Part 6 out of 6
At last Barney found his voice. "Does she suspect anything?" he
"I think she must, but she has said nothing. She has been eager
all summer to get back to her home--to you--to those she loved.
She will rejoice to see you."
Suddenly Barney dropped his face into his hands with a low, long
moan. Jack looked out upon the fleeting landscape dimmed by the
tears he dared not wipe away. A long silence followed while, drop
by drop, Barney drank his cup to the bitter dregs.
"We try to think of the bright side," at length said Lady Ruthven
Barney lifted his face from his hands, looked at her in dumb
"There is the bright side," she continued, "the side of the
immortal hope. We like to think of the better country. That is
our real home. There, only, are our treasures safe." She was
giving him time to get hold of himself after the first deadly stab.
But Barney made no reply except to gravely bow. "It is, indeed, a
better country," she added softly as if to herself, "the only place
we immortals can call home." Then she rose. "Come, Jack," she
said, "I think Dr. Boyle would like to be alone." Before she
turned away to another section of the carriage, she offered him her
hand with a grave, pitying smile.
Barney bowed reverently over her hand. "I am grateful to you," he
said brokenly, "believe me." His face was contorted with the agony
that filled his soul. A quick rush of tears rendered her
speechless and in silence they turned away from him, and for the
long hour that followed they left him with his grief.
When they came back they found him with face grave and steady,
carrying the air of one who has fought his fight and has not been
altogether beaten. And with that same steady face he reached the
great door of Ruthven Hall.
"Jack, you will take Dr. Boyle to his room," said Lady Ruthven; "I
shall see Iola and send for him." But just then her daughter came
down the stairs. "Mamma," she said in a low, quick tone, "she
wants him at once."
"Yes, dear, I know," replied her mother, "but it will be better
But there was a light cry, "Barney!" and, looking up, they all saw,
standing at the head of the great staircase, a figure slight and
frail, but radiant. It was Iola.
"Pardon me, Lady Ruthven," said Barney, and was off three steps at
"Come, children." Swiftly Lady Ruthven motioned them into the
library that opened off the hall, where they stood gazing at each
other, awed and silent.
"Heaven help them!" at length gasped Jack.
"Let go my arm, Dr. Charrington," said Miss Ruthven. "You are
"Your pardon, a thousand times. I didn't know. This is more than
I can well stand."
"It will be well to leave them for a time, Dr. Charrington," said
Lady Ruthven, with a quiet dignity that subdued all emotion and
recalled them to self-control. "You will see that Dr. Boyle gets
to his room?"
"I shall go up with you, Lady Ruthven, a little later," replied
Jack. "Yes, I confess," he continued, answering Miss Ruthven's
look, "I am a coward. I am afraid to see him. He takes things
tremendously. He was quite mad about her years ago, fiercely mad
about her, and when the break came it almost ruined him. How he
will stand this, I don't know, but I am afraid to see him."
"This will be a terrible strain for her, Lady Ruthven," said Alan.
"It should not be prolonged, do you think?"
"It is well that they should be alone for a time," she replied, her
own experience making her wise in the ways of the breaking heart.
When with that quick rush Barney reached the head of the stairs
Iola moved toward him with arms upraised. "Barney! Barney! Have
you come to me at last?" she cried.
A single, searching glance into her face told him the dread truth.
He took her gently into his arms and, restraining his passionate
longing to crush her to him, lifted her and held her carefully,
tenderly, gazing into her glowing, glorious eyes the while.
"Where?" he murmured.
"This door, Barney."
He entered the little boudoir off her bedroom and laid her upon a
couch he found there. Then, without a word, he put his cheek close
to hers upon the pillow, murmuring over and over, "Iola--Iola--my
"Why, Barney," she cried, with a little happy laugh, "don't tremble
so. Let me look at you. See, you silly boy, I am quite strong and
calm. Look at me, Barney," she pleaded, "I am hungry to look at
your face. I've only seen it in my dreams for so long." She
raised herself on her arm and lifted his face from the pillow.
"Now let me sit up. I shall never see enough of you. Never!
Never! Oh, how wicked and how foolish I was!"
"It was I who was wicked," said Barney bitterly, "wicked and
selfish and cruel to you and to others."
"Hush!" She laid her hand on his lips. "Sit here beside me. Now,
Barney, don't spoil this one hour. Not one word of the past. You
were a little hard, you know, dear, but you were right, and I knew
you were right. I was wrong. But I thought there would be more in
that other life. Even at its best it was spoiled. I wanted you.
The great 'Lohengrin' night when they brought me out so many
"I was there," interrupted Barney, his voice still full of bitter
"I know. I saw you. Oh! wasn't that a night? Didn't I sing? It
was for you, Barney. My soul, my heart, my body, went all into
Ortrud that night."
"It was a great, a truly great thing, Iola."
"Yes," said Iola, with a proud little laugh, "I think the dear old
Spectator was right when it said it was a truly great performance,
but I waited for you, and waited and waited, and when you didn't
come I found that all the rest was nothing to me without you. Oh,
how I wanted you, Barney, then--and ever since!"
"If I had only known!" groaned Barney.
"Now, Barney, we are not to go back. We are to take all the joy
out of this hour. Promise me, Barney, you will not blame yourself--
now or ever--promise me, promise me!" she cried, eagerly insistent.
"But I do, Iola."
"Oh, Barney! promise me this, we will look forward, not back, will
you, Barney?" The pleading in her voice swept away all feeling but
the desire to gratify her.
"I promise you, Iola, and I keep my word."
"Yes, you do, Barney. Oh, thank you, darling." She wreathed her
arms about his neck and laid her head upon his breast. "Oh!" she
said with a deep sigh, "I shall rest now--rest--rest. That's what
I've been longing for. I could not rest, Barney."
Barney shuddered. Only too well he knew the meaning of that
fateful restlessness, but he only held her closer to him, his heart
filled with a fierce refusal of his lot.
"There is no one like you, Barney, after all," she murmured,
nestling down with a delicious sigh of content. "You are so
strong. You will make me strong, I know. I feel stronger already,
stronger than for months."
Again Barney shuddered at that cruel deception, so characteristic
of the treacherous disease.
"Why don't you speak to me, Barney? You haven't said a word except
just 'Iola, Iola, Iola.' Haven't you anything else to say, sir?
After your long silence you might--" She raised her head and
looked into his eyes with her old saucy smile.
"There is nothing to say, Iola. What need to speak when I can hold
you like this? But you must not talk too much."
"Tell me something about yourself," she cried. "What? Where?
How? Why? No, not why. I don't want that, but all the rest."
"It is hardly worth while, Iola," he replied, "and it would take a
"Oh, yes, think what a delicious long time. All the time there is.
All the day and every day. Oh, Barney! does one want more Heaven
than this? Tell me about Margaret and--yes--and Dick," she shyly
added. "Are they well and happy?"
"Now, darling," said Barney, stroking her hair; "just rest there
and I'll tell you everything. But you must not exhaust yourself."
"Go on then, Barney," she replied with a sigh of ineffable bliss,
nestling down again. "Oh, lovely rest!"
Then Barney told her of Margaret and Dick and of their last few
days together, making light of Dick's injury and making much of the
new joy that had come to them all. "And it was your letter that
did it all, Iola," he said.
"No," she replied gently, "it was our Father's goodness. I see
things so differently, Barney. Lady Ruthven has taught me. She is
an angel from Heaven, and, oh, what she has done for me!"
"I, too, Iola, have great things to be thankful for."
A tap came to the door and, in response to their invitation, Lady
Ruthven, with Jack in the background, appeared.
"Dinner will be served in a few minutes, Iola, and I am sure Dr.
