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The Man From Glengarry by Ralph Connor

Part 8 out of 8

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you go? I am so sorry. I wanted to talk about old times, the dear
old days." The look in Maimie's eyes said much more than her
words.

"Yes," said Ranald, with an easy, frank smile; "they were dear
days, indeed; I often think of them. And now I must really go.
Say good by to De Lacy for me."

He came away from her with an inexplicable feeling of exultation.
He had gone with some slight trepidation in his heart, to meet her,
and it was no small relief to him to discover that she had lost all
power over him.

"What sort of man could I have been, I wonder?" he asked himself;
"and it was only three years ago."

Near the door Lady Mary stopped him. "Going so early, and without
saying good by?" she said, reproachfully.

"I must leave town to-night," he replied, "but I am glad to say
good by to you."

"I think you ought to stay. I am sure His Excellency wants to see
you."

"I am sure you are good to think so, but I am also quite sure that
he has never given a thought to my insignificant self."

"Indeed he has. Now, can't you stay a few days? I want to see
more--we all want to hear more about the West."

"You will never know the West by hearing of it," said Ranald,
offering his hand.

"Good by," she said, "I am coming."

"Good," he said, "I shall look for you."

As Ranald approached his hotel, he saw a man that seemed oddly
familiar, lounging against the door and as he drew near, he
discovered to his astonishment and joy that it was Yankee.

"Why, Yankee!" he exclaimed, rushing at him, "how in the world did
you come to be here, and what brought you?"

"Well, I came for you, I guess. Heard you were going to be here
and were comin' home afterwards, so I thought it would be quicker
for you to drive straight across than to go round by Cornwall, so I
hitched up Lisette and came right along."

"Lisette! You don't mean to tell me? How is the old girl?
Yankee, you have done a fine thing. Now we will start right away."

"All right," said Yankee.

"How long will it take us to get home?"

"'Bout two days easy goin,' I guess. Of course if you want, I
guess we can do it in a day and a half. She will do all you tell
her."

"Well, we will take two days," said Ranald.

"I guess we had better take a pretty early start," said Yankee.

"Can't we get off to-night?" inquired Ranald, eagerly. "We could
get out ten miles or so."

"Yes," replied Yankee. "There's a good place to stop, about ten
miles out. I think we had better go along the river road, and then
take down through the Russell Hills to the Nation Crossing."

In half an hour they were off on their two days' trip to the Indian
Lands. And two glorious days they were. The open air with the
suggestion of the coming fall, the great forests with their varying
hues of green and brown, yellow and bright red, and all bathed in
the smoky purple light of the September sun, these all combined to
bring to Ranald's heart the rest and comfort and peace that he so
sorely needed. And when he drove into his uncle's yard in the late
afternoon of the second day, he felt himself more content to live
the life appointed him; and if anything more were needed to
strengthen him in this resolution, and to fit him for the fight
lying before him, his brief visit to his home brought it to him.
It did him good to look into the face of the great Macdonald Bhain
once more, and to hear his deep, steady voice welcome him home. It
was the face and the voice of a man who had passed through many a
sore battle, and not without honor to himself. And it was good,
too, to receive the welcome greetings of his old friends and to
feel their pride in him and their high expectation of him. More
than ever, he resolved that he would be a man worthy of his race.

His visit to the manse brought him mingled feelings of delight and
perplexity and pain. The minister's welcome was kind, but there
was a tinge of self-complacent pride in it. Ranald was one of "his
lads," and he evidently took credit to himself for the young man's
success. Hughie regarded him with reserved approval. He was now a
man and teaching school, and before committing himself to his old-
time devotion, he had to adjust his mind to the new conditions.
But before the evening was half done Ranald had won him once more.
His tales of the West, and of how it was making and marring men, of
the nation that was being built up, and his picture of the future
that he saw for the great Dominion, unconsciously revealed the
strong manhood and the high ideals in the speaker, and Hughie found
himself slipping into the old attitude of devotion to his friend.

But it struck Ranald to the heart to see the marks of many a long
day's work upon the face of the woman who had done more for him
than all the rest of the world. Her flock of little children had
laid upon her a load of care and toil, which added to the burden
she was already trying to carry, was proving more than her delicate
frame could bear. There were lines upon her face that only
weariness often repeated cuts deep; but there were other lines
there, and these were lines of heart pain, and as Ranald watched
her closely, with his heart running over with love and pity and
indignation for her, he caught her frequent glances toward her
first born that spoke of anxiety and fear.

