblige business, and
all that. I think I told you that I might end in being a saint.
That dream I have surrendered, but, by the grace of heaven, I'm
going to try to be a man. And I am going to play shinny with those
boys, and if I can help them to win that match, and the big game of
life, I will do it.
"As witness my hand and seal, this first day of January, 18--
THE FINAL ROUND
After the New-Year the school filled up with big boys, some of whom
had returned with the idea of joining the preparatory class for
college, which the minister had persuaded John Craven to organize.
Shinny, however, became the absorbing interest for all the boys,
both big and little. This interest was intensified by the rumors
that came up from the Front, for it was noised through the
Twentieth section that Dan Munro, whose father was a cousin of
Archie Munro, the former teacher, had come from Marrintown and
taken charge of the Front school, and that, being used to the ice
game, and being full of tricks and swift as a bird, he was an
exceedingly dangerous man. More than that, he was training his
team with his own tricks, and had got back to school some of the
old players, among whom were no less renowned personages than Hec
Ross and Jimmie "Ben." Jimmie Ben, to wit, James son of Benjamin
McEwen, was more famed for his prowess as a fighter than for his
knowledge of the game of shinny, but every one who saw him play
said he was "a terror." Further, it was rumored that there was a
chance of them getting for goal Farquhar McRae, "Little Farquhar,"
or "Farquhar Bheg" (pronounced "vaick"), as he was euphoniously
called, who presumably had once been little, but could no longer
claim to be so, seeing that he was six feet, and weighed two
It behooved the Twentieth team, therefore, to bestir themselves
with all diligence, and in this matter Hughie gave no rest either
to himself or to any one else likely to be of use in perfecting his
team. For Hughie had been unanimously chosen captain, in spite of
his protests that the master or one of the big boys should hold
that place. But none of the big boys knew the new game as
perfectly as Hughie, and the master had absolutely refused, saying,
"You beat them once, Hughie, and you can do it again." And as the
days and weeks went on, Hughie fully justified the team's choice of
him as captain. He developed a genius for organization, a sureness
of judgment, and a tact in management, as well as a skill and speed
in play, that won the confidence of every member of his team. He
set himself resolutely to banish any remaining relics of the
ancient style of play. In the old game every one rushed to hit the
ball without regard to direction or distance, and the consequence
was, that from end to end of the field a mob of yelling, stick-
waving players more or less aimlessly followed in the wake of the
ball. But Hughie and the master changed all that, forced the men
to play in their positions, training them never to drive wildly
forward, but to pass to a man, and to keep their clubs down and
their mouths shut.
The striking characteristic of Hughie's own playing was a certain
fierceness, amounting almost to fury, so that when he was in the
attack he played for every ounce there was in him. His chief
weakness lay in his tempestuous temper, which he found difficult to
command, but as he worked his men from day to day, and week to
week, the responsibility of his position and the magnitude of the
issues at stake helped him to a self-control quite remarkable in
As the fateful day drew near the whole section was stirred with an
intense interest and excitement, in which even the grave and solemn
elders shared, and to a greater degree, the minister and his wife.
At length the day, as all days great and small, actually arrived.
A big crowd awaited the appearance of "the folks from the Front."
They were expected about two, but it was not till half-past that
there was heard in the distance the sound of the bagpipes.
"Here they are! That's Alan the cooper's pipes," was the cry, and
before long, sure enough there appeared Alphonse le Roque driving
his French-Canadian team, the joy and pride of his heart, for
Alphonse was a born horse-trainer, and had taught his French-
Canadians many extraordinary tricks. On the dead gallop he
approached the crowd till within a few yards, when, at a sudden
command, they threw themselves upon their haunches, and came almost
to a standstill. With a crack of his long whip Alphonse gave the
command, "Deesplay yousef!" At once his stout little team began to
toss their beautiful heads, and broke into a series of prancing
curves that would not have shamed a pair of greyhounds. Then, as
they drew up to the stopping-point, he gathered up his lines, and
with another crack of his whip, cried, "Salute ze ladies!" when,
with true equine courtesy, they rose upon their hind legs and
gracefully pawed the empty air. Finally, after depositing his load
amid the admiring exclamations of the crowd, he touched their tails
with the point of his whip, gave a sudden "Whish!" and like hounds
from the leash his horses sprang off at full gallop.
One after another the teams from the Front swung round and emptied
"Man! what a crowd!" said Hughie to Don. "There must be a hundred
"Yes, and there's Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben," said Don, "and sure
enough, Farquhar Begh. We'll be catching it to-day, whatever,"
continued Don, cheerfully.
"Pshaw! we licked as big men before. It isn't size," said Hughie,
with far more confidence than he felt.
It was half an hour before the players were ready to begin. The
rules of the game were few and simple. The play was to be one hour
each way, with a quarter of an hour rest between. There was to be
no tripping, no hitting on the shins when the ball was out of the
scrimmage, and all disputes were to be settled by the umpire, who
on this occasion was the master of the Sixteenth school.
"He's no good," grumbled Hughie to his mother, who was even more
excited than her boy himself. "He can't play himself, and he's too
"Never mind," said his mother, brightly; "perhaps he won't have
much to do."
"Much to do! Well, there's Jimmie Ben, and he's an awful fighter,
but I'm not going to let him frighten me," said Hughie, savagely;
"and there's Dan Munro, too, they say he's a terror, and Hec Ross.
Of course we've got just as good men, but they won't fight. Why,
Johnnie 'Big Duncan' and Don, there, are as good as any of them,
but they won't fight."
