Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
Part 2 out of 4
Nothing like it to give a man an appetite and keep him in shape."
"Was you camping?" asked Mr. Smith.
"We camped at night," assented the undertaker, "but we put in
practically the whole day on the water. You see we were after a party
that had come up here from the city on his vacation and gone out in a
sailing canoe. We were dragging. We were up every morning at sunrise,
lit a fire on the beach and cooked breakfast, and then we'd light our
pipes and be off with the net for a whole day. It's a great life,"
concluded Mr. Gingham wistfully.
"Did you get him?" asked two or three together.
There was a pause before Mr. Gingham answered.
"We did," he said,--"down in the reeds past Horseshoe Point. But it
was no use. He turned blue on me right away."
After which Mr. Gingham fell into such a deep reverie that the boat
had steamed another half mile down the lake before anybody broke the
Talk of this sort,--and after all what more suitable for a day on the
water?--beguiled the way.
Down the lake, mile by mile over the calm water, steamed the Mariposa
Belle. They passed Poplar Point where the high sand-banks are with
all the swallows' nests in them, and Dean Drone and Dr. Gallagher
looked at them alternately through the binocular glasses, and it was
wonderful how plainly one could see the swallows and the banks and
the shrubs,--just as plainly as with the naked eye.
And a little further down they passed the Shingle Beach, and Dr.
Gallagher, who knew Canadian history, said to Dean Drone that it was
strange to think that Champlain had landed there with his French
explorers three hundred years ago; and Dean Drone, who didn't know
Canadian history, said it was stranger still to think that the hand
of the Almighty had piled up the hills and rocks long before that;
and Dr. Gallagher said it was wonderful how the French had found
their way through such a pathless wilderness; and Dean Drone said
that it was wonderful also to think that the Almighty had placed even
the smallest shrub in its appointed place. Dr. Gallagher said it
filled him with admiration. Dean Drone said it filled him with awe.
Dr. Gallagher said he'd been full of it ever since he was a boy; and
Dean Drone said so had he.
Then a little further, as the Mariposa Belle steamed on down the
lake, they passed the Old Indian Portage where the great grey rocks
are; and Dr. Gallagher drew Dean Drone's attention to the place where
the narrow canoe track wound up from the shore to the woods, and Dean
Drone said he could see it perfectly well without the glasses.
Dr. Gallagher said that it was just here that a party of five hundred
French had made their way with all their baggage and accoutrements
across the rocks of the divide and down to the Great Bay. And Dean
Drone said that it reminded him of Xenophon leading his ten thousand
Greeks over the hill passes of Armenia down to the sea. Dr.
Gallagher said the he had often wished he could have seen and spoken
to Champlain, and Dean Drone said how much he regretted to have never
And then after that they fell to talking of relics and traces of the
past, and Dr. Gallagher said that if Dean Drone would come round to
his house some night he would show him some Indian arrow heads that
he had dug up in his garden. And Dean Drone said that if Dr.
Gallagher would come round to the rectory any afternoon he would show
him a map of Xerxes' invasion of Greece. Only he must come some time
between the Infant Class and the Mothers' Auxiliary.
So presently they both knew that they were blocked out of one
another's houses for some time to come, and Dr. Gallagher walked
forward and told Mr. Smith, who had never studied Greek, about
Champlain crossing the rock divide.
Mr. Smith turned his head and looked at the divide for half a second
and then said he had crossed a worse one up north back of the
Wahnipitae and that the flies were Hades,--and then went on playing
freezeout poker with the two juniors in Duff's bank.
So Dr. Gallagher realized that that's always the way when you try to
tell people things, and that as far as gratitude and appreciation
goes one might as well never read books or travel anywhere or do
In fact, it was at this very moment that he made up his mind to give
the arrows to the Mariposa Mechanics' Institute,--they afterwards
became, as you know, the Gallagher Collection. But, for the time
being, the doctor was sick of them and wandered off round the boat
and watched Henry Mullins showing George Duff how to make a John
Collins without lemons, and finally went and sat down among the
Mariposa band and wished that he hadn't come.
So the boat steamed on and the sun rose higher and higher, and the
freshness of the morning changed into the full glare of noon, and
they went on to where the lake began to narrow in at its foot, just
where the Indian's Island is, all grass and trees and with a log
wharf running into the water: Below it the Lower Ossawippi runs out
of the lake, and quite near are the rapids, and you can see down
among the trees the red brick of the power house and hear the roar of
the leaping water.
The Indian's Island itself is all covered with trees and tangled
vines, and the water about it is so still that it's all reflected
double and looks the same either way up. Then when the steamer's
whistle blows as it comes into the wharf, you hear it echo among the
trees of the island, and reverberate back from the shores of the
The scene is all so quiet and still and unbroken, that Miss
Cleghorn,--the sallow girl in the telephone exchange, that I spoke
of--said she'd like to be buried there. But all the people were so
busy getting their baskets and gathering up their things that no one
had time to attend to it.
I mustn't even try to describe the landing and the boat crunching
against the wooden wharf and all the people running to the same side
of the deck and Christie Johnson calling out to the crowd to keep to
the starboard and nobody being able to find it. Everyone who has been
on a Mariposa excursion knows all about that.
Nor can I describe the day itself and the picnic under the trees.
'There were speeches afterwards, and Judge Pepperleigh gave such
offence by bringing in Conservative politics that a man called
Patriotus Canadiensis wrote and asked for some of the invaluable
space of the Mariposa Times-Herald and exposed it.
I should say that there were races too, on the grass on the open side
of the island, graded mostly according to ages, races for boys under
thirteen and girls over nineteen and all that sort of thing. Sports
are generally conducted on that plan in Mariposa. It is realized that
a woman of sixty has an unfair advantage over a mere child.
Dean Drone managed the races and decided the ages and gave out the
prizes; the Wesleyan minister helped, and he and the young student,
who was relieving in the Presbyterian Church, held the string at the
They had to get mostly clergymen for the races because all the men
had wandered off, somehow, to where they were drinking lager beer out
of two kegs stuck on pine logs among the trees.
But if you've ever been on a Mariposa excursion you know all about
these details anyway.
So the day wore on and presently the sun came through the trees on a
slant and the steamer whistle blew with a great puff of white steam
and all the people came straggling down to the wharf and pretty soon
the Mariposa Belle had floated out on to the lake again and headed
for the town, twenty miles away.
