Part 2 out of 8
Pat McCann, the faithful friend and shadow of young Pickles, after
studying the attitude and motions of his friend, gave answer:
"It's the preacher, I guess. He's kiddin' the kids inside. He's
some kidder, too," he said, moving to take his place beside his
"What's he doing anyway?" said Ewen. "I'm going to see."
Gradually a little company gathered behind young Pickles and Pat
McCann. The window commanded a view of the room, yet in such a way
that the group were unobserved by the speaker.
"Say, you ought to seen him do the camel a minute ago," whispered
In the little vestry room were packed some twenty children of all
ages and sizes, with a number of grownups who had joined the class
in charge of some of its younger members. There was, for instance,
Mrs. Innes, with the two youngest of her numerous progeny pillowed
against her yielding and billowy person; and Mrs. Stewart Duff, an
infant of only a few weeks upon her knee accounting sufficiently
for the paleness of her sweet face, and two or three other women
with their small children filling the bench that ran along the
"Say! look at Harry Hobbs," said Pat McCann to his friend.
Upon the stove, which in summer was relegated to the corner of the
room, sat Harry Hobbs, a man of any age from his appearance, thin
and wiry, with keen, darting eyes, which now, however, were
fastened upon the preacher. All other eyes were, too. Even the
smallest of the children seated on the front bench were gazing with
mouths wide open, as if fascinated, upon the preacher who, moving
up and down with quick, lithe steps, was telling them a story. A
wonderful story, too, it seemed, the wonder of it apparent in the
riveted eyes and fixed faces. It was the immortal story, matchless
in the language, of Joseph, the Hebrew shepherd boy, who, sold into
slavery by his brethren, became prime minister of the mighty empire
of Egypt. The voice tone of the minister, now clear and high, now
low and soft, vibrating like the deeper notes of the 'cello, was
made for story telling. Changing with every changing emotion, it
formed an exquisite medium to the hearts of the listeners for the
exquisite music of the tale.
The story was approaching its climactic denouement; the rapturous
moment of the younger brother's revealing was at hand; Judah, the
older brother, was now holding the centre of the stage and making
that thrilling appeal, than which nothing more moving is to be
found in our English speech. The preacher's voice was throbbing
with all the pathos of the tale. Motionless, the little group hung
hard upon the story-teller, when the door opened quickly, a red
head appeared, a rasping voice broke in:
"Your class report, Mr. Dunbar, please. We're waiting for it."
A sigh of disappointment and regret swept the room.
"Oh, darn the little woodpecker!" said Ewen from the outside, in a
disgusted tone. "That's the way with Hayes. He thinks he's the
whole works, and that he never can get in wrong."
The spell was broken, never to be renewed. The story hurried to
its close, but the great climax failed of its proper effect.
"He's a hummer, ain't he?" exclaimed young Pickles to his friend,
"Some hummer, and then some!" replied Pat.
"I'm goin' in," said Pickles.
"Aw, what for? He ain't no good preachin' to them folks. By gum!
I think he's scared of 'em."
But Pickles persisted, and followed with the men and boys who
lounged lazily into the church, from which the Sunday School had
now been dismissed.
It appeared that the judgment of Pat McCann upon the merits of the
preacher would be echoed by the majority of the congregation
present. While the service was conducted in proper form and in
reverent spirit, the sermon was marked by that most unpardonable
sin of which sermons can be guilty; it was dull. Solid enough in
matter, thoughtful beyond the average, it was delivered in a style
appallingly wooden, with an utter absence of that arresting,
dramatic power that the preacher had shown in his children's class.
The appearance of the congregation was, as ever, a reflection of
the sermon. The heat of the day, the reaction from the long week
in the open air, the quiet monotony of the well modulated voice
rising and falling in regular cadence in what is supposed by so
many preachers to be the tone suitable for any sacred office,
produced an overwhelmingly somnolent effect. Many of them slept,
some frankly and openly, others under cover of shading hands, bowed
heads, or other subterfuges. Others again spent the whole of the
period of the sermon, except for some delicious moments of
surreptitious sleep, in a painful but altogether commendable
struggle against the insidious influence of the god of slumber.
Among the latter was Mrs. Innes, whose loyalty to her minister,
which was as much a part of her as her breathing, contended in a
vigorous fight against her much too solid flesh. It was a certain
aid to wakefulness that her two children, deep in audible slumber,
kept her in a state of active concern lest their inert and rotund
little masses of slippery flesh should elude her grasp, and wreck
the proprieties of the hour by flopping on the floor. There was
also a further sleep deterrent in the fact that immediately before
her sat Mr. McFettridge, whose usually erect form, yielding to the
soporific influences of the environment, showed a tendency
gradually to sag into an attitude, relaxed and formless, which
suggested sleep. This, to the lady behind him, partook of the
nature of an affront to her minister. Consequently she considered
it her duty to arouse the snoozing McFettridge with a vigorous poke
in the small of the back.
The effect was instantaneously apparent. As if her insistent
finger had touched a button and released an electric current, Mr.
McFettridge's sagging form shot convulsively into rigidity, and
impinging violently upon the peacefully slumbering Mr. Boggs on the
extreme end of the bench, toppled him over into the aisle.
The astonished Boggs, finding himself thus deposited upon the
floor, and beholding the irate face of Mr. McFettridge glooming
down upon him, and fancying him to be the cause of his present
humiliating position, sprang to his feet, swung a violent blow upon
Mr. Fettridge's ear, exclaiming sotto voce:
"Take that, will you! And mind your own business! You were
sleeping yourself, anyway!"
Before the astonished and enraged Mr. McFettridge could gather his
wits sufficiently for action, there rang over the astonished
congregation a peal of boyish laughter. It was from the minister.
A few irrepressible youngsters joined in the laugh; the rest of the
congregation, however, were held rigid in the grip of a shocked
"Oh, I say! do forgive me, Mr. McFettridge!" cried the young man at
the desk. "It was quite involuntary, I assure you." Then, quickly
recovering himself, he added, "And now we shall conclude the
service by singing the seventy-ninth hymn."
Before the last verse was sung he reminded the audience of the
congregational meeting immediately following, and without further
comment the service was brought to a close.
A number of the congregation, among them Barry's father, departed.
"Sit down, Neil," said Mrs. Innes to Neil Fraser. "You'll be
wanted I doot." And Neil, protesting that he knew nothing about
church business, sat down.
At the back of the church were gathered Harry Hobbs, young Pickles,
and others of the less important attendants of the church, who had
been induced to remain by the rumour of a "scrap."
By a fatal mischance, the pliant Nathan Pilley was elected
chairman. This gentleman was obsessed by the notion that he
possessed in a high degree the two qualities which he considered
essential to the harmonious and expeditious conduct of a public
meeting, namely, an invincible determination to agree with every
speaker, and an equally invincible determination to get motions
In a rambling and aimless speech, Mr. Pilley set forth in a
somewhat general way the steps leading up to this meeting, and then
called upon Mr. Innes, the chairman of the Board of Management, to
state more specifically the object for which it was called.
Mr. Innes, who was incurably averse to voluble speech, whether
public or private, arose and said, in rolling Doric:
"Weel, Mr. Chair-r-man, there's no much to be done. We're behind a
few hundred dollars, but if some one will go about wi' a bit paper,
nae doot the ar-rear-rs wad soon be made up, and everything wad be
"Exactly," said Mr. Pilley pleasantly. "Now will some one offer a
Thereupon Mr. Hayes was instantly upon his feet, and in a voice
thin and rasping exclaimed:
"Mr. Chairman, there's business to be done, and we are here to do
it, and we're not going to be rushed through in this way."
"Exactly, Mr. Hayes, exactly," said Mr. Pilley. "We must give
these matters the fullest consideration."
Then followed a silence.
"Perhaps Mr. Hayes--" continued the chairman, looking appealingly
at that gentleman.
"Well, Mr. Chairman," said Mr. Hayes, with an appeased but slightly
injured air, "it is not my place to set forth the cause of this
meeting being called. If the chairman of the board would do his
duty"--here he glared at the unconscious Mr. Innes--"he would set
before it the things that have made this meeting necessary, and
that call for drastic action."
"Hear! Hear!" cried Mr. Boggs.
"Exactly so," acquiesced the chairman. "Please continue, Mr. Hayes."
Mr. Hayes continued: "The situation briefly is this: We are
almost hopelessly in debt, and--"
"How much?" enquired Neil Fraser, briskly interrupting.
"Seven hundred dollars," replied Mr. Hayes, "and further--"
"Five hundred dollars," said Mr. Innes.
"I have examined the treasurer's books," said Mr. Hayes in the
calmly triumphant tone of one sure of his position, "and I find the
amount to be seven hundred dollars, and therefore--"
"Five hundred dollars," repeated Mr. Innes, gazing into space.
"Seven hundred dollars, I say," snapped Mr. Hayes.
