BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Black Rock : a tale of the Selkirks [Gordon, Charles William, 1860-1937] 1898

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LACK ROCK :  a tale
of the Selkirks . . by
Ralph Connor
With an Introduction
by Professor George
Adam Smith, LL.D.
I Entered according to trie Act of Parliament of Canada,
in the year 1898 by the Westminster Company,
in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture     -jl|
I think I have met " Ralph Connor." Indeed, I
am sure I have—once in a canoe on the Red River,
once on the Assinaboine, and twice or thrice on the
prairies to the West. That was not the name he
gave me, but, if I am right, it covers, one of the
most honest and genial of the strong characters
that are fighting the devil and doing good work for
men all over the world. He has seen with his own
tyes the life which he describes in this book, and
las himself, for some years of hard and lonely toil,
assisted in the good influences which he traces
among its wild and often hopeless conditions. He
writes with the freshness and accuracy of an eyewitness, with the style (as I think his readers will
allow) of a real artist, and with the tenderness and
hopefulness of a man not only of faith but of experience, who has seen in fulfillment the ideals for
which he lives.
The life to which he takes us, though far off and
very strange to our tame minds, is the life of our
brothers.   Into the Northwest of Canada the young Introduction
men of Great Britain and Ireland have been pouring
(I was told), sometimes at the rate of 48,000 a year.
Our brothers who left home yesterday—our hearts
cannot but follow them. With these pages Ralph
Connor enables our eyes and our minds to follow,
too; nor do I think there is any one who shall read
this book and not find also that his conscience is
quickened. There is a warfare appointed unto man
upon earth, and its struggles are nowhere more intense, nor the victories of the strong, nor the succors brought to the fallen, more heroic, than on the
fields described in this volume.
George Adam Smit& BLACK ROCK
The story of the book is true, and chief of the
failures in the making of the book is this, that it
is not all the truth. The light is not bright
enough, the shadow is not black enough to give
a true picture of that bit of Western life of which
the writer was some small part. The men of
the book are still there in the mines and lumber
camps of the mountains, fighting out that eternal
fight for manhood, strong, clean, God-conquered.
And, when the west winds blow, to the open
ear the sounds of battle come, telling the fortunes of the fight.
Because a man's life is all he has, and because
the only hope of the brave young West lies in
its men, this story is told. It may be that the
tragic pity of a broken life may move some to
pray, and that that divine power there is in a
single brave heart to summon forth hope and
courage may move some to fight. If so, the
tale is not told in vain,
c w. a  CONTENTS
CHAPTBR. p \qu
I. Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp.........   il
II.   The Black Rock Christmas 31
III. Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory 57
IV. Mrs. Mayor's Story 79
V.   The Making of the League 99
VI.   Black Rock Religion , 119
VII.   The First Black Rock Communion 137
VIII.   The Breaking of the League 155
IX.   The League's Revenge e 177
X.    What Came to Slavin 197
XL   The Two Calls 225
XII.   Love is Not All .245
XIII. How Nelson Came Home 261
XIV. Graeme's New Birth .275
XV.    With the Shield, or on it 297
XVI.   Coming to their Own ,..•..... 3°5  CHAPTER I
It was due to a mysterious dispensation of Providence, and a good deal to Leslie Graeme, that I
found myself in the heart of the Selkirks for my
Christmas Eve as the year 1882 was dying. It had
been my plan to spend my Christmas far away in
Toronto, with such Bohemian and boon companions
as could be found in that cosmopolitan and kindly
city. But Leslie Graeme changed all that, for, discovering me in the village of Black Rock, with my
traps all packed, waiting for the stage to start for
the Landing, thirty miles away, he bore down upon
me with resistless force, and I found myself recovering from my surprise only after we had gone
in his lumber sleigh some six miles on our way to
his camp up in the mountains. I was surprised and
much delighted, though I would not allow him to
think so, to find that his old-time power over me
was still there. He could always in the old 'Varsity
days—dear, wild days—make me do what he liked.
He was so handsome and so reckless, brilliant in his
class-work,  and the prince of half-backs on the
11 12
Black Rock
Rugby field, and with such power of fascination as
would 'extract the heart out of a wheelbarrow/
as Barney Lundy used to say. And thus it was that
I found myself just three weeks later—I was to have
spent two or three days,—on the afternoon of the
24th of December, standing in Graeme's Lumber
Camp No. 2, wondering at myself. But I did not
regret my changed plans, for in those three weeks I
had raided a cinnamon bear's den and had wakened
up a grizzly— But I shall let the grizzly finish the
tale; he probably sees more humour in it than I.
The camp stood in a little clearing, and consisted
of a group of three long, low shanties with smaller
shacks near them, all built of heavy, unhewn logs,
with door and window in each. The grub camp,
with cook-shed attached, stood in the middle of the
clearing; at a little distance was the sleeping-camp
with the office built against it, and about a hundred
yards away on the other side of the clearing stood
the stables, and near them the smiddy. The mountains rose grandly on every side, throwing up their
great peaks into the sky. The clearing in which
the camp stood was hewn out of a dense pine forest
that filled the valley and climbed half way up the
mountain-sides, and then frayed out in scattered
and stunted trees. Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     13
It was one of those wonderful Canadian winter
days, bright, and with a touch of sharpness in the
air that did not chill, but warmed the blood like
draughts of wine. The men were up in the woods,
and the shrill scream of the blue jay flashing across
the open, the impudent chatter of the red squirrel
from the top of the grub camp, and the pert chirp
of the whisky-jack, hopping about on the rubbish-
heap, with the long, lone cry of the wolf far down
the valley, only made the silence felt the more.
As I stood drinking in with all my soul the
glorious beauty and the silence of mountain and
forest, with the Christmas feeling stealing into me,
Graeme came out from his office, and, catching sight
of me, called out, 'Glorious Christmas weather,
old chap!' And then, coming nearer, 'Must you
go to-morrow ? \
'I fear so,' I replied, knowing well that the
Christmas feeling was on him too.
'I wish I were going with you,' he said quietly.
I turned eagerly to persuade him, but at the look
of suffering in his face the words died at my lips,
for we both were thinking of the awful night of
horror when all his bright, brilliant life crashed
down about him in black ruin and shame. I could
only throw my arm over his shoulder and stand 1+
Black Rock
silent beside him. A sudden jingle of bells roused
him, and, giving himself a little shake, he exclaimed, ' There are the boys coming home.'
Soon the camp was filled with men talking,
laughing, chaffing, like light-hearted boys.
'They are a little wild to-night,' said Graeme;
'and to-morrow they'll paint Black Rock red.'
Before many minutes had gone, the last teamster
was 'washed up,' and all were standing about
waiting impatiently for the cook's signal—the supper to-night was to be ' something of a feed '—
when the sound of bells drew their attention to a
light sleigh drawn by a buckskin broncho coming
down the hillside at a great pace.
'The preacher, I'll bet, by his driving,' said one
of the men.
' Bedad, and it's him has the foine nose for
turkey!' said Blaney, a good-natured, jovial Irishman.
'Yes, or for pay-day, more like,' said Keefe,
a black-browed, villainous fellow-countryman of
Blaney's, and, strange to say, his great friend.
Big Sandy M'Naughton, a Canadian Highlander
from Glengarry, rose up in wrath. 'Bill Keefe/
said he, with deliberate emphasis, 'you'll just keep
your dirty tongue off the minister; and as for your
S^SK Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     15
pay, it's little he sees of it, or any one else, except
Mike Slavin, when you're too dry to wait for some
one to treat you, or perhaps Father Ryan, when the
fear of hell-fire is on to you/
The men stood amazed at Sandy's sudden anger
and length of speech.
'Bon; dat's good for you, my bully boy,' said
Baptiste, a wiry little French-Canadian, Sandy's
sworn ally and devoted admirer ever since the day
when the big Scotsman, under great provocation,
had knocked him clean off the dump into the river
and then jumped in for him.
It was not till afterward I learned the cause of
Sandy's sudden wrath which urged him to such
unwonted length of speech. It was not simply
that the Presbyterian blood carried with it reverence for the minister and contempt for Papists and
Fenians, but that he had a vivid remembrance of
how, only a month ago, the minister had got him
out of Mike Slavin's saloon and out of the clutches
of Keefe and Slavin and their gang of bloodsuckers.
Keefe started up with a curse. Baptiste sprang
to Sandy's side, slapped him on the back, and
called out, 'You keel him, I'll hit (eat) him up,
me/ i6
Black Rock
It looked as if there might be a fight, when a
harsh voice said in a low, savage tone, 'Stop your
row, you blank fools; settle it, if you want to,
somewhere else.' I turned, and was amazed to
see old man Nelson, who was very seldom moved
to speech.
There was a look of scorn on his nard, iron-grey
face, and of such settled fierceness as made me
quite believe the tales I had heard of his deadly
fights in the mines at the coast. Before any reply
could be made, the minister drove up and called
out in a cheery voice, 'Merry Christmas, boys!
Hello, Sandy! Comment ça va, Baptiste? How
do you do, Mr. Graeme t '
'First rate. Let me ntroduce my friend, Mr.
Connor, smrietime medical student, now artist,
hunter, and tramp at large, but not a bad sort.'
'A man to be envied,' said the minister, smiling.
'I am glad to know any friend of Mr. Graeme's.'
I liked Mr. Craig from the first. He had good
eyes that looked straight out at you, a clean-cut,
strong face well set on his shoulders, and altogether
an upstanding, manly bearing. He insisted on going with Sandy to the stables to see Dandy, his
broncho, put up.
'Decent fellow/ said Graeme; 'but though he Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     17
is good enough to his broncho, it is Sandy that's in
his mind now/
'Does he come out often ? I mean, are you part
of his parish, so to speak?'
'I have no doubt he thinks so; and I'm blowed
if he doesn't make the Presbyterians of us think so
too/ And he added after a pause, 'A dandy lot of
parishioners we are for any man. There's Sandy,
now, he would knock Keefe's head off as a kind
of religious exercise; but to-morrow Keefe will be
sober, and Sandy will be drunk as a lord, and the
drunker he is the better Presbyterian he'll be, to the
preacher's disgust.' Then after another pause he
added bitterly, ' But it is not for me to throw rocks
at Sandy; I am not the same kind of fool, but I am
a fool of several other sorts/
Then the cook came out and beat a tattoo on the
bottom of a dish-pan. Baptiste answered with a
yell: but though keenly hungry, no man would
demean himself to do other than walk with apparent reluctance to his place at the table. At the
further end of the camp was a big fireplace, and
from, the door to the fireplace extended the long
board tables, covered with platters of turkey not
too scientifically carved, dishes of potatoes, bowls
of apple sauce, plates of butter, pies, and smaller Black Rock
dishes distributed at regular intervals. Two lanterns hanging from the roof, and a row of candles
stuck into the wall on either side by means of slit
sticks, cast a dim, weird light over the scene.
There was a moment's silence, and at a nod from
Graeme Mr. Craig rose and said, 'I don't know
how you feel about it, men, but to me this looks
good enough to be thankful for/
'Fire ahead, sir,' called out a voice quite respectfully, and the minister bent his head and said —
' For Christ the Lord who came to save us, for
all the love and goodness we have known, and for
thesB Thy gifts to us this Christmas night, our
Father, make us thankful.    Amen/
'Bon, dat's fuss rate/ said Baptiste. 'Seems
lak dat's make me hit (eat) more better for sure/
and then no word was spoken for quarter of an
hour. The occasion was far too solemn and moments too precious for anything so empty as words.
But when the white piles of bread and the brown
piles of turkey had for a second time vanished, and
after the last pie had disappeared, there came a
pause and hush of expectancy, whereupon the cook
and cookee, each bearing aloft a huge, blazing pudding, came forth.
'Hooray!' yelled Blaney,   'up wid yez!' and Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     19
grabbing the cook bv the shoulders from behind, he
faced him about.
Mr. Craig was the first to respond, and seizing
the cookee in the same way, called out, ' Squad, fall
in ! quick march ! ' In a moment every man was
in the procession.
'Strike up, Batchees, ye little angel!' shouted
Blaney, the appellation a concession to the minister's presence; and away went Baptiste in a rollicking French song with the English chorus —
* Then blow, ye winds, in the morning,
Blow, ye winds, ay oh !
Blow, ye winds, in the morning,
Blow, blow, blow.'
And at each ' blow ' every boot came down with
a thump on the plank floor that shook the solid roof.
After the second round, Mr. Craig jumped upon the
bench, and called out —
'Three cheers for Billy the cook!*
In the silence following the cheers Baptiste was
heard to say, 'Bon! dat's mak me feel lak hit dat
puddin' all hup mesef, me.'
'Hear till the little baste! ' said Blaney in disgust.
'Batchees,' remonstrated Sandy gravely, 'ye'vc
more stomach than manners.' ■s^feiSîtëSKte
Black Rock
'Fu sure! but de more stomach dat's more better
for dis puddin',' replied the little Frenchman cheerfully.
After a time the tables were cleared and pushed
back to the wall, and pipes were produced. In all
attitudes suggestive of comfort the men disposed
themselves in a wide circle about the fire, which
now roared and crackled up the great wooden
chimney hanging from the roof. The lumberman's
hour of bliss had arrived. Even old man Nelson
looked a shade less melancholy than usual as he sat
alone, well away from the fire, smoking steadily and
silently. When the second pipes were well agoing, one of the men took down a violin from the
wall and handed it to Lachlan Campbell. There
were two brothers Campbell just out from Argyll,
typical Highlanders : Lachlan, dark, silent, melancholy, with the face of a mystic, and Angus, red-
haired, quick, impulsive, and devoted to his brother,
a devotion he thought proper to cover under biting,
sarcastic speech.
Lachlan, after much protestation, interspersed
with gibes from his brother, took the violin, and, in
response to the call from all sides, struck up ' Lord
Macdonald's Reel.' In a moment the floor was
filled with dancers, whooping and cracking their
cassas Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     21
fingers in the wildest manner. Then Baptiste did
the 'Red River Jig,' a most intricate and difficult
series of steps, the men keeping time to the music
with hands and feet.
When the jig was finished, Sandy called for
'Lochaber No More'; but Canpbell said, 'No,
no! I cannot play that to-night. Mr. Craig will
Craig took the violin, and at the first note I knew
he was no ordinary player. I did not recognise the
music, but it was soft and thrilling, and got in by
the heart, till every one was thinking his tenderest
and saddest thoughts.
After he had played two or three exquisite bits,
he gave Campbell his violin, saying, 'Now, " Lochaber," Lachlan.'
Without a word Lachlan began, not 'Lochaber'
—he was not ready for that yet—but ' The Flowers
0' the Forest,' and from that wandered through
'Auld Robin Gray' and 'The Land oy the Leal/
and so got at last to that most soul-subduing of
Scottish laments, 'Lochaber No More.' At the
first strain, his brother, who had thrown himself on
some blankets behind the fire, turned over on his
face, feigning sleep. Sandy M'Naughton took his
pipe out of his mouth, and sat up straight and stiff, 22
Black Rock
staring into vacancy, and Graeme, beyond the fire,
drew a short, sharp breath. We had often sat,
Graeme and I, in our student-days, in the drawing-
room at home, listening to his father wailing out
'Lochaber' upon the pipes, and I well knew that
the awful minor strains were now eating their way
into his soul.
Over and over again the Highlander played his
lament. He had long since forgotten us, and was
seeing visions of the hills and lochs and glens of his
far-away native land, and making us, too, see
strange things out of the dim past. I glanced at
old man Nelson, and was startled at the eager,
almost piteous, look in his eyes, and I wished
Campbell would stop. Mr. Craig caught my eye,
and, stepping over to Campbell, held out his hand
for the violin. Lingeringly and lovingly the Highlander drew out the last strain, and silently gave
the minister his instrument.
Without a moment's pause, and while the spell
of ' Lochaber ' was still upon us, the minister, with
exquisite skill, fell into the refrain of that simple
and beautiful camp-meeting hymn, ' The Sweet By
and By.' After playing the verse through once, he
sang softly the refrain. After the first verse, the
men joined in the chorus; at first timidly, but by Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp    23
the time the third verse was reached they were
shouting with throats full open, ' We shall meet on
that beautiful shore.' When I looked at Nelson
the eager light had gone out of his eyes, and in its
place was a kind of determined hopelessness, as if
in this new music he had no part.
After the voices had ceased, Mr. Craig played
again the refrain, more and more softly and
slowly; then laying the violin on Campbell's
knees, he drew from his pocket his little Bible,
and said —
'Men, with Mr. Graeme's permission, I want to
read you something this Christmas Eve. You will
all have heard it before, but you will like it none the
less for that/
His voice was soft, but clear and penetrating, as
he read the eternal story of the angels and the
shepherds and the Babe. And as he read, a slight
motion of the hand or a glance of an eye made us
see, as he was seeing, that whole radiant drama.
The wonder, the timid joy, the tenderness, the
mystery of it all, were borne in upon us with overpowering effect. He closed the book, and in the
same low, clear voice went on to tell us how, in his
home years ago, he used to stand on Christmas Eve
glistening in thrilling delight to his mother telling mt
Black Rock
him the story, and how she used to make him see
the shepherds and hear the sheep bleating near by,
and how the sudden burst of glory used to make his
heart jump.
' I used to be a little afraid of the angels, because
a boy told me they were ghosts; but my mother
told me better, and I didn't fear them any more.
And the Baby, the dear little Baby—we all love a
baby.' There was a quick, dry sob; it was from
Nelson. ' I used to peek through under to see the
little one in the straw, and wonder what things
swaddling clothes were. Oh, it was all so real and
so beautiful! ' He paused, and I could hear the men
'But one Christmas Eve/ he went on, in a
lower, sweeter tone, ' there was no one to tell me
the story, and I grew to forget it, and went away
to college, and learned to think that it was only a
child's tale and was not for men. Then bad days
came to me and worse, and I began to lose my grip
of myself, of life, of hope, of goodness, till one
black Christmas, in the slums of a far-away city,
when I had given up all, and the devil's arms were
about me, I heard the story again. And as I
listened, with a bitter ache in my heart, for I had
put it all behind me, I suddenly found myself peek- Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     25
ing under the shepherds' arms with a child's
wonder at the Baby in the straw. Then it came
over me like great waves, that His name was Jesus,
because it was He that should save men from their
sins. Save! Save! The waves kept beating upon
my ears, and before I knew, I had called out, "Oh!
can He save me ? " It was in a little mission meeting on one of the side streets, and they seemed to
be used to that sort of thing there, for no one was
surprised; and a young fellow leaned across the
aisle to me and said, "Why! you just bet He can!"
His surprise that I should doubt, his bright face and
confident tone, gave me hope that perhaps it might
be so. I held to that hope with all my soul, and '—
stretching up his arms, and with a quick glow in
his face and a little break in his voice, ' He hasn't
failed me yet; not once, not once! '
He stopped quite short, and I felt a good deal
like making a fool of myself, for in those days I
had not made up my mind about these things.
Graeme, poor old chap, was gazing at him with a
sad yearning in his dark eyes ; big Sandy was sit-
tingxvery stiff, and staring harder than ever into the
fire; Baptiste wras trembling with excitement;
Blaney was openly wiping the tears away. But
the face that held my eyes was that of old man aô
Black Rock
Nelson. It was white, fierce, hungry-looking, his
sunken eyes burning, his lips parted as if to cry.
The minister went on. 'I didn't mean to tell
you this, men, it all came over me with a rush; but
it is true, every word, and not a word will I take
back. And, what's more, I can tell you this, what
He did for me He can do for any man, and it doesn't
make any difference what's behind him, and'—
leaning slightly forward, and with a little thril! of
pathos vibrating in his voice—' O boys, why don't
you give Him a chance at you? Without Him
you'll never be the men you want to be, and you'll
never get the better of that that's keeping some of
you now from going back home. You know you'll
never go back till you're the men you want to be."
Then, lifting up his face and throwing back his head,
he said, as if to himself, 'Jesus! He shall save His
people from their sins,' and then, ' Let us pray.'
Graeme leaned forward with his face in hia
hands; Baptiste and Blaney dropped on their knees;
Sandy, the Campbells, and some others, stood up.
Old man Nelson held his eyes steadily on the minister.
Only once before had I seen that look on a human face. A young fellow had broken through the
ice on the river at home, and as the black water
mm Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     27
was dragging his fingers one by one from the slippery edges, there came over his face that same look.
I used to wake up for many a night after in a sweat
of horror, seeing the white face with its parting
lips, and its piteous, dumb appeal, and the black
water slowly sucking it down.
Nelson'é face brought it all back; but during the
prayer the face changed, and seemed to settle into
resolve of some sort, stern, almost gloomy/as of a
man with his last chance before him.
After the prayer Mr. Craig invited the men to a
Christmas dinner next day in Black Rock. 'And
because you are an independent lot, we'll charge
you half a dollar for dinner and the evening show.'
Then leaving a bundle of magazines and illustrated
papers on the table—a godsend to the men—he said
good-bye and went out.
I was to go with the minister, so I jumped into
the sleigh first, and waited while he said good-bye
to Graeme, who had been hard hit by the whole
service, and seemed to want to say something. I
heard Mr. Craig say cheerfully and confidently, 'It's
a true bill: try Him.'
Sandy, who had been steadying Dandy while
that interesting broncho was attempting with great
success to balance himself on his hind legs, came to 28
Black Rock
say good-bye. 'Come and see me first thing,
'Ay! I know; I'll see ye, Mr. Craig,' said Sandy-,
earnestly, as Dandy dashed off at a full gallop
across the clearing and over the bridge, steadying
down when he reached the hill.
'Steady, you idiot!'
This was to Dandy, who had taken a sudden side
spring into the deep snow, almost upsetting us. A
man stepped out from the shadow. It was old
man Nelson. He came straight to the sleigh, and,
ignoring my presence completely, said —
' Mr. Craig, are you dead sure of this ? Will it
work ? '
'Do you mean,' said Craig, taking him up
promptly, 'can Jesus Christ save you from your
sins and make a man of you ? '
The old man nodded, keeping his hungry eyes on
the other's face.
'Well, here's His message to you: "The Son of
Man is come to seek and to save that which was
' To me ?   To me ? ' said the old man, eagerly.
'Listen; this, too, is His word: "Him that
cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." That's
for you, for here you are, coming.' Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp     29
' You don't know me, Mr. Craig. I left my
baby fifteen years ago because '
' Stop ! ' said the- minister. ' Don't tell me, at
least not to-night; perhaps never. Tell Him who
knows it all now, and who never betrays a secret.
Have it out with Him. Don't be afraid to trust
Nelson looked at him, with his face quivering,
and said in a husky voice, ' If this is no good, it's
hell for me/
'If it is no good,' replied Craig, almost sternly,
'it's hell for all of us.'
The old man straightened himself up, looked up
at the stars, then back at Mr. Craig, then at me, and,
drawing a deep breath said, 'I'll try Him.' As he
was turning away the minister touched him on the
arm, and said quietly, ' Keep an eye on Sandy tomorrow.'
Nelson nodded, and we went on ; but before we
took the next turn I looked back and saw what
brought a lump into my throat. It was old man
Nelson on his knees in the snow, with his hands
spread upward to the stars, and I wondered if there
was any One above the stars, and nearer than the
stars, who could see. And then the trees hid him
from my sight. 9 i'ii OTifilil MMBJI^m^HMBB^H
«   M        BMBMBllliBW The Black Rock Christmas
Many strange Christmas Days have I seen, but
that wild Black Rock Christmas stands out strangest
of all. While I was revelling in my delicious
second morning sleep, just awake enough to enjoy
it, Mr. Craig came abruptly, announcing breakfast
and adding, ' Hope you are in good shape, for we
have our work before us this day.'
'Hello!' I replied, still half asleep, and anxious
to hide from the minister that I was trying to gain
a few more moments of snoozing delight, ' what's
abroad ? '
'The devil,' he answered shortly, and with such
emphasis that I sat bolt upright, looking anxiously
'Oh! no need for alarm. He's not after you
particularly—at least not to-day,' said Craig, with
a shadow of a smile. ' But he is going about in
good style, I can tell you.'
By this time I was quite awake. 'Well, what
particular style does His Majesty affect this morning ?'
tâflÉfl &%£&â&&mM*M£JÙ
Black Rock
He pulled out a' showbill. 'Peculiarly gaudy
and effective, is it not ? '
The items announced were sufficiently attractive.
The 'Frisco Opera Company were to produce the
'screaming farce,' 'The Gay and Giddy Dude';
after which there was to be a 'Grand Ball/ during
which the 'Kalifornia Female Kickers' were to do
some fancy figures; the whole to be followed by a
' big supper ' with ' two free drinks to every man
and one to the lady,' and all for the insignificant
sum of two dollars.
' Can't you go one better ? ' I said.
He looked inquiringly and a little disgustedly at
'What can you do against free drinks and a
dance, not to speak of the "High Kickers"?' he
'No!' he continued; 'it's a clean beat for us?
to-day. The miners and lumbermen will have in
their pockets ten thousand dollars, and every dollar
burning a hole; and Slavin and his gang willget
most of it. But,' he added, 'you must have
breakfast You'll find a tub in the kitchjn; don't
be afraid to splash. It is the best I have to offer
The tub sounded inviting, and before many min- The Black Rock Christmas 35
utes had passed I was in a delightful glow, the effect
of cold water and a rough towel, and that consciousness of virtue that comes to a man who has had
courage to face his cold bath on a winter morning.
The breakfast was laid with fine taste. A diminutive pine-tree, in a pot hung round with winter-
green, stood in the centre of the table.
'Well, now, this looks good; porridge, beefsteak, potatoes, toast, and marmalade.'
' I hope you will enjoy it all/
There was not much talk over our meal. Mr.
Craig was evidently preoccupied, and'as blue as his
politeness would allow him. Slavin's victory
weighed upon his spirits. Finally he burst out,
'Look here! I can't, I won't stand it; something
must be done. Last Christmas this town was for
two weeks, as one of the miners said, " a little suburb of hell." It was something too awful. And at
the end of it all one young fellow was found dead
in his shack, and twenty or more crawled back to
the camps, leaving their three months' pay with
Slavin and his suckers.
'I won't>stand it, I say/ He turned fiercely on
me.    ' What's to be done ? '
This rather took me aback, for I had troubled myself with nothing of this sort in my life before, 36
Black Rock
being fully occupied in keeping myself out of difficulty, and allowing others the same privilege. So
I ventured the consolation that he had done his part,
and that a spree more or less would not make much
difference to these men. But the next moment I
wished I had been slower in spfeech, for he swiftly
faced me, and his words came like a torrent.
'God forgive you that heartless WordL Do you
know—? But no; you don't know what you
are saying.. You don't know^that these men have
been clambering for dear life out of a fearful pit
for three months past, and (doing good climbing
too, poor chaps. You don't think that some of
them have wives, most of them mothers and sis-
ters, in the east or across the sea, for whose sake
they are slaving here; the miners hoping to save
enough to bring their families to this homeless
place, the rest to make enough to go back with
credit. Why, there's Nixon, miner, splendid chap;
has been here for two years, and drawing the highest pay. Twice he has been in sight of his heaven,"^
for he can't speak of his wife and babies without
breaking up, and twice that slick son of the devil—
that's Scripture, mind you—Slavin, got him, and
"rolled" him, as the boys say. He went back to
the mines broken in body and in heart.    He says The Black Rock Christmas 37
this is his third and last chance. If Slavin gets him,
his wife and babies will never see him on earth or
in heaven. There is Sandy, too, and the rest.
And/ he added, in a lower tone, and with the curious little thrill of pathos in his voice, 'this is the
day the Saviour came to the world.' He paused,
and then with a little sad smile, ' But I don't want
to abuse you/
' Do, I enjoy it, I'm a beast, a selfish beast; ' for
somehow his intense, blazing earnestness made me
feel uncomfortably small.
' What have we to offer ?' I demanded.
'Wait till I have got these things cleared away,
and my housekeeping done.'
I pressed my services upon him, somewhat
feebly, I own, for I can't bear dishwater; but he rejected my offer.
] I don't like trusting my china to the hands of a
' Quite right, though your china would prove an
excellent means of defence at long range/ It was
delf, a quarter of an inch thick. So I smoked while
he washed up, swept, dusted, and arranged the
After the room was ordered to his taste, we proceeded to hold council.   He could offer   dinner. Black Rock
magic lantern, music. ' We can fill in time for
two hours, but,' he added gloomily, 'we can't
beat the dance and the " High Kickers." '
' Have you nothing new or startling ? '
He shook his head.
'No kind of show? Dog show? Snake
charmer ? '
'Slavin has ^monopoly of the snakes/
Then he added hesitatingly, ' There was an old
Punch-and-Judy chap here last year, but he died.
Whisky again.'
' What happened to his show ?'
'The Black Rock Hotel man took it for board
and whisky bill.    He has it still, I suppose.'
I did not much relish the business; but I hated tc>
see him beaten, so I ventured, ' I have run a Punch
and Judy in an amateur way at the 'Varsity.'
He sprang to his feet with a yell.
'You have! you mean to say it? We've got
them ! We've beaten them ! ' He had an extraordinary way of taking your help for granted. ' The
miner chaps, mostly English and Welsh, went mad
over the poor old showman, and made him so
wealthy that in sheer gratitude he drank himself to
He walked up and down in high excitement and The Black Rock Christmas 39
in such evident delight that I felt pledged to my
best effort.
'Well,' I said, 'first the poster. We must beat
them in that.'
He brought me large sheets of brown paper, and
after two hours' hard work I had half a dozen pictorial showbills done in gorgeous colours and striking designs.    They were good, if I do say it myself.
The turkey, the magic lantern, the Punch and
Judy show were all there, the last with a crowd
before it in gaping delight. A few explanatory
words were thrown in, emphasising the highly artistic nature of the Punch and Judy entertainment.
Craig was delighted, and proceeded to perfect his
plans. He had some half a dozen young men, four
young ladies, and eight or ten matrons, upon whom
he could depend for help. These he organised into
a vigilance committee charged with the duty of
preventing miners and lumbermen from getting
away to Slavin's. 'The critical moments will be
immediately before and after dinner, and then again
after the show is over/ he explained. 'The first
two crises must be left to the care of Punch and
Judy, wd as for the last, I am not yet sure what
«hall be done;' but I saw he had something in his
head, for he added, ' I shall see Mrs. Mavor/ Black Rock
'Who is Mrs. Mavor?' I asked But he made
no reply. He was a born fighter, and he put the
fighting spirit into us all.   We were bound to win.
The sports were to begin at two o'clock. By
lunch-time everything was in readiness. After
lunch I was having a quiet smoke in Craig's shack
when in he rushed, saying -
'The battle will be lost before it is fought. If
we lose Quatre Bras, we shall never get to Waterloo.'
'What's up?'
'Slavin, just now. The miners are coming in,
and he will have them in tow in half an hour.'
He looked at me appealingly. I knew what he
'All right; I suppose I must, but it is an awful
bore that a man can't have a quiet smoke.'
'You're not half a bad fellow,' he replied, smiling. ' I shall get the ladies to furnish coffee inside
the booth. You furnish them intellectual nourishment in front with dear old Punch and Judy.'
He sent a boy with a bell round the village announcing, ' Punch and Judy in front of the Christmas booth beside the church ' ; and for three-quar-^
ters of an hour I shrieked and sweated in that awful
little pen.   But it was almost worth it to hear the
H The Black Rock Christmas.
shouts of approval and laughter that greeted my
performance. It was cold work standing about, so
that the crowd was quite ready to respond when
Punch, after being duly hanged, came forward and
invited all into the booth for the hot coffee which
Judy had ordered.
In they trooped, and Quatre Bras was won.
No sooner were the miners safely engaged with
their coffee than I heard a great noise of bells and
of men shouting; and on reaching the street I saw
that the men from the lumber camp were coming
in. Two immense sleighs, decorated with ribbons
and spruce boughs, each drawn by a four-horse
team gaily adorned, filled with some fifty men,
singing and shouting with all their might, were
coming down the hill road at full gallop Round
the corner they swung,^dashed at full speed across
the bridge and down the street, and pulled up after
they had made the circuit of a block, to the great
admiration of the onlookers. Among others Slavin
sauntered up good-naturedly, making himself agreeable to Sandy and those who were helping to unhitch his team.
I Oh, you need not take trouble with me or my
team, Mike Slavin. Batchees and me and the boys
can look after them fine,' said Sandy coolly. Black Rock
This rejecting of hospitality was perfectly understood by Slavin and by all.
'Dat's too bad, heh?' said Baptiste wickedly;
' and, Sandy, he's got good money on his pocket
for sure, too.' The boys laughed, and Slavin, joining in, turned away with Keefe and Blaney; but by
the look in his eye I knew he was playing 'Br'er
Rabbit,' and lying low.
Mr. Craig just then came up, ' Hello, boys ! too
late for Punch and Judy, but just in time for hot
coffee and doughnuts.'
'Bon; dat's fuss rate,' said Baptiste heartily;
' where you keep him ?'
'Up in the tent next the church there. The
miners are all in.'
'Ah, dat so? Dat's bad news for the shanty-
men, heh, Sandy ? j said the little Frenchman dole-
'There was a clothes-basket full of doughnuts
and a boiler of coffee left as I passed just now,'
said Craig encouragingly.
'Allons, mes garçons; vite! never say keel!'
cried Baptiste excitedly, stripping off the harness.
But Sandy would not leave the horses till they
were carefully rubbed down, blanketed, and fed,
for he was entered for the four-horse race and it
Hb The Black Rock Christmas
behoved him to do his best to win. Besides, he
scorned to hurry himself for anything so unimportant as eating ; that he considered hardly worthy
even of Baptiste. Mr. Craig managed to get a
word with him before he went off, and I saw
Sandy solemnly and emphatically shake his head,
saying, 'Ah! we'll beat him this day,' and I
gathered that he was added to the vigilance committee.
Old man Nelson was busy with his own team.
He turned slowly at Mr. Craig's greeting, ' How is
it, Nelson?' and it was with a very grave voice he
answered, 'I hardly know, sir; but I am not gone
yet, though it seems little to hold to/
'AH you want for a grip is what your hand can
cover. What would you have? And besides, do
you know why you are not gone yet ? '
The old man waited, looking at the minister
' Because He hasn't let go His grip of you.
' How do you know He's gripped me ?'
'Now, look here, Nelson, do you want to quit
this thing and give it all up ? '
'No, no! For Heaven's sake, no! Why, do you
think I have lost it ? ' said Nelson, almost piteously.
'Well, He's keener about it than you;  and I'll rw
Black Rock
bet you haven't thought it worth while to thank
'To thank Him,' he repeated, almost stupidly,
'for '
' For keeping you where you are overnight,' said
Mr. Craig, almost sternly.
The old man gazed at the minister, a light growing in his eyes.
