Part 4 out of 8
His last sentence struck Barry to the heart. It recalled his own
sermon, spoken in Edmonton to his father's battalion. Immediately
he was on his feet, and without preface or apology, reproduced as
far as he was able the M. O.'s speech of the previous night, and
that without expurgation.
There was but little discussion. There was but one opinion. It
was resolved to call a joint meeting of the chaplains and medical
officers to decide upon a course of action.
As Barry was leaving the meeting, the senior chaplain, an old
Anglican clergyman, with a saintly face and a smile that set one's
tenderest emotions astir, came to him, and putting his hand
affectionately upon his shoulder, said:
"And how is your work going, my dear fellow?"
It was to Barry as if his father's hand were upon his shoulder, and
before he was aware he was pouring out the miserable story of his
own sad failure as a chaplain.
"Poor boy! Poor boy!" the old gentleman kept saying. "I know how
you feel. Just so, just so!"
When Barry had finished relieving his heart of the burden that had
so long lain upon it, the old gentleman took him by the hand and
"My dear fellow, remember they are far from home. These boys need
their mothers. They sorely need their mothers! And, my boy, they
need God. And they need you. Good-bye!"
Barry came away with a warm feeling in his heart, and in it a new
purpose and resolve. No longer would he be a policeman to his men.
He would try to forget their faults, and to remember only how
sorely they needed their mothers and their God, and that they
needed him, too.
He found the camp thrilling with great news, glorious news. The
day so long awaited had come. The battalion was under orders for
France. At that very moment there was an officers' meeting in the
As Barry entered the room, the O. C. was closing his speech.
Barry was immediately conscious of a new tone, a new spirit, in the
colonel's words. He spoke with a new sense of responsibility, and
what more than anything else arrested Barry's attention, with a new
sense of brotherhood toward his officers.
"In closing what I have to say, gentlemen, let me make a confession.
I am not satisfied with the battalion, nor with my officers. I am
not satisfied with myself. I remember being indignant at the report
sent in by the inspecting officer concerning this battalion. I
thought he was unfair and unduly severe. I believe I said so.
Gentlemen, I was wrong. Since that time I have seen work in some
regiments of the Imperial Service, and especially, I have seen the
work on the front line. I think I know now what discipline means.
Discipline, gentlemen, is the thing that saves an army from disaster.
Some things we must cut out absolutely. Whatever unfits for service
must go. I saw a soldier, a Canadian soldier, shot at the front for
being intoxicated. I pray God, I may never see the like again. At
this point, I wish to express my appreciation of the work of our
chaplain, who I am glad to see has just come in. He has stood for
the right thing among us, and has materially helped in the
discipline and efficiency of this battalion. Gentlemen, you have
your orders. Let there be no failure. Obedience is demanded, not
excuses. Gentlemen, carry on!"
Barry hurried away to his hut. The words of his colonel had lifted
him out of his despair. He had not then so desperately failed.
His colonel had found something in him to approve. And France was
before him! There was still a chance for service. The boys would
need him there.
"France, sunny France!" The tone carried concentrated bitterness
and disgust. "One cursed fraud after another in this war."
"Cheer up!" said Barry. "There's worse to come--perhaps better.
This rain is beastly, but the clouds will pass, and the sun will
shine again, for in spite of the rain this IS 'sunny France.'
There's a little homily for you," said Barry, "and for myself as
well, for I assure you this combination of mal de mer and sleet
makes one feel rotten."
"Everything is rotten," grumbled Duff, gazing gloomily through the
drizzling rain at the rugged outline of wharves that marked the
"Look at this," cried Duff, sweeping his hand toward the deck.
"You would think this stuff was shot out of the blower of a
threshing machine--soldier's baggage, kits, quartermaster's
stores--and this is a military organisation. Good Lord!"
"Lieutenant Duff! Is Lieutenant Duff here?" It was the O. C.'s
"Yes, sir," said Duff, going forward and saluting.
"Mr. Duff, I wish you to take charge of the Transport for the
present. Lieutenant Bonner is quite useless--helpless, I mean.
You will find Sergeant Mackay a reliable man. Sorry I couldn't
give you longer notice. I think, however, you are the man for the
"I'll do my best, sir," said Duff, saluting, as the O. C. turned
"What did I tell you, Duff?" said Barry. "You certainly are in for
it, and you have my sympathy."
"Sympathy! Don't you worry about me," said Duff. "This is just
the kind of thing I like. I haven't run a gang of navvies in the
Crow's Nest Pass for nothing. You watch my smoke. But, one word,
Pilot! When you see me bearing down, full steam ahead, give me
room! I'll make this go or bust something." Then in a burst of
confidence, he took Barry by the arm, and added in a low voice:
"And if I live, Pilot, I'll be running something in this war bigger
than the Transport of a battalion before I'm done."
Barry let his eyes run over the powerful figure, the rugged,
passionate face, lit up now with gleaming eyes, and said:
"I believe you, Duff. Meantime, I'll watch your smoke."
"Do!" replied Duff with superb self-confidence. And it was worth
while during the next hour to watch Duff evolve order out of chaos.
First of all he put into his men and into his sergeant the fear of
death. But he did more than that. He breathed into them something
of his own spirit of invincible determination. He had them
springing at his snappy orders with an eagerness that was in itself
the larger half of obedience, and as they obeyed they became
conscious that they were working under the direction of a brain
that had a perfected plan of action, and that held its details
firmly in its grasp.
Not only did Duff show himself a master of organisation and
control, but in a critical moment he himself leaped into the
breach, and did the thing that balked his men. Did a heavy
transport wagon jamb at the gangway, holding up the traffic, with a
spring, Duff was at the wheel. A heave of his mighty shoulders,
and the wagon went roaring down the gangway. Did a horse, stupid
with terror, from its unusual surroundings, balk, Duff had a
"twitch" on its upper lip, and before it knew what awful thing had
gripped it, the horse was lifted clear out of its tracks, and was
on its way to the dock.
Before he had cleared the ship, Duff had a circle of admirers about
him, gazing as if at a circus.
"An energetic officer you have there," said the brass hat standing
beside the colonel.
"A new man. This is his first time on the transport," replied the
"Quite remarkable! Quite remarkable!" exclaimed the brass hat.
"That unloading must have been done in record time, and in spite of
quite unusual conditions."
The boat being clear and the loads made up, Duff approached the
"All ready, sir," he announced. "Shall we move off? I should like
to get a start. The roads will be almost impassable, I'm afraid."
"Do you know the route?" asked the Commanding Officer.
"Yes, sir, I have it here."
"All right, go ahead, Duff. A mighty good piece of work you have
"Thank you, sir," said Duff, saluting and turning away.
"Move off, there," he shouted to the leading team.
The driver started the team but they slipped, plunged and fell
heavily. Duff was at their heads before any other man could move.
"Get hold here, men," he yelled. "Take hold of that horse. What
are you afraid of?" he cried to a groom who was gingerly approaching
the struggling animal. "Now then, all together!"
When he had the team on their feet again, he said to the grooms
standing at their heads, "Jump up on the horses' backs; that will
help the them to hold their footing."
There was some slight hesitation on the part of the grooms.
"Come on!" he roared, and striding to the horse nearest him, he
flung himself upon its back.
A groom mounted the other, and once more a start was made, but they
had not gone more than a few steps, when the groom's horse fell
heavily, and rolled over on its side, pinning the unfortunate man
There was a shriek of agony. In an instant Duff was off his horse
and at the head of the fallen animal.
"Medical officer here!" he shouted. "Now then, two of you men.
One of you pull out that man while we lift."
The horse's head and shoulders were lifted clear, and the injured
man was pulled out of danger.
"Take him out of the way, please, doctor," said Duff, to the M. O.,
who was examining the groom.
His sergeant literally sprang to his side.
"Get me a dozen bags," he said.
"Bags, sir? I don't know where--"
"Bags," repeated Duff savagely. "Canvas, anything to wrap around
these horses' feet."
The sergeant without further words plunged into the darkness,
returning almost immediately with half a dozen bags.
"Thanks, sergeant; that's the way to move. Now get some more!"
Under Duff's directions the bags were tied about the feet of the
horses, thus enabling them to hold their footing, and the transport
moved off in the darkness.
Returning from the disposing of the injured man, the M. O. found
Barry shivering with the cold, and weak from his recent attack of
"There will be no end of a sick parade to-morrow morning, and
you'll be one of them," grumbled the M. O. "If they don't move
them out of here soon they'll take them away in ambulances. There
are a hundred men at this moment fit to go to hospital, but the
O. C. won't hear of it."
"Doc, they ought to have something hot. The kitchens are left
behind, I understand. Let me have a couple of your men, and let me
see what I can do."
