Part 5 out of 6
"W'en it comes to legs," Ben would say, "this 'ere's the machine
fer me. It never gits rheumatism in the joints, nor corns on the
toes, an' yeh cawn't freeze it with forty below."
As Ben grew in fame so he grew in dignity and in solemn and serious
appreciation of himself, and of his position in the hospital. The
institution became to him not simply a thing of personal pride, but
an object of reverent regard. To Ben's mind, taking it all in all,
it stood unique among all similar institutions in the Dominion.
While, as for the matron, as he watched her at her work his wonder
grew and, with it, a love amounting to worship. In his mind she
dwelt apart as something sacred, and to serve her and to guard her
became a religion with Ben. In fact, the Glory of the Kuskinook
hospital lay chiefly in this, that it afforded a sphere in which
his divinity might exercise her various powers and graces.
It was just at this point that Tommy Tate roused his wrath. Dr.
Bailey's foreboding regarding Maclennan's Camp No. 2 had been
justified by a serious outbreak in early spring of typhoid, of
malignant type, to which Tommy fell a victim. The hospitals along
the line were already overflowing, and so the doctor had sent Tommy
to Kuskinook in charge of an assistant. After a six weeks'
doubtful struggle with the disease Tommy began to convalesce, and
with returning strength revived his invincible love of mischief,
which he gratified in provoking the soul of Orderly Ben Fallows,
notwithstanding that the two had become firm friends during the
tedious course of Tommy's sickness. It didn't take Tommy long to
discover Ben's tender spots, the most tender of which he found to
be the honour of the hospital and all things and persons associated
therewith. As to the matron, Tommy ventured no criticism. He had
long since enrolled her among his saints, and Ben Fallows himself
was not a more enthusiastic devotee than he. And not even to
gratify his insatiable desire for fun at Ben's expense would Tommy
venture any liberty with the name of the matron. In regard to the
young preacher, however, who seemed to be a somewhat important part
of the institution, Tommy was not so scrupulous, while as to the
hospital appointments and methods, he never hesitated to champion
the superior methods of those down the line.
It was a beautiful May morning and Tommy was signalizing his
unusually vigorous health by a very specially exasperating
criticism of the Kuskinook hospital and its belongings.
"It's the beautiful hospitals they are down the line. They don't
have the frills and tucks on their shirts, to be sure, but they do
the thrick, so they do."
"I guess they're all right fer simple cases," agreed Ben, "but w'en
yeh git somethin' real bad yeh got to come 'ere. Look at yerself!"
"Arrah! an' that was the docthor, Hivin be swate to him! He tuk a
notion t' me fer a good turn I done him wance. Begob, there's a
man fer ye! Talk about yer white min! Talk about yer prachers an'
the like! There's a man fer ye, an' there's none to measure wid
him in the mountains!"
"Dr. Bailey, I suppose ye're talkin' about?" inquired Ben, with
"Yis, Dr. Bailey, an' that's the first two letters av his name.
An' whin ye find a man to stand forninst him, by the howly poker!
I'll ate him alive, an' so I will."
"Well, I hain't agoin' to say, Mr. Tate," said Ben, with studied,
politeness, "that no doctor can never compare with a preacher, for
I've seen a doctor myself, an' there's the kind of work he done,"
displaying his wooden leg and foot with pride. "But what I say is
that w'en it comes to doin' real 'igh-class, fine work, give me the
Reverend Richard Boyle, Esquire. Yes, sir, sez I, Dick Boyle's the
man fer me!"
"Aw, gwan now wid ye! An' wud ye be afther puttin' a preacher in
the same car wid a docthor, an' him the Medical Superintendent av
"I hain't talkin' 'bout preachers an' doctors in general," replied
Ben, keeping himself firmly in hand, "but I'm talkin' about this
'ere preacher, the Reverend Richard Boyle." Ben's attention to the
finer courtesies in conversation always increased with his wrath.
"An' that I'll stick to, for there's no man in these 'ere mountain
'as done more fer this 'ere country than that same Reverend Richard
"Listen til the monkey! An' what has he done, will ye tell me?"
"Well," said Ben, ignoring Tommy's opprobrious epithet, "I hain't
got a day to spend, but, to begin with, there's two churches up the
"Churches, is it? Sure an' what is a church good fer but to bury a
man from, forby givin' the women a place to say their prayers an'
show their hats?"
"As I was sayin'," continued Ben, "there's two churches up the
Windermere. I hain't no saint, an' I hain't no scholar, but I goes
by them as is, an' I know that there's Miss Margaret, an' I tell
you"--here Ben solemnly removed his pipe from his mouth and,
holding it by the bowl, pointed the stem, by way of emphasizing his
words, straight at Tommy's face--"I tell you she puts them churches
above even this 'ere hinstitution!" And Ben sat back in his chair
to allow the full magnitude of this fact to have its full weight
with Tommy. For once Tommy was without reply, for anything
savouring of criticism of Miss Margaret or her opinions was
impossible to him.
"An' what's more," continued Ben, "this 'ere hinstitution in which
we're a-sittin' this hour wouldn't be 'ere but fer that same
preacher an' them that backs him up. That's yer churches fer yeh!"
And still Tommy remained silent.
"An' if yeh want to knew more about him, you ask Magee there, an'
Morrison an' Old Cap Jim an' a 'eap of fellows about this 'ere
preacher, an' 'ear 'em talk. Don't ask me. 'Ear 'em talk w'en
they git time. They wuz a blawsted lot of drunken fools, workin'
for the whiskey-sellers an' the tin-horn gamblers. Now they're
straight an' sendin' their money 'ome. An' there's some as I know
would be a lot better if they done the same."
"Manin' mesilf, ye blaggard! An' tis thrue fer ye. But luk at the
docthor, will ye, ain't he down on the whiskey, too?"
"Yes, that's w'at I 'ear," conceded Ben. "But e'll soak 'em good
"Bedad, it's the truth ye're spakin," said Tommy enthusiastically.
"An' it wud do ye more good than a month's masses to see him take
the hair aff the tin horns, the divil fly away wid thim! An' luk
at the 'rid lights'--"
"'Red lights'? interrupted Ben. "Now ye're talkin'. Who cleared
up the 'rid lights' at Bull Crossin'."
"Who did, thin?"
"Who? The Reverend Richard Boyle is the man."
"Aw, run in an' shut the dure! Ye're walkin' in yer slape."
"Mr. Tate, I 'appen to know the facts in this 'ere particular case,
beggin' yer 'umble pardon." Ben's h's became more lubricous with
his rising indignation. "An' I 'appen to know that agin the
Pioneer's violent opposition, agin the business men, agin his own
helder a-keepin' the drug shop, agin the hagent of the town site
an' agin the whole blawsted, bloomin' population, that 'ere
preacher put up a fight, by the jumpin' Jemima! that made 'em all
'unt their 'oles!"
"Aw, Benny, it's wanderin' agin ye are! Did ye niver hear how the
docthor walked intil the big meetin' an' in five minutes made the
iditor av the Pioneer an' the town site agent an' that bunch look
like last year's potaty patch fer ould shaws, wid the spache he
"No," said Ben, "I didn't 'ear any such thing, I didn't."
"Well, thin, go out into society, me bhoy, an' kape yer ears
"My ears don't require no such cleanin' as some I know!" cried Ben,
whose self-control was strained to the point of breaking.
"Manin' mesilf agin. Begorra, it's yer game leg that saves ye from
"I don't fight no sick man in our own 'ospital," replied Ben
scornfully, "but w'en yer sufficiently recovered, I'd be proud to
haccommodate yeh. But as fer this 'ere preacher--"
"Aw, go on wid yer preacher an' yer hull outfit! The docthor
"Now, Mr, Tate, this 'ere's goin' past the limit. I can put up
with a good deal of abuse from a sick man, but w'en I 'ears any
reflections thrown out at this 'ere 'ospital an' them as runs it,
by the livin' jumpin' Jemima Jebbs! I hain't goin' to stand it, not
me!" Ben's voice rose in a shrill cry of anger. "I'd 'ave yeh to
know that the 'ead of this 'ere hinstitution--"
"Aw, whist now, ye blatherin' bletherskite, who's talkin' about the
Head? The Head, is it? An' d'ye think I'd sthand-- Howly Moses!
here she comes, an' the angels thimsilves wud luk like last year
"Good-morning, Tommy. Why, I do think you are looking remarkably
well to-day," cried the matron, her brisk step, bright face, and
cheery voice eloquent of her splendid vitality and high spirit.
"Och! thin, an' who wudn't luk well in your prisince?" said the
gallant little Irishman, with a touch to his hat. "Sure, it's
better than the sunlight to see the smile av yer pritty face."
"Now, Tommy, Tommy, we'll have to be sending you away if you go on
like that. It's a sure sign of convalescence when an Irishman
begins to blarney."
"Blarney, indade! Bedad, it's God's mercy I don't have to blarney,
for I haven't the strength to do that same."
"Well, Tommy, don't try. Keep your strength for getting well
again. Ben, I think I saw Mr. Boyle riding up. Will you please go
and take his horse and show him up to the office. I am just
wanting his help in preparing my annual report."
"Report!" cried Ben. "A day like this! No, sez I; git out into
the woods an' git a little colour into yer cheeks. It'll do him
good, too. This' ere hinstitution is takin' the life out o' yeh."
And Ben went away grumbling his discontent and wrath at the
matron's inability to take thought for herself.
The tiny office was bare enough of beauty, but from the window
there stretched a scene glorious in its majestic sweep and in its
varied loveliness. Down over the tops of second-growth jack pine
and Douglas fir one looked straight into the roaring gorge of the
Goat River filled with misty light and overhung with an arching
rainbow. Up the other side climbed the hills in soft folds of pine
tops and, beyond the pines, to the sheer, grey, rocky peaks in
whose clefts and crags the snow lay like fretted silver. Far up
the valley to the east the line of the new railway gleamed here and
there through the pines, while to the west the Goat River gorge
issued into the splendid expanse of the Kootenay Valley, forest-
clad and lying now in all the sunlit glory of its new spring dress.
For some moments Dick stood gazing. "Of all views I see, this is
the best," he said. "Day or night I can get it clear as I see it
now, and it always brings me rest and comfort."
