Part 4 out of 8
and before it would yield he had to sever two or three of its
Together the teams swung round to their last stump. The excitement
in the crowd was intense. Aleck's team was moving swiftly and with
the steadiness of clockwork. The blacks were frantic with
excitement and hard to control. Ranald's last stump was a pine of
medium size, whose roots were partly burned away. It looked like
an easy victim. Aleck's was an ugly-looking little elm.
Ranald thought he would try his first pull without the use of the
ax. Quickly he backed up his team to the stump, passed the chain
round a root on the far side, drew the big hook far up the chain,
hitched it so as to give the shortest possible draught, threw the
chain over the top of the stump to give it purchase, picked up his
lines, and called to his team. With a rush the blacks went at it.
The chain slipped up on the root, tightened, bit into the wood, and
then the blacks flung back. Ranald swung them round the point and
tried them again, but still the stump refused to budge.
All this time he could hear Aleck chopping furiously at his elm-
roots, and he knew that unless he had his stump out before his
rival had his chain hitched for the pull the victory was lost.
For a moment or two he hesitated, looking round for the ax.
"Try them again, Ranald," cried Farquhar. "Haw them a bit."
Once more Ranald picked up the lines, swung his horses round to the
left, held them steady a moment or two, and then with a yell sent
them at their pull. Magnificently the blacks responded, furiously
tearing up the ground with their feet. A moment or two they hung
straining on their chain, refusing to come back, when slowly the
stump began to move.
"You have got it," cried Farquhar. "Gee them a point or two."
But already Ranald had seen that this was necessary, and once more
backed his team to readjust the chain which had slipped off the
top. As he fastened the hook he heard a sharp "Back!" behind him,
and he knew that the next moment Aleck's team would be away with
their load. With a yell he sprang at his lines, lashed the blacks
over the back, and called to them once more. Again his team
responded, and with a mighty heave, the stump came slowly out,
carrying with it what looked like half a ton of earth. But even as
it heaved, he heard Aleck's call and the answering crash, and
before he could get his team a-going, the French-Canadians were off
for their pile at a gallop, with the lines flying in the air behind
them. A moment later he followed, the blacks hauling their stump
at a run.
Together he and Aleck reached the pile. It only remained now to
unhook the chain. In vain he tugged and hauled. The chain was
buried deep beneath the stump and refused to move, and before he
could swing his team about and turn the stump over, he heard
Aleck's shout of victory.
But as he dropped his chain and was leisurely backing his horses,
he heard old Farquhar cry, "Hurry, man! Hurry, for the life of
Without waiting to inquire the reason, Ranald wheeled his team,
gave the stump a half turn, released his chain, and drove off from
the pile, to find Aleck still busy hooking his chain to his
Aleck had had the same difficulty in freeing his chain as Ranald,
but instead of trying to detach it from the stump, he had unhooked
the other end, and then, with a mighty backward jerk, had snatched
it from the stump. But before he could attach it to his place on
the whiffletree again, Ranald stood ready for work.
"A win, lad! A win!" cried old Farquhar, more excited than he had
been for years.
"It is no win," said Aleck, hotly.
"No, no, lads," said Macdonald Bhain, before Farquhar could reply.
"It is as even a match as could well be. It is fine teams you both
have got, and you have handled them well."
But all the same, Ranald's friends were wildly enthusiastic over
what they called his victory, and Don could hardly keep his hands
off him, for very joy.
Aleck, on the other hand, while claiming the victory because his
team was at the pile first, was not so sure of it but that he was
ready to fight with any one venturing to dispute his claim. But
the men all laughed at him and his rage, until he found it wiser to
be good-humored about it.
"Yon lad will be making as good a man as yourself," said Farquhar,
enthusiastically, to Macdonald Bhain, as Ranald drove his team to
"Aye, and a better, pray God," said Macdonald Bhain, fervently,
looking after Ranald with loving eyes. There was no child in his
home, and his brother's son was as his own.
Meanwhile Don had hurried on, leaving his team with Murdie that he
might sing Ranald's praises to "the girls," with whom Ranald was
highly popular, although he avoided them, or perhaps because he did
so, the ways of women being past understanding.
To Mrs. Murray and Maimie, who with the minister and Hughie, had
come over to the supper, he went first with his tale. Graphically
he depicted the struggle from its beginning to the last dramatic
rush to the pile, dilating upon Ranald's skill and pluck, and upon
the wonderful and hitherto unknown virtues of Farquhar's shiny
"You ought to see them!" cried Don. "You bet they never moved in
their lives the way they did today. Tied him!" he continued.
"Tied him! Beat him, I say, but Macdonald Bhain says 'Tied him'--
Aleck McRae, who thinks himself so mighty smart with his team."
Don forgot in his excitement that the McRaes and their friends were
there in numbers.
"So he is," cried Annie Ross, one of Aleck's admirers. "There is
not a man in the Indian Lands that can beat Aleck and his team."
"Well," exulted Don, "a boy came pretty near it to-day."
But Annie only stuck out her lip at him in the inimitable female
manner, and ran off to add to the mischief that Don had already
made between Ranald and his rival.
But now the day's work was over, and the hour for the day's event
had come, for supper was the great event to which all things moved
at bees. The long tables stood under the maple trees, spread with
the richest, rarest, deadliest dainties known to the housewives and
maidens of the countryside. About the tables stood in groups the
white-aproned girls, tucked and frilled, curled and ribboned into
all degrees of bewitching loveliness. The men hurried away with
their teams, and then gave themselves to the serious duty of
getting ready for supper, using many pails of water in their
efforts to remove the black from the burnt wood of the brule.
At length the women lost all patience with them, and sent Annie
Ross, with two or three companions, to call them to supper. With
arms intertwined, and with much chattering and giggling, the girls
made their way to the group of men, some of whom were engaged in
putting the finishing touches to their toilet.
"Supper is ready," cried Annie, "and long past ready. You need not
be trying to fix yourselves up so fine. You are just as bad as any
girls. Oh!" Her speech ended in a shriek, which was echoed by the
others, for Aleck McRae rushed at them, stretching out his black
hands toward them. But they were too quick for him, and fled for
protection to the safe precincts of the tables.
At length, when the last of the men had made themselves, as they
thought, presentable, they began to make their approach to the
tables, slowly and shyly for the most part, each waiting for the
other. Aleck McRae, however, knew little of shyness, but walked
past the different groups of girls, throwing on either hand a
smile, a wink, or a word, as he might find suitable.
Suddenly he came upon the group where the minister's wife and her
niece were standing. Here, for the moment, his ease forsook him,
but Mrs. Murray came to meet him with outstretched hand.
"So you still retain your laurels?" she said, with a frank smile.
"I hear it was a great battle."
Aleck shook hands with her rather awkwardly. He was not on the
easiest terms with the minister and his wife. He belonged
distinctly to the careless set, and rather enjoyed the distinction.
"Oh, it was not much," he said; "the teams were well matched."
"Oh, I should like to have been there. You should have told us
"Oh, it was more than I expected myself," he said. "I didn't think
it was in Farquhar's team."
He could not bring himself to give any credit to Ranald, and though
Mrs. Murray saw this, she refused to notice it. She was none the
less anxious to win Aleck's confidence, because she was Ranald's
"Do you know my niece?" she said, turning to Maimie.
Aleck looked into Maimie's face with such open admiration that she
felt the blush come up in her cheeks.
"Indeed, she is worth knowing, but I don't think she will care to
take such a hand as that," he said, stretching out a hand still
grimy in spite of much washing. But Maimie had learned something
since coming to her aunt, and she no longer judged men by the fit
of their clothes, or the color of their skin, or the length of
their hair; and indeed, as she looked at Aleck, with his close-
buttoned smock, and overalls with the legs tucked neatly into the
tops of his boots, she thought he was the trimmest figure she had
seen since coming to the country. She took Aleck's hand and shook
it warmly, the full admiration in his handsome black eyes setting
her blood tingling with that love of conquest that lies in every
woman's heart. So she flung out her flag of war, and smiled back
at him her sweetest.
"You have a fine team, I hear," she said, as her aunt moved away to
greet some of the other men, who were evidently waiting to get a
word with her.
"That I have, you better believe," replied Aleck, proudly.
"It was very clever of Ranald to come so near beating you, wasn't
it?" she said, innocently. "He must be a splendid driver."
"He drives pretty well," admitted Aleck. "He did nothing else all
last winter in the shanties."
"He is so young, too," went on Maimie. "Just a boy, isn't he?"
Aleck was not sure how to take this. "He does not think so," he
answered, shortly. "He thinks he is no end of a man, but he will
have to learn something before he is much older."
"But he can drive, you say," continued Maimie, wickedly keeping her
finger on the sore spot.
"Oh, pshaw!" replied Aleck, boldly. "You think a lot of him, don't
you? And I guess you are a pair."
Maimie tossed her head at this. "We are very good friends, of
course," she said, lightly. "He is a very nice boy, and we are all
fond of him; but he is just a boy; he is Hughie's great friend."
"A boy, is he?" laughed Aleck. "That may be, but he is very fond
of you, whatever, and indeed, I don't wonder at that. Anybody
would be," he added, boldly.
"You don't know a bit about it," said Maimie, with cheeks glowing.
"About Ranald and--and--what you said."
"What I said? About being fond of you? Indeed, I know all about
that. The boys are all broke up, not to speak of myself."
This was going a little too fast for Maimie. She knew nothing, as
yet, of the freedom of country banter. She was new to the warfare,
but she was not going to lower her flag or retreat. She changed
the subject. "Your team must have been very tired."
"Tired!" exclaimed Aleck, "not a bit. They will go home like
birds. Come along with me, and you will see."
