Part 1 out of 8
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THE MAN FROM GLENGARRY
A TALE OF THE OTTAWA
by RALPH CONNOR
TO THE MEN OF GLENGARRY WHO IN PATIENCE, IN COURAGE AND IN THE FEAR
OF GOD ARE HELPING TO BUILD THE EMPIRE OF THE CANADIAN WEST THIS
BOOK IS HUMBLY DEDICATED
The solid forests of Glengarry have vanished, and with the forests
the men who conquered them. The manner of life and the type of
character to be seen in those early days have gone too, and
forever. It is part of the purpose of this book to so picture
these men and their times that they may not drop quite out of mind.
The men are worth remembering. They carried the marks of their
blood in their fierce passions, their courage, their loyalty; and
of the forest in their patience, their resourcefulness, their self-
reliance. But deeper than all, the mark that reached down to their
hearts' core was that of their faith, for in them dwelt the fear of
God. Their religion may have been narrow, but no narrower than the
moulds of their lives. It was the biggest thing in them. It may
have taken a somber hue from their gloomy forests, but by reason of
a sweet, gracious presence dwelling among them it grew in grace and
sweetness day by day.
In the Canada beyond the Lakes, where men are making empire, the
sons of these Glengarry men are found. And there such men are
needed. For not wealth, not enterprise, not energy, can build a
nation into sure greatness, but men, and only men with the fear of
God in their hearts, and with no other. And to make this clear is
also a part of the purpose of this book.
I THE OPEN RIVER
II VENGEANCE IS MINE
III THE MANSE IN THE BUSH
IV THE RIDE FOR LIFE
V FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS
VI A NEW FRIEND
VIII THE SUGARING-OFF
IX A SABBATH DAY'S WORK
X THE HOME-COMING OF THE SHANTYMEN
XI THE WAKE
XIII THE LOGGING BEE
XIV SHE WILL NOT FORGET
XV THE REVIVAL
XVI AND THE GLORY
XVII LENOIR'S NEW MASTER
XVIII HE IS NOT OF MY KIND
XIX ONE GAME AT A TIME
XX HER CLINGING ARMS
XXI I WILL REMEMBER
XXII FORGET THAT I LOVED YOU
XXIII A GOOD, TRUE FRIEND
XXIV THE WEST
XXV GLENGARRY FOREVER
THE MAN FROM GLENGARRY
THE OPEN RIVER
The winter had broken early and the Scotch River was running ice-
free and full from bank to bank. There was still snow in the
woods, and with good sleighing and open rivers every day was golden
to the lumbermen who had stuff to get down to the big water. A day
gained now might save weeks at a chute farther down, where the
rafts would crowd one another and strive for right of way.
Dan Murphy was mightily pleased with himself and with the bit of
the world about him, for there lay his winter's cut of logs in the
river below him snug and secure and held tight by a boom across the
mouth, just where it flowed into the Nation. In a few days he
would have his crib made, and his outfit ready to start for the
Ottawa mills. He was sure to be ahead of the big timber rafts that
took up so much space, and whose crews with unbearable effrontery
considered themselves the aristocrats of the river.
Yes, it was a pleasant and satisfying sight, some three solid miles
of logs boomed at the head of the big water. Suddenly Murphy
turned his face up the river.
"What's that now, d'ye think, LeNware?" he asked.
LeNoir, or "LeNware," as they all called it in that country, was
Dan Murphy's foreman, and as he himself said, "for haxe, for hit
(eat), for fight de boss on de reever Hottawa! by Gar!" Louis
LeNoir was a French-Canadian, handsome, active, hardy, and
powerfully built. He had come from the New Brunswick woods some
three years ago, and had wrought and fought his way, as he thought,
against all rivals to the proud position of "boss on de reever,"
the topmost pinnacle of a lumberman's ambition. It was something
to see LeNoir "run a log" across the river and back; that is, he
would balance himself upon a floating log, and by spinning it
round, would send it whither he would. At Murphy's question LeNoir
stood listening with bent head and open mouth. Down the river came
the sound of singing. "Don-no me! Ah oui! be dam! Das Macdonald
gang for sure! De men from Glengarrie, les diables! Dey not hout
de reever yet." His boss went off into a volley of oaths--
"They'll be wanting the river now, an' they're divils to fight."
"We give em de full belly, heh? Bon!" said LeNoir, throwing back
his head. His only unconquered rival on the river was the boss of
the Macdonald gang.
Ho ro, mo nighean donn bhoidheach,
Hi-ri, mo nighean donn bhoidheach,
Mo chaileag, laghach, bhoidheach,
Cha phosainn ach thu.
Down the river came the strong, clear chorus of men's voices, and
soon a "pointer" pulled by six stalwart men with a lad in the stern
swung round the bend into view. A single voice took up the song--
'S ann tha mo run's na beanntaibh,
Far bheil mo ribhinn ghreannar,
Mar ros am fasach shamhraidh
An gleann fad o shuil.
After the verse the full chorus broke forth again--
Ho ro, mo nighean, etc.
Swiftly the pointer shot down the current, the swaying bodies and
swinging oars in perfect rhythm with the song that rose and fell
with melancholy but musical cadence. The men on the high bank
stood looking down upon the approaching singers. "You know dem
fellers?" said LeNoir. Murphy nodded. "Ivery divil iv thim--Big
Mack Cameron, Dannie Ross, Finlay Campbell--the redheaded one--the
next I don't know, and yes! be dad! there's that blanked Yankee,
Yankee Jim, they call him, an' bad luck till him. The divil will
have to take the poker till him, for he'll bate him wid his fists,
and so he will--and that big black divil is Black Hugh, the brother
iv the boss Macdonald. He'll be up in the camp beyant, and a
mighty lucky thing for you, LeNoir, he is."
"Bah!" spat LeNoir, "Dat beeg Macdonald I mak heem run like one
leetle sheep, one tam at de long Sault, bah! No good!" LeNoir's
contempt for Macdonald was genuine and complete. For two years he
had tried to meet the boss Macdonald, but his rival had always
Meantime, the pointer came swinging along. As it turned the point
the boy uttered an exclamation--"Look there!" The song and the
rowing stopped abruptly; the big, dark man stood up and gazed down
the river, packed from bank to bank with the brown saw-logs; deep
curses broke from him. Then he caught sight of the men on the
bank. A word of command and the pointer shot into the shore, and
the next moment Macdonald Dubh, or Black Hugh, as he was sometimes
called, followed by his men, was climbing up the steep bank.
"What the blank, blank, do these logs mean, Murphy?" he demanded,
without pause for salutation.
"Tis a foine avenin' Misther Macdonald," said Murphy, blandly
offering his hand, "an' Hiven bliss ye."
Macdonald checked himself with an effort and reluctantly shook
hands with Murphy and LeNoir, whom he slightly knew. "It is a fery
goot evening, indeed," he said, in as quiet a voice as he could
command, "but I am inquiring about these logs."
"Shure, an' it is a dhry night, and onpolite to kape yez talking
here. Come in wid yez," and much against his will Black Hugh
followed Murphy to the tavern, the most pretentious of a group of
log buildings--once a lumber camp--which stood back a little
distance from the river, and about which Murphy's men, some sixty
of them, were now camped.
The tavern was full of Murphy's gang, a motley crew, mostly French
Canadians and Irish, just out of the woods and ready for any
devilment that promised excitement. Most of them knew by sight,
and all by reputation, Macdonald and his gang, for from the
farthest reaches of the Ottawa down the St. Lawrence to Quebec the
Macdonald gang of Glengarry men was famous. They came, most of
them, from that strip of country running back from the St. Lawrence
through Glengarry County, known as the Indian Lands--once an Indian
reservation. They were sons of the men who had come from the
highlands and islands of Scotland in the early years of the last
century. Driven from homes in the land of their fathers, they had
set themselves with indomitable faith and courage to hew from the,
solid forest, homes for themselves and their children that none
might take from them. These pioneers were bound together by ties
of blood, but also by bonds stronger than those of blood. Their
loneliness, their triumphs, their sorrows, born of their common
life-long conflict with the forest and its fierce beasts, knit them
in bonds close and enduring. The sons born to them and reared in
the heart of the pine forests grew up to witness that heroic
struggle with stern nature and to take their part in it. And
mighty men they were. Their life bred in them hardiness of frame,
alertness of sense, readiness of resource, endurance, superb self-
reliance, a courage that grew with peril, and withal a certain
wildness which at times deepened into ferocity. By their fathers
the forest was dreaded and hated, but the sons, with rifles in
hand, trod its pathless stretches without fear, and with their
broad-axes they took toll of their ancient foe. For while in
spring and summer they farmed their narrow fields, and rescued new
lands from the brule; in winter they sought the forest, and back on
their own farms or in "the shanties" they cut sawlogs, or made
square timber, their only source of wealth. The shanty life of the
early fifties of last century was not the luxurious thing of to-
day. It was full of privation, for the men were poorly housed and
fed, and of peril, for the making of the timber and the getting it
down the smaller rivers to the big water was a work of hardship and
danger. Remote from the restraints of law and of society, and
living in wild surroundings and in hourly touch with danger, small
wonder that often the shanty-men were wild and reckless. So that
many a poor fellow in a single wild carouse in Quebec, or more
frequently in some river town, would fling into the hands of sharks
and harlots and tavern-keepers, with whom the bosses were sometimes
in league, the earnings of his long winter's work, and would wake
to find himself sick and penniless, far from home and broken in
Of all the shanty-men of the Ottawa the men of Glengarry, and of
Glengarry men Macdonald's gang were easily first, and of the gang
Donald Bhain Macdonald, or Macdonald More, or the Big Macdonald,
for he was variously known, was not only the "boss" but best and
chief. There was none like him. A giant in size and strength, a
prince of broad-axe men, at home in the woods, sure-footed and
daring on the water, free with his wages, and always ready to drink
with friend or fight with foe, the whole river admired, feared, or
hated him, while his own men followed him into the woods, on to a
jam, or into a fight with equal joyousness and devotion. Fighting
was like wine to him, when the fight was worth while, and he went
into the fights his admirers were always arranging for him with the
easiest good humor and with a smile on his face. But Macdonald
Bhain's carousing, fighting days came to an abrupt stop about three
years before the opening of this tale, for on one of his summer
visits to his home, "The word of the Lord in the mouth of his
servant Alexander Murray," as he was wont to say, "found him and he
was a new man." He went into his new life with the same whole-
souled joyousness as had marked the old, and he announced that with
the shanty and the river he was "done for ever more." But after
the summer's work was done, and the logging over, and when the snap
of the first frost nipped the leaves from the trees, Macdonald
became restless. He took down his broad-axe and spent hours
polishing it and bringing it to an edge, then he put it in its
wooden sheath and laid it away. But the fever was upon him, ten
thousand voices from the forest were shouting for him. He went
away troubled to his minister. In an hour he came back with the
old good humor in his face, took down the broad-axe again, and
retouched it, lovingly, humming the while the old river song of the
Ho ro mo nighean, etc.
