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No information is available on Williams, who is not to be confused with Valentine Williams (1883-1946), the author of detective fiction. This may be a pseudonym, as a fifteenth edition of this novel was published under the names of Barbara Williams and Rev. John Talbot Smith.
— Elizabeth A. Galway,
From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood: Children's Literature
and the Construction of Canadian Identity, 2008.
Smith (1855-1923) was an American clergyman and author. In 1881 he was ordained as a priest and in 1883 he was made a pastor of Rouse's Point. He was a contributor to Catholic World and other magazines and journals. His works include: A Woman of Culture (1880), A History of the Diocese of Ogdensburg (1885), His Honor, The Mayor and Other Tales (1891), Chaplain's Sermons (1896), Solitary Island: A Story of the St. Lawrence (1897), Brother Azarias: The Life Story of an American Monk (1897), Cathedral Bells: A Souvenir of St. Patrick's Cathedral (1898), Black Cardinal (1899), Lenten Sermons of the Holy Year (1900), The Art of Disappearing (1902), Training of a Priest (1908), The Catholic Church in New York (1908), The Parish Theatre (1917), The Wayfarer's Prayer Book (1917), The Boy Who Looked Ahead (1920), The Boy Who Came Back (1921) and The Man Who Vanished (1922).
TWO boys, one of whom was a tall, fair-haired lad of fifteen, Jack Brady by name, and the other his friend Billy O'Neill, some two years younger, were sitting at the close of a Saturday afternoon in September on an old wharf beside the South Bridge, in the partly Canadian town of Scugog. They had been fishing most of the afternoon, and beside them, in a shining pile, lay the fish they had taken.
The Mississaga River was a pleasant place for sport in any portion of its course, but the boys rather liked to visit this spot, for, where they sat on the wharf facing the shore the water was only four feet deep, and they could see the fish coming out of the rushes and gliding over the rocky bottom.
"Hand me another worm, Billy: there's a big bass coming this way," whispered Jack suddenly.
"Who handed you worms last year?" demanded Billy, busy in coaxing his hook up from the mouth of a small perch.
"Come, now, Billy don't be mean, or I'll lose him."
Billy looked around for the old lobster can and saw it lying on its side, close to the edge of the wharf.
"I've knocked it over, Jack, and the worms are all gone. Look!" cried he, pointing to the water, "What a time they're having with the bait."
And the two boys, looking, saw the fish, big and little bass, perch, and sunfish, in a grand struggle for the worms, crowding one another aside, some darting up and down, some shooting off with fat mouthfuls, only to be followed by others, equally hungry but less fortunate.
"That's what I call fun," said Billy.
"I call it stupid," said Jack crossly. "What are we going to do for bait now?"
"Why, do without it, of course, Jack."
"I've a good mind to thrash you, Billy O'Neill."
"You often feel that way, I think. But I'm not afraid just now. You're about as mad as the day you wanted to bounce into Tom Birch, and you daren't say a word."
A little smile of returning good humor stole out of the corners of Jack's mouth.
"I could give you a good licking in a friendly Way, now, Billy," he said.
"Why didn't you do it to Tom in the same style?"
"He wanted me to," answered Jack; "but I was going to confession that afternoon, and so I got away from him."
"Did he speak to you since?"
"No," returned Jack; "though I sent Willy O'Connor to him to say I'd speak first."
"You did! what did he say?"
"Oh, he laughed, and said he wasn't that sort, and that he had more sand in him."
"You went far enough, anyway; But he was always a mean sort of chap."
"I don't want to be bad friends with him, I'm sure, but I can't make him like me. But there's no good in staying here longer," he continued; "the bait is gone."
"Come on, then; but I hate to leave while those rascals are having such fun with the worms," said Billy, casting a parting look at the still struggling fish.
"Wait a minute," said Jack; and taking from his pocket a handful of rubbish, he picked out a long blade, once part of a jack-knife, and fixing it firmly into a slit in the end of his pole, in the manner of a spear, shot it quickly into the water. Two fair-sized fish came up wriggling on the blade, and with a laugh for this unlooked-for catch the boys rushed for their canoe.
It was a pretty affair, with a blue stripe painted around it from bow to stern, and two paddles, as light as feathers, lying on the side. It looked so frail and delicate that very few American boys would have liked to step into it in a hurry, and it would have made them envious to see the ease and carelessness with which these two Canadians slipped into their places, put away their poles, and pushed out into the river. It reminded one of those days, not so very long past, when the red-skinned Indians, in the little boats they had in vented, paddled along the same river, and went fishing in the same places where boys with white skin now held the land, and rowed about in canoes as skilfully as Indians could.
It was a lovely afternoon. The sun was low in the sky, and a golden light filled the air and sparkled on the water. The Mississaga was looking its best. On the right, as they passed under the bridge, was a low fringe of bushes, marked here and there with clusters of bright-colored flowers, while a border of rushes and floating beds of water-lilies graced the opposite bank. To the left, on the hill, were seen the church and convent, almost hidden by a grove of intervening trees. The priest's house was in full view, and the pastor was walking on the veranda, as he had walked, to the wonderment of all the boys in town, for many a year.
"There's Father McCarthy taking his walk," said Billy, when they came opposite the house. "Up and down, up and down. It's always the same; I wonder he never tires of that stretch, counting the boards year after year, as if a new set were laid for every walk."
"I believe he never thinks of boards at all. He's always working out something in his mind," returned Jack. "I hope he's thinking about a picnic to the Bend at the end of the month."
"He doesn't think of that. It's the Curate's picnic, you know."
"Does Father Murphy intend to have any but the altar-boys?" enquired Jack.
"No. He says it's to be only our own crowd; and that will be best. I'm getting my canoe painted, and Tom Dowers is making me a pair of new paddles."
"Uncle Ned is going to give me a new canoe, a white one, with a red stripe. I'll call her 'The Swan.' This old boat is used up."
"So is mine," said Billy, sadly; "but as I have no uncle to give me a new one, what shall I do? I shall give her a new name. She is the 'Wild Duck' today. Tomorrow—"
"Let her be the 'Wild Goose'," said Jack, and both roared together at this name. The canoe was put in the old boat house, and the boys started up the street, with their fish on a string, so that the whole world might see what experts they were. At a little miserable cottage door, however, they resigned the fish and the glory at the same moment to an old man, whose table saw few of the good things in the market, and with out waiting to receive all his thanks the two fled in the wake of a bill-poster, who had just ornamented a neighboring wall with the most delightful object that had ever shone to Jack's eyes. It was a placard, as large as a circus bill. The big black letters across the top looked like a row of athletes, and informed the town of Scugog, and all the country around it, that a GRAND LACROSSE MATCH would take place, on such and such a date, at the athletic grounds, between the JUNIORS of Scugog and the EVER-READYS of Buckhill, for the junior championship of Central Ontario.
Jack felt a thrill stealing over him at sight of his own name at the bottom, "John H. Brady, Pres."
"Doesn't it look fine?" said Billy, capering around in his delight.
"Finer than it will look the day after the game, if we are gobbled up by the Ever-readys," said Jack seriously.
"They can't do it," said Billy.
"They're going to try, and the worst of it is, we are not practising as well as we ought. I'm going to try harder to get to the grounds every night."
They read the bill over and over, criticized its printing, hung around it as if they were caught by a spell, and, when the Angelus bell rang out from the belfry, could hardly persuade themselves to go home.
"I'm going to get one and hang it up in my bedroom tonight," said Billy.
"Anyway," said Jack, "we're in for it now, sure. There's nothing to do but fight, or get out forever and let the Buckhill boys crow till they're tired."
WHAT a difference to a school-boy between Friday evening, with the long holiday of Saturday and all sorts of play ahead, and Monday morning, with five days of school before him and dozens of lessons to learn at home and recite in the class- room.
And yet, when boys grow up to be men, and take their place in the world's fight, how often they wish a little more time had been given to study, and a little less to play.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," is a true old saying; but this is oftener the one which should be remembered, "All play and no work makes Jack a dunce."
On the Monday morning after the fishing party the school bell was as exacting as ever in announcing nine o'clock, and that hour found the boys in the school-room at prayer. While the master was saying the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary," Jack was wondering how to excuse himself for not having his home work ready. He had missed it every day of the week previous on one excuse or another, had been kept in after four o'clock to do it, and had been sharply reprimanded on Friday night. He could not tell a lie about it, and yet he felt miserable enough this morning to do anything to escape the difficulty.
The master was a hard man, but a wise one. He liked his pupils, but he took from them the last penny of duty which they owed him. He might play handball with the boys for an hour, and be as eager as any in dispute and play; but in the school-room, an hour later, he did not hesitate to punish his late companions with the rigor of a stranger and despot. He was a man to be liked and at the same time feared. And, more over, he was the trusted friend of the priest, and the potentate of the separate school.
American boys will hardly know what is meant by "Separate Schools." In Ontario it means mostly those attended by Catholics, though any religious body that wishes and is able to support them may have them for the education of its own children. The others are called "Public" or "Common Schools." In Quebec the division is the same, but the names are different, the public schools being patronized by Catholics, who are there more numerous. Every one who is taxed pays only to the schools which his children at tend, and the government gives the same pro portion of public money to all. This system of public and separate schools is a benefit granted in Canada to the religious feelings of the people, and is a measure of justice which Catholics in the United States should but do not enjoy.
Every day the priest came to the school to see how well things were going, and to show the children how much confidence he had in the wisdom and goodness of the headmaster; so that the latter had a double power, and Jack felt that the time was come when his neglect would bring both powers to sit in judgment on him, and he knew not how to get out of danger. The boy who took up the home work that morning sang out, when he came to Jack:—
"Brady's work not done, sir;" and a moment later, "O'Neill's work not done, sir."
"Very well," said Mr. O'Reilly, "put the copies on the table."
This was not the usual way, and Jack and Billy were uneasy.
They knew there was something in waiting.
"Class in geography!" cried Mr. O'Reilly.
The boys braced up and took their atlases from their desks.
"Page 51, Dominion of Canada." The pages were turned quickly.
"Marty, name the provinces of the Dominion."
"Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland"—A dozen hands went up.
"Well, Bruce?" the master said, smiling and nodding to a small boy in front, who belonged to a lower class.
"Newfoundland is not in the Dominion, sir, though it wants to come in bad enough." The boys tittered.
"That's right, Bruce, at least part of it is. What does the class think of Bruce's grammar?"
Billy O'Neill, who was sitting on the back row, raised his hand, and did it so quickly that a nervous boy in the next seat jumped up startled, and, in sitting down, slid off the edge of the chair to the floor.
In falling, he grabbed the desk, which was a loose one, and pulled it over with him.
"O'Neill will retire to the principal's room;" and Billy went out in disgrace.
The lesson went on, Bruce explaining that the daily paper used the words "bad enough" as regards Newfoundland, but he appeared to be satisfied with Mr. O'Reilly's assurance that some times the newspapers used very bad grammar.
Jack was also unfortunate in his turn. Ha said bass was the chief export of Nova Scotia, and that the Indians of the North- West occupied themselves in hunting buffaloes and playing lacrosse.
In the history review he said that Cartier founded Quebec in 1607, and that Champlain led the French forces on the plains of Absolam. Several boys held their hands up when he stated that William Lyon Mackenzie was the first governor of upper Canada, and that Isaac Brock led the Canadian Rebellion of 1837.
In fact, he acted like a boy who had not looked at a book since Friday evening, and at four o'clock, when the other boys were gone home, Billy and he were engaged by the master in a private conversation, which was brief and very gentle.
"I kept you in, boys, to spare your feelings, for you must have some self-pride left," said the master. "I'm not going to punish you this time, or scold you further, and I trust I'll not have to speak to your parents. But this is the last chance I give you to mend your ways."
Billy explained the accident to the nervous boy, but had nothing to say for neglecting his lessons. Jack looked sulky, but said nothing.
When they left the school, Billy cried freely, and Jack consoled him by saying: "Never mind, old fellow: we're in hard luck this time. After we lick the club from Buckhill, we'll pitch in and make it up. We must keep up practice, whatever school does, for it will never do to let those fellows go home champions."
After supper some of the boys called for Jack to go to the grounds to practise. He had an errand to do first, and was off like a shot, while the boys went on.
"Here, mother," he said, returning soon: "they had the coat done, but it wasn't pressed; but they'll send it up when it's finished."
"You were quick, Jack," she said laughing: "I wish there were always a game to play when I want anything done."
"Never mind, mother," he said, kissing her; "I'll always do what you want, whatever is going on."
"Ah, you are a sly boy, I'm afraid;" and Jack threw his lacrosse over his shoulder and ran off.
The field was alive with boys and men, for everybody was gone mad over athletic sports, and the grounds had become the evening resort of the male population. Moreover, the coming game which the Juniors were to play for the championship so filled the minds of the boys as to infect the elders with their enthusiasm. And when Jack arrived and swung his lacrosse with a whoop into the air, the Juniors were already out, with thirteen blue-caps; a picked team for practising, pitted against them. Billy O'Neill had the ball, and sent it flying down the field to Jack, who picked it up with as much skill as an Indian would have shown, dodged a blue cap, took a whack from his lacrosse with good nature, ran up the field with one eye on the ball, one on a pursuer, and his feet doing duty in avoiding the traps laid for him by opposing blue caps. At a favorable point he stopped, and sent the ball whizzing into goal. It came back in an instant, shot into the net of an enemy, and was Bent with terrific force into the goal, but the goal keeper stopped it so neatly that a cheer went up, and the field cried in chorus, Tom Birch did that.
For Tom was a famous goal-keeper and could be depended on in critical moments. So they played for an hour or more, and then gathered in groups to talk of the games that had been and the great game that was to be. Some one angered Billy O'Neill by giving it as news that he was going to play with the Torontos in their struggle with the Shamrocks for the champion ship of Canada.
"I may play with them yet," said Billy in scorn. "But I don't carry water for clubs, I don't."
"Oh, I'm a mascot," said the water-carrier very cheerfully, and the boys laughed.
"Down in New York," said Nosey Phelan, "they would call you a regular hoodoo. Every game you carried water for was lost."
A chorus of 'ohs' went up at this remark, and the boys looked serious.
"If that's so," said Jack, "you don't carry water for us at the game."
"What's carrying water got to do with it!" said a voice behind them; and Tom Birch, who was a pale-faced boy, with an eye like a hawk, and quick, nervous hands, stepped among the crowd.
"Who's heard from the Ever-readys?" he enquired. "Whom have they got in place of Godfrey for home?"
"Godfrey is well again," said Nosey Phelan; "Here's Matt Marty, and he'll tell you all about it."
"I had a letter from their secretary," said Matt; "and he says Godfrey will be able to play."
"How are they coming?" enquired Tom.
"They're coming to town in wagons," answered Matt.—"And we'll have to meet them at the South Bridge," Tom spoke again.
"I move that Cotter Burns, Marty, O'Neill, another mover and seconder, be a committee to meet the Ever-readys, and that we do take the band-wagon along."
Tom used to hang about the door of the Literary Society's room, and he was acknowledged to be an orator. He looked around and asked: "Who seconds that motion?"
"Hold on!" cried Jack Brady; "I didn't know this was a meeting."
Murmurs were heard in the group, and some fellows laughed.
"Order, gentlemen!" shouted Billy. "Mr. Birch has the grass. But who's in the chair? Where's the Secretary? Ah! there you are, Mr. Marty. Will you kindly bring that ball over here and set it over these gentlemen, there's a meeting going on."
The boys snickered at Billy's sally, and Tom Birch's face grew red and angry.
"I'd like to know what difference that makes," he said; "the thing's got to be done, and there's no use waiting."
"But there's no hurry," said Jack quietly, "and we must do these things in a regular way."
"You like to show your authority, don't you?" said Tom, who was losing his temper fast, while his hands were twitching in an ugly manner. "But we'll do it in spite of you."
The boys saw a quarrel was coming, and looked on uneasily.
"All who agree with me in settling this matter now, hold up your hands," shouted Tom, in a voice hoarse with rage. "Let us see what you're made of, if you don't want a snob running things."
Not a hand went up, and Tom's face became red and white by turns.
The boys looked for an explosion, but they were disappointed. He said nothing, but walked from the field.
"That fellow wants a lesson," said Matt Marty.
"He's had a good one, I think," remarked Billy.
"I'm sorry I spoke," said Jack; "but the thing was too irregular."
"I thought it would come to that," said Billy. "Perhaps he'll not play now. He's mad ever since Jack was elected President."
The boys were all sorry that Tom went off so angry, for he was their best goal-keeper, and they could not afford to play without him.
ALL that week the attention of the boys was divided between school and the approaching game of lacrosse, lacrosse, however, having the greater share of study and preparation.
It seems a natural and pleasant thing to spend time in play. It never tires a boy, and those dreadful headaches, that come from study, have no chance to be annoying.
Jack found his lessons hard, and his mother gave him many gentle corrections. "Yes, mother," Jack would say: "I'll get at them soon." But he had his way a good deal, and though he was a clever boy, and had a year be fore won three prizes and two honorable mentions, he now missed his lessons daily, and had a string of bad marks in the school register.
Father McCarthy noticed this. One morning he came into the school and heard the class read. Jack, though one of the most regular scholars, could not explain the words occurring in the lesson, and in spelling was too often wrong.
He bad missed four or five questions, when the priest closed the book in his hand, and asked:
"How do the lacrosse clubs stand now, Jack? Who has the best chance for the pennant?"
Jack blushed and was silent.
"I'm afraid, Mr. O'Reilly, your pupils are training their muscles rather than their heads."
"They are at present, your reverence," the teacher replied; "but they are going to do better after this, I hope."
"We'll have to find some way to make them," said Father McCarthy. "I'll have to ask your father to come to see me this week. Brady, also, I may have you along later."
Jack did better for this week. He surprised his mother very much by coming home after the night's practice at the ball ground, and studying hard for two hours. And he did not seem to be any the worse. He was all the better for it When a fellow who has a good heart and some manly spirit goes back to forgotten duties, his good will, the joy and praise of his friends, aid him in bearing the hard labor of breaking up evil and lazy habits, and help him to do more than he was thought capable of before. And Jack was a manly fellow, in spite of the regular censures he received. He could be industrious, and this week the yard, which he looked after at home, was in such order as had not been seen for a month. Mr. Brady was a busy man, and left the care of home mostly to his wife; but he found time to see the result of Jack's work about the house, and he had a word of encouragement for his boy.
The wood was piled, and the weeds removed, and things were in proper places. He had not forgotten, either, to cut two holes in the barn for his pair of tumblers, and his sister Sally was loud in Jack's praise; "for, now," she said, "the pigeons have a place to stay in, and they'll not come into the house, like the last ones."
Jack was happy in his new resolution, as he had been often before; and he wanted to make up with Tom Birch again.
It was right to do so, and it would be a good thing for the Juniors as well.
Therefore he went one day after school to Tom's house, and found him in the yard, sawing wood. When he saw Jack coming down the sidewalk, he bent down his head and sawed away vigorously.
He would pretend he didn't see him, and if Brady looked in, he'd know Birch wasn't ashamed to saw wood.
Jack went into the yard, whistling, to give Tom notice of his coming. But the boy sawed on, though he heard all the time.
"Dash the luck!" he cried, as the saw stuck in a knot. "You want things your own way, don't you?" addressing the stick, "just like that upstart."
"That's a pretty hard one, Tom," said Jack. "Let me take a turn at it."
This was a surprise for Tom, and he turned about quickly and stammered: "I thought, perhaps, you wanted to have it out."
"Have it out, what do you mean?" asked Jack, folding his arms, as Tom still held the saw.
"Why, I thought you felt so good about put ting me down Monday night, that you'd wind up by licking me. But come in, if you want any thing," he said, dropping the saw, and putting up his sleeves, "I can lick all the presidents in Scugog."
And he struck a fighting attitude. Jack laughed a little. "See here, Tom," he said, "I didn't come to fight you at all, for that's not in my line. I just came over to make it all up, and to say I don't want to be bad friends with you."
"And you won't fight, even if I pitch in?"
"No," said Jack, quietly, "that's not the way for me to act or for you, Tom. I'm sorry for the other night's affair, and I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, I hope that will satisfy you?"
Tom didn't know what to say or do. Jack's manly way surprised him. If he had offered to fight it out, Tom would have been happy. But he was confused, and two tears of vexation were trying hard to roll from his eyes. Jack's good intentions had given him the advantage, and Tom saw it and was humbled for the moment.
"Here, shake hands and be friends," said Jack.
"Never mind the hands," said Tom roughly; "if you want to be friends, I can't help it. But you oughtn't to forget a fellows feelings as you do."
"Then it's all right, Tom. And remember that I don't want you to have any hard feeling towards me. And about that committee, to meet this evening. Be over tonight at the field. You must drive the band-wagon, and we will have the horses touched up with ribbons, and evergreens fixed to the box of the wagon."
Tom objected at first to go to meet the lacrosse team from Buckhill, and declined to talk over the coming match, but Jack's honest enthusiasm succeeded in bringing out a grudging response.
"You'll have to do your nicest, Tom," he said, "for Godfrey is a strong man in front of your goal."
"Oh, I don't mind him," said Tom; "He's all right when he hasn't a good man against him."
Jack stuck his hands into his pockets, and went home whistling, partly, it is to be feared, to keep his courage up, as the old Saw has it, for he was not altogether satisfied with his inter view.
"There goes a mean sneak," said Tom, looking after him. "If I hadn't more spunk than that I'd ask the scavenger to dump me into the Mississaga. I wish he'd taken me up and had it out. The Ever- readys would have been rid of one good enemy, confound him!"
However, he was on the field early after supper, and the Reds won three goals in twenty minutes, although one of the seniors played "home" for the blues, and made several savage attacks on Tom's goal. Friday night's practice was a good one. Tom played well, but he was unusually moody when the boys, after the game, went into the club house, which stood in a corner of the grounds. Arrangements were made for receiving the gentlemen from Buckhill, and the new lot of lacrosse sticks were examined. Every one was hopeful. The collection of trophies hanging on the wall, cricket bats, lacrosse, paddles, base-ball bats, snow shoes, and a variety of others, each recording a victory, were regarded proudly, and a spot was chosen for the additional lacrosse to be placed there at the next meeting. Surely, the Scugog Junior Athletic Club had a proud record, and the president, John H. Brady, was right when he said to his comrades:
"That wall, fellows, doesn't tell a bad story for two years' play."
"We'll have to work hard to finish the wall-hangings, though," said Matt Marty, referring to the trophies. "The Ever-readys have Bodkins and Lake to play with them, and they're seniors."
"Well, it's too late to make objections," said Tom Birch, "and besides, they've played with the Ever-readys their last two games."
"Bodkins is all legs," observed Smithy, "and Lake is all mouth. They'll not count."
"I'll attend to Bodkins if I have a chance," said Billy O'Neill; "I saw him play at Bucktown, and he got the prettiest tumble you ever saw."
"They're only average players," said Tom; "not their best, by any means. Godfrey told me all about it today."
"When did you see Godfrey, Tom?" asked Jack.
"At the express office," he replied. "Their sticks came today from Toronto."
That night some one stole Jack Brady's tumblers, and when he went into the yard in the morning, he saw his pet rabbits lying dead. Their tails had been cut off and they bled to death.
SATURDAY was a glorious day, bright and warm, but with a grateful breeze blowing, and the boys were determined to enjoy it, for at an early hour they were all present on the athletic grounds.
It was a happy idea of the gentlemen of Scugog, when they saw the success of the "Scugog Athletic Association," which was started solely for the amusement of the grown-up young men, to form the boys of the town into the "Scugog Junior Athletic Club," and give them quarters in the Hall, and the use of the grounds.
It brought the boys together, and kept them in order. They were under the guard of the seniors, and they acquired a spirit which encouraged manly principles. They helped, too, to swell the funds of the association by the profits of their games, and they added their efforts to give Scugog a more than local importance. Wellington said that the field of Waterloo was won on such play grounds as Eton and Rugby, where games were so well contested, and why, asked the patriotic gentlemen, should not Scugog be a nursery for brave and athletic Canadians, whose strong arms would do service in their country's hour of need.
And they did not forget the healthy enjoyment of the boys, but added every convenience for their pleasure and comfort; though Father McCarthy and Mr. O'Reilly were inclined to think the sports should be confined to the vacation.
But the boys were improved in the main, though some, like Jack Brady and Billy O'Neill, who were among the best players, and had reputations as players to maintain, did give too much time to play, and neglected, perhaps too often, their more important duties.
But here was Saturday; no school; chores at home done early in the morning; and how natural it was for the boys to be in high spirits over the important event.
The Hall was decorated with flags, and over the door hung a large canvas with a Maple Leaf painted on it, and on the centre of the leaf a handsome beaver, hard at work gnawing a limb.
The grand stand was hung with folds of red, white, and blue, and the mottoes, "Canada our Home," "Flourish the Maple Leaf," "The Scugog Juniors welcome the Ever-readys."