Maimie gasped. "I--" she hesitated, glanced past Aleck, blushed,
Aleck turned about quickly and saw Ranald staring at Maimie. "Oh,"
he said, banteringly, "I see. You would not be allowed."
"Allowed!" echoed Maimie. "And why not, pray? Who will hinder
But Aleck only shrugged his shoulders and looked at Ranald, who
passed on to his place at the table, black as a thunder-cloud.
Maimie was indignant at him. What right had he to stare and look
so savage? She would just show him. So she turned once more to
Aleck, and with a gay laugh, cried, "Some day I will accept your
invitation, so just make ready."
"Any day, or every day, and the more days the better," cried Aleck,
as he sat down at the table, where all had now taken their places.
The supper was a great success. With much laughter and chaffing,
the girls flitted from place to place, pouring cups of tea and
passing the various dishes, urging the men to eat, till, as Don
said, they were "full to the neck."
When all had finished, Mr. Murray, who sat at the head of the
table, rose in his place and said: "Gentlemen, before we rise from
this table, which has been spread so bountifully for us, I wish to
return thanks on behalf of Mr. Macdonald to the neighbors and
friends who have gathered to-day to assist in this work. Mr.
Macdonald asked me to say that he is all the more surprised at this
kindness, in that he feels himself to be so unworthy of it. I
promised to speak this word for him, but I do not agree with the
sentiment. Mr. Macdonald is a man whom we all love, and in whose
misfortune we deeply sympathize, and I only hope that this
Providence may be greatly blessed to him, and that we will all come
to know him better, and to see God's hand in his misfortune."
The minister then, after some further remarks expressive of the
good will of the neighbors for Mr. Macdonald, and in appreciation
of the kind spirit that prompted the bee, returned thanks, and the
supper was over.
As the men were leaving the table, Aleck watched his opportunity
and called to Maimie, when he was sure Ranald could hear, "Well,
when will you be ready for that drive?"
And Maimie, who was more indignant at Ranald than ever because he
had ignored all her advances at supper, and had received her
congratulations upon his victory with nothing more than a grunt,
answered Aleck brightly. "Oh, any day that you happen to
"Remember!" cried Aleck; "then that will be every day until our
ride comes off."
A few minutes later, as Ranald was hitching up Farquhar's team,
Aleck passed by, and in great good humor with himself, chaffingly
called out to Ranald in the presence of a number of the men,
"That's a fine girl you've got, Ranald. But you better keep your
eye on her."
Ranald made no reply. He was fast losing command of himself.
"Pretty skittish to handle, isn't she?" continued Aleck.
"What y're talkin' 'bout? That Lisette mare?" said Yankee, walking
round to Ranald's side. "Purty slick beast, that. Guess there
ain't anythin' in this country will make her take dust."
Then in a low voice he said to Ranald, hurriedly, "Don't you mind
him; don't you mind him. You can't touch him to-day, on your own
place. Let me handle him."
"No," said Aleck. "We were talking about another colt of Ranald's."
"What's that?" said Yankee, pretending not to hear. "Yes, you
bet," he continued. "Ranald can handle her all right. He knows
something about horses, as I guess you have found out, perhaps, by
this time. Never saw anything so purty. Didn't know your team had
got that move in them, Mr. McNaughton," Yankee went on to Farquhar,
who had just come up.
"Indeed, they are none the worse of it," said Farquhar, rubbing his
hands over the sleek sides of his horses.
"Worse!" cried Yankee. "They're worth a hundred dollars more from
this day on."
"I don't know that. The hundred dollars ought to go upon the
driver," said Farquhar, putting his hand kindly upon Ranald's
But this Ranald warmly repudiated. "They are a great team," he
said to Farquhar. "And they could do better than they did to-day
if they were better handled.'
"Indeed, it would be difficult to get that," said Farquhar, "for,
in my opinion, there is not a man in the country that could handle
them as well."
This was too much for Aleck, who, having by this time got his
horses hitched, mounted his wagon seat and came round to the door
at a gallop.
"Saved you that time, my boy," said Yankee to Ranald. "You would
have made a fool of yourself in about two minutes more, I guess."
But Ranald was still too wrathful to be grateful for Yankee's help.
"I will be even with him someday," he said, between his teeth.
"I guess you will have to learn two or three things first," said
"Well, how to use your head, first place, and then how to use your
hands. He is too heavy for you. He would crumple you up in a
couple of minutes."
"Let him, then," said Ranald, recklessly.
"Rather onpleasant. Better wait awhile till you learn what I told
"Yankee," said Ranald, after a pause, "will you show me?"
"Why, sartin sure," said Yankee, cheerfully. "You have got to lick
him some day, or he won't be happy; and by jings! it will be worth
By this time Farquhar had come back from saying good by to
Macdonald Dubh and Mr. and Mrs. Murray, who were remaining till
"You will be a man yet," said Farquhar, shaking Ranald's hand.
"You have got the patience and the endurance." These were great
virtues in Farquhar's opinion.
"Not much patience, I am afraid," said Ranald. "But I am glad you
trusted me with your team."
"And any day you want them you can have them," said Farquhar, his
reckless mood leading him to forget Kirsty for the moment.
"Thank you, sir," said Ranald, wondering what Kirsty would look
like should he ever venture to claim Farquhar's offer.
One by one the teams drove away with their loads, till only the
minister and his party were left. Away under the trees Mr. Murray
was standing, earnestly talking to Macdonald Dubh. He had found
the opportunity he had long waited for and was making the most of
it. Mrs. Murray was busy with Kirsty, and Maimie and Hughie came
toward the stable where Yankee and Ranald were still standing. As
soon as Ranald saw them approaching he said to Yankee, abruptly,
"I am going to get the minister's horse," and disappeared into the
stable. Nor did he come forth again till he heard his father
calling to him: "What is keeping you, Ranald? The minister is
waiting for his horse."
"So you won a great victory, Ranald, I hear," said the minister, as
Ranald brought Black to the door.
"It was a tie," said Ranald.
"Oh, Ranald!" cried Hughie, "you beat him. Everybody says so. You
had your chain hitched up and everything before Aleck."
"I hear it was a great exhibition, not only of skill, but of
endurance and patience, Ranald," said the minister. "And these are
noble virtues. It is a great thing to be able to endure."
But Ranald made no reply, busying himself with Black's bridle.
Mrs. Murray noticed his gloom and guessed its cause.
"We will see you at the Bible class, Ranald," she said, kindly, but
still Ranald remained silent.
"Can you not speak, man?" said his father. "Do you not hear the
minister's wife talking to you?"
"Yes," said Ranald, "I will be there."
"We will be glad to see you," said Mrs. Murray, offering him her
hand. "And you might come in with Hughie for a few minutes
afterward," she continued, kindly, for she noted the misery in his
"And we will be glad to see you, too, Mr. Macdonald, if it would
not be too much for you, and if you do not scorn a woman's
"Indeed, I would be proud," said Macdonald Dubh, courteously, "as
far as that is concerned, for I hear there are better men than me
"I am sure Mrs. Murray will be glad to see you, Mr. Macdonald,"
said the minister.
"I will be thinking of it," said Macdonald Dubh, cautiously. "And
you are both very kind, whatever," he said, losing for a time his
"Well, then, I will look for you both," said Mrs. Murray, as they
were about to drive off, "so do not disappoint me."
"Good by, Ranald," said Maimie, offering Ranald her hand.
"Good by," said Ranald, holding her hand for a moment and looking
hard into her eyes, "and I hope you will enjoy your ride, whatever."
Then Maimie understood Ranald's savage manner, and as she thought
it over she smiled to herself. She was taking her first sips of
that cup, to woman's lips the sweetest, and she found it not
unpleasant. She had succeeded in making one man happy and another
miserable. But it was when she said to herself, "Poor Ranald!"
that she smiled most sweetly.
SHE WILL NOT FORGET
If Mrs. Murray was not surprised to see Macdonald Dubh and Yankee
walk in on Sabbath evening and sit down in the back seat, her class
were. Indeed the appearance of these two men at the class was
considered an event so extraordinary as to give a decided shock to
those who regularly attended, and their presence lent to the meeting
an unusual interest, and an undertone of excitement. To see
Macdonald Dubh, whose attendance at the regular Sabbath services was
something unusual, present at a religious meeting which no one would
consider it a duty to attend, was enough in itself to excite
surprise, but when Yankee came in and sat beside him, the surprise
was considerably intensified. For Yankee was considered to be quite
outside the pale, and indeed, in a way, incapable of religious
impression. No one expected Yankee to be religious. He was not a
Presbyterian, knew nothing of the Shorter Catechism, not to speak of
the Confession of Faith, and consequently was woefully ignorant of
the elements of Christian knowledge that were deemed necessary to
any true religious experience.
It was rumored that upon Yankee's first appearance in the country,
some few years before, he had, in an unguarded moment, acknowledged
that his people had belonged to the Methodists, and that he himself
"leaned toward" that peculiar sect. Such a confession was in
itself enough to stamp him, in the eyes of the community, as one
whose religious history must always be attended with more or less
uncertainty. Few of them had ever seen a Methodist in the flesh.
There were said to be some at Moose Creek (Mooscrick, as it was
called), but they were known only by report. The younger and more
untraveled portion of the community thought of them with a certain
amount of awe and fear.
It was no wonder, then, that Yankee's appearance in Bible class
produced a sensation. It was an evening of sensations, for not
only were Macdonald Dubh and Yankee present, but Aleck McRae had
driven up a load of people from below the Sixteenth. Ranald
regarded his presence with considerable contempt.
"It is not much he cares for the Bible class, whatever," he confided
to Don, who was sitting beside him.