"Five hundred dollars," reiterated Mr. Innes, without further
"I say I have examined the books. The arrears are seven hundred
"Five hundred dollars," said Mr. Innes calmly.
The youngsters at the back snickered.
"Go to it!" said Harry Hobbs, under his breath.
Even the minister, who was sitting immediately behind Harry, could
not restrain a smile.
"Mr. Chairman," cried Mr. Hayes, indignantly, "I appeal against
this interruption. I assert--"
"Where's the treasurer?" said Neil Fraser. "What's the use of this
chewin' the rag?"
"Ah! Exactly so," said the chairman, greatly relieved. "Mr. Boggs--
Perhaps Mr. Boggs will enlighten us."
Mr. Boggs arose with ponderous deliberation.
"Mr. Chairman," he said, "in one sense Mr. Hayes is right when he
states the arrears to be seven hundred dollars--"
"Five hundred dollars A'm tellin' ye," said Mr. Innes with the
first sign of feeling he had shown.
"And Mr. Innes is also right," continued Mr. Boggs, ignoring the
interruption, "when he makes the arrears five hundred dollars, the
two hundred dollars difference being the quarterly revenue now
"Next week," said Mr. Innes, reverting to his wonted calm.
"Exactly so," said the chairman, rubbing his hands amiably; "so
that the seven hundred dollars we now owe--"
This was too much even for the imperturbable Mr. Innes.
He arose in his place, moved out into the aisle, advanced toward
the platform, and with arm outstretched, exclaimed in wrathful
"Mon, did ye no hear me tellin' ye? I want nae mon to mak' me a
At this point Mr. Stewart Duff, who had come to convey his wife
home, and had got tired waiting for her outside, entered the
"Oh, get on with the business," said Neil Fraser, who, although
enjoying the scene, was becoming anxious for his dinner. "The
question what's to be done with the five hundred dollars' arrears.
I say, let's make it up right here. I am willing to give--"
"No, Mr. Chairman," shouted Mr. Hayes, who was notoriously averse
to parting with his money, and was especially fearful of a public
"There is something more than mere arrears--much more--"
"Ay, there is," emphatically declared Mr. McFettridge, rising
straight and stiff. "I'm for plain speakin'. The finances is not
the worst about this congregation. The congregation has fallen
off. Other churches in this village has good congregations. Why
shouldn't we? The truth is, Mr. Chairman,"--Mr. McFettridge's
voice rolled deep and sonorous over the audience--"we want a
popular preacher--a preacher that draws--a preacher with some pep."
"Hear! hear!" cried Mr. Boggs. "Pep's what we want. That's it--
"Pep," echoed the chairman. "Exactly so, pep."
"More than that," continued Mr. McFettridge, "we want a minister
that's a good mixer--one that stands in with the boys."
"Hear! Hear!" cried Mr. Boggs again.
"A mixer! Exactly!" agreed the chairman. "A mixer!" nodding
pleasantly at Mr. Boggs.
"And another thing I will say," continued Mr. McFettridge, "now
that I am on my feet. We want a preacher that will stick to his
job--that will preach the gospel and not go meddlin' with other
matters--with politics and such like."
"Or prohibition," shouted Harry Hobbs from the rear, to the
undiluted joy of the youngsters in his vicinity.
The minister shook his head at him.
"Yes, prohibition," answered Mr. McFettridge, facing toward the
rear of the church defiantly. "Let him stick to his preaching the
gospel; I believe the time has come for a change and I'm prepared
to make a motion that we ask our minister to resign, and that
motion I now make."
"Second the motion," cried Mr. Boggs promptly.
"You have heard the motion," said the chairman, with business-like
promptitude. "Are you ready for the question?"
"Question," said Mr. Hayes, after a few moments' silence, broken by
the shuffling of some members in their seats, and by the audible
whispering of Mrs. Innes, evidently exhorting her husband to
"Then all those in favour of the motion will please--"
Then from behind the organ a little voice piped up, "Does this
mean, Mr. Chairman, that we lose our minister?"
It was Miss Quigg, a lady whose years no gallantry could set below
forty, for her appearance indicated that she was long past the
bloom of her youth. She was thin, almost to the point of
frailness, with sharp, delicately cut features; but the little chin
was firm, and a flash of the brown eyes revealed a fiery soul
within. Miss Quigg was the milliner and dressmaker of the village,
and was herself a walking model of her own exquisite taste in
clothes and hats. It was only her failing health that had driven
her to abandon a much larger sphere than her present position
offered, but even here her fame was such as to draw to her little
shop customers from the villages round about for many miles.
"Does this mean, sir, that Mr. Dunbar will leave us?" she repeated.
"Well,--yes, madam--that is, Miss, I suppose, in a way--practically
it would amount to that."
"Will you tell me yes or no, please," Miss Quigg's neat little
figure was all a-quiver to the tips of her hat plumes.
"Well," said the chairman, squirming under the unpleasant
experience of being forced to a definite answer, "I suppose,--yes."
Miss Quigg turned from the squirming and smiling Mr. Pilley in
"Then," she said, "I say no. And I believe there are many here
who would say no--and men, too." The wealth of indignation and
contemptuous scorn infused into the word by which the difference
in sex of the human species was indicated, made those unhappy
individuals glance shamefacedly at each other--"only they are too
timid, the creatures! or too indifferent."
Again there was an exchange of furtive glances and smiles and an
uneasy shifting of position on the part of "the creatures."
"But if you give them time, Mr. Chairman, I believe they will
perhaps get up courage enough to speak."
Miss Quigg sat down in her place behind the organ, disappearing
quite from view except for the tips of her plumes, whose rapid and
rhythmic vibrations were eloquent of the beating of her gallant
"Exactly so," said the chairman, in confused but hearty acquiescence.
"Perhaps some one will say something."
Then Mr. Innes, forced to a change of position by the physical
discomfort caused by his wife's prodding, rose and said,
"I dinna see the need o' any change. Mr. Dunbar is no a great
preacher, but Ah doot he does his best. And the bairns all like
Then the congregation had a thrill. In the back seat rose Harry
"I'm near forty years old," he cried, in a high nasal tone that
indicated a state of extreme nervous tension, "and I never spoke in
meetin' before. I ain't had no use for churches and preachers, and
I guess they hadn't no use for me. You folks all know me. I've
been in this burg for near eight years, and I was a drinkin',
swearin', fightin' cuss. This preacher came into the barn one day
when I was freezin' to death after a big spree. He tuk me home
with him and kep' me there for two weeks, settin' up nights with
me, too. Let me be," he said impatiently to Barry, who was trying
to pull him down to his seat. "I'm agoin' to speak this time if it
kills me. Many a time I done him dirt sence then, but he stuck to
me, and never quit till he got me turned 'round. I was goin'
straight to hell; he says I'm goin' to heaven now." Here he
laughed with a touch of scorn. "I dunno. But, by gum! if you fire
him and do him dirt, I don't know what'll become of me, but I guess
I'll go straight to hell again."
"No, Harry, no you won't. You'll keep right on, Harry, straight to
heaven." It was the preacher's voice, full of cheery confidence.
Mrs. Innes was audibly sniffling; Mrs. Stewart Duff wiping her
eyes. It was doubtless this sight that brought her husband to his
"I don't quite know what the trouble is here," he said. "I
understand there are arrears. I heard some criticism of the
minister's preaching. I can't say I care much for it myself, but I
want to say right here that there are other things wanted in a
minister, and this young fellow has got some of them. If he stays,
he gets my money; if he doesn't, no one else does. I'll make you
gentlemen who are kicking about finances a sporting proposition.
I'm willing to double my subscription, if any other ten men will
cover my ante."
"I'll call you," said Neil Fraser, "and I'll raise you one."
"I'm willing to meet Mr. Duff and Mr. Fraser," said Miss Quigg,
rising from behind her organ with a triumphant smile on her face.
"I ain't got much money," said Harry Hobbs, "but I'll go you just
half what I earn if you'll meet me on that proposition."
"Ah may say," said Mr. Innes, yielding to his wife's vigorous vocal
and physical incitations, "A'm prepair-r-ed to mak' a substantial
increase in my subscreeption--that is, if necessary," he added
Then Barry came forward from the back of the church and stood
before the platform. After looking them over for a few moments in
silence, he said, in a voice clear, quiet, but with a ring in it
that made it echo in every heart:
"Had it not been for these last speeches, it would have been
unnecessary to allow the motion to go before you. I could not have
remained where I am not wanted. But now I am puzzled, I confess, I
am really puzzled to know what to do. I am not a great preacher, I
know, but then there are worse. I don't, at least I think I don't,
talk nonsense. And I am not what Mr. McFettridge calls a 'good
mixer.' On the other hand, I think Mr. Innes is right when he says
the bairns like me; at least, it would break"--he paused, his lip
quivering, then he went on quietly--"it would be very hard to think
"They do that, then," said Mrs. Innes, emphatically.