The band wagon was gaily ornamented and filled with cushions for the Ever-readys and the Scugogs' Committee. Tom Birch drove, though, it must be confessed, he seemed out of place—Jack Brady, as President, with Matt Marty, Billy O'Neill, Smithy, and Nosey Phelan, were in the wagon, and had bright red badges fastened on the lapels of their coats. Jack was not in the best of humors, for his pigeons and rabbits were constantly coming into his mind, and he cast threatening glances at Tom, who would not steadily meet his gaze. He could not help connecting Tom with his loss, but thought it best for the present not to accuse him.
The other lads were happy, and Billy and Smithy made the merriest jokes, and laughed so heartily that the boys were in a constant uproar; and the people in the streets smiled and said that the day was already having its fun for the Juniors.
They drove down Scugog Street, and came to the South Bridge.
"Here they come," said Tom, pointing down the road. "Get up, there!" and Tom did his best, driving down the road.
They received their guests with a warm welcome and drove them to the Hall, where their suits and sticks were laid by till the afternoon.
Then they took them around the town, and showed them the sights, and entertained them in a manner worthy of the club.
The game was called at three in the afternoon, and an hour before that time every seat in the grand stand was filled. It was the most important game they had yet played, for, though they had not yet lost a game, neither had the Ever-readys, and besides, the match was to decide the championship.
The strangers were mostly bigger boys, two being eighteen years old, while of the Juniors Tom Birch, who was sixteen, was the oldest. Jack was tall for his age, and strong as well, but the others were younger and smaller. Still, they were quick and handy and skilful, and full of confidence, even against their larger opponents.
Godfrey, who was an old-fashioned lad of six teen, proposed that Mr. Goggins of Buckhill should be referee. Goggins was introduced to the boys, but his appearance was not prepossessing—he looked very seedy—and a long dispute followed.
A dispute was not out of place, for all the big clubs were "kickers" and the boys followed their seniors' methods exactly. The difference, however, was settled by allowing Mr. Goggins to be umpire for the Ever-readys, Mr. Simpsy Gregg being chosen umpire for the Juniors, and Colonel Porte, a lacrosse veteran, was named referee. Dr. Prod generously attended, free of charge, to look after any of the boys that needed his services.
The diagram on the next page will give a better idea of the grounds and the players:
The goals were a hundred yards apart, and were marked each by a pair of flags of the team color. The Scugogs wore red and black striped, tight fitting shirts and trunks and red knitted caps, while the Buckhills were dressed entirely in dark brown suits of the same kind and caps to match.
Billy O'Neill and Bodkins, the shortest and the tallest of the players, faced the ball, and when the referee called play there was a shuffling of sticks at centre, and Bodkins's tall figure and long legs curved and twisted in a most wonderful manner. The other players began to creep near, when Bodkins drew his stick up quickly to sweep Billy's lacrosse and the ball away together. Billy, rapid as thought, caught the rubber on his netting and passed between Bodkins's legs as the lacrosse of the latter came down where the ball bad been. He was out in the field in an instant and threw the ball to Jack Brady, who ran out a little from his position.
Jack caught it beautifully and ran down the field, without being checked, till he saw Lake advancing. Then, swinging his stick with a strong and steady arm, he sent the ball flying between the Buckhill flags, an inch outside the netting of Dick Brand's lacrosse. The whole thing was scarcely the work of ten seconds. It was so quickly done that it was some moments before it was realized that the first game was won. Then, what cheering followed! Caps and sticks flew into the air, and Smithy made four back somersaults in the air in succession, and turned so many handsprings to the grand stand that every one expected he would have a rush of blood to the head.
"Bravo! Brady, that was well done," was shouted from the grand stand, when the cheering ceased. "Billy," said Matt, as the boys gathered to congratulate him. "How did you think of running between the big fellow's legs?"
One old man in the crowd wanted to go down and prove that Billy actually could pass under Bodkins by having the experiment repeated, but his friends kept him back.
As for the Ever-readys, they were thunder struck. The boys were greeted on all sides by their friends and warmly praised, while on their part they spoke kindly to the Buckhills. "The luck of the game, you know," said Jack to Godfrey, who was grumbling. "It will be your turn next time."
The goals being changed, the next game began, and Bodkins could be seen from the grand stand to keep his legs together. This time he succeeded in getting the ball and sent it down the field. Nosey and Joe Lannan had a tussle for it, Lannan getting it and running a few yards, followed by Nosey and Smithy. He made a murderous shot on the goal, but Tom Birch was there and stopped it. Then began a fierce assault, which resulted in Tom's sweeping the ball off behind the goal. Matt Marty captured it and made a fine run down half the field, followed by three of the Ever- readys, throwing the ball to Ben Davy, who lost it and recovered it after some hard fighting and marvellous dodging. Up and down the field went the rubber, till Bodkins got it and ran off, holding it high out of the reach of Smithy, who followed. So intent was he watching the Juniors' goal, that he did not know the ball swung from his lacrosse and was caught by Smithy amid the cheers of the crowd. A good run and sharp dodging brought Smithy up the field, till he saw a good chance to pass it to Jack, who gave another of his straight shots, and sent the ball a second time through the Buckhill goal. It was a hard game, but the applause revived the Juniors. The boys fought well on both sides, but perhaps the best single players were in the visiting club. The Juniors knew the value of team play, though it was often annoying to Billy O'Neill to have to throw the ball at short distance to a comrade, when he had a fine chance to show his power of running and dodging.
The Buckhills went into the third game determined to win at any cost. They did not mind being beaten; but to be beaten by such small fellows, and by three straights was disgrace and would destroy their reputation forever. They went in for tough play in the opening of the third game, in which Dicky Sheehy got his cheek cut, and foul was called. The game was renewed, and rough checking was common. Jack Brady sent Dick Brand flying through the fence with a bunt of his hip, where Dick followed him after the Ball.
After hard playing Godfrey dropped the ball in front of Tom Birch's goal, and it was carried through with the crowd.
The Ever-readys cheered and shook each other's hands, and Godfrey shut Smithy up by betting ten dollars they would win the match. The Juniors were getting tired, and the fourth game was easily won by the Buckhills.
Some of the boys suspected that Tom did not do so well as he might in the last game, but they could not say anything, as he had made some good stops.
They had a long rest before the game, and the boys were encouraged by their friends to hold out and do their best playing. Somebody called Tom Birch, but Tom was not to be found, and when he appeared coming out of the club hall it was in company with Godfrey.
Jack remarked the circumstance to Billy O'Neill, and they approached Tom. He was loud in complaints against luck, and said he felt weak. They charged him, however, to keep up the honor of the club, and the game commenced.
The Juniors fought with desperation, and all Scugog on the grand stand held its breath. It was a critical struggle.
Bodkins distinguished himself by carrying the ball safely out of a crowd of his opponents, and Smithy ran nearly the whole length of the field in his bare head and finally lost the ball fifty feet from the brown goal by stumbling.
"Ah! Smithy," shouted Nosey Phelan, "why can't you pass it on?"
"Go it, O'Neill; throw it Billy," shouted the crowd.
Billy lost the ball, however, and it passed on to Godfrey, who stopped a few yards in front the Scugog goal. Matt Marty stood in front of Tom Birch and clutched his lacrosse tightly.
Where's O'Connor? "shouted the field captain. Check Godfrey there."
Godfrey didn't wait to be checked, but threw directly on the goal. The ball passed Matt, but was caught by Tom. A cheer rose from the spectators.
Tom ran out behind the goal and drew back his stick for a throw down the field, Godfrey running after him. Matt moved down from the goal. Tom swung his lacrosse, and as he did so he stumbled and fell, and the ball, losing its force, rolled slowly along the ground. Godfrey picked it up and ran with it through the goal.
The match was lost to the Juniors and the Ever-readys won the championship.
Tom was picked up, bleeding from a cut on the head, and the crowd went home in silence.
IT is not hard to imagine the feelings of the Scugog Juniors after the game. They were humiliated and angry. Tom Birch had evidently given the game away, and Billy O'Neill wanted an investigation held at once, and insisted on having Tom expelled. But Jack ad vised patience, for up to the last Tom had played well, and the rules of the Club did not provide for such an event. And Tom Birch's head was cut, showing that his fall, even if intentional, had all the appearance of an accident.
"We made a hard fight, boys," said Jack, when they retired to the Hall after the match, "and they have not much honor in the victory."
"Hang the Ever-readys, anyway," put in Smithy. They don't play fair. "They fouled us when they got the chance. My back must be black and blue."
"Well," said Jack, "things will have to remain so this year, they are champions now. As for Birch, we must see what the General Committee will do. But I'm afraid there's nothing to be done."
"That spot is a blank this season," remarked Matt Marty, pointing to the space on the wall selected the preceding night: "only a warning not to count your chickens too soon, however."
"Let us go down and see how Mr. Birch is getting on. The poor gentleman may be very ill," said Billy, as the boys were leaving the grounds.
"No," said Jack, "leave him alone, as we'd better do in future."
But the boys insisted on going to see Tom, and Billy, Jack, Matt, and Smithy proceeded to Mrs. Birch's.
Tom was lying on the grass in the garden, with a buggy-cushion under his head.
He put it there when he saw the boys coming, and tied a handkerchief over the wound.
"Well, Tom," said Billy, acting as spokesman, "how is your head?"
"You weren't in much hurry coming to see," returned Tom.
"Did it take you long to come to when you fell?" inquired Smithy.
Tom's only reply was a very angry frown, as he passed his band over the long plasters on his head.
"The Doctor said if it was an inch further it would have cut an artery. And that might have been fatal." The boys examined the plaster, which covered a space as big as a hand.
"It's a pity it didn't happen a few days ago," said Jack; "if it did, we'd be champions to night."
"Yes, you hound!" said Tom, jumping to his feet, "and you'd have been glad of it, too. Now you see how you get on without Tom Birch. But I'm even with you, you sneak, and I'm glad you're beaten."
"How many pigeons and rabbits did they bring you from Buckhill?" asked Jack quietly.
"What's that? Pigeons and rabbits? you do want it out. I thought something would make you fight. Take that," and springing forward he struck Jack in the face. "Now come on."
Jack's blood was up, and he rushed at Tom; but Billy and Matt went between them, and with some difficulty took Jack off.
"Come back, if you dare; I dare you to," said Tom, as the boys left the yard.
Jack was very angry, and felt like returning that same evening to thrash Tom.
"Never mind, Jack, you'd better leave him alone," suggested Matt. "If you fight with a chimney sweep you blacken yourself, you know. Just cut him, that's all, and he'll feel it more."
Matt's advice was good, and Jack acted on it. His work at home took up his time, and a pair of pouters which he bought for forty cents replaced the tumblers, and a fox which he under took to tame helped to make up the loss of his former pets.
In a few days the boys were interested in new games, and Tom Birch's treason, though not forgotten, was not so much talked of.
School was a relief for Jack, too, and he tried hard to have his lessons well learned. Mr. O'Reilly was pleased at the change, and told Jack privately he was proud of his attention to his books, and hoped he would try hard for the new prizes the school- board gave for competition to the fifth class. Jack studied well for a few weeks, but the charm of his new purpose wore off, and he went on the old road again, and he would sit in school with the book at the desk, looking before him at the map which showed the highest point reached by man, and he would wonder how long a man in a balloon could live at the top of Mt. Blanc.
Then his thoughts would wander to England and he imagined himself a spectator of the great cricket match in Yorkshire, where the gentlemen of Canada held out so long and nobly against the North-Country gentlemen.
Outside the school his dreaming took practical shape. He had heard Father McCarthy tell how the young men in Kerry used to play shinney till only night stopped the game, and he made up a match game of shinney among the Scugogs. The boys went out to the woods and cut a choice lot of shinnies, and one Saturday had a splendid game on the Athletic grounds.
"This is even better than lacrosse," Billy O'Neill remarked, "for when you get a chance at the ball, you can knock it as hard as you like, and not mind your 'team play.'"
"My knees don't say so," returned Smithy, "and yours wouldn't either, if you got the whack Matt Marty gave me."
And the boys did not forget a cricket match; and Billy covered himself with glory as wicket keeper, stumping several of the boys out; while Jack Brady showed as bowler that he was as familiar with the English game as with lacrosse.
They even got up an afternoon of Caledonian sports, and ran races, tossed the caber, threw the shot, swung the hammer, vaulted with a pole; jumped high jumps, standing, and running jumps, and wound up their fun with a grand game of leap frog, in which all boys in the field took part.
The end of September was approaching, and the boys were completing their arrangements for the altar-boys' picnic. Jack's new canoe was the envy and admiration of all his friends, with its wide blue stripes, and "The Swan" painted in gold letters on the bow. All the boys bad to get in and try how she went on the river, and they all pronounced her perfect.
"Pm going to have her out every night this week," said Jack, "just to get used to her little ways."
"I believe mine will beat her, though," said Billy, sitting in his canoe, which was freshly painted. "See how she goes;" and Billy paddled a few yards up the river, with great speed. Back he came again, in really clever style, opposite the dock.
"Show us your 'new turn,' Billy," said Smithy. "Here goes, then," and not slacking any, Billy thrust his paddle into the water, and turned it with a peculiar rapid twist. The 'new turn' didn't seem to work well, for Billy tumbled head first into the river.
When he got his head above water, panting and blowing, he found the boys jumping around the dock, laughing and slapping their thighs in enjoyment of his mishap.
"Where did you learn that?" Jack inquired.
"He didn't learn it at all," said Matt Marty.
"It's nothing to laugh at, but you fellows are awfully funny when it's not yourselves," grumbled Billy, as he climbed to the dock and shook himself like a spaniel after a bath.
Billy hurried off home to change his clothes, and the boys went to the priest's house to see Father Murphy about the picnic.
Father McCarthy received them, and, in the Curate's absence, brought them into the parlor, and showed them the new prizes he had for the Catechism classes at Christmas.
"You are to have a written examination, remember," he said, "and nobody gets a prize under 75 percent. You may thank Father Murphy for that, as I'd make it 90 percent."
Father Murphy, returning, talked with the boys about his plans for their day's outing in the Bend, and told them what he wanted them to do and what things to have in readiness.
"I'm afraid we'll have to take some others with us, for if we are to have foot-ball, the altar-boys will not be enough. What do you say, boys? Shall we give up the football, or take more boys along? I leave it to yourselves."
"We ought to have the foot-ball, if possible, father, and we will have a small crowd for a good game," said Matt Marty.
"We can manage it another way, Father," said Jack; "Father Connell is going to give his boys a holiday, and we might invite them to come."
"That's the thing, exactly," said Father Murphy: "I'm glad you thought of it. They live only six miles away, and I'll write to Father Connell and ask him."
MEANWHILE Matt. Marty received the following letter from Buckhill.
The Ever-readys have heard that you are dissatisfied with the late match, owing to the circumstances under which it was won. We regret that we are not able to give you another game this season with the same players, some of whom have gone from our college. However, our football club is now organized, and we hereby challenge you to play a friendly game on the tenth of October. An early answer will be a favor.
Moses Bodkins, Sec., etc.
A full meeting of the Juniors was held, and it was agreed to accept the challenge, and to invite the Buckhills to town, as the Athletic grounds would be the best place for all parties.
This suggestion suited the Buckhill club, and all set to work to practise.
The boys were eager to wipe out the shame of their recent defeat by a grand victory, and the grounds every day after school were the scene of hard and intelligent training. They had a "coach" from the Seniors, and as usual they played well.
Jack Brady, as the best all round player and fastest runner in the club, was chosen captain. Tom Birch wanted to play, but the boys distrusted him since the lacrosse match, and when the players for the coming game were chosen at the next meeting, Tom was left off the list. He was angry, of course, and threatened to leave the club, but he did not do so. He lounged about the grounds, saying unpleasant things, and trying the temper of the boys sadly.
He succeeded, however, in stirring up a feeling of jealousy among some of the weaker players.
"If you fellows think you're not fit for any thing but to look on, why, you may take the snub; but I wouldn't stand it."
"You got left, for all that," said Hank Perkins, a small boy, but a good player. "Why don't you kick against that?"
"I refused to play on the same side as that stuck up thing, Brady."
"Yes, in my eye," said Hank.
"And then Brady pulls the strings, and Marty O'Neill and the rest of you jump up and sit down. And I don't want any of that in mine."
There appeared to be some truth in this, and some of the boys said Tom Birch was right. Self-pride set to work, and the result was a strong opposition of weak-minded boys to the chosen team.
While the reds and blues were playing one evening, they heard loud cheers coming from the hall, and Billy O'Neill, who had been kicked in the shin and had left the game, went in to see what was going on.
Tom was making a speech to the boys, urging them to choose' a new team to meet the Buckhill's, and that he would be their captain. A chorus of boys assented, when Billy, who was quietly rubbing his shin, thought it time to speak.
"See here boys," he said, "what is the matter with Tom, anyway? Do you want a weak team to play against a strong club like the Buckhills? You saw how they beat our first team, even when Mr. Birch played in the goal. And what could you do, Perkins, against Bodkins, for instance? He'd take you for the ball and' hoist you through the goal, of course, in mistake."
The small boys laughed, and Perkins got fighting mad. "This thing must stop," continued Billy, "or we'll lay it before the Seniors' Committee."
The mention of the "Seniors' Committee" frightened the boys, and they dropped off one by one, till only Birch remained. "You'd better end this business, Tom, or you'll be sorry," he said; "you've done enough in your way with out turning these lads' heads."
The next evening, after tea, Billy and Jack paddled down the river, dragging their boat over the pathway past the dock.
"Take it easy, Billy," said Jack, as they approached the North Bridge.
They were just in time to see a small tug going through the lock up the river with a raft, and they wondered how such a small thing could drag so many cedar logs. Father Murphy was crossing the bridge as the boys approached it, and they took off their caps respectfully.
"I've invited the Little Clares, and they are coming to our picnic on Saturday," he said; "I hope you're practising, for they intend to beat you;" and he shook his finger at them pleasantly.
Passing down the river, they stopped at the wharf where the "Trent Valley" was loading a cargo of ropes, bolts, and other articles for a new vessel that was building on Madawaska Lake. They examined the various things, guessing what this and that was for, and they showed great delight in seeing near the storehouse a camping outfit, with a wonderful supply of guns, fishing tackle, and a thousand other things for the comfort of the campers, and the destruction of game.
"Hands off, you scalawags!" shouted one of the boatmen in a rough voice. "Them things isn't to be hooked," and the crowd looked at the toys.
Billy had been admiring an expensive fishing-rod, made in joints, and having a handsome reel affixed, and in his enthusiasm lifted it to show it to Jack.
"Who's going to hook it?" he asked indignantly; "do you suppose every one plays you game?"
Jack, too, protested vigorously against the insinuation.
Shortly afterwards they went into their boat And returned up the river in time to see the little tug and its raft of cedars pass through the lock and sweep up stream towards the saw mill.
"That's queer," said Jack, searching his pockets, when he had drawn the canoe on the boat-house slip. "The door is open, and I haven't the key. I must have lost it. Did I lock this when we took the boat out?"
"I don't think you did," answered Billy.
But he could not find the key, and he had to be content with slipping the padlock on without locking.
"That will do tonight," he said; "no one will try it. To- morrow I'll have a new lock."
He was out in the barn that night, seeing that his pet fox, Simon, was all right, before going to bed, when Joe Brightman, the constable, knocked at the front door.
Mr. Brady had his slippers on and was reading the paper, while his wife was doing some knitting beside the table.
"I'm sorry," said Brightman in a confused way, "but I've got a warrant to arrest Jack."
"A warrant!" said Mr. Brady.
"What do you say, Joe?" cried Mr. Brady.
"Yes, sir, a warrant," answered the constable. "He's charged with stealing two valuable fishing-rods and a box of flies."
"Why, there's some mistake," the father said, astounded at the information; "Jack never did such a thing in his life. The boy's not capable of it."
"It's only my duty, and I hope you won't blame me," said Brightman. "But the things were found in his boathouse, and they have them now at the station."
"This is the end of his play," said Mr. Brady, very much annoyed. "Here, Jack," he called out; "come in, lad, there's something wrong. Go on, ahead, Joe will follow you down. It's an awful mistake."
Jack put on his coat and cap. He was filled with shame, but his feelings found vent in an indignant protest.
"You know, mother," he said, "I didn't do it. I'm idle often, and give you plenty of bother, but I never stole anything."
His mother and sister kissed him, and he went out, leaving them in great grief, for they had never before had a real sorrow.
When the police station was reached they met Billy O'Neill, who had been arrested for complicity in the theft.
The boys' fathers gave bail for their appearance in two days to stand trial, and Mr. Chisel, the lawyer who was engaged to defend them, learned the facts of the case, and took them into his most serious consideration.
THE day fixed for the altar-boys' picnic was the day on which Jack and Billy were to be tried, and when Father Murphy on Friday wrote to Father O'Connell, saying that the picnic was postponed for the present, all Little Clare was disappointed.
The Scugog Juniors were indignant at the arrest, as the wiser and better boys knew, of course, that there was a mistake. Just what it was they could not tell. And that was every body's difficulty, for no one who knew the lads believed them guilty.
Father McCarthy and Mr. Chisel heard from the boys all about Tom Birch's doings and his recent threats. The lawyer was very active, and he found that Tom had promised Godfrey before the last game in the lacrosse match to give the victory to the Ever- readys, who had refused two similar offers Tom made before, and that Tom was on the dock the evening the things were stolen, where he seemed to have been alone. Nothing further could be learned of his connection with the affair.
Nothing satisfactory was known on Friday night, and the Brady family, at bed time, said their prayers aloud in the sitting- room, and asked God in His justice to save their boy from the calamity that threatened him. Billy was sent for by Father Murphy and told to have courage, and to ask the Blessed Mother of God to pray for him and protect him.
The Scugogs held a meeting and expressed their sympathy with their comrades, and passed a resolution showing their confidence in the honor and innocence of their friends.
Sharp at eleven o'clock next morning, the magistrate, Mr. Longman, entered the Court room, and saw before him a crowd of faces, some of them very dirty ones, that reached to the door from the railing that enclosed the privileged space around the magistrate's desk.
All the Scugogs were on hand, and some of the Ever-readys came in out of sympathy, to at tend, while the seats reserved for professional men and distinguished strangers were filled with the usual squad of court room loungers.
Jack and Billy stood in the prisoners' box, with calm and honest faces, but with hearts that were very much disturbed.
Mr. Bullock, the owner of the poles, sat in a large arm-chair, red-faced and dogged-looking. He was apparently determined to give an ex ample to Scugog boys for all time to come.
The boys' lawyer, Mr. Chisel, felt that things were looking bad and was somewhat excited, for he had brought his queen's- counsel's silk gown into court and was putting it on, when a friend reminded him that he was not obliged to wear it in the police court.
Then the constable called "order," and the trial began.
Mr. Bullock told how he missed two poles and flies when the steamer was ready to start, and he identified the articles produced as his property.
The deck-hand was sworn and said he chased the boys away from the things as they lay on the deck; and when asked if the prisoners were the same boys, he nodded his head and said they were.
"I'd know that smaller chap a mile off," he said; "he have a bad tongue, your Lordship."
Joe Brightman was the next witness. He was informed about the things being missed, and he learned that Brady and O'Neill were seen hand ling them on the wharf'. He didn't take much stock in it, he said, but the chief sent him to the boat-house where young Brady kept his boat, and what could he say when he found the stuff there?
"Who advised searching the boat-house?" inquired Mr. Langman.
"I did," said Mr. Bullock, standing up.
"Witness," said the magistrate to Brightman, "do you swear that these poles and flies are the same you found in the boat- house?"
"I do," answered the constable.
Here Mr. Chisel asked a few questions, but learned nothing of benefit to his clients.
"Have you any witnesses to call, Mr. Chisel?" asked Mr. Langman.
"None bearing directly on the case, your lord ship. But I have a number of gentlemen here who will testify to the character and conduct of the boys," and he pointed to Father McCarthy, Father Murphy, Mr. O'Reilly, and a half dozen influential and well-known gentlemen who were interested in the boys' honorable acquittal.
"It's a strong case," said Mr. Langman, "though the evidence is only circumstantial. It's unfortunate for your clients that you have nothing to offer. Is there any evidence of a conspiracy?"
"Some suspicion only, your lordship; nothing certain."
"I can enlarge the case for a week, if you wish."
All this time the eyes of the crowd were on Jack and Billy. The poor boys were in a be numbed state, hardly conscious of what was going on, and when Mr. Chisel said he had no evidence in defence, they turned pale, and Jack said in a low voice, "Holy Mary, pray for me." Billy heard it, and his lips moved.
"I adjourn this case for a week, and you can renew your bonds," he said, turning to the boys' fathers.
"Hold on, there, a minute!" cried a loud voice, as Mr. Langman was about to leave the court.
"What's this, constable?" he asked.
A great deal of crowding and scolding was going on near the door, and after some time a man emerged from the squeezing mass near the railing, dragging after him a very small boy, with a very red head and a very white face. It was little Bruce, our small friend who already had distinguished himself in a geography lesson, and a buzz of surprise rose from the Scugogs.
"What's the matter, Mr. Bruce?" asked the magistrate of the man, who, with the child, had made his way into the privileged circle.
"It's about the stealing, sir. This boy of mine's been sick since yesterday, and just told his mother summat that she thought, perhaps, you ought to know. He knows who stole the things."
