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THE CANADIAN ROB ROY
_"Truth is stranger than Fiction."_
Psychology strips the soul and, having laid it bare, confidently
classifies every phase of its mentality. It has the spring of every
emotion carefully pigeon-holed; it puts a mental finger upon every
passion; it maps out the soul into tabulated territories of feeling; and
probes to the earliest stirrings of motive.
A crime startles the community. The perpetrator is educated, wise,
enjoys the respect of his fellows. His position is high: his home is
happy: he has no enemies.
Psychology is stunned. The deed is incredible. Of all men, this was the
last who could be suspected of mental aberration. The mental diagnosis
decreed him healthy. He was a man to grace society, do credit to
religion, and leave a fair and honored name behind him.
The tabulation is at fault.
The soul has its conventional pose when the eyes of the street are upon
it. Psychology's plummet is too short to reach those depths where motive
has its sudden and startling birth.
Life begins with the fairest promise, and ends in darkness.
It is the unexpected that stuns us.
Heredity, environment and temperament lead us into easy calculations
of assured repose and strength, and permanency of mental and moral
The act of a moment makes sardonic mockery of all our predictions.
The whole mentality is not computable.
Look searchingly at happiness, and note with sadness that a tear stains
A dark, sinister thread runs through the web of life.
"Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure,
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor." _Gray_.
The Counties of Compton and Beauce, in the Province of Quebec, were
first opened up to settlement about fifty years ago. To this spot a
small colony of Highlanders from the Skye and Lewis Islands gravitated.
They brought with them the Gaelic language, a simple but austere
religion, habits of frugality and method, and aggressive health. That
generation is gone, or almost gone, but the essential characteristics of
the race have been preserved in their children. The latter are generous
and hospitable, to a fault. Within a few miles of the American frontier,
the forces of modern life have not reached them. Shut in by immense
stretches of the dark and gloomy "forest primeval," they live drowsily
in a little world where passions are lethargic, innocence open-eyed, and
vice almost unknown. Science has not upset their belief in Jehovah. God
is real, and somewhat stern, and the minister is his servant, to be
heard with respect, despite the appalling length of his sermons.
Sincerely pious, the people mix their religion with a little whiskey,
and the blend appears to give satisfaction. The farmers gather at the
village inn in the evening, and over a "drap o' Scotch" discuss the
past. As the stimulant works, generous sentiments are awakened in the
breast; and the melting songs of Robbie Burns--roughly rendered, it may
be--make the eye glisten. This is conviviality; but it has no relation
to drunkenness. Every household has its family altar; and every night,
before retiring to rest, the family circle gather round the father or
the husband, who devoutly commends them to the keeping of God.
The common school is a log hut, built by the wayside, and the
"schoolmarm" is not a pretentious person. But, what the school cannot
supply, a long line of intelligent, independent ancestors have supplied,
robust, common sense and sagacity.
Something of the gloom and sternness of the forest, something of the
sadness which is a conscious presence, is in their faces. Their humor
has a certain savor of grimness. For the rest, it may be said that they
are poor, and that they make little effort to be anything else. They do
a little farming and a little lumbering. They get food and clothing,
they are attached to their homesteads, and the world with all its
tempting possibilities passes them by. The young people seek the States,
but even they return, and end their days in the old home. They marry,
and get farms, and life moves with even step, the alternating seasons,
with their possibilities, probably forming their deepest absorptions. It
remains only to be said that, passionately attached to the customs, the
habits of thought of their forefathers, the Highlanders of the Lake
Megantic region are intensely clannish. Splendidly generous, they would
suffer death rather than betray the man who had eaten of their salt.
Eminently law-abiding, they would not stretch out a hand to deprive of
freedom one who had thrown himself upon their mercy.
DONALD MORRISON APPEARS ON THE SCENE.
Life, could we only be well assured of it, is at the best when it is
simple. The woods of Lake Megantic in the summer cast a spell upon the
spirit. They are calm and serene, and just a little sad. They invite to
rest, and their calm strength and deep silence are a powerful rebuke to
Amongst the deep woods of Marsden, Donald Morrison spent his young
years. His parents were in fairly comfortable circumstances, as the term
is understood in Compton. Donald was a fair-haired boy, whose white
forehead his mother had often kissed in pride as she prepared him, with
shining morning face, for the village school. Donald was the pride of
the village. Strong for his years and self-assertive, the boys feared
him. Handsome and fearless, and proud and masterful, his little girl
school-mates adored him. They adored him all the more that he thought it
beneath his boyish dignity to pay them attention. This is true to all
experience. Donald was passionate. He could not brook interference. He
even thus early, when he was learning his tablets at the village school,
developed those traits, the exercise of which, in later life, was to
make his name known throughout the breadth of the land. Generous and
kind-hearted to a degree, his impatience often hurried him into actions
which grieved his parents. He was generally in hot water at school. He
fought, and he generally won, but his cause was not always right. He was
supple, and he excelled in the village games.
A LITTLE GIRL WITH YELLOW HAIR.
Minnie Duncan went to the same school with Donald. She was a shy little
thing with big brown eyes, which looked at you wistfully, and a mass
of yellow hair, which the sun in the summer mornings loved to burnish.
Minnie at the age of ten felt drawn to Donald, as timid women generally
feel drawn toward masterful men, ignoring the steadier love of gentler
natures. Donald had from the start constituted himself her protector
in a lordly way. He had once resented a belittling remark which a
schoolmate had used towards her, by soundly thrashing the urchin who
uttered it. Minnie pitied the lad, but she secretly adored Donald. He
was her hero. Donald was good enough to patronize her. Minnie was too
humble to resent this attitude. Was he not handsome and strong, with
fearless blue eyes; were not all her little girl companions jealous of
her? Did he not go to and come from school with her and carry her books?
Above all, had he not done battle in her behalf?
Minnie Duncan was the only daughter of John and Mary Duncan, who lived
close to the Morrisons', upon a comfortable farm. She was dearly loved,
and she returned the affection bestowed upon her with the beautiful
_abandon_ of that epoch when the tide of innocent trust and love is
at the full. They had never expressed their hopes in relation to her
future; but the wish of their hearts was that she might grow into a
modest, God-fearing woman, find a good farmer husband, and live and die
in the village.
"MINNIE, MINNIE," SHE SAID, "I MUST GUARD MY SECRET."
Donald Morrison was now twenty-three. The promise of his boyhood had
been realized. He was well made, with sinews like steel. He had a blonde
moustache, clustering hair, a well shaped mouth, firm chin. His blue
eyes had a proud, fearless look. The schoolmarm had taught Donald the
three "R's"; he had read a little when he could spare the money for
books; and at the period we are now dealing with he was looked up to
by all in the village as a person of superior knowledge. His youth and
young manhood had been spent working upon his father's farm. Latterly he
had been working upon land which his father had given him, in the hope
that he would marry and settle down. He had become restless. The village
was beginning to look small, and he asked himself with wonderment how
he had been content in it so long. The work was hard and thankless. Was
this life? Was there nothing beyond this? Was there not not a great
world outside the forest? What was this? Was it not stagnation? The
woods--yes, the woods were beautiful, but why was it they made him sad?
Why was it that when the sun set against the background of the purple
line of trees, he felt a lump in his throat? Why, when he walked along
the roads in the summer twilight, did the sweet silence oppress him?
He could not tell. He knew that he wanted away. He longed to be in the
world of real men and women, where joy and suffering, and the extremest
force of passion had active play.
Minnie was now a schoolmarm--neat and simple, and sweet. Her figure was
slender, and her hair a deep gold, parted simply in the centre, brought
over the temples in crisp waves, and wound into a single coil behind.
Her head was small and gracefully poised; her teeth as white as
milk, because they had never experienced the destructive effects of
confectionery; her cheeks, two roses in their first fresh bloom, because
she had been reared upon simple food; her figure, slight, supple and
well proportioned. She was eighteen. Her beautiful brown eyes wore a
sweetly serious look. She had thought as a woman. She was pious, but
somehow when she wandered through the woods, and noted how the wild
flowers smiled upon her, and listened to the birds as they shook their
very throats for joy, she could only think of the love, not the anger of
God. God was good. His purpose was loving. How warm and beautiful and
sweet was the sun! The sky was blue, and was there not away beyond the
blue a place where the tears that stained the cheek down here would be
all wiped away? Sorrow! Oh, yes, there was sorrow here, and somehow, the
dearest things we yearned for were denied us. There were heavy burdens
to bear, and life's contrasts were agonizing, and faith staggered a
little; but when Minnie went to the woods with these thoughts, and
looked into the timid eye of the violet, she said to herself softly,
"God is love."
A simple creature, you see, and not at all clever. I doubt if she had
ever heard of Herbert Spencer, much less read his works. If you had told
that she had been evolved from a jelly-fish, her brown eyes would only
have looked at you wonderingly. You would have conveyed nothing to her.
I must tell you that Minnie was romantic. The woods had bred in her the
spirit of poetry. She loved during the holidays to go to the woods with
a book, and, seating herself at the foot of a tree, give herself up
to dreams--of happy, innocent love, and of calm life, without cloud,
blessed by the smile of heaven.
Love is a sudden, shy flame. Love is a blush which mounts to the cheek,
and then leaves it pale. Love is the trembling pressure of hands which,
for a delicious moment, meet by stealth. Love is sometimes the deep
drawn sigh, the languor that steeps the senses, the sudden trembling
to which no name can be given. Minnie was in love. The hero of her
childhood was the hero of her womanhood. She loved Donald modestly but
passionately; but she constantly said to herself in terror, "Oh, Minnie,
Minnie, you must take care; guard your secret; never betray yourself."
LOVE'S YOUNG DREAM.
"Oh, happy love, where love like this is found!
Oh, heart-felt raptures, bliss beyond compare!
I've paced this weary mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare,
If heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare,
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale."
Donald and Minnie had grown up together. They had shared in the social
life of the village. They had been to little parties together. They had
gone to the same church, sat in the same pew, sang the psalms from the
same book. They had walked out together in the summer evenings, and both
had felt the influence of the white moonlight which steeped the trees
along the Marsden road. They had, so to say, appropriated each other,
and yet there had been no word of love between them. They had spoken
freely to each other; their hands had touched, and both had thrilled at
the contact, and yet they were only friends! The village had settled it
that they were lovers and that they would be married, and felt satisfied
with its own decision, because both were popular.