"It's no use, I've tried all the hotels about here. They're full
"No harm trying, doc," said Barry, and off he went.
But he found the hotels full up, as the doctor had said. After
much inquiry, he found his way to the Y. M. C. A. A cheerful but
sleepy secretary, half dead with the fatigue of a heavy day
ministering to soldiers "going up the line," could offer him no
help at all.
"Do you mean to say that there is no place in this town," said
Barry desperately, "where a sick man can get a dish of coffee?"
"Sick man!" cried the secretary. "Why, certainly! Why not try the
R. A. M. C.? They've a hospital half a mile up the street. They
will certainly help you out. I'll come with you."
"No, you don't," said Barry. "You go back to bed. I'll find the
Half a mile up the street, as the secretary had said, Barry came
upon the flaring lantern of the R. A. M. C., at the entrance to a
huge warehouse, the gate of which stood wide open.
Entering the courtyard, Barry found a group of men about a blazing
"May I see the officer in charge?" he asked, approaching the group.
The men glanced at his rank badges.
"Yes, sir," said a sergeant, clicking his heels smartly. "Can I do
anything for you, sir?"
"Thank you," said Barry, and told him his wants.
"We have plenty of biscuits," said the sergeant, "and coffee, too.
You are welcome to all you can carry, but I don't see how we can do
any more for you. But would you like to see the officer in charge,
"Thank you," said Barry, and together they passed into another
But the officer was engaged elsewhere. While they were discussing
the matter, a door opened, and a young girl dressed in the uniform
of a V. A. D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) appeared.
"What is it, sergeant?" she inquired, in a soft but rather tired
The sergeant explained, while she listened with mild interest.
Then Barry took up the tale, and proceeded to dilate upon the
wretched condition of his comrades, out in the icy rain. But his
story moved the V. A. D. not at all. She had seen too much of the
real misery and horrors of war. Barry began to feel discouraged,
and indeed a little ashamed of himself.
"You see, we have just come over," he said in an apologetic tone,
"and we don't know much about war yet."
"You are Canadians?" cried the girl, a new interest dawning in her
eyes. As she came into the light, Barry noticed that they were
brown, and that they were very lustrous.
"I love the Canadians," she exclaimed. "My brother was a liaison
artillery officer at Ypres; with them, at the time of the gas, you
know. He liked them immensely." Her voice was soft and sad.
Unconsciously Barry let his eyes fall to the black band on her arm.
"He was with the Canadians, too, when he was killed at Armentieres,
three months ago."
"Killed!" exclaimed Barry. "Oh, I am so sorry for you."
"I had two brothers," she went on, in her gentle even tone. "One
was killed at Landrecies, on the retreat from Mons, you know."
"No," said Barry, "I'm afraid I don't know about it. Tell me!"
"It was a great fight," said the girl. "Oh, a splendid fight!" A
ring came into her voice and a little colour into her cheek. "They
tried to rush our men, but they couldn't. My oldest brother was
there in charge of a machine gun section. The machine guns did
wonderful work. The colonel came to tell us about it. He said it
was very fine." There was no sign of tears in her eyes, nor tremor
in her voice, only tenderness and pride.
"And your mother is alone now?" inquired Barry.
"Oh, we gave up our house to the government for a hospital. You
see, father was in munitions. He's too old for active service, and
mother is matron in the hospital. She was very unwilling that I
should come over here. She said I was far too young, but of course
that's quite nonsense. So you see, we are all in it."
"It is perfectly amazing," said Barry. "You British women are
The brown eyes opened a little wider.
"Wonderful? Why, what else could we do? But the Canadians! I
think they're wonderful, coming all this way to fight."
"I can't see that," said Barry. "That's what that old naval boy at
Devonport said, but I can't see that it's anything wonderful that
we should fight for our Empire."
"Devonport! A naval officer!" The girl lost her calm. She became
excited. "What was his name?"
"I have his card here," said Barry, taking out his pocket book and
handing her the card.
"My uncle!" she cried. "Why, how perfectly splendid!" offering
Barry her hand. "Why, we're really introduced. Then you're the
man that Uncle Howard--" She stopped abruptly, a flush on her
cheek. Then she turned to the N. C. O. "Yes, sergeant, that will
do," as the man brought half a dozen large biscuit cans and as many
large bottles of prepared coffee.
As Barry's eyes fell upon the biscuit cans an idea came to him.
"Will these cans hold water?" he inquired.
"Yes, sir," replied the sergeant.
"Then, we're fixed," cried Barry, in high delight. "This is
"What do you mean?" asked the girl.
"We'll dump the biscuits, and boil the coffee in the cans. I
haven't camped on the Athabasca for nothing. Now we're all right
and I suppose we must go."
The V. A. D. hesitated a moment, then she took the sergeant to one
side, and entered into earnest and persuasive talk with him.
"It's against regulations, miss," Barry heard him say, "and
besides, you know, we're expecting a hospital train any minute, and
every car will be needed."
"Then I'll take my own car," she said. "It's all ready and has the
chains on, sergeant, I think."
"Yes, it's quite ready, but you will get me into trouble, miss."
"Then, I'll get you out again. Load those things in, while I run
and change-- I'm going to drive you out to your camp," she said to
Barry as she hurried away.
The sergeant shook his head as he looked after her.
"She's a thoroughbred, sir," he said. "We jump when she asks us
for anything. She's a real blooded one; not like some, sir--like
some of them fullrigged ones. They keep 'er 'oppin'."
"Fullrigged ones?" inquired Barry.
"Them nurses, I mean, sir. They loves to 'awe them--them young
'Vaddies,' as we call them--V. A. D., you know, sir. They keeps
'em a 'oppin' proper--scrubbin' floors, runnin' messages, but Miss
Vincent, she mostly drives a car."
While the sergeant was dilating upon the virtues and excellences of
the young V. A. D., his men ran out her car, and packed into it the
biscuit tins and coffee. By the time the sergeant was ready she
was back, dressed in a chauffeur's uniform.
Barry had thought her charming in her V. A. D. dress, but in her
uniform she was bewitching. He noticed that her hair clustered in
tiny ringlets about her natty little cap, in quite a maddening way.
One vagrant curl over her ear had a particular fascination for his
eyes. He felt it ought to be tucked in just a shade. He was
conscious of an almost irresistible desire to do the tucking in.
What would happen if--
"Well, are you ready?" inquired the girl in a quick, businesslike
"What? Oh, yes," said Barry, recalled to the business of the
During the drive the girl gave her whole attention to her wheel, as
indeed was necessary, for the road was dangerously slippery, and
she drove without lights through the black night. Barry kept up an
endless stream of talk, set going by her command, as she took her
place at the wheel. "Now tell me about Canada. I can listen, but
I can't talk."
In the full tide of his most eloquent passages, Barry found himself
growing incoherent at times, for his mind was in a state of
oscillation between the wonderful and lustrous qualities of the
brown eyes that he remembered flashing upon him in the light of the
fire, and that maddening little curl over the girl's ear.
In an unbelievably short time, so it seemed to him, they came upon
the rear of a marching column.
"These are your men, I fancy," she said, "and this will be your
camp on the left; I know it well. I've often been here."
She swung the car off the road into an open field, set out with
tents, and brought the car to a stop beside an old ruined factory.
"This, I believe, will be the best place for your purpose," she
said, and sprang from her seat, and ran to the ruin, flashing her
torchlight before her. "Here you are," she said. "This will be
just the thing."
Barry followed her a few steps down into the long, stone-flagged
"Splendid! This is the very thing," he cried enthusiastically.
"You are really the most wonderful person."
"Now get your stuff in here," she ordered. "But what will you do
for wood? There is always water," she added, "in some tanks
further on. Come, I'll show you."
Barry followed her in growing amazement and admiration at her
"Now then, there are your tanks," she said. "As for wood, I don't
know what you will do, but there is a garden paling a little
further on, and, of course--"
"Don't worry about that," said Barry.
"I won't," with a gay laugh; "I know you Canadians, you see."
Together they returned to the car.
Before she mounted to her seat she turned to Barry, and offered him
her hand and said: "I think it is perfectly ripping that we were
introduced in this way. Though I don't know your name yet," she
"Awfully stupid of me," said Barry, and he gave her his name,
adding that of the regiment, and his rank.
"Good-bye, then," she said, climbing into her car, and starting her
"But," said Barry, "I must see you safely back."
She laughed a scornful but, as Barry thought, a most delicious
"Nonsense! We don't do that sort of thing here, you know. We're
on our own."
A little silence fell between them.
"When does your battalion march?" she asked abruptly.
