Part 1 out of 6
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A TALE OF THE ROCKIES
by RALPH CONNOR
I. THE OLD STONE MILL
II. THE DAUGHTER OF THE MANSE
III. THE RAISING
IV. THE DANCE
V. THE NEW TEACHER
VI. THE YOUNG DOCTOR
VII. THE GOOD CHEER DEPARTMENT
VIII. BEN'S GANG
IX. LOVE'S TANGLED WAYS
X. FOR A LADY'S HONOUR
XI. IOLA'S CHOICE
XII. HE THAT LOVETH HIS LIFE
XIII. A MAN THAT IS AN HERETIC REJECT
XIV. WHOSOEVER LOOKETH UPON A WOMAN
XV. THE SUPERINTENDENT'S METHODS
XVI. THE CHALLENGE OF DEATH
XVII. THE FIGHT WITH DEATH
XVIII. THE MEDICAL SUPERINTENDENT OF THE CROW'S NEST
XIX. THE LADY OF KUSKINOOK
XX. UNTIL SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN
XXI. TO WHOM HE FORGAVE MOST
XXII. THE HEART'S REST
XXIII. THE LAST CALL
XXIV. FOR LOVE'S SAKE
THE OLD STONE MILL
There were two ways by which one could get to the Old Stone Mill.
One, from the sideroad by a lane which, edged with grassy, flower-
decked banks, wound between snake fences, along which straggled
irregular clumps of hazel and blue beech, dogwood and thorn bushes,
and beyond which stretched on one side fields of grain just heading
out this bright June morning, and on the other side a long strip of
hay fields of mixed timothy and red clover, generous of colour and
perfume, which ran along the snake fence till it came to a potato
patch which, in turn, led to an orchard where the lane began to
drop down to the Mill valley.
At the crest of the hill travellers with even the merest embryonic
aesthetic taste were forced to pause. For there the valley with
its sweet loveliness lay in full view before them. Far away to the
right, out of an angle in the woods, ran the Mill Creek to fill the
pond which brimmed gleaming to the green bank of the dam. Beyond
the pond a sloping grassy sward showed green under an open beech
and maple woods. On the hither side of the pond an orchard ran
down hill to the water's edge, and at the nearer corner of the dam,
among a clump of ancient willows, stood the Old Stone Mill, with
house attached, and across the mill yard the shed and barn, all
neat as a tidy housewife's kitchen. To the left of the mill, with
its green turf-clad dam and placid gleaming pond, wandered off
green fields of many shading colours, through which ran the Mill
Creek, foaming as if enraged that it should have been even for a
brief space paused in its flow to serve another's will. Then,
beyond the many-shaded fields, woods again, spruce and tamarack,
where the stream entered, and maple and beech on the higher levels.
That was one way to the mill, the way the farmers took with their
grist or their oats for old Charley Boyle to grind.
The other way came in by the McKenzies' lane from the Concession
Line, which ran at right angles to the sideroad. This was a mere
foot path, sometimes used by riders who came for a bag of flour or
meal when the barrel or bin had unawares run low. This path led
through the beech and maple woods to the farther end of the dam,
where it divided, to the right if one wished to go to the mill
yard, and across the dam if one wished to reach the house. From
any point of view the Old Stone Mill, with its dam and pond, its
surrounding woods and fields and orchard, made a picture of rare
loveliness, and suggestive of deep fulness of peace. At least, the
woman standing at the dam, where the shade of the willows fell,
found it so. The beauty, the quiet of the scene, rested her; the
full sweet harmony of those many voices in which Nature pours forth
herself on a summer day, stole in upon her heart and comforted her.
She was a woman of striking appearance. Tall and straight she
stood, a figure full of strength; her dark face stamped with
features that bespoke her Highland ancestry, her black hair shot
with silver threads, parting in waves over her forehead; her eyes
deep set, black and sombre, glowing with that mystic light that
shines only in eyes that have for generations peered into the gloom
of Highland glens.
"Ay, it's a bonny spot," she sighed, her rugged face softening as
she gazed. "It's a bonny spot, and it would be a sore thing to
As she stood looking and listening her face changed. Through the
hum of the mill there pierced now and then the notes of a violin.
"Oh, that weary fiddle!" she said with an impatient shake of her
head. But in a few moments the impatience in her face passed into
tender pity. "Ah, well, well," she sighed, "poor man, it is the
kind heart he has, whateffer."
She passed down the bank into the house, then through the large
living-room, speckless in its thrifty order, into a longer room
that joined house to mill. She glanced at the tall clock that
stood beside the door. "Mercy me!" she cried, "it's time my own
work was done. But I'll just step in and see--" She opened the
door leading to the mill and stood silent. A neat little man with
cheery, rosy face, clean-shaven, and with a mass of curly hair
tinged with grey hanging about his forehead, was seated upon a
chair tipped back against the wall, playing a violin with great
vigour and unmistakable delight.
"The mill's a-workin', mother," he cried without stopping his
flying fingers, "and I'm keepin' my eye upon her."
She shook her head reproachfully at her husband. "Ay, the mill is
workin' indeed, but it's not of the mill you're thinking."
"Of what then?" he cried cheerily, still playing.
"It is of that raising and of the dancing, I'll be bound you."
"Wrong, mother," replied the little man exultant. "Sure you're
wrong. Listen to this. What is it now?"
"Nonsense," cried the woman, "how do I know?"
"But listen, Elsie, darlin'," he cried, dropping into his Irish
brogue. "Don't you mind--" and on he played for a few minutes.
"Now you mind, don't you?"
"Of course, I mind, 'The Lass o' Gowrie.' But what of it?" she
cried, heroically struggling to maintain her stern appearance.
But even as she spoke her face, so amazing in its power of swiftly
changing expression, took on a softer look.
"Ah, there you are," cried the little man in triumph, "now I know
you remember. And it's twenty-four years to-morrow, Elsie,
darlin', since--" He suddenly dropped his violin on some meal bags
at his side and sprang toward her.
"Go away with you." She closed the door quickly behind her.
"Whisht now! Be quate now, I'm sayin'. You're just as foolish as
ever you were."
"Foolish? No mother, not foolish, but wise yon time, although it's
foolish enough I've been often since. And," he added with a sigh,
"it's not much luck I've brought you, except for the boys. They'll
do, perhaps, what I've not done."
"Whisht now, lad," said his wife, patting his shoulder gently, for
a great tenderness flowed over her eloquent face. "What has come
to you to-day? Go away now to your work," she added in her former
tone, "there's the hay waiting, you know well. Go now and I'll
watch the grist."
"And why would you watch the grist, mother?" said a voice from the
mill door, as a young man of eighteen years stepped inside. He was
his mother's son. The same swarthy, rugged face, the same deep-
set, sombre eyes, the same suggestion of strength in every line of
his body, of power in every move he made and of passion in every
glance. "Indeed, you will do no such thing. Dad'll watch the
grist and I'll slash down the hay in no time. And do you know,
mother," he continued in a tone of suppressed excitement, "have you
heard the big news?" His mother waited. "He's coming home to-day.
He's coming with the Murrays, and Alec will bring him to the
A throb of light swept across the mother's face, but she only said
in a voice calm and steady, "Well, you'd better get that hay down.
It'll be late enough before it is in."
"Listen to her, Barney," cried her husband scornfully. "And she'll
not be going to the raising today, either. The boy'll be home by
one in the morning, and sure that's time enough."
Barney stood looking at his mother with a quiet smile on his face.
"We will have dinner early," he said, "and I'll just take a turn at
She turned and entered the house without a word, while he took down
the scythe from its peg, removed the blade from the snath and
handed it to his father.
"Give it a turn or two," he said; "you're better than me at this."
"Here then," replied his father, handing him the violin, "and
you're better at this."
"They would not say so to-night, Dad," replied the lad as he took
the violin from his father's hands, looking it over reverently. In
a very few minutes his father came back with the scythe ready for
work; and Barney, fastening it to the snath, again set off up the
THE DAUGHTER OF THE MANSE
Two hours later, down from the dusty sideroad, a girl swinging a
milk pail in her hand turned into the mill lane. As she stepped
from the glare and dust of the highroad into the lane, it seemed as
if Nature had been waiting to find in her the touch that makes
perfect; so truly, in all her fresh daintiness, did she seem a bit
of that green shady lane with its sweet fragrance and its fresh
It had taken sixteen years of wholesome country life to round that
supple form into its firm lines of grace, and to tint those moulded
cheeks with the dainty bloom that seemed a reflection from the
thistle heads that nodded at her through the snake fence. It had
taken sixteen years of pure-hearted, joyous living to lend those
eyes, azure as the sky above, their brave, clear glance; sixteen
years of unsullied maidenhood to endow her with that divine
something of mystery which, with its shy reserve and fearless
trust, awakens reverence and rebukes impurity as with the vision of
Her sunbonnet, fallen back from her yellow hair, shining golden in
the sun, revealed a face strong, brave and kind, with just a touch
of pride. The pride showed most, however, in the poise of her head
and the carriage of her shoulders. But when the mobile lips parted
in a smile over the straight rows of white teeth one forgot the
pride and thought only of the soft persuasive lips.
As she sprang up the green turf, she drew in deep breaths of
clover-scented air, and exclaimed aloud, "Oh, this is good!" She
peeped through the snake fence at the luscious rich masses of red
clover. "What a bed!" she cried; "I believe I'll try it." Over
the fence she sprang, and in a thorn tree's shade, deep in the
fragrant blossoms, she stretched herself at full length upon her
back. For some minutes she lay in the luxury of that fragrant bed
looking up through the spreading thorn tree branches to the blue
sky with its floating, fleecy clouds far overhead. The lazy drone
of the bees in the clover beside her, the languorous summer airs
swaying into gentle nodding the timothy stalks just above her head,
and all the soothing sounds of a summer morning, that many-voiced
choir that sings to the great God Nature's glad content that all is
so very good, rested and comforted the girl's heart and body,
making her know as she had not known before how very weary she had
been and how deep an ache her heart had held.
