Part 5 out of 7
"Well, I suppose it's no secret, now," said The Kid, with some
hesitation. "The Old Prospector, you know, before his death had made
a very rich find, but died without staking his claim. The secret of
its location he entrusted to Mr. Macgregor and the doctor. The
doctor, in a fit of drunkenness, gave the secret away to Carroll and
Crawley, who, leaving him incapable from drink, set off at once to
stake the claim."
"Hold on, Mr. Stanton," said Sinclair. "We must be careful. How do
you know their purpose in setting off for the mountains?"
"Well, I think--"
"But," interrupted Sinclair, "we must have statements of fact only."
"Dat's so!" cried Perault excitedly. "Dem feller try to get de Ole
Boss show dat mine, for sure. Crawley he's try to mak de Ole Boss
tell. I hear heem, me. Dem feller want dat mine bad."
"All right, Perault," said Sinclair quietly. "That doesn't prove
they went to stake that claim. Go on, Stanton."
"Well," continued The Kid, "I set off at once, and on my second day
out I met these two men, Mr. Macgregor and Perault, exhausted with
travelling and faint with hunger."
"Guess you'd better tell how you found them, Kid," said Ike, who had
heard the story before.
"Well, gentlemen," continued The Kid, his voice shaking, "it was a
pretty tough sight, I can tell you. I first saw them a long way down
the trail. Mr. Macgregor was carrying Perault on his back and
evidently walking with great difficulty. When I came up to them I
found Perault was almost, if not quite, insensible, and Mr.
Macgregor in the last stages of exhaustion." The Kid paused a few
moments to steady his voice. Low, deep oaths were heard on every
side, while Perault, still weak and nervous from his recent terrible
experience, was sobbing audibly.
"I had plenty of grub," continued The Kid. "I did my best for them
and helped them home. That is all I have to say."
A deep silence fell upon the group of men.
"Now, Perault," said Sinclair, "tell us your story."
Perault tried to steady his voice, but, failing utterly, broke into
passionate weeping, Sinclair waiting in grave silence for him to
recover. Macnamara, the soft-hearted big Irish rancher, was quietly
wiping his eyes, while the other men were swearing terrible oaths.
"Give him a drink," drawled Ike. "Too much water aint good for no
Half a dozen flasks were immediately offered. Perault drank, and,
after a few moments, began his tale.
"I can' spik much, me," he said, "when I tink how dat beeg feller
pack me on hees back twenty mile, I fin' bad pain here," striking
his breast, "and den I can' spik at all." And again the little
Frenchman's voice broke down in sobs.
"Take time, Perault," said Sinclair gravely. "We want to know all
about it. Begin at the beginning and tell it in your own way." The
grave tone, even more than the whisky he had drunk, steadied
Perault, and he began again.
"Dat's twelve or tirteen day, now. De Preachere, dat Prospector, I
call heem, he's jus' lak de Ole Boss, for sure--de Prospector he's
sen' dat ole fool doctor, for me queek. I come and fin' de
Prospector he's ver' mad; mos' awful mad; never see heem lak, dat
before. 'Perault,' he say, 'get ponee and grub queek. We go for de
"By gar! He's mak me scare. I get ponee an' grub and get off queek,
toute suite, right away. Well, we go two day hard and come to de
camp where de Ole Boss he's die, den we climb over de montin. De
Prospector he's got map and show me trail. Oui, I know him bon, fus
rate. 'Perault,' he say, 'you min' las' year de Ole Boss he's fin'
good mine way up in de valley?' `Oui, for sure.' 'You know de
trail?' Oui, certainment.' 'Den,' he say, 'we go dere.' Nex' day we
strike dat trail and go four or five mile. We come to dat valley--
Mon Dieu! dere's no valley dere. We come back and try once more--dat
blank valley, she's no dere. De Prospector he look much on dat map.
'Where dose tree peak?' he say. 'Dere sure 'nuff, one, two tree. Dat
valley she's right on line of dose peak.' 'Sure,' I say. 'I see heem
myself she's gone now for sure! Ah! Voila! I see! Beeg slide feel
dat valley up! By gar! Dat's so, dat montin she's half gone, dat
valley he's full up. Mon Dieu! De Prospector he's lak wil' man.
'Perault,' he say, 'I promise de ole man I go for fin' dat mine.'
'All right, boss,' I say, 'me too.' We make cache for grub, we
hobble de ponee and go for fin' dat mine. Dat's one blank hard day.
Over rock and tree and hole and stomp he's go lak one deerhoun.'
Next day he's jus' same. For me, I'm tire' out. Well, we come home
to camp, slow, slow, hungree, sorefoot--by gar! Sacre bleu! Dat
cache she broke up, de grub he's gone! Mon Dieu! dat's bad--four or
five day walk from home and no grub at all."
"What did you think, Perault?" asked Sinclair. "Did you see signs of
any beast, bear or mountain lion?"
"Sure, dat's what I tink fus' ting, but de Prospector he's walk
aroun' quiet and look everyting. 'Perault, dat's fonee ting,' he
say. 'Where dose can' meat, eh?' By gar! days so, de bear he can'
eat dose can' meat, not moche!"
"Not likely, not bein' a goat," put in Ike drily.
"Well, we look aroun' ver' close, no scratch, no track. By gar! days
no bear, for sure--dat's one bear on two leg."
"I think," said Sinclair gravely, "that there is no doubt of that.
The question is, who did it? Gentlemen, it has been proved that
these two men, Carroll and Crawley, were away during the week when
this crime took place. We do not know where they were, but we must
be fair to them. We may have our opinions about this, but in fixing
the responsibility of this crime we must be exceedingly careful to
deal justly with every man. I suggest we call Carroll."
Carroll came to the meeting without hesitation, and with him,
"We will take you in a few minutes," said Sinclair to Crawley.
"Now," he continued to Carroll, when Crawley had been removed, "we
would like to know where you were last week."
"That's nobody's blank business," said Carroll.
An angry murmur arose from the crowd.
"Carroll, this thing is too serious for any bluffing, and we are
going to see it through. It is fair that you should know why we ask.
Let me give you the facts we have found out." Sinclair gave a brief
resume of the story as gathered from Stanton and Perault. As Carroll
listened his face grew white with fury.
"Does any blank, blank son of a horse thief," he cried, when
Sinclair had done, "say I am the man that broke open that cache? Let
him stand up forninst me and say so." He gnashed his teeth in his
rage. "Whin Tim Carroll goes to git even wid a man he doesn't go
behind his back fur it, and yez all know that! No," he cried,
planting his huge fist with a crash upon the table, "I didn't put a
finger on the cache nor his ponies ayther, begob!"
"All right, Carroll, we are glad to hear it," said Sinclair, in a
cold, stern voice. "You needn't get so wild over it. You cannot
frighten us, you know. Every man here can give an account of his
doings last week--can you?"
"I can that same," said Carroll, somewhat subdued by Sinclair's tone
and manner. "I am not afraid to say that we went up to see a mine we
"You and Crawley, you mean?" said Sinclair quietly.
"Yes," continued Carroll, "and that's fair enough, too; and we
hunted around a week fur it, an' came back."
"Did you find your mine?" asked Sinclair.
"We did not, and it's a blank, blank fool I was to listen to the
yarn of the drunken old fool of a doctor."
"Thank you, Carroll. Now, I do not think myself that you touched
"If he did, he will swing for it," said a voice, cool and
relentless, in the crowd.
Carroll started a little as he heard that voice.
"You shut up!" said Ike.
"Now, Carroll, we want you to answer a few questions," continued
Sinclair. "Mr. Crawley brought you to the camp where the Old
Prospector died--is that right?"
"And then you went east from that point over the mountain?"
"We did, and I am telling you we was looking for that mine we heard
"All right," said Sinclair. "How long did you stay in that
"A week or so."
"Did you see Mr. Macgregor or Perault while you were there?"
"That's none of your business."
"You'd better answer, Carroll."
"It'll be your business pretty blank soon!" drawled the voice again.
"Shut up!" said Ike. "Give him a chance."
"I think you'd better answer," said Sinclair quietly. "You've
nothing to hide, I suppose?"
"I haven't," said Carroll defiantly. "We did see them two walking
around, and we soon knew, too, that they didn't know any more than
ourselves about that mine. Thin we came away."
"Did you see their camp?"
"We did. We passed it by."
"Did you stop and speak to them?"
"No, we did not; for the good reason they weren't there."
"Did you examine the camp or touch anything?"
"Nivir a touch, so help me God!" said Carroll, with great
"Then did you and Crawley come away together?"
"Where did you camp that night?"
"Over the mountain beyant, forninst the Old Prospector's grave."
"And you came straight home next day?"
"We did, except for a luk at a couple of prospects we knew of."
"Oh! How long did that take you?"
"It tuk me about a day, and Crawley a little less, I'm thinkin'."
"How was that, Carroll?" enquired Sinclair.
"Well, he tuk one gulch and I tuk the other, and he got through
before me, and the next day we came home; and that's the truth of
it, so help me."
"Then you were never separated from each other except for that one
"That's true." There was no mistaking the sincerity and honesty of
"Any further questions to ask, gentlemen?"
"How long did you stop at Mr. Macgregor's camp when you was passing
by?" asked Ike.
"Don't be so blanked smart, Ike!" said Carroll, in savage scorn.
"I'm telling you that I didn't stop a fut. We saw their camp and
their ponies and we went sthraight past."
"Didn't stop to light your pipe or nothing?" enquired Ike.
"Blank your blank ugly mug!" roared Carroll, "do you mean to say,--"
"Oh, nothing," said Ike quietly. "Just wanted to know how long you
"And I am tellin' you we didn't sthop atall, atall, not a fut of us!
We didn't go near their camp within fifty yard."
"Not fifty yards, eh? Well, that's strange."
Carroll poured out a volley of oaths.