"Perhaps to-morrow. I don't know."
"If you do go then," she said, with again that little touch of
shyness, "I suppose I won't see you again."
"See you again," exclaimed Barry, his tone indicating that the
possibility of such a calamity was unthinkable, "why, of course I
shall see you again. I must see you again--I--I--I just must see
"Good night, then," she said in a soft, hurried voice, throwing in
Barry stood listening in the dark to the hum of her engine, growing
more faint every moment.
"Some girl, eh?" said a voice. At his side he saw Harry Hobbs.
Barry turned sharply upon him.
"Now then, Hobbs, some wood and we will get a fire going and look
lively! And, Hobbs, I believe there's a fence about fifty yards
down there, which you might find useful. Now move. Quick!"
Unconsciously he tried to reproduce, in uttering the last word,
Duff's tone and manner. The effect was evident immediately.
Hobbs without further words departed in the darkness. Again Barry
stood listening to the hum of the engine, until he could no longer
hear it in the noise and confusion of the camp, but in his heart
Harry's words made music.
"Some girl, eh?"
As he stood there in the darkness, hearing that music in his heart,
a voice broke in, swearing hard and deep oaths. It was the M. O.
"Hello, doc, my boy; come here," cried Barry.
The M. O. approached. He was in a state of rage that rendered
coherent speech impossible.
"Oh, quit it, doc. Let me show you something."
He led him into the ruin, where his spoils were cached.
"Biscuits, my boy, and coffee. Hold on! Listen! I'm going to get
a fire going here and in twenty minutes there'll be six cans of
fragrant delicious coffee, boiling hot."
"Why, how the--"
"Doc, don't talk! Listen to me! You round up your sick men, and
bring them quietly over here. I don't know how many I can supply,
but at least, I think, a hundred."
"Why, how the devil--?"
"Go on; I haven't time to talk to you. Get busy!"
Working by flashlight, the men cut open the tins, dumped the
biscuits on a blanket spread in a corner of the cellar, while Barry
made preparations for a fire.
"Here, Hobbs, you punch two holes in these cans, just an inch from
Soon the fire was blazing cheerily. In its light Barry was
searching through the ruin.
"By Jove," he shouted, "the very thing. Just made for us."
He pulled out a long steel rod from a heap of rubbish and ran with
it to the fire.
"Here, boys, punch a hole in this wall. Now then, for the cans.
String them on this rod."
In twenty minutes the coffee was ready.
"How is it?" he inquired anxiously, handing a mess tin full to one
of his men.
The boy tasted it.
"Like mother made," he said, with a grin. "Gee, but it's good."
At that moment the doctor appeared at the cellar door.
"I say, old chap," he said, "there will be a riot here in fifteen
minutes. That coffee smells the whole camp."
"Bring 'em along, doc. The sick chaps first. By Jove, here's the
sergeant major himself."
"What's all this?" inquired the sergeant major in his gruffest
voice. "Who's responsible for this fire?"
"Coffee, sergeant major?" answered Barry, handing him a tin full.
"Drink it first, sergeant major."
The sergeant major took the mess tin and tasted the coffee.
"Well, this IS fine," he declared, "and it's what the boys want.
But this fire is against orders, sir. I ought to have it put out."
"You will have it put out over my dead body, sergeant major," cried
the M. O.
"And mine," added Barry.
"By gad, we'll chance the zeps, sir," said the sergeant major.
"This freezin' rain will kill more men than a bomb. Bring in your
men, sir," he added to the M. O. "But I must see the O. C."
The sergeant major's devotion to military discipline was struggling
hard with his humanity, which, under his rugged exterior, beat warm
in his heart.
"Why bother with the O. C.?" said the M. D.
"But I must see him," insisted the sergeant major.
He had not far to go to attain his purpose.
"Hello! What the devil is this?" exclaimed a loud voice at the
"By gad, it's the old man himself," muttered the M. O. to Barry.
"Now look out for ructions."
In came the O. C., followed by a brass hat. Barry went forward
with a steaming tin of coffee.
"Sorry our china hasn't arrived yet, sir," he said cheerfully, "but
the coffee isn't bad, the boys say."
"Why, it's you, Dunbar," said the colonel, peering into his face,
and shaking the rain drops from his coat. "I might have guessed
that you'd be in it. Where there's any trouble," he continued,
turning to the brass hat at his side, "you may be quite sure that
the Pilot or the M. O. here will be in it. By Jove, this coffee
goes to the right spot. Have a cup, major?" he said as Barry
brought a second tin.
"It's against regulations, you know," said the major, taking the
mess tin gingerly. "Fires are quite forbidden. Air raids, and
that sort of thing, don't you know."
"Oh, hang it all, major," cried the O. C. "The coffee is fine, and
my men will be a lot better for it. This camp of yours, anyway, is
no place for human beings, and especially for men straight off the
boat. As for me, I'm devilish glad to get this coffee. Give me
another tin, Pilot."
"It's quite irregular," murmured the major, still drinking his
coffee. "It's quite irregular! But I see the door is fairly well
guarded against light, and perhaps--"
"I think we'll just carry on," said the colonel. "If there is any
trouble, I'll assume the responsibility for it. Thank you, Pilot.
Just keep guard on the light here, sergeant major."
"All right, sir. Very good, sir, we will hang up a blanket."
Meanwhile the news had spread throughout the camp, and before many
minutes had passed the cellar was jammed with a crowd of men that
reached through the door and out into the night. The crowd was
becoming noisy and there was danger of confusion. Then the pilot
climbed up on a heap of rubbish and made a little speech.
"Men," he called out, "this coffee is intended first of all for the
sick men in this battalion. Those sick men must first be cared
for. After that we shall distribute the coffee as far as it will
go. There is plenty of water outside, and I think I have plenty of
coffee. Sergeant major, I suggest that you round up these men in
some sort of order."
A few sharp words of command from the sergeant major brought order
out of confusion, and for two hours there filed through the cellar
a continuous stream of men, each bringing an empty mess tin, and
carrying it away full of hot and fragrant coffee.
By the time the men had been supplied the officers were finished
with their duties, and having got word of the Pilot's coffee stall,
came crowding in. One and all they were vociferous in their praise
of the chaplain, voting him a "good fellow" and a "life-saver" of
the highest order. But it was felt by all that Corporal Thom
expressed the general consensus of opinion to his friend Timms.
"That Pilot of ours," he declared, "runs a little to the narrow
gauge, but in that last round up he was telling us about last
Sunday there won't be the goat run for him. It's him for the baa
baas, sure enough."
And though in the vernacular the corporal's words did not sound
quite reverent, it was agreed that they expressed in an entirely
satisfactory manner the general opinion of the battalion.
An hour later, wearied as he was, Barry crawled into his icy
blankets, but with a warmer feeling in his heart than he had known
since he joined the battalion. But before he had gone to sleep,
there came into his mind a thought that brought him up wide awake.
He had quite forgotten all about his duty as chaplain. "What a
chance you had there," insisted his chaplain's conscience, "for a
word that would really hearten your men. This is their first night
in France. To-morrow they march up to danger and death. What a
chance! And you missed it."
Barry was too weary to discuss the matter further, but as he fell
asleep he said to himself, "At any rate, the boys are feeling a lot
better," and in spite of his sense of failure, that thought brought
him no small comfort.
THE NEW MESSAGE
"I think," said Barry, to the M. O., "I really ought to ride down
to the R. A. M. C. hospital, and tell them how the boys enjoyed the
coffee last night." His face was slightly flushed, but the flush
might have been due to the fact that he had been busily engaged in
tying up the thongs of his bed-roll, an awkward job at times.
"Sure thing," agreed the M. O. heartily. "Indeed it's absolutely
essential, and say, old chap, you might tell her how I enjoyed my
coffee. She will be glad to hear about me."
Barry heaved his bed-roll at the doctor and departed.
At the R. A. M. C. Hospital the Officer Commanding, to whom he had
sent in his card, gave him a cordial greeting.
"I am glad to know you, sir. We have quite a lot of your chaps
here now and then, and fine fellows they seem to be. We expect a
hospital train this morning, and I understand there are some
Canadians among them. Rather a bad go a few days ago at St. Eloi.
Heavy casualty list. Clearing stations all crowded, and so they
are sending a lot down the line."
"Canadians?" asked Barry, thinking of his father. "You have not
heard what unit, sir?"
"No, we only get the numbers and the character of the casualties
and that sort of thing. Well, I must be off. Would you care to
"Thank you, no. We are also on the march. I simply came to tell
you how very greatly our men appreciated your help last night."
"Oh, that's perfectly all right. Glad the sergeant had sense
enough to do the right thing."