The mother smiled a little.
"What a pity! But why should they fight? Fighting is not shinny."
"No, that's what the master says. And he's right enough, too, but
it's awful hard when a fellow doesn't play fair, when he trips you
up or clubs you on the shins when you're not near the ball. You
feel like hitting him back."
"Yes, but that's the very time to show self-control."
"I know. And that's what the master says."
"Of course it is," went on his mother. "That's what the game is
for, to teach the boys to command their tempers. You remember 'he
that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city.'
"O, it's all right," said Hughie, "and easy enough to talk about."
"What's easy enough to talk about?" asked the master, coming up.
"Taking a city," said Mrs. Murray, smiling at him.
The master looked puzzled.
"Mother means," said Hughie, "keeping one's temper in shinny. But
I'm telling her it's pretty hard when a fellow clubs you on the
shins when you're away from the ball."
"Yes, of course it's hard," said the master, "but it's better than
being a cad," which brought a quick flush to Hughie's face, but
helped him more than anything else to keep himself in hand that
"Can't understand a man," said the master, "who goes into a game
and then quits it to fight. If it's fighting, why fight, but if
it's shinny, play the game. Big team against us, eh, captain?" he
continued, looking at the Front men, who were taking a preliminary
spin upon the ice, "and pretty swift, too."
"If they play fair, I don't mind," said Hughie. "I'm not afraid of
them; but if they get slugging--"
"Well, if they get slugging," said the master, "we'll play the game
and win, sure."
"Well, it's time to begin," said Hughie, and with a good by to his
mother he turned away.
"Remember, take a city," she called out after him.
"All right, muzzie, I'll remember."
In a few moments the teams were in position opposite each other.
The team from the Front made a formidable show in weight and
muscle. At the right of the forward line stood the redoubtable Dan
Munro, the stocky, tricky, fierce captain of the Front team, and
with him three rather small boys in red shirts. The defense
consisted of Hec Ross, the much-famed and much-feared Jimmie Ben,
while in goal, sure enough, stood the immense and solid bulk of
Farquhar Bheg. The center was held by four boys of fair size and
In the Twentieth team the forward line was composed of Jack Ross,
Curly Ross's brother, Fusie, Davie Scotch, and Don Cameron. The
center was played by Hughie, with three little chaps who made up
for their lack of weight by their speed and skill. The defense
consisted of Johnnie "Big Duncan," to wit, John, the son of Big
Duncan Campbell, on the left hand, and the master on the right,
backed up by Thomas Finch in goal, who much against his will was in
the game that day. His heart was heavy within him, for he saw, not
the gleaming ice and the crowding players, but "the room" at home,
and his mother, with her pale, patient face, sitting in her chair.
His father, he knew, would be beside her, and Jessac would be
flitting about. "But for all that, she'll have a long day," he
said to himself, for only his loyalty to the school and to Hughie
had brought him to the game that day.
When play was called, Hughie, with Fusie immediately behind him,
stood facing Dan in the center with one of the little Red Shirts at
his back. It was Dan's drop. He made a pass or two, then shot
between his legs to a Red Shirt, who, upon receiving, passed far
out to Red Shirt number three, who flew along the outer edge and
returned swiftly to Dan, now far up the other side. Like the wind
Dan sped down the line, dodged Johnnie Big Duncan easily, and shot
from the corner, straight, swift, and true, a goal.
"One for the Front!" Eleven shinny-sticks went up in the air, the
bagpipes struck up a wild refrain, big Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben
danced a huge, unwieldy, but altogether jubilant dance round each
other, and then settled down to their places, for it was Hughie's
Hughie took the ball from the umpire and faced Dan with some degree
of nervousness, for Dan was heavy and strong, and full of
confidence. After a little manoeuvering he dropped the ball
between Dan's legs, but Dan, instead of attending to the ball,
charged full upon him and laid him flat, while one of the Red
Shirts, seizing the ball, flew off with it, supported by a friendly
Red Shirt on either side of him, with Dan following hard.
Right through the crowd dodged the Red Shirts till they came up to
the Twentieth line of defense, when forth came Johnnie Big Duncan
in swift attack. But the little Red Shirt who had the ball,
touching it slightly to the right, tangled himself up in Johnnie
Big Duncan's legs and sent him sprawling, while Dan swiped the ball
to another Red Shirt who had slipped in behind the master, for
there was no such foolishness as off-side in that game. Like
lightning the Red Shirt caught the ball, and rushing at Thomas,
shot furiously at close quarters. Goal number two for the Front!
Again on all sides rose frantic cheers. "The Front! The Front!
Murro forever!" Two games had been won, and not a Twentieth man
had touched the ball. With furtive, uncertain glances the men of
the Twentieth team looked one at the other, and all at their
captain, as if seeking explanation of this extraordinary situation.
"Well," said Hughie, in a loud voice, to the master, and with a
careless laugh, though at his heart he was desperate, "they are
giving us a little taste of our own medicine."
The master dropped to buckle his skate, deliberately unwinding the
strap, while the umpire allowed time.
"Give me a hand with this, Hughie," he called, and Hughie skated up
"Well," said Craven, smiling up into Hughie's face, "that's a good,
swift opening, isn't it?"