"You're sure about that fifty yards, Carroll?" asked Ike, in
"I didn't pace it, you blanked fool! but I'll swear it wasn't more
"You're dead sure about that thirty yards, Carroll?" persisted Ike.
"I am that, and if you want to say anything more come outside!" said
Carroll, glaring wildly at his interlocutor.
"Oh, thanks, I'm comfortable," said Ike mildly, as he, sat lack in
his chair. "Hope you are the same."
"That will do, Carroll," said Sinclair. "I am sure we all feel much
obliged to you for your straightforward answers. If we want you
again we'll send for you."
"And I'll come," said Carroll, with another oath, passing out of the
"Now," said Sinclair, "we'll have Crawley."
In a few moments Crawley came in, smiling and self-confident, with
plenty of nerve, an abundance of wit, and a most ingenuous manner.
He met the chairman's questions with ready assurance and
corroborated the story told by Carroll. He would frankly acknowledge
that he had heard about the Lost River. Indeed, he had been more or
less interested in it for some years and, though he did not take
much stock in the doctor's word, still he declared that his own
interests and the interests of Miss Mowbray, and indeed of all
concerned, demanded that the thing was worth looking into. They
visited the locality indicated by the doctor; they spent a week in
exploration, but could find no trace of such a valuable mine as the
doctor had described; and they had come away not very much
disappointed; they had hardly expected any other result. They had
seen Mr. Macgregor's camp, but they had not approached it; they
passed by at some distance, leaving everything undisturbed.
"You camped that night near the Old Prospector's grave?" asked
"The next day you set off for home?"
"You and Carroll were always together?"
"You came home by the same trail and without any other
Here Crawley hesitated a moment. "Well, yes, except that we ran up a
gulch to look at some rocks."
"Oh! Did you find anything?"
"Well, we think so," said Crawley pleasantly.
"You went both together up the gulch? You were never separated?"
"We went together, yes."
"Any further questions, gentlemen?"
For a time there was no response, then Ike came slowly forward to
the table and stood by Crawley's side.
"You did not go near that cache?"
"No," said Crawley firmly.
"Are you mighty sure about that? Better be sure."
"I am positive we did not go within twenty or thirty yards," said
"All right, Crawley," drawled Ike, "better have a pipe now." And as
he spoke he threw down a tobacco pouch on the table.
Crawley turned pale, gripped at the table to stead himself, gazed at
the pouch lying before him for a few moments and then enquired in a
voice that shook in spite of all that he could do: "Who gave you--
where did you get that?"
"It's yours, aint it? Got your name on, anyway," said Ike. "Where
did you leave it?"
"Don't know," said Crawley, turning green with terror.
"Gentlemen," said Ike, addressing the crowd, "I aint agoin' to make
no speech to this jury, but I want to remark that this here blank
reptile is a blank liar, and if he aint a murderer 'taint his fault.
That there pouch of his," continued Ike, putting a long forefinger
down upon the article lying on the table, "that there pouch of his
was found by the 'Prospector,' as Perault calls him, beside that
there empty cache. That's all I have to say." And Ike turned and
walked slowly back to his seat.
In vain the trembling wretch tried first to bluster and then to
explain. Carroll was again summoned and affirmed emphatically that
he and Crawley had been separated for the greater part of one day,
and that while together they had not approached Mr. Macgregor's
"That will do, Carroll," said Sinclair quietly. "We believe you
entirely, and I would like to say that for my part I am mighty glad
that you are entirely freed from suspicion."
"That's so, you bet!" came from the men on all sides, as one by one
they stepped forward to shake Carroll warmly by the hand.
"Now, gentlemen," said Sinclair, "make your decision. This man,"
pointing to Crawley, "is charged with a serious crime. What is your
One by one the men threw into the hat on the table a bit of paper.
In silence Sinclair and The Kid read and recorded the ballots. When
they had finished Sinclair stood up, looking sternly at Crawley, and
"Mr. Crawley, this Committee say unanimously that you are guilty.
Have you anything to say before sentence is pronounced?"
The wretched creature fell on his knees with tears and cries
"Take him away," said Sinclair sternly. "Now, gentlemen, what have
you to say? What shall be done to this man whom you have decided to
be guilty of murder?"
The discussion which followed was long and bitter. Sinclair and
those who had come more recently to the country were for handing him
over to the police.
"What's the good of that, Sinclair?" demanded Macnamara, one of the
"Well, he'll get justice sure; he'll get sent up."
"Don't know about that," said Ike. "You see, you can't prove
anything but stealin', and you can't prove that, for sure. They'll
take him down to Regina, and they aint going to give him much down
there for stealin' a little grub."
"Well, what do you propose?" said Sinclair.
"Well," said Ike, "hangin's too good for him. He ought to be hung,
but 'taint the custom in this here country, I understand, and I
surmise we'd better scare the daylights out of him and give him
twelve hours to get out."
After some further discussion Ike's proposition was accepted. That
night four masked men took Crawley out of the room where he had been
kept a prisoner and led him out of the village and up the trail to
the woods, and there, unheeding his prayers and cries and groans,
they made solemn preparations for his execution. In the midst of
their preparations Sinclair, with a number. of others, came
galloping up and demanded the prisoner's release, and after a long
and bitter discussion it was finally agreed that Crawley should be
given twelve hours to leave the country, which decision was joyfully
and tearfully accepted by the terror-stricken wretch.
"Hello, old man, there's a letter for you in my rooms. Thought
you'd be in to-day, so took care of it for you." Father Mike drew
near Shock's buckboard and greeted him cordially. "By Jove! what's
the matter with you? What have you been doing to yourself?" he
exclaimed, looking keenly into Shock's face.
"I am rather seedy," said Shock. "Played out, indeed." And he gave
Father Mike an account of his last week's experience.
"Great Caesar!" exclaimed Father Mike, "that was a close thing. Come
right along and stretch yourself out of my couch. A cup of tea will
do you good." Shock, gladly accepting the invitation, went with him.
"There's your letter," said Father Mike, as he set Shock in his deep
armchair. "You read it while I make tea."
The letter was, as Father Mike had said, a fat one. It was from his
Convener and ran thus:
"MY DEAR MR. MACGREGOR:"
"The enclosed letter from the Superintendent will explain itself.
You are instructed to withdraw forthwith your services from the
Fort. I know you will be disappointed. This is the sort of thing
that makes our work in the West depressing: not big blizzards nor
small grants, but failure on the part of Eastern men to understand
our needs and to appreciate the tremendous importance of these years
to the West. Never mind, our day will come. I regret greatly that
the Committee should have been influenced by the petition enclosed.
Do not let this worry you. The Superintendent's P. S. is due to some
misunderstanding. I have written him on this matter. We know some of
your difficulties and we have every confidence in you," etc., etc.
From the Superintendent's letter the Convener had enclosed the
"It has been decided to withdraw our services from the Fort. I had a
stiff fight in the Committee, but failed; they were all against me.
Dr. Macfarren especially so--had private information (from his
brother, I suppose); presented a petition, which find enclosed;
protested against the waste of funds, etc., etc. This precious
petition, by the way, seemed to influence the Committee greatly. I
need not tell you it failed to influence me, unless indeed as an
evidence of the need of our services in that place. You and I have
seen this sort of thing before in the West. Young Lloyd of the Park
Church, too, was eloquent in opposing--the old story, funds
overlapping, denominational rivalry. These young men, who decline to
face the frontier, would show better taste in seeking to learn
something of the West than in hampering those who are giving their
lives to this work. The upholstered seat of the Park Church pulpit
does not induce the liveliest sympathy with the Western conditions.
Meantime the Convener sits on the chest, and the rest of the
Committee seem to feel that their chief duty lies in cutting down
expenses and that the highest possible achievement is their meeting
the Assembly without a deficit."
"P.S.--Dr. Macfarren hinted a good deal at want of tact on the part
of our Missionary, and young Lloyd, who knows Macgregor, seemed to
consider this quite possible. Our Missionary must not antagonise men
unnecessarily. Send him this letter if you think well; I always like
to deal frankly with our men," etc., etc.
As Shook read the letters and glanced at the petition his look of
weariness passed away and the old scrimmage smile came back to his
face. "Read that," he said, handing the letters to Father Mike, who
read them in silence.
"Withdraw!" he exclaimed in astonishment when he had finished
reading. "And why, pray?"
"Oh! don't you see, 'funds overlapping, denominational rivalry'?"
"'Overlapping, rivalry,' rot! You cannot do my work here and I
cannot do yours. I say, this petition would be rich if it were not
so damnable," added Father Mike, glancing at the document.
"'Whereas, the town is amply supplied with church services there is
no desire for services by the Presbyterians'--or by any others for
that matter," interjected Father Mike. "Let us see who signs this
blessed paper? Macfarren. He's a beautiful churchman. Inspector
Haynes. What's he got to do with it? Frank, Smith, Crozier! Why, the
thing is a farce! Not a man of them ever goes to church. 'Whereas,
the Presbyterians are quite unable to assume any financial
obligation in support of a minister.' Why, the whole outfit doesn't
contribute a dollar a month. Isn't it preposterous, a beastly
humbug! Who is this young whipper-snapper, Lloyd, pray?" Father
Mike's tone was full of contempt.
Shock winced. His friend had touched the only, place left raw by the
letter. "He is a college friend of mine," he answered quickly. "A
fine fellow and a great preacher."
"Oh!" replied Father Mike drily. "I beg pardon. Well, what will you
"Withdraw," said Shock simply. "I haven't made it go, anyway."
"Rot!" said Father Mike, with great emphasis. "Macfarren doesn't
want you, and possibly the Inspector shares in that feeling,--I
guess you know why, but you are needed in this town, and needed
But Shock only replied "I shall withdraw. I have been rather a
failure, I guess. Let's talk no more about it."