"May I see--ah--the sergeant?"
"The sergeant? Why, certainly, but it's not necessary at all."
The sergeant was called and duly thanked. The R. A. M. C. officer
was obviously anxious to be rid of his visitor and to get off to
Still Barry lingered.
"There was also a young lady, sir, last night," he said at length.
"A young lady?"
"Sister Vincent, sir," interjected the sergeant. "She ran them up
to the camp in her car, sir. The ambulances and cars were all
"Ah! Ran you up to the camp, eh?"
"Yes, she ran us up with the biscuits and coffee. It was awfully
kind of her."
"Ah!--Um!--Very good! Very good! Sergeant, call her," said the
O. C. abruptly.
"I'm afraid she'd be asleep now, sir. She was on night duty, sir."
"Oh, then," said Barry, "please don't disturb her. I wouldn't
think of it. If you will be kind enough, sir, to convey the thanks
of the men and of myself to her."
"Surely, surely! Well, I really must be going. Goodbye! Good
He turned to his motor car. "I won't forget, sir," he said to
Barry. "Oh, I'll be sure to tell her," he added with a significant
As Barry was mounting his horse, the strains of the battalion band
were heard floating down the street. He drew up his horse beside
the entrance and waited. Down the winding hill they came, tall,
lean, hard-looking men, striding with the free, easy swing of the
men of the foothills. Barry felt his heart fill with pride in his
"By Jove," he said to himself, "the boys are all right."
"Fine body of men, sir," said the sergeant, who with his comrades
had gathered about the gateway.
"Not too bad, eh, sergeant?" said Barry, with modest pride.
"Sir," said the sergeant in a low voice, "the young lady is up at
the window to your left."
"Sergeant, you're a brick! Thank you," said Barry. He turned in
his saddle, and saw above him a window filled with smiling nurses
looking down at the marching column, and among them his friend of
the night before. Her face was turned away from him, and her eyes
were upon the column, eagerly searching the ranks of the marching
"Sergeant," said Barry, "your Commanding Officer is a very busy
man, and has a great many things to occupy his attention. Don't
you think it is quite possible that that message of mine might
escape his memory, and don't you think it would be really more
satisfactory if I could deliver that message in person?"
The sergeant tilted his hat over one eye, and scratched his head.
"Well, sir, the Commanding Officer does 'ave a lot of things to
think about, and though he doesn't often forget, he might.
Besides, I really think the young lady would like to know just how
the coffee went."
"Sergeant, you are a man of discernment. I'll just wait here until
the battalion passes."
He moved his horse a few steps out from the gateway, and swung him
around so that he stood facing the window. The movement caught the
attention of the V. A. D. in the window. She glanced down, saw
him, and, leaning far out, waved her hand in eager greeting and
with a smile of warm friendliness.
He had only time to wave his hand in reply, when the head of the
column drew opposite the gateway, forcing him to turn his back to
the window and stand at salute.
The Commanding Officer acknowledged the salute, glanced up at the
window, waved his hand to the group of nurses there gathered, then
glanced back at Barry, with a smile full of meaning, and rode on.
After the band had passed the entrance, it ceased playing, and the
men, catching sight of Barry and the smiling group at the window
above him, broke softly into a rather suggestive music hall ditty,
at that time popular with the soldiers:
"Hello! Hello! Who's your lady friend;
Who's the little blossom by your side;
I saw you, with a girl or two,
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! I'm surprised at you."
Down the length of the column the refrain passed, gradually gaining
in strength and volume, until by the time the rear came opposite
the entrance, the men were shouting with wide open throats:
"Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! I'm surprised at you,"
with a growing emphasis and meaning upon every successive "Oh!"
Barry's face was aflame and his heart hot with furious indignation.
She was not that kind of a girl. She would be humiliated before
her associates. He glanced up at the window but she was gone. The
battalion marched on but Barry still remained, his eyes following
the swinging column, his face still flaming, and his heart hot with
"Good morning, Captain Dunbar!"
He swung off his horse, and there smiling at him with warm
friendliness was the little V. A. D.
"I'm awfully sorry," began Barry, thinking of the impudent song of
his comrades. "I mean I'm very glad to see you. I just ran in to
tell you how splendidly the coffee went last night. There are a
hundred fellows marching along there that are fine and fit just
because of your kindness, and I'm here to give you their thanks."
Barry felt that he was cutting a rather poor figure. His words
came haltingly and stumblingly. The suggestive music hall ditty
was still in his mind.
"What a splendid band you have," she said, "and how splendidly the
"Sing!" cried Barry indignantly. "Oh, yes, they do sing rather
well, don't they?" he added, greatly relieved. "I have only a
minute," he added hurriedly, "but I wanted to see you again, and I
wonder if I may drop you a little note now and then, just to--well,
hang it all--just to keep in touch with you. I don't want you to
quite forget me."
"Oh, I won't forget you," she said. The brown eyes looked straight
at him. "You see, after all, my uncle knows you so well. Indeed,
he told me about you. You see, we really are friends, in a way,
"We are indeed, and you are awfully good. Goodbye!"
"Goodbye," she said, "and if I leave here soon, I promise to let
And Barry rode away, his heart in such a turmoil as he had never
known. In his ears lingered the music of that soft voice, and his
eyes saw a bewildering complexity of dancing ringlets and lustrous
glances, until he drew up at the rear of the column and found
himself riding once more beside his friend, the M. O.
"Congratulations, old man," said the doctor. "She's a blossom, all
right. Cheer up; you may find her bending over your white face
some day, holding your hand, or smoothing your brow, in the
approved V. A. D. manner."
"Oh, shut up, doc," said Barry with quite unusual curtness. "She's
not that kind of a girl."
"Ah, who knows!" said the doctor. "Who knows!"
At the railway station, the battalion was halted, awaiting the
making up of their train, the departure of which was delayed by the
incoming hospital train from up the line. They had not long to
"Here she is, boys!" called out a soldier. And into the station
slowly rolled that hospital train, with its freight of wounded men,
mutilated, maimed, broken. Its windows were crowded with faces,
white as their swathings, worn, spent, deep-lined, from which
looked forth eyes, indifferent, staring, but undaunted and
Gradually, with stately movement, as befitted its noble burden, the
train came to rest immediately opposite the battalion. With grave,
fascinated, horror-stricken faces the men of the battalion stood
rigid and voiceless gazing at that deeply moving spectacle. Before
their eyes were being paraded the tragic, pathetic remnants of a
gallant regiment, which but a few weeks before had stood where they
now stood, vital with life, tingling with courage. At their
country's bidding they had ascended that Holy Mount of Sacrifice,
to offer upon the altar of the world's freedom their bodies as a
living sacrifice unto God, holy and acceptable. Now, their
offering being made, they were being borne back helpless, bruised,
shattered but unconquered and eternally glorious.
Silently the two companies gazed at each other across the
intervening space. Then from the window of the train a soldier
thrust a bandaged head and bandaged arm.
"Hello there, Canada!" he cried, waving the arm. Instantly, as if
he had touched a hidden spring, from the battalion's thousand
throats there broke a roar of cheers that seemed to rock the
rafters of the station building.
Again, again, and yet again! As if they could never exhaust the
burden of their swelling emotions, they roared forth their cheers,
waving caps and rifles high in the air, while down their cheeks
poured, unheeded and unhindered, a rain of tears.
"Canada! Canada! Canada!" they cried. "Oh, you Canadians!
Feebly came the answering cheers, awkwardly waved the bandaged
hands and arms.
Then the battalion broke ranks and flinging rifles and kitbags to
the ground, they rushed across the tracks, eager to bring their
tribute of pride and love to their brothers from their own country,
far across the sea.
"Malcolm! Hello, Malcolm!" cried a voice from a window of the
train, as the noise had somewhat subsided. "Hey, Malcolm, here you
are!" cried a wounded man, raising himself from his cot to the
Malcolm Innes turned, scanned the train, then rushed across the
tracks to the window and clung fast to it.
It was his brother, Ewen.
"Is it yourself, Ewen, and are you hurted bad?" cried the boy, all
unconscious of his breaking voice and falling tears. They clung
together for some little time in silence.
"Are you much hurted, Ewen? Tell me the God's truth," again said
"Not much," said Ewen. "True as death, I'm tellin' you. My arm is
broke, that's all. We had a bad time of it, but, man, we gave them
hell, you bet. Oh, it was great!"
Then again the silence fell between them. There seemed to be
nothing to say.
"Here, stand back there! You must get back, you know, men!"
An N. C. O. of the R. A. M. C. tried to push Malcolm back from the
"Here, you go to hell," cried Malcolm fiercely. "It's my brother
The N. C. O., widely experienced in these tragic scenes, hesitated
a moment. An officer, coming up behind him, with a single glance
took in the situation.