"Oh, it's terrible," groaned Hughie. "They're going to lick us off
"Well," replied the master, slowly, "I wouldn't be in a hurry to
say so. We have a hundred minutes and more to win in yet. Now,
don't you see that their captain is their great card. Suppose you
let the ball go for a game or two, and stick to Dan. Trail him,
never let him shake you. The rest of us will take care of the
"All right," said Hughie, "I'll stick to him," and off he set for
As the loser, Hughie again held the drop. He faced Dan with
determination to get that ball out to Fusie, and somehow he felt in
his bones that he should succeed in doing this. Without any
preliminary he dropped, and knocked the ball toward Fusie.
But this was evidently what Dan expected, for as soon as Hughie
made the motion to drop he charged hard upon the waiting Fusie.
Hughie, however, had his plan as well, for immediately upon the
ball leaving his stick, he threw himself in Dan's way, checking him
effectually, and allowing Fusie, with Don and Scotchie following,
to get away.
The Front defense, however, was too strong, and the ball came
shooting back toward the line of Reds, one of whom, making a short
run, passed far out to Dan on the right. But before the latter
could get up speed, Hughie was upon him, and ignoring the ball,
blocked and bothered and checked him, till one of the Twentieth
centers, rushing in, secured it for his side.
"Ha! well done, captain!" came Craven's voice across the ice, and
Hughie felt his nerve come back. If he could hold Dan, that deadly
Front combination might be broken.
Meantime Don had secured the ball from Craven, and was rushing up
his right wing.
"Here you are, Hughie," he cried, shooting across the Front goal.
Hughie sprang to receive, but before he could shoot Dan was upon
him, checking so hard that Hughie was sent sprawling to the ice,
while Dan shot away with the ball.
But before he had gone very far Hughie was after him like a
whirlwind, making straight for his own goal, so that by the time
Dan had arrived at shooting distance, Hughie was again upon him,
and while in the very act of steadying himself for his try at the
goal, came crashing into him with such fierceness of attack that
Dan was flung aside, while Johnnie Big Duncan, capturing the ball,
sent it across to the master.
It was the master's first chance for the day. With amazing
swiftness and dexterity he threaded the outer edge of the ice, and
with a sudden swerve across, avoided the throng that had gathered
to oppose him, and then with a careless ease, as if it were a
matter of little importance, he dodged in between the heavy Front
defense, shot his goal, and skated back coolly to his place.
The Twentieth's moment had come, and both upon the ice and upon the
banks the volume and fierceness of the cheering testified to the
intensity of the feeling that had been so long pent up.
That game had revealed to Hughie two important facts: the first,
that he was faster than Dan in a straight race; and the second,
that it would be advisable to feed the master, for it was clearly
apparent that there was not his equal upon the ice in dodging.
"That was well done, captain," said Craven to Hughie, as he was
coolly skating back to his position.
"A splendid run, sir," cried Hughie, in return.
"Oh, the run was easy. It was your check there that did the trick.
That's the game," he continued, lowering his voice. "It's hard on
you, though. Can you stand it?"
"Well, I can try for a while," said Hughie, confidently.
"If you can," said the master, "we've got them," and Hughie settled
down into the resolve that, cost what it might, he would stick like
a leech to Dan.
He imparted his plan to Fusie, adding, "Now, whenever you see me
tackle Dan, run in and get the ball. I'm not going to bother about
Half an hour had gone. The score stood two to one in favor of the
Front, but the result every one felt to be still uncertain. That
last attack of Hughie's, and the master's speedy performance, gave
some concern to the men of the Front, and awakened a feeling of
confidence in the Twentieth team.
But Dan, wise general that he was, saw the danger, and gave his
commands ere he faced off for the new game.
"When that man Craven gets it," he said to the men of the center,
"make straight for the goal. Never mind the ball."
The wisdom of this order became at once evident, for when in the
face-off he secured the ball, Hughie clung so tenaciously to his
heels and checked him so effectually, that he was forced to resign
it to the Reds, who piercing the Twentieth center, managed to
scurry up the ice with the ball between them. But when, met by
Craven and Johnnie Big Duncan, they passed across to Dan, Hughie
again checked so fiercely that Johnnie Big Duncan secured the ball,
passed back to the master, who with another meteoric flash along
the edge of the field broke through the Front's defense, and again
It was only Farquhar Bheg's steady coolness that saved the goal.
It was a near enough thing, however, to strike a sudden chill to
the heart of the Front goal-keeper, and to make Dan realize that
something must be done to check these dangerous rushes of Craven.
"Get in behind the defense there, and stay there," he said to two
of his centers, and his tone indicated that his serene confidence
in himself and his team was slightly shaken. Hughie's close
checking was beginning to chafe him, for his team in their practice
had learned to depend unduly upon him.
Noticing Dan's change in the disposition of his men, Hughie moved
up two of his centers nearer to the Front defense.
"Get into their way," he said "and give the master a clear field."
But this policy only assisted Dan's plan of defense, for the
presence of so many players before the Front goal filled up the ice
to such an extent that Craven's rushes were impeded by mere
For some time Dan watched the result of his tactics well satisfied,
remaining himself for the time in the background. During one of
the pauses, when the ball was out of play, he called one of the
little Reds to him.
"Look here," he said, "you watch this. Right after one of those
rushes of Craven's, don't follow him down, but keep up to your
position. I'll get the ball to you somehow, and then you'll have a
chance to shoot. No use passing to me, for this little son of a
gun is on my back like a flea on a dog." Dan was seriously
The little Red passed the word around and patiently waited his
chance. Once and again the plan failed, chiefly because Dan could
not get the ball out of the scrimmage, but at length, when Hughie
had been tempted to rush in with the hope of putting in a shot, the
ball slid out of the scrimmage, and Dan, swooping down upon it,
passed swiftly to the waiting Red who immediately shot far out to
his alert wing, and then rushing down the center and slipping past
Johnnie Big Duncan, who had gone forth to meet Dan coming down the
right, and the master who was attending to the little Red on the
wing, received the ball, and putting in a short, swift shot, scored
another goal for the Front, amid a tempest of hurrahings from the
team and their supporters.