"Put him in the box," said the magistrate. Bruce stood in the box, and his head scarcely reached above the top.
This new event aroused intense excitement, and silence filled the room.
"What's your name?" asked Mr. Langman.
"Thomas Henry Bruce, sir."
"How old are you?"
"Seven, next month, sir."
"Do you know what an oath is?"
"What is it?"
"It's telling the truth before God."
"Is God here?"
"Yes, sir, everywhere."
"Does God see us?"
"He does, and continually watches over us."
"That's a good boy, you know your catechism. Suppose you told a lie, now?"
"But I won't, for God would punish me."
"He understands the nature of an oath," said Mr. Chisel. "Yes, I think I may swear him."
Bruce kissed the Bible most reverently, and Jack and Billy, easy now in mind for the first time, bent forward eagerly to listen.
"Well, my boy, what do you know about the fish-poles?"
"I was on the wharf," said Bruce, who was easy and confident now.
He stopped, and was fidgeting around, trying to draw himself up by placing his fingers on the rail of the witness-box.
"I'd like to stand on something," he said, "I can't sec."
The crowd laughed, and a chair was placed in the box. He stood up well now, and rested his elbows on the top.
"You were on the wharf?" said the magistrate.
"Yes, sir, I was; and I was looking at the Trent Valley, me and Dinnis over there."
"Dinnis is my dog. He likes to be near the water."
"Yes, that's right, were Brady and O'Neill there!"
"Yes sir, but they didn't see me; I was hiding."
"How was that?"
"Well, you see, Dinnis barked at a man and he tried to kick Dinnis, so I hid behind a box and held him there."
"You saw the boys?"
"Yes, Billy took up a pole, and said: 'Ain't that a dandy, Jack!'"
There was a laugh, but Bruce was indifferent. "And Jack said it was a daisy."
"The man called them scalawags, and then got mad and went into Jack's canoe."
"They didn't take the poles, then?"
"No, but Tom Birch did."
A murmur passed through the room, and a movement towards the door took the magistrate's attention. It was Tom Birch, who started to go out when Bruce came in, and had now nearly reached the door. He was stopped at this point, and the constable was told to detain him.
Brace's examination proceeded, when he said that Tom saw the boys admiring the poles and heard the deckhand's remarks; he waited till the crowd had thinned, and at a suitable moment dexterously slipped the poles and box under a loose plank in the wharf. Bruce's curiosity was aroused, and he watched behind his box and saw Mr. Bullock's anger, while Tom looked quietly on. Bruce remained there till the crowd dispersed and heard Mr. Bullock tell the Captain he'd go up town and have the boys' houses searched, for suspicion had been directed to Jack and Billy. It was dark when the wharf was deserted, and Tom Birch took the things and was leaving the yard, when he saw Bruce leading his dog. Bruce confessed having witnessed the transaction, and Tom told him if he said anything he'd be sent to jail as an accomplice. To make him still guiltier, Tom took him along to Jack's boat house, and, finding the door unlocked, put the poles and box of flies inside. Then he swore an awful oath, and threatened to drown Bruce in the Mississaga if he ever told.
Bruce went home terrified, and on hearing of the arrest was taken sick, and it was only on Saturday morning that his mother could learn the cause of his illness.
When Bruce finished his evidence, the magistrate turned to the boys.
"Let me congratulate you, boys," he said; "you are innocent, and from this moment discharged."
A round of applause filled the room.
The Scugogs were uncontrollable. Smithy jumped on a chair, and regardless of consequences, without the fear of the law in his mind, in the presence of the magistrate and the respectable people of Scugog, he shouted with all his might: "Three cheers, boys, for little Bruce: hip, hip, hurrah!"
It was in vain that Mr. Joe Brightman called "order," and the chief shouted "silence."
The boys cheered, the men laughed, and Jack and Billy and little Bruce went home rejoicing. Tom Birch was immediately sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment in the Reformatory at Matchedash, and Mr. Bullock carried off his box of flies and his pair of English jointed fishing-rods.
THE Scugogs, now that Jack and Billy were safe, felt some sympathy for Tom Birch, mingled with their indignation against him. When they resumed their practice for the foot ball match, they missed his clever play, and they spoke kindly of him and recalled the way he used to help them before the trouble began.
Poor Tom! His mother was a widow and was unable to control him as he grew up, and he became wilful and disobedient. He was clever, and stood well in his class when he went to school; but he ran away frequently, and when he did attend was troublesome and was sometimes suspended. Away from school he fell into bad company and easily acquired the habits that such boys follow. He began to steal, and won a reputation as a liar, and could swear dreadful oaths without any fear or shame. And he was of a jealous nature, and when he saw how the boys honored Jack Brady, he got to dislike him. They had a few collisions, for the most part of Tom's finding, for Jack was an even tempered, quiet boy. Dislike became hate, and it was an easy step to extend dislike for Jack to dislike for the other Scugogs. Indeed, he would have stopped playing with them, but he liked play too well, and besides that, the Juniors had good standing and the support of the Senior Club, and he was very careful, when on the grounds, to keep up a fair show of good behavior.
After the trial Jack and Billy were regarded as heroes. On Saturday afternoon, when they went together to the Athletic grounds, all the boys gathered around them, and shook their hands, and made them presents of nuts and apples, and Ben Davy, who happened to have nothing but a lemon, cut it in two and gave a half to each. Matt Marty and Smithy went to the shed and brought out the cushions from the band wagon, and made the boys sit on them.
"This is fun, boys," said Jack: "it would pay a fellow to be on trial once a week to have you show him so much kindness."
"Does the place look natural again, Billy?" asked Nosey, as if Billy had been spending a term in Kingston.
A laugh followed Nosey's question.
"It does look kind of natural, old boy," he replied, "but we must have little Bruce on the grounds regularly in future, to make it look complete."
"Isn't he a fine old fellow?" cried Smithy in a rapture, "we ought to build him a witness-box right in front of the grand stand, with a cushioned seat in it."
"He deserves all that can be done for him," said Jack; "for my part, I'll never forget it for him while I live."
"The same here," added Billy sincerely.
But the tenth of October came at last, and once more the field was alive with boys. The good people of Scugog again turned out in crowds, and half the village of Buckhill came to town in honor of their champions.
The Buckhills won the toss and chose the western goal, so that the Scugogs had the sun in their faces. Some of the bloods from Buckhill wanted to bet two to one on their players. But they became modest when Smithy's uncle, who kept a livery stable, said he'd take them, as he had a hundred dollars that said the Scugogs would win. The bloods backed out, Bill Grip saying they "didn't come up to bet with no jockeys."
The game began at four o'clock, and Billy O'Neill got the ball but lost it to the Buckhills, who worked it up dangerously near the Scugog goal. Jack Brady captured it after rough and tumble play, and made a fine run down the field, when Lannan of the Buckhills came with terrible speed against him. Jack saw the charge and, stopping quickly, braced himself for the meeting. Lannan fell back a dozen yards. Jack was tackled by Bodkins, but tossed the ball to Billy, who ran it over the goal line of the Buckhills, thus gaining for his side the first touch-down, from which Jack kicked a goal. This made six to nothing in favor of Scugog.
The crowd cheered loudly, and the friends of the Buckhills began to feel uneasy. It was bad to see things starting off in that way, and Bill Grip and his chums got back of the crowd and kept quiet.
When the players lined up again, Buckhill rushed to ball ten yards; in the scrimmage that followed Bodkins's long legs did amazing twisting, and Smithy was seen several times lying on the ball. Nosey succeeded in relieving it and sent it flying towards the Buckhill goal. Another scrimmage took place at the 25 yard line, when Billy emerged, carrying the bladder. One of the Buckhills bunted Billy with his head and sent him flying, when the ball went to the visitors. It was a fierce fight, and rushes were made on both goals. The ball at length came to Jack, who stood ready to fire it through the Buckhill goal, when time was called and the first half was over.
The general feeling was now in favor of the Scugogs, and the boys were in the best of spirits in anticipation of victory. The band was present today, and after the first half played some of its gayest tunes. Bodkins, who was captain of his team, got his men together and laid fresh plans for the coming half.
"Try your trick on Bodkins again, Billy," said Nosey, who was rubbing his shins where a Buckhill player has kicked him.
"No, not now," returned Billy, "Bodkins is worked up. He told Lake just now it was a pity to let them little duffers get away with them like that."
"We'll have to teach Moses better manners than that. Are we duffers, Nosey?" asked Smithy, on whose forehead perspiration was standing in big drops.
"Not if we know anything about the matter," said Nosey, as the boys retired to their places. The second half then began. This time Lake made a brilliant dash down field, dodging handsomely several of the Scugogs. He fumbled the ball as he prepared to kick it, and Matt Marty, who captured it, sent it to Jack. Jack ran up the field, followed by Bodkins, who was gaining on him, when Billy ran between them and stumbled or fell purposely, it was hard to tell which. Over and over rolled Bodkins, while everybody on the field laughed.
"Up and at him again, Bodky," shouted Jerry Brink from Buckhill.
"Punch him, Mose," said Bill Grip. Bodkins lost his temper for a wonder and came up to Jack as the latter, being closely pressed, threw the ball to Nosey. He caught Jack by the throat before he realized what he was doing.
"What do you mean?" asked Jack. "You for get yourself Bodkins." Bodkins was a good-natured fellow and drew back, excusing himself for his hasty action, and Jack freely pardoned him. Meantime Smithy and Billy had been playing well, but the former made an unfortunate stumble, and the ball went down the field till Lake ran it over the Scugog goal-line, and won a touch-down, from which Lannan kicked a goal, making the score even.
Now it was Buckhill's turn, and Bill Grip and his friends shouted themselves hoarse, and Bodkins came up to Jack again and apologized a second time.
The ball was brought back again to centre, and kicked off. Buckhill rushed it towards Scugog's goal with wild excitement. The friends of Scugog began to feel nervous, and shouted all kinds of encouragement to the boys. Jack made a charge into the Buckhill ranks with the ball, and had a score of hands paying him attention. It was a tangled-up affair, till Jack slapped the ball into the air, when Bodkins' prodigal length of arms stood him in good use, and he rushed off, followed by Billy. It was amusing to see how suspiciously he watched the little fellow, as if there was something unnatural in the success of his mischievous efforts. In watching Billy he forgot to observe Matt Marty, who came up on the other side and slipped the ball out of the big fellows hands, and then came blunt against him. Matt was hurt somewhat by the collision, but played on. There were bunting and rough play, but Jack won a touch down, that was too far out to have a kick at the goal. The boys lined up near the Buckhill goal, when sharp play on Billy's part won a safety touch-down. This was six more for Scugog, and again the friends of Scugog cheered. When the ball was faced once more, some good fighting followed, and two of the boys got bloody noses in the scrimmage; but the playing was short, for Jack again proved himself the best player by dexterously relieving Lake of the ball and crossing the Buckhill goal-line.
Smithy kicked a goal, and six more was scored for Scugog, making eighteen to six. Just then time was called, and the end of the second half closed the game.
It might be imagined that every body went quietly home, satisfied with the victory, but such was not the case. They had done that once be fore, which, according to Scugog ways, was once too often. Everybody cheered, even the Buckhills, though perhaps not more loudly than might be expected. But the Scugogs were jubilant. They were victors this time, and they ran to the grand stand to receive the congratulation of their friends, while the bandsmen played some very loud music, which was not remarkable for its correctness. Smithy did some very dangerous exploits, one of them being a special act, which was nothing less than to walk on one hand fully ten yards, with his legs extended in the air like a letter T.
The players of the two clubs gathered in the field and exchanged some friendly words. The Buckhills were good-tempered fellows and took their beating in good part. They had beaten the Scugogs once, and they felt that there was no disgrace, after all, in defeat at the hands of such famous players as the Scugog Juniors.
A week later the altar-boys' picnic was held at the Bend. Father Murphy and his boys, fourteen in number, paddled up the river at eight o'clock. They had baskets of cake and pie, and plenty of bread and cold ham, and Matt Marty brought a biscuit- box of Caraway cookies, that were particularly good.
They found Father O'Connell and his twelve altar-boys from Little Clare before them. The Little Clares had come in six canoes, and built a fire, and were already boiling water to make tea. They had breakfast just before leaving home, but Father O'Connell said the boys must be hungry with their long paddle of six miles in the morning air. Then the two parties joined and had a glorious meal, Father O'Connell sitting at the head of the table and Father Murphy at the foot; and when Father O'Connell said grace; the boys blessed themselves and looked so bright, and honest, and happy, that there was not a boy in Scugog, or Little Clare either, but would have given anything he had to join them. How they laughed when Jack Brady, in pouring out tea for Mike Hasset, spilt some of it over him; and how the Little Clare boys enjoyed it when Smithy took a full round of a large loaf, and grumbled because, be said, it wasn't a decent mouthful.
And what fun at the dinner, where all wanted to set table, and Father Murphy had to choose waiters, and had to caution Nosey Phelan not to eat too much ham. And when they found they hadn't enough food left to go around for supper, after each one had had a sly dip into the baskets during the day, how every boy protested he wasn't hungry at all, and that anything would do; how Matt Marty said that after two good meals a big drink of water was enough for supper.
They had races of all kinds, jumping, wrestling, and football, and they strolled through the bush in parties, and caught fish, and went in swimming in the Mississaga. But the grand event of the day was the canoe race in the afternoon.
Jack made his new boat, "The Swan," do wonders, and Billy in his canoe, which he called "The Current Rumor," showed the Little Clares something new. His "new turn" was a great success, and he astonished his friends with his dexterity in that difficult and original trick. The honors in the races were about evenly divided between Scugog and Little Clare, though Jack was acknowledged to be the best canoeist.
And when the boys got into their canoes to go home, and Father O'Connell, whose soul was filled with the finest music, proposed that the boys should sing their "Evening Hymn to the Blessed Virgin," how the delightful sweetness of their young voices filled the evening air. The music of the birds was nothing to it, and when the boys asked one another to come and visit them, and at last said 'good-bye' the lingering harmony of their choruses, as they sang on their way home, came to the listeners on the banks like music from another sphere.
ALL this time Jack was falling behind in school. The Scugog Athletic Club was getting most of his spare time, and there was excitement enough attending the games to have taken a strong hold of most boys' minds. At home, on the street, in school, he saw games and victories for one side, which was usually the Scugog Juniors, and defeat for the other, which, after the lacrosse match, meant the Ever-readys. Jack saw the consequences of his devotion to play as well as any one, and he was sorry for it in a hopeless sort of way; but he easily convinced himself it was a cruel necessity, brought about by a certain indistinct duty to keep up the reputation of the Town of Scugog, and the good name and high condition of the Scugog Juniors. He kept promising himself he would work better when the Ever-readys were beaten in the football match; and now the victory was won, but Jack went on quietly as before. He had got used to it, and it seemed so easy. He sat nightly at the table, with his book before him, but not to read; he only dawdled. And in school he moped, starting up when it came to his turn and going through the same routine of unstudied lessons, some days receiving reprimands when the master was not in his best humor or had lost his patience, sometimes turning aside the master's wrath by a good-humored smile or a bit of respectful banter, but oftener, latterly, receiving from Mr. O'Reilly only a shake of the head, which seemed to say that there was no good in wasting further time in advising him.
This last method, if Mr. O'Reilly had only known, was the very kind of treatment Jack could not stand. He was a very proud boy, for all his idleness, and if his master had used a wise amount of that despairing head-shake, it would have done the business, and he would have been spared a great deal of trouble. But to have a friend nodding in that unfortunate, woe begone style when Jack was thinking of shaking up the sleeping lion within him, was too much, and he began to grow sullen and to look crossly at his master. At home he refused to look at a book, or do his sums, or recite his lessons to Sally, as his way used to be.
His mother fretted over Jack's conduct, but bid it from his father, for Mr. Brady ruled with a rod of iron, when he took it into his head to enquire and interfere. He was a good man, but brought home his business cares too often, and Jack was not always in his presence.
Mrs. Brady was a fond mother, and very indulgent to her two children, but she began to suspect that, perhaps, she was neglecting her duty to Jack, and she determined to see that he attended to his lessons better.
"Jack," she said, "I often think that trouble came to you as a warning to make a change in your life."
"Why, mother," he answered, "it couldn't be a warning, unless it was one from Tom Birch, and I don't mind one from him."
"But, my boy, you know that such things are often permitted by Our Lord, to bring us to our senses. How often it happens that people are punished for what others do, simply to remind them that they are not making use of their time."
"Come, now, mother, don't begin to scold: I'm going to start over again, and I'll try to keep the machine going this time."
"You've said that before, Jack, so often that I'm getting afraid to trust it. You are not a child any longer, for you're as tall as father now, and he talks of taking you into the office. And you're not fit for office work, I am certain."
"Now, now, mother, you know I'm not going into the office. Didn't you say yourself it would be nice if I passed the junior examination for the Toronto University?"
"Oh, Jack," said Sally, putting her hands before her face, don't go to the University. They might put you in the glee club, or dip you into that horrid creek in your night-clothes.
"Listen to her, mother, what an idea she has of Toronto University! Do you know, miss, that at the 'Varsity the undergrads wear gowns, and attend convocation, and march down town in a body to fight the peelers, or fire off the Park Guns on Holl'Eve Night?"
"Yes, I know, but they don't have a boy from Scugog every year, and they might do something uncommon with you."
"I'm afraid, my dears," said their mother, "they will have hard work to make any thing of Jack. He will never pass the examination, though I'm sure, Jack, you could take a very high place in the lacrosse class."
"He could get a scholarship in canoeing, or a silver medal, at least, in football," remarked Sally.
"Yes," returned Jack, "you can make fun over it; but you wouldn't like yourselves to have a master nagging at you day after day, as Mr. O'Reilly does. If one figure of a sum is wrong, or you don't happen to know every word of a lesson just so, you get it either a sharp word or a shake of the head. And I'll not look at a book while he goes on that way."
"Don't talk like that, Jack, for it grieves me. I thought you had more respect for Mr. O'Reilly, for he has been very kind to you always. I think I ought to tell your pa about it, and I shall do so unless you do better."
Jack was fond of his mother, and resolved to pay more attention in future, and Sally and he talked with great seriousness of his anticipated stay in Toronto in the good time to come. Sally pictured herself going down to see Jack, and coming home with a new hat and jacket that would eclipse the finest articles among the girls of Scugog.
But Jack did not promise to pass the examination next midsummer, and Mr. O'Reilly studied hard how to make him pitch into work. He started a special class in elocution, and gave them lessons, and distributed selections for them to learn. Jack had the speech of Black Hawk at his capture, and acquitted himself very credit ably. He easily committed to memory "The address of Spartacus to the Gladiators," and was complimented by Mr. O'Reilly on the way in which he delivered it. That pleased Jack, and he would have gone on forever learning such things and reciting them. He had his home work pretty regularly when he came to school in the mornings, but made very poor headway in other things. Mr. O'Reilly spoke to him frequently outside the school house, in an encouraging manner, and began at last to find that the way to manage him best was to treat him as if he were a man, and appeal now to his grown up notions. The teacher was an excellent man and skilful teacher, and he had merely made the mistake of laying Jack's sullen and indifferent manner to wrong motives. Fortunately for themselves, most boys do not lose their heads in play so much as Jack did; or, if they do, they recover themselves before going too far.
One Saturday, late in October, Jack went to his father's office to assist in some work. He was to copy some lists and make some easy calculations. He was two hours at the work, when his father took up the sheets to examine them. The figures were wrong, the spelling was bad, and the writing was worse.
"Humph, that will do," said his father; "you can go home."
This quiet rebuke hurt Jack very much, and he went out, feeling very mean about it.
On the street he met Billy, and told him his trouble: "Pa's not satisfied, Billy, and I don't know what to do. I know, it means a lecture for me, perhaps tonight or Monday."
"I guess you'll have to wade in now, Jack; somebody has been telling my father, too, that I've been kept in a few nights, and he says I'll have to learn a trade."
"I know what it means for me, and its no trade either."
"I hope you won't be sent away to the country, Jack."
"No, nothing like that. Only good-by to the Scugog Juniors."
"I hope it won't come to that."
"You don't know my father as well as I do, and that's what he has in his mind, I'm sure."
Billy went off with his lips puckered up into a whistle of astonishment and alarm.
"That means smash-up to the Scugogs," said Billy to himself; "no Scugog without our Jack. What will the boys say? It's almost a pity Tom Birch did not bust them up."
Mr. Brady called on Saturday evening at Mr. O'Reilly's house, and had a long talk about Jack, and learned with surprise and regret the true state of things. He suspected Jack was not as studious as he ought to be, but did not expect to hear his boy was so long a backslider, though, indeed, Mr. O'Reilly tried to make matters light for Jack by referring to his recent signs of amendment.
Jack was called to a family council that night, at which he and Sally and his parents were present. Mr. Brady made a serious and unpleasant speech, in which Jack was forbidden to go again for the present to the Athletic grounds, and commanded, under penalties which need not be mentioned, to give more of his time to study. Mr. Brady said he would take Jack into the office now, if he were fit, as he wanted an extra hand, but as it was he would be only in the way. Jack had nothing to say for himself, but his mother and Sally evidently felt his position keenly, for Sally went to her room and cried hard, and Mrs. Brady retired earlier than usual.
JACK moved around the house all day Sunday as if he would rather be anywhere else. After Mass he stayed in the barn, playing with his fox Simon, and had to be called three times before he came to dinner, and they came only when he heard his father's short and positive tones.
He sat silent during the meal and at two o'clock went off sulkily to Sunday-school. In the company of the boys he came back to his usual manner, though they noticed at times a kind of quietness in him that was not commonly there. He told Billy in confidence, after Vespers, that he was forbidden to go to the grounds again.
"It's all over for the present, Billy," he said, "and I hardly know how I can get on; I might do something, if I could only play; Saturdays even would do."
"Perhaps, if you asked next week, Jack, he'd let you come with us, or I might go to the office and ask for you."
"No, Billy, you must not do that. You wouldn't go again, I think."
"There's no harm in trying, anyway."
"I'll tell you what I'd like, Billy, if Pa'd let me go and give me the needful, I'd emigrate to Manitoba, and work on a farm."
"Would you ask him to let you, Jack?"
Jack stood a minute and looked at Billy, then he took him by the shoulder and turned him around, and then looked him over again in an amused and surprised fashion.
"Billy!" he said slowly, "do you know my father?"
Billy reflected a moment, and acknowledged it was a foolish question.
"I'd as soon think of asking him to lend me his new rifle to shoot Sally. Perhaps you can imagine what he'd do if I asked that."
"But don't you say anything about it to the Juniors," said Jack; "they'll feel bad about it worse than I do, even."
Billy met Matt Marty and told him what had happened to Jack, but asked him not to tell the fellows. The story spread then, and the Juniors discussed it on the field.
"Can't Jack play here again?" asked Smithy.
"Oh, I guess so, after a while," answered Billy. "His father won't keep it up forever."
"Well that's a corker," said Smithy.
"We'd better wind up the Scugogs, then," said Nosey, "for I don't want to play any more."
"I'll go down and see what they'll give for a used up athletic club at the pawn shop, if you fellows don't mind," added Smithy, straightening his hat, and buttoning up his coat, "come along for a sample, Nosey."
"We'll not do anything," said Billy; "just keep right on as if Jack were here, and his father will back out if we go in a body and ask him."
"Good," said Matt, "that's sound advice. Billy, you hit the nail on the head that time."
"Yes," remarked Smithy, "but you spoiled a good job for my uncle. What a joke to see him advertise, 'One athletic club, as good as new, only a little played out.'"
Jack never found out how the boys felt, though it would hardly have made him more miserable. He was obedient about the house and did his chores honestly. Indeed, his mother never had cause to complain about his bearing towards her. But he did not enter into his studies with the willingness she would wish. They were plainly a task, and the school hour was the beginning of a term of drudgery. Mr. O'Reilly had heard what Mr. Brady intended to do, and was most kind to Jack, and as considerate as he could be in justice to the other pupils. The week passed away tediously. It was the longest week Jack had ever known, for the boys, by common consent, did not call for him, thinking in this to spare his feelings. He suspected their reason, but thought often it was strange the boys could get on well without him, a reflection which did not tend to make him happier.
In fact, it was plain to Mrs. Brady that Jack was acting in obedience to his father's command only through fear, and not from that motive which brings a reward to the boy who does his father's wishes from the love and duty which every boy owes.
Saturday was the day on which the school-boys made their regular monthly confession, and Mrs. Brady, seeing that Jack was not getting ready in the afternoon, spoke to him about it. It was just a week since his father's orders were given, and she thought she could help on a happier course of events.
"Jack," she said, "come here, son; this is confession day, you remember, and you must get ready and go to church. You must try to be a good boy, now, and do what your father and I want you to do. You can't expect the blessing of God if you go on in that unwilling, sulky way. You know it's right, dear, and why don't you do it?"
And Mrs. Brady put her arms around Jack's neck and kissed him. He couldn't stand that, and his rebellion and unwillingness yielded. He sobbed, and protested that he wanted to be better, but that something within him prevented him just as he was making up his mind to be good. He knew he was making her feel badly, and that his father was displeased; but he said he didn't mean it that way.