But more remarkable and disturbing to Ranald than the presence of
Aleck McRae, was that of a young man sitting between Hughie and
Maimie in the minister's pew. He was evidently from the city. One
could see that from his fine clothes and his white shirt and
collar. Ranald looked at him with deepening contempt. "Pride" was
written all over him. Not only did he wear fine clothes, and a
white shirt and collar, but he wore them without any sign of
awkwardness or apology in his manner, and indeed as if he enjoyed
them. But the crowning proof of his "pride," Don noted with
"Look at him," he said, "splits his head in the middle."
Ranald found himself wondering how the young fop would look sitting
in a pool of muddy water. How insufferable the young fellow's
manners were! He sat quite close to Maimie, now and then
whispering to her, evidently quite ignorant of how to behave in
church. And Maimie, who ought to know better, was acting most
disgracefully as well, whispering back and smiling right into his
face. Ranald was thoroughly ashamed of her. He could not deny
that the young fellow was handsome, hatefully so, but he was
evidently stuck full of conceit, and as he let his eyes wander over
the congregation assembled, with a bold and critical stare, making
remarks to Maimie in an undertone which could be heard over the
church, Ranald felt his fingers twitching. The young man was older
than Ranald, but Ranald would have given a good deal for an
opportunity to "take him with one hand."
At this point Ranald's reflections were interrupted by Mrs. Murray
rising to open the class.
"Will some one suggest a Psalm?" she asked, her cheek, usually
pale, showing a slight color. It was always an ordeal for her to
face her class, ever since the men had been allowed to come, and
the first moments were full of trial to her. Only her conscience
and her fine courage kept her from turning back from this, her path
At once, from two or three came responses to her invitation, and a
Psalm was chosen.
The singing was a distinct feature of the Bible class. There was
nothing like it, not only in the other services of the congregation,
but in any congregation in the whole county. The young people that
formed that Bible class have long since grown into old men and
women, but the echoes of that singing still reverberate through the
chambers of their hearts when they stand up to sing certain tunes or
certain Psalms. Once a week, through the long winter, they used to
meet and sing to John "Aleck's" sounding beat for two or three
hours. They learned to sing, not only the old psalm tunes but psalm
tunes never heard in the congregation before, as also hymns and
anthems. The anthems and hymns were, of course, never used in
public worship. They were reserved for the sacred concert which
John "Aleck" gave once a year. It was in the Bible class that he
and his fellow enthusiasts found opportunity to sing their new Psalm
tunes, with now and then a hymn. When John "Aleck," a handsome,
broad-shouldered, six-footer, stood up and bit his tuning-fork to
catch the pitch, the people straightened up in their seats and
prepared to follow his lead. And after his great resonant voice had
rolled out the first few notes of the tune, they caught him up with
a vigor and enthusiasm that carried him along, and inspired him to
his mightiest efforts. Wonderful singing it was, full toned,
rhythmical and well balanced.
With characteristic courage, the minister's wife had chosen Paul's
Epistle to the Romans for the subject of study, and to-night the
lesson was the redoubtable ninth chapter, that arsenal for
Calvinistic champions. First the verses were repeated by the class
in concert, and the members vied with each other in making this a
perfect exercise, then the teaching of the chapter was set forth
in simple, lucid speech. The last half hour was devoted to the
discussion of questions, raised either by the teacher or by any
member of the class. To-night the class was slow in asking
questions. They were face to face with the tremendous Pauline
Doctrine of Sovereignty. It was significant that by Macdonald
Dubh, his brother, and the other older and more experienced members
of the class, the doctrine was regarded as absolutely inevitable
and was accepted without question, while by Yankee and Ranald and
all the younger members of the class, it was rejected with fierce
resentment. The older men had been taught by the experience of
long and bitter years, that above all their strength, however
mighty, a power, resistless and often inscrutable, determined their
lives. The younger men, their hearts beating with conscious power
and freedom, resented this control, or accepting it, refused to
assume the responsibility for the outcome of their lives. It was
the old, old strife, the insoluble mystery; and the minister's
wife, far from making light of it, allowed its full weight to press
in upon the members of her class, and wisely left the question as
the apostle leaves it, with a statement of the two great truths of
Sovereignty and Free Will without attempting the impossible task of
harmonizing these into a perfect system. After a half-hour of
discussion, she brought the lesson to a close with a very short and
very simple presentation of the practical bearing of the great
doctrine. And while the mystery remained unsolved, the limpid
clearness of her thought, the humble attitude of mind, the sympathy
with doubt, and above all, the sweet and tender pathos that filled
her voice, sent the class away humbled, subdued, comforted, and
willing to wait the day of clearer light. Not that they were done
with Pharaoh and his untoward fate; that occupied them for many a
The class was closed with prayer and singing. As a kind of treat,
the last singing was a hymn and they stood up to sing it. It was
Perronet's great hymn sung to old Coronation, and when they came to
the refrain, "Crown him Lord of all," the very rafters of the
little church rang with the mighty volume of sound. The Bible
class always closed with a great outburst of singing, and as a
rule, Ranald went out tingling and thrilling through and through.
But tonight, so deeply was he exercised with the unhappy doom of
the unfortunate king of Egypt, from which, apparently, there was no
escape, fixed as it was by the Divine decree, and oppressed with
the feeling that the same decree would determine the course of his
life, he missed his usual thrill. He was walking off by himself in
a perplexed and downcast mood, avoiding every one, even Don, and
was nearly past the minister's gate when Hughie, excited and
breathless, caught up to him and exclaimed: "Oh, Ranald, was not
that splendid? Man, I like to hear John 'Aleck' sing 'Crown him'
that way. And I say," he continued, "mother wants you to come in."
Then all at once Ranald remembered the young man who had behaved so
disgracefully in church.
"No," he said, firmly, "I must be hurrying home. The cows will be
to milk yet."
"Oh, pshaw! you must come," pleaded Hughie. "We will have some
singing. I want you to sing bass. Perhaps John 'Aleck' will come
in." This was sheer guessing, but it was good bait. But the young
man with "his head split in the middle" would be there, and perhaps
Maimie would be "going on," with him as she did in the Bible class.
"You will tell your mother I could not come," he said. "Yankee and
father are both out, and there will be no one at home."
"Well, I think you are pretty mean," said Hughie, grievously
disappointed. "I wanted you to come in, and mother wanted Cousin
Harry to see you."
"Yes; Maimie's brother came last night, you know, and Maimie is
going back with him in two weeks."
"Maimie's brother. Well, well, is that the nice-looking fellow
that sat by you?"
"Huh-huh, he is awful nice, and mother wanted--"
"Indeed he looks it, I am sure," Ranald said, with sudden
enthusiasm; "I would just like to know him. If I thought Yankee
"Oh, pshaw! Of course Yankee will milk the cows," exclaimed
Hughie. "Come on, come on in. And Ranald went to meet one of the
great nights of his life.
"Here is Ranald!" called Hughie at the top of his voice, as he
entered the room where the family were gathered.
"You don't say so, Hughie?" answered his cousin, coming forward.
"You ought to make that fact known. We all want to hear it."
Ranald liked him from the first. He was not a bit "proud" in spite
of his fine clothes and his head being "split in the middle."
"You're the chap," he said, stretching out his hand to Ranald,
"that snatched Maimie from the fire. Mighty clever thing to do.
We have heard a lot about you at our house. Why, every week--"
"Let some one else talk, Harry," interrupted Maimie, with cheeks
flaming. "We are going to have some singing now. Here is auntie.
Mayn't we use the piano?"
"Why, yes, I suppose so," said Mrs. Murray. "I was glad to see
your father there to-night," she said to Ranald.
"And Yankee, mother."
"Hush, Hughie; you must call people by their right names. Now let
us have some singing. I hear Ranald is singing bass these days."
"And bully good bass, too," cried Hughie. "John 'Aleck' says that
it's the finest bass in the whole singing school."
"Well, Hughie," said his mother, quietly, "I don't think it is
necessary to shout even such pleasant information as that. Now go
to your singing, and I shall listen."
She lay back in the big chair, looking so pale and weary that Harry
hardly believed it was the same woman that had just been keeping a
hundred and fifty people keenly alert for an hour and a half, and
leading them with such intellectual and emotional power.
"That class is too hard for you, auntie," he said. "If I were your
husband I would not let you keep it on."
"But you see my husband is not here. He is twelve miles away."
"Then I would lock you up, or take you with me."
"Oh!" cried Hughie, "I would much rather teach the Bible class than
listen to another sermon."
"Something in that," said his cousin, "especially if I were the
preacher, eh?" at which they all laughed.
It was a happy hour for Ranald. He had been too shy to join the
singing school, and had never heard any part singing till he began
to attend the Bible class. There he made the delightful discovery
that, without any instruction, he could join in the bass, and had
made, also, the further discovery that his voice, which he had
thought rough and coarse, and for a year past, worse than ever,
could reach to extraordinary depths. One Sabbath evening, it
chanced that John "Aleck," who always had an ear open for a good
voice, heard him rolling out his deep bass, and seizing him on the
spot, had made him promise to join the singing school. There he
discovered a talent and developed a taste for singing that
delighted his leader's heart, and opened out to himself a new
world. The piano, too, was a new and rare treat to Ranald. In all
the country there was no other, and even in the manse it was seldom
heard, for Mrs. Murray found little time, amid the multitude of
household and congregational duties, to keep up her piano practice.
That part of her life, with others of like kind, she had been
forced to lose.
But since Maimie's coming, the piano had been in daily use, and
even on the Sabbath days, though not without danger to the
sensibilities of the neighbors, she had used it to accompany the
hymns with which the day always closed.
"Let us have the parts," cried Hughie. "Maimie and I will take the
air, and Ranald will take the bass. Cousin Harry, can you sing?"
"Oh, I'll hum."