Boyle would like to go to his room. You can spare him, I suppose?"
"No, I can't spare him, but I will if you let me go down to-night
"Is it wise, do you think?" said Lady Ruthven gravely. "You must
save your strength now, you know."
"Oh, but I am strong. Just for to-night," she pleaded. "I'm not
going to be an invalid to-night. I'm going to forget all about it.
I am going to eat a good dinner and I'm going to sing, too. Jack,
tell them I can go down. Barney, you will take me down. You may
carry me, if you like. I am going, Jack," she continued with
something of her old imperious air.
Barney searched her face with a critical glance, holding his
fingers upon her wrist. She was growing excited. "Well, I think
she might go down for a little. What do you think, Charrington?
You know best."
"If she is good she might," said Jack doubtfully. "But she must
promise to be quiet."
"Jack, you're a dear. You're an angel. I'll be good--as good as I
can." With which extremely doubtful promise they had to content
At dinner none was more radiant that Iola. Without effort or
strain her wit and gaiety bubbled over, till Barney, watching her
in wonder, asked himself whether in his first impression of her he
had not been mistaken. As he still watched and listened his wonder
grew. How brilliantly clever she was! How quick her wit! How
exquisitely subtle her fancy! Her mind, glowing like a live coal,
seemed to kindle by mere contact the minds about her, till the
whole table, catching her fire, scintillated with imagination's
divine flame. Through it all Barney became conscious of a change
in her. She was brighter than of old, cleverer by far. Her
conversation was that of a highly cultured woman of the world. But
it was not these that made the change. There was a new quality of
soul in her. Patience had wrought her perfect work. She exhaled
that exquisite aroma of the spirit disciplined by pain. She was
less of the earth, earthy. The airs of Heaven were breathing about
To Barney, with his new sensitiveness to the spiritual, this change
in Iola made her inexpressibly dear. It seemed as if he had met
her in a new and better country where neither had seen the other
before. And yet it filled him with an odd sense of loss. It was
as if earth were losing its claim in her, as if her earthward
affinities were refining into the heavenly. She was keenly
interested in the story of Dick's work and, in spite of his
reluctance to talk, she so managed the conversation, that, before
he was aware, Barney was in the full tide of the thrilling tale of
his brother's heroic service to the men in the mountains of Western
Canada. As Barney waxed eloquent, picturing the perils and
privations, the discouragements and defeats, the toils and triumphs
of missionary life, the lustrous eyes grew luminous with deep inner
light, the beautiful face, its ivory pallor relieved by a touch of
carmine upon lip and cheek, appeared to shed a very radiance of
glory that drew and held the gaze of the whole company.
"Oh, what splendid work!" she cried. "How good to be a man! But
it's better," she added, with a quick glance at Barney and a little
shy laugh, "to be a woman."
It was the anxiety in Charrington's eyes that arrested Lady
Ruthven's attention and made her bring the dinner somewhat abruptly
to a close.
"Oh, Lady Ruthven, must we go?" cried Iola, as her hostess made a
move to rise. "What a delightful dinner we have had! Now you are
not going to send me away just yet. 'After dinner sit a while,'
you know, and I believe I feel like singing to-night."
"My dear, my dear," said Lady Ruthven, "do you think you should
exert yourself any more? You have had an exciting day. What does
your doctor say?"
"Barney, indeed!" echoed Jack indignantly. "Oh, the ingratitude of
the female heart! Here for all these weeks I have--"
"Forgive me, Jack. I am quite sure you won't be hard-hearted
enough to banish me."
"An hour on the library couch, whence one can look upon the sea, in
an atmosphere of restful quiet, listening to cheerful but not too
exciting conversation," said Jack gravely.
"And music, Doctor?" inquired Iola, with mock humility.
"Well, I'll sing a little myself," replied Jack.
"Oh, my dear Iola," cried Miss Ruthven, "hasten to bed, I beg of
you, and save us all. And yet, do you know, I rather like to hear
Dr. Charrington sing. It makes me think of our automobile tour in
the Highlands last year," she continued with mischievous gravity.
"Ah," said Jack, much flattered, "I don't quite--"
"Oh, the horn, you know."
"Wretch! Now I refuse outright to sing."
"Really? And after we had prepared ourselves for the--ah--
"How do you feel now, Iola?" said Jack, quietly placing his fingers
upon her pulse.
"Perfectly strong, I assure you. Listen." And she ran up her
chromatics in a voice rich and strong and clear.
"Well, this is most wonderful!" exclaimed Jack. "Her pulse is
strong, even, steady. Her respiration is normal."
"I told you!" cried Iola triumphantly. "Now you will let me sing--
not a big song, but just that wee Scotch thing I learned from old
Jennie. Barney's mother used to sing it."
"My dear Iola," entreated Lady Ruthven, "do you think you should
venture? Do you think she should, Dr. Boyle?"
"Don't ask me," said Barney. "I should forbid it were it anyone
"But it isn't anyone else," persisted Iola, "and my doctor says
yes. I'll only hum, Jack."
"Well, one only. And mind, no fugues, arpeggios, double-stoppings,
and such frills."
She took her guitar. "I'll sing this for Barney's dear mother,"
she said. And in a voice soft, rich and full of melody, and with
perfect reproduction of the quaint old-fashioned cadences and
quavers, she sang the Highland lament, "O'er the Moor."
"O'er the moor I wander lonely,
Ochon-a-rie, my heart is sore;
Where are all the joys I cherished?
With my darling they have perished,
And they will return no more.
"I loved thee first, I loved thee only,
Ochon-a-rie, my heart is sore;
I loved thee from the day I met thee.
What care I though all forget thee?
I will love thee evermore."
And then, before anyone could utter a word of protest, she said,
"You never heard this, I think, Barney. I'll sing it for you."
And in a low, soft voice, thrilling with pathetic feeling, she sang
the quaint little song that described so fittingly her own
experience, "My Heart's Rest."
"I had wandered far, and the wind was cold,
And the sharp thorns clutched, and the day was old,
When the Master came to close His fold
And saw that one had strayed.
"Wild paths I fled, and the wind grew chill,
And the sharp rocks cut, and the day waned, till
The Master's voice searched vale and hill:
I heard and fled afraid.
"Dread steeps I climbed, and the wind wailed on.
And the stars went out, and the day was gone,
Then the Master found, laid me upon
His bosom, unafraid."
A hush followed upon her song. Far down the valley the moon rose
red out of the sea, the sweet night air, breathing its fragrance of
mignonette and roses, moved the lace of the curtains at the open
window as it passed. A late thrush was singing its night song of
love to its mate.
"I feel as if I could sleep now," said Iola. "Barney, carry me."
Like a tired child she nestled down in Barney's strong arms.
"Good-night, dear friends, all," she said. "What a happy evening
it has been." Then, with a little cry, "Oh, Barney! hold me. I'm
slipping," she locked her arms tight about his neck, lifting her
face to his. "Goodnight, Barney, my love, my own love," she
whispered, her breath coming in gasps. "How good you are to me--
how good to have you. Now kiss me--quick--don't wait--again, dear--
good-night." Her arms slipped down from his neck. Her head sank
upon his breast.
"Iola!" he cried, in a voice strident with fear and alarm, glancing
down into her face. He carried her to the open window. "Oh, my
God! My God! She is gone! Oh, my love, not yet! not yet!"
But the ear was dull even to that penetrating cry of the broken
heart, and the singing voice was forever still from words or songs
that mortal ears could hear. In vain they tried to revive her.