"So you see, it is really very difficult to know what to do. I
would hate to go away, but it might be right to go away. I suggest
you let me have a week to think it over. Can you wait that long?"
His handsome, boyish face, alight with a fine glow of earnestness
and sincerity, made irresistible appeal to all but those who for
personal reasons were opposed to him.
"You see," he continued, in a tone of voice deliberative and quite
detached, "there are a number of things to think about. Those
arrears, for instance, are hardly my fault--at least, not altogether.
I was looking over the treasurer's books the other day, and I was
surprised to find how many had apparently quite forgotten to pay
their church subscription. It is no doubt just an oversight. For
instance," he added, in the confidential tone of one imparting
interesting and valuable information, "you will be surprised to
learn, Mr. Duff, that you are twenty-five dollars behind in your
At this Neil Fraser threw back his head with a loud laugh.
"Touche!" he said, in a joyous undertone.
The minister looked at him in surprise, and went on, "And while Mr.
Innes and Miss Quigg are both paid up in full, Mr. Hayes has
apparently neglected to pay his last quarter."
"Hit him again," murmured Harry Hobbs, while Mr. Hayes rose in
"I protest, Mr. Chairman!" he cried, "against these personalities."
"Oh, you quite mistake me, Mr. Hayes," said the preacher, "these
are not personalities. I am simply showing how easy it is for
arrears to arise, and that it may not be my fault at all. Of
course, it may be right for me to resign. I don't know about that
yet, but I want to be very sure. It would be easier to resign, but
I don't want to be a quitter."
"I move we adjourn," said Neil Fraser.
"I second the motion," said Stewart Duff. The motion was carried,
and the meeting adjourned.
At the door the minister stood shaking hands with all as they
passed out, making no distinction in the heartiness with which he
greeted all his parishioners. To Miss Quigg, however, he said,
"Thank you. You were splendidly plucky."
"Nonsense!" cried the little lady, the colour flaming in her faded
cheeks. "But," she added hastily, "you did that beautifully, and
he deserved it, the little beast!"
"Solar plexus!" said Neil Fraser, who was immediately behind Miss
The minister glanced from one to the other in perplexity, as they
passed out of the door.
"But, you know, I was only--"
"Oh, yes, we know," cried Miss Quigg. "But if those men would only
take hold! Oh, those men!" She turned upon Neil Fraser and shook
her head at him violently.
"I know, Miss Quigg. We are a hopeless and helpless lot. But
we're going to reform."
"You need to, badly," she said. "But you need some one to reform
you. Look at Mr. Duff there, how vastly improved he is," and she
waved her hand to that gentleman, who was driving away with his
wife in their buckboard.
"He is a perfect dear," sighed Mrs. Duff, as she bowed to the
minister. "And you, too, Stewart," she added, giving his arm a
little squeeze, "you said just the right thing when those horrid
people were going to turn him out."
"Say! Your preacher isn't so bad after all," said her husband.
"Wasn't that a neat one for old Hayes?"
"He rather got you, though, Stewart."
"Yes, he did, by Jove! Not the first time, either, he's done it.
But I must look after that. Say, he's the limit for freshness
though. Or is it freshness? I'm not quite sure."
"Will he stay with us?" said his wife. "I really do hope he will."
"Guess he'll stay all right. He won't give up his job," said her
But next week proved Mr. Duff a poor prophet, for the minister
after the service informed his people that he had come to the
conclusion that another man might get better results as minister of
the congregation; he had therefore handed in his resignation to the
It was a shock to them all, but he adhered to his resolution in
spite of tearful lamentations from the women, wide-eyed amazement
and dismay from the bairns of the congregation, and indignation,
loudly expressed, from Neil Fraser and Stewart Duff, and others of
"Well," said Miss Quigg, struggling with indignant tears, as she
was passing out of the church, "you won't see Harry Hobbs in this
church again, nor me, either."
"Oh, yes, Miss Quigg, Harry has promised me that he will stick by
the church, and that he will be there every Sunday. And so will
you, dear Miss Quigg. I know you. You will do what is right."
But that little lady, with her head very erect and a red spot
burning in each faded cheek, passed out of the church saying
nothing, the plumes on her jaunty little hat quivering defiance and
wrath against "those men, who had so little spunk as to allow a
little beast like Hayes to run them."
THE WAR DRUM CALLS
"Well, dad," said Barry next evening as they were sitting in the
garden after tea, "I feel something like Mohammed's coffin,
detached from earth but not yet ascended into heaven. It's
unpleasant to be out of a job. I confess I shall always cherish a
more intelligent sympathy henceforth for the great unemployed. But
cheer up, dad! You are taking this thing much too seriously. The
world is wide, and there is something waiting me that I can do
better than any one else."
But the father had little to say. He felt bitterly the humiliation
to which his son had been subjected.
Barry refused to see the humiliation.
"Why should I not resign if I decide it is my duty so to do? And
why, on the other hand, should not they have the right to terminate
my engagement with them when they so desire? That's democratic
"But good Lord, Barry!" burst out his father, with quite an unusual
display of feeling; "to think that a gentleman should hold his
position at the whim of such whippersnappers as Hayes, Boggs et hoc
genus omne. And more than that, that I should have to accept as my
minister a man who would be the choice of cattle like that."
"After all, dad, we are ruled by majorities in this age and in this
country. That is at once the glory and the danger of democratic
government. There is no better way discovered as yet. And
besides, I couldn't go on here, dad, preaching Sunday after Sunday
to people who I felt were all the time saying, 'He's no good'; to
people, in short, who could not profit by my preaching."
"Because it had no pep, eh?" said his father with bitter scorn.
"Do you know, dad, I believe that's what is wrong with my
preaching: it hasn't got pep. What pep is, only the initiated
know. But the long and the short of this thing is, it is the
people that must be satisfied. It is they who have to stand your
preaching, they who pay the piper. But cheer up, dad, I have no
fear for the future."
"Nor have I, my boy, not the slightest. I hope you did not think
for a moment, my son," he added with some dignity, "that I was in
doubt about your future."
"No, no, dad. We both feel a little sore naturally, but the future
is all right."
"True, my dear boy, true. I was forgetting myself. As you say,
the world is wide and your place is waiting."
"Hello! here comes my friend, Mr. Duff," said Barry in a low voice.
"He was ready to throw Mr. McFettridge out of the meeting
yesterday, body and bones. Awfully funny, if it hadn't been in
church. Wonder what he wants! Seems in a bit of a hurry."
But hurry or not, it was a full hour before Mr. Duff introduced his
business. As he entered the garden he stood gazing about him in
amazed wonder and delight, and that hour was spent in company with
Mr. Dunbar, exploring the garden, Barry following behind lost in
amazement at the new phase of character displayed by their visitor.
"I have not had such a delightful evening, Mr. Dunbar, for years,"
said Duff, when they had finished making the round of the garden.
"I have heard about your garden, but I had no idea that it held
such a wealth and variety of treasures. I had something of a
garden myself in the old country, but here there is no time
apparently for anything but cattle and horses and money. But if
you would allow me I should greatly like to have the pleasure of
bringing Mrs. Duff to see your beautiful garden."
Mr. Duff was assured that the Dunbars would have the greatest
pleasure in receiving Mrs. Duff.
"Do bring her," said Barry, "and we can have a little music, too.
She is musical, I know. I hear her sing in church."
"Music! Why, she loves it. But she dropped her music when she
came here; there seemed to be no time, no time, no time. I wonder
sometimes-- Well, I must get at my business. It is this letter
that brings me. It is from an American whom you know, at least, he
knows you, a Mr. Osborne Howland of Pittsburgh."
Mr. Dunbar nodded.
"He is planning a big trip up the Peace River country prospecting
for oil and mines, and later hunting. He says you and your son
engaged to accompany him, and he asks me to complete arrangements
with you. I am getting Jim Knight to look after the outfit. You
know Jim, perhaps. He runs the Lone Pine ranch. Fine chap he is.
Knows all about the hunting business. Takes a party into the
mountains every year. He'll take Tom Fielding with him. I don't
know Fielding, but Knight does. Mr. Howland says there will be
three of their party. Far too many, but that's his business. I
myself am rather anxious to look after some oil deposits, and this
will be a good chance. What do you say?"
Father and son looked at each other.
"It would be fine, if we could manage it," said Mr. Dunbar, "but my
work is so pressing just now. A great many are coming in, and I am
alone in the office at present. When does he propose to start?"
"In six weeks' time. I hope you can come, Mr. Dunbar. I couldn't
have said so yesterday, but I can now. Any man with a garden like
this, the product of his own planning and working, is worth
knowing. So I do hope you can both come. By the way, Knight wants
a camp hand, a kind of roustabout, who can cook--a handy man, you
"I have him," said Barry. "Harry Hobbs."