"Can it be the young rascal is bringing her anything but perfect
satisfaction and joy in return for the sacrifice of her splendid
life?" he said to himself. But no word fell from her to show him
the secret of her pain, it was Hughie's own lips that revealed him,
and as the lad talked of his present and his future, his impatience
of control, his lack of sympathy to all higher ideals, his
determination to please himself to the forgetting of all else, his
seeming unconsciousness of the debt he owed to his mother, all
these became easily apparent. With difficulty Ranald restrained
his indignation. He let him talk for some time and then opened out
upon him. He read him no long lecture, but his words came forth
with such fiery heat that they burned their way clear through all
the faults and flimsy selfishness of the younger man till they
reached the true heart of him. His last words Hughie never forgot.

"Do you know, Hughie," he said, and the fire in his eyes seemed to
burn into Hughie's, "do you know what sort of woman you have for a
mother? And do you know that if you should live to be a hundred
years, and devoted every day of your life to the doing of her
pleasure, you could not repay the debt you owe her? Be a man,
Hughie. Thank God for her, and for the opportunity of loving and
caring for her."

The night of his first visit to the manse Ranald had no opportunity
for any further talk with the minister's wife, but he came away
with the resolve that before his week's visit was over, he would
see her alone. On his return home, however, he found waiting him a
telegram from Colonel Thorp, mailed from Alexandria, announcing an
early date for the meeting of shareholders at Bay City, so that he
found it necessary to leave immediately after the next day, which
was the Sabbath. It was no small disappointment to him that he was
to have no opportunity of opening his heart to his friend. But as
he sat in his uncle's seat at the side of the pulpit, from which he
could catch sight of the minister's pew, and watched the look of
peace and quiet courage grow upon her face till all the lines of
pain and care were quite smoothed out, he felt his heart fill up
with a sense of shame for all his weakness, and his soul knit
itself into the resolve that if he should have to walk his way,
bearing his cross alone, he would seek the same high spirit of
faith and patience and courage that he saw shining in her gray-
brown eyes.

After the service he walked home with the minister's wife, seeking
opportunity for a few last words with her. He had meant to tell
her something of his heart's sorrow and disappointment, for he
guessed that knowing and loving Kate as she did, she would
understand its depth and bitterness. But when he told her of his
early departure, and of the fear that for many years he could not
return, his heart was smitten with a great pity for her. The look
of disappointment and almost of dismay he could not understand
until, with difficulty, she told him how she had hoped that he was
to spend some weeks at home and that Hughie might be much with him.

"I wish he could know you better, Ranald. There is no one about
here to whom he can look up, and some of his companions are not of
the best." The look of beseeching pain in her eyes was almost more
than Ranald could bear.

"I would give my life to help you," he said, in a voice hoarse and
husky.

"I know," she said, simply; "you have been a great joy to me,
Ranald, and it will always comfort me to think of you, and of your
work, and I like to remember, too, how you helped Harry. He told
me much about you, and I am so glad, especially as he is now to be
married."

"Yes, yes," replied Ranald, hurriedly; "that will be a great thing
for him." Then, after a pause, he added: "Mrs. Murray, the West
is a hard country for young men who are not--not very firmly
anchored, but if at any time you think I could help Hughie and you
feel like sending him to me, I will gladly do for him all that one
man can do for another. And all that I can do will be a very poor
return for what you have done for me."

"It's little I have done, Ranald," she said, "and that little has
been repaid a thousand-fold, for there is no greater joy than that
of seeing my boys grow into good and great men and that joy you
have brought me." Then she said good by, holding his hand long, as
if hating to let him go.

"I will remember your promise, Ranald," she said, "for it may be
that some day I shall need you." And when the chance came to
Ranald before many years had gone, he proved himself not unworthy
of her trust.