"Oh, it's good!" she cried again, stretching her hands at full
length above her head. "I wish I could stay for one whole day,
just here in the clover with the bees and the birds and the trees
and the clouds and the blue sky, no children, no dinner, no tidying
As she lay there it seemed to her as if she had thrown off for the
moment the load she had been carrying for many months. For a year
she had tried to fill in the minister's household her mother's
place. Without a day's warning the burden had been laid upon her
shoulders, but with the fine courage that youth and love combine to
give, denying herself even the poor luxury of indulgence of the
grief that had fallen upon her young heart, she had given herself,
without thought of anything heroic in her giving, to the caring for
the house and the household, and the comforting as best she could
of her father, suddenly bereft of her who had been to him not wife
alone, but comrade and counsellor as well. Without a thought, she
had at once surrendered all the bright plans that she, with her
mother, had cherished for the cultivation of her varied talents,
and had turned to the dull, monotonous routine of household duties
with never a thought but that she must do it. There was no one
"I believe I am tired," she said again aloud; then letting her
heart follow her eyes into and beyond the blue above her, she cried
softly, "O mother, how tired you must have been with it all, and
how much you did for me! For me, great, big lump that I am! Dear
little mother. Oh, if I had only known! Oh, we were all so
thoughtless!" She stretched up her hands again to the blue sky
with its fleecy clouds. "For your sake, mother dear," she
whispered. Not often had any seen those brave eyes dim with tears.
Not often since that day when they had carried her mother out from
the Manse and left her behind with the weeping, clinging children,
and even now she hastily wiped the tears away, chiding herself the
while. "I never saw HER cry," she said to herself, "not once,
except for some of us. And I will try. I MUST try. It is hard to
give up," and again the tears welled up in the brave blue eyes.
"Nonsense," she cried impatiently, sitting up straight, "don't be a
big, selfish baby. They're just the dearest little darlings in the
world, and I'll do my best for them."
Her moment of self-pity was gone in a flood of shamed indignation.
She locked her hands round her knees and looked about her. "It is
a beautiful world after all. And how near the beauty is to us;
just over the fence and you are in the thick of it. Oh, but this
is great!" Once more she rolled in an ecstasy of luxurious delight
in the clover and lay again supine, revelling in that riot of
caressing sounds and scents.
She sprang up alert and listening. "That is old Charley, I
suppose, or Barney, perhaps, sharpening his scythe." She climbed
up the conveniently jutting ends of the fence rails and looked over
"It's Barney," she said, shading her eyes with her hand; "I wonder
he does not cut his fingers." She sat herself down upon the top
rail and leaned against the stake.
"My! what a sweep," she said in admiring tones as the young man
swayed to and fro in all the rhythmic grace of the mower's stride,
swinging easily now backward the curving blade and then forward in
a cutting sweep, clean and swift, laying the even swath. Alas! the
clattering machine-knives have driven off from our hay-fields the
mower's art with all its rhythmic grace.
Those were days when men were famous according as they could "cut
off the heels of a rival mower." There are that grieve that, one
by one, from field and from forest, are banished those ancient arts
of daily toil by which men were wont to prove their might, their
skill of hand and eye, their invincible endurance. But there still
offer in life's stern daily fight full opportunity to prove manhood
in ways less picturesque perhaps, but no less truly testing.
Down the swath came Barney, his sinewy body swinging in very poetry
"Doesn't he do it well!" said the girl, following with admiring
eyes every movement of his well-poised frame. "How big he is!
Why--" and her blue eyes widened with startled surprise, "he's
almost a man!" The tint of the thistle bloom deepened in her
cheek. She glanced down and made as if to spring to the ground;
then settling herself resolutely back against her fence stake, she
exclaimed, "Pshaw! I don't care. He is just a boy. Anyway, I'm
not going to mind Barney Boyle."
On came the mower in mighty sweeps, cutting the swath clean out to
"Well done!" cried the girl. "You'll be cutting off Long John's
heels in a year or so."
"A year or so! If I can't do it to-day I never can. But I don't
want to blow."
"You needn't. They're all talking about you, with your binding and
pitching and cradling, and what not."
"They are, are they? Who is good enough to waste breath on me?"
"Oh, everybody. The McKenzie girls were just telling me the other
"Oh, pshaw! I ran away from their crowd, but that's nothing."
"And I suppose you have not an idea how nice you look as you go
"Do I? That's the only time then."
"Oh, now you're fishing, and I'm not going to bite. Where did you
learn the scythe?"
"Where? Right here where we had to, Dick and I. By the way, he's
coming home to-day." He glanced at her face quickly as he said
this, but her face showed only a frank pleasure.
"To-day? Good. Won't your mother be glad?"
"Yes. And some other people, too," said Barney.
"And who, particularly?"
A sudden shyness seemed to seize the young man, but recovering
himself, "Well, I guess I will, myself, a little. This is the
first time he has ever been away. We never slept a night apart
from each other as long as I can mind till he went to college last
year. He used to put his arm just round me here," touching his
breast. "I'll tell you the first nights after he went I used to
feel for him in the dark and be sick to find the place empty."
"Well," said the girl doubtfully, "I hope he won't be different.
College does make a difference, you know."
"Different! Dick! He'd better not. I'll thrash the daylights out
of him. But he won't be different. Not to us, nor," he added
shyly, "to you."
"Oh, to me?" She laughed lightly. "He had better not try any airs
"What would you do?" inquired Barney. "You couldn't take it out of
"Oh, I'd fix him. I'd take him down," she replied with a knowing
shake of her head.
"Poor Dick! He's in for a hard time," replied Barney. "But
nothing can change Dick. And I am awful glad he's coming to-day,
in time for the raising, too."
"The raising? Oh, yes. The McLeods'. Yes, I remember. And,"
regretfully, "a big supper and a big spree afterwards in the new
"Are not you going?" inquired Barney.
"I don't know. They want me to go to help, but I don't think I'll
go. I don't think father would like me to go, and,"--a pause--
"anyway, I don't think I can get away."
"Oh, pshaw! Get Old Nancy in. She can take care of the children
for once. You would like the raising. It's great fun."
"Oh! wouldn't I, though? It's fine to see them racing. They get
so wild and yell so."
"Well, come on then. You must come. They'll all be disappointed,
if you don't. And Dick is coming that way, too. Alec Murray is to
bring him on his way home from town." Again Barney glanced keenly
at her face, but he saw only puzzled uncertainty there.
"Well, I don't know. We'll see. At any rate, I must go now."
"Wait," cried Barney, "I'll go with you. We're having dinner early
to-day." He hung up the scythe in the thorn tree and threw the
stone at the foot.
"I wish you would promise to come," he said earnestly.
"Do you, really?" The blue eyes turned full upon him.
"Of course I do. It will be lots better fun if you are there."
The frank, boyish honesty of his tone seemed to disappoint the blue
eyes. Together in silence they set off down the lane.
"Well," she said, resuming their conversation, "I don't think I can
go, but I'll see. You'll be playing for the dancing, I suppose?"
"No. I won't play if Dan is around, and I guess he'll be there. I
may spell him a little perhaps."
"Then you'll be dancing yourself. You're great at that, I know."
"Me? Not much. It's Dick. Oh, he's a dandy! He's a bird! You
ought to see him! I'll make him do the Highland Fling."
"Oh, Dick, Dick!" she cried impatiently, "everything is Dick with
Barney glanced at her, and after a moment's pause said, "Yes. I
guess you're right. Everything is pretty much Dick with me. Next
to my mother, Dick is the finest in all the world."
At the crest of the hill they stood looking silently upon the scene
spread out before them.
"There," said Barney, "if I live to be a hundred years, I can't
forget that," and he waved his hand over the valley. Then he
continued, "I tell you what, with the moon just over the pond there
making a track of light across the pond--" She glanced shyly at
him. The sombre eyes were looking far away.
"I know," she said softly; "it must be lovely."
Through the silence that followed there rose and fell with musical
cadence a call long and clear, "Who-o-o-hoo."
"That's mother," said Barney, answering the call with a quick
shout. "You'll be in time for dinner."
"Dinner!" she cried with a gasp. "I'll have to get my buttermilk
and other things and hurry home." And she ran at full speed down
the hill and into the mill yard, followed by Barney protesting that
it was too hot to run.
"How are you, Mrs. Boyle?" she panted. "I'm in an awful hurry.
I'm after father's buttermilk and that recipe, you know."
Mrs. Boyle's eyes rested lovingly upon her flushed face.
"Indeed, there's no hurry, Margaret. Barney should not be letting
"Letting me!" she laughed defiantly. "Indeed, he had all he could
do to keep up."
"And that I had," said Barney, "and, mother, tell her she must come
to the raising."
"And are you not going?" said the older woman.
"I don't think so. You know father--well, he wouldn't care for me
to be at the dance."
"Yes, yes, I know," quickly replied Mrs. Boyle, "but you might just
come with me and look quietly on. And, indeed, the change will be
doing you good. I will just call for you, and speak to your father
"Oh, I don't know, Mrs. Boyle. I hardly think I ought."
"Hoots, lassie! Come away, then, into the milk-house."
Back among the overhanging willows stood the little whitewashed log
milkhouse, built over a little brook that gurgled clear and cool
over the gravelly floor.
"What a lovely place," said Margaret, stepping along the foot
"Ay, it's clean and sweet," said Mrs. Boyle. "And that is what you
most need with the milk and butter."
She took up an earthen jar from the gravelly bed and filled the
girl's pail with buttermilk.