"Hobbs? Boozes a bit, doesn't he?"
"Not now. Hasn't for six months. He's a new man. I can guarantee
"You can, eh? Well, my experience is once a boozer always a
"Oh," said Barry, "Hobbs is different. He is a member of our
church, you know."
"No, I didn't know. But I don't know that that makes much
difference anyway," said Duff with a laugh. "I don't mean to be
offensive," he added.
"It does to Hobbs, he's a Christian man now. I mean a real
Christian, Mr. Duff."
"Well, I suppose there is such a thing. In fact, I've known one or
two, but--well, if you guarantee him I'll take him."
"I will guarantee him," said Barry.
"Let me have your answer to-morrow," said Duff as he bade them
The Dunbars discussed the matter far into the night. It was
clearly impossible for Mr. Dunbar to leave his work, and the only
question was whether or not Barry should make one of the party.
Barry greatly disliked the idea of leaving his father during the
hot summer months, as he said, "to slave away at his desk, and to
slop away in his bachelor diggings." He raised many objections,
but one consideration seemed to settle things for the Dunbars. To
them a promise was a promise.
"If I remember aright, Barry, we promised that we should join their
party on this expedition."
"Yes," added Barry quickly, "if our work permitted it."
"Exactly," said his father. "My work prevents me, your work does
Hence it came that by the end of August Barry found himself in the
far northern wilds of the Peace River country, a hundred miles or
so from Edmonton, attached to a prospecting-hunting party of which
Mr. Osborne Howland was the nominal head, but of which the "boss"
was undoubtedly his handsome, athletic and impetuous daughter
Paula. The party had not been on the trail for more than a week
before every member was moving at her command, and apparently glad
to do so.
The party were camped by a rushing river at the foot of a falls.
Below the falls the river made a wide eddy, then swept down in a
turbulent rapid for some miles. The landing was a smooth and
shelving rock that pitched somewhat steeply into the river.
The unfortunate Harry, who after the day's march had exchanged his
heavy marching boots with their clinging hobnails for shoes more
comfortable but with less clinging qualities, in making preparation
for the evening meal made his way down this shelving rock of water.
No sooner had he filled his pail than his foot slipped from under
him, and in an instant the pail and himself were in the swiftly
His cry startled the camp.
"Hello!" shouted Duff, with a great laugh. "Harry is in the drink!
I never knew he was so fond of water as all that. You've got to
swim for it now, old boy."
"Throw him something," said Knight.
Past them ran Barry, throwing off coat and vest.
"He can't swim," he cried, tearing at his boots. "Throw him a
line, some one." He ran down to the water's edge, plunged in, and
swam toward the unfortunate Harry, who, splashing wildly, was being
carried rapidly into the rough water.
"Oh, father, he will be drowned!" cried Paula, rushing toward a
canoe which was drawn up on the shore. Before any one could reach
her she had pushed it out and was steering over the boiling current
in Barry's wake. But after a few strokes of her paddle she found
herself driven far out into the current and away from the
struggling men. Paula had had sufficient experience with a canoe
to handle it with considerable ease in smooth water and under
ordinary conditions, but in the swirl of this rough and swift water
the canoe took the management of its course out of her hands, and
she had all she could do to keep afloat.
"For God's sake, men, get her!" cried Brand. "She will be drowned
before our eyes."
"Come on, Tom," cried Jim Knight, swinging another canoe into the
water. A glance he gave at the girl, another at the struggling
men, for by this time Barry could be seen struggling with the
"Get in, Tom," ordered Knight, taking the stern. "We will get the
men first. The girl is all right in the meantime."
"Get the girl!" commanded Brand. "For God's sake go for the girl,"
he entreated in a frenzy of distress.
"No," said Knight, "the men first. She's all right."
"Here," said Duff to Brand, pushing out the remaining canoe, "get
into the bow, and stop howling. Those men are in danger of being
drowned, but Knight will get them. We'll go for the girl."
It took but a few minutes for Knight and Fielding, who knew their
craft thoroughly and how to get the best out of her in just such an
emergency, to draw up upon Harry and his rescuer.
"Say, they are fighting hard," said Fielding. "That bloody little
fool is choking the life out of Dunbar. My God! they are out of
"Go on," roared Knight. "Keep your eyes on the spot, and for
Heaven's sake, paddle!"
"They are up again! One of them is. It's Barry. The other is
gone. No, by Jove! he's got him! Hold on, Barry, we're coming,"
yelled Tom. "Stick to it, old boy!"
Swiftly the canoe sped toward the drowning men.
"They are gone this time for sure," cried Tom, as the canoe shot
over the spot where the men had last been seen.
"Not much!" said Knight, as reaching out of the stern he gripped
Barry by the hair. "Hold hard, Barry," he said quietly. "No
monkey work now or you'll drown us all." Immediately Barry ceased
"Don't try to get in, Barry. We'll have to tow you ashore."
"All right, Jim," he said between his sobbing breaths. "Only--
hurry up--I've got him--here."
Knight reached down carefully, lifted Barry till his hand touched
the gunwale of the canoe.
"Not too hard, Barry," he said. "I'll ease you round to the stern.
Steady, boy, steady. Don't dump us."
"All right--Jim--but--he's under the water--here."
"Oh, never mind him. We'll get him all right. Can you hold on
now?" said Knight.
"Yes--I think so."
"Now, for God's sake, Tom, edge her into the shore. See that
little eddy there? Swing into that! You'll do it all right.
By this time Knight was able to get Harry's head above water.
In a few minutes they had reached the shore, and were working hard
over Harry's unconscious body, leaving Barry lying on the sand to
recover his strength. A long fight was necessary to bring the life
back into Harry, by which time Barry was sufficiently recovered to
"Stay where you are, Barry, until we get this man back to camp,"
ordered Knight. "We'll light a bit of a fire for you."
"I'm warm enough," said Barry.
"Warm enough? You may be, but you will be better with a fire, and
you lie beside it till we get you. Don't move now."
"There's the other canoes coming," said Fielding. "They'll make
shore a little lower down. They're all right. Say, she's handling
that canoe like a man!"
"Who?" said Barry.
"Why, Miss Howland," said Fielding. "She was out after you like a
shot. She's a plucky one!"
Barry was on his feet in an instant, watching anxiously the
progress of the canoes, which were being slowly edged across the
river in a long incline toward the shore.
"They'll make it, all right," said Knight, after observing them for
a time. "Don't you worry. Just lie down by the fire. We'll be
back in a jiffy."
In an hour they were all safely back in camp, and sufficiently
recovered to discover the humorous points in the episode. But they
were all familiar enough with the treacherous possibilities of
rough and rapid water to know that for Hobbs and his deliverer at
least, there had been some serious moments during their fierce
struggle in the river.
"Another minute would have done," said Fielding to his friend, as
they sat over the fire after supper.
"A half a minute would have been just as good," said Knight. "I
got Barry by the hair under water. He was at his last kick, you
bet! And that rat," he added, smiling good naturedly at Harry,
"was dragging him down for the last time."
"I didn't know nothin' about it," said poor Harry, who was lying
stretched out by the fire, still very weak and miserable. "I
didn't know nothin' about it, or you bet I woudn't ha' done it. I
didn't know nothin' after he got me."
"After you got him, you mean," said Fielding.
"I guess that's right," said Harry, "but I wouldn't ha' got him if
he hadn't ha' got me first."
They all joined in the discussion of the event except Paula, who
sat distrait and silent, gazing into the fire, and Barry, who lay,
drowsy and relaxed, on a blanket not far from her side.
"You ought to go to bed," said Paula at length in a low voice to
him. "You need a good night's sleep."
"I'm too tired to sleep," said Barry. "I feel rather rotten, in
fact. I ought to feel very grateful, but somehow I just feel
"Can one be grateful and feel rotten at the same time?" said Paula,
"Behold me," replied Barry. "I know I am grateful, but I do feel
rotten. I don't think I have even thanked you for risking your
life for me," he added, turning toward her.
"Risking my life? Nonsense! I paddled 'round in the canoe for a
bit, till two strong men came to tow me in, and would have, if I
had allowed them. Thank the boys, who got you in time." She
shuddered as she spoke.
"I do thank them, and I do feel grateful to them," said Barry. "It
was rather a near thing. You see, I let him grip me. I choked him
off my arms, but he slid down to my thigh, and I could not kick him
off. Had to practically drown him. Even then he hung on."
"Oh, don't speak about it," she said with a shudder, covering her
face with her hands. "It was too awful, and it might have been the
end of you." Her voice broke a little.
"No, not an end," answered Barry, in a quiet voice. "Not the end
by a long way, not by a very long way."
"What do you mean? Oh, you are thinking of immortality, and all
that," said Paula. "It's a chilly, ghostly subject. It makes me
shiver. I get little comfort out of it."