I suppose you have often noticed the contrast there is between an
excursion on its way out in the morning and what it looks like on the
In the morning everybody is so restless and animated and moves to and
fro all over the boat and asks questions. But coming home, as the
afternoon gets later and the sun sinks beyond the hills, all the
people seem to get so still and quiet and drowsy.
So it was with the people on the Mariposa Belle. They sat there on
the benches and the deck chairs in little clusters, and listened to
the regular beat of the propeller and almost dozed off asleep as they
sat. Then when the sun set and the dusk drew on, it grew almost dark
on the deck and so still that you could hardly tell there was anyone
And if you had looked at the steamer from the shore or from one of
the islands, you'd have seen the row of lights from the cabin windows
shining on the water and the red glare of the burning hemlock from
the funnel, and you'd have heard the soft thud of the propeller miles
away over the lake.
Now and then, too, you could have heard them singing on the
steamer,--the voices of the girls and the men blended into
unison by the distance, rising and falling in long-drawn melody:
You may talk as you will about the intoning choirs of your European
cathedrals, but the sound of "O--Can-a-da," borne across the waters
of a silent lake at evening is good enough for those of us who know
I think that it was just as they were singing like this:
"O--Can-a-da," that word went round that the boat was sinking.
If you have ever been in any sudden emergency on the water, you will
understand the strange psychology of it,--the way in which what is
happening seems to become known all in a moment without a word being
said. The news is transmitted from one to the other by some
At any rate, on the Mariposa Belle first one and then the other heard
that the steamer was sinking. As far as I could ever learn the first
of it was that George Duff, the bank manager, came very quietly to
Dr. Gallagher and asked him if he thought that the boat was sinking.
The doctor said no, that he had thought so earlier in the day but
that he didn't now think that she was.
After that Duff, according to his own account, had said to Macartney,
the lawyer, that the boat was sinking, and Macartney said that he
doubted it very much.
Then somebody came to Judge Pepperleigh and woke him up and said that
there was six inches of water in the steamer and that she was
sinking. And Pepperleigh said it was perfect scandal and passed the
news on to his wife and she said that they had no business to allow
it and that if the steamer sank that was the last excursion she'd go
So the news went all round the boat and everywhere the people
gathered in groups and talked about it in the angry and excited way
that people have when a steamer is sinking on one of the lakes like
Dean Drone, of course, and some others were quieter about it, and
said that one must make allowances and that naturally there were two
sides to everything. But most of them wouldn't listen to reason at
all. I think, perhaps, that some of them were frightened. You see the
last time but one that the steamer had sunk, there had been a man
drowned and it made them nervous.
What? Hadn't I explained about the depth of Lake Wissanotti? I had
taken it for granted that you knew; and in any case parts of it are
deep enough, though I don't suppose in this stretch of it from the
big reed beds up to within a mile of the town wharf, you could find
six feet of water in it if you tried. Oh, pshaw! I was not talking
about a steamer sinking in the ocean and carrying down its screaming
crowds of people into the hideous depths of green water. Oh, dear me
no! That kind of thing never happens on Lake Wissanotti.
But what does happen is that the Mariposa Belle sinks every now and
then, and sticks there on the bottom till they get things
On the lakes round Mariposa, if a person arrives late anywhere and
explains that the steamer sank, everybody understands the situation.
You see when Harland and Wolff built the Mariposa Belle, they left
some cracks in between the timbers that you fill up with cotton waste
every Sunday. If this is not attended to, the boat sinks. In fact, it
is part of the law of the province that all the steamers like the
Mariposa Belle must be properly corked,--I think that is the
word,--every season. There are inspectors who visit all the hotels in
the province to see that it is done.
So you can imagine now that I've explained it a little straighter,
the indignation of the people when they knew that the boat had come
uncorked and that they might be stuck out there on a shoal or a
mud-bank half the night.
I don't say either that there wasn't any danger; anyway, it doesn't
feel very safe when you realize that the boat is settling down with
every hundred yards that she goes, and you look over the side and see
only the black water in the gathering night.
Safe! I'm not sure now that I come to think of it that it isn't worse
than sinking in the Atlantic. After all, in the Atlantic there is
wireless telegraphy, and a lot of trained sailors and stewards. But
out on Lake Wissanotti,--far out, so that you can only just see the
lights of the town away off to the south,--when the propeller comes
to a stop,--and you can hear the hiss of steam as they start to rake
out the engine fires to prevent an explosion,--and when you turn from
the red glare that comes from the furnace doors as they open them, to
the black dark that is gathering over the lake,--and there's a night
wind beginning to run among the rushes,--and you see the men going
forward to the roof of the pilot house to send up the rockets to
rouse the town, safe? Safe yourself, if you like; as for me, let me
once get back into Mariposa again, under the night shadow of the
maple trees, and this shall be the last, last time I'll go on Lake
Safe! Oh yes! Isn't it strange how safe other people's adventures
seem after they happen? But you'd have been scared, too, if you'd
been there just before the steamer sank, and seen them bringing up
all the women on to the top deck.
I don't see how some of the people took it so calmly; how Mr. Smith,
for instance, could have gone on smoking and telling how he'd had a
steamer "sink on him" on Lake Nipissing and a still bigger one, a
side-wheeler, sink on him in Lake Abbitibbi.
Then, quite suddenly, with a quiver, down she went. You could feel
the boat sink, sink,--down, down,--would it never get to the bottom?
The water came flush up to the lower deck, and then,--thank
heaven,--the sinking stopped and there was the Mariposa Belle safe
and tight on a reed bank.
Really, it made one positively laugh! It seemed so queer and, anyway,
if a man has a sort of natural courage, danger makes him laugh.
Danger! pshaw! fiddlesticks! everybody scouted the idea. Why, it is
just the little things like this that give zest to a day on the
Within half a minute they were all running round looking for
sandwiches and cracking jokes and talking of making coffee over the
remains of the engine fires.
I don't need to tell at length how it all happened after that.
I suppose the people on the Mariposa Belle would have had to settle
down there all night or till help came from the town, but some of the
men who had gone forward and were peering out into the dark said that
it couldn't be more than a mile across the water to Miller's Point.