The game now stood three to one in favor of the Front, and up to
the end of the first hour no change was made in this score.
And now there was a scene of the wildest enthusiasm and confusion.
The Front people flocked upon the ice and carried off their team to
their quarter of the shanty, loading them with congratulations and
refreshing them with various drinks.
"Better get your men together, captain," suggested Craven, and
Hughie gathered them into the Twentieth corner of the shanty.
In spite of the adverse score Hughie found his team full of fight.
They crowded about him and the master, eager to listen to any
explanation of the present defeat that might be offered for their
comfort, or to any plans by which the defeat might be turned into
victory. Some minutes they spent in excitedly discussing the
various games, and in good-naturedly chaffing Thomas Finch for his
failure to prevent a score. But Thomas had nothing to say in
reply. He had done his best, and he had a feeling that they all
knew it. No man was held in higher esteem by the team than the
"Any plan, captain?" asked the master, after they had talked for
some minutes, and all grew quiet.
"What do you think, sir?" said Hughie.
"O, let us hear from you. You're the captain."
"Well," said Hughie, slowly, and with deliberate emphasis, "I think
we are going to win." (Yells from all sides.) "At any rate we
ought to win, for I think we have the better team." (More yells.)
"What I mean is this, I think we are better in combination play,
and I don't think they have a man who can touch the master."
Enthusiastic exclamations, "That's right!" "Better believe it!"
"But we have a big fight before us. And that Dan Munro's a terror.
The only change I can think of is to open out more and fall back
from their goal for a little while. And then, if I can hold Dan--"
"Cries of "You'll hold him all right!" "You are the lad!"
"Everybody should feed the master. They can't stop him, any of
them. But I would say for the first while, anyway, play defense.
What do you think, sir?" appealing to the master.
"I call that good tactics. But don't depend too much upon me; if
any man has a chance for a run and a shot, let him take it. And
don't give up your combination in your forward line. The captain
is quite right in seeking to draw them away from their goal. Their
defense territory is too full now. Now, what I have noticed is
this, they mainly rely upon Dan Munro and upon their three big
defense men. For the first fifteen minutes they will make their
hardest push. Let us take the captain's advice, fall back a
little, and so empty their defense. But on the whole, keep your
positions, play to your men, and," he added, with a smile, "don't
get too mad."
"I guess they will be making some plans, too," said Thomas Finch,
slowly, and everybody laughed.
"That's quite right, Thomas, but we'll give them a chance for the
first while to show us what they mean to do."
At this point the minister came in, looking rather gloomy.
"Well, Mr. Craven, rather doubtful outlook, is it not?"
"O, not too bad, sir," said the master, cheerfully.
"Three to one. What worse do you want?"
"Well, six to one would be worse," replied the master. "Besides,
their first two games were taken by a kind of fluke. We didn't
know their play. You will notice they have taken only one in the
last three-quarters of an hour."
"I doubt they are too big for you," continued the minister.
"Isn't altogether size that wins in shinny," said Mr. Craven.
"Hughie there isn't a very big man, but he can hold any one of
"Well, I hope you may be right," said the minister. "I am sorry I
have to leave the game to see a sick man up Kenyon way."
"Sorry you can't stay, sir, to see us win," said Craven,
cheerfully, while Hughie slipped out to see his mother before she
"Well, my boy," said his mother, "you are playing a splendid game,
and you are getting better as you go on."
"Thanks, mother. That's the kind of talk we like," said Hughie,
who had been a little depressed by his father's rather gloomy
views. "I'm awfully sorry you can't stay."
"And so am I, but we must go. But we shall be back in time for
supper, and you will ask all the team to come down to celebrate
"Good for you, mother! I'll tell them, and I bet they'll play."
Meantime the team from the Front had been having something of a
jollification in their quarters. They were sure of victory, and in
spite of their captain's remonstrances had already begun to pass
round the bottle in the way of celebration.
"They're having something strong in there," said little Mac
McGregor. "Wish they'd pass some this way."
"Let them have it," said Johnnie Big Duncan, whose whole family
ever since the revival had taken a total abstinence pledge,
although this was looked upon as a very extreme position indeed, by
almost all the community. But Big Duncan Campbell had learned by
very bitter experience that for him, at least, there was no safety
in a moderate use of "God's good creature," as many of his fellow
church-members designated the "mountain dew," and his sons had
loyally backed him up in this attitude.
"Quite, right!" said the master, emphatically. "And if they had
any sense they would know that with every drink they are throwing
away a big chance of winning."
"Horo, you fellows!" shouted big Hec Ross across to them, "aren't
you going to play any more? Have you got enough of it already?"
"We will not be caring for any more of yon kind," said Johnnie Big
Duncan, good-naturedly, "and we were thinking of giving you a
"Come away and be at it, then," said Hec, "for we're all getting
"That's easily cured," said Dan, as they sallied forth to the ice
again, "for I warrant you will not be suffering from the cold in
When the teams took up their positions, it was discovered that Dan
had fallen back to the center, and Hughie was at a loss to know how
to meet this new disposition of the enemy's force.
