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The Fourth Watch by H. A. Cody

Part 3 out of 5

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interfered you wish to have him arrested. I hope you see the point."

Farrington was certainly a study just then. His eyes glowered, and his
face was inflamed with rage. He was in a trap and he knew it.

"Ye'll pay fer this!" he cried, stamping upon the floor, in anger. "Ye'll

"Very well," Nellie calmly replied. "I've simply told you your position,
so now if you wish to go ahead, do so. You will know what to expect.
Perhaps I have been a better friend to you than you now imagine. Remember,
we have friends, who know a thing or two, and besides, if you are not
careful, something may go wrong on election day."

"Who told you this, girl?" Farrington demanded. "Who put ye up to this

"That's my own affair. I have warned you, so go ahead if you care to. I
shall say no more."

With that she turned and walked quietly out of the house, put on her
snowshoes, and started on her homeward way. But the trying ordeal through
which she had passed told upon her. She trembled violently, and a great
weakness came over her. She felt that she would sink down upon the snow.
How could she continue? She looked all around, but no sign of life could
she behold; no one to aid her. What was she to do? She thought of her
father. Was he waiting for her, perhaps wondering where she was? With a
great effort she moved slowly forward, and presently found her strength
returning. On and on she plodded. Never had the snowshoes seemed so heavy,
or the way so long, and right glad was she to see at last the Rectory rise
up large and homelike before her. She reached the door, doffed the
snowshoes, entered the house, hurried to her own room, and throwing
herself upon her bed, wept as if her heart would break. She was tired--oh,
so tired. The tears brought a blessed relief to her surcharged feelings,
and when she at length sought her father's side a sunny smile illumined
her face, her step was firm, and little remained to show to a casual
observer the fierce struggle through which she had recently passed.

Chapter XVII

Hitting Back

Farrington said very little after Nellie's departure. He even surprised
his wife by his coolness, for instead of raging, swearing and stamping
around the house he walked quietly out into the store. Here he busied
himself with various matters, and talking at times to the few customers
who straggled in. When no one was present he sat on a high stool by the
window and gazed out over the snow. He was not thinking of money now, nor
how much his eggs and butter would bring. His mind was dwelling upon that
scene which had just taken place. He thought nothing of the brave defence
Nellie had made on behalf of her father, but only of his own wounded
feelings. At times his hands would clinch, and a half-audible curse escape
his lips. He would get even, oh, yes! But how? He saw the danger of going
any further in connection with the Stickles' cow affair. He must let that
drop. There were other ways, he was sure of that; the difficulty was to
know just what to do.

The door opened, and a tall, lanky man entered, with a pair of skates
dangling over his left shoulder.

"Hello, Miles!" exclaimed Farrington, hurrying around to shake hands with
him. "Haven't seen you fer an age. What's the news at Craig's Corner? Set
down, you look about tuckered out."

"Should say I was," Miles drawled forth. "Never got into such a mess in
all my life. Skated down river Sunday evening and was caught in that
blasted snowstorm, and so am footing it back."

"Dear me, that's hard luck," and Farrington sat down upon a soap-box.
"Anyway, I'm mighty glad to see ye. Hope things are goin' well at the
Corner. Much election talk, eh?"

"Considerable. The air's been full of it lately, but I guess Sunday's
doings will give the folks a new subject for awhile. 'Twas certainly a

"Why, what do ye mean, Miles? Nobody killed, I hope."

"What! Haven't you heard anything?"

"No, how could I with the storm blockin' the roads."

"Sure. I never thought of that. But I supposed the parson let it out."

"The parson!" and Farrington's eyes opened wide with amazement. "What in
the devil has he to do with it? He was brought home night afore last with
his shoulder out of jint"

"Whew! You don't say so! Well, I declare!"

"Tell me what ye mean, man," exclaimed Farrington, moving impatiently on
his seat. "Let's have the yarn."

"Ha-ha! It was a corker! Just think of it; a funeral procession moving
slowly across the river, with Tim Fraser and Parson John racing by like a
whirlwind. I never saw anything like it, ha-ha!" and Miles leaning back
laughed loud and long at the recollection.

Farrington was all attention now. A gleam of delight shone in his eyes,
and a faint sigh of relief escaped his lips. He controlled his eagerness,
however, for he wished to draw Miles out, and learn the whole story.

"Ye don't mean to tell me," he remarked, "that the parson was racin' on
Sunday? Surely ye must be mistaken!"

"I'm a liar then," calmly replied the other, gazing thoughtfully down at
his boots. "Yes, I'm a liar, and a fool! Why, didn't I see the whole thing
with my own eyes? And didn't all the people of Craig's Corner see it, too?
Ask them, they'll tell you the same."

"I don't doubt yer word, Miles, but it's so unusual. The parson never did
anything like that before, did he?"

"Not to my knowledge. But he's mighty fond of a horse, and a fast one at
that, so I guess when Tim Fraser clipped up he couldn't resist the

"Did he explain about it? Did he tell how it happened?"

"He didn't say much. I heard him tell some people that he never let the
devil get ahead of him, and he was bound he wouldn't do it that time."

"Ho-ho! That's what he said? Nothing more?"

"No, not that I heard. I came away after that, so nothing new has reached
me since, except what you tell me. Is he badly injured?"

"I don't know. Guess he'll come out all right; he generally does."

"He looked very well on Sunday. I'm really sorry he's met with this

"Mebbe it had something to do with the race," suggested Farrington.

"In what way?"

"Perhaps it's a punishment fer what he did on Sunday."

"Surely, you don't say--!" and Miles' mouth opened in surprise.

"Oh, I don't say anything fer certain. I only know that sich things
sometimes do happen. A man who will race on the Sacred Day of Rest must
expect almost anything to happen. I've known of several sich cases.
Something generally does happen."

"You don't say so! Well!"

"Now honestly," continued Farrington very deliberately, "do ye think sich
a man is fit to be the minister of the Gospel in Glendow? Do ye think a
man who stands in church on Sunday an' reads them solemn words about
keepin' the Sabbath Day holy, an' then goes out on the ice an' engages in
a horse-race--do ye think sich a man is fit to teach our people? What an
example to set our children! When we tell 'em to remember the Day an' keep
it holy, they will say, 'Oh, the parson raced his horse on Sunday!' Oh,
yes, that's what they'll say. So you see what a condition the parish will
be in."

"Well, I never thought of it that way," replied Miles, rising to his feet.
"But I must be off. I see the road is being broken."

When the man had left the store Farrington stood for some time with his
hands clasped behind his back. He was in deep thought, and occasionally
his lips curled with a pleased smile. He then walked to the window, and
watched the men breaking the roads. He saw his own hired man, Pete Davis,
among the rest. Most of the able-bodied men of the neighbourhood were
there with shovels and teams. It was an inspiring sight to see team after
team in a long procession plowing their way forward among the high drifts.
Where the snow was light the leading horses would plunge through, blowing,
snorting, struggling, and at times almost hidden from view. In places
shovels had to be used and then cuttings, narrow and deep, were made
through the banks, just wide enough for one team to move at a time. For
hours the work had been carried on, and at length the last drift had been
conquered, and communication, from place to place once again opened up.

Farrington watching the horses surging through was not thinking of the
fine appearance they presented. His mind was upon a far different matter.
He stood there, saw the teams swing around and finally disappear up the
road. It pleased him to see Miles riding upon one of the sleds. His ready
tongue was as good as a newspaper, and he would spread the story of the
Sunday race wherever he went.

Mrs. Farrington was surprised at her husband's jocular manner when he was
called to dinner. He joked and laughed more than he had done in many a
day. Not a word did he say about Nellie's visit; in fact he seemed to have
forgotten all about it.

"Ye must have done a good bizness this mornin', Si," his wife remarked. "I
haven't seen ye in sich fine spirits in a long time."

"Haven't sold as much as usual, my dear," was the reply. "Didn't expect to
anyway, as the roads have jist been broken."

"But ye seem very happy. Has anything remarkable occurred?"

"Simply an idea, my dear, simply an idea."

"Well, well, who'd a thought it. I didn't know that an idea 'ud make one
feel so good. Tell me about it, Si."

"No, not now. I haven't time. Besides, I want to see how it'll work, an'
then I'll surprise ye."

Farrington rose from the table, and going to the store went at once to the
small office. Here he spent some time writing, and at the end of a half
hour gave a chuckle of satisfaction, laid aside the pen, folded up the
paper and put it into his pocket. Next he went into the stable, and
ordered Pete to harness the horse and have it at the door in fifteen
minutes. At the end of that time he came from the house, wrapped in his
large fur coat, cap and mittens. Soon he was speeding over the road,
leaving Mrs. Farrington, Eudora and Dick watching him from the window, and
wondering what it all meant,

Farrington was forth upon important business, and he knew exactly at what
houses to stop. There were the Fletchers, he was sure of them; the
Marshalls, their kinsmen; the Burtons, and several families who owed
fair-sized bills at the store, and would be unable to pay for some time.

The sun was dipping big and red far westward when Farrington turned his
horse's head homeward. He was well pleased with his afternoon's work. No
one had refused to sign the petition he carried, and over twenty names had
been scrawled upon the paper.

As he moved along his eyes rested upon a little cottage away to the right,
nestling near a grove of large maple trees. Old Henry Burchill, the
wood-chopper, lived there. Farrington's brows knitted as he thought of
him. Would he sign the paper? He knew that Henry was once opposed to the
parson for introducing certain things into the church. But then that was
long ago, and he wondered how the old man felt now. Anyway there was that
unpaid bill at the store. It would have some weight, and it was no harm to

Mrs. Burchill was at home, and was surprised to see the storekeeper enter
the house. She was a quiet, reserved woman, who mingled little with her
neighbours. The lines of care upon her face, the bent back and the
toil-worn hands told their own tale of a long, hard battle for life's bare
necessities. Her heart beat fast as she shook hands with her visitor, for
she, too, thought of that bill at the store, which she and her husband had
been bravely striving to pay.

"Is yer husband at home, Mrs. Burchill?" asked Farrington, seating himself
on a splint-bottomed chair.

"No, sir. He's in the woods chopping for Stephen. I'm afraid he won't be
home to-night."

"Dear me! that's too bad," and Farrington brought forth the paper from his
pocket. "I wanted 'im to do a little favour fer me--simply to put his name
to this pertition. But, if you'll do it, 'twill be jist the same," and he
handed over the paper.

