Part 2 out of 5
"Stephen, Stephen!" she pleaded. "Stop! don't go any further! Be a man!
Come, let us go home!"
Quickly he turned and looked into her eyes, and at that look the pallor
fled his face, leaving it flushed and abashed. His clenched hands relaxed,
and without a word he followed her to the door. As they donned their wraps
and passed out into the night, sighs of relief at the termination of this
startling incident were plainly heard. Dick gave a sarcastic laugh, and
the dance continued as if nothing unusual had happened.
For a while neither Nellie nor Stephen spoke as they sped along the road,
drawn by a magnificent chestnut mare. The night was clear, and the
crescent moon rose high in the heavens. Not a breath of wind stirred the
trees, and the only sound which broke the silence was the jingling bells
keeping time to the horse's nimble feet.
"He called me a fool and a pauper!" Stephen at length exclaimed. "Did you
"Certainly," came the reply. "How could any one help hearing him?"
"I'd have knocked him down if it hadn't been for you, Nellie."
"I'm glad you didn't, Stephen."
"But I'll show him a thing or two. I'll get even with him yet. I'll teach
him to call me a fool and a pauper!"
"Why not get more than even with him? You can do it without any trouble."
Nellie spoke very impressively, and Stephen looked at her in surprise.
"I know I can do that, for he's nothing but a clown. But what else can I
"I didn't mean that, Stephen. That is only getting even with your opponent
in brute fashion. You will only be putting yourself on an equality with
him. You want to get more than even, not by hitting back and returning
abuse for abuse. No, not that way, but by rising above him in manhood."
"How? In what way, Nellie?"
"Settle down to steady work. Redeem your home. Show Dick and the people of
Glendow that you are not a fool or a pauper, but a man. Oh, Stephen, we
want to be proud of you--and I do, too."
"Do you, Nellie, really?"
"Indeed I do, Stephen."
For an instant only their eyes met. For an instant there was silence. But
in that instant, that mere atom of time, there opened up to Stephen a new
meaning of life. A virile energy rent the old husk of indifference, and a
yearning, startling in its intensity, stabbed his heart, to "make good,"
to recover lost ground and to do something of which Nellie should be
It was love--the golden key which had at last opened to the young man the
mystic door of life's great responsibility.
Beating the Devil
"Father, I am becoming uneasy about Dan."
Parson John and Nellie were walking slowly along the road from the neat
little parish church. It was a Sunday morning. Not a breath of wind
stirred the balmy and spring-like air. A recent thaw had removed much of
the snow, leaving the fields quite bare, the roads slippery, and the ice
on the river like one huge gleaming mirror.
"Why, what do you mean?" asked the parson. "What makes you uneasy about
"He has been so restless of late."
"Doesn't he mind you?"
"Oh, yes. He is always ready and anxious to do anything I ask him. But
there is a far-away look in his eyes, and sometimes he gives such a start
when I speak to him. His old life was so rough and stirring, that I fear
he misses it, and longs to be back there, again."
"But he is interested in his studies, is he not?"
"Yes, to a certain extent. But not as much as formerly. It is hard for him
to settle down to steady work. He seems to be thinking and dreaming of
something else. I cannot understand him at all. I love the lad, and
believe he is much attached to us."
"What do you think we had better do?"
"I hardly know, father. But you might take him with you sometimes on your
drives. He is passionately fond of Midnight, and it would liven him up.
Why not let him go with you to the funeral at Craig's Corner this
afternoon? He would be company for you, too."
"But I'm not coming home until to-morrow. I expect to spend the night
there, and in the morning go overland to see the Stickles and take those
good things you have been making for the sick man. You will need Dan to
stay with you."
"No, I shall be all right. Vivien Nelson has asked me to go there
to-night, so I shall get along nicely."
"Very well, dear," her father replied. "You are just like your mother,
always planning for someone else, and planning so well, too."
Dan's heart thrilled with pride and delight as he sat by Parson John's
side and watched Midnight swinging along at her usual steady jog when
there was no special hurry. So intent was the one upon watching the horse,
and the other upon his sermon, that neither noticed a man driving a
spirited horse dart out from behind a sharp point on the left, and cut
straight across the river. It was old Tim Fraser, as big a rogue as
existed anywhere in the land. He was very fond of horses, and that winter
had purchased a new flier. He was an incessant boaster, and one day swore
that he could out-travel anything on the river, Midnight included. He laid
a wager to that effect, which was taken up by Dave Morehouse, who imagined
the race would never come off, for Mr. Westmore would have nothing to do
with such sport. Old Fraser, therefore, set about to meet Parson John, but
for some time had failed to make connection. Hearing about the funeral, he
was determined that the race should come off that very Sunday, and in the
presence of the mourners and their friends at that. He accordingly hid
behind Break-Neck Point, and with delight watched the parson drive up the
river, and at the right moment he started forth for the fray. As Fraser
swung into line and was about to pass, Midnight gave a great bound
forward, and it was all that Parson John could do to hold her in check,
for she danced and strained at the reins as her rival sped on ahead. At
length Fraser slowed down, dropped behind, and, just when Midnight had
steadied down, up he clattered again. This he did three times in quick
succession, causing Midnight to quiver with excitement, and madly to champ
the bit. At length the climax was reached, for the noble beast, hearing
again the thud of her opponent's hoofs, became completely unmanageable.
With a snort of excitement she laid low her head, took the bit firmly
between her teeth, and started up the river like a whirlwind. The more
Parson John shouted and tugged at the reins the more determined she
became. The ice fairly flew from beneath her feet, and the trailing froth
flecked her black hide like driving snow. Neck and neck the horses raced
for some time, while Fraser grinned with delight at the success of his
Before long the funeral procession came into view, making for the little
church near the graveyard on the opposite shore. Parson John was feeling
most keenly the position in which he was so unfortunately placed. He could
see only one way out of the difficulty, and that was to leave Fraser
behind. Therefore, before the first sleigh of the funeral procession was
reached he gave Midnight the reins, and thus no longer restrained she drew
gradually away from her opponent. On she flew, past the staring, gaping
people, and for a mile beyond the church.
By this time Fraser was so far in the rear that he gave up the race.
Beaten and crestfallen he turned to the left, made for the shore and
At length Parson John was able to bring Midnight under control, when she
trotted quietly down the river with a triumphant gleam in her handsome
eyes. After the funeral had been conducted, a group at once surrounded the
parson and questioned him concerning the strange occurrence on the river.
Some were pleased with Fraser's ignominious defeat, and treated it as a
huge joke. But others were sorely scandalized. What would the members of
the other church in Glendow say when they heard of it? To think that their
clergyman should be racing on the river, and on a Sunday, too, while on
his way to attend a funeral--the most solemn of all occasions!
"Well, you see," continued the parson, after he had explained the
circumstance, "Fraser is a hard man to deal with, and in some ways I am
really glad it happened as it did."
"Why, what do you mean?" gasped several of the most rigid.
"It's just this way," and a twinkle shone in the parson's eyes. "Five and
thirty years have I served in the sacred ministry of our Church. During
the whole of that time I have endeavoured to do my duty. I have faced the
devil on many occasions, and trust that in the encounters I did no
discredit to my calling. I have tried never to let him get ahead of me,
and I am very thankful he didn't do it this afternoon with Tim Fraser's
* * * * *
Parson John had won the day, and the group dispersed, chuckling with
delight, and anxious to pass on the yarn to others.
That same evening Mr. Westmore was seated comfortably in Jim Rickhart's
cosy sitting-room. The family gathered around in anticipation of a
pleasant chat, for the rector was a good talker, and his visit was always
an occasion of considerable interest. A few neighbours had dropped in to
hear the news of the parish, and the latest tidings from the world at
large. They had not been seated long ere a loud rap sounded upon the door,
and when it was opened, a man encased in a heavy coat entered.
"Is Parson John here?" were his first words.
"Yes," Mr. Rickhart replied. "He's in the sitting-room. Do you want to see
him? Is it a wedding, Sam? You look excited."
"Should say not. It's more like a funeral. Old Tim Fraser's met with a bad
"Yes. He was drivin' home from the river this afternoon, when that new
horse of his shied, and then bolted. The sleigh gave a nasty slew on the
icy road, and upset. Tim was caught somehow, and dragged quite a piece.
He's badly broken up, and wants to see the parson."
By this time Mr. Westmore had crossed the room, and stood before the
messenger. A startled look was in his eyes, as he peered keenly into Sam's
"Tell me, is it true what I hear," he questioned, "that Fraser has been
"Yes, sir, and wants you at once."
"Is he seriously injured?"
"Can't tell. They're goin' fer the doctor, but it'll be some time before
he can get there. It's a long way."
"Poor Fraser! Poor Fraser!" murmured the parson. "He was a careless man. I
was bitter at him this afternoon, and now he is lying there. Quick, Dan,
get on your coat and hat; we must be off at once."
It did not take them long to make ready, and soon Midnight was speeding
through the darkness. This time it was no leisurely jog, but the pace she
well knew how to set when her master was forth on important business.
Across the river she sped, then over hill and valley, which echoed with
the merry jingle of the bells. For some time Parson John did not speak,
and seemed to be intent solely upon Midnight.
"Dan," he remarked at length, as they wound slowly up a steep hill, "it's
a mean thing, isn't it, to get many, many good things from someone, and
never do anything in return, and not even to say 'Thank you?'"
The lad started at these words, and but for the darkness a flush would
have been seen upon his face. "What does the parson mean?" he thought.
"That was about what Farrington said. To get, and give nothing in return;
to be a sucker and a sponger."
But the parson needed no reply. He did not even notice Dan's silence.
"Yes," he continued; "it's a mean thing. But that's just what Tim Fraser's
been doing all his life. The good Lord has given him so many blessings of
health, home, fine wife and children, and notwithstanding all these
blessings, he's been ever against Him. He curses and swears, laughs at
religion, and you saw what he did this afternoon."
"'Tis mean, awful mean," Dan replied, as the parson paused, and flicked
the snow with his whip. "But maybe he's sorry, now, that he's hurt."
"Maybe he is, Dan. But it's a mean thing to give the best of life to
Satan, and to give the dregs, the last few days, when the body is too weak
to do anything, to the Lord. And yet I find that is so often done, and I'm
afraid it's the case now."
When they reached Fraser's house they found great excitement within. Men
and women were moving about the kitchen and sitting-room trying to help,
and yet always getting into one another's way. Midnight was taken to the
barn, Dan was led into the kitchen to get warm, while the parson went at
once to the room where Tim was lying.