'You're right. Thank God, you're right.' And
then he turned quickly away, and went into the
Stable behind his team. It was a minute before he
came out.    Over his face there was a trembling
'Can I do anything for you to-day?' he asked
'Indeed you just can,' said the minister, taking
his hand and shaking it very warmly; and then he
told him Slavin's programme and ours.
' Sandy is all right till after his race. After that
is his time of danger,' said the minister.
'I'll stay with him, sir/ said old Nelson, in the
tone of a man taking a covenant, and immediately
set off for the coffee-tent.
'Here comes another recruit for your corps,' 1
said, pointing to Leslie Graeme, who was coming
down the street at that moment in his light sleigh. The Black Rock Christmas
' I am not so sure.   Do you think you could got
I laughed.    ' You are a good one/
'Well,' he replied, half defiantly, 'is not this
your fight too ? '
' You make me think so, though I am bound to
say I hardly recognise myself to-day. But here
goes,' and before I knew it I was describing our
plans to Graeme, growing more and more enthusiastic as he sat in his sleigh, listening with a quizzical smile I didn't quite like.
'He's got you too,' he said; 'I feared so.'
'Well,' I laughed, 'perhaps so. But I want to
lick that man Slavin. I've just seen him, and he's
just what Craig calls him, "a slick son of the devil."
Don't be shocked; he says it is Scripture.'
'Revised version,' said Graeme gravely, while
Craig looked a little abashed.
'What is assigned me, Mr. Craig? for I know
that this man is simply your agent.'
I repudiated the idea, while Mr. Craig said
' What's my part ? ' demanded Graeme.
'Well,' said Mr. Craig hesitatingly, 'of course!
would do nothing till I had consulted you; but I want
a man to take my place at the sports.   I am referee/ f6
Black Rock
'That's all right,' said Graeme, with an air of
relief; 'I expected something hard.'
' And then I thought you would not mind presiding at dinner—I want it to go off well.'
'Did you notice that?' said Graeme to me.
1 Not a bad touch, eh ? '
'That's nothing to the way he touched me.
Wait and learn,' I answered, while Craig looked
quite distressed. ' He'll do it, Mr. Craig, never
fear,' I said, 'and any other little duty that may
occur to you. '
' Now that's too bad of you. That is all I want,
honour bright,' he replied; adding, as he turned
away, ' you are just in time for a cup of coffee, Mr.
Graeme.    Now I must see Mrs. Mavor.'
'Who is Mrs. Mavor ?' I demanded of Graeme.
'Mrs. Mavor ?   The miners' guardian angel.'
We put up the horses and set off for coffee. As
we approached the booth Graeme caught sight of
the Punch and Judy show, stood still in amazement, and exclaimed, ' Can the dead live ? '
'Punch and Judy never die,' I replied solemnly.
'But the old manipulator is dead enough, poor
old beggar!'
' But he left his mantle, as you see/
He looked at me a moment. The Black Rock Christmas 47
'What! do you mean, you ?'
' Yes, that is exactly what I do mean/
' He is a great man, that Craig fellow—a truly
great man.'
And then he leaned up against a tree and laughed
till the tears came. 'I say, old boy, don't mind
me,' he gasped, 'but do you remember the old
'Varsity show ? |
'Yes, you villain; and I remember your part in
it. I wonder how you can, even at this remote
date, laugh at it.' For I had a vivid recollection of
how after a ' chaste and highly artistic performance
of this mediaeval play ' had been given before a
distinguished Toronto audience, the trapdoor by
which I had entered my box was fastened, and I
was left to swelter in my cage, and forced to listen
to the suffocated laughter from the wings and the
stage whispers of 'Hello, Mr. Punch, Where's the
baby ?' And for many a day after I was subjected
to anxious inquiries as to the locality and health of
'the baby,' and whether it was able to be out.
'Oh, the dear old days!' he kept saying, over
and over, in a tone so full of sadness that my heart
grew sore for him and I forgave him, as many a
fime before.
The sports passed off in typical Western style. Black Rock
In addition to the usual running and leaping contests, there was rifle and pistol shooting, in both of
which old Nelson stood first, with Shaw, foreman
of the mines, second.
The great event of the day, however, was to be
the four-horse race, for which three teams were entered—one from the mines driven by Nixon, Craig's
friend, a citizens' team, and Sandy's. The race
was really between the miners' team, and that from
the woods, for the citizens' team, though made up
of speedy horses, had not been driven much together, and knew neither their driver nor each
other. In the miners' team were four bays, very
powerful, a trifle heavy perhaps, but well matched,
perfectly trained, and perfectly handled by theit
driver. Sandy had his long rangy roans, and foi
leaders a pair of half-broken pinto bronchos. The
pintos, caught the summer before upon the Alberta
prairies, were fleet as deer, but wicked and uncertain. They were Baptiste's special care and pride.
If they would only run straight there was little
doubt that they would carry the roans and themselves to glory; but one could not tell the moment
they might bolt or kick things to pieces.
Being the only non-partisan in the crowd I was
asked to referee.   The race was about half a mile
m The Black Rock Christmas 49
and return, the first and last quarters being upon
the ice. The course, after leaving the ice, led up
from the river by a long easy slope to the level
above; and at the further end curved somewhat
sharply round the Old Fort. The only condition attaching to the race was that the teams should start
from the scratch, make the turn of the Fort, and
finish at the scratch. There were no vexing regulations as to fouls. The man making the foul
would find it necessary to reckon with the crowd,
which was considered sufficient guarantee for a fair
and square race. Owing to the hazards of the
course, the result would depend upon the skill of
drivers quite as much as upon the speed of the
teams. The points of hazard were at the turn
round the Old fort, and at a little ravine which led
down to the river, over which the road passed by
means of a long log bridge or causeway.
From a point upon the high bank of the river the
whole course lay in open view. It was a scene full
of life and vividly picturesque. There were miners
in dark clothes and peak caps; citizens in ordinary
garb; ranchmen in wide cowboy hats and buckskin
shirts and leggings, some with cartridge-belts and
pistols; a few half-breeds and Indians in half-native, half-civilised dress; and scattering through the Black Rock
crowd the lumbermen with gay scarlet and blue
blanket coats, and some with knitted tuques of the
same colours. A very good-natured but extremely
uncertain crowd it was. At the head of each horse
stood a man, but at the pintos' heads Baptiste stood
alone, trying to hold down the off leader, thrown
into a frenzy of fear by the yelling of the crowd.
Gradually all became quiet, till, in the midst of
absolute stillness, came the words, 'Are you
ready ? ' then the pistol-shot and the great race had
begun. Above the roar of the crowd came the
shrill cry of Baptiste, as he struck his broncho with
the palm of his hand, and swung himself into the
sleigh beside Sandy, as it shot past.
Like a flash the bronchos sprang to the front, two
lengths before the ot^er teams ; but, terrified by the
yelling of the crowd, instead of bending to the left
bank up which the road wound, they v/heeled to
the right and were almost across the river before
Sandy could swing them back into the course.
Baptiste's cries, a curious mixture of French and
English, continued to strike through,all other sounds
till they gained the top of the slope to find the
others almost n hundred yards in front, the citizens'
team leading with the miners' following close.
The moment tt>e pintos caught sight of the teams The Black Rock Christmas Si
before them they set off at a terrific pace and steadily devoured the intervening space. Nearer and
nearer the turn came, the eight horses in front, running straight and well within their speed. After
them flew the pintos, running savagely with ears
set back, leading well the big roans, thundering
along and gaining at every bound. And now the
citizens' team had almost reached the Fort, running
hard, and drawing away from the bays. But Nixon
knew what he was about, and was simply steadying his team for the turn. The event proved his
wisdom, for in the turn the leading team left the
track, lost a moment or two in the deep snow, and
before they could regain the road the bays had
swept superbly past, leaving their rivals to follow
in the rear. On came the pintos, swiftly nearing
the Fort. Surely at that pace they cannot make the
turn.' But Sandy knows his leaders. They have
their eyes upon the teams in front, and need no
touch of rein. Without the slightest change in
speed the nimble-footed bronchos round the turn,
hauling the big roans after them, and fall in behind
the citizens' team, which is regaining steadily the
ground lost in the turn.
And now the struggle is for the bridge over the
ravine.   The bays in front, running with mouths 5*
Black Rock
wide open, are evidently doing their best; behind
them, and every moment nearing them, but at the
limit of their speed too, come the lighter and fleeter
citizens' team; while opposite their driver are the
pintos, pulling hard, eager and fresh. Their temper
is too uncertain to send them to the front ; they run
well following, but when leading cannot be trusted,
and besides, a broncho hates a bridge; so Sandy
holds them where they are, waiting and hoping for
his chance after the bridge is crossed. Foot by
foot the citizens' team creep up upon the flank of
the bays, with the pintos in turn hugging them
closely, till it seems as if the three, if none slackens,
must strike the bridge together; and this will mean
destruction to one at least. This danger Sandy perceives, but he dare not check his leaders. Suddenly, within a few yards of the bridge, Baptiste
throws himself upon the lines, wrenches them out
of Sandy's hands, and, with a quick swing, faces
the pintos down the steep side of the ravine, which
is almost sheer ice with a thin coat of snow. It is
a daring course to take, for the ravine, though not
deep, is full of undergrowth, and is partially closed
up by a brush heap at the further end. But, with a
yell, Baptiste hurls his four horses down the slope,
and into the undergrowth.    'Allons, mes enfants! The Black Rock Christmas 53
Courage! vite, vite!' cries their driver, and nobly
do the pintos respond. Regardless of bushes and
brush heaps, they tear their way through ; but, as
they emerge, the hind bob-sleigh catches a root,
and, with a crash, the sleigh Is hurled high in the
air. Baptiste's cries ring out high and shrill as ever,
encouraging his team, and never cease till, with a
plunge and a scramble, they clear the brush heap
lying at the mouth of the ravine, and are out on the
ice on the river, with Baptiste standing on the front
bob, the box trailing behind, and Sandy nowhere
to be seen.
Three hundred yards of the course remain. The
bays, perfectly handled, have gained at the bridge
and in the descent to the ice, and are leading the
citizens'team by half a dozen sleigh lengths. Behind both comes Baptiste. It is now or never for
the pintos. The rattle of the trailing box, together
with the wild yelling of the crowd rushing down
the bank, excites the bronchos to madness, and,
taking the bits in their teeth, they do their first free
running that day. Past the citizens' team like a
whirlwind they dash, clear the intervening space,
and gain the flanks of the bays. Can the bays hold
them? Over them leans their driver, plying for
the first time the hissing lash.   Only fifty yards 54
Black Rock
more. The miners begin to yell. But Baptiste,
waving his lines high in one hand, seizes his tuque
with the other, whirls it about his head and flings it
with a fiercer yell than ever at the bronchos. Like
the bursting of a hurricane the pintos leap forward,
and with a splendid rush cross the scratch, winners
by their own length.
There was a wild quarter of an hour. The shan-
tymen had torn off their coats and were waving
them wildly and tossing them high, while the
ranchers added to the uproar by emptying their
revolvers into the air in a way that made one
When the crowd was somewhat quieted Sandy's
stiff figure appeared, slowly making toward them.
A dozen lumbermen ran to him, eagerly inquiring
if he were hurt. But Sandy could only curse the
little Frenchman for losing the race.
'Lost!    Why, man, we've won it!' shouted a'
voice, at which Sandy's rage vanished, and he allowed himself to be carried in upon the shoulders
of his admirers.
' Where's the lad ? ' was his first question.
' The bronchos are off with him. He's down at
the rapids like enough.'
'Let me go,' shouted Sandy, setting off at a run The Black Rock Christmas 55
in the track of the sleigh. He had not gone far before he met Baptiste coming back with his team
foaming, the roans going quietly, but the bronchos
dancing, and eager to be at it again.
'Voilà! bully boy! tank the bon Dieu, Sandy;
you not keel, heh ? Ah ! you are one grand
chevalier,' exclaimed Baptiste, hauling Sandy in
and thrusting the lines into his hands. And so
they came back, the sleigh box still dragging behind, the pintos executing fantastic figures on their
hind legs, and Sandy holding them down. The
little Frenchman struck a dramatic attitude and
called out —
' Voilà\ What's the matter wiz Sandy, heh ? '
The roar that answered set the bronchos off again
plunging and kicking, and only when Baptiste got
them by the heads could they be induced to stand
long enough to allow Sandy to be proclaimed winner of the race. Several of the lumbermen sprang
into the sleigh box with Sandy and Baptiste, among
them Keefe, followed by Nelson, and the first part
of the great day was over. Slavin could not understand the new order of things. That a great event
like the four-horse race should not be followed by
' drinks all round ' was to him at once disgusting
and incomprehensible; and, realising his defeat for 56
Black Rock
the moment, he fell into the crowd and disappeared,
But he left behind him his ' runners/ He had not
yet thrown up the game.
Mr. Craig meantime came to me, and, looking
anxiously after Sandy in his sleigh, with his frantic
crowd of yelling admirers, said in a gloomy voice,
' Poor Sandy ! He is easily caught, and Keefe has
the devil's cunning.'
'He won't touch Slavin's whisky to-day,' I answered confidently.
'There'll be twenty bottles waiting him in the
stable,' he replied bitterly, 'and I can't go following him up/
' He won't stand that, no man would. God help
us all.' I could hardly recognise myself, for I
found in my heart an earnest echo to that prayer as
I watched him go toward the crowd again, his face
set in strong determination. He looked like the
captain of a forlorn hope, and 1 was proud to be
following him.
Hi Waterloo
Our Fight—His Victory
The sports were over, and there remained still an
hour to be filled in before dinner. It was an hour
full of danger to Craig's hopes of victory, for the
men were wild with excitement, and ready for the
most reckless means of 'slinging their dust/ I
could not but admire the skill with which Mr. Craig
caught their attention.
'Gentlemen/ he called out, 'we've forgotten
the judge of the great race. Three cheers for Mr.
Connor! ?
Two of the shantymen picked me up and hoisted
me on their shoulders while the cheers were given.
'Announce the Punch and Judy/ he entreated
me, in a low voice. î did so in a little speech, and
was forthwith borne aloft, through the street to the
booth, followed by the whole crowd, cheering like
mad. ■
The excitement of the crowd caught me, and for
an hour I squeaked and worked the wires of the immortal and unhappy family in a manner hitherto
59 60
Black Rock
unapproached by me at least. I was glad enough
when Graeme came to tell me to send the men in to
dinner. This Mr. Punch did in the most gracious
manner, and again with cheers for Punch's master
they trooped tumultuously into the tent.
We had only well begun when Baptiste came in
quietly but hurriedly and whispered to me —
' M'sieu Craig, he's gone to Slavin's, and would
lak you and M'sieu Graeme would follow queek.
Sandy he's take one leel drink up at de stable, and
he's go mad lak one diable/
I sent him for Graeme, who was presiding at
dinner, and set off for Slavin's at a run. There I
found Mr. Craig and Nelson holding Sandy, more
than half drunk, back from Slavin, who, stripped
to the shirt, was coolly waiting with a taunting
' Let me go, Mr. Craig/ Sandy was saying, ' I
am a good Presbyterian. He is a Papist thief; and
he has my money ; and I will have it out of the soul
of him.'
'Let him go, preacher,' sneered Slavin, 'I'll cool
him off for yez. But ye'd better hold him if yez
wants his mug left on to him.'
'Let him go!' Keefe was shouting.
' Hands off! ' Blaney was echoing. Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    61
I pushed my way in.    ' What's up?' I cried.
'Mr. Connor,' said Sandy solemnly, 'it is a
gentleman you are, though your name is against
you, and I am a good Presbyterian, and I can give
you the Commandments and Reasons annexed to
them; but yon's a thief, a Papist thief, and I am
justified in getting my money out of his soul.'
But,' I remonstrated, 'you won't get it in this
' He-has my money,' reiterated Sandy.
'He is a blank liar, and he's afraid to take it up/
said Slavin, in a low, cool tone.
With a roar Sandy broke away and rushed at
him ; but, without moving from his tracks, Slavin
met him with a straight left-hander and laid him flat.
' Hooray,' yelled Blaney, ' Ireland forever! \
and, seizing the iron poker, swung it around his
head, crying, ' Back, cr, by the holy Moses, I'll
kill the first man that interferes wid the game.'
' Give it to him ! ' Keefe said savagely.
Sandy rose slowly, gazing round stupidly.
'He don't know what hit him,' laughed Keefe.
This roused the Highlander, and saying, '111
settle you afterward, Mister Keefe,' he rushed in
again at Slavin. Again Slavin met him again with
his left, staggered him, and, before he fell, took Black Rock
a step forward and delivered a terrific right-hand
blow on his jaw. Poor Sandy went down in a
heap amid the yells of Blaney, Keefe, and some
others of the gang. I was in despair when in came
Baptiste and Graeme.
One look at Sandy, and Baptiste tore off ins coat
and cap, slammed them on the floor, danced on
them, and with a long-drawn ' sap-r-r-r-rie/
rushed at Slavin. But Graeme caught him by the
back of the neck, saying, ' Hold on, little man/
and turning to Slavin, pointed to Sandy, who was
reviving under Nelson's care, and said, 'What's
this for ? j
' Ask him/ said Slavin insolently.    ' He knows.'
' What is it, Nelson ? '
Nelson explained that Sandy, after drinking some
at the stable and a glass at the Black Rock Hotel,
had come down here with Keefe and the others,
had lost his money, and was accusing Slavin of
robbing him.
' Did you furnish him with liquor ? ' said Graeme
'It is none of your business,' replied Slavin, with
an oath.
' I shall make it my business. It is not the first
time my men have lost money in this saloon/ Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    63
'You lie,' said Slavin, with deliberate emphasis.
'Slavin,' said Graeme quietly, 'it's a pity you
said that, because, unless you apologise in one
minute, I shall make you sorry.'
' Apologise ? " roared Slavin, ' apologise to you ? I
calling him a vile name.
Graeme grew white, and said even more slowly,
'Now you'll have to take it; no apology will do.'
He slowly stripped off coat and vest. Mr. Craig
interposed, begging Graeme to let the matter pass.
'Surely he is not worth it/
'Mr. Craig,' said Graeme, with an easy smile,
' you don't understand. No man can call me that
name and walk around afterward feeling well.'
Then, turning to Slavin, he said, ' Now, if you
want a minute's rest, I can wait.'
Slavin, with a curse, bade him come.
'Blaney,' said Graeme sharply, 'you get back/
Blaney promptly stepped back to Keefe's side.
'Nelson, you and Baptiste can see that they stay
there/ The old man nodded and looked at Craig,
who simply said, ' Do the best you can.'
It was a good fight. Slavin had plenty of pluck,
and for a time forced the fighting, Graeme guarding
easily and tapping him aggravatingly about the nose
and eyes, drawing blood» but not disabling him. Black Rock
Gradually there came a look of fear into Slavin's
eyes, and the beads stood upon his face. He had
met his master.
'Now, Slavin, you're beginning to be sorry; and
now I am going to show you what you are made
of.' Graeme made one or two lightning passes,
struck Slavin one, two, three terrific blows, and laid
him quite flat and senseless. Keefe and Blaney both
sprang forward, but there was a savage kind of
'Hold, there!' It was old man Nelson looking
along a pistol barrel. 'You know me, Keefe,' he
said.    'You won't do any murder this time.'
Keefe turned green and yellow, and staggered
back, while Slavin slowly rose to his feet.
'Will you take some more?' said Graeme.
' You haven't got much ; but mind 1 have stopped
playing with you. Put up your gun, Nelson. No
one will interfere now/
Slavin hesitated, then rushed, but Graeme stepped
to meet him, and we saw Slavin's heels in the air as
he fell back upon his neck and shoulders and lay
still, with his toes quivering.
'Bon!' yelled Baptiste. 'Bully boy! Dat's de
bon stuff. Dat's larn him one good lesson.' But
tonmediately he shrieked, j Gar-r-r-r-e à vous ! '
■    n^nm Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    65
He was too late, for there was a crash of breaking
glass, and Graeme fell to the floor with a long deep
cut on the side of his head. Keefe had hurled a bottle with all too sure an aim, and had fled. I thought
he was dead; but we carried him out, and in a few
minutes he groaned, opened his eyes, and sank
again into insensibility.
' Where can we take him ? ' I cried.
'To my shack,' said Mr. Craig.
' Is there no place nearer ? '
'Yes; Mrs. Mavor's.    I shall run on to tell her/
She met us at the door. I had in mind to say
some words of apology, but when I looked upon
her face I forgot my words, forgot my business at
her door, and stood simply looking.
'Come in! Bring him in! Please do not wait/
she said, and her voice was sweet and soft and
We laid him in a large room at the back of the
shop over which Mrs. Mavor lived. Together we
dressed the wound, her firm white fingers, skillful
as if with long training. Before the dressing was
finished I sent Craig off, for the time had come for
the Magic Lantern in the church, and I knew how
critical the moment was in our fight. 'Go,' I said;
'he is coming to, and we do not need you/ 66
Black Rock
In a few moments more Graeme revived, and,
gazing about, asked, 'What's all this about?' and
then, recollecting, 'Ah! that brute Keefe;' then seeing
my anxious face he said carelessly, ' Awful bore^
ain't it?   Sorry to trouble you, old fellow.'
'You be hanged!' I said shortly; for his old
sweet smile was playing about his lips, and
was almost too much for me. ' Mrs. Mavor and
I are in command, and you must keep perfectly
'Mrs. Mavor?' he said, in surprise. She came
forward, with a slight flush on her face.
'I think you know me, Mr. Graeme.'
'I have often seen you, and wished to know
you.    I am sorry to bring you this trouble.'
'You must not say so,' she replied, * but let me
do all for you that I can. And now the doctor
says you are to lie still/
'The doctor? Oh! you mean Connor. He is
hardly there yet. You don't know each other*
Permit me to present Mr. Connor, Mrs. Mavor.'
As she bowed slightly, her eyes looked into mine
with serious gaze, not inquiring, yet searching my
soul. As I looked into her eyes I forgot everything
about me, and when I recalled myself it seemed as
if I had been away in some far place.    It was not Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    67
their colour or their brightness; I do not yet know
their colour, and I have often looked into them; and
they were not bright; but they were clear, and one
could look far down into them, and in their depths
see a glowing, steady light. As I went to get some
drugs from the Black Rock doctor, I found myself
wondering about that far-down light; and about
her voice, how it could get that sound from far
I found the doctor quite drunk, as indeed Mr.
Craig had warned; but his drugs were good, and I
got what I wanted and quickly returned.
While Graeme slept Mrs. Mavor made me tea.
As the evening wore on I told her the events of the
day, dwelling admiringly upon Craig's generalship.
She smiled at this.
'He got me too,' she said. 'Nixon was sent
to me just before the sports; and I don't think he
will break down to-day, and I am so thankful.'
And her eyes glowed.
'I am quite sure he won't,' I thought to myself,
but I said no word.
After a long pause, she went on, ' I have promised Mr. Craig to sing to-night, if I am needed!'
and then, after a moment's hesitation, 'It is two
years since I have been able to sing—two years,' 68
Black Rock
she repeated, 'since'—and then her brave voice
trembled—'my husband was killed.'
'I quite understand,' I said, having no other
word on my tongue.
'And,' she went on quietly, 'I fear I have been
selfish. It is hard to sing the same songs. We
were very happy. But the miners like to hear me
sing, and I think perhaps it helps them to feel less
lonely, and keeps them from evil. I shall try tonight, if I am needed. Mr. Craig will not ask me
unless he must/
I would have seen every miner and lumberman
in the place hideously drunk before I would have
asked her to sing one song while her heart ached.
I wondered at Craig, and said, rather angrily —
'He thinks only of those wretched miners and
shanty men of his.'
She looked at me with wonder in her eyes, and
said gently, ' And are they not Christ's too ?'
And I found no word to reply.
It was nearing ten o'clock, and I was wondering how the fight was going, and hoping that
Mrs. Mavor would not be needed, when the door
opened, and old man Nelson and Sandy, the latter
much battered and ashamed, came in with the
word for Mrs. Mavor. Waterloo.    Our Fight-—His Victory    &9
'I will come,' she said simply. She saw me
preparing to accompany her, and asked, 'Do you
think you can leave him ?'
' He will do quite well in Nelson's care.'
' Then I am glad ; for I must take my little one
with me. I did not put her to bed in case I should
need to go, and I may not leave her.'
We entered the church by the back door, and
saw at once that even yet the battle might easily
be lost.
Some miners had just come from Slavin's, evidently bent on breaking up the meeting, in revenge
for the collapse of the dance, which Slavin was unable to enjoy, much less direct. Craig was gallantly holding his ground, finding it hard work to
keep his men in good humour, and so prevent a
fight, for there were cries of 'Put him out! Put
the beast out!' at a miner half drunk and wholly
The look of relief that came over his face when
Craig caught sight of us told how anxious he had
been, and reconciled me to Mrs. Mavor's singing.
'Thank the good God,' he said, with what came
near being a sob, ' I was about to despair.'
He immediately walked to the front and called
out — Black Rock
'Gentlemen, if you wish it, Mrs. Mavor will
There was a dead silence. Some one began to
applaud, but a miner said savagely, 'Stop that,
you fool!'
There was a few moments' delay, when from
the crowd a voice called out, 'Does Mrs. Mavor
wish to sing?' followed by cries of 'Ay, that's
it.' Then Shaw, the foreman at the mines, stood
up in the audience and said—
' Mr. Craig and gentlemen, you know that three
years ago I was known as " Old Ricketts," and that
I owe all I am to-night, under God, to Mrs. Mavor,
and'—and with a little quiver in his voice—'her
baby. And we all know that for two years she has
not sung; and we all know why. And wfcat I say
is, that if she does not feel like singing to-night, she
is not going to sing to keep any drunken brute of
Slavin's crowd quiet.'
There were deep growls of approval all over the
church. I could have hugged Shaw then and there.
Mr. Craig went to Mrs. Mavor, and after a word
with her came back and said —
'Mrs. Mavoi wishes me to thank her dear
friend Mr. Shaw, but says she would like to
sing/ Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    71
The response was perfect stillness. Mr. Craig
sat down to the organ and played the opening
bars of the touching melody, 'Oft in the Stilly
Night.' Mrs. Mavor came to the front, and, with
a smile of exquisite sweetness upon her sad face,
and looking straight at us with her glorious eyes,
began to sing.
Her voice, a rich soprano, even and true, rose and
fell, now soft, now strong, but always filling the
building, pouring around us floods of music. I had
heard Patti's 'Home, sweet Home,' and of all singling that alone affected me as did this.
At the end of the first verse the few women in the
church and some men were weeping quietly ; but
when she began the words —
' When I remember all
The friends once linked together,'
sobs came on every side from these tender-hearted
fellows, and Shaw quite lost his grip. But she sang
steadily on, the tone clearer and sweeter and fuller
at every note, and when the sound of her voice died
away, she stood looking at the men as if in wonder
that they should weep. No one moved. Mr. Craig
played softly on, and, wandering through many
variations, arrived at last at
* Jesus,-lover of my soul.' Black Rock
As she sang the appealing words, her face was
lifted up, and she saw none of us; but she must
have seen some one, for the cry in her voice could
only come from one who could see and feel help
close at hand. On and on went the glorious voice,
searching my soul's depths; but when she came to
the words —
4 Thou, O Christ, art all I want,'
she stretched up her arms—she had quite forgotten us, her voice had borne her to other worlds
—and sang with such a passion of abandon that
my soul was ready to surrender anything, everything.
Again Mr. Craig wandered on through his changing chords till again he came to familiar ground, and
the voice began, in low, thrilling tones, Bernard's
great song of home —
f Jerusalem the golden.'
Every word, with all its weight of meaning, came
winging to our souls, till we found ourselves gazing
afar into those stately halls of Zion, with their daylight serene and their jubilant throngs. When the
singer came to the last verse there was a pause.
Again Mr. Craig softly played the interlude, but still
there was no voice.   I looked up.   She was very Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    73
white, and her eyes were glowing with their deep
light. Mr. Craig looked quickly about, saw her,
stopped, and half rose, as if to go to her, when, in
a voice that seemed to come from a far-off land, she
went on —
«O sweet and blessed country/*
The longing, the yearning, in the second ' O \
were indescribable. Again and again, as she held
that word, and then dropped down with the
cadence in the music, my heart ached for I knew
not what.
The audience were sitting as in a trance. The
grimy faces of the miners, for they never get quite
white, were furrowed with the tear-courses. Shaw,
by this time, had his face too lifted high, his eyes
gazing far above the singer's head, and I knew by
the rapture in his face that he was seeing, as she
saw, the thronging stately halls and the white-
robed conquerors. He had felt, and was still feeling, all the stress of the fight, and to him the vision
of the conquerors in their glory was soul-drawing
and soul-stirring. And Nixon, too—he had his
vision ; but what he saw was the face of the singer,
with the shining eyes, and, by the look of him, that
was vision enough. 74
Black Rock
Immediately after her last note Mrs. Mavor
stretched out her hands to her little girl, who was
sitting on my knee, caught her up, and, holding her
close to her breast, walked quickly behind the curtain. Not a sound followed the singing : no one
moved till she had disappeared; and then Mr. Craig
came to the front, and, motioning to me to follow
Mrs. Mavor, began in a low, distinct voice —
' Gentlemen, it was not easy for Mrs. Mavor to
sing for us, and you know she sang^because she is
a miner's wife, and her heart is with the miners.
But she sang, too, because her heart is His who
came to earth this day so many years ago to save us
all; and she would make you love Him too. For
in loving Him you are saved from all base loves, and
you know what I mean.
' And before we say goodnight, men, I want to
know if the time is not come when all of you who
mean to be better than you are should join in putting from us this thing that has brought sorrow and
shame to us and to those we love? You know
what I mean. Some of you are strong; will you
stand by and see weaker men robbed of the money
they save for those far away, and robbed of the
manhood that no money can buy or restore ?
' Will the strong men help ?   Shall we all join Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    75
hands in this ? What do you say ? In this town
we have often seen hell, and just a moment ago we
were all looking into heaven, " the sweet and blessed
country." O men! ' and his voice rang in an agony
through the building—'O men! which shall be
ours ? For Heaven's dear sake, let us help one another!   Who will?'
I was looking out through a slit in the curtain.
The men, already wrought to intense feeling by the
music, were listening with set faces and gleaming
eyes, and as at the appeal 'Who will?' Craig
raised high his hand, Shaw, Nixon, and a hundred
men sprang to their feet and held high their hands.
I have witnessed some thrilling scenes in my life,
but never anything to equal that: the one man on
the platform standing at full height, with his hand
thrown up to heaven, and the hundred men below
standing straight, with arms up at full length, silent,
and almost motionless. |§||
For a moment Craig held them so; and again his
voice rang out, louder, sterner than before —
'All who mean it, say, "By God's help, I will/*'
And back from a hundred throats came deep and
strong the words, 'By God's help, I will.'
At this point Mrs. Mavor, whom I had quite forgotten, put her hand on my arm.     'Go and tell 76
Black Rock
him/ she panted, 'I want them to come on Thursday night, as they used to in the other days—go—
quick,' and she almost pushed me out. I gave
Craig her message. He held up his hand for silence.
'Mrs. Mavor wishes me to say that she will be
glad to see you all, as in the old days, on Thursday
evening; and I can think of no better place to give
formal expression to our pledge of this night.'
There was a shout of acceptance; and then, at
some one's call, the long pent-up feelings of the
crowd found vent in three mighty cheers for Mrs.
'Now for our old hymn,' called out Mr. Craig,
'and Mrs. Mavor will lead us.'
He sat down at the organ, played a few bars of
'The Sweet By and By,' and then Mrs. Mavor began. But not a soul joined till the refrain was
reached, and then they sang as only men with their
hearts on fire can sing. But after the last refrain
Mr. Craig made a sign to Mrs. Mavor, and she sang
alone, slowly and softly, and with eyes looking far
away —
* In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.*
There was no benediction—there seemed no need: Waterloo.    Our Fight—His Victory    77
and the men went quietly out. But over and over
again the voice kept singing in my ears and in my
heart, 'We shall meet on that beautiful shore.'
And after the sleigh-loads of men had gone and left
the street empty, as I stood with Craig in the radiant moonlight that made the great mountains about
come near us, from Sandy's sleigh we heard in the
distance Baptiste's French-English song; but the
song that floated down with the sound of the bells
from the miners' sleigh was —
4 We shall meet on that beautiful shore.'
' Poor old Shaw! ! said Craig softly.
When the last sound had died away I turned to
him and said —
' You have won your fight.'
'We have won our fight; I was beaten/ here-
plied quickly, offering me his hand. Then, taking
off his cap, and looking up beyond the mountain-
tops and the silent stars, he added softly, 'Our
fight, but His victory.'
And, thinking it all over, I could not say but perhaps he was right  Mrs. Mayor's Story
I he days that followed the Black Rock Christmas
were anxious days and weary, but not for the
brightest of my life would I change them now ; for,
as after the burning heat or rocking storm the dying
day lies beautiful in the tender glow of the evening,
so these days have lost their weariness and lie
bathed in a misty glory. The years that bring us
many ills, and that pass so stormfully over us, bear
away with them the ugliness, the weariness, the
pain that are theirs, but the beauty, the sweetness,
the rest they leave untouched, for these are eternal.
As the mountains, that near at hand stand jagged
and scarred, in the far distance repose in their soft
robes of purple haze, so the rough present fades
into the past, soft and sweet and beautiful.
I have set myself to recall the pain and anxiety
of those days and nights when we waited in fear
for the turn of the fever, but I can only think of the
patience and gentleness and courage of her who
stood'beside me, bearing more than half my burden.
Si 82
Black Rock
And while I can see the face of Leslie Graeme,
ghastly or flushed, and hear his low moaning or the
broken words of his delirium, I think chiefly of the
bright face bending over him, and of the cool, firm,
swift-moving hands that soothed and smoothed and
rested, and the voice, like the soft song of a bird
in the twilight, that never failed to bring peace.
Mrs. Mavor and I were much together during
those days. I made my home in Mr. Craig's shack,
but most of my time was spent beside my friend.
We did not see much of Craig, for he was heart-
deep with the miners, laying plans for the making
of the League the following Thursday ; and though
he shared our anxiety and was ever ready to relieve
us, his thought and his talk had mostly to do with
the League.