"Nonsense," said Maimie, "he sings tenor splendidly."
"Oh, that's fine!" cried Hughie, with delight. He himself was full
of music. "Come on, Ranald, you stand up behind Maimie, you will
need to see the notes; and I will sit here," planting himself
beside his mother.
So Hughie arranged it all, and for an hour the singing went on, the
favorite hymns of each being sung in turn. For the most part, Mrs.
Murray sat silent, but now and then she would join with the others,
singing alto when she did so, by Hughie's special direction. Her
voice was not strong, but it was true, mellow, and full of music.
Hughie loved to hear her sing alto, and more especially because he
liked to join in with her, which he was too shy to do alone, even
in his home, and which he would never think of doing in the Bible
class, or in the presence of any of the boys who might, for this
reason, think him "proud." When they came to Hughie's turn, he
chose the hymn by Bliss, recently published, "Whosoever will," the
words seem to strike him tonight.
"Mother," he said, after singing it through, "does that mean
everybody that likes?"
"Yes, my dear, any one that wishes."
"Yes, Pharaoh, too."
"But, mother, you said he could not possibly."
"Only because he did not want to."
"But he could not, even if he did want to."
"I hope I did not say that," said his mother, smiling at the eager
and earnest young face.
"No, auntie," said Harry, taking up Hughie's cause, "not exactly,
but something very like it. You said that Pharaoh could not
possibly have acted in any other way than he did."
"Yes, I said that."
"Not even if he wanted to?" asked Hughie.
"Oh, I did not say that."
"The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart," quoted Ranald, who knew his
Bible better than Harry.
"Yes, that is it," said Harry, "and so that made it impossible for
Pharaoh to do anything else. He could not help following after
"Why not?" said Mrs. Murray. "What made him follow? Now just
think, what made him follow after those people?"
"Why, he wanted to get them back," said Hughie.
"Quite true," said his mother. "So you see, he did exactly as he
"Then you mean the Lord had nothing to do with it?" asked Ranald.
"No, I could not say that."
"Then," said Harry, "Pharaoh could not help himself. Now, could
"He did what he wished to do," said his aunt.
"Yes," said Ranald, quickly, "but could he help wishing to do what
"If he had been a different man, more humble minded, and more
willing to be taught, he would not have wished to do what he did."
"Mother," said Hughie, changing his ground a little, and lowering
his voice, "do you think Pharaoh is lost, and all his soldiers,
and--and all the people who were bad?"
Mrs. Murray looked at him in silence for a few moments, then said,
very sadly, "I can't answer that question, Hughie. I do not know."
"But, mother," persisted Hughie, "are not wicked people lost?"
"Yes, Hughie," replied his mother, "all those who do not repent of
their sins and cry to God for mercy."
"Oh, mother," cried Hughie, "forever?"
His mother did not reply.
"Will He never let them out, mother?" continued Hughie, in piteous
"Listen to me, Hughie," said his mother, very gently. "We know
very little about this. Would you be very sorry, even for very bad
"Oh, mother," cried Hughie, his tender little heart moved with a
great compassion, "think of a whole year, all summer long, and all
winter long. I think I would let anybody out."
"Then, Hughie, dear," said his mother, "remember that God is much
kinder than you are, and has a heart far more tender, and while He
will be just and must punish sin, He will do nothing unjust or
unkind, you may be quite sure of that. Do not forget how He gave
up His own dear son for us."
Poor Hughie could bear it no longer. He put his head in his
mother's lap and sobbed out, "Oh, mother, I hope he will let them
As he uttered this pitiful little cry, his cousin Harry got up from
his chair, and moved across to the window, while Maimie openly
wiped her eyes, but Ranald sat with his face set hard, and his eyes
gleaming, waiting eagerly for Mrs. Murray's answer.
The mother stroked Hughie's head softly, and while her tears fell
on the brown curls, said to him, "You would not be afraid to trust
your mother, Hughie, and our Father in heaven loves us all much
more than I love you."
And with that Hughie was content.
"Now let us sing one more hymn," said his mother. "It's my
choice." And she chose one of the new hymns which they had just
learned in the singing school, and of which Hughie was very fond,
the children's hymn, "Come to the Saviour." While they were
singing they heard Mr. Murray drive into the yard.
"There's papa," said Mrs. Murray. "He will be tired and hungry,"
and she hurried out to meet her husband, followed by Harry and
Hughie, leaving Ranald and Maimie in the room together. Ranald had
never been alone with her before, nor indeed had he ever spent five
minutes of his life alone with any girl before now. But he did not
feel awkward or shy; he was thinking now, as he had been thinking
now and then through the whole evening, of only one thing, that
Maimie was going away. That would make a great difference to him,
so great that he was conscious of a heart-sinking at the mere
thought of it. During the last weeks, his life had come to move
about a center, and that center was Maimie; and now that she was
going away, there would be nothing left. Nothing, that is, that
really mattered. But the question he was revolving in his mind
was, would she forget all about him. He knew he would never forget
her, that was, of course, impossible, for so many things would
remind him of her. He would never see the moonlight falling
through the trees as it fell that night of the sugaring-off,
without thinking of her. He would never see the shadows in the
evening, or hear the wind in the leaves, without thinking of her.
The church and the minister's pew, the manse and all belonging to
it would remind him of Maimie. He would recall how she looked at
different times and places, the turn of her head, the way her hair
fell on her neck, her laugh, the little toss of her chin, and the
curve in her lips. He would remember everything about her. Would
she remember him, or would she forget him? That was the question
burning in his heart; and that question he must have settled, and
this was the time.
But though these thoughts and emotions were rushing through his
brain and blood, he felt strangely quiet and self-controlled as he
walked over to her where she stood beside the piano, and looking
into her eyes with an intensity of gaze she could not meet, said,
in a low, quick voice: "You are going away?"
"Yes," she replied, so startled that the easy smile with which she
had greeted him faded out of her face. "In two weeks I shall be
"Gone!" echoed Ranald. "Yes, you will be gone. Will you forget
me?" His tone was almost stern.
"Why, no," she said, in a surprised voice. "Of course not. Did
not you save my life? You will be far more likely to forget me."
"No," he said, simply, as if that possibility need not be considered.
"I will never forget you. I will always be thinking of you. Will
you think of me?" he persisted.
"Why, certainly. Wouldn't I be a very ungrateful girl if I did
"Ungrateful!" exclaimed Ranald, impatiently. "What I did was
nothing. Forget that. Do you not understand me? I will be
thinking of you every day, in the morning and at night, and I never
thought of any one else before for a day. Will you be thinking of
There was a movement in the kitchen, and they could hear the
minister talking to Harry; and some one was moving toward the door.
"Tell me, Maimie, quick," said Ranald, and though his voice was
intense and stern, there was appeal in it as well.
She took a step nearer him, and looking up into his face, said, in
a whisper, "Yes, Ranald, I will always remember you, and think of
Swiftly, almost fiercely, he threw his arms about her, and kissed
her lips, then he stood back looking at her.
"I could not help it," he said, boldly. "You made me."
"Made you?" exclaimed Maimie, her face hot with blushes.
"Yes, you made me. I could not help it," he repeated. "And I do
not care if you are angry. I am glad I did it."
"Glad?" echoed Maimie again, not knowing what to say.
"Yes, glad," he said, exultantly. "Are you?"
She made no reply. The door opened behind them. She sank down
upon the piano-stool and let her hands fall upon the keys.
"Are you?" he demanded, ignoring the interruption.
With her head low down, while she struck the chords of the hymn
they had just sung, she said, hesitatingly, "I am not sorry."
"Sorry for what?" said Harry.
"Oh, nothing," said Maimie, lightly.
"Nobody is, if he has got any sense."
Then Mrs. Murray came in. "Won't you stay for supper, Ranald? You
must be hungry."
"No, thank you," said Ranald. "I must go now."
He shook hands with an ease and freedom that the minister had never
seen in him, and went out.
"That young man is coming on," said the minister. "I never saw any
one change and develop as he has in the last few months. Let me
see. He is only eighteen, isn't he, and he might be twenty-one."
The minister spoke as if he were not too well pleased with this
precocity in Ranald.
But little did Ranald care. That young man was striding homeward
through the night, his head striking the stars. His path lay
through the woods, and when he came to the "sugar camp" road, he
stood still, and let the memories of the night when he had snatched
Maimie from the fire troop through his mind. Suddenly he thought
of Aleck McRae, and laughed aloud.
"Poor Aleck," he said. Aleck seemed so harmless to him now. And
then he stood silent, motionless, looking straight toward the
stars, but seeing them not. He was remembering Maimie's face when
she said, "Yes, Ranald, I will always remember you and think of
you"; and then the thought of what followed, sent the blood jumping
through his veins.
"She will not forget," he said aloud, and went on his way. It was
his happy night, the happiest of his life thus far, and he would
always be happy. What difference could anything make?
Those last days of Maimie's visit sped by on winged feet. To
Ranald they were brimming with happiness, every one of them. It
was the slack time of the year, between seeding and harvest, and
there was nothing much to keep him at home. And so, with Harry,
his devoted companion, Ranald roamed the woods, hitching up Lisette
in Yankee's buckboard, put her through her paces, and would now and
then get up such bursts of speed as took Harry's breath away; and
more than all, there was the chance of a word with Maimie. He had
lost much of his awkwardness. He went about with an air of mastery,
and why not? He had entered upon his kingdom. The minister noticed
and wondered; his wife noticed and smiled sometimes, but oftener
sighed, wisely keeping silence, for she knew that in times like this
the best words were those unspoken.
The happiest day of all for Ranald was the last, when, after a long
tramp with Harry through the woods, he drove him back to the manse,
coming up from the gate to the door like a whirlwind.