The tired lids rested upon the lustrous eyes from which all light
had fled. The weary heart was quiet at last. Gently, Barney
placed her on the couch, where she lay as if asleep, then, standing
upright, he gazed round upon them with eyes full of dumb anguish
till they understood, and one by one they turned and left him alone
with his dead.
For two days Barney wandered about the valley, his spirit moving in
the midst of a solemn and mysterious peace. The light of life for
him had not gone out, but had brightened into the greater glory.
Heaven had not snatched her away. She had brought Heaven near.
At first he was minded to carry her back with him to the old home
and lay her in the churchyard there. But Lady Ruthven took him to
the spot where her dead lay.
"We should be glad that she should sleep beside our dear ones
here," she said. "You know we love her dearly."
"It is a great kindness you are doing, Lady Ruthven," Barney
replied, his heart responding with glad acceptance to the
suggestion. "She loved this valley, and it was here she first
"Yes, she loves this valley," replied Lady Ruthven, refusing to
accept Barney's tense. To her, death made no change. "And here
she found peace and perfect love again."
A single line in the daily press brought a few close friends from
London to bury her. Old Sir Walter himself was present. He had
taken such pride in her voice, and had learned to love his pupil as
a daughter, and with him stood Herr Lindau, the German impresario,
under whose management she had made her London debut in "Lohengrin."
There in the sunny valley they laid her down, their faces touched
with smiles that struggled with their tears. But on his face who
loved her best of all there were no tears, only a look of wonder,
and of gladness, and of peace.
THE LAST CALL
Dick was discouraged and, a rare thing with him, his face showed
his discouragement. In the war against the saloon and vice in its
various forms he felt that he stood almost alone.
At the door of The Clarion office the editor, Lemuel Daggett,
hailed him. He hesitated a moment, then entered. A newspaper
office was familiar territory to him, as was also that back country
that stretches to the horizon from the back door of every printing
office. The Clarion was the organ of the political Outs as The
Pioneer was that of the Ins. Politics in British Columbia had not
yet arrived at that stage of development wherein parties
differentiate themselves from each other upon great principles.
The Ins were in and the Outs opposed them chiefly on that ground.
"Well," said Daggett, with an air of gentle patronage, "how did the
meeting go last night?"
"I don't suppose you need to ask. I saw you there. It didn't go
"Yes," replied Daggett, "your men are all right in their opinions,
but they never allow their opinions to interfere with business. I
could have told you every last man of them was scared. There's
Matheson, couldn't stand up against his wholesale grocer. Religion
mustn't interfere with sales. The saloons and 'red lights' pay
cash; therefore, quit your nonsense and stick to business. Hutton
sells more drugs and perfumes to the 'red lights' than to all the
rest of the town and country put together. Goring's chief won't
stand any monkeying with politics. Leave things as they are. Why,
even the ladies decline to imperil their husbands' business."
Dick swallowed the bitter pill without a wink. He was down, but he
was not yet completely out. Only too well he knew the truth of
Daggett's review of the situation.
"There is something in what you say," he conceded, "but--"
"Oh, come now," interrupted Daggett, "you know better than that.
This town and this country is run by the whiskey ring. Why,
there's Hickey, he daren't arrest saloonkeeper or gambler, though
he hates whiskey and the whole outfit worse than poison. Why
doesn't he? The Honourable McKenty, M. P., drops him a hint.
Hickey is told to mind his own business and leave the saloon and
the 'red lights' alone, and so poor Hickey is sitting down trying
to discover what his business is ever since. The safe thing is to
"You seem to know all about it," said Dick. "What's the good of
your paper? Why don't you get after these men?"
"My dear sir, are you an old newspaper man, and ask that? It is
quite true that The Clarion is the champion of liberty, the great
moulder of public opinion, the leader in all moral reform, but
unhappily, not being an endowed institution, it is forced to
consider advertising space. Advertising, circulation,
subscriptions, these are the considerations that determine
Dick gazed ruefully out of the window. "It's true. It's terribly
true," he said. "The people don't want anything better than they
have. The saloon must continue to be the dominant influence here
for a time. But you hear me, Daggett, a better day is coming, and
if you want an opportunity to do, not the heroic thing only, but
the wise thing, jump into a campaign for reform. Do you think
Canadians are going to stand this long? This is a Christian
country, I tell you. The Church will take a hand."
Daggett smiled a superior smile. "Coming? Yes, sure, but meantime
The Pioneer spells Church with a small c, and even the Almighty's
name with a small g."
"I tell you, Daggett," said Dick hotly, "The Pioneer's day is past.
I see signs and I hear rumblings of a storm that will sweep it, and
you, too, unless you change, out of existence."
"Not at all, my dear sir. We will be riding on that storm when it
arrives. But the rumblings are somewhat distant. I, too, see
signs, but the time is not yet. By the way, where is your
"I don't see much of him. He is up and down the line, busy with
his sick and running this library and clubroom business."
"Yes," replied Daggett thoughtfully, "I hear of him often. The
railroad men and the lumbermen grovel to him. Look here, would he
run in this constituency?"
Dick laughed at him. "Not he. Why, man, he's straight. You
couldn't buy him. Oh, I know the game."
Daggett was silenced for some moments.
"Hello!" said Daggett, looking out of the window, "here is our
coming Member." He opened the door. "Mr. Hull, let me introduce
you to the Reverend Richard Boyle, preacher and moral reformer.
Mr. Boyle--Mr. Hull, the coming Member for this constituency."
"I hope he will make a better fist of it than the present
incumbent," said Dick a little gruffly, for he had little respect
for either of the political parties or their representatives. "I
must get along. But, Daggett, for goodness' sake do something with
this beastly gambling-hell business." With this he closed the
"Good fellow, Boyle, I reckon," said Hull, "but a little
"Yes," agreed Daggett, "he is somewhat visionary. But I begin to
think he is on the right track."
"How? What do you mean?"
"I mean the West is beginning to lose its wool, and it's time this
country was getting civilized. That fool editor of The Pioneer
thinks that because he keeps wearing buckskin pants and a cowboy
hat, he can keep back the wheels of time. He hasn't brains enough
to last him over night. Boyle says he sees the signs of a coming
storm. I believe I see them, too."
"Signs?" inquired Hull.
"Yes, the East is taking notice. The big corporations are being
held responsible for their men, their health, and their morals.
'Mexico,' too, has something up his sleeve. He's acting queer, and
this Boyle's brother is taking a hand, I believe."
"The doctor, eh? Pshaw! let him."
"Do you know him?"
"You get next him quick. He's the coming man in this country,
don't forget it."
Hull grunted rather contemptuously. He himself was a man of
considerable wealth. He was an old timer and cherished the old
timer's contempt for the tenderfoot.
"All right," said Daggett, "you may sniff. I've watched him and
I've discovered this, that what he wants to do he does. He's an
old poker player. He has cleaned out 'Mexico' half a dozen times.
He has quit poker now, they say, and he's got 'Mexico' going
"What's his game?"
"Can't make it out quite. He has turned religious, they say.
Spoke here at a big meeting last spring, quite dramatic, I believe.
I wasn't there. Offered to pay back his ungodly winnings. Of
course, no man would listen to that, so he's putting libraries into
the camps and establishing clubrooms."
"By Jove! it's a good game. But what do the boys, what does
'Mexico' think of it?"
"Why, that's the strangest part of it. He's got them going his
way. He's a doctor, you know, has nursed a lot of them, and they
swear by him. He's a sign, I tell you. So is 'Mexico.'"
"What about 'Mexico'?"
"Well, you know 'Mexico' has been the head centre of the saloon
outfit, divides the spoil and collects the 'rents.' But I say he's
Hull was at once on the alert. "That's interesting. You are sure
of your facts? It might be all right to corral those chaps. The
virtue campaign is bound to come. A little premature yet, but that
doctor fellow is to be considered."