Mrs. Mavor's evenings were given to the miners,
but her afternoons mostly to Graeme and to me,
and then it was I saw another side of her charactèfl
We would sit in her little dining-room, where the
pictures on the walls, the quaint old silver, and bits
of curiously cut glass, all spoke of other and different days, and thence we would roam the world of
literature and art. Keenly sensitive to all the good
and beautiful in these, she had her favorites among
the masters, for whom she was ready to do battle; Mrs. Mavor's Story
and when her argument, instinct with fancy and
vivid imagination, failed, she swept away all opposing opinion with the swift rush of her enthusiasm;
so that, though I felt she was beaten, I was left
without words to reply. Shakespeare and Tennyson and Burns she loved, but not Shelley, nor Byron
nor even Wordsworth. Browning she knew not,
and therefore could not rank him with her noblest
three; but when I read to her ' A Death in the Desert/ and came to the noble words at the end of the
' For all was as I say, and now the man
Lies as he once lay, breast to breast with^God,'
the light shone in her eyes, and she said, ' Oh, that
is good and great ; I shall get much out of him ; I
had always feared he was impossible.' And fPaN
acelsus,' too, stirred her; but when I recited the
thrilling fragment, 'Prospice,' on to that closing
rapturous cry —
* Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul !    I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest ! ' —
the red colour faded from her cheek, her breath came
in a sob, and she rose quickly and passed out without a word.    Ever after, Browning was among her 84
Black Rock
gods. But when we talked of music, she, adoring
Wagner, soared upon the wings of the mighty
Tannhauser, far above, into regions unknown, leaving me to walk soberly with Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Yet with all our free, frank talk, there
was all the while that in her gentle courtesy which
kept me from venturing into any chamber of her life
whose door she did not set freely open to me. So
I vexed myself about her, and when Mr. Craig returned the next week from the Landing where he
had been for some days, my first question was —
' Who is Mrs. Mavor ? And how in the name of
all that is wonderful and unlikely does she come to
be here ?   And why does she stay ? '
He would not answer then ; whether it was that
his mind was full of the coming struggle, or
Whether he shrank from the tale, I know not; but
that night, when we sat together beside his fire, he
told me the story, while I smoked. He was worn
with his long, hard drive, and with the burden of
his work, but as he went on with his tale, looking
into the fire as he told it, he forgot all his present
weariness and lived again the scenes he painted for
me.    This was his story : —
' I remember well my first sight of her, as she
sprang from the front seat of the stage to the Mrs. Mavor's Story
ground, hardly touching her husband's hand. She
looked a mere girl. Let's see—five years ago—she
couldn't have been a day over twenty-three. She
looked barely twenty. Her swift glance swept over
the group of miners at the Jjotel door, and then
rested on the mountains standing in all their autumn
'I was proud of our mountains that evening.
Turning to her husband, she exclaimed: "O Lewis,
are they not grand ? and lovely, too ? " Every
miner lost his heart then and there, but all waited
for Abe the driver to give his verdict before venturing an opinion. Abè said nothing until he had
taken a preliminary drink, and then, calling all
hands to fill up, he lifted his glass high, and said
solemnly —
'"Boys, here's to her."    ~
'Like a flash every glass was emptied, and Abe
called out, " Fill her up again, boys !    My treat! "
'He was evidently quite worked up. Then he
began, with solemn emphasis —
'"Boys, you hear me!   She's a No. 1, triple X,
the pure quill with a bead on it: she's a ," and for
the first time in his Black Rock history Abe was
stuck1 for a word.    Some one suggested " angel."
'"Angel!" repeated Abe, with infinite contempt. 86
Black Rock
"Angel be bio wed" (I paraphrase here); "angelgi
ain't in the same month with her; I'd like to see any
blanked angel swing my team around them curves
without a shiver."
' " Held the lines herself, Abe ? " asked a miner.
' "That's what," said Abe; and then he went off
into a fusillade of scientific profanity, expressive of
his esteem for the girl who had swung his team
round the curves ; and the miners nodded to each
other, and winked their entire approval of Abe's
performance, for this was his specialty.
' Very decent fellow, Abe, but his talk wouldn't
Here Craig paused, as if balancing Abe's virtues
and vices.
'Well,' I urged, 'who is she?'
'Oh yes,' he said, recalling himself; 'she is an
Edinburgh young lady—met Lewis Mavor, a young
Scotch-Englishman, in London—wealthy, good
family, and all that, but fast, and going, to pieces
at home. His people, who own large shares in
these mines here, as a last resort sent him out
here to reform. Curiously innocent ideas those
old country people have of the reforming properties
of this atmosphere! They send their young bloods
here to reform.   Here! in this devil's camp-ground, Mrs. Mavor's Story
where a man's lust is his only law, and when, from
sheer monotony, a man must betake himself to the
only excitement of the place—that offered by the
saloon. Good people in the east hold up holy
hands of horror at these godless miners; but I tell
you it's asking these boys a good deal to keep
straight and clean in a place like this. I take my excitement in fighting the devil and doing my work
generally, and that gives me enough; but these
poor chaps—hard worked, homeless, with no break
or change—God help them and me! ' and his voice
sank low.
'Well,' I persisted, 'did Mavor reform?'
Again he roused himself. 'Reform? Not exactly. In six months he had broken through all restraint; and, mind you, not the miners' fault—not a
miner helped him doWn. It was a sight to make
angels weep when Mrs. Mavor would come to the
saloon door for her husband. Every miner would
vanish; they could not look upon her shame, and
they would send Mavor forth in the charge of Billy
Breen, a queer little chap, who had belonged to the
Mavors in some way in the old country, and between them they would get him home. How she
stood it puzzles me to this day; but she never made
any sign, and her courage never failed.    It was al- 88
Black Rock
ways a bright, brave, proud face she held up to the
world—except in church ; there it v/as different. I
used to preach my sermons, I believe, mostly for
her—but never so that she could suspect—as bravely
and as cheerily as I could. And as she listened,
and especially as she sang—how she used to sing in
those days!—there was no touch of pride in her
face, though the courage never died out, but appeal,
appeal! I could have cursed aloud the cause of her
misery, or wept for the pity of it. Before her baby
was born he seemed to pull himself together, for he
was quite mad about her, and from the day thm
baby came—talk about miracles !—from that day he
never drank a drop. She gave the baby over to
him, and the baby simply absorbed him.
'He was a new man. He could not drink
whisky and kiss his baby. And the miners-|B
was really absurd if it were not so pathetic. It
was the first baby in Black Rock, an'd they used
to crowd Mavor's shop and peep into the room
at the back of it—I forgot to tell you that when he
lost his position as manager he opened a hardware
shop, for his people chucked him, and he was too
proud to write home for money—just for a chance
to be asked in to see the baby. I came upon Nixon
standing at the back of the shop after he had seen Mrs. Mavor's Story
the baby for the first time, sobbing hard, and to
my question he replied: "It's just like my own."
You can't understand this. But to men who have
lived so long in the mountains that they have forgotten what a baby looks like, who have had experience of humanity only in its roughest, foulest
form, this little mite, sweet and clean, was like an
angel fresh from heaven, the one link in all that
black camp that bound them to what was purest
and best in their past.
'And to see the mother and her baby handle
the miners!
'Oh, it was all beautiful beyond words! I shall
never forget the shock I got one night when I
found ' ' Old Ricketts " nursing the baby. A drunken
old beast he was; but there he was sitting, sober
enough, making extraordinary faces at the baby,
who was grabbing at his nose and whiskers and
cooing in blissful delight. Poor "Old Ricketts"
looked as if he had been caught stealing, and muttering something about having to go, gazed wildly
round for some place in which to lay the baby,
when in came the mother, saying in her own sweet,
/rank way: "O Mr. Ricketts" (she didn't find out
till afterward his name was Shaw), "would you
mind keeping her just a Httle longer ?—I shall be ço
Black Rock
back in a few minutes."   And  "Old Ricketts"
guessed he could wait.
'But in six months mother and baby, between
them, transformed " Old Ricketts " into Mr, Shaw,
fire-boss of the mines. And then in the evenings,
when she would be singing her baby to sleep, the
little shop would be full of miners, listening in
dead silence to the baby-songs, and the English
songs, and the Scotch songs she poured forth without stint, for she sang more for them than for her
baby. No wonder they adored her. She was so
bright, so gay, she brought light with her when she
went into the camp, into the pits—for she went down
to see the men work—or into a sick miner's shack;
and many a man, lonely and sick for home or wife,
or baby or mother, found in that back room cheer
and comfort and courage, and to many a poor
broken wretch that room became, as one miner put
it, "the anteroom to heaven." '
Mr. Craig paused, and I waited. Then he went
on slowly —
j   'For a year and a half that was the happiest
home in all the world, till one day '
He put his face in his hands, and shuddered.
' I don't think I can ever forget the awful horror
of that bright fall afternoon, when "Old Ricketts" Mrs. Mavor's Story
came breathless to me and gasped, " Come! for the
dear Lord's sake," and I rushed after him. At the
mouth of the shaft lay three men dead. One was
Lewis Mavor. He had gone down to superintend
the running of a new drift; the two men, half
drunk with Slavin's whisky, set off a shot prematurely, to their own and Mavor's destruction. They
were badly burned, but his face was untouched. A
miner was sponging off the bloody froth oozing
from his lips. The others were standing about
waiting for me to speak. But I could find no
word, for my heart was sick, thinking, as they
were, of the young mother and her baby waiting at
home. So I stood, looking stupidly from one to
the other, trying to find some reason—coward that
I was—why another should bear the news rather
than I. And while we stood there, looking at one
another in fear, there broke upon us the sound of a
voice mounting high above the birch tops, sing
" Will ye no' come back again ?
Will ye no' come back again ?
Better lo'ed ye canna be,
Will ye no' come back again ? "
'A strange terror seized us.    Instinctively the
men closed up in front of the body, and stood in 92
Black Rock
silence.   Nearer and nearer came the clear, sweet
voice, ringing like a silver bell up the steep —
4 " Sweet the lav'rock's note and lang,
Liltin' wildly up the glen,
But aye tae me he sings ae sang,
Will ye no' come back again ? "
I 'Before the verse was finished "Old Ricketts**
had dropped on his knees, sobbing out brokenly!
"O God! O God! have pity, have pity, have
pity! "—and every man took off his hat. And still
the voice came nearer, singing so brightly the refrain,
J " Will ye no' come back again ? "
'It became unbearable.    "Old Ricketts" sprang!
suddenly to his feet, and, gripping me by the arm,
said piteously, "Oh, go to her! for Heaven's sake,
go to her! "   I next remember standing in her pat«
and seeing her holding out her hands full of red
lilies, crying out, "Are they not lovely?   Lewis is
so fond of them ! "   With the promise of much finer
ones I turned her down a path toward the river,
talking I know not what follyf till her great eyes
grew grave, then anxious, and my tongue stammered and became silent.    Then, laying her hand j
upon my arm, she said with gentle sweetness, " Tell
H Mrs. Mavor's Story
me your trouble, Mr. Craig," and I knew my agony
had come, and I burst out, "Oh, if it were only
mine! " She turned quite white, and with her deep
eyes—you've noticed her eyes—drawing the truth
out of mine, she said, "Is it mine, Mr. Craig, and
my baby's ? " 1 waited, thinking with what words
to begin. She put one hand to her heart, and with
the other caught a little poplar-tree that shivered
under her grasp, and said with white lips, but even
more gently, "Tell me." I wondered at my voice
being so steady as I said, "Mrs. Mavor, God will
help you and your baby. There has been an accident—and it is all over."
' She was a miner's wife, and there was no need
for more. I could see the pattern of the sunlight
falling through the trees upon the grass. I could
hear the murmur of the river, and the cry of the
cat-bird in the bushes, but we seemed to be in a
strange and unreal world. Suddenly she stretched
out her hands to me, and with a little moan said,
"Take me to him."
' "Sit down for a moment or two/ I entreated.
'"No, no! I am quite ready. See,' she added
quietly, "I am quite strong."
'I set off by a short cut leading to her home,
hoping the men would be there before us; but, 94
Black Rock
passing me, she walked swiftly through the trees,
and I followed in fear. As we came near the main
path I heard the sound of feet, and I tried to stop
her, but she, too, had heard and knew. 1 Oh, let
me go!" she said piteously; "you need not fear."
And I had not the heart to stop her. In a little
opening among the pines we met the bearer^
When the men saw her, they laid their burden
gently down upon the carpet of yellow pine-
needles, and then, for they had the hearts of true
men in them, they went away into the bushes and
left her alone with her dead. She went swiftly to his
side, making no cry, but kneeling beside him she
stroked his face and hands, and touched his curls with
her fingers, murmuring all the time soft words of
love. " O my darling, my bonnie, bonnie darling,
speak to me! Will ye not speak to me just one
little word ? O my love, my love, my heart's love!
Listen, my darling!" And she put her lips to his
ear, whispering, and then the awful stillness.
Suddenly she lifted her head and scanned his face,
and then, glancing round with a wild surprise in
her eyes, she cried, " He will not speak to me! Oh,
he will not speak to me!" I signed to the men,
and as they came forward I went to her and took
her hands. Mrs. Mavor's Story 95
'"Oh," she said, with a wail in her voice; "he
will not speak to me." The men were sobbing
aloud. She looked at them with wide-open eyes
of wonder. "Why are they weeping? Will he
never speak to me again? Tell me," she insisted
gently. The words were running through my
head— j|||
'** There's a land that is fairer than day,"
and I said them over to her, holding her hands
firmly in mine. She gazed at me as if in a dream,
and the light slowly faded from her eyes as she
said, tearing her hands from mine and waving them
toward the mountains and the woods —
' " But never more here ? Never more here ? "
11 believe in heaven and the other life, but I confess that for a moment it all seemed shadowy
beside the reality of this warm, bright world, full
of life and love. She was very ill for two nights,
and when the coffin was closed a new baby lay in
the father's arms.
' She slowly came back to life, but there were no
more songs. The miners still come about her shop,
and talk to her baby, and bring her their sorrows
and troubles ; but though she is always gentle, almost tender, with them, no man ever says "Sing." 96
Black Rock
And that is why I am glad she sang last week; it
will he good for her and good for them.'
' Why does she stay ? ' I asked.
' Mavor's people wanted her to go to them/ he
'They have money—she told me about it, but
her heart is in the grave up there under the pines;
and besides, she hopes to do something for the
miners, and she will not leave them.'
I am afraid I snorted a little impatiently as 1 said,
'Nonsense! why, with her face, and manner, and
voice she could be anything she liked in Edinburgh
or in London '
'And why Edinburgh or London?' he asked
'Why?* I repeated a little hotly. 'You think
this is better ? '
'Nazareth was good enough for the Lord of
glory,' he answered, with a smile none too bright;
but it drew my heart to him, and my heat was
' How long will she stay ? ' I asked.
'Till her work is done,' he replied.
'And when will that be?' I asked impatiently.
'When God chooses,' he answered gravely;
'and don't  you ever think but that it is worth
MM Mrs. Mavor's Story
while. One value of work is not that crowds stare
at it.   Read history, man ! '
He rose abruptly and began to walk about.
'And don't miss the whole meaning of the Life
that lies at the foundation of your religion. Yes,'
he added to himself, ' the work is worth doing—
worth even her doing.
I could not think so then, but the light of the
after years proved him wiser than I. A man, to
see far, must climb to some height, and I was too
much upon the plain in those days to catch even a
glimpse of distant sunlit uplands of triumphant
achievement that lie beyond the valley of self-sacrifice. : ; The Making of the League
Thursday morning found Craig anxious, even
gloomy, but with fight in every line of his face. I
tried to cheer him in my clumsy way by chaffing
him about his League. But he did not blaze up as
he often did. It was a thing too near his heart for
that. He only shrank a little from my stupid chaff
and said —
'Don't, old chap; this is a good deal to me.
I've tried for two years to get this, and if it falls
through now, I shall find it hard to bear.'
Then I repented my light words and said, ' Why !
the thing will go sure enough : after that scene in
the church they won't go back.'
'Poor fellows!' he said as if to himself;
'whisky is about the only excitement they have,
and they find it pretty tough to give it up; and a
lot of the men are against the total abstinence idea.
It seems rot to them/
' It is pretty steep, ' I said. ' Can't you do without it ? ' 102
Black Rock
'No; I fear not. There is nothing else for it.
Some of them talk of compromise. They want to
quit the saloon and drink quietly in their shacks.
The moderate drinker may have his place in other
countries, though I can't see it. I haven't thought
that out, but here the only safe man is the man who
quits it dead and fights it straight; anything else is
sheerest humbug and nonsense.'
I had not gone in much for total abstinence up to
this time, chiefly because its advocates seemed for
the most part to be somewhat ill-balanced ; but as I
listened to Craig, I began to feel that perhaps there
was a total abstinence side to the temperance question; and as to Black Rock, I could see how it must
be one thing or the other.
We found Mrs. Mavor brave and bright. She
shared Mr. Craig's anxiety but not his gloom. Her
courage was of that serene kind that refuses to be^
lieve defeat possible, and lifts the spirit into the
triumph of final victory. Through the past week
she had been carefully disposing her forces and
winning recruits. And yet she never seemed to
urge or persuade the men; but as evening after
evening the miners dropped into the cosy room
downstairs, with her talk and her songs she
charmed them till they were wholly hers.    She The Making of the League 103
took for granted their loyalty, trusted them utterly,
and so made it difficult for them to be other than
true men.
That night Mrs. Mavor's large storeroom, which
had been fitted up with seats, was crowded with
miners when Mr. Craig and I entered.
After a glance over the crowd, Craig said,
'There's the manager; that means war.' And I
saw a tall man, very fair, whose chin fell away to
the vanishing point, and whose hair was parted
in the middle, talking to Mrs. Mavor. She was
dressed in some rich soft stuff that became her
well. She was looking beautiful as ever, but
there was something quite new in her manner.
Her air of good-fellowship was gone, and she was
the high-bred lady, whose gentle dignity and
sweet grace, while very winning, made familiarity
The manager was doing his best, and appeared
to be well pleased with himself. ' She'll get him if
any one can.    I failed/ said Craig.
I stood looking at the men, and a fine lot of
fellows they were. Free, easy, bold in their bearing, they gave no sign of rudeness ; and, from their
frequent glances toward Mrs. Mavor, I could see
they were always conscious of her presence.   No i©4
Black Rock
men are so truly gentle as are the Westerners in the
presence of a good woman. They were evidently
of all classes and ranks originally, but nowr, and in
this country of real measurements, they ranked
simply according to the 'man' in them. 'See
that handsome young chap of dissipated appearance?' said Craig; 'that's Vernon Winton, an
Oxford graduate, blue blood, awfully plucky,
but quite gone. When he gets repentant, instead
of shooting himself, he comes to Mrs. Mavor.
'From Oxford University to Black Rock mining
camp is something of a step,' I replied.
'That queer-looking little chap in the corner is
Billy Breen. How in the world has he got here?'
went on Mr. Craig. Queer-looking he was. A little
man, with a small head set on heavy square shoulders, long arms, and huge hands that sprawled all
over his body ; altogether a most ungainly specimen
of humanity.
By this time Mrs. Mavor had finished with the
manager, and was in the centre of a group of
miners. Her grand air was all gone, and she was
their comrade, their friend, one of themselves.
Nor did she assume the rôle of entertainer, but
rather did she, with half-shy air, cast herself upon The Making of the League        105
tneir chivalry, and they were too truly gentlemen to
fail her. It is hard to make Western men, and
especially old-timers, talk. But this gift was hers,
and it stirred my admiration to see her draw on a
grizzled veteran to tell how, twenty years ago, he
had crossed the Great Divide, and had seen and
done What no longer fell to men to see or do in
these new days. And so she won the old-timer.
But it was beautiful to see the innocent guile with
Which she caught Billy Breen, and drew him to her
corner near the organ. What she was saying I
knew not, but poor Billy was protesting, waving
his big hands.   |||
The meeting came to order, with Shaw in the
chair, and the handsome young Oxford man secretary. Shaw stated the object of the meeting in a
f aw halting words ; but when he came to speak of
the pleasure he and all felt in being together in that
room, his words flowed in a stream, warm and full.
Then there was a pause, and Mr. Craig was called.
But he knew better than to speak at that point,
Finally Nixon rose hesitatingly; but, as he caught a
bright smile from Mrs. Mavor, he straightened himself as if for a fight
'I ain't no good at makin' speeches,' he began;
' but it ain't speeches we want.   We've got some- i©6
Black Rock
thin' to do, and what we want to know is how to
do it. And to be right plain, we want to know
how to drive this cursed whisky out of Black
Rock. You all know what it's doing for us—at
least for some of us. And it's time to stop it
now, or for some of us it'll mighty soon be too
late. And the only way to stop its work is to quit
drinkin' it and help others to quit. I hear some
talk of a League, and what I say is, if it's a
League out and out against whisky, a Total
Abstinence right to the ground, then I'm with it
—that's my talk—I move we make that kind of
Nixon sat down amid cheers and a chorus of
remarks, 'Good man!' 'That's the talk!'
'Stay with it!' but he waited for the smile and
the glance that came to him from the beautiful
face in the corner, and with that he seemed
Again there was silence. Then the secretary rose
with a slight flush upon his handsome, delicate face,
and seconded the motion. If they would pardon a
personal reference he would give them his reasons.
He had come to this country to make his fortune;
now he was anxious to make enough to enable him
to go home with some degree of honour.    His home The Making of the League 107
held everything that was dear to him. Between
him and that home, between him and all that was
good and beautiful and honourable, stood whisky.
'I am ashamed to confess,' and the flush deepened
on his cheek, and his lips grew thinner, ' that I feel
the need of some such league.' His handsome
face, his perfect style of address, learned possibly
in the 'Union,' but, more than all, his show of
nerve—for these men knew how to value that—
made a strong impression on his audience; but
there were no following cheers.
Mr. Craig appeared hopeful ; but on Mrs. Mavor's
face there was a look of wistful, tender pity, for
she knew how much the words had cost the lad.
Then up rose a sturdy, hard-featured man, with
a burr in his voice that proclaimed his birth. His
name was George Crawford, I afterward learned,
but every one called him Geordie. He was a character in his way, fond of his glass; but though he
was never known to refuse a drink, he was never
known to be drunk. He took his drink, for the
most part, with bread and cheese in his own shack,
or with a friend or two in a sober, respectable way,
but never could be induced to join the wild carousals in Slavin's saloon. He made the highest wages,
but was far too true a Scot to spend his money ïo8
Black Rock
recklessly. Every one waited eagerly to hear
Geordie's mind. He spoke solemnly, as befitted a
Scotsman expressing a deliberate opinion, and carefully, as if choosing his best English, for when
Geordie became excited no one in Black Rock could
understand him.
'Maister Chairman/ said Geordie, 'I'm aye for
temperance in a' things.' There was a shout of
ïaughter, at which Geordie gazed round in pained
surprise. 'I'll no' deny,' he went on in an explanatory tone, ' that I tak ma mornin', an' maybe
a nip at noon, an' a wee drap aifter wark in the
evenin', an' whiles a sip o' toddy wi' a freen thae
cauld nichts. But I'm -no' a guzzler, an' I dinna
gang in wi' thae loons flingin' aboot guid money.'
*And that's thrue for you, me bye,' interrupted
a rich Irish brogue, to the delight of the crowd and
the amazement of Geordie, who went calmly on —
' An' I canna bide yon saloon whaur they sell sic
awfu'-like stuff—it's mair like lye nor guid whisky,
—and whaur ye're never sure o' yer richt change.
It's an awfu'-like place; man! '—and Geordie Degan
to warm up—' ye can juist smell the sulphur when
ye gang in. But I dinna care aboot thae Temperance Soceeities, wi' their pledges an' havers; an' Ï
canna see what hairm can come till a man by takin' The Making of the League 109
a bottle o' guid Glenlivet hame wi' him. I canna
bide thae teetotal buddies.'
Geordie's speech was followed by loud applause,
partly appreciative of Geordie himself, but largely
sympathetic with his position.
Two or three men followed in the same strain,
advocating a league for mutual improvement and
social purposes, but without the teetotal pledge;
they were against the saloon, but didn't see why
they should not take a drink now and then.
Finally the manager rose to support his ' friend,
Mistah—ah—Cwafoad,' ridiculing the idea of a
total abstinence pledge as fanatical and indeed
'absuad.' He was opposed to the saloon, and
would like to see a club formed, with a comfortable
club-room, books, magazines, pictures, games, anything, 'dontcheknow, to make the time pass pleas-*
antly ' ; but it was ' absuad to ask men to abstain
fwom a pwopah use of—aw—nouwishing dwinks/
because some men made beasts of themselves. He
concluded by offering $50.00 toward the support of
such a club.
The current of feeling was setting strongly
against the total abstinence idea, and Craig's face
was hard and his eyes gleamed like coals. Then he
did a bit of generalship.    He proposed that since no
Black Rock
they had the two plans clearly before them they
should take a few minutes' intermission in which to
make up their minds, and he was sure they would
be glad to have Mrs. Mavor sing. In the interval
the men talked in groups, eagerly, even fiercely,-
hampered seriously in the forceful expression of
their opinion by the presence of Mrs. Mavor, who
glided from group to group, dropping a word here
and a smile there. She reminded me of a general
riding along the ranks, bracing his men for the coming battle. She paused beside Geordie, spoke earnestly for a few moments, while Geordie gazed
solemnly at her, and then she came back to Billy in
the corner near me. What she was saying I could
not hear, but poor Billy was protesting, spreading
his hands out aimlessly before him, but gazing
at her the while in dumb admiration. Then she
came to me. 'Poor Billy, he was good to my
husband,' she said softly, ' and he has a good
'He's not much to look at,' I could not help
'The oyster hides its pearl,' she answered, a
little reproachfully.
'The shell is apparent enough,' I replied, for the
mischief was in me.
iHH The Making of the League m
'Ah yes,' she replied softly, 'but it is the pearl
we love.'
I moved over beside Billy, whose eyes were following Mrs. Mavor as she went to speak to Mr.
Craig. 'Well,' I said; 'you all seem to have a
high opinion of her.'
'An 'igh hopinion,' he replied, in deep scorn.
'An 'igh hopinion, you calls it/
'What would you call it?' I asked, wishing to
draw him out.'
'Oi don't call it nothink,' he replied, spreading
out his rough hands.
'She seems very nice,' I said indifferently.
He drew his eyes away from Mrs. Mavor, and
gave attention to me for the first time.
'Nice!' he repeated with fine contempt; and
then he added impressively, ' Them as don't know
shouldn't say nothink.'
'You are right,' I answered earnestly, 'and I
am quite of your opinion/
He gave me a quick glance out of his little, deep^
set, dark-blue eyes, and opened his heart to me.
He told me, in his quaint speech, how again and
again she had taken him in and nursed him, and
encouraged him, and sent him out with a new
heart for bis battle, until, for very shame's sake 112
Black Rock
at his own miserable weakness, he had kept out of
her way for many months, going steadily down.
'Now, oi hain't got no grip; but when she says
to me to-night, says she, " Oh, Billy "—she calls me
Billy to myself (this with a touch of pride)—' "oh,
Billy," says she, " we must 'ave a total habstinence
league to-night, and oi want you to 'elp!" and she
keeps a-lookin' at me with those heyes o' hern till,
if you believe me, sir,' lowering his voice to an
emphatic whisper, ' though oi knowed oi couldn't
'elp none, afore oi knowed oi promised 'er oi would.
It's 'er heyes. When them heyes says "do," hup
you steps and " does." '
I remembered my first look into her eyes, and I
could quite understand Billy's submission. Just as
she began to sing I went over to Geordie and took
my seat beside him. She began with an English
slumber song, ' Sleep, Baby, Sleep '—one of Barry
Cornwall's, I think,—and then sang a love-song
with the refrain, 'Love once again'; but no thrills
came to me, and I began to wonder if her spell over
me was broken. Geordie, who had been listening
somewhat indifferently, encouraged me, however,
by saying, 'She's just pittin' aff time with thae
feckless sangs; man, there's nae grup till them/
But when, after a few minutes' pause, she began The Making of the League 113
§My Ain Fireside,' Geordie gave a sigh of satisfaction. 'Ay, that's somethin' like,' and when she
finished the first verse he gave me a dig in the ribs
with his elbow that took my breath away, saying
in a_whisper, 'Man, hear till yon, wull ye?' And
again I found the spell upon me. It was not the
voice after all, but the great soul behind that thrilled
and compelled. She was seeing, feeling, living
what she sang, and her voice showed us her heart.
The cosy fireside, with its bonnie, blithe blink,
where no care could abide, but only peace and
love, was vividly present to her, and as she sang
we saw it too.   When she came to the last verse—
4 When I draw in my stool
On my cosy hearth-stane,
My heart loups sae licht
I scarce ken't for my ain/
there was a feeling of tears in the flowing song,
and we knew the words had brought her a picture
of the fireside that would always seem empty. I
felt the tears in my eyes, and, wondering at myself, I cast a stealthy glance at the men about me;
and I saw that they, too, were looking through
their hearts' windows upon firesides and ingle-
neuks that gleamed from far.
And then she sang ' The Auld Hoose,' and Geordie, Black Rock
giving me another poke, said, ' That's ma ain sang/
and when I asked him what he meant, he whispered
fiercely, ' Wheesht, man ! ' and I did, for his face
looked dangerous. 8g
In a pause between the verses I heard Geordie
saying to himself, ' Ay, I maun gie it up, I doot.'
' What ? ' I ventured.
'Naething ava.' And then he added impatiently, 'Man, but ye're an inqueesitive buddie,'
after which I subsided into silence.
Immediately upon the meeting being called to
order, Mr. Craig made his speech, and it was a fine
bit of work. Beginning with a clear statement of
the object in view, he set in contrast the two kinds
of leagues proposed. One, a league of men who
would take whisky in moderation; the other, a
league of men who were pledged to drink none
themselves, and to prevent in every honourable way
others from drinking. There was no long argument, but he spoke at white heat; and as he appealed to the men to think, each not of himself
alone, but of the others as well, the yearning, born
of his long months of desire and of toil, vibrated in
his voice and reached to the heart. Many men
looked uncomfortable and uncertain, and even the
manager looked none too cheerful. The Making of the League
At this critical moment the crowd got a shock.
Billy Breen shuffled out to the front, and, in a voice
shaking with nervousness and emotion, began to
speak, his large, coarse hands wandering tremulously about.
'Oi hain't no bloomin' temperance horator, and
mayhap oi hain't no right to speak 'ere, but oi got
somethin' to saigh (say) and oi 'm agoin' to
saigh it.
' Parson, 'ee says is it wisky or no wisky in this
'ere club ? If ye hask me, wich (which) ye don't,
then no wisky, says oi ; and if ye hask why ?—look
at me! Once oi could mine more coal than hany
man in the camp; now oi hain't fit to be a sorter.
Once oi 'ad some pride and hambition; now oi
'angs round awaitin' for some one to saigh, "'Ere,
Billy, 'ave summat." Once oi made good paigh
(pay), and sent it 'ome regular to my poor old
mother Cshe's in the wukus now, she is) ; oi hain't
sent 'er hany for a year and a 'alf. Once Billy was
a good fellow and 'ad plenty o' friends ; now Slavin
'isself kicks un hout, 'ee does. Why ? why M His
voice rose to a shriek. 'Because when Billy 'ad
money in 'is pocket, hevery man in this bloomin'
camp as meets un at hevery corner says, "'Ello,
Billy, wat'll ye 'ave?"   And there's wisky at Slav- lié
Black Rock
in's, and there's wisky in the shacks, and hevery
'oliday and hevery Sunday there's wisky, and w'en
ye feel bad it's wisky, and w'en ye feel good it's
wisky, and heverywhere and halways it's wisky,
wisky, wisky! And now ye're goin' to stop it, and
'ow ? T' manager, 'ee says picters and magazines.
'Ee takes Is wine and 'is beer like a gentleman, 'ee
does, and 'ee don't 'ave no use for Billy Breen.
Billy, 'ee's a beast, and t' manager, 'ee kicks un
bout. But supposîn' Billy, wants to stop bein' a.
beast, and starts a-try in' to be a man again, and
w'en 'ee gets good an' dry, along comes some un
and says, "'Ello, Billy, 'ave a smile," it hain't picters nor magazines 'ud stop un then. Picters and
magazines! Gawd'elp the man as hain't nothin'
but picters and magazines to 'elp un w'en 'ee's got
a devil hinside and a devil houtside a-shovin' and
a-drawin' of un down to 'ell. And that's w'ere oi
*m a-goin' straight, and yer bloomin' League, wisky
or no wisky, can't help me. But,' and he lifted his
trembling hands above his head, 'if ye stop the
wisky a-flowin' round this camp, ye'll stop some of
these lads that's a-followin' me 'ard. Yes, you!
and you! and you!' and his voice rose to a wild
scream as he shook a trembling finger at one and
another. The Making of the League 117
'Man, it's fair gruesome tae hear him/ said
Geordie; 'he's no' canny;' and reaching out for
Billy as he went stumbling past, he pulled him
down to a seat beside him, saying, ' Sit doon, lad,
sit doon. We'll mak a man 0' ye yet.' Then he
rose and, using many r's, said, \ Maister Chairman,
a' doot we'll juist hae to gie it 14p.'
' Give it up ? ' called out Nixon. ' Give up the
'Na! na! lad, but juist the wee drap whusky.
It's nae that guid ony way, and it's a terrible price.
Man, gin ye gang tae Henderson's in Buchanan
Street, in Gleska, ye ken, ye'll get mair for three-
an'-saxpence than ye wull at Slavin's for five dollars. An' it'll no' pit ye mad like yon stuff, but it
gangs doon smooth an' saft-like. But ' (regretfully)
'ye'll no' can get it here; an' a'm thinkin' a'll juist
sign yon teetotal thing.' And up he strode to the
table and put his name down in the book Craig had
ready. Then to Billy he said, ' Come awa, lad! pit
yer name doon, an' we'll stan' by ye.'
Poor Billy looked around helplessly, his nerve all
gone, and sat still. There was a swift rustle of
garments, and Mrs. Mavor was beside him, and, in
a voice that only Billy and I could hear, said,
* You'll sign with me, Billy ? ' r
Black Rock
Billy gazed at her with a hopeless look in his
eyes, and shook his little head. She leaned slightly
toward him, smiling brightly, and, touching his
arm gently, said —
'Come, Billy, there's no fear,' and in a lower
voice, 'God will help you.'
As Billy went up, following Mrs. Mavor close, a
hush fell on the men until he had put his name to
the pledge; then they came up, man by man, and
signed. But Craig sat with his head down till I
touched his shoulder. He took my hand and held
it fast, saying over and over, under his breath,
* Thank God, thank God!'
And so the League was made.
HUH Black Rock Religion
When I grow weary with the conventions of rev
ligion, and sick in my soul from feeding upon
husks, that the churches too often offer me, in the
shape of elaborate service and eloquent discourses,
so that in my sickness I doubt and doubt, then I go
back to the communion in Black Rock and the days
preceding it, and the fever and the weariness leave
me, and I grow humble and strong. The simplicity
and rugged grandeur of the faith, the humble gratitude of the rough men I see about the table, and
the calm radiance of one saintly face, rest and recall me.
Not its most enthusiastic apologist would call
Black Rock a religious community, but it possessed
in a marked degree that eminent Christian virtue of
tolerance. AH creeds, all shades of religious opinion, were allowed, and it was generally conceded
that one was as good as another. It is fair to say,
however, that Black Rock's catholicity was negative
rather than positive, ^he only religion objectionable was that insisted upon as a necessity.    It never 122
Black Rock
occurred to any one to consider religion other than
as a respectable*, if not ornamental, addition to life
in older lands.