It was a summer afternoon, and they were in the woods together. Minnie
had a basket for wild strawberries. None had been gathered. They were
seated at the trunk of a tree. Donald had told her that he thought of
leaving the country, and she felt stunned. Her heart stopped. She became
as pale as death.
"Yes, Minnie," he said, "I am tired of this life. I want away. I want to
push my fortune. What is there here for me? What future is there for me?
I want to go to the States. I can get along there. This life is too dull
and narrow, and all the young fellows have left."
"Perhaps I feel too that it is a little dull, Donald," Minnie said, "but
not being a man, I suppose desires like yours would seem improper When
you go," and her voice trembled a little, "I will feel the dullness all
the more keenly."
"And do you think it will not cost me an effort to sever our
friendship?" Donald said with emotion; "we have been playmates in
childhood and friends in riper years. I have been so accustomed to you
that to leave you will seem like moving into darkness out of sunlight.
Minnie," he went on, taking her hand, and speaking with fervor, "can
we only be friends? We say that we are friends; but in my heart I have
always loved you. When I began to love you I know not. I feel now that I
cannot leave without telling you. Yes, Minnie, I love you, and you only;
and it was the hope of bettering my prospects only to ask you to share
them, that induced me to think of leaving. But I cannot leave without
letting you know what I feel. Just be frank with me, and tell me, do you
return my love? I cannot see your face. What! tears! Minnie, Minnie, my
darling, you do care a little for me!"
She could not look at him, for tears blinded her, but she said, simply,
"Oh, Donald, I have loved you since childhood."
"My own dear Minnie!" He caught her to his breast, and kissed her sweet
mouth, her cheek, her hands and hair. He took off her summer hat, and
smoothed her golden tresses; he pressed his lips to her white forehead,
and called her his darling, his sweet Minnie.
Minnie lay in his arms sobbing, and trembling violently. The restraint
she had imposed on herself was now broken down, and she gave way to the
natural feelings of her heart. She had received the first kisses of
love. She was thrilled with delight and vague alarm.
"Don't tremble, darling," he said, after a long silence.
"Oh, Donald, I can't help it. What is this feeling? What does it mean?"
It was unconscious passion!
"SUCH PARTINGS AS CRUSH THE LIFE OUT OF YOUNG HEARTS."
Donald had made up his mind to go West In vain his parents dissuaded
Young love is hopeful, and Donald had pictured reunion in such
attractive guise, that Minnie was half reconciled to his departure.
But the parting was sad.
Donald had spent the last evening at Minnie's parents.
The clock has no sympathy with lovers. It struck the hours
remorselessly. The parting moment had come. Minnie accompanied her lover
to the door. He took her in his arms. He kissed her again and again. He
said hopeful things, and he kissed away her tears. He stroked her hair,
and drew her head upon his breast. They renewed their vows of love.
Minnie said, through her sobs, "God bless you, Donald."
He tore himself away!
"TO THE WEST, TO THE WEST, THE LAND OF THE FREE."
"Bully for Donald!"
"Thar ain't no flies on him, boys, is thar?"
"Warn't it neat?"
"Knocked him out in one round, too!" The scene was a saloon in Montana.
Six men were gathered round a table playing poker. The light was dim,
the liquor was villainous, and the air was dense with tobacco smoke. It
was a cowboy party, and one of the cowboys was Donald Morrison. He had
adopted the free life of the Western prairies. He had learned to ride
with the grace and shoot with the deadly skill of an Indian.
'Twas a rough life, and he knew it. He mixed but little with the "Boys,"
but the latter respected him for his manly qualities. He was utterly
without fear. Courage is better than gold on the plains of Montana. He
took to the life, partly because it was wild and adventurous, partly
because he found that he could save money at it. The image of Minnie
never grew dim in his heart, and he looked forward to a modest little
home in his native village, graced and sweetened by the presence of a
On this night he had yielded to the persuasion of a few of the boys, and
went with them to "Shorty's" saloon for a game of "keerds."
"Shorty" had a pretty daughter, who was as much out of place amid her
coarse surroundings as violets in a coal mine.
She was quite honest, and she served her father's customers with
modesty. Kitty--that was her name--secretly admired the handsome Donald,
who had always treated her with respect upon the infrequent occasions of
On this night, while the party were at cards, "Wild Dick" Minton
entered. He was a desperado, and it was said that he had killed at least
two men in his time.
"Wild Dick" swaggered in, roughly greeted the party, called for drink,
and sat down in front of a small table close to the card players.
Kitty served him with the drink.
"Well, Kitty," he said with coarse gallantry, "looking sort o' purty
to-night, eh? Say, gimme a kiss, won't yer?"
Kitty blushed crimson with anger, but said nothing.
"Wild Dick" got up and took her chin in his hand.
"How dare you?" she said, stamping her foot with indignation.
"My! how hoighty-toighty we are! Well, if yer won't give a feller a
kiss, I must take it," and Dick put his arm round her waist, and drew
her towards him.
At that moment Donald, who had been watching his behaviour with
increasing disgust and anger, leaped up, caught him by the throat with
his left hand, and exclaimed: "Let her go, you scoundrel, or I'll thrash
the life out of you."
Without a word Dick whipped out his shooter from his hip pocket;
Donald's companions leaped from the table, concluding at once there
was going to be blood, while "Old Shorty" ducked behind the counter in
Kitty stood rooted to the spot, expecting to see her defender fall at
her feet with a bullet through his brain or heart.
Donald, the moment that Dick pulled out the pistol, grasped the arm that
held it as with a vice with his right hand, and, letting go his hold, of
his throat, with his left he wrenched the weapon from him.
Then he dealt him a straight blow in the face that felled him like an
Dick rose to his feet with murder in his eyes.
With a cry of rage he rushed upon Donald. The latter had learned to box
as well as shoot. He was quite calm, though very pale. He waited for
the attack, and then, judging his opportunity, let out his left with
terrific force. The blow struck Dick behind the ear, and he fell to the
ground with a heavy thud.
He rose to his feet, muttered something about _his_ time coming, and
Donald's victory over "Wild Dick," who was regarded as a bully, was
hailed in the exclamations which head this chapter.
Donald never provoked a quarrel, but, once engaged, he generally came
His prowess soon became bruited abroad, and he had the goodwill of all
the wild fellows of that wild region.
HARD TIMES AT HOME.
Life is hard in the Megantic district. A very small portion of the land
is susceptible of cultivation. The crops are meagre, and when the family
is provided for, there is very little left to sell off the farm. Money
is scarce. There is very little to be made in lumber.
When Donald went away there was a debt against his farm. He sent from
time to time what he could spare to wipe it off. But the times were bad.
Donald's father got deeper into debt. The outlook was not encouraging.
"I wish Donald would come home," the old man frequently muttered. "I
wish he would," his mother would say, and then she would cry softly to
Poverty is always unlovely.
Too often it is crime!
"Still o'er these scenes my memory wakes,
And fondly broods with miser care."
"DEAREST DONALD,--I received your kind letter. That you are doing well,
and saving money for the purpose you speak of, it is pleasant to hear.
That you still love me is what is dearest to my heart. I may confess
in this letter what I could scarcely ever say in your presence, that
I think of you always. All our old walks are eloquent of the calm and
happy past. When I sit beneath the tree where I first learned that you
cared for me, my thoughts go back, and I can almost hear the tones of
your voice. I feel lonely sometimes. Your letters are a great solace. If
I feel a little sad I go to my room, and unburden my heart to Him who is
not indifferent even to the sparrow's fall. Sometimes the woods seem
mournful, and when the wind, in these autumn evenings, wails through the
pines, I don't know how it is, but I feel tears in my eyes.
"And now, Donald, what I am going to tell you will surprise you. We are
going away to Springfield, in Massachusetts. A little property has been
left father there, and he is going to live upon it. Location does not
affect feeling. My heart is yours wherever I may be.
"God bless you, dearest.
Donald read this letter thoughtfully.
"My father going to the bad, and Minnie going away," he muttered.
He rose from his seat, and walked the narrow room in which he lodged.
"I will go home," he said.
"BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME."
Donald Morrison is back to the simple life of Marsden again. Five years
had changed him enormously. His figure had always promise of athletic
suppleness. It was now splendidly compact. He left the type of the
conventional farmer. He returned the picturesque embodiment of the far
West. Perhaps, in his long locks, wide sombrero, undressed leggings, and
prodigal display of shooting irons, there may have been a theatrical
suggestion of Buffalo Bill.
The village folk accepted him with intense admiration. Here was
something new to study. Had Donald not been to the great and wonderful
Far West, so much the more fascinating because nobody knew anything
about it? Had he not shot the buffalo roaming the plains? Had he not
mingled in that wild life which, without moral lamp-posts, allures
all the more because of a certain flavoring spice of deviltry? Every
farmer's son in Marsden, Gould, Stornaway, and Lake Megantic, envied
Donald that easy swaggering air, that frank, perhaps defiant outlook,
which the girls secretly adored. Is it the village maiden alone who
confesses to a secret charm in dare-devilism? Let the social life of
every garrison city answer. The delicately nurtured lady's heart throbs
beneath lace and silk, and that of the village girl beneath cotton, but
the character of the emotion is the same.
"Oh, Donald, Donald, my dear son!"
Withered arms were round his neck, and loving lips pressed his cheek.
Donald's home-coming had been a surprise. He had sent no word to
his parents. His mother was sitting in the kitchen, when he entered
unannounced. For a moment she did not know him, but a mother's love is
seldom at fault. A second glance was enough. It passed over Donald the
bronzed and weather-beaten man, and reached to Donald the curly-headed
lad, whose sunny locks she had brushed softly when preparing him for
"Yes, mother," said Donald, tenderly returning her greeting, "I am back
again. I intend to settle down. Father's letter showed me that things
were not going too well, and I thought I would come home and help to
straighten them out a bit. I have had my fill of wandering, and now I
think I would like to live quietly in the old place where I was born,
among the friends and the scenes which are endeared to me by past
"Oh, I wish you would, Donald," the old mother replied, with moist eyes.
"Your father wants you home, and I want you home. We're now getting old
and feeble. We won't be long here. Remain with us to the close."
"Well, Donald, my man, welcome back," a hearty voice cried.