But the virtue campaign did not immediately begin. The whole
political machinery of both parties was too completely under the
control of the saloon and "red light" influence to be easily
emancipated. The business interests of the little towns along the
line were so largely dependent upon the support of the saloon and
the patronage of vice that few had the courage to openly espouse
and seriously champion a campaign for reform. And while many,
perhaps the majority, of the men employed in the railroad and in
the lumber camps, though they were subject to periodic lapses from
the path of sobriety and virtue, were really opposed to the saloon
and its allies, yet they lacked leadership and were, therefore,
unreliable. It was at this point that the machine in each party
began to cherish a nervous apprehension in regard to the influence
of Dr. Boyle. Bitter enemies though they were, they united their
forces in an endeavour to have the doctor removed. The wires
ordinarily effective were pulled with considerable success, when
the manipulators met with an unexpected obstacle in General Manager
Fahey. Upon him the full force of the combined influences
available was turned, but to no purpose. He was too good a railway
manager to be willing to lose the services of a man "who knew his
work and did it right, a man who couldn't be bullied or blocked,
and a man, bedad, who could play a good game of poker."
"He stays while I stay," was Fahey's last word in reply to an
influential director, labouring in the interests of the party
Failing with Fahey, the allied forces tried another line of attack.
"Mexico" and the organization of which he was the head were
instructed to "run him out." Receiving his orders, "Mexico" called
his agents together and invited their opinions. A sharp cleavage
immediately developed, one party led by "Peachy" being strongly in
favour of obeying the orders, the other party, leaderless and
scattering, strongly opposed. Discussion waxed bitter. "Mexico"
sat silent, watchful, impassive. At length, "Peachy," in full
swing of an impassioned and sulphurous denunciation of the doctor,
his person and his ways, was called abruptly to order by a
peremptory word from his chief.
"Shut up your fool head, 'Peachy.' To hear you talk you'd think
you'd do something."
A grim laugh at "Peachy's" expense went round the company.
"Do somethin'?" snarled "Peachy," stung to fury, "I'll do somethin'
one of these days. I've stood you all I want."
"Peachy's" oaths were crude in comparison with "Mexico's," but his
fury lent them force. "Mexico" turned his baleful, gleaming eyes
"Do something? Meaning?"
"Never mind," growled "Peachy."
"Git!" "Mexico" pointed a long finger to the door. It was a word
of doom, and they all knew it, for it meant not simply dismissal
from that meeting, but banishment from the company of which
"Mexico" was head, and that meant banishment from the line of the
Crow's Nest Pass. "Peachy" was startled.
"You needn't be so blanked swift," he growled apologetically. "I
didn't mean for to--"
"You git!" repeated "Mexico," turning the pointing finger from the
door to the face of the startled wretch.
With a fierce oath "Peachy" reached for his gun, but hesitated to
draw. "Mexico" moved not a line of his face, not a muscle of his
body, except that his head went a little back and the heavy eyelids
fell somewhat over the piercing black eyes.
"You dog!" he ground out through his clenched teeth, "you know you
can't bring out your gun. I know you. You poor cur! You thought
you'd sell me up to the other side! I know your scheme! Now git,
The command came sharp like a snap of an animal's teeth, while
"Mexico's" hand dropped swiftly to his side. Instantly "Peachy"
rose and backed slowly toward the door, his face wearing the grin
of a savage beast. At the door he paused.
"'Mexico,'" he said, "is this the last between you and me?"
"Mexico" kept his gleaming eyes fastened upon the face of the man
backing out of the door.
"Git out, you cur!" he said, with contemptuous deliberation.
"Take that, then."
Like a flash, "Mexico" threw himself to one side. Two shots rang
out as one. A slight smile curled "Mexico's" lip.
"Got him that time, I reckon."
"Hurt, 'Mexico'?" anxiously inquired his friends.
"Naw. He ain't got the nerve to shoot straight." The bartender
and some others came running in with anxious faces. "Never mind,
boys," said "Mexico." "'Peachy' was foolin' with his gun; it went
off and hurt him some."
"Say, there's blood here!" said the bartender. "He's been bleedin'
"Guess he's more scared than hurt. Now let's git to business."
The bartender and his friends took the hint and retired.
"Now, boys, listen to me," said "Mexico" impressively, leaning over
the table. "Right here I want to say that the doctor is a friend
of mine, and the man that touches him touches me." There was an
"Just as you say, 'Mexico,'" said one of the men, "but I see the
finish of our game in these parts. The doctor's got the boys a-
goin' and you know he ain't the kind that quits."
"You're right an' you're wrong. The Doc ain't the whole Government
of this country yet. His game's the winnin' game. Any fool can
see that. But we hold most of the trumps just now. So for the
present we stay."
As the meeting broke up, "Mexico's" friends warned him against
"Pshaw! 'Peachy'!" said "Mexico" contemptuously. "He couldn't hold
his gun steady at me."
"He's all right behind a tree, though, an' there's lots of 'em
But "Mexico "only spat out his contempt for anything that "Peachy"
could do, and went calmly on his way, "keeping the boys in line."
But he began to be painfully conscious of an undercurrent of
feeling over which he could exercise no control. Not that there
was any lack of readiness on the part of the boys to "line up" at
the word, but there was no corresponding readiness in pledging
their support to the "same old party." There was, on the contrary,
a very marked reserve on the part of the men who formerly,
especially after the lining up process had been several times
repeated, had been distinguished for unlimited enthusiasm for all
"Mexico" represented. They "lined up" still, but beyond this they
did not go.
The editor of The Pioneer, too, became conscious of this change in
the attitude of the men he had always counted upon to do his
bidding at the polls. "It's that cursed doctor!" he exclaimed to
McKenty, the Member for the district. "He's been working a deep
game. Of course, his brother's putting up all kinds of a fight,
but we expect that and we know how to handle him. But this fellow
is different. I tell you I'm afraid of him."
"Pshaw! He hasn't got any backing," said McKenty.
"Well, he hasn't got any grease, and you can't make anything go
without grease." McKenty spoke out of considerable experience.
"That's all right as an ordinary thing, but the doctor has grease
of another kind. This library and clubroom business is catching
the boys all round."
"I've heard about it," said McKenty. "I guess the Government could
take a hand in libraries and institutes and that sort of thing,
"That's all right," replied the editor. "Might do some good. But
you can't beat him at that game. It isn't his libraries and his
clubs altogether or chiefly, it's himself and his work. He's a
number one doctor, and night and day he's on the road. By Jove!
he's everywhere. He's got no end of stay, confound him! I tell
you he's a winner. He can get a thousand men in a week to back him
for anything he says."
McKenty thought deeply for some moments. "Well," he said, finally,
"something has got to be done. We can't afford, you and I, at this
stage to get out of the game. What about 'Mexico'?"
"'Mexico'!" exclaimed the editor, breaking out into profanity.
"There's the weakest spot in the whole combination, just where it
used to be strongest. The doctor's got him, body and soul. Why,
'Mexico' 'd be after him with a gun if he stayed anywhere else when
he visits town. The best in 'Mexico's' saloon isn't quite good
enough for the doctor. No, sir! He's got a line on 'Mexico,' all
"Can't you shake him loose? There are the usual ways, you know, of
loosening up people."
"But, my dear sir, I'm just telling you that the usual ways won't
work here. This combination is something quite unusual. I believe
there's some religion in it."
McKenty laughed loud. It was a good joke.