During the weeks following the making of the
League, however, this negative attitude toward
things religious gave place to one of keen investigation and criticism. The indifference passed away,
and with it, in a large measure, the tolerance. Mr.
Craig was responsible for the former of these
changes, but hardly, in fairness, could he be held
responsible for the latter. If any one, more than
another, was to be blamed for the rise of intolerance in the village, that man was Geordie Crawford. He had his ' lines' from the Established Kirk
of Scotland, and when Mr. Craig announced his intention of having the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper observed, Geordie produced his ' lines ' and
promptly handed them in. As no other man in the
village was equipped with like spiritual credentials,
Geordie constituted himself a kind of kirk-session,
charged with the double duty of guarding the entrance to the Lord's Table, and of keeping an eye
upon the theological opinions of the community,
and more particularly upon such members of it as
gave evidence of possessing any opinions definite
enough for statement. Black Rock Religion
It came to be Mr. Craig's habit to drop into the
League-room, and toward the close of the evening
to have a short Scripture lesson from the Gospels.
Geordie's opportunity came after the meeting was
over and Mr. Craig had gone away. The men
would hang about and talk the lesson over, expressing opinions favourable or unfavourable as appeared to them good. Then it was that all sorts of
views, religious and otherwise, were aired and examined. The originality of the ideas, the absolute
disregard of the authority of church or creed, the
frankness with which opinions were stated, and the
forcefulness of the language in which they were expressed, combined to make the discussions altogether
marvellous. The passage between Abe Baker, the
stage-driver, and Geordie was particularly rich. It
followed upon a very telling lesson on the parable
of the Pharisee and the Publican.
The chief actors in that wonderful story were
transferred to the Black Rock stage, and were presented in miner's costume. Abe was particularly
well pleased with the scoring of the ' blanked old
rooster who crowed so blanked high,' and somewhat incensed at the quiet remark interjected by
Geordie, 'that it was nae credit till a man tae be a
sinner';  and when Geordie went on to urge the 124
Black Rock
importance of right conduct and respectability, Abe
was led to pour forth vials of contemptuous wrath
upon the Pharisees and hypocrites who thought
themselves better than other people. But Geordie
was quite unruffled, and lamented the ignorance of
men who, brought up in ' Epeescopawlyun or
Methody' churches, could hardly be expected to
detect the Antinomian or Arminian heresies.
'Aunty Nomyun or Uncle Nomyun,' replied
Abe, boiling hot, 'my mother was a Methodist,
and I'll back any blanked Methodist against any
blankety blank long-faced, lantern-jawed, skinflint
Presbyterian,' and this he was eager to maintain to
any man's satisfaction if he would step outside.
Geordie was quite unmoved, but hastened to
assure Abe that he meant no disrespect to his
mother, who he had ' nae doot was a clever enough
buddie, tae judge by her son.' Abe was speedily
appeased, and offered to set up the drinks all round.
But Geordie, with evident reluctance, had to decline, saying, 'Na, na, lad, I'm a League man, ye
ken,' and I was sure that Geordie at that moment
felt that membership in the League had its drawbacks.
Nor was Geordie too sure of Craig's orthodoxy;
while as to Mrs. Mavor, whose slave he was, he Black Rock Religion
was in the habit of lamenting her doctrinal condition —
'She's a fine wumman, nae doot; but, puit
cratur, she's fair carried awa wi' the errors o' thae
It fell to Geordie, therefore, as. a sacred duty, in
view of the laxity of those who seemed to be the
pillars of the Church, to be all the more watchful
and unyielding. But he was delightfully inconsistent when confronted with, particulars. In conversation with him one night after one of the meetings, when he had been specially hard upon the
ignorant and godless, I innocently changed the subject to Billy Breen, whom Geordie had taken to his
shack since the night of the League. He was very
proud of Billy's success in the fight against whisky,
the credit of which he divided unevenly between
Mrs. Mavor and himself.
'He's fair daft aboot her,' he explained to me,
'an' I'll no' deny but she's a great help, ay, a vejra
conseederable asseestance; but, man, she doesna
ken the whusky, an' the inside o' a man that's
wantin' it. Ay, puir buddie, she diz her pairt, an'
when ye're a bit restless an' thrawn aifter yer day's
wark, it's like a walk in a bonnie glen on a simmer
eve,  with the birds liltin' aboot,  tae sit in yon 126
Black Rock
roomie and hear her sing; but when the night is on,
an' ye canna sleep, but wauken wi' an' awfu' thurst
and wi' dreams o' cosy firesides, and the bonnie
sparklin' glosses, as it is wi' puir Billy, ay, it's then
ye need a man wi' a guid grup beside ye.'
'What do you do then, Geordie ?' I asked.
'Oo ay, I juist gang for a bit walk wi' the
lad, and then pits the kettle on an' maks a cup
o' tea or coffee, an' aff he gangs tae sleep like a
'Poor Billy,' I said pityingly, 'there's no hope for
him in the future, I fear.'
'Hoot awa, man,' said Geordie quickly. 'Ye
wadna keep oot a puir cratur frae creepin' in, that's
daein' his best ? '
'But, Geordie,' I remonstrated, 'he doesn't know
anything of the doctrines. I don't believe he could
give us " The Chief End of Man." '
'An' wha's tae blame for that?' said Geordie,
with fine indignation. ' An' maybe you remember
the prood Pharisee and the puir wumman that cam'
creepin' in ahint the Maister.'
The mingled tenderness and indignation in
Geordie's face were beautiful to see, so I meekly
answered, 'Well, I hope Mr. Craig won't be too
strict with the boys.' Black Rock Religion
Geordie shot a suspicious glance at me, but I
kept my face like a summer morn, and he replied
cautiously —
'Ay, he's no' that streect: but he maun exer-
ceese discreemination.'
Geordie was none the less determined, however,
that Billy should ' come forrit ' ; but as to the manager, who was a member of the English Church,
and some others who had been confirmed years
ago, and had forgotten much and denied more, he
was extremely doubtful, and expressed himself in
very decided words to the minister—
'Ye'll no' be askin' forrit thae Epeescopawlyun
buddies.   They juist ken naething ava.'
But Mr.' Craig looked at him for a moment and
said, f " Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise
cast out,"' and Geordie was silent, though he continued doubtful.
With all these somewhat fantastic features, however, there was no mistaking the earnest spirit of
the men. The meetings grew larger every night,
and the interest became more intense. The singing
became different. The men no longer simply
shouted, but as Mr. Craig would call attention to
the sentiment of the hymn, the voices would attune
themselves to the words.   Instead of encouraging Black Rock
anything like emotional excitement, Mr. Craig
seemed to fear it.
'These chaps are easily stirred up,' he would say,
' and I am anxious that they should know exactly
what they are doing. It is far too serious a business to trifle with.'
Although Graeme did not go downstairs to the
meetings, he could not but feel the throb of the
emotion beating in the heart of the community. I
used to detail for his benefit, and sometimes for his
amusement, the incidents of each night. But I
never felt quite easy in dwelling upon the humorous features in Mrs. Mavor's presence, although
Craig did not appear to mind. His manner with
Graeme was perfect. Openly anxious to win him
to his side, he did not improve the occasion and
vex him with exhortation. He would not take him
at a disadvantage, though, as I afterward found,
this was not his sole reason for his method. Mrs.
Mavor, too, showed herself in wise and tender
light. She might have been his sister, so frank was
she ^nd so openly affectionate, laughing at his fret-
fulness and soothing his weariness.
Never were better comrades than we four, and
the bright days speeding so swiftly on drew us
nearer to one another. Black Rock Religion
But the bright days came to an end; for Graeme,
when once he was able to go about, became anxious to get back to the camp. And so the last day
came, a day I remember well. It was a bright,
crisp winter day.
The air was shimmering in the frosty light. The
mountains, with their shining heads piercing
through light clouds into that wonderful blue of
the western sky, and their feet pushed into the pine
masses, gazed down upon Black Rock with calm,
kindly looks on their old grey faces. How one
grows to love them, steadfast old friends! Far up
among the pines we could see the smoke of the
engine at the works, and so still and so clear was
the mountain air that we could hear the puff of the
steam, and frGm far down the river the murmur of
the rapids. The majestic silence, the tender beauty,
the peace, the loneliness, toos came stealing in upon
us, as we three, leaving Mrs.. Mavor behind us,
marched arm-in-arm d.own the street. We had
not gone far on our way, when Graeme, turning
round, stood a moment looking back, then waved
his hand in farewell. Mrs. Mavor was at her window, smiling and waving in return. They had
grown to be great friends these two ; and seemed
to have arrived at some understanding.    Certainly, Black Rock
Graeme's manner to her was not that he bore to
other women. His half-quizzical, somewhat superior air of mocking devotion gave placé to a simple, earnest, almost tender, respect, very new to
him, but very winning.
As he stood there waving his farewell, I glanced
at his face and saw for a moment what I had not
seen for years, a faint flush on Graeme's cheek and
a light of simple, earnest faith in his eyes. It
reminded me of my first look of him when he had
come up for his matriculation to the 'Varsity. He
stood on the campus looking up at the noble old
pile, and.there was the same bright, trustful, earnest
look on his boyish face.
I know not what spirit possessed me; it may
have been the pain of the memory working
in me, but I said, coarsely enough, 'It's no use,
Graeme, my boy; I would fall in love with her
myself, but there would be no chance even for
The flush slowly darkened as he turned and said
deliberately —
' It's not like you, Connor, to be an ass of that
peculiar kind. Love!—not exactly! She won't fall
in love unless—' and he stopped abruptly with his
eyes upon Craig. Black Rock Religion
But Craig met him with unshrinking gaze,
quietly remarking, 'Her heart is under the pines;'
and we moved on, each thinking his own
thoughts, and guessing at the thoughts of the
We were on our way to Craig's shack, and as we
passed the saloon Slavin stepped from the door with
a salutation. Graeme paused. ' Hello, Slavin ! I got
rather the worst of it, didn't I ? '
-Slavin came near, and said earnestly, ' It was a
dirty thrick altogether; you'll not think it was
moine, Mr. Graeme.'
'No, no, Slavin! you stood up like a man,' said
Graeme cheerfully.
'And you bate me fair; an' bedad it was a nate
one that laid me out; an' there's no grudge in me
heart till ye.'
'All right, Slaving we'll perhaps understand each
other better after this.'
'An' that's thrue for yez, sor; an' I'll see that your
byes don't get any more than they ask for,' replied
Slavin, backing away.
'And I hope that wonit be much,' put in Mr.
Craig; but Slavin only grinned.
When we came to Craig's shack Graeme was glad
to rest in the big chair. 132
Black Rock
Craig made him a cup of tea, while I smoked,
admiring much the deft neatness of the minister's
housekeeping, and the gentle, almost iftotherly, way
he had with Graeme.
In our talk we drifted into the future, and Craig
let us see what were his ambitions. The railway
was soon to come; the resources were, as yet, unexplored, but enough was known to assure a great
future for British Columbia. As he talked his
enthusiasm grew, and carried us away. With
the eye of a general he surveyed the country, fixed
the strategic points which the Church must seize
upon. Eight good men would hold the country
from Fort Steele to the coast, and from Kootenay to
'The Church must be in with the railway; she
must have a hand in the shaping of the country. If
society crystallises without her influence, the country
is lost, and British Columbia will be another trapdoor to the bottomless pit/
' What do you propose ? ' I asked.
'Organising a little congregation here in Black
' How many will you get ? '
'Don't know.'
'Pretty hopeless business,' I said. Black Rock Religion
Hopeless! hopeless!' he cried; 'there were only
twelve of us at first to follow Him, and rather a poor
lot they were. But He braced them up, and they
conquered the world.'
'But surely things are diTerent,' said Graeme.
'Things ? Yes! yes! But He is the same.' His
face had an exalted look, and his eyes were gazing
into far-away places.
'A dozen men in Black Rock with some*real grip
of Him would make things go. We'll get them,
too,' he went on in growing excitement. ' I believe
in my soul we'll get them.'
'Look here, Craig; if you organise I'd like to
join,' said Graeme impulsively. 'I don't believe
much in your creed or your Church, but I'll be
blowed if I don't believe in you.'
Craig looked at him with wistful eyes, and shook
his head. 'It won't do, old chap, you know. I
can't hold you. You've got to have a grip of
some one better than I am; and then, besides, I
hardly like asking you now;' he hesitated—'well,
to be out-and-out, this step must be taken not
for my sake, nor for any man's sake, and I fancy
that perhaps you feel like pleasing me just now a
'That I do, old fellow/ said Graeme, putting out 134
Black Rock
his hand. TU be hanged if I won't do anything
you say.'
'That's why I won't say,' replied Craig. -Then
reverently he added, ' The organisation is not mine.
It is my Master's.'
' When are you going to begin ? ' asked Graeme.
'We shall have our communion service in two
weeks, and that will be our roll-call.'
' How many will answer?' I asked doubtfully.
'I know of three,' he said quietly.
'Three! There are two hundred miners and one
hundred and fifty lumbermen ! Three ! ' and Graeme
looked at him in amazement. ' You think it worth
while to organise three ? '
'Well,' replied Craig, smiling for the first time,
' the organisation won't be elaborate, but it will be
effective, and, besides, loyalty demands obedience.'
We sat long that afternoon talking, shrinking
from the breaking up ; for we knew that we were
about to turn down a chapter in our lives which we
should delight to linger over in after days. And in
my life there is but one brighter. At last we said
good-bye and drove away ; and though many farewells have come in between that day and this, none
is so vividly present to me as that between us three
men.   Craig's manner with me was solemn enough.
.«^flC- Black Rock Religion
•"He that loveth his life"; good-bye, don't fool
with this,' was what he said to me. But when he
turned to Graeme his whole face lit up. He took
him by the shoulders and gave him a little shake,
looking into his eyes, and saying over and over in
a low, sweet tone —
' You'll come, old chap, you'll come, you'll come.
Tell me you'll come.'
And Graeme could say nothing in reply, but only
looked at him. Then they silently shook hands,
and we drove off. But long after we had got over
the mountain and into the winding forest road on
the way to the lumber-camp the voice kept vibrating in my heart, 'You'll come, you'll come,'and
there was a hot pain in my throat.
We said little during the drive to the camp.
Graeme was thinking hard, and made no answer
when I spoke to him two or three times, till we
came to the deep shadows of the pine forest, when
with a little shiver he said —
'It is all a tangle—a hopeless tangle/
'Meaning what?' I asked.
'This business of religion—what quaint varieties
—Nelson's, Geordie's, Billy Breen's—if he has any
—then Mrs. Mavor's—she is a saint, of course—and
that fellow Craig's.   What a trump he is!—and
§fH| 136 Black Rock
without his religion he'd be pretty much like the
rest of us.    It is too much for me.'
His mystery was not mine. The Black Rock varieties of religion were certainly startling; but there
was undoubtedly the streak of reality through them
all, and that discovery I felt to be a distinct gain.
The gleam of the great fire through the windows
of the great camp gave a kindly welcome as we
drove into the clearing in which the shanties stood.
Graeme was greatly touched at his enthusiastic welcome by the men. At the supper-table he made a
little speech of thanks for their faithfulness during
his absence, specially commending the care and
efficiency of Mr. Nelson, who had had charge of the
camp. The men cheered wildly, Baptiste's shrill
voice leading all. Nelson being called upon, expressed in a few words his pleasure at seeing the
Boss back, and thanked the men for their support
while he had been in charge.
The men were for making a night of it; but fearing the effect upon Graeme, I spoke to Nelson, who
passed the word, and in a short time the camp was
quiet. As we sauntered from the grub-camp to the
office where was our bed, we paused to take in the
beauty of the night.    The moon rode high over the
peaks of the mountains, flooding the narrow valley
139 140
Black Rock
with mellow light. Under her magic the rugged
peaks softened their harsh lines and seemed to lean
lovingly toward us. The dark pine masses stood
silent as in breathless adoration; the dazzling snow
lay like a garment over all the open spaces in soft
waving folds, and crowned every stump with a
quaintly shaped nightcap. Above the camps the
smoke curled up from the camp-fires, standing like
pillars of cloud that kept watch while men slept.
And high over all the deep blue night sky, with its
star jewels, sprang like the roof of a great cathedral
from range to range, covering us in its kindly
shelter. How homelike and safe seemed the valley
with its mountain-sides, its sentinel trees and arching roof of jewelled sky! Even the night seemed
kindly, and friendly the stars; and the lone cry of
the wolf from the deep forest seemed like the voice
of a comrade.
'How beautiful! too beautiful!' said Graeme
stretching out his arms. ' A night like this takes
the heart out of me.'
I stood silent, drinking in at every sense the night
with its wealth of loveliness.
'What is it I want ?' he went on. 'Why does
the night make my heart ache ? There are things
to see and things to hear just beyond me; I cannot
H The First Black Rock Communion   141
get to them.' The gay, careless look was gone
from his face, his dark eyes were wistful with
' I often wonder if life has nothing better for me,'
he continued with his heartache voice.
I said no word, but put my arm within his. A
light appeared in the stable. Glad of a diversion, I
said, ' What is the light ?   Let us go and see.'
' Sandy, taking a last look at his team, like
We walked slowly toward the stable, speaking
no word. As we neared the door we heard the
sound of a voice in the monotone of one reading.
I stepped forward and looked through a chink between the logs. Graeme was about to open the
door, but I held up my hand and beckoned him to
me. In a vacant stall where was a pile of straw, a
number of men were grouped. Sandy, leaning
against the tying-post upon which the stable-lantern hung, was reading; Nelson was kneeling in
front of him and gazing into the gloom beyond;
Baptiste lay upon his stomach, his chin in his hands
and his upturned eyes fastened upon Sandy's face;
Lachlan Campbell sat with his hands clasped about
his knees, and two other men sat near him. Sandy
was reading the undying story of the Prodigal,
BHH 142
Black Rock
Nelson now and then stopping him to make a re*
mark. It was a scene I have never been able to forget. To-day I pause in my tale, and see it as clearly
as when I looked through the chink upon it years
ago. The long, low stable, with log walls and upright hitching-poles; the dim outlines of the horses
in the gloom of the background, and the little group
of rough, almost savage-looking men, with faces
wondering and reverent, lit by the misty light of
the stable-lantern.
After the reading, Sandy handed the book to
Nelson, who put it in his pocket, saying, ' That's
for us, boys, ain't it?'
'Ay,' said Lachlan; 'it is often that has been read
in my hearing, but I am afraid it will not be for me
whatever,' and he swayed himself slightly as he
spoke, and his voice was full of pain.
I The minister said I might come,' said old Nelson,
earnestly and hopefully.
'Ay, but you are not Lachlan Campbell, and you
hef not had his privileges. My father was a godly
elder in the Free Church of Scotland, and never a
night or morning but we took the Books.'
'Yes, but He said "any man,"' persisted Nelson,
putting his hand on Lachlan's knee. But Lachlan
shook his head.
HHHHI   H The First Black Rock Communion   143
'Dat young feller,' said Baptiste; 'wha's hees
nem, heh?'
' He has no name. It is just a parable,' explained
' He's got no nem ? He's just a parom'ble ? Das
no young feller?' asked Baptiste anxiously; 'das
mean noting?'
Then Nelson took him in hand and explained to
him the meaning, while Baptiste listened even more
eagerly, ejaculating softly, 'ah, voilà! bon! by gar!'
When Nelsop had finished he broke out, ' Dat young
feller, his name Baptiste, heh? and de old Fadder
he's le bon Dieu ? Bon ! das good story for me.
How you go back ?   You go to de pries' ? '
'The book doesn't say priest or any one else,' said
Nelson.    ' You go back in yourself, you see ? '
'Non; das so, sure nuff. Ah!'—as if a light
broke in upon him—'you go in your own self.
You make one leetle prayer. You say, "Le bon
Fadder, oh! I want come back, I so tire, so hongree,
so sorree"? He say, "Come right 'long.' Ah!
das fuss-rate. Nelson, you make one leetle prayer
for Sandy and me.'
And Nelson lifted up his face and said : ' Father,
we're all gone far away; we have spent all, we are
poor, we are tired of it all; we want to feel differ- 144
Black Rock
ent, to be different; we want to come back. Jesus
came to save us from our sins; and He said if we
came He wouldn't cast us out, no matter how bad
we were, if we only came to Him. Oh, Jesus
Christ ;—and his old, iron face began to work, and
two big tears slowly came from under his eyelids—
' we are a poor lot, and I'm the worst of the lot,
and we are trying to find the way. Show us how
to get back.    Amen.'
' Bon! ' said Baptiste.    'Das fetch Him sure!f
Graeme pulled me away, and without a word we
went into the office and drew up to the little stove.
Graeme was greatly moved.
'Did you ever see anything like that ?' he asked.
'Old Nelson! the hardest, savagest, toughest old
sinner in the camp, on his knees before a lot of
'Before God,' I could not help saying, for the
thing seemed very real to me. The old man evidently felt himself talking to some one.
'Yes, I suppose you're right/ said Graeme doubtfully; \ but there's a lot of stuff I can't swallow.'
' When you take medicine you don't swallow the
bottle,' I replied, for his trouble was not mine.
' If I were sure of the medicine, I wouldn't mind
the bottle, and yet it acts well enough,' he went on.
HfBffiBfflSjBM The First Black Rock Communion   145
' I don't mind Lachlan; he's a Highland mystic, and
has visions, and Sandy's almost as bad, and Baptiste
is an impulsive little chap. Those don't count
much. But old man Nelson is a cool-blooded, levelheaded old fellow ; has seen a lot of life, too. And
then there's Craig. He has a better head than
have, and is as hot-blooded, and yet he is living and
slaving away in that hole, and really enjoys it
There must be something in it/
'Oh, look here, Graeme,' I burst out impatiently;
' what's the usé of your talking like that ? Of
course there's something in it. There's everything
in it. The trouble with me is I can't face the music.
It calls for a life where a fellow must go in for
straight, steady work, self-denial, and that sort of
thing; and I'm too Bohemian for that, and too lazy.
But that fellow Craig makes one feel horribly uncomfortable.'
Graeme put his head on one side, and examined
me curiously.
'I believe you're right about yourself. You always were a luxurious beggar. But that's not
where it catches me/
We sat and smoked and talked of other things
for an hour, and then turned in. As I was dropping
off I was roused by Graeme's voice— *46
Black Rock
' Are you going to the preparatory service on FrU
day night ? '
'Don't know/ I replied rather sleepily.
' I say, do you remember the preparatory service
at home ?' There was something in his voice that
set me wide awake.
'Yes. Rather terrific, wasn't it? But I always
felt better after it,' I replied.
' To me '—he was sitting up in bed now—' to me
it was like a call to arms, or rather like a call for a
forlorn hope. None but volunteers wanted. Do
you remember the thrill in the old governor's voice
as he dared any but the right stuff to come on?'
'We'll go in on Friday night,' I said.
And so we did. Sandy took a load of men with
his team, and Graeme and I drove in the light sleigh.
The meeting was in the church, and over a hundred men were présente There was some singing
of familiar hymns at first, and then Mr. Craig read
the same story as we had heard in the stable, that
most perfect of all parables, the Prodigal Son. Baptiste nudged Sandy in delight, and whispered something, but Sandy held his face so absolutely expressionless that Graeme was moved to say —
' Look at Sandy ! Did you ever see such a graven
image?   Something has hit him hard.'
Hfp The First Black Rock Communion
The men were held fast Dy the story. The voice
of the reader, low, earnest, and thrilling with the
tender pathos of the tale, carried the words to our
hearts, while a glance, a gesture, a movement of
the body gave us the vision of it all as he was seeing it.
Then, in simplest of words, he told us what the
story meant, holding us the while with eyes, and
voice, and gesture. He compelled us to scorn the
gay, heartless selfishness of the young fool setting
forth so jauntily from the broken home; he moved
our pity and our sympathy for the young profligate,
who, broken and deserted, had still pluck enough to
determine to work his way back, and who, in utter
desperation, at last gave it up; and then he showed
us the home-coming—the ragged, heart-sick tramp,
with hesitating steps, stumbling along the dusty
road, and then the rush of the old father, his garments fluttering, and his voice heard in broken
cries. I see and hear it all now, whenever the
words are read.
He announced the hymn, 'Just as I am,' read the
first verse, and then went on : ' There you are, men,
every man of you, somevyhere on the road. Some
of you are too lazy'—here Graeme nudged me—
'and some of you haven't got enough yet of the 148
Black Rock
far country to come back. May there be a chance
for you when you want to come! Men, you all
want to go back home, and when you go you'll
want to put on your soft clothes, and you won't go
till you can go in good style; but where did the
prodigal get his good clothes?' Quick came the
answer in Baptiste's shrill voice—
' From de old fadder! '
No one was surprised, and the minister went
on —
'Yes! and that's where we must get the good,
clean heart, the good, clean, brave heart, from our
Father. Don't wait, but, just as you are, come.
They sang, not loud, as they would ' Stand Up,'
or even 'The Sweet By and By,' but in voices subdued, holding down the power in them.
After the singing, Craig stood a moment gazing
down at the men, and then said quietly —
I Any man want to come ? You all might come.
We all must come.' Then, sweeping his arm over
the audience, and turning half round as if to move
off, he cried, in a voice that thrilled to the heart's
core —
'Oh! come on!   Let's go back! '
The effect was overpowering.    It seemed to me
■Bi The First Black Rock Communion  149
that the whole company half rose to their feet.
Of the prayer that immediately followed, I only
caught the opening sentence, ' Father, we are coming back,' for my attention was suddenly absorbed
by Abe, the stage-driver, who was sitting next me.
I could hear him swearing approval and admiration, saying to himself—
'Ain't he a clinker! I'll be gee-whizzly-gol-
dusted if he ain't a malleable-iron-double-back-
action self-adjusting corn-cracker.' And the prayer
continued to be punctuated with like admiring and
even more sulphurous expletives. It was an incongruous medley. The earnest, reverent prayer, and
the earnest, admiring profanity, rendered chaotic
one's ideas of religious propriety. The feelings in
both were akin; the method of expression somewhat widely diverse.
After prayer, Craig's tone changed utterly. In a
quiet, matter-of-fact, businesslike way he stated
his plan of organisation, and called for all who
wished to join to remain after the benediction.
Some fifty men were left, among them Nelson,
'Sandy, Lachlan Campbell, Baptiste, Shaw, Nixon,
Geordie, and Billy Breen, who tried to get out, but
was held fast by Geordie.
Graeme was passing out, but I signed him to re- Black Rock
main, saying that I wished ' to see the thing out/
Abe sat still beside me, swearing disgustedly at the
fellows''who were going back on the preacher/
Craig appeared amazed at the number of men remaining, and seemed to fear that something was
wrong. He put before them the terms of disciple*!
ship, as the Master put them to the eager scribe,
and he did not make them easy. He pictured the
kind of work to be done, and the kind of men
needed for the doing of it. Abe grew uneasy as
the minister went on to describe the completeness
of the surrender, the intensity of the loyalty demanded.
'That knocks me out, I reckon,' he muttered, in
a disappointed tone; ' I ain't up to that grade.' And
as Craig described the heroism called for, the magnificence of the fight, the worth of it, and the outcome of it all, Abe ground out: 'I'll be blanked if I
wouldn't like to take a hand, but I guess I'm not in
it/   Craig finished by saying —
' I want to put this quite fairly. It is not any
league of mine; you're not joining my company; it
is no easy business, and it is for your whole life.
What do you say ? Do I put it fairly ? What do
you say, Nelson ? '
Nelson rose slowly, and with difficulty began — The First Black Rock Communion   *5l
' I may be all wrong, but you made it easier for
me, Mr. Craig. You said He would see me through,
or I should never have risked it. Perhaps I am
wrong,' and the old man looked troubled. Craig
sprang up.
'No! no! Thank God, no! He will see every
man through who will trust his life to Him. Every
man, no matter how tough he is, no matter how
Then Nelson straightened himself up and said —
'Well, sir! I believe a lot of the men would go
in for this if they were dead sure they would get
'Get through!' said Craig; 'never a fear of it.
It is a hard fight, a long fight, a glorious fight,'
throwing up his head, ' but every man who squarely
trusts Him, and takes Him as Lord and Master,
comes out victor!'
'Bon!' said Baptiste. 'Das me. You tink He's
take me in dat fight, M'sieu Craig, heh ? ' His eyes
were blazing.
'You mean it?' asked Craig almost sternly.
'Yes! by gar! ' said the little Frenchman eagerly.
' Hear what He says then ; ' and Craig, turning
over the leaves of his Testament, read solemnly the
words, ' Swear not at all' 152
Black Rock
'Non! For sure! Den I stop him/ replied
Baptiste earnestly, and Craig wrote his name
Poor Abe looked amazed and distressed, rose
slowly, and saying, 'That jars my whisky jug/
passed out. There was a slight movement near the
organ, and glancing up I saw Mrs. Mavor put her
face hastily in her hands. The men's faces were
anxious and troubled, and Nelson said in a voice
that broke —
'Tell them what you told me, sir.' But Craig
was troubled too, and replied, ' You tell them, Nelson! ' and Nelson told the men the story of how he
began just five weeks ago. The old man's voice
steadied as he went on, and he grew eager as he
told how he had been helped, and how the world
was all different, and his heart seemed new. He
spoke of his Friend as if He were some one that
could be seen out at camp, that he knew well, and
met every day.
But as he tried to say how deeply he regretted
that he had not known all this years before, the old,
hard face began to quiver, and the steady voice
wavered. Then he pulled himself together, and
said —
' I begin to feel sure He'll pull me through—me! The First Black Rock Communion   153
the hardest man in the mountains! So don't you
fear, boys..   He's all right.'
Then the men gave in their names, one by one.
When it came to Geordie's turn, he gave his
name —
'George Crawford, frae the pairish o' Kilsyth,
Scotland, an' ye'll juist pit doon the lad's name,
Maister Craig; he's a wee bit fashed wi' the dis-
coorse, but he has the root o' the maitter in him, I
doot/   And so Billy Breen's name went down.
When the meeting was over, thirty-eight names
stood upon the communion roll of the Black Rock
Presbyterian Church ; and it will ever be one of the
regrets of my life that neither Graeme's name nor
my own appeared on that roll. And two days
after, when the cup went round on that first Communion Sabbath, from Nelson to Sandy, and from
Sandy to Baptiste, and so on down the line to Billy
Breen and Mrs. Mavor, and then to Abe, the driver,
whom she had by her own mystic power lifted into
hope and faith, I felt all the shame and pain of a
traitor; and I believe in my heart that the fire of
that pain and shame burned something of the selfish cowardice out of me, and that it is burning
The last words of the minister, in the short ad- Black Rock
dress after the table had been served, were low, and
sweet, and tender, but they were words of high
courage; and before he had spoken them all, the
men were listening with shining eyes, and when
they rose to sing the closing hymn they stood
straight and stiff like soldiers on parade.
And I wished more than ever I were one of
them. The Breaking of the League  CHAPTER VIII
There is no doubt in my mind that nature designed me for a great painter. A railway director
interfered with that design of nature, as he has with
many another of hers, and by the transmission of an
order for mountain pieces by the dozen, together
with a cheque so large that I feared there was some
mistake, he determined me to be an illustrator and
designer for railway and like publications. I do
not like these people ordering 'by the dozen.'
Why should they not consider an artist's finer feelings ? Perhaps they cannot understand them ; but
they understand my pictures, and 1 understand their
cheques, and there we are quits. But so it came
that I remained in Black Rock long enough to witness the breaking of the League.
Looking back upon the events of that night from
the midst of gentle and decent surroundings, they
now seem strangely unreal, but to me then they appeared only natural.
It was the Good Friday ball that wrecked the
*57 i58
Black Rock
League. For the fact that the promoters of the ball
determined that it should be a ball rather than a
dance was taken by the League men as a concession
to the new public opinion in favour of respectability
created by the League. And when the manager's
patronage had been secured (they failed to get Mrs.
Mavor's), and it was further announced that, though
held in the Black Rock Hotel ball-room—indeed,
there was no other place—refreshments suited to
the peculiar tastes of League men would be provided, it was felt to be almost a necessity that the
League should approve, should indeed welcome,
this concession to the public opinion in favour of
respectability created by the League.
There were extreme men on both sides, of course.
'Idaho' Jack, professional gambler, for instance,
frankly considered that the whole town was going
to unmentionable depths of propriety. The organisation of the League was regarded by him, and by
many others, as a sad retrograde toward the bondage of the ancient and dying East; and that he could
not get drunk when and where he pleased, ' Idaho,'
as he was called, regarded as a personal grievance.
But Idaho was never enamoured of the social
ways of Black Rock. He was shocked and disgusted when he discovered that a ' gun ' was de-
ara The Breaking of the League        159
creed by British law to be an unnecessary adornment of a card-table. The manner of his discovery
must have been interesting to behold.
It is said that Idaho was industriously pursuing
his avocation in Slavin's, with his ' gun ' lying upon
the card-table convenient to his hand, when in
walked policeman Jackson, her Majesty's sole representative in the Black Rock district. Jackson,
/Stonewall Jackson, or 'Stonewall,' as he was
called for obvious reasons, after watching the game
for a few moments, gently tapped the pistol and
asked what he used this for.
Til show you in two holy minutes if you don't
light out,' said Idaho, hardly looking up, but very
angrily, for the luck was against him. But Jackson
tapped upon the table and said sweetly —
'You're a stranger here. You ought to get a
guide-book and post yourself. Now, the boys
know I don't interfere with an innocent little game,
but there is a regulation against playing it with
guns; so,' he added even more sweetly, but fastening Idaho with a look from his steel-grey eyes, ' I'll
just take charge of this,' picking up the revolver;
'it might go^off.'
Idaho's rage, great as it was, was quite swallowed
up in his amazed disgust at the state of society that i6o
Black Rock
would permit such an outrage upon personal liberty. He was quite unable to play any more thatl
evening, and it took several drinks all round to restore him to articulate speech. The rest of the
night was spent in retaining for his instruction
stories of the ways of Stonewall Jackson.
Idaho bought a new 'gun/ but he wore it 'in his
clothes,' and used it chiefly in the pastime of shooting out the lights or in picking off the heels from
the boys' boots while a stag dance was in progress
in Slavin's. But in Stonewall's presence Idaho was
a most correct citizen. Stonewall he could understand and appreciate. He was six feet three, and
had an eye of unpleasant penetration. But this
new feeling in the community for respectability he
could neither understand nor endure. The League
became the object of his indignant aversion, and the
League men of his contempt. He had many sympathisers, and frequent were the assaults upon the
newly-born sobriety of Billy Breen and others of
the League. But Geordie's watchful care and Mrs.