"Thank you, Mrs. Boyle. And now for that recipe for the scones."
"Och, yes!" said Mrs. Boyle. "There's no recipe at all. It is
just this way--" And she elucidated the mysteries of sconemaking.
"But they will not taste a bit like yours, I'm sure," cried
Margaret, in despair.
"Never you fear, lassie. You hurry away home now and get your
dinner past, and we will call for you on our way."
"Here, lassie," she cried, "your father will like this. It is only
churned th' day." She rolled a pat of butter in a clean linen
cloth, laid it between two rhubarb leaves and set it in a small
"Good-bye," said the girl as she kissed the dark cheek. "You're
far too kind to me."
"Poor lassie, poor lassie, I would I could be kinder. It's a good
girl you are, and a brave one."
"Not very brave, I fear," replied the girl, as she quickly turned
away and ran up the hill and out of sight.
"Poor motherless lassie," said Mrs. Boyle, looking after her with
loving eyes; "it's a heavy care she has, and the minister, poor
man, he can't see it. Well, well, she has the promise."
The building of a bank-barn was a watershed in farm chronology.
Toward that event or from it the years took their flight. For many
summers the big boulders were gathered from the fields and piled in
a long heap at the bottom of the lane on their way to their
ultimate destination, the foundation of the bank-barn. During the
winter, previous the "timber was got out." From the forest trees,
maple, beech or elm--for the pine was long since gone--the main
sills, the plates, the posts and cross-beams were squared and
hauled to the site of the new barn. Hither also the sand from the
pit at the big hill, and the stone from the heap at the bottom of
the lane, were drawn. And before the snow had quite gone the
lighter lumber--flooring, scantling, sheeting and shingles--were
marshalled to the scene of action. Then with the spring the masons
and framers appeared and began their work of organising from this
mass of material the structure that was to be at once the pride of
the farm and the symbol of its prosperity.
From the very first the enterprise was carried on under the
acknowledged, but none the less critical, observation of the
immediate neighbourhood. For instance, it had been a matter of
free discussion whether "them timbers of McLeod's new barn wasn't
too blamed heavy," and it was Jack McKenzie's openly expressed
opinion that "one of them 'purline plates' was so all-fired crooked
that it would do for both sides at onct." But the confidence of
the community in Jack Murray, framer, was sufficiently strong to
allay serious forebodings. And by the time the masons had set firm
and solid the many-coloured boulders in the foundation, the
community at large had begun to take interest in the undertaking.
The McLeod raising was to be an event of no ordinary importance.
It had the distinction of being, in the words of Jack Murray,
framer, "the biggest thing in buildin's ever seen in them parts."
Indeed, so magnificent were its dimensions that Ben Fallows, who
stood just five feet in his stocking soles, and was, therefore, a
man of considerable importance in his estimation, was overheard to
exclaim with an air of finality, "What! two twenty-foot floors and
two thirty-foot mows! It cawn't be did." Such was, therefore, the
magnitude of the undertaking, and such the far-famed hospitality of
the McLeods, that no man within the range of the family
acquaintance who was not sick, or away from home, or prevented by
some special act of Providence, failed to appear at the raising
It was still the early afternoon, but most of the men invited were
already there when the mill people drove up in the family democrat.
The varied shouts of welcome that greeted them proclaimed their
"Hello, Barney! Good-day, Mrs. Boyle," said Mr. McLeod, who stood
at the gate receiving his guests.
"Ye've brought the baby, I see, Charley, me boy," shouted Tom
Magee, a big, good-natured son of Erin, the richness of whose
brogue twenty years of life in Canada had failed to impoverish.
"We could hardly leave the baby at home to-day," replied the
miller, as with tender care he handed the green bag containing his
precious violin to his wife.
"No, indeed, Mr. Boyle," replied Mr. McLeod. "The girls yonder
would hardly forgive us if Charley Boyle's fiddle were not to the
fore. You'll find some oats in the granary, Barney. Come along,
Mrs. Boyle. The wife will be glad of your help to keep those wild
colts in order yonder, eh, Margaret, lassie?"
"Indeed, it is not Margaret Robertson that will be needing to be
kept in order," replied Mrs. Boyle.
"Don't you be too sure of that, Mrs. Boyle," replied Mr. McLeod.
"A girl with an eye and a chin like that may break through any
time, and then woe betide you."
"Then I warn you, don't try the curb on me," said Margaret,
springing lightly over the wheel and turning away with Mrs. Boyle
toward the house, which was humming with that indescribable but
altogether bewitching medley of sounds that only a score or two of
girls overflowing with life can produce.
"Come along, Charley," roared Magee. "We're waitin' to make ye the
"All right, Tom," replied the little man, with a quiet chuckle.
"If you make me the boss, here's my orders, Up you get yourself and
take hold of the gang. What do you say, men?"
"Ay, that's it." "Tom it is." "Jump in, Tom," were the answering
"Aw now," said Tom, "there's better than me here. Take Big Angus
there. He's the man fer ye! Or what's the matter wid me frind,
Rory Ross? It's the foine boss he'd make fer yez! Sure, he'll put
the fire intil ye!"
There was a general laugh at this reference to the brilliant colour
of Rory's hair and face.
"Never you mind Rory Ross, Tom Magee," said the fiery-headed,
fiery-hearted little Highlander. "When he's wanted, ye'll not find
him far away, I'se warrant ye."
There was no love lost between the two men. Both were framers,
both famous captains, and more than once had they led the opposing
forces at raisings. The awkward silence following Rory's hot
speech was relieved by Charley Boyle's ready wit.
"We'll divide the work, boys," he said. "Some men do the liftin'
and others the yellin'. Tom and me'll do the yellin'."
A roar of laughter rose at Tom's expense, whose reputation as a
worker was none too brilliant.
"All right then, boys," roared Tom. "Ye'll have to take it. Git
togither an' quit yer blowin'." He cast an experienced eye over
the ground where the huge timbers were strewn about in what to the
uninitiated would seem wild confusion.
"Them's the sills," he cried. "Where's the skids?"
"Right under yer nose, Tom," said the framer quietly.
"Here they are, lads. Git up thim skids! Now thin, fer the sills.
Grab aholt, min, they're not hot! All togither-r-r--heave!
Togither-r-r--heave! Once more, heave! Walk her up, boys! Walk
her up! Come on, Angus! Where's yer porridge gone to? Move over,
two av ye! Don't take advantage av a little man loike that!"
Angus was just six feet four. "Now thin, yer pikes! Shove her
along! Up she is! Steady! Cant her over! How's that, framer?
More to the east, is it? Climb up on her, ye cats, an' dig in yer
claws! Now thin, east wid her! Togither-r-r--heave! Aw now,
where are ye goin'? Don't be too rambunctious! Ye'll be afther
knockin' a hole in to-morrow mornin'. Back a little now! Whoa!
How's that, framer? Will that suit yer riverence? All right. Now
thin, the nixt! Look lively there! The gurls are comin' down to
pick the winners, an a small chance there'll be fer some of yez."
And so with this running fire of exhortation, more or less pungent,
the sills were got in place upon the walls, pinned and spliced.
"Now thin, min fer the bints!"
The "bents" were the cross sections of heavy square timbers which,
fastened together with cross ties, formed the framework of the
barn. Dividing his men into groups, the bents were put together on
the barn floor, and, one by one, raised into their places, each one
being firmly joined to the one previously erected.
"Mind yer braces, now, an' yer pins!" admonished Tom. "We don't
want no slitherin' timbers round here when we get into the ruction
a little later on!"
In spite of all Tom's tumultuous vocal energy, it was nearly five
before the last bent was reached. One by one they had fitted into
their places, but not without some few hitches, each of which was
the occasion for an outburst of exhortations on the part of the
boss, more or less sulphurous, although the presence of the ladies
interfered very considerably with Tom's fluency in this regard. He
worked his men like galley slaves, and rowed them unmercifully.
But for the most part they took it all with good humour, though
some few who had the misfortune to fall specially under his tongue
began to show signs that the lash had bitten into the raw. The
timbers of the last bent were specially heavy, and the men, more or
less fagged with their hard driving, didn't spring to their work
with the alacrity that Tom deemed suitable.
"At it, min!" he roared. "Snatch it alive! Begob, ye'd think it
was plate glass ye're liftin', ye're so tinder about it! Now thin!
Togither-r-r--heave! Once again, heave! Ye didn't git it an inch
that time! Stidy there a minute! Here you min on that pike, what
in the blank, blank are ye bunchin' in one ind loike a swarm av
bees on a cowld day! Shift over there, will ye!"
In obedience to the word two pike-poles were withdrawn at the same
moment, leaving only a single pike with Big Angus and two others to
sustain the full weight of the heavy timbers. Immediately the bent
swayed backward as if to fall upon the throng below. Some of the
men sprang back from under the huge bent. It was a moment of
"Howld there, fer yer lives, ye divils!" howled Tom, "or the hull
of ye'll be in hell in two howly minutes."
At the cry Barney and Rory sprang to Angus's side and threw
themselves upon the pike. Immediately they were followed by
others, and the calamity was averted.
"Up wid her now thin, me lads, God bliss ye!" cried Tom. But there
was a new note in Tom's voice, the note that is heard when men
stand in the presence of serious danger. There was no more pause.
The bent was walked up to its place, pinned and made secure. Tom
sprang down from the building, his face white, his voice shaking.
"Give me yer hand, Barney Boyle, an' yours, Rory Ross, for be all
the saints an' the Blessid Virgin, ye saved min's lives this day!"
Around the two crowded the men, shaking their hands and clapping
them on the back with varied exclamations. "You're the lads!"
"Good boys!" "You're the stuff!" "Put it there!"