Upon looking round Donald saw his father, who had been out in the
fields, and just came in as the mother was speaking. The two men
cordially shook hands.
"My, how changed you are," the father said. "I would hardly know you.
From the tone of your letters, you have had an adventurous life in the
"Well," said Donald, "at first the novelty attracted. I was free. There
was no standard of moral attainment constantly thrust in your face, and
that was an enormous relief to me. You know how I often rebelled against
the strictness of life here. But even license fatigues; the new becomes
the old; and where there is no standard there is but feeble achievement.
I became a cowboy because that phase of life offered at a moment when
employment was a necessity. I remained at it because I could make money.
But I never meant this should be permanent. The wild life became dull to
me, and I soon longed for the quiet scenes from which I had been so glad
to escape. I learned to shoot and ride, and picked up a few things which
may be useful to me here. And now, father, let us discuss your affairs."
"THE PRIDE OF THE VILLAGE."
It was Saturday night in the village of Lake Megantic. The work of the
week is done. There is a brief respite from labor which, severe and
unremitting, dulls the mind and chokes the fountains of geniality and
wit. The young men,--indeed, there was a sprinkling of grey hairs,
too,--had gathered in the one hotel the village boasts of. There was a
group in the little room off the bar, and another group in the bar-room
itself. It was well for the host that the palates of his guests had
not been corrupted by the "mixed drinks" of the cities. He steadily
dispensed one article,--that was whiskey. It was quite superfluous to
ask your neighbor what he would take. The whiskey was going round, and
the lads were a little flushed. At the head of the room off the bar a
piper was skirling with great energy, while in the centre of the room a
strapping young fellow was keeping time to the music.
The piper paused, and drew a long breath. The dancer resumed his seat.
"I say, boys," said one of the party, "have you seen Donald Morrison
since he came home?"
Oh, yes, they had all seen him.
"What do you think of him?" the first speaker asked.
"Well," said a second speaker, "I think he is greatly changed. He's too
free with his pistols. He seems to have taken to the habits of the West.
I don't think we want them in Megantic."
"I saw him riding down the road to-day," said a third speaker, "and he
was using the cowboy stirrups and saddle. Talking of his pistols, he's
the most surprising shot I ever saw. I saw him the other day in the
village snuffing a candle, and cutting a fine cord at twenty paces."
"He'd be an ugly customer in a row," remarked a fourth speaker.
"No doubt," said the first young fellow, "but Donald never was a
disorderly fellow, and I think his pistol shooting and defiant air are a
bit of harmless bravado."
The previous speaker appeared to be a bit of a pessimist. "I only hope,"
he said, significantly, as it seemed, "that nothing will come of this
carrying arms, and riding up and down the country like a page of
"By the way," interposed the first speaker, "did you hear that Donald
and his father had a dispute about the money which Donald advanced when
he was away, and that legal proceedings are threatened?"
No, none of the party had heard about it, but the pessimist remarked:
"I hope there won't be any trouble. Donald, I think, is a man with decent
instincts, but passion could carry him to great lengths. Once aroused,
he might prove a dangerous enemy."
The young man said these words earnestly enough, no doubt. He had no
idea he was uttering a prophecy.
How surprised we are sometimes to find that our commonplaces have been
verified by fate, with all the added emphasis of tragedy!
MODEST, SIMPLE, SWEET.
Minnie is in her new home in Springfield.
Springfield is a village set at the base of a series of hills, which it
is an article of faith to call mountains. They are not on the map, but
that matters little. We ought to be thankful that the dullness of the
guide-book makers and topographists has still left us here and there
serene bits of nature.
Springfield had a church, and a school, and a post office, and a tavern.
It was a scattered sort of place, and a week of it would have proved the
death of a city lady, accustomed to life only as it glows with color, or
sparkles with the champagne of passion. Minnie had never seen a city.
She was content that her days should be spent close to the calm heart of
nature. She felt the parting with old friends at Lake Megantic keenly.
She murmured "farewell" to the woods in accents choked with tears.
All the associations of childhood, and the more vivid and precious
associations of her early womanhood, crowded upon her that last day.
Donald occupied the chief place in her thoughts. He was far away. Should
they ever meet again? Should their sweet companionships ever be renewed?
The cares of her new home won her back to content.
Minnie's mother was feeble, and required careful nursing. Her own early
life had been darkened by hardships. When a young girl she had often
gone supperless to bed. Her bare feet and legs were bitten by the
cutting winds of winter. Her people had belonged to the North of
Ireland. She herself was born in the south of Antrim. Her mother was
early left a widow, without means of support. She worked in the fields
for fourpence a day, from six to six, and out of this she had to pay
a shilling a week for rent, and buy food and clothing for herself and
orphan child. Her employer was a Christian, and deeply interested in
the social and spiritual welfare of the heathen! When the outdoor
work failed in the winter, she wound cotton upon the old-fashioned
spinning-wheel, and Minnie's mother often hung upon the revolving spool
with a fearful interest. Mother and child were often hungry. The finish
of the cotton at a certain hour of the day meant a small pittance
wherewith bread could be bought. A minute after the office hour, and
to the pleading request that the goods be taken and the wages given, a
brutal "No" would be returned, and the door slammed in the face of the
applicant. This was frequently the experience of the poor woman and her
At least death is merciful. It said to the widow--"Come, end the
struggle. Close your eyes, and I will put you to sleep."
Minnie's mother was adopted by a lady who subsequently took up her
residence in Scotland, and a modest ray of sunshine thence continued to
rest upon her life: but her early sufferings had left their mark.
Of her mother's life Minnie knew but little. What she perceived was that
she needed all her love and care, and these she offered in abundant
A LETTER FROM DONALD.
Minnie is in her little bedroom, and she is looking, with a shy surprise
mixed with just a little guilt (which is sometimes so delicious), at her
blushes in the glass. In her hand was a letter. That letter was from
Donald. It had been handed to her at the breakfast table, and she had
hastened to her room to have the luxury of secret perusal. With love
there are only two beings in the entire universe. You say love is
selfish. You are mistaken. Love loves secrecy. A blabbing tongue, the
common look of day, kills love. The monopoly that love claims is the law
of its being. If I transcribed Donald's letter you would say it was a
very commonplace production. But Minnie kissed it twice, and put it
softly in her bosom. The letter announced that he was home again, and
that he would shortly pay her a visit. It just hinted that things were
not going on well at home; but Minnie's sanguine temperament found no
sinister suggestion in the words.
The letter had made her happy. She put on her hat, and, taking the path
at the back of the house that joined that which led to the mountain, she
was soon climbing to the latter's summit.
It was a beautiful spring day. The sunlight seemed new, and young,
and very tender. The green of the trees was of that vivid hue which
expresses hope to the young, and sadness to the aged. To the former it
means a coming depth and maturity of joy; to the latter, the fresh,
eager days of the past--bright, indeed, but mournful in their brevity.
Minnie sat down upon a rustic seat, and gave herself up to one of those
delicious day-dreams which lure the spirit as the mirage lures the
She began to sing softly to herself--
"Thou'lt break my heart thou warbling bird,
That wantons through the flowering thorn;
Thou 'minds me o' departed joys,
Departed--never to return."
Why those lines were suggested, and why her voice should falter in
sadness, and why tears should spring to her eyes, she did not know. To
some spirits the calm beauty of nature, and the warm air that breathes
in balm and healing, express the deepest pathos. The contrast between
the passion and suffering of life, and the calm assurance of unruffled
joy which nature suggests, pierces the heart with an exquisite sadness.
Poor Minnie, she sang the lines of "Bonnie, Doon," all unconscious that
they would ever have any relation to her experience.
But Minnie would bear her grief, and say, "God is love."
She had never subscribed to a creed, and although Mill and Huxley were
strangers to her, her whole nature protested against any system of which
violence was one of the factors.
Minnie was simply good. When she encountered suffering, and found that
it was too great for human relief, she would whisper to her heart, "By
and by." What by and by meant explained all to Minnie.
We spend years upon the study of character, and the cardinal features
often escape us. A dog has but to glance once into a human face. He
comprehends goodness in a moment. The ownerless dogs of the village
analyzed Minnie's nature, and found it satisfactory. They beamed upon
her with looks of wistful love. She had them in the spring and summer
for her daily escort to the mountain.
That was a testimonial of fine ethical value.
"Why, what am I dreaming about?" Minnie exclaimed, after she had sat for
about an hour. "Why are my eyes wet? Why do I feel a sadness which I
cannot define? Am I not happy? Isn't Donald coming to see me? Will we
not be together again? Isn't the sun bright and warm, and our little
home cheerful and happy? Fancies, dreams, and forebodings, away with
you. I must run home and help mother to make that salad for dinner."
The world wants not so much learned, as simple, modest, reverent women,
to sweeten and redeem it!
THE BEGINNING OF THE TROUBLE.
We will not afflict the reader with all the complexities of a dispute
which for months exercised the Press, the people, and the Government of
Lower Canada; which led to a terrible tragedy, and the invasion of a
quiet country by an armed force which exercised powers of domiciliary
visitation and arrest resorted to only under proclamation of martial
law; and which, setting a price upon a man's head, resulted in an
outlawry as romantic and adventurous as that of Sir Walter Scott's Rob
Certain large features, necessary to the development of the story, will
Poverty has few alleviations. Where it exists at all it takes a
malevolent delight in making its aspect as hideous as possible. Donald's
father had got into difficulties. Donald had helped him more than
once when he was in the West, and when he came home he advanced him a
considerable sum. A time came when Donald wanted his money back. His
father was unable to give it to him. There was a dispute between them.
Recourse was had to a money-lender in Lake Megantic.
The latter advanced a certain sum of money upon a note. In the
transactions which occurred between Donald and the money-lender the
former alleged over-reaching.
An appeal was made to the law.
In the Province of Quebec the law moves slowly. Its feet are shod with
the heavy irons of circumlocution. It is very solemn, but its pomp is
antiquated. It undertakes to deal with your cause when you have
long outgrown the interest or the passion of the original source of
contention. Time has healed the wound. You are living at peace with
your whilom enemy. You have shaken him by the hand, and partaken of his
Then the law intervenes, and revives passions whose fires were almost
out. Before Donald's case came on, he sold the farm to the money-lender.