You could almost see it over there to the left,--some of them, I
think, said "off on the port bow," because you know when you get
mixed up in these marine disasters, you soon catch the atmosphere of
So pretty soon they had the davits swung out over the side and were
lowering the old lifeboat from the top deck into the water.
There were men leaning out over the rail of the Mariposa Belle with
lanterns that threw the light as they let her down, and the glare
fell on the water and the reeds. But when they got the boat lowered,
it looked such a frail, clumsy thing as one saw it from the rail
above, that the cry was raised: "Women and children first!" For what
was the sense, if it should turn out that the boat wouldn't even hold
women and children, of trying to jam a lot of heavy men into it?
So they put in mostly women and children and the boat pushed out into
the darkness so freighted down it would hardly float.
In the bow of it was the Presbyterian student who was relieving the
minister, and he called out that they were in the hands of
Providence. But he was crouched and ready to spring out of them at
the first moment.
So the boat went and was lost in the darkness except for the lantern
in the bow that you could see bobbing on the water. Then presently it
came back and they sent another load, till pretty soon the decks
began to thin out and everybody got impatient to be gone.
It was about the time that the third boat-load put off that Mr. Smith
took a bet with Mullins for twenty-five dollars, that he'd be home in
Mariposa before the people in the boats had walked round the shore.
No one knew just what he meant, but pretty soon they saw Mr. Smith
disappear down below into the lowest part of the steamer with a
mallet in one hand and a big bundle of marline in the other.
They might have wondered more about it, but it was just at this time
that they heard the shouts from the rescue boat--the big Mackinaw
lifeboat--that had put out from the town with fourteen men at the
sweeps when they saw the first rockets go up.
I suppose there is always something inspiring about a rescue at sea,
or on the water.
After all, the bravery of the lifeboat man is the true
bravery,--expended to save life, not to destroy it.
Certainly they told for months after of how the rescue boat came out
to the Mariposa Belle.
I suppose that when they put her in the water the lifeboat touched it
for the first time since the old Macdonald Government placed her on
Anyway, the water poured in at every seam. But not for a
moment,--even with two miles of water between them and the
steamer,--did the rowers pause for that.
By the time they were half-way there the water was almost up to the
thwarts, but they drove her on. Panting and exhausted (for mind you,
if you haven't been in a fool boat like that for years, rowing takes
it out of you), the rowers stuck to their task. They threw the
ballast over and chucked into the water the heavy cork jackets and
lifebelts that encumbered their movements. There was no thought of
turning back. They were nearer to the steamer than the shore.
"Hang to it, boys," called the crowd from the steamer's deck, and
hang they did.
They were almost exhausted when they got them; men leaning from the
steamer threw them ropes and one by one every man was hauled aboard
just as the lifeboat sank under their feet.
Saved! by Heaven, saved, by one of the smartest pieces of rescue work
ever seen on the lake.
There's no use describing it; you need to see rescue work of this
kind by lifeboats to understand it.
Nor were the lifeboat crew the only ones that distinguished
Boat after boat and canoe after canoe had put out from Mariposa to
the help of the steamer. They got them all.
Pupkin, the other bank teller, with a face like a horse, who
hadn't gone on the excursion,--as soon as he knew that the boat
was signalling for help and that Miss Lawson was sending up
rockets,--rushed for a row boat, grabbed an oar (two would have
hampered him), and paddled madly out into the lake. He struck right
out into the dark with the crazy skiff almost sinking beneath his
feet. But they got him. They rescued him. They watched him, almost
dead with exhaustion, make his way to the steamer, where he was
hauled up with ropes. Saved! Saved!!
They might have gone on that way half the night, picking up the
rescuers, only, at the very moment when the tenth load of people left
for the shore,--just as suddenly and saucily as you please, up came
the Mariposa Belle from the mud bottom and floated.
Why, of course she did. If you take a hundred and fifty people off a
steamer that has sunk, and if you get a man as shrewd as Mr. Smith to
plug the timber seams with mallet and marline, and if you turn ten
bandsmen of the Mariposa band on to your hand pump on the bow of the
lower decks--float? why, what else can she do?
Then, if you stuff in hemlock into the embers of the fire that you
were raking out, till it hums and crackles under the boiler, it won't
be long before you hear the propeller thud thudding at the stern
again, and before the long roar of the steam whistle echoes over to
And so the Mariposa Belle, with all steam up again and with the long
train of sparks careering from the funnel, is heading for the town.
But no Christie Johnson at the wheel in the pilot house this time.
"Smith! Get Smith!" is the cry.
Can he take her in? Well, now! Ask a man who has had steamers sink on
him in half the lakes from Temiscaming to the Bay, if he can take her
in? Ask a man who has run a York boat down the rapids of the Moose
when the ice is moving, if he can grip the steering wheel of the
Mariposa Belle? So there she steams safe and sound to the town wharf!
Look at the lights and the crowd! If only the federal census taker
could count us now! Hear them calling and shouting back and forward
from the deck to the shore! Listen! There is the rattle of the
shore ropes as they get them ready, and there's the Mariposa
band,--actually forming in a circle on the upper deck just as she
docks, and the leader with his baton,--one--two--ready now,--
The Ministrations of the Rev. Mr. Drone
The Church of England in Mariposa is on a side street, where the
maple trees are thickest, a little up the hill from the heart of the
town. The trees above the church and the grass plot that was once the
cemetery, till they made the new one (the Necropolis, over the brow
of the hill), fill out the whole corner. Down behind the church, with
only the driving shed and a lane between, is the rectory. It is a
little brick house with odd angles. There is a hedge and a little
gate, and a weeping ash tree with red berries.
At the side of the rectory, churchward, is a little grass lawn with
low hedges and at the side of that two wild plum trees, that are
practically always in white blossom. Underneath them is a rustic
table and chairs, and it is here that you may see Rural Dean Drone,
the incumbent of the Church of England Church, sitting, in the
chequered light of the plum tress that is neither sun nor shadow.
Generally you will find him reading, and when I tell you that at the
end of the grass plot where the hedge is highest there is a yellow
bee hive with seven bees that belong to Dean Drone, you will realize
that it is only fitting that the Dean is reading in the Greek. For
what better could a man be reading beneath the blossom of the plum
trees, within the very sound of the bees, than the Pastorals of
Theocritus? The light trash of modern romance might put a man to
sleep in such a spot, but with such food for reflection as
Theocritus, a man may safely close his eyes and muse on what he reads
without fear of dropping into slumber.