"Let them go on," said the master, with whom Hughie was holding a
hurried consultation. "You stick to him, and we'll play defense
till they develop their plan."
The tactics of the Front became immediately apparent upon the drop
of the ball, and proved to be what the master had foretold. No
sooner had the game begun than the big defense men advanced with
the centers to the attack, and when Hughie followed up his plan of
sticking closely to Dan Munro and hampering him, he found Jimmie
Ben upon him, swiping furiously with his club at his shins, with
evident intention of intimidating him, as well as of relieving Dan
from his attentions. But if Jimmie Ben thought by his noisy
shouting and furious swiping to strike terror to the heart of the
Twentieth captain, he entirely misjudged his man; for without
seeking to give him back what he received in kind, Hughie played
his game with such skill and pluck, that although he was
considerably battered about the shins, he was nevertheless able to
prevent Dan from making any of his dangerous rushes.
Craven, meantime, if he noticed Hughie's hard case, was so fully
occupied with the defense of the goal that he could give no thought
to anything else. Shot after shot came in upon Thomas at close
range, and so savage and reckless was the charge of the Front that
their big defense men, Hec Ross and Jimmie Ben, abandoning their
own positions, were foremost in the melee before the Twentieth
For fully fifteen minutes the ball was kept in the Twentieth
territory, and only the steady coolness of Craven and Johnnie Big
Duncan, backed by Hughie's persistent checking of the Front captain
and the magnificent steadiness of Thomas in goal, saved the game.
At length, as the fury of the charge began to expend itself a
little, Craven got his chance. The ball had been passed out to Dan
upon the left wing of the Front forward line. At once Hughie was
upon him, but Jimmie Ben following hard, with a cruel swipe at
Hughie's skates, laid him flat, but not until he had succeeded in
hindering to some degree Dan's escape with the ball. Before the
Front captain could make use of his advantage and get clear away,
the master bore down upon him like a whirlwind, hurled him clear
off his feet, secured the ball, dashed up the open field, and
eluding the two centers, who had been instructed to cover the goal,
easily shot between the balsam-trees.
For a few moments the Twentieth men went mad, for they all felt
that a crisis had been passed. The failure of the Front in what
had evidently been a preconcerted and very general attack was
accepted as an omen of victory.
The Front men, on the other hand, were bitterly chagrined. They
had come so near it, and yet had failed. Jimmie Ben was especially
savage. He came down the ice toward the center, yelling defiance
and threats of vengeance. "Come on here! Don't waste time. Let
us at them. We'll knock them clear off the ice."
It was Dan's drop. As he was preparing to face off, the master
skated up and asked the umpire for time. At once the crowd
"What's the matter?" "What's up?" "What do you want?" came on all
sides from the Front team, now thoroughly aroused and thirsting for
"Mr. Umpire," said the master, "I want to call your attention to a
bit of foul play that must not be allowed to go on"; and then he
described Jimmie Ben's furious attack upon Hughie.
"It was a deliberate trip, as well as a savage swipe at a man's
shins when the ball was not near."
At once Jimmie Ben gave him the lie, and throwing down his club,
slammed his cap upon the ice and proceeded to execute a war-dance
For a few moments there was a great uproar, and then the master's
voice was heard again addressing the umpire.
"I want to know your ruling upon this, Mr. Umpire"; and somehow his
voice commanded a perfect stillness.
"Well," said the umpire, hesitating, "of course--if a man trips it
is foul play, but--I did not see any tripping. And of course--
swiping at a man's shins is not allowed, although sometimes--it
can't very well be helped in a scrimmage."
"I merely want to call your attention to it," said the master. "My
understanding of our arrangements, Mr. Munro," he said, addressing
the Front captain, "is that we are here to play shinny. You have
come up here, I believe, to win the game by playing shinny, and we
are here to prevent you. If you have any other purpose, or if any
of your men have any other purpose, we would be glad to know it
now, for we entered this game with the intention of playing
straight, clean shinny."
"That's right!" called out Hec Ross; "that's what we're here for."
And his answer was echoed on every side, except by Jimmie Ben, who
continued to bluster and offer fight.
"O, shut your gab!" finally said Farquhar Bheg, impatiently. "If
you want to fight, wait till after the game is done."
"Here's your cap, Jimmie," piped a thin, little voice. "You'll
take cold in your head." It was little French Fusie, holding up
Jimmie's cap on the end of his shinny club, and smiling with the
utmost good nature, but with infinite impudence, into Jimmie's
At once there was a general laugh at Jimmie Ben's expense, who with
a growl, seized his cap, and putting it on his head, skated off to
"Now," said Hughie, calling his men together for a moment, "let us
crowd them hard, and let's give the master every chance we can."
"No," said the master, "they are waiting for me. Suppose you leave
Dan to me for a while. You go up and play your forward combination.
They are not paying so much attention to you. Make the attack from
At the drop Dan secured the ball, and followed by Fusie, flew up
the center with one of the Reds on either hand. Immediately the
master crossed to meet him, checked him hard, and gave Fusie a
chance, who, seizing the ball, passed far up to Hughie on the
Immediately the Twentieth forward line rushed, and by a beautiful
hit of combined play, brought the ball directly before the Front
goal, when Don, holding it for a moment till Hughie charged in upon
Farquhar Bheg, shot, and scored.
The result of their combination at once inspired the Twentieth team
with fresh confidence, and proved most disconcerting to their
"That's the game, boys," said the master, delightedly. "Keep your
heads, and play your positions." And so well did the forward line
respond that for the next ten minutes the game was reduced to a
series of attacks upon the Front goal, and had it not been for the
dashing play of their captain and the heavy checking of the Front
defense, the result would have been most disastrous to them.