"My boy," he said kindly, placing his hand on Malcolm's arm, "we
want to get these poor chaps as soon as possible where they will be
Malcolm sprang back at once, saluting.
"Yes, sir," he said. "Certainly, sir." And backing across the
tracks, stood looking across at the window from which his brother,
wearied with his effort, had disappeared.
Meantime the R. A. M. C. were busy with their work. With marvellous
rapidity and speed the train was unloaded of its pathetic freight,
the carrying cases into ambulances and the walking cases into cars
"Good-bye, Mac," called a voice as a car was driving off. It was
Ewen again. The wounded man spoke to the driver, who immediately
pulled up and swung over to the platform where Malcolm was
"Oh, are you sure, Ewen, you are goin' to be all right? Man, you
look awful white."
"All right, Mac. You bet I will. It's only my arm," said Ewen,
his brave, bright words in pathetic contrast to his white face.
At this point Barry came rushing along.
"Why, Ewen! My poor fellow!" he cried, throwing his arm about the
wounded man's shoulder. "What is it?"
"My arm, sir," said the boy, adding some words in a low tone. "But
I'm all right," he said brightly. "You'll write my mother, sir,
and tell her? You'll know what to say."
"Surely I will. You'll be all right, old boy, God bless you! Good
Then leaning over the boy, he added in a low voice, "Remember you
are not all alone. God is with you. You won't forget that!"
"I won't, sir. I know it well," said Ewen earnestly.
Most of the stretcher cases had been hurried away. Only a few of
the more seriously wounded remained. As Barry turned away from the
car, he saw the medical officer and sergeant major approaching him.
"A terrible business," said Barry, in a horror-stricken voice.
"Splendid chaps. How plucky they are!"
The M. O. made no reply, but coming close to Barry, he put his arm
through his, the sergeant major taking him by the other arm.
"I say, Barry, old chap," said the M. O. in a grave voice, calling
him for the first time by his first name. "There is some one here
that you know well."
"Some one I know," said Barry, standing still and looking from one
to the other.
"Ay, sir. Some one we all know and greatly respect," replied the
"Not--not--oh, not my father!"
The M. O. nodded.
"Bad, doctor? Not dying, doctor?" His face was white even in
spite of his tan. His hands closed about the doctor's arm in a
grip that reached to the bone.
"No, not dying, Barry, but in a bad way, I fear."
"Take me," muttered Barry, in a dazed way, and they moved together
rapidly across the platform.
"Wait a moment, doctor," said Barry, breathing hard.
They stood still, a silent and sympathetic group of soldiers about
them. Barry turned from them, walked a few steps, his clasped
hands writhing before him, then stood with his face uplifted to the
sky for a few moments.
"All right, doctor, I'll follow," he said, coming quietly back.
"Will he know me?"
"Sure thing, sir," said the sergeant major cheerily. "He was
asking for you."
On a stretcher, waiting to be lifted into the ambulance, he found
his father, lying white and still.
"Dad!" cried Barry, dropping to his knees beside him. He put his
arms around him on the stretcher, and kissed him on both cheeks and
on the lips. They all drew back from the stretcher and turned
their backs upon the two.
"Barry, my boy. Thank the good God! I feared I would not see you.
It's all right now. Everything is all right now. I can't put my
arms around you, boy. I haven't any left."
Barry's shudder shook the stretcher.
"Dad, dad, oh, dad!" he whispered, over and over again.
"It's all right," whispered his father. "We must not forget we're
soldiers. Help me to keep up, boy. I'm not very strong."
That pitiful word did for Barry what nothing else could do. He
lifted his head, stood up and drew a deep breath.
"Sure thing, dad," he said, in a clear, steady voice. "I mustn't
He motioned to the bearers. Then suddenly recollecting that his
duty would call him away from his father, he turned to the M. O.,
an agony of supplication in his voice.
"Oh, doctor, must I leave him here?" he asked in a low tone.
Just then an orderly came running up to him, and, saluting, said:
"Sir, the Commanding Officer says you are to remain behind with
"Until you are sent for," said the M. O. "I will see to that."
"Where's the Commanding Officer?" cried Barry, starting forward.
"He has gone off somewheres, sir. He was sorry he couldn't come
himself, but he was called away. He sent that message to you."
"Doctor, will you remember to thank the Commanding Officer for
me?" he said briefly, and turned to follow his father into the
ambulance, which he discovered to be in charge of his friend, the
sergeant of the R. A. M. C.
At the hospital he was received with every mark of solicitous care.
He was made to feel that he was among friends.
"How long, doctor?" he asked, after the doctor had finished his
"Not long, I'm afraid. A few hours, perhaps a day. He will not
suffer though," said the doctor. "But," he added, taking Barry by
the arm, "he is very weak, remember, and must not be excited."
"I know, doctor," said Barry, quietly. "I won't worry him."
Through the morning Barry sat by his father's cot, giving him,
under the directions of the nurse, such stimulants as he needed,
now and then speaking a quiet, cheery word.
Often his father opened his eyes and smiled at him.
"Good to see you there, my boy. That was my only grief. I feared
I might not see you again. Thank the good God that he allowed me
to see you."
"He is good, dad, isn't He? Good to me; good to us both."
"Yes, He is good," said his father, and fell asleep. For almost
two hours he slept, a sleep of exhaustion, due to the terrific
strain of the past forty-eight hours, and woke refreshed, calm and
"You are a lot better, dad," said Barry. "I believe you are going
to pull through, eh!"
"A lot better, Barry," said his father, "but, my boy, we are
soldiers, you and I. I shall not be long, but remember, we are
"All right, dad. I'll try to play the game."
"That's the word, Barry. We must play the game, and by God's grace
we will, you and I--our last game together."
Through the afternoon they talked, between intervals of sleep,
resolved each to help the other in playing to the end, in the
manner of British soldiers, that last, great game.
They talked, of course, of home and their happy days together,
going far back into the earlier years of struggle on the ranch.
"Hard days, Barry, they were, but your mother never failed me.
Wonderful courage she had, and if we were all right, you and I,
Barry, she was always happy. Do you remember her?"
"Yes, dad, quite well. I remember her smiling always."
"Smiling, my God! Smiling through those days. Yes, that's the way
she played the game, and that's the only way, boy."
"Yes, dad," said Barry, and his smile was brighter than ever, but
his knuckles showed white where he gripped the chair.
The nurse came and went, wondering at their bright faces and their
cheery voices. They kept their minds upon the old happy days.
They recalled their canoe trips, their hunting experiences,
dwelling mostly upon the humorous incidents, playing the game. Of
the war they spoke little; not at all of what was to be after--the
past, the golden, happy past, rich in love and in comradeship, that
was their one theme.
As night fell, the father grew weary, and his periods of sleep grew
longer, but ever as he woke he found his son's face smiling down
"Good boy, Barry," he said once, with an understanding look and an
answering smile. "Don't try too hard, my boy."
"It's all right, dad. I assure you it's all right. You know it
"I know, I know, my boy," he said, and fell asleep again.
As the midnight hour drew on, Barry's head, from sheer weariness,
sunk upon his breast. In his sleep he became aware of some one
near him. He sat up, dazed and stupid from his exhaustion and his
grief, and found a nurse at his side.
"Take this," she said softly. "You will need it." She set a tray
at his side.
"Oh, thank you, no!" he said. "I can't eat. I can't touch
"You need it," said the nurse. "You must take it, for his sake,
you know. He will need you."
Her voice aroused him. He glanced at her face.
"Oh, it's you!" he cried.
It was the little V. A. D.
"Don't rise," she said, putting her hand on his shoulder, and
pointing to his father. "Drink this first." She handed him an
eggnog. "Now take your tea." There was a quiet authority about
her that compelled obedience. He ate in silence while she stood
beside him. He was too weary and too sick at heart to talk, but he
gradually became aware that the overpowering sense of loneliness
that had been with him all day was gone.
When he had finished his slight meal, he whispered to her:
"I wish I could thank you, but I can't. I did need it. You have
helped me greatly."
"You are better now," she said softly. "It's very, very hard for
you, so far from home, and from all your friends."
"There is no one else," said Barry simply. "We have no one but
At this point his father opened his eyes bright and very wide-
The V. A. D. began to gather up the tea things. Barry put out his
hand and touched her arm.
"Dad, this is your night nurse. She was very kind to me last
night, and again to-night. This is Miss Vincent."
The brightness of the V. A. D.'s smile outshone his own.
"I'm not a real nurse," she said. "I'm only a V. A. D., you know.