Some men, I suppose, terminate their education when they leave their
college. Not so Dean Drone. I have often heard him say that if he
couldn't take a book in the Greek out on the lawn in a spare half
hour, he would feel lost. It's a certain activity of the brain that
must be stilled somehow. The Dean, too, seemed to have a native
feeling for the Greek language. I have often heard people who might
sit with him on the lawn, ask him to translate some of it. But he
always refused. One couldn't translate it, he said. It lost so much
in the translation that it was better not to try. It was far wiser
not to attempt it. If you undertook to translate it, there was
something gone, something missing immediately. I believe that many
classical scholars feel this way, and like to read the Greek just as
it is, without the hazard of trying to put it into so poor a medium
as English. So that when Dean Drone said that he simply couldn't
translate it, I believe he was perfectly sincere.
Sometimes, indeed, he would read it aloud. That was another matter.
Whenever, for example, Dr. Gallagher--I mean, of course, old Dr.
Gallagher, not the young doctor (who was always out in the country in
the afternoon)--would come over and bring his latest Indian relics
to show to the Dean, the latter always read to him a passage or two.
As soon as the doctor laid his tomahawk on the table, the Dean would
reach for his Theocritus. I remember that on the day when Dr.
Gallagher brought over the Indian skull that they had dug out of the
railway embankment, and placed it on the rustic table, the Dean read
to him so long from Theocritus that the doctor, I truly believe,
dozed off in his chair. The Dean had to wait and fold his hands with
the book across his knee, and close his eyes till the doctor should
wake up again. And the skull was on the table between them, and from
above the plum blossoms fluttered down, till they made flakes on it
as white as Dr. Gallagher's hair.
I don't want you to suppose that the Rev. Mr. Drone spent the
whole of his time under the trees. Not at all. In point of fact, the
rector's life was one round of activity which lie himself might
deplore but was powerless to prevent. He had hardly sat down beneath
the trees of an afternoon after his mid-day meal when there was the
Infant Class at three, and after that, with scarcely an hour between,
the Mothers' Auxiliary at five, and the next morning the Book Club,
and that evening the Bible Study Class, and the next morning the
Early Workers' Guild at eleven-thirty. The whole week was like that,
and if one found time to sit down for an hour or so to recuperate it
was the most one could do. After all, if a busy man spends the little
bit of leisure that he gets in advanced classical study, there is
surely no harm in it. I suppose, take it all in all, there wasn't a
busier man than the Rural Dean among the Anglican clergy of the
If the Dean ever did snatch a half-day from his incessant work, he
spent it in fishing. But not always that, for as likely as not,
instead of taking a real holiday he would put in the whole afternoon
amusing the children and the boys that he knew, by making kites and
toys and clockwork steamboats for them.
It was fortunate for the Dean that he had the strange interest and
aptitude for mechanical advices which he possessed, or otherwise this
kind of thing would have been too cruel an imposition. But the Rev.
Mr. Drone had a curious liking for machinery. I think I never heard
him preach a better sermon than the one on Aeroplanes (Lo, what now
see you on high Jeremiah Two).
So it was that he spent two whole days making a kite with Chinese
wings for Teddy Moore, the photographer's son, and closed down the
infant class for forty-eight hours so that Teddy Moore should not
miss the pleasure of flying it, or rather seeing it flown. It is
foolish to trust a Chinese kite to the hands of a young child.
In the same way the Dean made a mechanical top for little Marjorie
Trewlaney, the cripple, to see spun: it would have been unwise to
allow the afflicted girl to spin it. There was no end to the things
that Mr. Drone could make, and always for the children. Even when he
was making the sand-clock for poor little Willie Yodel (who died, you
know) the Dean went right on with it and gave it to another child
with just the same pleasure. Death, you know, to the clergy is a
different thing from what it is to us. The Dean and Mr. Gingham used
often to speak of it as they walked through the long grass of the new
cemetery, the Necropolis. And when your Sunday walk is to your wife's
grave, as the Dean's was, perhaps it seems different to anybody.
The Church of England Church, I said; stood close to the rectory, a
tall, sweeping church, and inside a great reach of polished cedar
beams that ran to the point of the roof. There used to stand on the
same spot the little stone church that all the grown-up people in
Mariposa still remember, a quaint little building in red and grey
stone. About it was the old cemetery, but that was all smoothed out
later into the grass plot round the new church, and the headstones
laid out flat, and no new graves have been put there for ever so
long. But the Mariposa children still walk round and read the
headstones lying flat in the grass and look for the old ones,--
because some of them are ever so old--forty or fifty years back.
Nor are you to think from all this that the Dean was not a man with
serious perplexities. You could easily convince yourself of the
contrary. For if you watched the Rev. Mr. Drone as he sat reading in
the Greek, you would notice that no very long period every passed
without his taking up a sheet or two of paper that lay between the
leaves of the Theocritus and that were covered close with figures.
And these the Dean would lay upon the rustic table, and he would add
them up forwards and backwards, going first up the column and then
down it to see that nothing had been left out, and then down it again
to see what it was that must have been left out.
Mathematics, you will understand, were not the Dean's forte. They
never were the forte of the men who had been trained at the little
Anglican college with the clipped hedges and the cricket ground,
where Rupert Drone had taken the gold medal in Greek fifty-two years
ago. You will see the medal at any time lying there in its open box
on the rectory table, in case of immediate need. Any of the Drone
girls, Lilian, or Jocelyn, or Theodora, would show it to you. But, as
I say, mathematics were not the rector's forte, and he blamed for it
(in a Christian spirit, you will understand) the memory of his
mathematical professor, and often he spoke with great bitterness. I
have often heard him say that in his opinion the colleges ought to
dismiss, of course in a Christian spirit, all the professors who are
not, in the most reverential sense of the term, fit for their jobs.
No doubt many of the clergy of the diocese had suffered more or less
just as the Dean had from lack of mathematical training. But the Dean
always felt that his own case was especially to be lamented. For you
see, if a man is trying to make a model aeroplane--for a poor family
in the lower part of the town--and he is brought to a stop by the
need of reckoning the coefficient of torsion of cast-iron rods, it
shows plainly enough that the colleges are not truly filling their
But the figures that I speak of were not those of the model
aeroplane. These were far more serious. Night and day they had been
with the rector now for the best part of ten years, and they grew, if
anything, more intricate.