Meantime, the Twentieth supporters, lined along either edge, became
more and more vociferous as they began to see that their men were
getting the game well into their own hands. That steady, cool,
systematic play of man to man was something quite new to those
accustomed to the old style of game, and aroused the greatest
Gradually the Front were forced to fall back into their territory,
and to play upon the defensive, while the master and Johnnie Big
Duncan, moving up toward the center, kept their forward line so
strongly supported, and checked so effectually any attempts to
break through, that thick and fast the shots fell upon the enemy's
There remained only fifteen minutes to play. The hard pace was
beginning to tell upon the big men, and the inevitable reaction
following their unwise "celebrating" began to show itself in their
stale and spiritless play. On the other hand, the Twentieth were
as fresh as ever, and pressed the game with greater spirit every
"Play out toward the side," urged Dan, despairing of victory, but
determined to avert defeat, and at every opportunity the ball was
knocked out of play. But like wolves the Twentieth forwards were
upon the ball, striving to keep it in play, and steadily forcing it
toward the enemy's goal.
Dan became desperate. He was wet with perspiration, and his breath
was coming in hard gasps. He looked at his team. The little Reds
were fit enough, but the others were jaded and pumped out. Behind
him stood Jimmie Ben, savage, wet, and weary.
At one of the pauses, when the ball was out of play, Dan dropped on
"Hold on there a minute," he cried; "I want to fix this skate of
Very deliberately he removed his strap, readjusted his skate, and
began slowly to set the strap in place again.
"They want a rest, I guess. Better take off the time, umpire,"
sang out Fusie, dancing as lively as a cricket round Jimmie Ben,
who looked as if he would like to devour him bodily.
"Shut up, Fusie!" said Hughie. "We've got all the time we need."
"You have, eh?" said Jimmie Ben, savagely.
"Yes," said Hughie, in sudden anger, for he had not forgotten
Jimmie Ben's cruel swipe. "We don't need any more time than we've
got, and we don't need to play any dirty tricks, either. We're
going to beat you. We've got you beaten now."
"Blank your impudent face! Wait you! I'll show you!" said Jimmie
"You can't scare me, Jimmie Ben," said Hughie, white with rage.
"You tried your best and you couldn't do it."
"Play the game, Hughie," said the master, in a low tone, skating
round him, while Hec Ross said, good-naturedly, "Shut up Jimmie
Ben. You'll need all your wind for your heels," at which all but
Jimmie Ben laughed.
For a moment Dan drew his men together.
"Our only chance," he said, "is in a rush. Now, I want every man
to make for that goal. Never mind the ball. I'll get the ball
there. And then you, Jimmie Ben, and a couple of you centers, make
right back here on guard."
"They're going to rush," said Hughie to his team. "Don't all go
back. Centers fall back with me. You forwards keep up."
At the drop Dan secured the ball, and in a moment the Front rush
came. With a simultaneous yell the whole ten men came roaring down
the ice, waving their clubs and flinging aside their lightweight
opponents. It was a dangerous moment, but with a cry of "All
steady, boys!" Hughie threw himself right into Dan's way. But just
for such a chance Jimmie Ben was watching, and rushing upon Hughie,
caught him fairly with his shoulder and hurled him to the ice,
while the attacking line swept over him.
For a single moment Hughie lay dazed, but before any one could
offer help he rose slowly, and after a few deep breaths, set off
for the scrimmage.
There was a wild five minutes. Eighteen or twenty men were massed
in front of the Twentieth goal, striking, shoving, yelling, the
solid weight of the Front defense forcing the ball ever nearer the
goal. In the center of the mass were Craven, Johnnie Big Duncan,
and Don fighting every inch.
For a few moments Hughie hovered behind his goal, his heart full
of black rage, waiting his chance. At length he saw an opening.
Jimmie Ben, slashing heavily, regardless of injury to himself or
any others, had edged the ball toward the Twentieth left. Taking a
short run, Hughie, reckless of consequences, launched himself head
first into Jimmie Ben's stomach, swiping viciously at the same time
at the ball. For a moment Jimmie Ben was flung back, and but for
Johnnie Big Duncan would have fallen, but before he could regain
his feet, the ball was set free of the scrimmage and away. Fusie,
rushing in, had snapped it up and had gone scuttling down the ice,
followed by Hughie and the master.
Before Fusie had got much past center, Dan, who had been playing in
the rear of the scrimmage, overtook him, and with a fierce body
check upset the little Frenchman and secured the ball. Wheeling,
he saw both Hughie and Craven bearing down swiftly upon him.
"Rush for the goal!" he shouted to Jimmie Ben, who was following
Hughie hard. Jimmie Ben hesitated.
"Back to your defense!" yelled Dan, cutting across and trying to
escape between Hughie and Craven.
It was in vain. Both of the Twentieth men fell upon him, and the
master, snatching the ball, sped like lightning down the ice.
The crowd went wild.
"Get back! Get back there!" screamed Hughie to the mob crowding in
upon the ice. "Give us room! Give us a show!"
At this moment Craven, cornered by Hec Ross and two of the Red
Shirts, with Dan hard upon his heels, passed clear across the ice
to Hughie. With a swift turn Hughie caught the ball, dodged Jimmie
Ben's fierce spring at him, and shot. But even as he shot, Jimmie
Ben, recovering his balance, reached him and struck a hard,
swinging blow upon his ankle. There was a sharp crack, and Hughie
fell to the ice. The ball went wide.