"Ghostly it is, if you mean a thing of spirits," said Barry, "but
chilly! Why chilly?" Then he added to himself in an undertone:
"I wonder! I wonder! I wish sometimes I knew more."
"Sometimes?" cried Paula. "Always!" she added passionately. "It's
a dreadful business to me. To be suddenly snatched out of the
light and the warmth, away from the touch of warm fingers and the
sight of dear faces! Ah, I dread it! I loathe the thought of it.
I hate it!"
"And yet," mused Barry, "somehow I cannot forget that out there
somewhere there is One, kindly, genial, true,--like my dad. How
good he has been to me--my dad, I mean, and that Other, too, has
been good. Somehow I think of them together. Yes, I am grateful
"Oh, God, you mean," said Paula, a little impatiently.
"Yes, to God. He saved me to-day. 'Saved,' I say. It is a queer
way to speak, after all. What I really ought to say is that God
thought it best that I should camp 'round here for a bit longer
before moving in nearer."
"Yes, into the nearer circle. Life moves 'round a centre, in outer
and inner circles. This is the outer circle. Nearer in there, it
is kindlier, with better light and clearer vision. 'We shall know
even as we are known.'" Barry mused on, as if communing with
"But when you move in," said Paula, and there was no mistaking the
earnestness of her tone, "you break touch with those you love
"I don't know about that," answered Barry quickly.
"Oh, yes you do. You are out of all this,--all this," she swept
her hand at the world around her, "this good old world, all your
joy and happiness, all you love. Oh, that's the worst of it; you
give up your love. I hate it!" she concluded with vehemence sudden
and fierce, as she shook her fist towards the stars.
"Give up your love?" said Barry. "Not I! Not one good, honest
affection do I mean to give up, nor shall I."
"Oh, nonsense! Don't be religious. Just be honest," said Paula,
in a low, intense voice. "Let me speak to you. Suppose I--I love
a man with all my soul and body--and body, mind you, and he goes
out, or goes in, as you say. No matter, he goes out of my life. I
lose him, he is not here. I cannot feel and respond to his love.
I cannot feel his strong arms about me. My God!" Her voice came
with increasing vehemence. "I want his arms. I want him as he is.
I want his body--I cannot love a ghost. No! no!" she added in a
low, hopeless voice. "When he goes out I lose him, and lose him as
mine forever. Oh, what do I care for your spirit love! The old
Greeks were right. They are shades--shades, mere shades beyond the
river. I don't want a shade. I want a man, a strong, warm-
hearted, brave man. Yes, a good man, a man with a soul. But a
MAN, not a SOUL. My God!" she moaned, "how terrible it all is!
And it came so near to us to-day. But I should not be saying this
to you, played out as you are. I am going to bed. Good-night."
She put out her hand and gripped his in warm, strong, muscular
fingers. "Thank God, yes God, if you like, you are still--still in
this outer circle,"--she broke into a laugh, but there was little
mirth in her laughter--"this good old outer circle, yet awhile."
"Yes," said Barry simply but very earnestly, "thank God. It is a
good world. But with all my soul I believe there is a better, and
all that is best in love and life we shall take with us. Good-
night," he added, "and thank you, at least for the will and the
attempt to save my life."
"Sleep well," she said.
"I hope so," he replied, "but I doubt it."
His doubts, it turned out, were justified, for soon after midnight
Mr. Howland was aroused by Harry Hobbs in a terror of excitement.
"Will you come to Mr. Dunbar, sir?" he cried. "I think he is
"Dying?" Mr. Howland was out of his cot immediately and at Barry's
side. He found him fighting for breath, his eyes starting from his
head, a look of infinite distress on his face.
"My dear boy, what is it? Hobbs says you are dying."
"That con-con-founded--fool--shouldn't have--called you. I forbade--
him," gasped Barry.
"But, my dear boy, what is the matter? Are you in pain?"
"No, no,--it's--nothing--only an old--friend come back--for a
call,--a brief one--let us--hope. It's only asthma. Looks bad--
feels worse--but really--not at all dangerous."
"What can be done, my boy?" asked Mr. Howland, greatly relieved, as
are most laymen, when the trouble can be named. It is upon the
terror inspired by the unknown that the medical profession lives.
"Tell Harry--to make--a hot drink," said Barry, but Harry had
already forestalled the request, and appeared with a steaming bowl.
"This will--help. Now--go to--bed, Mr. Howland. Do, please.--You
distress--me by remaining--there. Harry will--look after me.
Next morning Barry appeared at breakfast a little washed out in
appearance, but quite bright and announcing himself fit for
The incident, however, was a determining factor in changing the
party's plans. Already they were behind their time schedule, to
Mr. Cornwall Brand's disgust. The party was too large and too
heavily encumbered with impedimenta for swift travel. Besides, as
Paula said, "Why rush? Are we not doing the Peace River Country?
We are out for a good time and we are having it." Paula was not
interested in mines and oil. She did not announce just what
special interest was hers. She was "having a good time" and that
was reason enough for leisurely travel. In consequence their
provisions had run low.
It was decided to send forward a scouting party to the Hudson's Bay
Post some thirty miles further on to restock their commissariat.
Accordingly Knight and Fielding were despatched on this mission,
the rest of the party remaining in camp.
"A lazy day or two in camp is what we all need," said Mr. Howland.
"I confess I am quite used up myself, and therefore I know you must
all feel much the same."
On the fourth day the scouting party appeared.
"There's war!" cried Knight as he touched land. He flung out a
bundle of papers for Mr. Howland.
"War!" The word came back in tones as varied as those who uttered
"War!" said Mr. Howland. "Between whom?"
"Every one, pretty much," said Knight. "Germany, France, Russia,
Austria, Servia, Belgium, and Britain."
"Britain!" said Barry and Duff at the same moment.
"Britain," answered Knight solemnly.
The men stood stock still, looking at each other with awed faces.
"War!" again said Barry. "With Germany!" He turned abruptly away
from the group and said, "I am going."
"Going! Going where?" said Mr. Howland.
"To the war," said Barry quietly.
"To the war! You? A clergyman?" said Mr. Howland.
"You? You going?" cried Paula. At the pain in her voice her
father and Brand turned and looked at her. Disturbed by what he
saw, her father began an excited appeal to Barry.
"Why, my dear sir, it would surely be most unusual for a man like
you to go to war," he began, and for quite ten minutes he proceeded
to set forth in fluent and excited speech a number of reasons why
the idea of Barry's going to war was absurd and preposterous to
him. It must be confessed that Barry was the only one of the men
who appeared to give much heed to him. They seemed to be dazed by
the stupendous fact that had been announced to them, and to be
adjusting themselves to that fact.
When he had finished his lengthy and excited speech Brand took up
"Of course you don't think of going immediately," he said. "We
have this expedition in hand."
The men made no reply. Indeed, they hardly seemed to hear him.
"You don't mean to say," continued Brand with a touch of indignation
in his voice, addressing Duff, the recognised leader of the party,
"that you would break your engagement with this party, Mr. Duff?"
Duff glanced at him, then looked away in silence, studying the
horizon. The world was to him and to them all a new world within
the last few minutes.
His silence appeared to enrage Brand. He turned to Barry.
"Do you mean to tell me, sir, that you approve of this? Do you
consider it right and fair that these men should break their
engagement with us? We have gone to great expense, we have
extremely important interests at stake in this exploration."
Barry stood looking at him in silence, as if trying to take in
exactly what he meant, then in a low and awed tone he said:
"It is war! War with Germany!"
"We cannot help that," cried Brand. "What difference can this war
make to you here a hundred miles from civilisation? These men are
pledged to us."
"Their first pledge is to their country, sir," said Barry gravely.
"But why should you, a Canadian, take part in this war?" argued Mr.
Howland. "Surely this is England's war."
Then Barry appeared to awake as from a dream.
"Yes, it is England's war, it is Britain's war, and when Britain is
at war my country is at war, and when my country is at war I ought
to be there."
"God in heaven!" shouted Duff, striking him on the back, "you have
said it! My country is at war, and I must be there. As God hears
me, I am off to-day--now."
"Me, too!" said Knight with a shout.
"I'm going with you, sir," said little Harry Hobbs, ranging himself
"Count me in," said Tom Fielding quietly. "I have a wife and three
"My God!" gasped Duff. "My wife." His face went white. He had
not yet fully adjusted himself to the fact of war.
"Why, of course," said Mr. Howland, "you married men won't be
called upon. You must be reasonable. For instance you, Mr. Duff,
cannot leave your wife."
But Duff had recovered himself.
"My wife, sir? My wife would despise me if I stayed up here. Sir,
my wife will buckle on my belt and spurs and send me off to the
war," cried Duff in a voice that shook as he spoke.
With a single stride Barry was at his side, offering both his
"Thank God for men like you! And in my soul I believe the Empire
has millions of them."