If, for example, you try to reckon the debt of a church--a large
church with a great sweep of polished cedar beams inside, for the
special glorification of the All Powerful, and with imported tiles on
the roof for the greater glory of Heaven and with stained-glass
windows for the exaltation of the All Seeing--if, I say, you try to
reckon up the debt on such a church and figure out its interest and
its present worth, less a fixed annual payment, it makes a pretty
complicated sum. Then if you try to add to this the annual cost of
insurance, and deduct from it three-quarters of a stipend, year by
year, and then suddenly remember that three-quarters is too much,
because you have forgotten the boarding-school fees of the littlest
of the Drones (including French, as an extra--she must have it, all
the older girls did), you have got a sum that pretty well defies
ordinary arithmetic. The provoking part of it was that the Dean knew
perfectly well that with the help of logarithms he could have done
the thing in a moment. But at the Anglican college they had stopped
short at that very place in the book. They had simply explained that
Logos was a word and Arithmos a number, which at the time, seemed
So the Dean was perpetually taking out his sheets of figures, and
adding them upwards and downwards, and they never came the same. Very
often Mr. Gingham, who was a warden, would come and sit beside the
rector and ponder over the figures, and Mr. Drone would explain that
with a book of logarithms you could work it out in a moment. You
would simply open the book and run your finger up the columns (he
illustrated exactly the way in which the finger was moved), and there
you were. Mr. Gingham said that it was a caution, and that logarithms
(I quote his exact phrase) must be a terror.
Very often, too, Nivens, the lawyer, who was a sidesman, and Mullins,
the manager of the Exchange Bank, who was the chairman of the vestry,
would come and take a look, at the figures. But they never could make
much of them, because the stipend part was not a matter that one
Mullins would notice the item for a hundred dollars due on fire
insurance and would say; as a business man, that surely that couldn't
be fire insurance, and the Dean would say surely not, and change it:
and Mullins would say surely there couldn't be fifty dollars for
taxes, because there weren't any taxes, and the Dean would admit that
of course it couldn't be for the taxes. In fact, the truth is that
the Dean's figures were badly mixed, and the fault lay indubitably
with the mathematical professor of two generations back.
It was always Mullins's intention some day to look into the finances
of the church, the more so as his father had been with Dean Drone at
the little Anglican college with the cricket ground. But he was a
busy man. As he explained to the rector himself, the banking business
nowadays is getting to be such that a banker can hardly call even his
Sunday mornings his own. Certainly Henry Mullins could not. They
belonged largely to Smith's Hotel, and during the fishing season they
belonged away down the lake, so far away that practically no one,
unless it was George Duff of the Commercial Bank, could see them.
But to think that all this trouble had come through the building of
the new church.
That was the bitterness of it.
For the twenty-five years that Rural Dean Drone had preached in the
little stone church, it had been his one aim, as he often put it in
his sermons, to rear a larger Ark in Gideon. His one hope had been to
set up a greater Evidence, or, very simply stated, to kindle a
After twenty-five years of waiting, he had been able at last to
kindle it. Everybody in Mariposa remembers the building of the
church. First of all they had demolished the little stone church to
make way for the newer Evidence. It seemed almost a sacrilege, as
the Dean himself said, to lay hands on it. Indeed it was at first
proposed to take the stone of it and build it into a Sunday School,
as a lesser testimony. Then, when that provided impracticable, it was
suggested that the stone be reverently fashioned into a wall that
should stand as a token. And when even that could not be managed, the
stone of the little church was laid reverently into a stone pile;
afterwards it was devoutly sold to a building contractor, and, like
so much else in life, was forgotten.
But the building of the church, no one, I think, will forget. The
Dean threw himself into the work. With his coat off and his white
shirt-sleeves conspicuous among the gang that were working at the
foundations, he set his hand to the shovel, himself guided the
road-scraper, urging on the horses; cheering and encouraging the men,
till they begged him to desist. He mingled with the stone-masons,
advising, helping, and giving counsel, till they pleaded with him to
rest. He was among the carpenters, sawing, hammering, enquiring,
suggesting, till they besought him to lay off. And he was night and
day with the architect's assistants, drawing, planning, revising,
till the architect told him to cut it out.
So great was his activity, that I doubt whether the new church would
ever have been finished, had not the wardens and the vestry men
insisted that Mr. Drone must take a holiday, and sent him on the
Mackinaw trip up the lakes,--the only foreign travel of the Dean's
So in due time the New Church was built and it towered above the
maple trees of Mariposa like a beacon on a hill. It stood so high
that from the open steeple of it, where the bells were, you could see
all the town lying at its feet, and the farmsteads to the south of
it, and the railway like a double pencil line, and Lake Wissanotti
spread out like a map. You could see and appreciate things from the
height of the new church,--such as the size and the growing wealth of
Mariposa,--that you never could have seen from the little stone
church at all.
Presently the church was opened and the Dean preached his first
sermon in it, and he called it a Greater Testimony, and he said that
it was an earnest, or first fruit of endeavour, and that it was a
token or pledge, and he named it also a covenant. He said, too, that
it was an anchorage and a harbour and a lighthouse as well as being a
city set upon a hill; and he ended by declaring it an Ark of Refuge
and notified them that the Bible Class would meet in the basement of
it on that and every other third Wednesday.
In the opening months of preaching about it the Dean had called the
church so often an earnest and a pledge and a guerdon and a
tabernacle, that I think he used to forget that it wasn't paid for.
It was only when the agent of the building society and a
representative of the Hosanna Pipe and Steam Organ Co. (Limited),
used to call for quarterly payments that he was suddenly reminded of
the fact. Always after these men came round the Dean used to preach a
special sermon on sin, in the course of which he would mention that
the ancient Hebrews used to put unjust traders to death,--a thing of
which he spoke with Christian serenity.
I don't think that at first anybody troubled much about the debt on
the church. Dean Drone's figures showed that it was only a matter of
time before it would be extinguished; only a little effort was
needed, a little girding up of the loins of the congregation and they
could shoulder the whole debt and trample it under their feet. Let
them but set their hands to the plough and they could soon guide it
into the deep water. Then they might furl their sails and sit every
man under his own olive tree.