Dan shrank back in a corner, for he felt much abashed at the sight of so
many strangers. He wanted to be alone--to think about what the parson had
said coming along the road. And so Fraser was a sponger, and a sucker too,
getting so many good things and giving nothing back. It was mean, and yet
what was he himself but a sponger? What was he doing for Nellie and Parson
John for what they were doing for him? They gave him a comfortable home,
fed, clothed, and taught him, and he was doing nothing to pay them back.
How disgusted his father would be if he only knew about it.
For the life of him Dan could not have expressed these feelings to anyone.
He only knew that they ran through his mind like lightning, making him
feel very miserable. His cheeks flushed, and a slight sigh escaped his
lips as he sat crouched there in the corner with one small hand supporting
his chin. No one heeded him, for all were too much excited over the
accident to take any notice of a little boy.
"I said that horse would be the death of him," he heard a woman exclaim.
"Tim's too old a man to drive such a beast as that."
"Oh, the beast's all right," an old man slowly replied, "but it was put to
a wrong use, that's where the trouble came."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"Don't you know? Didn't you hear about what happened on the river this
afternoon? Tim went there on purpose to meet the parson, and strike up a
race. He's been boasting for some time that he would do it. The Lord has
given that man much rope, and has suffered him long. But this was too
much, and He's tripped him up at last."
"Peter Brown," and the woman held up her hands in astonishment, "how can
you say such a thing about your old neighbour, and in his house, too, with
him lying there in that condition?"
"I'm only saying what the rest know and think," was the calm reply. "I've
told Tim time and time again right to his face that the Lord would settle
with him some day. 'Tim,' said I, and it was not later than last fall that
I said it, 'Tim, the Lord has been good to you. He's blessed you in every
way. You've health, strength, and a good home. And what have you done for
Him? What have you given in return? Nothing. You curse, revile and scorn
Him on the slightest pretext. It's not only mean, Tim, but you'll get
punished some day, and don't you forget it.' But he only swore at me, and
told me to shut up and mind my own business and he would mind his. But my
words have come true, and I guess Tim sees it at last."
Dan was sitting bolt upright now, with his hands clenched and eyes staring
hard at the speaker. The words had gone straight to his little heart, with
terrible, stinging intensity. This man was saying what Farrington and the
parson had said. It must be true. But the idea of the punishment was
something new. He had never thought of that before.
And even as he looked, a silence spread throughout the room, for Parson
John was standing in the doorway. Upon his face an expression dwelt which
awed more than many words, and all at once realized that the venerable man
had just stepped from the solemn chamber of Death.
Nestling snugly among large stately trees of pine and spruce, the little
log-cabin presented a picturesque appearance. Its one room, lighted by a
small window, served as kitchen, living and sleeping apartments combined.
It was warm, for the rough logs were well chinked with moss, while the
snow lay thick upon the roof and banked up around the sides. This cabin
had been recently built, and stood there by the little brook as an outward
and visible sign of an inward change in the heart and mind of one of
Glendow's sturdy sons.
The night Stephen Frenelle left Nellie at the Rectory after the drive home
from the dance, he had fought one of those stern, fierce battles which
must come to all at some time in life. As Jacob of old wrestled all night
long for the mastery, so did Stephen in the silence of his own room. Sleep
fled his eyes as he paced up and down, struggling with the contending
thoughts which filled his heart. At times he clenched his hands and ground
his teeth together as he pictured Dick Farrington standing in the Hall,
hurling forth his taunting remarks. Then he longed for daylight to come
that he might go to his house, call him forth, and give him the thrashing
he so well deserved. He would drive that impudent, sarcastic smile from
his face, and make him take back his words. A voice seemed to say to him,
"Do it. _You must_ do it if you consider yourself a man. He insulted
you to your face, and people will call you a coward if you allow it to
pass." But always there came to him that gentle touch on his arm; he heard
a voice pleading with him to be a man, and saw Nellie looking at him with
those large, beseeching eyes, and his clenched hands would relax. And thus
the battle raged; now this way, now that. Which side would win? When at
length the first streak of dawn was breaking far off in the eastern sky,
and Stephen came forth from the Chamber of Decision, there was no doubt as
to the outcome of the fight. His face bore the marks of the struggle, but
it also shone with a new light. When his mother and Nora came downstairs
they were astonished to see him up so early, the fire in the kitchen stove
burning brightly, and the cattle and sheep fed. Usually Stephen was hard
to arouse in the morning, and it was nearly noon before the chores were
finished, and then always in a half-hearted way. They looked at each
other, and wondered at the change which had taken place.
Although Stephen had won a victory over himself, he was yet much puzzled.
He wished to redeem the homestead, but how should he set about the task?
As he waited that morning while breakfast was being prepared, this was the
great thought uppermost in his mind. He knew that when spring came there
was the farm to work. In the meantime, however, during the days of winter
when the ground was covered with snow, what could he do? Once aroused, it
was needful for him to set to work as soon as possible. Mechanically he
picked up the weekly paper lying on a chair and glanced carelessly at the
headlines set forth in bold type. As he did so his attention was arrested
by two words "Logs Wanted." He read the article through which told how the
price of lumber had suddenly advanced, and that logs were in great demand.
When Stephen laid down the paper and went into breakfast, the puzzle had
been solved. What about that heavy timber at the rear of their farm? No
axe had as yet rung there, no fire had devastated the place, and the trees
stood tall and straight in majestic grandeur. A brook flowed near which
would bear the logs down the river.
His mother's and sister's hearts bounded with joy as Stephen unfolded to
them his plan. He would hire two choppers; one could go home at night,
while the other, old Henry, could live with him in the little camp he
would build. They would chop while he hauled the logs to the brook. Mrs.
Frenelle and Nora would do most of the cooking at home, and Stephen, would
come for it at certain times. Thus a new spirit pervaded the house that
day, and Mrs. Frenelle's heart was lighter than it had been for many
months. Stephen did not tell her the cause of this sudden change, but with
a loving mother's perception she felt that Nellie's gentle influence had
much to do with it all.
One week later the cabin was built, the forest ringing with the sturdy
blows of axes and the resounding crash of some hoary pine or spruce.
Although the work was heavy, Stephen's heart was light. Not only did he
feel the zest of one who had grappled with life in the noble effort to do
the best be could, but he had Nellie's approbation. He drank in the
bracing air of the open as never before, and revelled in the rich perfume
of the various trees as he moved along their great cathedral-like aisles,
carpeted with the whitest of snow.
The two choppers were kept busy from morning dawn to sunset. They were
skilled craftsmen, trained from early days in woodland lore. One, old
Henry, thoroughly enjoyed his work and at times snatches of a familiar
song fell from his lips as his axe bit deep into the side of some large
"You did that well, Henry," Stephen one day remarked, as he watched a
monster spruce wing its way to earth with a terrific crash.
"It's all in knowin' how," was the deliberate reply, as the old man began
to trim the prostrate form. "Now, a greenhorn 'ud rush in, an' hack an'
chop any old way, an' afore he knew what he was doin' the tree 'ud be
tumblin' down in the wrong place, an' mebbe right a-top of 'im at that.
But I size things up a bit afore I hit a clip. Havin' made up me mind as
to the best spot to fell her, I swing to, an' whar I pint her thar she
goes; that's all thar is about it."
"But doesn't the wind bother you sometimes?" Stephen inquired.
The chopper walked deliberately to the butt-end of the tree, and with the
pole of his axe marked off the length of the log. Then he moistened his
hands and drove the keen blade through the juicy bark deep into the wood.
"I allow fer the wind, laddie," he replied, "I allow fer that. When the
good Lord sends the wind, sometimes from the North, sometimes from the
South, I don't go agin it. Why, what's the use of goin' agin His will, an'
it's all the same whether yer choppin' down a tree, or runnin' across the
sea of Life fer the great Port beyon'. That's what the parson says, an' I
guess he knows, though it seems to me that the poor man hisself has
head-winds aplenty jist now."
Stephen asked no more questions then, being too busy. But that night,
after supper, as the old man was mending his mittens he sat down by his
"Henry," he began, "how is it that the parson has head-winds? Do you think
it's the Lord's will?"
"'Tain't the Lord's will, laddie," was the slow response. "Oh no, 'tain't
"It's the devil's, that's whose it is, an' he's usin' sartin men in
Glendow as human bellows to blow his vile wind aginst that man of God.
That's what he's doin', an' they can't see it nohow."
"And so you think the parson had nothing to do with Billy Fletcher's gold.
You think he is innocent?"
"Think it, laddie? Think it? What's the use of thinkin' it when I know it.
Haven't I known Parson John fer forty years now. Can't I well remember
when his hair, which is now so white, was as black as the raven's wing.
An' why did it become white? I ax ye that. It's not old age which done it,
ah no. It's care an' work fer the people of Glendow, that's what's done
it. D'ye think I'd believe any yarn about a man that's been mor'n a father
to me an' my family? Didn't I see 'im kneelin' by my little Bennie's bed,
twenty years ago come next June, with the tears runnin' down his cheeks as
he axed the Good Lord to spare the little lad to us a while longer. Mark
my word, Stevie, them people who are tellin' sich stories about that man
'ill come to no good. Doesn't the Lord say in his great Book, 'Touch not
Mine anointed, an' do My prophets no harm?' My old woman often reads them
words to me, fer she's a fine scholar is Marthy. 'Henry,' says she, 'the
parson is the Lord's anointed. He's sot aside fer a holy work, an' it's a
risky bizness to interfere with eich a man.'"
Scarcely had the speaker finished when the door of the cabin was pushed
suddenly open, and a queer little man entered. A fur cap was pulled down
over his ears, while across his left shoulder and fastened around his body
several times was a new half-inch rope.
"Hello, Pete," Stephen exclaimed, "You look cold. Come to the stove and
"Y'bet I'm cold," was the reply. "My fingers and nose are most froze."
"What's brought you away out here this time of the night?" questioned
Stephen, "I thought you liked the store too well to travel this far from
"Bizness, Steve, bizness," and the man rubbed his hands together, at the
same time taking a good survey of the cabin.
"You look as if you were going to hang yourself, Pete, with all that rope
about your body. Surely you're not tired of living yet."
"No, no, Steve. Not on your life. There'd be no fun in that, an' it's fun
I'm after this time."