Mrs. Burchill put on her glasses, and slowly and carefully read the words
written there. Farrington watched her closely and noted the colour
mounting to her faded cheeks, and the look of reproach in her eyes as she
at length turned them upon his face.

"And you expect me to put my name to this?" she demanded.

"An' why not?" smiled Farrington. "Have you read what the paper sez?"

"Yes, every word."

"An' don't ye think there's a reason why ye should sign it? Don't ye think
the Bishop should know what kind of a parson we have?"

"Mr. Farrington," and Mrs. Burchill spoke very deliberately, "if the Angel
Gabriel himself came with that paper for me to sign I should refuse. I'm
an old woman now, and why should I commit such a sin in my declining

"Sin! what sin would ye commit in simply signin' that paper?" Farrington

Mrs. Burchill did not reply at once, but placing her hand upon a Bible
lying by her side she reverently opened it.

"Listen to these words," she said. "They are not mine, remember, but the
Lord's. 'Touch not mine anointed,' He says, 'and do my prophets no harm.'
Now Parson John is one of the Lord's anointed, set apart for a sacred
work, and it's a dangerous thing to strive against Him."

"Tut, tut, woman! That's all rubbish! Them things happened in olden days.
Besides, we have a just grievance. He is interferin' too much with the
affairs of others. He takes too much upon himself. Then, what about that
race on Sunday? Do ye think we should stand that?"

"Ah, sir, it's the same old story. Don't you remember how people said the
very same thing about Moses and Aaron, long, long ago. They said that
those two men were taking too much upon them, and a rebellion ensued. And
what was the result? The Lord punished the people, the earth opened and
swallowed them up. I often read that story to Henry in the evenings, and
it makes us feel very serious. Oh, yes, it's a dangerous thing to
interfere with the Lord's anointed. Something's bound to happen to the
ones who do it."

Farrington could stand this no longer. He had met with such success during
the afternoon that to hear this rebuke from Mrs. Burchill was most

"Woman!" he exclaimed, rising to his feet. "I don't want to hear all this.
I didn't come here to be preached to about sich old-fashioned trash as the
'Lord's anointed!' I came here to git ye to sign that paper, an' not to be
preached to! Will ye sign it or will ye not?"

"No, I shall not sign it!" was the quiet response.

"Very well, then, that's all I want to know. But remember, Mrs. Burchill,
there's a little unpaid account on my books against your husband. Please
tell 'im to call and settle it at once. If not--oh, well you know the
result," and Farrington looked significantly around the room. "So,
good-day. I must be off."

Mrs. Burchill stood at the window and watched Farrington drive away. Then
a sigh escaped her lips. She went back to the chair where she had been
sitting, and kneeling down buried her face in her hands. For some time she
remained in prayer, but her earnest pleadings were not for herself or her
husband, but for the old grey-headed man--the Venerable Rector of Glendow.

Chapter XVIII

Wash-Tub Philosophy

"I've been up to me neck in soap-suds ever sense daybreak, an' I ain't
done yit."

So declared Mrs. Stickles as she wiped her hands upon her apron and
offered a chair to her visitor, Betsy McKrigger.

"I'm rale glad to see ye, nevertheless," she continued, "fer it's been a
month of Sundays sense I sot eyes on ye last. How've ye been? An' yer old
man, is he well?"

"Only fairly," replied Mrs. McKrigger, laying aside her bonnet and shawl,
and taking the proffered chair. "Abraham went to the mill this mornin' an'
I came this fer with 'im. We were clean out of flour, an', although the
roads are bad, there was no help fer it, so he had to go, poorly as he is.
He'll stop fer me on his way back."

"An' what's wrong with 'im?" asked Mrs. Stickles, going back to her

"The doctor thinks he's got delapitation of the heart. Abraham was never
very strong there, and suffers most after eatin'. I'm gittin' very nervous
about 'im."

"Oh, is that all?" and Mrs. Stickles paused in her work. "I wouldn't worry
about that. Mebbe he eats too much. Men's hearts an' stummicks are purty
closely kernected, an' what affects the one affects t'other. It's
indisgestion the man's got-that's what 'tis. It's a wonder to me they
don't all hev it."

"Mebbe yer right, Mrs. Stickles. 'Abraham is certainly a big eater. But it
wasn't eatin' which gave 'im the delapitation yesterday."

"What was it, then?"

"It was Si Farrington who gave it to 'im. That's who it was."

"Ugh!" ejaculated Mrs. Stickles. "Surely a cur like that wouldn't affect
anyone, would it? I'm jist waitin' to run agin Farrington meself, an' then
we'll see who'll hev palputation of the heart. It'll not be me, I reckon."

"It's very true what ye say," replied Mrs. McKrigger, bringing forth her
knitting, "but when ye owe the man a bill at the store, an' heven't the
money to pay, it makes a big difference."

"So he's been at you, has he? I s'pose he's been tryin' to git yer cow,
horse or farm. He tried it here, but Parson John, bless his soul, soon
stopped that."

"No, not like that. He only hinted what he'd do if Abraham didn't sign the

"Oh, I see. He's goin' to run fer councillor, an' wanted yer husband to
sign his denomination paper, did he?"

"No, no, not that. It's about the parson."

"What! Parson John?"

"Yes, it's about 'im, poor man."

"Land sakes! What's up now?" and Mrs. Stickles paused in her work and
stood with arms akimbo.

"Farrington thinks the parson's too old fer the work, an' that we should
hev a young man with snap an' vim, like Mr. Sparks, of Leedsville. He
believes the young people need to be stirred up; that they're gittin'
tired of the old humdrum way, an' that the parish is goin' to the dogs.
But that wasn't all. He thinks the parson isn't a fit man to be here after
that disgraceful racin' scene on the river last Sunday. He sez it's an
awful example to the young. So he's gittin' up the pertition to send to
the Bishop."

Mrs. Stickles had left the wash-tub now and was standing before her
visitor. Anger was expressed in her every movement.

"An' do ye tell me!" she demanded, "that yer husband signed that paper?"

"W-what else was there to do?" and Mrs. McKrigger dropped her knitting and
shrank back from the irate form before her. "How could he help it?"

"Betsy McKrigger, I never thought ye'd come to this. Help it! Why didn't
yer husband help Farrington out of the door with the toe of his boot?"

"But think of that unpaid bill, Mrs. Stickles."

"Unpaid bill, be fiddlesticks! Would ye turn aginst yer best earthly
friend fer the sake of a bill?"

"What else could we do?"

"Do? Let yer cow or anything else go! What do sich things amount to when
yer honour's at stake. Dear me, dear me! has it come to this?"

"Ye needn't make sich a fuss about the matter," and Mrs. McKrigger
bristled up a bit. "It's a purty serious thing when yer whole livin's in
the fryin'-pan."

"Livin', livin'! Where does yer livin' come from anyway, Mrs. McKrigger?
Doesn't the Lord send it? I reckon He'll look after us. Didn't He tend to
old 'Lijah when he done his duty. Didn't the ravens feed 'im? An' what
about that widee of Jerrypath? Didn't her meal and ile last when she done
what was right? Tell me that!"

"Oh, yes, that may be as ye say. I ain't botherin' about old 'Lijah an'
that widow. If them people lived to-day they'd jine forces an' start the
biggest flour an' ile company the world has ever seen. I wish 'Lijah 'ud
come our way some day, fer me an' Abraham hev often scraped the bottom of
the flour barrel an' poured out the last drop of ile, not knowin' where
any more was comin' from."

"Tut, tut, woman!" remonstrated Mrs. Stickles. "It's wrong fer ye to talk
that way. Hev ye ever really wanted? Didn't the flour and the ile come
somehow? Whenever we're scrapin' the bottom of the barrel it seems that
the Lord allus hears us, and doesn't let us want. I guess, if we stan' by
the Lord, He'll stan' by us. I'm mighty sorry yer man signed that
pertition aginst that man of God. It don't seem right nohow."

"I'm not worryin' about that, Mrs. Stickles. Farrington has considerable
right on his side. The parson is old. We do need a young man with snap an'
vim. The parson's sermints are too dry an' deep. Abraham sleeps right
through 'em, an' says it's impossible to keep awake."

"Well, I declare!" and Mrs. Stickles held up her hands in amazement. "To
think that I should live to hear sich words in me own house. Ye say the
parson's too old. Ain't ye ashamed of them words? Too old! D'ye want some
new dapper little snob spoutin' from the pulpit who hasn't as much
knowledge in his hull body as Parson John has in his little finger? I know
there's many a thing the parson talks about that I can't understan', an'
so there is in the Bible. I often talk the matter over with John. 'John,'
sez I, 'Ye recollect when ye was makin' that wardrobe fer me out in the
shed two springs ago?'

"'Well,' sez he.

"'An' ye remember how the children used to watch ye an' wonder what ye was

"'Sartinly,' sez he.

"'An' how they used to pick up the shavin's ye planed off, an' brung them
inter the house.'

"He kalkerlated he did.

"'Well then,' sez I, 'John, them children didn't understan' what ye was
makin', but they could pick up the shavin's an' make use of 'em. So when
Parson John is preachin' an' I can't altogether foller him, I kin pick up
somethin' here an' thar which I do understand, an' them are the shavin's
which I kin use, an' do use. Oh! John,' sez I, 'hasn't the parson been
droppin' shavin's fer over thirty years, an' not allus in the pulpit
either, an' haven't we ben helped 'cause we picked 'em up an' made 'em our
own?' John said I was right, an' he knows, dear soul."

"That may be all very well fer you an' John," replied Mrs. McKrigger, "but
what about the young people, an' the older ones fer all that, who won't
pick up the shavin's? Farrington sez we want a poplar young man who kin
speak without any preparation, like Mr. Dale, the missionary who was here
last summer. Now, there was a man up to whom the young men could look, a
reglar soldier, who had been in the fight in Africy, had lived among
lions, tagers and niggers. He was a hero, an' if we could git a rale live
missionary like that, he'd make Glendow hum, an' the old church 'ud be
packed to the doors every Sunday. It's them missionaries who has the hard
time. Oh, they're wonderful people. Parson John's a good man, but he ain't
in the same line with them nohow. He's too commonplace, an' don't stir the
people up."