As Lisette stood pawing and tossing her beautiful head, Mrs.
Murray, who stood with Maimie watching them drive up, cried out,
admiringly: "What a beauty she is!"
"Isn't she!" cried Harry, enthusiastically. "And such a flyer!
Get in, auntie, and see."
"Do," said Ranald; "I would be very glad. Just to the church hill
"Go, auntie," pleaded Harry. "She is wonderful."
"You go, Maimie," said her aunt, to whom every offered pleasure
simply furnished an opportunity of thought for others.
"Nonsense!" cried Harry, impatiently. "You might gratify yourself
a little for once in your life. Besides," he added, with true
brotherly blindness, "it's you Ranald wants. At least he talks
enough about you."
"Yes, auntie, do go! It will be lovely," chimed in Maimie, with
So, with many protestations, Mrs. Murray took her place beside
Ranald and was whirled off like the wind. She returned in a very
few minutes, her hair blown loose till the little curls hung about
her glowing face and her eyes shining with excitement.
"Oh, she is perfectly splendid!" she exclaimed. "And so gentle.
You must go, Maimie, if only to the gate." And Maimie went, but
not to turn at even the church hill.
For a mile down the concession road Ranald let Lisette jog at an
easy pace while he told Maimie some of his aims and hopes. He did
not mean to be a farmer nor a lumberman. He was going to the city,
and there make his fortune. He did not say it in words, but his
tone, his manner, everything about him, proclaimed his confidence
that some day he would be a great man. And Maimie believed him,
not because it seemed reasonable, or because there seemed to be any
ground for his confidence, but just because Ranald said it. His
superb self-confidence wrought in her assurance.
"And then," he said, proudly, "I am going to see you."
"Oh, I hope you will not wait till then," she answered.
"I do not know," he said. "I cannot tell, but it does not matter
much. I will be always seeing you."
"But I will want to see you," said Maimie.
"Yes," said Ranald, "I know you will," as if that were a thing to
be expected. "But you will be coming back to your aunt here." But
of this Maimie could not be sure.
"Oh, yes, you will come," he said, confidently; "I am sure you will
come. Harry is coming, and you will come, too." And having
settled this point, he turned Lisette and from that out gave his
attention to his driving. The colt seemed to realize the necessity
of making a display of her best speed, and without any urging, she
went along the concession road, increasing her speed at every
stride till she wheeled in at the gate. Then Ranald shook the
lines over her back and called to her. Magnificently Lisette
responded, and swept up to the door with such splendid dash that
the whole household greeted her with waving applause. As the colt
came to a stand, Maimie stepped out from the buckboard, and turning
toward Ranald, said in a low, hurried voice: "O, Ranald, that was
splendid, and I am so happy; and you will be sure to come?"
"I will come," said Ranald, looking down into the blue eyes with a
look so long and steady and so full of passionate feeling that
Maimie knew he would keep his word.
Then farewells were said, and Ranald turned away, Harry and Mrs.
Murray watching him from the door till he disappeared over the
"Well, that's the finest chap I ever saw," said Harry, with
emphasis. "And what a body he has! He would make a great half-
"Poor Ranald! I hope he will make a great and good man," said his
aunt, with a ring of sadness in her voice.
"Why poor, auntie?"
"I'm sure I do not know," she said, with a very uncertain smile
playing about her mouth. Then she went upstairs and found Maimie
sitting at the window overlooking the church hill, and once more
she knew how golden is silence. So she set to work to pack
Maimie's trunk for her.
"It will be a very early start, Maimie," she said, "and so we will
get everything ready to-night."
"Yes, auntie," said Maimie, going to her and putting her arms about
her. "How happy I have been, and how good you have been to me!"
"And how glad I have been to have you!" said her aunt.
"Oh, I will never forget you! You have taught me so much that I
never knew before. I see everything so differently. It seems easy
to be good here, and, oh! I wish you were not so far away from me,
auntie. I am afraid--afraid--"
The tears could no longer be denied. She put her head in her
aunt's lap and sobbed out her heart's overflow. For an hour they
sat by the open trunk, forgetting all about the packing, while her
aunt talked to Maimie as no one had ever talked to her before; and
often, through the long years of suffering that followed, the words
of that evening came to Maimie to lighten and to comfort an hour of
fear and sorrow. Mrs. Murray was of those to whom it is given to
speak words that will not die with time, but will live, for that
they fall from lips touched with the fire of God.
Before they had finished their talk Harry came in, and then Mrs.
Murray told them about their mother, of her beauty and her
brightness and her goodness, but mostly of her goodness.
"She was a dear, dear girl," said their aunt, "and her goodness was
of the kind that makes one think of a fresh spring morning, so
bright, so sweet, and pure. And she was beautiful, too. You will
be like her, Maimie," and, after a pause, she added, softly, "And,
most of all, she loved her Saviour, and that was the secret of both
her beauty and her goodness."
"Auntie," said Harry, suddenly, "don't you think you could come to
us for a visit? It would do father--I mean it would be such a
great thing for father, and for me, too, for us all."
Mrs. Murray thought of her home and all its ties, and then said,
smiling: "I am afraid, Harry, that could hardly be. Besides, my
dear boy, there is One who can always be with you, and no one can
take His place."
"All the same, I wish you could come," said Harry. "When I am here
I feel like doing something with my life, but at home I only think
of having fun."
"But, Harry," said his aunt, "life is a very sacred and very
precious thing, and at all costs, you must make it worthy of Him
who gave it to you."
Next morning, when Harry was saying "Farewell" to his aunt, she put
her arms round him, and said: "Your mother would have wished you
to be a noble man, and you must not disappoint her."
"I will try, auntie," he said, and could say no more.
For the next few weeks the minister and his wife were both busy and
anxious. For more than eight years they had labored with their
people without much sign of result. Week after week the minister
poured into his sermons the strength of his heart and mind, and
then gave them to his people with all the fervor of his nature.
Week after week his wife, in her women's meetings and in her Bible
class, lavished freely upon them the splendid riches of her
intellectual and spiritual powers, and together in the homes of the
people they wrought and taught. At times it seemed to the minister
that they were spending their strength for naught, and at such
times he bitterly grudged, not his own toils, but those of his
wife. None knew better than he how well fitted she was, both by
the native endowments of her mind and by the graces of her
character, to fill the highest sphere, and he sometimes grew
impatient that she should spend herself without stint and reap no
These were his thoughts as he lay on his couch, on the evening of
the last Sabbath in the old church, after a day's work more than
usually exhausting. The new church was to be opened the following
week. For months it had been the burden of their prayers that at
the dedication of their church, which had been built and paid for
at the cost of much thought and toil, there should be some "signal
mark of the divine acceptance." No wonder the minister was more
than usually depressed to-night.
"There is not much sign of movement among the dry bones," he said
to his wife. "They are as dry and as dead as ever."
His wife was silent for some time, for she, too, had her moments of
doubt and fear, but she said: "I think there is some sign. The
people were certainly much impressed this morning, and the Bible
class was very large, and they were very attentive."
"So they are every day," said the minister, rather bitterly. "But
what does it amount to? There is not a sign of one of these young
people 'coming forward.' Just think, only one young man a member
of the church, and he hasn't got much spunk in him. And many of
the older men remain as hard as the nether millstone."
"I really think," said his wife, "that a number of the young people
would 'come forward' if some one would make a beginning. They are
all very shy."
"So you always say," said her husband, with a touch of impatience;
"but there is no shyness in other things, in their frolics and
their fightings. I am sure this last outrageous business is enough
to break one's heart."
"What do you mean?" said his wife.
"Oh, I suppose you will hear soon enough, so I need not try to keep
it from you. It was Long John Cameron told me. It is strange that
Hughie has not heard. Indeed, perhaps he has, but since his
beloved Ranald is involved, he is keeping it quiet."
"What is it?" said his wife, anxiously.
"Oh, nothing less than a regular pitched battle between the
McGregors and the McRaes of the Sixteenth, and all on Ranald's
account, too, I believe."
Mrs. Murray sat in silent and bitter disappointment. She had
expected much from Ranald. Her husband went on with his tale.
"It seems there was an old quarrel between young Aleck McRae and
Ranald, over what I cannot find out; and young Angus McGregor, who
will do anything for a Macdonald, must needs take Ranald's part,
with the result that that hot-headed young fire-eater Aleck McRae
must challenge the whole clan McGregor. So it was arranged, on
Sunday morning, too, mind you, two weeks ago, after the service,
that six of the best of each side should meet and settle the
business. Of course Ranald was bound to be into it, and begged and
pleaded with the McGregors that he should be one of the six; and I
hear it was by Yankee's advice that his request was granted. That
godless fellow, it seems, has been giving Ranald daily lessons with
the boxing-gloves, and to some purpose, too, as the fight proved.
It seems that young Aleck McRae, who is a terrible fighter, and
must be forty pounds heavier than Ranald, was, by Ranald's especial
desire and by Yankee's arrangement, pitted against the boy, and by
the time the fight was over, Ranald, although beaten and bruised to
a 'bloody pulp,' as Long John said, had Aleck thoroughly whipped.
And nobody knows what would have happened, so fierce was the young
villain, had not Peter McGregor and Macdonald Bhain appeared upon
the scene. It appears Aleck had been saying something about Maimie,
Long John did not know what it was; but Ranald was determined to
finish Aleck up there and then. It must have been a disgusting and
terrible sight; but Macdonald Bhain apparently settled them in a
hurry; and what is more, made them all shake hands and promise to
drop the quarrel thenceforth. I fancy Ranald's handling of young
Aleck McRae did more to bring about the settlement than anything
else. What a lot of savages they are!" continued the minister. "It
really does not seem much use to preach to them."