"All right, old chap," said Father Mike. "Come along to tea. I wish
to Heaven there were more failures like you in the country."
Shock's last service at the Fort marked his emancipation as a
preacher of the Gospel. Hitherto the presence of those whom he knew
to be indifferent or contemptuously critical had wrought in him a
self-consciousness that confused his thought, clogged his emotion,
and hampered his speech. This night all was changed. The hall was
full; the Inspector and his wife, with the men from the barracks,
Macfarren and his followers, General Brady and his gracious, sweet-
faced wife, were all there. Ike and The Kid--whose ranch lay halfway
between the Lake and the Fort had ridden in, and far back in the dim
darkness of a corner sat the doctor. As Shock stood up and looked
into the faces of the men before him and thought of their lives,
lonely, tempted, frankly wicked, some of them far down in
degradation, he forgot himself, his success, or his failure. What
mattered that! How petty seemed now all his considerations for
himself! Men were before him who by reason of sin were in sore need
of help. He believed he had what they needed. How to give it to
them, that was the question. With this feeling of sympathy and
compassion, deepened and intensified by a poignant sense of failure,
Shock stood up to deliver to them his last message. He would speak
the truth to-night, and speak it he did, without a tinge of
embarrassment or fear. As his words began to flow he became
conscious of a new strength, of a new freedom, and the joy of his
new strength and freedom swept him along on a full tide of burning
speech. He abandoned his notes, from which he had hitherto feared to
be far separated; he left the desk, which had been to him a
barricade for defence, and stood up before the people. His theme was
the story of the leprous man who dared to come to the Great Healer
in all the hideousness of his disease and who was straightway
cleansed. After reading the words he stood facing them a few moments
in silence and then, without any manner of introduction, he began:
"That's what you want, men. You need to be made clean, you need to
be made strong." The people stared at him as if he had gone mad, it
was so unlike his usual formal, awkward self. Quietly, but with
intense and serious earnestness, he spoke to them of their sins,
their drunken orgies, their awful profanity, their disregard of
everything religious, their open vices and secret sins.
"Say," said Ike to The Kid, who sat next to him, "they'll be gettin'
out their guns sure!" But there was no anger in the faces lifted up
to the speaker; the matter was too serious for anger and the tone
was too kindly for offence. Without hesitation Shock went on with
his terribly relentless indictment of the men who sat before him.
Then, with a swift change of tone and thought, he cried in a voice
vibrating with compassion:
"And you cannot help it, men! The pity of it is, you cannot help it!
You cannot change your hearts; you love these things, you cannot
shake them off, they have grown upon you and have become your fixed
habits. Some of you have tried: I know you have had your periods of
remorse and you have sought to escape, but you have failed."
He paused a moment, and then continued in a voice humble and
"I have failed, too. I thought in my pride and my folly that I could
help you, but I have failed. We have failed together, men--what then
is before us?"
His voice took a deeper tone, his manner was earnestly respectful
and tenderly sympathetic, as he set before them the Divine Man, so
quick to sympathise, so ready and so powerful to help.
"He is the same to-night, men! Appeal to Him and He will respond as
He did to this poor leprous man."
Over and over again he urged this upon them, heaping argument upon
argument, seeking to persuade them that it was worth while making
"Say, boss, seems reasonable, don't it, and easy, too?" said Ike to
The Kid, who was listening with face pale and intent. The Kid nodded
without moving his eager eyes from the speaker's face.
"But I can't just git the throw, quite," continued Ike, with a
"Hush, listen!" said The Kid sharply. Shock had paused abruptly. For
a few moments he stood looking into the eyes of the men gaping back
at him with such intense eagerness; then leaning forward a little he
said in a voice low, but thrilling with emotions:
"Does any man here think his father or mother has forgotten him or
does not care what happens to him?"
Shock was thinking of his own dear old mother, separated from him by
so many leagues of empty prairie, but so near to him in love and
"Does any man think so?" he repeated, "and do you think your Father
in Heaven does not care? Oh! do not think so!" His voice rose in a
cry of entreaty. The effect was tremendous.
"God in Heaven, help me!" cried The Kid to himself with a sob in his
"Me too, boss," said Ike gravely, putting his hand on the other's
Shock's farewell was as abrupt as his beginning. In a single
sentence he informed them that the services would be discontinued at
this end of the field. He wished he could have served them better;
he knew he had failed; he asked their forgiveness as he had already
asked it of his God; but, though he had failed, he commended them to
Him who had never failed any man appealing to Him for help.
There was no hymn, but in a simple, short prayer the service was
closed, and before the congregation had recovered from their
amazement Shock had passed out through the back door.
"Well, I'll be blanked!" said Ike, with a gasp.
"Quit that, Ike," said The Kid sharply. "Look here--I am going to
quit swearing right now, so help me."
"All right, boss, I'm with you; put it there."
Then above the hum of conversation General Brady's voice was heard:
"Gentlemen, it is my opinion that we have lost a great man to-night,
a fearless man and a Christian gentleman."
"That's my entire prognostication, General," said Ike, with great
Meantime Shock had gone searching through the hotels for the doctor,
whom he had seen slipping out before the closing prayer. But the
doctor was nowhere to be seen, and in despair Shock went to Father
Mike. He found that gentleman in a state of enthusiastic excitement.
"My dear fellow, my dear fellow," he exclaimed, "that was great!"
"What?" said Shock simply.
"That sermon, man. I would give my hand to preach like that."
"Preach?" said Shock. "I didn't preach. Did you see the doctor?"
"Never mind the doctor," said Father Mike. "Come in, I want to talk
with you; come in."
"No, I must see the doctor."
"Well, then, wait; I will go with you."
Shock hesitated. "I think I would rather go alone, if you don't
mind," he said.
"All right, old chap," said Father Mike, "I understand. The door's
always open and the kettle on."
"Thank you," said Shock. "You know how I appreciate that," and he
There was a light in Macfarren's office. Shock knocked at the door
and went in. He found the doctor and Macfarren seated by a table,
upon which were glasses and a bottle. The doctor was pale, nervous,
"Sit down, Mr. Macgregor," said Macfarren, with more cordiality than
he had ever shown to Shock before.
"I was just saying to the doctor that that was a fine discourse, a
very able discourse, Mr. Macgregor."
Shock made no reply, but stood looking at the doctor.
"I would like to say," continued Macfarren, "that I regret your
leaving us. I believe, on the whole, it is a mistake; we require
preaching like that." There was a touch of real earnestness in
"Mr. Macfarren," said Shock, "I am sorry I have not been able to
help you. You need help, you need help badly. Jesus Christ can help
you. Goodnight." He took the doctor's arm and, helping him up,
walked off with him.
"What do you want?" said the doctor fiercely, when they were
"Doctor, I want your help. I feel weak."
"Weak! Great Heavens above! YOU talk of weakness? Don't mock me!"
"It is true, doctor; come along."
"Where are you going?" said the doctor.
"I don't know," said Shock. "Let us go to your office."
The doctor's office was a cheerless room, dusty, disordered, and
comfortless. The doctor sat down in a chair, laid his head on the
table, and groaned. "It is no good, it is no good. I tried, I tried
honestly. I prayed, I even hoped for a time--this is all gone I
broke my word, I betrayed my trust even to the dead. All is lost!"
"Doctor," said Shock quietly, "I wish that you would look at me and
tell me what's the matter with me. I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, and
yet I am weary. I feel weak and useless--cannot you help me?"
The doctor looked at him keenly. "You're not playing with me, are
you? No, by Jove! you are not. You do look bad--let me look at you."
His professional interest was aroused. He turned up the lamp and
examined Shock thoroughly.
"What have you been doing? What's the cause of this thing?" he
enquired, at length, as if he feared to ask.
Shock gave him an account of his ten days' experience in the
mountains, sparing nothing. The doctor listened in an agony of self-
"It was my fault," he groaned, "it was all my fault."
"Not a word of that, doctor, please. It was not in your hands or in
mine. The Lost River is lost, not by any man's fault, but by the
will of God. Now, tell me, what do I need?"
"Nothing, nothing at all but rest and sleep. Rest; for a week," said
"Well, then," said Shock, "I want you to come and look after me for
a week. I need you; you need me; we'll help each other."
"Oh, God! Oh, God!" groaned the doctor, "what is the use? You know
there is no use."
"Doctor, I told you before that you are saying what is both false
"I remember," said the doctor bitterly. "You spoke of common sense
"Yes, and I say so again," replied Shock. "Common sense and honesty
is what you need. Listen--I am not going to preach, I am done with
that for to-night--but you know as well as I do that when a man
faces the right way God is ready to back him up. It is common sense
to bank on that, isn't it? Common sense, and nothing else. But I
want to say this, you've got to be honest with God. You've not been
fair. You say you've prayed--"
"God knows I have," said the doctor.
"Yes," said Shock, with a touch of scorn in his voice, "you've
prayed, and then you went into the same old places and with the same
old companions, and so you find yourself where you are to-night. You
cannot cure any man of disease if he breaks every regulation you
make when your back is turned. Give God a chance, that's all I ask.
Be decently square with Him. There's lots of mystery in religion,
but it is not there. Come along now, you are going home with me."
"No, sir," said the doctor decidedly. "I shall fight it out alone."
"Will you walk, or shall I carry you?" said Shock quietly.
The doctor gazed at him. "Oh, confound you!" he cried, "I'll"--He
stopped short and putting his face down upon the table again he
burst into a storm of sobs and cried, "Oh, I am weak, I am weak, let
me go, let me go, I am not worth it!"
Then Shock got down beside him, put his arm around his shoulder, and
said: "I cannot let you go, doctor. I want you. And your Father in
Heaven wants you. Come," he continued after a pause, "we'll win
For half an hour they walked the streets and then turned into Father
"Father Mike," said Shock, opening the door, "we want coffee, and
I'm hungrier than I've been for three days."