For a while Mrs. Stickles did not reply. She wiped her hands on her apron,
and crossing the room took down a small pot, put in a little tea, filled
it with water, and set it on the back of the stove to draw. Next she
brought forth some large frosted doughnuts, and after she had poured a cup
of tea for Mrs. McKrigger and one for herself she sat down upon an old
splint-bottomed chair.

"Did I ever tell ye the conversation I had with Mr. Dale, that missionary
from Africy?" she at length asked.

"No, I never heerd it," came the reply.

"Well, that's queer, an' it happened only last summer, too. Ye see, we all
went to the missionary meetin' in the church, an' Mr. Dale told us about
that furren land. Somehow I didn't take to the man, an' I liked 'im less
as he went on. All the time he was speakin' I noted how eagerly Parson
John listened. Often his buzum heaved-like, an' I thought I heerd 'im
sigh. But when the speaker 'gun to compare Africy with Canada and Glendow,
I got mad. 'Here the work is small,' sez he; 'thar it's mighty! Here ye
hev yer hundreds; thar we hev our thousands. Here things is easy; thar
hard.' As he talked on that way I looked at the parson an' saw a pained
expression on his dear face. I jist longed to jump to me feet, an' pint
out that old grey-headed man a sittin' thar, an' tell a few things I know.
But I got me chance later."

"What! ye didn't say anything hard, I hope?" interrupted Mrs. McKrigger.

"Only the plain truth; jist what he needed. Ye see, me an' John was axed
into the Rectory afterwards to meet the missionary an' hev a cup of tea.
Mr. Dale did most of the talkin', an' told us a hull lot more about his
experiences in Africy. But somehow he rubbed me the wrong way. He had
little use fer Canada, an' said so, an' that was mor'n I could stan'.

"'Mr. Dale,' sez I, speakin' up, when his jaw stopped waggin' fer an
instant. 'Would ye be willin' to leave yer present field of labour?'

"'No,' sez he, lookin' at me surprised-like.'

"'An' why not,' sez I.

"'Oh the work is so inspirin' out thar,' sez he. 'I'd about die in a--a--'
(I think he was goin' to say a country parish like this) but he said
'settled field whar the work is so quiet, ye know.'

"'An' ye wouldn't be willin' to give up Africy,' sez I, 'fer a poor parish
like Glendow, if thar was no clergyman here?'

"'No,' sez he, in a hesitatin' way, fer he didn't seem to know what I was
a drivin' at.

"'Exactly so, Mr. Dale,' sez I. 'It takes a heap of spunk, I reckon, to go
to them furren fields, but I kalkerlate it often takes jist as much to
stay to hum, feed pigs, hens, an' look after a hull batch of children.
I've hearn men preach about sacryfice in big churches, but I generally
find that, when a poor country parish gits vacant, they don't seem
inclined to give up their rich churches an' step into a humbler place. Yet
sometimes I've heerd of sich men goin' to furren fields. An' why is that,
Mr. Dale?'

"'That they might do more work fer the Master,' sez he.

"'I think yer wrong thar,' sez I. 'Now, look here. To enter a country
parish is to be almost unknown, an' people say, 'Oh, he's only a country
parson,' an' they stick up their ugly noses, which they think are
acristocat. But let a man go to a furren field, an', my lands! they
blubber over 'im an' make a great fuss. If he combs the head of a little
nigger brat out thar in Africy--though no doubt he needs it--why the
missionary magazines an' papers are full of it. If he pulls the tooth of
an old Injun chief who has a dozen wives taggin' around after 'im, the
people hold up thar hands in wonder, an' call 'im a hero. But let a man
stay at hum in a parish like Glendow, an' no one hears of his doin's,
cause they don't want to.'"

"My! ye didn't say all that?" exclaimed Mrs. McKrigger, "an' to a rale
live missionary, too."

"Them's the exact words I said, an' them ain't all," rattled on Mrs.
Stickles. "I had me tongue on 'im then, an' it did me good to see his
face. He looked once towards the door as if he thought I'd jump at 'im.
Oh, it was as good as a circus to see 'im shake," and she laughed at the
recollection of it.

"'Remember,' sez I, 'I ain't got nuthin' agin furren missions, fer they do
a heap of good. But I would like to see things levelled up a bit. If I git
down on me knees an' scrub the floor, it's nuthin' thought of. But if a
missionary does it, a great fuss is made. When Parson John is dug out of
snow-banks every week, when his sleigh gits upsot an' throws 'im into the
ditch, no one outside the parish ever hears of it. But let sich things
happen to a furren missionary, an', my lands! it's wonderful.'

"I could see all the time that Mr. Dale was gittin' excited an' excititer.

"'Woman,' sez he in a lofty kind of way, which reminded me of a young
rooster tryin' to crow, 'do ye realize what yer talkin' about? Do ye know
yer treadin' on delicate ground?'

"'Yes,' sez I, 'when I tread on a man's toes, it's purty delicate ground.'

"'I don't mean that,' sez he. 'But do ye know that _I'm_ a
missionary, an' do ye know what it means to be away from hum seven years,
away in a furren land?'

"'Yes,' sez I. 'It means a holiday of a hull year at the end, with yer
salary goin' on, an' yer travellin' expenses paid. D'ye think, Mr. Dale,
that the parson here ever gits sich a holiday? Y'bet yer life he doesn't.
He's been here workin' like a slave fer over thirty years now, an' in all
that time _he_ never had a holiday.'

"At that the parson himself speaks up. 'I think yer wrong thar, Mrs.
Stickles,' sez he. 'I had two hull weeks once, fer which I've allus been
most thankful.'

"'An what are two weeks?' sez I. 'An' didn't ye pay yer own travellin'

"'Yes,' sez he, 'I did.'

"'Thar now,' sez I to Mr. Dale. 'What d'ye think of that? Two weeks in
over thirty years of hard work!' But that reminds me of somethin' else--
an', sez I, 'Who pays yer salary, Mr. Dale? D'ye mind tellin' me that?'

"'The Mission Board' sez he.

"'An' do ye git it reglar?' sez I.

"'Every month,' sez he.

"'I thought so,' sez I. 'An' d'ye think the parson here gits his every

"'I don't know,' sez he. 'But s'pose he does.'

"'Not by a long chalk,' sez I. 'He has to wait months an' months fer it,
an' sometimes he doesn't git it at all, an' then has to take hay an' oats,
or do without. I know that to be a fact. Old skinflint Reeker over thar
owed two dollars one year to the church, an' he wondered how in the world
he was to git out of payin' it. Durin' the summer a Sunday-school picnic
was held on his place back in his grove, an' fer one of the games the
parson cut down four little beeches about as big as canes. Thar was
thousands of 'em growin' around, an' wasn't worth a postage-stamp. But old
Reeker saw 'im cut 'em, an' the next day he went to the parson an' told
'im how vallable the beeches was--his fancy trees or somethin' like that--
an' charged 'im fifty cents a piece, the amount he owed to the church.
"Wasn't that so, Parson?" sez I, turnin' to 'im.'

"'Yes, yes,' sez he. 'But it ain't worth speakin' about now. I think we
had better have our cup of tea, an' talk no more about the subject.'"

"Dear, good man," and Mrs. Stickles wiped her eyes with the corner of her
apron. "He was kinder upsot at what I said. But not so, Nellie. Her sweet
face jist beamed on me, an' when I went out into the kitchen to help her
she put her arms about me old neck, an' gave me a good big thumpin' kiss.
That's what she did."

Scarcely had Mrs. Stickles ended, ere bells were heard outside.

"Why, I declare, if Abraham ain't back already!" exclaimed Mrs. McKrigger,
rising to her feet and donning her hat and wraps. "He's made a quick trip.
I'm very grateful, indeed I am, fer the cup of tea an' the pleasant time
I've had. Ye must come to see me as soon as ye kin."

Mrs. Stickles stood for some time at the window watching the McKriggers
driving away. She was thinking deeply, and a plan was being evolved in her
mind which made her forget her washing and the various household duties.
At length she turned and entered the room where her husband and little
Ruth were lying.

"John," she said, after she had related to him what Mrs. McKrigger had
told her about Farrington and the petition, "d'ye think you an' Ruthie
will mind if me an' Sammy go into the shore this afternoon with old

"Why no, dear," was the reply. "But don't ye think the roads are too bad,
an' besides, what are ye thinkin' of?"

"I don't mind the roads, John. They're purty well smashed down by now, an'
Queen's very stidy. I've a plan, John, which comes right from me insides,"
and leaning over she whispered it into his ear.

"Land sakes, dear!" replied her husband. "D'ye think ye kin manage it?
Will they listen to ye? Ye're only a woman, remember, an' what kin a woman

"Yes, I'm only a woman, John, an' mebbe 'tain't a woman's place. But when
men are too scart an' heven't as much spunk as a chicken jist outer the
shell, what else is thar to do? Is thar no one in the hull parish to stan'
up fer the Lord's anointed? Tell me that. Didn't that beautiful Queen
Ester stan' before her crank of a husband, Hazen Hearus, an' plead fer the
lives of her people? An' didn't Jael do the Lord's will when she put old
Sirseree outer the way, tell me that? Now, I ain't a queen like Ester, an'
I hope I ain't a woman like Jael that 'ud drive a nail through a man's
head. I'm jist plain old Marthy Stickles, but mebbe I kin do somethin' fer
the Lord, even if I ain't purty or clever."

An hour later an old, lean horse fastened to a homemade pung was wending
its way slowly along the road leading to the river. Holding the reins was
Sammy, a queer little figure, wrapped from head to foot, bravely
maintaining his precarious position on six inches of the end of the board
seat. Towering above him, broad-shouldered and ponderous, sat Mrs.
Stickles, the very embodiment of health and strength.

"Sammy," said she, as the sled lurched along the rough road, "I don't like
this bizness. But when the Lord's work's to be did, somebody's got to set
his face like flint, as the Bible sez, an' do it. Don't ye ever fergit
that, Sammy. Don't ye ever disremember that yer ma told ye."

Chapter XIX

The Sting

The buzz of gossip once more filled the air of Glendow. This last affray
between Parson John and Farrington and the part Nellie had taken gave
greater scope to the numerous busy tongues. Up and down the shore road and
throughout the back settlements the news travelled. It was discussed at
the store, the blacksmith shop, the mill, and in the homes at night,
wherever a few were gathered together. The Fletchers had never been idle
since the night of old Billy's death. They stirred up others by various
stories and conjectures, fashioned in their own suspicious minds. "Why,"
they asked, "did not the parson explain about that money he paid down for
the Frenelle homestead? How was it that a poor country parson was able to
buy such a farm? They were further incensed by an incident which happened
several weeks after the auction. Tom Fletcher was determined that he would
question the parson some day, in the presence of others. He prided himself
upon his keenness of observation and shrewdness in detecting a guilty
manner in those whom he suspected of wrong-doing. The first opportunity he
seized when he met the parson at the blacksmith shop, waiting for his
horse to be shod.