They use me to wash the floors and dishes, and for all sorts of odd
jobs. To-night they are shorthanded, and have put me on this
While she was speaking, she continued to smile, a smile of radiant
cheer and courage.
The wounded man listened gravely to her, his eyes searching her
face, her eyes, her very soul, it seemed to her. In spite of her
experience and her self-control, she felt her face flushing under
his searching gaze.
"My dear," he said at length, "I am glad to meet you. You are a
good and brave girl, I know." His eyes fell upon the black band
upon her arm. "I see you are wearing the badge of heroism. My
dear, pardon me, you have the same look--Barry, she has your dear
mother's look, not so beautiful--you will forgive me, my dear--but
the same look. She thinks of others and she has courage to suffer.
My dear, I cannot take your hands in mine,"--he glanced with a
pathetic smile at his bandaged arms, but with a swift movement of
indescribable grace the girl stooped and kissed him on the
"Barry," he said, turning to his son, "that was a fine courtesy. I
count it an honour to have known you, Miss Vincent."
He paused a moment or two, his searching eyes still upon her face.
"You will befriend my boy, after--after--"
"I will try my best, sir," said the girl, the colour deepening in
her cheeks the while. "Good night, sir," she said. "I shall be
near at hand if I am wanted."
"Barry," said his father, after the girl had gone, "that is a very
charming and a very superior young lady, one you will be glad to
"Yes, dad, I am sure she is," said Barry, and then he told his
father of the events of the previous night.
For some moments after he had finished his father lay with his eyes
shut, and quite still, and Barry, thinking he slept, sat watching,
his eyes intent upon the face he loved best in all the world.
But his father was not asleep.
"Yes, Barry," he said, "she is like your dear mother, and now," he
added hurriedly, "I hope you will not think I am taking a liberty--"
"Oh, dad, I implore you!" said Barry.
"Barry, I would like to speak to you about your work."
Barry shook his head sadly.
"I'm not much good, dad," he said, "but I'm not going to quit," he
added quickly, noting a shadow on his father's face.
"Barry, I'm going to say something to you which I do hope will not
hurt you. I know the common soldier better than you do, boy. Our
Canadian soldiers do not like to be rebuked, criticised or even
watched too closely. Forgive me this, my boy."
"Oh, dad, please tell me all that is in your heart!"
"Thank you, Barry. They don't like the chaplain to be a censor
over their words."
"I loathe it," said Barry passionately.
"Believe me, they are good chaps in their hearts. They swear and
all that, but that is merely a habit or a mere expression of high
emotion. You ought to hear them as they 'go over.' Barry, let all
that pass and remember that these boys are giving their lives--
their lives, Barry, for right, for conscience, and ultimately,
though it may be unconsciously, for God. Barry, a man that is
giving his life for God may say what he likes. Don't be too hard
on them, but recall to mind, Barry, that when they go up the line
they feel terribly lonely and terribly afraid, and that is a truly
He paused a moment or two, and then lowered his voice and continued:
"Barry, you won't be ashamed of me. I was terribly afraid, myself."
Barry choked back a convulsive sob.
"You, dad, you!" He laughed scornfully.
"I didn't run, Barry, thank God! But the boys--my boys--they are
only lads, many of them--lonely and afraid--and they must go on.
They must go on. Oh, Barry, in that hour they need some one to go
with them. They need God."
His son was listening with his heart in his eyes. He was getting a
new view of the soldier and of the soldier's needs.
"Unhappily," continued his father, "God is at best a shadowy being,
to many of them a stranger, to some a terror. Barry," he said,
"they need some one to tell them the truth about God. It's not
fair to God, you know." Here again his father paused and then said
very humbly: "I think I may say, Barry, I know God now, as I did
not before. And you helped me, boy, to know him."
"Oh, dad," cried Barry, passionately. "Not I! I don't know Him at
"Let me tell you how you helped me, Barry. Before I went up the
last time, I wanted--"
He paused abruptly, his face working and his lip quivering.
"Forgive me, my boy. I'm a little weak."
A few moments of silence and then he continued quietly:
"I wanted you, Barry."
The boy's hands were writhing under his knees, but his face and
eyes were quite steady.
"I was terribly lonely. I thought of that strange, dear bond that
held us together, and then like a flash out of the sky came those
great words: 'Like as a father pitieth his children,' and oh, boy,
boy! It came to me then that as I feel toward my boy God feels
toward me. Barry, listen--" His voice fell to a whisper. "I am
God's son, as you are mine. There was no more fear, and I was not
nearly so lonely. Tell the boys--tell the boys the truth about
He lay a long time silent, with his eyes closed, and as Barry
watched he saw two tears fall down the white cheeks. It was to him
a terrible sight. Never, not even at his mother's grave, had he
seen his father's tears. It was more than he could endure. He put
his face down beside his father's on the pillow.
"Dad, I understand," he whispered. "I know now what God is like.
He is like you, dad. He gave himself for us, as you, dad, have
given yourself all these years for me."
He was sobbing, but very quietly.
"Forgive me, dad; I'm not crying. I'm just thinking about God and
you. Oh, dad, you are both wonderful! Wonderful!"
"Barry, my boy, tell them. Don't worry yourself about them. Just
tell them about God. He is responsible for them, not you."
"Oh, I will, dad; I promise you I will. I've been all wrong, but
I'll tell them. I'll tell them."
"Thank God, my boy," said his father, with a deep sigh. "Now I'm
tired. Say 'Our Father.'"
Together they whispered those greatest of words in human speech,
those words that have bound heaven to earth in yearning and in hope
for these two thousand years.
"Don't move, Barry," whispered his father. "I like you there."
With their faces thus together they fell asleep.
Barry was awakened by his father's voice, clear and strong.
"Are you there, Barry?" it said.
"Here, dad, right here!"
"Good boy. Good boy. You won't leave me, Barry. I mean you don't
need to go?"
"No, dad, I'll never leave you."
"Good boy," again murmured his father softly. "Always a good boy,
He was breathing heavily, long deep breaths.
"Lift me up, Barry," he said.
Barry sat on the bed, put his arm around his father's shoulders,
and lifted him up.
"That's better--hold me closer, Barry-- You won't hurt me-- Oh,
it's good--to feel--your arms--strong arms--Barry."
"You made them strong, dad," said Barry, in a clear, steady voice.
The father nestled his head upon his son's shoulder.
"Barry," he said in the low tone of one giving a confidence, "don't
ever forget--to thank God--for these eighteen years--together--
You saved me--from despair--eighteen years ago--when she went away--
you know--and you have been--all the world to me--my son--"
"And you to me, dad," said his son in the same steady tone.
"I've tried all my life--to make you know--how I love you--but
somehow I couldn't--"
"But I knew, dad," said Barry. "All my life I have known."
"Really?" asked his father. "I--wonder--I don't think--you quite
know-- Ah--my boy--my boy-- You don't--know--you--can't. Barry,"
he said, "I think--I'm going out--I'm going--out--no, in--your
"Yes, dad," said his son. "Going in. The inner circle, you know."
"The--inner--circle--" echoed his father. "Warmth--light--love--
Now--I think--I'll sleep-- Good night--Barry-- Oh--my boy,--you--
don't quite--know-- Kiss me--Barry--"
Barry kissed him on the lips.
A deep breath he took; another--Barry waited for the next, but
there was not another.
He laid his father down and looked into his quiet face, touched
even now with the noble stateliness of death. He put his arms
about the unresponsive form, and his face to the cheek still warm.
"Dad, oh, dad," he whispered. "Do you know--do you know-- Oh,
God, tell him how I love him. Tell him! Tell him! I never
The little V. A. D. came softly and stood looking from a distance.
Then coming to the bedside, she laid her hand upon the head and
then the heart of the dead man. Then she drew back, and beckoning
to an orderly, they placed a screen about the cot. She let her
eyes rest for a moment or two upon the kneeling boy, then went
Death was to her an all too familiar thing. She had often seen it
unmoved, but to-night, as she walked away, the brown eyes could not
hold their tears.
A MAN OF GOD
Barry was standing beside his father's grave, in a little plot in
the Boulogne cemetery set apart for British officers. They had,
one by one, gone away and left him until, alone, he stood looking
down on the simple wooden cross on which were recorded the name,
age, and unit of the soldier with the date of his death, and
underneath the simple legend, eloquent of heroic sacrifice, "Died
of wounds received in action."
Throughout the simple, beautiful burial service he had not been
acutely conscious of grief. Even now he wondered that he could
shed no tears. Rather did an exultant emotion fill his soul as
he looked around upon the little British plot, with its rows of
crosses, and he was chiefly conscious of a solemn, tender pride
that he was permitted to share that glorious offering which his
Empire was making for the saving of the world. But, in this
moment, as he stood there alone close to his father's grave, and
surrounded by those examples of high courage and devotion, he
became aware of a mighty change wrought in him during these last
three days. He had experienced a veritable emancipation of soul.