"But I thought you said you were out on business, and now you say it's
"Bizness an' fun, me boy. Bizness an' fun; that's my motto. My bizness
this time is to pinch the Stickles' cow, an' the fun 'ill be to hear
Stickles, Mrs. Stickles an' the little Stickles squeal. Ha, ha! Bizness
an' fun, Steve. Bizness an' fun."
"What! You're not going to take away the only cow the Stickles have left?"
cried Stephen in amazement.
"Sure. It's the boss's orders, an' he doesn't mean fun, either. Nuthin'
but bizness with 'im; ah no, nuthin' but bizness."
"Farrington is a mean rascal!" and Stephen leaped to his feet, his fists
clenched and his eyes flashing. "Hasn't he any heart at all? To think of
him taking the only cow from a poor family when the husband is sick in
bed! What does the man mean?"
"Don't git excited, me boy. It's only bizness, boss sez, only bizness. The
heart has nuthin' to do with that."
"Business be blowed! It's vile meanness, that's what it is! And will you
help him out with such work?"
"It's bizness agin, Steve. I've got to live, an' keep the missus an'
kiddies. What else is there fer a feller to do?"
"But why is Farrington taking the cow in the winter time, Pete? Why
doesn't he wait until the summer, and give the Stickles a chance?"
"It all on account of a woman's tongue. That's what's the trouble."
"A woman's tongue?"
"Yes, a woman's tongue, an' ye know it's Mrs. Stickles' without me tellin'
ye. She told Tommy Jones, wot told Betty Sharp, wot told the boss, that
she was mighty glad the parson beat 'im at the auction. So the boss got
mad as blazes, an' has sent me fer the cow to pay what the Stickles owe
'im. That's all I know about it, lad, so good-bye to yez both, fer I must
be off. I'm to stay the night at Tommy Jones', an' in the mornin' will go
from there fer the cow. Bizness an' fun, Steve; bizness an' fun; don't
fergit that," and the little old man went off chuckling in high glee.
Guarding the Flock
It was nearing the noon hour, and the sun slanting through the forest
lifted into bold relief the trailing shadows of the stately trees. A
lively chickadee was cheeping from a tall spruce, and a bold camp-robber
was hopping in front of the cabin door picking up morsels of food which
were occasionally cast forth. Stephen was preparing dinner, and the
appetizing smell drifted out upon the air. Not far away, perched upon the
branch of a tree, a sleek squirrel was filling the air with his noisy
chattering and scolding. His bright little eyes sparkled with anger at the
big strange intruder into his domain, causing him to pour forth all the
vitriol of the squirrel vocabulary. Suddenly his noisy commotion ceased,
and he lifted his head in a listening attitude. Presently down the trail
leading to the main highway the sound of bells could be distinctly heard.
As they drew nearer their music filled the air, reverberating from hill to
hill and pulsing among the countless reaches of the great sombre forest.
Not a child in the parish of Glendow but knew that familiar sound, and
would rush eagerly into the house with the welcome tidings, for did it not
mean a piece of candy hidden away in most mysterious pockets, which seemed
never to be empty? How often in the deep of night tired sleepers in some
lonely farm-house had been awakened by their merry jingle, and in the
morning husband and wife would discuss the matter and wonder what sick
person Parson John had been visiting.
The bells grew more distinct now and brought Stephen to the door. Soon
Midnight appeared swinging around a bend in the trail, with her fine neck
proudly arched, ears pointed forward, and her large eyes keen with
expectancy. The squirrel scurried away in a rage; the chickadee hopped to
a safe retreat, and even the saucy camp-robber considered it wise to flap
lazily to the top of the cabin.
"I'm glad to see you, Stephen," was Parson John's hearty greeting as he
held out his hand. "Dan and I are on our way to visit the Stickles, and
called in to see you in passing. What a snug place you have built here. I
trust you are getting along nicely."
"Better than I expected," was the reply. "But, say, Parson, you're just in
time for dinner. Let me put Midnight in the barn. She won't object, at any
"What! is it that late?" and the worthy man glanced at the sun. "Dear me,
how the time does fly! Well, then, if we will not be in the way I shall
enjoy it very much, for it has been many a day since I have dined in the
woods. But, wait," he cried, as Stephen was leading Midnight to the
stable, "There's a basket of stuff, some pies, and I don't know what else,
in the sleigh for hardy woodsmen, with Nellie's compliments. No, no, not
that basket. It's for the Stickles. The smaller one; I think you'll find
it in the back of the sleigh. There, that's it, with the green handle. It
takes a large basket for all the little Stickles!" and the parson gave a
What a dinner they had in the little cabin that day. Never did meat taste
so good, and never did pie have such a delicious flavour as that which
Nellie had made. The table and stools were rough, the food served on
coarse dishes, and each one helped himself. But what did it matter? Their
appetites were keen and the parson a most entertaining visitor. He told
about the race on the river the day before, and of Tim Fraser's accident
and sudden death, to which the choppers listened with almost breathless
interest, at times giving vent to ejaculations of surprise.
"I'm sorry we have no milk to offer you," laughed Stephen, passing the
parson a cup of black tea. "But at any minute now a cow may be passing
this way and we might be able to obtain some."
"A cow passing! I don't understand," and Mr. Westmore stirred the sugar in
"Yes. The Stickles are losing their only cow. Farrington has sent Pete
after her, and he should be along by this time."
"Stephen," and Parson John's face changed from its genial expression to
one of severity, "do I understand you aright? Do you mean to tell me that
Farrington is taking the Stickles' only cow?"
"Yes, I'm not joking. It's the solid truth. Pete stopped here on his way
out last night, and told us all about it."
"Dear me! dear me!" sighed the parson, placing his hand to his head. "When
will that man cease to be a thorn in the flesh? The Stickles are as honest
as the sun, and Farrington knows it. This business must be stopped. Dan
will you please bring out Midnight. We must hurry away at once."
Soon the little cabin was left behind and they were swinging out along the
trail. The parson was quiet now. His old jocular spirit had departed,
leaving him very thoughtful.
"The poor people! The poor people!" he ejaculated. "When will such things
cease? Why will men dressed in a little brief authority try to crush those
less fortunate? Dan, my boy, you may be a big man some day. You may get
money, but never forget the poor. Be kind to them rather than to the
powerful. They need kindness and sympathy, lad, more than others. My
parents were poor, and I know how they toiled and slaved to give me an
education. I well remember how they worked early and late until their
fingers were knotted and their backs bowed. They are the noble ones who
live in our midst, and though they may have little of this world's goods,
they have great souls and are the real salt of the earth. Never forget
Dan did not know how to reply to these words, but sat very still watching
Midnight speeding on her way. The road wound for some distance through a
wooded region and over several hills. At length it entered upon a
settlement where the land was lean and rocks lifted their frowning heads
above the surface. The few houses were poor, standing out grey and gaunt
in the midst of this weird barrenness. But at every door Midnight was
accustomed to stop. Well did she know the little voices which welcomed
her, and the tiny hands which stroked her soft nose, or held up some
dainty morsel of bread, potatoes or grass. But to-day there was none of
this. She knew when the reins throbbed with an energy which meant hurry.
Past the gateways she clipped with those long steady strides over the icy
road, across a bleak stretch of country, down a valley, up a winding hill,
and then away to the right through a long narrow lane to a lone
As they approached a commotion was observed near the barn. Soon the cause
was clearly manifest. Pete, assisted by someone, who proved to be Tommy
Jones, had his rope about the horns of a black and white cow, and was
endeavouring to lead her away. Mrs. Stickles and four little Stickles were
filling the air with their cries of anger and protest. The cow, frightened
by the noise, had become confused, and was trying to bolt towards the
barn. Pete was tugging at the rope, while his assistant was belabouring
her with a stout stick.
"Ye brutes!" Mrs. Stickles was shouting at the top of her voice. "What
d'yez mean by thumpin' me poor Pansy in that way! But here comes the
Lord's avengin' angel, praise His holy name! Stop 'em, Parson!" she
shrieked, rushing towards the sleigh. "Smite 'em down, Parson, an' pray
the Lord to turn His hottest thunderbolt upon Si Farrington's head!"
"Hush, hush, woman," Mr. Westmore remonstrated. "Don't talk that way.
'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay.'"
By this time the refractory cow had been brought to a state of partial
subjection, and stood blinking at her captors as if uncertain what course
to pursue. Leaving the sleigh, Mr. Westmore strode over to where the three
were standing and laid his hand upon the rope.
"What's the meaning of this, Pete?" he asked. "Why are you troubling this
"It's them that's troublin' me, sir," was the reply. "I'm jist here on
bizness, an' it's bizness I mean. If ye'll jist keep that whirlwind of a
woman away an' them squaking kids so I kin git this cratur clear of the
barn-yard, she'll walk like a daisy."
"But why are you taking the animal? Don't you know it's their only cow,
and it's very important that Mr. Stickles, who is sick in bed, should have
fresh milk every day?"
"That's not my bizness, Parson. My bizness is to git the cow; so stand
clear if ye please, fer I want to git away. I'm late as 'tis."
"Hold a minute, Pete," and the parson laid a firmer hand upon the rope.
"Who sent you here after this cow?"
"The boss, of course."
"And he wants the cow in payment of a debt, does he?"
"Guess so. But that ain't none of my bizness. My bizness is to git the
"How much is the debt, anyway?" the parson asked, turning to Mrs.
Stickles, who was standing near with arms akimbo.
"Twenty dollars, sir. No mor'n twenty dollars. Not one cent more, an'
Tony'll pay every cent when he comes from the woods."
"Well, then, Pete," and the parson turned towards the latter, "unfasten
this cow, and go back to your master. Tell him that I will be responsible
for the debt, and that he shall have the full amount as soon as I get
But Pete shook his head, and began to gather up the loose end of the rope
into a little coil in his left hand.
"That ain't the 'boss's order, sir. 'Fetch her, Pete,' sez he, 'an' let
nuthin' stop ye. If they hev the money to pay, don't take it. The cow's of
more value to me than money.' Them's his very orders."
"Oh, I see, I see," Mr. Westmore remarked, as a stern look crossed his
face, and his eyes flashed with indignation. "It's not the money your
master wants, but only the pound of flesh."
"Boss didn't say nuthin' 'bout any pound of flesh. He only said 'the cow,'
an' the cow he'll git if Pete Davis knows anything."
Quick as a flash Parson John's hand dove deep into his capacious pocket.
He whipped out a clasp-knife, opened it, and with one vigorous stroke
severed the rope about one foot from the cow's head.