"Well, Parson, are ye goin' to sell the farm?" he asked in a sort of
careless manner.

"What farm?" was the reply.

"Oh, the Frenelle place."

"No; it's not for sale."

"Well, is that so? Money's tight these times, an' I thought mebbe ye'd he
glad to get rid of it."

"No. I'm not anxious to do so."

"But, isn't it a heap of money to be tied up in one place? Mebbe ye'd give
us a hint how ye manage to do it. It's as much as us poor farmers kin do
to live, let alone put four thousand in a place which we don't intend to

Tom tipped a wink to several others in the shop, as much as to say, "Now,
I've cornered him. Watch for the fun." Parson John saw the wink, and drew
himself suddenly up. He realized that the man was drawing him out for some
purpose, and it was as well to check him first as last.

"Tom, do you mind," he asked, "if I put one question to you?"

"Why, certainly not. Drive ahead."

"It's concerning that Widow Tompkins' place. Perhaps you will tell us how
you got control of it? Such a thing doesn't happen every day."

Across Tom's face spread an angry flush, while a half-suppressed laugh was
heard from the bystanders. All knew very well that Tom had cheated the
widow out of her property, though no one ever had the courage to mention
it to him before.

"What do you mean by that question?" demanded Fletcher.

"It's a simple one, though, is it not?" the parson quietly responded. "It
naturally makes us curious."

"Then I'll not satisfy such d---- curiosity. I tend my own affairs, an' I
ax others to do the same."

"That's just the point, Tom," and the parson looked him square in the
eyes. "You wish to be let alone with your business, and so do I. You don't
wish to satisfy idle curiosity with your affairs, and neither do I. So we
are quits."

This incident only caused the Fletchers to hate the parson more than ever.
Their greatest ally was Farrington. He was a man of considerable means,
and to have his support meant much. Never before was he known to be so
liberal to the people who came to his store. Often he invited them into
his house to sup with him, and then the grievances and election matters
were thrashed out. Occasionally when a farmer came to make purchases,
Farrington would see that a present was bestowed in the form of a piece of
calico for the wife, or some candy for the children. This was done
especially when Farrington was not sure of his man. He was playing his
part, not only stirring up these men against the man of God, but also
ingratiating himself into their good wishes against the day of the
election. When Farrington entered the field as a candidate for the County
Council, he knew he would have a hard struggle against his opponent,
Philip Gadsby, who was a man much respected, and had occupied the position
of councillor with considerable credit for two terms. The storekeeper had
been hard at work for some time with no visible success, for the
Farrington family with their high-flown ideas were much disliked by the
quiet, humble-minded folk of Glendow. The idea, therefore, of him being
Ifteir representative was at first abhorrent to most of the people. But
this new ruse of Farrington's was proving most successful. The Fletchers
drew with them all the loud-talking and undesirable element of Glendow.
This Farrington well knew, and by espousing their cause he was greatly
strengthening his own. The election day was only a few weeks off, so
Farrington and his party had no time to lose.

During all this buzz of gossip, Parson John, the man most vitally
concerned, was perfectly oblivious of the disturbance. Of a most
unsuspecting nature, and with rot a particle of guile in his honest heart,
he could not imagine anyone harming him by word or deed. Happy in his
work, happy in the midst of his flock, and with Ms pleasant little home
guarded by his bright housekeeper, he had no thought of trouble. To his
eyes the sky was clear. His humble daily tasks brought him comfort through
the day, and sweet, undisturbed rest by night.

But with Nellie it was different. She heard what her father did not.
Fragments of gossip drifted to her ears, which paled her cheek and set her
heart beating fast. Occasionally Dan bore her news he had picked up at the
store, or from the boys of the neighbourhood, who were not slow in talking
of the things they had heard from their elders. Nellie longed to tell her
father, that he might he able to answer some of the charges which were
made. Several times had she determined to do so. But when she had looked
upon his calm face, noted his white hair, and gazed into his clear,
unsuspecting eyes, her resolution always took wings and disappeared. Then
she would surprise her father by twining her arms about his neck and
giving him a loving kiss.

Two weeks had now passed since the accident, and Parson John was rapidly
improving. Two Sundays had he missed from church, something which had
happened but once before in his long ministry in the parish. Winter was
passing, and signs of spring were beginning to be seen and felt. The snow
was steadily disappearing from the hills, and the fresh, balmy air drifted
gently in from the south with its exhilarating influence.

It was Saturday night, and Parson John was looking forward to the morrow,
when he could take his accustomed place at the parish church. He and
Nellie were sitting quietly in the little room, when Mr. Larkins entered
with the mail. The postman had met with an accident on the icy road, and
was several hours behind time. Usually Dan went to the office, but on this
occasion Mr. Larkins was down to the store, and had brought along the mail
for both families.

"Letters for us!" Nellie exclaimed as Mr. Larkins entered. "Oh, how good
of you to bring them!"

"Stay, stay," insisted the parson, as the worthy neighbour was about to
retire and leave them to the enjoyment of their letters. "You have not had
a whiff with me for a long time, and here is a new church-warden waiting
to be broken in."

"But, I shall interrupt you," Mr. Larkins replied.

"No, no, not in the least."

"Well, then, I agree to remain for one smoke, if you will promise that you
will read your letters, and not mind me. I see a new magazine on the table
which looks very tempting."

Ensconced in a large easy-chair, he was soon deeply immersed in the
fascinating pages, at the same time endeavouring to enjoy the long
"church-warden," which was not altogether to his taste. Silence reigned in
the room, broken only by the cutting of envelopes and the occasional
rattle of the letters.

Mr. Larkins was startled by a sudden cry of astonishment, and looking
quickly up he saw the parson sitting erect in his chair, clutching a sheet
of paper in both hands, and staring at it in a dazed manner. Nellie at
once sprang to his side to ascertain the cause of the commotion.

"Look! Look!" he cried, thrusting the paper into her hand. "It's from the
Bishop! Read it, quick, and tell me what it means! Am I losing my senses,
or is this only a dream, or a joke?"

Although Nellie's face was pale as she sprang to her father's side, it
went white as death as she quickly scanned the missive, drinking in almost
intuitively every word and its meaning. Then, flinging it aside with an
impatient gesture, she placed her arms about her father's neck, and tried
to soothe him.

"Father, father, dear, never mind," she pleaded. But her voice faltered,
and she simply clung to him like a tender vine to some sturdy oak.

"Girl! girl!" demanded the parson, "what does it mean? Do you know
anything? Tell me, quick!"

"Father, father," urged the maiden, "calm yourself. Don't get so excited."

"But, do you know anything about this? Tell me at once!"


"Yes, what? Don't stop. Go on," and the old man leaned forward so as not
to miss a single word.

"Oh, father, give me time," sobbed Nellie. "I will explain all. What will
Mr. Larking think?"

"True, true. What will he think?" and the parson turned towards his

"You will pardon me, sir, for acting so strangely. But I am much upset.
There, please, read this. A letter from my Bishop, full of the most
remarkable utterances a man ever wrote. My people turned against me! My
people charging me with being a common thief! No, no! It cannot be true!
Read it--read it for yourself," and with a trembling hand he passed over
the letter.

"My dear Westmore," so began the epistle. "What is the trouble between you
and your parishioners in Glendow? I have recently received a petition
signed by twenty of your people asking for your removal, on the following

"_First_. That you are too old to do the work; that many parts of the
parish are being neglected, and that a young man should take your place,
who will be able to hold the flock together.

"_Second_. That you alone attended the deathbed of an old man,
William Fletcher by name, who was possessed of a considerable sum of
money, all in gold. The money, it is well known, was always kept in the
house in a strong, iron box. The night you attended him the house was
burned to the ground, but no trace of the money has since been found. Even
at the time you were suspected by some, as it was well known you were much
involved in some mining transactions out in British Columbia and badly in
need of money to carry on the work. But not until shortly after the fire,
when at a public auction you purchased a large homestead and paid down the
amount, four thousand dollars, in cash, did the whole parish suspect that
something was radically wrong.

"_Third_. That on your way to attend a funeral at Craig's Corner on a
recent Sunday, you engaged in a horse-race with one, Tim Fraser, a most
notorious character.

"Such in brief is the purport of the petition which now lies before me,
and I am asked not only to remove you, but to make a thorough
investigation concerning the whole affair. I am much grieved at this
matter, and cannot understand it at all. You have ever been looked upon as
a faithful priest in the Church of God, and I believe you will be able to
explain everything to the satisfaction of all. At first I thought it well
that you should write to me. On second consideration, however, I think it
better to make a visit to Glendow, and see if the matter cannot be quietly
settled. I do not wish this trouble to get abroad or into the newspapers.
I wish to have the people of the parish come before me, one by one, that I
may hear what they have to say, and thus be in a better position to form a
sound judgment. I have written the petitioners to this effect, and have
told them that I shall be in the vestry of the church next Thursday,
morning and afternoon, to hear what they have to say. I have also written
to your wardens--whose names, by the way, do not appear on the petition--
stating the case, that they may give due notice throughout the parish."

Silently Mr. Larkins returned the letter, not knowing what to say.

"What does it all mean?" questioned the parson, looking keenly into his
neighbour's face. "Am I only dreaming, or is it a joke?"

"Neither, father, dear," Nellie replied, taking a seat near his side, and
tenderly clasping his hand, which was trembling with excitement. "It is
all real, ah, too real! The people have been saying these things."

"What, girl! Do you mean to tell me that these things have been talked
about ever since the night of the fire?" demanded the parson.

"Yes, father, some have been saying them."

"And you knew about these stories, Nellie?"

"Y--yes, some of them."

"And you never said a word to me! Never gave me a hint of warning, but let
me remain in ignorance the whole of this time!"

"We thought it was for the best, father. Don't get angry with me. I
suppose I should have told you, but I thought the gossip would soon

"You thought so, did you! Girl, I didn't think you would deceive me--your
father, in his old age! Have all my friends turned against me? Yes, yes,
and even she, of my flesh and blood--the darling of my heart for whom I
would die! God help me!"