He was going back to the bush and to the biggest fight of his life.
No wonder he was glad. Then his good little wife began to get
ready his long, heavy stockings, his thick mits, his homespun
smock, and other gear, for she knew well that soon she would be
alone for another winter. Before long the word went round that
Macdonald Bhain was for the shanties again, and his men came to him
for their orders.
But it was not to the old life that Macdonald was going, and he
gravely told those that came to him that he would take no man who
could not handle his axe and hand-spike, and who could not behave
himself. "Behaving himself" meant taking no more whiskey than a
man could carry, and refusing all invitations to fight unless
"necessity was laid upon him." The only man to object was his own
brother, Macdonald Dubh, whose temper was swift to blaze, and with
whom the blow was quicker than the word. But after the second year
of the new order even Black Hugh fell into line. Macdonald soon
became famous on the Ottawa. He picked only the best men, he fed
them well, paid them the highest wages, and cared for their
comfort, but held them in strictest discipline. They would drink
but kept sober, they would spend money but knew how much was coming
to them. They feared no men even of "twice their own heavy and
big," but would never fight except under necessity. Contracts
began to come their way. They made money, and what was better,
they brought it home. The best men sought to join them, but by
rival gangs and by men rejected from their ranks they were hated
with deepest heart hatred. But the men from Glengarry knew no fear
and sought no favor. They asked only a good belt of pine and an
open river. As a rule they got both, and it was peculiarly
maddening to Black Hugh to find two or three miles of solid logs
between his timber and the open water of the Nation. Black Hugh
had a temper fierce and quick, and when in full flame he was a man
to avoid, for from neither man nor devil would he turn. The only
man who could hold him was his brother Macdonald Bhain, for strong
man as he was, Black Hugh knew well that his brother could with a
single swift grip bring him to his knees.
It was unfortunate that the command of the party this day should
have been Macdonald Dubh's. Unfortunate, too, that it was Dan
Murphy and his men that happened to be blocking the river mouth.
For the Glengarry men, who handled only square timber, despised the
Murphy gang as sawlog-men; "log-rollers" or "mushrats" they called
them, and hated them as Irish "Papishes" and French "Crapeaux,"
while between Dan Murphy and Macdonald Dubh there was an ancient
personal grudge, and to-day Murphy thought he had found his time.
There were only six of the enemy, he had ten times the number with
him, many of them eager to pay off old scores; and besides there
was Louis LeNoir as the "Boss Bully" of the river. The Frenchman
was not only a powerful man, active with hands and feet, but he was
an adept in all kinds of fighting tricks. Since coming to the
Ottawa he had heard of the big Macdonald, and he sought to meet
him. But Macdonald avoided him once and again till LeNoir, having
never known any one avoiding a fight for any reason other than
fear, proclaimed Macdonald a coward, and himself "de boss on de
reever." Now there was a chance of meeting his rival and of
forcing a fight, for the Glengarry camp could not be far away where
the big Macdonald himself would be. So Dan Murphy, backed up with
numbers, and the boss bully LeNoir, determined that for these
Macdonald men the day of settlement had come. But they were
dangerous men, and it would be well to take all precautions, and
hence his friendly invitation to the tavern for drinks.
Macdonald Dubh, scorning to show hesitation, though he suspected
treachery, strode after Murphy to the tavern door and through the
crowd of shanty-men filling the room. They were as ferocious
looking a lot of men as could well be got together, even in that
country and in those days--shaggy of hair and beard, dressed out in
red and blue and green jerseys, with knitted sashes about their
waists, and red and blue and green tuques on their heads. Drunken
rows were their delight, and fights so fierce that many a man came
out battered and bruised to death or to life-long decrepitude.
They were sitting on the benches that ran round the room, or
lounging against the bar singing, talking, blaspheming. At the
sight of Macdonald Dubh and his men there fell a dead silence, and
then growls of recognition, but Murphy was not yet ready, and
roaring out "Dh-r-r-i-n-k-s," he seized a couple of his men leaning
against the bar, and hurling them to right and left, cried,
"Ma-a-ke room for yer betthers, be the powers! Sthand up, bhoys,
and fill yirsilves!"
Black Hugh and his men lined up gravely to the bar and were
straightway surrounded by the crowd yelling hideously. But if
Murphy and his gang thought to intimidate those grave Highlanders
with noise, they were greatly mistaken, for they stood quietly
waiting for their glasses to be filled, alert, but with an air of
perfect indifference. Some eight or ten glasses were set down and
filled, when Murphy, snatching a couple of bottles from the shelf
behind the bar, handed them out to his men, crying, "Here, ye
bluddy thaves, lave the glasses to the gintlemen!"
There was no mistaking the insolence in his tone, and the chorus of
derisive yells that answered him showed that his remark had gone to
Yankee Jim, who had kept close to Black Hugh, saw the veins in his
neck beginning to swell, and face to grow dark. He was longing to
be at Murphy's throat. "Speak him fair," he said, in a low tone,
"there's rather a good string of 'em raound." Macdonald Dubh
glanced about him. His eye fell on his boy, and for the first time
his face became anxious. "Ranald," he said, angrily, "take
yourself out of this. It is no place for you whatever." The boy,
a slight lad of seventeen, but tall and well-knit, and with his
father's fierce, wild, dark face, hesitated.
"Go," said his father, giving him a slight cuff.
"Here, boy!" yelled LeNoir, catching him by the arm and holding the
bottle to his mouth, "drink." The boy took a gulp, choked, and
spat it out. LeNoir and his men roared. "Dat good whiskey," he
cried, still holding the boy. "You not lak dat, hey?"
"No," said the boy, "it is not good at all."
"Try heem some more," said LeNoir, thrusting the bottle at him
"I will not," said Ranald, looking at LeNoir straight and fearless.
"Ho-ho! mon brave enfant! But you have not de good mannere. Come,
drink!" He caught the boy by the back of the neck, and made as if
to pour the whiskey down his throat. Black Hugh, who had been kept
back by Yankee Jim all this time, started forward, but before he
could take a second step Ranald, squirming round like a cat, had
sunk his teeth into LeNoir's wrist. With a cry of rage and pain
LeNoir raised the bottle and was bringing it down on Ranald's head,
when Black Hugh, with one hand, caught the falling blow, and with
the other seized Ranald, and crying, "Get out of this!" he flung
him towards the door. Then turning to LeNoir, he said, with
surprising self-control, "It is myself that is sorry that a boy of
mine should be guilty of biting like a dog."
"Sa-c-r-re le chien!" yelled LeNoir, shaking off Macdonald Dubh;
"he is one dog, and the son of a dog!" He turned and started for
the boy. But Yankee Jim had got Ranald to the door and was
whispering to him. "Run!" cried Yankee Jim, pushing him out of the
door, and the boy was off like the wind. LeNoir pursued him a
short way and returned raging.
Yankee Jim, or Yankee, as he was called for short, came back to
Macdonald Dubh's side, and whispering to the other Highlanders,
"Keep your backs clear," sat up coolly on the counter. The fight
was sure to come and there were seven to one against them in the
room. If he could only gain time. Every minute was precious. It
would take the boy fifteen minutes to run the two miles to camp.
It would be half an hour before the rest of the Glengarry men could
arrive, and much fighting may be done in that time. He must avert
attention from Macdonald Dubh, who was waiting to cram LeNoir's
insult down his throat. Yankee Jim had not only all the cool
courage but also the shrewd, calculating spirit of his race. He
was ready to fight, and if need be against odds, but he preferred
to fight on as even terms as possible.
Soon LeNoir came back, wild with fury, and yelling curses at the
top of his voice. He hurled himself into the room, the crowd
falling back from him on either hand.
"Hola!" he yelled, "Sacre bleu!" He took two quick steps, and
springing up into the air he kicked the stovepipe that ran along
some seven feet above the floor.
"Purty good kicking," called out Yankee, sliding down from his
seat. "Used to kick some myself. Excuse ME." He stood for a
moment looking up at the stovepipe, then without apparent effort
he sprang into the air, shot up his long legs, and knocked the
stovepipe with a bang against the ceiling. There was a shout of
"My damages," he said to Pat Murphy, who stood behind the counter.
"Good thing there ain't no fire. Thought it was higher. Wouldn't
care to kick for the drinks, would ye?" he added to LeNoir.