Donald claimed that the latter, in the transaction of a mortgage prior
to the sale, and in the terms of the sale itself, had cheated him out of
The sale of the farm was made in a moment of angry impetuosity. Donald
regretted the act, and wanted the sale cancelled upon terms which would
settle his claim for the $900.
The money-lender re-sold the farm to a French family named Duquette.
Popular sympathy is not analytical. It grasps large features. It
Donald had been wronged. He had been despoiled of his farm. His years of
toil in the West had gone for nothing, for the money he had earned had
been put into the land which was now occupied by a stranger. This was
what the people said. The young men were loud in their expressions of
sympathy. The older heads shook dubiously.
"There would be trouble."
"Donald had a determined look. Duquette made a mistake in taking the
farm. The cowboys in the North-West held life rather cheap."
So the old people said.
A SHOT IN THE DARKNESS.
The Duquettes took possession of the farm.
They were quiet, inoffensive people.
Donald had been seen moving about between Marsden and Lake Megantic
wearing an air of disquietude.
Something was impending. In a vague way the people felt that something
sinister was going to happen.
'Twas about midnight in the village of Marsden. Darkness enveloped it
as a mourning garment. Painful effort, and strife, and sorrow were all
forgotten in that deep sleep which, as the good Book says, is peculiarly
sweet to the laboring man.
The Duquettes had not yet retired to rest. Mrs. Duquette had been kept
up by an ailing child. She was sitting with her little one on her knee.
Suddenly there was a detonation and a crash of glass. A whizzing bullet
lodged in the face of the clock above Mrs. Duquette's head. Who fired
the shot? And what was the motive? Was it intended that the bullet
should kill, or only alarm?
Was it intended that the Duquettes should recognize the desirability of
vacating the farm?
Who fired the shot?
Nothing was said openly about it; but the old people shook their heads,
and hinted that cowboys, with pistols ostentatiously stuck in their
belts, were not the most desirable residents of a quiet village like
"BURNT A HOLE IN THE NIGHT."
That shot in the darkness furnished a theme for endless gossip amongst
the villagers. There was not much work done the next day. When the
exercise of the faculties is limited to considerations associated with
the rare occurrence of a wedding or a death, intellectual activity is
not great. Abstract reasoning is unknown; but a new objective fact
connected with the environment is seized upon with great avidity. That
shot was felt to be ominous. Was it the prologue to the tragedy? There
was to be something more than that shot.
What was it?
Would anything else happen, and when would it happen?
The villagers were not kept long in suspense.
A few nights afterwards there was a lurid glare in the sky.
It was red, and sinister, and quivering.
What could it mean?
Was it a celestial portent which thus wrote itself upon the face of the
The villagers assembled in alarm.
"Why, it's Duquette's place on fire!"
Yes, the homestead had been fired, and the conflagration made a red,
ragged hole in the blackness of the night!
SUSPICION FALLS UPON DONALD, AND A WARRANT IS ISSUED AGAINST HIM.
This was the second act in the drama.
The situations were strong and in bold relief. Would the interest deepen
in dramatic accrument?
Donald was generally suspected; but he had commenced to experience that
sympathy which was to withstand all attempts of the Government to shake
it--attempts which appealed alternately to fears and cupidity.
There was no proof against him, but even those who, if there had been
proof, would have condemned the act, would not put forth a hand to
To understand the strength of the feeling of clannishness in this
district one must reside amongst the people.
Donald was suspected, as we have said, and a warrant was made out
against him on the charge of arson.
HE THOUGHT OF HIS WIFE AND FAMILY, AND HE RETURNED TO SHERBROOKE.
"Good morning, Mr. A----."
"Good morning, Mr. L----. A lovely morning."
"Are you going far?"
"I am going to Marsden. By the way, have you seen Donald Morrison
"I saw him yesterday. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I may tell you that I have a warrant to arrest him on a charge of
Mr. L---- looked very thoughtful. "Do you know the kind of man you have
to deal with?"
"I have heard a good deal about him, especially since he returned from
the West. But why do you ask?"
"I don't know," said Mr. L----, "whether Donald set fire to the
Duquette's place or not, but I know that his real or fancied wrongs have
made him morose and irritable--aye, I will add, dangerous. You are a
married man, Mr. A----?"
"You have a family?"
"Take my advice," said Mr. L---- impressively. "Don't try to execute
this warrant. Go straight back to Sherbrooke."
"But my duty," said Mr. A---- irresolutely.
"Where could you find Morrison, anyway? And if you did find him, and
attempted to execute the warrant, I tell you," said Mr. L--------,
with great earnestness, "there would be bloodshed."
Mr. A--------- thought a moment, held out his hand to Mr. L---------,
and turned his face towards Sherbrooke.
MACBETH--" I have done the deed. This is a sorry sight."
James Warren was a stout, thick-set man, about forty years of age. He
was an American by birth, but he had lived for many years in Compton
County. It was said that he had made a good deal of money by smuggling
goods into the States. He had the reputation of being a hard liver, and
something of a braggart.
Warren had been sworn in as a special constable to arrest Donald. Armed
with the warrant, he had lounged round the village of Megantic watching
his opportunity. He made loud boasts that he would take Morrison dead or
alive. He pulled out a pistol. This gave emphasis to the threat. We
have already said that Donald always went armed. Sometimes he carried a
rifle: more generally a couple of six-shooters.
Warren was in the hotel drinking. It was about noon on a beautiful day
One of the villagers rushed into the bar.
"Here's Morrison coming down the street," he said, in a tone of
"All right," said Warren, "this is my chance."
"You daren't arrest him," a by-stander said.
"Daren't I, by ----," he replied. "Here, give me a drink of whiskey."
He quaffed the glass, and went out to the front. Donald was coming
towards him. He saw Warren, and crossed to the other side to avoid him.
Warren went over and intercepted him.
"You've got to come with me," said Warren, pulling out the warrant.
"Let me pass," Donald replied in firm, commanding tones, "I want to have
nothing to do with you."
"But, by ----, I have something to do with you," Warren angrily
retorted. "You have got to come with me, dead or alive."
"What do you mean?" Donald demanded, while his right hand sought his
"I mean what I say," Warren replied, fast losing control over himself.
Pulling out his revolver, he covered Donald, and commanded him to
About a dozen people watched the scene in front of the hotel, chained to
the spot with a species of horrible fascination.
The moment that Donald saw Warren pull out his revolver, and cover
him with it, he clenched his teeth with a deadly determination, and,
whipping out his own weapon, and taking steady aim, he fired.
Warren, with his pistol at full cock in his hand, fell back--dead!
The bullet had entered the brain through the temple.
Donald bent over him, saw that he was dead, and, muttering between his
teeth, "It was either my life or his," walked down the street out of
Warren lay in a pool of blood, a ghastly spectacle. Some poor mother had
once held this man to her breast, and shed tears of joy or sorrow over
The inquest was over. Donald Morrison was found guilty of having slain
Warren. He walked abroad openly. No one attempted to interfere with him.
After the natural horror at the deed had subsided, sympathy went out to
Donald. He had slain a man. True. But it was in self-defence. Had not
Warren been seen pointing the pistol at him? Even admitting that Warren
had no intention to shoot, but only intended to intimidate Donald, how
could the latter know that? Donald had killed a man in the assertion of
the first law of nature--self-preservation.
The people deplored the act. But they did not feel justified in handing
Donald over to justice.
The news of the terrible tragedy spread. The papers got hold of the
story, and made the most of it.
THE BLOW FALLS.
"Father, father, what is the matter? What ails you?"
Mr. Minton had taken up the paper after breakfast. He had glanced
carelessly down the columns.
The editorials were dull, and the news meagre. Suddenly, he came across
a large heading--"DREADFUL TRAGEDY!"
He read a few lines, and then uttered a cry of horror. He threw down the
paper, and looked at Minnie. It was a look of anguish.
Minnie reached forward for the paper. Her eye caught the fatal head
line. By its suggestion of horror it provoked that hunger for details
which, in its acute stage, becomes pruriency.
This is what the eye, with a constantly augmenting expression of
fearfulness, conveyed to the brain:--
"DREADFUL TRAGEDY.--About mid-day yesterday one of the most fearful
tragedies ever enacted in this province, indeed in Canada, took place
in the village of Megantic. Our readers are familiar with the agrarian
troubles in which Donald Morrison has been figuring for some time past.
They have also been apprised that, upon the burning of Duquette's
homestead, suspicion at once fell upon Donald. A warrant, charging him
with arson, was sworn out against him, and a man named Warren undertook
to execute it. It is alleged that the latter, armed with the warrant and
a huge revolver, swaggered about Megantic for several days, boasting
that he would take Morrison dead or alive. Be that as it may, the two
men met yesterday outside the village hotel. The accounts of what
followed are most conflicting. One of our reporters interviewed several
witnesses of the scene, and the following statements, we believe, may be
relied upon. Warren approached Morrison, and, in a loud tone of voice,
told him that he had a warrant for him, and commanded him to surrender.
The latter attempted to get past, and said he wanted to have nothing to
do with him. With that Warren pulled out a pistol, and ordered Morrison
to throw up his hands. Now, whether Morrison fully believed that Warren
meant to shoot him, will never, of course, be known. That is the
statement he made to our reporter with every appearance of earnestness,
subsequent to the occurrence. At any rate, the moment that Warren's
pistol appeared, Morrison whipped out his revolver, and shot him through
the head. Warren fell backward, and died in a few minutes. The dreadful
act has caused the utmost excitement throughout the country, whose
annals, as far as serious crime is concerned, are stainless. A singular
circumstance must be noted. There is not a single person who regards
Morrison in the light of a murderer. The act is everywhere deplored, but
Morrison's own statement, backed by several witnesses, that he committed
the deed in self-defence, is as generally accepted, and the consequence
is that every house is open to him, no man's back is turned upon him,
and his friends still hold out to him the hand of fellowship. He is
still at large, and likely to be so, as the county is without police,
and strangers coming here would have no chance of arresting him. Indeed,
Morrison, armed with a rifle and two revolvers, walks about Megantic
and Marsden in broad daylight--perfectly safe from harm, as far as the
people themselves are concerned. It is said the Provincial Government
are about to take some steps in the matter."
Minnie read this account through to the end. She seemed to grow stiff,
and her eyes dilated with a nameless horror. She did not faint. That is
a privilege reserved for the heroines of the Seaside Library. This is
a very modest narrative of fact, and we could not afford so dramatic a
luxury as that. Minnie was a hearty country girl, and oatmeal repudiates
all affinity with hysterics.