"What are ye doin' to us?" cried Rory at last; "I didn't see
anything happen. Did you, Barney?"
"We did, though," answered the crowd.
For once Tom Magee was silent. He walked about among the crowd
chewing hard upon his quid of tobacco, fighting to recover his
nerve. He had seen as no other of the men the terrible catastrophe
from which the men had been saved. It was Charley Boyle that again
relieved the strain.
"Did any of you hear the cowbell?" he said. "It strikes me it's
not quitting time yet. Better get your captains, hadn't you?"
"Rory and Tom for captains!" cried a voice.
"Not me, by the powers!" said Tom.
"Oh, come on, Tom. You'll be all right. Get your men."
"All right, am I? Be jabbers, I couldn't hit a pin onct in the
same place, let alone twice. By me sowl, min, it's a splash of
blood an' brains I've jist been lookin' at, an' that's true fer ye.
Take Barney there. He's the man, I kin tell ye."
This suggestion caught the crowd's fancy.
"Barney it is!" "Rory and Barney!" they yelled.
"Me!" cried Barney, seeking to escape through the crowd. "I have
never done anything but carry pins and braces at a raising all my
There was a loud laugh of scorn, for no man in all the crowd had
Barney's reputation for agility, nerve and quickness.
"Carry pins, is it?" said Tom. "Ye can carry yer head level, me
boy. So at it ye go, an' ye'll bate Rory fer me, so ye will."
"Well then," cried Barney, "I will, if you give me first choice,
and I'll take Tom here."
"Hooray!" yelled Tom, "I'm wid ye." So it was agreed, and in a few
minutes the sides were chosen, little Ben Fallows falling to Rory
as last choice.
"We'll give ye Ben," said Tom, whose nerve was coming back to him.
"We don't want to hog on ye too much."
"Never you mind, Ben," said Rory, as the little Englishman strutted
to his place among Rory's men. "You'll earn your supper to-day
with the best of them."
"If I cawn't hearn it I can heat it, by Jove!" cried Ben, to the
huge delight of the crowd.
And now the thrilling moment had arrived, for from this point out
there was to be a life-and-death contest as to which side should
complete each its part of the structure first. The main plates,
the "purline" plates, posts and braces, the rafters and collar
beams, must all be set securely in position. The side whose last
man was first down from the building after its work was done
claimed the victory. In two opposing lines a hundred men stood,
hats, coats, vests and, in case of those told off to "ride" the
plates, boots discarded. A brawny, sinewy lot they were, quick of
eye and steady of nerve, strong of hand and sure of foot, men to be
depended upon whether to raise a barn or to build an empire. The
choice of sides fell to Rory, who took the north, or bank, side.
"Niver fret, Barney," cried Tom Magee, who in the near approach of
battle was his own man again. "Niver ye fret. It's birrds we are,
an' the more air for us the better."
Between the sides stood the framer ready to give the word.
"Aren't they splendid!" said Margaret in a low tone to Mrs. Boyle,
her cheek pale and her blue eyes blazing with excitement. "Oh, if
I were only a boy!"
"Ay," said Mrs. Boyle, "ye'd be riding the plate, I doubt."
"Wouldn't I, though! My! they're fine!" answered the girl, with
her eyes upon Barney. And more eyes than hers were upon the young
captain, whose rugged face showed pale even at that distance.
"Now then, men," cried the framer. "Mind your pins. Are you
ready?" holding his hat high in the air.
"Ready," answered Rory.
"Git then!" he cried, flinging his hat hard on the ground. Like
hounds after a hare in full sight, like racers springing from the
tape, they leaped at the timbers, every man to his place, yelling
like men possessed. At once the admiring female friends broke into
rival camps, wildly enthusiastic, fiercely partisan.
"Well done, Rory! He's up first!" cried a girl whose brilliant
complexion and still more brilliant locks proclaimed her
relationship to the captain of the north side.
"Huh! Barney'll soon catch him, you'll see," cried Margaret. "Oh,
Barney, hurry! hurry!"
"Indeed, he will need to hurry," cried Rory's sister, mercilessly
exultant. "He's up! He's up!"
Sure enough, Rory, riding the first half of his plate over the
bent, had just "broken it down," and in half a minute, seized by
the men detailed for this duty, it was in its place upon the posts.
Like cats, three men with mauls were upon it driving the pins home
just as the second half was making its appearance over the bent, to
be seized and placed and pinned as its mate had been.
"He's won! He's won!" shrieked Rory's admiring faction.
"Barney! Barney!" screamed his contingent reproachfully.
"Well done, Rory! Keep at it! You've got them beaten!"
"Beaten, indeed!" was the scornful reply. "Just wait a minute."
"They're at the 'purlines'!" shrieked Rory's sister, and her
friends, proceeding to scream wildly after the female method of
expressing emotion under such circumstances.
"My!" sniffed a contemptuous member of Barney's faction, suffering
unutterable pangs of humiliation. "Some people don't mind making a
show of themselves."
"Oh, Barney! why don't you hurry?" cried Margaret, to whose eager
spirit Barney's movements seemed painfully and almost wilfully
But Barney had laid his plans. Dividing his men into squads, he
had been carrying out the policy of simultaneous preparation, and
while part of his men had been getting the plates to their places,
others had been making ready the "purlines" and laying the rafters
in order so that, although beaten by Rory in the initial stages of
the struggle, when once his plates were in position, while Rory's
men were rushing about in more or less confusion after their
rafters, Barney's purlins and rafters moved to their positions as
if by magic. Consequently, though when they arrived at the rafters
Barney was half a dozen behind, the rest of his rafters were lifted
almost as one into their places.
At once the ranks of Barney's faction, which up to this point had
been enduring the poignant pangs of what looked like humiliating
defeat, rose in a tumult of triumph to heights of bliss
inexpressible, save by a series of ear-piercing but altogether
"They're down! They're down!" screamed Margaret, dancing in an
ecstasy of joy, while hand over hand down posts, catching at
braces, slipping, sliding, springing, the men of both sides kept
dropping from incredible distances to the ground. Suddenly through
all the tumultuous shouts of victory a heart-rending scream rang
out, followed by a shuddering groan and dead silence. One-half of
Rory's purlin plate slipped from its splicing, the pin having been
neglected in the furious haste, and swinging free, fell crashing
through the timbers upon the scurrying, scrambling men below. On
its way it swept off the middle bent Rory, who was madly entreating
a laggard to drop to the earth, but who, flung by good fortune
against a brace, clung there. On the plate went in its path of
destruction, missing several men by hairs' breadths, but striking
at last with smashing cruel force across the ankle of poor little
Ben Fallows, in the act of sliding down a post to the ground. In a
moment two or three men were beside him. He was lifted up groaning
and screaming and carried to an open grassy spot. After some
moments of confusion Barney was seen to emerge from the crowd and
hurry after his horse. A stretcher was hastily knocked together, a
mattress and pillow placed thereon, to which Ben, still groaning
piteously, was tenderly lifted.
"I'll go wid ye," said Tom Magee, throwing on his coat and hat.
Before they drove out of the yard the little Englishman pulled
himself together. "Stop a bit, Barney," he said. He beckoned Rory
to his side. "Tell them," he said between his gasps, "not to spoil
their supper for me. I cawn't heat my share, but I guess perhaps I
"And that you did, lad," cried Rory. "No man better, and I'll tell
The men who were standing near and who had heard Ben's words broke
out into admiring expletives, "Good boy, Benny!" "Benny's the
stuff!" till finally someone swinging his hat in the air cried,
"Three cheers for Benny!" and the feelings of the crowd, held in
check for so many minutes, at length found expression in three
times three, and with the cheers ringing in his ears and with a
smile upon his drawn face, poor Ben, forgetting his agony for the
time, was borne away on his three-mile drive to the doctor.
The raising was over, but no man asked which side had won.
The dance was well on when Barney and Tom drove up to the McLeods'
gate. They were met by Margaret and Barney's mother, who, with a
group of girls and Mr. McLeod, had been waiting for them. As they
drove into the yard they were met at once with eager questions as
to the condition and fate of the unhappy Ben.
"Ben, is it?" said Tom. "Indeed, it's a hero we've discovered. He
stud it like a brick. An' I'm not sure but there are two av thim,"
he said, jerking his thumb toward Barney. "Ye ought to have seen
him stand there houldin' the light an' passin' the doctor sthrings,
an' the blood spoutin' like a stuck pig. What happened afther,
it's mesilf can't tell ye at all, for I was restin' quietly by
mesilf on the floor on the broad av me back, an' naither av thim
takin' annythin' to do wid me except to drown me wid watther betune
times. Indeed, it's himsilf is the born doctor, an' so he is,"
continued Tom, warming to his theme, "for wid his hands red wid
blood an' his face as white as yer apron, ma'am, niver a shiver did
he give until the last knot was tied an' the last stitch was sewed.
Bedad! there's not a man in the county could do the same."
There was no stopping Tom in his recital, and after many attempts
Barney finally gave it up, and began unhitching his horse. Meantime
the sound of the dancing had ceased, and suddenly up through the
silence there rose a voice in song to the accompaniment of some
stringed instrument. It was an arresting voice. The group about
the horse stood perfectly still as the voice rose and soared and
sank and rose again in an old familiar plantation air.
"Who in thunder is that?" cried Barney, turning to his mother.
But his mother shook her head. "Indeed, I know not, but it's
likely yon strange girl that came out from town with the Murrays."
"I know," cried Teenie Ross, Rory's sister, with a little toss of
her head, "Alec told me. She is the girl who has come to take the
teacher's place for a month. She is the niece of Sheriff Hossie.
Her father was a colonel in the Southern army, California or
Virginia or some place, I don't just remember. Oh! I know all
about her, Alec told me," continued Teenie with a knowing shake of
her ruddy curls. "And she'll have a string of hearts dangling to
her apron, if she wears one, before the month is out, so you'd
better mind out, Barney."