"Some bad angel has been tempting you, my boy, but with God's help you'll conquer him. I hope you've been saying your prayers, morning and night, lately."
"Yes, mother, I don't forget them. Last night, though, I got into bed and forgot to say them; but I turned out again."
"That's right, Jack; you have many reasons to be grateful to God, and I hope you'll not forget them."
Jack dressed himself in his best suit, and with prayer-book in hand went up to the church.
When he came there, Father McCarthy or the curate had not arrived, and the church-yard was filled with boys waiting. Some were sitting among the graves, reading their prayer-books, others walked in pairs or stood in small parties near the vestry.
"I'm glad you're here, Jack," said Nosey Phelan, coming up to him; "Dicky Sheehy and I haven't spoken since Monday."
"And you want to make it up now, do you?"
"Yes, that's it. I sent Billy to tell him I'd speak even. He is willing, and I thought when I saw you coming, I'd get you to see it done."
Among the boys of Scugog of that day it was the custom to send a menace to any one giving offense, or, for that matter, in a moment of whim, to any one thought of, and to declare that "you didn't want to speak to him." The silence that followed was sometimes awkward, and a necessity often obliged one to break the agreement for the time; but, though this was a satisfaction to the one spoken to, it was considered no breach of honor in the speaker. Peace was always made before the boys went to confession, when, if one gave offense, he "spoke first," or, more commonly, as in this instance, the speaking was "even."
"Come along, Nosey," said Jack; "where's Dicky?"
Dicky approached, and the two clasped hands. The other boys, seeing what was going on, ranged themselves on each side and behind. Jack stood in front.
"Are you fellows all ready?"
"Now, then," resumed Jack, beating time with each count over the joined hands, "One! Two!! Three!!!"
The lads wrung each other's hand and joined in the general cheers of laughter.
"Who else?" cried Jack. "Any other fellow here that wants to make it up?"
But nobody else had to make peace with his neighbor, and the happy state of things was announced when the approach of Father Murphy and Father McCarthy sent the boys into the church. The pastor said some prayers before the altar, and then the boys went around to the vestry, and each one, as his turn came, entered the confessional.
That was a happy afternoon for Jack. When he left the vestry he came around to the church for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, making his thanksgiving, and saying his penance.
Then he skipped home, laughing and happy. He felt like a new boy, and had lifted from his mind the heaviest and most unhappy load it had yet carried.
When his father came home to tea, Jack went to him and said he was sorry for being sulky and idle, and that he was going to be a good boy again, but this time, if God would bless him, in earnest.
Then Mr. Brady began to feel queer, and his voice grew a little husky, and he said he was glad, very glad; and he hoped Jack would; and if he was sure he would be a good boy in future, he could begin on Monday again to play a little every day.
Jack acted foolishly, it is to be feared; for he ran up-stairs to where Sally was tying her hair up with a ribbon, and slapped her on the shoulders, and said: "Hurrah! Sally: its all over now. I told pa I was sorry and asked his pardon, and he said 'he was all right,' and that he was glad."
"Did you though, Jack?" said Sally, her face beaming with happy smiles.
"Yes, Sally, really."
"Jack, you don't know how glad I am. Sister Francis is going to show me how to crochet on Monday, and I'll do a pair of mits for you the first thing."
WHAT a difference Jack now found in the daily round of his duties! The house resounded with his cheerful voice, and his mother was in a constant state of admiration of his cleverness and humor. Sally and he had eager contests after tea over a page of arithmetic or a lesson in Canadian history. Sally was two years younger, but, somehow, she got her pages of history off first; and then, when Jack said he knew his lesson, somehow or other he managed to puzzle Sally in what she had studied. And he took great delight in helping her work out a knotty problem in fractions, and explained to her very clearly the difficulties in parsing.
His father saw the change with satisfaction, and he congratulated Mrs. Brady that they had Jack on the right track, and hoped he would keep on it.
The weeks flew by, and Mr. O'Reilly sent favorable reports of Jack's progress in school. The class in elocution, which had been started as a sly inducement to the boys, now became one of the regular classes, and Jack gave recitations on Friday afternoon, which were lately devoted to such entertainment. The priests came in now, and Jack was complimented in private by Father McCarthy. They gave a grand treat off-hand one Friday, and, besides the pastor and curate, invited the trustees, several of the Sisters, and a number of the parents. The reporter of the Scugog Daily Messenger was present, and gave the school a very flattering notice in Saturday's paper.
Jack made time to play, and enjoyed it as much as ever. The boys admitted that he never played so well, and Smithy was heard to say that, if he could go ahead so much in football as Jack did lately, he'd be satisfied to go without meals for a week, if he only had ten minutes a day in the pantry. Still, Jack seemed to the boys to be different from his old self; he was more serious in his manner; he went home as soon as the game was over, and when he was sent on messages he had not time to stop on the way. He patronized the hand ball alley in the school-yard at intermission, and he still took a Saturday paddle up the river.
As the cold weather approached, the boys brought their canoes home, and stored them in the barns. The lacrosses and football were put away, and the Athletic grounds gradually became deserted.
The last foot-ball match of the season was played by the Juniors against the Grasstown Pullets, the Juniors winning four goals to the Grasstowns' one. Quite a number of spectators were present, and as the day was somewhat cold, they stamped their feet on the ground or ran up and down the field. Some of the men stood on the grand stand, swinging their arms across their chests to keep warm, and rubbing their legs to stir up the circulation. The boys on the game found it hot enough, and Dr. Prod, who came along just as the game was over, advised them to take a run up the field while they cooled off, and not to stand, as they might catch cold.
Jack, Billy, Matt, and Smithy, with a few of the Grasstowns, went off on a nice canter inside the fence, talking and laughing about the game, Smithy varying the proceedings with a few hand springs, and throwing in a somersault now and ten. They were coming up towards the grand stand, when Nosey Phelan ran up, all excitement, and said:—
"O say! boys, come and see what I've found."
"What is it, Nosey?" asked Billy.
"Just wait a minute," said Nosey, leading them under the light fence that separated the spectators from the field. The boys approached a crowd of young men and lads, who were standing under the shadow of the high fence.
"What is it, Nosey?" asked Jack.
"There it is," said Nosey.
He pointed to something smoking a cigar, something between a boy and a man, dressed in a ridiculously wide pair of pants of a very large-checked pattern, shoes that turned up their toes higher than his instep, a high crowned hat with a narrow curled brim, and a short overcoat of light gray, with a large cape that covered most of his arms. He wore drab kid gloves and a very heavy cane. There was the least possible suspicion of a fawn- colored mustache on his lip, but it might have been only the smoke of the cigar, and the right side of his thin face was twisted and wrinkled out of shape in a difficult endeavor to hold a very large eye-glass.
This specimen was anywhere from sixteen to nineteen years of age, and he spoke in a shrill voice. A few foppish boys were in his party.
"Hem! Hem! Hem!" he coughed.
"I say, men, this aiah is wathah seveah on my thwoat, and I havn't any of my cough dwops with me. Let's mawch down to my wooms," and he turned as if to walk away.
"Don't hurry, Percy, wait till Bloomer finishes his story."
He was agreeable, for he lingered a moment.
"What do you call that, I'd like to know?" said Nosey, in triumph.
Our boys had been looking on in wonder, for the sight was unusual, and they wanted time to think.
"I have it boys," said Jack. "He's what they call a dude."
The boys agreed. Yes, it certainly was a dude. They had never seen one before, though the papers were full of him.
"You're all wrong," said Smithy.
"What is it then," asked Nosey.
"Boys, it's not a dude. It's an English lord in disguise, that's come out to Canada to learn farming."
"He's a dude all the same," said Billy; but the others were now rather inclined to side with Smithy.
"But this is no time for farming," insisted Billy.
"Perhaps he wants to try the climate," returned Smithy; "and if he dies of a cold, why, the Old Dook, his father, will come out ahead after all."
Smithy was not satisfied until he found out that the dude did come to Canada to learn farming, and that his name was Percy Lionel Fitz Wobble, and that he was to be a resident of Scugog till the farming season opened in the next spring.
The snow fell on the ground, and the river was frozen over. Jack and the Juniors scraped the ice on the Mississaga, banked up the snow, and stuck bushes in it, and so had a fine skating- rink.
The lads stayed indoors in the cold weather at night, but before dark they had an hour's skating every day. Jack had to go to the office on Saturday mornings, to help with the copying and the calculations, and as his heart was in the work, his writing and spelling were better, and his figures were generally correct. He had Saturday afternoons to himself, and he went to the rink; though he often took his sled, which was a large one, with cast- steel shoeing, and led the ride down the big hill. The ride began in front of the convent, then went down the hill three hundred yards, and with a very slight curve passed on to the Mississaga, over which they flew, when the ice was glary, nearly a quarter of a mile. What a fine winter they had, though it was cold, and a fellow had to have the ears of his cap pulled down, and his mittens on. Jack wore the pair which Sally promised to crochet, though the hands were somewhat large, and the thumbs not a vary good shape; but he covered them with his kid mits, and they answered admirably.
A new toboggan slide had been built in the fall, and was to be open at New Year's, and the boys had bright anticipations for the winter.
The season advanced, and Christmas drew near.
At the separate school the examination was at hand. It was partly written and partly oral. They had some difficult papers, and a great many subjects. There was much anxiety among the boys, for the written examination was held for the first time, and a committee of the School Board, with Father Murphy, had set the papers. The questions in Catechism were made out by Father McCarthy himself, and while the boys rather liked them on the whole, there were a few "stickers" among them which were not in the Catechism.
But the written trial was over, and the oral was held in public, the Friday before Christmas.
Mr. O'Reilly wore his black frock coat, that he used only on examination-days and Sundays, and he had a red table cloth from home spread on a desk, which was loaded with prize books, and behind which sat Father McCarthy, his white hair and his fresh, smiling face giving a happy, home-like appearance to the gathering. The room was full of visitors, Jack's father, mother, and sister being among the number.
Many of the Juniors attended the public school, and so were not pupils of Mr. O'Reilly, but they were all present by invitation, and Father McCarthy made them sit on chairs in front.
The classes were called in order and examined. Jack distinguished himself. His handsome face and tall figure would made a picture anywhere, but today he felt proud and happy. He had worked well since his father spoke to him; he had made a noble effort, and because he was in ear nest and was sorry for his previous waywardness, God blessed him, and he succeeded. His father, somehow, could not sit with ease, Jack answered the difficult questions so cleverly, and he made a pretence that he had to go to the office, though he again returned. Mrs. Brady was quiet, with a gentle smile on her features, and when Jack caught her eye, as he often did, his head rose proudly, and she thought she had never seen so handsome a boy. Sally was radiant with joy, and once came nearly putting Jack out in some thing by trying to whisper some message, and Mr. O'Reilly was happy in having such a bright scholar.
After the examination some dialogues and recitations came on. Little Bruce made his first appearance in public as a speaker, if we omit his performance at the police court. He stood on a high stool and began:
"You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage," etc.
The audience cheered, and Bruce felt glorious.
Smithy and Nosey Phelan had the dialogue, "Alexander and the Thracian Robber." Nosey was Alexander and wore a pasteboard crown covered with gilt-paper stars, and a hickory pointer, wrapped with tissue paper, for a sceptre. His memory was not a good one, but he knew his part well on Thursday, and recited it cleverly.
"What! Art thou the Thracian robber, of whose exploits I have heard so much?"
Smithy threw his head back like the brave robber chief and laid his hand on his breast.
"I am a Thracian and a soldier."
The boys cheered Smithy, and Nosey was completely "rattled." He forgot the next line, but he was ingenious, and he went on:
"Then, why, in the name of common sense, don't you behave yourself, and stop going around the country."
He went no further, for the boys' cheers and hurrahs filled the school house like a cyclone. Nosey was humbled, for he saw he had spoiled the fun, and Smithy was mad, as he had his part well prepared, and, next to his gymnastics, he was proud of his elocution.
Jack gave Robert Emmett's speech in the dock and was loudly applauded.
Matt, Billy, Willy O'Connor, Dicky Sheehy, and the others acquitted themselves with great honor in their parts.
Father McCarthy then gave the prizes to deserving boys, while Mr. O'Reilly read the names and gave the percentage won in the different classes.
Jack had a good share of honors, and when Father McCarthy, in handing him the first prize, complimented him before the school and the visitors, Jack hung down his head and remembered some other things Father McCarthy had said to him before. The boys clapped their hands when Jack went to his seat, and Mr. O'Reilly never thought of stopping them.
The only thing wanting to make the examination a complete success was the giving of a few holidays, and this Mr. McCabe, the chairman of the School Board, did, for he told them in a neat speech that they would have no more lessons for a full fortnight, and he wished them, one and all, merry Christmas Holidays.
CHRISTMAS, which was also Sunday, was a grand winter day. It was cold, and the snow lay deep on the ground. Jack was up at four o'clock and wished his father and mother and Sally a Merry Christmas, and when Sally was dressed the two went down to the parlor and sang a Christmas Hymn, "Adeste Fideles," Sally playing the accompaniment on the organ. The family went to Communion at the early Mass, and Jack received the Blessed Sacrament among the altar boys, with great devotion. His piety was awakened with his new resolutions, and he tried to welcome the Infant Saviour with a pure and sinless heart, and he realized in its best sense the happiness of the Christmas season.
The Scugog shad planned a snow-shoe tramp for that week, and Monday found them at the Hall, mending snow-shoes and making ready other necessaries. Billy and Jack had new snow-shoes, which their fathers had bought from an Indian, and Smithy told how he had found his new pair in his stockings on Christmas morning, and as the boys laughed he said he meant under his stockings.
Tuesday, when the boys were at the Hall early in the morning, it was a bright, frosty day, and the snow-shoers were the merriest boys in Scugog. They laughed, and jumped, and pitched one another into the snow, and washed one another's faces, and had fine fun indeed, till Jack reminded them they didn't come there to play, and ordered them to put on their shoes and get their traps in order.
Who is it that would not love such a trip? And where is the healthy, good-natured boy who says he does not love the winter, with its bracing air, that gives him such strength, tightens up his muscles, makes his blood run gaily through his veins, and wakes up into a new and jolly life, as if with a magic wand, all the vigor of his young body, and all the cheerfulness of his fun- loving nature? Such a boy is scarce; at least you would have said so if you had seen the Scugogs that pleasant morning in the cold winter air.
They all wore red knitted caps, or tuques, pulled down over their ears, white blanket-over coats, with red sashes tied around their waists, white blanket-kneebreeches, that just came to the tops of their long, thick, red stockings, and moccasins, worked in fancy pattern on the instep. Each carried his rations in the breast of his coat, and some of the boys had small tins of frozen milk tied to their belts.
"Who has an extra string?" asked Billy; "I have just broken one."
"Where's the bit of eelskin you wore on your ankles and wrists to keep off the cramps?" demanded Smithy.
"That was in Summer, for swimming, and I don't expect to have cramps to day."
"Don't apologize, Billy," replied Smithy; "you can have this, if you promise not to lose it."
The word was given, and the boys fell into line four deep, and ran off over the fields between the grounds and the river. Once on the ice, with plenty of fresh, deep snow before them, they made their way in good style past the grist mill, around the lock, under the bridge, and close to the wharves, many people standing in the cold all the while to see the merry crowd.
They went by the toboggan slide on the river bank, and saw some men packing the snow that lay upon it.
[...text missing in source file (approximately 300 words)...]
...want to go to Port Davis when we return, and it's twelve miles there."
"Twenty miles with waces, and then foah and twenty when you wetuhn? why, man, you must be cwazy!" and Fitzwobble was the picture of astonishment.
"Do I look like an escaped lunatic?" said Smithy, while his friends and Percy's could scarcely keep straight faces. "But then, you're not used to it; you can walk twenty miles on snowshoes and not feel tired. Its not like walking on hard ground, you know."
"I'm distwessed alweady," said Percy, "and we're not thwee miles yet."
It was no wonder he was tired, for he wore an overcoat that reached to within two inches of his ankles. His friends wished him to wear a pea-jacket, but he refused. His coat was of heavy stuff, and had a wide belt around the waist; and the long skirts greatly interfered with the free use of his legs.
Jack advised him to draw up the skirt under his arms, which he did; and then they fastened it to his body by passing the belt over it.
His appearance was not improved by this, for the boys laughed heartily at his odd look; but he could swing his legs better, and that was enough.
"Thanks, awfully, Mr. Bwady," he said, "I can use these things bettah. See!"
And he stretched himself for a run.
But he went a few yards only, when his shoes got mixed in some way, and with his toes pointing downward, he dived head first into the snow. He tried to get up, but his body was so bulky, it made things only worse, and Jack and Matt had to lift him up.
"Keep your feet further apart," said Jack, "and you'll go better. You do splendidly as it is."
"Let's be off," shouted Billy, "its getting late."
The boys started again and made good time clown, considering that Percy fell several times and got his shoes turned around twice, when the whole crowd had to wait for him.
When they reached Duck Lake, a small island, called "Sinner's Rest," was selected as a stop ping place. It was well covered with evergreens, and having found a space fenced in closely with trees, they gathered armfuls of boughs and made a roasting fire, at which they warmed themselves.
The frozen milk was melted and heated, and the boys, having produced their eatables, sat around the fire to lunch, passing the milk around the circle.
"What a lawk this is," said Percy. "If I was to write home to England and tell them how jolly this soht of life is, they wouldn't believe it, I assuah you they wouldn't."
"Have you any thing like this in England?" inquired Jack.
"Well, that is good, Mistah Bwady; snowshoeing in Kent! why, my deah fellah," and he rescued his eyeglass from an inner pocket, warmed it at the fire and wriggled it into its place. "Why, my deah fellah! we have only a sprinkle of snow at home, and when I saw this fuhst, I thought I was twanspawted to the Nauth Pole, I did, weally."
"Do you have ice in Kent?" Nosey ventured to inquire.
"We have, on the buttah, when the weathah's hot," replied Percy, with a sly look towards Nosey.
The boys talked and joked, and were a very long time eating lunch, but it was so wild and fine in that place, they didn't mind the time passing. The remnant of the meat being replaced in their coats, they prepared for the races. The coarse lay around a small clump of trees, a quarter of a mile from Sinner's Rest, and the boys tied their shoes on and got in place.
"Don't you have judges and a stawtah?" asked the dude; "they always do in England."
"We do things differently here," answered Jack. "Only one or two get back," said Billy, "so we don't need judges."
"What becomes of the rest?"
"O," said Billy, "they stick in the snow till the race is over, and then we go and pick them up in their turn."
"But you wouldn't allow a man to wemain behind, perhaps suffocated, till you wetuhned?"
"Why, certainly; we might lose the race if we didn't."
"Then I dwop out," said Fitzwobble; and he proceeded to untie his shoes.
"See here, Percy," said Jack, "we'll go together, and I'll give you a hand if you need it."
"Will you though, weally?"
"Yes, I don't mind the race."
Before they reached the turning point he had fallen so often that he was too exhausted to go further, and as it was very cold, Jack scarcely knew what to do with him. He called Billy and Matt, who purposely hung back, and asked them what they had better do.
"Couldn't you find a hawse and cuttah?" asked the miserable Fitzwobble.
"Unfortunately there isn't a livery stable handy," said Billy.
"I'll west under these twees until you get one, then; send one of these chaps down, Bwady, like a good fellah!"
"My dear sir, we can't do that; and you can't rest here, you'll be frozen."
"I don't want to fweeze, I'm suah; can't you think of some wemedy?"
"Yes, if you'll agree," said Jack, "and there's nothing else."
"Well, fiah away."
"Here, Matt," said Jack, "off with that other shoe;" and in the twinkling of an eye both shoes were removed.
Jack took a deerskin thong, and, laying the snowshoes flat on the snow, toe to toe, tied them together in the manner of a toboggan. Then letting down the skirt of Percy's coat, they wrapped it around his legs and tied him to the shoes; and, having bent his knees, placed his feet in the netting near the point of the forward shoe. To this point Jack then tied his sash by the middle. It was a long, strong one, and he gave an end to Matt and Billy.
"Now," said Jack, "you two go ahead and draw him."
The boys in great glee took the sash and dashed off and came to Sinner's Rest as the others were returning from the race.
"How do you like racing?" asked Nosey.
"Wacing is dwoll," answered Percy, "when you aw used to it. But my legs gave out, and I lost my eyeglass."
"What next, boys," said Jack; "I didn't have much of a race, and I'd like something else."
"What do you say to a snow ball match?" suggested Matt.
"The very thing," said Billy, "a sham battle."
This was agreed on, and they ranged themselves in two lines, thirty feet apart. Each boy was three feet from the next, and any one struck three times had to fall out of the ranks. Percy wanted to take a hand in it, but his friends objected, so he stood and looked on. Each boy made a pile of snow balls for his own use, and Jack and Billy being chosen captains, the war began.
"Ready?" called Jack.
"Ready," answered Billy.
"Fire!" and a shower of balls crossed each other, some smashing in the air, some finding their mark, others falling too far or too near. Quickly moved the arms of the boys, and the laughter was loud, and the snow balls fell in clouds. At the second discharge Nosey Phelan fell, shot through the heart with a snow ball, and he walked away from Billy's line, a dead man, followed by four of his fallen comrades.
Jack lost Willie O'Connor and Dicky thereby.
"Steady, boys!" cried Jack, "fire on their right wing," and a storm of shot fell on that devoted end. Ten corpses walked away from Billy, but in the next volley five of Jacks brave followers gave up the ghost.
Unfortunately neither side could charge, for no soldier was allowed to step backward or forward, though they could go as far along the line as they wanted.
"At them again, boys!" cried Jack.
"Courage, noble hearts" shouted Billy. Six men were left on Billy's side, and seven on Jack's. "Fire," called Jack, and a deadly hailstorm of balls crossed the space. Two of Billy's gone.
"Revenge!" shouted Billy.
A dozen or two of white meteors flew through the air and disappeared. Two gone on Jack's Side.
Things were getting excited now, and lots of dodging was done. Some of the remaining warriors now ran up and down the lines. They fired and then ran, but in this battle there were no cowards.
A little skirmishing followed, not much work being done. This was only one of the tricks of war. The enemies were taking a rest.
The ammunition was now out and a truce was called. Piles of balls, some as large as cannon-balls, were heaped up in the lines.
"Time?" called the impatient crowd of dead men.
The battle raged again, when one of Billy's heroes got a cannon ball in the face, and he died without a groan. Billy, Smithy, and Ben Davy left, four and Jack.
Smithy did some sharpshooting and mortally wounded two of Jack's men. Two and Jack. Two and Billy.
Jack ran up and down, followed by his men. They stopped and fired together, bringing down Ben Davy. Ben died like a hero, but not unavenged, for Smithy laid low one of the enemy. Cheers from the crowd.
A deadly volley of six hand-running from Jack, and Smithy died fighting: but Billy retaliated and struck Matt in the ear and knocked him over. Jack and Billy left now.
"What a stwange game!" remarked Fitzwobble. "How long will them fellahs keep it up, now?"
"They're stopping now."
Both stopped to rest, when some one proposed to call the game a "draw."
"I'm satisfied, Billy, if you are," said Jack.
But Billy's Irish was up, and he fought to the death.
"No, fight it out, and here goes," and Billy's snowball flew by Jack's ear.
"Go it, old boy," shouted Nosey. Billy threw two more at Jack.
But Billy stumbled and was killed three times in succession. "That's not fair! I claim a foul," he said, the perspiration rolling from his face, and steam rising from his body in clouds.
"Everything is fair in war, Billy," said Jack.
"Shake," said Billy, cooling on the instant. And now the day's fun was nearly ended, and the boys assembled around the roaring campfire, made a comfortable lunch of the dinner's remains, and prepared themselves by a good rest for the long march home. It was twilight when they started, and long before they reached Scugog the stars were out, and such ghosts as might be out in the cold had a chance to show themselves. The fearless tramp and cheerful shouts of the snow-shoers would surely have frightened them. The boys marched straight ahead, going over, not round, the difficulties, and gave Percy Lionel a cheer when he took a fence in Canadian style, flying. The appetites which they had on reaching the town would have brought about a famine in ordinary households, but Scugog mothers count upon the snow-shoe tramp precisely as they do upon Christmas and other festivals.
THURSDAY morning found the boys assembled once more at the Athletic Hall. They were to have another tramp today, in a different direction, and there was a larger party than before. Percy Lionel and his three friends were again present. This time he profited by his former experience, and, instead of his long-tailed ulster, wore a neat suit, like the others. He had a fresh eye-glass, one with a gold rim, and, in addition, the heavy stick he usually carried in town. All the boys in turn, and many of them twice, came up and shook hands with him, and asked how he was, to which query his often-repeated answer was, "Tolewably jolly, thanks."
"They seem glad to meet you," said one of his friends, as Nosey came up to give his greeting.
"Yes, they ah a fine lot of chaps, wathah disposed to lawking, perhaps; but fine fellahs."
"That's a comical little beggah," he said, pointing to Smithy, as Jack came up.
"Oh, yes," returned Jack, "he's our imp; we couldn't get on without Smithy."
"Whaah do you pwopose to twamp today, Bwady?"