"Does your Empire demand that you desert those you have pledged
yourself to?" enquired Brand in a sneering tone.
"Oh, Cornwall!" exclaimed Paula, "how can you?"
"Why, Brand," said Mr. Howland, "that is unworthy of you."
"We will see you into safety, sir," said Duff, swinging round upon
Brand, "either to the Hudson's Bay Company's post, where you can
get Indians, or back to Edmonton, but not one step further on this
expedition do I go."
"Nor I," said Knight.
"Nor I," said Fielding.
"Nor I," said Barry.
"Nor I," said Harry Hobbs.
"You are quite right, sir," said Mr. Howland, turning to Barry. "I
apologise to you, sir, to all of you Canadians. I am ashamed to
confess that I did not at first get the full meaning of this
terrific thing that has befallen your Empire. Were it the U.S.A.
that was in a war of this kind, hell itself would not keep me from
going to her aid. Nor you either, Brand. Yes, you are right. Go
to your war. God go with you."
He shook hands solemnly with them one by one. "I only wish to God
that my country were with you, too, in this thing," he said when he
had performed this function.
"Father," cried Paula, "do you think for one minute that Uncle Sam
won't be in this? You put it down," she said, swinging 'round upon
Barry, "where it will jump at you some day: We will be with you in
this scrap for all we are worth."
"And now for the march," said Barry, who seemed almost to assume
command. Then removing his hat and lifting high his hand, he said
in a voice thrilling with solemn reverence, "God grant victory to
the right! God save the king!"
Instinctively the men took off their hats and stood with bared and
bent heads, as if sharing in a solemn ritual. They stood with
millions upon millions of their kin in the old mother lands, and
scattered wide upon the seas, stood with many millions more of
peoples and nations, pledging to this same cause of right, life and
love and all they held dear, and with hearts open to that all-
searching eye, praying that same prayer, "God grant victory to the
right. Amen and amen. We ask no other."
Then they faced to their hundred miles' trek en route to the war.
THE MEN OF THE NORTH
"Fifty miles--not too bad, boy, not too bad for a one day's go.
We'll camp right here at the portage. How is it, Knight?"
"Good place, Duff, right on that point. Good wood, good landing.
Besides there's a deuce of a portage beyond, which we can do after
supper to-night. How do you feel, Barry?" asked Knight. "Hard
"Feeling fit, a little tired, of course, but good for another ten
miles," answered Barry.
"That's the stuff," replied Knight, looking at him keenly, "but,
see here, you must ease up on the carrying. You haven't quite got
over that ducking of yours."
"I'm fit enough," answered Barry, rather more curtly than his wont.
They brought the canoes up to the landing, and with the speed of
long practice unloaded them, and drew them upon the shore.
Knight approached Duff, and, pointing toward Barry, said quietly:
"I guess we'll have to ease him up a bit. That fight, you know,
took it out of him, and he always jumps for the biggest pack. We'd
better hold him back to-morrow a bit."
"Can't hold back any one," said Duff, with an oath. "We've got to
make it to-morrow night. There's the devil of a trip before us.
That big marsh portage is a heartbreaker, and there must be a dozen
or fifteen of them awaiting us, and we're going to get through--at
least, I am."
"All right," said Knight, with a quick flash of temper. "I'll stay
with you, only I thought we might ease him a bit."
"I'm telling you, we're going to get through," said Duff, with
"You needn't tell me, Duff," said Knight. "Keep your shirt on."
"On or off, wet or dry, sink or swim, we're going to make that
train to-morrow, Knight. That's all about it."
Then Knight let himself go.
"See here, Duff. Do you want to go on to-night? If you do, hell
and blazes, say the word and I'm with you."
His face was white as he spoke. He seized a tump-line, swung the
pack upon his head, and set off across the portage.
"Come on, boys," he yelled. "We're going through to-night."
"Oh, hold up, Knight!" said Duff. "What the hell's eating you?
We'll grub first anyway."
"No," said Knight. "The next rapid is a bad bit of water, and if
we're going through to-night, I want that bit behind me, before it
gets too dark. So come along!"
"Oh, cut it out, Knight," said Duff, in a gruff but conciliatory
tone. "We'll camp right here."
"It's all the same to me," said Knight, flinging his pack down.
"When you want to go on, say the word. You won't have to ask me
Duff looked over the six feet of bone and sinew and muscle of the
young rancher, made as if to answer, paused a moment, changed his
mind, and said more quietly:
"Don't be an ass, Knight. I'm not trying to hang your shirt on a
"You know damned well you can't," said Knight, who was still white
"Oh, come off," replied Duff. "Anyway, I don't see what young
Dunbar is to you. We must get through to-morrow night. The
overseas contingent is camping at Valcartier, according to these
papers and whatever happens I am going with that contingent."
Knight made no reply. He was a little ashamed of his temper. But
during the past two days he had chafed under the rasp of Duff's
tongue and his overbearing manner. He resented too his total
disregard of Barry's weariness, for in spite of his sheer grit, the
pace was wearing the boy down.
"We ought to reach the railroad by six to-morrow," said Duff,
renewing the conversation, and anxious to appease his comrade.
"There's a late train, but if we catch the six we shall make home
in good time. Hello, what's this coming?"
At his words they all turned and looked in the direction in which
Down a stream, which at this point came tumbling into theirs in a
dangerous looking rapid, came a canoe with a man in the centre
guiding it as only an expert could.
"By Jove! He can't make that drop," said Knight, walking down
toward the landing.
They all stood watching the canoe which, at the moment, hung poised
upon the brink of the rapid like a bird for flight. Even as Knight
spoke the canoe entered the first smooth pitch at the top. Two
long, swallow-like sweeps, then she plunged into the foam, to appear
a moment later fighting her way through the mass of crowding,
crested waves, which, like white-fanged wolves upon a doe, seemed to
be hurling themselves upon her, intent upon bearing her down to
"By the living, jumping Jemima!" said Fielding, in an awe-stricken
tone, "she's gone!"
"She's through!" cried Knight.
"Great Jehoshaphat!" said Fielding. "He's a bird!"
With a flip or two of his paddle, the stranger shot his canoe
across the stream, and floated quietly to the landing.
Barry ran down to meet him.
"I say, that was beautifully done," he cried, taking the nose of
the canoe while the man stepped ashore and stood a moment looking
back at the water.
"A leetle more to the left would have been better, I think. She
took some water," he remarked in a slow voice, as if to himself.
He was a strange-looking creature. He might have stepped out of
one of Fenimore Cooper's novels. Indeed, as Barry's eyes travelled
up and down his long, bony, stooping, slouching figure, his mind
leaped at once to the Pathfinder.
"Come far?" asked Duff, approaching the stranger.
"Quite a bit," he answered, in a quiet, courteous voice, pausing a
moment in his work.
"Going out?" enquired Duff.
"Not yet," he said. "Going up the country first to The Post."
"Ah, we have just come down from there," said Duff. "We started
yesterday morning," he added, evidently hoping to surprise the man.
"Yes," he answered in a quiet tone of approval. "Nice little run!
Nice little run! Bit of a hurry, I guess," he ventured
"You bet your life, we just are. This damned war makes a man feel
like as if the devil was after him," said Duff.
"War!" The man looked blankly at him. "Who's fightin'?"
"Why, haven't you heard? It's been going on for a month. We heard
only three days ago as we were going further up the country. It
knocked our plans endways, and here we are chasing ourselves to get
"War!" said the man again. "Who's fightin'? Uncle Sam after them
"No. Mexicans, hell!" exclaimed Duff. "Germany and Britain."
"Britain!" The slouching shoulders lost their droop. "Britain!"
he said, straightening himself up. "What's she been doin' to
"What's Germany been doing to her, and to Belgium, and to Servia,
and to France?" answered Duff, in a wrathful voice. "She's been
raising hell all around. You haven't seen the papers, eh? I have
them all here."
The stranger seemed dazed by the news. He made no reply, but
getting out his frying-pan and tea-pail, his only utensils, he set
about preparing his evening meal.
"I say," said Duff, "won't you eat with us? We're just about
ready. We'll be glad to have you."
The man hesitated a perceptible moment. In the wilds men do not
always accept invitations to eat. Food is sometimes worth more
than its weight in gold.
"I guess I will, if you've lots of stuff," he said at length.
"We've lots of grub, and we expect to be home by tomorrow night
anyway, if things go all right. You are very welcome."
The man laid down his frying-pan and tea-pail, and walked with Duff
toward his camp.
"Are you goin'?" he enquired.
"To the war. Guess some of our Canadian boys will be goin' likely,
"Going," cried Duff. "You bet your life I'm going. But, come on.
We'll talk as we eat. And we can't stay long, either."
Duff introduced the party.
"My name's McCuaig," said the stranger.
"Scotch, I guess?" enquired Duff.