"Time, there, umpire!" cried the master, falling on his knees
beside Hughie. "Are you hurt, Hughie?" he asked, eagerly. "What
is it, my boy?"
"Oh, master, it's broken, but don't stop. Don't let them stop. We
must win this game. We've only a few minutes. Take me back to
goal and send Thomas out."
The eager, hurried whisper, the intense appeal in the white face
and dark eyes, made the master hesitate in his emphatic refusal.
"Oh, don't stop! Don't stop it for me," cried Hughie, gripping the
master's arm. "Help me up and take me back."
The master swore a fierce oath.
"We'll do it, my boy. You're a trump. Here, Don," he called
aloud, "we'll let Hughie keep goal for a little," and they ran
Hughie back to the goal on one skate.
"You go out, Thomas," gasped Hughie. "Don't talk. We've only five
"They have broken his leg," said the master, with a sob in his
"Nothing wrong, I hope," said Dan, skating up.
"No; play the game," said the master, fiercely. His black eyes
were burning with a deep, red glow.
"Is it hurting much?" asked Thomas, lingering about Hughie.
"Oh, you just bet! But don't wait. Go on! Go on down! You've
got to get this game!"
Thomas glanced at the foot hanging limp, and then at the white but
resolute face. Then saying with slow, savage emphasis, "The brute
beast! As sure as death I'll do for him," he skated off to join
the forward line.
It was the Front knock-off from goal. There was no plan of attack,
but the Twentieth team, looking upon the faces of the master and
Thomas, needed no words of command.
The final round was shot, short, sharp, fierce. A long drive from
Farquhar Bheg sent the ball far up into the Twentieth territory.
It was a bad play, for it gave Craven and Thomas their chance.
"Follow me close, Thomas," cried the master, meeting the ball and
setting off like a whirlwind.
Past the little Reds, through the centers, and into the defense
line he flashed, followed hard by Thomas. In vain Hec Ross tried
to check, Craven was past him like the wind. There remained only
Dan and Jimmie Ben. A few swift strides, and the master was almost
within reach of Dan's club. With a touch of the ball to Thomas he
charged into his waiting foe, flung him aside as he might a child,
and swept on.
"Take the man, Thomas," he cried, and Thomas, gathering himself
up in two short, quick strikes, dashed hard upon Jimmie Ben, and
hurled him crashing to the ice.
"Take that, you brute, you!" he said, and followed after Craven.
Only Farquhar Bheg was left.
"Take no chances," cried Craven again. "Come on!" and both of them
sweeping in upon the goal-keeper, lifted him clear through the goal
and carried the ball with them.
"Time!" called the umpire. The great game was won.
Then, before the crowd had realized what had happened, and before
they could pour in upon the ice, Craven skated back toward Jimmie
"The game is over," he said, in a low, fierce tone. "You cowardly
blackguard, you weren't afraid to hit a boy, now stand up to a man,
if you dare."
Jimmie Ben was no coward. Dropping his club he came eagerly
forward, but no sooner had he got well ready than Craven struck him
fair in the face, and before he could fall, caught him with a
straight, swift blow on the chin, and lifting him clear off his
skates, landed him back on his head and shoulders on the ice, where
he lay with his toes quivering.
"Serve him right," said Hec Ross.
There was no more of it. The Twentieth crowds went wild with joy
and rage, for their great game was won, and the news of what had
befallen their captain had got round.
"He took his city, though, Mrs. Murray," said the master, after the
great supper in the manse that evening, as Hughie lay upon the
sofa, pale, suffering, but happy. "And not only one, but a whole
continent of them, and," he added, "the game as well."
With sudden tears and a little break in her voice, the mother said,
looking at her boy, "It was worth while taking the city, but I fear
the game cost too much."
"Oh, pshaw, mother," said Hughie, "it's only one bone, and I tell
you that final round was worth a leg."
"How many did you say, Craven, of those Glengarry men of yours?"
Professor Gray was catechizing his nephew.
"Ten of them, sir, besides the minister's son, who is going to take
the full university course."
"And all of them bound for the ministry?"
"So they say. And judging by the way they take life, and the way,
for instance, they play shinny, I have a notion they will see it
"They come of a race that sees things through," answered the
professor. "And this is the result of this Zion Hill Academy I
have been hearing so much about?"
"Well, sir, they put in a good year's work, I must say."
"You might have done worse, sir. Indeed, you deserve great credit,
"I? Not a bit. I simply showed them what to do and how to do it.
But there's a woman up there that the world ought to know about.
For love of her--"
"Oh, the world!" snorted the professor. "The world, sir! The Lord
deliver us! It might do the world some good, I grant."
"It is for love of her these men are in for the ministry."
"You are wrong, sir. That is not their motive."
"No, perhaps it is not. It would be unfair to say so, but yet she--"
"I know, sir. I know, sir. Bless my soul, sir. I know her. I
knew her before you were born. But--yes, yes--" the professor
spoke as if to himself--"for love of her men would attempt great
things. You have these names, Craven? Ah! Alexander Stewart,
Donald Cameron, Thomas Finch--Finch, let me see--ah, yes, Finch.
His mother died after a long illness. Yes, I remember. A very sad
case, a very sad case, indeed."
"And yet not so sad, sir," put in Craven. "At any rate, it did not
seem so at the time. That night it seemed anything but sad. It
The professor laid down his list and sat back in his chair.