Minnie read the article, threw down the paper, and rushed to her room.
She flung herself beside her bed. First of all, she didn't believe the
story. It was a foul lie. "What! Donald Morrison kill a man! Donald, my
lover, whom I have known since childhood--whose generous instincts I
have so often admired! Donald Morrison to redden his hands with the
blood of his fellow! Impossible, impossible! Oh, Donald, Donald," she
cried wildly, "say it isn't true; say it isn't true!"
She knelt over the bed, too deeply stricken for tears. After that
passionate prayer for denial--a prayer which is constantly ascending
from humanity, and which, asking for an assurance that the storm shall
not ravish the rose of life, has in it perhaps at bottom something of
selfishness--she remained motionless. She was thinking it out. It
_was_ true Donald _had_ killed a man. The report could not lie so
circumstantially. The place, and the date, and the details were given.
The story was true, and Donald had taken a life. But then, had he
committed murder? A thousand times, no! Warren had threatened to kill
Donald. Warren _would_ have killed him. Donald defended himself; and
if, in defending himself, he had taken a life, what then? Terrible--too
terrible for words; but life was as sweet to Donald as it was to
Warren. A moment later and he would have been the victim. He obeyed the
fundamental law of nature.
Thus Minnie tried to reason, but it brought no comfort to her. Her
simple dream of love and modest happiness was over. She knew that. The
beautiful vase of life was broken, and no art could mend it!
When thought was in some degree restored, she sat down and wrote the
"Oh, Donald, Donald, what have I read in the papers? Is it true? Is it
"Tell me all. Even if the truth be the very worst, do not fear that I
shall reproach you. God forbid that I should sit in judgment upon you.
Look to God. He can pardon the deepest guilt. My feelings are not
changed toward you. I loved you when you were innocent, and I would not
be worthy the name of woman if I were not faithful even in despair.
Hasty you may have been, but I know that wickedness never had a lodgment
in your heart.
'Oh, what was love made for if 'tis not the same
Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame."
"Your broken hearted
WHAT WAS DONALD ABOUT.
When Mrs. Morrison learnt the dreadful news that Donald had shot Warren,
the poor old woman was overwhelmed with despair. Donald himself broke
the news to her. After satisfying himself that Warren was dead, he
turned on his heel and went home to Marsden.
"Mother," he said, with terrible calmness, when he entered the door,
"I have killed Warren."
Mrs. Morrison looked at him vaguely. She did not comprehend.
"Warren wanted to arrest me this morning in Megantic, and because I
refused to go with him he pulled out a pistol, as I thought, to shoot
me. I fired at him. The shot killed him."
Mrs. Morrison uttered a shriek. "Oh, Donald, my son, my son," she
exclaimed, "what is this, what is this? Killed Warren! Oh, you must fly
at once, or they will be after you!"
"No, mother, I will not run. I will stay where I am. They can't arrest
me. I can easily avoid all who are sent for that purpose. My friends
will keep me informed of their doings. But, mother, whatever others say,
I want you to believe that I never thought of harming a hair of Warren's
head when he met me. I fired in self-defence. I deplore his death; but
it was either he or I."
"Oh, I believe you, Donald, and your poor mother," breaking into a
violent fit of weeping, "your poor mother will never turn against you.
But what will be the end? The officers must take you some time."
"I don't know what the end will be," he said gloomily. "If I thought I
would get a fair trial I might give myself up; but if I did so now they
would hang me, I believe. I will wait and see, and the woods, with every
inch of which I am familiar, will be my retreat, should the pursuit ever
Donald's father took the news stoically. His nature was not emotional.
The relations between father and son were strained. Little was said on
Donald walked about as usual. He had repeated to his immediate friends
every circumstance of the tragedy. They fully believed him innocent of
murder. This exoneration was of great value to him. From mouth to mouth
the story spread that Donald fired in self-defence, and the latter found
that all the faces he met were friendly faces.
What he said to himself in his own room every night, he said to his
friends--"I regret the deed. I had no thought of touching Warren. When I
saw his pistol flash in front of me, I felt in a moment that my life was
at stake. I obeyed an instinct, which prompted me to get the first shot
to save myself. I could get back to the States, but I'll stay right
here. Let them take me if they can."
In vain his friends urged flight. He was inflexible on this point.
So, as we have stated, he walked abroad in perfect safety. He carried
his rifle and his two revolvers, and possibly, in some quarters, this
rather suggestive display may, in _some_ degree, have accounted for the
civility with which he was everywhere greeted.
The county authorities had not moved against him. The Provincial
Government had not as yet intervened. A price was not yet set upon
his capture. He was free to go and come as he chose, and yet he moved
amongst those who had seen him take the life of a fellow creature.
Minnie's letter, addressed to his father's care, reached him. It moved
him deeply. Since the tragedy he had frequently tried to write to her,
but never found the courage.
He recognized that all hope of future union with Minnie was now
impossible. He had taken a life. At any moment the officers of the law
might be on his track. His arrest might lead him to the scaffold.
In his reply to Minnie, Donald described the tragic scene with which
the reader is familiar, deplored the occurrence, but, with great
earnestness, asked her to believe that he had acted only in
self-defence. "I started out," he said, in one portion of his letter,
"to go to church last Sunday evening. I had reached the door, when I
thought--'Donald, you have broken a law of God!' and I had not the
courage to go in."
We quote this passage merely in confirmation of our statement that
Donald felt perfectly free to go abroad after the tragedy, and to
participate in the social life of the village.
ACTION OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT.--FIVE OFFICERS SENT TO MEGANTIC.
To the common mind government is something vast, mysterious, and
powerful. It is associated with armies and navies, and an unlimited
police force. There are a glittering sword, a ponderous mace, and an
argus eye, that reaches to the remotest point of territory like a great
big electric search light, in it.
No man is a hero to his valet, and the nearer you get to the seat of
power, the less does government impose upon the imagination. Those who
read, with infinite respect, "that the Government has decided, after a
protracted meeting of the Cabinet, to levy a tax upon terrier dogs for
purposes of revenue," would be shocked to learn that government meant
a small table, a bottle of wine, a few cigars, and two men not a whit
above the mental or moral level of the ordinary citizen. Government
imposes when you meet it in respectful capitals in the public prints,
but when you get a glimpse of it in its shirt sleeves, _en famille_, or
playing harlequin upon the top of a barrel at the hustings, or tickling
the yokels with bits of cheap millinery and silk stockings, and reflect
that you have paid homage to _that_, you begin to doubt the saving
efficacy of the ballot box.
Now, the Government of Quebec is neither a naval nor a military power.
It doesn't want to fight, and if it did it hasn't got either the ships,
or the men, or the money. The Sergeant-at-Arms in the Legislative
Assembly is the only military person in its pay. It has not even a
single policeman to assert the majesty of the law.
The Government of Quebec is the Hon. Honore Mercier.
Mr. Mercier is like the first Napoleon. He chooses _tools_ to assist,
not strong individualities to oppose, him.
Party journalism in the Province of Quebec is peculiarly bitter and
mendacious. The Press generally had made the most of the shooting of
Warren. A month had elapsed, and no attempt had been made to arrest
Morrison, who, it was alleged, swaggered through the country armed to
the teeth, and threatening death to the man who should attempt to take
him. It was generally agreed that this was a scandal. But the opposition
journals made political capital out of the affair.
"What! was this the Mercier Government? Was this the sort of law and
order we were promised under his _regime_? Here was a criminal at large
defying the law. Was Mr. Mercier afraid to arrest him, lest he might
forfeit the Liberal votes of the county? It looked like it. Could Mr.
Mercier not impress, for love or money, a single man in the Province to
undertake the task of arresting Morrison? Or was Mr. Mercier so taken up
with posing in that Gregory costume that he had no time to devote to the
affairs of his country?"
Mr. Mercier's reply to the party Press was to send down five special
constables to Megantic.
TELLS HOW THE CONSTABLES ENJOYED THEMSELVES.
CAESAR--"Let me have men about me that are fat--
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights."
The five constables that Mr. Mercier sent down to Megantic put up in the
Within an hour Donald had received the following note:--
"Dear Donald,--Action at last. Five men from Quebec after you. Keep away
from Marsden for a day or so. I don't think there is much to fear.
They would not know you, I believe, if they met you, and they are so
frightened by the stories they have heard about you, that I don't
believe they would dare to arrest you, even if they found you. However,
as well be on the safe side. Go into the woods a little bit"
The people soon knew that an attempt was to be made to arrest Donald.
The young men gathered in the hotel round the constables, and told
blood-curdling stories of his dare-devilism in the North-West. The
constables were fat, phlegmatic, and anything but heroic. What they had
been accustomed to was an unexciting and steady beat in the drowsy old
city of Quebec, and small but unfailingly regular drinks of whiskey
_blanc_. This duty was new. Worst of all, it was perilous. This
Morrison--he might shoot at sight. True, they were armed with rifles and
revolvers; but they had heard that he was a dead shot. Perhaps he
might shoot first. That would, to say the least, be awkward, perhaps
dangerous, perhaps even fatal. No, they had not much stomach for the
work, and the people, perceiving this, encouraged their fears. In a very
short time Donald became a combination of Italian brigand, Dick Turpin,
and Wild West Cowboy, as these latter are depicted in the dime stories.
Whenever, therefore, the officers took their walks abroad, they stepped
very gingerly as they approached the village of Marsden. It never
occurred to them to enter Donald's home. They might have found him
half-a-dozen times a day. They never once crossed the threshold of the
Did not this terrible character know every tangled path, and might he
not open fire upon them without being seen?
The country roads are really white lines through the green of the woods.
One morning the constables left the hotel, primed with a little whiskey.
They took the road to Marsden. The woods skirted the narrow way on
either side. The summer was now well advanced, and the foliage was so
thick as to form an impenetrable lacery.
"We have been here a month now," said the officer in charge, in French,
"and we have accomplished nothing. I shall ask to be relieved at once.
The people will not help us. How could we ever find a man in these
woods? He might be here this moment," pointing to the trees at his
right, "yet what chance would we have of taking him?"
With one accord, the four subordinates answered "None."
"Suppose he were here," and the officer halted on his step, how--What is
that? Did you hear anything?"