"Rest and comfort?" echoed Margaret, coming to his side. "Yes, I
understand that, especially with the sunlight upon it. But at
night, Dick, with the moon high above that peak there and filling
with its light all the valleys, do you know, I hardly dare look at
"I understand," replied Dick, slowly. "Barney used to say the same
about the moonlight on the view from the hillcrest above the Mill."
Then a silence fell between them. The deepest, nearest thought
with each was Barney. It was always Barney. Resolutely they
refused to allow the name to reach their lips except at rare
intervals, but each knew how the thought of him lurked in the
heart, ready to leap into full view with every deeper throb.
"Come, this won't do," said Margaret, almost sharply.
"No, it won't do," replied Dick, each reading the thought in the
"I am struggling with my report," said Margaret in a business-like
tone. "What shall I say? How shall I begin?"
"Your report, eh? Better let me write it. I'll tell them things
that will make them sit up. What copy there would be in it for the
Daily Telegraph! The lonely outpost of civilization, the incoming
stream of maimed and wounded, of sick and lonely, the outgoing
stream healed and hopeful, and all singing the praises of the Lady
"Hush, Dick," said Margaret softly. "You are forgetting the man
who travels the lonely trails to the camps and up the gulches for
the sick and wounded and brings them out on his broncho's back and
his own, too, watches by them and prays with them, who yarns to
them and sings to them till they forget their homesickness, which
is the sickness the hospital cannot cure."
"Oh, draw it mild, Margaret. Well, we'll give it up. The best
part of this report will be that that is never written, except on
the hearts and in the lives of the poor chaps who will think of the
Lady of Kuskinook any time they happen to be saying their prayers."
"Tell me, Dick, what shall I say?"
"Begin with the statistics. Typhoids, so many--"
"What an awful lot there were, two hundred and twenty-seven of
"Yes," replied Dick. "But think of what there would have been but
for that man, Bailey! He's a wonder! He has organized the camps
upon a sanitary basis, brought in good water from the hills,
established hospitals, and all that sort of thing."
"So you've got it, too," said Margaret, with a smile.
"Why, what I call the Bailey bacillus. From the general manager,
Mr. Fahey, down to Tommy Tate, it seems to have gone everywhere."
"Is that so?" replied Dick, laughing. "Well, there are some who
have escaped the tin-horn gang and the whiskey runners. Or rather,
they've got it, but it's a different kind. Some day they'll kill
"And yet they say he is--"
"Oh, I know. He does gamble, and when he gets going he's a terror.
But he's down on the whiskey and on the 'red lights.' You remember
the big fight at Bull Crossing? It was Bailey pulled me out of
that hole. The Pioneer was slating me, Colonel Hilliers, the town
site agent, was fighting me, withdrew his offer of a site for our
church unless I'd leave the 'red lights' alone, and went everywhere
quoting the British army in India against me. Even my own men,
church members, mind you, one of them an elder, thought I should
attend to my own business. These people were their best customers.
Why, they actually went so far as to write to the Presbytery that I
was antagonizing the people and ruining the Church. Well, you
remember the big meeting called to protest against this vice? The
enemy packed the house. Had half a dozen speakers for the
'Liberal' side. Unfortunately I had been sent for to see a fellow
dying up the line. It looked for a complete knockout for me. In
came Dr. Bailey, waited till they were all through their talk, and
then went for them. He didn't speak more than ten minutes, but in
those ten minutes he crumpled them up utterly and absolutely.
Colonel Hilliers and the editor of The Pioneer, I understand, went
white and red, yellow and green, by turns. The crowd simply
yelled. You know he is tremendously popular with the men. They
passed my resolution standing on the backs of their seats. Quite
true, the doctor went from the meeting to a big poker game and
stayed at it all night. But I'm inclined to forgive him that, and
all the more because I am told he was after that fellow 'Mexico'
and his gang. Oh, it was a fine bit of work. I've often wished to
meet him, but he's a hard man to find. He must be a good sort at
"To hear Tommy talk," replied Margaret, "you would make up your
mind he was a saint. He tells the most heart-moving stories of his
ways and doings, nursing the sick and helping those who are down on
their luck. Why, he and Ben almost came to blows this morning in
regard to the comparative merits of the doctor and yourself."
"Ben, eh? I can never be thankful enough," said Dick earnestly,
"that you brought Ben West with you. It always makes me feel safer
to think that he is here."
"Ben will agree with you," replied Margaret, "I assure you. He
assumes full care of me and of the whole institution."
"Good boy, Ben," said Dick, heartily. "And he is a kind of link to
that old home and--with the past, the beautiful past, the past I
like to think of." The shadows were creeping up on Dick's face,
deepening its lines and emphasizing the look of weariness and
"A beautiful past it was," replied Margaret gently. "We ought to
be thankful that we have it."
"Have you heard anything?" inquired Dick.
"No. Iola's letter was the last. He had left London shortly after
her arrival, so Jack Charrington had told her. She didn't know
where he had gone. Charrington thought to the West somewhere, but
there has been no word since."
Dick put his head on the table and groaned aloud.
"Never mind, Dick, boy," said Margaret, laying her hand upon his
head as if he had been a child, "it will all come right some day."
"I can't stand it, Margaret!" groaned Dick, "I shut it out from me
for weeks and then it all comes over me again. It was my cursed
folly that wrecked everything! Wrecked Barney's life, Iola's, too,
for all I know, and mine!"
"You must not say wrecked," replied Margaret.
"What other word is there? Wrecked and ruined. I know what you
would say; but whatever the next life has for us, there is nothing
left in this that can atone!"
"That, too, you must not say, Dick," said Margaret. "God has
something yet for us. He always keeps for us better than He has
given. The best is always before us. Besides," she continued
eagerly, "He has given you all this work to do, this beautiful
The word recalled Dick. He sat up straight. "Yes, yes, I must not
forget. I am not worthy to touch it. He gave me this chance to
work. What else should I want? And after all, this is the best.
I can't help the heart-hunger now and then, but God forbid I should
ever say a word of anything but gratitude. I was down, down, far
down out of sight. He pulled me up. Who am I to complain? But I
am not complaining! It is not for myself. If there were only one
word to know he was doing well, was safe!" He turned suddenly to
Margaret with an almost fierce earnestness. "Margaret, do you
think God will give me this?" His voice was hoarse with the
intensity of his passion. "Do you know, I sometimes feel that I
don't want Heaven without this. I never pray for anything else.
Wealth, honour, fame, I once longed for these. But now these are
nothing to me if only I knew Barney was right and safe and well.
Yes, even my love for you, Margaret, the best thing, the truest
thing next to my love of my Lord, I'd give up to know. But three
years have gone since that awful night and not a word! It eats and
eats and eats into me here," he smote himself hard over his heart,
"till the actual physical pain is at times more than I can stand.
What do you think, Margaret?" he continued, his face quivering
piteously. "Every time I think of God I think of Barney. Every
prayer I make I ask for Barney. I wake at night and it is Barney I
am thinking of. Can I stand this long? Will I have to stand it
long? Has God forgiven me? And when He forgives, does He take
away the pain? Sometimes I wonder if there is anything in all this
"Hush, Dick!" said Margaret, her voice broken with the grief she
understood only too well. "Hush! You must not doubt God. God
forgives and loves and grieves with our griefs. He will take away
the pain as soon as He can. You must believe this and wait and
trust. God will give him back to us. I feel it here." She laid
her hand upon her heaving breast.
For some moments Dick was silent. "Perhaps so," he said at length.
"For your sake He might. Yes, down in my heart I believe he will."
"Come," said Margaret, "let us go out into the open air, into God's
sunlight. We shall feel better there. Come, Dick, let us go and
see the Goat cavort." She took him by the arm and lifted him up.
At the door she met Ben. "I won't be gone long, Ben," she
"Stay as long as yeh like, Miss Margaret," replied Ben graciously.
"An' the longer yeh stay the better fer the hinstitution."
"That's an extremely doubtful compliment," laughed Margaret, as
they passed down the winding path that made its way through the
tall red pines to the rocky bank of the Goat River. There on a
broad ledge of rock that jutted out over the boiling water,
Margaret seated herself with her back against the big red polished
bole of a pine tree, while at her feet Dick threw himself,
reclining against a huge pine root that threw great clinging arms
here and there about the rocky ledges. It was a sweet May day.
All the scents and sounds of spring filled up the fragrant spaces
of the woods. Far up through the great feathering branches gleamed
patches of blue sky. On every side stretched long aisles pillared
with the clean red trunks of the pine trees wrought in network
pattern. At their feet raged the Goat, foaming out his futile fury
at the unmoved black rocks. Up the rocky sides from the water's
edge, bravely clinging to nook and cranny, running along ledges,
hanging trembling to ragged edges, boldly climbing up to the
forest, were all spring's myriad tender things wherewith she
redeems Nature from winter's ugliness. From the river below came
gusts of misty wind, waves of sound of the water's many voices. It
was a spot where Nature's kindly ministries got about the spirit,
healing, soothing, resting.
With hardly a word, Dick lay for an hour, watching the pine
branches wave about him and listening to the voices that came from
the woods around and from the waters below, till the fever and the
doubt passed from his heart and he grew strong and ready for the
"You don't know how good this is, Margaret," he said, "all this
about me. No, it's you. It's you, Margaret. If I could see you
oftener I could bear it better. You shame me and you make me a man
again. Oh, Margaret! if only you could let me hope that some day--"
"Look, Dick!" she cried, springing to her feet, "there's the train."
It was still a novelty to see the long line of cars wind its way
like some great jointed reptile through the woods below.
"Tell me, Margaret," continued Dick, "is it quite impossible?"
"Oh, Dick!" cried the girl, her face full of pain, "don't ask me!"
"Can it never be, Margaret, in the years to come?"
She clasped her hands above her heart. "Dick," she cried
piteously, "I can't see how it can be. My heart is not my own.
While Barney lives I could not be true and be another's wife."
"While Barney lives!" echoed Dick blankly. "Then God grant you may
never be mine!" He stood straight for a moment, then with a shake
of his shoulders, as if adjusting a load, he stepped into the path.
"Come, let us go," he said. "There will be letters and I must get
"Yes, Dick dear," said Margaret, her voice full of tender pity,
"there's always our work, thank God!"
Together they entered the shady path, going back to the work which
was to them, as to many others, God's salvation.