LeNoir was too furious to enter into any contest so peaceful, but
as he specially prided himself on his high kick, he paused a moment
and was about to agree when Black Hugh broke in, harshly, spoiling
all Yankee's plans.
"There is no time for such foolishness," he said, turning to Dan
Murphy. "I want to know when we can get our timber out."
"Depinds intoirly on yirsilf," said Murphy.
"When will your logs be out of the way?"
"Indade an' that's a ha-r-r-d one," laughed Murphy.
"And will you tell me what right hev you to close up the river?"
Black Hugh's wrath was rising.
"You wud think now it wuz yirsilf that owned the river. An' bedad
it's the thought of yir mind, it is. An' it's not the river only,
but the whole creation ye an yir brother think is yours. Dan
Murphy was close up to Macdonald Dubh by this time. "Yis, blank,
blank, yir faces, an' ye'd like to turn better than yirsilves from
aff the river, so ye wud, ye black-hearted thaves that ye are."
This, of course, was beyond all endurance. For answer Black Hugh
smote him sudden and fierce on the mouth, and Murphy went down.
"Purty one," sang out Yankee, cheerily. "Now, boys, back to the
Before Murphy could rise, LeNoir sprang over him and lit upon
Macdonald like a cat, but Macdonald shook himself free and sprang
back to the Glengarry line at the wall.
"Mac an' Diabboil," he roared, "Glengarry forever!"
"Glengarry!" yelled the four Highlanders beside him, wild with the
delight of battle. It was a plain necessity, and they went into it
with free consciences and happy hearts.
"Let me at him," cried Murphy, struggling past LeNoir towards
"Non! He is to me!" yelled LeNoir, dancing in front of Macdonald.
"Here, Murphy," called out Yankee, obligingly, "help yourself this
way." Murphy dashed at him, but Yankee's long arm shot out to meet
him, and Murphy again found the floor.
"Come on, boys," cried Pat Murphy, Dan's brother, and followed by
half a dozen others, he flung himself at Yankee and the line of men
standing up against the wall. But Yankee's arms flashed out once,
twice, thrice, and Pat Murphy fell back over his brother; two
others staggered across and checked the oncoming rush, while Dannie
Ross and big Mack Cameron had each beaten back their man, and the
Glengarry line stood unbroken. Man for man they were far more than
a match for their opponents, and standing shoulder to shoulder,
with their backs to the wall, they taunted Murphy and his gang with
all the wealth of gibes and oaths at their command.
"Where's the rest of your outfit, Murphy?" drawled Yankee. "Don't
seem's if you'd counted right."
"It is a cold day for the parley voos," laughed Big Mack Cameron.
"Come up, lads, and take a taste of something hot."
Then the Murphy men, clearing away the fallen, rushed again. They
strove to bring the Highlanders to a clinch, but Yankee's voice was
high and clear in command.
"Keep the line, boys! Don't let 'em draw you!" And the Glengarry
men waited till they could strike, and when they struck men went
down and were pulled back by their friends.
"Intil them, bhoys!" yelled Dan Murphy, keeping out of range
himself. "Intil the divils!" And again and again his men crowded
down upon the line against the wall, but again and again they were
beaten down or hurled back bruised and bleeding.
Meantime LeNoir was devoting himself to Black Hugh at one end of
the line, dancing in upon him and away again, but without much
result. Black Hugh refused to be drawn out, and fought warily on
defense, knowing the odds were great and waiting his chance to
deliver one good blow, which was all he asked.
The Glengarry men were enjoying themselves hugely, and when not
shouting their battle-cry, "Glengarry forever!" or taunting their
foes, they were joking each other on the fortunes of war. Big Mack
Cameron, who held the center, drew most of the sallies. He was
easy-tempered and good-natured, and took his knocks with the utmost
"That was a good one, Mack," said Dannie Ross, his special chum, as
a sounding whack came in on Big Mack's face. "As true as death I
will be telling it to Bella Peter. Bella, the daughter of Peter
McGregor, was supposed to be dear to Big Mack's heart.
"What a peety she could not see him the now," said Finlay Campbell.
"Man alive, she would say the word queeck!"
"'Tis more than she will do to you whatever, if you cannot keep off
that crapeau yonder a little better," said Big Mack, reaching for a
Frenchman who kept dodging in upon him with annoying persistence.
Then Mack began to swear Gaelic oaths.
'Tain't fair, Mack!" called out Yankee from his end of the line,
"bad language in English is bad enough, but in Gaelic it must be
uncommon rough." So they gibed each other. But the tactics of the
enemy were exceedingly irritating, and were beginning to tell upon
the tempers of the Highlanders.
"Come to me, ye cowardly little devil," roared Mack to his
persisting assailant. "No one will hurt you! Come away, man!
A-a-ah-ouch!" His cry of satisfaction at having grabbed his man
ended in a howl of pain, for the Frenchman had got Mack's thumb
between his teeth, and was chewing it vigorously.
"Ye would, would you, ye dog?" roared Big Mack. He closed his
fingers into the Frenchman's gullet, and drew him up to strike, but
on every side hands reached for him and stayed his blow. Then he
lost himself. With a yell of rage he jambed his man back into the
crowd, sinking his fingers deeper and deeper into his enemy's
throat till his face grew black and his head fell over on one side.
But it was a fatal move for Mack, and overcome by numbers that
crowded upon him, he went down fighting wildly and bearing the
Frenchman beneath him. The Glengarry line was broken. Black Hugh
saw Mack's peril, and knew that it meant destruction to all. With
a wilder cry than usual, "Glengarry! Glengarry!" he dashed
straight into LeNoir, who gave back swiftly, caught two men who
were beating Big Mack's life out, and hurled them aside, and
grasping his friend's collar, hauled him to his feet, and threw him
back against the wall and into the line again with his grip still
upon his Frenchman's throat.
"Let dead men go, Mack," he cried, but even as he spoke LeNoir,
seeing his opportunity, sprang at him and with a backward kick
caught Macdonald fair in the face and lashed him hard against the
wall. It was the terrible French 'lash' and was one of LeNoir's
special tricks. Black Hugh, stunned and dazed, leaned back against
the wall, spreading out his hands weakly before his face. LeNoir,
seeing victory within his grasp, rushed in to finish off his
special foe. But Yankee Jim, who, while engaged in cheerfully
knocking back the two Murphys and others who took their turn at
him, had been keeping an eye on the line of battle, saw Macdonald's
danger, and knowing that the crisis had come, dashed across the
line, crying "Follow me, boys." His long arms swung round his head
like the sails of a wind-mill, and men fell back from him as if
they had been made of wood. As LeNoir sprang, Yankee shot fiercely
at him, but the Frenchman, too quick for him, ducked and leaped
upon Black Hugh, who was still swaying against the wall, bore him
down and jumped with his heavy "corked" boots on his breast and
face. Again the Glengarry line was broken. At once the crowd
surged about the Glengarry men, who now stood back to back, beating
off the men leaping at them from every side, as a stag beats off
dogs, and still chanting high their dauntless cry, "Glengarry
forever," to which Big Mack added at intervals, "To hell with the
Papishes!" Yankee, failing to check LeNoir's attack upon Black
Hugh, fought off the men crowding upon him, and made his way to the
corner where the Frenchman was still engaged in kicking the
prostrate Highlander to death.
"Take that, you blamed cuss," he said, catching LeNoir in the jaw
and knocking his head with a thud against the wall. Before he
could strike again he was thrown against his enemy, who clutched
him and held like a vice.
VENGEANCE IS MINE
The Glengarry men had fought their fight, and it only remained for
their foes to wreak their vengeance upon them and wipe out old
scores. One minute more would have done for them, but in that
minute the door came crashing in. There was a mighty roar,
"Glengarry! Glengarry!" and the great Macdonald himself, with the
boy Ranald and some half-dozen of his men behind him, stood among
them. On all hands the fight stopped. A moment he stood, his
great head and shoulders towering above the crowd, his tawny hair
and beard falling around his face like a great mane, his blue eyes
gleaming from under his shaggy eyebrows like livid lightning. A
single glance around the room, and again raising his battle-cry,
"Glengarry!" he seized the nearest shrinking Frenchman, lifted him
high, and hurled him smashing into the bottles behind the counter.
His men, following him, bounded like tigers on their prey. A few
minutes of fierce, eager fighting, and the Glengarry men were all
freed and on their feet, all except Black Hugh, who lay groaning in
his corner. "Hold, lads!" Macdonald Bhain cried, in his mighty
voice. "Stop, I'm telling you." The fighting ceased.
"Dan Murphy!" he cried, casting his eye round the room, "where are
you, ye son of Belial?"
Murphy, crouching at the back of the crowd near the door, sought to
"Ah! there you are!" cried Macdonald, and reaching through the
crowd with his great, long arm, he caught Murphy by the hair of the
head and dragged him forward.
"R-r-r-a-a-t! R-r-r-a-a-t! R-r-r-a-a-t!" he snarled, shaking him
till his teeth rattled. "It is yourself that is the cause of this
wickedness. Now, may the Lord have mercy on your soul." With one
hand he gripped Murphy by the throat, holding him at arm's length,
and raised his huge fist to strike. But before the blow fell he
"No!" he muttered, in a disappointed tone, "it is not good enough.
I will not be demeaning myself. Hence, you r-r-a-a-t!" As he
spoke he lifted the shaking wretch as if he had been a bundle of
clothes, swung him half round and hurled him crashing through the
"Is there no goot man here at all who will stand before me?" he
raged in a wild, joyous fury. "Will not two of you come forth,
then?" No one moved. "Come to me!" he suddenly cried, and
snatching two of the enemy, he dashed their heads together, and
threw them insensible on the floor.
Then he caught sight of his brother for the first time lying in the
corner with Big Mack supporting his head, and LeNoir standing near.