"Father, father, dear! don't talk that way," pleaded Nellie. "You will
break my heart. You don't know what I have suffered. Day and night the
trouble has been with me. I loved you so much that I wished to spare you
the worry. I thought it was for the best, but now I see I should have told
you. You have friends, true and tried, who do not believe a word of these

The parson who had been gazing straight before him, rested his eyes upon
his daughter weeping by his side. His face softened, and the old look

"Forgive me, darling," he said, placing his arm tenderly about her. "I
have wronged you and all my dear friends. But, oh, the blow is so sudden!
I hardly know what to think. What can I do?"

For over an hour they sat there and discussed the matter. As Mr. Larkins
at length rose to go, he looked into Parson John's face so drawn and
white, and almost cursed the wretches who had brought such trouble upon
that hoary head.

Chapter XX

The Overseer

The service at the parish church Sunday morning was largely attended. Word
had spread rapidly that the Bishop would arrive during the week, and it
was confidently expected that the parson would touch on the question from
the pulpit.

"Guess we'll git something to-day," one man remarked to another, near the
church door.

"Y'bet," was the brief response.

"D'ye think the parson will say anything about old Billy?"

"Mebbe he will, an' mebbe he won't."

"But I think he will. The parson likes to hit from the pulpit when no one
kin hit back."

"Is that what brought you to church to-day? You seldom darken the door."

"Sure! What else should I come fer? I'm not like you, Bill Flanders,
wearin' out me shoes paddin' to church every Sunday. I kin be jist as good
a Christian an' stay at home. I kin read me Bible an' say me prayers

"I'm not denying that, Bill, but the question is, Do ye? I reckon ye never
open yer Bible or say yer prayers either fer that matter. If you were in
the habit of doin' so you never would hev signed that petition to the

"Well, I'm not alone in that. There's Farrington, a church member an' a
communicant, who headed the list, an' if he----"

"Hold, right there, Bill. Farrington never signed that paper."

"Yes, he did."

"But, I say, he didn't. He promised to do so, but jist after he sent it
away he made a fuss an' said that he had fergotten to do it."

"Ye don't say so!" and Bill's eyes opened wide with surprise. "But are ye

"Sartin. I had it from Tom Fletcher himself, who feels rather sore about
it. It is well known that Farrington wanted the parson removed on the plea
of old age, but didn't want that clause in about Billy's death. The
Fletchers insisted, however, an' in it went."

"The devil! Well, it's queer, I do declare."

Just then the bell rang out its last call, and they entered the church
with others.

Parson John looked greyer than usual as he conducted the service and stood
at the lectern to read the Lessons. But his voice was as sweet and musical
as ever, though now a note of pathos could be detected. His step was slow
and feeble as he mounted the pulpit, and a yearning look came into his
face as he glanced over the rows of heads before him.

"Remember my bonds," was the text he took this morning, and without a note
to guide him, he looked into the numerous faces, and delivered his brief
message. A breathless silence pervaded the sanctuary as he proceeded to
draw a picture of St. Paul, the great champion of the faith, in his old
age enduring affliction, and appealing to his flock to remember his bonds.
The arm of the parson still in the sling, and the knowledge the people had
of the reports circulated about him, added much to the intense
impressiveness of the scene. For about fifteen minutes he spoke in a
clear, steady voice. Then his right hand clutched the top of the pulpit,
while his voice sank and faltered. "Brethren," he said, straightening
himself up with an effort, "St. Paul had his bonds, which were hard for
him to bear; the bond of suffering, the bond of loneliness, and the bond
of old age. You, too, have bonds, and will have them. But how sweet to
know that your friends and loved ones will remember your bonds, will
understand your sufferings, peculiarities, and will sympathize with you,
and be considerate. I, too, have bonds: the bond of unfitness for my great
work, and the bond of old age. These two shackle and impede me in the
Master's cause. But I ask you to think not so much of these as of another
which binds me soul and body--it is the bond of love. I look into your
faces this morning, and think of the many years I have laboured among you
in evil report and good report. I have learned to love you, and now that
love is my greatest bond, for it enwraps my very heart. When parents see
their darling child turn against them, their love to him is the hardest
bond to bear, because they cannot sever it. They remember him as a babe in
arms, as a little, clinging, prattling child. They think of what they have
done and suffered for his sake and how the cord of love has been silently
woven through the years. My love to you is my greatest bond, and, though
some may grow cold, some may scoff, and some repudiate, never let the lips
of any say that your rector, your old grey-headed pastor, now in his
fourth and last watch, ever ceased in his love to his little flock."

There was a diversity of opinion among the listeners to these pathetic
words, which was quite noticeable as the congregation filed out of the
church. The eyes of some were red, showing the intensity of their emotion,
while others shone with a scornful light.

"The parson fairly upset me to-day!" blurted out one burly fellow. "I
heven't been so moved sense the day I laid me old mother to rest in the
graveyard over yonder."

"Upset, did ye say?" replied another, turning suddenly upon him. "What was
there to upset ye in that?"

"Why, the way the parson spoke and looked."

"Umph! He was only acting his part. He was trying to work upon our
feelings, that was all. Ah, he is a cute one, that. Did ye hear what he
said about the bond of love? Ha, ha! That's a good joke."

There was one, however, who felt the words more deeply than all the
others. This was Nellie, who sat straight upright in her pew, and watched
her father's every movement. She did not shed a tear, but her hands were
firmly clasped in her lap and her face was as pale as death. As soon as
the service was over she hurried into the vestry, helped her father off
with his robes, and then supported his feeble steps back to the Rectory.
She made no reference to the sermon, but endeavoured to divert her
father's mind into a different channel. She set about preparing their
light midday repast, talked and chatted at the table, and exhibited none
of the heaviness which pressed upon her heart. Only after she had coaxed
her father to lie down, and knew that he had passed into a gentle sleep,
did she give way to her pent-up feelings. How her heart did ache as she
sat there alone in the room, and thought of her father standing in the
pulpit uttering those pathetic words.

Thursday, the day of the investigation, dawned bright and clear. Not a
breath of wind stirred the air. It was one of those balmy spring days when
it is good to be out-of-doors drinking in freshness and strength.

The Bishop had arrived the night before, and had taken up his abode at the
Rectory. About ten o'clock the following morning, he wended his way to the
church, there to await the people of Glendow. Some time elapsed before any
arrived, and not until the afternoon did most of them come. Tom Fletcher
was among the first, and at once he made his way into the vestry, and
confronted the Bishop.

The latter was a small-sized man, clean shaven, and with his head adorned
with a mass of white, wavy hair. His face and massive forehead bore the
stamp of deep intellectuality. He was noted as a writer of no mean order,
having produced several works dealing with church questions, full of
valuable historic research. His every movement bespoke a man of great
activity and devotion in his high office. His eyes were keen and
searching, while his voice was sharp and piercing. "Sharp as a razor,"
said several of his careless clergy. Merciless and scathing in reference
to all guile, sham and hypocrisy, he was also a man of intense feeling,
sympathetic, warm-hearted, and a friend well worth having.

He was poring over certain church registers as Tom Fletcher entered, and,
glancing quickly up, noted at once the man standing before him. He rose to
his feet, reached out his hand to Fletcher and motioned him to a chair.

"Fletcher is your name, you say--Tom Fletcher," and the Bishop ran his
eyes over several lists of names before him.

"Yes, sir, that's my name."

"You signed the petition, I see."


"Well, then, you must know about these charges which are made against your
rector. Now, as regards the first. It states here that he is neglecting
certain parts of the parish. Is that true?"

"I understand so."


"Oh, I hear he hasn't been to Hazel Greek an' Landsdown Corner fer over
two years."

"Any other place?"

"No, I guess them's the only two, but it seems to me to be a purty serious
matter fer sich places to be neglected so long."

"Ah, I see," and the Bishop looked keenly into Tom's face.

"You're not a vestryman, Mr. Fletcher?" he remarked.

"No, never was one."

"Did you ever attend an Easter Monday meeting?"

"No, never had time."

"Do you take a church paper?"

"Should say not. Much as I kin do is to pay fer the newspaper."

"But, of course, you read the Synod Journal, which is freely distributed.
It contains each year a report from this parish."

"Yes, I read it sometimes, but there isn't much to interest me in that."

"But surely, Mr. Fletcher, you must have read there that Hazel Creek and
Landsdown Corner were cut off from Glendow over two years ago, and added
to the adjoining parish, and are now served by the rector of Tinsborough.
They are more accessible to him, and the change has been a good one."

"What! Ye don't tell me!" and Tom's eyes opened wide with surprise. "I
never knew that before. The parson never said a word about it."

"Did you ever ask him? Or did you inquire why he never went to those

"No. I thought----"

"I don't want to know what you thought," and the Bishop turned sharply
upon him. "Explanations are not needed now. You have proven conclusively
that you know nothing about the church affairs in this parish, and care
less. According to these registers I find that you never come to Communion
and never contribute one cent to the support of the church. But we will
let that pass, and consider the next charge made here."

"What, about Uncle Billy?"

"Yes. You know the charge made, and as you signed the petition you must
have some substantial proof to bring forth."

Tom twisted uneasily on the chair and twirled his hat in his hands. He was
mad at the way the Bishop had cornered him, and at what he had said. But
he was also afraid of this man who knew so much and seemed to read his
inmost thoughts. He began to dread the questions which he knew would come,
and longed to be out of the vestry. He was not feeling so sure of himself
and wished he had stayed away.

"The second charge made here," continued the Bishop, "is of a most serious
nature. It is to the effect that your rector stole the gold from William
Fletcher the night the house was burned, and used some of it to buy a
farm. Is that what it means?"

"I--I--don't know," Tom stammered, now on his guard, and not wishing to
commit himself.

"But you should know," the Bishop insisted. "You signed the paper, and I
ask you what it means, then?"

"The gold is gone, sir, an' the parson was the only one there with Uncle
Billy. Besides, where did he git all of that money?"

"But that's no proof. I want facts, and I expect you to give me some."

"That's all I know," was the surly response.

"And upon the strength of that suspicion you signed this paper?"


"And you would swear that you know nothing definite?"

"Y--yes--that's all I know."

The Bishop remained silent for a short time, musing deeply.

"Do you know," he at length remarked, "that you have put yourself in a
very awkward position?"