There were a number of letters lying on the office desk that day,
but one among them made Margaret's heart beat quick. It was from
Iola. She caught it up and tore it open. It might hold a word of
Barney. She was not mistaken. Hurriedly she read through Iola's
glowing accounts of her season's triumph with Wagner. "It has been
a great, a glorious experience," wrote Iola. "I cannot be far from
the top now. The critics actually classed me with the great
Malten. Oh, it was glorious. But I am tired out. The doctors say
there is something wrong, but I think it is only that I am tired to
death. They say I cannot sing for a year, but I don't want to sing
for a long, long time. I want you, Margaret, and I want--oh, fool
that I was!--I may as well out with it--I want Barney. I have no
shame at all. If I knew where to find him I would ask him to come.
But he would not. He loathes me, I know. If I were only with you
at the manse or at the Old Mill I should soon be strong. Sometimes
I am afraid I shall never be. But if I could see you! I think
that is it. I am weary for those I love. Love! Love! Love!
That is the best. If you have your chance, Margaret, don't throw
away love! There, this letter has tired me out. My face is hot as
I read it and my heart is sore. But I must let it go." The tears
were streaming down Margaret's face as she read.
"Read it, Dick," she said brokenly, thrusting the letter into his
Dick read it and gave it back to her without a word.
"Oh, where is he?" cried Margaret, wringing her hands. "If we only
"The date is a month old," said Dick. "I think one of us must go.
You must go, Margaret."
"No, Dick, it must be you."
"Oh, not I, Margaret! Not I! You remember--"
"Yes, you, Dick. For Barney's sake you must go."
"For Barney's sake," said Dick, with a sob in his throat. "Yes,
I'll go. I'll go to-night. No, I must go to see a man dying in
the Big Horn Canyon. Next day I'll be off. I'll bring her back to
him. Oh! if I could only bring her back for him, dear old boy!
God give me this!"
"Amen," said Margaret with white lips. For hope lives long and
UNTIL SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN
The Big Horn flowed by a tortuous and rapid course through rough
country into the Goat. The trail was bad and, in places, led over
high mountain shoulders in a way heartbreaking to packers. For
this reason, all who knew the ways and moods of a canoe chose the
water in going up the canyon. True enough, there were a number of
lift-outs and two rather long portages that made the going up
pretty stiff, but if a man had skill with the paddle and knew the
water he might avoid these by running the rapids. Men from the
Ottawa or from some other north Canadian river, like all true
canoemen, hated to portage and loved to take the risk of the
rapids. Though the current was fairly rapid, going upstream was
not so difficult as one might imagine; that is, if the canoeman
happened to know how to take advantage of the eddies, how to sneak
up the quiet water by the banks, how to put the nose of his canoe
into the swift water and to hold her so that, as Duprez, the keeper
of the stopping place at the Landing, said, "She would walk on de
rapide toute suite lak one oiseau."
There was a bad outbreak of typhoid at the upper camp on the Big
Horn, and Dr. Bailey had been urgently summoned. The upper camp
lay on the other side of the Big Horn Lake, twenty miles or more
from the steel. The lake itself was six miles long by canoe, but
by trail it was at least twice that. Hence, though there would be
some stiff paddling in the trip, the doctor did not hesitate in his
choice of route. He knew his canoe and loved every rib and thwart
in her. He had learned also the woodsman's trick of going light.
A blanket, a tea pail which held his grub, consisting of some
Hudson Bay hard tack, a hunk of bacon, and a little tea and sugar,
and his drinking cup constituted his baggage, so that he could make
the portages in a single carry. Many a mile had he gone, thus
equipped, both by trail and by canoe, in his journeyings up and
down these valleys, doing his work for the sick and wounded in the
railroad, lumber, and tie camps, and more recently in the new-
planted mining towns.
It was a great day for his trip. A stiff breeze upstream would
help him in his fight with the current and coming down it would be
glorious. The sun was just appearing over the row of pines that
topped the low mountain range to the east when he packed his kit
and blankets under the gunwale in the bow and slipped his canoe
into the water. He was about to step in when a voice he had not
heard for many days arrested him.
"Hello, Duprez! Did you see the preacher pass this way yesterday?
He was-- By the livin' jumpin' Jemima! Barney!"
It was Ben Fallows, gazing with open mouth on the doctor. With two
swift steps the doctor was at his side. He grasped Ben by the arm
and walked him swiftly apart.
"Ben," he said, in a low, stern voice, "not a word. I once did you
a good turn?"
Ben nodded, still too astonished for speech.
"Then listen to what I tell you. No one must know what you know
"But--but Miss Margaret and Dick--" gasped Ben.
"They don't know," interrupted the doctor, "and must not know.
Will you promise me this, Ben?"
"By Jove, Barney! I don't--I don't think--"
"Do you hear me, Ben? Do you promise?"
"Yes, by the livin'--"
"Good-bye, Ben; I think I can depend on you for the sake of old
days." The doctor's smile set Ben's head in a whirl.
"You bet, Bar--Doctor!" he cried.
"Good old boy, Ben. Good-bye, lad."
He stepped into the canoe and pushed her off into the eddy just
above the falls by which the Big Horn plunged into the Goat.
"Bo' voyage, M'sieu le Docteur!" sang out Duprez. "You cache hup
de preechere. He pass on de riviere las' night."
"De preechere, Boyle. He's pass on wid canoe las' night. He's
camp on de Beeg Fall, s'pose."
Barney held his canoe steady for a moment. "Went up last night,
"Oui. Tom Martin on de Beeg Horn camp he's go ver' seeck. He send
for M'sieu Boyle."
"Did he go up alone?"
"Oui. He's not want nobody. Non. He's good man on de canoe."
It was an awkward situation. There was a very good chance that he
should fall in with his brother somewhere on the trip, and that, at
all costs, he was determined to avoid. For a minute or more he sat
holding his canoe, calculating time and distances. At length he
came to a resolve. He must visit the camp on the Big Horn, and he
trusted his own ingenuity to avoid the meeting he dreaded.
"All right, Duprez! bon jour."
"Bo' jou' an' bon voyage. Gare a vous on de Longue Rapide. You
mak' de portage hon dat rapide, n'est ce pas?"
"No, sir. No portage for me, Duprez. I'll run her."
"Prenez garde, M'sieu le Docteur," answered Duprez, shrugging his
shoulders. "Maudit! Dat's ver' fas' water!"
"Don't worry about me," cried the doctor. "Just watch me take this
"Bien!" cried Duprez, as the doctor slipped his canoe into the eddy
and, with a smooth, noiseless stroke, sent her up toward the point
where the stream broke into a riffle at the head of the rapid which
led to the falls below. It may be that the doctor was putting a
little extra weight on his paddle or that he did not exercise that
unsleeping vigilance which the successful handling of the canoe
demands, but whatever the cause, when the swift water struck the
canoe, in spite of all his strength and skill, he soon found
himself almost in midstream and going down the rapids.
"Mon Dieu!" cried Duprez, dancing in his excitement from one foot
to the other. "A droit! a droit! Non! Don' try for go hup! Come
out on de heddy!"
The doctor did not hear him, but, realizing the hopelessness of the
frontal attack upon the rapid, he steered his canoe toward the eddy
and gradually edged her into the quiet water.
"You come ver' close on de fall, mon gar'!" cried Duprez, as the
doctor paddled slowly up the edge past him. "You bes' pass on de
portage. Not many mans go hup on de rapids comme ca."
"All right, Duprez. I hit her too hard, that's all."
Once more the doctor moved toward the riffle. He had done the
thing before and he was not to be beaten now. As the eddy bore him
toward the swift water again he carefully gauged the angle of
attack, so that when the nose of the canoe entered the riffle, with
the trick that all canoemen know, he held her up firm against the
water, and, with no very great effort, but by skilful manipulations
of the force of the current, he shoved her gradually across the
riffle into the slow water near the farther bank, and with a
triumphant wave of the paddle disappeared around the bend.
"He's good man," said Duprez to Ben Fallows, who had taken all this
time to recover from the shock of Barney's sudden appearance. "But
de preechere, he's go hup dat rapide lak one oiseau las' night."
"Did, eh?" answered Ben. "Well, he didn't put in three summers on
the Mattawa fer nothin'. He's a bird in the canoe, an' so's his
bro--that is--the doctor there. Wonder if he'll catch him!" Ben
was much excited.
"Mebbe. He's cache heem comin' down, for sure!"
Meanwhile the doctor paddled on with steady, swinging stroke,
taking advantage of every eddy and cross current, stealing along
the bank under the overhanging trees, sidling across swift water,
lifting his canoe over rocky bits, till near mid-day he found
himself at the portage below the Long Rapid.
"Guess I'll camp on the other side," he said, talking aloud after
the manner of men who live much alone. He adjusted his paddles on
the thwarts, hooked his tea pail to his belt, shouldered his canoe,
and, taking his blanket pack in his hand, made the half mile
portage without a "set down."
"There," he said, setting his canoe carefully on the grass, "my
legs are better than my arms. Now we'll grub." He unpacked his
tea pail, cut his bacon into strips preparatory to toasting, built
a fire, drew a pail of water, threw in a handful of tea, swung it
by a poplar sapling over the fire, and sat down to toast his bacon.
In fifteen minutes his meal was ready--such a meal as can be had
only in the mountains under the open sky and at the end of a ten-
mile paddle against the stream of the Big Horn. After dinner he
lit his pipe and stretched himself in the warm spring sun for half
an hour's quiet think. The old restlessness was coming back upon
him. His work as Medical Superintendent of the railway construction
was practically completed. The medical department was thoroughly
organized and the fight with disease and dirt was pretty much over
so far as he was concerned. And with the easing of the strain there
came fiercely upon him the soul fever that had for the last three
years driven him from land to land. Had it not been that his
professional honour demanded that he should hold his post and do his
work, he had long ago left a district where he was kept constantly
in mind of what he had so resolutely striven to forget. By the
exercise of the most assiduous care he had prevented a meeting with
his brother during the last three months. But in this he could not
hope to be successful much longer. Before his second pipe was
smoked he had reached his resolve. "I'll pull out of this," he
said, "once this Big Horn camp is cleaned up."