But Barney was not heeding her. "Hush!" he said, holding up his
hand, for again the voice was rising up clear and full into the
night silence. Even Teenie's chatter was subdued and no one moved
till the verse was finished.
"She'll be needing a boarding house, Barney," continued Teenie
wickedly. "You'll just need to take her with you to the Mill."
"Indeed, and there will be no such lassie as yon in my house," said
the mother, speaking sharply.
"She has no mother," said Margaret softly, "and she will need a
"Yes, that she will," replied Mrs. Boyle, "and I know very well
where she will be going, too, and you with four little ones to do
for, not to speak of the minister, the hardest of the lot." Mrs.
Boyle was evidently seriously angered.
"Man! What a voice!" breathed Barney, and, making fast the horse
to the waggon, he set off for the barn apparently oblivious of all
"Begorra, ma'am, an' savin' yer prisince, there's nobody knows
what's in that lad. But he'll stir the world yit, an' so he will.
An' that's what the ould Doctor said, so it was."
When Barney reached the barn floor the Southern girl had just
finished her song, and with her guitar still in her hands was idly
strumming its strings. The moonlight fell about her in a flood so
bright as to reveal the ivory pallor of her face and the lustrous
depths of her dark eyes. It was a face of rare and romantic beauty
framed in soft, fluffy, dark hair, brushed high off the forehead
and gathered in a Greek knot at the back of her head. But besides
the beauty of face and eyes, there was an air of gentle, appealing
innocence that awakened the chivalrous instincts latent in every
masculine heart, and a lazy, languorous grace that set her in
striking contrast to the alert, vigorous country maids so perfectly
able to care for themselves, asking odds of no man. When the
singing ceased Barney came out of the shadow at his father's side,
and, reaching for the violin, said, "Let me spell you a bit, Dad."
At his voice Dick, who was across the floor beside the singer,
turned quickly and, seeing Barney, sprang for him, shouting,
"Hello! you old whale, you!" The father hastily pulled his
precious violin out of danger.
"Let go, Dick! Let go, I tell you!" said Barney, struggling in his
brother's embrace; "stop it, now!"
With a mighty effort he threw Dick off from him and stood on guard
with an embarrassed, half-shamed, half-indignant laugh. The crowd
gathered near in delighted expectation. There was always something
sure to happen when Dick "got after" his older brother.
"He won't let me kiss him," cried Dick pitifully, to the huge
enjoyment of the crowd.
"It's too bad, Dick," they cried.
"So it is. But I'm not going to be put off. It's a shame!"
replied Dick, in a hurt tone. "And me just home, too."
"It's a mean shame, Dick. Wouldn't stand it a minute," cried his
"I won't either," cried Dick, preparing to make an attack.
"Look here, Dick," cried Barney impatiently, "just quit your
nonsense or I'll throw you on the floor there and sit on you.
Besides, you're spoiling the music."
"Well, well, that's so," said Dick. "So on Miss Lane's account
I'll forbear, provided, that is, she sings again, as, of course,
It was Dick's custom to assume command in every company where he
"What is it to be? 'Dixie'?"
"Yes! Yes!" cried the crowd. "'Dixie.' We'll give you the
After a little protest the girl struck a few chords and dashed off
into that old plantation song full of mingling pathos and humour.
Barney picked up his father's violin, touched the strings softly
till he found her key and then followed in a subdued accompaniment
of weird chords. The girl turned herself toward him, her beautiful
face lighting up as if she had caught a glimpse of a kindred
spirit, and with a new richness and tenderness she poured forth the
full flood of her song. The crowd were entranced with delight.
Even those who had been somewhat impatient for the renewal of the
dance joined in calls for another song. She turned to Dick, who
had resumed his place beside her. "Who is the man you wanted so
badly to kiss?" she asked quietly.
"Who?" he cried, so that everyone heard. "What! don't you know?
That's Barney, the one and only Barney, my brother. Here, Barney,
drop your fiddle and be introduced to Miss Iola Lane, late from
Virginia, or is it Maryland? Some of those heathen places beyond
the Dixie line."
Barney dropped the violin from his chin, came over the floor, and
awkwardly offered his hand. With easy, lazy grace she rose from
the block where she had been sitting.
"You accompany beautifully," she said in her soft Southern drawl;
"it's in you, I can see. No one can ever be taught to accompany
"Oh, pshaw! That's nothing," said Barney, eager to get back again
to his shadow, "but if you don't mind I'll try to follow you if you
"Certainly," cried Dick, "she'll sing again. What will you give us
now, white or black?"
"Plantation, of course," said Barney brusquely.
"All right. 'Kentucky home,' eh?" cried Dick.
The girl looked up at him with a saucy, defiant look. "Do they all
obey you here?"
"That's what," cried Alec Murray, "especially the girls."
She hesitated a few moments, evidently meditating rebellion, then
turning to Barney, who was playing softly the air that had been
asked for, "You, too, obey, I see," she said.
"Generally--, always when I like," he replied, continuing to play.
"Oh, well," shrugging her shoulders, "I suppose I must then." And
"The sun shines bright on de old Kentucky home."
Again that hush fell upon the crowd. The face of the singer, with
its dark, romantic beauty touched with the magic of the moonlight,
the voice soft, mellow, vibrant with passion, like the deeper notes
of a 'cello, supported by the weird chords of Barney's violin, held
them breathless. No voice joined in the chorus. As she sang, the
subtle telepathic waves came back from her audience to the girl,
and with ever-deepening passion and abandon she poured forth into
the moonlit silence the full throbbing tide of song. The old air,
simple and time-worn, took on a new richness of tone colour and a
fulness of volume suggestive of springs of unutterable depths.
Even Dick's gay air of command surrendered to the spell. As
before, silence followed the song.
"But you did not do your part," she said, smiling up at him with a
very pretty air of embarrassment.
"No," said Dick solemnly, "we didn't dare."
"Sing again," said Barney abruptly. His voice sounded deep and
hoarse, and Dick, looking curiously at him, said apologetically,
"Music, when it's good, makes him quite batty."
But Iola ignored him. "Did you ever hear this?" she said to
Barney. She strummed a few chords on her guitar. "It's only a
little baby song, one my old mammy used to sing."
"Sleep, ma baby, close youah lil winkahs fas',
Loo-la, Loo-la, don' you gib me any sass.
Youah mammy's ol', an' want you to de berry las',
So, baby, honey, let dose mean ol' angels pass.
"Sleep, ma baby, mammy can't let you go.
Sleep, ma baby, de angels want you sho!
De angels want you, guess I know,
But mammy hol' you, hol' you tight jes' so.
"Sleep, ma baby, close youah lil fingahs, Meah,
Loo-la, Loo-la, tight about ma fingahs heah,
De dawk come close, but baby don' you nebbeh feah,
Youah mammy'll hol' you, hol' you till de mawn appeah.
"Sleep, ma baby, why you lie so col', so col'?
Loo-la, Loo-la, do Massa want you for His fol'?
But, baby, honey, don' you know youah mammy's ol'
An' want you, want you, oh, she want you jes' to hol'."
A long silence followed the song. The girl laid her guitar down
and sat quietly looking straight before her, while Barney played
the refrain over and over. The simple pathos of the little song,
its tender appeal to the mother-chords that somehow vibrate in all
human hearts, reached the deep places in the honest hearts of her
listeners and for some moments they stood silent about her. It was
with an obvious effort that Dick released the tension by crying
out, "Partners for four-hand reel." Instantly the company resolved
itself into groups of four and stood waiting for the music.
"Strike up, Barney," cried Dick impatiently, shuffling before Iola,
whom he had chosen for his partner. But Barney, handing the violin
to his father, slipped back into the shadow where his mother and
Margaret were standing. The boy's face was pale through its
"Come away," he said to his mother in a strained, unnatural voice.
"Isn't she beautiful?" cried Margaret impulsively.
"Is she? I didn't notice. But great goodness! What a voice!"
"Um, some will be thinking so, I doubt," said Mrs. Boyle grimly,
with a sharp glance at her son.
But Barney had become oblivious to her words and glances. He moved
away as in a dream to make ready for the home going of his party,
for soon the dancers would be at Sir Roger's. Nor did he waken
from his dream mood during the drive home. He could hear Dick
chattering gaily to Margaret and his mother of his College
experiences, but except for an occasional word with his father he
sat in silence, gazing not upon the fields and woods that lay in
all their moonlit glory about them, but upon that new world, vast,
unreal, yet vividly present, whose horizon lay beyond the line of
vision, the world of his imagination, where he must henceforth live
and where his work must lie. For the events of the afternoon had
summoned a new self into being, a self unfamiliar, but real and
terribly insistent, demanding recognition. He could not analyse
the change that had come to him, nor could he account for it. He
did not try to. He lived again those great moments when, having
been thrust by chance into the command of these fifty mighty men,
he had swung them to victory. He remembered the ease, the perfect
harmony with which his faculties had wrought through those few
minutes of fierce struggle. Again he passed through the awful
ordeal of the operation, now holding the light, now assisting with
forceps or cord or needle, now sponging away that ghastly red flow
that could not be stemmed. He wondered now at his self-mastery.
He could see again his fingers, bloody, but unshaking, handing the
old doctor a needle and silk cord. He remembered his surprise and
pity, almost contempt, for big Tom Magee lying on the floor unable
to lift his head; remembered, too, the strange absence of anything
like elation at the doctor's words, "My boy, you have the nerve and
the fingers of a surgeon, and that's what your Maker intended you
But he let his mind linger long and with thrilling joy through the
interlude in the dance. Every detail of that scene stood clearly
limned before his mind. The bare skeleton of the new harp, the
crowding, eager, tense faces of the listeners, his mother's and
Margaret's in the hindmost row, his brother standing in the centre
foreground, the upturned face of the singer with its pale romantic
loveliness, all in the mystery of the moonlight, and, soaring over
all, that clear, vibrant, yet softly passionate, glorious voice.