"We must not say that, my dear," said his wife, but her tone was
none too hopeful. "I must confess I am disappointed in Ranald.
Well," she continued, "we can only wait and trust."
From Hughie, who had had the story from Don, and who had been
pledged to say nothing of it, she learned more about the fight.
"It was Aleck's fault, mother," he said, anxious to screen his
hero. "He said something about Maimie, that Don wouldn't tell me,
at the blacksmith shop in the Sixteenth, and Ranald struck him and
knocked him flat, and he could not get up for a long time. Yankee
has been showing him how. I am going to learn, mother," interjected
Hughie. "And then Angus McGregor took Ranald's part, and it was all
arranged after church, and Ranald was bound to be in it, and said he
would stop the whole thing if not allowed. Don said he was just
terrible. It was an awful fight. Angus McGregor fought Peter
McRae, Aleck's brother, you know and--"
"Never mind, Hughie," said his mother. "I don't want to hear of
it. It is too disgusting. Was Ranald much hurt?"
"Oh, he was hurt awful bad, and he was going to be licked, too. He
wouldn't keep cool enough, and he wouldn't use his legs."
"Use his legs?" said his mother; "what do you mean?"
"That's what Don says, and Yankee made him. Yankee kept calling to
him, 'Now get away, get away from him! Use your legs! Get away
from him!' and whenever Ranald began to do as he was told, then he
got the better of Aleck, and he gave Aleck a terrible hammering,
and Don said if Macdonald Bhain had not stopped them Aleck McRae
would not have been able to walk home. He said Ranald was awful.
He said he never saw him like he was that day. Wasn't it fine,
"Fine, Hughie!" said his mother. "It is anything but fine. It is
simply disgusting to see men act like beasts. It is very, very
sad. I am very much disappointed in Ranald."
"But, mother, Ranald couldn't help it. And anyway, I am glad he
gave that Aleck McRae a good thrashing. Yankee said he would never
be right until he got it."
"You must not repeat what Yankee says," said his mother. "I am
afraid his influence is not of the best for any of those boys."
"Oh, mother, he didn't set them on," said Hughie, who wanted to be
fair to Yankee. "It was when he could not help it that he told
Ranald how to do. I am glad he did, too."
"I am very, very sorry about it," said his mother, sadly. It was a
greater disappointment to her than she cared to acknowledge either
to her husband or to herself.
But the commotion caused in the community by the fight was soon
swallowed up in the interest aroused by the opening of the new
church, an event for which they had made long and elaborate
preparation. The big bazaar, for which the women had been sewing
for a year or more, was held on Wednesday, and turned out to be a
great success, sufficient money being realized to pay for the
church furnishing, which they had undertaken to provide.
The day following was the first of the "Communion Season." In a
Highland congregation the Communion Seasons are the great occasions
of the year. For weeks before, the congregation is kept in mind of
the approaching event, and on the Thursday of the communion week
the season opens with a solemn fast day.
The annual Fast Day, still a national institution in Scotland,
although it has lost much of its solemnity and sacredness in some
places, was originally associated with the Lord's Supper, and was
observed with great strictness in the matter of eating and
drinking; and in Indian Lands, as in all congregations of that part
of the country, the custom of celebrating the Fast Day was kept up.
It was a day of great solemnity in the homes of the people of a
godly sort. There was no cooking of meals till after "the
services," and indeed, some of them tasted neither meat nor drink
the whole day long. To the younger people of the congregation it
was a day of gloom and terror, a kind of day of doom. Even to
those advanced in godliness it brought searchings of heart, minute
and diligent, with agonies of penitence and remorse. It was a day,
in short, in which conscience was invited to take command of the
memory and the imagination to the scourging of the soul for the
soul's good. The sermon for the day was supposed to stimulate and
to aid conscience in this work.
For the communion service Mr. Murray always made it a point to have
the assistance of the best preachers he could procure, and on this
occasion, when the church opening was combined with the sacrament,
by a special effort two preachers had been procured--a famous
divine from Huron County, that stronghold of Calvinism, and a
college professor who had been recently appointed, but who had
already gained a reputation as a doctrinal preacher, and who was,
as Peter McRae reported, "grand on the Attributes and terrible fine
on the Law." To him was assigned the honor of preaching the Fast
Day sermon, and of declaring the church "open."
The new church was very different from the old. Instead of the
high crow's nest, with the wonderful sounding-board over it, the
pulpit was simply a raised platform partly inclosed, with the desk
in front. There was no precentor's box, over the loss of which
Straight Rory did not grieve unduly, inasmuch as the singing was to
be led, in the English at least, by John "Aleck." Henceforth the
elders would sit with their families. The elders' seat was gone;
Peter McRae's wrath at this being somewhat appeased by his securing
for himself one of the short side seats at the right of the pulpit,
from which he could command a view of both the minister and the
congregation--a position with obvious advantages. The minister's
pew was at the very back of the church.
It was a great assemblage that gathered in the new church to hear
the professor discourse, as doubtless he would, it being the Fast
Day, upon some theme of judgment. With a great swing of triumph in
his voice, Mr. Murray rose and announced the Hundredth Psalm. An
electric thrill went through the congregation as, with a wave of
his hand, he said: "Let us rise and sing. Now, John, Old Hundred."
Never did John "Aleck" and the congregation of Indian Lands sing as
they did that morning. It was the first time that the congregation,
as a whole, had followed the lead of that great ringing voice, and
they followed with a joyous, triumphant shout, as of men come to
"For why? The Lord our God is good,"
rolled out the majestic notes of Old Hundred.
"What's the matter, mother?" whispered Hughie, who was standing up
in the seat that he might look on his mother's book.
"Nothing, darling," said his mother, her face radiant through her
tears. After long months of toil and waiting, they were actually
singing praise to God in the new church.
When the professor arose, it was an eager, responsive congregation
that waited for his word. The people were fully prepared for a
sermon that would shake them to their souls' depths. The younger
portion shivered and shrank from the ordeal; the older and more
experienced shivered and waited with not unpleasing anticipations;
it did them good, that remorseless examination of their hearts'
secret depravities. To some it was a kind of satisfaction offered
to conscience, after which they could more easily come to peace.
With others it was an honest, heroic effort to know themselves and
to right themselves with their God.
The text was disappointing. "Above all these things, put on
charity, which is the bond of perfectness," read the professor from
that exquisite and touching passage which begins at the twelfth
verse of the fifteenth chapter of Colossians. "Love, the bond of
perfectness," was his theme, and in simple, calm, lucid speech he
dilated upon the beauty, the excellence, and the supremacy of this
Christian grace. It was the most Godlike of all the virtues, for
God was love; and more than zeal, more than knowledge, more than
faith, it was "the mark" of the new birth.
Peter McRae was evidently keenly disappointed, and his whole bearing
expressed stern disapproval. And as the professor proceeded,
extolling and illustrating the supreme grace of love, Peter's hard
face grew harder than ever, and his eyes began to emit blue sparks
of fire. This was no day for the preaching of smooth things. The
people were there to consider and to lament their Original and
Actual sin; and they expected and required to hear of the judgments
of the Lord, and to be summoned to flee from the wrath to come.
Donald Ross sat with his kindly old face in a glow of delight, but
with a look of perplexity on it which his furtive glances in Peter's
direction did not help to lessen. The sermon was delighting and
touching him, but he was not quite sure whether this was a good sign
in him or no. He set himself now and then to find fault with the
sermon, but the preacher was so humble, so respectful, and above
all, so earnest, that Donald Ross could not bring himself to
The application came under the third head. As a rule, the
application to a Fast Day sermon was delivered in terrifying tones
of thunder or in an awful whisper. But to-day the preacher,
without raising his voice, began to force into his hearers' hearts
the message of the day.
"This is a day for self-examination," he said, and his clear, quiet
tones fell into the ears of the people with penetrating power.
"And self-examination is a wise and profitable exercise. It is an
exercise of the soul designed to yield a discovery of sin in the
heart and life, and to induce penitence and contrition and so
secure pardon and peace. But too often, my friends," and here his
voice became a shade softer, "it results in a self-righteous and
sinful self-complaisance. What is required is a simple honesty of
mind and spiritual illumination, and the latter cannot be without
the former. There are those who are ever searching for 'the marks'
of a genuinely godly state of heart, and they have the idea that
these marks are obscure and difficult for plain people to discover.
Make no mistake, my brethren, they are as easily seen as are the
apples on a tree. The fruits of the spirit are as discernible to
any one honest enough and fearless enough to look; and the first
and supreme of all is that which we have been considering this
morning. The question for you and for me, my brethren, is simply
this: Are our lives full of the grace of love? Do not shrink from
the question. Do not deceive yourselves with any substitutes;
there are many offering zeal, the gift of prayer or of speech, yea,
the gift of faith itself. None of these will atone for the lack of
love. Let each ask himself, Am I a loving man?"
With quiet persistence he pursued them into all their relations in
life--husbands and wives, fathers and sons, neighbor and neighbor.
He would not let them escape. Relentlessly he forced them to
review their habits of speech and action, their attitude toward
each other as church members, and their attitude toward "those
without." Behind all refuges and through all subterfuges he made
his message follow them, searching their deepest hearts. And then,
with his face illumined as with divine fire, he made his final
appeal, while he reminded them of the Infinite love that had
stooped to save, and that had wrought itself out in the agonies of
the cross. And while he spoke his last words, all over the church
the women were weeping, and strong men were sitting trembling and
After a short prayer, the professor sat down. Then the minister
rose, and for some little time stood facing his people in silence,
the gleam in his eyes showing that his fervent Highland nature was
"My people," he began, and his magnificent voice pealed forth like
a solemn bell, "this is the message of the Lord. Let none dare
refuse to hear. It is a message to your minister, it is a message
to you. You are anxious for 'the marks.' Search you for this
mark." He paused while the people sat looking at him in fixed and
breathless silence. Then, suddenly, he broke forth into a loud
cry: "Where are your children at this solemn time of privilege?