"We go up the Long Road to Myer's Hill, to have a slide, then over the fields a few miles, to shoot at the birds, perhaps."
"Have you youah fiah-awms weddy, and plenty of powdah!"
"One gun only, and Billy has all the ammunition we want."
"Will one gun go awound the cwowd?"
"I think so. I have a few ball-cartridges, if we should see any large animal, a deer for instance."
"Hadn't we bettah awange to stawt?"
"Get ready, boys!" cried Jack, going into the Hall.
There was bustling and hurry on all sides, and snow-shoes were tied on, and lunches buttoned up inside coats, and small boys wanted to know the route and what they were going to do. At last they fell into line and paraded up the main street of Scugog, bringing to shop-doors and windows a multitude of admiring on- lookers. A few sleighs were driving up the street, empty, and the boys piled in for a ride into the country. They stopped in front of the rifle-range, where they crossed the rail fences and took to the fields.
"What a pity we haven't a few rifles," said Billy: "we could have a little target-practice."
"That's so," said Matt, "firing on snowshoes would be something for a change."
"Why, you can take a bang at target with those ball- cartridges," explained Lionel Fitz. "Twy it, anyway, faw a lawk."
"All right, we'll go out to the hundred yard mound;" and Jack dashed up the range, followed by the crowd.
"But whaah's youah tawget?" asked Percy.
"There isn't any," said Billy. "Here, Nosey, go up and stand in the target frame, and hold up your hat. We'll have a shot at it."
"Very well," replied Nosey, marching off.
"Suahly, you don't intend to fiah at his cap."
"You see he's going up," responded Jack.
"Stop him," roared Percy. "Heah, Phelan! D'y'heah, Phelan?"
"Call him Nosey," suggested Jack.
"Say, Nosey! old chappie, come back," implored Percy, "They musn't take the wisk of fiahing at you, old boy."
"Then let us go on," said Billy impatiently.
But Percy wished to shoot at something, so the boys built a snowman, and Jack and Billy tent a ball through him at a hundred yards.
Percy tried it, and did the same, though the gun kicked, and he was doubled up, with his head in the snow and his snow-shoes hanging over him like a roof. He was a good Summer shot, but shooting on snow-shoes was a new experience.
The others tried their luck, and on the whole the snow man had a hard time of it; for he had a hole through his heart, several in his lungs, and a few through his head, so that his beauty was somewhat marred. But the ball cartridges were all gone, and they left the range and tramped to the top of Myers' Hill. This was a grand height, crowned with trees on the north, and sloping off a long distance to the south. The view was wonderful. On the East lay Scugog, gleaming with millions of diamonds that sparkled in the sunlight. A thousand curls of smoke hung ever the roofs, and the trees that peeped out among the houses and lined the river banks were laden with snow-foliage. Cutters with robes flying in the wind and drawn by ponies covered with tinkling bells, and men, and boys hurrying along to keep warm, made the scene busy with life.
To the south lay a flat stretch of country, that Billy compared to a white bed-cover: the houses and groves, even the figures woven in and the wavy fences, had all the regularity of lines drawn across the quilt to mark off the squares. A few hundred yards to the south lay the railway track, and as they watched, a shrill whistle pierced the air, and the fast express flew by, leaving behind it only silence and a trail of smoky air.
The boys stood looking at the beauty of the scene for a long time. "It's no wondah to me the Canadians love this country," said Percy at length. "In the whole bweadth of England theah's nothing to compaah to this."
This was a compliment to their native land, and the boys stood each of them fully two inches higher for it.
"Yes," said Jack, and his face glowed with the fire of the young patriot, "you may well say that, Percy. We are proud of Canada. She is a beautiful land, and nature must have been in a gentle humor in laying out the grand lakes and rivers, and the noble forests that surround us. But what a history she has, though still in her youth. Think of the early discoverers and settlers of Canada, the kind of men they were, the difficulties of soil and climate they had to conquer, and the dangers they met from savage men and savage animals. We had the solitary Jesuit making his way through a forest then trackless, and his only hope and reward to spread the Gospel and civilize the Indians. Then came the old nobles from France and the young gentlemen of honorable family and finished education, working side by side with the humble but strong man of toil. What a beginning for a great nation! A populous country grew up in a solitude, with churches, schools, and devoted citizens. Then came a war; in fact, it was always war; but a war came, and with it a change of rule. Then see the people twice defend their homes and country against a powerful nation, and even rise against their own rulers for a greater amount of freedom. And now, with growing fortunes and increase of citizens, how Dear Old Canada, our mother and our pride, stands strong and hopeful of the future, knowing that her sons will increase her dignity and uphold her honor among the nations of the earth."
"Well said, Jack," cried Matt Marty with delight, "you put it right that time; I dare say, other countries are good, but give me Canada. She'll do first rate."
"You do lack a great many things, though," remarked Percy in a superior manner, when the boys were done discussing their native land.
"Faw instance, thaah's the navy. How could you go to waw with Fwance, now?"
"We have no fear of war," answered Jack; "we interfere with nobody, and will have enough work for a century filling our country with settlers and making them happy."
"But can't you suppose the case? Suppose the Gweat Powahs declared waw. How stwong would youah land fawses be?"
"If some quarrelsome nation attacked us," said Jack warmly, "the brave men that Heaven has given us will do their duty. You have perhaps read, Percy, in English history, that a nation of quiet citizens have more than once been a match for her strong armies, and so it may prove with us."
"Don't you think you've talked loyalty long enough?" asked Billy. "A person would imagine it was two big guns making peace."
"Do you use big guns heah to make peace? In England they ah used in a wuptuh of the peace."
"He means prominent men, Percy, not cannon," explained Jack.
The boys moved to a steep side of the hill, facing west, and slid down the slope until lunch time came, when they crossed the fields to a piece of bush and made preparations for camp. A fire was built, and, a farm-house being near, Smithy procured hot water there, and set about making tea. A camp fire in a sheltered wood, in a cosy spot, on a winter day; and perhaps the boys didn't enjoy it. They were old hands at that sort of thing, and would have surprised their mothers with their skill in preparing meals, had these good ladies been present.
They were just through dinner when Matt called their attention to something moving among the trees.
"Where?" asked Jack.
"There, on the right," said Matt; "sec it move. It's brown."
"I believe it's a bear," said Billy.
"It looks like one," said Jack.
"Do you think its safe, heah?" asked Percy. "Hadn't we bettah wetiah!"
"No," said Jack. "Where's the gun? Ill load it, and you, Percy, can have the honor of shooting."
Percy was very pale, as were some of the other boys, some of whom scampered off.
"You shoot, Bwady; you undahstand it bettah."
"No," returned Jack; "my hand shakes; I've had too much tea."
"Shoot! Mr. Bwady. The baah's backing up this way."
"You're not afraid of a bear, I hope?" said Jack, in surprise.
"Afwaid? Well, no. Give me the gun." And Percy, with trembling hand, took the gun and raised it to his shoulder, shut his eyes, and blazed away. Then he looked up and saw the bear rolling on the ground.
"Hurrah!" cried Billy, taking Percy's hand; "you're a grand shot. But let us see him."
The bigger boys drew near to the bear, Percy having a firm hold of his stick, which now took the place of the gun.
"Poke him with your stick, Fitzwobble," said Jack.
The animal was lying perfectly still, and Percy, forced to the front, gave him a very genteel touch. The bear shook itself a little.
"Who has a knife?" called Jack; "I'll skin him."
"Give him another prod, Percy: a good one this time."
Percy gave the bear a fierce poke, and it turned over and rolled so near him that he started back in great alarm.
"Thaah's no sign of blood awound. And whaah's its head? It's a wathah queah kind of baah." And Percy moved around to investigate.
"Hold him, while I cut his throat," said Jack, who had a knife in his hand.
The bear groaned, and Percy sprang on its body as Jack made a lunge at its throat.
"Why! what's this?" he cried; "you, Smithy?"
"Yaas; I'm wathah uncommon, old boy. Eh?" and Smithy's laughing face emerged from where the bear's head ought to be.
"Why," said Billy, "it's Smithy in a fur coat, and no bear at all. Smithy, you're a bad boy for scaring us this way."
Percy was terribly agitated, and tried in rain to say something.
"Say, Bwady," he went on rapidly: "Say, Bwady! Look and see if he is—ah—say, Smithy! a—you—a—you, did I shoot you?"
"No," replied Smithy, "where did you aim?"
"Stwaight faw the hawt," said Percy, and the boys roared till the Dock's son began to see that a joke of some kind, one peculiar to these young barbarians of Canada, and which only they could laugh at, had been played upon him. He said nothing, neither did he laugh.
"I'm glad I didn't hit you," he said, and Jack took pity on him, and ordered the return home so promptly, executing the movement with such vigor, that Percy's offended spirit forgot its injury in the necessity for haste and caution. Within a mile's distance he had forgiven them for the brown bear, which, fortunately, he had fired at with one of Jack's blank cartridges.
It was coming towards five o'clock, and the good people of the town were enjoying the fine day, promenading, when our own party came marching down the main street. They had their snow-shoes hung on their shoulders, and they talked in loud voices, and made gestures with their hands Some of them had their tuques pulled back on their heads, and one of them carried a large stick, and had an eye-glass stuck in the midst of a cheekful of wrinkles.
IF the just man falls seven times in the day, what wonder should it be that the pleasures of winter sports were beginning to tempt such a boy as Jack Brady to spend too much of his time in play, and leave undone his several duties at home? Jack was hardly conscious of it; nevertheless, he neglected or forgot to do several things his father wished done during the holiday, and Mr. Brady, in a tone of irritation, said he had better do his work around the house than spend so much time outside. Jack excused himself on the score of forgetting, and told his mother he had no intention of offending his father. Mrs. Brady readily believed this, and did not complain that the excitement attending the building of the new toboggan slide had kept Jack out several times when his delay was an inconvenience to her. She thought Jack had done well, and then everybody was toboggan-crazy.
And Mrs. Brady was right, for such an epidemic of amusement- madness had never come upon the town before. The new slide was the first ever built in Scugog, and old and young, men and women,—the whole town—were going into tobogganing. Mothers of large families and respectable gentlemen of means and easy habits were having toboggan suits made, and the merchants were daily receiving new consignments of blankets, tuques, and sashes; moccasins hung in the shop doors, and some of the dealers had been summoned before the magistrate for obstructing the sidewalks with toboggans.
The boys of the town shared the excitement, and when the chairman of the slide committee invited the Juniors to use it in the afternoon after the opening night, they were wild with anticipation.
In this condition of town morals Jack and Billy went up John Street the morning after their last tramp, and saw all the Scugogs gathered around the chute. Percy was there, examining the structure for the twentieth time.
The slide consisted of the "chute," or start, and a prepared track on the shore and the ice of the river, the distance reached by the sliders depending on the force gained at the start. The chute was a large, square frame, forty feet high, built of posts and covered with boards like a house, and from the platform on top a long, heavily-planked incline, that stretched to the ground. This was divided into three spaces by ridges that projected from the flooring, and on the right side, going up, was a stairway, that had a railing for the left hand, and to the right a narrow track for ascending toboggans.
A short distance, sloping gently upwards, lay between the bottom of the chute and the top of the river bank. A hollow lay just below the edge of the bank, which then slanted a distance of sixty feet down to the ice.
The toboggan, in descending the chute, gained such force as to leap over the hollow, or "dip," into the air, landing, according to the weight of the load, somewhere down the slope. "Jumping the dip" was one of the interesting features of tobogganing, for besides the pardonable pleasure it gave in carrying one from earth, even for a moment, and the mingled indescribable emotions it aroused on coming again into contact with the frozen course, it had the great advantage of being recommended by the medical profession as a convenient and useful substitute for tonics and other unpleasant medicines.
The slide was spread with a coating of snow, and some men were at work pouring water over it to give it a good bottom. This was again to be covered with a thin layer of snow, when a smooth, slippery surface would be produced.
"How does it feel to go ovah that dip?" inquired the gentle Fitzwobble.
"It's all right going over Percy," replied Jack. "It's coming down again that makes the fun."
"Don't you wequiah to waah a pad undahneath?"
"Nothing more than the pad on the tobog."
"Do the ladies and gentlemen all tuhn out faw their wecweation?"
"Yes, everybody, old and young," returned Jack. "If a stranger came to Scugog in winter, and wanted to see its best samples of men, women, and boys, he'd find them here. It's all the prime healthy ones, rosy cheeks and laughing eyes, all ready to joke; and they don't mind you snowballing them. And they give the boys a chance."
"Well, that's not bad. And it ansahs vewy well in this countwy: but it would nevah do in England."
"How is that," asked Billy.
"Why, you see, the gentwy wouldn't stand it to have the common people shahing this slide, faw instance. They'd wathah considah it an invasion of thaah pwivileges."
"Privileges?" said Billy. "Then why don't they send them out of England? Why do they let working people live in the same country?"
"It's the easiest mattah in the wohld. Who'd pay the went, foh instance? Who'd look aftah the gahdens? and who'd be the sehvants? Ansah that, now."
"It's all bosh," replied Billy hotly. "They help to feed the gentry, and the gentry shouldn't stick their noses up. And, besides, who fights battles for England, and wins them, too. Is it the gentry, or the common people, as you call them? What do you say to that?"
"Percy, I'm afraid you're a snob," remarked Smithy. "But we'll give you a year back north to reform; and when, you go home to England, if you're not put into jail for trying to drive the lords and all the gentry into the sea, with the rest of the codfish aristocracy, why, then I'll change my name and call myself Jones, or Brown, or Robinson."
"By the way, Percy, what do you expect to do out north on the farms. Are you really going to plough, and plant potatoes, and hoe cabbages?" inquired Billy, "or are you going out there for a good time?"
"Not at all, of cawse. I sha'n't dig or hoe. I may plough, faw that's fawming. You know I want to leahn the awt of fawming. How it ought to be done with science, you know. The hiahed men will do the wough wohk."
"We'll have your opinion next winter, Percy," said Jack. "And you may find by that time that the plainer people of Canada and England are a happier and perhaps a better people than your gentry at home. At least you'll not judge people by their clothes."
"Come now, Bwady. I don't mean that. I'm not such a cad as all that. If they wuh all like you fellahs, nobody would gwumble. But what is yoah imp doing?"
The men had left off watering the slide, and Smithy was returning from John Street, where he evidently had a sleigh hidden. He made his way quickly up the chute, and with a shout of "clear the way!" came down "stummy-whacker" on his sleigh. His Sight was like the wind, like a tornado, for the water had already frozen, and the course was as smooth as glass. The heavy sleigh shot past the boys like a flash, and leaped in the air as he crossed the dip.
"He'll be killed!" cried Jack.
"Hang on, Smithy!" shouted Billy O'Neill.
"The little wascal," said Percy; "he's all right."
Percy was correct, for though Smithy's sleigh jumped clear from the dip to the river without touching the bank, he did not even lose his hold, and he turned a laughing face to the crowd as he slid down the river.
"The slide will do, boys," he said, when he came up. "Get ready for a fine time next week. It's a pity,—though, they'll ever cover that ice. Will you try a turn, Percy?"
"Thanks, Smithy," he replied, "but I've no desiah faw an eahly death."
ON Monday night the town was at the show. The band had their new bugles, and played sweet music in the open air; and those who could not get near, or had no toboggans, walked up and down John Street or stood on the river bank. The night was dark, but the scene was lit up with a hundred lanterns; and gas jets with handsome mottoes and devices shed a brilliancy that equalled the light of day.
The three runs on the slide were well used. Long toboggans, that held six, and short ones, that held but two, sped over the slippery way with terrible rapidity, and landed their loads, amidst screams and laughter, down on the river. Boys were not permitted to slide in numbers, as it was the opening night, but some of them were there, and Billy and Jack had the new toboggan they had bought in partnership. It was a beauty, made of seven strips, with a thick, soft cushion, and a strong handrail to hold on by. They went down with some boys at first, to try it, and then took their sisters down the full length of the course.
Sally said she never thought tobogganing was so nice, though she declared she lost her breath for a minute while they were coming over the dip. They tried it several times, and never seemed to tire of it, but Jack remembered that his father and mother were waiting for them at his uncle's house, on John Street, and he feared to stay beyond his time.
"Come along, Sally, we'd better go. Don'( you think its time to be off, Billy?" he said! "we'll have our fill of it tomorrow afternoon."
"Yes, I suppose so," answered Billy; "and they're coming down so fast now, there's sure to be somebody hurt."
As they went towards John Street they met Percy dragging a long toboggan, and dressed for the occasion in a stylish blanket suit.
"Why, Bwady, you don't mean to say youah going?"
"Yes, Percy, time's up, and Pa and Ma are waiting for us; excuse me," he continued, seeing Sully standing; "Sally, allow me to present my friend, Mr. Fitzwobble; Percy, my sister."
Sally wasn't used to introductions, and she blushed; but Percy, who felt that this was a grand chance for a man of his accomplishments, made a low bow and lifted his tuque with a lofty air.
"Miss Bwady, I'm pwoud to be introduced: I've met youah bwothah befoah, and had some ware spoht with his pawty. Did you enjoy the wide down the slide?"
"Yes, thank you, very much," said Sally; "good-night, Mr. Fitzwobble;" and she edged off towards the street.
"Good-night, Miss Bwady; its lovely weathah, isn't it? Do you go riding on the toboggan often?"
"Oh, no; never before; this is the first slide we've had. Good-night, Mr. Fitzwobble." Sally was moving away in earnest now.
"Good-night, Miss Bwady; did you find it rough going ovah the dip? Did you?"
"Good-night, Percy," cried Jack. "Be on hand tomorrow afternoon." And with difficulty Percy tore himself away.
The holidays were to end that week, and Jack found that his father required to have as much as possible of his services while he was away from school.
On Tuesday morning he had some accounts to make out and a good deal of running about town to do with business houses. His father promised he should have Tuesday afternoon to himself, but when dinner time came he told Jack to be at the office at two o'clock, to take some letters to a distant part of the town, after which he would be free. Jack said nothing and looked anything but pleased.
After dinner he complained to his mother that he was promised the afternoon, and here some thing turned up that would keep him all day. He said it was too bad, and that his father forgot that he was a boy himself once.
But his mother tried her best to show him that such a short delay was not sufficient to excuse his disobedient spirit, though it must be confessed she was little satisfied with the result.
"Be careful, my son," she said; "God some times punishes such complainings as yours. It's a pity, Jack, that people need suffering to remind them of their duty."
He was at his father's office at two o'clock, having previously given the toboggan to Billy and promised to follow as soon as his message was done.
He received the letters, and started to deliver them. Unfortunately his way was up John Street, and when he came near the slide such a mingling of noise and laughter reached the street that he could not resist the temptation to stop. At least he did not resist it, and he turned in towards the slide.
"I'll just look on a minute," he said, remembering his mother's words, and feeling at the moment that he was disobeying his father to gratify a mean desire.
The Scugogs were out in force, for it was a field day; Percy was there, and so was little Bruce, who had a special invitation.
When they saw Jack coming they gathered on the platform on the top of the start and waited for him to go up. He declined at first, saying he had to deliver some letters for his father and to go right back to the office, when he would be at liberty for that day. They coaxed him to take one ride, and he consented.
Smithy asked him to try one on his toboggan, the "bone- shaker," the boys called it, but he refused. He would try his own with Billy, and Bruce should go down with them.
"Let's have a race then," said Matt; "three abreast down the slide together."
"Yes! Yes! a race!" all shouted.
"Here, Little Bruce," said Jack, "Sit in front of me and hang on to Billy. There! Grab his belt, and I'll hold you."
Bruce was whimpering.
"What's the matter?" asked Jack. "Your hands cold! Why, bless your heart, give them to me. Hold on a minute, boys, Bruce's hands are cold."
He pulled off the little mils, which were full of holes, and rubbed the little blue fingers.
"That's better, Jack; I couldn't hold on the way they were:" and Bruce began to pull his mits on again.
"Here! put my kid mits on," said Jack. "There's fur inside."
"Get ready, boys!" he called.
Matt's toboggan was next the stairs, Nosey's in the middle, and Jack's outside.
"All ready?" asked Nosey.
"Go ahead!" shouted Matt.
Jack's load was heavier than he thought, and after pushing it on he found himself a little behind the others. And he was not seated so comfortably as he would like.
They flew down the chute.
Bruce was uneasy, and Nosey lost control of his toboggan. The consequence was that, when they were crossing the dip, the points of the two toboggans struck, and two loads of boys were tossed into the air. The smaller boys shrieked, and the older ones cried out, some in fear and some from the pain of the fall. Percy and the other lads ran up, and helped the boys to their feet. The toboggans were broken, but only one of the boys was seriously injured.
That boy was Jack, and when he tried to rise he groaned with pain. The others gathered around him tenderly, and tried to lift him, but it hurt him so, they slid him gently on Percy's toboggan.
The fun was over for that day, and a sad pro cession of boys accompanied Jack down the river and to his home.
Billy ran on ahead, to Mr. Brady's office, and told him about Jack's hurt, and Mr. Brady set off at once for Dr. Prod. They arrived at the house as Jack was brought up, and the doctor had them carry the patient and the toboggan indoors.
Jack was suffering a great deal of pain, but the doctor was a tender-hearted man. His only son was killed at Jack's age, and, besides, he was Jack's godfather.
"Easy now," he said; "we'll not hurt you. Sit up!" and he helped Jack up gently.
"Ha!" cried the doctor, "only your collar bone broken, but it's a beautiful, clean fracture."
He pulled and twisted the arm a little, and then tied it up comfortably, Jack all the while bearing the handling without flinching. The boys stood around and admired his bravery; and, indeed, if faces were a sign, all of them suffered more pain than the unfortunate boy.
The doctor said Jack must have rest, and his comrades departed, promising, every one of them, to call and see him every day.
Mr. Brady, during the operation, looked on in misery, but when all were gone, and Jack showed some freedom from pain, an expression of uneasiness and irritation appeared in his face.
"Did you deliver the letters, Jack?" he asked.
Jack had been afraid to meet his father's eye, and now he cried out, sobbing:—
"Oh! father, forgive me. I stopped only for one ride, and I meant to go on then. Forgive me, father. I disobeyed you, and God has punished me."
JACK had never been sick before. From his boyhood he had been out in all kinds of weather, and played the games proper to the season, but now for the first time in his life he felt the loneliness of having to stay in the house, and give up the slide, the rink, the snow-shoes, and all the other pleasures of a Canadian winter.
His birthday came early in January—he was sixteen years old that day—and the best he could do was to have some of the boys in to the early tea which Mrs. Brady and Sally prepared in his honor.
But he bore his trouble with great patience, and when Dr. Prod came regularly every day to see him, and pretended to believe that Jack wasn't sick at all, he entered into the joke with great spirit.
The doctor was a pudgy little man, as round as a pumpkin, and his large head had only a little fringe of gray hair about the ears. He wore glasses, but they were only for style, as he pushed them up on his forehead when he examined anything. His vest was like the cover of a base ball, it was so round and snug, while his coat, when he stood looking at Jack, seemed to consist in front of a pair of sleeves, and behind of a flowing skirt. He was good humor itself, and loved Jack like a son.
"I hope you're making up your mind to study medicine," he said one day; "you see how useful it is from your experience."
"I'm not certain I'd like it, Godfather. And there are too many doctors."
"Too many grannies!" said the doctor. "There's only one doctor to every thousand in Ontario now, and the fools are increasing so fast, they'll need one to a hundred soon. You could come in, at any rate, and not crowd the profession a particle."
"Thank you, Godfather," said Jack smiling; "I'll make way for some one that will crowd you, for I may go into Pa's office; I don't like it, but I owe it to him."
"Fiddlesticks!" cried Dr. Prod. "It's just like him. Doesn't he want you to go into a lawyer's office, and get to be a queen's counsel, and wind up by becoming chief justice?"
"No, but ma does; Mr. Chisel will be glad to have me and give me a salary from the start."
"You'll make a fortune at it, I'm sure."
"But I don't care for these things. I will go into the office, if pa insists on it, but, I would prefer to be a school- teacher."
"A school-teacher!" fairly shrieked the doctor, "why, boy, are you mad? Let me feel your pulse," and he reached over and pretended to count the beats.
"Well, doctor," said Jack after a pause, "any signs of insanity."
The doctor tried to look serious, for he was annoyed, but the smile on Jack's face was irresistible. A little ripple of laughter peeped out of the corner of the doctor's eye, stole down his face, spreading as it went, and when it joined another that started from his mouth, his cheeks widened out into wrinkles, the fat on his sides began to shake, and he exploded into a long series of noisy convulsions. Jack watched him with his usual wonder and enjoyment.
"Why, you rascal," he answered, "you'll be in the new asylum on John Street in a month, and they'll feed you on slices of chalk, and give you hot drinks from the ink bottle. Oh!" he said, holding his sides, "you'll be the death of me yet, Jack."
And Jack laughed at him till the pain of his aching shoulder appeared in spite of himself in his face, and made the doctor relapse into seriousness and shorten his unlucky visit.