"My father came out with The Company. I was born up north. Never
been much out, but I read the papers," he added quickly, as if to
correct any misapprehension as to his knowledge of the world and
its affairs. "My father always got the Times and the Spectator,
and I've continued the habit."
"Any one who reads the Times and the Spectator," said Barry, "can
claim to be a fairly well-read man. My father takes the Spectator,
As they sat down to supper, he noticed that McCuaig took off his
old grey felt and crossed himself before beginning toast.
As a matter of courtesy, Barry had always been asked to say grace
before meals while with the Howland party. This custom, however,
had been discontinued upon this trip. They had no time for meals.
They had "just grabbed their grub and run," as Harry Hobbs said.
While they ate, Duff kept a full tide of conversation going in
regard to the causes of the war and its progress, as reported in
the papers. Barry noticed that McCuaig's comments, though few,
revealed a unique knowledge of European political affairs during
the last quarter of a century. He noticed too that his manners at
the table were those of a gentleman.
After supper they packed their stuff over the long portage, leaving
their tent and sleeping gear, with their food, however, to be taken
in the morning. For a long time they sat over the fire, Barry
reading, for McCuaig's benefit, the newspaper accounts of the
Belgian atrocities, the story of the smashing drive of the German
hosts, and the retreat of the British army from Mons.
"What," exclaimed McCuaig, "the British soldiers goin' back!
Runnin' away from them Germans!"
"Well, the Germans are only about ten to one, not only in men but
in guns, and in this war it's guns that count. Guns can wipe out
an army of heroes as easily as an army of cowards," said Duff.
"And them women and children," said McCuaig. "Are they killing
"You're just right, they are," replied Duff, "and will till we stop
McCuaig's eyes were glowing with a deep inner light. They were
wonderful eyes, quick, darting, straight-looking and fearless, the
eyes of a man who owes his life to his vigilance and his courage.
Before turning in for the night, Barry went to the river's edge,
and stood looking up at the stars holding their steadfast watch
over the turbulent and tossing waters below.
"Quiet, ain't they?" said a voice at his shoulder.
"Why, you startled me, Mr. McCuaig; I never heard you step."
McCuaig laughed his quiet laugh.
"Got to move quietly in this country," he said, "if you are going
to keep alive."
A moment or so he stood by Barry's side, looking up with him at the
"No fuss, up there," he said, interpreting Barry's mood and
attitude. "Not like that there pitchin', tossin', threatenin'
"No," said Barry, "but though they look quiet, I suppose if we
could really see, there is a most terrific whirling of millions of
stars up there, going at the rate of thousands of miles a minute."
"Millions of 'em, and all whirlin' about," said McCuaig in an awe-
stricken voice. "It's a wonder they don't hit."
"They don't hit because they each keep their own orbit," said
Barry, "and they obey the laws of their existence."
"Orbut," enquired McCuaig. "What's that?"
"The trail that each star follows," said Barry.
"I see," said McCuaig, "each one keeps its own trail, its own
orbut, and so there's peace up there. And I guess there'd be peace
down here if folks did the same thing. It's when a man gets out of
his own orbut and into another fellow's that the scrap begins. I
guess that's where Germany's got wrong."
"Something like that," replied Barry.
"And sometimes," continued McCuaig, his eyes upon the stars, "when
a little one comes up against a big one, he gets busted, eh?"
"And a big one, when he comes up against a bigger one gets pretty
badly jarred, eh?"
"I suppose so," said Barry.
"That's what's goin' to happen to Germany," said McCuaig.
"Germany's a very powerful nation," said Barry. "The most powerful
military nation in the world."
"What!" said McCuaig. "Bigger than Britain?"
"Britain has two or three hundred thousand men in her army; Germany
has seven millions or more, with seventy millions of people behind
them, organised for war. Of course, Britain has her navy, but then
Germany has the next biggest in the world. Oh, it's going to be a
"I say," said McCuaig, putting his hand on Barry's shoulder. "You
don't think it will bother us any to lick her?"
"It will be the most terrible of all Britain's wars," replied
Barry. "It will take every ounce of Britain's strength."
"You don't tell me!" exclaimed McCuaig, as if struck by an entirely
new idea. "Say, are you really anxious, young man?"
"I am terribly anxious," replied Barry. "I know Germany a little.
I spent a year there. She is a mighty nation, and she is ready for
"She is, eh!" replied McCuaig thoughtfully. He wandered off to the
fire without further word, where, rolling himself in his blanket
and scorning the place in the tent offered him by Duff, he made
himself comfortable for the night.
At the break of day Duff was awakened by the smell of something
frying. Over the fire bent McCuaig, busy preparing a breakfast of
tea, bacon and bannocks, together with thick slices of fat pork.
Breakfast was eaten in haste. The day's work was before them, and
there was no time for talk. In a very few minutes they stood ready
for their trip across the portage.
With them stood McCuaig. His blanket roll containing his grub,
with frying-pan and tea-pail attached, lay at his feet; his rifle
For a moment or two he stood looking back up the stream by which,
last night, he had come. Then he began tying his paddles to the
canoe thwarts in preparation for packing it across the portage.
As he was tying on the second paddle, Duff's eye fell on him.
"What's up, McCuaig?" he said. "Aren't you going up to the Post?"
"No, I guess I ain't goin' up no more," replied McCuaig slowly.
"What do you mean? You aren't going back home?"
"No. My old shack will do without me for a while, I guess.--Say,"
he continued, facing around upon Duff and looking him squarely in
the face, "this young chap says"--putting his hand upon Barry's
shoulder--"Britain is going to have a hell of a time licking
Germany back into her own orbut. Them papers said last night that
Canada was going in strong. Do you think she could use a fellow
A silence fell upon the group of men.
"What! Do you mean it, McCuaig?" said Duff at length.
The man turned his thin, eagle face toward the speaker, a light in
"Why, ain't you goin'? Ain't every one goin' that can? If a
fellow stood on one side while his country was fightin', where
would he live when it's all over? He read out of the papers that
them Germans were shootin' women and children. So--" his face
began to work, "am I goin' to stand by and ask some one else to
make 'em quit? No, by God!"
The men stood watching his face, curiously twisted and quivering.
Then without a word Duff seized his pack, and swung into the trail,
every man following him in his order. Without pausing, except for
a brief half hour at noon, and another later in the day for eating,
they pressed the trail, running what rapids they could and
portaging the others, until in the early evening they saw, far
away, a dirty blur on the skyline.
"Hurrah!" yelled Fielding. "Good old firebus, waiting for us."
"Somebody run ahead and hold her," said Duff.
Barry flung his pack down and started away.
"Come back here, Barry," cried Knight. "You're not fit. You're
"That's right, too," said McCuaig. "I guess I'll go."
And off he set with the long, shuffling, tireless trot with which,
for a hundred years, the "runners of the woods" have packed their
loads and tracked their game in the wilds of northwestern Canada.
BARRICADES AND BAYONETS
The city of Edmonton was in an uproar, its streets thronged with
excited men, ranchers and cowboys from the ranches, lumberjacks
from the foothill camps, men from the mines, trappers with lean,
hard faces, in weird garb, from the north.
The news from the front was ominous. Belgium was a smoking waste.
Her skies were black with the burning of her towns, villages and
homesteads, her soil red with the blood of her old men, her women
and children. The French armies, driven back in rout from the
Belgian frontier, were being pounded to death by the German hordes.
Fortresses hitherto considered impregnable were tumbling like
ninepins before the terrible smashing of Austrian and German
sixteen-inch guns. Already von Kluck with his four hundred
thousand of conquering warriors was at the gates of Paris.
Most ominous of all, the British army, that gallant, little
sacrificial army, of a scant seventy-five thousand men, holding
like a bulldog to the flank of von Bulow's mighty army, fifty times
as strong, threatened by von Kluck on the left flank and by von
Housen on the right, was slowing down the German advance, but was
itself being slowly ground into the bloody dust of the northern and
eastern roads of Northern and Eastern France.
Black days these were for the men of British blood. Was the world
to see something new in war? Were Germans to overcome men of the
race of Nelson, and Wellington and Colin Campbell?
At home, hundreds of thousands were battering at the recruiting
offices. In the Dominions of the Empire overseas it was the same.
In Canada a hundred thousand men were demanding a place in the
first Canadian contingent of thirty-five thousand, now almost ready
to sail. General Sam at Ottawa was being snowed under by entreating,
insistent, cajoling, threatening telegrams. Already northern
Alberta had sent two thousand men. The rumour in Edmonton ran that
there were only a few places left to be filled in the north Alberta
quota. For these few places hundreds of men were fighting in the
Alighting from their train, Duff and his men stood amazed, aghast,
gazing upon the scene before them. Duff climbed a wagon wheel and
surveyed the crowd packing the street in front of the bulletin
"No use, this way, boys. We'll have to go around. Come on."
They went on. Up side streets and lanes, through back yards and
shops they went until at length they emerged within a hundred yards
of the recruiting office.