"Come in," said Father Mike, with a keen glance at the doctor, "come
in, brother mine. You've earned your grub this day."
"STAY AT YOUR POST, LAD"
Relieved from his station at the Fort, Shock was able to devote
himself entirely to the western part of his field, which embraced
the Loon Lake district and extended twenty-five miles up to the
Pass, and he threw himself with redoubled energy into his work of
exploration and organisation. Long ago his little cayuse had been
found quite unequal to the task of keeping pace with the tremendous
energy of his driver, and so for the longer journeys Shock had come
to depend mainly upon Bob, the great rangey sorrel sent him by the
Hamilton boys, the only condition attached to the gift being that he
should allow Bob to visit the ranch at least once a month. And so it
came that Shock and his sorrel broncho became widely known over the
ranges of all that country. Many a little shack in far away valleys,
where a woman with her children lived in isolated seclusion from all
the world, he discovered and brought into touch with the world
about, and by means of books and magazines and illustrated papers
brought to hearts sick with longing some of the colour and
brightness from the great world beyond, so often fondly longed for.
Many a cowboy, wild and reckless, with every link of kin-ship
broken, an unrelated unit of humanity keeping lonely watch over his
bunch of cattle, found in Shock a friend, and established through
him anew a bond with human society. The hour spent with Shock in
riding around the cattle often brought to this bit of human
driftwood a new respect for himself, a new sense of responsibility
for life, and a new estimate of the worth of his manhood. Away up in
the Pass, too, where the miners lived and wrought under conditions
wretched, debasing, and fraught with danger, and where in the
forest-camps the lumbermen lived lives more wholesome, but more
lonely, Shock found scope for the full energy of his passion to help
"A hospital is what they need up here, doctor!" he exclaimed one day
after they had made a tour through the shacks and bunks where men
sick and injured lay in their uncared for misery. "A hospital is
what they want, and some kind of a homelike place where they can
meet together. And by God's help we'll get this, too, when our hands
are somewhat free. We have all we can do for the next few weeks."
And so they had.
Shock had early recognised that the evils which were so rampant, and
that exercised such a baneful influence in the community, were due
not so much to any inherent love of vice as to the conditions under
which the men were forced to live. Life was a lonely thing on the
ranges, without colour, without variety, and men plunged into
debauchery from sheer desperate reaction from monotony. Shock
believed that, if there could be established a social centre
offering intellectual interest and physical recreation, much could
be done to banish the vices that were fast becoming imbedded in the
very life and character of the people. And so he planned the
erection of a building that would serve for church, manse, club-
house, schoolroom, and library, and would thus become a spot around
which the life of the community might gather in a clean and
wholesome atmosphere. He appealed to the Church Manse Building Fund
for a grant, he drew his plans for his building, and throughout the
summer quietly set about gathering his materials. One and another of
his friends he would persuade to haul a load of logs from the hills,
and with good-natured persistence he would get a day's work now and
again from the young fellows who frequently had more time on their
hands than they knew how to reasonably make use of, with the result
that before they were well aware of what was being done a log
building stood ready for the roofing and plaster. His success
stimulated his friends to more organised and continued effort. They
began to vie with each other in making contributions of work and
material for the new building. Macnamara furnished lime, Martin drew
sand, Sinclair and The Kid, who had the best horses and wagons, drew
lumber from the mill at the Fort; and by the time summer was gone
the building, roofed, chinked, and plastered, only required a few
finishing touches to be ready for the opening. Indeed, it was a most
creditable structure. It was a large, roomy, two-story building, the
downstairs of which was given up to a room to be devoted to public
uses. The upstairs Shock planned to contain four bed-rooms.
"What do you want of four bed-rooms, Mr. Prospector?" said Ike, as
they were laying out the space. "You can't sleep in more'n three of
'em at a time."
"No, but you can sleep in one, Ike, and some of the boys in another,
and I want one myself."
"Oh!" said Ike, much pleased. "Going to run a kind of stoppin'
place, are you?"
"Yes; I hope my friends will stop with me often."
"Guess you won't have much trouble with that side of it," said Ike.
"And this here room," he continued, "will do first rate for a kind
of lumber-room, provisions, and harness, and such like, I guess?"
"No," said Shock. "This room will be the finest room in the house.
See: it will look away out toward the south and west, over the lake,
and up to the mountains. The inside of the room won't be hard to
beat, but the outside cannot be equalled in all the world, and I
tell you what, Ike, it cannot be too good, for this room is for my
mother." There was a reverent, tender tone in Shock's voice that
"Is she really goin' to come out here?" he asked.
"I hope so," said Shock. "Next spring."
"I say," said Ike, "won't she find it lonely?"
"I don't think so," said Shock, with a curious smile. "You know, my
mother is rather peculiar. For twenty-five years, without missing a
single night, she came into my room to kiss me before I went to
sleep, and she's just that foolish that if I'm anywhere around I
don't think she'll be lonely." And then Shock proceeded to give Ike
a picture of his mother, and all her devotion to him through the
long years of his life. The rough but tender-hearted cowboy was more
touched than he cared to show.
"Say," he said, when Shock had finished, "how did you ever come to
leave her? I couldn't 'a' done it, nohow."
"She sent me," said Shock simply. "There's One she loves better than
me." And Ike understood without more explanation.
For the furnishing of the house, and for the equipment of the
library and club-rooms, Shock had appealed to his friends in the
East through Brown, to whom he gave a full description of the
building and the purposes for which it had been erected. The
response was so hearty and so generous that, when the loads of
house-furnishings, books, magazines, and papers arrived, Shock's
heart was full to overflowing with gratitude, and, when a little
later he received notice that a cabinet organ had arrived at the
railroad depot, he felt that the difficulties and trials of a
missionary's life were few and small in comparison with the triumphs
At length everything was in place and the building ready for the
opening. The preparations for this great event were in the hands of
a committee, of which The Kid was chairman; the decorations were
left to Ike and Perault; the programme was left to The Kid, assisted
by Marion, who had been persuaded not only to sing, herself, but had
agreed to train the school children in some action songs. There was
to be a grand supper, of course,--nothing Western would be complete
without that feature,--and in addition to the ordinary speeches and
musical numbers there was to be a nigger-minstrel show with clog-
dancing furnished by the miners and lumbermen from the Pass, at
Shock's urgent invitation. The whole affair was to be wound up by a
grand promenade headed by young Malcolm Forbes, son of a Highland
chief, a shy young fellow whom Shock had dug up from a remote
valley, and who was to appear in full Highland costume with his
pipes. Small wonder that the whole community, from the Fort to the
Pass, was tingling with delighted anticipation. Such an event was
not only important of itself, but it was hailed as the inauguration
of a new era in the country, for with church, school, library, and
club they would be abreast of the most advanced Eastern
Not only were the people of the Loon Lake district stirred with
interest in the opening of their new building, but to a far greater
extent than they knew their confidence and even their affection had
gathered about the man to whose energy the whole enterprise was due.
During these months they had come to rely upon his judgment as a man
of affairs, to trust him for his true human heart, and to regard him
with reverence as one touched with a spirit unlike that of the world
with which they were familiar--a spirit of generous sympathy with
them in all their multitudinous trials and difficulties, a spirit
that made him think nothing of himself and much of them. He
represented to them religion in a manner at once winning and
impressive, as few of them had ever seen it represented before.
At length the great day came, and with it the gathering of the
people from all parts far and near. A few farmers who lived toward
the Fort came with their wives and children in horse-wagons and ox-
wagons; the ranchers with their families drove for the most part in
DEMOCRATS and buckboards; but many of the ranchers and their wives
and all the cowboys came on horseback. There had never been such a
gathering at Loon Lake within the memory of the oldest timer. The
preparations for supper were elaborate and impressive. It was
important that this part of the evening's proceedings should go off
well. As Shock, passing up and down, witnessed the abounding
hilarity of those who thronged the supper-tables his mind was
relieved of all anxiety as to the success of the entertainment to
follow. With great difficulty Sinclair, who was a shy man, was
persuaded to preside as chairman. It was only the promise of Shock
to support him on the one side and of Father Mike, who was almost as
much interested in the success of the entertainment as Shock
himself, on the other, that induced Sinclair finally to accept this
responsible and honourable position. It was indeed an hour of
triumph to Shock and his fellow-workers, and as the entertainment
progressed they gathered satisfaction to the full from the
manifestations of delight on the part of the audience that packed
the building to the doors.
After the entertainment had well begun a stranger appeared at the
door asking for the minister.
"Well," said Ike, who was performing the responsible duty of door-
keeper, "you can't see him, not now. What's required?"
"I guess it's pretty important," the stranger said.
"It's a telegram. In fact, it's bad news, so Mr. McIntyre of Big
"Bad news!" exclaimed Ike. "Mighty bad time to bring bad news. Why
couldn't you wait?"
"Some things can't wait," said the man briefly. "Guess you'd better
read it, it's open."
"Not me," said Ike, shrinking from this liberty. "Send for The Kid."
In a few moments The Kid appeared and, taking the telegram from Ike,
"The Lord help us!" he exclaimed as he read the wire. He took Ike to
one side away from the crowd and read him the words: "'Your mother
seriously ill. Doctors hold out no hope of recovery. Signed,
"His mother! Say, boss, what'll we do? He thinks a mighty lot of his
mother. I've heerd him talk. This will purty nigh kill him, I
They stood for some moments looking blankly at each other, unwilling
to deliver the blow which they knew would strike deep into the heart
of the man they had come to love.
"He must be told," said The Kid at length. "Let's see--he'll want to
get to the end of the line, anyway, and that's over a hundred miles
from here. I say, Ike, you'd better tell him, I guess."
"Well," said Ike slowly, "that there's a purty particular bit of
diplomatics, and I aint used to it. I say," with a sudden
inspiration, "you tell him."