That was the final magic touch that rolled back the screen and set
before him the new world which must henceforth be his. He could
not explain that touch. The songs were the old simple airs worn
threadbare by long use in the countryside. It was certainly not
the songs. Nor was it the singer. Curiously enough, the girl, her
personality, her character, worthy or unworthy, had only a
subordinate place in his thought. He was conscious of her presence
there as a subtle yet powerful influence, but as something detached
from the upturned face illumined in the soft moonlight and the
stream of heart-shaking song. She was to him thus far simply a
vision and a voice, to which all the psychic element in him made
eager response. As he drove into the quiet Mill yard it came upon
him with a shock of pain that with the old life he had done
forever. He felt himself already detached from it. The new self
looking out upon its new world had shaken off his boyhood as the
bursting leaf shakes off the husks of spring.
As Dick's gay exclamation of delight at sight of the old home fell
upon his ear a deeper pain struck him, for he vaguely felt that
while his brother still held his place in the centre of the stage,
that stage had immeasurably extended and was now peopled with other
figures, shadowy, it is true, but there, and influential. His
brother, who with his mother, or, indeed, perhaps more than his
mother, had absorbed his boyish devotion, must henceforth share
that devotion with others. Upon this thought his brother's voice
"What's the matter, old chap? Is there anything wrong?"
The kindly tone stabbed like a knife.
"No, no. Nothing, Dick."
"Yes, but there is. You're not the same." At the anxious appeal
in the voice Barney stood for a moment steadily regarding his
brother, for whom he could easily give his life, with a troubled
sense of change that he could not analyse to himself, much less
explain to his brother.
"I don't know, Dick--I can't tell you--I don't think I am the
same." A look of startled dismay fell swiftly down upon the frank,
handsome face turned toward him.
"Have I done anything, Barney?" said the younger boy, his dismay
showing in his tone.
"No, no, Dick, boy, it has nothing to do with you." He put his
hands on his brother's shoulders, the nearest thing to an embrace
he ever allowed himself. "It is in myself; but to you, my boy, I
am the same." His speech came now hurriedly and with difficulty:
"And whatever comes to me or to you, Dick, remember I shall never
change to you--remember that, Dick, to you I shall never change."
His breath was coming in quick gasps. The younger boy gazed at his
usually so undemonstrative brother. Suddenly he threw his arms
about his neck, crying in a broken voice, "You won't, Barney, I
know you won't. If you ever do I don't want to live."
For a single moment Barney held the boy in his arms, patting his
shoulder gently, then, pushing him back, said impatiently, "Well, I
am a blamed old fool, anyway. What in the diggins is the matter
with me, I don't know. I guess I want supper, nothing to eat since
noon. But all the same, Dick," he added in a steady, matter-of-
fact tone, "we must expect many changes from this out, but we'll
stand by each other till the world cracks."
After Dick had gone upstairs with his father, Barney and his mother
sat together talking over the doings of the day after their
"He is looking thin, I am thinking," said the mother.
"Oh, he's right enough. A few days after the reaper and a few
meals out of your kitchen, mother, and he will be as fit as ever."
"That was a fine work of yours with the doctor." The indifferent
tone did not deceive her son for a moment.
"Oh, pshaw, that was nothing. At least it seemed nothing then.
There were things to be done, blood to be stopped, skin to be sewed
up, and I just did what I could." The mother nodded slightly.
"You did no more than you ought, and that great Tom Magee might be
doing something better than lying on his back on the floor like a
"He couldn't help himself, mother. That's the way it struck him.
But, man, it was fine to see the doctor, so quick and so clever,
and never a slip or a stop." He paused abruptly and stood upright
looking far away for some moments. "Yes, fine! Splendid!" he
continued as in a dream. "And he said I had the fingers and the
nerve for a surgeon. That's it. I see now--mother, I'm going to
be a doctor."
His mother stood and faced him. "A doctor? You?"
The sharp tone recalled her son.
"Yes, me. Why not?"
Her son understood her perfectly. His mind went back to a morning
long ago when his mother, putting his younger brother's hand in his
as they set forth to school for the first time, said, "Take care of
your brother, Bernard. I give him into your charge." That very
day and many a day after he had stood by his brother, had fought
for him, had pulled him out of scraps into which the younger lad's
fiery temper and reckless spirit were frequently plunging him, but
never once had he consciously failed in the trust imposed on him.
And as Dick developed exceptional brilliance in his school work,
together they planned for him, the mother and the older brother,
the mother painfully making and saving, the brother accepting as
his part the life of plodding obscurity in order that the younger
boy might have his full chance of what school and college could do
for him. True to the best traditions of her race, the mother had
fondly dreamed of a day when she should hear from her son's lips
the word of life. With never a thought of the sacrifice she was
demanding, she had drawn into this partnership her elder son. And
thus to the mother it seemed nothing less than an act of treachery,
amounting to sacrilege, that Barney for a single moment should
cherish for himself an ambition whose realisation might imperil his
brother's future. Barney needed, therefore, no explanation of his
mother's cry of dismay, almost of horror. He was quick with his
"Dick? Oh, mother, do you think I was forgetting Dick? Of course
nothing must stop Dick. I can wait--but I am going to be a
The mother looked into her son's rugged face, so like her own in
its firm lines, and replied almost grudgingly, "Ay, I doubt you
will." Then she added hastily, as if conscious of her ungracious
tone, "And what for should you not?"
"Thank you, mother," said her son humbly, "and never fear we'll
stand by Dick."
Her eyes followed him out of the room and for some moments she
stood watching the door through which he had passed. Then, with a
great sigh, she said aloud: "Ay, it is the grand doctor he will
make. He has the nerve and the fingers whatever." Then after a
pause she added: "And he will not fail the laddie, I warrant."
THE NEW TEACHER
The new teacher was distinctly phenomenal from every point of view.
Her beauty was a type quite unusual where rosy-cheeked, deep-
chested, sturdy womanhood was the rule. Even the smallest child
was sensible of the fascination of her smile, which seemed to
emanate from every feature of her face, so much so that little Ruby
Ross was heard to say: "And do you know, mother, she smiles with
her nose!" The almost timid appeal in her gentle manner stirred
the chivalry latent in every boy's heart. Back of her appealing
gentleness, however, there was a reserve of proud command due to
the strain in her blood of a regnant, haughty, slave-ruling race.
But in her discipline of the school she had rarely to fall back
upon sheer authority. She had a method unique, but undoubtedly
effective, based upon two fundamental principles: regard for public
opinion, and hope of reward. The daily tasks were prepared and
rendered as if in the presence of the great if somewhat vague
public which at times she individualized, as she became familiar
with her pupils, in the person of father or mother or trustee, as
the case might be. And with marvellous skill she played this
string, albeit occasionally she struck a false note.
"What would your father think, Lincoln?" she inquired reproachfully
of little Link Young. Link's father was a typical Down Easterner,
by name Jabez Young or, as he was more commonly known, "Maine
Jabe," for his fondness of his reminiscence of his native State.
"What would your father think if he saw you act so rudely?"
"Dad wouldn't care a dang."
Instantly conscious of her mistake, she hastened to recover.
"Well, Lincoln, what do you think I think?"
Link's Yankee assurance sank abashed before this direct personal
appeal. He hung his head in blushing silence.
"Do you know, Lincoln, you might come to be a right clever
gentleman if you tried hard." A new idea lodged itself under
Link's red thatch of hair and a new motive stirred in his shrewd
little soul. Here was one visibly present whose good opinion he
valued. At all costs that good opinion he must win.
The whole school was being consciously trained for exhibition
purposes. The day would surely come when before the eyes of the
public they would parade for inspection. Therefore, it behooved
them to be ready.
But more important in enforcing discipline was the hope of reward.
This principle was robbed of its more sordid elements by the nature
of the reward held forth. A day of good conduct and of faithful
work invariably closed with an hour devoted to histrionic and
musical exercise. To recite before the teacher and to hear the
teacher recite was worth considerable effort. To sing with the
teacher was a joy, but to hear the teacher sing to the accompaniment
of her guitar was the supreme of bliss. It was not only an hour of
pleasure to the pupils, but an hour of training as well. She
initiated them into the mysteries of deep breathing, chest tones,
phrasing, and expression, and such was their absorbing interest in
and devotion to this study, that in a few weeks truly remarkable
results were obtained. The singing lesson invariably concluded with
a plantation song from the teacher; and with her memory-gates wide
open to the sunny South of her childhood, and with all her soul in
her voice, she gave them her best, holding them breathless,
laughterful, or tear-choked, according to her mood and song.
It was by such a song that Mr. Jabez Young, driving along the road
on his way to the store, was suddenly arrested and rendered
incapable of movement till the song was done. In amazed excitement
he burst forth to old Hector Ross, the Chairman of the Trustee
Board, who happened to be in the store:
"Gol dang my cats! What hev yeh got in the school up yonder? Say!
I couldn't git my team to move past that there door!"
"What's matter, Mr. Young?"
"Why, dang it all! I'll report to the Reeve. Fust thing yeh know
there'll be a string-a-teams from here to the next concession
blockin' that there road in front of the school!"
"Why, what's the matter with the school, Mr. Young?" inquired old
Hector, in anxious surprise.