"What is this? What is this?" he cried, striding toward LeNoir.
"And is it you that has done this work?" he asked, in a voice of
"Oui!" cried LeNoir, stepping back and putting up his hands, "das
me; Louis LeNoir! by Gar!" He struck himself on the breast as he
"Out of my way!" cried Macdonald, swinging his open hand on the
Frenchman's ear. With a swift sweep he brushed LeNoir aside from
his place, and ignoring him stooped over his brother. But LeNoir
was no coward, and besides his boasted reputation was at stake. He
thought he saw his chance, and rushing at Macdonald as he was
bending over his brother, delivered his terrible 'lash'. But
Macdonald had not lived with and fought with Frenchmen all these
years without knowing their tricks and ways. He saw LeNoir's
'lash' coming, and quickly turning his head, avoided the blow.
"Ah! would ye? Take that, then, and be quate!" and so saying, he
caught LeNoir on the side of the head and sent him to the floor.
"Keep him off a while, Yankee!" said Macdonald, for LeNoir was up
again, and coming at him.
Then kneeling beside his brother he wiped the bloody froth that was
oozing from his lips, and said in a low, anxious tone:
"Hugh, bhodaich (old man), are ye hurted? Can ye not speak to me,
"Oich-oh," Black Hugh groaned. "It was a necessity--Donald man--
and--he took me--unawares--with his--keeck."
"Indeed, and I'll warrant you!" agreed his brother, "but I will be
attending to him, never you fear."
Macdonald was about to rise, when his brother caught his arm.
"You will--not be--killing him," he urged, between his painful
gasps, "because I will be doing that myself some day, by God's
His words and the eager hate in his face seemed to quiet Macdonald.
"Alas! alas!" he said, sadly, "it is not allowed me to smite him
as he deserves--'Vengeance is mine saith the Lord,' and I have
solemnly promised the minister not to smite for glory or for
revenge! Alas! alas!"
Then turning to LeNoir, he said, gravely: "It is not given me to
punish you for your coward's blow. Go from me!" But LeNoir
"Bah!" he cried, contemptuously, "you tink me one baby, you strike
me on de head side like one little boy. Bon! Louis LeNware, de
bes bully on de Hottawa, he's not 'fraid for hany man, by Gar!" He
pranced up and down before Macdonald, working himself into a great
rage, as Macdonald grew more and more controlled.
Macdonald turned to his men with a kind of appeal--"I hev given my
promise, and Macdonald will not break his word."
"Bah!" cried LeNoir, spitting at him.
"Now may the Lord give me grace to withstand the enemy," said
Macdonald, gravely, "for I am greatly moved to take vengeance upon
"Bah!" cried LeNoir again, mistaking Macdonald's quietness and
self-control for fear. "You no good! Your brother is no good!
Beeg sheep! Beeg sheep! Bah!"
"God help me," said Macdonald as if to himself. "I am a man of
grace! But must this dog go unpunished?"
LeNoir continued striding up and down, now and then springing high
in the air and knocking his heels together with blood-curdling
yells. He seemed to feel that Macdonald would not fight, and his
courage and desire for blood grew accordingly.
"Will you not be quate?" said Macdonald, rising after a few moments
from his brother's side, where he had been wiping his lips and
giving him water to drink. "You will be better outside."
"Oui! you strike me on the head side. Bon! I strike you de same
way! By Gar!" so saying he approached Macdonald lightly, and
struck him a slight blow on the cheek.
"Ay," said Macdonald, growing white and rigid. "I struck you
twice, LeNoir. Here!" he offered the other side of his face.
LeNoir danced up carefully, made a slight pass, and struck the
"Now, that is done, will it please you to do it again?" said
Macdonald, with earnest entreaty in his voice. LeNoir must have
been mad with his rage and vanity, else he had caught the glitter
in the blue eyes looking through the shaggy hair. Again LeNoir
approached, this time with greater confidence, and dealt Macdonald
a stinging blow on the side of the head.
"Now the Lord be praised," he cried, joy breaking out in his face.
"He has delivered my enemy into my hand. For it is the third time
he has smitten me, and that is beyond the limit appointed by
Himself." With this he advanced upon LeNoir with a glad heart.
His conscience was clear at last.
LeNoir stood up against his antagonist. He well knew he was about
to make the fight of his life. He had beaten men as big as
Macdonald, but he knew that his hope lay in keeping out of the
enemy's reach. So he danced around warily. Macdonald followed
him slowly. LeNoir opened with a swift and savage reach for
Macdonald's neck, but failed to break the guard and danced out
again, Macdonald still pressing on him. Again and again LeNoir
rushed, but the guard was impregnable, and steadily Macdonald
advanced. That steady, relentless advance began to tell on the
Frenchman's nerves. The sweat gathered in big drops on his
forehead and ran down his face. He prepared for a supreme effort.
Swiftly retreating, he lured Macdonald to a more rapid advance,
then with a yell he doubled himself into a ball and delivered
himself head, hands, and feet into Macdonald's stomach. It is a
trick that sometimes avails to break an unsteady guard and to
secure a clinch with an unwary opponent. But Macdonald had been
waiting for that trick. Stopping short, he leaned over to one
side, and stooping slightly, caught LeNoir low and tossed him clear
over his head. LeNoir fell with a terrible thud on his back, but
was on his feet again like a cat and ready for the ever-advancing
Macdonald. But though he had not been struck a single blow he knew
that he had met his master. That unbreakable guard, the smiling
face with the gleaming, unsmiling eyes, that awful unwavering
advance, were too much for him. He was pale, his breath came in
quick gasps, and his eyes showed the fear of a hunted beast. He
prepared for a final effort. Feigning a greater distress than he
felt, he yielded weakly to Macdonald's advance, then suddenly
gathering his full strength he sprang into the air and lashed out
backward at that hated, smiling face. His boot found its mark,
not on Macdonald's face, but fair on his neck. The effect was
terrific. Macdonald staggered back two or three paces, but before
LeNoir could be at him, he had recovered sufficiently to maintain
his guard, and shake off his foe. At the yell that went up from
Murphy's men, the big Highlander's face lost its smile and became
keen and cruel, his eyes glittered with the flash of steel and he
came forward once more with a quick, light tread. His great body
seemed to lose both size and weight, so lightly did he step on
tiptoe. There was no more pause, but lightly, swiftly, and eagerly
he glided upon LeNoir. There was something terrifying in that
swift, cat-like movement. In vain the Frenchman backed and dodged
and tried to guard. Once, twice, Macdonald's fists fell. LeNoir's
right arm hung limp by his side and he staggered back to the wall
helpless. Without an instant's delay, Macdonald had him by the
throat, and gripping him fiercely, began to slowly bend him
backward over his knee. Then for the first time Macdonald spoke:
"LeNoir," he said, solemnly, "the days of your boasting are over.
You will no longer glory in your strength, for now I will break
your back to you."
LeNoir tried to speak, but his voice came in horrible gurgles. His
face was a ghastly greenish hue, lined with purple and swollen
veins, his eyes were standing out of his head, and his breath
sobbing in raucous gasps. Slowly the head went back. The crowd
stood in horror-stricken silence waiting for the sickening snap.
Yankee, unable to stand it any longer, stepped up to his chief, and
in a most matter of fact voice drawled out, "About an inch more
that way I guess 'll do the trick, if he ain't double-jointed."
"Aye," said Macdonald, holding grimly on.
"Tonald,"--Black Hugh's voice sounded faint but clear in the awful
silence--"Tonald--you will not--be killing--him. Remember that
now. I will--never--forgive you--if you will--take that--from my
The cry for vengeance smote Macdonald to the heart, and recalled
him to himself. He paused, threw back his locks from his eyes,
then relaxing his grip, stood up.
"God preserve me!" he groaned, "what am I about?"
For some time he remained standing silent, with head down as if not
quite sure of himself. He was recalled by a grip of his arm. He
turned and saw his nephew, Ranald, at his side. The boy's dark
face was pale with passion.
"And is that all you are going to do to him?" he demanded.
Macdonald gazed at him.
"Do you not see what he has done?" he continued, pointing to his
father, who was still lying propped up on some coats. "Why did you
not break his back? You said you would! The brute, beast!"
He hurled out the words in hot hate. His voice pierced the noise
of the room. Macdonald stood still, gazing at the fierce, dark
face in solemn silence. Then he sadly shook his head.
"My lad, 'Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.' It would have pleased
me well, but the hand of the Lord was laid upon me and I could not
"Then it is myself will kill him," he shrieked, springing like a
wildcat at LeNoir. But his uncle wound his arms around him and
held him fast. For a minute and more he struggled fiercely, crying
to be set free, till recognizing the uselessness of his efforts he
grew calm, and said quietly, "Let me loose, uncle; I will be
quiet." And his uncle set him free. The boy shook himself, and
then standing up before LeNoir said, in a high, clear voice:
"Will you hear me, LeNoir? The day will come when I will do to you
what you have done to my father, and if my father will die, then by
the life of God [a common oath among the shanty-men] I will have
your life for it." His voice had an unearthly shrillness in it,
and LeNoir shrank back.
"Whist, whist, lad! be quate!" said his uncle; "these are not goot
words." The lad heeded him not, but sank down beside his father on
the floor. Black Hugh raised himself on his elbow with a grim
smile on his face.
"It is a goot lad whatever, but please God he will not need to keep
his word." He laid his hand in a momentary caress upon his boy's
shoulder, and sank back again, saying, "Take me out of this."
Then Macdonald Bhain turned to Dan Murphy and gravely addressed
"Dan Murphy, it is an ungodly and cowardly work you have done this
day, and the curse of God will be on you if you will not repent."