Meantime, while the congregation was waiting to gird up its loins,
the interest on the debt was paid somehow, or, when it wasn't paid,
was added to the principal.
I don't know whether you have had any experience with Greater
Testimonies and with Beacons set on Hills. If you have, you will
realize how, at first gradually, and then rapidly, their position
from year to year grows more distressing. What with the building loan
and the organ instalment, and the fire insurance,--a cruel charge,--
and the heat and light, the rector began to realize as he added up
the figures that nothing but logarithms could solve them. Then the
time came when not only the rector, but all the wardens knew and the
sidesmen knew that the debt was more than the church could carry;
then the choir knew and the congregation knew and at last everybody
knew; and there were special collections at Easter and special days of
giving, and special weeks of tribulation, and special arrangements
with the Hosanna Pipe and Steam Organ Co. And it was noticed that
when the Rural Dean announced a service of Lenten Sorrow,--aimed more
especially at the business men,--the congregation had diminished by
forty per cent.
I suppose things are just the same elsewhere,--I mean the peculiar
kind of discontent that crept into the Church of England congregation
in Mariposa after the setting up of the Beacon. There were those who
claimed that they had seen the error from the first, though they had
kept quiet, as such people always do, from breadth of mind. There
were those who had felt years before how it would end, but their lips
were sealed from humility of spirit. What was worse was that there
were others who grew dissatisfied with the whole conduct of the
Yodel, the auctioneer, for example, narrated how he had been to the
city and had gone into a service of the Roman Catholic church: I
believe, to state it more fairly, he had "dropped in,"--the only
recognized means of access to such a service. He claimed that the
music that he had heard there was music, and that (outside of his
profession) the chanting and intoning could not be touched.
Ed Moore, the photographer, also related that he had listened to a
sermon in the city, and that if anyone would guarantee him a sermon
like that he would defy you to keep him away from church. Meanwhile,
failing the guarantee, he stayed away.
The very doctrines were impeached. Some of the congregation began to
cast doubts on eternal punishment,--doubts so grave as to keep them
absent from the Lenten Services of Sorrow. Indeed, Lawyer Macartney
took up the whole question of the Athanasian Creed one afternoon with
Joe Milligan, the dentist, and hardly left a clause of it intact.
All this time, you will understand, Dean Drone kept on with his
special services, and leaflets, calls, and appeals went out from the
Ark of Gideon like rockets from a sinking ship. More and more with
every month the debt of the church lay heavy on his mind. At times he
forgot it. At other times he woke up in the night and thought about
it. Sometimes as he went down the street from the lighted precincts
of the Greater Testimony and passed the Salvation Army, praying
around a naphtha lamp under the open sky, it smote him to the heart
with a stab.
But the congregation were wrong, I think, in imputing fault to the
sermons of Dean Drone. There I do think they were wrong. I can speak
from personal knowledge when I say that the rector's sermons were not
only stimulating in matters of faith, but contained valuable material
in regard to the Greek language, to modern machinery and to a variety
of things that should have proved of the highest advantage to the
There was, I say, the Greek language. The Dean always showed the
greatest delicacy of feeling in regard to any translation in or out
of it that he made from the pulpit. He was never willing to accept
even the faintest shade of rendering different from that commonly
given without being assured of the full concurrence of the
congregation. Either the translation must be unanimous and without
contradiction, or he could not pass it. He would pause in his sermon
and would say: "The original Greek is 'Hoson,' but perhaps you will
allow me to translate it as equivalent to 'Hoyon.'" And they did. So
that if there was any fault to be found it was purely on the side of
the congregation for not entering a protest at the time.
It was the same way in regard to machinery. After all, what better
illustrates the supreme purpose of the All Wise than such a thing as
the dynamo or the reciprocating marine engine or the pictures in the
Then, too, if a man has had the opportunity to travel and has seen
the great lakes spread out by the hand of Providence from where one
leaves the new dock at the Sound to where one arrives safe and
thankful with one's dear fellow-passengers in the spirit at the
concrete landing stage at Mackinaw--is not this fit and proper
material for the construction of an analogy or illustration? Indeed,
even apart from an analogy, is it not mighty interesting to narrate,
anyway? In any case, why should the church-wardens have sent the
rector on the Mackinaw trip, if they had not expected him to make
some little return for it?
I lay some stress on this point because the criticisms directed
against the Mackinaw sermons always seemed so unfair. If the rector
had described his experiences in the crude language of the ordinary
newspaper, there might, I admit, have been something unfitting about
it. But he was always careful to express himself in a way that
showed,--or, listen, let me explain with an example.
"It happened to be my lot some years ago," he would say, "to find
myself a voyager, just as one is a voyager on the sea of life, on the
broad expanse of water which has been spread out to the north-west of
us by the hand of Providence, at a height of five hundred and
eighty-one feet above the level of the sea,--I refer, I may say, to
Lake Huron." Now, how different that is from saying: "I'll never
forget the time I went on the Mackinaw trip." The whole thing has a
different sound entirely. In the same way the Dean would go on:
"I was voyaging on one of those magnificent leviathans of the
water,--I refer to the boats of the Northern Navigation Company,--and
was standing beside the forward rail talking with a dear brother in
the faith who was journeying westward also--I may say he was a
commercial traveller,--and beside us was a dear sister in the spirit
seated in a deck chair, while near us were two other dear souls in
grace engaged in Christian pastime on the deck,--I allude more
particularly to the game of deck billiards."
I leave it to any reasonable man whether, with that complete and
fair-minded explanation of the environment, it was not perfectly
proper to close down the analogy, as the rector did, with the simple
words: "In fact, it was an extremely fine morning."
Yet there were some people, even in Mariposa, that took exception and
spent their Sunday dinner time in making out that they couldn't
understand what Dean Drone was talking about, and asking one another
if they knew. Once, as he passed out from the doors of the Greater
Testimony, the rector heard some one say: "The Church would be all
right if that old mugwump was out of the pulpit." It went to his
heart like a barbed thorn, and stayed there.
You know, perhaps, how a remark of that sort can stay and rankle, and
make you wish you could hear it again to make sure of it, because
perhaps you didn't hear it aright, and it was a mistake after all.