"I tell you I mean it," said the editor, testily. "The doctor's
got it hard. Talk about conversion! You weren't at that meeting
last spring--I was--when he got up and preached us a sermon that
would make your hair curl." And the editor proceeded to give a
graphic account of the meeting in question.
"Well," said McKenty, "I guess we can't touch the doctor. But
'Mexico,' pshaw! we can keep 'Mexico' solid. We've got to. He
knows too much. You've simply got to get after him."
This the editor of The Pioneer proceeded to do without delay, for,
looking out through the dusty windows of The Pioneer office, he
perceived "Mexico" sauntering down the other side of the street.
"There he is now," he cried, going toward the door. "Hi! 'Mexico'!"
he called, and "Mexico" came slouching across. "Ugly looking
beggar, ain't he?" said the editor. "Jaw like a bulldog. Morning,
"Mornin'," grunted "Mexico," nodding first to the editor and then
"How is things, 'Mexico'?" said the editor, in his most ingratiating
"How are the boys? Vote solid? Election's coming on, you know."
"Comin' on soon?"
"Well, it looks that way, but really one can't say. We ought to be
"Can't be too soon," said "Mexico."
"How is that?"
"Time's agin ye. Leather pants goin' out of fashion," with a
glance at the schapps which the editor delighted to wear. "People
beginnin' to go to meetin' in this country."
"I hear you're going yourself a little, 'Mexico,'" said McKenty,
"Mexico" turned his eyes slowly upon the Member.
"Anything to say agin it?"
"Not at all, 'Mexico,' not at all. Good thing; but they say the
doctor's got the boys rather away from you, that you're losing your
"Oh, I hear it everywhere."
"Guess it must be right, then," replied "Mexico," grimly.
"And they say he's got a line on you, 'Mexico,' getting you right
up to the mourners' bench."
"Look here, 'Mexico,'" said McKenty, dropping his bantering tone,
"you're not going to let the blank preacher-doctor combination work
you, are you?"
"Don't know about that."
"No. But I do know that there ain't any other combination kin.
I'm working for myself in this game. If any combination wants to
shove my way, they can jump in. They'll quit when it don't pay to
shove, I guess. Me the same. You fellers ain't any interest in
me, I reckon."
"Well, do you imagine the doctor has?"
"Mexico" paused, then said thoughtfully, "Blanked if I can git on
to his game!"
"Oh, come, 'Mexico,' you can't get on to him? He's working you.
You don't really think he has your interest at heart?"
"Can't quite tell." "Mexico" wore a vexed and thoughtful air.
"Wish I could. If I thought so I'd--"
"Tie up to him tight, you bet your eternal life!" There was a
sudden gleam from under "Mexico's" heavy brows and a ring in his
usually drawling voice, that sufficiently attested his earnestness.
"There ain't too many of that kind raound."
"What do you think of that?" inquired the editor, as "Mexico"
sauntered out of the door.
"Think? I think there's a law against gamblers in this province
and it ought to be enforced."
"That means war," said the editor.
"Well, let it come. That doctor is the whole trouble, I can see.
I'd give a thousand dollars down to see him out of the country."
But there was no sign that the doctor had any desire to leave the
country, and all who knew him were quite certain that until he
should so desire, leave he would not. All through the winter he
went about his work with a devotion that taxed even his superb
physical strength to the uttermost. In addition to his work as
Medical Superintendent of the railroad he had been asked to take
oversight of the new coal mines opening up here and there in the
Pass, which brought him no end of both labour and trouble. The
managers of the mines held the most primitive ideas in regard to
both safety in operating a mine and sanitation of miners' quarters.
Consequently, the doctor had to enter upon a long campaign of
education. It was an almost hopeless task. The directors were
remote from the ground and were unimpressed by the needs so
urgently reported by their doctor. The managers on the ground were
concerned chiefly with keeping down the expenses of operation. The
miners themselves were, as a class, too well accustomed to the
wretched conditions under which they lived and worked to make any
How to bring about a better condition of things became, with the
doctor, a constant subject of thought. It was also the theme of
conversation on the occasion of his monthly visits to the Kuskinook
Hospital, where it had become an established custom for Dick and
him to meet since his return from Scotland.
"We'll get them to listen when we kill a few score men, not
before," grumbled Barney to Dick and Margaret.
"It's the universal law," replied Dick. "Some men must die for
their nation. It's been the way from the first."
"But, Barney, is it wise that you should worry yourself and work
yourself to death as you are doing?" said Margaret, anxiously.
"You know you can't stand this long. You are not the man you were
when you came back."
Barney only smiled. "That would be no great matter," he said,
lightly. "But there is no fear of me," he added. "I don't pine
for an early death, you know. I've got a lot to live for."
There was silence for a minute or two. They were thinking of the
grave in the little churchyard across the sea. Ever since Barney's
return, and as often as they met together, they allowed themselves
to think and speak freely of the little valley at Craigraven, so
full of light and peace, with its grave beside the little church.
At first Dick and Margaret shrank from all reference to Iola, and
sought to turn Barney's mind from thoughts so full of pain. But
Barney would not have it so. Frankly and simply he began to speak
of her, dwelling lovingly and tenderly upon all the details of the
last days of her life, as he had gathered them from Lady Ruthven,
"It would be easier for me not to speak of her," he had said on his
return, "but I've lost too much to risk the loss of more. I want
you to talk of her, and by and by I shall find it easy."
And this they did most loyally, and with tender solicitude for him,
till at length the habit grew, so that whenever they came together
it only deepened and chastened their joy in each other to keep
fresh the memory of her who had filled so large a place, and so
vividly, in the life of each of them. And this was good for them
all, but especially for Barney. It took the bitterness out of his
grief, and much of the pain out of his loss. The memory of that
last evening with Iola, and Lady Ruthven's story of the purifying
of her spirit, during those last few months, combined to throw
about her a radiance such as she had never shed even in the most
radiant moments of her life.
"There is only place for gratitude," he said, one evening, to them.
"Why should I allow any mean or selfish thought to spoil my memory
of her or to hinder the gratitude I ought to feel, that her going
was so free from pain, and her last evening so full of joy?"
It was with these feelings in his heart that he went back to the
camps to his work among the sick and wounded in body and in heart.
And as he went in and out among the men they became conscious of a
new spirit in him. His touch on the knife was as sure as ever, his
nerve as steady, but while the old reserve still held his lips from
overflowing, the words that dropped were kinder, the tone gentler,
the touch more tender. The terrible restlessness, too, was gone
out of his blood. A great calm possessed him. He was always ready
for the ultimate demand, prepared to give of his life to the
uttermost. To his former care for the physical well-being of the
men, he added now a concern for their mental and spiritual good,
and hence the system of libraries and clubrooms he had initiated
throughout the camps and towns along the line. It mattered not to
him that he had to meet the open opposition of the saloon element
and the secret hostility of those who depended upon that element
for the success of their political schemes. His love of a fight
was as strong as ever. At first the men could not fathom his
motives, but as men do, they silently and observantly waited for
the real motive to emerge. As "Mexico" said, they "couldn't get
onto his game." And none of them was more completely puzzled than
was "Mexico" himself, but none more fully acknowledged, and more
frankly yielded to the fascination of the new spirit and new manner
which the doctor brought to his work. At the same time, however,
"Mexico" could not rid himself of a suspicion, now and then, that
the real game was being kept dark. The day was to come when
"Mexico" would cast away every vestige of suspicion and give
himself up to the full luxury of devotion to a man, worthy to be
followed, who lived not for his own things. But that day was not
yet, and "Mexico" was kept in a state of uncertainty most
disturbing to his mind and injurious to his temper. Day by day
reports came of the doctor's ceaseless toil and unvarying self-
sacrifice, the very magnitude of which made it difficult for
"Mexico" to accept it as being sincere.