The fact is, Jack was beginning to think as he never did before. His young life before now had met no reverse to turn his mind to serious meditation; for the easy nature of his daily work showed him that this world was a pleasant place for enjoyment, which had for him but few interruptions. His affair at the Police Court was a disagreeable check in his career, and made him reflect how helpless the best men may be in certain cases. He felt free of blame then, but it was impossible to reflect on his previous neglect of the wishes and advice of his parents, without thinking that the Providence which came to his rescue had allowed the temporary disgrace as a punishment. His smaller acts of disobedience were generally bad enough to awaken feelings of shame for his meanness and ingratitude, and he had the good fortune to have moments of repentance, which were times of grace, for they kept him nearer to goodness; and though he often strayed from the resolutions he made, he never went beyond reach of the same good influence.
But his disobedience to his father in the matter of the letters was a different matter. It was an openly rebellious act, but it was followed by a heavy and speedy punishment. He saw this clearly, and the time of his recovery was a time of reflection. Whenever he had made good resolutions before it was his love for his parents and his shame at his own ingratitude that worked up on him, and the very manliness that should have braced him into perseverance was a nuisance to him, for it made him expect an amount of consideration and respect from others that he failed to show in return. He began to suspect, as he walked about with his useless arm in a sling, that love, gratitude, and his idea of manliness were not motives enough to make men happiest; and so it came to his struggling mind that a sense of duty must be at the bottom of our lives to give them their full value, a feeling that God had given him something to do which he was not doing well, and which he must set about with the least possible delay. He, therefore, began to think what he had better become. He had frequent and anxious conversations with his parents and Father McCarthy, all of whom agreed to give only general directions, but to leave the main choice to himself. Jack always showed good sense in his decisions, and they thought his inclination would not carry him very far from the proper place, and if he did change his notions, they wisely said he would all the easier be led in some of the directions they pointed. Father McCarthy was of opinion a boy of Jack's brightness would be best in one of the professions; for he said the Catholic people should be represented in all the callings, business life having a sufficiently large number. As Jack said, his parents were divided as to his vocation, and his three counsellors perhaps acted wisely in giving him his own way.
And then it happened that, while the accident waked him up to an amending of his life, it led him also to strengthen his resolve with a new purpose to do well and quickly what his duty in life prompted.
In this enthusiastic state of mind he deter mined to devote his life to school-teaching, which had the merit of giving a great amount of good to do. It seemed a noble duty to open up the young minds of children to a knowledge of truth, to the goodness of God, and the wonders of His creation. He could teach them to avoid error, and encourage them when they grew faint-hearted, and he saw that the extra trouble it would require from him would be only a preparation for some other calling, if he should change his mind and wish to enter a business or professional life.
When he was well enough to walk out, the first place he went to was the church, where he saw his confessor and made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. He thanked Our Lord for having preserved him from a greater injury, and begged to be directed in choosing his future occupation and strengthened in his new resolve.
Teaching school was not altogether to the liking of his advisers, but they said nothing, satisfied that the preparation for a certificate would be labor well spent, and that his ideas, by the time the course ended, would be completely changed.
Shortly before Jack returned to school Billy O'Neill met Smithy on the Street and asked him if he knew what Jack Brady was going to be.
"Going to be? How? Where! What do you mean?"
"What he's going to be when he leaves school?"
"O!" said Smithy; "he can be almost any thing. Perhaps he'll join a foot-ball club and travel, or get an easy job in an office in Toronto and play with the lacrosse club three afternoons a week."
"No! guess again."
"What! be a lawyer and lay for the old chaps with fancy fishpoles that fish out of season?"
"Not at all: he's going to be a schoolmaster."
"A schoolmaster! and stand at the door ringing the little bell, and then go inside and get all over chalk! That knocks me out That is a corker."
JACK'S shoulder mended fast, and he returned to school in a few weeks, quite strong and full of energy. His stay from class seemed to have been such a great loss of time, and his new determination to become a teacher sent such ambition to his labors, that he quite amazed Mr. O'Reilly and his parents with his progress. He had something special in view now. It was no longer the ordinary attention of the studious boy to his lessons, that made him work so hard in school and at home; it was no more the curiosity of an intelligent student to find how such a general managed the campaign, or why a certain method in arithmetic is the easier and quicker.
For he had a purpose, he had been off the track for some time, and his spiritual enemy had made many suggestions which Jack would seem to have used. He had often promised his mother and himself to do better soon, but put off doing so, and though the wicked angel would seem to have been gaining the day, while he kept on in his hesitation and delay, yet, when a serious purpose of amendment was made in his last moment of grace, the full importance of keeping his word and doing his duty came upon him with all its sacred force, and all the powers of his body and all the vigor and earnestness of his mind came to his help. He was rather silent about the workings of his mind, and this is why his parents, and Mr. O'Reilly, and even Father McCarthy, who was an old student of the workings of human hearts, were so surprised at the extra ordinary force of Jack's resolution and the uncommon success he gained. But to one who knew how Jack's whole soul had been so drawn into a kind of whirlpool of athletics, to one who law how things affected Jack's mind when he thought them over earnestly, there was nothing surprising in the fact that his sound mind, with its fresh gift of divine grace, led him in time from the threatening danger to a course of triumph in his studies.
By the time the midsummer examination came, Jack had gone over all the work for a certificate. Mr. O'Reilly in all his experience never saw a boy who worked so hard in so short a time, and he was a proud man on the first of July, when, on reading the published list of successful candidates for third-class certificates, he saw the name of John H. Brady standing near the top. The list was a long one, and therefore it was a greater honor. There was general rejoicing in the Brady household when the report came. Jack wanted to go off at once to begin work, though he had not even a school in view, and though he knew the holidays were on. He would go back north, where the schools are kept open only in fine weather; but his father objected and said after his hard work he deserved a rest. And Jack did have a good rest during the vacation. He helped his father in the office in the morning, and had the afternoon to himself. Billy O'Neill and he often went up to the old wharf be side the South Bridge and caught fish in the Mississaga, not forgetting, before they left every day, to give the worms that remained to the fish that haunted the shallows near the shore. Sometimes they paddled up the river and trolled for muscallonge, or moored opposite the cemetery and fished for bass; and often they went further up the river, past the Bend, where they had had such a glorious picnic the previous Summer, and shot birds from the boat, or pinned a card to a tree and fired at it. Then they would go in swimming by themselves, or with a party of their friends, and one famous day in August they went to Benwash Island, up the river, and had a grand picnic with the altar-boys from Little Clare. Father O'Connell was as jolly as ever and managed the games with great increase of reputation, and Father Murphy presided at the table, if a spread on the grass could be so called, and made the boys be satisfied with doing each one a part and not the whole of the spreading of the table and the washing of the dishes.
Of course, the boys had greater respect than ever for Jack, and he was likely to become, for years in the future, the great hero of the Scugogs, and the great pattern for imitation.
It must not be imagined that he gave up the Scugogs, and left off playing in their many games. Far from it. In the first warmth of his new resolutions, he wanted to leave the club and attend entirely to more serious things, and he found twenty reasons which, he thought, demanded that sacrifice. But his father would not hear of it. He said truly that a boy can do his work well, and still have a reasonable and pleasant share of fun, and that a strong, healthy mind is all the better for a strong healthy body. So Jack attended practice at the athletic grounds and was president of the Scugogs another year. The club played several match games with teams from the country, and made a grand record in lacrosse, foot-ball, and cricket; indeed, so wide did their fame as champion boy-players of different games extend, that they had challenges from Port Hole, Peterville, and other distant places; and one pompous club from Toronto offered to pay the Scugogs' fare to the city if they would play them a match. But they declined, saying they were not traveling the country yet, but that they would defend the honor of Scugog if the gentlemen from Toronto met them on the grounds of the Scugog Athletic Association.
And so the Summer passed with its beautiful days.
When the schools opened for the fall term, Jack attended the Model School for young teachers.
This was necessary to give him the practical training which the law required in all who took control of a school, and it was an easy matter for him to come through the examination successful.
He might now have gone to work, but his parents thought another year's study, at the end of which he could stand for a second-class certificate, would be a vast benefit to him; so Jack cheerfully agreed and began to study Latin and some of the more advanced branches of English and science. He also took special lessons in drawing, as the subject was lately added to the course for second-class work.
He showed great taste for landscapes, and made excellent sketches of different points along the Mississaga. One pencil drawing in particular the master thought worthy of being exhibited, and it was placed in a book-store window down town. A card stuck in the frame read as follows: "Sketch of Scugog from Myers' Hill, by one of the Scugogs," and the critics pronounced it a very creditable performance for an amateur.
The course of studies came to an end in June, and Jack went up for the second-class examination.
When the train came into Scugog the morning the results were published, Mr. O'Reilly got a copy of the Toronto paper and scanned its pages. His heart leaped when he saw the names of several of his pupils, Jack's name being twentieth in the list numbering a thousand. He bought a few extra copies, sent one up to Father McCarthy, and then hurried to Mr. Brady's house.
Jack was lying on the sofa, the toe of his slipper tracing imaginary lines and circles on the wall-paper, for the benefit of Sally, who was studying geometry now.
"You see, Sally," he was saying, touching a large sunflower in the pattern, "that is the circle."
"It's not a very round one, but we can suppose it's one. Let it be granted that a sunflower, in a pinch, will do for a circle," said Sally, and she hid her face, as if ashamed of her cleverness.
"Good, Sally," remarked Jack, clapping his hands; "you must have a medal for that."
"For what?" asked a cheery voice; "no medals today, we have better things to talk of," and Mr. O'Reilly, entering the room, seated himself in an armchair, and with badly imitated coolness slowly unfolded the daily paper.
Jack's face flushed, and his breathing came fast, while Sally ran out to call her mother.
"Is it in today?" asked Jack trembling.
"Yes, it's all there," replied Mr. O'Reilly, pretending to run over the news column.
"And did I fail?" Jack enquired, almost breathless in his excitement.
"No, my dear boy, you passed nobly, near the top; let me congratulate you, for I'm proud of your success;" and he wrung the boy's hand with all his might.
Jack was silent, but it was with joy. Words could scarcely have shown his feelings.
He had won his second-class certificate and could now in truth consider himself a teacher. He was ready to begin life in the walk he had chosen, and he longed to enter upon it.
AND now came a time in Jack's life when all his former trials, which he sometimes thought heavy enough, were as a morning mist in the warmth of the rising sun. A cloud of gloom settled upon the house and lay upon his soul, till he cried to God in agony to deal lightly with him, if it were pleasing to the Divine Will. His father, who was an active man, full of animal spirits, and, in the interests of his family, keenly devoted to his growing business, had been working too hard of late, and he came from his office one morning, complaining of severe pain in the head and a general feeling of indescribable sickness. He was put to bed, and though carefully treated, began to sink into a condition of dulness, which in a few days deepened into insensibility. The doctors shook their heads and were cautious of giving encouragement. Consultations were held, but the patient showed no signs of improvement. He rallied one day for a few hours, recognized his family by their voices, gave them his parting benediction, and then sank into a stupor, which ended the next day in death.
It was the first parting in that happy family, and though they were comforted in the knowledge that he died in the bosom of the Church and confiding in the hope of a glorious resurrection, yet the human part of their nature was sadly shocked and for a long time benumbed by the cruelty of the blow.
How crushing is such a grief as that, which blots out for a time whatever happiness centres in the name of home, and makes void conditions which are at other times a comfort and a glory. The death of children and friends reminds us how changeful and uncertain is our lot: but when the head of the house falls, the portion of those who remain is one of loneliness which human comfort and human life has little power to cheer.
So it was in the Brady household. His mother and Sally bore their grief as one from which they could never recover, though they had a sweetness in the recollection of his good and up right life. Jack was not so demonstrative, but his sorrow was profound, and his memory of the passing trouble he had caused his father weighed him down heavily. We have different views of the griefs we caused our dead friends, sometimes, to deaden our remorse, contracting their proportions, sometimes, in the overfulness of our sadness, magnifying them. Jack saw many things he would have wished to do over again, and his contrition settled down from its keenness with the firm intention to make up to his mother and sister whatever had been wanting in his conduct to his father.
He became more pious than ever, and a recollectedness marked his character, and a sense of new responsibility, that converted the ambitious and joyous-natured boy into a serious and thoughtful man, who had been given another trust in life, the importance of which he fully realized.
This new-born strength of mind was increased on the settlement of his father's estate; for it was found that the business was in such a course of development, that, had their father lived, a comfortable and steady income would have resulted soon; but with the sudden death of Mr. Brady, who alone knew his own plans, everything came to a standstill, and only a small percentage of value could be realized.
Mrs. Brady's means being thus narrowed, Jack saw that he had to begin life in earnest at once. He accordingly answered all the advertisements for teachers that appeared, and succeeded in being accepted by the trustees of a village school at a salary of three hundred dollars a year, the agreement to be signed when he entered on his duties.
It was a sad and quiet summer for Jack, and his friends among the Scugog Juniors in a thoughtful way gave him a thousand brotherly attentions. They endeavored to distract his mind by engaging him in some of the diversions of the season; and their kind efforts were not without success, for it was a time of life and stir in Scugog.
Scugog is a good, easy, steady town, an abode of peace and plenty. It lies in the midst of a fine farming country and enjoys all the year round an even run of trade. It is some distance inland from the oldest settled parts of Ontario, but it has the good fortune of being within a short distance of one of the most beautiful chains of lakes and rivers in the whole world. And it was always a pleasant place to live in.
It had grown with the steady growth of the oak-tree beside the stream, and its life had the gentle flow of the current beneath. There wan never a boom in Scugog; land never went up to a thousand dollars a foot, to come down again with a crash; neither was there ever a panic or very hard times. It might have been a sober, English country town, it was so sedate, old-fashioned and comfortable, at least so said its neighbors; and when farmers grown old with toil wished to enjoy their well-earned wealth in respectable retirement, they naturally moved into Scugog.
The unruffled ways of the town gave time and mood for mental improvement and social meeting, and its people, in the nature of things, were a cultivated as well as sociable and friendly class. Did an artist come the way to teach painting on velvet, or a professor of music wake the town with his strains, he found a large and promising number of pupils. In short, whatever showed taste was found there, and Scugog very properly was proud of its reputation.
It was devoted to out-door life, for the air was robust, and the citizens were hardy and rosy-cheeked. We have seen how the boys enjoyed themselves, and as the boy reflects the man, it may be known what kind of sports the elders indulged in. Every season had its fitting diversions, and these were rigorously followed by all classes, according to their means.
And here was July, the town baking hot, dust filling the shops, the streets, the houses, and everybody was going on excursions up or down the Mississaga, or making ready to go camping on the lakes.
Jack, with Billy and Matt Marty, was standing on the North Bridge, watching some campers starting off in canoes. They had all kinds of tackle and tents aboard, and supplies enough to fit out a garrison; and they passed down the river and rounded the turn amid the envy and admiration of the onlookers.
Just then a large canoe shot under the bridge, containing a single paddler. Evidently he was not an expert canoeist, for in reaching forward to arrange something in the boat, he leaned too much to one side, and as the boys watched, his boat upset, emptying its contents into the water. The gentleman sank, but soon rising to the surface he righted his canoe, and found everything gone but his canvas tent, which was held down by some braces. He was greatly distressed at his loss, and when the boys ran down the bank and offered to assist him, he not only consented but said he would pay them handsomely for their services. They got grappling hooks and rescued some articles, and then dived for the remainder, and in a short time the gratified gentleman had his property conveyed up town. He thanked the boys warmly and, in leaving, wrote something on a card which he handed to Jack, requesting them to call and see him.
"Read it out, Jack," said Billy, when the gentleman was gone.
"'Thomas P. Ryan, Special Artist. Canadian Magazine, Montreal. Room 6, Uncle Scott's Hotel.'"
"An artist, Jack," cried Matt warmly. "There's a chance for you to go camping and get lessons."
It was a prophetic suggestion of Matt's, for when the boys called at the hotel in the afternoon, the artist asked Jack, as being a strong and bright young fellow, how he would like to go with him for a month, camping. The object of his trip was to make a series of sketches of the Trent Valley waters for his magazine, and he said that as he now saw the unwisdom of going alone, he decided to engage an active and intelligent companion. He told Jack to ask his mother for permission, and recommended her to Mr. Brownlee of the Midland Bank for information about himself. The salary for the month was to be fifty dollars, a matter of importance to Mrs. Brady; and, moreover, on hearing of Jack's taste for drawing and seeing a specimen which Jack showed him, the artist said he would be delighted to give him instruction. The offer was therefore accepted, and Jack started out at the end of the week with his employer.
They had a pleasant paddle down the river, for the weather was beautiful, and steamers filled with excursionists and boats carrying small parties were met at different points on the way. They passed a number of the Scugog Juniors, dressed in trunks, who were logrolling and swimming near the old saw mill, and our young friends greeted the canoeists with splashing water upon them and several friendly attentions of a similar kind.
After two hours' easy work they reached the floating lighthouse of the Mississaga, a wonderful structure that had the Sheriff's sale of lands posted on one side, and Somebody's Cough Syrup on another. This was at the entrance into Madawaska Lake, a lake over which Champlain sailed two and a half centuries before, and which they now surveyed in all its beauty.
Before them, two miles off, fay Madawaska Point, and eight miles distant they saw a charming village at the end of the northern arm of the lake; to the right, for twelve miles, there lay an unbroken view of azure sky and purple water, separated on north and south by a waving line of green bank and native forest. This was the eastern portion of the lake, which was about two miles wide. The shores on all sides were dotted with cottages, and as they drew near the point, they saw a small settlement of summer houses, painted in bright colors, in the centre of which, a few yards from the wharf, was a large summer hotel.
"And this is the historic spot!" said Mr. Ryan. "It's beautiful, and but little changed from the days when Champlain was greeted by the dusky warriors that marshalled there on his coming."
"There's nothing romantic here now, Mr. Ryan," said Jack.
"Nothing but the native beauty of the spot, and that was given from the hand of God. After all, that's the charm of these places, their great and lasting attraction, and man has but to enjoy them and be thankful."
NEXT morning Jack and his friend rose at an early hour—they had placed their camp a few miles west of the Point—and having said their prayers on a large terraced stone, which they called the Altar Steps, they went down to the water's edge for their morning bath. The sun was just rising over the lake, and the rippling surface was touched with a tint of golden light. The wild roses on the shore shed a delicious odor, and all around them the forest was musical with the song of little birds. It was a glorious hour to wade out into the deep water, and they sported about, diving and turning somersaults, and swimming in all fashions.
When they left the water they went to the tent for breakfast. Slices of bacon were cut off and set on the coal-oil camp-stove, which sputtered and crackled and filled the air with a perfume that is a joy to a hungry camper. And when the slices were cooked and eaten with fried potatoes, bread, new butter, and steaming hot coffee, Jack and the artist were in fine humor, and ready for a harder day's work than they could find in a camping trip in such a beautiful region.
They were to start on their trip with a little diversion, so they began by visiting a little stream—Corkscrew Creek it was called--the mouth of which they saw a short distance to the east. They put the fishing rods and scoop net into the canoe and paddled to the creek. It was a very ordinary stream in appearance, being fringed with alders and willows, and having a good supply of lilies floating on the water and a few butterflies fluttering about.
But it was an uncommon creek for sport. The minnows were abundant in the shallows, and the scoop net reaped a large harvest. These were capital bait, and though they made a short stay there they caught several fine, large fish, most of which they returned to the water.
Going up the stream, to where a fallen tree lay across it, they tied the canoe and went into the woods to explore. After a long ramble the artist stopped at the foot of an old oak, the bottom of which was excavated, and calling Jack, he pointed to several diamond-shaped bits of stone that he scraped from the cavity. These were evidently arrowheads.
Jack was something of an Indian student, and said there were many battle-grounds around them, and that this was probably one of them, or else the site of an Indian village. The latter idea was probable, for close by they saw a sod-covered, circular depression, which they dug out later in the day and found to be a basin, four feet across, and made of a number of pieces of stone or baked clay, which were marked all over with worm-holes and worm-tracks. And not far off they discovered a larger, round, sunken spot, which, when opened, was seen to be filled with roasted corn, scraped from the ear. The place had certainly been an Indian village, for the Indians used to store corn in this way when game was scarce, or to preserve it when they went on a long journey.
Jack loved to talk about the Indians, and he told Mr. Ryan that these grounds were once the home of the Mississagas, a branch of the Chippewa Hurons, and that there was connected with the Point a legend of a Huron maid, who lived there. The artist desiring to hear it, Jack told the story as he read it in the rhyme of a local poet.
"A Huron maiden stood on the shore one summer night, waiting for the coming of her Iroquois lover. His canoe approached the point, and he landed in haste. He drew the boat on the shore and stooped to arrange his dress, and as he did so a lily fell at his feet; he turned joyously to meet the maiden. They were a happy pair, for when they plighted their love, he was a prisoner, taken in battle between their tribes; and now, besides coming to claim her for his wife, he brought presents and kind words from the Iroquois. He was not welcome to her Huron friends, however, though her father consented to their marriage. One of the braves, who was an unsuccessful suitor for her hand, stirred up the hatred Huron always had for Iroquois, and one night, when Ogewah waited at the trysting-place, they killed him. When Manita came and saw him lying dead in the moonlight, she lost her reason and remained insane for life. She always imagined he was coming; and at last, making a bed of flowers, she lay upon it and died, telling the children to waken her if Ogewah returned."
"A weird tale, and full of tragedy," said Mr. Ryan; "if that had happened in Europe, a hundred poets and artists would have written and painted it, and the fair world would have wept over it in a thousand bowers."
"There's another one told of this shore. The scene lies at the foot of a deep cove on the other side of the point," continued Jack, who was warming with his Indian sympathies.
"Out with it, Jack," said the artist. "Give us all the legend and history you please. We're here for art, and every story brings inspiration."
"It's called 'How the Forest Child died,' and I'll give you the poem."
Mr. Ryan filled his pipe again and stretched himself on the grass, while Jack began:
"Far out in the tangled wood
A lonely Indian wigwam stood:
Around it were heaped the drifting snows,
Above it the tow'ring forest rose.
An oak-tree, knotted and bent with age,
Look'd weirdly down on this human cage.
"Within an Indian maiden lay,
Breathing her innocent life away:
Wasted and worn with a fell disease,
Listening the moan of the forest trees.
'What does it mean?' they seemed to say;
'The birds have flown from our leafless glade,
They will return some other day
But never again our Indian maid.'
"We gave her all that we had to spare,
The brush and bark for her dwelling there,
The moss to pillow her aching head,
And leaves enough for her cosy bed;
We gave her fruit as it grew mature,
And herbs and simples to work her cure,
But never more shall our forest child
Smile on her home in her native wild.
"The tall pines shook in the frosty air,
The woodlands seemed to breathe a prayer;
The giant arms of the leafless trees
Stirred, as if moved by a passing breeze;
Was it in sorrow? Was it in fear?
For now the Angel of Death was near!
"A sigh came out of the smoky gloom;
A silence fell in the tiny room;
The mother uttered a piercing groan—
The life of her Indian child had flown."
"A pretty poem," cried the artist, "and what a subject! Nature's requiem over her innocent child. How that would look on canvas, if one had the eye of the poet and could show the Spirits of the Point ministering to the dying maiden! That would be something to surprise them at the Academy."
"By the way, Jack, now that we're talking of painting," he continued; "you must apply yourself to landscape while we're here. This is the place for inspiration, and your drawings show a taste that must be developed. By-and-by you can take up the human figure, and go into the ideal, and as you go on you can begin to use colors."
In the afternoon they hoisted the sail and went across the lake to Neaty Rock, where they had a good view of Madawaska Point. Here Mr. Ryan next day made a sketch of the opposite shore, and Jack busied himself on a view of a steamer close by, making a very fair reproduction of a saw-mill and the dwellings on the banks.
They lingered a few days on the Lake, taking sketches in different directions, Jack doing well and receiving encouragement and instruction from the artist. The last day of their stay they paddled to Bell Point, on the west of the Lake, where they lunched on bread and cheese and wild straw berries; and about four o'clock, wanting to spend a few hours fishing in a new ground they had discovered, they started for the camp. As they left the shore they saw a small line of black cloud behind them in the north-west horizon,—just a small line, as if the rain spirit were getting ready to draw his dripping curtain over the sky. The wind had risen a little, and the birds wheeled noisily about in the air, and a gray light began to cover the lake. They were half way across when they found that the small line of black, in a strange and sudden manner, had spread over half the sky, and that the light of day was fast growing dark. Then a few drops of rain fell on the water, and the waves began to grow. They paddled for dear life to reach the Point, where some of the residents were watching them from the hotel veranda. But the wind blew harder, and the rain came in big drops, and a few waves dashed into the canoe. It was impossible to make the Point. They might not reach land alive, but their only chance was to paddle with the wind, and this would bring them on the shore down the eastern arm of the lake. It was an awful hour, nothing between them and eternity but a frail boat partly full of water; and to make matters worse, Mr. Ryan, who was sitting forward, suddenly fell back into the canoe, holding the handle of his paddle, which had broken under the strain.
"God in Heaven save us!" cried Jack, who now tried only to keep the canoe straight; "Lie still, Mr. Ryan."