"Why, ain't ye heard her? Say! down in Maine I paid a dollar one
'time to hear a big singer, forgit her name, but she was 'lowed to
be the dangdest singer in all them parts. But, Gol dang my cats to
cinders! she ain't any more like that there teacher of yours than
my old Tom cat's like the angel that leads the choir in Abram's
"That is very interesting, Mr. Young. And I suppose you won't mind
paying a little extra school rate now," said Hector, with a shrewd
twinkle in his eye.
"Extra school rate! I tell yeh what, I'll charge up my lost time
to the trustees! But danged if I wouldn't give a day's pay to hear
that song again!"
In application of this principle of reward for merit, the teacher
introduced a subordinate principle which proved effective when all
else failed. The school was made corporately and jointly
responsible for the individual. The offence of one was the offence
of all, the merit of one the merit of all. Thus every pupil was
associated with her in the business of securing good lessons and
exemplary conduct. As the day went on each misdemeanour was
gravely, and in full view of the school, marked down upon the
blackboard. The merits obtained by any pupil were in like manner
recorded. The day closing with an adverse balance knew no hour of
song. Woe to the boy who, dead to all other motives of good
conduct, persisted in robbing the school of its hour of delight.
In the case of Ab Maddock, big, impudent, and pachydermous, it took
Dugald Robertson, the minister's son, just half an hour's hard
fighting to extract a promise of good behaviour. Dugald was in the
main a thoughtful, peaceable boy, the most advanced pupil in the
entrance class, and a great mathematician. At first he was
inclined to despise the teacher, setting little store by her
beautiful face and fascinating smile, for on the very first day he
discovered her woful mathematical inadequacy. Arithmetic was her
despair. With algebraic formulae and Euclid's propositions her
fine memory saved her. But with quick intuition she threw herself
frankly upon the boy's generosity, and in the evenings together
they, with Margaret's assistance, wrestled with the bewildering
intricacies of arithmetical problems. Her open confession of
helplessness, and her heroic attempts to overcome her defects, made
irresistible appeal to the chivalrous heart of the little Highland
gentleman. Thenceforth he was her champion for all that was in
But the teacher's weakness in mathematics was atoned for, if
atonement there be for such a weakness, by the ample strength of
her endowments in those branches of learning in which imagination
and artistic sensibility play any large part. And a far larger
part, and far more important, do these Divine gifts play than many
wise educationists conceive. The lessons in history, in geography,
and in reading ceased to be mere memory tasks and became instinct
with life. The whole school would stay its ordinary work to listen
while the teacher told tales of the brave days of old to the
history class, or transformed the geography lessons into excursions
among people of strange tongues dwelling in far lands. But it was
in the reading lessons that her artistic talents had full play.
The mere pronouncing and spelling of words were but incidents in
the way of expression of thought and emotion. After a whole week
of drilling which she would give to a single lesson, she would
arrest the class with the question, "What is the author seeing?"
and with the further question, "How does he try to show it to us?"
Reading, to her, consisted in the ability to see what the author
saw and the art of telling it, and to set forth with grace that
thing in the author's words.
In the writing class her chief anxiety was to avoid blots. Every
blot might become an occasion of humiliation to teacher and pupils
alike. "Oh, this will never do! They must not see this!" she
would cry, rubbing out with infinite care and pains the blot, and
rubbing in the horror of such a defilement being paraded before the
eyes of the vague but terrible "they."
Thus the pathway trodden in the school routine was, perchance,
neither wide nor far extended, but it was thoroughly well trodden.
As a consequence, when the day for the closing exercises came
around both teacher and pupils had become so thoroughly familiar
with the path and so accustomed to the vision of the onlooking
public that they faced the ordeal without dread, prepared to give
forth whatever of knowledge or accomplishment they might possess.
A fortunate rainy day, making the hauling of hay or the cutting of
fall wheat equally impossible, filled the school with the parents
and friends of the children. The minister and the trustees were
dutifully present. Of the mill people Dick and his mother
appeared, Dick because his mother insisted that a student should
show interest in the school, his mother because Dick refused to go
a step without her. Barney came later, not because of his interest
in the school, but chiefly, he declared to himself, conscious of
the need of a reason, because there was nothing much else to do.
The presence of "Maine" Jabe might be taken as the high water mark
of the interest aroused throughout the section in the new teacher
and her methods.
The closing exercises were, with a single exception, a brilliantly
flawless exhibition. That exception appeared in the Euclid of the
entrance class. The mathematics were introduced early in the day.
The arithmetic, which dealt chiefly with problems of barter and
sale of the various products of the farm, was lightly and deftly
passed over. The algebra class was equally successful. In the
Euclid class it seemed as if the hitherto unbroken success would
come to an unhappy end in the bewilderment and confusion of Phoebe
Ross, from whom the minister had asked a demonstration of the pons
asinorum. But the blame for poor Phoebe's bewilderment clearly lay
with the minister himself, for in placing the figure upon the board
with the letters designating the isosceles triangle he made the
fatal blunder of setting the letter B at the right hand side of the
base instead of at its proper place at the left, as in the book.
The result was that the unhappy Phoebe, ignoring the figure upon
the board and depending entirely upon her memory, soon plunged both
the minister and herself into confusion hopeless and complete. But
the quick eye of the teacher had detected the difficulty, and,
going to the board, she erased the unfamiliar figure, saying, as
she did so, in her gentle appealing voice, "Wait, Phoebe. You are
quite confused, I know. We shall wipe the board clean and begin
all over." She placed the figure upon the board with the
designating letters arranged as in the book. "Now, take your
time," she said with deliberate emphasis. "Let A, B, C be an
isosceles triangle." And thus, with her feet set firmly upon the
familiar path, little Phoebe slipped through that desperate maze of
angles and triangles with an ease, speed, and dexterity that
elicited the wonder and admiration of all present, the minister,
good man, included. Upon Barney, however, who understood perfectly
what had happened, the incident left a decidedly unpleasant
impression. Indeed, the superficiality of the mathematical
exercises as a whole awakened within him a feeling of pain which he
could not explain.
When the reading classes were under review the school passed from
the atmosphere of the superficial to that of the real. Never had
such reading been heard in that or in any other common school. The
familiar sing-song monotony of the reading lesson was gone and in
its place a real and vivid picturing of the scenes described or
enacted. It was all simple, natural, and effective.
The exercises attained an easy climax with the recitations and
singing which closed the day. Here the artistic gifts of the
teacher had full scope. There was an absence of all nervous dread
in the performers. By some marvellous power she caught hold and
absorbed their attention so that for her chiefly, if not entirely,
they recited or sang. In the singing, which terminated the
proceedings, the triumph of the day was complete. A single hymn,
two or three kindergarten action songs, hitherto unheard in that
community, a rollicking negro chorus; and, at the last, "for the
children and the mothers," the teacher said, one soft lullaby in
which for the first time the teacher's voice was heard, the low,
vibrant tones filling the room with music such as in all their
lives they had never listened to. It was a fine sense of artistic
values that cut out the speeches and dismissed the school in the
ordinary way. The full tide of their enthusiasm broke upon her as
minister, trustees, parents, and all crowded about her, offering
congratulations. Her air of shy grace with just a touch of
nonchalant reserve served in no small degree to heighten the whole
effect of the day.
The mill people walked home with the minister and Margaret.
"Isn't she a wonder?" cried Dick. "What has she done to those
little blocks? Why, they don't seem the same children!"
"Yes, yes," replied the minister, "it is quite surprising, indeed."
"In their mathematics, though, there was some thin skating there
for a while," continued Dick.
"Yes, yes, the little lassie became confused. But she recovered
"Yes, indeed," said Dick, with a slight laugh. "That was a clever
bit of work on the part of the teacher."
"Oh, shut up, Dick!" said Barney sharply.
"Oh, well," replied Dick, "no one expects mathematics from a girl,
"Do you hear the conceit of him?" said his mother indignantly, "and
Margaret there can show all of you the way."
"Yes, that's true, mother, but Margaret is a wonder, too. But
whatever you say, the reciting and singing were good. Even little
Link Young was quite dramatic. They say that 'Maine' Jabe for the
first time in his life is quite reckless in regard to the school
"We will just wait a year," said his mother. "It is a new broom
that sweeps clean."
"Now, mother, you are too hard to please."
"Perhaps," she replied, grimly closing her lips.
As they reached the manse gate the minister, who had evidently been
pondering Dick's words, said, "Well, Mrs. Boyle, we have had a
delightful afternoon, whatever, a remarkable exhibition. Yes, yes.
And after all it is a great matter that the children should be
taught to read and recite well. And it was no wonder that the poor
thing would seek to make it easy for the little girl. And Margaret
will need to take Dugald over his mathematics, I fear, before he
goes up to the entrance." At which remark the painful feeling
which the reciting and singing had caused Barney to forget for the
time, returned with even greater poignancy.
But in all the section there was only one opinion, and that was
that, at all costs, the teacher's services must be retained. For
once, the trustees realised that no longer would they depend for
popularity upon the sole qualification of their ability to keep
down the school rate. It was, perhaps, not the most diplomatic
moment they chose for the securing of the teacher's services for
another year. It might be that they were moved to immediate action
by the apparent willingness on her part to leave the matter of re-
engagement an open question. On all hands, however, they were
applauded as having done a good stroke of business when, there and
then, they closed their bargain with the teacher, although at a
higher salary, as it turned out, than had ever been paid in the
THE YOUNG DOCTOR
Barney's jaw ran along the side of his face, ending abruptly in a
square-cut chin, the jaw and chin doing for his face what a ridge
and bluff of rock do for a landscape. They suggested the bed rock
of character, abiding, firm, indomitable. Having seen the goal at
which he would arrive, there remained only to find the path and
press it. He would be a doctor. The question was, how? His first
step was to consult the only authority available, old Doctor
Ferguson. It was a stormy interview, for the doctor was of a
craggy sort like Barney himself, with a jaw and a chin and all they
suggested. The boy told his purpose briefly, almost defiantly, as
if expecting scornful opposition, and asked guidance. The doctor
flung difficulties at his head for half an hour and ended by
offering him money, cursing his Highland pride when the boy refused
"What do I want with money?" cried the doctor. He had lost his
only son three years before. "There's only my wife. And she'll
have plenty. Money! Dirt, fit to walk on, to make a path with,
that's all! Had my boy lived, God knows I'd have made him a
surgeon. But--" Here the doctor snorted violently and coughed,
trumpeting hard with his nose. "Confound these foggy nights! I'll
put you through."