"What's his game?" he kept asking himself more savagely, as the
mystery deepened. "What's in it for him? Is he after McKenty's
One night the doctor came in from a horseback trip to a tie camp
twelve miles up the valley, wearied and soaked with the wet snow
that had been falling heavily all day. "Mexico" received him with
a wrathful affection.
"What the--ah--what makes you go out a night like this?" "Mexico"
asked him with indignation, struggling to check his profanity,
which he had come to notice the doctor disliked. "I can't get onto
you. It's all just d--, that is, cursed foolishness!"
"Look here, 'Mexico,' wait till I get these wet things off and I'll
tell you. Now listen," said the doctor, when he sat warm and dry
before "Mexico's" fire. "I've been wanting to tell you this for
some time." He opened his black bag and took out a New Testament
which now always formed a part of his equipment, and finding the
place, read the story of the two debtors. "Do you remember,
'Mexico,' the talk I gave you last spring?" "Mexico" nodded. That
talk he would not soon forget. "I had a big debt on then. It was
forgiven me. He did a lot for me that time, and since then He has
piled it up till I feel as if I couldn't live long enough to pay
back what I owe." Then he told "Mexico" in a low, reverent tone,
with shining eyes and thrilling voice, the story of Iola's going.
"That's why," he said, when he concluded his tale. "That was a
great thing He did for her and for me. And then, 'Mexico,' these
poor chaps! they have so little. Who cares for them? That's why I
go out on a night like this. And don't you think that's good
Then "Mexico" turned himself loose for five minutes and let off the
sulphurous emotion that had been collecting during the doctor's
tale. After he had become coherent again he said with slow
"You've got me, Doc. Wipe your feet on me when you want."
"'Mexico,'" replied the doctor, "you know I don't preach at you. I
haven't, have I?"
"Blanked if--that is, no, you haven't."
"Well, you say I can have you. I'll take you right here. You are
my friend." He put out his hand, which "Mexico" gripped and held
fast. "But," continued the doctor, "I want to say that He wants
you more than I do, wants to wipe off that debt of yours, wants you
for His friend."
"Say, Doc," said "Mexico," drawing back a little from him, "I guess
not. That there debt goes back for twenty years, and it's piled
out of sight. It never bothers me much except when I see you and
hear you talk. It would be a blank--that is, a pretty fine thing
to have it cleaned off. But say, Doc, your heap agin mine would be
like a sandhill agin that mountain there."
"The size makes no difference to Him, 'Mexico,'" said the doctor,
quietly. "He is great enough to wipe out anything. I tell you,
'Mexico,' it's good to get it wiped off. It's simply great!"
"You're right there," said "Mexico," emphatically. Then, as if a
sudden suspicion flashed in upon him, "Say, you're not talkin'
religion to me, are you? I ain't goin' to die just yet."
"Religion? Call it anything you like, 'Mexico.' All I know is
I've got a good thing and I want my friend to have it."
When the doctor was departing next morning "Mexico" stopped him at
the door. "I say, Doc, would you mind letting me have that there
book of yours for a spell?"
The doctor took it out of his bag. "It's yours, 'Mexico,' and you
can bank on it."
The book proved of absorbing interest to "Mexico." He read it
openly in the saloon without any sense of incongruity, at first,
between the book and the business he was carrying on, but not
without very considerable comment on the part of his customers and
friends. And what he read became the subject of frequent
discussions with his friend, the doctor. The book did its work
with "Mexico," as it does with all who give it place, and the first
sign of its influence was an uncomfortable feeling in "Mexico's"
mind in regard to his business and his habits of life. His
discomfort became acute one pay night, after a very successful game
of poker in which he had relieved some half a dozen lumbermen of
their pay. For the first time in his life his winnings brought him
no satisfaction. The great law of love to his brother troubled
him. In vain he argued that it was a fair deal and that he himself
would have taken his loss without whining. The disturbing thoughts
would not down. He determined that he would play no more till he
had talked the matter over with his friend, and he watched
impatiently for the doctor's return. But that week the doctor
failed to appear, and "Mexico" grew increasingly uncertain in his
mind and in his temper. It added to his wretchedness not a little
when the report reached him that the doctor was confined to his bed
in the hospital at Kuskinook. In fact, this news plunged "Mexico"
into deepest gloom.
"If he's took to bed," he said, "there ain't much hope, I guess,
for they'd never get him there unless he was too far gone to fight
But at the Kuskinook Hospital there was no anxiety felt in regard
to the doctor's illness. He was run down with the fall and
winter's work. He had caught cold, a slight inflammation had set
up in the bowels, and that was all. The inflammation had been
checked and in a few days he would be on his feet again.
"If we could only work a scheme to keep him in bed a month,"
groaned Dick to his nurse as they stood beside his bed.
"There is, unhappily, no one in authority over him," replied
Margaret, "but we'll keep him ill as long as we can. Dr. Cotton,"
and here she smilingly appealed to the newly appointed assistant,
"you will help, I am sure."
"Most certainly. Now we have him down we shall combine to keep him
"Yes, a month at the very least," cried Dick.
But Barney laughed their plans to scorn. In two days he promised
them he would be fit again.
"It is the Superintendent of the Hospital against the Medical
Superintendent of the Crow's Nest Railway," said Dr. Cotton, "and I
think in this case I'll back the former, from what I've seen."
"Ah," replied Margaret, "that is because you haven't known your
patient long, Doctor. When he speaks the word of command we simply
And that is just what happened. On the afternoon of the second
day, when both the doctor and Dick had gone off to their work and
Barney had apparently fallen into a quiet sleep, the silence that
reigned over the flat was broken by Ben Fallows coming up the stair
with a telegram in his hand.
"It's fer the doctor," said Ben, "an' the messenger said as 'ow
'Mexico' had got shot and--"
Swiftly Margaret closed the door of the room in which Barney lay.
Ben's voice, though not loud, was of a peculiarly penetrating
quality. Two words had caught Barney's ear, "Mexico" and "shot."
"Let me have the wire," he said quietly, when Margaret came in.
"I intended to give it to you, Barney," she replied as quietly.
"You will do nothing rash, I am sure, and you always know best."
Barney opened the telegram and read, "'Mexico' shot. Bullet not
found. Wants doctor to come if possible."
"Dr. Cotton is not in?" inquired Barney.
"He is gone up the Big Horn."
"We can't possibly get him to-night," replied Barney.
Silently they looked at each other, thinking rapidly. They each
knew that the other was ready to do the best, no matter at what
"Take my temperature, Margaret." It was nine-nine and one-fifth.
"That's not bad," said Barney. Margaret, I must go. It's for
'Mexico's' life. Yes, and more."
Margaret turned slightly pale. "You know best, Barney," she said,
"but it may be your life, you know."
"Yes," he replied gravely. "I take that chance. But I think I
ought to take it, don't you?" But Margaret refused to speak.
"What do you think, Margaret?" he asked.
"Oh, Barney!" she cried, with passionate protest, "why should you
give your life for him?"
"Why?" he repeated slowly. "There was One who gave His life for
me. Besides," he added, after a pause, "there's a fair chance that
I can get through."
She threw herself on her knees beside his bed. "No, Barney,
there's almost no chance, you know and I know, and I can't let you
go now!" The passionate love in her voice and in her eyes startled
him. Gravely, earnestly, his eyes searched her face and read her
heart. Slowly the crimson rose in her cheeks and flooded the fair
face and neck. She buried her face in the bed. Gently he laid his
hand upon her head, stroking the golden hair. For some moments
they remained thus, silent. Then, refusing to accept the confession
of her word and look and act, he said, in a voice grave and kind
and tender, "You expect me to do right, Margaret."