Then he turned away, and with Big Mack's help bore his brother to
the pointer, followed by his men, bloody, bruised, but unconquered.
But before he left the room LeNoir stepped forward, and offering
his hand, said, "You mak friends wit' me. You de boss bully on de
Macdonald neither answered nor looked his way, but passed out in
Then Yankee Jim remarked to Dan Murphy, "I guess you'd better git
them logs out purty mighty quick. We'll want the river in about
two days." Dan Murphy said not a word, but when the Glengarry men
wanted the river they found it open.
But for Macdonald the fight was not yet over, for as he sat beside
his brother, listening to his groans, his men could see him
wreathing his hands and chanting in an undertone the words,
"Vengeance is mine saith the Lord." And as he sat by the camp-fire
that night listening to Yankee's account of the beginning of the
trouble, and heard how his brother had kept himself in hand, and
how at last he had been foully smitten, Macdonald's conflict
deepened, and he rose up and cried aloud:
"God help me! Is this to go unpunished? I will seek him to-morrow."
And he passed out into the dark woods.
After a few moments the boy Ranald slipped away after him to beg
that he might be allowed to go with him to-morrow. Stealing
silently through the bushes he came to where he could see the
kneeling figure of his uncle swaying up and down, and caught the
sounds of words broken with groans:
"Let me go, O Lord! Let me go!" He pled now in Gaelic and again
in English. "Let not the man be escaping his just punishment.
Grant me this, O, Lord! Let me smite but once!" Then after a
pause came the words, "'Vengeance is mine saith the Lord!'
Vengeance is mine! Ay, it is the true word! But, Lord, let not
this man of Belial, this Papish, escape!" Then again, like a
refrain would come the words, "Vengeance is mine. Vengeance is
mine," in ever-deeper agony, till throwing himself on his face, he
lay silent a long time.
Suddenly he rose to his knees and so remained, looking steadfastly
before him into the woods. The wind came sighing through the pines
with a wail and a sob. Macdonald shuddered and then fell on his
face again. The Vision was upon him. "Ah, Lord, it is the bloody
hands and feet I see. It is enough." At this Ranald slipped back
awe-stricken to the camp. When, after an hour, Macdonald came back
into the firelight, his face was pale and wet, but calm, and there
was an exalted look in his eyes. His men gazed at him with wonder
and awe in their faces.
"Mercy on us! He will be seeing something," said Big Mack to
"Seein' somethin'? What? A bar?" inquired Yankee.
"Whist now!" said Big Mack, in a low voice. "He has the sight. Be
quate now, will you? He will be speaking."
For a short time Macdonald sat gazing into the fire in silence,
then turning his face toward the men who were waiting, he said:
"There will be no more of this. 'Vengeance is mine saith the
Lord!' It is not for me. The Lord will do His own work. It is
the will of the Lord." And the men knew that the last word had
been said on that subject, and that LeNoir was safe.
THE MANSE IN THE BUSH
Straight north from the St. Lawrence runs the road through the
Indian Lands. At first its way lies through open country, from
which the forest has been driven far back to the horizon on either
side, for along the great river these many years villages have
clustered, with open fields about them stretching far away. But
when once the road leaves the Front, with its towns and villages
and open fields, and passes beyond Martintown and over the North
Branch, it reaches a country where the forest is more a feature
of the landscape. And when some dozen or more of the crossroads
marking the concessions which lead off to east and west have been
passed, the road seems to strike into a different world. The
forest loses its conquered appearance, and dominates everything.
There is forest everywhere. It lines up close and thick along the
road, and here and there quite overshadows it. It crowds in upon
the little farms and shuts them off from one another and from the
world outside, and peers in through the little windows of the log
houses looking so small and lonely, but so beautiful in their
forest frames. At the nineteenth cross-road the forest gives
ground a little, for here the road runs right past the new brick
church, which is almost finished, and which will be opened in a few
weeks. Beyond the cross, the road leads along the glebe, and about
a quarter of a mile beyond the corner there opens upon it the big,
heavy gate that the members of the Rev. Alexander Murray's
congregation must swing when they wish to visit the manse. The
opening of this gate, made of upright poles held by auger-holes in
a frame of bigger poles, was almost too great a task for the
minister's seven-year-old son Hughie, who always rode down,
standing on the hind axle of the buggy, to open it for his father.
It was a great relief to him when Long John Cameron, who had the
knack of doing things for people's comfort, brought his ax and big
auger one day and made a kind of cradle on the projecting end of
the top bar, which he then weighted with heavy stones, so that the
gate, when once the pin was pulled out of the post, would swing
back itself with Hughie straddled on the top of it.
It was his favorite post of observation when waiting for his mother
to come home from one of her many meetings. And on this particular
March evening he had been waiting long and impatiently.
Suddenly he shouted: "Horo, mamma! Horo!" He had caught sight of
the little black pony away up at the church hill, and had become so
wildly excited that he was now standing on the top bar frantically
waving his Scotch bonnet by the tails. Down the slope came the
pony on the gallop, for she knew well that soon Lambert would have
her saddle off, and that her nose would be deep into bran mash
within five minutes more. But her rider sat her firmly and brought
her down to a gentle trot by the time the gate was reached.
"Horo, mamma!" shouted Hughie, clambering down to open the gate.
"Well, my darling! have you been a good boy all afternoon?"
"Huh-huh! Guess who's come back from the shanties!"
"I'm sure I can't guess. Who is it?" It was a very bright and
very sweet face, with large, serious, gray-brown eyes that looked
down on the little boy.
"Why, who can it be? Big Mack?"
"No!" Hughie danced delightedly. "Try again. He's not big."
"I am sure I can never guess. Whoa, Pony!" Pony was most
unwilling to get in close enough to the gate-post to let Hughie
spring on behind his mother.
"You'll have to be quick, Hughie, when I get near again. There
now! Whoa, Pony! Take care, child!"
Hughie had sprung clean off the post, and lighting on Pony's back
just behind the saddle, had clutched his mother round the waist,
while the pony started off full gallop for the stable.
"Now, mother, who is it?" insisted Hughie, as Lambert, the French-
Canadian man-of-all-work, lifted him from his place.
"You'll have to tell me, Hughie!"
"Yes, Ranald and his father, Macdonald Dubh, and he's hurted awful
"Hurt, Hughie," interposed the mother, gently.
"Huh-huh! Ranald said he was hurted."
"Hurt, you mean, Hughie. Who was hurt? Ranald?"
"No; his father was hurted--hurt--awful bad. He was lying down in
the sleigh, and Yankee Jim--"
"Mr. Latham, you mean, Hughie."
"Huh-huh," went on Hughie, breathlessly, "and Yankee--Mr. Latham
asked if the minister was home, and I said 'No,' and then they went
"What was the matter? Did you see them, Lambert?"
"Oui" ("Way," Lambert pronounced it), "but dey not tell me what
The minister's wife went toward the house, with a shadow on her
face. She shared with her husband his people's sorrows. She knew
even better than he the life-history of every family in the
congregation. Macdonald Dubh had long been classed among the wild
and careless in the community, and it weighed upon her heart that
his life might be in danger.
"I shall see him to-morrow," she said to herself.
For a few moments she stood on the doorstep looking at the glow in
the sky over the dark forest, which on the west side came quite up
to the house and barn.
"Look, Hughie, at the beautiful tints in the clouds, and see the
dark shadows pointing out toward us from the bush." Hughie glanced
"Mamma," he said, "I am just dead for supper."
"Oh, not quite, I hope, Hughie. But look, I want you to notice
those clouds and the sky behind them. How lovely! Oh, how
Her enthusiasm caught the boy, and for a few moment she forgot even
his hunger, and holding his mother's hand, gazed up at the western
sky. It was a picture of rare beauty that lay stretched out from
the manse back door. Close to the barn came the pasture-field
dotted with huge stumps, then the brule where the trees lay fallen
across one another, over which the fire had run, and then the solid
wall of forest here and there overtopped by the lofty crest of a
white pine. Into the forest in the west the sun was descending in
gorgeous robes of glory. The treetops caught the yellow light, and
gleamed like the golden spires of some great and fabled city.
"Oh, mamma, see that big pine top! Doesn't it look like windows?"
cried Hughie, pointing to one of the lofty pine crests through
which the sky quivered like molten gold.
"And the streets of the city are pure gold," said the mother,
"Yes, I know," said Hughie, confidently, for to him all the scenes
and stories of the Bible had long been familiar. "Is it like that,
"Much better, ever so much better than you can think."
"Oh, mamma, I'm just awful hungry!"
"Come away, then; so am I. What have you got, Jessie, for two very
"Porridge and pancakes," said Jessie, the minister's "girl," who
not only ruled in the kitchen, but using the kitchen as a base,
controlled the interior economy of the manse.
"Oh, goody!" yelled Hughie; "just what I like." And from the
plates of porridge and the piles of pancakes that vanished from his
plate no one could doubt his word.
Their reading that night was about the city whose streets were of
pure gold, and after a little talk, Hughie and his baby brother
were tucked away safely for the night, and the mother sat down to
her never-ending task of making and mending.