"Couldn't do it, Ike. How would it do to get Father Mike or
"Yes," said Ike meditatively, "they'd do all right if we weren't
here, but I guess we belong to him 'most more than they do."
"That's so, Ike," said The Kid quickly. "That's so; it's one of us."
"Yes, it's one of us," said Ike, "and if I could do it well, boss,
you wouldn't see no buck."
"All right, Ike," said The Kid, drawing a long breath. "I'll do it."
"I'll remember it, boss," said Ike. "Guess there aint much time to
lose. How is he agoin' to git there?"
"Take the Swallow, Ike," said The Kid. "She's good for a hundred
"Mr. McIntyre's team will be ready to go from his place," said the
stranger, who had come near.
"Good!" said The Kid. "Where are you going, Ike?"
"To git the horses. He'll want to git right off. I guess I'll put
him on Slipper, and I'll take the Swallow. Slipper rides purty easy,
and he's a purty big man."
"All right, Ike," said The Kid. "Remember every minute is precious.
Here, Mac," he continued, turning to Macnamara, who stood looking in
at the door, craning his neck to see and hear what was going on,
"slip around to the side door and tell Mr. Macgregor that I want him
In a few minutes Shock came running out in high spirits, elated with
the success of the evening. "Hello, old boy!" he cried to The Kid.
"It's great, isn't it? You're a great concert conductor! What do you
want me for?"
The Kid took him by the arm and led him away in silence toward the
Old Prospector's shack, which stood near by.
"What's the matter, Stanton; anything gone wrong?" Still The Kid
made no reply; but, walking to the door of the shack, opened it, and
went in and lit the lamp. "Sit down," he said, pushing Shock into a
chair. "I have something to tell you. There's--there's bad news, I'm
afraid. I'll wait outside." He put the telegram down, went hastily
out, and closed the door, leaving Shock to face the blow where no
eye could see.
It seemed an hour to The Kid before Ike came up with the Swallow and
Slipper saddled and ready for the journey.
"Where is he?" said Ike, in a whisper.
"In there," replied The Kid, with a groan. "God help him!"
"I guess He will. He ought to," said Ike gravely, "Got grub, Ike,
Ike nodded, pointing to the sack strapped to the saddle.
"He ought to start," said The Kid nervously, "That wire's two days
old now. It will take till to-morrow night to reach town even if
everything goes right, and every moment counts. Better go in," he
continued, "and tell him the horses are ready."
Ike nodded and went toward the closed door, opened it softly, and
went in. He found Shock sitting at the table gazing vacantly at the
telegram in his hand as if trying to take in its meaning. He looked
up at Ike as he entered and, handing him the telegram, said:
"It's my mother, Ike. Do you remember my mother?"
"Yes, I know," replied Ike, approaching him timidly and laying a
hand awkwardly on his shoulder. "I don't want to presume," he
continued, "but I was wonderin' if there was anyone who could help
you to stand it?"
"There is, there is One, there is."
"That's all right, then," said Ike, as if an important matter had
been settled. "The horses are ready."
"The horses?" said Shock, with a puzzled air.
"Yes; thought you'd want to ride to town to get to send a wire or
"Of course I do; thank you. I'll go to her at once. What a fool I
am!" He rose hastily as he spoke, changed his coat, and getting his
hat and riding gloves came out to where The Kid stood with the
"Why, it's the Swallow, and Slipper!" he said, "Boys, this is good
The Kid stood without a word, looking at Shock's white, dazed face.
He could not trust his voice to speak.
"You'd best get onto Slipper," said Ike. "Rides easy and is mighty
sure. The Swallow's all right, of course," he continued
apologetically to The Kid, "but a leetle light "
"But I don't want both," said Shock.
"Oh! I guess I'll go along," declared Ike. "I know the trails and
short-cuts a little better. Can save time, perhaps. That is," he
added, "if you don't mind my goin' along."
"That's awfully good of you, Ike," said Shock. "I shall be glad to
"Good-bye, Kiddie," said Shock affectionately, holding out his hand
to The Kid. "I cannot say, much just now, but I appreciate this
kindness, my, boy."
"Don't, don't!" said The Kid, in a husky whisper. "I wish to Heaven
I could help you. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," said Shock, taking up the reins. "Oh! I say, Kid, don't
tell anyone to-night. Keep the thing going; it would be a pity to
spoil their fun, you know. You can do this for me, can't you?"
"I can try," said The Kid, setting his teeth together.
He stood looking after them as they went up the trail in the
moonlight "Oh! this cursed country!" he groaned. "It's so far from
any place. He'll never see her again, I'm sure. Well, I must keep
this thing going as I promised. But some of the number I'll cut out,
you can bet."
Straight on through the moonlight rode the two men, the one trying
to make real the words that marched with ceaseless tramp across his
brain: "Doctors hold out no hope of recovery." They seemed like
words of fire written across the prairie. The other, riding a little
behind, except where the trail grew difficult or indistinct, silent
but alert for opportunity to offer aid or show sympathy, governing
carefully the pace so that the best possible speed could be got out
of the superb animals that with their swinging lope covered the long
slopes up and down. The memory of that ride to Shock in after years
was like that of a ghastly nightmare, a strange intermingling of
moonlight and shadow; the murmur of the night wind about his ears;
the steady beat of the hoofs upon the beaten trail; the pause at
midnight by the upper ford of the Black Dog to feed and rest their
horses; and then the steady onward push through the night till the
grey and gold of the eastern sky told that the morning had come. He
could never forget how the first beams of the rising sun smote his
eyes like the cut of a whip till he was almost forced to cry out in
his pain. He remembered how it seemed to him as if he were in the
grip of some mysterious force impelling him onward in that unending,
relentless lope. Another pause at sunrise to give the horses breath,
and then on again they rode through that terrible red light of the
rising sun, till at length in the still early forenoon the manse of
Big River was reached. Their horses were jaded and leg-weary, for in
the thirteen hours during which they had kept up their long,
swinging gait they had covered more than a hundred miles.
The McIntyres were expecting them.
"We want speak about his mother, dear," said the little woman of the
manse, with a warm feeling in her heart for the missionary who had
spent a night with them some seven months ago, and had told them so
simply and fully of his life, a story of which the heart and soul
had been his mother. "It hurts to speak of these things for a
while," she added.
"Yes, my darling, I know," said her husband, his eyes lingering
tenderly upon the face looking so sweet, but so wan and pale above
the black dress and crepe collar. "We know, we know, darling," he
repeated, taking her in his arms. They were both thinking of the
little mound looking so small upon the wide prairie, small but big
enough to hold all their heart's treasure. For five months the manse
had been overrunning with heaven's own light; and with joy that
rippled and flowed from baby laughter, that lurked in dimpled
fingers and dimpled toes and dimpled cheeks, every dimple a well of
light and joy--and then the little mound with its white railing, and
only the echoes of the laughter and the memory of the dimpled
fingers, toes, and cheeks,--and the empty manse! It was this memory
that made their welcome of Shock so full of tender understanding.
There is no speech like heart-speech, and during the hour in the Big
River manse to Shock's heart there came--how he could not have told-
-the inarticulate message of sympathy that healed and comforted, so
that he drove away rested and refreshed as with sleep. As they were
hitching up the team Ike found opportunity to whisper to Shock: "I
say, p'rhaps you'd rather he'd go with you; he'd help you more,
"No, no, Ike; don't leave me; I want you," Shock had replied.
"All right, boss; that suits me," was Ike's answer, glad that his
offer had not been accepted.
"Good-bye," said Mr. McIntyre, waving his hand. "Do not spare them,
Ike," he continued. "They can make Spruce Creek in two hours and a
"I'll take care o' them," said Ike, swinging the fiery, half-broken
bronchos onto the trail. "They'd ought to do a little better than
that, I judge." And they did; for, when the buckboard drew up at the
Spruce Creek Stopping Place Ike remarked to Bill Lee, who stood in
his usual position leaning against the door: "Two hours from Big
River, and not much the worse, I guess."
Bill's welcome of Shock was almost effusive in its heartiness, but
Ike cut him short.
"I say, Bill," he called out, walking to the stable; "got any oats
"Oh, a few. I keep some for thoroughbreds, you know." And he walked
after Ike into the stable.
Ike began talking rapidly and in a low tone. As Bill listened he
became unusually excited. "Eh! What! No. Say, that's bad, too blank
bad! His mother, eh? My team? Certainly. There they are, fit for a
good dozen an hour. Put 'em right in."
In ten minutes Bill's team, the pride of his heart, were hitched to
"All right, Bill," said Ike, taking the reins.
"All right, Ike," replied Bill. "Their skin don't say much, but they
can talk with their feet a few. Let 'em go. They won't run away."
The performance of Bill's bony, shaggy team more than justified
their owner's promise. They did "talk with their feet," and to such
good purpose that in less than two hours Shock stood at the door of
his Convener's house, his mind bewildered, his senses numbed from
the terrible strain through which he had passed.
"Come in, my dear fellow," said the Convener, who had evidently been
expecting him, "come right in."
But Shock stood at the door. "Is there any word?" he enquired, with
a voice void of all emotion.
"When does the train go?"
"The train? Oh, at two in the morning."
"How long does it take?"
"Five days!" echoed Shock, in a voice of despair.
"You might wire a message in the meantime," said the Convener
kindly. "We will go down to the telegraph office after you have had
a rest and a cup of tea."
"No, no," said Shock, turning eagerly from the door. "I am all
right; cannot we go now?"
At the telegraph office a number of men stood laughing and talking.
Shock drew a blank sheet toward him and set himself to compose his
wire. Again and again he made the attempt, but at length he put down
the pen and looked around piteously at his friend. "I cannot say
it!" he exclaimed in a hurried whisper.
"Come outside a minute," said the Convener, taking his arm. "Now
tell me what you want to say and perhaps I can help you."