Fathers, where are your sons? Why were they not with you at the
Table? Are you men of love? Are you men of love, or by lack of
love are you shutting the door of the Kingdom against your sons
with their fightings and their quarrelings?" Then, raising his
hands high, he lifted his voice in a kind of wailing chant: "Woe
unto you! Woe unto you! Your house is left unto you desolate, and
the voice of love is crying over you. Ye would not! Ye would not!
O, Lamb of God, have mercy upon us! O, Christ, with the pierced
hands, save us!" Again he paused, looking upward, while the people
waited with uplifted white faces.
"Behold," he cried, in a soul-thrilling voice, "I see heaven open,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and I hear a voice,
'Turn ye, turn ye. Why will ye die?' Lord Jesus, they will not
turn." Again he paused. "Listen. Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire. Depart ye! Nay, Lord Jesus! not so! Have mercy
upon us!" His voice broke in its passionate cry. The effect was
overwhelming. The people swayed as trees before a mighty wind, and
a voice cried aloud from the congregation: "God be merciful to me,
It was Macdonald Dubh. At that loud cry, women began to sob, and
some of the people rose from their seats.
"Be still," commanded the minister. "Rend your hearts and not your
garments. Let us pray." And as he prayed, the cries and sobs
subsided and a great calm fell upon all. After prayer, the
minister, instead of giving out a closing psalm, solemnly charged
the people to go to their homes and to consider that the Lord had
come very near them, and adjured them not to grieve the Holy Spirit
of God. Then he dismissed them with the benediction.
The people went out of the church, subdued and astonished,
speaking, if at all, in low tones of what they had seen and heard.
Immediately after pronouncing the benediction, the minister came
down to find Macdonald Dubh, but he was nowhere to be seen. Toward
evening Mrs. Murray rode over to his house, but found that he had
not returned from the morning service.
"He will be at his brother's," said Kirsty, "and Ranald will drive
over for him."
Immediately Ranald hitched up Lisette and drove over to his
uncle's, but as he was returning he sent in word to the manse, his
face being not yet presentable, that his father was nowhere to be
found. It was Macdonald Bhain that found him at last in the woods,
prone upon his face, and in an agony.
"Hugh, man," he cried, "what ails you?" But there were only low
groans for answer.
"Rise up, man, rise up and come away."
Then from the prostrate figure he caught the words, "Depart from
me! Depart from me! That is the word of the Lord."
"That is not the word," said Macdonald Bhain, "for any living man,
but for the dead. But come, rise, man; the neighbors will be here
in a meenute." At that Black Hugh rose.
"Let me away," he said. "Let me not see them. I am a lost man."
And so his brother brought him home, shaken in spirit and exhausted
in body with his long fast and his overpowering emotion. All night
through his brother watched with him alone, for Macdonald Dubh
would have no one else to see him, till, from utter exhaustion,
toward the dawning of the day, he fell asleep.
In the early morning the minister and his wife drove over to see
him, and leaving his wife with Kirsty, the minister passed at once
into Macdonald Dubh's room. But, in spite of all his reasoning, in
spite of all his readings and his prayers, the gloom remained
unbroken except by occasional paroxysms of fear and remorse.
"There is no forgiveness! There is no forgiveness!" was the burden
of his cry.
In vain the minister proclaimed to him the mercy of God. At length
he was forced to leave him to attend the "Question Meeting" which
was to be held in the church that day. But he left his wife behind
Without a word, Mrs. Murray proceeded to make the poor man
comfortable. She prepared a dainty breakfast and carried it in to
him, and then she sat beside him while he fell into a deep sleep.
It was afternoon when Macdonald Dubh awoke and greeted her with his
wonted grave courtesy.
"You are better, Mr. Macdonald," she said, brightly. "And now I
will make you a fresh cup of tea"; and though he protested, she
hurried out, and in a few moments brought him some tea and toast.
Then, while he lay in gloomy silence, she read to him, as she did
once before from his Gaelic psalm book, without a word of comment.
And then she began to tell him of all the hopes she had cherished
in connection with the opening of the new church, and how that day
she had felt at last the blessing had come.
"And, O, Mr. Macdonald," she said, "I was glad to hear you cry, for
then I knew that the Spirit of God was among us."
"Glad!" said Macdonald Dubh, faintly.
"Yes, glad. For a cry like that never comes but when the Spirit of
God moves in the heart of a man."
"Indeed, I will be thinking that He has cast me off forever," he
said, wondering at this new phase of the subject.
"Then you must thank Him, Mr. Macdonald, that He has not so done;
and the sure proof to you is that He has brought you to cry for
mercy. That is a glad cry, in the ears of the Saviour. It is the
cry of the sheep in the wilderness, that discovers him to the
shepherd." And then, without argument, she took him into her
confidence and poured out to him all her hopes and fears for the
young people of the congregation, and especially for Ranald, till
Macdonald Dubh partly forgot his own fears in hers. And then, just
before it was time for Kirsty to arrive from the "Question Meeting,"
she took her Gaelic Bible and opened at the Lord's Prayer, as she
had done once before.
"It is a terrible thing to be unforgiven, Mr. Macdonald," she said,
"by man or by God. And God is unwilling that any of us should feel
that pain, and that is why he is so free with his offer of pardon
to all who come with sorrow to him. They come with sorrow to him
now, but they will come to him some day with great joy." And then
she spoke a little of the great company of the forgiven before the
throne, and at the very last, a few words about the gentle little
woman that had passed out from Macdonald Dubh's sight so many years
before. Then, falling on her knees, she began in the Gaelic,
"Our Father which art in Heaven."
Earnestly and brokenly Macdonald Dubh followed, whispering the
petitions after her. When they came to
"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,"
Macdonald Dubh broke forth: "Oh, it is a little thing, whatever!
It is little I have to forgive." And then, in a clear, firm voice,
he repeated the words after her to the close of the prayer.
Then Mrs. Murray rose, and taking him by the hand to bid him good
by, she said, slowly: "'For if ye forgive men their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you your trespasses.' You
have forgiven, Mr. Macdonald."
"Indeed, it is nothing," he said, earnestly.
"Then," replied Mrs. Murray, "the Lord will not break his promise
to you." And with that she went away.
On Saturday morning the session met before the service for the day.
In the midst of their deliberations the door opened and Macdonald
Bhain and his brother, Macdonald Dubh, walked in and stood silent
before the elders. Mr. Murray rose astonished, and coming forward,
said to Macdonald Bhain: "What is it, Mr. Macdonald? You wish to
"I am here," he said, "for my own sake and for my brother's. We
wish to make confession of our sins, in that we have not been men
of love, and to seek the forgiveness of God."
The minister stood and gazed at him in amazed silence for some
moments, and then, giving his hand to Macdonald Dubh, he said, in a
voice husky with emotion: "Come away, my brother. The Lord has a
welcome for you."
And there were no questions that day asked in the session before
Macdonald Dubh received his token.
AND THE GLORY
The first communion in the new church was marked by very great
solemnity. There were few new members, but among the older men
who had hitherto kept "back from the table" there was a manifest
anxiety, and among the younger people a very great seriousness.
The "coming forward" of Macdonald Dubh was an event so remarkable
as to make a great impression not only upon all the Macdonald men
who had been associated with him so many years in the lumbering,
but also upon the whole congregation, to whom his record and
reputation were well known. His change of attitude to the church
and all its interests, as well as his change of disposition and
temperament, were so striking as to leave in no one's mind any
doubt as to the genuineness of his "change of heart," and every
week made this more apparent. A solemn sense of responsibility
and an intensity of earnestness seemed to possess him, while his
humility and gentleness were touching to see.
On the evening of Monday, the day of thanksgiving in the Sacrament
Week, a great congregation assembled for the closing meeting of the
Communion Season. During the progress of the meeting, Mr. Murray
and the ministers assisting him became aware that they were in the
presence of some remarkable and mysterious phenomenon. The people
listened to the Word with an intensity, response, and eagerness
that gave token of a state of mind and heart wholly unusual. Here
and there, while the psalms were being sung or prayers being
offered, women and men would break down in audible weeping; and in
the preaching the speaker was conscious of a power possessing him
that he could not explain.
At length the last psalm was given out, and the congregation,
contrary to their usual custom, by the minister's direction, rose
to sing. As John "Aleck" led the people in that great volume of
praise, the ministers held a hasty consultation in the pulpit. The
professor had never seen anything so marvelous; Mr. Murray was
reminded of the days of W. C. Burns. The question was, What was to
be done? Should the meetings be continued, or should they close
tonight? They had a great fear of religious excitement. They had
seen something of the dreadful reaction following a state of
exalted religious feeling. It was the beginning of harvest, too.
Would it be advisable to call the people from their hard work in
the fields to nightly meetings?
At length, as the congregation were nearing the close of the psalm,
the professor spoke. "Brethren," he said, "this is not our work.
Let us leave it to the Lord to decide. Put the question to the
people and abide by their decision."
After the psalm was sung, the minister motioned the congregation to
their seats, and without comment or suggestion, put before them the
question that had been discussed in the pulpit. Was it their
desire that the meetings should be continued or not? A deep,
solemn silence lay upon the crowded church, and for some time no
one moved. Then the congregation were startled to see Macdonald
Dubh rise slowly from his place in the middle of the church.
"Mr. Murray," he said, in a voice that vibrated strangely, "you
will pardon me for letting my voice be heard in this place. It is
the voice of a great sinner."
"Speak, Mr. Macdonald," said the minister, "and I thank God for the
sound of your voice in His house."