Perhaps no one said it, anyway. You ought to have written it down at
the time. I have seen the Dean take down the encyclopaedia in the
rectory, and move his finger slowly down the pages of the letter M,
looking for mugwump. But it wasn't there. I have known him, in his
little study upstairs, turn over the pages of the "Animals of
Palestine," looking for a mugwump. But there was none there. It must
have been unknown in the greater days of Judea.
So things went on from month to month, and from year to year, and the
debt and the charges loomed like a dark and gathering cloud on the
horizon. I don't mean to say that efforts were not made to face the
difficulty and to fight it. They were. Time after time the workers of
the congregation got together and thought out plans for the
extinction of the debt. But somehow, after every trial, the debt grew
larger with each year, and every system that could be devised turned
out more hopeless than the last.
They began, I think, with the "endless chain" of letters of appeal.
You may remember the device, for it was all-popular in clerical
circles some ten or fifteen years ago. You got a number of people to
write each of them three letters asking for ten cents from three each
of their friends and asking each of them to send on three similar
letters. Three each from three each, and three each more from each!
Do you observe the wonderful ingenuity of it? Nobody, I think, has
forgotten how the Willing Workers of the Church of England Church of
Mariposa sat down in the vestry room in the basement with a pile of
stationery three feet high, sending out the letters. Some, I know,
will never forget it. Certainly not Mr. Pupkin, the teller in the
Exchange Bank, for it was here that he met Zena Pepperleigh, the
judge's daughter, for the first time; and they worked so busily that
they wrote out ever so many letters--eight or nine--in a single
afternoon, and they discovered that their handwritings were awfully
alike, which was one of the most extraordinary and amazing
coincidences, you will admit, in the history of chirography.
But the scheme failed--failed utterly. I don't know why. The letters
went out and were copied broadcast and recopied, till you could see
the Mariposa endless chain winding its way towards the Rocky
Mountains. But they never got the ten cents. The Willing Workers
wrote for it in thousands, but by some odd chance they never struck
the person who had it.
Then after that there came a regular winter of effort. First of all
they had a bazaar that was got up by the Girls' Auxiliary and held in
the basement of the church. All the girls wore special costumes that
were brought up from the city, and they had booths, where there was
every imaginable thing for sale--pincushion covers, and chair covers,
and sofa covers, everything that you can think of. If the people had
once started buying them, the debt would have been lifted in no time.
Even as it was the bazaar only lost twenty dollars.
After that, I think, was the magic lantern lecture that Dean Drone
gave on "Italy and her Invaders." They got the lantern and the slides
up from the city, and it was simply splendid. Some of the slides were
perhaps a little confusing, but it was all there,--the pictures of
the dense Italian jungle and the crocodiles and the naked invaders
with their invading clubs. It was a pity that it was such a bad
night, snowing hard, and a curling match on, or they would have made
a lot of money out of the lecture. As it was the loss, apart from the
breaking of the lantern, which was unavoidable, was quite trifling.
I can hardly remember all the things that there were after that. I
recollect that it was always Mullins who arranged about renting the
hall and printing the tickets and all that sort of thing. His father,
you remember, had been at the Anglican college with Dean Drone, and
though the rector was thirty-seven years older than Mullins, he
leaned upon him, in matters of business, as upon a staff; and though
Mullins was thirty-seven years younger than the Dean, he leaned
against him, in matters of doctrine, as against a rock.
At one time they got the idea that what the public wanted was not
anything instructive but something light and amusing. Mullins said
that people loved to laugh. He said that if you get a lot of people
all together and get them laughing you can do anything you like with
them. Once they start to laugh they are lost. So they got Mr. Dreery,
the English Literature teacher at the high school, to give an evening
of readings from the Great Humorists from Chaucer to Adam Smith. They
came mighty near to making a barrel of money out of that. If the
people had once started laughing it would have been all over with
them. As it was I heard a lot of them say that they simply wanted to
scream with laughter: they said they just felt like bursting into
peals of laughter all the time. Even when, in the more subtle parts,
they didn't feel like bursting out laughing, they said they had all
they could do to keep from smiling. They said they never had such a
hard struggle in their lives not to smile.
In fact the chairman said when he put the vote of thanks that he was
sure if people had known what the lecture was to be like there would
have been a much better "turn-out." But you see all that the people
had to go on was just the announcement of the name of the lecturer,
Mr. Dreery, and that he would lecture on English Humour All Seats
Twenty-five Cents. As the chairman expressed it himself, if the
people had had any idea, any idea at all, of what the lecture would
be like they would have been there in hundreds. But how could they
get an idea that it would be so amusing with practically nothing to
After that attempt things seemed to go from bad to worse. Nearly
everybody was disheartened about it. What would have happened to the
debt, or whether they would have ever paid it off, is more than I can
say, if it hadn't occurred that light broke in on Mullins in the
strangest and most surprising way you can imagine. It happened that
he went away for his bank holidays, and while he was away he happened
to be present in one of the big cities and saw how they went at it
there to raise money. He came home in such a state of excitement that
he went straight up from the Mariposa station to the rectory, valise
and all, and he burst in one April evening to where the Rural Dean
was sitting with the three girls beside the lamp in the front room,
and he cried out:
"Mr. Drone, I've got it,--I've got a way that will clear the debt
before you're a fortnight older. We'll have a Whirlwind Campaign in
But stay! The change from the depth of depression to the pinnacle of
hope is too abrupt. I must pause and tell you in another chapter of
the Whirlwind Campaign in Mariposa.
The Whirlwind Campaign in Mariposa
It was Mullins, the banker, who told Mariposa all about the plan of a
Whirlwind Campaign and explained how it was to be done. He'd happened
to be in one of the big cities when they were raising money by a
Whirlwind Campaign for one of the universities, and he saw it all.
He said he would never forget the scene on the last day of it, when
the announcement was made that the total of the money raised was even
more than what was needed. It was a splendid sight,--the business men
of the town all cheering and laughing and shaking hands, and the
professors with the tears streaming down their faces, and the Deans
of the Faculties, who had given money themselves, sobbing aloud.
He said it was the most moving thing he ever saw.