A shudder ran through the kneeling girl. Once more the cup of
renunciation was being pressed to her lips. To the last drop she
drained it, then raised her head. She was pale but calm. The
bright blue eyes looked into his bravely while she answered simply,
"You will do what is right, Barney."
Just as he was about to start on his journey another wire came in.
"Didn't know you were so ill. Don't you come. I'm all right.
'Mexico.'" A rumour of the serious nature of the doctor's illness
had evidently reached "Mexico," and he would not have his friend
risk his life for him. A fierce storm was raging. The out train
was hours late, but a light engine ran up from the Crossing and
brought the doctor down.
When he entered the sick man's room "Mexico" glanced into his face.
"Good Lord, Doctor!" he cried, "you shouldn't have come! You're
worse than me!"
"All right, 'Mexico,'" replied the doctor cheerfully. "I had to
come, you know. We can't go back on our friends."
"Mexico" kept his eyes fastened on the doctor's face. His lips
began to tremble. He put out his hand and clutched the doctor's
hard. "I know now," he said hoarsely, "why He let 'em kill Him."
"Couldn't go back on His friends, eh?"
"You've got it, 'Mexico,' old man. Pretty good, eh?"
"You bet! Now, Doc, get through quick and get to bed."
The bullet was found in the lung and safely extracted. It was a
nasty wound and dangerous, but in half an hour "Mexico" was resting
quietly. Then the doctor lay down on a couch near by and tossed
till morning, conscious of a return of the pain and fever. The
symptoms he well knew indicated a very serious condition. When
"Mexico" woke the doctor examined him carefully.
"You're fine, 'Mexico.' You'll be all right in a week or two.
Keep quiet and obey orders."
"Mexico's" hand grasped him. "Doc," he said anxiously, "you look
awful bad. Can't you get to bed quick? You're going to be
"I'm afraid I'm going to be pretty bad, 'Mexico,' but I'm glad I
came. I couldn't have stayed away, could I? Remember that,
'Mexico.' I'm glad I came."
"Mexico's" fierce black eyes softened. "Doc, I'm sorry and I'm
glad. I had a lot of things to ask, but I don't need to. I know
now. And I want to tell you, I've quit all that business, cut it
right out." He waved his hand toward the bar.
"'Mexico,'" said Barney earnestly, "that's great! That's the best
news I've had all summer. Now I must get back quick." He took the
gambler's hand in his. "Good-bye, 'Mexico.'" His voice was
earnest, almost solemn. "You've done me a lot of good. Good-bye,
old boy. Play the game. He'll never go back on a friend."
"Mexico" reached out and held him with both hands. "Git out," he
said to the attendant. "Doc," his voice dropped to a hoarse
whisper as he drew the doctor down to him, "there ain't nobody
here, is there?" he asked, with a glance round the room.
"No, 'Mexico,' no one."
"Doc," he began again, his strong frame shaking, "I can't say it.
It's all in here till it hurts. You're--you're like Him, I think.
You make me think o' Him."
Barney dropped quickly on his knees beside the bed, threw his arms
about his friend, and held him for a few moments in a tight
embrace. "God bless you, 'Mexico,' for that word," he said.
"Goodbye, my friend."
They held each other fast for a moment or two, looking into each
other's eyes as if taking a last farewell. Then Barney took his
journey through the storm, which was still raging, his fever
mounting higher with every moment, back to the hospital, where
Margaret received him with a brave welcoming smile.
"Dr. Cotton has returned," she announced. "And Dr. Neeley of
Nelson is here, Barney."
He gave her a look of understanding. He knew well what she meant.
"That was right, Margaret. And Dick?"
"Dick will be here this afternoon."
"You think of everything, Margaret dear, and everybody except
yourself," said Barney, as he made his way painfully up the stairs.
"Let me help you, Barney," she said, putting her arms about him.
"You're the one who will not think of yourself."
"We've all been learning from you, Margaret. And it is the best
lesson, after all."
The consultation left no manner of doubt as to the nature of the
trouble and the treatment necessary. It was appendicitis, and it
demanded immediate operation.
"We can wait till my brother comes, can't we, Doctor?" Barney
asked, a little anxiously. "An hour can't make much difference
now, you know."
"Why, certainly we shall wait," cried the doctor.
Twenty miles through the storm came Dick, in answer to Margaret's
urgent message, to find his brother dangerously ill and preparing
for a serious operation. The meeting of the brothers was without
demonstration of emotion. Each for the sake of the other held
himself firmly in hand. The issues were so grave that there was no
room for any expenditure of strength and indulging in the luxury of
grief. Quietly, Barney gave his brother the few directions
necessary to the disposal of his personal effects.
"Of course, Dick, I expect to get through all right," he said, with
"Of course," answered Dick, quickly.
"But it's just as well to say things now when one can think
"Quite right, Barney," said Dick again, his voice steady and even.
The remaining minutes they spent in almost complete silence, except
for a message of remembrance for the mother and the father far
away; then the doctor came to the door.
"Are you ready, Doctor?" said Dick, in a firm, almost cheerful
"Yes, we're all ready."
"A minute, Doctor, please," said Barney.
The doctor backed out of the room, leaving the brothers alone.
"Just a little, word, Dick."
"Oh, Barney," cried his brother, his breast heaving in a great sob,
"I don't think I can."
"Never mind then, old chap," replied Barney, putting out his hand
"Wait a minute, Barney. I will," said Dick, instantly regaining
hold of himself. As he spoke he knelt by the bed, took his
brother's hand in both of his and, holding it to his face, spoke
quietly and simply his prayer, closing with the words, "And O, my
Father, keep my brother safe." "And mine," added Barney. "Amen."
"Now, Dick, old boy, we're all ready." And with a smile he met the
doctor at the door.
In an hour all was over, and the grave faces of the doctor and the
nurse told Dick all he dared not ask.
"How long before he will be quite conscious again?" he inquired.
"It will be an hour at least," replied the surgeon, kindly, "before
he can talk much."
Without a word to anyone, Dick went away to his room, locked the
door upon his lonely fight and came forth when the hour was gone,
ready to help his brother if he should chance to need help for "the
last weariness, the final strife."
"We must help him," he said to Margaret as they stood together
waiting till he should waken. "We must forget our side just now."
But he need not have feared for her, nor for Barney. Through the
night they watched him grow weaker, watched not in growing gloom,
but, as it were, in an atmosphere bright with the light of hope and
warm with strong and tender love. At times Barney would wander in
his delirium, but a word would call him back to them. As the end
drew near, by Nature's kindly ministry the pain departed.
"This is not too bad, Dick," he said. "How much worse it might
have been. He brought us two together again--us three," he
corrected, glancing at Margaret.
"Yes, Barney," replied Dick, "nothing matters much beside that."
"And then," continued his brother, "He let me do a little work for
the boys, for 'Mexico.' Poor 'Mexico'! But he'll stick, I think.
Help him, Dick. He is my friend."
"Mine, too, Barney," said Dick; "mine forever."
"Poor chaps, they need me. What a chance for some man!--for a
doctor, I mean!"
"We'll get someone, Barney. Never fear."
"What a chance!" he murmured again, wearily, as he fell asleep.
Day dawned clear and still. The storm was gone, the whole world
was at peace. The mountains and the wide valleys lay beautiful in
their unsullied robes of purest white, and, over all, the rising
sun cast a rosy sheen. As Margaret rolled up the blinds and drew
back the curtains, letting in the glory of the morning, Barney
opened his eyes and turned his face toward the window, moving his
lips in a whisper.