He packed his kit, carefully extinguished his fire, the mark of a
right woodsman, slipped his canoe into the water, and set off
again. His meeting with Ben Fallows seemed somehow to have brought
his brother near him to-day. Everything was eloquent of those days
they had spent together on the upper reaches of the Ottawa. The
flowing river, the open sky, the wood, the fresh air, and, most of
all, the slipping canoe spoke to him of Dick. The fierce
resentment, the bitter sense of loss, that had been as a festering
in his heart these years, seemed somehow to-day to have lost their
stinging pain. With every lift of the paddle, with every deep
breath of the fragrant spring air, with every slip of the canoe,
the buoyant gladness of those old canoeing days came swelling into
his heart, and ere he knew he caught himself singing, to the
rhythmic swing of paddle and shoulders, the old Habitant canoe
"En roulant ma boule roulant."
As often as he found his body swinging to the song, so often did he
sternly check himself and resolutely set another air going in his
head, only to find himself in a short space swinging along again to
the old song to which he and his brother had so often made their
canoe slip in those great days that now seemed so far away.
"En roulant ma boule,"
sang his paddle in spite of all he could do. He could hear Dick's
clear tenor from the bow. "Here, confound it! Quit it, I say!" he
said aloud savagely.
"En roulant ma boule roulant,"
in a clear strong voice came the old song from around the bend.
The doctor almost dropped his paddle into the stream.
"Heavens above!" he muttered. "What's that? Who's that?"
"Visa la noir, tua le blanc,
Rouli roulant, ma boule roulant,"
sang the voice. There was only one who could sing that verse just
that way. With two swift heaves of the paddle he lifted his canoe
into the overhanging bushes, noiselessly leaped ashore, and pulled
his canoe up the bank after him. Down the river still came the
song, and ever nearer.
"O fils du roi tu es mechant,
En roulant ma boule."
The doctor cautiously parted the bushes and looked out. Close to
the bank came the canoe, the singer sitting in the stern, his hat
off and his face showing brown against the fair hair. How strong
he looked and how handsome! Barney remembered his own boyish pride
in his brother's good looks. Yes, he was handsome as ever, and yet
he was different. "He's older, that's it," said the man in the
bushes, breathing hard. No, it was not that altogether. There was
a new gravity, a new dignity, upon the face. All at once the song
ceased abruptly. The paddle was laid down and the canoe allowed to
drift. The current carried her still nearer the shore. Every line
in the face could now be seen. The man peering out through the
bushes was conscious of a sharp thrust of pain. The lines in that
grave, handsome face were lines drawn with some sharp instrument of
grief. The change was not that of years, it was more. Not simply
the gravity of responsible manhood, it was that, and something
else. This was the change, the old careless gaiety was gone out of
the face and in its place sadness, almost gloom. Straight down the
river the grave, sad face was turned, but the eyes were fixed with
unseeing gaze upon the flowing water. The canoe was now almost
abreast the hiding place in the bushes and still drifting.
Suddenly the man in the canoe, lifting up his face toward the sky,
cried out, "I'll bring her back, please God, and I'll find him,
too!" The watcher drew back quickly. A stick snapped under his
hand. He threw himself face down and gripped his hands hard into
the moss as if to hold himself there. "A deer, I guess, but I must
get on," he heard a voice say, then a flip of the paddle and,
looking out through the bushes, he saw the swaying figure of the
man he most longed and most dreaded to see of all men in the world
fast disappearing from his view. Twice he raised his hands to his
lips to call after him, but even as he did so a vision held his
voice, the vision of a room in a city far away, the girl he loved,
and this man pressing hot kisses on her face.
"No," he said at length, grinding his foot hard into the moss, "let
him go." But still with straining eyes he gazed after the swaying
figure till the bend in the river hid it from his sight. Then he
sank down on the deep moss bank with the air of a man who has just
passed through a heavy fight.
The rest of the journey upstream was to him a weary drag. The
brightness had gone out of the light, the sweetness out of the air.
A burning pain filled his heart and clutched at his throat. The
old sore, which his work for the sick and wounded had helped to
heal over, had been torn open afresh, and the first agony of it was
upon him again. He arrived at the upper camp late at night and
weary. But, weary as he was, he toiled on in his fight with the
typhoid outbreak till near the dawning of the day, then, snatching
an hour's sleep, he set off down the Big Horn, resolved that ere a
week had passed he would seek in some far land the forgetting which
here was impossible to him.
Steadily the paddle swung all the long morning, but without
awakening any rhythmic song in his heart. It was a heavy grind to
be got through with as soon as might be. Even the slip and leap of
the canoe failed to quicken his heart a single beat. It was still
early in the forenoon when he reached the Long Rapid. It was a
dangerous bit of water, but without a moment's considering he stood
upright in his canoe and, casting a quick glance down the boiling
slope, he made his choice of passage. Then getting on his knees he
braced them firmly against the sides of his canoe and before he was
well ready found himself in the smooth, steep pitch at the crest of
that seething incline of plunging water. Two long swallowlike
swoops, then a mad plunging through a succession of buffeting,
curling waves that slapped viciously at him as he dashed through, a
great heave or two over the humping billows at the foot, then the
swirl of the eddy caught him, and lifted him clear over into the
quiet water. One minute of wild thrills and the Long Rapid was
"Didn't take that quite right," he grumbled. "Ought to have lifted
her sooner. Next time I'll get through dry. Next time?" he
repeated. "God knows if there'll ever be any next time of that
water for me." He paddled round the eddy toward the shore,
intending to dump the water out of his canoe. "Hello! What in
thunder is that?" Up against the driftwood, where it had been
carried by the eddy, a canoe was floating bottom upwards. "God
help us!" he groaned. "It's his canoe! My God! My God! Dick,
boy, you're not lost! He'd run these rapids. That's his style.
Oh, why didn't I call him? We could have done it together safe
enough!" He stood up in his canoe and searched eagerly among the
driftwood. "Dick! Dick!" he called over and over again in the
wild cry of a wounded man. He paddled over to the canoe and
examined it. "Ah, that's where he hit the rocks, just at the foot.
But he shouldn't drown here," he continued, "unless they hit him.
Let's see, where would that eddy take him?" For another anxious
minute he stood observing the run of the water. "If he could keep
up three minutes," he said, "he ought to strike that bar." With a
few sweeps of his paddle he was on the sand bar. "Ha!" he cried.
A paddle lay on the sand just above the water mark. "That never
floated there." He leaped out and drew up his canoe, then,
dropping on his knees, he examined the marks upon the bar. There
on the sand was stamped the print of an open hand. "Now, God be
thanked!" he cried, lifting his hands toward the sky, "he's reached
this spot. He's somewhere on shore here." Like a dog on scent he
followed up the marks to the edge of the forest where the bank rose
steeply over rough rocks. Eagerly he clambered up, his eyes on the
alert for any sign. He reached the top. A quick glance he threw
around him, then with a low cry he rushed forward. There,
stretched prone on the moss, a little pile of brushwood near him,
with his match case in his hand, lay his brother. "Oh, Dick, boy!"
he cried aloud, "not too late, surely!" He dropped beside the
still form, turned him gently over and laid his hand upon his
heart. "Too late! Too late!" he groaned. Like a madman he rushed
out of the woods, flung himself down the rocky bank and toward his
canoe, seized his bag and scrambled back again. Again, and more
carefully, he felt for the heartbeat. He thought he could detect a
feeble flutter. Hurriedly he seized his flask and, forcing open
the closed teeth, poured a few drops of the whiskey down the
throat. But there was no attempt to swallow. "We'll try it this
way." With swift fingers he filled his syringe with the whiskey
and injected it into the arm. Eagerly he waited with his hand upon
the feebly fluttering heart. "My God! it's coming, I do believe!"
he cried. "Now a little strychnine," he whispered. "There, that
ought to help."
Once more he rushed to his canoe and brought his cooking kit and
blanket. In five minutes he had a fire going and his tea pail
swung over it with a little more than a cupful of water in it. In
five minutes more he had half a cup of hot tea ready. By this time
the heartbeat could be detected every moment growing stronger.
Into the tea he poured a little of the stimulant. "If I can only
get this down," he muttered, chafing at the limp hands. Once more
he lifted the head, pried open the shut jaws, and tried to pour a
few drops of the liquid down. After repeated attempts he succeeded.
Then for the first time he observed that his hands were covered with
blood. Gently he lifted the head and, examining the back of it,
detected a great jagged wound. "Looks bad, bad." He felt the bone
carefully and shook his head. "Fracture, I fear." Heating some more
water he cleansed and dressed the wound. Half an hour more he spent
in his anxious struggle, with intense activity utilizing every
precious moment, when to his infinite joy and relief the life began
to come slowly back. "Now I must get him to the hospital."
There were still five miles to paddle, but it was down stream and
there were no portages. With swift despatch he cut a large armful
of balsam boughs. With these and his blankets he made a bed in his
canoe, cutting out the bow thwart, then lifting the wounded man and
picking his steps with great care, he carried him to the canoe and
laid him upon the balsam boughs on his right side. The moment the
weight came upon that side a groan burst from the pallid lips.
"Something wrong there," muttered the doctor, turning him slightly
over. "Ah, shoulder out. I'll just settle this right now." By
dexterous manipulation the dislocation was reduced, and at once the
patient sank down upon the bed of boughs and lay quite still. A
little further stimulation brought back the heart to a steadier
beat. "Now, my boy," he said to himself, as he took his place
kneeling in the stern of the canoe, "give her every ounce you
have." For half an hour without pause, except twice to give his
patient stimulant, the sweeping paddle and the swaying body kept
their rhythmic swing, till down the last riffle shot the canoe and
in a minute more was at the Landing.
"Duprez! Here, quick!" The doctor stood in the door of the
stopping place, wet as if he had come from the river, his voice
raucous and his face white.
"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, "what de mattaire?"
The doctor swept a glance about the room. "Sick man," he said
briefly. "I want this bed. Get your buckboard, quick." He seized
the bed and carried it out before the eyes of the astonished
Duprez was a man slow of speech but quick to act, and by the time
the bed had been arranged on the buckboard he had his horse between
"Now then, Duprez, give me a hand," said the doctor.
"Certainment. Bon Dieu! Dat's de bon preechere! Not dead, heh?"
"No," said the doctor, glancing sharply into the haggard face while
he placed his fingers upon the pulse. "No. Now get on. Drive
carefully, but make time."
In a few minutes they reached the road that led to the hospital,
which was well graded and smooth. Duprez sent along his pony at a
lope and in a short space of time they reached the door of the
hospital, where they were met by Orderly Ben Fallows on duty.
"Barney! By the livin' jumpin' Jemima Jebbs!" cried Ben. "What on
But the doctor cut him short. "Ben, get the Matron, quick, and get
a bed ready with warm blankets and hot water bottles. Go, man!