"Oh!" cried Shock, wreathing his great fingers an his agony. "I want
to say goodbye--No, no, not that! I want to tell her--give her my
love and say I want to see her. She will be wanting me." His breath
began to come in great heaving sobs.
"Let me try," said his friend. "You stay out here."
After some moments the Convener returned and handed Shock a paper on
which he had written: "God keep you, mother dear. My heart's love to
you. Shall I come?"
"Will that do?" he asked.
"Yes, yes; thank you. That is good."
"Now," said the Convener, when they had reached the house, "you must
"I am not tired," said Shock, as if in surprise.
"My dear fellow, you are half dead."
"No, I am quite right, and besides, there's Ike. I ought to look
"Don't you worry about Ike," said the Convener. "He's able to look
after himself; besides I'll look him up when I get you to sleep.
Come now," and he led him into the tiny bedroom. "You get into bed;
I'll bring you a cup of tea and you can sleep. No one will disturb
you, and, I'll wake you at the right time, never fear."
"I don't think I am sleepy," said Shock; but when in a few minutes
his friend came back with his cup of tea he found Shock in a sleep
so profound that he had not the heart to wake him. "Poor chap, poor
chap!" said the Convener, looking down upon the strong, rugged face,
now so haggard. "This is a hard country!"
For hours Shock lay dead in sleep. Before nightfall the Convener
went to look up Ike, and on his return found his guest still asleep.
"Let him sleep, it will do him good," he said to his kind-hearted
wife, who would have wakened Shock to have supper.
"We'll let him sleep till an answer comes to his wire." Late at
night he went down to the telegraph office.
"Yes," replied the clerk in answer to his enquiry, "there's a wire
for Mr. Macgregor just come in. Bad news, too, I guess."
The Convener took the message and read: "Your mother passed away in
perfect peace this evening. Your message brought her great joy. She
wished me to send this reply: 'The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not
want. Stay at your post, lad, till He calls:' HELEN."
"'Stay at your post till He calls,'" read the Convener again. "A
great soul that. That word will do him good."
He was right. He found Shock waiting for him, calm, expectant, and
ready to bear whatever life might bring, nor did his face change as
he read the wire over and over again. He only said: "God is very
good to us. She went away in peace, and she got my wire and I hers."
"Yes," said the Convener, "God is always good. We sometimes cannot
see it, but," he added, "it was a great matter that your sister
could have been there with her."
"My sister?" said Shock. "Oh!" a sudden flush reddening his pale
cheek. "She's not my sister--she's my--she's our friend, yes, a dear
friend. It would be a great joy to my mother to have her."
There was no sign of grief in his face, but a great peace seemed to
have settled upon him. Long into the night he talked over the
affairs of his mission field, giving in response to the keen
questions of his Convener a full account of the work he had been
carrying on, opening up the plans he had made for future work. In
particular was he anxious to enlist the Convener's sympathy in his
scheme for a reading-room and hospital at the Pass. The Convener
shook his head at the plan. "I agree with you entirely," he said,
"but the Committee, I fear, will not give you a grant for a
hospital. If it were a church now--"
"Well," argued Shock, "it will serve for a church."
"You may count on me to do my best for you," replied the Convener,
"but I am not sanguine. The Committee are extremely cautious and
But when the Convener came to ask about the difficulties and trials
of his life his missionary became silent. There were no trials and
difficulties to speak of, no more at least than the rest of the
people had to bear. They were all good to him.
"That's all right," said the Convener, "but there are difficulties,
none the less. It is a hard country, and sometimes it lays burdens
upon us almost greater than we can bear. There are the poor
McIntyres, now," he continued. "How did you find them?"
"Very well," replied Shock. "But, indeed, I didn't notice much."
And then the Convener told him of the story of their great grief.
"It is a common enough story in this country. The little baby was
five months old, singularly bright and attractive. McIntyre himself
was quite foolish about it; and, indeed, the whole congregation were
quite worked up over it. Took suddenly ill, some mysterious trouble;
no doctor within forty miles; before he arrived the baby was gone.
They were dreadfully cut up about it."
"I--I never noticed," said Shock, with a sense of shame. "I wasn't
There was no demonstration of sympathy on the part of his people
when Shock returned to his work. One by one they came up after the
evening service to shake hands with him and then to leave him alone.
But that night, when all had gone except Ike, who was hovering about
downstairs within call of Shock,--who, was sitting upstairs alone in
the room which, in the fulness of his joy, he had set apart for his
mother,--a voice was heard asking cautiously
"Is he in? "
"Yes, but I guess he's pretty tired," replied Ike doubtfully.
"I'd like to see him a minute," replied the voice, with a sudden
"Oh! It's you, is it?" said Ike. "Well, come in. Yes, come right
upstairs." And Carroll came heavily up the stairs with Patsy in his
"Why, Carroll, this is awfully good of you!" exclaimed Shock, going
to meet him.
"It's the little lad," said Carroll. "It's Patsy, he's breakin' the
heart av him, an' he wants to see you, and, your riverince, it's
meself--I want to--" The voice broke down completely.
"Come in, come in!" cried Shock, his tears flowing fast. "Come,
Patsy, do you want to see me? Come on, old chap, I want you, too."
He took the little cripple in his arms and held him tight while his
tears fell upon Patsy's face and hands.
"Is it for your mother?" whispered Patsy in an awestruck tone.
"Yes, yes, Patsy dear," said Shock, who was fast losing control of
himself, the long pent-up grief breaking through all barriers of
self-control. "She's gone from me, Patsy lad."
"But," said the little boy, lifting up his beautiful face in wonder.
"Sure, isn't she wid Jesus Himself and the blessed angels?"
"Oh, yes, Patsy, my boy! she is, and it's not right to grieve too
much, but I cannot help it," said Shock, regaining control of
himself. "But I am glad you came in to tell me, and we'll all try to
be good men so that some day we'll all go there, too."
For a long time they sat looking out on the moon-lit lake and the
distant hills, Shock telling the little lad he held in his arms of
the beautiful country to which his mother had gone.
That night was the beginning of better things for the big Irishman.
The revenge he had cherished for so many months passed out of his
heart, and among his closest friends and his warmest companions
Shock could count from that time forth Tim Carroll.
BETTY'S LAST WORDS
There is a certain stimulus in grief which lends unreal strength to
endure, but Nature will be avenged in a physical and emotional
reaction, all the more terrible that it is unexpected. Then the full
weight of the sorrow presses upon the heart already exhausted, and
the sense of loss becomes the more painful because it can be fairly
estimated, and the empty place can be more truly measured because it
is seen in its relation to the ordinary life.
So it was with Shock. The first sharp stab of grief was over, and
now he carried with him the long ache of a wound that would not heal
for many a day. His mother had filled a large part of his life. As
far back into childhood as his memory could go, there she stood
between him and the great world, his sure defence against all evil,
his refuge in all sorrow; and as he grew into manhood she made for
herself a larger and larger place in his thought and in his life. He
well knew how she had toiled and denied herself comforts and endured
hardships that he might gain that height of every Scottish mother's
ambition for her son, a college education, and he gave her full
reward in the love of his heart and the thoughtful devotion of his
life. All his interests and occupations, his studies, his mission
work in the Ward, his triumphs on the football field, all he shared
with her, and until the last year no one had ever challenged her
place of supremacy in his heart. His future was built about his
mother. She was to share his work, her home was to be in his manse,
she was to be the centre about which his life would swing; and since
coming to the West he had built up in imagination a new life
structure, in which his mother had her own ancient place. In this
new and fascinating work of exploring, organising, and upbuilding he
felt sure, too, of his mother's eager sympathy and her wise
It had been the happiest of all his fancies that his mother should
preside over the new home, the opening of which had been attended
with such pride and joy. She would be there to live with him every
day, watching him go out and waiting for him to come in.
Now all that was gone. As his mind ran along its accustomed grooves
every turn of thought smote him with a pang sharp and sudden. She
was no longer a part of the plan. All had to be taken down, the
parts readjusted, the structure rebuilt. He began to understand the
Convener's words, "This is a hard country." It demanded a man's life
in all the full, deep meaning of the word; his work, of course of
body and brain, but his heart as well, and his heart's treasures.
In the midst of his depression and bewilderment Ike brought him a
letter which had lain two weeks at the Fort, and whose date was now
some four weeks old. It was from Brown and ran thus:
My Dear Old Chap:
I do not know how to begin this letter. The terribly sudden and
awful calamity that has overtaken us has paralysed my mind, and I
can hardly think straight. One thing that stands out before me,
wiping out almost every other thought, is that our dear Betty is no
more. You cannot imagine it, I know, for though I saw her in her
coffin, so sweet and lovely, but oh! so still, I cannot get myself
to believe it. The circumstances concerning her death, too, were
awfully sad, so sad that it simply goes beyond any words I have to
describe them. I will try to be coherent; but, though I shall give
you an account of what happened, I cannot begin to convey the
impression upon my mind. Well, let me try.
You know Mrs. Fairbanks has been opposed all along to The Don's
attentions to Betty, and has tried her best to block him. After you
left, the opposition grew more determined. Why, for the life of me,
I cannot say. She had apparently made up her mind that The Don must
quit. She worked every kind of scheme, but it was no good. That
plucky little girl, in her own bright, jolly way, without coming to
an open break, would not give back an inch, and The Don kept coming
to the house just because Betty insisted. He would have quit long
before, poor chap. You know how proud he is.
Well, Mrs. Fairbanks set to work to gain her purpose. She somehow
got wind of the kind of life The Don lived in this city years ago.
She set enquiries on foot and got hold of the facts pretty well. You
know all about it, so I need not tell you. Poor chap, he had his
black spots, sure enough. She furthermore got Lloyd somehow to
corroborate her facts. Just how much he looked up for her I don't
know, but I tell you I have quit Lloyd. He is a blanked cad. I know
I should not write this, and you will hate to read it, but it is the
truth. His conduct during the whole business has been damnable!
damnable! damnable! I gnash my teeth as I write.