Mavor's steady influence, together with the loyal
co-operation of the League men, kept Billy safe so
far. Nixon, too, was a marked man. It may be
that he carried himself with unnecessary jauntiness
toward Slavin and Idaho, saluting the former with, The Breaking of the League        161
'Awful dry weather! en, Slavin?' and the latter
with, 'Hello, old sport! how's times?' causing
them to swear deeply ; and, as it turned out, to do
more than swear.
But on the whole the anti-League men were in
favour of a respectable ball, and most of the League
men determined to show their appreciation of the
concession of the committee to the principles of the
League in the important matter of refreshments by
attending in force.
Nixon would not go. However jauntily he might
talk, he could not trust himself, as he said, where
whisky was flowing, for it got into his nose ' like a
fish-hook into a salmon.' He was from Nova
Scotia. For like reason, Vernon Winton, the young
Oxford fellow, would not go. When they chaffed,
his lips grew a little thinner, and the colour deepened in his handsome face, but he went on his way.
Geordie despised the 'hale hypothick' as a 'daft
ploy,' and the spending of five dollars upon a ticket
he considered a ' sinfu' waste o' guid siller '; and he
warned Billy'against ' coontenancin' ony sic re-
deeklus nonsense.'
But no one expected Billy to go; although the
last two months he had done wonders for his personal appearance, and for his position in the social IÔ2
Black Rock
scale as well. They all knew what a fight he was
making, and esteemed him accordingly. How well
I remember the pleased pride in his face when he
told me in the afternoon of the committee's urgent
request that he should join the orchestra with his
'cello! It was not simply that his 'cello was his joy
and pride, but he felt it to be a recognition of his
return to respectability.
I have often wondered how things combine at
times to a man's destruction.
Had Mr. Craig not been away at the Landing
that week, had Geordie not been on the night-shift,
had Mrs. Mavor not been so occupied with the care
of her sick child, it may be Billy might have been
saved his fall.
The anticipation of the ball stirred Black Rock
and the camps with a thrill of expectant delight.
Nowadays, when I find myself forced to leave my'
quiet smoke in my studio after dinner at the call of
some social engagement which I have failed to
elude, I groan at my hard lot, and I wonder as I
look back and remember the pleasurable anticipation with which I viewed the approaching ball. But
I do not wonder now any more than I did then at
the eager delight of the men who for seven days in
the week swung their picks up in the dark breasts The Breaking of the League        163
of the mines, or who chopped and sawed among
the solitary silences of the great forests. Any
break in the long and weary monotony was welcome; what mattered the cost or consequence! To
the rudest and least cultured of them the sameness
of the life must have been hard to bear; but what
it was to men who had seen life in its most cultured and attractive forms I fail to imagine. From
the mine, black and foul, to the shack, bare, cheerless, and sometimes hideously repulsive, life swung
in heart-grinding monotony till the longing for a
' big drink ' or some other ' big break ' became too
great to bear.
It was well on toward evening when Sandy's
four-horse team, with a load of men from the
woods, came swinging round the curves of the
mountain-road and down the street. A gay crowd
they were with their bright, brown faces and
hearty voices ; and in ten minutes the whole street
seemed alive with lumbermen—they had a faculty
of spreading themselves so. After night fell the
miners came down 'done up slick,' for this was a
great occasion, and they must be up to it. The
manager appeared in evening dress; but this was
voted 'too giddy ' by the majority.
As Graeme and I passed up to the Black Rock 164
Black Rock
Hotel, in the large store-room of which the ball
was to be held, we met old man Nelson looking
very grave.
' Going, Nelson, aren't you ?' I said.
'Yes,' he answered slowly; Til drop in, though
I don't like the look of things much.'
'What's the matter, Nelson?' asked Graeme
cheerily.    ' There's no funeral on.'
'Perhaps not/ replied Nelson, 'but I wish Mr.
Craig were home.' And then he added, 'There's
Idaho and Slavin together, and you may bet the
devil isn't far off.'
But Graeme laughed at his suspicion, and we
passed on. The orchestra was tuning up. There
were two violins, a concertina, and the 'cello.
Billy Breen was lovingly fingering his instrument,
now and then indulging himself in a little snatch
of some air that came to him out of his happier
past. He looked perfectly delighted, and as I
paused to listen he gave me a proud glance out of
his deep, little, blue eyes, and went on playing
softly to himself.    Presently Shaw came along.
'That's good, Billy,' he called out 'You've got
the trick yet, I see.'
But Billy only nodded and went on playing,
' Where's Nixon ? ' I asked.
BBBB The Breaking of the League        165
'Gone to bed,' said Shaw, 'and I am glad of it.
He finds that the safest place on pay-day afternoon.
The boys don't bother him there.'
The dancing-room was lined on two sides with
beer-barrels and whisky-kegs; at one end the
orchestra sat, at the other was a table with refreshments, where the 'soft drinks' might be had.
Those who wanted anything else might pass
through a short passage into the bar just behind.
This was evidently a superior kind of ball, for the
men kept on their coats, and went through thç
various figures with faces of unnatural solemnity.
But the strain upon their feelings was quite apparent, and it became a question how long it could
be maintained. As the trips through the passageway became more frequent the dancing grew in
vigour and hilarity, until by the time supper was
announced the stiffness had sufficiently vanished
to give no further anxiety to the committee.
But the committee had other cause for concern,
inasmuch as after supper certain of the miners appeared with their coats off, and proceeded to
'knock the knots out of the floor' in break-down
dances of extraordinary energy. These, however,
were beguiled into the bar-room and ' filled up ' for
safety, for the committee were determined that the i66
Black Rock
respectability of the ball should be preserved to the
end. Their reputation was at stake, not in Black
Rock only, but at the Landing as well, from which
most of the ladies had come; and to be shamed in
the presence of the Landing people could not be
borne. Their difficulties seemed to be increasing,
for at this point something seemed to go wrong
with the orchestra. The 'cello appeared to be wandering aimlessly up and down the scale, occasionally picking up the tune with animation, and then
dropping it. As Billy saw me approaching, he
drew himself up with great solemnity, gravely
winked at me, and said —
'Shlipped a cog, Misther Connor! Mosh hun-
fortunate! Beauchiful hinstrument, but shlips a
cog.    Mosh hunfortunate!'
And he wagged his little' head sagely, playing all
the while for dear life, now second and now lead.
Poor Billy! I pitied him, but I thought chiefly of
the beautiful, eager face that leaned toward him the
night the League was made, and of the bright voice
that said, 'You'll sign with me, Billy?' and it
seemed to me a cruel deed to make him lose his
grip of life and hope; for this is what the pledge
meant to him.
While I was trying to get Billy away to some safe The Breaking of the League        167
place, I heard a great shouting in the direction of
the bar, followed by trampling and scuffling of feet
in the passage-way. Suddenly a man burst
through, crying —
'Let me go! Stand back! I know what I'm
It was Nixon, dressed in his best; black clothes,
blue shirt, red tie, looking handsome enough, but
half-drunk and wildly excited. The Highland Fling
competition was on at the moment, and Angus
Campbell, Lachlan's brother, was representing the
lumber camps in the contest. Nixon looked on approvingly for a few moments, then with a quick
movement he seized the little Highlander, swung
him in his powerful arms clean off the floor, and
deposited him gently upon a beer-barrel. Then he
stepped into the centre of the room, bowed to the
judges, and began a sailor's hornpipe.
The committee were perplexed, but after deliberation they decided to humour the new competitor,
especially as they knew that Nixon with whisky in
him was unpleasant to cross.
Lightly and gracefully he went through his steps,
the men crowding in from the bar to admire, for
Nixon was famed for his hornpipe. But when,
after the hornpipe, he proceeded to, execute a clog- i68
Black Rock
dance, garnished with acrobatic feats, the committee
interfered. There were cries of ' Put him out! ' and
'Let him alone! Go on, Nixon!' And Nixon
hurled back into the crowd two of the committee
who had laid remonstrating hands upon him, and,
standing in the open centre, cried out scornfully —
'Put me out! Put me out! Certainly! Help
yourselves! Don't mind me!' Then grinding
his teeth, so that I heard them across the room,
he added with savage deliberation, 'If any man
lays a finger on me, I'll—I'll eat his liver cold.'
He stood for a few moments glaring round upon
the company, and then strode toward the bar, followed by the crowd wildly yelling. The ball was
forthwith broken up. I looked around for Billy,
but he was nowhere to be seen. Graeme touched
my arm —
' There's going to be something of a time, so just
keep your eyes skinned.'
' What are you going to do ?' I asked.
' Do ? Keep myself beautifully out of trouble, ' he
In a few moments the crowd came surging
back headed by Nixon, who was waving a
whisky-bottle over his head and yelling as one
possessed. The Breaking of the League        169
1 Hello! ' exclaimed Graeme softly, '1 begin to see.
Look there ! '
'What's up?' I asked.
'You see Idaho and Slavin and their pets,' he
'They've got poor Nixon in tow. Idaho is
rather nasty,' he added, 'but I think I'll take a
hand in this game; I've seen some of Idaho's work
The scene was one quite strange to me, and was
wild beyond description. A hundred men filled the
room. Bottles were passed from hand to hand, and
men drank their fill. Behind the refreshment-tables
stood the hotelman and his barkeeper with their
coats off and sleeves rolled up to the shoulder, passing out bottles, and drawing beer and whisky from
two kegs hoisted up for that purpose. Nixon was
in his glory. It was his night. Every man was to
get drunk at his expense, he proclaimed, flinging
down bills upon the table. Near him were some
League men he was treating liberally, and never far
away were Idaho and Slavin passing bottles, but
evidently drinking little.
I followed Graeme, not feeling too comfortable,
for this sort of thing was new to me, but admiring
the cool assurance with which he made his way 170
Black Rock
through the crowd that swayed and yelled and
swore and laughed in a most disconcerting
'Hello!' shouted Nixon as he caught sight of
Graeme. 'Here you are!' passing him a bottle.
'You're a knocker, a. double-handed front-door
knocker. You polished off old whisky-soak here,
old demijohn,' pointing to. Slavin, 'and I'll lay five
to one we can lick any blankety blank thieves in the
crowd/ and he held up a roll of bills.
But Graeme proposed that he should give the
hornpipe again, and the floor was cleared at once,
for Nixon's hornpipe was very popular, and tonight, of course, was in high favour. In the midst
of his dance Nixon stopped short, his arms dropped
to his side, his face had a look of fear, of horror.
There, before him, in his riding-cloak and boots,
with his whip in his hand as he had come from his
ride, stood Mr. Craig. His face was pallid, and his
dark eyes were blazing with fierce light. As Nixon
stopped, Craig stepped forward to him, and sweeping his eyes round upon the circle he said in tones
intense with scorn —
'You cowards! You get a man where he's
weak! Cowards! you'd damn his soul for his
money!' The Breaking of the League
There was a dead silence, and Craig, lifting his
hat, said solemnly —
'May God forgive you this night's work!'
Then, turning to Nixon, and throwing his arm
over his shoulder, he said in a voice broken and
'Come on, Nixon! we'll go! '
Idaho made a motion as if to stop him, but
Graeme stepped quickly forward and said sharply,
'Make way there, can't you?' and the crowd fell
back and we four passed through, Nixon walking
as in a dream, with Craig's arm about him. Down
the street we went in silence, and on to Craig's
shack, where we found old man Nelson, with the
fire blazing, and strong coffee steaming on the stove.
It was he that had told Craig, on his arrival from
the Landing, of Nixon's fall.
There was nothing of reproach, but only gentlest
pity, in tone and touch as Craig placed the half-
drunk, dazed man in his easy-chair, took off his
boots, brought him his own slippers, and gave him
coffee. Then, as his stupor began to overcome
him, Craig put him in his own bed, and came forth
with a face written over with grief.
'Don't mind, old chap,' said Graeme kindly.
But Craig looked at him without a word, and, 172
Black Rock
throwing himself into a chair, put his face in his
hands. As we sat there in silence the door was
suddenly pushed open and in walked Abe Baker
with the words, 'Where is Nixon?' and v/e told
him where he was. We were still talking when
again a tap came to the door, and Shaw came in
looking much disturbed.
'Did you hear about Nixon?' he asked. We
told him what we knew.
' But did you hear how they got him ?' he asked,
As he told us the tale, the men stood listening,
with faces growing hard.
It appeared that after the making of the League
the Black Rock Hotel man had bet Idaho one hundred to fifty that Nixon could not be got to drink
before Easter. All Idaho's schemes had failed, and
now he had only three days in which to win his
money, and the ball was his last chance. Here
again he was balked, for Nixon, resisting all entreaties, barred his shack door and went to bed before nightfall, according to his invariable custom on
pay-days. At midnight some of Idaho's men came
battering at the door for admission, which Nixon
reluctantly granted. For half an hour they used
every art of persuasion to induce him to go down The Breaking of the League        173
to the ball, the glorious success of which was glowingly depicted; but Nixon remained immovable,
and they took their departure, baffled and cursing.
In two hours they returned drunk enough to be
dangerous, kicked at the door in vain, finally gained
entrance through the window, hauled Nixon out ol
bed, and, holding a glass of whisky to his lips,
bade him drink. But he knocked the glass away,
spitting the liquor over himself and the bed.
It was drink or fight, and Nixon was ready to
fight; but after parley they had a drink all round,
and fell to persuasion again. The night was cold,
and poor Nixon sat shivering on the edge of his
bed. If he v/ould take one drink they would leave
him alone. He need not show himself so stiff.
The whisky fumes filled his nostrils. If one drink
would get them off, surely that was better than
fighting and killing some one or getting killed. He
hesitated, yielded, drank his glass. They sat about
him amiably drinking, and lauding him as a fine
fellow after all. One more glass before they left.
Then Nixon rose, dressed himself, drank all that
was left of the bottle, put his money in his pocket,
and came down to the dance, wild with his old-
time madness, reckless of faith and pledge, forgetful of home, wife, babies, his whole being ab#orbed 174
Black Rock
in one great passion—to drink and drink and drink
till he could drink no more.
Before Shaw had finished his tale, Craig's eyes
were streaming with tears, and groans of rage and
pity broke alternately from him. Abe remained
speechless for a time, not trusting himself; but as
hé heard Craig groan, 'Oh, the beasts! the fiends!'
he seemed encouraged to let himself loose, and he
began swearing with the coolest and most bloodcurdling deliberation. Craig listened with evident
approval, apparently finding complete satisfaction
in Abe's performance, when suddenly he seemed to
wakeh up, caught Abe by the arm, and said in a
horror-stricken voice —
'Stop! stop! God forgive us! we must not
swear like this/
Abe stopped at once, and in a surprised and
slightly grieved voice said —
'Why! what's the matter with that ? Ain't that
what you wanted ? '
*   'Yes!   yes!   God forgive  me!    I am afraid it
was,' he answered hurriedly; 'but I must not'
'Oh, don't you worry,' went on Abe cheerfully;
J I'll look after that part; and anyway, ain't they the
blankest blankety blank'—going off again into a
coll of curses, till Craig, in an ageny of entreaty, The Breaking of the League        175
succeeded in arresting the flew of profanity possible to no one but ^ mountain stage-driver. Abe
paused looking hurt, and asked if they did not
deserve everything he was calling down upon
'Yes, yes,' urged Craig; 'but that is not our
'Well! so I reckoned,' replied Abe, recognising
the limitations of the cloth ; ' you ain't used to it,
and you can't be expected to do it; but it just makes
me feel good—let out o' school like—to properly do
'em up, the blank, blank,' and off he went again.
It was only under the pressure of Mr. Craig's
prayers and commands that he finally agreed 'to
hold in, though it was tough/
' What's to be done ? ' asked Shaw.
'Nothing,' answered Craig bitterly. He was exhausted with his long ride from the Landing, and
broken with bitter disappointment over the ruin of
all that he had laboured so long to accomplish.
'Nonsense,' said Graeme; 'there's a good deal to
It was agreed that Craig should remain with
Nixon while the others of us should gather up what
fragments we could find of the broken League.
We had just opened the door, when we met a man 176
Black Rock
striding up at a great pace. It was Geordie Crawford.
'Hae ye seen the lad?' was his salutation. No
one replied. . So I told Geordie of my last sight of
Billy in the orchestra.
' An' did ye no' gang aif ter him ? ' he asked in in-
dignant surprise, adding with some contempt,
I Man! but ye're a feckless buddie.'
' Billy gone too ! ' said Shaw. ' They might have
(et Billy alone.'
Poor Craig stood in a dumb agony. Billy's fall
seemed more than he could bear. We went out,
leaving him heart-broken amid the ruins of his
League. The League's Revenge
As we stood outside of Craig's shack in the dim
starlight, we could not hide from ourselves that we
were beaten. It was not so much grief as a blind
fury that filled my heart, and looking at the faces of
the men about me I read the same feeling there.
But what could we do ? The yells of carousing
miners down at Slavin's told us that nothing could
be done with them that night. To be so utterly
beaten, and unfairly, and with no chance of revenge, was maddening.
Td like to get back at 'em/ said Abe, carefully
repressing himself.
Tve got it, men,' said Graeme suddenly. 'This
town does not require all the whisky there is in it;&
and he unfolded his plan. It was to gain possession of Slavin's saloon and the bar of the Black
Rock Hotel, and clear out all the liquor to be found
in both these places. I did not much like the idea;
and Geordie said, 'I'm ga'en aifter the lad; I'll hae
naethin' tae dae wi' yon.    It's no' that easy, an' it's
a sinfu* waste/
«9 i8o
Black Rock
But Abe was wild to try it, and Shaw was quite
willing, while old Nelson sternly approved.
' Nelson, you and Shaw get a couple of our men
and attend to the saloon. Slavin and the whole
gang are up at the Black Rock, so you won't have
much trouble; but come to us as soon as you can.'
And so we went our ways.
Then followed a scene the like of which I can
never hope to see again, and it was worth a man's
seeing. But there were times that night when I
wished I had not agreed to follow Graeme in his
As we wen* up to the hotel, I asked Graeme,
' What abop''. the 1?> of this ? '
'Law!' he r.plied indignantly. 'They haven't
troubled mu^i about law in the whisky business
her^. TbVy get a keg of high wines and some
( xugs ? .id begin operations. No ! ' he went on ; 'if
we "an get the crowd out, and ourselves in, we'll
*;,ake them break the law in getting us out. The
law won't trouble us over smuggled whisky.- It
will be a great lark, and they won't crow too loud
over the League.'
I did not like the undertaking at first; but as 1
thought of the whole wretched illegal business
flourishing upon the weakness of the men in the' The Leagued Revenge
mines and camps, whom I had learned to regard as
brothers, and especially as I thought of the cowards
that did for Nixon, I let my scruples go, and determined, with Abe, 'to get back at 'em.'
We had no difficulty getting them out. Abe began to yell. Some men rushed out to learn the
cause. He seized the foremost man, making a
hideous uproar all the while, and in three minutes
had every man out of the hotel and a lively row
going on.
In two minutes more Graeme and I had the door
to the ball-room locked and barricaded with empty
casks. We then closed the door of the bar-room
leading to the outside. The bar-room was a
strongly built log-shack, with a heavy door secured,
after the manner of the early cabins, with two
strong oak bars, so that we felt safe from attack
from that quarter.
The ball-room we could not hold long, for the
door was slight and entrance was possible through
the windows. But as only a few casks of liquor
were left there, our main work would be in the bar,
so that the fight would be to hold the passage-way.
This we barricaded with casks and tables. But by
this time the crowd had begun to realise what had
happened, and were wildly yelling at door and win- ï82
Black Rock
dows. With an axe which Graeme had brought
with him the casks were soon stove in, and left to
empty themselves.
As I was about to empty the last cask, Graeme
stopped me, saying, ' Let that stand here. It will
help us.' And so it did. ' Now skip for the barricade,' yelled Graeme, as a man came crashing
through the window. Before he could regain his
feet, however, Graeme had, seized him and flung
him out upon the heads of the crowd outside. But
through the other windows men were corning in,
and Graeme rushed for the barricade, followed by
two of the enemy, the foremost of whom I received
at the top and hurled back upon the others.
'Now, be quick!' said Graeme; 'I'll hold this.
Don't break any bottles on the floor—throw them
out there,' pointing to a little window high up in
the wall. . /
I made all haste. The casks did not take much
time; and soon the whisky and beer were flowing
over the floor. It made me think of Geordie's regret over the 'sinfu' waste.' The bottles took
longer, and glancing up now and then I saw that
Graeme was being hard pressed. Men would leap,
two and three at a time, upon the barricade, and
Graeme's arms would shoot out, and over they The League's Revenge
would topple upon the heads of those nearest It
was a great sight to see him standing alone with a
smile on his face and the light of battle in his eye,
coolly meeting his assailants with those terrific,
lightning-like blows. In fifteen minutes my work
was done.
* What next ? ' I asked.    ' How do we get out ? '
' How is the door ? ' he replied.
I looked through the port-hole and said, ' A crowd
of men waiting.^!
'We'll have to make a dash for it, I fancy,' he
replied cheerfully, though his face was covered
with blood and his breath was coming in short
'Get down the bars and be ready.' But even
as he spoke a chair hurled from below caught him
on the arm, and before he could recover, a man had
cleared the barricade and was upon him like a tiger.
It was Idaho Jack.
I Hold the barricade,' Graeme called out, as they
both went down.
I sprang to his place, but I had not much hope of
holding it long. I had the heavy oak bar of the
door in my hands, and swinging it round my head
I made the crowd give back for a few moments.
Meantime Graeme had shaken off his enemy, i84
Black Rock
who was circling about him upon his tip-toes, with
a long knife in his hand, waiting for a chance to
' I have been waiting for this for some time, Mr.
Graeme,' he said smiling.
'Yes,' replied Graeme, * ever since I spoiled your
cut-throat game in 'Frisco. How is the little one?'
he added sarcastically.
Idaho's face lost its smile and became distorted
with fury as he replied, spitting out his words,
' She—is—where you will be before I am done with
'Ah! you murdered her too! You'll hang some
beautiful day, Idaho,' said Graeme, as Idaho sprang
upon him.
Graeme dodged his blow and caught his fore-arm
with his left hand and held up high the murderous
knife. Back and forward they swayed over the
floor, slippery with whisky, the knife held high in
the air. I wondered why Graeme did not strike, and
then I saw his right hand hung limp from the wrist
The men were crowding upon the barricade. I was
in despair. Graeme's strength was going fast
With a yell of exultant fury Idaho threw himself
with all his weight upon Graeme, who could onlm
cling-to him.   They swayed together toward me,
gg||jgj|gffly§aM SHSjSltBip The League's Revenge
but as they fell I brought down my bar upon the
upraised hand and sent the knife flying across the
room. Idaho's howl of rage and pain was mingled
with a shout from below, and there, dashing the
crowd to right and left, came old Nelson, followed
by Abe, Sandy, Baptiste, Shaw, and others. As
they reached the barricade it crashed down and,
carrying me with it, pinned me fast.
Looking out between the barrels, I saw what
froze my heart with horror. In the fall Graeme had
wound his arms about his enemy and held him in a
grip so deadly that he could not strike; but
Graeme's strength was failing, and when I looked I
saw that Idaho was slowly dragging both across the
slippery floor to where the knife lay. Nearer and
nearer his outstretched fingers came to the knife.
In vain I yelled and struggled. My voice was lost
in the awful din, and the barricade held me fast.
Above me, standing on a barrel-head, was Baptiste,
yelling like a demon. In vain I called to him. My
fingers could just reach his foot, and he heeded not
at all my touch. Slowly Idaho was dragging his almost unconscious victim toward the knife. His
fingers were touching the blade point, when, under
a sudden inspiration, I pulled out my penknife,
opened it with  my teeth,  and drove the blade i86
Black Rock
into Baptiste's foot. With a blood-curdling yell he
sprang down and began dancing round in his rage,
peering among the barrels.
'Look! look!' I was calling in agony, and
pointing; ' for heaven's sake, look! Baptiste! '
The fingers had closed upon the knife, the knife
was already high in the air, when, with a shriek,
Baptiste cleared the room at a bound, and, before
the knife could fall, the little Frenchman's boot had
caught the uplifted wrist, and sent the knife flying
to the wall.
Then there was a great rushing sound as of wind
through the forest, and the lights went out. When
I awoke, I found myself lying with my head on
Graeme's knees, and Baptiste sprinkling snow on
my face. As I looked up Graeme leaned over me,
and, smiling down into' my eyes, he said —
'Good boy! It was a great fight, and we put it
up well ; ' and then he whispered, ' I owe you my
life, my boy.'
His words thrilled my heart through and through,
for I loved him as only men can love men; butf
only answered —
' I could not keep them back/
'It was well done,' he said; and I felt proud.
I confess I was thankful to be so well out of it, The League's Revenge
for Graeme got off with a bone in his wrist broken,
and I with a couple of ribs cracked; but had it not
been for the open barrel of whisky which kept them
occupied for a time, offering too good a chance to
be lost, and for the timely arrival of Nelson, neither
of us had ever seen the light again.
We found Craig sound asleep upon his couch.
His consternation on waking to see us torn, bruised,
and bloody was laughable; but he hastened to find
us warm water and bandages, and we soon felt
Baptiste was radiant with pride and light over the
fight, and hovered about Graeme and me giving
vent to his feelings in admiring French and English
expletives. But Abe was disgusted because of the
failure at Slavin's ; for when Nelson looked in, he
saw Slavin's French-Canadian wife in charge, with
her baby on her lap, and he came back to Shaw and
said, ' Come away, we can't touch this ; ' and Shaw,
after looking in, agreed that nothing could be done.
A baby held the fort.
As Craig listened to the account of the fight, he
tried hard not to approve, but he could not keep the
gleam out of his eyes; and as I pictured Graeme
dashing back the crowd thronging the barricade till
he was brought down by the chair, Craig laughed i88 Black Rock
gently, and put his hand on Graeme's knee. And
as I went on to describe my agony while Idaho's
fingers were gradually nearing the knife, his face
grew pale and his eyes grew wide with horror.
'Baptiste here did the business,' I said, and the
little Frenchman nodded complacently and said —
'Dat's me for sure.'
' By the way, how is your foot ?? asked Graeme.
' He's fuss-rate. Dat's what you call—-one bite of
—of—dat leel bees, he's dere, you put your finger
dere, he's not dere!—what you call him ?'
'Flea!' I suggested.
' Oui ! ' cried Baptiste.    ' Dat's one bite of flea
■ was thankful I was under the barrels,' I replied, smiling.
'Oui! Dat's mak' me ver mad. I jump an'
swear mos' awful bad. Dat's pardon me, M'sieu
Craig, heh ? '
But Craig only smiled at him rather sadly. ' It
was awfully risky,' he said to Graeme, 'and it was
hardly worth it. They'll get more whisky, and
anyway the League is gone.'
'Well,'said Graeme with a sigh of satisfaction,
'it is not quite such a one-sided affair as it was.'
And we could say nothing in reply, for we could
hear Nixon snoring in the next room, and no one
Z£-iVi *."*--■ jggjëJB|y§jg|g The League's Revenge
had heard of BHly, and there were others of the
League that we knew were even now down at
Slavin's. It was thought best that all should remaiP
in Mr. Craig's shack, not knowing what might happen ; and so we lay where we could and we needed
none to sing us to sleep.
When I awoke, stiff ana sore, it was to find
breakfast ready and old man Nelson in charge. As
we were seated, Craig came in, and I saw that he
was not the man of the night before. His courage
had come back, his face was quiet and his eye
clear; he was his own man again.
' Geordie has been out all night, but has failed to
find Billy,' he announced quietly.
We did not talk much; Graeme and I worried
with our broken bones, and the others suffered
from a general morning depression. But, after
breakfast, as the men were beginning to move,
Craig took down his Bible, and saying —
'Wait a few minutes, men!' he read slowly,
in his beautiful clear voice, that psalm for all fighters—
' God is our refuge and strength,'
and so on to the noble words —
'The Lord of Hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.' 19©
Black Rock
How the mighty words pulled us together, lifted us
till we grew ashamed of our ignoble rage and of
our ignoble depression!
And then Craig prayed in simple, straight-going
words. There was acknowledgment of failure,
but I knew he was thinking chiefly of himself; and
there was gratitude, and that was for the men about
him, and I felt my face burn with shame; and there
was petition for help, and we all thought of Nixon,
and Billy, and the men v/akening from their debauch at Slavin's this pure, bright morning. And
then he asked that we might be made faithful and
worthy of God, whose battle it was. Then we all
stood up and shook hands with him in silence, and
every man knew a covenant was being made. But
none saw his meeting with Nixon. He sent us all
away before that.
Nothing was heard 01 the destruction of the hotel
stock-in-trade. Unpleasant questions would certainly be asked, and the proprietor decided to let
bad alone. On the point of respectability the success of the ball was not conspicuous, but the anti-
League men were content, if not jubilant.
Billy Breen was found by Geordie late in the
afternoon in his own old and deserted shack, breathing heavily, covered up in his filthy, mouldering The League's Revenge
bed-clothes, with a half-empty bottle of whisky at
his side. Geordie's grief and rage were beyond
even his Scotch control. He spoke few words, but
these were of such concentrated vehemence that no
one felt the need of Abe's assistance in vocabulary.
Poor Billy! We carried him to Mrs. Mavor's
home; put him in a warm bath, rolled him in
blankets, and gave him little sips of hot water, then
of hot milk and coffee; as I had seen a clever doctor in the hospital treat a similar case of nerve and
heart depression. But the already weakened system could not recover from the awful shock of the
exposure following the debauch ; and on Sunday
afternoon we saw that his heart was failing fast.
All day the miners had been dropping in to inquire
after him, for Billy had been a great favourite in
other days, and the attention of the town had been
admiringly centred upon his fight of these last
weeks. It was with no ordinary sorrow that the
news of his condition was received. As Mrs.
Mavor sang to him, his large coarse hands moved
in time to the music, but he did not open his eyes
till he heard Mr. Craig's voice in the next room*
then he spoke his name, and Mr. Craig was k*~
ing beside him in a moment. The wc8''
slowly — 192
Black Rock
'Oi tried—to fight it hout—but—oi got beaten.
Hit 'urts to think 'E's hashamed o' me. Old like t'a
done better—oi would.'
'Ashamed of-you, Billy!' said Craig, in a voice
that broke.    'Not He.'
'An'—ye hall—'elped me so!' he went on. 'Oi
wish oi'd 'a done better—oi do,' and his eyes sought
Geordie, and then rested on Mrs. Mavor, who
smiled back at him with a world of love in her eyes.
'You hain't hashamed o' me—yore heyes saigh
so,' he said looking at her.
'No, Billy,' she said, and I wondered at her
steady voice, ' not a bit. Why, Billy, I am proud
of you.'
He gazed up at her with wonder and ineffable
love in his little eyes, then lifted his hand slightly
toward her. She knelt quickly and took it in both
of hers, stroking it and kissing it
' Oi haught t'a done better. Oi 'm hawful sorry
oi went back on 'Im. Hit was the lemonaide. The
boys didn't mean no 'arm—but hit started the 'ell
Geordie hurled out some bitter words.
'Don't be 'ard on 'em, Geordie; they didn't mean
no 'arm,' he said, and his eyes kept waiting tiU
Geordie said hurriedly — The League's Revenge
'Nal na! lad—a'll juist leave them till the Al-
Then Mrs. Mavor sang softly, smoothing his
hand, 'Just as I am,'and Billy dozed quietly for
half an hour.
When he awoke again his eyes turned to Mr.
Craig, and they were troubled and anxious.
'Oi tried 'ard. Oi wanted to win,' he struggled
to say. By this time Craig was master of himself,
and he answered in a clear, distinct voice —
'Listen, Billy! You made a great fight and you
are going to win yet. And besides, do you remember the sheep that got lost over the mountains ?'—
this parable was Billy's special delight—' He didn't
beat it when He got it, did He ? He took it in His
arms and carried it home.    And so He will you.'
And Billy, keeping his eyes fastened on Mr.
Craig, simply said:—
'Sure!' said Craig.
'Will 'E?' he repeated, turning his eye*; upon
Mrs. Mavor.
'Why, yes, Billy,' she answered cheerily, though
the tears were streaming from her eyes. ' I would,
and He loves you far more.'
He looked at her, smiled, and closed his eyes.    I 194
Black Rock
put my hand on his heart; it was fluttering feebly.
Again a troubled look passed over his face.
'My—poor—hold—mother,' he whispered, 'she's
'I shall take care of her, Billy/ said Mrs. Mavor,
In a clear voice, and again Billy smiled. Then he
turned his eyes to Mr. Craig, and from him to
Geordie, and at last to Mrs. Mavor, where they
rested. She bent over and kissed him twice on the
'Tell 'er,' he said, with difficulty, ''E's took me
'Yes, Billy!' she cried; gazing into his glazing
eyes. He tried to lift her hand. She kissed him
again.    He drew one deep breath and lay quite still.
'Thank the blessed Saviour!' said Mr. Craig,
reverently.    ' He has taken him home.'
But Mrs. Mavor Jield the dead hand tight and
sobbed out passionately, ' Oh, Billy, Billy ! you
helped "me once when I needed help! I cannot forget!'
And Geordie, groaning, 'Ay, laddie, laddie,'
passed out into the fading light of the early evening.
Next day no one went to work, for to all It
seemed a sacred day.    They carried him into the
■H The League's Revenge
little church, and there Mr. Craig spoke of his long,
hard fight, and of his final victory ; for he died without a fear, and with love to the men who, not
knowing, had been his death. And there was no
bitterness in any heart, for Mr. Craig read the story
of the sheep, and told how gently He had taken
Billy home; but, though no word was spoken, it
was there the League was made again.
They laid him under the pines, beside Lewis
Mavor; and the miners threw sprigs of evergreen
into the open grave. When Slavin, sobbing bitterly, brought his sprig, no one stopped him, though
all thought it strange.
As we turned to leave the grave, the light from
the evening sun came softly through the gap in the
mountains, and, filling the valley, touched the trees
and the little mound beneath with glory. And I
thought of that other glory, which is brighter than
the sun, and was not sorry that poor Billy's
weary fight was over; and I could not help agreeing with Craig that it was there the League had its
revenge.  What Came to Slavin  CHAPTER X
Billy Breën's legacy to the Black Rock mining
camp was a new League, which was more than the
old League re-made.   The League was new in its
spirit and in its methods.   The impression made
upon the camp by Billy Breen's death was very
remarkable, and I have never been quite able to
account for it.   The mood of the community at the
time was peculiarly susceptible.   Billy was one of
the oldest of the old-timers:   His decline and fall
had been a long process, and his struggle for life
and manhood was striking enough to arrest the
attention and awaken the sympathy of the whole
camp.   We instinctively side with a man in his
struggle for freedom ; for we feel that freedom is
native to him and to us.   The sudden collapse of
the struggle stirred the men with a deep pity for the
beaten man, and a deep contempt for those who had
tricked him to his doom.    But though the pity and
the contempt remained, the gloom was relieved and
the sense of defeat removed from the men's minds
199 aoo
Black Rock
by the transforming glory of Billy's last hour. Mr.