Don't gape there!"
Still gaping his amazement, Ben skipped in through the hall and up
the stair as fast as his wooden leg would allow him. He reached
the office door. "Miss Margaret," he gasped, "Barney's at the door
with a sick man. Wants a bed ready. We 'aven't got one--and--"
The look upon the matron's face interrupted the flow of his words.
"Barney?" she said, rising slowly to her feet. "Barney?" she said
again, her hand clutching the desk and holding hard. "What do you
mean, Ben?" The words came slowly.
"He wants a bed for a sick man and we 'aven't--"
Margaret took a step toward him. "Ben," she said, in breathless
haste, "get my room ready. But first tell Nurse Crane to come to
me quick. Go, Ben."
The orderly hurried away, leaving her alone. With trembling hands
she shut the door, turned toward her desk, and there stood, both
hands pressed hard to her heart, fighting hard to control the
tumultuous tides that surged through her heart and thundered in her
ears. "Barney! Barney!" she whispered. "Oh, Barney, at last!"
The blue eyes were wide open and all aglow with the tender light of
her great love. "Barney," she said over and over, "my love, my
love, my--ah, not mine--" A sob caught her voice. Over her desk
hung a copy of Hoffman's great picture, the Christ kneeling in
Gethsemane. She went close to the picture. "O Christ!" she cried
brokenly, "I, too! Help me!" A knock came to the door, Nurse
Crane entered. Margaret quickly turned toward her desk again.
"Dr. Bailey is at the door with a patient," said the nurse.
"Dr. Bailey?" echoed Margaret, not daring to look up, her trembling
hands fluttering among the papers on the desk. "Go to him, Nurse,
and get what he wants. Take my room. I shall follow in a moment."
Once more she was alone. Again she stood before the picture of the
Christ, the words of the great submission ringing through the
chambers of her soul. "Not my will but Thine be done." She
pressed nearer the picture, gazing into that strong, patient,
suffering face through the rain of welcome tears. "O Christ!" she
whispered, "dear blessed Christ! I understand--now. Help me!
Help me!" Then, after a pause, "Not my will! Not my will!"
The strife was past. Quietly she went to the lavatory that stood
in the corner of her office, bathed her eyes, smoothed away the
signs of struggle from her face, and went forth serene to her duty
and her cross. In the hall she met Barney. With a quick, light
step she was at his side, both hands stretched out. "Barney!"
"Margaret!" was all they said. For a moment or two Barney stood
holding her hands, gazing without a word into the sweet face, so
pale, so beautiful, so serenely strong. Twice he essayed to speak,
but the words choked in his throat. Turning abruptly away he
pointed to the figure under the grey blanket on the camp bed.
"I've brought--you--Dick," at last he said hoarsely.
"Dick! Hurt? Not--" She halted before the dreaded word.
"No, injured. Badly, I fear, but I hope--"
"The room is ready," said Nurse Crane.
At once all other thoughts and emotions gave way to the immediate
demands of their common duty. They had work to do, and they had
trained themselves to obey without thought of self that Divine call
to serve the suffering. Together they toiled at their work,
Margaret noting with delighted wonder the quick fingers and the
finished skill that cleansed and probed and dressed the wound in
the head and made thorough examination for other injury or ill,
Barney keenly conscious of the efficiency of the silent, steady
helper at his side whose quick eye and hand anticipated his every
want. At length their work was done and they stood looking down
upon the haggard face.
"He is resting now," said Barney, in a low voice. "The fracture is
not serious, I think."
"Poor Dick," said Margaret, passing her hand over his brow.
At her touch and voice Dick moaned and opened his eyes. Barney
quickly stepped back out of sight. For a moment or two the eyes
wandered about the room, then rested on Margaret's face in a
troubled, inquiring gaze.
"What is it, Dick, dear?" said Margaret, bending over him.
For answer his hand began to move feebly toward his breast as if
"I know. The letter, Dick?" A look of intelligence lighted the
eye. "That's all right, Dick. I shall get it to Barney. Barney
is here, you know."
A hand grasped her arm. "Hush!" said Barney in stern command.
"Say nothing about me." But she heeded him not. For a moment
longer the sick man's gaze lingered on her face. A faint smile of
content overspread the drawn features, then the look of intelligence
faded and the eyes closed wearily.
"Come," said Barney, moving toward the door, "he is better quiet."
Leaving the nurse in charge, they went together toward the office.
"Where did you find him?" asked Margaret as she gave Barney a seat.
Then Barney told her the story of how he had chanced upon the canoe
and had discovered Dick lying insensible in the woods.
"It was God's leading, Barney," said Margaret gently, when the
story was done; but to this he made no reply. "Is there serious
danger, do you think?" she inquired in an anxious voice.
"He will recover," replied Barney. "All he requires is careful
nursing, and that you can give him. I shall wait till to-morrow."
"To-morrow? And then?"
"I am leaving this country next week."
"Leaving the country? And why?"
"My work here is done."
"Surely there is much yet to do, and you have just begun to do such
great things. Why should you leave now?"
Barney waited a few moments in silence as if pondering an answer.
"Margaret, I must go," he finally burst forth. "You know I must
go. I can't live within touch of him and forget!"
"Forgive, you mean, Barney."
"Well, forgive, if you like," he replied sullenly.
"Barney," replied Margaret earnestly, "this is unworthy of you, and
in the face of God's mercy to-day how can you hold resentment in
"How can I? God knows, or the Devil. For three years I have
fought it, but it is there. It is there!" He struck his hand hard
upon his breast. "I can't forget that he ruined my life! But for
him I believe in my soul I should have won--her to me! At a
critical moment he came in and ruined--"
"Barney! Barney, listen to me!" cried Margaret impetuously.
Barney sprang to his feet.
"No, you must listen to me. Sit down." Barney obeyed her word and
sat down. "Now, hear me, and hear me fairly. I am not going to
say that Dick was free from blame, nor was Iola either. Whose was
the greater I can't tell. They were both young and, to a certain
extent, inexperienced in the ways of life. Circumstances threw
them much together and on terms of almost brotherly and sisterly
intimacy. That was a mistake. They ignored conventions that can
never be safely ignored. Just at that time Dick's life was made
hard for him. His Church had rejected him."
"Yes, rejected him. He was refused license by the Presbytery, was
branded as a heretic and outcast from work." Margaret's voice grew
bitter. "Do you wonder that he grew hard? Perhaps they could not
help it--I can't say--but he grew hard. Yes, and worse than that,
grew away from his faith, from his friends, and from those things
that keep men straight and strong. He grew weak. The hour of
temptation came upon him. You and I have seen enough of that side
of life to know what that means. He broke faith with you--no, not
with you. He was loyal to you, but he broke faith with himself and
with her. For a single moment, that moment at which you appeared,
he yielded to passion, and bitterly, terribly, has he suffered
since that moment. How terribly no one knows. He has tried to
find you, but you would not be found. He wronged you, Barney, but
you have made him and all of us suffer much." The voice that had
gone on so bravely and so firmly here suddenly trembled and broke.
"Made you suffer!" cried Barney, with bitter scorn. "How can you
speak of suffering? You have everything! I have lost all!"
"Everything?" echoed Margaret faintly. "Ah, Barney, how little you
know! But, no matter, God has brought you together and you must
not do this wicked thing. You must not continue to break our
"Break your hearts? Margaret, what's the use of words? I had a
heart, too, and a brother whom I loved and trusted as myself, yes,
more than myself, and--I had--Iola. All I have lost. My work
satisfies me for a few months, but try as I can this awful thing
hunts me down and drives me mad. There is nothing in life left for
me. And there might have been much but for--"
"Stop, Barney!" cried Margaret impulsively. "There is much still
left for you. God is good. How much better than we. You can't
forgive a fellow-sinner. Oh, shame! But He forgives and forgets,
and surely you ought to try--"
"Try! Try! Heavens above, Margaret! Try! Do you think I haven't
tried? That thing is there! there!" smiting on his breast again.
"Can you tell me how to rid myself of it?"
"Yes, Barney, I think I can tell you. God's great goodness will do
this for you. Listen," she said, putting up her hand to stay his
words, "God is bringing a great joy to you to shame you and to
soften you. Here, read this." She handed him Iola's letter, went
to the window, and stood with her back to him, looking out upon the
great sweeping valley below.
"Margaret!" The hoarse voice called her back to him. His hard,
proud, sullen reserve was shattered, gone. His lips were
quivering, his hands trembling. The girl was touched to the heart.
"Margaret," he cried brokenly, "what does this mean?" He was
"It means that she wants you, that she needs you. Dick was going
to-morrow to bring her back to you, Barney. That was his one
"To bring her to me? To bring her back to me? Dick? Dear old
boy! and I-- Oh, Margaret!" He put his trembling hands out to
her. "Forgive me! God forgive me! Poor Dick! I'll see him!" He
started toward the door. "No, not how," he cried, striving in vain
to control himself. "I am mad! mad! For three long years I have
carried this cursed thing in my heart! It's gone! It's gone,
Margaret! Do you hear? It's gone!" He was shouting aloud. "I
feel right toward Dick, my brother!"
"Hush, Barney dear," said the girl, tears running down her face,
"you will wake him."
"Yes, yes," he cried, in an eager whisper, "I'll be careful. Poor
old boy, he has suffered, too. Dear old Dick! And she wants me!
I'll go to-night! Yes, to-night! What's the date?" He tore at
the envelope with trembling hands. The letter dropped to the
floor. Margaret caught it up and opened it for him. "A month ago
and more! Yes, I'll go to-night. Oh, Margaret, what a blasted
fool I am! I can't get myself in hand." Suddenly he threw himself
into his chair. "Here!" he ground out between his teeth, "get
quiet!" He sat for a few moments absolutely still, gathering
strength to command himself. At length he got himself in hand.
"No," he said in a quiet voice, "I shall not go tonight. I shall
wait till Dick is better. Just now he must be kept quiet. In the
morning I expect to see him very much himself. We can only wait
Through the night they waited, Barney struggling mightily to hold
himself in perfect control, Margaret quietly doing what was to be
done, her whole spirit breathing of that self-forgetting love which
finds its highest joy in the joy of another. At the break of day
the nurse came to the door and found them still waiting.
"Mr. Boyle is awake and is asking for you, Miss Robertson."