"Yes," said one of the constables timorously, "I heard a noise in the
"Suppose it were Morrison?"
And they looked at each other apprehensively.
"We will return," said the officer. "It is probably a bear. If I thought
it were Morrison, I would enter the wood," he said valorously. When they
were gone, a brown face peeped out. It was Donald. "They're scared," he
said to himself, laughing. "Not much danger from _them_. I don't believe
they would know me. I'll test it."
He laid down his rifle at the foot of a tree, looked to his pistols, and
walked rapidly in the direction the constables had taken. Overtaking
them, he pushed his way through the brushwood, in advance of them, and
then, at a bend in the road which hid him from view, he leaped out upon
the road, turned, and met the party. He walked straight up to them,
looked them in the eye, and passed on. They did not know him; or, if, as
was alleged against them afterwards, they knew him, they were afraid to
arrest him. The statement that Donald carried his audacity so far as to
enter the hotel, and drink with them, he himself laughingly denied to
The opposition papers jeered at the failure of the expedition. Ridicule
is the most powerful of weapons. Man is not half so humorous as the dog
or the elephant. With the latter it is an instinct. With the former it
is an acquirement. Still, the perception of humor is fairly general.
Don't argue with your opponent, Kill him with ridicule. Laughter is
deadly. When the people laugh at a Government it can put its spare
collar and shirt in its red handkerchief, and retire to the privacy of
its family. Mr. Mercier is sensitive to ridicule.
Mr. Mercier withdrew that expedition, and offered $3,000 reward for the
capture of Morrison!
PROOF AGAINST BRIBES!
"A man's a man for a' that."
It was now that Donald was to prove that integrity which for ages has
been so noble an attribute of the Highlander.
To many of the villagers $3,000 would have been a fortune. But if Donald
spent more of his time in the woods now than formerly, it was not that
he doubted the honor of the poorest peasant in the county. He well knew
that there was not a man or woman who would have accepted the reward if
it were to save them from starvation. He had no fear on that score. He
became more reserved in his movements, because his friends informed
him that since the offer of the reward, several suspicious-looking
individuals from Montreal, pretending to be commercial travellers, had
been seen loitering in the village. He therefore drew farther into the
woods, and avoided his father's house, either going to the houses of
his friends for food, or having it brought to him. If danger seemed
pressing, he passed the night in the woods, his rifle close to his side;
but ordinarily, during this time he slept at the homes of his friends.
The arrival of every stranger was known to him. Faithful friends noted
down their description, and these notes either reached him at a given
rendezvous in the woods, or at the houses where he passed the night.
THE REWARD FAILS.
Time passed on. Donald was still at large. The reward had failed.
Private detectives from Montreal, who had remained in the district for
weeks, returned in disgust, confessing that Morrison's capture was
impossible so long as he had friends to inform him of every movement,
and the woods to retreat to.
At the police headquarters in Montreal various schemes were discussed.
Chief Hughes was of opinion that thirty resolute men, skilfully
directed, could accomplish the capture.
It was now the fall, and if action were not speedily taken, the winter
woods, filled with snow, would soon mock all effort of authority.
The press kept up the public interest in the case. Morrison had been
seen drinking at the hotel in Lake Megantic. He had attended a dance in
Marsden. He had driven publicly with the Mayor of Gould, with his rifle
slung from his shoulder. He went to church every Sunday, and he had
taken the sacrament. All this according to the press. Did the Mercier
Government, then, confess that it had abdicated its functions? Was this
Scotland in the Seventeenth Century, and this Morrison a romantic Rob
Roy, with a poetic halo round his picturesque head, or was it America
in the Nineteenth, with the lightning express, the phonograph, and
Pinkerton's bureau, and this criminal one of a vulgar type in whose
crime sentiment had no place?
Did the Government intend to allow this man to defy the law? If it did,
was this not putting a premium upon crime? If it did not, what steps did
it intend to take to secure his arrest? Thus far the newspapers.
THE GOVERNMENT TAKES OFF ITS COAT.
The winter had passed. The first expedition had failed. The reward had
failed, for the people, sincerely regretting the tragedy, and anxious
that Donald should give himself up, scorned to betray the man who had
trusted in their honor.
Donald had spent the winter in comparative security. Anxiety had made
him thin, but he was as firmly fixed as ever in his determination to
hold out. He knew that as long as his friends remained faithful to him
he could never be taken. His mind did not seem to travel beyond that.
"He would never be taken." He was urged in vain to escape to the States.
He was urged in vain to give himself up. To the promise that his friends
would see that he received a fair trial, he would answer bitterly:
"Promises are easy now because they have not to be kept. How would it be
when, behind iron bars, and hope cut off, they _could_ not be kept?"
Mr. Mercier felt that if the Government was not to suffer serious loss
of _prestige_, it must adopt heroic measures.
Mr. Mercier obtained from the city of Montreal the loan of fifteen
picked men. He placed these in the immediate charge of High Constable
Bissonnette. Major Dugas, a police magistrate, a skilled lawyer, and a
gallant officer, who, in 1885, had promptly responded to the call of
duty in the North-West, he placed in supreme command of this expedition,
to which he said dramatically, "Arrest Morrison!"
THE HUNTED OUTLAW.
The expedition arrived in Stornaway upon a raw morning in April.
Donald knew all that could be learned within an hour.
"I must be careful now," he said. "Well, if they can follow me through
the woods on snowshoes, they're welcome to begin the pursuit."
Major Dugas' capacity was largely magisterial. He had the supreme
direction of the men, indeed, but the carrying out of the movements
was to be entrusted to the High Constable. The men had been carefully
chosen. They were armed with rifles and revolvers, and their orders were
to shoot Morrison, if, when accosted, he should refuse to surrender.
Major Dugas' plan was eminently politic. He first wanted to conciliate
the people, and then induce them to bring such pressure upon Donald as
would induce him to surrender upon being promised a fair trial. "This,"
said the Major to the leading men of the place, with whom he placed
himself in communication the first day of his arrival, "is the wisest
way to end the affair. The Government is in earnest. Morrison must be
arrested. No matter how long it takes, this must be accomplished. Let
the people come to the assistance of the law, let them refuse to harbor
Morrison, and the thing is done. But should they fail to do this, then,
however disagreeable it may be to me, I must arrest all suspected of
helping him in any way."
At first the people were sullen. They resented the incursion of an armed
force. Among the party was Sergeant Clarke, who brought his bagpipes
with him. There may be some people who have a prejudice against the
bagpipes. This proceeds from defective musical education. Sergeant
Clarke's bagpipes proved a potent factor in securing the personal
goodwill of the people. He played "Auld Scottish airs," and many of the
old men, mellowed with whiskey, wept in the bar-room of the little hotel
at Stornaway. The courtesy of Major Dugas, and the civil bearing of the
men, told upon the people, but nevertheless they did not abate one jot
of what they called their loyalty to Donald.
The latter's best friends now saw there could only be one ending. Donald
might not be taken alive. But he would be taken, alive or dead. That
was clear. The Government could not now retreat. The expedition must be
carried to a successful issue. Whatever hope there was for Donald if
brought to trial now, there would be none if he shed more blood. But
Donald was past reasoning with. These considerations, urged again and
again, fell upon dull ears. "I am determined," he said, "to fight it
out." He said this with firmly compressed lips. It was useless to
The expedition was divided into three parties. To cordon the woods would
have required an army. The points covered were Stornaway (Major Dugas'
headquarters), Gould and Marsden. Photographs of the outlaw were
obtained and distributed among the men. The roads were mud, and the
woods filled with soft snow. Infinite difficulty was experienced at
every turn. The men were not prepared for roughing it. They required
long boots and snowshoes. They had neither. Detective Carpenter, indeed,
essayed the "sifters," but he could make little progress, and he did not
see the man whose name was upon every lip, and who had just declared to
the enterprising reporter who had penetrated to his fastness, "that he
would never be taken alive." The several parties contented themselves
with scouring the roads, watching the railroad, and searching the houses
of sympathizers. This continued for a week, night and day. There was no
result. The men suffered great privations. But the duty was new, the
adventure was exciting, and the element of peril lent spice to it. And
then, was there not the consideration of $3,000? So, at Gould, and
Stornaway the men made merry in the few hours' rest allotted to them.
DONALD IN THE WOODS OF MEGANTIC.
This romantic region has been proudly termed the Switzerland of Canada.
Its majestic hills--so grandly rugged--its placid lakes, and its
dense and undulating forests lend an indescribable enchantment to the
companion and lover of nature, who for the first time beholds their
supreme beauty. The tree-topped hills in their altitude are at times
lost in the clouds. The lumberman has not yet ventured to their summits.
He contents himself with a house in a more convenient and safer spot.
The monotony of the prevailing quietness around these spots is only
broken by the tiny little stream as it meanders on its course to the
bottom, where it refreshes the weary traveller who may perchance pass
that way. Tableland there is none except little patches of less than
an acre. The environments of this region are peculiarly suited to the
nature and tastes of the settlers, who will tell you that they would not
change them for all the gold you could offer. The means of access to the
villages, away from the railway, are extremely poor. The roads--if they
can be so called--offer little inducement to the tourist. The woods
adapt themselves to the security of the fugitive at all times and during
all seasons. In summer the verdant branches darken the surroundings,
while in the winter months the drooping boughs, appealing in their
solitude to nature, are sufficient in their loneliness to convince one
that to penetrate into their midst is by no means a safe venture.
Yet it was here that Donald spent his days and nights at this period.
Did Donald hesitate whether his bed was to be on feathers or branches?
No. His friends were always his first consideration, and did he for
a moment think that by spending a night at a friend's cabin he would
endanger their hospitality, he would quietly retire to the woods. His
bed consisted of a few balsam branches spread rudely on the ground,
with the overhanging boughs pulled down and by some means or other
transformed into a bower. This as a means of protection. When the snow
covered the ground to the depth of several feet, Donald did not change
his couch, but he made the addition of a blanket, which, next to his
firearms, he considered his greatest necessity. He slept well, excepting
when he was awakened by the roar of a bear or some other wild animal.
Then he simply mounted a tree, and with revolver cocked, awaited
his would-be intruder. His life in the woods--so full of exciting
events--was pleasant and safe. He never for a moment believed that he
could be caught were he to remain hidden among the towering pines.