"It is not for me to make any speeches here. I will only make bold
to give my word that the meetings be continued. It may be that the
Lord, who has done such great things for me, will do great things
for others also." And with that he sat down.
"I will take that for a motion," said the minister. "Will any one
Kenny Crubach at once rose and said: "We are always slow at
following the Lord. Let us go forward."
The minister waited for some moments after Kenny had spoken, and
then said, in a voice grave and with a feeling of responsibility in
it: "You have heard these brethren, my people. I wait for the
expression of your desire."
Like one man the great congregation rose to their feet. It was a
scene profoundly impressive, and with these serious-minded, sober
people, one that indicated overwhelming emotion.
And thus the great revival began.
For eighteen months, night after night, every night in the week
except Saturday, the people gathered in such numbers as to fill the
new church to the door. Throughout all the busy harvest season, in
spite of the autumn rains that filled the swamps and made the roads
almost impassable, in the face of the driving snows of winter,
through the melting ice of the spring, and again through the
following summer and autumn, the great revival held on. No
fictitious means were employed to stir the emotions of the people
or to kindle excitement among them. There were neither special
sermons nor revival hymns. The old doctrines were proclaimed, but
proclaimed with a fullness and power unknown at other times. The
old psalms were sung, but sung perhaps as they had never been
before. For when John "Aleck's" mighty voice rolled forth in its
full power, and when his band of trained singers followed, lifting
onward with them the great congregation--for every man, woman, and
child sang with full heart and open throat--the effect was
something altogether wonderful and worth hearing. Each night there
was a sermon by the minister, who, for six months, till his health
broke down, had sole charge of the work. Then the sermon was
followed by short addresses or prayers by the elders, and after
that the minister would take the men, and his wife the women, for
closer and more personal dealing.
As the revival deepened it became the custom for others than the
elders to take part, by reading a psalm or other Scripture, without
comment, or by prayer. There was a shrinking from anything like a
violent display of emotion, and from any unveiling of the sacred
secrets of the heart, but Scripture reading or quoting was supposed
to express the thoughts, the hopes, the fears, the gratitude, the
devotion, that made the religious experience of the speaker. This
was as far as they considered it safe or seemly to go.
One of the first, outside the ranks of the elders, to take part in
this way was Macdonald Dubh; then Long John Cameron followed; then
Peter McGregor and others of the men of maturer years. A distinct
stage in the revival was reached when young Aleck McRae rose to
read his Scripture. He was quickly followed by Don, young
Findlayson, and others of that age, and from that time onward the
old line that had so clearly distinguished age from youth in
respect to religious duty and privilege, was obliterated forever.
It had been a strange, if not very doubtful, phenomenon to see a
young man "coming forward," or in any way giving indication of
religious feeling. But this would never be again.
It was no small anxiety and grief to Mrs. Murray that Ranald,
though he regularly attended the meetings, seemed to remain unmoved
by the tide of religious feeling that was everywhere surging
through the hearts of the people. The minister advised letting him
alone, but Mrs. Murray was anxiously waiting for the time when
Ranald would come to her. That time came, but not until long
months of weary waiting on her part, and of painful struggle on
his, had passed.
From the very first of the great movement his father threw himself
into it with all the earnest intensity of his nature, but at the
same time with a humility that gave token that the memory of the
wild days of his youth and early manhood were never far away from
him. He was eager to serve in the work, and was a constant source
of wonder to all who had known him in his youth and early manhood.
At all the different meetings he was present. Nothing could keep
him away. "Night cometh," he said to his brother, who was
remonstrating with him. His day's work was drawing to its close.
But Ranald would not let himself see the failing of his father's
health, and when, in the harvest, the slightest work in the fields
would send his father panting to the shade, Ranald would say, "It
is the hot weather, father. When the cool days come you will be
better. And why should you be bothering yourself with the work,
anyway? Surely Yankee and I can look after that." And indeed they
seemed to be quite fit to take off the harvest.
Day by day Ranald swung his cradle after Yankee with all a man's
steadiness till all the grain was cut; and by the time the harvest
was over, Ranald had developed a strength of muscle and a skill in
the harvest work that made him equal of almost any man in the
country. He was all the more eager to have the harvest work done
in time, that his father might not fret over his own inability to
help. For Ranald could not bear to see the look of disappointment
that sometimes showed itself in his father's face when weakness
drove him from the field, and it was this that made him throw
himself into the work as he did. He was careful also to consult
with his father in regard to all the details of the management of
the farm, and to tell him all that he was planning to do as well as
all that was done. His father had always been a kind of hero to
Ranald, who admired him for his prowess with the gun and the ax,
as well as for his great strength and courage. But ever since
calamity had befallen him, the boy's heart had gone out to his
father in a new tenderness, and the last months had drawn the two
very close together. It was a dark day for Ranald when he was
forced to face the fact that his father was growing daily weaker.
It was his uncle, Macdonald Bhain, who finally made him see it.
"Your father is failing, Ranald," he said one day toward the close
"It is the hot weather," said Ranald. "He will be better in the
"Ranald, my boy," said his uncle, gravely, "your father will fade
with the leaf, and the first snow will lie upon him."
And then Ranald fairly faced the fact that before long he would be
alone in the world. Without any exchange of words, he and his
father came to understand each other, and they both knew that they
were spending their last days on earth together. On the son's
side, they were days of deepening sorrow; but with the father,
every day seemed to bring him a greater peace of mind and a clearer
shining of the light that never fades. To his son, Macdonald Dubh
never spoke of the death that he felt to be drawing nearer, but he
often spoke to him of the life he would like his son to live. His
only other confidant in these matters was the minister's wife. To
her Macdonald Dubh opened up his heart, and to her, more than to
any one else, he owed his growing peace and light; and it was
touching to see the devotion and the tenderness that he showed to
her as often as she came to see him. With his brother, Macdonald
Bhain, he made all the arrangements necessary for the disposal of
the farm and the payment of the mortgage.
Ranald had no desire to be a farmer, and indeed, when the mortgage
was paid there would not be much left.
"He will be my son," said Macdonald Bhain to his brother; "and my
home will be his while I live."
So in every way there was quiet preparation for Macdonald Dubh's
going, and when at last the day came, there was no haste or fear.
It was in the afternoon of a bright September day, as the sun was
nearing the tops of the pine-trees in the west. His brother was
supporting him in his strong arms, while Ranald knelt by the
bedside. Near him sat the minister's wife, and at a little
"Lift me up, Tonal," said the dying man; "I will be wanting to see
the sun again, and then I will be going. I will be going to the
land where they will not need the light of the sun. Tonal,
bhodaich, it is the good brother you have been to me, and many's
the good day we have had together."
"Och, Hugh, man. Are you going from me?" said Macdonald Bhain,
with great sorrow in his voice.
"Aye, Tonal, for a little." Then he looked for a few moments at
Kirsty, who was standing at the foot of the bed.
"Come near me, Kirsty," he said; and Kirsty came to the bedside.
"You have always been kind to me and mine, and you were kind to HER
as well, and the reward will come to you." Then he turned to Mrs.
Murray, and said, with a great light of joy in his eyes: "It is
you that came to me as the angel of God with a word of salvation,
and forever more I will be blessing you." And then he added, in a
voice full of tenderness, "I will be telling her about you." He
took Mrs. Murray's hand and tremblingly lifted it to his lips.
"It has been a great joy to me," said Mrs. Murray, with difficulty
steadying her voice, "to see you come to your Saviour, Mr.
"Aye, I know it well," he said; and then he added, in a voice that
sank almost to a whisper, "Now you will be reading the prayer."
And Mrs. Murray, opening her Gaelic Bible, repeated in her clear,
soft voice, the words of the Lord's Prayer. Through all the
petitions he followed her, until he came to the words, "Forgive us
our debts." There he paused.
"Ranald, my man," he said, raising his hand with difficulty and
laying it upon the boy's head, "you will listen to me now. Some
day you will find the man that brought me to this, and you will say
to him that your father forgave him freely, and wished him all the
blessing of God. You will promise me this, Ranald?" said Macdonald
"Yes, father," said Ranald, lifting his head, and looking into his
"And, Ranald, you, too, will be forgiving him?" But to this there
was no reply. Ranald's head was buried in the bed.
"Ah," said Macdonald Dubh, with difficulty, "you are your father's
son; but you will not be laying this bitterness upon me now. You
will be forgiving him, Ranald?"
"Oh, father!" cried Ranald, with a breaking voice, "how can I
forgive him? How can I forgive the man who has taken you away from
"It is no man," replied his father, "but the Lord himself; the Lord
who has forgiven your father much. I am waiting to hear you,
Then, with a great sob, Ranald broke forth: "Oh, father, I will
forgive him," and immediately became quiet, and so continued to the
After some moments of silence, Macdonald Dubh looked once more
toward the minister's wife, and a radiant smile spread over his
"You will be finishing," he said.
Her face was wet with tears, and for a few moments she could not
speak. But it was no time to fail in duty, so, commanding her
tears, with a clear, unwavering voice she went on to the end of the
"For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and
"Glory!" said Macdonald Dubh after her. "Aye, the Glory. Ranald,
my boy, where are you? You will be following me, lad, to the
Glory. SHE will be asking me about you. You will be following me,
The anxious note in his voice struck Ranald to the heart.
"Oh, father, it is what I want," he replied, brokenly. "I will
"Aye," said Macdonald Dubh, "and you will come. I will be telling
HER. Now lay me down, Tonal; I will be going."
Macdonald Bhain laid him quietly back on his pillow, and for a
moment he lay with his eyes closed.
Once more he opened his eyes, and with a troubled look upon his
face, and in a voice of doubt and fear, he cried: "It is a sinful