"Let me go to him," cried Barney. "Don't fear." His voice was
still vibrating, but his manner was calm and steady. He was master
of himself again.
"Yes," said Margaret, "go to him." Then as the door closed she
stood once more before the Gethsemane scene. "Thank God, thank
God," she said softly, "for them the pain is over."
For half an hour she waited and then went up to the sickroom. She
opened the door softly, went in and stood gazing till her eyes grew
dim. On the pillow, face down, Barney's head lay close to Dick's,
whose arm was thrown about his brother's neck, and on Dick's face
shone a look of rapturous peace. As Margaret moved to leave the
room Dick called her in a voice faint, but full of joy.
"Margaret," he said, a smile breaking like light through a dark
cloud, "my head was broken, but I'd have all the bones in my body
broken, just to have Barney set them. We're all right, eh, boy?"
Slowly Barney raised his face, tear-marked, worn, but radiant with
a peace it had not known for many a day. "Yes, old chap," he said
in a voice still tremulous in spite of all his self-command, "we're
right again, and, please God, we'll keep so."
TO WHOM HE FORGAVE MOST
For three days Dick made steady progress toward health, but his
progress was slow. Any mental effort produced severe pain in his
head and sufficed to raise his temperature several points. As he
gained in strength and became more and more clear in his thinking
his anxiety in regard to his work began to increase. His
congregations would be waiting him on Sunday, and he could not bear
to think of their being disappointed. With no small effort had he
gathered them together, and a single failure on his part he knew
would have disastrous effect upon the attendance. He was
especially concerned about the service at Bull Crossing, which was
at once the point where the work was the most difficult, and, at
the present juncture, most encouraging. Under his instructions
Barney sought to secure a substitute for the service at Bull
Crossing, but without result. Preachers were scarce in that
country and every preacher had more work in sight than he could
overtake. And so Dick fretted and wrought himself into a fever,
until the doctor took him sternly to task.
"I don't see that it's your business to worry, Dick," he said. "I
suppose you consider yourself as working under orders, and it is
your belief, isn't it, that the One who gives the orders is the One
who has laid you down here?"
"That's true," said Dick wearily, "but there's the people. A lot
of them come a long way. It's been hard to get them together, and
I hate to disappoint them."
"Well, we'll get someone," replied Barney. "We're a pretty hard
combination to beat, aren't we, Margaret? There will be a man to
take the service at Bull Crossing if I have to take it myself--a
desperate resort, indeed."
"Why not, Barney?" asked Dick. "You could do it well."
"What? Did you ever hear me talk? I can talk a little with my
fingers, but my tongue is unconscionably slow."
"There was a man once slow of speech," replied Dick quietly, "but
he was given a message and he led a nation into freedom."
Barney nodded. "I remember him. But he could do things."
"No," answered Dick, "but he believed God could do things."
"Perhaps so. That was rather long ago."
"With God," replied Dick earnestly, "there is no such thing as long
"All the same," said Barney, "I guess these things don't happen
"I believe they happen," replied his brother, "where God finds a
man who will take his life in his hand and go."
"Well, I don't know about that," replied Barney, "but I do know
that you must quit talking and sleep. Now, hear me, drop that
meeting out of your mind. I'll look after it."
But Saturday came and, in spite of every effort on Barney's part,
he found no one for the service at Bull Crossing next day. There
was still a slight hope that one of the officials of the
congregation would consent to be a stop-gap for the day.
"I guess I'll have to take that service myself, Margaret," said
Barney laughingly. "Wouldn't the crowd stare? They'd hear the
sermon of their lives."
"It would be a good sermon, Barney," replied Margaret quietly.
"And why should you not say something to the men?"
"Nonsense, Margaret!" cried Barney impatiently. "You know the
thing is utterly absurd. What sort of man am I to preach? A
gambler, a swearer, and generally bad. They all know me."
"They know only a part of you, Barney," said Margaret gently. "God
knows all of you, and whatever you have been you are no gambler
today, and you are not a bad man."
"No," replied Barney slowly, "I am no gambler, nor will I ever be
again. But I have been a hard, bad man. For three years I carried
hate in my heart. I could not forgive and didn't want to be
forgiven. And that, I believe, was the cause of all my badness.
But--somehow--I don't deserve it--but I've been awfully well
treated. I deserved hell, but I've got a promise of heaven. And
I'd be glad to do something for--" He paused abruptly.
"There, you've got your sermon, Barney," said Margaret.
"What do you mean?"
"'Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.'"
"It's the sermon someone wants to preach to me, but it's not for me
to preach. The thing is preposterous. I'll get one of those
fellows at the Crossing to take the meeting."
On Saturday evening Dick again reverted to the subject.
"I'm not anxious, Barney," he said, "but who's going to take the
meeting to-morrow night at Bull Crossing?"
"Now, look here," said Barney, "Monday morning you'll hear all
about it. Meantime, don't ask questions. Margaret and I are
responsible, and that ought to be enough. You never knew her to
"No, nor you, Barney," said Dick, sinking back with a sigh of
satisfaction. "I know it will be all right. Are you going down
to-morrow evening?" he inquired, turning to Margaret.
"I?" exclaimed Margaret. "What would I do?"
"Of course you are going. It will do you a lot of good," said
Barney. "You may have to preach yourself or hold my coat while I
A sudden gleam of joy in the eyes, a flush of red upon the cheek,
and the quick following pallor told Dick the thoughts that rushed
through Margaret's heart.
"Yes," said Dick gravely, "you will go down, too, Margaret. It
will do you good, and I don't need you here."
Many anxious days had Barney passed in his life, but never had he
found himself so utterly blocked by unmanageable circumstances and
uncompromising facts as he found facing him that Sunday morning.
He confided his difficulty to Tommy Tate, whom he had found in
"Mexico's" saloon toning up his system after his long illness, and
whom he had straightway carried off with him.
"I guess it's either you or me, Tommy."
"Bedad, it's yersilf that c'd do that same, an' divil a wan av the
bhoys will 'Mexico' git this night, wance the news gits about."
"Don't talk rot, Tommy," said Barney angrily, for the chance of his
being forced to take his brother's place, which all along had
seemed to be extremely remote, had come appreciably nearer. With
the energy of desperation he spent the hours of the afternoon
visiting, explaining, urging, cajoling, threatening anyone of the
members or adherents of the congregation at Bull Crossing in whom
might be supposed to dwell the faintest echo of the spirit of the
preacher. One after another, however, those upon whom he had built
his hopes failed him. One was out of town, another he found sick
in bed, and a third refused point blank to consider the request, so
that within a few minutes of the hour of service he found himself
without a preacher and wholly desperate, and for the first time he
seriously faced the possibility of having to take the service
himself. He returned to the shack of one of his brother's
parishioners, where Margaret was staying, and abruptly announced to
her his failure.
"Can't get a soul, and of course I can't do it, Margaret. You
know, I can't," he repeated, in answer to the look upon her face.
"Why, it was only last week I fleeced 'Mexico' out of a couple of
hundred. He would give a good deal more to get even. The crowd
would hoot me out of the building. Not that I care for that"--the
long jaws came hard together--"but it's just too ghastly to think
"It isn't so very terrible, Barney," said Margaret, her voice and
eyes uniting in earnest persuasion. "You are not the man you were
last week. You know you are not. You are quite different, and you
will be different all your life. A great change has come to you.
What made the change? You know it was God's great mercy that took
the bitterness out of your heart and that changed everything.
Can't you tell them this?"
"Tell them that, Margaret? Great Heavens! Could I tell them that?
What would they say?"
"Barney," asked Margaret, "you are not afraid of them? You are not
ashamed to tell what you owe to God?"
Afraid? It was an ugly word for Barney to swallow. No, he was not
afraid, but his native diffidence, intensified by these recent
years of self-repression and self-absorption, had made all speech
difficult to him, but more especially speech that revealed the
deeper movements of his soul.
"No, Margaret, I'm not afraid," he said slowly. "But I'd rather
have them take the flesh off that arm bit by bit than get up and
speak to them. I'd have to tell them the truth, don't you see,
Margaret? How can I do that?"
"All that you say must be the truth, Barney, of course," she
replied. "But you will tell them just what you will."
With these words she turned away, leaving him silent and fighting a
desperate fight. His word passed to his brother must be kept. But
soon a deeper issue began to emerge. His honour was involved. His
sense of loyalty was touched. He knew himself to be a different
man from the man who, last week, in "Mexico's" saloon, had beaten
his old antagonist at the old game. His consciousness of himself,
of his life purposes, of his outlook, of his deepest emotions, was
altogether a different consciousness. And more than all, that
haunting, pursuing restlessness was gone and, in its place, a deep
peace possessed him. The process by which this had been achieved
he could not explain, but the result was undeniable, and it was
due, he knew, to an influence the source of which he frankly
acknowledged to be external to himself. The words of the beaten
and confounded pagan magic-workers came to him, "This is the finger
of God." He could not deny it. Why should he wish to hide it? It
became clear to him, in these few minutes of intense soul activity,
that there was a demand being made upon him as a man of truth and
honour, and as the struggle deepened in his soul and the possibility
of his refusing the demand presented itself to his mind, there
flashed in upon him the picture of a man standing in the midst of
enemies, the flickering firelight showing his face vacillating,
terror-stricken, hunted. From the trembling lips of the man he
heard the words of base denial, "I know not the man," and in his
heart there rose a cry, "O Christ! shall I do this?" "No," came the
answer, strong and clear, from his lips, "I will not do this thing,
so help me God."
Margaret turned quickly around and looked at him in dismay. "You
won't?" she said faintly.
"I'll take the service," he replied, setting the long jaws firmly
together. And with that they went forth to the hall.
They found the place crowded far beyond its capacity, for through
Tommy Tate it had been noised abroad that Dr. Bailey was to preach.
There were wild rumors, too, that the doctor had "got religion,"
although "Mexico" and his friends scouted the idea as utterly
"He ain't the kind. He's got too much nerve," was "Mexico's"
verdict, given with a full accompaniment of finished profanity.
Tommy's evidence, however, was strong enough to create a profound
impression and to awaken an expectation that rose to fever pitch
when Barney and Margaret made their way through the crowds and took
their places, Margaret at the organ, which Dick usually played
himself, and Barney at the table upon which were the Bible and the
Hymn-book. His face wore the impenetrable, death-like mark which
had so often baffled "Mexico" and his gang over the poker table.