"There!" he cried to the staring, gaping Pete. "Take that rope to your
master, and tell him what I have done. Leave the matter to me. I alone
will be responsible for this deed."
The appearance of Mr. Westmore at this moment was enough to awe even the
most careless. His gigantic form was drawn to its fullest height. His
flashing eyes, turned full upon Pete's face, caused that obsequious menial
to fall back a step or two. Even a blow from the parson's clenched fist
just then would not have been a surprise. His spirit at this moment was
that of the prophets of old, and even of the Great Master Himself,
upholding justice and defending the cause of the poor and down-trodden.
For an instant only they faced each other. Then, Pete's eyes dropped as
the eyes of an abashed dog before his master. He stooped for the rope,
which had fallen to the ground, and slowly gathered it into a little coil.
But still he maintained his ground.
"Are you going?" demanded the parson.
"Yes," came the surly response. "I'm goin', but remember you hev
interfered with Si Farrington's lawful bizness, so beware! I'll go an'
tell 'im what ye say. Oh, yes, I'll go, but you'll hear from 'im again.
Oh, yes, ye'll hear."
"Let 'im come 'imself next time fer the cow," spoke up Mrs. Stickles, who
had been silently watching the proceedings. "I'd like fer 'im to come. I'd
like to git me fingers into his hair an' across his nasty, scrawny face.
That's what I'd like to do."
"Hold yer tongue!" shouted Pete, "an'----"
"There now, no more of that," commanded Mr. Westmore. "We've had too many
words already, so take yourself off."
They watched him as he moved down the lane to the road. He was followed by
Tommy Jones, who had stood through it all with mouth wide open, and eyes
staring with astonishment. When they were at length clear of the place the
parson gave a sigh of relief, and across his face flitted a smile--like
sunshine after storm.
Light and Shadow
Upon entering the house Mr. Westmore divested himself of his great-coat,
and stood warming himself by the kitchen fire, while Mrs. Stickles bustled
around, smoothing down the bedclothes and putting the room to rights in
which her sick husband lay. The kitchen floor was as white as human hands
could make it, and the stove shone like polished ebony. Upon this a kettle
steamed, while underneath a sleek Maltese cat was curled, softly purring
in calm content.
Dan, assisted by the little Stickles, stabled Midnight, after which he was
conducted over to the back of the barn to enjoy the pleasure of coasting
down an icy grade. The only sound, therefore, was Mrs. Stickles' voice in
the next room as she related to "her man" the wonderful events which had
just taken place. A slight smile of pleasure crossed the parson's face as
he listened to her words and thought of the big honest heart beneath that
marvellous tongue. The sun of the winter day was streaming through the
little window and falling athwart the foot of the bed as Mr. Westmore
entered the room and grasped the sick man's white, outstretched hand.
"God bless ye, sir," exclaimed Mr. Stickles, "fer what ye hev done fer me
an' mine to-day. It ain't the first time by a long chalk. The Lord will
reward ye, even if I can't."
"Tut, tut, man, don't mention it," Mr. Westmore replied as he took a seat
by the bed. "And how are you feeling to-day, Mr. Stickles?"
"Only middlin', Parson, only middlin'. Simply joggin', simply joggin'."
Mrs. Stickles seated herself in a splint-bottomed chair, and picked up her
knitting which had been hurriedly dropped upon the arrival of Pete Davis.
How her fingers did work! It was wonderful to watch them. How hard and
worn they were, and yet so nimble. The needles flew with lightning
rapidity, clicking against one another with a rhythmical cadence; the
music of humble, consecrated work. But when Mr. Westmore began to tell
about Tim Fraser, and his sudden death, the knitting dropped into her lap,
and she stared at the speaker with open-eyed astonishment.
"An' do ye mean to tell me," she exclaimed, when the parson had finished,
"that Tim Fraser is dead?"
"Yes, it's only too true, Mrs. Stickles. Poor man--poor man!"
"Ye may well call 'im poor, Parson, fer I'm thinkin' that's jist what he
is at this blessed minute. He's in a bad way now, I reckon."
"Hush, hush, Marthy," her husband remonstrated. "We must not judge too
"I'm not, John, I'm not, an' the parson knows I'm not. But if Tim isn't
sizzlin', then the Bible's clean wrong," and the needles clicked harder
"It teaches us the uncertainty of life," replied Mr. Westmore. "It shows
how a man with great strength, and health can be stricken down in an
instant. How important it is to be always ready when the call does come."
"Ye're right, Parson, ye're surely right," and Mrs. Stickles stopped to
count her stitches. "Wasn't John an' me talkin' about that only last
night. I was readin' the Bible to 'im, an' had come to that story about
poor old Samson, an' his hard luck."
"'It's very strange,' sez John, sez he to me, 'that when Samson lost his
hair he lost his great strength, too. I can't unnerstan' it nohow.'"
"'Why, that's simple enough,' sez I to 'im. 'The Lord when He let Samson's
strength rest in his hair jist wanted to teach 'im how unsartin a thing
strength is. 'Why, anyone can cut off yer hair,' sez I, 'an' ye know,
John,' sez I, 'ye don't allus have to cut it off, either, fer it falls out
like yourn, John--fer yer almost bald.' Ain't them the exact words I said,
John, an' only last night at that?"
"Yes, Marthy. That's just what ye said, an' we see how true it is. Tim
Fraser was a powerful man as fer as strength an' health goes, but what did
it all amount to? He lost it as quick as Samson of old. Ah, yes, a man's a
mighty weak thing, an' his strength very unsartin, an' hangs by a slender
thread. Look at me, parson. Once I was able to stan' almost anything, an'
here I be a useless log--a burden to meself an' family."
"Don't say that, John, dear," remonstrated Mrs. Stickles wiping her eyes
with her apron. "Ye know ye ain't a bother. Yer as patient as a fly in
molasses. The fly is thar an' can't help it, an' so are you, John. It's
the Lord's will, an' ye've often said so. He'll look after me an' the
little ones. He's never forsaken us yit, an' I guess He won't if we stick
"Your children are certainly a credit to you, Mrs. Stickles," remarked Mr.
Westmore. "You should be proud of them."
"I am, sir, indeed I am," and the worthy woman's face beamed with
pleasure. "But it takes a lot of 'scretion, Parson, to handle a big
family. I've often said to John that children are like postage-stamps.
They've got to be licked sometimes to do the work they were intended to
do. But if ye lick 'em too much, ye spile 'em. Oh, yes, it takes great
'scretion to bring up a family."
"You certainly have used great discretion," replied Parson John, much
amused at Mrs. Stickles' words. "I suppose those who are working out are
just as dear as the four little ones at home?"
"They're all dear to me, sir, all dear. I kin count 'em all on me ten
fingers, no more an' no less. Now some fingers are larger than t'others,
and some smaller, an' some more useful than t'others an' do more work, but
I couldn't part with one. So as I often tell John our children are jist
like me ten fingers. I couldn't do without one of 'em--ah, no, bless their
The sound of little feet and childish voices caused them to look towards
the kitchen. There they beheld the four little Stickles, with Dan in the
midst, standing in a row by the stove.
"Ho, ho!" exclaimed the parson, rising and going towards them. "So here
you are, as fresh and active as ever."
Diving deep into his pocket he brought forth a generous piece of home-made
"Sweets for the sweet," he cried. "Now, who's to have this?"
At once a rush ensued and four little forms surrounded him.
"Wait, wait; not yet!" and the good man held the candy aloft. "Nothing
given away here. You must earn every bit. All in a row now. There, that's
better," and he lined them up, like a veteran schoolmaster, proud of his
little class. "Come, I want your names. You begin," and he tapped the
nearest to him on the shoulder.
"John Medley Stickles, sir," came the quick reply.
"A good name, my little man," and the parson patted him on the head. "May
you be worthy of your namesake, that noble man of God--the first Bishop of
this Diocese. Now next," and he pointed to the second little Stickles.
"Benjamin Alexander Stickles, sir,"
"Ha, ha. Named after your two grandfathers. Fine men they were, too. Now
my little maiden, we'll hear from you."
"Martha Trumpit Stickles, sir," came the shy response.
"That's a good name, my dear, after your mother--and with her eyes, too.
Just one more left. Come, my dear, what have you to say?"
"Ruth Wethmore Stickles, thir, if you pleath," lisped the little lass,
with her eyes upon the floor.
At these words the parson paused, as if uncertain what to say. "Ruth, the
gleaner," he at length slowly remarked. "Ruth Westmore. Ah, Mrs. Stickles,
I little thought that day my dear wife stood sponsor for your baby here,
and gave her her own name, how soon she would be taken from us. Four
years--four long years since she went home. But come, but come," he
hurriedly continued, noticing Mrs. Stickles about to place her apron to
her eyes. "I have a question to ask each little one here, and then
something is coming. Look, John, answer me, quick. How many Commandments
"Ten, sir," came the ready reply.
"What is the fifth one?"
"Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land which
the Lord thy God giveth thee."
"That's good, that's good. Don't forget that, my little man. The first
commandment with promise. I taught your brother Tony that when he was a
little lad, and I'm sure he hasn't forgotten it. Now, Bennie, what two
things do we learn from these commandments?"
"My duty towards God, an' my duty towards my neighbour."
"Right, right you are. Now, Martha, what were you made at your baptism?"
"A member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of
"Well done. I thought that would stick you, but I see you have learned
your lesson well! It's Ruth's turn now. Can you tell me, my dear, what
happened on Good Friday?"
"Jesus died, thir, on the Croth."
"And what took place on Easter Day?"
"He roth from the grave, thir."
"Good, good. Always remember that. Good Friday and Easter Day come very
near together. 'Earth's saddest day and brightest day are just one day
Mrs. Stickles' face beamed with pleasure as the parson praised the little
class, and gave a piece of candy to each. Then he drew from his pocket a
small package wrapped in white tissue paper tied with a piece of pink
ribbon, and held it up before the wondering eyes of the little Stickles.
"From Nellie," he remarked. "Candy she made herself for the one who can
best say the verses on the Christian Year she gave you to learn some time
ago. Now, who can say them all through without one mistake?"
Instantly four little hands shot up into the air, and four pairs of
sparkling eyes were fixed eagerly upon the coveted treasure.
"Well, Bennie, we'll try you," said the parson. "Stand up straight, and
don't be afraid to speak out."
"Advent tells us Christ is here,
Christmas tells us Christ is near--"
"Hold, hold!" cried Mr. Westmore. "Try again."