The minister was away at Presbytery meeting in Montreal, and for
ten days his wife would stand in the breach. Of course the elders
would take the meeting on the Sabbath day and on the Wednesday
evening, but for all other ministerial duties when the minister was
absent the congregation looked to the minister's wife. And soon it
came that the sick and the sorrowing and the sin-burdened found in
the minister's wife such help and comfort and guidance as made the
absence of the minister seem no great trial after all. Eight years
ago the minister had brought his wife from a home of gentle
culture, from a life of intellectual and artistic pursuits, and
from a circle of loving friends of which she was the pride and joy,
to this home in the forest. There, isolated from all congenial
companionship with her own kind, deprived of all the luxuries and
of many of the comforts of her young days, and of the mental
stimulus of that contact of minds without which few can maintain
intellectual life, she gave herself without stint to her husband's
people, with never a thought of self-pity or self-praise. By day
and by night she labored for her husband and family and for her
people, for she thought them hers. She taught the women how to
adorn their rude homes, gathered them into Bible classes and sewing
circles, where she read and talked and wrought and prayed with them
till they grew to adore her as a saint, and to trust her as a
leader and friend, and to be a little like her. And not the women
only, but the men, too, loved and trusted her, and the big boys
found it easier to talk to the minister's wife than to the minister
or to any of his session. She made her own and her children's
clothes, collars, hats, and caps, her husband's shirts and
neckties, toiling late into the morning hours, and all without
frown or shadow of complaint, and indeed without suspicion that any
but the happiest lot was hers, or that she was, as her sisters
said, "just buried alive in the backwoods." Not she! She lived to
serve, and the where and how were not hers to determine. So, with
bright face and brave heart, she met her days and faced the battle.
And scores of women and men are living better and braver lives
because they had her for their minister's wife.
But the day had been long, and the struggle with the March wind
pulls hard upon the strength, and outside the pines were crooning
softly, and gradually the brave head drooped till between the
stitches she fell asleep. But not for many minutes, for a knock at
the kitchen door startled her, and before long she heard Jessie's
voice rise wrathful.
"Indeed, I'll do no such thing. This is no time to come to the
For answer there was a mumble of words.
"Well, then, you can just wait until morning. She can go in the
"What is it, Jessie?" The minister's wife came into the kitchen.
"Oh, Ranald, I'm glad to see you back. Hughie told me you had
come. But your father is ill, he said. How is he?"
Ranald shook hands shyly, feeling much ashamed under Jessie's sharp
"Indeed, it was Aunt Kirsty that sent me," said Ranald,
"Then she ought to have known better," said Jessie, sharply.
"Never mind, Jessie. Ranald, tell me about your father."
"He is very bad indeed, and my aunt is afraid that--" The boy's
lip trembled. Then he went on: "And she thought perhaps you might
have some medicine, and--"
"But what is the matter, Ranald?"
"He was hurted bad--and he is not right wise in his head."
"But how was he hurt?"
"I was not there--I am thinking it was something that struck him."
"Ah, a tree! But where did the tree strike him?"
"Here," pointing to his breast; "and it is sore in his breathing."
"Well, Ranald, if you put the saddle on Pony, I shall be ready in a
Jessie was indignant.
"You will not stir a foot this night. You will send some medicine,
and then you can go in the morning."
But the minister's wife heeded her not.
"You are not walking, Ranald?"
"No, I have the colt."
"Oh, that's splendid. We'll have a fine gallop--that is, if the
moon is up."
"Yes, it is just coming up," said Ranald, hurrying away to the
stable that he might escape Jessie's wrath and get the pony ready.
It was no unusual thing for the minister and his wife to be called
upon to do duty for doctor and nurse. The doctor was twenty miles
away. So Mrs. Murray got into her riding-habit, threw her knitted
hood over her head, put some simple medicines into her hand-bag,
and in ten minutes was waiting for Ranald at the door.
THE RIDE FOR LIFE
The night was clear, with a touch of frost in the air, yet with the
feeling in it of approaching spring. A dim light fell over the
forest from the half-moon and the stars, and seemed to fill up the
little clearing in which the manse stood, with a weird and
mysterious radiance. Far away in the forest the long-drawn howl of
a wolf rose and fell, and in a moment sharp and clear came an
answer from the bush just at hand. Mrs. Murray dreaded the wolves,
but she was no coward and scorned to show fear.
"The wolves are out, Ranald," she said, carelessly, as Ranald came
up with the pony.
"They are not many, I think," answered the boy as carelessly; "but--
are you--do you think--perhaps I could just take the medicine--and
you will come--"
"Nonsense, Ranald! bring up the pony. Do you think I have lived
all this time in Indian Lands to be afraid of a wolf?"
"Indeed, you are not afraid, I know that well!" Ranald shrank from
laying the crime of being afraid at the door of the minister's
wife, whose fearlessness was proverbial in the community; "but
maybe--" The truth was, Ranald would rather be alone if the wolves
But Mrs. Murray was in the saddle, and the pony was impatient to be
"We will go by the Camerons' clearing, and then take their wood
track. It is a better road," said Ranald, after they had got
through the big gate.
"Now, Ranald, you think I am afraid of the swamp, and by the
Camerons' is much longer."
"Indeed, I hear them say that you are not afraid of the--of
anything," said Ranald, quickly, "but this road is better for the
"Come on, then, with your colt"; and the pony darted away on her
quick-springing gallop, followed by the colt going with a long,
easy, loping stride. For a mile they kept side by side till they
reached the Camerons' lane, when Ranald held in the colt and
allowed the pony to lead. As they passed through the Camerons'
yard the big black dogs, famous bear-hunters, came baying at them.
The pony regarded them with indifference, but the colt shied and
"Whoa, Liz!" Liz was Ranald's contraction for Lizette, the name of
the French horse-trainer and breeder, Jules La Rocque, gave to her
mother, who in her day was queen of the ice at L'Original Christmas
"Be quate, Nigger, will you!" The dogs, who knew Ranald well,
ceased their clamor, but not before the kitchen door opened and Don
Cameron came out.
Don was about a year older than Ranald and was his friend and
"It's me, Don--and Mrs. Murray there."
Don gazed speechless.
"And what--" he began.
"Father is not well. He is hurted, and Mrs. Murray is going to see
him, and we must go."
Ranald hurried through his story, impatient to get on.
"But are you going up through the bush?" asked Don.
"Yes, what else, Don?" asked Mrs. Murray. "It is a good road,
"Oh, yes, I suppose it is good enough," said Don, doubtfully, "but
"We will come out at our own clearing at the back, you know,"
Ranald hurried to say, giving Don a kick. "Whist, man! She is set
upon going." At that moment away off toward the swamp, which they
were avoiding, the long, heart-chilling cry of a mother wolf
quavered on the still night air. In spite of herself, Mrs. Murray
shivered, and the boys looked at each other.
"There is only one," said Ranald in a low voice to Don, but they
both knew that where the she wolf is there is a pack not far off.
"And we will be through the bush in five minutes."
"Come, Ranald! Come away, you can talk to Don any time. Good
night, Don." And so saying she headed her pony toward the clearing
and was off at a gallop, and Ranald, shaking his head at his
"Man alive! what do you think of that?" and was off after the pony.
Together they entered the bush. The road was well beaten and the
horses were keen to go, so that before many minutes were over they
were half through the bush. Ranald's spirits rose and he began to
take some interest in his companion's observations upon the beauty
of the lights and shadows falling across their path.
"Look at that very dark shadow from the spruce there, Ranald," she
cried, pointing to a deep, black turn in the road. For answer
there came from behind them the long, mournful hunting-cry of the
wolf. He was on their track. Immediately it was answered by a
chorus of howls from the bush on the swamp side, but still far
away. There was no need of command; the pony sprang forward with a
snort and the colt followed, and after a few minutes' running,
"Whow-oo-oo-oo-ow" rose the long cry of the pursuer, summoning
help, and drawing nearer.
"Wow-ee-wow," came the shorter, sharper answer from the swamp, but
much nearer than before and more in front. They were trying to
head off their prey.
Ranald tugged at his colt till he got him back with the pony.
"It is a good road," he said, quietly; "you can let the pony go. I
will follow you." He swung in behind the pony, who was now running
for dear life and snorting with terror at every jump.
"God preserve us!" said Ranald to himself. He had caught sight of
a dark form as it darted through the gleam of light in front.
"What did you say, Ranald?" The voice was quiet and clear.
"It is a great pony to run whatever," said Ranald, ashamed of
"Is she not?"
Ranald glanced over his shoulder. Down the road, running with
silent, awful swiftness, he saw the long, low body of the leading
wolf flashing through the bars of moonlight across the road, and
the pack following hard.
"Let her go, Mrs. Murray," cried Ranald. "Whip her and never
stop." But there was no need; the pony was wild with fear, and was
doing her best running.
Ranald meantime was gradually holding in the colt, and the pony
drew away rapidly. But as rapidly the wolves were closing in
behind him. They were not more than a hundred yards away, and
gaining every second. Ranald, remembering the suspicious nature of
the brutes, loosened his coat and dropped it on the road; with a
chorus of yelps they paused, then threw themselves upon it, and in
another minute took up the chase.
But now the clearing was in sight. The pony was far ahead, and
Ranald shook out his colt with a yell. He was none too soon, for
the pursuing pack, now uttering short, shrill yelps, were close at
the colt's heels. Lizette, fleet as the wind, could not shake them
off. Closer and ever closer they came, snapping and snarling.
Ranald could see them over his shoulder. A hundred yards more and
he would reach his own back lane. The leader of the pack seemed to
feel that his chances were slipping swiftly away. With a spurt he
gained upon Lizette, reached the saddle-girths, gathered himself in
two short jumps, and sprang for the colt's throat. Instinctively
Ranald stood up in his stirrups, and kicking his foot free, caught
the wolf under the jaw. The brute fell with a howl under the
colt's feet, and next moment they were in the lane and safe.
The savage brutes, discouraged by their leader's fall, slowed down
their fierce pursuit, and hearing the deep bay of the Macdonalds'
great deerhound, Bugle, up at the house, they paused, sniffed the
air a few minutes, then turned and swiftly and silently slid into
the dark shadows. Ranald, knowing that they would hardly dare
enter the lane, checked the colt, and wheeling, watched them
"I'll have some of your hides some day," he cried, shaking his fist
after them. He hated to be made to run.