* * * * *

At the meeting of share-holders of the British-American Coal and
Lumber Company, held in Bay City, the feeling uppermost in the
minds of those present was one of wrath and indignation at Colonel
Thorp, for he still clung to the idea that it would be unwise to
wind up the British Columbia end of the business. The colonel's
speech in reply was a triumph of diplomacy. He began by giving a
detailed and graphic account of his trip through the province,
lighting up the narrative with incidents of adventure, both tragic
and comic, to such good purpose that before he had finished his
hearers had forgotten all their anger. Then he told of what he had
seen of Ranald's work, emphasizing the largeness of the results he
had obtained with his very imperfect equipment. He spoke of the
high place their manager held in the esteem of the community as
witness his visit to Ottawa as representative, and lastly he
touched upon his work for the men by means of the libraries and
reading-room. Here he was interrupted by an impatient exclamation
on the part of one of the share-holders. The colonel paused, and
fastening his eye upon the impatient share-holder, he said, in
tones cool and deliberate: "A gentleman says, 'Nonsense!' I
confess that before my visit to the West I should have said the
same, but I want to say right here and now, that I have come to the
opinion that it pays to look after your men--soul, mind, and body.
You'll cut more lumber, get better contracts, and increase your
dividends. There ain't no manner of doubt about that. Now,"
concluded the colonel, "you may still want to close up that
business, but before you do so, I want you to hear Mr. Macdonald."

After some hesitation, Ranald was allowed to speak for a few
minutes. He began by expressing his amazement that there should
be any thought on the part of the company of withdrawing from the
province at the very time when other firms were seeking to find
entrance. He acknowledged that the result for the last years did
not warrant any great confidence in the future of their business,
but a brighter day had dawned, the railroad was coming, and he had
in his pocket three contracts that it would require the company's
whole force for six months to fulfill, and these contracts would be
concluded the day the first rail was laid.

"And when will that be?" interrupted a shareholder, scornfully.

"I have every assurance," said Ranald, quietly, "from the premier
himself, that the building of the railroad will be started this
fall."

"Did Sir John A. MacDonald give you a definite promise?" asked the
man, in surprise.

"Not exactly a promise," said Ranald.

A chorus of scornful "Ohs" greeted this admission.

"But the premier assured me that all his influence would be thrown
in favor of immediate construction."

"For my part," replied the share-holder, "I place not the slightest
confidence in any such promise as that."

"And I," said Ranald, calmly, "have every confidence that work on
the line will be started this fall." And then he went on to speak
of the future that he saw stretching out before the province and
the whole Dominion. The feeling of opposition in the air roused
him like a call to battle, and the thought that he was pleading for
the West that he had grown to love, stimulated him like a draught
of strong wine. In the midst of his speech the secretary, who till
that moment had not been present, came into the room with the
evening paper in his hand. He gave it to the president, pointing
out a paragraph. At once the president, interrupting Ranald in his
speech, rose and said, "Gentlemen, there is an item of news here
that I think you will all agree bears somewhat directly upon this
business." He then read Sir John A. MacDonald's famous telegram to
the British Columbia government, promising that the Canadian Pacific
Railway should be begun that fall. After the cheers had died away,
Ranald rose again, and said, "Mr. President and gentlemen, there is
no need that I should say anything more. I simply wish to add that
I return to British Columbia next week, but whether as manager for
this company or not that is a matter of perfect indifference to me."
And saying this, he left the room, followed by Colonel Thorp.

"You're all right, pardner," said the colonel, shaking him
vigorously by the hand, "and if they don't feel like playing up to
your lead, then, by the great and everlasting Sammy, we will make a
new deal and play it alone!"

"All right, Colonel," said Ranald; "I almost think I'd rather play
it without them and you can tell them so."

"Where are you going now?" said the colonel.

"I've got to go to Toronto for a day," said Ranald; "the boys are
foolish enough to get up a kind of dinner at the Albert, and
besides," he added, resolutely, "I want to see Kate."

"Right you are," said the colonel; "anything else would be meaner
than snakes."

But when Ranald reached Toronto, he found disappointment awaiting
him. The Alberts were ready to give him an enthusiastic reception,
but to his dismay both Harry and Kate were absent. Harry was in
Quebec and Kate was with her mother visiting friends at the Northern
Lake, so Ranald was forced to content himself with a letter of
farewell and congratulation upon her approaching marriage. In spite
of his disappointment, Ranald could not help acknowledging a feeling
of relief. It would have been no small ordeal to him to have met
Kate, to have told her how she had helped him during his three
years' absence, without letting her suspect how much she had become
to him, and how sore was his disappointment that she could never be
more than friend to him, and indeed, not even that. But his letter
was full of warm, frank, brotherly congratulation and good will.

The dinner at the Albert was in every way worthy of the club and of
the occasion, but Ranald was glad to get it over. He was eager to
get away from the city associated in his mind with so much that was
painful.