It fascinated "Mexico" now. All the years of his wicked manhood
"Mexico" had, on principle, avoided anything in the shape of a
religious meeting, but to-day the attraction of a poker player
preaching proved irresistible. It was with no small surprise that
the crowd saw "Mexico," with two or three of his gang, make their
way toward the front to the only seats left vacant.
When it became evident beyond dispute that his old-time enemy was
to take the preacher's place, "Mexico" leaned over to his pal,
"Peachy" Bud, who sat between him and Tommy Tate, and muttered in
an undertone audible to those in his immediate neighbourhood, "It's
his old game. He's runnin' a blank bluff. He ain't got the
But painful experience shook "Peachy's" confidence in his friend's
judgment on this particular point, and he only ventured to reply,
"He's got the lead." "Peachy" preferred to await developments.
The opening hymn was sung with the hearty fervour that marks the
musical part of any religious service in the West. But there was
in the voices that curious thrill that is at once the indication
and the quickening of intense excitement.
"This here'll show what's in his hand," said "Peachy," when the
moment for prayer arrived. "Peachy" was not unfamiliar with
religious services, and had, with unusual keenness of observation,
noted that when a man undertook to pray he must, if he be true,
reveal the soul within him.
"Mexico" grunted a dubious affirmative. But "Peachy" was
disappointed, for in a voice reverent, but unimpassioned, the
preacher for the day led the people's devotions, using the great
words taught those men long ago who knew not how to pray, "Our
Father who art in Heaven."
"Blanked if he ain't bluffed again! We've got to wait till he
begins to shoot, I guess," said "Peachy," mixing his figures.
The lesson was the parable of the unforgiving debtor and the
parallel passage containing the matchless story of the sinful woman
and the proud Pharisee. In the reading of these lessons the voice,
which had hitherto carried the strident note of nervousness,
mellowed into rich and subduing fulness. The men listened with
that hushed attention that they give when words are getting to the
heart. The utter simplicity of the reader's manner, the dignity of
his bearing, the quiet strength that showed itself in every tone,
and the undercurrent of emotion that made the voice vibrate like a
stringed instrument, all these, with the marvellous authoritative
tenderness of the great utterance on a theme so closely touching
their daily experience, gripped these men and held them in complete
When the reading was done the doctor stood for some moments looking
his audience quietly in the face. He knew them all, men from the
camps and the line, men from the hills and mining claims, men from
the saloons and the gambling hells. Many he had treated
professionally, some he had himself nursed back to health, others
he had rescued from those desperate moods that end in death.
Others again--and these not a few--he had "cleaned out" at poker or
"Black Jack." But to all of them he was "white." Not so to
himself. It was a very humble man and a very penitent, that stood
looking them in the face. His first words were a confession.
"I am not worthy to stand here before you," he began, in a low,
clear tone, "God knows, you know, and I know. I am here for two
reasons: one is that I promised my brother, the Reverend Richard
Boyle"--here a gasp of surprise was audible from one and another in
the audience--"a man you know to be a good man, better than ever I
can hope to be."
"Durned if he is!" grunted "Peachy" to "Mexico." "Ain't in the
"An' that's thrue fer ye," answered Tommy. But "Mexico" paid no
heed to these remarks. He was staring at the speaker with the look
of a man wholly bewildered.
"And the other reason is," continued, the doctor, "that I have
something which I think it fair to tell you men. Like a lot of
you, I have carried a name that is not my own." Here significant
looks were gravely exchanged. "They gave it to me by mistake when
I reached the Pass. I didn't care much at that time about names or
anything else, so I let it go. There are times in a fellow's life
when he's not unwilling to forget his name. My name is Boyle."
And then, in sentences simple, clean-cut, and terse, he told of his
boyhood days, the Old Mill, the two boys growing up together, their
love for and their loyalty to each other, their struggles and their
success. Then came a pause. The speaker had obviously come to a
difficult spot in his story. The men waited in earnest, grave, and
deeply moved expectation. "At that time a great calamity came to
me--no matter what--and it threw me clear off my balance. I lost
my head and lost my nerve, and just then--" again the speaker
paused, as if to gather strength to continue--"and just then my
brother did me a wrong. Not being in a condition to judge fairly,
I magnified the wrong a thousand-fold and I tried to tear my
brother out of my heart. I could not and I would not forgive him,
and I couldn't cease to love him. I lived a life of misery, misery
so great that it drove me from everything in earth that I held
dear, and for three years I went steadily down from bad to worse.
I came to the Crow's Nest a year and a half ago. My life since
then most of you know well."
"Bedad we do! An' Hivin bliss ye!" burst forth Tommy Tate, who had
found the greatest difficulty in controlling his emotions of
indignation and grief during the doctor's self-condemnatory tale.
At Tommy's words a quiet thrill ran through the crowd, for few men
of those present but held the doctor in affectionate esteem. The
sins of which he was conscious and which humiliated him before them
were, in their estimation, but trivial.
For a moment the speaker was thrown off his track by Tommy's
outburst, but, recovering himself, he went on. "It would be wrong
to say that my life here has been all bad. I have been able to
serve many of you, but my work has done far more for me than it has
for you. But for it I should have long ago gone down out of sight.
I confess that it has been a hard fight for me, an awful fight, to
stay at my work, but the day that I heard that my brother was your
missionary brought me the hardest fight I had had for many a day.
I wanted to get away from the past. For nearly four years I had
been carrying round a heart with hell in it. I had begun to forget
a little, but that day it all came back. This week I met my
brother. I found him dying, almost dead, up in the Big Horn
Valley. That morning my heart carried hell in it. To-day it is
like what I think heaven must be." As he spoke these words a light
broke over his face, and again he stood silent, striving to regain
control of his voice.
"Blanked if he don't hold the cards!" said "Mexico" in a thick
voice to "Peachy" Budd.
"Full flush," answered "Peachy."
"Mexico" was in the grasp of the elemental emotions of his
untutored nature. His swarthy face was twisted like the face of a
man in torture. His black eyes were gleaming like two fires from
under his shaggy eyebrows.
"How it came about," continued the doctor, in a quiet, even tone,
"I am not going to tell. But this I am going to say, I know it was
God's great mercy, His great kindness it was that took the hate out
of my heart. I forgave my brother that day--and--God forgave me.
That's all there is to it. It's the biggest thing that has ever
come to me. I have got my brother back just as when we were little
chaps at the Old Mill." A sudden choke caught the speaker's voice.
The firm lips quivered and the strong hands writhed themselves in a
mighty effort to master the emotions surging through his soul.
Tommy Tate was openly sniffling and wiping his eyes. "Peachy" Budd
was swearing audibly his emotions, but, most of all, "Mexico's"
swarthy face betrayed the intensity of his feelings. He had
grasped the back of the seat before him and was leaning toward the
speaker as if held under an hypnotic spell.
Again the doctor, getting his voice steady, went on. "I have just
a word more to say. I would like to give credit for this that
happened to me to the One we have been reading about this
afternoon, and I do so with all my heart. I came near being coward
enough and mean enough to go away without owning this up before
you. How He did it, I do not pretend to know. I'm not a preacher.
But He did it, and that's what chiefly concerns me. And what He
did for me I guess He can do for any of you. And now I've got to
square up some things. 'Mexico'--" At the sound of his name
"Mexico" started violently and, involuntarily, his hand went, with
a quick motion, toward his hip--"I've taken a lot from you. I'd
like to pay it back." The voice was humble, earnest, kind.
"Mexico," taken by surprise, shifted his tobacco to the other side
of his mouth, stood up and drawled out, "Haow? Me? Pay me back?
Blanked if you do! It was a squar' deal, wa'n't it?"
"Yes, I played fair, 'Mexico,' but--"
"Then go to hell!" "Mexico's" tone was not at all unfriendly, but
his vocabulary was limited, and he was evidently deeply stirred.
"We're squar' an'--an' blanked if I don't believe ye're white! Put
it thar!" With a single stride "Mexico" was over the seat that
separated him from the platform and reached out his hand. The
doctor took it in a hard grip.
"Look here, men," he said, when "Mexico" had resumed his seat,
"I've got to do something with this money. I've got at least five
thousand that don't belong to me."
"'Tain't ours," called a voice.
"Men," continued the doctor, "I'm starting out on a new track. I
want to straighten out the past all I can. I can't keep this
money. I'd feel like a thief."
But such an ethical code was beyond the men, and one and all
protested to each other, in tones that were quite audible over the
hall and with anathemas of more or less terrible import, that the
money was not theirs and that they would not touch it. The doctor
listened for a minute or more and then, with the manner of one
closing a discussion, he said, "All right. If you won't help me
I'll have to find some way, myself, of straightening this up. This
is all I have to say. I'm no preacher and I'm not any better than
the rest of you, but I'd like to be a great deal better man than I
am, and, with God's help, I'm going to try. That's my religion."
And with these words he sat down, leaving the people still staring
at him and waiting for something in the way of closing exercises to
what must have been the most extraordinary religious service in all
their experience. Softly, Margaret began to play the old hymn,
"Nearer, My God, to Thee!" The men, accepting it as a signal, rose
to their feet and began to sing, and with these great words of
aspiration ringing through their hearts they passed out into the
Among the many who lingered to speak to the doctor were "Mexico,"
"Peachy," and, of course, his faithful follower, Tommy Tate.
"Mexico" drew him off to one corner.
"Say, pard," he began, "you've done me up many a time before, but
blanked if yeh haven't hit me this time the worst yet! When you
was talkin' about them two little chaps--" here "Mexico's" hard
face began to work and his voice to quiver--"you put the knife
right in here. I had a brother once," he continued in a husky
voice. "I wish to God someone had choked the blank nonsense out of
me, for I done him a wrong an' I wasn't man enough to own up. An'
that's what started me in all this hell business I've been chasin'
The doctor took him by the arm and walked him out of the room.
"Take Miss Robertson home," he said to Tommy as he passed.
An hour later he appeared, pale and as nearly exhausted as his iron
nerve and muscle would allow him to be. "I say, Margaret, this
thing is wonderful! There's no explaining it by any physical or
mental law that I know." Then, after a pause, he added, with an
odd thrill of tenderness in his voice, "I believe we shall hear
good things of 'Mexico' yet."
And so they did, but that is another tale.