He was as if he had been born anew.
The old sense of failure in his work, the feeling of unfitness for
it, and the old dread of it, had been lifted out of his soul, and
not only was he a new man, but he felt himself to be charged with a
new mission, because he had a new message for his men. No longer
did he conceive himself as a moral policeman or religious censor,
whose main duty it was to stand in judgment over the faults and
sins of the men of his battalion. No more would the burden of his
message be a stern denunciation of these faults and sins. Standing
there to-day, he could only wonder at his former blindness and
stupidity and pride.
"Who am I," he said in bitter self-humiliation, "that I should
judge my comrades? How little I knew myself."
"A man of God," his superintendent had said in his last letter to
him. Yes, truly a man of God! A MAN not God! A MAN not to sit in
God's place in judgment upon his fellow sinners, but to show them
God, their Father.
Barry thought of the frequent rebukes he had administered to the
officers and men for what he considered to be their sins. He
"God will forgive me, I know," he said. "But will they?"
He tried to recall what the burden of his message to his battalion
had been during these past months, but to him there came no clear
and distinct memory of aught but warnings and denunciations, with
reference to what he judged to be faulty in their conduct. To-day
it seemed to him both sad and terrible.
How had he so failed and so misconceived the Master's plain
teaching? He moved among sinners all His days, not with
denunciations in His heart or voice, but only with pity and love.
"Be not anxious," He had said. "Consider the birds of the air.
Not one of them falleth to the ground without your Father. How
much more precious are you than the birds."
What a message for men going up to face the terrors and perils of
the front line. "Be not anxious!"
"I was afraid," his father had said to him. That to him was
inconceivable. That that gallant spirit should know terror seemed
to him impossible. Yet even he had said, "I was afraid." And for
the loneliness, what a message he now had. In their loneliness men
cried out for the presence of a friend, and the Master had said:
"When ye pray, pray to your Father. Your Father knoweth. When ye
pray, say, 'Our Father'!" And he had missed all this. What a mess
he had made of his work! How sadly misread his Master's teaching
and misinterpreted his Master's spirit!
Barry looked down upon the grave at his feet.
"But you knew, dad, you knew!" he whispered.
For the first time since he had become a chaplain, he thought of
his work with gratitude and eagerness. He longed to see his men
again. He had something to tell them. It was this: that God to
them was like their fathers, their mothers, their brothers, their
friends; only infinitely more loving, and without their faults.
With his head high and his feet light upon the earth, he returned
to the R. A. M. C. Hospital, where he found Harry Hobbs, with his
handbag and a letter from his O. C.
"Take a few days off," said the O. C. "We all sympathise with you.
We miss you and shall be glad to see you, but take a few days now
Barry was greatly touched, but he had only one desire now, and that
was to return to his unit. His batman brought him also an order
from the Assistant Director of Chaplain Service bidding him report
at the earliest moment.
At Headquarters he learned that the A. D. C. S. had been in
Boulogne, but had gone to Etaples, some thirty or forty miles
distant, to visit the large hospitals there. He determined that
to-morrow he would go to Etaples and report, after which he would
proceed to his battalion.
That evening, he visited the men in the hospital, coming upon many
Canadians whose joy in seeing a chaplain from their own country
touched Barry to the heart. He took their messages which he
promised to transmit to their folks at home, and left with them
something of the serene and exultant peace that filled his own
From Ewen Innes and others of the Wapiti draft, he learned
something of his father's work and place in their battalion.
Soldiers are not eloquent in speech, but mostly in silence. Their
words halted when they came to speak of their sergeant major's
soldierly qualities,--for his father had become the sergeant major
of the battalion--his patience, his skill, his courage.
"He knew his job, sir," said one of them. "He was always onto it."
"It was his care of his men that we thought most of," said Ewen,
who continued to relate incidents that had come under his own
observation of this characteristic, tears the while flowing down
"He never thought of himself, sir. It was our comfort first. He
was far more than our sergeant major. He watched us like a father;
that's what he did."
As Barry listened to the soldiers telling of his father in broken
words, and with flowing tears, he almost wondered at them for their
tears and wondered at himself that he had none. Tears seemed to be
so much out of place in telling such a tale as that.
The train for Etaples leaving at an unearthly hour in the morning,
Barry went to take farewell of the V. A. D. the night before.
"That is an awfully early hour," she said, "and, oh, such a
wretched train." There was in her voice an almost maternal
solicitude for his comfort.
"That's nothing," said Barry. "When I see you here at your
unending work, it makes me feel more and more like a slacker."
"Wait for me here a moment," she said, and hurried away to return
shortly in such a glow of excitement as even her wonted calm and
self-restraint could not quite hide.
"I'm going to drive you to Etaples to-morrow in my car. I know the
matron and some of the nurses in the American hospital there."
"You don't mean it," said Barry, "but are you sure it's not a
terrible bore for you? I am much afraid that I have been a
nuisance to you, and you have been so very, very good to me."
"A bore!" she cried, and the brown eyes were wide open in surprise.
"A bore, and you a Canadian! Why, you are one of my brothers'
friends, and besides you seem to me a friend of our family. My
uncle Howard, you know, told me all about you. Besides," she added
in a voice of great gentleness, "you remember, I promised."
Barry caught her hand.
"I wish I could tell you all I feel about it, but somehow I can't
get the words."
She allowed her hand to remain in his for a moment or two; then
withdrawing it, said hurriedly, with a slight colour showing in her
"I think I understand." Then changing her tone abruptly, and
dropping into the business-like manner of a V. A. D., she said,
"So, we'll go to-morrow. It will he a splendid run, if the day is
fine. We had better start by nine o'clock to give us a long day."
Then, as if forgetting she was a V. A. D., she added with a little
catch in her voice, "Oh, I shall love it!"
The day proved to be fine,--one of those golden days of spring that
have given to the land its name of "sunny France." It was a day
for life and youth and hope. A day on which war seemed more than
ever a cruel outrage upon humanity. But across the sunniest days,
across the shining face of France, and across their spirits, too,
the war cast its black shadow. They both, however, seemed to have
resolved that for that day at least they would turn their eyes from
that shadow and let them rest only where the sun was shining.
The V. A. D. with her mind intent upon her wheel could only
contribute, as her share in the conversation, descriptive and
somewhat desultory comments upon points of interest along the way.
Barry, because it harmonised with his mood, talked about his father
and all their years together but ever without obtrusion of his
grief. The experiences of the past three days, which they had
shared, seemed to have established between them a sense of mutual
confidence and comradeship such as in ordinary circumstances would
have demanded years of companionship to effect. This sense of
sympathy and of perfect understanding on the part of the girl at
his side, together with the fascinating charm of her beauty, and
her sweetness, was to Barry's stricken heart like a healing balm to
an aching wound.
They were in sight of Etaples before Barry imagined they could have
made more than half the journey.
"Etaples, so soon! It cannot be!"
"But it is," said the girl, throwing a bright smile at him, "and
that's the hospital, on the hill yonder, where the flag is flying."
"Why," exclaimed Barry, "that's the American flag! What's the
American flag doing there?"
"It's flying over an American hospital," said the V. A. D. "I
think it's such a beautiful flag. In the breeze, it seems to me
the most beautiful of all the flags. The stripes seem to flow out
from the stars. Of course," she added hurriedly, "the Union Jack
with all its historic meaning and its mingled crosses, is
splendidly glorious and is more decorative, but I always think,
when I see those floating stripes, that the Americans have the most
"I admit," said Barry, "it's a beautiful flag, but--well, I'm a
Britisher, I suppose, and see it with British eyes. But why is
that flag flying here in France? How do the authorities allow
that? It's a neutral flag--awfully neutral, too."
"I understand they have permission from the French authorities to
fly that flag over every American institution in France. And you
know," continued the girl with rising enthusiasm, "if they are
neutral, they have immensely helped us, too, haven't they?--in
munitions and that sort of thing."
"That's true enough," agreed Barry, "and it's all the more
wonderful when you think of the millions of Germans that they have
in their country. I heard a very fine thing, not long ago, from a
friend of mine. A Pittsburgh oil man about to close a deal, with a
traveller, with millions in it, suddenly discovered that his oil
was to go to the Germans. At once the deal was off, and, though
the price was considerably raised, there was, in his own words,
'Nothing 'doing!' 'No stuff of mine,' he said, 'shall go to help
an enemy of the Anglo-Saxon race.' That's the way I believe the
real Americans feel."