"How's that?"

"You have virtually said that Mr. Westmore stole that gold. If you cannot
prove your statements you have laid yourself open to prosecution for
defamation of character. Your rector, if he wished, could bring in a
charge against you of a most serious nature."

"I never thought of that."

"No, I know you didn't. You may go now, but remember the position in which
you have placed yourself."

Tom waited to hear no more. He fairly sprang to the door, his face dark
and frightened. He spoke to no one, neither did he notice the sturdy form
of Mrs. Stickles standing there waiting to be admitted into the vestry.

The Bishop looked up as the door opened and Mrs. Stickles entered. She
always proved the dominating factor wherever she went, and what her size
could not accomplish was well supplied by her marvellous tongue. The
Bishop winced as she seized his hand in a vise-like grip.

"It's real glad I am to set me eyes on ye," she exclaimed. "I heven't seen
ye in a dog's age, an' I'm mighty pleased ye look so well. How did ye
leave the missus, bless her dear heart? My, I'm all het up, the church is
so hot," and she bounced down upon the chair Fletcher had recently

The Bishop's eyes twinkled, and his care-worn face brightened perceptibly.
His exalted position made him a lonely man. There was so much deference
paid to him. People as a rule were so reserved in his presence, and showed
a longing to be away. "Many people desire a high office," he had once
said, "but very few realize the responsibility and loneliness it entails.
So much is expected of a Bishop, and his slightest words and acts are
criticized. I often envy humble workmen, smoking and chatting together.
They have many things in common. They may say what they like, and much
heed is not given to their remarks."

It was therefore most refreshing to have this big-hearted woman seated
before him acting and talking so naturally, without the least restraint,
the same as if she were in her own house.

"You have come, I suppose," said the Bishop, "in connection with this
petition," and he pointed to the paper lying on the table.

"Oh, that's the thing, is it?" asked Mrs. Stickles, as she leaned forward
to get a better view. "Be very keerful of it, Mr. Bishop. Don't scratch it
or bring it too close to the fire."

"Why, what do you mean?" asked the Bishop.

"What do I mean? Don't ye know that's the work of the devil, an' there's
enough brimstone in that paper to burn us up in a jiffy. It's soaked
through an' through, so I advise ye to handle it keerful."

"So you think these charges in this petition are not true? What can you
say to the contrary, then?"

"What kin I say to be contrary? I kin say a good deal, an', indeed, I hev
said a good deal. When I heered about that pertition my buzum jist swelled
like the tail of an old cat when a hull bunch of yelpin' curs git after
her. But I didn't sit down an' weep an' wring me hands. No, sir, not a bit
of it. Me an' Sammy went to them in authority, an' sez I to them
church-wardens, sez I, 'will ye let that old parson, the Lord's anointed,
be imposed upon by them villains?'"

"'What kin we do?' sez they.

"'Do!' sez I.' Do what the Lord intended ye to do, fight. Didn't the Holy
Apostle say, 'Quit ye like men, be strong?' 'Git up a pertition,' sez I,
'an' git every decent, honest man in Glendow to sign it, an' send it to
the Bishop. Tell 'im?' sez I,' that the parson isn't neglectin' his parish
an' that yez hev full confidence in 'im.'

"'We don't like to do it,' sez they.

"'Why not?' sez I.

"'We don't like to stir up strife,' sez they. ''Tisn't good to hev a
disturbance in the church. We're men of peace.'

"'Peace,' sez I, 'an' let the devil win? That's not the trouble. Yer
afeered, that's what's the matter. Yer too weak-kneed, an' hain't got as
much backbone as an angle worm.' That's what I said to 'em, right out
straight, too. Now kin ye tell me, Mr. Bishop, why the Lord made some
people men instead of makin' 'em chickens fer all the spunk they've got?"

"But, Mrs. Stickles," replied the Bishop, who had been staring in
amazement at the torrent of words, "what has this to do with the question
before us?"

"I'm comin' to that, sir, only I wanted to tell ye my persition. When I
found that them in authority wouldn't make the start, I concluded that the
Lord meant me to do the work. So me an' Sammy an' our old horse Queen
travelled up an' down the parish fer three solid days, with this result,"
and, drawing a paper from a capacious pocket, she laid it on the table.
"Thar 'tis, read it fer yerself, an' jedge."

The Bishop's eyes grew a little misty as he read the words written there,
and noted the long list of names testifying to the worthiness of the
rector of Glendow.

"Mrs. Stickles," he at length remarked, and his voice was somewhat husky,
"the Lord will reward you for what you have done. While others have been
simply talking, you have been acting. Like that woman of old, you have
done what you could, and this deed of love, believe me, will be remembered
in the parish of Glendow for generations to come. You may go now; you have
done your part."

Chapter XXI


With his chair drawn tip close to the window, Parson John watched the
people as they moved along the road to and from the church. He recognized
them all, and knew them by their horses when some distance away. As
clothes betray a person when his face is not observable, so do horses and
sleighs on a country road. They seem to be vital parts of the owners, and
to separate them would be fatal. No one could imagine Mrs. Stickles seated
in a finely-upholstered sleigh and driving a high-mettled horse. She and
Sammy, the home-made pung and the old lean mare plodding onward, were
inseparably connected with the parish of Glendow. The parson's face
brightened as he saw this quaint conveyance shaking along the road. In
Mrs. Stickles he knew he would have one champion at least, though all the
others should turn against him. Team after team he watched, but none
turned aside into the Rectory gate to say a word to the old grey-headed
man, sitting before the window.

The hours dragged slowly by, and still he sat there. Nellie went quietly
about her household duties, but a great weight kept pressing upon her
heart. Her father was so quiet, took no interest in his books, and did no
writing. Often she would stop and watch him as he sat there. He seemed to
be greyer than usual; his head was more bent, and his face wore a sad,
pained expression. "If he would only utter some word of complaint,"
thought Nellie, "it would not be so hard. But to see that dumb, appealing
look is almost more than I can bear."

Though very quiet, Parson John was fighting a hard, stern battle. His eyes
were often turned towards the road, but his thoughts were mostly upon
other things. Over his desk hung two pictures, and occasionally his gaze
rested upon these. One was that of a sweet-faced woman, who looked down
upon him with gentle, loving eyes-such eyes as Nellie inherited.

"Ruth, Ruth," he murmured, "my darling wife. Thirty-five years since I
brought you here as a fair young bride. Thirty-five years! We knew not
then what lay before us. We knew not then how one must walk for years by
himself and at last tread the wine-press alone."

His eyes drifted to the other picture hanging there--the Master kneeling
alone in Gethsemane. Long he looked upon that prostrate figure with the
upturned face. He thought of His agony in the Garden, the betrayal,
desertion and suffering. "I have trodden the winepress alone," he softly
whispered as into his face came a new light of peace and strength. Opening
a well-worn volume lying on the desk he read again that Garden scene, when
the Master knelt and fought His terrible battle. Forgotten for a brief
space were his own trials as he pored over that sacred page. How often had
he read that story, and meditated upon every word, but never before did he
realize the full significance of the scene. "Wonderful, wonderful," he
murmured again, as he reverently closed the Book. "Thank God--oh, thank
God for that life of suffering and sorrow! He knows our human needs. He
trod the winepress alone, and must I, His unworthy servant, expect to
escape? So, my Father, do with me what is best. 'Not my will, but Thine be

At this moment Nellie entered the room. She noticed the changed expression
upon her father's face, and, crossing to where he was, stood by his side.

"Do you feel better, father?" she asked.

"Yes, dear. My heart was very heavy a short time ago, but it is lighter
now. I seem to see my way more clearly. The darkness has passed, and a new
peace has come to me. Will you sing something for me, dearie?"

"Certainly, father. What shall it be?"

"Your mother's favorite hymn. The one she sang just before she left us."

Taking her seat at the little harmonium, Nellie gently touched the keys,
and in a clear, sweet voice sang the old favourite hymn:

"The sands of Time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for.
The fair, sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark has been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel's land."

Softly she sang the whole hymn through, her father leaning back in his
chair with closed eyes, drinking in every word and sound.

"I're wrestled on towards Heaven,
'Gainst storm and wind and tide;
Lord, grant thy weary traveller
To lean on Thee as guide."

"That's what I must do now, Nellie. 'Lean on Him as guide.' Oh, it gives
me such comfort. And He will guide right; we must never doubt that."

When the Bishop had finished his investigation in the vestry, he sighed as
he closed his small grip and left the church. Slowly he walked up the road
lost in deep thought. There were numerous things which disturbed his mind.
He had listened to what the people had to say, but everything was so
vague. Yet there was some mystery, he believed, connected with the whole
matter. That missing gold, the Rector's need of money and then the
purchase of the farm were still shrouded in darkness. Thinking thus he
reached the Larkins' house where he had been invited to tea.

"It will help Nellie to have the Bishop here," Mrs. Larkins had said to
her husband, "for she has enough care at the present time."

Keenly she watched the Bishop's face as he came into the house, hoping to
obtain some clue to his thoughts. To her the trouble at the Rectory was as
her own, and she longed to know the outcome of the investigation. At first
she dreaded the thought of having the Bishop to tea. Had she not often
heard of his sharp, abrupt manner? Anxiously she scanned the tea-table,
with its spotless linen, with everything so neatly arranged, and wondered
what she had omitted. Her fears were soon dispelled, however, for the
Bishop made himself perfectly at home. It was a pleasure to him to sit at
the table with these two true, honest souls, of whom he had heard much
from Parson John. They were so natural, and made no effort to be what they
were not.

"You must be tired, my Lord," said Mrs. Larkins, "after this trying day."

"Not so much tired as puzzled," was the reply.

"And did you get no light on the matter?"

"Not a bit. Look at all those notes I took--not worth the paper on which
they are written. Everything is hearsay--nothing definite. And yet there
is some mystery attached to the whole affair. I am sorely puzzled about
that missing gold and where the Rector obtained the money to buy that

"And didn't he tell you, my Lord?" asked Mrs. Larkins, pausing in the act
of pouring the tea.

"No, he will not tell me. He is as silent as the grave. When I pressed him
to speak and thus clear himself, he begged me with tears in his eyes not
to urge him. 'It's honest money,' he said, 'which purchased the farm, but
I can tell you no more now.'"

"You have heard, my Lord, that he is involved in some mining transaction
out in British Columbia. It is now in litigation and the parson is
contributing all be possibly can."