Craig, reading of the tragedy of Billy's death, transfigured defeat into victory, and this was generally
accepted by the men as the true reading, though
to them it was full of mystery. But they could
all understand and appreciate at full value the
spirit that breathed through the words of the
dying man : ' Don't be 'ard on 'em, they didn't
mean no 'arm.' And this was the new spirit of the
It was this spirit that surprised Slavin into sudden tears at the grave's side. He had come braced
for curses and vengeance, for all knew it was
he who had doctored Billy's lemonade, and instead
of vengeance the message from the dead that
echoed through the voice of the living was one of
pity and forgiveness.
But the days of the League's negative, defensive
warfare were over. The fight was to the death,
and now the war was to be carried into the enemy's
country. The League men proposed a thoroughly
equipped and well-conducted coffee-room, reading-
ropm, and hall, to parallel the enemy's lines of
operation, and defeat them with their own weapons
upon their own ground. The main outlines of the
scheme were clearly defined and were easily seen,
llilM What Came to Slavin
but the perfecting of the details called for all Craig's
tact and good sense. When, for instance, Vernon
Winton, who had charge of the entertainment department, came for Craig's opinion as to a minstrel
troupe and private theatricals, Craig was prompt
with his answer —
'Anything clean goes.'
' A nigger show ? ' asked Winton.
'Depends upon the niggers,' replied Craig with
a gravely comic look, shrewdly adding, ' ask Mrs.
Mavor; ' and so the League Minstrel and Dramatic
Company became an established fact, and proved,
as Craig afterward told me, ' a great means of grace
to the camp/
Shaw had charge of the social department whose
special care it was to see that the men were made
welcome to the cosy, cheerful reading-room, where
they might chat, smoke, read, write, or play games,
according to fancy.
But Craig felt that the success or failure of the
scheme would largely depend upon the character
of the Resident Manager, who, while caring for
reading-room and hall, would control and operate
the important department represented by the coffee-
' At this point the whole business may come 'to £02
Black Rock
grief,' he said to Mrs. Mavor, without whose counsel
nothing was done.
' Why come to grief ? ' she asked brightly.
' Because if we don't get the right man, that's
what will happen,' he replied in a tone that spoke
of anxious worry.
'But we shall get the right man, never fear.'
Her serene courage never faltered. ' He will come
to us.'
Craig turned and gazed at her in frank admiration
and said —
' If I only had your courage! \
' Courage! ' she answered quickly. ' It is not for
you to say that; ' and at his answering look the red
came into her cheek and the depths in her eyes
glowed, and I marvelled and wondered, looking at
Craig's cool face, whether his blood were running
evenly through his veins. But his voice was quiet,
a shade too quiet I thought, as he gravely replied —
'1 would often be a coward but for the shame of
And so the League waited for the man to come,
who was to be Resident Manager and make the
new enterprise a success. And come he did; but
the manner of his coming was so extraordinary,
that I have believed in the doctrine of a special What Came to Slavin
providence ever since; for as Craig said, 'If he had
come straight from Heaven I could not have been
more surprised.'
While the League was thus waiting, its interest centred upon Slavin, chiefly because he represented more than any other the forces of the enemy;
and though Billy Breen stood between him and the
vengeance of the angry men who would have made
short work of him and his saloon, nothing could
save him from himself, and after the funeral Slavin
went to his bar and drank whisky as he had never
drunk before. But the more he drank the fiercer
and gloomier he became, and when the men drinking with him chaffed him, he swore deeply and
with such threats that they left him alone.
It did not help Slavin either to have Nixon stride
in through the crowd drinking at his bar and give
him words of warning.
'It is not your fault, Slavin/ he said in slow,
cool voice, ' that you and your precious crew didn't
sent me to my death, too. You've won your bet,
but I want to say, that next time, though you are
seven to one, or ten times that, when any of you
boys offer me a drink I'll take you to mean fight,
and I'll not disappoint yon, and some one will be
killed,' and so saying he strode out again, leaving 204
Blacè Rock
a mean-looking crowd of men behind him. AH
who had not been concerned in the business at
Nixon's shack expressed approval of his position,
and hoped he would ' see it through/
But the impression of Nixon's words upon Slavin
was as nothing compared with that made by Geordie
Crawford. It was not what he said so much as the^
manner of awful solemnity he carried. Geordie
was struggling conscientiously to keep his promise
to 'not be 'ard on the boys,' and found considerable relief in remembering that he had agreed 'to
leave them tae the Almichty/ But the manner of
leaving them was so solemnly awful, that I could
not wonder that Slavin's superstitious Irish nature
supplied him with supernatural terrors. It was the
second day after the funeral that Geordie and I
were walking toward Slavin's. There was a great
shout of laughter as we drew near.
Geordie stopped short, and saying, 'We'll juist
gang in a meenute,' passed through the crowd and
up to the bar.
'Michael Slavin/ began Geordie, and the men
stared in dead silence, with their glasses in their
hands. ' Michael Slavin, a' promised the lad a'd
bear ye nae ill wull, but juist leave ye tae the Almichty; an' I want tae tell ye that a'm keepin' ma What Came to Slavin
wur-r-d. But'—and here he raised his hand, and
his voice became preternàturally solemn—' his blind
is upon y er han's.   Do ye no' see it ? '
His voice rose sharply, and as he pointed, Slavin
instinctively glanced at his hands, and Geordie
added —
' Ay, and the Lord will require it o' you and yer
They told me that Slavin shivered as if taken
with ague after Geordie went out, and though he
laughed and swore, he did not stop drinking till he
sank into a drunken stupor and had to be carried
to bed. His little French-Canadian wife could not
understand the change that had come over her
'He's like one bear,' she confided to Mrs.
Mavor, to whom she was showing her baby of a
year old. 'He's not kees me one tarn dis day.
He's mos hawrful bad, he's not even look at de
baby.' And this seemed sufficient proof that
something was seriously wrong; for she went on
to say —
'He's tink more for dat leel baby dan for de
whole wort' ; he's tink more for dat baby dan for
me,' but she shrugged her pretty little shoulders In
deprecation of her speech. m
Black Rock
'You must pray for him/ said Mrs. Mavor, 'and
all will come right.'
'Ah! madame! ' she replied earnestly, 'every day,
every day, I pray la sainte Vierge et tous les saints
for him.'
'You must pray to your Father in heaven for
'Ah! oui! I weel pray,' and Mrs. Mavor sent her
away bright with smiles, and with new hope and
courage in her heart.
She had very soon need of all her courage, for at
the week's end her baby fell dangerously ill. Slav*
in's anxiety and fear were not relieved much by the
reports the men brought him from time to time of
Geordie's ominous forebodings; for Geordie had no
doubt but that the Avenger of Blood was hot upon
Slavin's trail ; and as the sickness grew, he became
confirmed in this conviction. While he could not be
said to find satisfaction in Slavin's impending affliction, he could hardly hide his complacency in the
promptness of Providence in vindicating his theory
of retribution.
But Geordie's complacency was somewhat rudely
shocked by Mr. Craig's answer to his theory on*
' You read your Bible to little profit it seems t» What Came to Slavin
me, Geordie: or, perhaps, you have never read the
Master's teaching about the Tower of Siloam. Better read that and take that warning to yourself.'
Geordie gazed after Mr. Craig as he turned away,
and muttered —
'The toor o' Siloam, is it ? Ay, a' ken fine aboot
the toor o' Siloam, and aboot the toor o' Babel as
weel; an' a've read, too, about the blaspheemious
Herod, an' sic like. Man, but he's a hot-heided
laddie, and lacks discreemeenation.'
' What about Herod, Geordie ? ' 1 asked.
'Aboot Herod?'—with a strong tinge of contempt in his tone. ' Aboot Herod ? Man, hae ye
no' read in the Screepturs aboot Herod an' the
wur-r-ms in the wame o' him ?'
'Oh yes, I see,' I hastened to answer.
'Ay, a fuie can see what's flapped in ftis face,'
with which bit of proverbial philosophy he suddenly left me. But Geordie thenceforth contented
himself, in Mr. Craig's presence at least, with ominous head-shakings, equally aggravating, and impossible to answer.
That same night, however, Geordie showed that
with all his theories he had a man's true heart, for
he came in haste to Mrs. Mavor to say:
J Ye'll be needed ower yonder, a'm thinkin'/ Abj^iP®**
Black Rock
'Why? Is the baby worse? Have you been
'Na, na,' replied Geordie cautiously, 'a'll no gang
where a'm no wanted. But yon puir thing, ye can
hear ootside weepin' and moanin'.
'She'll maybe need ye tae,' he went on dubiously
to me. ' Ye're a kind o' doctor, a' hear,' not committing himself to any opinion as to my professional value. But Slavin would have none of me,
having got the doctor sober enough to prescribe.
The interest of the camp in Slavin was greatly
increased by the illness of his baby, which was to
him as the apple of his eye. There were a few
who, impressed by Geordie's profound convictions
upon the matter, were inclined to favour the retribution theory, and connect the baby's illness with
the vengeance of the Almighty. Among these few
was Slavin himself, and goaded by his remorseful
terrors he sought relief in drink. But this brought
him only deeper and fiercer gloom; so that between
her suffering child and her savagely despairing husband, the poor mother was desperate with terror
and grief.
'Ah! madame,' she sobbed to Mrs. Mavor, 'my
heart is broke for him. He's heet noting for tree
days, but jis dreenk, dreenk, dreenk.' What Came to Slavin
The next day a man came for me in haste. The
baby was dying and the doctor was drunk. I
found the little one in a convulsion lying across
Mrs. Mavor's knees, the mother kneeling beside it,
wringing her hands in a dumb agony, and Slavin
standing near, silent and suffering. I glanced at the
bottle of medicine upon the table and asked Mrs.
Mavor the dose, and found the baby had been poisoned. My look of horror told Slavin something
was wrong, and striding to me he caught my arm
and asked—
' What is it ?   Is the medicine wrong ? '
I tried to put him off, but his grip tightened till
his fingers seemed to reach the bone.
'The dose is,certainly too large; but let me go, I
must do something.'
He let me go at once, saying in a voice that made
my heart sore for him, ■' He has killed my baby; he
has killed my baby.' And then he cursed the
doctor with awful curses, and with a look of such
murderous fury on his face that I was glad the
doctor was too drunk to appear.
His wife hearing his curses, and understanding
the cause, broke out into wailing hard to bear.
'Ah! mon petit ange! It is dat wheeskey dat's
keel mon baby.   Ah! mon chéri, mon amour.   Ah! aie
Black Rock
mon Dieu! Ah, Michael, how often I say that
wheeskey he's not good ting.'
It was more than Slavin could bear, and with
awful curses he passed out. Mrs. Mavor laid the
baby in its crib, for the convulsion had passed
away; and putting her arms about the wailing little
Frenchwoman, comforted and soothed her as a
mother might her child.
' And you must help your husband, ' I heard her say.
' He will need you more than ever.    Think of him.'
'Ah! oui! I weel,' was the quick reply, and from
that moment there was no more wailing.
It seemed no more than a minute till Slavin came
in again, sober, quiet, and steady; the passion was
all gone from his face, and only the grief remained.
As we stood leaning over the sleeping child the
little thing opened its eyes, saw its father, and
smiled. It was too much for him. The big man
dropped on his knees with a dry sob.
' Is there no chance at all, at all ? ' he whispered,
but I could give him no hope. He immediately
rose, and pulling himself together, stood perfectly
A new terror sealed upon the mother.
'My baby is not—what you call it?' going
through the form of baptism.    'An' he will not What Came to Slavin
come to la sainte Vierge,' she said, crossing herself.
' Do not fear for your little one,' said Mrs. Mavor,
still with her arms about her. ' The good Saviour
will take your darling into His own arms.'
But the mother would not be comforted by this.
And Slavin too, was uneasy.
' Where is Father Goulet?' he asked.
' Ah ! you were not good to the holy père de las
tarn, Michael,'she replied sadly. 'The saints are
not please for you.'
' Where is the priest ?' he demanded.
'I know not for sure.    At de Landin', dat's lak.'
Til go for him,' he said. But his wife clung to
him, beseeching him not to leave her, and indeed
he was loth to leave his little one.
I found Craig and told him the difficulty. With
his usual promptness, he was ready with a solution.
'Nixon has a team. He will go.' Then he
added, ' I wonder if they would not like me to baptise their little one. Father Goulet and I have exchanged offices before now. I remember how he
came to one of my people in my absence, when she
was dying, read with her, prayed with her, comforted her, and helped her across the river. He is
a good soul, and has no nonsense about him.   Send fïi
Black Rock
for me if you think there is need. It will make no
difference to the baby, but it will comfort the
Nixon was willing enough to go ; but when he
came to the door Mrs. Mavor saw the hard look in
his face. He had not forgotten his wrong, for day
by day he was still fighting the devil within that
Slavin had called to life. But Mrs. Mavor, under
cover of getting him instructions, drew him into
the room. While listening to her, his eyes wandered from one to the other of the group till they
rested upon the little white face in the crib. She
noticed the change in his face.
They fear the little one will never see the Saviour if it is not baptised,' she said, in a low tone.
He was eager to go.
Til do my best to get the priest,' he said, and
was gone on his sixty miles' race with death.
The long afternoon wore on, but before it was
half gone I saw Nixon could not win, and that the
priest would be too late, so I sent for Mr. Craig.
From the moment he entered the room.he took
command of us all. He was so simple, so manly,
so tender, the hearts of the parents instinctively
turned to him.
As he was about to proceed with the baptism, What Came to Slavin
the mother whispered to Mrs. Mavor, who hesitatingly asked Mr. Graig if he would object to using
holy water.
'To me it is the same as any other/ he replied
'An' will he make the good sign?' asked the
mother timidly.
And so the child was baptised by the Presbyterian minister with holy water and with the sign
of the cross. I don't suppose it was orthodox, and
it rendered chaotic some of my religious notions,
but I thought more of Craig that moment than ever
before. He was more man than minister, or perhaps he was so good a minister that day because so
much a man. As he read about the Saviour and
the children and the disciples who tried to get in
between them, and as he told us the story in his
own simple and beautiful way, and then went on
to picture the home of the little children, and the
same Saviour in the midst of them, I felt my heart
grow warm, and I could easily understand the cry
of the mother—
1 Oh, mon Jésu, prenez moi aussi, take me wiz
mon mignon.'
The cry wakened Slavin's heart, and he said
huskily — 314
Black Rock
'Oh! Annette! Annette!'
'Ah,   oui!   an'   Michael   too!'   Then   to   Mn
Craig —
' You tink He's tak me some day ?   Eh ?'
'AH who love Him,' he replied.
' An' Michael too ? ' she asked, her eyes searching
his face.    ' An' Michael too ? '
But Craig only replied: ' All who love Him.'
'Ah, Michael, you must pray le bon Jésu. He's
garde notre mignon.' And then she bent over the
babe, whispering —
'Ah, mon chéri, mon amour, adieu! adieu! mon
ange! ' till Slavin put his arms about her and took
her away, for as she was whispering her farewells,
her baby, with a little answering sigh, passed into
the House with many rooms.
'Whisht, Annette darlin'; don't cry for the
baby,' said her husband. ' Shure it's better off than
the rest av us, it is. An' didn't ye hear what the
minister said about the beautiful place it is ? An'
shure he wouldn't lie to us at all.' But a mother
cannot be comforted for her first-born son.
An hour later Nixon brought Father Goulet. He
was a little Frenchman with gentle manners and the
face of a saint. Craig welcomed him warmly, and
told him what he had done.
^:?5$£S3c     BK| What Came to Slavin
•That is good, my brother,' he said, with gentle
courtesy, and, turning to the mother, ' Your little
one is safe.'
Behind Father Goulet came Nixon softly, and
gazed down upon the little quiet face, beautiful
with the magic of death. Slavin came quietly and
stood beside him. Nixon turned and offered his
hand.   But Slavin said, moving slowly back—
' I did ye a wrong, Nixon, an' it's a sorry man I
am this day for it/
' Don't say a word, Slavin,' answered Nixon, hurriedly. ' I know how you feel. I've got a baby,
too. I want to see it again. That's why the break
hurt me so/
'As God's above,' replied Slavin earnestly, TU
hinder ye no more.' .They shook hands, and we
passed out.
We laid the baby under the pines, not far from
Billy Breen, and the sweet spring wind blew through
the Gap, and came softly down the valley, whispering to the pines and the grass and the hiding flowers of the New Life coming to the world. And the
mother must have heard the whisper in her heart,
for, as the Priest was saying the words of the Service, she stood with Mrs. Mavor's arms about her,
and her eyes were looking far away beyond the 2l6
Black Rock
purple mountain-tops, seeing what madr her smile.
And Slavin, too, looked different. His very features seemed finer. The coarseness was gone out
of his face. What had come to him I could not
But when the doctor came into Slavin's house
that night it was the old Slavin I saw, but with a
look of such deadly fury on his face that I tried to
get the doctor out at once. But he was half drunk
and after his manner was hideously humorous.
'How do, ladies! How do, gentlemen! ' was his
loud-voiced salutation. ' Quite a professional gathering, clergy predominating. Lion and Lamb too,
ha! ha! which is the lamb, eh? ha! ha! very
good! awfully sorry to hear of your loss, Mrs.
Slavin; did our best you know, can't help this sort
of thing.'
Before any one could move, Craig was at his side,
and saying in .a clear, firm voice, ' One moment,
doctor,' caught him by the arm and had him out of
the room before he knew it. Slavin, who had been
crouching in his chair with hands twitching and
eyes glaring, rose and followed, still crouching as
he walked. I hurried after him, calling him back.
Turning at my voice, the doctor saw Slavin approaching.    There was something so terrifying in What Came to Slavin
his swift noiseless crouching motion, that the doctor, crying out in fear ' Keep him off,' fairly turned
and fled. He was too late. Like a tiger Slavin
leaped upon him and without waiting to strike had
him by the throat with both hands, and bearing
him to the ground, worried him there as a dog
might a cat.
Immediately Craig and I were upon him, but
though we lifted him clear off the ground we could
not loosen that two-handed strangling grip. As
we were struggling there a light hand touched my
shoulder.    It was Father GouleC
'Please let him go, and stand away from us/'he
said, waving us back. We obeyed. He leaned over
Slavin and spoke a few words to him. Slavic
started as if struck a heavy blow, looked up at the
priest with fear in hfe face, but still keeping his
'Let him go,'said the priest. Slavin hesitated.
'Let him go! quick!' said the priest again, and
Slavin with a snarl let go his hold and stood sullenly
facing the priest.
Father Goulet regarded him steadily for some
seconds and then asked —
' What would you do ? ' His voice was gentle
enough, even sweet, but there was something in it 2l8
Black Rock
that chilled my marrow. ' What would you do ?'
he repeated.
' He murdered my child,' growled Slavin.
'Ah! how?'
' He was drunk and poisoned him.'
'Ah! who gave him drink? Who made him a
drunkard two years ago ? Who has wrecked his
There was no answer, and the even-toned voice
went relentlessly on —
5 Who is the murderer of your child now?'
Slavin groaned and shuddered.
'Go!' and the voice grew stem. 'Repent of
your sin and add not another.'
Slavin turned his eyes upon the motionless figure
on the ground and then upon the priest. Father
Goulet took one step toward him, and, stretching
out his hand and pointing with his finger, said —
And Slavin slowly backed away and went into
his house. It was an extraordinary scene, and it is
often with me now : the dark figure on the ground,
the slight erect form of the priest with outstretched
arm and finger, and Slavin backing away, fear and
fury struggling in his face.
It was a near thing for the doctor, however, and What Came to Slavin
two minutes more of that grip would have done for
him. As it was, we had the greatest difficulty in
reviving him.
What the priest did with Slavin after getting him
inside I know not; that has always been a mystery
to me. But when we were passing the saloon that
night after taking Mrs. Mavor home, we saw a light
and heard strange sounds within. Entering, we
found another whisky raid in progress, Slavin himself being the raider. We stood some moments
watching him knocking in the heads of casks and
emptying bottles. I thought he had gone mad, and
approached him cautiously.
'Hello, Slavin!' I called out; what does this
mean ? '
He paused in his strange work, and I saw that his
face, though resolute, was quief enough.
'It means I'm done wid the business, I am,' he
said, in a determined voice, ' I'll help no more to
kill any man, or/ in a lower tone, 'any man's
baby.'   The priest's words had struck home.
'Thank God, Slavin!' said Craig, offering his
hand; 'you are much too good a man for the business.'
'Good or bad, I'm done wid it,' he replied, going
on with his work. 220
Black Rock
'You are throwing away good money, Slavin,' I
said, as the head of a cask crashed in.
' It's meself that knows it, for the price of whisky
has riz in town this week,' he answered, giving me
a look out of the corner of his eye. ' Bedad! it was
a rare clever job,' referring to our Black Rock Hotel
' But won't you be sorry for this ? ' asked Craig.
'Beloike I will; an' that's why I'm doin' it before
I'm sorry for it,' he replied, with a delightful bull.
'Look here, ^Slavin/ said Craig earnestly; 'if I
can be of use to you in any way, count on me.'
' It's good to me the both of yez have been, an'
I'll not forget it to yez,' he replied, with like earnestness.
As we told Mrs. Mavor that night, for Craig
thought it too good to keep, her eyes seemed to
grow deeper and the light in them to glow more
intense as she listened to Craig pouring out his tale.
Then she gave him her hand and said —
'You have your man at last'
'What man ?'
' The man you have been waiting Tor/
'Why not?'
' I never thought of it/ What Came to Slavin
'No more did he, nor any of us.' Then, after a
pause, she added gently, 'He has been sent to us.'
'Do you know, I believe you are right,' Craig
said slowly, and then added, ' But you always are.'
'I fear not,' she answered; but I thought she
liked to hear his words.
The whole town was astounded next morning
when Slavin went to work in the mines, and its astonishment only deepened as the days went on, and
he stuck to his work. Before three weeks had gone
the League had bought and remodelled the saloon
and had secured Slavin as Resident Manager.
The evening of the reopening of Slavin's saloon,
as it was still called, was long remembered in
Black Rock. It was the occasion of the first appearance of 'The League Minstrel and Dramatic
Troupe,' in what was described as a ' hair-lifting
tragedy with appropriate musical selections.' Then
there was a grand supper and speeches and great
enthusiasm, which reached its climax when Nixon
rose to propose the toast of the evening—' Our
Saloon.' His speech was simply a quiet, manly
account of his long struggle with the deadly enemy.
When he came to soeak of his recent defeat ne
' And while I am blaming no one but myself, I 222
Black Rock
am glad to-night that this saloon is on our side, for
my own sake and for the sake of those who have
been waiting long to see me. But before I sit down
I want to say that while I live I shall not forget that
I owe my life to the man that took me that night to
his own shack and put me in his own bed, and met
me next morning with an open hand; for I tell you
I had sworn to God that that morning would be my
Geordie's speech was characteristic. After a brief
reference to the ' mysteerious ways o' Providence/
which he acknowledged he might sometimes fail to
understand, he went on to express his unqualified
approval of the new saloon.
' It's a cosy place, an' there's nae sulphur aboot.
Besides a' that,' he went on enthusiastically, 'it'll be
a terrible savin'.    I've juist been coontin'.'
'You bet!' ejaculated a voice with great emphasis.
'I've juist been coontin'/ went on Geordie, ignoring the remark and the laugh which followed, ' an'
it's an awfu'-like money ye pit ower wi' the
whusky. Ye see ye canna dae wi' ane bit glass; ye
maum hae twa or three at the verra least, for it's no
verra forrit ye get wi' ane glass. But wi' yon coffee
ye juist get a saxpence-worth an' ye want nae mair/ What Came to Slavin
There was another shout of laughter, which puzzled Geordie much.
' I dinna see the jowk, but I've slïppit ower in
whusky mair nor a hunner dollars.'
Then he paused, looking hard before him, and
twisting his face into extraordinary shapes till the
men looked at him in wonder.
I ' I'm rale glad 0' this saloon, but it's ower late for
the lad that canna be helpit the noo. He'll not be
needin' help 0' oors, I doot, but there are ithers' —
and he stopped abruptly and sat down, with no applause following.
But when Slavin, our saloon-keeper, rose to reply, the men jumped up on the seats and yelled till
they could yell no more. Slavin stood, evidently in
trouble with himself, and finally broke out —
' It's spacheless I am entirely. What's come to
me I know not, nor how it's come. But I'll do my
best for yez.' And then the yelling broke out
I did not yell myself. I was too busy watching
the varying lights in Mrs. Mavor's eyes as she looked
from Craig to the yelling men on the benches and
tables, and then to Slavin, and I found myself wondering if she knew what it was that came to Slavin, M, ~1
The Two Calls \y CHAPTER XI
With the call to Mr. Craig I fancy I had something to do myself. The call came from a young
congregation in an eastern city, and was based
partly upon his college record and more upon the
advice of those among the authorities who knew
his work in the mountains. But I flatter myself
that my letters to friends who were of importance
in that congregation were not without influence, for
I was of the mind that the man who could handle
Black Rock miners as he could was ready for something larger than a mountain mission. That he
would refuse I had not imagined, though I ought to
have known him better. He was but little troubled
over it. He went with the call and the letters urging his acceptance to Mrs. Mavor. I was putting
the last touches to some of my work in the room at
the back of Mrs. Mavor's house when he came in.
She read the letters and the call quietly, and waited
for him to speak.
'Well?' he said; 'should I go?'
227 228
Black Rock
She started, and grew a little pale. His question
suggested a possibility that had not occurred to her.
That he could leave his work in Black Rock she had
hitherto never imagined; but there was other work,
and he was fit for good work anywhere. Why
should he not go? I saw the fear in her face, but I
saw more than fear in her eyes, as for a moment or
two she let them rest upon Craig's face. I read her
story, and I was n@t sorry for^either of them. But
she was too much a woman to show her heart easily
to the man she loved, and her voice was even an<i
calm as she answered his question.
' Is this a very large congregation ?'
'One of the finest in all the East,' I put in for
him.    ' It will be a great thing for Craig.'
Craig was studying her curiously. I think she
noticed his eyes upon her, for she went on even
more quietly —
' It will be a great chance for work, and you are
able for a larger sphere, you know, than poor Black
Rock affords.'
'Who will take Black Rock ?' he asked.
'Let some other fellow have a try at it,' I said.
•Why should you waste your talents here ?'
'Waste?' cried Mrs. Mavor indignantly.
'Well, "bury," if you like it better,' I replied. The Two Calls
'It would not take much of a grave for that
funeral,' said Craig, smiling.
'Oh/said Mrs. Mavor, 'you will be a great man
I know, and perhaps you ought to go now.'
But he answered coolly: 'There are fifty men
wanting that Eastern charge, and there is only one
wanting Black Rock, and I don't think Black Rock
is anxious for a change, so I have determined to
stay where I am yet a while/
Even my deep disgust and disappointment did not
prevent me from seeing the sudden leap of joy in
Mrs. Mavor's eyes, but she, with a great effort, answered quietly —
' Black Rock will be very glad, and some of us
very, very glad.'
Nothing could change his mind. There was no
one he knew who could take his place just now,
and why should he quit his work ? It annoyed me
considerably to feel he was right. Why is it that
the right things are so frequently unpleasant ?
And if I had had any doubt about the matter next
Sabbath evening would have removed it. For the
men came about him after the service and let him
feel in their own way how much they approved his
decision, though the self-sacrifice involved did not
appeal to them.   They were too truly Western to 230
Black Rock
imagine that any inducements the East could offef
could compensate for his loss of the West It was
only fitting that the West should have the best, and
so the miners took almost as a matter of course^
and certainly as their right, that the best man they
knew should stay with them. But there were those
who knew how much of what most men consider
worth while he had given up, and they loved him
no less for it.
Mrs. Mavor's call was not so'easily disposed of.
It came close upon the other, and stirred Black Rock
as nothing else had ever stirred it before.
I found her one afternoon gazing vacantly at some
legal documents spread out before her on the table,
and evidently overcome by their contents. There
was first a lawyer's letter informing her that by the
death of her husband's father she had come into the
whole of the Mavor estates, and all the wealth pertaining thereto. The letter asked for instructions,
and urged an immediate return with a view to a
personal superintendence of the estates. A letter,
too, from a distant cousin of her husband urged her
immediate return for many reasons, but chiefly on
account of the old mother who had been left alone
with none nearer of kin than himself to care for her
and cheer her old age. The Two Calls
23 *
With these two came another letter from her
mother-in-law herself. The crabbed, trembling
characters were even more eloquent than the words
with which the letter closed.
"1 have lost my boy, and now my husband is
gone, and I am a lonely woman. I have many
servants, and some friends, but none near to me,
none so near and dear as my dead son's wife. My
days are not to be many. Come to me, my daughter; I want you and Lewis's child.'
'Must I go?' she asked with white lips.
' Do you know her well ? ' I asked.
'I only saw her once or twice,' she answered;
' but she has been very good to me.'
'She can hardly need you. She has friends.
And surely you are needed here/
She looked at me eagerly.
'Do you think so ?' she said.
'Ask any man in the camp—Shaw, Nixon, young
Winton, Geordie.    Ask Craig,' I replied.
' Yes, he will tell me ' she said.
Even as she spoke Craig came up the steps. 1
passed into my studio and went on with my work,
for my days at Black Rock were getting few, and
many sketches remained to be filled in.
Through my open door I saw Mrs. Mavor lay het 232
Black Rock
letters before Mr. Craig, saying, ' I have a call too/
They thought not of me.
He went through the papers, carefully laid them
down without a word while she waited anxiously,
almost impatiently, for him to speak.
' Well ? ' she asked, using his own words to her;
' should I go ? '
'I do not know,' he replied; 'that is for you to
decide—you know all the circumstances.' |
' The letters tell all.' Her tone carried a feeling of
disappointment.    He did not appear to care.
' The estates are large ? ' he asked.
'Yes, large enough—twelve thousand a year/
'And has your mother-in-law any one with
' She has friends, but, as she says, none near of
kin. Her nephew looks after the works—iron
works, you know—he has shares in them.'
'She is evidently very lonely,' he answered
'What shall I do?' she asked, and I knew she
was waiting to hear him urge her to stay; but he
did not see, or at least gave no heed.
'I cannot say,' he repeated quietly. 'There are
many things to consider; the estates :'
'The estates seem to trouble you,' she replied, The Two Calls
almost fretfully. He looked up in surprise. I wondered at his slowness.
'Yes, the estates,' he went on, 'and tenants, I
suppose—your mother-in-law, your little Marjorie's
future, your own future.'
' The estates are in capable hands, 1 should suppose,' she urged, 'and my future depends upon
what I choose my work to be.'
'But one cannot shift one's responsibilities,' he
replied gravely. ' These estates, these tenants, have
come to you, and with them come duties.'
'I do not want them,' she cried.
'That life has great possibilities of good,' he said
' I had thought that perhaps there was work for
me here/ she suggested timidly.
'Great work/ he hastened to say. 'You have
done great work. But you will do that wherever
you go. The only question is where your work
' You think I should go,' she said suddenly and a
little bitterly.
'I cannot bid you stay,' he answered steadily.
'How can I go?' she cried, appealing to him.
'Must I go?'
How he could resist that appeal I could not un- «34
Black Rock
derstand. His face was cold and hard, and his
voice was almost harsh as he replied —
'If it is right, you will go—you must go.'
Then she burst forth —
'I cannot go. I shall stay here. My work is
here; my heart is here. How can 1 go? You
thought it worth your while to stay here and work,
why should not I ? '
The momentary gleam in his eyes died out, and
again he said coldly —
' This work was clearly mine.    I am needed here/
'Yes, yes! ' she cried, her voice full of pain; 'you
are needed, but there is no need of me.'
'Stop, stop! ' he said sharply; 'you must not say
'I will say it, I must say it,' she cried, her voice
vibrating with the intensity of her feeling. 'I
know you do not need me; you have your work,
your miners, your plans; you need no one; you are
strong. But,' and her voice rose to a cry, 'I am
not strong by myself; you have made me strong.
I came here a -foolish girl, foolish and selfish and
narrow. God sent me grief. Three years ago my
heart died. Now I am living again. I am a woman
now, no longer a girl. You have done this for me.
Your life, your words, yourself—you have showed The Two Calls
m& a better, a higher life, than I had ever known
before, and now you send me away.'
She paused abruptly.
' Blind, stupid fool! ' I said to myself.
He held himself resolutely in hand, answering
carefully, but his voice had lost its coldness and
was sweet and kind.
' Have I done this for you ? Then surely God has
been good to me. And you have helped me more
than any words could tell you.'
' Helped! ' she repeated scornfully.
'Yes, helped,' he answered, wondering at her
'You can do without my help,' she went on.
' You make people help you. You will get many
to help you; but I need help, too.' She was standing before him with her hands tightly clasped ; her
face was pale, and her eyes deeper than ever. He
sat looking up at her in a kind of maze as she
poured out her words hot and fast.
'I am not thinking of you.' His coldness had
hurt her deeply. 'I am selfish; I am thinking of
myself. How shall I do ? I have grown to depend
on you, to look to you. It is nothing to you that I
go, but to me—'   She did not dare to finish.
By this time Craig was standing before her, his
IHi 236
Black Rock
face deadly pale. When she came to the end of
her words, he said, in a voice low, sweet, and
thrilling with emotion —
' Ah, if you only knew! Do not make me forget
myself.   You do not guess what you are doing.'
' What am I doing ? What is there to know, but
that you tell me easily to go ?' She was struggling
with the tears she was too proud to let him see,
He put his hands resolutely behind him, looking
at her as if studying her face for the first time.
Under his searching look she dropped her eyes,
and the warm colour came slowly up into her neck
and face; then, as if with a sudden resolve, she
lifted her eyes to his, and looked back at him unflinchingly.
He started, surprised, drew slowly near, put his
hands upon her shoulders, surprise giving place
to wild joy. She never moved her eyes; they
drew him toward her. He took her face between
his hands, smiled into her eyes, kissed her lips.
She did not move; he stood back from her, threw
up his head, and laughed aloud. She came to
him, put her head upon his breast, and lifting up
her face said, 'Kiss me.' He put his arms about
her, bent down and kissed her lips again, and
then reverently her brow.   Then putting her back The Two Calls
from him,  but still holding both her hands, he
cried —
'No! you shall not go.    I shall never let you go.'
She gave a little sigh of content, and, smiling up
at him, said —
'I can go now;' but even as she spoke the flush
died from her face, and she shuddered.
'Never!' he almost shouted; 'nothing shall take
you away.   We shall work here together.'
'Ah, if we could, if we only could,' she said
'Why not?' he demanded fiercely.
' You will send me away. You will say it is right
for me to go,' she replied sadly.
'Do we not love each other?' was his impatient
'Ah! yes, love,' she sard; ' but love is not all.'
'No!' cried Craig; 'but love is the best.'