"This is a wonderful hospital," said the V. A. D. "Whenever I see
it, I somehow feel my heart grow warm to the American people for
the splendid way in which they have helped poor France, for, you
know, in the first months of the war, the French hospitals were
"I know, I know!" cried Barry. "And the Canadians, too, have
chipped in a bit. We have a Canadian hospital in Paris, for the
French, and others are being organised."
They turned in at the gate and found themselves in a beautiful
quadrangle, set out with grass plots and flowers and cement walks.
The building itself, an ancient royal palace, had been enlarged by
means of sun-parlours and porches which gave it an air of wonderful
cheeriness and brightness.
"I will run in and see if any of my friends are about," said the
V. A. D. "Wait here for me. Unless you care to come in," she added.
"No, I will wait here. I don't just feel like meeting strangers
but, if there are Canadians in the hospital, I should like to see
them. And perhaps you can discover where my chief can be found, if
you don't mind."
Hardly had she passed within the door, when another car came
swiftly to the gate and drew up a little in front of Barry's. A
girl leaped from the wheel and with a spring in her step, which
spoke of a bounding vitality, ran up the steps.
What thought caught her it is difficult to say, but on the topmost
step she spun around and looked straight into Barry's eyes.
"Paula!" he shouted, and was out of the car and at the foot of the
steps, with hand outstretched, when, with a single touch of her
foot to the steps, she was at him, with both hands reaching for
"Barry, oh, Barry! It can't be you!" she panted. Her face went
red, then white, then red again. "Oh, it's better than a drink to
see you. Whence, how, why, whither? Oh, never mind answering,"
she went on. "It's enough to see you."
A step behind her diverted her attention from Barry. Barry ran up
the steps, and taking the V. A. D. by the hand, led her down.
"I want you to meet a friend of mine," he said and introduced
Paula's eyes, keen as a knife-point, were upon the V. A. D.'s face.
"I'm glad to know you," she said frankly, offering her hand.
"Principally," she added, with a little laugh, "because you know
The V. A. D. bowed with the slight reserve characteristic of her,
and took Paula's hand.
"I, too, am pleased," she said, "to meet a friend of Captain
Dunbar." Then she added with increased cordiality, "and I'm glad
to meet an American in France. I know your matron, and some of the
"Good!" cried Paula. "Now, then, you'll both of you take lunch
The V. A. D. demurred.
"Of course you will," cried Paula. "Oh, Barry, I'm just ready to
die from seeing you again. Come along!" she cried, impulsively,
catching the V. A. D. by the arm. "Come along and park your
buzzwagon here beside mine."
She ran to her car, sprang in and whirled it into place before the
V. A. D. had hers well started.
Barry waited where they had left him. The sudden appearing of
Paula had stirred within him depths of feeling that almost
overpowered him. His mind was far away in Athabasca, once more he
was seeing the dark pool, the swiftly flowing water, the campfire,
and his father bending over it. His heart was quivering as if a
hand had been rudely thrust into a raw wound in it.
The V. A. D. held Paula a few moments beside her car, speaking
quickly and earnestly. When they rejoined Barry, Paula's eyes were
soft with unshed tears, and her voice was very gentle.
"I know, Barry," she said. "Miss Vincent just told me. Oh, what
terrible changes this war brings to us all. We see so many sad
things here every day. It's terribly sad for you, Barry."
"Yes, it is sad, Paula, and it is going to be lonely. You have
brought back to me that bright day on the Athabasca. But," he
added earnestly, "after all, in this war everything personal is so
small. Besides, he was so splendid, you know, and the boys told me
he played the game up there right to the end. So I'm not going to
shame him; at least, I'm trying not to."
But bright as was Barry's smile, Paula caught the quivering of his
lips, and turned quickly away from him.
After a moment or two of silence, she cried, with her old
impulsiveness, "Now you will both lunch with me. I'm the
quartermaster of this outfit, and have a small parlour of my own.
We shall have a lovely, cosy time, just Miss Vincent, you and
"But," replied the V. A. D., "I have just arranged with the matron
to lunch with her."
"Oh, rubbish! I'll cut that out, all right. What's the use of
being quartermaster if I can't arrange a lunch party to suit
Still the V. A. D. demurred. With her, breaking an engagement for
lunch was a serious affair--was indeed taking a liberty which no
English girl would think of doing.
"Oh, that's nonsense!" cried Paula. "I'll make it perfectly all
right. Look here," she cried, wheeling upon the V. A. D., "you
Britishers are so terribly correct. I'll show you a little
shirtsleeve diplomacy. Besides, if you don't come in on this you
can have the matron, and I'll take Barry," she said with a
threatening smile. "Watch me!" she added, as she ran away.
"What a splendid girl!" said the V. A. D. "And that captivating
American way she has. Perfectly ripping, I call it. I do hope we
shall be friends."
In a short time Paula came rushing back into the room, announcing
triumphantly that arrangements had been made according to her
programme, with the matron in hearty accord.
"And she sends her love," she said to the V. A. D. "She would not
have you on any account miss this party. She is desperately
grieved that she cannot accept my invitation to join us. Of
course, I knew the old dear couldn't. And we are to meet her
The little lunch party was, on the whole, a success. To the
conversation Paula contributed the larger part, Barry doing his
best to second her. But in spite of his heroic efforts, his mind
would escape him, far away to the sunny Athabasca plains, and the
gleaming river and the smooth slipping canoe, and then with swift
transition to the little British plot in the cemetery at Boulogne.
At such times, Paula, reading his face, would momentarily falter in
her gay talk, only to begin again with renewed vivacity. On one
topic, however, she had no difficulty in holding Barry's attention.
It was when she told of the organising and despatching of the
American Red Cross units to France, and more especially of her own
unit, organised and financed by her father.
"I am awfully sorry he is not here to-day. He would have loved to
have seen you again, Barry."
"And I to have seen him," said Barry. "He is a big man, and it is
fine of him to do this thing. It's just like the big, generous-
hearted Americans--they are so unstinted in their sympathies, and
they back them up for all they are worth."
"And how efficient they are," added the V. A. D. in warm admiration.
"This hospital, you know," turning to Barry, "is perfectly wonderful.
Its equipment! Its appliances! I have often heard our O. C. speak
in the most rapturous envy of the Etaples American Red Cross unit."
"And why should not it be?" cried Paula. "It's a question of money
after all. We are not at war. We put in a few little hospitals
here in France. We have more money thrown at us than we can use.
And you talk about efficiency," she added, turning to the V. A. D.
"Good Lord! My pater has just come back from London, where he was
rubbering around with lords and dukes and things in a disgustingly
un-American way I told him, and now he raves from morning until
night over the efficiency of the British. He's been allowed to see
some of their munition works, you know. I simply had to declaim
the American Declaration of Independence to him three times a day
to revive his drooping Democratic sentiments, and I had to sew Old
Glory on to his pajamas so that he might dream proper American
dreams. No, to tell you the truth," here Paula's voice took a
deeper note, "every last American of us here in France is hot with
humiliation and rage at his country's attitude,--monkeying with
those baby-killing, woman-raping devils."
As she ended, her voice shook with passion, her cheeks were pale,
and in her eyes shone two bright tears. Impulsively the V. A. D.
rose from her place, ran around to Paula, and putting her arm
around her neck, said:
"Oh, I do thank you, and I love you for your words," while Barry
stood at attention, as if in the presence of his superior officer.
"I salute you," he said with grave earnestness. "You worthily
represent your brave and generous people."
"Oh, darn it all!" cried Paula, brushing away her tears. "I'm a
fool, but you don't know how we Americans feel--real Americans, I
mean, not the yellow hyphenated breed."
After lunch, Barry went to look up his chief, the assistant
director of chaplain service, while Paula took charge of the
V. A. D., saying:
"Run away, Barry, and see your Brass Hat. I'll show Miss Vincent
how a quartermaster's department of a real hospital should be run."
His hour with the A. D. C. S. was a most stimulating experience for
Barry. He found himself at once in touch with not an official
thinking in terms of military regulations and etiquette, but a
soldier and a man. For the A. D. C. S. was both. Through all the
terrible days at Ypres, where the Canadians, in that welter of gas
and fire and blood, had won their imperishable fame as fighting
men, he had been with them, sharing their dangers and ministering
to their wants with his brother officers of the fighting line.
Physically an unimpressive figure, small and slight, yet he seemed
charged with concentrated energy waiting release.
As Barry listened to his words coming forth in snappy, jerking
phrases, he was fascinated by the bulldog jaw and piercing eyes of
the little man. In brief, comprehensive, vigorous sentences, he