Bending over him his brother caught the words, "Night no more."
The great day was dawning for him. With a long, lingering look
upon the mountains, he turned his eyes away from the window and let
them rest upon his brother's face. "It is near now, Dick--I think--
and it's not hard at all. I'd like to sleep out there--under the
pines--but I think mother--would like--to have me near."
"Yes, Barney, my boy. We'll take you home to mother." Dick's
voice was steady and clear.
"Margaret," said Barney. She came and knelt where he could see
her. An odd little smile played over his face. "I wasn't worth
it, Margaret--but I thank you--I like to think of it now--I would
like you--to kiss me." She kissed him on the lips once, twice, for
a single moment her superb courage faltering as she whispered in
his ear, "Barney, my love! my love!"
Again he smiled up at her. "Margaret," he said, "take care--of
"Yes, Barney, I will." The brave blue eyes and the clear, sweet
voice carried full conviction to his mind.
"I know you will," he said with a sigh of content. For a long time
he lay still, his eyes closed, his breathing growing more rapid.
Suddenly he opened his eyes, turned himself toward his brother.
"Dick, my boy," he cried, in a clear, strong voice, "my brother--my
brother." He lifted up both his arms and wound them round Dick's
neck, drew a deep breath, then another. They waited anxiously.
Then one more. Again they waited, tense and breathless, but the
eternal silence had fallen.
"He's gone, Margaret!" cried Dick, in a voice of piteous surprise,
lifting up a white appealing face to her. "He's gone! Oh! he has
She came quickly round to him and knelt at his side. "We have only
each other now, Dick," she said, and took him in her arms. And so,
in the strength of the great love that bound them to the dead, they
found courage to turn again and live.
Three days later, when the road was clear again, they bore him
through the Pass, the General Manager placing his private car at
their disposal. It was no poor funeral. It was rather the
triumphal procession of a king. At every station stood a group of
men, silent and sorrow-stricken. It was their friend who was being
carried past. At Bull Crossing a longer stay was made. The
station house and platform and the street behind were blocked with
men who had gathered in from the lumber camps and from down the
line. One of their number came up, bearing a large wreath of the
costliest flowers brought from the far south, and laid it on the
bier. The messenger stood there a moment and then said,
hesitatingly, "The men would like to see him again, if you think
"Tell them to come," replied Dick, quickly, proceeding to uncover
the face. For almost an hour they filed past, solemn, silent for
the most part, but many weeping as only strong men can weep. But
as they looked upon the strong dead face, its serene dignity, its
proud look of triumph subdued their sobbing, and they passed out
awed and somewhat comforted. The look on that dead face forbade
pity. They might grieve for the loss of their friend, but to him
the best had come.
By Margaret's side stood Tommy Tate, till the last. "Ochone!" he
sobbed, "when I think of mesilf me heart is bruck entirely, but
when I luk at him I feel no pain at all." It was the feeling in
the hearts of all. For themselves they must weep, but not for him.
At length, all had gone. "Could you say a word to them, Dick?"
said Margaret. "I think he would like it." And Dick, drawing a
deep breath, went forth to them. His words were few and simple.
"We must not speak words of grief to-day. He was glad to help you
and he grew to love you as his friends. In his last hours he
thought of you. I know you will not forget him. But were he
giving me my words to-day, he would not ask me to speak of him, but
of the One who made him what he was, Whom he loved and served with
his life. For His sake it was, and for yours, that he gave himself
As his voice ceased a commotion rose at the back of the crowd. A
sleigh dashed up, two men got out, helping a third, before whom the
crowd quickly made way. It was "Mexico," pale, feeble, leaning
heavily upon his friends. He came up to Dick. "May I see him?" he
"Come in," said Dick, giving him both his hands and lifting him on
to the platform, while a great sob swept over the crowd. They all
knew by this time that it was to save "Mexico" the doctor had given
his life. With heads bared they waited till "Mexico" came out
again. As he appeared on the platform of the car with Dick's arm
supporting him, the men gazed at him in deathly stillness. The
ghastly face with its fierce, gleaming eyes held them as with a
spell. For a moment "Mexico" stood leaning heavily upon Dick, but
suddenly he drew himself erect.
"Boys," he said, his voice hoarse and broken, but distinctly
audible over the crowd, "he died because he wouldn't go back on his
friend. He gave me this." He took from his breast the New
Testament, held it up and carried it reverently to his lips. "I'm
a-goin' to follow that trail."
Two thousand miles and more they carried him home to his mother,
and then to the old churchyard, where he sleeps still, forgotten,
perhaps, even by many who had known and played with him in his
boyhood, but remembered by the men of the mountains who had once
felt the touch of that strong love that gave the best and freely
for their sakes, and for His Whom it was his pride and joy to call
Master and Friend.
FOR LOVE'S SAKE
Again it was June, and over all the fields Nature's ancient miracle
had been wrought. The trees by the snake fences stood in the full
pride of their rich leafage, casting deep shadows on the growing
grains. As of old, the Mill lane, with its velvet grassy banks,
ran between snake fences, sweet-scented, cool, and shaded. Between
the rails peeped the clover, red and white. Over the top rail
nodded the rich berries of the dogwood, while the sturdy thorns
held bravely aloft their hard green clusters waiting the sun's warm
passion. The singing voices of summer were all a-throb, filling
the air with great antiphonies of praise, till this good June day
was fairly wild with the sheer joy of life.
At the crest of the hill Margaret paused. This was Barney's spot.
"I'll wait here," she said to herself, a faint flush lighting up
the chaste beauty of her face. But the hot sun beat down upon her
with his fierce rays. "I must get into the shade," she said,
climbed the fence, and, on the fragrant masses of red clover, threw
herself down in the shade of the thorn tree. On this spot, how
vividly the past came to her. How well she remembered the
heartache of that day so long ago. The ache would never quite be
gone, but with it mingled now a sweetness that only love knows how
to distil from pity where trust is and high esteem.
A year had passed since she had sent Dick back alone to his work,
remaining herself to bring the lonely hearts of the Old Mill such
help and comfort as she could. At the parting with him, Barney's
words, "Take care of Dick for me," had moved her to offer with shy
courage to go back with him. But Dick was far too generous to
avail himself of any such persuasion.
"You must not come to me for pity," he said, bidding her good-bye.
But throughout the year she had waited, listening to her heart and
wondering at its throbs, as from time to time the story of Dick's
heroic service came to her ears; and now the year was done. Last
night he had returned. To-day he would come to her. She would
meet him here. Ah, there he was now. On the crest of the hill he
would turn and look toward her. There, he had turned.
As Dick caught sight of her he raised his voice in a shout,
"Margaret!" and came running toward her.
She rose, and with her hands pressed hard upon her heart to quiet
the throbbing that threatened to choke her, she stood waiting him.
Touching a top rail, he vaulted lightly over the fence and stood
there waiting. "Margaret!" he cried again, with a note of anxiety
in his voice that trembled under the intensity of his feeling.
But still she could not move for the tumult of joy that possessed
her. "Oh, I am so glad," she whispered to herself. Dick came
toward her slowly, almost timidly, it seemed to her. He took her
hands down from her breast, held her at arm's length, seeking to
read the meaning in the blue eyes lifted so bravely to his.
"For pity's sake, Margaret?" he asked, the note of anxiety
deepening in his voice.
For a moment she stood pouring her heart's love into his eyes.
"Yes," she said, shyly dropping her eyes before his ardent gaze,
"and for love's sake, too."
And for Dick the day's gladness grew riotous, filling his world
full from earth to heaven above.