At length the last speech was made, and the last song was sung, and
the men in a body marched to the station carrying their hero with
them. As they stood waiting for the train to pull out, a coachman
in livery approached little Merrill.

"A lady wishes to see Mr. Macdonald, sir," he said, touching his
hat.

"Well, she's got to be quick about it," said Merrill. "Here,
Glengarry," he called to Ranald, "a lady is waiting outside to see
you, but I say, old chap, you will have to make it short, I guess
it will be sweet enough."

"Where is she?" said Ranald to the coachman,

"In here, sir," conducting him to the ladies' waiting-room, and
taking his place at the door outside. Ranald hurried into the
room, and there stood Kate.

"Dear Kate!" he cried, running toward her with both hands
outstretched, "this is more than kind of you, and just like your
good heart."

"I only heard last night, Ranald," she said, "from Maimie, that you
were to be here to-day, and I could not let you go." She stood up
looking so brave and proud, but in spite of her, her lips quivered.

"I have waited to see you so long," she said, "and now you are
going away again."

"Don't speak like that, Kate," said Ranald, "don't say those
things. I want to tell you how you have helped me these three
lonely years, but I can't, and you will never know, and now I am
going back. I hardly dared to see you, but I wish you everything
that is good. I haven't seen Harry either, but you will wish him
joy for me. He is a very lucky fellow."

By this time Ranald had regained control of himself, and was
speaking in a tone of frank and brotherly affection. Kate looked
at him with a slightly puzzled air.

"I've seen Maimie," Ranald went on, "and she told me all about it,
and I am--yes, I am very glad." Still Kate looked a little
puzzled, but the minutes were precious, and she had much to say.

"Oh, Ranald!" she cried, "I have so much to say to you. You have
become a great man, and you are good. I am so proud when I hear of
you," and lowering her voice almost to a whisper, "I pray for you
every day."

As Ranald stood gazing at the beautiful face, and noticed the
quivering lips and the dark eyes shining with tears she was too
brave to let fall, he felt that he was fast losing his grip of
himself.

"Oh, Kate," he cried, in a low, tense voice, "I must go. You have
been more to me than you will ever know. May you both be happy."

"Both?" echoed Kate, faintly.

"Yes," cried Ranald, hurriedly, "Harry will, I'm sure, for if any
one can make him happy, you can."

"I?" catching her breath, and beginning to laugh a little
hysterically.

"What's the matter, Kate? You are looking white."

"Oh," cried Kate, her voice broken between a sob and a laugh,
"won't Harry and Lily enjoy this?"

Ranald gazed at her in fear as if she had suddenly gone mad.

"Lily?" he gasped.

"Yes, Lily," cried Kate; "didn't you know Lily Langford, Harry's
dearest and most devoted?"

"No," said Ranald; "and it is not you?"

"Not me," cried Kate, "not in the very least."

"Oh, Kate, tell me, is this all true? Are you still free? And is
there any use?"

"What do you mean?" cried Kate, dancing about in sheer joy, "you
silly boy."

By this time Ranald had got hold of her hands.

"Look here, old chap," burst in Merrill, "your train's going. Oh,
beg pardon."

"Take the next, Ranald."

"Merrill," said Ranald, solemnly, "tell the fellows I'm not going
on this train."

"Hoorah!" cried little Merrill, "I guess I'll tell 'em you are
gone. May I tell the fellows, Kate?"

"What?" said Kate, blushing furiously.

"Yes, Merrill," cried Ranald, in a voice strident with ecstasy,
"you may tell them. Tell the whole town."

Merrill rushed to the door. "I say, fellows," he cried, "look
here."

The men came trooping at his call, but only to see Ranald and Kate
disappearing through the other door.

"He's not going," cried Merrill, "he's gone. By Jove! They've
both gone."

"I say, little man," said big Starry Hamilton, "call yourself
together if you can. Who've both gone? In short, who is the
lady?"

"Why, Kate Raymond, you blessed idiot!" cried Merrill, rushing for
the door, followed by the whole crowd.

"Three cheers for Macdonald!" cried Starry Hamilton, as the
carriage drove away, and after the three cheers and the tiger,
little Merrill's voice led them in the old battle-cry, heard long
ago on the river, but afterward on many a hard-fought foot-ball
field, "Glengarry forever!"

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