"I'll pay my way," said Barney almost sullenly, or I'll stay at
"What are you doing here, then?" he roared at the boy.
"I came to find out how to start. Must a man go to college?"
"No," shouted the doctor again; "he can be a confounded fool and
work up by himself, a terrible handicap, going up for the
examinations till the last year, when he must attend college."
"I could do that," said Barney, closing his jaws.
The doctor looked at his face. The shut jaws looked more than ever
like a ledge of granite and the chin like a cliff. "You can, eh?
Hanged if I don't believe you! And I'll help you. I'd like to, if
you would let me." The voice ended in a wistful tone. The boy was
"Oh, you can!" he cried impulsively, "and I'll be awfully thankful.
You can tell me what books to get and sometimes explain, perhaps,
if you have time." His face went suddenly crimson. He was
conscious of asking a favour.
The old doctor sat down, rejoicing greatly in him, and for the
first time treated him as an equal. He explained in detail the
course of study, making much of the difficulties in the way. When
he had done he waved his hand toward his library.
"Now, there are my books," he cried; "use them and ask me what you
will. It will brush me up. And I'll take you to see my cases and,
by God's help, we'll make you a surgeon! A surgeon, sir! You've
got the fingers and the nerves. A surgeon! That's the only thing
worth while. The physician can't see further below the skin than
anyone else. He guesses and experiments, treats symptoms, trys one
drug then another, guessing and experimenting all along the line.
But the knife, boy!" Here the doctor rose and began to pace the
floor. "There's no guess in the knife point! The knife lays bare
the evil, fights, eradicates it! Look at that boy Kane, died three
weeks ago. 'Inflammation,' said the physician. Treated his
symptoms properly enough. The boy died. At the postmortem"--here
the doctor paused in his walk, lowering his voice almost to a
whisper while he bent over the boy--"at the post-mortem the knife
discovered an abscess on the vermiform appendix. The discovery was
made too late." These were the days before appendicitis became
fashionable. "Now, listen to me," continued the doctor, even more
impressively, "I believe in my soul that the knife at the proper
moment might have saved that boy's life! A slight incision an inch
or two long, the removal of the diseased part, a few stitches, and
in a couple of weeks the boy is well! Ah, boy! God knows I'd give
my life to be a great surgeon! But He didn't give me the fingers.
Look at these," and he held up a coarse, heavy hand; "I haven't the
touch. And besides, He brought me my wife, the best thing I've got
in the world, and my baby, which settled the surgeon business
forever. Now listen, boy! You've got the nerve--plenty of men
have that--but you've also got the fingers, which few men have.
With your touch and your steady nerve and your mechanical
ingenuity--I've seen your machines, boy--you can be a great
surgeon! But you must know your subject. You must think, dream,
sleep, eat, drink bones and muscles and sinews and nerves. Push
everything else aside!" he cried, waving his great hands. "And
remember!"--here his voice took a solemn tone--"let nothing share
your heart with your knife! Leave the women alone. A woman has no
business in science. She distracts the mind, disturbs the liver,
absorbs the vital powers, besides paralysing the finances. For
you, let there be one woman, your mother, at least till you are a
surgeon. Now, then, there are my books and all my spare time at
your command." At these words the boy's face, which had caught the
light and glow of the old man's enthusiasm, fell.
"Well, what now?" cried the doctor, reading his face like a book.
"I have no right to take your books or your time."
The doctor sprang to his feet with an oath. The boy also rose and
faced him, almost as if expecting a blow. For a moment they stood
steadfastly regarding each other, then the doctor's old face
relaxed, his eyes softened. He put his big hand on the boy's
"Now, by the Lord that made you and me!" he said, "we were meant
for a team, and a team we'll make. I'll help you and I'll make you
pay." The boy's face brightened.
"How?" he cried eagerly.
"We'll change work." The doctor's old eyes began to twinkle. "I
want fall ploughing done and my cordwood hauled."
"I'll do it!" cried Barney. A light broke in his eyes and flooded
his face. At last he saw his path.
"Here," said the doctor, taking down a book, "here's your Gray."
And turning the leaves, "Here's what happened to Ben Fallows. Read
this. And here's the treatment," pulling down another book and
turning to a page, "Read that. I'll make Ben your first patient.
There's no money in it, anyway, and you can't kill him. He only
needs three things, cleanliness, good cheer, and good food. By and
by we'll get him a leg. Here's that Buffalo doctor's catalogue.
Take it along. Now, boy, I'll work you, grind you, and you'll go
for your first examination next spring."
"Next spring!" cried Barney, aghast, "not for three years."
"Three years!" snorted the doctor, "three fiddlesticks! You can do
this first examination by next spring."
"Yes. I could do it," said Barney slowly.
The doctor cast an admiring glance at the line of jaw on the boy's
"But there's the mortgage and there's Dick's college."
"Dick's college? Why Dick's and not yours?"
The boy's rugged face changed. A tender light fell over it,
filling in its cracks and canyons.
"Because--well, because Dick must go through. Dick's clever. He's
awful clever." Pride mingled with the tenderness in look and tone.
"Mother wants him to be a minister, and," he added after a pause,
"I do, too."
The old doctor turned from him, stood looking out of the window a
few minutes, and then came back. He put his hands on the boy's
shoulders. "I understand, boy," he said, his great voice vibrating
in deep and tender tones, "I, too, had a brother once. Make Dick a
minister if you want, but meantime we'll grind the surgeon's knife."
The boy went home to his mother in high exultation.
"The doctor wants me to look after Ben for him," he announced. "He
is going to show me the dressings, and he says all he wants is
cleanliness, good cheer, and good food. I can keep him clean. But
how he is to get good cheer in that house, and how he is to get
good food, are more than I can tell."
"Good cheer!" cried Dick. "He'll not lack for company. How many
has she now, mother? A couple of dozen, more or less?"
"There are thirteen of them already, poor thing."
"Thirteen! That's an unlucky stopping place. Let us hope she
won't allow the figure to remain at that."
"Indeed, I am thinking it will not," said his mother, speaking with
the confidence of intimate knowledge.
"Well," replied Dick, with a judicial air, "it's a question whether
it's worse to defy the fate that lurks in that unlucky number, or
to accept the doubtful blessing of another twig to the already
overburdened olive tree."
"Ay, it is a hard time she is having with the four babies and all."
"Four, mother! Surely that's an unusual number even for the
prolific Mrs. Fallows!"
"Whisht, laddie!" said his mother, in a shocked tone, "don't talk
"But you said four, mother."
"Twins the last twice," interjected Barney.
"Great snakes!" cried Dick, "let us hope she won't get the habit."
"But, mother," inquired Barney seriously, "what's to be done?"
"Indeed, I can't tell," said his mother.
"Listen to me," cried Dick, "I've got an inspiration. I'll
undertake the 'good cheer.' I'll impress the young ladies into
this worthy service. Light conversation and song. And you can put
up the food, mother, can't you?"
"We will see," said the mother quietly; "we will do our best."
"In that case the 'food department' is secure," said Dick; "already
I see Ben Fallows making rapid strides toward convalescence."
It was characteristic of Barney that within a few days he had all
three departments in full operation. With great tact he succeeded
in making Mrs. Fallows thoroughly scour the woodwork and whitewash
the walls in Ben's little room, urging the doctor's orders and
emphasizing the danger of microbes, the dread of which was just
beginning to obtain in popular imagination.
"Microbes? What's them?" inquired Mrs. Fallows, suspiciously.
"Very small insects."
"Insects? Is it bugs you mean?" Mrs. Fallows at once became
fiercely hostile. "I want to tell yeh, young sir, ther' hain't no
bugs in this 'ouse. If ther's one thing I'm pertickler 'bout, it's
bugs. John sez to me, sez 'e, 'What's the hodds of a bug or two,
Hianthy?' But I sez to 'im, sez I, 'No bugs fer me, John. I
hain't been brought up with bugs, an' bugs I cawn't an' won't
It was only Barney's earnest assurance that the presence of
microbes was no impeachment of the most scrupulous housekeeping
and, indeed, that these mysterious creatures were to be found in
the very highest circles, that Mrs. Fallows was finally appeased.
With equal skill he inaugurated his "good food" department,
soothing Mrs. Fallows' susceptibilities with the diplomatic
information that in surgical cases such as Ben's certain articles
of diet specially prepared were necessary to the best results.
Not the least successful part of the treatment prescribed was that
furnished by the "good cheer" department. This was left entirely
in Dick's charge, and he threw himself into its direction with the
enthusiasm of a devotee. Iola with her guitar was undoubtedly his
mainstay. But Dick was never quite satisfied unless he could
persuade Margaret, too, to assist in his department. But Margaret
had other duties, and, besides, she had associated herself more
particularly with Mrs. Boyle in the work of supplementing Mrs.
Fallows' somewhat unappetising though entirely substantial meals
with delicacies more suited to the sickroom. Dick, however,
insisted that with all that Iola and himself in the "good cheer"
department and Barney in what he called the "scavenging" department
could achieve, there was still need of Margaret's presence and
Margaret's touch. Hence, before the busy harvest time came upon
them, he made a practice of calling at the manse, and, relieving