He had hardly set the colt's face homeward when he heard something
tearing down the lane to meet him. The colt snorted, swerved, and
then dropping his ears, stood still. It was Bugle, and after him
came Mrs. Murray on the pony.
"Oh, Ranald!" she panted, "thank God you are safe. I was afraid
you--you--" Her voice broke in sobs. Her hood had fallen back
from her white face, and her eyes were shining like two stars. She
laid her hand on Ranald's arm, and her voice grew steady as she
said: "Thank God, my boy, and thank you with all my heart. You
risked your life for mine. You are a brave fellow! I can never
"Oh, pshaw!" said Ranald, awkwardly. "You are better stuff than I
am. You came back with Bugle. And I knew Liz could beat the pony
whatever. Then they walked their horses quietly to the stable, and
nothing more was said by either of them; but from that hour Ranald
had a friend ready to offer life for him, though he did not know it
then nor till years afterward.
FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS
Macdonald Dubh's farm lay about three miles north and west from the
manse, and the house stood far back from the cross-road in a small
clearing encircled by thick bush. It was a hard farm to clear, the
timber was heavy, the land lay low, and Macdonald Dubh did not make
as much progress as his neighbors in his conflict with the forest.
Not but that he was a hard worker and a good man with the ax, but
somehow he did not succeed as a farmer. It may have been that his
heart was more in the forest than in the farm. He was a famous
hunter, and in the deer season was never to be found at home, but
was ever ranging the woods with his rifle and his great deerhound,
He made money at the shanties, but money would not stick to his
fingers, and by the time the summer was over most of his money
would be gone, with the government mortgage on his farm still
unlifted. His habits of life wrought a kind of wildness in him
which set him apart from the thrifty, steady-going people among
whom he lived. True, the shanty-men were his stanch friends and
admirers, but then the shanty-men, though well-doing, could hardly
be called steady, except the boss of the Macdonald gang, Macdonald
Bhain, who was a regular attendant and stanch supporter of the
church, and indeed had been spoken of for an elder. But from the
church Macdonald Dubh held aloof. He belonged distinctly to the
"careless," though he could not be called irreligious. He had all
the reverence for "the Word of God, and the Sabbath day, and the
church" that characterized his people. All these held a high place
in his esteem; and though he would not presume to "take the books,"
not being a member of the church, yet on the Sabbath day when he
was at home it was the custom of the household to gather for the
reading of the Word before breakfast. He would never take his
rifle with him through the woods on the Sabbath, and even when
absent from home on a hunting expedition, when the Sabbath day came
round, he religiously kept camp. It is true, he did not often go
to church, and when the minister spoke to him about this, he always
agreed that it was a good thing to go to church. When he had no
better excuse, he would apologize for his absence upon the ground
"that he had not the clothes." The greater part of the trouble was
that he was shy and proud, and felt himself to be different from
the church-going people of the community, and shrank from the
surprised looks of members, and even from the words of approving
welcome that often greeted his presence in church.
It was not according to his desire that Ranald was sent to the
manse. That was the doing of his sister, Kirsty, who for the last
ten years had kept house for him. Not that there was much
housekeeping skill about Kirsty, as indeed any one might see even
without entering Macdonald Dubh's house. Kirsty was big and strong
and willing, but she had not the most elemental ideas of tidiness.
Her red, bushy hair hung in wisps about her face, after the greater
part of it had been gathered into a tight knob at the back of her
head. She was a martyr to the "neuralagy," and suffered from a
perennial cold in the head, which made it necessary for her to wear
a cloud, which was only removed when it could be replaced by her
nightcap. Her face always bore the marks of her labors, and from
it one could gather whether she was among the pots or busy with the
baking. But she was kindhearted, and, up to her light, sought to
fill the place left empty by the death of the wife and mother in
that home, ten years before.
When the minister's wife opened the door, a hot, close, foul smell
rushed forth to meet her. Upon the kitchen stove a large pot of
pig's food was boiling, and the steam and smell from the pot made
the atmosphere of the room overpoweringly fetid. Off the kitchen
or living-room were two small bedrooms, in one of which lay
Kirsty met the minister's wife with a warm welcome. She helped her
off with her hood and coat, patting her on the shoulder the while,
and murmuring words of endearment.
"Ah, M'eudail! M'eudail bheg! and did you come through the night
all the way, and it is ashamed that I am to have sent for you, but
he was very bad and I was afraid. Come away! come away! I will
make you a cup of tea." But the minister's wife assured Kirsty
that she was glad to come, and declining the cup of tea, went to
the room where Macdonald Dubh lay tossing and moaning with the
delirium of fever upon him. It was not long before she knew what
With hot fomentations she proceeded to allay the pain, and in half
an hour Macdonald Dubh grew quiet. His tossings and mutterings
ceased and he fell into a sleep.
Kirsty stood by admiring.
"Mercy me! Look at that now; and it is yourself that is the great
"Now, Kirsty," said Mrs. Murray, in a very matter-of-fact tone, "we
will just make him a little more comfortable."
"Yes," said Kirsty, not quite sure how the feat was to be achieved.
"A little hot something for his inside will be good, but indeed,
many's the drink I have given him," she suggested.
"What have you been giving him, Kirsty?"
"Senny and dandylion, and a little whisky. They will be telling me
it is ferry good whatever for the stomach and bow'ls."
"I don't think I would give him any more of that; but we will try
and make him feel a little more comfortable."
Mrs. Murray knew she was treading on delicate ground. The Highland
pride is quick to take offense.
"Sick people, you see," she proceeded carefully, "need very
frequent changes--sheets and clothing, you understand."
"Aye," said Kirsty, suspiciously.
"I am sure you have plenty of beautiful sheets, and we will change
these when he wakes from his sleep."
"Indeed, they are very clean, for there is no one but myself has
slept in them since he went away last fall to the shanties."
Mrs. Murray felt the delicacy of the position to be sensibly
"Indeed, that is right, Kirsty; one can never tell just what sort
of people are traveling about nowadays."
"Indeed, and it's true," said Kirsty, heartily, "but I never let
them in here. I just keep them to the bunk."
"But," pursued Mrs. Murray, returning to the subject in hand, "it
is very important that for sick people the sheets should be
thoroughly aired and warmed. Why, in the hospital in Montreal they
take the very greatest care to air and change the sheets every day.
You see so much poison comes through the pores of the skin."
"Do you hear that now?" said Kirsty, amazed. "Indeed, I would be
often hearing that those French people are just full of poison and
such, and indeed, it is no wonder, for the food they put inside of
"O, no, " said Mrs. Murray, "it is the same with all people, but
especially so with sick people."
Kirsty looked as doubtful as was consistent with her respect for
the minister's wife, and Mrs. Murray went on.
"So you will just get the sheets ready to change, and, Kirsty, a
"Night-shirt! and indeed, he has not such a thing to his name."
Kirsty's tone betrayed her thankfulness that her brother was free
from the effeminacy of a night-shirt; but noting the dismay and
confusion on Mrs. Murray's face, she suggested, hesitatingly, "He
might have one of my own, but I am thinking it will be small for
him across the back."
"I am afraid so, Kirsty," said the minister's wife, struggling hard
with a smile. "We will just use one of his own white shirts." But
this scandalized Kirsty as an unnecessary and wasteful luxury.
"Indeed, there is plenty of them in the chist, but he will be
keeping them for the communion season, and the funerals, and such.
He will not be wearing them in his bed, for no one will be seeing
him there at all."
"But he will feel so much better," said Mrs. Murray, and her smile
was so sweet and winning that Kirsty's opposition collapsed, and
without more words both sheets and shirt were produced.
As Kirsty laid them out she observed with a sigh: "Aye, aye, she
was the clever woman--the wife, I mean. She was good with the
needle, and indeed, at anything she tried to do."
"I did not know her," said Mrs. Murray, softly, "but every one
tells me she was a good housekeeper and a good woman."
"She was that," said Kirsty, emphatically, "and she was the light
of his eyes, and it was a bad day for Hugh when she went away."
"Now, Kirsty," said Mrs. Murray, after a pause, "before we put on
these clean things, we will just give him a sponge bath."
"Mercy sakes! He will not be needing that in the winter, and he
will be getting a cold from it. In the summer-time he will be
going to the river himself. And how will you be giving him a bath
Mrs. Murray carefully explained the process, again fortifying her
position by referring to the practices of the Montreal hospital,
till, as a result of her persuasions and instructions, in an hour
after Macdonald had awakened from his sleep he was lying in his
Sabbath white shirt and between fresh sheets, and feeling cleaner
and more comfortable than he had for many a day. The fever was
much reduced, and he fell again into a deep sleep.
The two women watched beside him, for neither would leave the other
to watch alone. And Ranald, who could not be persuaded to go up to
his loft, lay on the bunk in the kitchen and dozed. After an hour
had passed, Mrs. Murray inquired as to the nourishment Kirsty had
given her brother.
"Indeed, he will not be taking anything whatever," said Kirsty, in
a vexed tone. "And it is no matter what I will be giving him."
"And what does he like, Kirsty?"
"Indeed, he will be taking anything when he is not seek, and he is
that fond of buckwheat pancakes and pork gravy with maple syrup
over them, but would he look at it! And I made him new porridge
to-night, but he would not touch them."
"Did you try him with gruel, Kirsty?"
"Mercy me, and is it Macdonald Dubh and gruel? He would be
flinging the 'feushionless' stuff out of the window."
"But I am sure it would be good for him if he could be persuaded to
try it. I should like to try him."
"Indeed, and you may try. It will be easy enough, for the porridge
are still in the pot."