The wind increased in fury, and the waves constantly threatened to swamp the boat. They blew past the point, past their camp on the left, past Treaty Rock and the saw mill. Their clothing was wet through, and the artist's papers were soaked into pulp. Jack thought of his widowed mother and poor Sally at home, and he offered his life to God with resignation. How sincerely they prayed, these two, in the very jaws of death, help and safety being so close at hand and still so useless. It was a hard struggle for half an hour or more, but the winds began to weaken, the rain stopped, the waters lost some of their fury, and the shore was close before them. The strain on Jack's nerves was terrible, and now, that they were saved, he lost his power to direct the boat and he fainted as the canoe was dashed on the gravelled beach. They had made land five miles below their camp, on the opposite side of the lake. When Jack revived they both knelt and thanked God for their deliverance from an untimely death.
NEXT day the change of camp was made, and the canoe shot down to the lock at Port Robert, and was locked through into Swan Lake, a sheet of water filled with the loveliest islands, islands that would do for fairies only, and its shores dotted with summer villas. The artist chose a wooded point for the camp, and finding after some exploring that they were within easy reach of some wonderful scenery, he made the camp permanent, and prepared to make sketches in the neighborhood.
Jack developed wonderfully under Mr. Ryan's tuition. He had a ready hand for the camp work, and a most willing heart. In sketching he was making good progress, and began to use water- colors creditably. His taste for the work was large. What surprised the artist was the evident strength of his purposes. When Jack took a thing in hand it had to go through. There was method in what he did, and good sense, which showed that the boy used his thinking powers well. The artist found himself wondering at times what kind of training or what special gift of nature this lad had received.
"How would you like to be an artist?" he asked one morning, as Jack was finishing a color sketch of a small island and the cove behind it.
"Very well," replied Jack; "he has a glorious life. To sit here from morning till night, copying those islands and trees and rocks, and those gulls off there, that are so free and innocent, everything as God made it, must be grand work."
"That view of it is pleasant for you, who are making a holiday of it. But don't you think you'd tire of that? The novelty wears off, you know."
"The novelty may," answered Jack; "that is, you get used to it. It's just the same, only far grander, as with games, I think; you get used to playing lacrosse, for instance, or snow- shoeing, or boating, but you don't tire of them."
"Ah!" said Mr. Ryan, "but these are only at times, and only for amusement. Wouldn't you get tired of games morning and night, winter and summer, if they were something you had to do to earn your bread."
"No, I don't think they are the same; of course, you have to like it; then you seem to be thinking of the Almighty's works so much, there is a constant meditation on the divine goodness and beauty—a wonderfully fine subject to think about, particularly when you have so much natural beauty around you."
"But you forget the drudgery, the bread and butter side of the question."
"You have that everywhere," said Jack. "I am going to teach school. That means to be in a close room from nine till four, with a hundred children, perhaps. It may be hard work; but see the good you do. And everybody has to have some unpleasant work: and the good more than balances the bad."
"So you are really going to teach school?"
"Yes, I've agreed with the School Board, though I've not yet signed the agreement. I've got to work, and I'm anxious to begin, though I could do anything with pleasure, I think, that I'd be able for."
And so Jack reasoned. Duty was in his mind, and the good to came from it; rather a serious kind of thought for him who once had been so fond of play.
They found, as they continued their short voyage for artist work, that it would be advisable to have somebody as chief cook and dish-washer for the camp. In fact, the romance of camp cooking was fading rapidly, and dish-washing was becoming a nuisance.
They were therefore fortunate in finding one day, on returning to the tent, that a red-skinned son of the forest was boiling water for the dinner. He had actually peeled some potatoes and boiled them, and was now getting ready to make tea.
Mr. Ryan was thunderstruck, and Jack was delighted beyond expression! Some fairy had heard their wish and sent them a cook. They couldn't tell whether his hands were clean or not, but there he was, and when he saw them, his mouth widened a trifle into an Indian smile. They watched him as he went into the tent and brought out the fish and fried it, and sprinkled salt and pepper on it. And without any instructions he brought out the tin plates and cups, and handed them to his guests.
He had looked through the tents in their absence, and made himself acquainted with locations.
"What natural impudence," said Mr. Ryan.
The whole affair was so absurd that they could not but laugh at it, and after the meal they investigated the Indian. He was John Buckeye of that neighborhood, and had never been anywhere else in the world. He could fight, shoot, fish, drink, swear, and steal, with any red man on the lake, and having been lately in the employ of a neighboring camp, had got tired of too much work and left. He was ad vised to return, but refused, and so Mr. Ryan hired him for a dollar a week less than he had been receiving.
"We are apt to have trouble over him," said Jack, "and it is best that his wages be smaller, so that no one can say we bribed him."
That evening, in truth, the trouble began, when two men appeared in the camp and demanded the return of John Buckeye. Jack was not so much surprised at the demand as to recognize in one of the men an old friend, the famous Tom Birch.
He was the last person Jack would have expected to meet in that holy solitude, and a momentary feeling of indignation came upon him. Tom looked surprised also, but advanced smiling and held out his hand.
"Why, Jack! how do you do? I didn't know you were out here."
"Are you camping in the neighborhood?" said Jack coldly.
"Yes, we hang out a few miles down. Our cook left today, and we were told he went this way. We came to bring him back."
"This is Mr. Ryan," said Jack; "speak to him."
"I'm afraid you'll not get him again," said the artist; "before engaging him I tried to induce him to return."
"But he's got to," said Tom, who was getting angry. "He's not worked his wages out."
Here the Indian took a hand in the discourse, and did some very bad swearing in very bad English. It was in vain Tom coaxed him and threatened. The Indian refused to return, and Mr. Ryan closed the discussion by saying he might be held responsible for the transaction.
Tom and his friend went off, the former being inclined to show his temper, but this he was perhaps assisted in restraining by the presence of his old playmate.
Just about dark fresh difficulties appeared to be in store, for the whole of Tom Birch's party, twelve in number, came shouting and singing towards the camp. It was like the coming of a confident enemy, but Jack and the artist appeared so cool and unconcerned that the strangers weakened in their purpose before they bad well begun their conversation. They toned down the vigor of their demand as they proceeded, and finally, when Mr. Ryan quietly explained that he had endeavored to induce the Indian to return, and that Buckeye positively and angrily declined, the strange campers agreed to drop the affair and find a substitute.
The campers were a pleasant and gentle manly lot of fellows. Their leader, Mr. Tinklepin, was a tall, thin man, with shaven chin and flowing wiskers, and from the pockets of his linen vest—he never wore a coat at camp—the tops of cigars appeared like rows of little barrels. He was connected with art, being on the editorial staff of a pictorial journal in Toronto.
He was an incessant smoker, and talked in a rapid, high- pitched voice. His party were young gentlemen of agreeable disposition, who made a yearly visit to some of the many inland lakes of Ontario, and they called their camp "Never Say Die," a title which their musical instincts softened into the more melodious and uncommon name "Neversady."
Buckeye had disappeared on the coming of his late employers, but now, that peace was made, he answered the artist's call by coming from behind the tree where he was hiding. Mr. Ryan ordered him to bring forth the good things from the tent, and a very respectable lunch was spread on the grass. The chief of Neversady was taken with Mr. Ryan's manner from the start, and by the close of the lunch he got to form a high opinion of his wit and intelligence. When the things were cleared away he divided the little barrels from his pockets among the party, the only one abstaining being Jack, who had not yet learned the manly art of smoking.
Then fun was let loose, and a campers' entertainment began.
One of the gentlemen consented to sing, after much coaxing and a great deal of humming to clear his throat. It was a famous ditty he chose, "Nelly Gray;" but he forgot some of the words, unfortunately; so he hummed the air where his memory failed him, the others bursting in, in places where a word of the song occurred to them. It was a patched up sort of thing, but they enjoyed it. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Tinklepin sang "The Larboard Watch," the company droning an undertone bass, that was supposed to be an improvement, and when the song was finished the gentlemen clapped their hands and called more! more! There was considerable applause when the artist and editor began that classic selection, "The Bulldog on the Bank and the Bullfrog in the Pool," and the gentlemen sang themselves hoarse in the chorus. Camping makes men sing that keep their mouth closed at home, and some of the solos given that night on Swan Lake would have brought down the dullest house that ever attended a concert. A little variation was given to the proceedings by Mr. Tinklepin, who, amid frequent cheers and thunders of applause, made a humorous speech on the Refining Influence of Music, with special reference to its softening effect on camping parties.
A large reflecting lamp, fixed on one of the tent poles, lighted up a large space in front, and it was suggested to enjoy this by engaging in a grand war-dance, in which everybody should join. This idea came from John Buckeye, who had grown talkative and thus given some reason for the suspicion that he had been consuming fire water, a limited supply of which, under the name of "wood," was stored in Mr. Ryan's tent for use in sudden cases of illness. Buckeye was an accomplished liar, or else had an extraordinary memory—the former was probably the fact—for he told of the war-dances he enjoyed with his ancestors on the same spot a century before. They humored his maunderings, and the serious Ryan, the editorial Tinklepin, and the other respectable gentlemen ranged themselves in a ring, and all joined hands and circled around Tom Birch sitting on a stump and blowing music through a mouth-organ. Buckeye stood in the centre, swinging the scoop-net in the great Tomahawk act. Poor John seemed to be converted into an old-time savage, for, as the excitement of the dance increased, and the laughter and shouts of the campers grew wilder and wilder, and the fire-water fumed into his brain, he sunk the scoop net into the head of an imaginary foe in the grass, which was really Mr. Tinklepin's Panama hat, and then with a wild whoop burst through the circle and dashed away. After him ran the crowd, stumbling over stumps and fallen trees, and tearing through banks of brush. But in vain, John was not to be found, and they gathered their numbers together and turned back, wondering what end would happen to their Indian friend.
On returning to the camp after an hour's search, some of the gentlemen, being thoroughly tired out, threw themselves to rest on a pile of bedding that was used as a seat during the evening's repast.
But they found the seat uneasy, for the earth seemed to roll as if an earthquake were present. With shouts they sprang to their feet and cried to the others. The bedding was seen to heave from the earth, and amid their laughter and exclamations of surprise John Buckeye emerged, backing out like a crab and looking very much astonished.
The mystery was explained. John had dodged them after a short run, when, realizing that he was making a fool of himself, he returned and took an original way of hiding himself and his shame.
They brought him to his senses when they sat on him, and John had a warning that was better than a temperance lecture.
JACK and the artist made several trips to Neversady and were hospitably entertained by the campers.
Tom Birch appeared to be on good footing among them.
When he was discharged from the Reformatory, which was some weeks before the end of his time, as a reward for observance of the rules, he went to Buffalo, where his mother's brother gave him employment in his store. Here he remained contentedly for some time. But the temptations of a large city were too much for his slender income, and Tom from time to time helped himself to his uncle's cash-box. One theft, larger than the rest, was detected by his relative, and he was called into the office, where his uncle, after giving him a scolding and some sound advice, presented him with a few dollars and sent him away.
Tom had no friends in the city, and seeing a hard time ahead, worked up a little contrition, which appeared to him to be the genuine article.
With a little money and his entire stock of good resolutions he recrossed the lake to Toronto and had the good fortune to obtain a minor position in a wholesale house. He was attentive and industrious, and shortly had a promotion, which brought him into company with the clerks. Some of these, with a few friends, were soon to form a camping party and start for Swan Lake, and they were badly in want of somebody who knew the locality. Tom took advantage of this difficulty, and was gladly accepted as a member of the party.
He was considerably changed now. His ad dress was naturally good, and his stay at the reformatory had improved his manners. He wore a mustache and dressed with taste; and once in camp, with no restraint or fear, his ready wit and great activity found fair play, and he became a favorite with the chief and his friends. He was an authority on fishing and boating, and knew all the good places for sport, and before they were in camp long he became the most useful and indispensable person in the company.
But Jack's presence made him uncomfortable, and the day after their meeting he found a chance to talk to him in private. He was polite to Jack when they met in the camp, but as they came together in the grove his pale face took on the old, ugly look of dislike.
"I suppose I may as well leave this place, now that you're here," he said. "You've always followed me hard, and now you'll clinch it by talking to my chief."
"Still the same old notions, Tom?" asked Jack quietly. "Isn't it about time you saw I never intended or did you any harm?"
"Never did me harm! Do you think I can swallow that? Who always stood in my way when I wanted anything? Who always put me down, and came out ahead himself? Who else, but the good boy, the handsome boy, Jack Brady, who is always so innocent?" And Tom was a picture of pale-faced hate.
"At least you can't blame me for the Police Court affair. You brought that on yourself."
"Stop!" cried Tom, raising his hand and advancing. "I won't have that thrown in my face; at least, not here."
"I don't see what you could do about it, Tom, if I did mention it. But rest easy, for I never tried to hurt you, and I'm not going to now, since you have a chance to do better."
And Jack moved off, leaving Tom in a villainous humor. There it was again! Brady made the most of the situation, and boasted he was doing a favor!
But Tom had a good memory, and though he was always civil to his old playmate, he had a purpose deep in his heart that promised mischief when the hour came for its execution.
The days flew by, the two parties having many fishing and pleasure excursions together, and usually having one meal every day in company. Jack and the artist went on Sundays to Port Robert to Mass, and made visits of devotion to the village church during the week. They worked daily with brush and pencil, Jack advancing rapidly, and Mr. Ryan becoming proud of his pupil.
One day, after reading his letters, which came in the morning to the camp, the artist asked Jack how he would like to take charge of the Art Society's office in Montreal. There would be a few hours' work every day with the Society's business, Mr. Ryan said, but there would be plenty of spare time and a fine chance to study under good artists. The salary was good, much better than a school would give, and the artist said if Jack desired the place there would be little difficulty in getting it for him.
This opened up a new line of thought. Dearly as he was beginning to love art-study, he did not like the idea of giving up his labor of the last two years, and the plan that inspired him. It was certainly his life work to be a teacher, and any departure from this idea seemed to be a departure from the straight line of duty. But the more he thought of the Art Society, the oftener he wished he had heard of it sooner. He decided to think it over carefully, and to write to Father McCarthy for advice.
In the meantime Mr. Tinklepin and the artist became fast friends. The editor was a man of more taste and information than his odd manner suggested, and he was intimately acquainted with several of Mr. Ryan's artist friends. They talked about art, and dreamed out plans for Mr. Ryan to illustrate a series of books the editor was going to write in the future, and others of an equally interesting kind, but never destined to be carried to completion.
One day the artist asked Jack why he took such pains to avoid Tom Birch. The reply was unsatisfactory, Jack saying that Tom and he never got on well together, for he remembered the promise he gave in the grove, and he was afraid to say much, from fear of arousing the artist's suspicions. It would have saved a deal of trouble had Jack told everything then, for the artist's question was started by a remark of Mr. Tinklepin that young Brady had been a wild boy in his youth, and which Mr. Ryan rightly sup posed came from Tom.
But Jack's silence was misunderstood, and when the editor informed Mr. Ryan sometime later that he had heard Jack had once been arrested for stealing, the artist resolved to say nothing about it to Jack, but to write at once to his friend Brownlee in Scugog for information. In his own mind he ridiculed the idea of Jack's being guilty of such a crime, for he had learned to love Jack's open ways and the soundness of his principles. But if by any chance such a misfortune had occurred in his young and less responsible days, he reflected, such a circumstance concerning one he recommended for the responsible office in Montreal might become a source of embarrassment to himself and the person he tried to benefit.
He thought of his terrible hour with Jack on Madawaska Lake, and his heart smote him for his unkindness, for under God's Providence he owed his life to Jack's skill, but he consoled himself by saying that he could easily help him in some less responsible but equally beneficial way.
In a few days an answer came from Mr. Brownlee. The artist and Mr. Tinklepin were sitting in the grove, opening their daily mail, when Tom Birch came up, saying they were wanted at once at the beach to settle some difficulty about preparation for their evening excursion over the Lake. Tom lay on the grass, waiting their return, and employed his leisure in running his eye over the mail matter, which was strewn About, partly opened, on the ground. An open bundle of newspapers caught his eye, copies of the Scugog Daily Messenger of two years before. The torn wrapper bore the office-stamp of the Messenger, and across the margin of one of the papers these words were written in pencil: "Papers referring to young Brady's arrest. Further particulars again. In haste, B."
Tom saw what it all meant, and that his own scheme was about to injure himself. But he had plenty of nerve, and when he set about being a villain, he was not the man to back out It was a bold thing to charge Jack here with the Police Court business, and he was equal to the crisis now. So he sorted over the papers, taking out the number referring to his own exposure by little Bruce and folding the others as they were, put the stolen evidence of his guilt into his pocket, looked around to be sure nobody was looking, and then sneaked away. The miserable cur! He was more civil than usual to Jack that evening at the excursion over the lake, when Mr. Ryan pretended to be at ease as the others enjoyed themselves, and as innocent Jack was trying to wake the artist out of the strange moodiness he had been lately acquiring.
The artist had read the papers and saw that the number explaining the arrest was missing. Mr. Brownlee had written on the margin: "Fuller particulars again; but of what use were fuller particulars, when, in all probability, the important one was unfavorable, even though it had circumstances that excused it?"
And so, when Jack reverted to the matter of the Art Society's office, Mr. Ryan did not press his acceptance as before. He even suggested that circumstances might arise, in fact, were sure to arise, that would prevent his getting the place for Jack, and he even advised him to go on teaching for the present, if that best suited his inclinations and ideas of duty.
This sort of talk was a mystery to Jack, but he could not push matters further. He was hurt in that manly spirit of his that had been growing so much of late; but he had promised to remain during the trip with Mr. Ryan, and he would stay it out. Of course, he saw that such an offer was something of which he could not claim the fulfilment; but he was a man now, and felt that he was not treated with the dignity due to his manhood.
The artist understood Jack's feelings well, and in a thoughtful, kindly way, did many little acts that would have atoned to another. Jack received them with every sign of gratitude, for he felt what he owed the kind-hearted artist; but his manner had not the open confidence he showed in the early days of their friendship. They were not so much together of late, owing to the growing friendship of the two camp-leaders, and Jack fell into a melancholy mood, which was evident to all on the lake. As for Tom Birch, he watched the turn of events, and rejoiced when he saw he was making Jack unhappy. But he realized that he 'was on dangerous ground, and that he might fail in his design any moment. Like a skilful general, therefore, he prepared a way to retreat in danger, and he made frequent trips to Hornbuck Lake, under the pretence of examining locations for their next camp.
Early in the following week an event occurred which kept him away from Swan Lake oftener and made him extremely cautious when he remained.
THIS was nothing less than the appearance, early one morning, of several boats, containing some gentlemen from Scugog and a quartet of the most prominent members of the Scugog Juniors. Whatever grace Tom received from Jack Brady, he feared he had none to expect from the others.
Billy O'Neill was there, and he shouted when he saw Jack, and shook his hand as if they had been parted for years; and Matt Marty, who looked glorious in a free-and-easy camping suit of most wonderful cut, that his mother had made expressly for the occasion. Nosey Phelan came, too, and his wide smile shone from under the shade of one of that graceful pattern of hats which is known to boys as the "Cow's Breakfast;" and Smithy, the lively and acrobatic Smithy, who declared they were going to shame the monkeys of the wilderness out of their dullness. The shores resounded with their noises and presented a scene of confusion that far surpassed any attempts of which the gentlemen from Neversady were capable.
Mr. Ryan was glad the boys came, for they restored Jack somewhat to his usual spirits and helped him to remove his recent gloomy humor.
To give free scope to their enjoyment, he made daily trips to Hornbuck and Rocky Lakes, with Mr. Tinklepin, where he sketched, while the editor smoked cigars, wrote editorials on art, or entertained his friend with wise comments on the surrounding scenes.
The gentlemen from Scugog moved on to Horn buck and went into camp, leaving the boys in Jack's company for the week.
And the Scugogs? Hurrah for the Scugogs! They were the sort of boys it does one good to see. They were always full of life and fun and innocent mischief, ready to carry out any scheme of honest sport, no matter at what risk to their nimble bodies, never tiring of running or wrestling, and always enjoying meal time with glorious appetites. They had none of that precocious wickedness that must smoke cigars behind a fence, or that glories in language that causes a boy's guardian angel to blush. They were not by any means a school of old-fashioned prodigies, too good to live; they were merely a natural set of boys, as boys might be and should be; such boys as become good worthy men and are the glory of a nation.
This old-time spirit on the ball-ground was not grown dull with their few months of extra age. They came to Swan Lake, they said, to give the place a rosy coloring, and they went at it as if they meant to keep their promise. Of course, they went in swimming, just to see how it was in Swan Lake, you know. There were no snakes, or eels, or snapping turtles in the water to attack their heels or toes, and that took off some of the romance of the thing, but there were lots of cramps around, and Nosey got one in his leg, whereupon the four carried him to shore and brought him around in no time. Every one knows that when you get a cramp in the leg it's time to go out, so our boys dressed, warning Nosey never again to take too much fun out of anything.
Early in the morning they would take two of the boats and catch some of the bass Jack boasted of so much.
Everybody has caught bass. You have pulled in to shore perhaps and thrown your line in a space among the rushes, or sat like a fool for hours on a bridge or pier longing for a bite. You may even have lain down on your breast-pocket in a boom, or across saw logs, and waited for the thieves of the water to pilfer your worms.
But that's not fishing. You must start early in the morning, after a good swim, with three or four good fellows, young or old, Scugogs, if you can get them. You must start also on Swan Lake, paddle to the mouth of a certain stream, and draw near the shore on your left. Choose the space between the stumps and the rushes, where you see the rocky bottom plainly. Then take the pail of "shiners" or your daintiest worms, dug the night before, and fill up your hook nicely. Seat yourself comfortably in your skiff or canoe, be it lap-streak, birch-bark, or dug-out, and then, with a view of Swan Lake and the rising Sun to your right to feast your taste for natural beauty in the intervals of bites and chat, then, and only then, spit on your bait, and, in the name of St. Peter, the fisherman, commit your hook to the fish. If you catch nothing, it's because there are no fish there.
So it was the Scugog finished the second morning of their meeting. Nosey broke the silence that followed their coming by shouting that he had caught a whale. It was a fine bass, a beauty, weighing six pounds.
"Easy there, old man," cried Smithy, "or you'll have us both in the water. Perhaps you'd like to be food for a family of bass."
"Hurrah! there's a monster!" came from Jack, as he pulled in his first catch.
And so they fished, pulling up fish large and small, till the thing grew monotonous, and Smithy proposed to move off where the fish were fewer. Some things in this life are undervalued when too easily had, and thus it was at present. So Nosey pulled up the stream, while Smithy threw out his trolling line and watched the circling spoon glitter under a line of ripples. The line was all paid out, but it was no go. They might have gone to the source and back again without taking anything. But they were not up the stream for nothing. They were returning, when they heard a shout from Jack, whom they saw standing in the skiff winding up his line.
"He's lost his hook, Nosey," said Smithy. "That's one fish with a sore throat this morning."
Nosey stopped rowing and looked around. "See!" he said, pointing to where something was tugging at the weeds under the water, "Those ripples mean that Jack's fish is fast."
"You're a darling, Nosey. That's it, sure enough. Pull over gently. Easy now, Nosey dear, swing her around. A little more this way. Back up a bit. Yes, it's the line. That fish didn't know the river: he should have kept from the shore. Now! let me take it. There!" and Smithy freed Jack's line from the river grass, and lifted it up, the fish tugging away at his end vigorously.
"I won't pull it in, Nosey; we'll let Jack do that."
And moving down stream they came up to Jack's boat, when Smithy with great ceremony carefully gave the line to Jack and requested him to finish his job. Jack pulled it in slowly, expecting to find that he had caught the sea-serpent. It was only a pike, however, but it measured three feet in length, and weighed more than is safe to mention.
They visited and fished in several places around the lake, and they trolled in the evenings for muscallonge, or tramped to the trout-brooks and tried some Hies that belonged to Mr. Ryan.
One day they ran out of shiners and worms and went ashore to catch grasshoppers where some men were sawing fallen timber. There they learned something new, for one of the men, who was an old water-sport and knew all the tricks of fishermen, surprised and delighted them by splitting some blocks of worm-eaten wood, and gathering from the holes several handfuls of grubs, which proved to be most excellent bait.
Did they do anything else but fish? What a question! of course they did. They explored the entire forest, and made collections of leaves, flowers, and mosses. They would leave camp after breakfast, and when dinner hour came they would have a grand meal of berries, grapes, and wild plums. They found Indian relics on the shore, and told wild stories of the wars among the red men, and Jack gave them several lectures on Indian antiquities.
The bush was full of game, and Jack's double-barrelled gun did fearful execution. They all tried it, and Nosey, after several fruitless efforts, distinguished himself by shooting a squirrel. It was a miserable handful of a thing, that sat, and winked, and wiped its jaws, and licked its nails, and twisted its tail with amusing pride, and then moved nimbly on a few yards when Nosey was ready to shoot. Nosey would take a sure aim, and then look up to see if the squirrel was still there, when, lo! he was somewhere else. But the squirrel forgot his cunning at last, and sat too long admiring Smithy's tongue, which was aimed in his direction, and Nosey had time to take aim and look up and take aim again, and then bang away. They buried him with military honors, Nosey firing the salute and Billy playing the dead march in Saul on his pocket-comb.