But the second attempt proving worse than the first, it was passed on to
Martha. Bravely the little maiden plunged into the intricacies of the two
first verses, but became a total wreck upon the third. Try as she might
the words would not come, and tears were in her eyes when at length she
gave up the attempt and waited for John Medley to conquer where she had
failed. But alas! though starting in bravely he mixed Epiphany and Advent
so hopelessly that the parson was forced to stop his wild wanderings.
"Dear me! dear me!" Mr. Westmore exclaimed. "What are we to do? Surely
Ruth can do better than this."
With hands clasped demurely before her and her eyes fixed upon the floor,
slowly the little maiden began to lisp forth the words while the rest
listened in almost breathless silence.
"Advent telth uth Christ ith near;
Christmath telth uth Christ ith here;
In Epithany we trath
All the glory of Hith grath."
Thus steadily on she lisped through verse after verse, and when the last
was completed a sigh of relief was heard from Mrs. Stickles, while the
parson clapped his hands with delight. How her eyes did sparkle as he
handed her the little package, with a few words of encouragement, and how
longingly the three others looked upon the treasure.
"Now," said Mr. Westmore, "we must be away. Nellie will wonder what has
become of us."
"Not yet, sir, not yet!" cried Mrs. Stickles. "You must have a cup of tea
first.' The water is bilin', an' it'll be ready in a jiffy. Did ye give
Midnight any hay?" she demanded, turning to Bennie.
"Oh, ma!" came the reply. "I fergot all about it."
"There now, it's jist like ye. Hurry off this minute and give that poor
critter some of that good hay from the nigh loft."
As the little Stickles and Dan scurried out of the room, Ruth still
clutching her precious package, Mrs. Stickles turned to Mr. Westmore.
"There now, Parson, ye jist must wait, an' have that cup of tea, an' some
of my fresh bread. We shan't tech Nellie's pies an' cake, cause ye kin hev
her cookin' any time, bless her dear heart. How I wish she was here
herself so I could look into her sweet face an' tell her meself how
grateful I am."
Hardly had the parson seated himself at the table ere several piercing
shrieks fell upon his ears. Rushing to the door he beheld John Medley
hurrying towards the house with arms at right angles, and his face as pale
"Child! Child! What is it?" shouted Mrs. Stickles.
"R-r-uth's k-k-illed! She f-f-ell from the la-la-der. Oh! Oh!"
Waiting to hear no more they hurried to the barn, and there they found the
little form lying on the floor, still grasping in her hand the precious
"My poor lamb! My darlin' baby! are ye kilt, are ye kilt?" wailed Mrs.
Stickles, kneeling down by her side. "Speak to me, my lamb, my little
baby! Oh, speak to yer mammy!"
But no sign of recognition came from the prostrate child. Seeing this the
mother sprang to her feet and wrung her hands in agony of despair.
"What will we do? Oh, what kin we do? My baby is kilt--my poor darlin'!
Tenderly Parson John lifted the child in his arms, carried her into the
house, and laid her on the settle near the stove. It was found that she
was breathing, and soon a little water brought some color into her face.
Presently she opened her eyes, and started up, but fell back again, with a
cry of pain, fiercely clutching the package.
"What is it, dear?" asked the parson. "Where is the pain?"
"My leg! My leg!" moaned the child.
"Ah, I feared so," exclaimed Mr. Westmore, after a brief examination. "We
must have the doctor at once. Is there anyone near who will go for him,
"Not a man, sir, that's fit to go. They're all in the woods. Oh, what kin
"Don't worry, Mrs. Stickles," was the reassuring reply. "Midnight will go,
and I will hold the reins. Come, Dan, the horse, quick."
As Midnight drew up to the door a few minutes later, Parson John came out
of the house and affectionately patted the sleek neck of the noble animal.
"Remember, Midnight," he said, "you must do your best to-day. It's for the
sake of the little lass, and she was getting hay for you. Don't forget
For the Sake of a Child
Night had shut down over the land as Midnight, with her long, swinging
strides, clipped through the lighted streets of the prosperous little
railway town of Bradin, and drew up at old Doctor Leeds' snug house. A
fast express had just thundered shrieking by. A strong, cutting wind
racing in from the Northeast was tearing through the sinuous telegraph
wires with a buzzing sound, the weird prelude of a coming storm.
The worthy doctor was at home, having only lately returned from a long
drive into the country. He and his wife, a kindly-faced little woman, were
just sitting down to their quiet meal. Seldom could they have an evening
together, for the doctor's field was a large one and his patients
"You have no engagement for to-night, I hope, Joseph," remarked his wife,
as she poured the tea.
"No, dear," was the reply. "I expect to have one evening at home, and I'm
very glad of it, too. I'm weary to-night, and am longing for my arm-chair,
with my papers and pipe."
A sharp knock upon the door aroused them, and great was their surprise to
see the venerable Rector of Glendow enter.
"Parson John!" cried the doctor, rushing forward and grasping his old
friend's hand. "It's been months since I've seen you. What lucky event
brought you here to-night? Did you miss the train? If so, I'm glad. My
chessmen are moulding for want of use."
But the parson shook his head and briefly told of the accident in the
"And so the little lass is in trouble, hey? More worry for Mrs. Stickles."
"And you will be able to go to-night, Doctor?"
"Certainly. Sweepstakes hasn't been on the road for two days, and is keen
for a good run."
"But, my dear," remonstrated Mrs. Leeds, "are you able to go? You have
been driving all day, and must be very tired. Why not rest a little
"And let the poor child suffer that much longer! Not a bit of it."
"I have heard doctors say," remarked the parson, as he and Dan sat down to
their supper, "that they get so hardened to suffering that at last it does
not affect them at all. I am glad it is not true with you."
"The older I get," replied the doctor thoughtfully, stirring his tea, "the
more my heart aches at the pains and sufferings of others, especially in
little children. As soon as I hear of someone in distress I can never rest
until I reach his or her side. There always comes to me a voice urging me
to make haste. Even now I seem to hear that child calling to me. She is a
sweet, pretty lass, and how often have I patted her fair little head, and
to think of those blue eyes filled with tears, that tiny face drawn with
pain, and her whole body writhing in agony. However, you know all about
this, Parson, so what's the use of my talking."
"But I am glad to hear you speak as you do, Doctor. Over thirty years have
I been in Glendow, and I become more affected by suffering the older I
The doctor looked keenly into Mr. Westmore's face, as if trying to read
his inmost thoughts.
"Do you ever become weary of your work?" he at length asked. "Do you not
long for a more congenial field?"
"I have often been asked that question, Doctor," the parson slowly
replied, "but not so much of late. I am getting old now, and young men are
needed, so I am somewhat forgotten. However, I am glad that this is so.
Years ago when a tempting offer came to me from some influential parish,
though I always refused, it disturbed me for days, until the matter was
finally settled. Now I do not have such distractions, and am quite happy.
In the quiet parish of Glendow I find all that the heart can desire. The
labour to me becomes no more monotonous than the work of parents with
their children. They often are weary in their toil for their little ones,
but not weary of it. The body gives out at times, but not the love in the
heart. And so I always find something new and fresh in my work which gives
such a relish to life. I have baptized most of the young people in this
parish, I have prepared them for Confirmation, given them their first
Communion, and in numerous cases have joined their hands in holy wedlock.
Some may long for a greater field and a wealthy congregation. But,
remember, as the sun in the heavens may be seen as clearly in the tiny
dewdrop as in the great ocean, so I can see the glory of the Father
shining in these humble parishioners of mine, especially so in the
children of tender years, as in the great intellects. As for travelling
abroad to see the world and its wonders, I find I can do it more
conveniently in my quiet study among my books. At a very small cost I can
wander to all parts of the world, without the dangers and inconveniences
of steamers and railroads. As to studying human nature, it is to be found
in any parish. Carlyle well said that 'any road, this simple Entepfuhl
road, will lead you to the end of the world,' and was it not the quaint
and humble-minded Thoreau who expressed himself in somewhat the same way:
"'If with Fancy unfurled,
You leave your abode,
You may go round the world,
By the Marlboro road.'"
The doctor rose from the table and grasped Mr. Westmore's hand.
"Thank you for those words," he said. "I have thought of those very things
so often, and you have expressed my ideas exactly. I must now be away. You
will stay all night, for I wish to have a good chat with you upon my
"Thank you very much," the parson replied, "but we must be off as soon as
possible. My daughter is all alone and will be quite uneasy by my long
absence. We shall go home by the way of Flett's Corner, and thus save
three miles. But look, Doctor, don't send your bill to the Stickles. Send
it to me. Now be sure."
"Tut, tut, man. Don't worry about the bills of others. Leave this matter
to me. The Stickles won't have any cause for anxiety about the bill, and
why should you? It's paid already."
What a noble picture these two men presented as they stood there! Both had
grown old in a noble service for their fellow-men, and truly their grey
heads were beautiful crowns of glory. One had charge of the cure of souls,
the other of bodies, and yet there was no clashing. Each respected the
work of the other, and both were inspired with the high motive which lifts
any profession or occupation above the ordinary--the Christ-like motive of
Parson John remained for some time after the doctor had left, chatting
with Mrs. Leeds, and when at length Midnight started on her homeward way
it was quite late. They had not advanced far before the storm which had
been threatening swept upon them. Although the night was dark, the roadbed
was firm and Midnight surefooted. As they scudded forward the wind howled
through the trees and dashed the snow against their faces. They fled by
farm-houses and caught fleeting glimpses of the bright, cosy scenes
within. Twice they met belated teams plodding wearily homeward. Without
one touch of rein, or word of command, each time Midnight slowed down,
swerved to the left and swung by. It was only when the dim, dark forms of
the panting steeds loomed up for an instant on their right, and then
disappeared into the blackness, were they aware of their presence.
Occasionally the road wound for a mile or more through a wooded region,
and in such places they found peace and shelter. Here the wind could not
reach them, although they could hear its wild ravings in the tree-tops
above. The snow came softly, silently down, and, although they could not
see it falling, they could feel it flecking their faces and knew it was
weaving its mystic robe over their bodies. In one place such as this a
faint glimmer of light struggled through the darkness a short distance
from the road.
"It's Stephen's cabin," the parson remarked. "It is a snug place on a
night like this. I wonder what he is doing now. I wish we had time to call
to give him a word of cheer."