Often--strong man as he was--would he allow his feelings to overcome him
when thinking of the possibilities which he believed life might have
had in store for him. The constant mental strain under which he found
himself seemed to affect but lightly his keen sense of vivacity. Wearily
did he pass some of his time amidst the verdancy of the woods. The sun
often rose and set unheeded by the fugitive. When darkness set in he
would furtively steal out to a friend's hut, where he would participate
in the frugal supper, and afterwards engage in the family worship, which
is never forgotten by the Highlanders.
He was always welcome wherever he went. He had no fear of being
betrayed. He knew his friends, and trusted them. Were he invited to
share the couch of his host, he would first ascertain whether all was
safe, and then stealthily enter.
SECOND WEEK OF THE SEARCH--MAJOR DUGAS BECOMES SEVERE.
A week was gone. Donald had not been caught. Major Dugas' policy of
conciliation had won personal regard. It had not caused the slightest
wavering among Donald's friends. The very men to whom the Major talked
every day knew his hiding-place, and could have placed their hands upon
him at an hour's notice. They made no sign. Every fresh measure of the
authorities was known to Donald, and during the first week--devoted,
as we have said, to a rigorous search of the farmhouses likely to be
visited by the fugitive--the police repeatedly reached his hiding-place
only to find that the bird had just taken wing!
Major Dugas was in his room at the Stornaway hotel. A severe look was
in his eye. He had tried conciliation. That had failed. It was idle to
expect any assistance from the people. The better sort--perhaps all of
them--would have been glad if the fugitive had surrendered, but they
were not going to help the authorities to induce him to do so. Very
well. Then they, must be punished for conniving at his outlawry.
High Constable Bissonnette entered for orders.
"I have determined," said the Major, "to arrest all who may be suspected
of harboring Morrison. This measure will probably bring the people
to their senses. But for their help he must surrender. When that is
removed, I am hopeful that we can take him without bloodshed. I will
issue the necessary warrants, and I will hand them over to you for
execution. The measure is a severe one, but the circumstances justify
The High Constable looked ruefully at his clothing, torn and covered
with mud. M. Bissonnette had ample energy. He entered upon the hunt with
a light heart. He had not spared himself, and had even ventured into
the wood without either long boots or snow-shoes. He was fatigued and
dilapidated, but he had not caught Donald.
"All right, your honor," said the High Constable, when the Major has
signed a batch of warrants, "I will have these attended to at once."
The High Constable was as good as his word.
The prominent friends of Donald were arrested and conveyed to Sherbrooke
Jail, bail being refused.
Major Dugas had committed an error. This measure, undertaken with the
proper motive of putting an end to the struggle by depriving the outlaw
of all chance of help, was impolitic. It accomplished nothing. The men
were arrested, but the women remained. The shelters still remained for
the fugitive. A bitter feeling now grew in the common breast against
the police--a feeling which the women, whose sympathies were with the
outlaw, and who resented the arrest of their husbands, fathers, and
brothers, did their utmost to encourage. The police found it hopeless to
get a scrap of information. The common people even refused to fraternize
with them in the evenings when they were gathered round the bar-room of
the village hotel.
During this second week the police made a great effort to locate the
fugitive. There were constant rumors regarding his whereabouts. He had
been seen at Gould. He had slept last night at his Father's house. He
had been seen on the edge of the wood. He had been seen to board a train
bound for Montreal. The Scotch delight in grim humor. These rumors
reached the police at their meals, and there was a scramble for firearms
and a rush for the wagons. They reached them at midnight, while they
were dreaming of terrific encounters with murderous outlaws in the heart
of the forest, and there was a wild rush into the darkness. A few of
Donald's nearest friends, who had escaped arrest, and started the rumors
to favor the movements of the outlaw, laughed sardonically at the labors
they imposed upon the police.
"MANY WATERS CANNOT QUENCH LOVE."
"Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met and never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted."
Ideal love does not ask conventional recognition. Love is not comfort,
nor house, nor lands, nor the tame delights of use and wont. Love is
sacrifice. Always ask love to pour out its gifts upon the altar of
sacrifice. This is to make love divine. But fill the cup of love with
comfort, and certainty, and calm days of ease, and you make it poor and
cheap. The zest of love is uncertainty. When love has to breast the
Hellespont it feels its most impassioned thrill. Let there be distance,
and danger, and separation and tears in love. Let there be dull
certainty, and custom stales its dearest delights.
Love is worthiest when it asks no requital. Minnie knew that all was
over. She received short notes from Donald from time to time, and the
newspapers kept her informed of the progress of events. She clearly
perceived that if Donald did not give himself up, one of the two things
must happen--he would either be killed himself by the police, or he
would kill one or more of his pursuers, with the certainty of being
ultimately caught, and probably hung. In her letters she implored him to
give himself up, and not further incense the Government, which was not
disposed to be implacable. Finding all her entreaties unavailing, she
determined to visit him. This was a bold resolution. It was carried out
without hesitation. A more sophisticated nature would have asked--"Will
this seem modest?" Modesty itself never asks such a question. Modesty is
not conscious. There is no blush on its cheek. Minnie believed that if
she could see Donald, she could persuade him to give himself up.
We won't tell you what Minnie wore, nor how she got to Marsden, nor what
fears she endured, lest the police, suspecting her as a stranger, should
follow her, and discover Donald's whereabouts.
Minnie reached Marsden in safety. It was in the afternoon.
She had written a brief note to Donald, telling him that she was coming.
The meeting took place in his father's house, the old people keeping
guard, so as to be able to warn the fugitive should any stranger
approach the house."
Then they shook hands.
A mutual instinct caused them to shrink from endearments. Donald was
brown, thin, and weary-looking. His pistols were in his pockets, and his
rifle slung by his side. He had just come in from the woods.
Minnie looked at him, and the calmness which she thought she had
schooled herself to maintain deserted her. She burst into tears.
"Oh! Donald, Donald," she cried, "why will you not end this? If you ever
loved me, I beg of you to give yourself up, and stand your trial. Your
friends will see that you get fair play. I never believed you guilty of
murder. From what I can hear outside, nobody believes such a thing. That
you should have taken a life is dreadful--dreadful! but that you took
it in self-defence I fully believe. For God's sake, Donald, let the
struggle end. You will be killed; or, carried away by passion, you may
take another life, and then think of your terrible position. Can I move
you? Once I could. I love you in this terrible hour as dearly as ever,
and I would to God I could spare you what you must now suffer. But let
me try to save you from yourself. Listen to reason. Give yourself up to
Major Dugas. Your friends will procure the best legal advice, and who
knows but that you may still have a future before you. Let me urge you,"
and she went up to him, and laid her hand upon his arm, while the tears
streamed down her cheeks.
Donald took her hand, and kissed it. He was greatly moved. "I can't,
Minnie," he said. "I can't do it. I would never get a fair trial. I feel
it. No, once arrested, they would either keep me in jail for ever, or
hang me. I have baffled them now for nearly a year, and I can baffle
them still. They must give up at last."
"But have you not heard," Minnie said, "that they are bringing on
fifteen more men from Quebec?"
"Oh, yes," said Donald, smiling sadly it seemed, "I am kept well
informed, though they have arrested most of my friends. Let them bring
on a hundred men. They can't take me without I'm betrayed."
"And I saw in the papers," said Minnie, with a look of horror, "that if
these failed, they would employ bloodhounds against you."
Donald flushed. "I can't believe they would dare to do such a thing," he
said. "Public opinion would not stand it. No, I'm not afraid of that."
"Then, must my visit be in vain, Donald?" Minnie pleaded.
"I may be acting unwisely, Minnie," Donald responded, "but I can't agree
to give myself up. I feel that I must fight it out as I am doing. What
the end will be God only knows. But I want you to forget me, Minnie.
Forget me, and learn, by and by, to be happy in other companionships.
You are young, and life is before you. I never thought we would end like
this. But it must be. I can't recall what has happened. I am an outlaw.
Perhaps the scaffold awaits me. Your love would have blessed my life. I
suppose fate would not have it so."
"Donald, Donald." It was the voice of his mother, who now came quickly
in exclaiming, "they are coming towards the house; away to the bush;
Donald took Minnie's hand and wrung it hard. He bent down and kissed her
forehead. "God bless you," he said--"farewell."
Then he rushed out of the house, and disappeared from view in the woods.
It was a party of five policemen, armed with rifles.
They were too late!
MAJOR DUGAS MEETS THE OUTLAW FACE TO FACE--A UNIQUE INTERVIEW.
Minnie was right about the reinforcements, though the suggestion as to
bloodhounds proved to be nothing but idle rumor. Fifteen men came
from Quebec. The expedition numbered now thirty-five men. The search
increased in rigor. The houses were visited day and night. The roads and
the outskirts of the wood were watched almost constantly. Donald was not
caught. He could not sleep in the houses of his friends, but he could
make a bed in the woods. He could not venture to take a meal under a
roof, but a neighbor woman could always manage to bring him a loaf of
bread and a bottle of milk. The police visited his father's house, broke
open his trunk, and took away all his letters, including poor Minnie's
correspondence--an act which, when Donald knew of it, caused him to
declare with an oath that if he met the man who did it, he would shoot
him down like a dog.
Major Dugas was disgusted. He had been in the district nearly three
weeks. He had tried conciliation. That had failed. He had tried
severity. That, too, had failed. He had increased the searching force.
That, also, had availed nothing.
When, therefore, three of Donald's firmest friends approached the Major
with the proposition that he should order the suspension of operations
while he held an interview with the outlaw, they found him not
indisposed to listen to the extraordinary proposal. Donald was to be
found, and his friends pledged their honor that he would meet the Major
when and where he pleased, provided the latter would give his word that
he would take no measures to arrest him.
Major Dugas hesitated for a long time, but finally accepted the terms.
He was severely blamed in the press for parleying with an outlaw.
Whatever maybe said about the wisdom of the arrangement, in scrupulously
observing the terms of it, Major Dugas acted like a gentleman and a man
of honor. That he should be blamed for honoring his own pledged word
proves how crude is the common code of ethics.
Major Dugas ordered the suspension of operations. In the company
of Donald's friends, he drove to Marsden; and there, in a rude log
school-house, he was introduced to the famous outlaw.
"You are alone, Major Dugas," Donald said suspiciously, keeping his
hands upon his pistols.