"Yes, I learned of that to-day, and it only tends to complicate matters. I
cannot believe that your Rector had anything to do with that gold. But oh,
if he would only explain. Are you sure that that box is not still among
the ashes and ruins of the old house?"

"I am certain it is not there," Mr. Larkins replied. "We have searched the
place thoroughly, and even sifted the ashes, but all in vain. Not a trace
could we find of the box or the gold."

The evening was somewhat advanced as the Bishop bade the Larkins
good-night and made his way over to the Rectory. He found Parson John
seated in a deep chair, gazing silently before him. Nellie was sitting
near reading, or trying to read. She greeted the Bishop with a bright
smile, drew up a chair for him to the pleasant fire, and took his hat and

"Have I kept you up, Nellie?" he asked. "Your father must be tired."

"No, no, my Lord," she replied. "It is not late yet. But you must be

"A little, my dear. The day has been somewhat trying."

From the time he had entered Parson John had kept his eyes fixed full upon
the Bishop's face with a mute, questioning look which spoke louder than
words. "What have you found out?" He seemed to be saying. "What stories
have they been telling about me? Who have been my foes and friends?"

"The vestry was converted into quite a court-room to-day," said the
Bishop, reading the questioning look in the parson's face. "There were
certainly several lively scenes, especially when Mrs. Stickles made her

"You have reached a conclusion then, I suppose?" and Mr. Westmore leaned
eagerly forward.

"No, not yet. I cannot give my decision now. I want to think it carefully
over, and shall notify you by letter."

"I thank you, my Lord, for the trouble you have taken in the matter," and
the parson resumed his former position. "But I have been thinking deeply
since hearing these reports concerning me, and my mind is made up as to
the course I shall pursue."

"Indeed, and in what way?" queried the Bishop.

"To-morrow morning I shall hand to you my resignation of this parish."

The effect of these words was startling, and Nellie's face went very white
as she glanced quickly at her father.

"Do you mean it?" inquired the Bishop.

"Yes, my Lord. I have not come to this decision without much thought,
prayer, and struggle. I have been too blind. I forgot how old I am, though
God knows my heart is as young as ever. It's only natural that the people
of Glendow should desire a change; a man who will infuse new life into the
work, and draw in the wandering and indifferent ones. May God forgive me
that I did not think of it before!"

His head drooped low as he uttered these words, and the pathos of his
voice denoted the intensity of his feelings. It was impossible not to be
much moved at the figure of this venerable man, this veteran warrior of
his church, without one word of complaint, willing to relinquish all, to
give up the command to another, that the Master's work might be
strengthened. The Bishop was visibly affected, although he endeavoured to
conceal his emotion.

"Westmore," he replied, "I always believed you to be a noble man of God,
though I never knew it as I do to-night. But where will you go if you
leave Glendow? How will you live?"

"I am not worrying about that. He who has guided me all of these years;
He, who has given me strength for the battle, will not forsake me now in
my fourth and last watch when I am old and grey-headed. My brother and his
wife at Morristown have for years been urging us to pay them a long visit.
We will go to them, and stay there for a time. Perhaps the Master will
open to me some door in His vineyard that I may do a little more work ere
He take me hence. I have no means of my own, but the parish owes me six
months' salary, and no doubt the people will gladly pay it now to be rid
of me."

"Why not sell that farm you purchased?" suggested the Bishop. "It should
bring a fair price, and the money would keep you for some time. I cannot
place you on the Superannuated list at present, but there may be a vacancy
soon and the money from the sale of the farm will keep you until then."

"I can't sell the place, my Lord, it is impossible."

"But you bought it; it is yours."

"It's not mine to sell! It's not mine to sell!"

The look upon the old man's face and the pathos of his words restrained
the Bishop from saying more on the subject.

"And so you think you must go?" he remarked after a painful silence.

"Yes, I see nothing else to do."

"But remember all have not turned against you. See this list," and the
Bishop handed over the petition Mrs. Stickles had given him.

Eagerly the parson read the words, and scanned the names scrawled below.

"And did Mrs. Stickles do this?" he asked.

"Yes. She went up and down the parish for three days."

"God bless the woman!" murmured Mr. Westmore. "What a comfort this is to
me; to know that all have not deserted me. I did not expect it. But it
will not change my mind. My eyes have been suddenly opened to my own
inability to do the work. Another will do much better. I've explained
everything to you, my Lord, that I can explain, and about that horse-race,
too. It is better for me to go."

"Father," said Nellie, "let us go to Uncle Reuben's for a month or so. You
need a rest, and a vacation will do you good. Perhaps then you will see
things differently."

"Capital idea!" exclaimed the Bishop. "It's just the thing! Go to your
brother's and stay there for a month or two."

"But what about the parish? It will be left vacant the whole of that time.
If I resign a new Rector can take charge at once."

"Oh, I will arrange for that," responded the Bishop. "There is a young man
fresh from college who will be ordained shortly. I will send him here
during your absence. We will thus give the people a change, and then, no
doubt, they will be glad enough to have you back again."

Parson John sat for some time in deep meditation, while Nellie watched him
with an anxious face. The clock in the room ticked loudly, and the fire
crackled in the hearth.

"Very well," he assented at length with a deep sigh. "If you think it
best, my Lord, that this should be done I shall not oppose your wish. But
I am firmly convinced that it will be just the same as if I resigned. When
once the new man comes and begins the work, the people will not want their
old Rector back again. But, nevertheless, it will be all for the best. 'My
times are in His hands,' and I feel sure that ever 'underneath are the
Everlasting Arms.'"

Chapter XXII

In the Deep of the Heart

It did not take long for the news of Parson John's intended departure to
spread throughout Glendow.

Tongues were once more loosened and numerous conjectures made.

"Guess the Bishop found things pretty crooked," remarked one, "an' thinks
it high time for the parson to get out."

"I've thought the same myself," replied another. "The parson's been
dabblin' too much in furren affairs. As I was tellin' my missus last
night, we never know what will happen next. When them as is leaders goes
astray, what kin be expected of the sheep? I've given a bag of pertaters
each year to support the church, but dang me if I do it any more!"

But while some saw only the dark side and believed the parson to be
guilty, there were others who stood nobly by him in his time of trial.
Various were the calls made, some people driving for miles to say
good-bye, and to express their regrets at his departure.

Among the number was Mrs. Stickles. She was the first to arrive, and,
bustling out of the old broken-down wagon, she seized the parson's hand in
a mighty grip as he met her at the gate.

"God bless ye, sir!" she ejaculated. "I'm more'n delighted to see ye. I
was on me knees scrubbin' the kitchen floor when Patsy Garlick dropped in
an' told me the news. It so overcome me that I flopped right down an'
bawled like a calf."

"Dear me! dear me!" replied the Rector. "What's wrong? did you receive bad
news? I hope nothing's the matter with Tony."

"Oh, no. I don't mean 'im, sir, though I ain't heered from 'im fer months
now. He's so shet up thar in the woods that it's hard to hear. But I feel
he's all right, fer if he wasn't I'd soon know about it. No, it's not fer
'im I bawled, but fer you an' the darlin' lass. To think that ye are to
leave us so soon!"

"Oh, I see," and the parson placed his hand to his forehead. "Thank you
very much for your kindness, Mrs. Stickles, and for what you did
concerning that petition. So you have come all the way to bid us good-bye.
You must go into the house at once, and have a bite with us. I shall send
Dan to give the horse some hay."

"Thank ye, sir. I didn't come expectin' to be taken in an' fed, but seein'
as it'll be some time afore I hev sich a privilege agin, I don't mind if I

Spring had now come in real earnest. The days were balmy, the sun poured
its bright rays upon hill and valley, and the snow disappeared as if by
magic. Thousands of streams and rivulets rushed racing down to the river,
sparkling and babbling, glad of their release from winter's stern grip.
The early birds had returned, filling the air with their sweet music, and
the trees, awakened from their long slumber, were putting forth their
green buds. Everything spoke of freshness and peace.

But within the Rectory there was an unusual silence. A gloom pervaded the
house, which even Nellie's sunny presence could not dispel. Dan had
disappeared, and no trace of him could be found. He had departed in the
night so silently that even Nellie's ever-watchful ear did not hear his
footsteps upon the floor. They knew no reason why the lad should do such a
thing, and anxiously they discussed the matter over the breakfast-table.
Inquiries were made throughout the parish, which only served to set
tongues wagging more than ever.

"I knew when the parson took him in," said one knowing person, "that
something 'ud happen. Ye can never tell about sich waifs. They generally
amount to nuthin' or worse."

Nellie missed Dan very much. She had come to love the lad with all his
quaint ways and dreamy far-away look. He had always been so ready to do
anything for her, and often she found him watching her with wondering
eyes. In her heart she could not believe that the boy had run away because
he was tired of living at the Rectory. She felt sure there must be some
other reason, and often she puzzled her brain trying to solve the problem.

As the days passed preparations were made for their departure. There was
much to do, for numerous things they must take with them. The parson took
but little interest in what was going on. He seemed to be living in
another world. So long had he lived at the Rectory that the building had
become almost a part of himself. How many sacred associations were
attached to each room! Here his children had been born; here he had
watched them grow, and from that front door three times had loving hands
borne forth three bodies,--two, oh, so young and tender--to their last
earthly resting-place in the little churchyard. In youth it is not so hard
to sever the bonds which unite us to a loved spot. They have not had time
fully to mature, and new associations are easily made and the first soon
forgotten. But in old age it is different. New connections are not easily
formed, and the mind lives so much in the past, with those whom we have
"loved long since and lost awhile."

It was hard for Nellie to watch her father as the days sped by. From room
to room he wandered, standing for some time before a familiar object, now
a picture and again a piece of furniture. Old chords of memory were
awakened. They were simple, common household effects of little intrinsic
value. But to him they were fragrant with precious associations, like old
roses pressed between the pages of a book, recalling dear and far-off,
half-forgotten days.

Nellie, too, felt keenly the thought of leaving the Rectory. It had been
her only home. Here had she been born, and here, too, had she known so
much happiness. Somehow she felt it would never again be the same; that
the parting of the ways had at last arrived. Her mind turned often towards
Stephen. She had seen him but little of late. Formerly he had been so much
at the Rectory. Seldom a day had passed that she did not see him. But now
it was so different. Sometimes for a whole week, and already it had been a
fortnight since he had been there. She knew how busy he was bringing his
logs down to the river. He had told her that stream driving would soon
begin, when every hour would be precious to catch the water while it
served. She knew this, and yet the separation was harder than she had
expected. There was an ache in her heart which she could not describe.
Often she chided herself at what she called her foolishness. But every
evening while sitting in the room she would start at any footstep on the
platform, and a deep flush would suffuse her face. She had come to realize
during the time of waiting what Stephen really meant to her.