When she had everything ready she sprung her mine. It was in her own
house one evening, when Lloyd, The Don, and I were there, and the
Fairbanks' new minister, Hooper, a young Trinity man, who has been a
close friend of The Don's, I don't know how long, but some years at
least. A fine fellow. God bless him, say I, again and again.
The Don and Betty had been going it pretty strong that evening,
rather unnecessarily so, I think; and Mrs. Fairbanks got more and
more worked up, until she seemed to lose her head. As The Don was
saying good night she spoke up and said in that haughty way of hers,
"Mr. Balfour, the time has come when we must say good-bye, and I
must ask you to discontinue your visits to this house, and your
intimacy with my daughter."
Well, we all sat up, I can tell you. The Don went white, and red,
and white again. Betty walked over and stood by his side, her eyes
"Mamma," she cried, "what are you saying against the man I love! Do
you mean to--"
"Betty," said her mother in her haughtiest and coldest and calmest
voice, "before you go any further, listen to me. I do not choose
that my daughter, pure and unsullied, should give herself to a roue
and a libertine."
The Don took a step toward her and said: "Mrs. Fairbanks, someone
has misled you. What you say is false, absolutely and utterly
false." Betty glanced proudly up into his face.
"False!" cried Mrs. Fairbanks. "Then, Mr. Balfour, you force me to
ask, did you not live for some months with a woman on Jarvis Street?
Were you not a constant visitor at houses of ill repute for months
in this city?"
Poor Don! I can see him yet. His face grew livid, his eyes staring,
as he stood there without a word.
"Don," cried Betty, "tell her it is false!" and she lifted her
little head proudly. "Tell her it is false, and I don't care who
says it is true." Still The Don stood speechless.
"Alas! my poor child," said Mrs. Fairbanks, "he could not say so. I
have the proof in my hand." And she pulled a letter out of her
pocket. "It is true, and much more--too true. Mr. Lloyd here knows
this to be true. Is it not so, Mr. Lloyd? If this is not true,
speak." The poor old Don turned his eyes imploringly toward Lloyd,
like a man hanging on his last hope, but Lloyd, the beast! mumbled
and stuttered something or other. Betty ran to him, caught him by
the arm and shook him. "Speak out!" she said. "Say it is all a lie!"
The Lloyd said in a thick kind of voice, "I cannot say so."
Betty turned back to The Don, and may God keep me from ever seeing a
face like hers again. "Say it isn't true!" she said, putting her
hand on his arm; and as he stood still, white and speechless, she
gave a kind of cry of fear, and horror, and I don't know what else.
"Oh, Don, can this be true--and--you kissed me!"
Then The Don pulled himself together, turned to Mrs. Fairbanks, and
began to speak, the words pouring out in a perfect torrent. "Mrs.
Fairbanks, you must listen to me. What you say was true of me eight
years ago. I came here a mere boy. I fell in with a bad lot--I had
plenty of money, and I confess I went bad. That was eight years ago.
Then I met your daughters, and came into your home. From that time I
have never done a dishonourable thing, my life has been clean. Ever
since I touched your daughter's hand my hands have never touched
anything unclean. The first day I saw her, eight years ago, I loved
her, and since then I have been true in heart and in life to her.
For my shameful past God knows I have repented bitterly, bitterly,
and have sought forgiveness; and no man lives in this town, or any
other, who can point to anything of which I am ashamed to speak
Poor Betty! She looked from one to the other in a frightened kind of
way, and when The Don had finished his confession she gave a cry the
like of which I never heard, "Oh, mother, take me away!" I have
heard of hearts being broken. I think hers was broken then.
I tell you we were all in a whirl. The Don fell on his knees beside
her, taking hold of her skirts. "Oh, Betty, won't you forgive me?
God have mercy on me! Won't you forgive me? I have done many things
of which I am ashamed, but I have never been untrue to you in
thought or in deed. Never, never, so help me God!" He clutched the
hem of her dress, kissing it over and over again. It was a ghastly
sight, I can tell you. Betty shrank from him, drawing her skirts
away. "Come away, my daughter," said Mrs. Fairbanks. "There is
nothing more to be said."
As she turned away up spake little Hooper. God bless him, the little
five-footer, every inch clear grit. "Mrs. Fairbanks, one minute.
Pardon me if I say a word. I am this young man's friend, and I am
your minister. I have known this man for six years. I have known him
intimately. I believe he carries a clean, pure heart, and he has
lived a hard-working, honourable life. If he has sinned, he has
repented, and God has forgiven him. Should not you?"
Mrs. Fairbanks turned impatiently on him. "Mr. Hooper, forgiveness
is one thing, and friendship another."
"No, thank God!" cried the little chap. "No, forgiveness is not one
thing and friendship another. Forgiveness means friendship, and
welcome, and love, with God and with man." I could have hugged the
little man where he stood.
Then Mrs. Fairbanks seemed to lose her head, and she blazed out in a
perfect fury. "Do you mean deliberately to say that this man,"
pointing to The Don, who was still on his knees, with his face in
his hands, "that this man should be received into my house?"
"Mrs. Fairbanks," said Hooper, "is there not a place for the
repentant and absolved, even with the saints of God?"
Mrs. Fairbanks lost herself completely. "Mr. Hooper," she cried,
"this is outrageous. I tell you, forgiven or not, repentant or not;
never will he, or such as he, enter my doors or touch my daughter's
hand. Never while I live."
Then Hooper drew himself up. He seemed to me six feet tall. He
lifted his hand, and spoke with the kind of solemnity that you
expect to come from the altar. "Then listen to me, Mrs. Fairbanks.
You say you would not receive him or such as him into your house.
You invite me often to your home, and here I constantly meet men who
are known in society as rakes and roues. You know it, and all
society women know it, too. If you cared to take half the trouble
you have taken in this case, you could find out all the facts. You
are a woman of society, and you know well what I say is true. I have
seen you in this room place your daughter in the arms of a man you
knew to be a drunkard, and must have suspected was a libertine.
These men have the entree to every good family in the city, and
though their character is known, they are received everywhere. They
have wealth and family connection. Do not attempt to deny it, Mrs.
Fairbanks. I know society, and you know it well. If you strike off
the names of those men whose lives, not have been in the past, but
are to-day unclean and unworthy, you will have to make a very large
blank in your dancing list." Then the little fellow's voice broke
right down. "Forgive me if I have spoken harshly. I beseech you,
hear me. You are doing a great wrong to my friend, a cruel wrong. I
pledge you my name and honour he is a good man, and he is worthy of
your daughter. God has covered his sin: why have you dared to
uncover it?" And then, in the tone that he uses in reading his
prayers, he went on, "In the name of the Saviour of the sinful and
lost, I ask you, I entreat you, receive him."
You would think that would have melted the heart of a she-devil, let
alone a woman, but that woman stood there, cold, white, and unmoved.
"Is that all, Mr. Hooper?" she said. "Then my answer is--never! And
as for you, his eloquent advocate, I never wish to see you again.
As they began to move off The Don, who was still on his knees,
looked up and reached out his hands toward the poor girl with a cry
that stabbed my heart through and through. "I want your forgiveness,
Betty, only your forgiveness." She paused, took a step towards him,
then putting her hands over her face she stood still, shuddering.
Her mother caught her and drew her away.
The Don rose slowly. He seemed stupefied. He turned toward Hooper,
and said in a hoarse kind of whisper: "She's gone! Oh, God, I have
lost her!" He felt his way out to the hall like a blind man. Helen
put out her hand to stop him, but he went on, never noticing. She
followed him to the hall, weeping bitterly, and crying, "Come back,
Don, come back!"
Without waiting to get coat or hat, he rushed out. "Go and get him,"
Helen cried to us, and we followed him as fast as we could. When I
got out he had reached the gate, and was fumbling at the catch.
"Hold on, Don, where are you going?" I cried. "To hell! to hell! to
hell!" My dear chap, that cry of his made me believe in hell; for,
if lost spirits cry when the devils get hold of them, they will cry
like that. It was the most unearthly, horrible sound I have ever
heard, and may God save me from hearing the like again.
Next day I tried to see Betty, but it was no use, she would see no
one. And soon after I heard she was ill, typhoid fever. It had been
working on her for some time. There was almost no hope from the very
first. She became delirious at once, and in her raving kept calling
on The Don for forgiveness. Your mother was a great help to them,
relieving the nurse. They all seemed to depend upon her. Of course,
I was in and out every day, and brought reports to The Don, who
haunted our house day and night. I never saw a fellow suffer like
that. He slept hardly any, ate nothing at all, but wandered about
the town, spending most of his time at Hooper's when he was not with
After the delirium passed Betty asked for me. When I saw her looking
so white and thin--you would think you could see through her hands--
I tell you it broke me all up. She beckoned me to her, and when I
bent over her she whispered: "Find The Don and bring him." At first
her mother refused, saying he should never come with her consent. It
was mighty hard, I tell you. But the afternoon of the same day Helen
came flying over to tell us that the doctor had said there was only
a very slight chance for Betty, and that if her mother persisted in
her refusal he would not be responsible for the consequences, that
her mother had yielded, and I was to bring The Don. I tell you, I
made time down to his rooms, and brought, him to the house.
There was no one in the room but the nurse and the doctor when he
entered. She was expecting us, and as we entered she opened her eyes
and asked, "Is he here?" The nurse beckoned him to approach, and The
Don came and knelt at her bed. He was very steady and quiet. She put
out her hand and drew him toward her. She was the calmest of us all.