"Go on, sir," he said, gazing curiously at Craven. "I have heard a
little about it. Let me see, it was the night of the great match,
was it not?"
"Did you know about that? Who told you about the match, sir?"
"I hear a great many things, and in curious ways. But go on, sir,
Craven sat silent, and from the look in his eyes his thoughts were
"Well, sir, it's a thing I have never spoken about. It seems to
me, if I may say so, something quite too sacred to speak of
Again Craven paused, while the professor waited.
"It was Hughie sent me there. There was a jubilation supper at the
manse, you understand. Thomas Finch, the goal-keeper, you know--
magnificent fellow, too--was not at the supper. A messenger had
come for him, saying that his mother had taken a bad turn. Hughie
was much disappointed, and they were all evidently anxious. I
offered to drive over and inquire, and of course the minister's
wife, though she had been on the go all day long, must needs go
with me. I can never forget that night. I suppose you have
noticed, sir, there are times when one is more sensitive to
impressions from one's surroundings than others. There are times
with me, too, when I seem to have a very vital kinship with nature.
At any rate, during that drive nature seemed to get close to me.
The dark, still forest, the crisp air, the frost sparkling in the
starlight on the trees--it all seemed to be part of me. I fear I
am not explaining myself."
Craven paused again, and his eyes began to glow. The professor
"When we reached the house we found them waiting for death. The
minister's wife went in, I waited in the kitchen. By and by Billy
Jack, that's her eldest son, you know, came out. 'She is asking
for you,' he said, and I went in. I had often seen her before, and
I rather think she liked me. You see, I had been able to help
Thomas along pretty well, both in school and with his night work,
and she was grateful for what I had done, absurdly grateful when
one considers how little it was. I had seen death before, and it
had always been ghastly, but there was nothing ghastly in death
that night. The whole scene is before me now, I suppose always
His dead, black eyes were beginning to show their deep, red fire.
The professor looked at him for a moment or two, and then said,
"Proceed, if you please," and Craven drew a long breath, as if
recalling himself, and went on.
"The old man was there at one side, with his gray head down on the
bed, his little girl kneeling beside him with her arm round his
neck, opposite him the minister's wife, her face calm and steady,
Billy Jack standing at the foot of the bed--he and little Jessac
the only ones in the room who were weeping--and there at the head,
Thomas, supporting his mother, now and then moistening her lips and
giving her sips of stimulant, and so quick and steady, gentle as a
woman, and smiling through it all. I could hardly believe it was
the same big fellow who three hours before had carried the ball
through the Front defense. I tell you, sir, it was wonderful.
"There was no fuss or hysterical nonsense in that room. The mother
lay there quite peaceful, pain all gone--and she had had enough of
it in her day. She was quite a beautiful woman, too, in a way.
Fine eyes, remarkable eyes, splendidly firm mouth, showing great
nerve, I should say. All her life, I understand, she lived for
others, and even now her thought was not of herself. When I came
in she opened her eyes. They were like stars, actually shining,
and her smile was like the sudden breaking of light through a
cloud. She put out her hand for mine, and said--and I value these
words, sir--'Mr. Craven, I give you a mither's thanks and a
mither's blessing for a' you have done for ma laddie.' She was
Lowland Scotch, you know. My voice went all to pieces. I tried to
say it was nothing, but stuck. Thomas helped me out, and without a
shake or quiver in his voice, he answered for me.
"'Yes, indeed, mother, we'll not forget it.'
"'And perhaps you can help him a bit still. He will be needing
it,' she added.
"I assure you, sir, that quiet steadiness of Thomas and herself
braced me up, and I was able to make my promise. And then she
said, with a look that somehow reminded me of the deep, starlit
night outside, through which I had just come, 'And you, Mr. Craven,
you will give your life to God?'
"Again my voice failed me. It was so unexpected, and quite
overwhelming. Once more Thomas answered for me.
"'Yes, mother, he will, sure,' and she seemed to take it as my
promise, for she smiled again at me, and closed her eyes.
"I had read of triumphant death-bed scenes, and all that before,
without taking much stock in them, but believe me, sir, that room
was full of glory. The very faces of those people, it seemed to
me, were alight. It may be imagination, but even now, as I think
of it, it seems real. There were no farewells, no wailing, and at
the very last, not even tears. Thomas, who had nursed her for more
than a year, still supported her, the smile on his face to the end.
And the end--"Craven's voice grew unsteady--"it is difficult to
speak of. The minister's wife repeated the words about the house
with many mansions, and those about the valley of the shadow, and
said a little prayer, and then we all waited for the end--for
myself, I confess with considerable fear and anxiety. I had no
need to fear. After a long silence she sat up straight, and in her
Scotch tongue, she said, with a kind of amazed joy in her tone, 'Ma
fayther! Ma fayther! I am here.' Then she settled herself back
in her son's arms, drew a deep breath, and was still. All through
the night and next day the glory lingered round me. I went about
as in a strange world. I am afraid you will be thinking me
The stern old professor was openly wiping his eyes. He seemed
quite unable to find his voice. At length he took up the list
again, and began to read it mechanically.
"What! What's this?" he said, suddenly, pointing to a name on the
"That, sir, is John Craven."
"Do you mean that you, too--"
"Yes, I mean it, if you think I am fit."
"Fit, Jack, my boy! None of us are fit. But what--how did this
come?" The professor blew his nose like a trumpet.
"That I can hardly tell myself," said Craven, with a kind of wonder
in his voice; "but at any rate it is the result of my Glengarry