Thus while Nellie worked and thought in the Rectory, Stephen with his men
was urging his drive of logs down the rough and crooked Pennack stream.
How he did work! There was no time to be lost, for the water might
suddenly fall off and leave the logs stranded far from the river. All day
long he wrestled with the monsters of the forest. At night there was the
brief rest, then up and on again in the morning. But ever as he handled
the peevy there stood before him the vision of the sweet-faced woman at
the Rectory. She it was who had moved him to action, and inspired him.
through days of discouragement. His deep love for her was transforming him
into a man. He longed to go to her, to comfort her in her time of trouble.
But he must not leave his work now. Too much depended upon that drive
coming out, and she would understand. So day by day he kept to his task,
and not until the last log had shot safely into the boom in the creek
below did he throw down his peevy. It was late in the evening as he sprang
ashore and started up the road. His heart was happy. He had accomplished
the undertaking he had set out to perform.

And while Stephen trudged homeward Nellie sat in the little sitting-room,
her fingers busy with her needle. All things had been completed for their
departure, which was to take place on the morrow. Parson John had retired
early to rest, and Nellie was doing a little sewing which was needed. The
fire burned in the grate as usual, for the evening was chill, and the
light from the lamp flooded her face and hair with a soft, gentle
radiance. Perfect type of womanhood was she, graceful in form, fair in
feature, the outward visible signs of a pure and inward spiritual

So did she seem to the man standing outside and looking upon her through
the window with fond, loving eyes. His knock upon the door startled the
quiet worker. She rose to her feet, moved forward, and then hesitated. Who
could it be at such an hour? for it was almost eleven o'clock. Banishing
her fear she threw open the door, and great was her surprise to behold the
one of whom she had just been thinking standing there. For a brief space
of time neither spoke, but stood looking into each other's eyes. Then,
"Stephen," said Nellie, and her voice trembled, "I didn't expect to see
you to-night. Is anything wrong?"

"No, not with me," Stephen replied as he entered. "But with you, Nellie,
there is trouble, and I want to tell you how I feel for you. I wanted to
come before; but you understand."

"Yes, I know, Stephen," and Nellie took a chair near the fire.

As Stephen looked down upon her as she sat there, how he longed to put his
strong arm about her and comfort her. He had planned to say many things
which he had thought out for days before. But nothing now would come to
his lips. He stood as if stricken dumb.



Silence reigned in the room. Their hearts beat fast. Each realized what
that silence meant, and yet neither spoke. With a great effort Stephen
crushed back the longing to tell her all that was in his heart, and to
claim her for his own. Would she refuse? He did not believe so. But he was
not worthy of her love--no, not yet. He must prove himself a man first. He
must redeem the homestead, and then he would speak. Sharp and fierce was
the struggle raging in his breast. He had thought it would be a simple
matter to come and talk to her on this night. He would bid her a
conventional good-bye, and go back to his work, cheered and strengthened.
But he little realized how his heart would be stirred by her presence as
she sat there bowed in trouble.

"Nellie," he said at length, taking a seat near by. "I'm very sorry you're
going away. What will the place be like without you?"

"Yes, I'm sorry to go, Stephen," was the low reply. "'Tis hard to go away
from home, especially under--under a cloud."

"But, surely, Nellie, you don't think the people believe those stories?"

"No, not all. But some do, and it's so hard on father. He has had so much
trouble lately with that mining property in British Columbia, and now this
has come."

Stephen sat thinking for a while before he spoke. When at last he did he
looked searchingly into Nellie's face.

"There is something which puzzles me very much, and partly for that reason
I have come to see you to-night."

"Anything more in connection with father, Stephen?"

"Yes. Nora has been worse of late, and the doctor said that the only hope
of curing her was to send her to New York to a specialist. Mother was very
much depressed, for we have no means, and under the circumstances it is so
hard to hire money. I had about made up my mind to get some money advanced
on the logs. I would do anything for Nora's sake. The next day your father
came to see her, and mother was telling him what the doctor said, and how
much he thought it would cost. Two days later your father sent mother a
cheque for the full amount, with a letter begging her to keep the matter
as quiet as possible. I cannot understand it at all. I know your father is
in great need of money, and yet he can spare that large sum. Do you know
anything about it?"

Nellie listened to these words with fast beating heart. She knew her
father had been over to bid Mrs. Frenelle and Nora good-bye, but he had
said nothing to her about giving the money. The mystery was certainly
deepening. Where had that money come from? A sudden thought stabbed her
mind. She banished it instantly, however, while her face crimsoned to
think that she should believe anything so unworthy of her father.

"Nellie," Stephen questioned, after he had waited some time for her to
speak, "do you know anything about it?"

"No, Stephen; nothing. It is all a great puzzle. But it is honest money!
Never doubt that! Father keeps silence for some purpose, I am sure. He
will tell us some day. We must wait and be patient!"

She was standing erect now, her eyes glowing with the light of
determination, and her small, shapely hands were clenched. She had thought
of what people would say if they heard this. It would be like oil to fire.
No, they must never know it.

"Stephen," she cried, "promise me before God that you will not tell anyone
outside of your family about that money!"

"I promise, Nellie. Did you think I would tell? I know mother and Nora
will not. Did you doubt me?"

"No, Stephen, I did not doubt you. But, oh, I do not know what to think
these days! My mind is in such a whirl all the time, and my heart is so
heavy over the puzzling things which have happened. I just long to lie
down and rest, rest, forever."

"You're tired, Nellie," replied Stephen, as he straightened himself up in
an effort to control his own feelings. "You must rest now, and you will be
stronger to-morrow. Good-bye, Nellie, God bless you," and before she could
say a word he had caught her hand in his, kissed it fervently, flung open
the door, and disappeared into the night.

Chapter XXIII

Where Is Dan?

During the whole of this time of excitement Dan had been doing his own
share of thinking. He heard the rumours of the parish, listened to the
stories told at the store or blacksmith shop, tucked them away in his
retentive mind, and brooded over them by day and night. The purpose which
had taken possession of him as he sat by the parson's side during his
lonely watch in Stephen's camp grew stronger as the days passed by. He
told no one, not even Nellie, what was in his mind. It was a sacred thing
to him, and he dreamed over it, as a mother over her unborn child. Not
until the dream had become a reality, a living deed, must the world know
of it.

Formerly he had been indifferent as to his studies. His listless manner
was a great cause of worry to Nellie. But after the accident a change took
place. His eagerness to know how to write surprised her. Often she found
him painfully scrawling huge letters upon any old piece of paper he
happened to find. Time and time again he asked her how to spell certain
words, and when she had printed them for him he copied them over and over
again with the greatest care. Every day he watched the mail-carrier as he
rattled by in his rude buckboard. To him this man was a wonderful being.
Knowing nothing of the postal system, Dan imagined that Si Tower conducted
the whole business himself. "How much he must know," he thought, "and what
long journeys he must take." It was therefore with considerable
trepidation he one day stood by the roadside watching the postman rattling

"Hello, kid! Watcher want?" was Si's salutation as he pulled in his old
nag, and glared down upon the boy.

"You give this to Tony, please," and Dan held up a little folded slip of

Tower looked at the paper, and turned over the wad of tobacco in his cheek
before replying. Then a quaint twinkle shone in his eyes.

"I can't take that," he said. "'Tain't lawful. No stamp. Say, kid, guess
the only way fer ye to deliver that is to take it yerself. Git up, Bess,"
and with a hearty laugh the postman swung on his way, and all that day
told the story wherever he stopped.

"Ye should have seen his face an' eyes," he chuckled. "It was as good as a
circus. Thar was no stamp on the letter, an' when I told 'im to go himself
an' deliver it, he jist stared at me. Ha, ha, it was too funny fer

But Dan, as he stood in the road watching Tower drive away, did not see
anything funny. His faith in the postman had received a rude shock. His
hero was made of common clay after all. He sighed as he walked back to the
house, clutching in his hands the little crumpled piece of paper. As the
days passed and the new trouble arose at the Rectory, Dan became very
restless. He knew of everything that was going on, and when the Bishop
arrived he gazed upon him with awe mingled with fear and anger. Often he
would draw forth the letter, from a deep, capacious pocket, and look long
and carefully upon it.

At length the moment arrived when his mind was fully made up. He bade
Nellie and her father good-night, and crept upstairs to his own little
room. For some time he sat upon the bed lost in thought. He heard Nellie
come up the stairs and enter her own room. Drawing up the blind and
turning down the light, he looked out of the window. How dark it was, and
dismal. He would wait awhile until it became lighter. Throwing himself
upon the bed without undressing, he drew a quilt over him and ere long was
fast asleep. When he opened his eyes a dim light was struggling in through
the window, and contending slowly with the blackness of night. Dan was
sleepy, and the bed so comfortable, that he longed to stay where he was.
But this feeling was soon overcome, and springing to his feet he stood
listening and alert, as a creature of the wild startled from its lair. Not
a sound disturbed the house. Everything was wrapped in silence. Quietly he
moved out of his room, and crept softly down the stairs, fearful lest at
every creak Nellie should be aroused. Reaching the kitchen he put on his
shoes, which he had left by the stove. Next he went into the pantry, found
some cold meat, bread, cheese and biscuits. A paper bag lying near was
soon filled and securely tied with a stout string. Dan sighed as he donned
his cap, drew on his mittens, closed the back door, and stood by the
little outside porch. In his heart he felt it was wrong to go away without
telling Nellie and her father where he was going. But on the other hand he
was quite sure they would not be willing for him to go so far away, and
besides he did not wish to tell them anything until the deed had been

The early morning air was cool, clear and crisp. The sun had not yet
risen, but far away in the eastern sky the glory of another new-born day
was clearly visible. Dan's heart responded to the freshness and the beauty
which lay around him. As the daylight increased the feeble chirp of
half-awakened birds fell upon his ears. The old longing for the wild
filled his soul. He thought of his father, the little cabin in the valley,
and the woodland haunts he knew and loved so dearly. His eyes sparkled

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