;   'Yes! ' she said sadly;   love is the best, and it is
for love's sake we will do the best.'
' There is no better work than here. Surely this
is best,' and he pictured his plans before her. She
listened eagerly.
' Oh ! if it should be right, she cried, ' I will do
what you say. You are good, you are wise, y*)U
shall tell me.' 238
Biack Rock
She could not have recalled him better. He
stood silent some moments, then burst out passionately —
' Why then has love come to us ? We did not
seek it. Surely love is of God. Does God mock
us ?'
He threw himself into his chair, pouring out his
words of passionate protestation. She li&tengH,
smiling, then came to him and, touching his |^ir as
a mother might her child's, said —
' Oh, I am very happy ! I was afraid you would
not care, and I could not bear to go that way.'
'You shall not go,' he cried aloud, as if in pain.
'Nothing can make that right.'
But she only said, ' You shall tell me to-morrow.
You cannot see to-night, ^>ut you will see, and you
will tell me.'
He stood up and, holding both her hands, looked
long into hçr eyes, then turned abruptly away and
went out.
She stood where he left her for some moments,
her face radiant, and her hands pressed upon her
heart. Then she came toward my room. She
found me busy with my painting, but as I looked
up and met her eyes she flushed slightlyr and
said— The Two Calls
'I quite forgot you/
'So it appeared to me/
' You heard ? '
'And saw,' I replied boldly. 'It would have
been rude to interrupt, you see.'
'Ohv I am so glad and thankful/
'Yes; it was rather considerate of me/
'Oh, I don't mean that,'the flush deepening; 'I
am glad you know/
' I have known some time/
J How could you ?   I only kfrew to-day myself.'
'I have eyes.'   She flushed again.
'Do you mean that people—' she began anxiously.
'No; I am not "people." I have eyes, and my
eyes have been opened.'
' Opened ? '
'Yes, by love.'
Then I told her openly how, weeks ago, I struggled with my heart and mastered it, for I saw it was
vain to love her, because she loved a better man
who loved her in return. She looked at me shyly
and said —
' I am sorry.'
'Don't worry,' I said cheerfully. ' I didn't break
my heart, you know; I stopped it in time.' 240
Black Rock
'Oh!' she said, slightly disappointed; then her
lips began to twitch, and she went off into a fit of
hysterical laughter.
'Forgive me,' she said humbly; 'but you speak
as if it had been a fever.'
'Fever is nothing to it,' I said solemnly. 'It was
a near thing.' At which she went off again. I was
glad to see her laugh. It gave me time to recover
my equilibrium, and it relieved her intense emotional strain. So I rattled on some nonsense about
Craig and myself till I saw she was giving no heed,
but thinking her own thoughts: and what these
were it was not hard to guess.
Suddenly she broke in upon my talk—
' He will tell me that \ must go from him.'
'I hope he is no such fool,' I said emphatically
and somewhat rudely, I fear; for I confess I was
impatient with the very possibility of separation for
these two, to whom love meant so much. Some
people take this sort of thing easily and some not
so easily; but love for a woman !<ke this comes
once only to a man, and then he carries it with him
through the length of his life, and warms his heart
with it in death. And when a man smiles or sneers
at such love as this, I pity him, an</ say ne word,
for my speech would be in an unknown tongue. The Two Calls
So my heart was sore as I sat looking up at this
woman who stood before me, overflowing with
the joy of her new love, and dully conscious of the
coming pain. But I soon found it was vain to urge
my opinion that she should remain and share the
work and life of the man she loved. She only answered—
' You will help him all you can, for it will hurt
him to have me go/
The quiver in her voice took out all the anger
from my heart, and before I knew I had pledged
myself to do all I could to help him.
But when I came upon him that night, sitting
in the light of his fire, I saw he must be let alone.
Some battles we fight side by side, with comrades
cheering us and being cheered to victory; but there
are fights we may not share, and these are deadly
fights where lives are lost and won. So I could
only lay my hand upon his shoulder without a
word. He looked up quickly, read my face, and
said, with a groan —
You know ? ' •
' I could not help it.    But why groan ?'
'She will think it right to go,' he said despair*
'Then   you   must think  for  her;   you  must 242
Black Rock
bring some common-sense to bear upon the question.'
'I cannot see clearly yet,' he said; 'the light will
' May I show you how I see it ? ' I asked.
'Go on,' he said.
For an hour I talked, eloquently, even vehemently
yrging the reason and right of my opinion. She
would be doing no more than every woman does,
no more than she did before; her mother-in-law
had a comfortable home, all that wealth could procure, good servants, and friends; the estates could
be managed without her personal supervision ; after
a few years' work here they would go east for
little Marjorie's education; why should two lives be
broken ?—and so I went on.
He listened carefully, even eagerly.
*You make a good case,' he said, with a slight
smile. 'I will take time. Perhaps you are right.
The light will come. Surely it will come. But,'
and here he sprang up and stretched his arms to
full length above his head, 'I am not sorry; whatever comes I am not sorry. It is great to have her
love, but greater to love her as I do. Thank God!
nothing can take that away. I am willing, glad to
suffer for the joy of loving her.' RRŒ
The Two Calls
Next morning, before I was awake, he was gone,
leaving a note tor me :—
'My dear Connor,—I am due at the Landing.
When I see you again I think my way will be clear.
Now all is dark. At times I am a coward, and
often, as you sometimes kindly inform me, an ass;
but I hope I may never become a mule.
'I am willing to be led, or want to be, at any
rate. I must do the best—not second best—for
her, for me. The best only is God's will. What
else would you have ? Be good to her these days,
dear old fellow.—Yours, Craig/
How often cnose words have braced me he will
never know, but I am a better man for them : ' The
best only is God's will. What else would you
have?' I resolved I would rage and fret no more,
and that I would worry Mrs. Mavor with no more
argument or expostulation, but, as my friend had
asked, ' Be good to her/  Love is Not All H mm
Those days when we were waiting Craig's return
we spent in the woods or on the mountain sides, or
down in the canyon beside the stream that danced
down to meet the Black Rock river, I talking and
sketching and reading, and she listening and dreaming, with often a happy smile upon her face. But
there were moments when a cloud of shuddering
fear would sweep the smile away, and then I
would talk of Craig till the smile came back again.
But the woods and the mountains and the river
were her best, her wisest, friends during those
days. How sweet the.ministry of the woods to
her! The trees were in their new summer leaves,
fresh and full of life. They swayed and rustled
above us, flinging their interlacing shadows upon
us, and their swaying and their rustling soothed
and comforted like the voice and touch of a mother.
And the mountains, too, in all the glory of their
varying robes of blues and purples, stood calmly,
solemnly about us, uplifting our souls into regions
of rest.   The changing lights and shadows flitted
247 248
Black Rock
swiftly over their rugged fronts, but left them ever
as before in their steadfast majesty. ' God's in His
heaven.' What would you have? And ever the
little river sang its cheerful courage, fearing not the
great mountains that threatened to bar its passage
to the sea. Mrs. Mavor heard the song and her
courage rose.
'We too shall find our way,' she said, and bbe-
lieved her.
But through these days I could not make her out,
and I found myself studying her as I might a new
acquaintance. Years had fallen from her; she was
a girl again, full of young warm life. She was as
sweet as before, but there was a soft shyness over
her, a half-shamed, half-frank consciousness in her
face, a glad light in her eyes that made her all new
to me. Her perfect trust in Craig was touching to
' He will tell me what to do,' she would say, till I
began to realise how impossible it would be for
him to betray such trust, and be anything but true
to the best.
So much did I dread Craig's home-coming, that I
sent for Graeme and old man Nelson, who was
more and more Graeme's trusted counsellor and
friend.    They were   both   highly excited by the Love is Not All
story I had to tell, for I thought it best to tell them
all; but I was not a little surprised and disgusted
that they did not see the matter in my light. In
vain I protested against the madness of allowing
anything to send these two from each other.
Graeme summed up the discussion in his own emphatic way, but with an earnestness in his words
not usual with him.
' Craig will know better than any of us what is
right to do, and he will do that, and no man can
turn him from it; and,' he added, ' I should be sorry
to try.'
Then my wrath rose, and I cried —
'It's a tremendous shame! They love each o*her.
V"ou are talking sentimental humbug and nonsense! '
'He must do the right,' said Nelson in his deep,
quiet voice.
' Right ! Nonsense ! By what right does he send
from him the woman he loves ? '
'"He pleased not Himself,"' quoted Nelson reverently.
'Nelson is right,' said Graeme. 'I should not
like to see him weaken.'
'Look here,' I stormed; 'I didn't bring you men
to back him up in his nonsense. I thought you
could keep your heads level.' 250
Black Rock
' Now, Connor/ said Graeme, ' don't rage- leave
that for the heathen ; it's bad form, and useless besides. Craig will walk his way where his light
falls ; and by all that's holy, Ï should hate to see
him fail; for if he weakens like the rest of us my
North Star will have dropped from my sky/
'Nice selfish spirit,' I muttered.
' Entirely so. I'm not a saint, but I feel like^steer-
ing by one when I see him.'
When after a week had gone, Craig rode up one
early morning to his shack door, his face told me
that he had fought his fight and had not been
beaten. He had ridden all night and was ready to
drop with weariness.
'Connor, old boy,' he said, putting out his hand;
' I'm rather played. There was a bad row at the
Landing. I have just closed poor Colley's eyes. It
was awful. I must get sleep. Look after Dandy,
will you, like a good chap ?'
' Oh, Dandy be hanged ! ' I said, for I knew it was
not the fight, nor the watching, not the long ride
that had shaken his iron nerve and given him that
face. 'Go in and lie down; I'll bring you something.'
'Wake me in the afternoon,' he. said; 'she is
waiting.    Perhaps you will go to her'—-his lips Love is Not All
quivered—'my nerve is rather gone.' Then with
a very wan smile he added, ' I am giving you a lot
of trouble.'
' You go to thunder! ' I burst out, for my throat
was hot and sore with grief for him.
'I think I'd rather go to sleep,' he replied, still
smiling. I could not speak, and was glad of the
chance of being alone with Dandy.
When I came in I found him sitting with his head
in his arms upon the table fast asleep. I made him
tea, forced him to take a warm bath, and sent him
to bed, while I went to Mrs. Mavor. I went with a
fearful heart, but that was because I had forgotten
the kind of woman she was.
She was standing in the light of the window
waiting for me. Her face was pale but steady,
there was a proud light in her fathomless eyes, a
slight smile parted her lips, and she carried her head
like a queen.
'Come in,' she said. 'You need not fear to tell
me. I saw him ride home. He has not failed,
thank God! I am proud of him; I knew he would
be true. He loves me'—she drew in her breath
sharply, and a faint colour tinged her cheek—'but
he knows love is not all—ah, love is not all! Oh! I
am glad and proud! ' 252
Black Rock
' Glad ! ' I gasped, amazed.
'You would not have him prove faithless!' she
said with proud defiance.
'Oh, it is high sentimental nonsense/ 1 could not
help saying.
'You should not say so,' she replied, and her
voice rang clear. 'Honour, faith, and duty are
sentiments, but they are not nonsense.'
In spite of my rage I was lost in amazed admiration of the high spirit of the woman who stood up
so straight before me. But, as I told how worn and
broken he was, she listened with changing colour
and swelling bosom, her proud courage all gone,
and only love, anxious an4d pitying, in her eyes.
' Shall I go to him ? ' she asked with timid eagerness and deepening colour.
' He is sleeping. He said he would come to you/
I replied.
'I shall wait for him,' she said softly, and the
tenderness in her tone went straight to my heart
and it seemed to me a man might suffer much to be
loved with love such as this.
In the early afternoon Graeme came to her. She
met him with both hands outstretched, saying in a
low voice —
' I am very happy/ Love is Not All
' Are you sure ? ' he asked anxiously.
'Oh, yes,' she said, but her voice was like a sob;
'quite, quite sure.'
They talked long together till I saw that Craig
must soon be coming, and I called Graeme away.
He held her hands, looking steadily into her eyes
and said —
'You are better even than I thought; I'm going
to be a better man.'
Her eyes filled with tears, but her smile did not
fade as she answered —
'Yes! you will be a good man, and God will give
you work to do.'
He bent his head over her hands and stepped
back from her as from a queen, but he spoke no
word till we came to Craig's door. Then he said
with humility that seemed strange in him, 'Connor,
that is great, to conquer oneself. It is worth while.
I am going to try.'
I would not have missed his meeting with Craig.
Nelson was busy with tea. Craig was writing near
the window. He looked up as Graeme came in,
and nodded an easy good-evening; but Graeme
strode to him and, putting one hand on his shoulder, held out his other for Craig to take.
After a moment's surprise, Craig rose to his feet, *54
Black Rock
and, facing him squarely, took the offered hand in
both of his and held it fast without a word.
Graeme was the first to speak, and his voice was
deep with emotion —
'You are a great man, a good man. I'd give
something to have your grit.'
Poor Craig stood looking at him, not daring to
speak for some moments, then he said quietly —
' Not good nor great, but, thank God, not quite a
'Good man!' went on Graeme, patting him on
the shoulder.    ' Good man!   But it's tough.'
Craig sat down quickly, saying, ' Don't do that,
old chap !'
I went up with Craig to Mrs. Mavor's door. She
did not hear us coming, but stood near the window#
gazing up at the mountains. . She was dressed in
some rich soft stuff, and wore at her breast a bunch
of wild-flowers. I had never seen her so beautiful.
I did not wonder that Craig paused with his foot
upon the threshold to look at her. She turned
and saw us. With a glad cry, 'Oh! my darling;
you have come to me,' she came with outstretched
arms. I turned and fled, but the cry and the vision
were long with me.
It was decided that night that Mrs. Mavor should Love is Not All
go the next week. A miner and his wife were going east, and I too would join the party.
The camp went into mourning at the news; but
it was understood that any display of grief before
Mrs. Mavor was bad form. She was not to be annoyed.
But when I suggested that she should leave
quietly, and avoid the pain of saying good-bye, she
flatly refused —-
' I must say good-bye to every man. They love
me and I love them.'
It was decided, too, at first, that there should be
nothing in the way of a testimonial, but when Craig
found out that the men were coming to her with all
sorts of extraordinary gifts, he agreed that it would
be better that they should unite in one gift. So it
was agreed that I should buy a ring for her. And
were it not that the contributions were strictly limited to one dollar, the purse t||t Slavin handed her
when Shaw read the address at the farewell supper
would have been many times filled with the gold
that was pressed upon the committee. There were
no speeches at the supper, except one by myself in
reply on Mrs. Mavor's behalf. She had given me
the words to say, and I was thoroughly prepared,
else J should not have got through.   I began in the 256
Black Rock
usual way: 'Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,
Mrs. Mavor is—' but I got no further, for at the
mention of her name the men stood on the chairs
and yelled until they could yell no more. There
were over two hundred and fifty of them, and the
effect was overpowering. But I got through my
speech.   I remember it well.    It began —
'Mrs. Mavor is greatly touched by this mark of
your love, and she will wear your ring always with
pride.'   And it ended with —
' She has one request to make, that you will be
true to the League, and that you stand close about
the man who did most to make it. She wishes me
to say that however far away she may have to go,
she is leaving her heart in Black Rock, and she can
think of no greater joy than to come back to you
Then they had The Sweet By and By/ but the
men would not join in the refrain, unwilling to lose
a note of the glorious voice they loved to hear.
Before the last verse she beckoned to me. I went
to her standing by Craig's side as he played for her.
'Ask ihem to sing,' she entreated; 'I cannot bear
'Mrs. Mavor wishes you to sing in the refrain,' I
said, and at once the men sat up and cleared the» Love is Not All
throats. The singing was not good, but at the first
sound of the hoarse notes of the men Craig's head
v/ent down over the organ, for he was thinking I
suppose of the days before them when they would
long in vain for that thrilling voice that soared high
over their own hoarse tones. And after the voices
died away he kept on playing till, half turning toward him, she sang alone once more the refrain in
a voice low and sweet and tender, as if for him
alone. And so he took it, for he smiled up at her
his old smile full of courage and full of love.
Then for one whole hour she stood saying goodbye to those rough, gentle-hearted men whose inspiration to goodness she had been for five years.
It was very wonderful and very quiet. It was understood that there was to be no nonsense, and Abe
had been heard to declare that he would 'throw out
any cotton-backed fool who couldn't hold himself
down,' and further, he had enjoined them to remember that 'her arm wasn't a pump-handle.'
At last they were all gone, all but her guard of
honour—Shaw, Vernon Winton, Geordie, Nixon,
Abe, Nelson, Craig, and myself.
This was the real farewell; for, though in the
early light of the next morning two hundred men
stood silent about the stage, and then as it moved 258
Black Rock
out waved their hats and yelled madly, this was the
last touch they had of her hand. Her place was up
on the driver's seat between Abe and Mr. Craig,
who held little Marjorie on his knee. The rest of
the guard of honour were to follow with Graeme's
team. It was Winton's fine sense that ke-gt Graeme
from following them close. ' Let her go out alone/
he said, and so we held back and watched her go.
She stood with her back toward Abe's plunging
four-horse team, and steadying herself with one
hand on Abe's shoulder, gazed down upon us* Her
head was bare, her lips parted in a smile, her eyes
glowing with their own deep light; and so, facing
us, erect and smiling, she drove away, waving us
farewell till Abe swung his team into the canyon
road and we saw her no more. A sigh shuddered
through the crowd, and, with a sob in his voice,
Winton said: 'God help us all/
! close my eyes and see it all again. The waving
crowd of dark-faced men, the plunging horses, and,
high up beside the driver, the swaying, smiling,
waving figure, and about all the mountains, framing
the picture with their dark sides and white peaks
tipped with the gold of the rising sun. It is a
picture I love to look upon, albeit it calls up another that I can never see but through tears. Love is Not All
I look across a strip of ever-widening water, at a
group of men upon the wharf, standing with heads
uncovered, every man a hero, though not a man of
them suspects it, least of all the man who stands in
front, strong, resolute, self-conquered. And, gazing long, I think I see him turn again to his place
among the men of the mountains, not forgetting,
but every day remembering the great love that came
to him, and remembering, too, that love is not all.
It is then the tears come.
But for that picture two of us at least are better
men to day.  How Nelson Came Home  CHAPTER XIII
Through the long summer the mountains and the
pines were with me. And through the winter, too,
busy as I was filling in my Black Rock sketches for
the railway people who would still persist in ordering them by the dozen, the memory of that stirring
life would come over me, and once more I would be
among the silent pines and the mighty snow-peaked
mountains. And before me would appear the red-
shirted shantymen or dark-faced miners, great, free,
bold fellows, driving me almost mad with the desire
to seize and fix those swiftly changing groups of
picturesque figures. At such times I would drop my
sketch, and with eager brush seize a group, a face, a
figure, and that is how my studio comes to be filled
with the men of Black Rock. There they are all
about me. Graeme and the men from the woods,
Sandy, Baptiste, the Campbells, and in many attitudes and groups old man Nelson ; Craig, too, and
his miners, Shaw, Geordie, Nixon, and poor old Billy
and the keeper of the League saloon.
263 264
Black Rock
It seemed as if I lived among them, and the illu*
sion was greatly helped by the vivid letters Graeme
sent me from time to time. Brief notes came now
and then from Craig too, to whom I had sent a
faithful account of how I had brought Mrs. Mavor
to her ship, and of how I had watched her sail away
with none too brave a face, as she held up her hand
that bore the miners' ring, and smiled with that deep
light in her eyes. Ah! those eyes have driven me
to despair and made me fear that I am no great
painter after all, in spite of what my friends tell me
who come in to smoke my good cigars and praise my
brush. I can get the brow and hair, and mouth and
pose, but the eyes! the eyes elude me—and the
faces of Mrs. Mavor on my wall, that the men praise
and rave over, are not such as I could show to any
of the men from the mountains.
Graeme's letters tell me chiefly about Craig and
his doings, and about old man Nelson; while from
Craig I hear about Graeme, and how he and Nelson
are standing at his back, and doing what they can
to fill the gap that never can be filled. The three
are much together, I can see, and I am glad for
them all, but chiefly for Craig, whose face, grief-
stricken but resolute, and often gentle as a woman's,
Will not leave me nor let me rest in peace. How Nelson Came Home
The note of thanks he sent me was entirely
characteristic. There were no heroics, much less
pining or self-pity. It was simple and manly, not
ignoring the pain but making much of the joy.
And then they had their work to do. That note, so
clear, so manly, so nobly sensible, stiffens my back
yet at times.
In the spring came the startling news that Black
Rock would soon be no more. The mines were to
close down on April 1. The company, having
allured the confiding public with enticing descriptions of marvellous drifts, veins, assays, and prospects, and having expended vast sums of the public's money in developing the mines till the
assurance of their reliability was absolutely final,
calmly shut down and vanished. With their
vanishing vanishes Black Rock, not without loss
and much deep cursing on the part of the men
brought some hundreds of miles to aid the company in its extraordinary and wholly inexplicable
Personally it grieved me to think that my plan of
returning to Black Rock could never be carried out
It was a great compensation, however, that the three
men most representative to me of that life were
soon to visit me actually in my own home and 266
Black Rock
den. Graeme's letter said that in one month
they might be expected to appear. At least he
and Nelson were soon to come, and Craig would
soon follow.
On receiving the great news, I at once looked up
young Nelson and his sister, and we proceeded to
celebrate the joyful prospect with a specially good
dinner. I found the greatest delight in picturing
the joy and pride of the old man in his children,
whom he had not seen for fifteen or sixteen years.
The mother had died some five years before, then
the farm was sold, and the brother and sister came
into the city; and any father might be proud of
them. The son was a well-made young fellow,
handsome enough, thoughtful, and solid-looking.
The girl reminded me of her father. The same
resolution was seen in mouth and jaw, and the same
passion slumbered in the dark grey eyes. She was
not beautiful, but she carried herself well, and one
would always look at her twice. It would be worth
something to see the meeting between father and
But fate, the greatest artist of us all, takes little
count of the careful drawing and the bright colouring of our fancy's pictures, but with rude hand
deranges all, and with one swift sweep paints out How Nelson Came Home 267
the bright and paints in the dark. And this trick
he served me when, one June night, after long and
anxious waiting for some word from the west, my
door suddenly opened and Graeme walked in upon
me like a spectre, grey and voiceless. My shout of
welcome was choked back by the look in his face,
and I could only gaze at him and wait for his word.
He gripped my hand, tried to speak, but failed to
make words come.
' Sit down, old man,' I said, pushing him into my
chair, ' and take your time.'
He obeyed, looking up at me with burning,
sleepless eyes. My heart was sore for his misery,
and I said: 'Don't mind, old chap; it can't be
so awfully bad. You're here safe and sound
at any rate/ and so I went on to give him
time. But he shuddered and looked round and
' Now look here, Graeme, let's have it. When did
you land here ? Where is Nelson ? Why didn't
you bring him up ? '
' He is at the station in his coffin/ he answered
' In his coffin ? ' I echoed, my beautiful pictures
all vanishing.    ' How was it ? '
'Through my cursed folly,' he groaned bitterly. 268
Black Rock
'What happened?' 1 asked. But ignoring my
question, he said: j I must see his children. I have
not slept for four nights. I hardly know what I am
doing; but I can't rest till I see his children. I promised him.    Get them for me.'
' To-morrow will do. Go to sleep now, and we
shall arrange everything to-morrow,' 1 urged.
'No!' he said fiercely; 'to-night—now!'
In half an hour they were listening, pale and
grief-stricken, to the story of their father's death.
Poor Graeme was relentless in his self-condemnation as he told how, through his 'cursed folly,'
old Nelson was killed. The three, Craig, Graeme,
and Nelson, had come as far as Victoria together.
There they left Craig, and came on to San Francisco. In an evil hour Graeme met a companion of
other and evil days, and it was not long till the old
fever came upon him.
In vain Nelson warned and pleaded. The reaction from the monotony and poverty of camp
life to the excitement and luxury of the San Francisco gaming palaces swung Graeme quite off his
feet, and all that Nelson could do was to follow
from place to place and keep watch
' And there he would sit,' said Graeme in a hard,
bitter voice, 'waiting and watching often till the How Nelson Came Home
grey morning light, while my madness held me fast
to the table. One night,' here he paused a moment
put his face in his hands and shuddered; but quickly
he was master of himself again, and went on in the
same hard voice—'One night my partner and I were
playing two men who had done us up before. I
knew they were cheating, but could not detect them.
Game after game they won, till I was furious at my
stupidity in not being able to catch them. Happening to glance at Nelson in the corner, I caught a
meaning look, and looking again, he threw me a
signal. I knew at once what the fraud was, and
next game charged the fellow with it. He gave me
the lie; I struck his mouth, but before I could draw
my gun» his partner had me by the arms. What
followed I hardly know. While I was struggling
to get free, I saw him reach for his weapon ; but,
as he drew it, Nelson sprang across the table, and
bore him down. When the row was over, three
men lay on the floor. One was Nelson; he took
the shot meant for me.'
Again the story paused.
'And the man that shot him ?'
I started at the intense fierceness in the voice,
and, looking upon the girl, saw her eyes blazing
With a terrible light. 270
Black Rock
'He is dead/ answered Graeme indifferently.
' You killed him ? ' she asked eagerly.
Graeme looked at her curiously, and answered
slowly —
' I did not mean to. He came at me. I struck
him harder than I knew.    He never moved.'
She drew a sigh of satisfaction, and waited.
' I got him to a private ward, had the best doctor
in the city, and sent for Craig to Victoria. For
three days we thought he would live—he was keen
to get home; but by the time Craig came we had
given up hope. Oh, but I was thankful to see
Craig come in, and the joy in the old man's eyes
Was beautiful to see. There was no pain at last,
and no fear. He would not allow me to reproach
myself, saying over and over, "You would have'
done the same for me "—as I would, fast enough—
"and it is better me than you. I am old and done;
you will do much good yet for the boys." And
he kept looking at me till Ï could only promise to do
my best.
'But I am glad I told him how much good hé
had done me during the last year, for he seemed to
think that too good to be true. And when Craig
told him how he had helped the boys in the camp,
and how Sandy and Baptiste and the Campbells How Nelson Came Home
would always be better men for his life among
them, the old man's face actually shone, as if light
were coming through. And with surprise and joy
he kept on saying, "Do you think so? Do you
think so ? Perhaps so, perhaps so." At the last he
talked of Christmas night at the camp. You were
there, you remember. Craig had been holding a
service, and something happened, I don't know
what, but they both knew.'
41 know,' I said, and I saw again the picture of
the old man under the pine, upon his knees in the
snow, with his face turned up to the stars.
* Whatever it was, it was in his mind at the very
last, and I can never forget his face as he turned it
to Craig. One hears of such things : I had often,
but had never put much faith in them; but joy,
rapture, triumph, these are what were in his face,
as he said, his breath coming short, "Yousaid—He
wouldn't—fail me—you were right—not once—not
once—He stuck to me—I'm glad he told me—thank
God—for you—you showed—me—I'll see Him—
and—tell Him—j And Craig, kneeling beside him so
steady—I was behaving like a fool—smiled down
through his streaming tears into the dim eyes so
brightly, till they could see no more. Thank him
for that!   He helped the old man through, and he 272
Black Rock
helped me too, that night, thank God!' And
Graeme's voice, hard till now, broke in a sob.
He had forgotten us, and was back beside his
passing friend, and all his self-control could not
keep back the flowing tears.
'It was his life for mine,' he said huskily.
The brother and sister were quietly weeping, but
spoke no word, though I knew Graeme was waiting for them.
I took up the word, and told of what I had
known of Nelson, and his influence upon the men
of Black Rock. They listened eagerly enough, but
still without speaking. There seemed nothing to
say, till I suggested to Graeme that he must get
some rest Then the girl turned to him, and, impulsively putting out her hand, said —
' Oh, it is all so sad ; but how can we ever thank
you ?'
' Thank me! ' gasped Graeme. ' Can you forgive
me ?   I brought him to his death.'
'No, no! You must not say so,' she answered
hurriedly. 'You would have done the same for
' God knows I would,' said Graeme earnestly; 'and
God bless you for your words! ' And I was thankful to see the tears start in his dry, burning eyes. How Nelson Came Home 273
We carried him to the old home in the country,
that he might lie by the side of the wife he had
loved and wronged. A few friends met us at the
wayside station, and followed in sad procession
along the country road, that wound past farms and
through woods, and at last up to the ascent where
the quaint, old wooden church, black with the rains
and snows of many years, stood among its silent
graves. The little graveyard sloped gently toward
the setting sun, and from it one could see, far on
every side, the fields of grain and meadowland that
wandered off over softly undulating hills to meet
the maple woods at the horizon, dark, green, and
cool. Here and there white farmhouses, with great
barns standing near, looked out from clustering
Up the grass-grown walk, and through the
crowding mounds, over which waves, uncut, the
long, tangling grass, we bear our friend, and let
him gently down into the kindly bosom of mother
earth, dark, moist, and warm. The sound of a
distant cowbell mingles with the voice of the last
prayer; the clods drop heavily with heart-startling
echo; the mound is heaped and shaped by kindly
friends, sharing with one another the task; the long
rough sods are laid over and patted into place ; the 274
Black Rock
old minister takes farewell in a few words of gentle
sympathy; the brother and sister, with lingering
looks at the two graves side by side, the old and the
new, step into the farmer's carriage, and drive
away; the sexton locks the gate and goes home;
and wre are left outside alone.
Then we went back and stood by Nelson'* grave.
After a long silence Graeme spoke.
'Connor, he did not grudge his life to me—and I
think '—and here the words came slowly—' I understand now what that means, " Who loved me and
gave Himself for rrie.'"
Then taking oft his hat, he said reverently, 'By
God's help Nelson's life shall not end, but shall go
on. Yes, old man ! ' looking down \ipon the grave,
' I'm with you; ' and lifting up his face to the calm
sky, 'God help me to be true '
Then he turned and walked briskly away, as one
might who had pressing business, or as soldiers
march from a comrade's grave to a merry tune, not
that they have forgotten, but they have still to fight
And this was the way old man Nelson came
home. Graeme's New Birth
There was more left in that grave than old man
Nelson's dead body. It seemed to me that Graeme
left part, at least, of his old self there, with his dead '
friend and comrade, in the quiet country churchyard. I waited long for the old careless, reckless
spirit to appear, but he was never the same again.
The change was unmistakable, but hard to define.
He seemed to have resolved his life into a definite
purpose. He was hardly so comfortable a fellowto
be with; he made me feel even more lazy and useless than was my wont; but I respected him more,
and liked him none the less. As a lion he was not
a success. He would not roar. This was disappointing to me, and to his friends and mine, who
had been waiting his return with eager expectation
of tales of thrilling and bloodthirsty adventure.
His first days were spent in making right, or as
nearly right as he could, the break that drove him to
the west. His old firm (and I have had more respect for the humanity of lawyers ever since) be- 11%
haved really well. They proved the restoration of
their confidence in his integrity and ability by offering him a place in the firm, which, however, he
would not accept. Then, when he felt clean,^as he
said, he posted off home, taking me with him.
During the railway journey of four hours he hardly
spoke ; but when we had left the town behind, and
had fairly got upon the country road that led toward
the home ten miles away, his speech came to him in
a great flow. His spirits ran over. He was like a
boy returning from his first college term. His very
face wore the boy's open, innocent, earnest look
that used to attract men to him in his first college
year. His delight in the fields and woods, in the
sweet country air and the sunlight, was without
bound. How often had we driven this road together in the old days !
Every turn was familiar. The swamp where the
tamaracks stood straight and slim out of their beds
of moss ; the brule, as we used to call it, where the
pine-stumps, huge and blackened, were half-hidden
by the new growth of poplars and soft maples; the
big hill, where we used to get out and walk when
the roads were bad ; the orchards, where the harvest
apples were best and most accessible—all had their
memories. Graeme's New Birth
It was one of those perfect afternoons that so
often come in the early Canadian summer, before
Nature grows weary with the heat. The white
gravel road was trimmed on either side with turf of
living green, close cropped by the sheep that wandered in flocks along its whole length. Beyond the
picturesque snake-fences stretched the fields of
springing grain, of varying shades of green, with
here and there a dark brown patch, marking a turnip field or summer fallow, and far back were the
woods of maple and beech and elm, with here and
there the tufted top of a mighty pinerthe lonely
representative of a vanished race, standing clear
above the humbler trees.
As we drove through the big swamp, where the
yawning, haunted gully plunges down to its
gloomy depths, Graeme reminded me of that night
when our horse saw something in that same gully,
and refused to go past; and I felt again, though it
was broad daylight, something of the grue that
shivered down my back, as I saw in the moonlight
the gleam of a white thing far through the pine
As we came nearer home the houses became familiar. Every house had its tale: we had eaten or
slept in most of them; we had sampled apples, and 280
Black Rock
cherries, and plums from their orchards, openly as
guests, or secretly as marauders, under cover of
night—the more delightful way, I fear. Ah ! happy
days, with these innocent crime^ and fleeting remorses, how bravely we faced them, and how gaily
we lived them, and how yearningly we look back
at them now! The sun was just dipping into the
tree-tops of the distant woods behind as we came
to the top of the last hill that overlooked the valley,
in which lay the village of Riverdale. Wooded
hills stood about it on three sides, and, where the
hills faded out, there lay the mill-pond sleeping and
smiling in the sun. Through the village ran the
white road, up past the old frame church, and on to
the white manse standing among the trees. That
was Graeme's home, and mine too, for I had never
known another worthy of the name. We held up
our team to look down over the valley, with its
rampart of wooded hills, its shining pond, and its
nestling village, and on past to the church and the
white manse, hiding among the trees. The beauty,
the peace, the warm, loving homeliness of the scene
came about our hearts, but, being men, we could
find no words.
' Let's go, ' cried Graeme, and down the hill we
tore and rocked and swayed to the amazement of Graeme's New Birth
the steady team, whose education from the earliest
years had impressed upon their minds the criminality of attempting to do anything but walk carefully down a hill, at least for two-thirds of the way.
Through the village, in a cloud of dust, we swept,
catching a glimpse of a well-known face here and
there, and flinging a salutation as we passed, leaving the owner of the face rooted to his place in astonishment at the sight of Graeme whirling on in
his old-time, well-known reckless manner. Only
old Dune. M'Leod was equal to the moment, foras
Graeme called out, ' Hello, Dune. ! ' the old man
lifted up his hands, and called back in an awed
voice : ' Bless my soul ! is it yourself ? '
'Stands his whisky well, poor old chap!' was
Graeme's comment.
As we neared the church he pulled up his team,
and we went quietly past the sleepers there, then
again on the full run down the gentle slope, over
the little brook, and up to the gate. He had hardly
got his team pulled up before, flinging me the lines,
he was out over the wheel, for coming down the
walk, with her hands lifted high, was a dainty little
lady, with the face of an angel. In a moment
Graeme had her in his arms. I heard the faint cry,
'.My boy, my boy/ and got down on the other side 282
Black Rock
to attend to my off horse, surprised to find my
hands trembling and my eyes full of tears. Back
upon the steps stood an old gentleman, with white
hair and flowing beard, handsome, straight, and
stately—Graeme's father, waiting his turn.