About two hundred yards beyond the cabin they left the main highway and
entered upon a lumber road. This latter was used in the winter time in
order to avoid a large hill on the former and the huge drifts which piled
from fence to fence. At first Midnight slowed down to a walk, but at
length, becoming a little impatient to get home, she broke into a gentle
trot. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, the sleigh gave a great lurch, and
before a hand could be raised Dan found himself shooting over the parson
and falling headlong into the soft yielding snow. Recovering himself as
quickly as possible, and brushing the snow from his mouth, ears and eyes,
he groped around to ascertain what had happened. Away in the distance he
could hear a crashing sound as Midnight hurried along with the overturned
sleigh. Then all was still. He called and shouted, but received no reply.
A feeling of dread crept over him, and at once he started to walk back to
the road. He had advanced but a few steps, however, when he stumbled and
half fell over a form which he knew must be that of Parson John. He put
out his hand and felt his coat. Then he called, but all in vain. Hastily
fumbling in his pockets he drew forth several matches and tried to strike
a light. His little hands trembled as he did so, and time and time again a
draught blew out the tiny flame. In desperation he at length kneeled down
upon the snow, sheltered the match with his coat, and ere long had the
satisfaction of seeing the flame grow strong and steady. Carefully he held
it up and the small light illumined the darkness for the space of a few
feet around. Then it fell upon the prostrate form at his side. It touched
for an instant the old man's face, oh, so still and white, lying there in
the snow; and then an awful blackness. The light had gone out!
The Long Night
As Dan stood there in the darkness with snow to his knees, clutching
between his fingers the extinguished match, the helplessness of his
position dawned upon him. What had happened to the parson he could easily
guess, for the place was full of old stumps, half protruding from beneath
the snow. No doubt he had struck one of these in the fall. But of the
result of the blow he could not tell, for placing his ear close down to
the face he tried to detect some sign of life, but all in vain. Suppose
the parson had been killed! He thought of Nellie, waiting anxiously at the
Rectory. How could he tell her what had happened? Suddenly a new sense of
responsibility came to him. Something must be done as quickly as possible,
and he was the only one to do it. He thought of Stephen's cabin, which
they had passed a short time before. He could obtain help there, and he
must go at once. Taking off his own outer coat he laid it carefully over
the prostrate man, and then struggled back to the road. Having reached
this he imagined it would not take him long to cover the distance. But he
soon found how difficult was the undertaking, and what a task it was to
keep the road on such a night. The blackness was intense, and the snow,
which all the time had been steadily falling, added to the difficulty.
Every few steps he would plunge off into the deep snow, and flounder
around again until he had regained the solid footing. The distance, which
was not more than a mile, seemed never-ending. Still he plodded on, the
thought of that silent form lying in the snow inspiring him with extra
energy. At length, much exhausted, a welcome glimmer of light winged its
way through the darkness. Dan's heart leaped within him. The place was
near, and Stephen had not yet gone to bed. Panting heavily, and struggling
unsteadily, he crept slowly forward, reached the door and pounded fiercely
upon it with both doubled-up fists.
Slowly the door was opened, and great was Stephen's surprise to see the
little snow-covered figure standing before him.
"Help! Come quick!" gasped Dan.
"What's wrong?" Stephen demanded, dragging the boy into the cabin.
"Where's the parson?"
"Over there--in the snow--in the woods!"
"Sit down," said Stephen, noticing how weary and excited was the little
lad. "Tell me now all about it."
Quickly and briefly Dan related about the drive through the storm, the
accident on the "cut off," and Parson John's fall.
"Oh, God!" Stephen groaned when he had heard the story. "What will Nellie
think? What will she say? It will break her heart! I must be off at once!"
Reaching for the lantern his hand trembled as he lighted it.
"Wait here," he commanded, "till I hitch Dexter to the pung; or no, you'd
better come with me and give a hand. There is no time to lose."
Dan obeyed without a word and held the lantern while Stephen harnessed the
"Where's Midnight?" Stephen asked, as he deftly drew the reins through the
"She ran away. I heard the sleigh crashing after her as she ran."
"She'll kill herself! But no, she's too wise for that. She'll go home and
whinny at the door, and then what will Nellie think! We must hurry along
as fast as possible. She will he frantic with fear."
"Guess we'd better bring the parson back to your place," Dan remarked as
Dexter swung down the road.
"Bring him to my place!" exclaimed Stephen in surprise. "What can we do
for him there?"
"Won't he need the doctor?"
"Yes, he may. But we can't go all the way to Bradin now."
"Guess you won't have to do that."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"He's at the Stickles'."
"At the Stickles'?"
"Yep. The little girl got hurt, so we went after the doctor."
"Oh, I see--I see now," Stephen mused. "That's a different matter. It's
only three miles to the Stickles'. But the road will be bad to-night, for
the wind's across country, and the drifts there pile fast and deep. But I
shall go if necessary, even if I have to crawl on all fours. I won't have
to do that, though, for Dexter will take me through if any horse can."
It did not take them long to cover the one mile of road between the cabin
and the place where the accident had occurred. By the light of the lantern
it was not difficult to find the spot. An uncanny feeling crept over them
as they drew near, and saw the parson lying there in the snow just as Dan
had left him. With the lantern in his hand Stephen leaped from the pung
and looked intently into the face of the prostrate man. It did not take
him long to ascertain that life still remained in his body, and a prayer
of thankfulness went up from his heart as he thought of the dear old man
and the anxious Nellie.
Quickly and as carefully as possible they lifted him into the pung,
covered him with a warm robe, and then sped back to the cabin. As soon as
they had laid him upon the bed, Stephen reached for a heavy coat hanging
on the wall.
"I'm off now," he said. "You keep watch. I'll be back as soon as I can."
The injured man lay perfectly motionless, to all outward appearance dead.
Dan stood looking at him for some time after Stephen had left, puzzled and
bewildered. What could he do? What would Nellie think of him now? He sank
upon the stool by the bedside And buried his face in his hands--a forlorn
little creature, trying to think. Presently he glanced towards the bed,
and gazed long and intently upon the parson's face. Many were the thoughts
which crowded into his mind as he sat there. A deep affection for the old
man had sprung up in his heart. To him he was like some superior being
with his great strength and wonderful knowledge. Then to think he should
care for him, Dan Flitter, so small, who could neither read nor write, who
was nothing but a sponger. The thought of Farrington's insult came to him,
and what he had said about the parson. It had rankled continually in his
breast, and now it arose in greater force than ever. Why were the people
saying such things about this good man? He had listened to men talking in
the store and along the road. They had said and hinted many things, and he
had been silent. But, though silent, his mind and heart had been at work.
Often while lying in his little bed at night he had brooded over the
matter. He longed to do something to clear the parson, and show the people
that they were wrong. But what could he do? They would not listen to him.
They hinted that the parson had stolen the gold, and what could he say? It
needed more than words. These were the thoughts which had been beating
through his brain for days, giving him at times that listless manner,
far-away look, and lack of interest in his studies, which worried Nellie
so much. So sitting on guard by the injured man's side this night with
large, dreamy eyes, thoughtful face--more thoughtful than ordinary for a
child of his age--he recalled the various scenes since the night of the
fire. Suddenly his face flushed, the dreamy expression faded from his
eyes, as the dim light of dawn is dispersed by the fulness of day. They
shone with a new radiance as he turned them upon the parson's face. He
rose to his feet and walked quickly up and down the room. He was once
again a creature of the wild. The glory of a lofty purpose fired his
blood. He had experienced it before when, out in the woods, he had
followed the tracks of the nimble deer, or listened to the whirr of the
startled pigeon. But now it was a nobler chase, a loftier purpose, in
which the honour of a faithful friend was at stake.
A sound from the bed startled him. Glancing quickly in that direction he
noticed the lips of the wounded man moving. No sign of consciousness,
however, did he give. He was in another world, the strange, mysterious
world, where the mind roams at will and language flows from the
fountain-head of the inner being.
"'The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee--drink
this--.'" He was in church at the Communion service, administering the
"Four thousand dollars." He was at the auction now, eager and intent.
"Poor lassie, poor little lamb." This time it was the injured Stickles
child. And thus he rambled on from one thing to another, while Dan stood
like a statue in the room staring upon him. Suddenly he opened his eyes,
looked around in a dazed manner, and then fixed them upon the boy's face.
He moved a little, and at once a cry of pain escaped his lips.
"Dan! Dan!" he exclaimed. "What is the matter? Where am I, and what is the
meaning of this pain in my shoulder?"
The look in his face was most pathetic, and Dan longed to do something to
relieve his suffering.
"Does yer shoulder hurt much?" the lad asked.
"Yes, yes, the pain is intense. Tell me how it happened."
"We were chucked from the sleigh, an' I guess you struck a stump," was the
"Is this Stephen's cabin?"
"Yep. He's gone fer the doctor, so I'm keepin' watch."
The parson remained very quiet, and did not speak for some time. He still
felt confused, and his shoulder was giving him great pain. He realized,
however, how much he owed to Dan. What if he had been alone when the
"Did you come back for Stephen?" he at length questioned.
"And you were not hurt? Are you sure?"
"Sure's I'm livin'."
"And you were not afraid to come alone to the cabin for help?"
"No, I didn't mind."
"You're a brave boy, Dan. You've done much for me to-night. Saved my life,
"Oh, I didn't do much. Not worth mentionin'," and the lad took his seat by
How the time did creep by. Often Dan went to the door and looked out. He
strained his ears in order to hear the sound of bells, but the wind
moaning and tearing through the tree-tops alone fell upon his ears. At
last, when his patience was almost exhausted, the door was flung open, and
Doctor Leeds entered, covered with snow, and a most anxious look upon his
face. It did not take long for the practised eye and hand to ascertain the
trouble. The shoulder had been dislocated, and would have to be replaced.
Then the parson showed of what stuff he was made. Hardly a sound escaped
his lips as the doctor, assisted by Stephen, performed the painful
"There!" exclaimed the physician, as he bound up the wounded member,
"we'll have you round again in a short time. Now, some would have squaked
and yelled like a baby, but you're a man through and through." "Thank
you, Doctor. You are very good. But how about the little lass? You didn't
leave her for me? Tell me the truth," and the parson's eyes sought the
"Oh, don't you worry about her," was the good-natured reply. "Sweepstakes
took me over the road like the wind, and I had the poor little leg all
fixed up before Stephen arrived. She'll do very well now without my care.
But come, we must get you home at once."
"Do you think I am able to go?"
"Able! certainly you're able. Home's the only place for you, though the
journey may cause you some pain."