THE HEART'S REST
There is no sweeter spot in all the west Highlands of Scotland than
the valley that runs back from that far penetrating arm of the sea,
Loch Fyne, to Craigraven. There, after a succession of wild and
gloomy glens, one comes upon a sweet little valley, sheltered from
the east and north winds and open to the warm western sea and to
the long sunny days of summer. It is a valley full of balmy airs,
fragrant with the scents of sea and heather, and shut in from the
roar and rush of the great world, just over the ragged rim of the
craggy hills that guard it. A veritable heaven on earth for the
nerve-racked and brain-wearied, for the heart-sick and soul-
burdened; for it was the pleasure of the lady of Ruthven Hall, a
kindly, homely mansion house that stood at the valley's head, to
bring hither such of her friends or her friends' friends as needed
the healing that soft airs and sunny days, with long quiet hours
filled with love that understands, can give.
To this spot Lady Ruthven herself had been brought, a girl fresh
from the shelter of her English home, the bride of Sir Hector
Ruthven; and here for five happy summers they had come from the
strenuous life of Diplomatic Service to find rest. Here, too, came
Sir Hector, when his work was done, still a young man, to rest
under the yews in the little churchyard near the Hall, leaving his
lady with her little daughter and her infant son to administer his
vast estates. After the first sharp grief had passed, Lady Ruthven
took up her burden and, with patient courage, bore it for the sake
of the dead first, and then for the sake of the living. Round her
son, growing into sturdy young manhood, her heart's roots wound
themselves, striking deep into his life, till one day he, too, was
laid beneath the yew trees in the churchyard. From that deep
shadow she came forth, bearing her cross of service to her kind, to
live a life fragrant with the airs of Heaven, in fellowship with
Him who, for love of man, daily gave Himself to die.
It was through her nephew, Alan Ruthven, artist and poet, pure of
heart and clean of life, that Jack Charrington came to know Ruthven
Hall and its dwellers. The young men first met in London, and
later in Edinburgh, where both were pursuing their professions with
a devotion that did not forbid attention to sundry social duties,
or prevent them from taking long walks over the Lammermuirs on
Saturday afternoons. To Ruthven Hall, Alan was permitted to bring
his young Canadian friend, who, he was secretly convinced, stood
sorely in need of just such benediction as his saintly aunt could
bestow. The day of Jack Charrington's coming to Ruthven Hall was
the birthday of his better life, when he had a vision of his
profession in the light of that great ministry to the world's sick
and wounded and weary by Him who came to the world "to heal." In
another sense, too, it was for him the beginning of days, for it
was the day on which his eyes first fell upon sunny, saucy Maisie
Ruthven. Thenceforth the orbit of Jack's life swung round Ruthven
Hall, and thus it fell that when, on one of his visits to the great
metropolis, he found Iola exhausted after her season's triumphs and
forbidden to sing again for a year, and so well-nigh heart-broken,
he bethought him of the little valley of rest in the far western
Highlands. Straightway he confided to Lady Ruthven his concern for
his co-patriot and friend, giving as much of her story as he
thought it well that both Lady Ruthven and her daughter should
know. Hence, when they went north to their Highland valley again,
they carried with them Iola, to be rested and nursed, and to be
healed in heart, too, if that could be. For Lady Ruthven, with her
eyes made keen by grief and love, had not been long in discovering
that, with Iola, the deeper sickness was that which no physician's
medicine can reach.
Through the early summer they waited for signs of returning health
to their guest, but neither the most watchful care nor the most
tender nursing could keep the strength from gradually waning.
"She is fretting her heart out. That's the chief cause of this
terrible restlessness," said Alan Ruthven to his friend, who was
visiting at the Hall.
"Partly," replied Charrington gloomily, "but not altogether, I
fear. This restlessness is symptomatic. We must have Bruce Fraser
out again. But if we only could get track of Boyle it would
greatly help. She wrote yesterday to her great friend, Miss
Robertson, who, more than anyone, has kept in touch with him."
"Charrington," inquired Alan hesitatingly, "would you advise that
he should be looked up? Of course, you credit me with being
perfectly disinterested. I gave up my dream some time ago, you
"Oh, certainly, Ruthven, I know, but--"
"You fear I'm prejudiced. Well, I confess I am. I hate to think
of a girl like that having anything to do with a man unworthy of
her, as from what you have told me of him he must be."
"Unworthy!" cried Jack. "Did I ever call him unworthy? It depends
upon what you mean. He gambles. He has terrific passions; but
he's a man through and through, and he's clean and honourable."
"Ah," said Ruthven, drawing a deep breath, "then would to Heaven
she could find him! For this fretting is like a fever in her
"At present, we can only wait for an answer to her letter."
And so they waited, each one of the little group vying with the
other in providing interest and amusement for the weary, restless,
fevered girl. Often, at the first, the old impatience would break
out, mostly in her talk with Charrington, at rare times to her
hostess, too, but at such times followed by quick penitence.
"Dear Lady Ruthven," she said one day after one of her little
outbreaks, "I wish I were like you. You are so sweetly good and so
perfectly self-controlled. Even I cannot wear out your patience.
You must have been born good and sweet."
For a few moments Lady Ruthven was silent, her mind going back
swiftly to long gone years. "No, dear," she said gently; "I have
much to be thankful for. It was a hard lesson and slowly learned,
but He was patient and bore long with me. And He is still
"Tell me how you learned," asked Iola timidly, and then Lady
Ruthven told her life story, without tears, without repinings,
while Iola wondered. That story Iola never forgot, and the
influence of it never departed from her. Never were the days quite
so bad again, but every day while she struggled to subdue her
impatience even in thought, she kept looking for word from across
the sea with a longing so intense that all in the house came to
share it with her.
"Oh! if we only knew where to get him!" groaned Jack Charrington to
her one day, for to Jack, who was the only link with her happy
past, she had opened her heart. "Why does he keep away?" he added
"It is my fault, Jack," she replied. "He is not to blame. No one
is to blame but me. But he will come some day. I feel sure he
will come, I only hope he may be in time. He would greatly grieve
"Hush, Iola. Don't say it. I can't bear to have you say it. You
are getting better. Why, you walked out yesterday quite smartly."
"Some days I am so well," she replied, unwilling to grieve him. "I
would like him to see me first on one of my good days. I am sure
to hear soon now."
They had hardly turned to enter the house when they saw a messenger
wearing the uniform of the Telegraph Department approaching.
"Oh, Jack!" she cried, "there it is!"
"Come, Iola," said Jack, almost sternly, "come in and sit down."
So saying, he brought her into the library and made her recline
upon the couch, in that sunny room near the window where many of
her waking hours were spent.
It was Alan who took the message. They all followed him into the
library. "Shall I open it?" he asked, with an anxious look at
"Yes," she said faintly, laying both hands upon her heart.
Lady Ruthven came to her side. "Iola, darling," she said, taking
both her hands in hers, "it is good to feel that God's arms are
about us always."
"Yes, dear Lady Ruthven," replied the girl, regaining her
composure; "I'm learning. I'm not afraid."
Opening, Alan read the message, smiled, and handed it to her. She
read the slip, handed it to Jack, closed her eyes, and, smiling,
lay back upon her couch. "God is good," she whispered, as Lady
Ruthven bent over her. "You were right. Teach me how to trust Him
"Are you all right, Iola?" said Jack, anxiously feeling her pulse.
"Quite right, Jack, dear," she said.
"Then hooray!" cried Jack, starting up. "Let's see, 'Coming
Silurian seventh. Barney.'" he read aloud. "The seventh was
yesterday. Six days. She'll be in on the thirteenth. Ought to be
here by Monday at latest."
"Saturday, Jack," said Iola, opening her eyes.
"Well, we'll plan for Monday. We're not going to be disappointed.
Meantime, you're not to fret." And he frowned sternly down upon
"Fret?" she cried, looking up brightly. "Never more, Jack. I
shall never fret again in all my life. I'm going to build up for
these five days, every hour, every minute. I want Barney to see me
It was a marvel to all the house how she kept her word. Every
hour, every minute, she appeared to gain strength. She ate with
relish and slept like a child. The old feverish restlessness left
her, and she laid aside many of her invalid ways.
"You are going down to Glasgow to-morrow, I suppose, Charrington?"
said Alan on Thursday, after the Silurian had been reported.
"I've just been thinking," replied Jack, with careful deliberation,
"that it would be almost better you should go, Ruthven. You see
you're the man of the house, and it would be easier for a stranger
to tell him."
"Come, Charrington," replied his friend, "you don't often play the
coward. You've simply got to go. But why should you tell?"
"Tell? He'll see it in my face. That last report of Bruce
Fraser's he would read in my eyes. I see the ghastly words yet,
'Quite hopeless. Heart seriously involved. Cannot be long
delayed.' I say, old man, I suppose I ought to go, but you've got
to come along and make talk. I'll simply blubber right out when I
see him. You know I'm awfully fond of the old boy."
"I say, Charrington, I've got it! Take my aunt with you."
Jack gasped. "By Jove! The very thing! It's rough on her, but
she's the saintly kind that delights to bear other people's
And so it was arranged that Jack and Lady Ruthven should meet the
boat and bring Barney, with all speed, to Ruthven Hall.
At the Silurian's gangway Jack received his friend with
outstretched hands, crying, "Barney, old boy, we're glad to see
you! Here, let me present you to Lady Ruthven, at whose house Iola
is staying." With feverish haste he hurried Barney through the
crowds, bustling hither and thither about his luggage and giving
himself not a moment for conversation till they were seated in the
first-class apartment carriage that was to carry them to
Craigraven. But they had hardly got settled in their places when
the conversation, in spite of all Jack's efforts, dropped to
"You have bad news for me," said Barney, looking Lady Ruthven
steadily in the face. "Has anything happened?"
"No, Dr. Boyle," replied Lady Ruthven, a little more quickly than
was her wont, "but--" and here she paused, shrinking from
delivering the mortal stab, "but we are anxious about our dear
"Tell me the worst, Lady Ruthven," said Barney.
"That is all. We are very anxious. It is her lungs chiefly and
her heart. But she is very bright and very hopeful. It is better
she should be kept so."
Barney listened with face growing grey, his eyes looking out of
their deep sockets with the piteous, mute appeal of an animal
stricken to death. He moistened his lips and tried to speak, but,
failing, kept his eyes fixed on Lady Ruthven's face as if seeking
relief. Charrington turned his head away.
"We feel thankful for her great courage," said Lady Ruthven, in her
sweet, calm voice, "and for her peace of mind."