'Welcome home, my lad,' was his greeting, as
he kissed his son, and the tremor of his ^oice, and
the sight of the two men kissing each other, like
women, sent me again to my horses' heads.
'There's Connor, mother! ' shouted out Graeme,
and the dainty little lady, in her black silk and white
lace, came out to me quickly, with outstretched
'You, too, are welcome home,' she saidp and
kissed me.
I stood with my hat off, saying something about
being glad to come, but wishing that I could get
away before I should make quite a fool of myself.
For as I looked down upon that beautiful face, pale,
except for a faint flush upon each faded cheek, and
read the story of pain endured and conquered, and
as I thought of all the long years of waiting and
of vain hoping, I found my throat dry and sore,
and the words would not come. But her quick
sense needed no words, and she came to my
help. Graeme's New Birth
* You will find Jack at the stable,' she said smiling; ' he ought to have been here.'
The stable! * Why had I not thought of that before?   Thankfully now my words came —
'Yes, certainly, I'll find him, Mrs. Graeme. I
suppose he's as much of a scapegrace as ever,' and
off I went to look up Graeme's young brother, who
had given every promise in the old days of developing into as stirring a rascal as one could desire ; but
who, as I found out later, had not lived these years
in his mother's home for nothing.
'Oh, Jack's a good boy,' she answered, smiling
again, as she turned toward the other two, now
waiting for her upon the walk.
The week that followed was a happy one for us
all; but for the mother it was full to the brim with
joy. Her sweet face was full of content, and in her
eyes rested a great peace. Our days were spent
driving about among the hills, or strolling through
the maple woods, or down into the tamarack
swamp, where the pitcher plants and the swamp
lilies and the marigold waved above the deep moss.
in the evenings we sat under the trees on the lawn
till the stars came out and the night dews drove us
in. Like two lovers, Graeme and his mother would
wander off together, leaving Jack and me to each 284
Black Rock
other. Jack was reading for divinity, and was
really a fine, manly fellow, with all his brother's turn
for rugby, and I took to him amazingly ; but after
the day was over we would gather about the supper-table, and the talk would be of all things under
heaven—art, football, theology. The mother would
lead in all. How quick she was, how bright her
fancy, how subtle her intellect, and through all a
gentle grace, very winning and beautiful to see!
Do what I would, Graeme would talk little of the
mountains and his life there.
'My lion will not roar, Mrs. Graeme/ I complained; 'he simply will'not.'
'You should twist his tail,' said Jack.
'That seems to be the difficulty, Jack,' said his
mother, 'to get hold of his tale.'
' Oh, mother,' groaned Jack; ' you never did such
a thing before! How could you ? Is it this baleful
Western influence ? '
' I shall reform, Jack,' she replied brightly.
'But, seriously, Graeme/ I remonstrated, 'you
ought to tell your people of your life—that free,
glorious life in the mountains.'
'Free! Glorious! To some men, perhaps!'said
Graeme, and then fell into silence.
But I saw Graeme as a new man the night he Graeme's New Birth
talked theology with his rather. The old minister
was a splendid Calvinist, of heroic type, and as he
discoursed of God's sovereignty and election, his
face glowed and his voice rang out.
Graeme listened intently, now and then putting in
a question, as one would a keen knife-thrust into
a foe. But the old man knew his ground, and
moved easily among his ideas, demolishing the
enemy as he appeared, with jaunty grace. In the
full flow of his triumphant argument, Graeme
turned to him with sudden seriousness.
'Look here, father! I was born a Calvinist, and
I can't see how any one with a level head can hold
anything else, .than that the Almighty has some idea
as to how He wants to run His universe, and He
means to carry out His idea, and is carrying it out;
but what would you do in a case like this ? ' Then
he told him the story of poor Billy Breen, his fight
and his defeat.
' Would you preach election to that chap ?'
The mother's eyes were shining with tears.
The old gentleman blew his nose like a trumpet
and then said gravely —
'No, my boy, you don't feed babes with meat
But what came to him ? '
Then Graeme asked me to finish the tale.    After 286
Black Rock
I had finished the story ot Billy's final triumph and
of Craig's part in it, they sat long silent, till the
minister, clearing his throat hard and blowing his
nose more like a trumpet than ever, said with great
emphasis — /
'Thank God for such a man in such a place! I
wish there were more of us like him.'
' I should like to see you out there, sir,' said
Graeme admiringly; 'you'd get them, but you
wouldn't have time for election.'
' Yes, yes ! ' said his father warmly ; ' I should
love to have a chance just to preach election to
these poor lads. Would I were twenty years
younger! '
'It is worth a man's life,' said Graeme earnestly.
His younger brother turned his face eagerly toward
the mother. For answer she slipped her hand into
his and said softly, while her eyes shone like stars—
'Some day, Jack, perhaps! God knows.' But
Jack only looked steadily at her, smiling a little and
patting her hand.
'You'd shine there, mother,' said Graeme, smik
ing upon her; 'you'd better come with me.' She
started, and said faintly—
' With you?' It was the first hint he had given
of his purpose.    ' You are going back ?' Graeme's New Birth
' What! as a missionary ? ' said Jack.
'Not to preach, Jack; I'm not orthodox enough/
/ooking at his father and shaking his head; 'but to
build railroads and lend a hand to some poor chap,
if I can.'
' Could you not find work nearer home, my boy ?'
asked the father; 'there is plenty of. both kinds
near us here, surely.'
'Lots of work, but not mine, I fear,' answered
Graeme, keeping his eyes away from his mother's
face.    'A man must do his own work.'
His voice was quiet and resolute, and glancing at
the beautiful face at the end of the table, I saw in
the pale lips and yearning eyes that the mother was
offering up her first-born, that ancient sacrifice. But
not all the agony of sacrifice could wring from her
entreaty or complaint in the hearing of her sons.
That was for other ears and for the silent hours of
the night. And next morning when she came
down to meet us her face was wan and weary, but
it wore the peace of victory and a glory not of
earth. Her greeting was full of dignity, sweet
and gentle; but when she came to Graeme she
lingered over him and kissed him twice. And
that was all that any of us ever saw of that sore
fight 288
Black Rock
At the end of the week I took leave of them, and
last of all of the mother.
She hesitated just a moment, then suddenly put
her hands upon my shoulders and kissed me, saying
softly, 'You are his friend; you will sometimes
come to me ?'
' Gladly, if I may,' I hastened to answer, for the
sweet, brave face was too much to beay and, till
she left us for that world of which she was a part,
I kept my word, to my own great and lasting good.
When Graeme met me in the city at the end of the
summer, he brought me her love, and then burst
forth —
' Connor, do you know, I have just discovered
my mother! I have never known her till this summer.'
'More fool you,' I answered, for often had I, who
had never known a mother, envied him his.
'Yes, that is true,' he answered slowly; 'butyou
cannot see until you have eyes.'
Before he set out again for the west I gave him a
supper, asking the men who had been with us in
the old 'Varsity days. I was doubtful as to the
wisdom of this, and was persuaded only by
Graeme's eager assent to my proposal.
Certainly, let's have them/ he said;  'I shall Graeme's New Birth
be   awfully glad to see them;   great stuff  they
'But, I don't know, Graeme; you see—well—
hang it!—you know—you're different, you know.'
He looked at me curiously.
I hope I can still stand a good supper, and if the
boy's can't stand me, why, I can't help it.    I'll do
anything but roar, and don't you begin to work off
your menagerie act—now, you hear me! '
' Well, it is rather hard lines that when I have
been talking up my lion for a year, and then finally
secure him, that he will not roar.'
'Serve you right,'he replied, quite heartlessly;
'but I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll (ÉÊg Don't
you worry,   he adds soothingly; 'the supper will
And go it did. The supper was of the best; the
wines first-class. I had asked Graeme about the
' Do as you like, old man,' was his answer; ' it's
your supper, but,' he added, 'are the men all
straight ? '
I ran them over in my mind.
'Yes; I think so.'
' If not, don't you help them down; and anyway,
you can't be too careful.    But don't mind me; I am 290
Black Rock
quit of the whole business from this out.' So I
ventured wines, for the last time, as it happened.
We were a quaint combination. Old ' Beetles/
whose nickname was prophetic of his future fame
as a bugman, as the fellows irreverently said;
'Stumpy' Smith, a demon bowler; PolhTindsay,
slow as ever and as sure as when he held the halfback line with Graeme, and used to make my heart
stand still with terror at his cool deliberation. But
he was never known to fumble nor to funk, and
somehow he always got us out safe enough. Then
there was Rattray—'Rat' for short—wïio,vfrom a
swell, had developed into a cynic with a sneer,
awfully clever and a good enough fellow at heart.
Little ' Wig ' Martin, the sharpest quarter ever seen,
and big Barney Lundy, centre scrimmage, whose
terrific roar and rush had often struck terror to the
enemy's heart, and who was Graeme's slave.
Such was the party.
As the supper went on my fears began to vanish,
for if Graeme did not 'roar,' he did the next best
thing—ate and talked quite up to his old form. Now
we played our matches over again, bitterly lamenting the 'ifs'that had lost us the championships,
and wildly approving the tackles that had saved,
and the runs that had made the 'Varsity crowd go Graeme's New Birth
mad with delight and had won for us. And as
their names came up in talk, we learned how life
had gone with those who had been our comrades
of ten years ago. Some, success had lifted to high
places; some, failure had left upon the rocks, and a
few lay in their graves.
But as the evening wore on, I began to wish that
I had left out the wines, for the men began to drop
an occasional oath, though I had let them know
during the summer that Graeme was not the man
he had been. But Graeme smoked and talked and
heeded not, till Rattray swore by that name most
sacred of all ever borne by man. Then Graeme
opened upon him in a cool, slow way —
' What an awful fool a man is, to damn things as
you do, Rat. Things are not damned. It is men
who are; and that is too bad to be talked much
about. But when a man flings out of his foul
mouth the name of Jesus Christ '—here he lowered
his voice—'it's a shame—it's more, it's a crime.'
There was dead silence, then Rattray replied —
'I suppose you're right enough, it is bad form;
but crime is rather strong, I think.'
'Not if you consider who it is,' said Graeme with
'Oh, come now,' broke in Beetles.   'Religion is Z92
Black Rock
all right, is a good thing, and I believe a necessary
thing for the race, but no one takes seriously any
longer the Christ myth.'
' What about your mother, Beetles ? ' put in Wig
Martin. jSjjj
Beetles consigned him to the pit and was^silent,
for his father was an Episcopal clergyman, and his
mother a saintly woman.
' I fooled with that for some time, Beetles, but it
won't do. You can't build a religion that will take
the devil out of a man on a myth. That won't do
the trick. I don't want to argue about it, but I am
quite convinced the myth theory is not reasonable,
and besides, it won't work'
' Will the other work ? asked Rattray, with a
'Sure!' said Graeme; 'I've seen it/
'Where?' challenged Rattray. 'I haven't seen
much of it'
' Yes, you have, Rattray, you know you have/
said Wig again.    But Rattray ignored him.
'I'll tell you, boys,' said Graeme. 'I want you
to know, anyway, why I believe what I do.'
Then he told them the story of old man Nelson,
from the old coast days, before I knew him, to the
end.    He told the story well.   The stern fight and Graeme's New Birth
the victory of the life, and the self-sacrifice and the
pathos of the death appealed to these men, who
loved fight and could understand sacrifice.
' That's why I believe in Jesus Christ, and that's
why I think it a crime to fling His name about! '
'I wish to Heaven I could say that,' said Beetles.
Keep wishing hard enough and it will come
to you/ said Graeme.
'Look here, old chap,' said Rattray; 'you'requite
right about this; I'm willing to own up. Wig is
correct. I know a few, at least, of that stamp, but
most of those who go in for that sort of thing are
not much account.'
'For ten years, Rattray,' said Graeme in a downright, matter-of-fact way, 'you and I have tried
this sort of thing '—tapping a bottle—' and we got
out of it all there is to be got, paid well for it,
too, and—faugh ! you know it's not good enough,
and the more you go in for it, the more you curse
yourself. So I have quit this and I am going in for
the other/
'What! going in for preaching?'
' Not much—railroading—money in it—and lending a hand to fellows on the rocks.'
'I say, don't you want a centre forward?' said
big Barney in his deep voice. 294
Black Rock
' Every man must play his game in his place, old
chap. I'd like to see you tackle it, though, right
well,' said Graeme earnestly. And so he did, in the
after years, and good tackling it was. But that is
another story.
'But, I say, Graeme/ persisted Beetles, 'about
this business, do you mean to say you go the
whole thing—Jonah, you know, and the rest
of it ? '
Graeme hesitated, then said—
'I haven't much of a creed, Beetles; don't really
know how much I believe. But,' by this time he
was standing, ' I do know that good is good, and
bad is bad, and good and bad are not the same.
And I know a man's a fool to follow the one,
and a wise man to follow the other, and,' lowering his voice, ' I believe God is at the back of a
man who wants to get done with bad. I've tried
all that folly,' sweeping his hand over the glasses
and bottles, 'and all that goes with it, and I've done
with it'
Til go you that far,' roared big Barney, following
his old captain as of yore.
'Good man,' said Graeme, striking hands with
'Put me down,' said little Wig cheerfully. Graeme's New Birth
Then I took up the word, for there rose before
me the scene in the League saloon, and I saw
the beautiful face with the deep shining eyes, and
I v/as speaking for her again. I told them of
Craig and his fight for these men's lives. I told
them, too, of how I had been too indolent to
begin. 'But/ I said 'I am going this far from
to-night, ' and I swept the bottles into the champagne tub.
'I say/ said Polly Lindsay, coming up in nis
old style, slow but sure, 'let's all go in, say for
five years.' And so we did. We didn't sign anything, but every man shook hands with Graeme.
And as I told Craig about this a year later, when
he was on his way back from his Old Land trip to
foin Graeme in the mountains, he threw up his
head in the old w'ay and said, Mt was well done.
It must have been worth seeing. Old man Nelson's
work is not done yet. Tell me again,' and he
made me go over the whole scene with all the details put in.
But when I told Mrs. Mavor, after two years had
gone, she only said, ' Old things are passed away,
all things are become new ; ' but the light glowed in
her eyes till I could not see their colour. But all
that, too, is another story. :>w. With the Shield or on It  CHAPTER XV
OUR best deeds we often do unconsciously. Certain
it is that nothing was further from my mind than pushing my friend's cause with the great man of the Railway
Company for which 1 flourished my brush. But it is
equally certain that as I turned over my sketches of
scenes from camp life with the lumbermen and miners,
I found myself talking with full enthusiasm of the two
men who filled my imagination as the greatest of all
men 1 had yet met. The railway man kept me talking
of Graeme for an hour and then said : ' Bring your
friend to see me to-morrow/ which I did to the mutual
and lasting advantage of them both. For when Graeme
came Ifack to me after his interview with the great man
he greeted me with a thumping whack and demanded
to know with what yarns I had been regaling his
chief's ears.
I Chief ? ' I asked in delighted surprise.
'So! But how did you do it?'he replied. 'With
what material did you pack him ? \
' Pack him ? not at all. I simply gave him a few
yarns and showed him some sketches/
299 300
Black Rock
1 Yarns and sketches! Oh, I know you and your
tricks and your ways/ he answered, shaking his head
at me. I All the same, old man, I owe it to you that I
sign myself Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent
of Construction with almost unlimited, powers/
Î Good man ! ' 1 shouted, ' when you are President
I'll take an annual pass if you don't mind/
' You can get a pass out now if you want to come/
' Not yet.   But when do you go ? ■
' Next week/
1 Next week ! ' I cried in dismay, thinking of the
sweet, pale face of the beautiful little lady in the manse
in the country.
' Yes ! J he said a little sadly,l i know what you are
thinking of. Seems selfish, but I'm afraid I must go.
My particular chief is out there now, over the ears in
work and he must have help at once/ ~
' It's a long way/ I said.
' Yes/ he answered, ' a long way and a big work it
will be. They say it is a five years' job/ He paused,
and then added, as if to himself, ' and the mother is
not very strong any time.'
' Do you think you really ought to go ? ' I asked.
' You banish yourself, you know, from civilisation and
decent society and your—your people have not seen
much of you for the last ten years—and—and life is
going on, you know,' With the Shield or on It
I could not force myself to speak out brutally any
fear that when he said farewell to the sweet-faced little
lady he still loved better than all else in the world it
would be to see her face no more. He read me quickly
• Don't, old chap/ he said, with a shake in his
voice, j I know what you mean, and I have gone over
all that, but my work is out there and I must not
shirk it.   She will say go you'll see.'
And so she did. After a week of hard work getting
his outfit together and learning something of his duties
as Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent of
Construction, Graeme carried me off with him to his
home to say goodbye. He had written fully of his
plans, so that when his mother greeted him at the little
garden gate, I saw by the way she held her arms about
him, looking long into his f ace, that no word of entreaty
would be spoken by her and that she had given him up.
Those three last days were days of tender sacrament
Graeme talked fully of all his plans and his hopes in
regard to the work he meant to do for the men in the
' Poor chaps/ he would say, ' they mostly go down
for lack of a hand to steady them at a critical time or
to give them a lift when they have stumbled. And
they have most of them mothers at home and some of
them wives.' 302
Black Rock
And the mother would smile at him with a light of
divine compassion in her eyes, feeling at such moments
that for such work it were easy to have her son go
from her. They had long walks together through the
woods, and would come back laden with spoils, mosses
and grasses and ferns, and they were happy with each
other as a boy and girl in their first love. How 1
envied him and how I pitied him. Such a love is
earth's greatest treasure, the loss oi it earth's greatest
loss. But the hours of the three days fled with winged
feet, as do all happy hours, and we came to that hour
of sweet agony we shrink from most and yet would
not miss.
Long before the sun we had all been astir, for we
had to catch an early train. Breakfast by lamplight is
always a ghastly affair. The food is nauseating, the
conversation drags wearily, the whole atmosphere is
Graeme was making a great effort to adopt a matter-
of-fact tone with a little tinge of sharpness in it except
when he spoke to his mother. The father came down
half dressed, as we were rising from an almost untasted
meal, to have, according to his invariable custom, a
word of prayer. It was always an ideal, that prayer
of his.
A man must give up pretenses when he undertakes
to address the Almighty.   There is no place in prayci With the Shield or on It
for simulated cheerfulness and courage, and as the old
man prayed the barriers were borne down by the rush
of feeling hitherto held in check by force of will. The
brave little mother broke down into quiet weeping while
the father commended ' the member of the family departing from his home this day to the care and keeping
of the great Father from whom distance cannot separate
and to whom no land is strange.' Graeme, too, I could
see was losing his grip of himself, but the prayer rose
into a great strain of thanksgiving for \ the love that
reached down from Heaven to save a world of lost men,
and for the noble company who were giving their lives
to bring this love near to men's hearts.' Then we all
grew quiet, and under the steadying of that prayer the
farewells were easier.
' Goodbye, Leslie, my son. God be with you and
keep you and make you a blessing to many/ said the
old gentleman. His voice was grave and steady, but he
immediately turned aside and blew his nose like a
trumpet, remarking upon the chilly morning air. The
mother's fareweli was without a word. She reached up
and put her arms about her son's neck, kissed him twice
and then let him go.
But while the trunks were being got on to the waggon,
she came and stood outside the gate, looking up at us
with a face so white and wan, but with a smile so brave,
so trembling, so pitiful, that I did not wonder thai 3°4
Black Rock
Graeme suddenly sprang down from the seat and ran tc
'Oh, mother! mother!' he cried, in a choking voice,
gathering her to him, ' I can't do it, I can't do it.'
'Oh, yes we can, my boy/ she answered, smiling
while her tears flowed down her pale cheeks. ' For His
sake we can.'
And while we drove up the hill the smile never
faded from the face that seemed alight^ith a glory
not of the rising sun.   CHAPTER XVI
A man with a conscience is often provoking,
sometimes impossible. Persuasion is lost upon
him. He will not get angry, and he looks at one
with such a far-away expression in his face that in
striving to persuade him one feels earthly and evei?
fiendish. At least this was my experience with
Craig. He spent a week with me just before he
sailed for the Old Land, for the purpose, as he said,
of getting some of the coal dust and other grime out
of him.
He made me angry the last night of his stay, and
all the more that he remained quite sweetly unmoved. It was a strategic mistake of mine to tell
him how Nelson came home to us, and how Graeme
stood up before the 'Varsity chaps at my supper
and made his confession and confused Rattray's
easy-stepping profanity, and started his own five-
year league. For all this stirred in Craig the hero,
and he was ready for all sorts of heroic nonsense,
as I called it.   We talked of everything but the
III 3o8
Black Rock
one thing, and about that we said not a word till,
bending low to poke my fire and to hide my face, I
plunged —
' You will see her, of course ?'
He made no pretence of not understanding, but
answered —
'Of course.'
'There's really no sense in her Staying over there/
I suggested.
'And yet she is a wise woman,' he said, as if
carefully considering the question.
' Heaps of landlords never see their tenants, and
they are none the worse/
'The landlords?'
'No, the tenants.'
'Probably, having such landlords/
' And as for the old lady, there must be some one
in the connection to whom it would be a Godsend
to care for her.'
'Now, Connor,' he said quietly, 'don't. We
have gone over all there is to be said. Nothing
new has come.   Don't turn it all up again.'
Then I played the heathen and raged, as Graeme
would have said, till Craig smiled a little wearily and
said —
' You exhaust yourself, old chap.    Have a pipe, Coming to Their Own
do;' and after a pause he added in his own way,
'What would you have? The path lies straight
from my feet. Should I quit it ? I could not so
disappoint you—and all of them.'
And I knew he was thinking of Graeme and the
lads in the mountains he had taught to be true men.
It did not help my rage, but it checked my speech;
so I smoked in silence till he was moved to say —
'And after all, you know, old chap, there are
great compensations for all losses ; but for the loss
of a good conscience toward God, what can make
But, all the same, I hoped for some better re-
suit from his visit to Britain. It seemed to me that
something must turn up to change such an unbearable situation.
The year passed, however, and when I looked
into Craig's face again I knew that nothing had
been changed, and that he had come back to take
up again his life alone, more resolutely hopeful
than ever.
But the year had left its mark upon him too.
He was a broader and deeper man. He had been
living and thinking with men of larger ideas and
richer culture, and he was far too quick in synv
pathy with life to remain untouched by his sur- 3io
Black Rock
roundings. He was more tolerant of opinions other
than his own, but more unrelenting in his fidelity
to conscience and more impatient of half-hearted-
ness and self-indulgence. He was full of reverence
for the great scholars and the great leaders of men
he had come to know.
'Great, noble fellows they are. and extraordinarily modest,' he said—'that is, tne really great are
modest. Thare are plenty of the other sort, neither
great nor modest. And the books to be read! i
am quite hopeless about my reading. It gave me
a queer sensation to shake hands with a man who
had written a great book. To hear him make commonplace remarks, to witness a faltering in knowledge—one expects these men to know everything—
and to experience respectful kindness at his hands!'
' What of the younger men ? ' I asked.
' Bright, keen, generous fellows. In things theoretical, omniscient; but in things practical, quite
helpless. They toss about great ideas as the miners
lumps of coal. They can call them by their book
names easily enough, but I often wondered whether
they could put them into English. Some of them I
coveted for the mountains. Men with clear heads
and big hearts, and built after Sandy M'Naughton's
model.   It does seem a sinful waste of God's good Coming to Their Own
human stuff to see these fellows potter away their
lives among theories living and dead, and end up
by producing a book! They are all either making
or going to make a book. A good thing we haven't
to read them. But here and there among them is
some quiet chap who will make a book that men
will tumble over each other to read.'
Then we paused and looked at each other.
' Well ? ' I said.    He understood me.
'Yes!' he answered slowly, 'doing great work.
Every one worships her just as we do, and she is
making them all do something worth while, as she
used to make us.'
He spoke cheerfully and readily as if he were
repeating a lesson well learned, but he could not
humbug me. I felt the heartache in the cheerful
'Tell me about her,' I said, for I knew that if he
would talk it would do him good. And talk he
did, often forgetting me, till, as I listened, I found
myself looking again into the fathomless eyes, and
hearing again the heart-searching voice. ï saw her
go in and out of the little red-tiled cottages and
down the narrow back lanes of the village; I heard
her voice in a sweet, low song by the bed of a
dying child, or pouring forth floods of music in the Black Rock
great new hall of the factory town near by. But I
could not see, though he tried to show me, the
stately gracious lady receiving the country folk in
her home. He did not linger over that scene,
but went back again to the gate-cottage where
she had taken him one day to see Billy Breen's
found the old woman knew all about me,' he
said, simply enough; 'but there were many things
about Billy she had never heard, and I was glad to
put her right on some points, though Mrs. Mavor
would not hear it/
He sat silent for a little, looking into the coals;
then went on in a soft, quiet voice —
' It brought back the mountains and the old days
to hear again Billy's tones in his mother's voice, and
to see her sitting there in the very dress she wore
the night of the League, you remember—some soft
stuff with black lace about it—and to hear her sing
as she did for Billy—ah! ah!' His voice unexpectedly broke, but in a moment he was master of
himself and begged me to forgive his weakness.
I am afraid I said words that should not be said
-a thing I never do, except when suddenly and
Utterly upset.
fI am getting selfish and weak,' he said; ' I must Coming to Their Own
get to work. I am glad to get to work. There is
much to do, and it is worth while, if only to keep
one from getting useless and lazy.'
'Useless and lazy!' I said to myself, thinking of
my life beside his, and trying to get command of
my voice, so as not to make quite a fool of myself.
And for many a day those words goaded me to
work and to the exercise of some mild self-denial.
But more than all else, after Craig had gone back to
the mountains, Graeme's letters from the railway
construction camp stirred one to do unpleasant duty
long postponed, and rendered uncomfortable my
hours of most luxurious ease. Many of the old gang
were with him, both of lumbermen and miners, and
Craig was their minister. And the letters told of
how he laboured by day and by night along the line
of construction, carrying his tent and kit with him,
preaching straight sermons, watching by sick men,
writing their letters, and winning their hearts, making strong their lives, and helping them to die well
when their hour came. One day these letters
proved too much for me, and I packed away my
paints and brushes, and made my vow unto the
Lord that I would be ' useless and lazy ' no longer,
but would do something with myself. In consequence, I found myself within three weeks walking 3*4
Black Rock
the London hospitals, finishing my course, that I
might join that band of men who were doing something with life, or, if throwing it away, were not
losing it for nothing. I had finished being a fool, I
hoped, at least a fool of the useless and luxurious
kind. The letter that came from Graeme, in reply
to my request for a position on his staff, was
characteristic of the man, both ne\\Qnd old, full of
gayest humour and of most earnest welcome to th**
Mrs. Mavor's reply was like herself —
'I knew you would not long be content with the
making of pictures, which the world does not
really need, and would join your friends in the
dear West, making lives that the world needs so
But her last words touched me strangely—
"But be sure to be thankful every day for your
privilege. ... It will be good to think of you
all, with the glorious mountains about you, and
Christ's own work in your hands. . , . Ah!
how we would like to choose our work, and the
place in which to do it! '
The longing did not appear in the words, but I
needed no words to tell me how deep and how
constant it was.   And I take some credit to myself, Coming to Their Own
that in my reply I gave her no bidding to join our
band, but rather praised the work she was doing in
her place, telling her how I had heard of it from
The summer found me religiously doing Paris
and Vienna, gaining a more perfect acquaintance
with the extent and variety of my own ignorance,
and so fully occupied in this interesting and wholesome occupation that I fell out with all my correspondents, with the result of weeks of silence
between us.
Two letters among the heap waiting on my table
in London made my heart beat quick, but with how
different feelings : one from Graeme telling me that
Craig had been very ill, and that he was to take him
home as soon as he could be moved. Mrs. Mavor's
letter told me of the death of the old lady, who had
been her care for the past two years, and of her intention to spend some months in her old home in
Edinburgh. And this letter it is that accounts for
my presence in a miserable, dingy, dirty little hall
running off a close in the historic Cowgate, redolent
of the glories of the splendid past, and of the
various odours of the evil-smelling present. I was
there to hear Mrs. Mavor sing to the crowd of
gamins that thronged the closes in the neighbour- 3*
Black Rock
hood, and that had been gathered into a club by ' a
fine leddie frae the West End,' for the love of
Christ and His lost. This was an 'At Home'
night, and the mothers and fathers, sisters and
brothers, of all ages and sizes were present. Of all
the sad faces I had ever seen, those mothers carried
the saddest and most woe-stricken. ' Heaven pity
us!' I found myself saying; 'is this the beautiful,
the cultured, the heaven-exalted city of Edinburgh ?
Will it not, for this, be cast down into hell some
day, if it repent not of its closes and their dens of
defilement? Oh! the utter weariness, the dazed
hopelessness of the ghastly faces! Do not the
kindly, gentle church-going folk of the crescents
and the gardens see them in their dreams, or are
their dreams too heavenly for these ghastly faces to
appear ? '
I cannot recall the programme of the evening, but
in my memory-gallery is a vivid picture of that face,
sweet, sad, beautiful, alight with the deep glow of
her eyes, as she stood and sang to that dingy
crowd. As I sat upon the window-ledge listening
to the voice with its flowing song, my thoughts
were far away, and I was looking down once more
upon the eager, coal-grimed faces in the rude little
church in Black Rock.   I was brought back to find Coming to Their Own
myself swallowing hard by an audible whisper
from a wee lassie to her mother —
'Mither! See till yon man. He's greetin'.'
When I came to myself she was singing 'The
Land o' the Leal,' the Scotch 'Jerusalem the
Golden,' immortal, perfect. It needed experience
of the hunger-haunted Cowgate closes, chill with
the black mist of an eastern haar, to feel the fuU
bliss of the vision in the words —
1 There's nae sorrow there, Jean,
There's neither cauld nor care, Jean,
The day is aye fair in
The Land o' the Leal.'
A land of fair, warm days, untouched by sorrow
and care, would be heaven indeed to the dwellers
of the Cowgate.
The rest of that evening is hazy enough to me
now, till I find myself opposite Mrs. Mavor at her
fire, reading Graeme's letter; then all is vivid again.
I could not keep the truth from her. I knew it
would be folly to try. So I read straight on till I
came to the words—
'He has had mountain fever, whatever that may
be, and he will not pull up again. If I can, I shall
take him home to my mother '—when she suddenly
stretched out her hand, saying, 'Oh, let me read!1 Black Rock
and I gave her the letter. In a minute she had read
it, and began almost breathlessly —
' Listen ! my life is much changed. My mother-
in-law is gone ; she needs me no longer. My solicitor tells me, too, that owing to unfortunate investments there is need of money, so great need,
that it is possible that either the estates or the works
must go. My cousin has Ms^an in the works—iron
works, you know. It would be wrong to have him
suffer. I shall give up the estates—that is'best/
She paused.
'And come with me,' I cried.
' When do you sail ? '
'Next week,' I answered eagerly.
She looked at me a few moments, and into mt
eyes there came a light soft and tender, as she
said —
'I shall go with you.'
And so she did; and no old Roman in all the
glory of a Triumph carried a prouder heart than I,
as I bore her and her little one from the train to
Graeme's carriage, crying—
' I've got her.'
But his was the better sense, for he stood waving his hat and shouting —
'He's all right/ at which Mrs. Mavor grew white; Coming to Their Own
but when she shook hands with him, the red was
in her cheek again.
' It was the cable did it/ went on Graeme. ' Connor's a great doctor! His first case will make him
famous. Good prescription—after mountain fever
try a cablegram ! ' And the red grew deeper in the
beautiful face beside us.
Never did the country look so lovely. The
woods were in their gayest autumn dress; the
brown fields were bathed in a purple haze; the air
was sweet and fresh with a suspicion of the coming frosts of winter. But in spite of all the road
seemed long, and it was as if hours had gone before our eyes fell upon the white manse standing
among the golden leaves.
'Let them go,' I cried, as Graeme paused to take
in the view, and down the sloping dusty road we
flew on the dead run.
'Reminds one a little of Abe's curves,' said
Graeme, as we drew up at the gate. But I answered him not, for I was introducing to each other
the two best women in the world. As I was about
to rush into the house, Graeme seized me by the
collar, saying—
'Hold on,Connor!you forget your place, you're
next/ 320
Black Rock
'Why, certainly,' I cried, thankfully enough;
1 what an ass I am ! '
'Quite true,' said Graeme solemnly.
' Where is he ? ' I asked.
' At this present moment ? ' he asked, in a shocked
voice.    ' Why, Connor, you surprise me.'
'Oh, I see!'
'Yes,' he went on gravely; 'you may trust my
mother to be discreetly attending to her domestic
duties; she is a great woman, my mother.'
I had no doubt of it, for at that moment she came
out to us with little Marjorie in her arms.
'You have shown Mrs. Mavor to her room,
mother, I hope,' said Graeme; but she only smiled
and said —
' Run away with your horses, you silly boy/ at
which he solemnly shook his head. ' Ah, mother,
you are deep—who would have thought it of you ? '
That evening the manse overflowed with joy, and
the days that followed were like dreams set to
sweet music.
But for sheer wild delight, nothing in my memory
can quite come up to the demonstration organised
by Graeme, with assistance from Nixon, Shaw,
Sandy, Abe, Geordie, and Baptiste, in honour of thç
arrival in camp of Mr. and Mrs. Craig.   And, in my Coming to Their Own
opinion, it added sometning to the occasion, that
after all the cheers for Mr. and Mrs. Craig had died
away, and after all the hats had come down, Baptiste, who had never taken his eyes from that
radiant face, should suddenly have swept the
crowd into a perfect storm of cheers by excitedly
seizing his tuque, and calling out in his shrill
voice —
' By gar! Tree cheer for Mrs. Mavor.'
And for many a day the men of Black Rock
would easily fall into the old and well-loved name;
but up and down the line of construction, in all the
camps beyond the Great Divide, the new name became as dear as the old had ever been in Black
Those old wild days are long since gone into the
dim distance of the past. They will not come
again, for we have fallen into quiet times ; but often
in my quietest hours I feel my heart pause in its
beat to hear again that strong, clear voice, like the
sound of a trumpet, bidding us to be men; and I
think of them all—Graeme, their chief, Sandy,
Baptiste, Geordie, Abe, the Campbells, Nixon,
Shaw, all stronger, better for their knowing of him,
and then I think of Billy asleep under the pines, and
of old man Nelson with the long grass waving over $21
Black Rock
him in the quiet churchyard, and all my nonsense
leaves me, and I bless the Lord for all His benefits,
but chiefly for the day I met the missionary of Black
Rock in the lumber-camp among the Selkirks.
THE END    University of British Columbia Library
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