Kirsty took the pot from the bench, with the remains of the
porridge that had been made for supper still in it, set it on the
fire, and pouring some water in it, began to stir it vigorously.
It was thick and slimy, and altogether a most repulsive-looking
mixture, and Mrs. Murray no longer wondered at Macdonald Dubh's
distaste for gruel.
"I think I will make some fresh, if you will let me, Kirsty--in the
way I make it for the minister, you know."
Kirsty, by this time, had completely surrendered to Mrs. Murray's
guidance, and producing the oatmeal, allowed her to have her way;
so that when Macdonald awoke he found Mrs. Murray standing beside
him with a bowl of the nicest gruel and a slice of thin dry toast.
He greeted the minister's wife with grave courtesy, drank the
gruel, and then lay down again to sleep.
"Will you look at that now?" said Kirsty, amazed at Macdonald
Dubh's forbearance. "He would not like to be offending you."
Then Mrs. Murray besought Kirsty to go and lie down for an hour,
which Kirsty very unwillingly agreed to do.
It was not long before Macdonald began to toss and mutter in his
sleep, breaking forth now and then into wild cries and curses. He
was fighting once more his great fight in the Glengarry line, and
beating back LeNoir.
"Back, ye devil! Would ye? Take that, then. Come back, Mack!"
Then followed a cry so wild that Ranald awoke and came into the
"Bring in some snow, Ranald," said the minister's wife; "we will
lay some on his head."
She bathed the hot face and hands with ice-cold water, and then
laid a snow compress on the sick man's head, speaking to him in
quiet, gentle tones, till he was soothed again to sleep.
When the gray light of the morning came in through the little
window, Macdonald woke sane and quiet.
"You are better," said Mrs. Murray to him.
"Yes," he said, "I am very well, thank you, except for the pain
here." He pointed to his chest.
"You have been badly hurt, Ranald tells me. How did it happen?"
"Well," said Macdonald, slowly, "it is very hard to say."
"Did the tree fall on you?" asked Mrs. Murray.
Macdonald glanced at her quickly, and then answered: "It is very
dangerous work with the trees. It is wonderful how quick they will
"Your face and breast seem very badly bruised and cut."
"Aye, yes," said Macdonald. "The breast is bad whatever."
"I think you had better send for Doctor Grant," Mrs. Murray said.
"There may be some internal injury."
"No, no," said Macdonald, decidedly. "I will have no doctor at me,
and I will soon be round again, if the Lord will. When will the
minister be home?"
But Mrs. Murray, ignoring his attempt to escape the subject, went
on: "Yes, but, Mr. Macdonald, I am anxious to have Doctor Grant
see you, and I wish you would send for him to-morrow."
"Ah, well," said Macdonald, not committing himself, "we will be
seeing about that. But the doctor has not been in this house for
many a day." Then, after a pause, he added, in a low voice, "Not
since the day she was taken from me."
"Was she ill long?"
"Indeed, no. It was just one night. There was no doctor, and the
women could not help her, and she was very bad--and when it came it
was a girl--and it was dead--and then the doctor arrived, but he
was too late." Macdonald Dubh finished with a great sigh, and the
minister's wife said gently to him:
"That was a very sad day, and a great loss to you and Ranald."
"Aye, you may say it; she was a bonnie woman whatever, and grand at
the spinning and the butter. And, oich-hone, it was a sad day for
The minister's wife sat silent, knowing that such grief cannot be
comforted, and pitying from her heart the lonely man. After a time
she said gently, "She is better off."
A look of doubt and pain and fear came into Macdonald's eyes.
"She never came forward," he said, hesitatingly. "She was afraid
"I have heard of her often, Mr. Macdonald, and I have heard that
she was a good and gentle woman."
"Aye, she was that."
"And kind to the sick."
"You may believe it."
"And she loved the house of God."
"Aye, and neither rain nor snow nor mud would be keeping her from
it, but she would be going every Sabbath day, bringing her
stockings with her."
"Aye, to change her feet in the church. What else? Her stockings
would be wet with the snow and water."
Mrs. Murray nodded. "And she loved her Saviour, Mr. Macdonald."
"Indeed, I believe it well, but she was afraid she would not be
having 'the marks.'"
"Never you fear, Mr. Macdonald," said Mrs. Murray. "If she loved
her Saviour she is with him now."
He turned around to her and lifted himself eagerly on his elbow.
"And do you really think that?" he said, in a voice subdued and
"Indeed I do," said Mrs. Murray, in a tone of certain conviction.
Macdonald sank back on his pillow, and after a moment's silence,
said, in a voice of pain: "Oh, but it is a peety she did not know!
It is a peety she did not know. For many's the time before--
before--her hour came on her, she would be afraid."
"But she was not afraid at the last, Mr. Macdonald?"
"Indeed, no. I wondered at her. She was like a babe in its
mother's arms. There was a light on her face, and I mind well what
she said." Macdonald paused. There was a stir in the kitchen, and
Mrs. Murray, glancing behind her, saw Ranald standing near the door
intently listening. Then Macdonald went on. "I mind well the
words, as if it was yesterday. 'Hugh, my man,' she said, 'am no
feared' (she was from the Lowlands, but she was a fine woman); 'I
haena the marks, but 'm no feared but He'll ken me. Ye'll tak'
care o' Ranald, for, oh, Hugh! I ha' gi'en him to the Lord. The
Lord help you to mak' a guid man o' him.'" Macdonald's voice
faltered into silence, then, after a few moments, he cried, "And
oh! Mistress Murra', I cannot tell you the often these words do
keep coming to me; and it is myself that has not kept the promise I
made to her, and may the Lord forgive me."
The look of misery in the dark eyes touched Mrs. Murray to the
heart. She laid her hand on Macdonald's arm, but she could not
find words to speak. Suddenly Macdonald recalled himself.
"You will forgive me," he said; "and you will not be telling any
By this time the tears were streaming down her face, and Mrs.
Murray could only say, brokenly, "You know I will not."
"Aye, I do," said Macdonald, with a sigh of content, and he turned
his face away from her to the wall.
"And now you let me read to you," she said, softly, and taking from
her bag the Gaelic Bible, which with much toil she had learned to
read since coming to this Highland congregation, she read to him
from the old Psalm those words, brave, tender, and beautiful, that
have so often comforted the weary and wandering children of men,
"The Lord is my Shepherd," and so on to the end. Then from psalm
to psalm she passed, selecting such parts as suited her purpose,
until Macdonald turned to her again and said, admiringly:
"It is yourself that has the bonnie Gaelic."
"I am afraid," she said, with a smile, "it is not really good, but
it is the best a south country woman can do."
"Indeed, it is very pretty," he said, earnestly.
Then the minister's wife said, timidly, "I cannot pray in the
"Oh, the English will be very good," said Macdonald, and she knelt
down and in simple words poured out her heart in prayer. Before
she rose from her knees she opened the Gaelic Bible, and turned to
the words of the Lord's Prayer.
"We will say this prayer together," she said, gently.
Macdonald, bowing his head gravely, answered: "It is what she
would often be doing with me."
There was still only one woman to this lonely hearted man, and with
a sudden rush of pity that showed itself in her breaking voice, the
minister's wife began in Gaelic, "Our Father which art in heaven."
Macdonald followed her in a whisper through the petitions until
they came to the words, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our
debtors," when he paused and would say no more. Mrs. Murray
repeated the words of the petition, but still there was no
response. Then the minister's wife knew that she had her finger
upon a sore spot, and she finished the prayer alone.
For a time she sat silent, unwilling to probe the wound, and yet
too brave to flinch from what she felt to be duty.
"We have much to be forgiven," she said, gently. "More than we can
ever forgive." Still there was silence.
"And the heart that cannot forgive an injury is closed to the
forgiveness of God."
The morning sun was gleaming through the treetops, and Mrs. Murray
was worn with her night's vigil, and anxious to get home. She
rose, and offering Macdonald her hand, smiled down into his face,
and said: "Good by! We must try to forgive."
As he took her hand, Macdonald's dark face began to work, and he
broke forth into a bitter cry.
"He took me unawares! And it was a coward's blow! and I will not
forgive him until I have given him what he deserves, if the Lord
spares me!" And then he poured forth, in hot and bitter words, the
story of the great fight. By the time he had finished his tale
Ranald had come in from the kitchen, and was standing with clenched
fists and face pale with passion at the foot of the bed.
As Mrs. Murray listened to this story her eyes began to burn, and
when it was over, she burst forth: "Oh, it was a cruel and
cowardly and brutal thing for men to do! And did you beat them
off?" she asked.
"Aye, and that we did," burst in Ranald. And in breathless haste
and with flashing eye he told them of Macdonald Bhain's part in the
"Splendid!" cried the minister's wife, forgetting herself for the
"But he let him go," said Ranald, sadly. "He would not strike him,
but just let him go."
Then the minister's wife cried again: "Ah, he is a great man, your
uncle! And a great Christian. Greater than I could have been, for
I would have slain him then and there." Her eyes flashed, and the
color flamed in her face as she uttered these words.
"Aye," said Macdonald Dubh, regarding her with deep satisfaction.
His tone and look recalled the minister's wife, and turning to
Ranald, she added, sadly:
"But your uncle was right, Ranald, and we must forgive even as he
"That," cried Ranald, with fierce emphasis, "I will never do, until
once I will be having my hands on his throat."
"Hush, Ranald!" said the minister's wife. "I know it is hard, but
we must forgive. You see we MUST forgive. And we must ask Him to
help us, who has more to forgive than any other."
But she said no more to Macdonald Dubh on that subject that morning.
The fire of the battle was in her heart, and she felt she could
more easily sympathize with his desire for vengeance than with the
Christian grace of forgiveness. But as they rode home together
through the bush, where death had trailed them so closely the night