"Quite alone," the Major replied. "I have acceded to the wish of your
friends, in order to avert the possibility of bloodshed. Now, Morrison,
I ask you to surrender like a sensible man. Your capture is only a
matter of time. The Government must vindicate the law, no matter at what
cost. Give yourself up, and I will do what in me lies to see that you
get the utmost fair play in your trial. I speak to you now in a friendly
way. I have no personal feeling in the matter. I am the instrument of
the law. If this pursuit is continued, there will probably be bloodshed
either on one side or the other. You are only making your position
worse by holding out; and think what it will be if there is any more
"The Major speaks reasonably, Donald," Morrison's friends said, "for
God's sake, take his advice."
"Can the Major give me the $900 of which I have been defrauded, to help
me to conduct my defence?" Donald asked.
"I have nothing to do with your money matters whatever," the Major
replied. "I can make no terms with you of that nature. I am here to urge
your surrender on the grounds of prudence, for the sake of your own
"It was very kind of you, Major, to grant this interview," the outlaw
said, "but I can't surrender unless you can give me some promise, either
of money or an acquittal."
"Oh, this is absurd," the Major said. "Our interview ends. Within six
hours the pursuit will be recommenced. My last word to you, Morrison,
is, don't make your case hopeless by shooting any more."
"I will take your advice, Major. I give you my word," Donald replied.
Thus ended the memorable interview.
Major Dugas drove back to Stornaway in disgust. He ordered the
resumption of the search, and upon the following morning left for
THE EXPEDITION IS BROKEN UP.
Donald's friends were greatly disappointed. They fully expected that he
would surrender himself to Major Dugas.
A few days subsequent to the interview it was announced that the
expedition had been broken up. The Government had recalled all the men
but five, who were left in charge of Detective Carpenter.
There was a tacit confession of failure.
The opposition press burst into a loud guffaw. "Was this the result of
a year's effort to capture a criminal? Was this the return for all the
expenditure which had been incurred?" The comic papers poked outrageous
fun at the expedition. The illustrated journals mocked it in pen and ink
sketches that smarted like aquafortis. The ribald versifiers flouted it
in metrical lampoons whose burden was--"The man I left behind me."
CARPENTER ON THE SCENT--A NARROW ESCAPE.
Carpenter had five men at his disposal, and he was sanguine that an
unremitting pursuit must end in the capture of the outlaw. Consequently,
upon the removal of the bulk of the expedition, he set himself to make
such disposition of his men as would lead to the most substantial
results. Where did Donald get his food? Where did he get changes of
clothing? He _must_ pay visits to the houses in the neighborhood. They
had been searched in vain. Very well. Let them be searched again. Let
them be persistently watched. The outlaw would be tracked at last.
It was about ten o'clock at night. Dark, heavy clouds hung overhead like
a mournful pall. A brooding darkness and silence enveloped the woods.
A figure parted the young branches, came out into the open, ran
stealthily along the road, reached a small cottage, and disappeared
Donald had tempted fate at a moment when fate, in the form of two eager
officers of the law, was closing him in.
McMahon and the Indian scout were out that night. They had made a round
of the cottages. Fatigued and a little dispirited, they were about to go
back to their quarters, when a feeble glimmer of light was seen through
the darkness, proceeding from the cottage which Donald had entered.
"Is it worth while to search it?" McMahon asked his companion
"Well," replied the scout, "we may as well take it in to wind up for the
night. I don't suppose we'll have any luck."
"Not likely," McMahon said. Donald was eating a little plain supper,
when the poor honest peasant woman whose hospitality he was sharing,
thought she heard footsteps outside the door. She listened. "Donald," she
said, in a quick, sharp voice, "I hear footsteps. They are approaching
the door. It may be the police. What will you do?"
"I don't think they're about so late," Donald replied carelessly,
feeling nevertheless for his pistols in his pockets.
"Donald, they're coming. It's the police. I'm sure of it. My God, if
you should be taken. Here, quick! come into this bedroom, and lie quiet
under the bed."
Donald sprang from his seat and did as he was directed. He was not a
moment too soon.
The police knocked smartly at the door.
The woman opened it.
"Have you got Morrison here?" McMahon asked.
"Look and see," the woman replied.
The two men searched the four rooms of the small house, and then they
sat down upon the bed beneath which, close to the wall, Donald was
"There's no use in stopping here," Leroyer said.
"No," replied McMahon, "we may as well go." As he spoke he carelessly
ran the butt end of his rifle under the bed!
Donald grew to the wall, and held his breath!
The rifle conveyed no sense of contact. It was thrust in without
The police took their departure.
"What a narrow escape!" Donald said, when he had emerged from his
hiding-place. His face showed pale beneath the bronze. The perspiration
stood in beads upon his brow.
The friendly creature who sheltered him trembled like an aspen.
She had expected discovery, arrest, perhaps even bloodshed. She felt all
a woman's exaggerated horror of police, and law, and violence.
"Forgive me," Donald said, "for coming near the house. I'll not trouble
ANOTHER TRUCE ASKED FOR.
The friends of the outlaw made a last effort to bring about an
accommodation. A noted lawyer in Toronto had been written to, and had
offered to defend him. They went to Donald, showed him the letter, and
peremptorily insisted that he should give himself up, or be content to
have all his friends desert him.
Perhaps the outlaw realized at last how severely he had tried his
"Very well," he said, "I agree to give myself up. Tell the police, and
get them to suspend operations. Come back here and let me know what they
Detective Carpenter was seen, and the situation explained to him.
"Well," said he, "I don't believe in truces with outlaws. This thing has
lasted long enough. But if you can rely upon this new attitude of the
outlaw's, I would not be averse to a short suspension, though, if my men
meet him before your next interview, they will certainly do their best
to capture him."
Carpenter had placed two men--McMahon and Pete Leroyer (an Indian
scout)--close to the outlaw's home, and told them to watch for him
entering, and capture him at all hazards.
Carpenter knew that Donald must get his changes of clothing at his
father's, and that a strict watch would sooner or later be rewarded.
SHOTS IN THE DARKNESS--DONALD IS CAPTURED.
It was about eight o'clock on Sunday evening. McMahon and Leroyer had
watched all through Saturday night and all through Sunday close to the
house, hidden from view in the bush. They were wetted through with the
snow; they were cold and hungry.
In the gathering darkness two men passed them, knocked at the cottage
door and entered.
"Did you see who they were?" McMahon asked.
"No," said his companion. "But see! they have lit the lamp; I'll creep
forward and look through."
The scout crept towards the window on his hands and knees. He was as
lithe and stealthy as a panther. He raised his head and looked in.
"My God, it's Morrison," he said to himself, as he crept back to his
"It's Morrison," he said in an eager whisper. "I saw him sitting on a
chair, talking to his mother. We have him when he comes out. How'll we
"We must call upon him to surrender, and if he refuses we must fire so
as to lame, but not to hurt him."
At the moment that the glowing eyes of the scout looked in through the
window, Donald was sitting on a chair in the middle of the floor talking
to his mother, who was filling a bottle of milk for him.
"I'm to meet M---- in the morning in the woods, and then I'm going to
surrender. The police by this time know my intention."
"You have acted wisely, Donald," his mother said. "We will all see that
you get a fair trial. My poor hunted boy, what have you suffered during
the past twelve months. Anything would be better than this. You are
liable to be caught at any moment--perhaps shot."
"Have no fear, mother, on that score. I hope I am acting for the best in
giving myself up."
"I'm sure you are, Donald. Here's your bottle of milk and your blanket."
"I don't know what may happen before we meet again, mother. Good-bye,"
and he bent down and kissed her withered face.
He opened the door, and went out into the darkness. "Throw up your
hands," a ringing voice exclaimed.
"My God, I'm betrayed at last," Donald muttered, as he leaped the fence
close to the house, and made a straight line for the woods.
McMahon and the scout leaped from their concealment, followed hard upon
the fugitive, and fired repeatedly at him from their revolvers.
Could he escape?
He had fronted worse perils than this. Would fortune still smile upon
him, or, deserting him in the moment of supreme need, leave him to
destiny? The darkness favored him. The dense woods were near. Would he
be able to reach them in safety?
McMahon and Leroyer, by simply going up to the door, and grasping the
outlaw firmly the moment he came out, might have made the capture in a
perfectly certain though commonplace manner. Both might be forgiven,
however, for a little nervousness and excitement. The prize was within
their grasp. For this moment they had lain out in the snow, wet and
hungry. Brought suddenly face to face with the moment, the moment was a
little too big for them. Neither of the pursuers aimed very steadily.
They grasped their revolvers, and made red punctures in the night.
What was that? A cry of pain.
The pursuers came up, and saw a figure totter and fall at their feet.
"You have caught me at last," Donald said; "but had the truce been kept,
you never could have taken me."
The outlaw was wrapped in blankets and conveyed to Sherbrooke prison,
and the following morning the papers announced all over the Dominion
that "Donald Morrison, the famous outlaw, who had defied every effort of
the Government for twelve months, had been captured, after having been
severely wounded in the hip by a revolver shot."
In the jail Donald said--"I was taken by treachery."
But the outlaw had been secured!
It was dreadfully unromantic, but Minnie did not fall into a decline.
She is alive and well at this moment. Life may be over, and yet we may
live functionally through long stagnant years. Life is not a calendar
of dates, but of feelings. Minnie will live a calm, chastened life. She
cannot love again; but she is not soured by her experience. She will be
one of those rare old maids who are so sweet and wholesome that even
youth, hot and impatient, tenders cordial homage to them.
Minnie braves her sorrow bravely. To look at her one would not suspect
that she had ever passed through deep suffering. Disappointment and
loss either curl the lips in bitter cynicism, or give them so soft, so
gracious, so touching an expression, as make their caress, falling upon
the wretched and forsaken, a benediction. When suffering steels the
heart, and poises the nature in an attitude of silent scorn for the
worst affront of fortune, it is fatal. It takes the life simply. That is
all. When it melts the heart, pity finds a soft place, and the ministry
of sorrow becomes, not a phrase, but an experience. Very few know
Minnie's secret. Her parents never mention the name of Donald Morrison.
She quietly goes about her modest duties, and the few poor old people in
the village left desolate in their old age, when the shadows lengthen,
and, the gloom of the long night is gathering, find that she has
"A tear for pity,
And a hand open as day for melting charity."