Duff called his men about him.
"Boys, we'll have to bluff them," he said. "You're a party of
recruits that Col. Kavanagh expects. You've been sent for. I'm
bringing you in under orders. Look as much like soldiers as you
can, and bore in like hell. Come on!"
They began to bore. At once there was an uproar, punctuated with
vociferous and varied profanity.
Duff proved himself an effective leader.
"Here, let me pass," he shouted into the backs of men's heads.
"I'm on duty here. I must get through to Colonel Kavanagh. Keep
up there, men; keep your line! Stand back, please! Make way!"
His huge bulk, distorted face and his loud and authoritative voice
startled men into temporary submission, and before they could
recover themselves he and his little company of hard-boring men
Twenty-five yards from the recruiting office a side rush of the
crowd caught them.
"They've smashed the barricades," a boy from a telegraph pole
Duff and his men fought to hold their places, but they became
conscious of a steady pressure backwards.
"What's doing now, boy?" shouted Duff to the urchin clinging to the
"The fusileers--they are sticking their bayonets into them."
Before the line of bayonets the crowd retreated slowly, but Duff
and his company held their ground, allowing the crowd to ebb past
them, until they found themselves against the line of bayonets.
"Let me through here, sergeant, with my party," said Duff. "I'm
under orders of Colonel Kavanagh."
The sergeant, an old British army man, looked them over.
"Have you an order, sir--a written order, I mean?"
"No," said Duff. "I haven't, but the colonel expects us. He is
waiting for me now."
"Sorry, sir," replied the sergeant, "my orders are to let no one
through without a written pass."
Duff argued, stormed, threatened, swore; but to no purpose. The
N. C. O. knew his job.
"Send a note in," suggested Barry in Duff's ear.
"Good idea," replied Duff, and wrote hurriedly.
"Here, take this through to your colonel," he said, passing the
note to the sergeant.
Almost immediately Colonel Kavanagh came out and greeted Duff
"Where in this wide creation have you been, Duff?" he exclaimed.
"I've wanted you terribly."
"Here I am now, then," answered Duff. "Six of us. We're going
"It can't be done," said the colonel. "I have only twenty places
left; every one promised ten times over."
"That makes it easy, Kavanagh. You can give six of them to us."
"Duff, it simply can't be done. You know I'd give it to you if I
could. I've wires from Ottawa backing up a hundred applicants,
actually ordering me to put them on. No! It's no use," continued
the colonel, holding up his hand. "Look here, I'll give you a
pointer. We have got word to-day that there's to be a second
contingent. Neil Fraser is out there in your district, Wapiti,
raising a company of two hundred and fifty men. We have stripped
that country bare already, so he's up against it. He wants Wapiti
men, he says. They are no better than any other, but he thinks
they are. You get out there to-night, Duff, and get in on that
thing. You will get a commission, too. Now hike! Hike! Go!
Honest to God, Duff, I want you with my battalion, and if I can
work it afterwards, I'll get you exchanged, but your only chance
now is Wapiti. Go, for God's sake, go quick!"
"What do you say, boys?" asked Duff, wheeling upon his men.
"I say, go!" said Knight.
In this decision they all agreed.
"Go it is," said Duff. "Right about turn. Good luck, Kavanagh,
damn you. I see you have got a good sergeant there."
"Who? McDowell? None better. You couldn't beat him, eh?" said
the colonel with a grin.
The sergeant stood at attention, with a wooden face.
"He's the kind of man they want in the front lines," said Duff.
"The devil himself couldn't break through where he is."
"That's why I have him. Good luck. Good-bye!"
Throughout the night they marched, now and then receiving a lift
from a ranch wagon, and in the grey of the morning, weary, hungry,
but resolute for a place in the Wapiti company, they made the
Early as it was, Barry found his father astir, with breakfast in
"Hello, boy!" cried his father running to him with outstretched
"Hello, dad!" answered Barry. His father threw a searching glance
over his son's face as he shook his hand warmly.
"Not a word, Barry, until you eat. Not a word. Go get ready for
your bath. I'll have it for you in a minute. No, not one word.
Quick. March. That is the only word these days. As you eat I'll
give you the news."
Resolutely he refused to talk until he saw his son begin upon his
breakfast. Then he poured forth a stream of news. The whole
country was aflame with war enthusiasm. Alberta had offered half a
million bushels of oats for the imperial army, and a thousand
horses or more. The Calgary district had recruited two thousand
men, the Edmonton district as many more. All over Canada, from
Vancouver to Halifax, it was the same.
From the Wapiti district twenty-six ranchers, furnishing their own
horses, had already gone. Ewen Innes was in Edmonton. His brother
Malcolm was in uniform, too, and his young brother Jim was keen to
enlist. Neil Fraser was busy raising a company of Wapiti men.
Young Pickles and McCann had joined up as buglers.
And so the stream flowed, Barry listening with grave face but
making no response.
"And I'm glad you're back, my boy. I'm glad you're back," said his
father, clapping him on the shoulder.
The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. They were having each
his own thoughts, and for the first time in their life together,
they kept their thoughts to themselves.
"You're going to your office, Dad," said Barry, when they had
cleared away, and set the house in order.
"No, the office is closed, and will be for some time, I imagine.
I'm busy with Neil Fraser. I'm acting paymaster, quartermaster,
recruiting sergeant, and half a dozen other things."
"I'll go down with you," said Barry, as his father rose to go.
His father came back to him, put his hands on his shoulders, and
"Barry, I want you to go to bed."
"Nonsense, dad. I'm all right. I'm going downtown with you."
"Barry," said his father, "we have hard times before us, and you
must be fit. I ask you to go to bed and sleep there this forenoon.
You're half asleep now. This afternoon we shall face up to our
His father's voice was quietly authoritative and Barry yielded.
"All right, dad. I'll do as you say, and this afternoon--well,
At the noonday meal they were conscious of a mutual restraint. For
the first time in their lives they were not opening to each other
their innermost souls. The experience was as distressing as it was
unusual. The father, as if in dread of silence, was obviously
exerting himself to keep a stream of talk flowing. Barry was
listening with a face very grave and very unlike the bright and
buoyant face he usually carried. They avoided each other's eyes,
and paid little heed to their food.
At length Barry pushed back his chair.
"Will you excuse me, dad," he said. "I think I shall step out a
moment into the garden."
"Do, Barry," said his father, in obvious relief. "You are fagged
out, my boy."
"Thanks, dad. I am a bit played out."
"And take it easy this afternoon, Barry. To-night you will tell me
about your trip, and--and--we'll have a talk."
"Good old dad!" said Barry. "You do understand a chap. See you
later, then," he called back as he passed through the door.
His father sat gazing before him for some moments with a deep
shadow on his face.
"There is something wrong with that boy," he said to himself. "I
wish I knew what it was."
He set his house in order, moving heavily as if a sudden weight of
years had fallen upon his shoulders, and took his way slowly down
"I wonder what it is," he mused, refusing to give form to a
horrible thought that hovered like a spectre about the windows of
The first glance at his son's face at the time of the evening meal
made his heart sing within him.
"He's all right again! He's all right!" he said to himself
"Hello, dad," cried Barry, as his father entered the room.
"Supper's just ready. How do you feel, eh?"
"Better, my boy--first rate, I mean. I'm properly hungry. You're
rested, I can see."
"I'm all right, dad! I'm all right!" cried Barry, in his old
cheery way. "Dad, I want to apologise to you. I wasn't myself to-
day, but now I'm all right again. Dad, I've joined up. I'm a
soldier now," he said with a smile on his face, but with anxious
eyes turned on his father.
"Joined up!" echoed his father. "Barry, you have enlisted! Thank
God, my boy. I feared--I thought-- No, damned if I did!" he
added, with such an unusual burst of passion that Barry could only
gaze at him with astonishment.
"Forgive me, my boy," he said, coming forward with outstretched
hand. "For a moment I confess I thought--" Again he paused,
apparently unable to continue.
"You thought, dad," cried Barry, "and--forgive me, dad--I thought
too. I ought to have known you better."
"And I, you, my son."
They shook hands with each other in an ecstasy of jubilation.
"My God, I'm glad that's through," said the older man. "We were
both fools, Barry, but thank God that horror is past. Now tell me
all about everything--your trip, your plans. Let's have a good
talk as we always do."
"Come on then, dad," cried Barry. "Let's have an eat first. By
Jove, I feel a thousand years younger. I go to the M. O. to-morrow
for an examination."
"He is quite unusually severe in his interpretation of the
regulations, I understand," said his father. "He is turning men
down right and left. He knows, of course, that there are plenty to
choose from. But there is no fear of your fitness, Barry."
"Not much," said Barry, with a gay laugh.
Never had they spent a happier evening together. True, the spectre
of war would thrust itself upon them, but they faced it as men--