"I want you to forgive me, Don," she said, and her voice was
wonderfully clear. Poor chap, he went all to pieces for a minute or
two and, holding her fingers, kissed them over and over again. "I
want you to forgive me, Don," she said again. "I thought I was
better than God." The poor fellow could only keep kissing her
fingers. "My lips, Don, my lips," and The Don kissed her on the lips
twice, murmuring in a broken voice, "My darling, my love, my love."
Then she looked up and smiled that old smile of hers--you remember,
so bright and so merry? By Jove, it broke me all up. And she said:
"Now we are all right, aren't we?" The doctor came and touched The
Don. "No, doctor," she said, "I am quite quiet. See, I am going to
sleep. I want you to stay there, Don. Good-night."
Mrs. Fairbanks and Helen came in. Helen gave The Don her hand, but
Mrs. Fairbanks paid no attention to him. Betty opened her eyes, saw
her mother and smiled. "Dear mother," she said, "see, there's Don."
Mrs. Fairbanks hesitated slightly, then reached out her hand across
the bed. "Thank you, dear mother," Betty said. "You must be good to
him." Then after a little while she said dreamily, like a tired
child: "God forgives us all, and we must forgive." She let her eyes
rest on The Don's face. "Good-night, Don, dear," she said, "I am
going to sleep."
That was her last word, Shock. Just think of it--Betty's last word.
I cannot realise it at all. I wish my story ended there, but it does
not. For a time we sat there, the doctor hoping that a turn for the
better had come, but in about an hour the nurse noticed a change,
and called him. He came quickly, felt her pulse, injected something
or other into her arm. She opened her eyes. You remember how she
would open those lovely brown eyes of hers when anything surprised
her. Well, she opened them just that way, smiled brightly on one and
then another, let her eyes rest on The Don, gave a little sigh and
closed them, and they never opened again. "She is gone," the doctor
said, and we all crowded near. "Yes, she is gone," he said again.
Then The Don stood up, and putting out his hand to Mrs. Fairbanks,
said: "Mrs. Fairbanks, I want to thank you for allowing me to come."
But she drew herself away from him, refusing to touch his hand, and
motioning him off.
Poor chap! He turned back to the bed, kneeled down, touched the soft
brown hair with his hands, kissed the fingers again, and then
without a word went out. If anyone can tell me what that woman's
heart is made of, I would like to know.
The day of the funeral The Don brought me a little bunch of lilies
of the valley, saying, "It is for her" I gave them to Helen, and I
saw them afterwards in the hands that lay folded across her breast.
I have not seen him since, but Hooper tells me he said he was going
out to you. I hope to Heaven he will not go bad. I don't think he
will. Of course, he feels very bitterly about Lloyd and Mrs.
Now, that is all my story. It makes a great difference to all our
set here, but I will tell you what I have told no living soul, and
that is, that the world will never be the same to me again. I am not
much given to sentiment, as you know, and nobody ever suspected it.
I do not think she did herself. But I loved that little girl better
than my life, and I would have given my soul for her any day.
I know you will feel this terribly. How often I have wished that you
could have been with us. The best I could do was to send you this
wretched, incoherent scrawl. Your friend as ever, BROWN.
P.S.--Do you know anything about the British-American Gold and
Silver Mining Company, or something like that? There is a chap here,
manager or director, or something. Ambherg, I think his name is. He
speaks as if he knew you, or knew something about you. He is a great
friend of the Fairbanks. Lots of money, and that sort of thing. I
did not like the way he spoke about you. I felt like giving him a
smack. Do you know him, or anything about the company?
Your mother has not been very well since Betty's death. I think she
found the strain pretty heavy. She has caught a little cold, I am
Brown's letter did for Shock what nothing else could have done: it
turned his mind away from himself and his sorrow. Not that he was in
any danger of morbid brooding over his loss, or of falling into that
last and most deplorable of all human weaknesses, self-pity, but
grief turns the heart in upon itself, and tends to mar the fine
bloom of an unselfish spirit.
As he finished reading Brown's letter Shock's heart was filled with
love and pity for his friend. "Poor fellow!" he said. "I wonder
where he is now. His is a hard lot indeed." And as he read the
letter over and over his pity for his friend deepened, for he
realised that in his cup of sorrow there had mingled the gall of
remorse and the bitterness of hate.
In another week two other letters came, each profoundly affecting
Shock and his life. One was from Helen, giving a full account of his
mother's illness and death, telling how beautifully the
Superintendent had taken part in the funeral service, and preserving
for her son those last precious messages of love and gratitude, of
faith and hope, which become the immortal treasures of the bereaved
heart. As he read Helen's letter Shock caught a glimpse of the glory
of that departing. Heaven came about him, and the eternal things,
that by reason of the nearness of the material world too often
become shadowy, took on a reality that never quite left him. Where
his mother was henceforth real things must be.
The letter closed with a few precious sentences of love and sympathy
from Helen, but in these Shock, reading with his heart in his eyes,
and longing for more than he could rightly find in them, thought he
could detect a kind of reserve, a reserve which he could not
interpret, and he laid down the letter with painful uncertainty. Was
her love more than she cared to tell, or was it less than she knew
he would desire?
From Helen's letter Shock turned to Mrs. Fairbanks' and read:
My Dear Mr. Macgregor:
We all deeply sympathise with you in your great loss, as I know you
will with us in our grief. We can hardly speak of it yet. It is so
new and so terribly sudden that we have not been able fully to
realise it. My great comfort in this terrible sorrow is my daughter
Helen. Mr. Lloyd, too, has proved himself a true friend. Indeed, I
do not know what we should have done without him. We are more and
more coming to lean upon him. You will not have heard yet that we
have been so greatly attracted by Mr. Lloyd's preaching, and
influenced by our regard for him personally, that we have taken
sittings in the Park Church.
Helen, I am glad to say, is beginning to take an interest in the
church and its work, and as time goes on I think her interest will
grow. I should be glad indeed that it should be so, for our
relations with Mr. Lloyd are very close; and, in fact, I may tell
you what is yet a secret, that he has intimated to me his desire to
make Helen his wife. Helen is very favourably disposed to him, and
all our circle of friends would rejoice in this as an ideal
marriage. Mr. Lloyd belongs to her own set in society, is a
gentleman of culture and high character, and in every way suitable.
As for myself, in my loneliness I could not endure the thought of
losing my only daughter, at all, and her marriage would be a great
blow to me were it not that her home is to be so close at hand.
There is one thing, however, about which Helen is sensitive. She
cannot rid herself of a feeling that she is in a manner bound to you
on account of her foolish and impetuous words, uttered under the
excitement of your departure; but I am sure you would never think of
holding her because of those words, uttered in a moment of great
feeling, and I also feel sure that you would not in any way
interfere with her happiness, or do anything that would hinder the
consummation of a marriage so eminently suitable in every way.
We hear of you and of your work occasionally. It must be a terrible
country, and a very depressing life. The loneliness and isolation
must be well-nigh overwhelming. I am sure you have all our sympathy.
I suppose work of this kind must be done, and it is a good thing
that there are men of such rugged strength and such courage as you
have, who seem to be fitted for this kind of work.
Now, my dear Mr. Macgregor, in your answer I think that a few words
of assurance to Helen on the points I have suggested would be
greatly appreciated, and would do much to remove difficulties that
now stand in the way of her happiness and mine.
Yours very sincerely,
It was then that Shock drank to the dregs his full cup of bitter
sorrow. The contrasts suggested by Mrs. Fairbanks' letter stood out
vividly before him. He thought of Helen's beautiful home, where she
was surrounded with all the luxuries of a cultured life; he thought
of her circle of friends, of the life work to which, as Lloyd's
wife, she would be permitted to take up; he thought, too, of her
mother's claim upon her. And then he looked about upon his bare
room, with its log walls, its utter absence of everything that
suggested refinement; he thought of the terrible isolation that in
these days had become so depressing even to himself; he thought of
all the long hours of weary yearning for the sight and touch of all
that he held dear, and for the sake of the girl to whom he had given
his heart's love in all its unsullied purity and in all its virgin
freshness he made his decision. He took up his cross, and though his
heart bled he pressed his lips upon it.
His letter to Mrs. Fairbanks was brief and clear.
"I thank you for your sympathy," he wrote, "and I grieve with you in
your great sorrow."
"In regard to what you write concerning Miss Helen, you have made
yourself perfectly clear, and I wish to repeat now what I said on
the morning of my leaving home: that Miss Helen is to consider
herself in no sense bound to me. She is perfectly free, as free as
if she had not spoken. I fully realise the possibility of mistaking
one's feelings under the stress of such emotional excitement. The
sphere of work opening out before her is one in every way suited to
her, and one in which she will find full scope for her splendid
powers of heart and mind, and I shall be glad to know that her
happiness is assured. At the same time, truth demands that I should
say that my feelings toward her have not changed, nor will they ever
change; and, while I cannot ask her to share a life such as mine, I
shall never cease to love her."
In Shock's preaching, and in his visitation of his people, a new
spirit made itself felt. There was no less energy, but there was an
added sweetness, and a deeper sympathy. He had entered upon the way
of the Cross, and the bruising of his heart distilled all its
tenderness in word and deed. Isis preaching was marked by a new
power, a new intensity; and when, after the evening service, they
gathered about the organ to spend an hour in singing their favourite
hymns, than most of all they were conscious of the change in him.
The closer they drew toward him the more tender did they find his
heart to be.
The loneliness of the days that followed was to Shock unspeakable.
There was no one to whom he could unburden himself. His face began
to show the marks of the suffering within. Instead of the ruddy,
full, round, almost boyish appearance, it became thin and hard, and
cut with deep lines.
The doctor, who now made his home in Loon Lake, became anxious about
his friend, but he was too experienced and too skilled a physician
to be deceived as to the cause of Shock's changed appearance.
"It is not sickness of the body," he remarked to Ike, who was
talking it over with him, "but of the mind, and that, my friend, is
the most difficult to treat."