Fresh visitors arrived when they were three days together, among whom they rejoiced to find Percy Lionel Fitzwobble. The old chappie was as natural as ever. Farm life hadn't changed him a bit, though the boys said his feet were somewhat spread, and he was browner than before. He still wore the glass twisted into his cheek, and he carried a stick. His "trousers" bagged at the knees, and sagged behind under his linen blouse, which was short and loose. But he showed taste and judgment, for he had on sky- blue kid gloves and wore his tie in a sailor's knot, which was the proper thing for a stay by the water.
The lads welcomed him with real pleasure, and Percy could scarcely express himself, his r's stumbled so obstinately.
"Weally! fellahs, I'm pwowd to wenew ouah fwendship. Bwady, you look gwand! How you chaps have gwown. You aw quite men now!"
"You didn't notice my beard," said Billy, pointing to some dirt on his chin.
"That's wich, O'Neill, very dwoll, I must say."
They had a pleasant meeting, Percy showing a friendly interest in the stories they told him of their adventures on the lake. He agreed to stay a day with them, and take part in an expedition to Silver Island at the end of the lake, which Jack suggested as a special mark of honor to their friend.
THE trip to Silver Island was a great success. The boys climbed all the rocks and made collections of the red and silver mosses that grew in such plenty.
Billy took some pebbles and shells in his hand, and recited a lesson from the school-book, and called it a lecture on the geology of the district; and Percy was induced to make a speech describing farm life, laying special stress on the stony, obstinate nature of the soil in hoeing time.
They had gone pretty well over everything on the island, when Jack told the boys he had something remaining to show them.
"It's a cave, boys, a genuine cave; I discovered it one day when I was rambling here;" and leading the way to the highest point of the Rock, he pushed aside some branches and showed a narrow opening, just wide enough for one to enter.
"I'll light my taper and go first," he said, and on they followed him down carefully along the shelving descent.
They were in the cave, which was twenty feet square, and must have been below the water level, when Percy requested Jack to light him up to the entrance for a minute.
"What's the matter?" asked Jack, as Percy with wonderful agility climbed the side.
"I left my stick outside," he replied, the boys below making the chamber ring with laughter at his expense.
"You can't appeah pwopah even in a cave without youah cane; youah not dwessed, you know," he continued, as he followed Jack down.
The cave was a wonderful place. Jack explained that it was probably a phenomenon of the original disturbance which formed Silver Island, but it pleased the others to consider it a place of refuge made by the Indians in war time.
Jack said it was certainly known to the Indians and used by them, and going into a corner, which the boys had not closely observed, he scraped aside some mould and bits of rock, and produced several human skulls and bones. They were in good order, and the boys carefully examined them. Some of the skulls were pierced with holes that had lines of fracture running from them, like rays from stars, and others had great yawning openings, made perhaps with the blade of the tomahawk. That portion of the cave was an excavation, and in the mould that filled it skeletons were buried, some of them sitting, and most of them with the faces turned to the rising sun, a fact, Jack said, that showed the cave was used as a burial place, and probably by some branch of the Hurons.
Matt believed the cave was the scene of some treachery, and began to tell a story that would account for all the circumstances.
"Once upon a time," he began; but Smithy and Nosey objected to fairy tales, and Percy actually said "chestnuts," while Jack told Matt to proceed with the yarn, all of which so confounded him that he gave up the attempt.
They left the cave then and found it a relief to breathe the free air again. But Smithy was missing.
"What's become of him?" asked Billy.
"S-b-i-t-h-y!" called Nosey, who had a cold in his head that greatly interfered with the clearness of his voice.
"Sbithy! Cub hobe! You're wadted! Your brother is lookid for you!" shouted Billy, the boys laughing heartily at the imitation.
"Here!" cried a faint voice, and going in the direction of the sound, they found Smithy emerging from the cave. He hid behind a bush and asked the boys to pardon his appearance. He was not fully dressed, he said, and apologized for it.
"Whats this?" said Jack in amaze. Some thing was certainly wrong with Smithy, and still the little rascal was wanting to laugh.
"Excuse me," he replied; "I lost two buttons off my coat coming up, and a fellah can't appeah pwopah in company without them. In fact, a fellah isn't dwessed, don't you know."
Then he had his laugh, Percy with the others richly enjoying the joke.
The rest of the day was spent in different enjoyments, all of them in honor of Percy, who declared himself proud and happy to be the object of so much attention.
That night he went to Hornbuck Lake to join his party, and returned next morning with one of the Scugog gentlemen, who had charge of the Juniors, and who came to see if the boys were ready to go down with him. Percy was on his way to Scugog to purchase some things his party had forgotten. He asked Jack to go with him, and as the latter, being near the end of his trip, began to tire of what was becoming an effort to overcome his disappointment, the two decided to paddle to Port Robert that evening in time to catch the steamer.
The Juniors wishing to visit Neversady before leaving Swan Lake, the small party went there about noon. Mr. Tinklepin, the artist, and the campers were having lunch as the boys arrived, and cordially invited them to share the delicacies. Tom Birch was lying on the grass, sipping claret lemonade. It was the first time he had met the new arrivals, and he saw from their manner that they had been told of his presence, and had determined not to recognize him. He felt easier for this, and sipped his luxury with great indifference.
"I'd like to go home tonight, Mr. Ryan, if you have no objection," said Jack, when most of the party had strolled into the woods after lunch. "You will be here only a few days, and the extra time at home will be valuable to me."
The artist hesitated in some confusion. He had been thinking the matter over, and while he felt he had been doing an unwilling injury to Jack, he was satisfied with his late opinion that the best plan in Jack's interest was to let him go on with his school until he could find some other way of helping him. He hesitated in some confusion, but finally said: "Just as you please Jack. I'll be in Scugog myself in a few days. But before you start I'll give you a letter to Mr. Brownlee, whom I have some business with."
Tom Birch was close by all the time, and came up to Jack when the artist left. "I hope, Jack, you've nothing against me during the stay here," he said; "you're going away, you know, and I'll do the same soon, and we may not meet again."
This surprised our hero, but he put out his hand. "No, Tom, I've nothing against you. As you say, we may not meet again, and let us both agree to forget the past."
And he left Tom, wondering what good influence moved him to act so differently from his custom, forgetting in his honesty that a villain's mind is like water at rest, which too often covers depths that an ordinary line is unable to fathom.
Jack and Percy were at last ready to start, and Mr. Ryan and Tom Birch came down to the shore to see them off. Tom remarked casually that they could not catch the evening boat from Port Robert, and that they would have to stay over night in that village. But the boys agreed that it would be pleasanter to go all the way in the canoe, Percy taking to the idea from its romantic side. Mr. Ryan handed two letters to Jack: "Give that one to Mr. Brownlee, if you please," he said, "the other is for yourself. I'll call to see you when I go to Scugog." And wishing him and Percy a safe journey, he gave them a kind farewell.
Tom Birch said good-by, and asked the boys if they'd try to make Scugog that night. Jack said they'd only go as far as Corkscrew Creek, and sleep in the woods or in a cottage that was building there.
Then they started, and soon made the passage to Port Robert, where they put up the boat, had supper in the village, and took in something fresh to eat on the way up.
The moon was rising as they started on Madawaska Lake. Jack was quiet on the way up, for his thoughts were busy on the events of the last few months, and Percy found it hard to rouse him even by telling his best stories of farming. It was late when they reached Corkscrew Creek, and finding in the cottage a large pile of fresh shavings, they divided them into two bundles for beds, and spread blankets over them. Percy got the eatables from the boat, and Jack started for the spring up the creek for water. He was sinking his pail when he stopped. He thought he heard the breaking of twigs, as if some one was walking, and he thought he saw shadows moving among the trees, but he put it to his imagination. When he got back to the boat he found that Percy had sardine sandwiches made and was already helping himself. They talked and laughed over their excursion to Silver Island, and renewed in conversation the pleasures they had in their snow-shoe trips in Scugog.
They were very tired, and Percy found it hard to keep awake. "Hadn't we bettah tuhn in?" he enquired.
"Yes, old boy," said Jack, "we'll have to be up early, and we'll only have a little rest. I think I'll go over and say my prayers." And he pointed to a terraced portion of the shore.
"That's what we called the Altar Steps. Mr. Ryan and I said our prayers there morning and night. By the way, Percy, do you ever pray?"
"Pway! Of cawse, that is, sometimes; perhaps not so much as I ought. I fawget it, you know, when I'm tiahed."
"What would your mother say, Percy, if she thought you went to bed without saying your prayers? We're always in danger around the lakes, and a fellow ought to thank God for his safety. And your mother would think so."
"Ah! Bwady, you stwike me in a tendah place. My deah mothah! You may think me a caahless chap, Bwady, but I have the deahest mothah that evah said 'God bless you, my boy' and I love huh bettah than my life. She would, gwieve to know I fawget the lessons she gave me. Deah old mothah! I'll ask God to bless huh tonight, and keep me safe to see huh again."
And Percy knelt in the grass, while Jack went to the Altar Steps and poured forth his soul in fervent prayer.
The moon stood high in the heavens, like the Queen of Angels lighting the world with her love, and the stars, like the celestial hosts, beamed a reflection of divine light. All about the creek, and shore, and lake there was peace, and the peace of a power higher than nature filled the boys' hearts as they went into the cottage and prepared themselves for bed.
"Now, Bwady," Percy said, pulling off his boots, "you take that bed undah the window, and I'll sleep ovah heah, so as to see anybody that might pwowl awound and come in."
"Nonsense, Percy; we're as safe here as in a fortress;" and he proceeded to hang up his coat and hat on the wall.
"You've dwopt something, Jack."
"Sure enough," said Jack, "it's Mr. Ryan's letters. I had forgotten all about them."
And he held the letters at the window in the moonlight.
"Mr. Ryan writes a fine hand, Percy. Don't you think so?"
Percy took the letters and examined the writing.
"You didn't open yours," he said, handing one of them back.
Jack stood by the window, and tearing off one end of the envelope partly pulled out the contents. "It's my wages," he said.
The figure of a man was bending low around the corner of the cottage, not six feet from the window; he leaned forward to catch every word.
"Youah not vehy caahful of them if you fohget them so easily," said Percy; "Youah own is pwecious enough, and I'm suah thaah's something valuable in this other. Heah, put it up."
"This inside pocket will hold them, Percy; but to make sure I'll fasten the button on top."
The man at the corner heard every word, and when the voices ceased he turned towards the wall and shook his fist with gestures of wicked glee.
The two boys were soon asleep. Percy became restless after a while, as his bed was not comfortable. He seemed to dream, and thought a man sprang on the window, and, stepping over Jack, went to where his clothing hung, searched the pockets, and, taking out the letters, walked softly to the window and read the addresses.
Then, turning toward Jack's sleeping face, over which a smile was passing, caused by a dream of home, perhaps, he grinned with malicious triumph, and putting the letters in his pocket, jumped lightly to the ground and disappeared. Percy was startled by the reality of the vision and sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes and feeling uneasy. He thought he recognized Tom Birch in the thief, but knowing that Tom was at Swan Lake, he assured himself it was only a horrid dream, and settled himself again for sleep.
NEXT morning, as they were dressing, Percy related his dream. Jack searched the pocket, but the letters were gone, and thinking he might possibly have misplaced them, he looked through the others, and even tried the beds and the rubbish on the floor, but with the same result. They had then only too much reason to know that the dream was no dream at all, but the semi-conscious observation of an actual fact.
Jack's letter contained a cheque, which was now, of course, worthless, but the other may have been important, so they hastened back to Neversady, where the artist was now stopping. There everything was confusion. The editor was excited and spoke in a very rapid, high-pitched voice, and the gentlemen threatened vengeance on somebody who had done something.
"What's wrong?" asked Percy, when he had a chance to speak.
"Wrong? everything!" shrieked Mr. Tinklepin. "Some rascally thief visited us last night and plundered the camp. The Indian is missing, but nobody blames Buckeye. They say Birch did it, but he had better chances before. He went to Port Robert last night and hasn't returned; I'm tired waiting."
"Then you'd bettah take a west," said Percy, "for the thief has a good start. He came whaah we slept and stole the lettahs Mistah Wyan gave Bwady."
"Who is it? Have you any idea?" asked the editor, his eyes blazing.
"Wathah moah than's useful, I'm afraid; youah fwiend's aw wright. It's youah wecent genehal manageh, Mistah Buhch," and Percy told what he knew. Then there were hard things said, and two of the campers set out for Port Robert to in form the Police.
In the conversation that followed one of the gentlemen asked Jack how Tom and he had quarrelled, as Tom made ill-natured remarks about him from time to time. This suggestion seemed suddenly to get Mr. Tinklepin thinking, and he told Jack bluntly that Tom charged him for having been arrested for stealing. This was too much for our hero, and he told the whole story, from the beginning down to their meeting in the grove by the Lake. There was the greatest sympathy expressed for Jack, and a general indignation towards Tom was aroused, the voice of all being to punish him to the full extent of the law when they caught him.
When they caught him! That was wisely added, for they never saw Tom again. He prevented that. There was no blunder in his plans for escape, whatever his previous ones showed. He made a terrible mistake when he adopted his method of injuring Jack. It was a stupid error to have said anything about the arrest, and he would have wished to recall it. It was only his blind passion that prevented him from seeing that, whatever temporary loss it might cause Jack if the lie were believed, the artist would learn the truth when he went to Scugog, and only a day or two would pass before Tinklepin and the campers knew the villainy he attempted'. Tom's scheming was blind when he overlooked that certain result. But it began to appear more plainly to him as Jack's departure drew near, and he looked about for some escape from disgrace. But there was none visible. He deter mined therefore to prevent exposure by going away, and as he would soon be known in his true character, he concluded he might as well have something to balance his loss, and he arranged to take all the value he could carry. He was "general manager," as Percy said, and purposely delayed renewing a full stock of camp supplies till his plans were ready. Jack's early departure with two letters decided his action, and with money to pay for provisions, with some of the valuables of the campers, and what spare cash he could find, and there was always considerable kept in the camp, he followed the young men to Corkscrew Creek. His robbery there was fruit less, for Jack's cheque was waste paper, and the letter to Brownlee was a simple request to encourage Jack in his intention to begin teaching.
And thus it occurred that, though Tom escaped the punishment of the law for his crimes, he brought upon himself a vengeance which was no less severe that he had his liberty. He was a wanderer from his native land, and his conscience, which he was not hardened enough to have silenced, went with him as his constant tormentor.
When the two campers returned from Port Robert they had John Buckeye with them in the canoe. He had followed Tom. The rascal's movements before leaving Neversady were cautiously made, but not enough so to escape the notice of the Indian, who always disliked him. Seeing what Tom was about, he said nothing to the campers, but reserved the glory of the adventure and reward of the capture as an unlimited source of profit to himself. He saw most of what was done, and when Tom started in the canoe for Port Robert he followed him on foot along the shore. The thief made no stay in the village, but at once continued his journey up Madawaska Lake. Buckeye paddled after him, and watched him closely till he came from the cottage with the letters, when Tom went through the woods to where his boat was laden and there opened them. Then Buckeye sprang on him and caught him around the neck. Tom was startled, but it was Only the work of a moment to draw the knife he wore in his belt and stab the Indian several times. John squeezed his prisoner till he almost choked him, but Tom struggled harder and harder and freed himself from the weakening embrace. Then Buckeye fell, and Tom hurried into his canoe and went off. The unfortunate red man lost a quantity of blood, but managed to stop its flow, and after some repose went back to Port Robert. He had failed as a detective, and he thought it best for his reputation not to arouse the boys or to inform the campers. In the village, however, the deputies from the camp met him, and brought him back to Neversady. John had no glory, no reward, but his honesty, in this instance, was established.
It is impossible to describe the feelings of Mr. Ryan when he saw how deeply he had injured his young friend. Of course, he was not very greatly to be blamed, but the comparison he now made between the two young men, and the knowledge he had of Jack's character, seemed to reproach him with incredible folly and in justice. But he did his best to atone for what was past, and the trip which he and Jack and Percy made that afternoon to Scugog was one of the pleasantest they ever had. His manner and spirits were so full of contagious mirth, and his power to draw his young friends out was so successful, that, when the boat reached the town, the boys were sorry they had to land, and a day's outing in Scugog for the morrow had to be arranged before they parted.
It is scarcely necessary to say that Mr. Brownlee satisfied Mr. Ryan's desire to hear good things of Jack. Indeed, few boys ever had so high a character given them, and it would have seemed overdone if the artist were not himself convinced of the truth from experience.
Mr. Ryan said nothing more at the time about the office in Montreal; but a few days after he left for that city Jack received a letter from the President of the Art Society, appointing him to the position and promising a handsome salary.
Jack gave up the school without much regret, for he was advised to accept the offer by Father McCarthy and his mother, and in the short time he had been on the lakes he had grown ambitious to be a painter.
About the middle of September he went to Montreal, where he was joined at New Year's by his mother and Sally. They were soon settled in their new home, and were one of the happiest families in the city.
OUR story now closes. The interest which every day centres in the actions of a boy who tries to do his duty would not fail to please us in the conduct of his growing years. How Jack met difficulties and how he overcame them, working hard at his daily occupations, and attentive at all times to the religious duties that we all owe—this would be useful and pleas ant to relate, but is beyond the compass of our story.
It may be said, however, that the manliness and earnestness and high sense of duty which formed the groundwork of his character brought success to his labors and endeared him to all he met. He was as great a favorite among his new friends as he had been among the Scugogs. In many instances his good principle and example produced happy changes in the conduct of the young men of his acquaintance, and his parish-priest found in him a willing helper in acts of charity and in movements which had for their object the interests of the Church. He was a useful and loyal citizen, and took part in every thing that promoted the public good.
He was living in Montreal ten years, when a great event took place in art circles. This was the exhibition of paintings held in the Montreal Art Society's building in St. James Street, where the Royal Canadian Academy was having its annual session. The city was filled with exhibitors, critics, and purchasers, and the members of the Government were in town to honor the aspirations of Canadian art.
The halls and corridors of the building in every good location were hung with paintings of which the majority were devoted to Canadian subjects. In a young country like the Dominion the most valuable and striking natural possession lies in the ample glory of her physical beauty, and on the present occasion this was well rep resented. Historical Canada was not forgotten, and a goodly collection of paintings of her saintly and chivalrous pioneers and the noted among her later sons found interested and admiring examiners in the premier Canadian city.
Perhaps the greatest attraction in the building was a large painting that hung in the main hall, opposite the entrance from St. James Street. The critics stood before it all day, discussing it from all points of view. It violated the accepted canons of art in several particulars, but it had a force and fascination that left the connoisseurs divided. Evidently the production was going to arouse discussion, and if that were a special object of the artist, he succeeded beyond expectation.
The picture represented a beautiful lake in the foreground, into which projected a point of land covered with a thin grove. The shore ex tended to the right and was washed with silvery waves. Close to the water's edge lay the figure of a dead Indian, a young brave, the sprightly ornaments on his deerskin dress showing the universal homage which the lover pays his sweet heart. Beside him sat an Indian maiden, clad in a simple robe of white, who had just taken from his hand a lily that was crushed in his dying grasp. Her face was turned upward to the moon, as to the mother of sorrow, and the anguish in her expression was that of a heart bruised beyond relief. A band of Indians looked on their victim from the shade of a clump of cedars, and one of them held in his hand the knife which had done the cruel deed.
The picture was called "Their Last Meeting," and the exhibition name chosen by the artist was "One of the Scugogs."
By and by the crowd before the painting separated, and its place was taken by five gentle men, all of them young, four of whom were admiring the work in a delighted silence. The fifth seemed about twenty-eight or thirty years of age, and was tall and handsome. Study rather than care gave to his face a look of seriousness, which melted in conversation into a smile of engaging beauty. There was a dignity in his bearing that made strangers turn to look at him again, and those who talked with him found united with his talent modesty that was as charming as it was natural.
He drew near one of his four friends, who was making an opera- glass of his hands the better to view the picture.
"Well Smithy," he said, laying a hand on his friend's shoulder; "what do you think of it? Do you recognize the subject?"
Smithy, or Dr. Henry Smith, rather—he was a physician now—unrolled his hands.
"Of course Jack. It's the legend of Manila, and it's grand, magnificent, perfect; I'm not up on the nice points of painting, but you have made a wonderfully life-like scene."
"That ought to be our criterion, I consider," said another of the gentlemen. "There are shades of coloring and effects of touch that we outside the art do not appreciate, that is—"
"You mean, Billy," said Jack, "that there is a language of art that only artists know."
"Precisely," returned Billy. "But there is another language that we do understand, the language of nature. It is a sympathy between mind and scene that will not fit into words. It's like a flash of light falling on the negative plate; the recognition is instant, and the impression remains. When I have that feeling I say a thing is well done. What do you say Nosey?"
Nosey never was a talker in the Scugog days, and he had not improved.
"I can't say anything more. But I think it's a masterpiece."
"There! He had given a master-compliment in his honest way."
"Thank you, boys, for your kind words, for I know you mean them."
"Let us thank you, rather, for your kind invitation to the exhibition," said Matt Marty, for Matt was the other. "I'm sure it's a rare pleasure."
"We'll call the thing square, Jack," said Billy slily, "if you'll have a portrait of yourself painted, to hang in the Athletic Hall, you understand."
"Ah! Billy, you want too much now; wait till I'm president of the Academy, like Mr. Ryan."
"That will be too long," remarked Smithy. "Art is long, and time is fleeting; and what will the rising generation of Scugog do for a model? But who's this coming?" and he pointed to an elderly lady in black and a gentleman dressed in the most approved English fashion.
The friends stood facing the strangers as they came up. The English gentleman carried a stick, and had an eyeglass set in a cheekful of wrinkles.
"It's pwobably about heah, Mothah," he was saying; "faw it's in a pwominent place. The cwitics have gone cwazy over it. They say it bweaks thwough the wules of awt: but it must have gweat stwength and chawm behind its encwoachment on the standawds, faw it has had the luck of things that come to stay. Fuhst they talked about it and abused it; then they examined it and discussed it again and analyzed it. Then they began to tolewate it, finally pwaised it, and now they put it up high in the fuhst wank. That's the woad to fame, mothah, and it's a wathah wocky one."
"Who is the artist, Lionel?" asked the lady.
"That's the mystery. It's a man fwom Scugog, and his name's a secwet till the closing day, but I don't wemember any awtist of Scugog that's so high up. He's pwobably some wising staw."
They came near our friends, when Percy stopped and looked at them in surprise. His feelings were strangely worked on, for he dropped his mother's arm, and adjusted his glass several times in an excited manner.
"I can hawdly be deceived," he said, standing before Jack. "This must be you, Bwady. Awen't you Bwady? How d'ye do, old fellah?" And he wrung Jack's hand violently. The same process was gone through with the others, and then the whole party were introduced to Lady Fitzwobble, who was really pleased to meet such gentlemanly young men as Percy's friends. Percy explained that his mother was traveling in Canada for pleasure, and being in Montreal, came to the exhibition to buy some paintings for her collection.
It also transpired that Percy was now the Right Honorable Sir Percy Lionel Fitzwobble, of Fitzwobble Hall, Kent, and member of Her Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Council. This extraordinary state of things occurred through the death of Percy's father and elder brother, his family having been baronets from the time of Charles II. Percy had twice already been defeated for Parliament in a Tory riding, where the majority that elected his fathers declared against the democratic ideas which the son had picked up on the backwoods farm in Ontario.
The six friends had a reunion a few nights later at Jack's house, and had such an evening as only friends enjoy who recount the happy events of youth. Matt and Billy were now junior partners in a large business in Scugog, and were making honorable names and laying the foundation of comfortable incomes. Nosey was a drug gist and lived in a village near Scugog. He compounded the prescriptions given to the sick by Dr. Smith, from whom he had to endure an occasional unprofessional practical joke.
The friends separated for the night, and Jack was about to retire, when a messenger from the General Hospital came for him to go to visit a dying man. When Jack reached the ward he saw it was Tom Birch. Poor Tom! He had been shot in a scuffle and sent for his old playmate to ask his pardon for the crimes committed against him. Jack gave him all the comfort he could, and held his hand as he breathed his last.
Tom's death was a great shock to the Scugogs. Their old friendly relations were brought back by the sad news, and it was with sorrowful thoughts they provided the necessaries for the funeral and followed the hearse to the grave.
The Academy's session closed with the public announcement of the name of the artist and the awarding of the public congratulations to the most successful among them. When the name of John H. Brady was read as the painter of "Their Last Meeting," a burst of applause followed, that was repeated several times. All eyes were turned towards the blushing artist, as a young man in full dress went from the President's table, bearing a diploma of honor, which, with a smile and a flush of pleasure, he presented to Jack. Again the audience applauded, and it was some time before he ventured to leave his seat and join his friends. They had been talking about the young man who presented the diploma, in whom they recognized a resemblance to some one they knew in Scugog.
"Who is he, Jack?" asked Smithy; "his face is familiar."
"Little Bruce," replied Jack.
"Well, well," said Smithy, stroking his beard. "I'd never have known him. It must be his mustache."
And Smithy mused on the old ways of the youth of today.
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