"And you will come too, Doctor? You muat be very tired, and need a good
"Yes, I'm going with you. I'm not going to leave you yet. You're worth
fifty ordinary men, and we must not run any risk. Besides that, sir, I do
want a glimpse of your dear Nellie, and a little chat with her. I haven't
rested my eyes upon her for months, and do you think I'm going to miss
such an opportunity? No, sir, not a bit of it."
Mr. Westmore was forced to smile in spite of his weakness as he looked
into the doctor's strong, rugged face.
"God bless you," he replied. "This isn't the first time you have been a
firm friend to me. I can never forget how you stood day and night by the
side of my dear wife, doing all in your power to keep her with us a little
"Tut, tut, man," and the doctor turned away to hide a mistiness in his
eyes. "She was worthy of it, and her like can't be found every day. But
come, Steve has been waiting at the door for some time, and we must be
As Nellie stood at the study window the Sunday afternoon her father left
for Craig's Corner a sense of depression and loneliness stole over her.
How much longer could her father continue those hard drives, she wondered.
He was getting old. His hair was so white and his steps feeble. What was
to become of him when he could perform his beloved work no longer? She
knew very well how they were pressed for money, and how much had gone to
help Philip in his fight in British Columbia. How many things had they
gone without! Even mere common necessities had been given up. Naturally
her mind turned to the auction, and the money her father had paid down for
the farm. Four thousand dollars! Where had it come from, and why would her
father never tell her, or speak about it in her presence? How often had
she lain awake at night thinking about it all! Then to hear people more
than hinting about Billy Fletcher's gold, and what had become of it, was
at times more than she could bear. Never for a moment did she doubt her
father, but often she longed to ask him for an explanation of the mystery.
Was the money his own, or was he handling it for someone else? If so, why
should he not tell her--his only daughter--who was so dear to him?
She was aroused by the arrival of several children from the houses nearest
the Rectory. Every Sunday afternoon Nellie found her real enjoyment with
her little class. She had known them all since their birth, and they loved
her. How longingly they looked forward to that brief Sunday gathering.
There were no harsh, strict rules here, no perfunctory opening and
closing, and no lifeless lessons droned forth in a half-rebellious spirit.
It was all joy and love. How their voices did ring as Nellie played on the
little harmonium some sweet hymn attuned to childish hearts and minds.
Then, after the lessons were over, there came the treat of the day--a
story read from one of those marvellous books kept on a shelf in a corner
all by themselves. When at last the story had been finished and the class
dispersed, Nellie locked the doors, and made her way to Vivien Nelson's.
What a hearty welcome she received from them all! To Mr. and Mrs. Nelson,
hard-working, God-fearing people, she was as their own daughter. She and
Vivien, their only child, had been playmates together at school, and their
friendship had never languished. There Nellie felt at home. She knew that
no matter what disagreeable things were being said about her father
throughout the parish, no word of reproach or blame was ever mentioned in
the Nelson home. Others might think what they liked about Parson John, but
the Nelsons had known him too long in times of sorrow and joy to believe
any evil of their old Rector.
Here Nellie stayed until the following afternoon, and then made her way
home to have the house comfortable before her father came back. As the
evening drew near she anxiously watched for his return. She saw the dull
grey sky and knew that a storm threatened. As the darkness deepened and
the wind raved about the house, and the snow beat against the north
windows, her anxiety increased. The supper table stood ready in its snowy
whiteness; the kettle sang on the stove and the fire in the sitting-room
grate threw out its cheerful glow. It was a scene of peace and genial
comfort contrasted with the raging of the elements outside. But Nellie
thought nothing of this, for her heart was too much disturbed. Had
anything happened to her father and Dan? It was some relief to know that
the lad was along, for two were better than one should an accident occur.
Her eyes roamed often to the little clock ticking away on the
mantel-piece. Six-seven-eight-nine. The hours dragged slowly by. She tried
to read, but the words were meaningless. She picked up her needlework, but
soon laid it down again, with no heart to continue. Once more she glanced
at the clock. Ten minutes after nine. She thought it longer than that
since it had struck the hour. She arose to attend the kitchen fire, when a
loud knock upon the front door startled her. She turned back, and stood
for an instant in the centre of the room. Her heart beat fast, and her
face paled. Tramps were frequently seen in Glendow, working their way from
one place to another. At times they were impudent and tried to force an
entrance into houses. It was a likely night for them to seek shelter, and
suppose one were standing out there now! What could she, a lone woman, do?
Another rap, harder than the first, fell upon her ears. Something must be
done, and at once. Crossing the room and pausing near the door she
demanded who was there.
"Sam Dobbins," came the reply, and Nellie breathed more freely as she
unlocked the door, opened it and admitted the visitor.
"'Tis a blasted night," the man remarked as he tried to shake himself free
from his mantle of snow and stamped upon the floor with his great heavy
boots. "If I'd known 'twas so bad I'd never stirred one step."
"Is anything wrong?" questioned Nellie, fearful lest Sam was the bearer of
ill news. "Have you seen my father?"
"Your father! Isn't he home?" and the man looked his surprise.
"No, he hasn't come yet, and I'm so uneasy."
"Well, I declare, and to think that I have come all the way to see him,
and he's not here. When do you expect him?"
"I expected him home before dark, but now I don't know what to think. Is
there anything I can do for you, Mr. Dobbins? Won't you take a seat?"
"No, there's nothin' you kin do, miss. I've got to see the parson, and
only him. I hate the job, but I've got to do it. I'm the only constable in
the place, and I've got to do my duty."
At these words a startled look came into Nellie's face. She took a step
forward and looked keenly into the man's eyes.
"What do you mean?" she demanded. "I know you're a constable, but what do
you want of my father? Oh, please tell me, quick!"
"Now don't get excited, Miss," Mr. Dobbins kindly replied, looking with
admiration upon the excited young figure before him. "Remember, I've
nothin' against your father. Haven't I shod every horse he had since he
came to this place, long before you were born. He's been a good customer
of mine, and I ain't got nothin' agin him. I'm only doin' my duty as a
"But I don't understand, Mr. Dobbins. You come here to arrest my father
"Only to serve the summons, Miss," interrupted the blacksmith. "I ain't
goin' to arrest him. He'll be asked to appear at the trial, that's all."
"Trial! what trial?"
"Oh, it's in connection with a cow."
"Yes. It seems that Si Farrington's hired man, Pete Davis, was takin' away
the Stickles' only cow, when your father appeared on the scene, cut the
rope, set the cow free, and sent Joe off in a hurry. Farrington's in a
rage, and says he'll make the parson smart fer what he did. He's goin' to
take legal action, and so I've been sent to serve the summons. That's all
I know about it, Miss. I'm real sorry, but what else could I do?"
Nellie made no reply when the man ceased. Words would not come. Her bosom
heaved, and she placed her hand to her forehead in an abstracted manner.
Her eyes were fixed full upon the constable's face, though she did not see
him. Her thoughts were away from that room, out through the storm and
darkness to an old grey-headed man battling somewhere with the tempest,
for the sake of others. What had happened? What would he think when he
reached home to find out what Farrington was doing?
The constable shifted uneasily from one foot to the other in an
embarrassed manner before those pathetic eyes. He clutched his cap more
firmly in his hands, and shuffled towards the door.
"Guess I'll go now, Miss," he stammered. "I'll step up the road to make a
call and come back again. Maybe your father will be home then."
Nellie hardly heard the door open and close as the constable passed out
into the night. She stood for awhile as if dazed, then sinking into a
nearby chair she buried her face in her hands. The wind howled and roared
outside, and the snow dashed and swirled against the window. A big grey
cat rose from its position before the fire, came and rubbed its sleek fur
against her dress, and gently purred for some attention. But Nellie did
not heed it. How dark all seemed to her! One thing after another! Why were
these clouds gathering so thick over her dear father's head? It did not
seem possible that he could be kept in ignorance much longer. It was sure
to be revealed through this last trouble.
A sound fell upon her ears which made her look quickly up. Was it the
wind? She listened with fast-beating heart. Again it came--a pathetic
whinny out in the yard. She sprang to her feet, and rushed to the back
door. She knew that call, for how often had she heard it! Midnight was
there, standing almost at the threshold. Her dim form could be seen as
Nellie peered out. She hurried forth, heedless of the pelting storm,
expecting to hear her father's voice. But no cheery greeting met her,
neither could she find the sleigh. Feeling around with her hands she felt
the trailing shafts, and the awful truth flashed upon her. An accident had
happened! And what of her father? Forgetting the horse she turned back
into the house, seized a cloak, threw it over her shoulders, and hurried
out into the storm. How the wind did roar about her as she waded and half
stumbled through the drifts, which were now filling the road. Anxiety lent
speed to her feet. She dashed on her way, and at length almost breathless
reached the Larkins' house. Upon the door she beat with her hands, and
after what seemed a long time Mr. Larkins made his appearance.
"Nellie! Nellie!" he exclaimed in affright, as she staggered into the
room. "What in the world is the matter? Tell me, quick!"
"F-father's--had--an--a-a-ccident. Midnight came home without the sleigh--
dragging the shafts--oh, what can we do?"
"Do?" was the reply. "We shall do what we can! I shall harness the horses
at once, get several of the neighbors, and go in search of him. Don't
worry too much, Nellie. To be pitched out of the sleigh in the soft snow
is not so bad. No doubt we shall meet him and Dan plodding wearily along."
This the worthy man said to calm Nellie's fears, though in his own heart
there was real anxiety, and he was not long in placing the horses fast to
the big sled. But before he left he stopped to turn Midnight into the barn
floor, threw on her blanket, and left her quietly munching a liberal
supply of hay.
Mrs. Larkins was not long in making her appearance, and did what she could
to bring comfort to Nellie's anxious heart. She also went with her back to
the Rectory to await her husband's return. How the time did drag by! At
every wild gust of wind Nellie started and trembled. At length, however,
the faint sound of bells was heard, and scarcely had the panting,
snow-flecked horses stopped at the door ere Nellie, bare-headed, and with
a shawl over her shoulders, appeared.
"Father, father!" she cried, as she rushed forward, and peered into the
familiar face. "Are you safe?"
"Yes, dearie. I am home again," came the feeble response.
"Oh, thank God!" she replied, throwing her arms around his neck, and
kissing him again and again. "What a night this has been--a horrible
"Come, lassie," demanded the doctor. "Away with you into the house. What
are you doing out here in such a storm? We'll look after your dad."
For Sweet Love's Sake
All the next day the storm continued in its unabated fury. The roads were
completely blocked from fence to fence, and all sources of communication
in Glendow were cut off. Each house was a little world of its own, a
lighthouse in the midst of an ocean of snow where the long drifts piled
and curled like hungry foaming breakers.
"This is the first holiday I've had for some time," chuckled good Doctor
Leeds as he leaned back comfortably in an easy-chair, and puffed away at
his pipe. "No one can come for me to-day, that's certain."
Nellie, too, was glad, and as she watched the storm from the window a
feeling of relief came into her heart.
"Dear storm," she said to herself. "How I love you to-day. You are a stern
protector, keeping out all prying eyes and malignant tongues. Mr. Dobbins
will not venture out while you are abroad, and so we will have peace a
Parson John passed a restless night, moaning much from the pain in his
shoulder. Towards morning, however, he passed into a comfortable sleep,
and did not wake until near noon. Nellie and the doctor had a long chat
together. He told her about the accident, and she related to him the
incident of the constable's visit to the Rectory.
"The brute!" roared the doctor, when Nellie had finished. "Farrington's a
scoundrel! Why can't he leave decent people alone! He's always meddling
with someone. He's never happy unless he's persecuting people. Oh, I've
known him for years. And so he wants to have your father arrested, does
he, for saving the Stickles' cow?"
"Yes," Nellie replied, "and I'm dreading the effect it will have upon my
"I see, I see," mused the doctor, while his eyes closed in a dreamy sort
of a way. "It will not be for his good, that's certain. But there's a way,
lassie, there's a way; don't forget that."
"What do you mean, Doctor?"
"I was just thinking what a villain Farrington is, and in what an
underhanded way he works. But he leaves a loophole every time. Let me tell
Then the doctor leaned over, and what he said brought back the colour into
Nellie's face, and made her heart beat fast, and sent her about her
household duties with a new spirit.
During the next night the storm cleared, and the morning sun transformed
the vast, white fields into a shining, sparkling glory. Nellie was early
astir, finished her household duties, cared for her father, who was
steadily improving, ere the doctor made his appearance.
"I'm going to leave you in charge awhile this morning," she remarked as
the latter was eating his breakfast. "The day is bright and those large
drifts are so tempting, that I long for a snowshoe tramp. I have been in
the house so long that I must have a breath of fresh air."
"Good!" replied the doctor. "It's just what you need. You had better make
the most of it, too, while I am here, for as soon as the roads are broken
I must be away. There are many patients to be looked after."
"Thank you, Doctor, very much. I know father will not mind my absence for
a short time," Nellie responded, as she hurried away to make ready for her
A pretty figure she presented as she stood a little later before the door
and bade the doctor good-bye. Snowshoeing she loved, and she had often
travelled for miles with Stephen in the clear bracing air. But to-day she
was not on pleasure bent, and her heart beat fast as she moved on her way.
No sign of life did she see as steadily she plodded forward over the
yielding snow. An hour later when she stood before Farrington's house and
laid aside her snowshoes, her face was flushed with a healthy glow caused
by the vigorous exercise. Her courage almost failed as she knocked upon
the door, and waited for it to be opened. It was Mrs. Farrington who came,
and great was her astonishment when she found who was there.
"Why, it's Nellie Westmore, I do declare!" she exclaimed. "Come right in,
dear, and lay your wraps aside. I'm so glad to see ye. But how in the
world did ye git here?"
"I snowshoed all the way," was the quiet reply, "and I have come to see
Mr. Farrington. Is he in?"
"Why certainly. He's in the store. I'll call 'im at once," and Mrs.
Farrington bustled off, wondering what in the world brought Nellie on such
As Farrington entered the house a few minutes later, Nellie rose to meet
him. She knew that now was the crucial moment, and a prayer went up from
her heart for guidance. She was surprised at her own calmness as she
looked into the face of the man who was causing her so much worry.
"I'm very glad to see ye, Nellie," and Farrington stretched out a big fat
hand. "Set down, please."
"No, thank you, Mr. Farrington," Nellie replied. "I prefer to stand. I do
not wish to keep you long. I've come to see you this morning on behalf of
"Umph!" ejaculated Farrington, as he threw himself into an easy-chair.
"You know," continued Nellie, "my father met with a bad accident night
before last, and is now confined to his bed, and I have come to ask you
not to let Mr. Dobbins trouble him while he is in his weak condition.. I
feel quite sure you will do this."
"Ye want me to spare 'im, do ye?" Farrington blurted out. "Spare the man
who has injured me above measure!"
"Indeed! And in what way?" Nellie applied.
"In what way? do ye ask. Why, didn't he outbid me in the Frenelle
homestead? Doesn't he refuse to buy goods at my store; an' then, to cap it
all, interfered with my hired man when he went after that cow? Hev I any
right to spare 'im? Tell me that."
"You have the right of consideration for an old man. My father is aging
fast, and any trouble worries him so much. He doesn't know about what you
intend to do, and I hope I can prevail upon you to go no further."
Nellie's voice was low and pathetic, and she made some impression upon
Farrington, for when she had finished he did not at once reply. He sat
looking at her, thinking how pretty she was.
"Nellie," he at length remarked, "we've allus been very fond of ye. We've
known ye ever sense ye was a baby, an' ye seem like one of our own. Ye hev
a good eddication, an' bein' a lady ye are well fitted to adorn a good
man's home. Now, our Dick is a most promisin' feller, who thinks a sight
of ye, so if ye'd consent to look upon him favourably, it ud please us all
mighty well. Besides----"
"Mr. Farrington!" interrupted Nellie, "what do you mean? What do I
understand you to say? Do you----"
"Wait a minute, my dear," remonstrated Farrington. "It's jist as well fer
ye to consider this reasonable proposition fust as last. Yer dad's gittin'
old now, so he can't last much longer; an' ye'll hev a home."
"An' jist think, Nellie dear," spoke up Mrs. Farrington, "what an
advantage it'll be to ye. Richard'll inherit the hull of our property some
day. He will be a gentleman, an' the son of a gentleman, too--of a good
old fambly. It'll be a very gratifyin' thing, too, fer ye to know that
Richard's father was a Councillor of Glendow. So now, dear, give up that
uncouth Frenelle boy, an' take on with our son Richard."
Nellie's cheeks were flushed a deep crimson now, and her eyes were
flashing with an angry light. Her heart was filled with disgust at these
cool, self-satisfied schemers. Had they been less confident of their own
importance they would have realized that they were treading on dangerous
ground. They could not comprehend that back of Nellie's quiet, reserved
demeanour there was a moral courage which would rise to any height of
self-sacrifice at the call of duty, or in defence of those she loved. They
had known her from childhood, and to natures such as theirs her gentleness
and retiring disposition were interpreted as weakness or lack of proper
spirit. To be suddenly awakened from such an idea was startling in the
"Mr. Farrington," Nellie replied, holding herself in check with a mighty
effort, "I am very much astonished at the words I have just heard. I came
here to talk to you as a lady would talk to a gentleman. But great is my
surprise to be insulted to my face. You have no right to speak to me as
you have done this morning, or to take such liberties as regards Stephen
Frenelle. He is a real gentleman's son, and has the true instincts of a
gentleman. We were children together, and I do not wish you to speak of
him or any friend of mine in a slighting manner. As to your remarks in
reference to your son, they are so unworthy of a father and mother that
they arouse in me the feelings of deepest pity for you. I blush to think
that you should ever suggest such a thing, and am surprised that your
better nature does not assert itself, and cause you to cover your heads in
shame for having uttered such words."
Nellie spoke rapidly with her eyes fixed full upon Farrington's face. The
latter shifted uneasily at this torrent of words, and occasionally glanced
at his wife, who was sitting near with open-mouthed wonder.
"Dear me, dear me!" Mrs. Farrington replied. "I allus thought ye was sich
a nice, modest little thing, an' to think that ye should go on like this.
What would yer dear mother think if she was livin'?"
"You are a mother, Mrs. Farrington," Nellie responded, "and what would you
think if anyone made such a proposition to Eudora as you have made to me?"
"Oh, that's a different question."
"And in what way?"
"Oh, Eudora will hev money, an' will not be left penniless, while you an'
yer father are jist dependin' upon the parish."
"Yes, I know it only too well," Nellie bitterly answered. "We are little
more than paupers, trusting to the voluntary offerings of the people for
our support. But then, this has little to do with what I came here for. We
have wandered from the subject. I came simply to speak on behalf of my
"Oh, that matter's settled now once and fer all," Farrington replied in a
cool, matter-of-fact manner. "Ye've taken the bizness into yer own hands.
We've made ye a good offer, an' ye've refused pint blank, so we'll
consider this little affair atween us settled. Sam Dobbins is in the store
waitin' fer me, so I shall tell 'im to go ahead an' serve the summons."
"Stop a minute," Nellie demanded, as Farrington rose to his feet,
stretched himself, and started leisurely towards the door.
"There's something you evidently have not considered which might change
matters a little. I came here this morning trusting to get your consent to
leave my father alone without any unnecessary trouble. I appealed to your
manhood, but in vain. Now, there is only one course open to me, which I
will be obliged to take."
"Hey, what's this?" and Farrington's brow knitted in perplexity. "I don't
"No, certainly you don't, but you will presently. I would like to ask who
it was you sent out after the Stickles' cow?"
"Why, Pete, of course; my hired man. He allus does that work fer me, an'
has taken dozens of 'em at various times."
"Yes, so I have heard," and Nellie's voice was charged with a warning
note. "But were you not afraid of the risk you were running, Mr.
"Risk? what risk? I never had any trouble. What do you mean?"
"But is Pete a constable?"
"A constable, be blowed! What are ye drivin' at?"
"Did he have a warrant from a magistrate to go to the Stickles' place,
open the door, enter the barn, and try to take away that cow?"
"N-no, certainly not. But he never had one afore, an' everything was all
"Yes, it was all right as far as you were concerned, because no one
interfered, and the people were always too poor to make a fuss. But do you
know that you have laid yourself open to a grave offence? In the eyes of
the law you tried to steal that cow from the Stickles."
"Girl! Girl! What do ye mean by talkin' this way?" and Farrington bounded
from his chair in a rage. "Explain to me at once what ye mean by sich
"There's nothing much to explain, Mr. Farrington. Without a warrant, or
any legal authority, you sent your servant to break into a private barn,
and lead away a cow belonging to Mr. Stickles. Because my father