So, as I said, Henry Mullins, who had seen it, explained to the
others how it was done. He said that first of all a few of the
business men got together quietly,--very quietly, indeed the more
quietly the better,--and talked things over. Perhaps one of them
would dine,--just quietly,--with another one and discuss the
situation. Then these two would invite a third man,--possibly even a
fourth,--to have lunch with them and talk in a general way,--even
talk of other things part of the time. And so on in this way things
would be discussed and looked at in different lights and viewed from
different angles and then when everything was ready they would go at
things with a rush. A central committee would be formed and
sub-committees, with captains of each group and recorders and
secretaries, and on a stated day the Whirlwind Campaign would begin.
Each day the crowd would all agree to meet at some stated place and
each lunch together,--say at a restaurant or at a club or at some
eating place. This would go on every day with the interest getting
keener and keener, and everybody getting more and more excited, till
presently the chairman would announce that the campaign had succeeded
and there would be the kind of scene that Mullins had described.
So that was the plan that they set in motion in Mariposa.
I don't wish to say too much about the Whirlwind Campaign itself. I
don't mean to say that it was a failure. On the contrary, in many
ways it couldn't have been a greater success, and yet somehow it
didn't seem to work out just as Henry Mullins had said it would. It
may be that there are differences between Mariposa and the larger
cities that one doesn't appreciate at first sight. Perhaps it would
have been better to try some other plan.
Yet they followed along the usual line of things closely enough. They
began with the regular system of some of the business men getting
together in a quiet way.
First of all, for example, Henry Mullins came over quietly to Duff's
rooms, over the Commercial Bank, with a bottle of rye whiskey, and
they talked things over. And the night after that George Duff came
over quietly to Mullins's rooms, over the Exchange Bank, with a
bottle of Scotch whiskey. A few evenings after that Mullins and Duff
went together, in a very unostentatious way, with perhaps a couple of
bottles of rye, to Pete Glover's room over the hardware store. And
then all three of them went up one night with Ed Moore, the
photographer, to Judge Pepperleigh's house under pretence of having a
game of poker. The very day after that, Mullins and Duff and Ed
Moore, and Pete Glover and the judge got Will Harrison, the harness
maker, to go out without any formality on the lake on the pretext of
fishing. And the next night after that Duff and Mullins and Ed Moore
and Pete Glover and Pepperleigh and Will Harrison got Alf Trelawney,
the postmaster, to come over, just in a casual way, to the Mariposa
House, after the night mail, and the next day Mullins and Duff and--
But, pshaw! you see at once how the thing is worked. There's no need
to follow that part of the Whirlwind Campaign further. But it just
shows the power of organization.
And all this time, mind you, they were talking things over, and
looking at things first in one light and then in another light,--in
fact, just doing as the big city men do when there's an important
thing like this under way.
So after things had been got pretty well into shape in this way, Duff
asked Mullins one night, straight out, if he would be chairman of the
Central Committee. He sprung it on him and Mullins had no time to
refuse, but he put it to Duff straight whether he would be treasurer.
And Duff had no time to refuse.
That gave things a start, and within a week they had the whole
organization on foot. There was the Grand Central Committee and six
groups or sub-committees of twenty men each, and a captain for every
group. They had it all arranged on the lines most likely to be
In one group there were all the bankers, Mullins and Duff and Pupkin
(with the cameo pin), and about four others. They had their
photographs taken at Ed Moore's studio, taken in a line with a
background of icebergs--a winter scene--and a pretty penetrating
crowd they looked, I can tell you. After all, you know, if you get a
crowd of representative bank men together in any financial deal,
you've got a pretty considerable leverage right away.
In the second group were the lawyers, Nivens and Macartney and the
rest--about as level-headed a lot as you'd see anywhere. Get the
lawyers of a town with you on a thing like this and you'll find
you've got a sort of brain power with you that you'd never get
Then there were the business men--there was a solid crowd for
you,--Harrison, the harness maker, and Glover, the hardware man, and
all that gang, not talkers, perhaps, but solid men who can tell you
to a nicety how many cents there are in a dollar. It's all right to
talk about education and that sort of thing, but if you want driving
power and efficiency, get business men. They're seeing it every day
in the city, and it's just the same in Mariposa. Why, in the big
concerns in the city, if they found out a man was educated, they
wouldn't have him,--wouldn't keep him there a minute. That's why the
business men have to conceal it so much.
Then in the other teams there were the doctors and the newspaper men
and the professional men like Judge Pepperleigh and Yodel the
It was all organized so that every team had its headquarters, two of
them in each of the three hotels--one upstairs and one down. And it
was arranged that there would be a big lunch every day, to be held in
Smith's caff, round the corner of Smith's Northern Health Resort and
Home of the Wissanotti Angler,--you know the place. The lunch was
divided up into tables, with a captain for each table to see about
things to drink, and of course all the tables were in competition
with one another. In fact the competition was the very life of the
It's just wonderful how these things run when they're organized. Take
the first luncheon, for example. There they all were, every man in
his place, every captain at his post at the top of the table. It was
hard, perhaps, for some of them to get there. They had very likely to
be in their stores and banks and offices till the last minute and
then make a dash for it. It was the cleanest piece of team work you
You have noticed already, I am sure, that a good many of the captains
and committee men didn't belong to the Church of England Church.
Glover, for instance, was a Presbyterian, till they ran the picket
fence of the manse two feet on to his property, and after that he
became a free-thinker. But in Mariposa, as I have said, everybody
likes to be in everything and naturally a Whirlwind Campaign was a
novelty. Anyway it would have been a poor business to keep a man out
of the lunches merely on account of his religion. I trust that the
day for that kind of religious bigotry is past.
Of course the excitement was when Henry Mullins at the head of the
table began reading out the telegrams and letters and messages. First
of all there was a telegram of good wishes from the Anglican Lord
Bishop of the Diocese to Henry Mullins and calling him Dear Brother
in Grace the Mariposa telegraph office is a little unreliable and it
read: "Dear Brother in grease," but that was good enough. The Bishop
said that his most earnest wishes were with them.
Then Mullins read a letter from the Mayor of Mariposa Pete Glover was
mayor that year--stating that his keenest desires were with them: and
then one from the Carriage Company saying that its heartiest good
will was all theirs; and then one from the Meat Works saying that its
nearest thoughts were next to them. Then he read one from himself, as
head of the Exchange Bank, you understand, informing him that he had
heard of his project and assuring him of his liveliest interest in
what he proposed.
At each of these telegrams and messages there was round after round
of applause, so that you could hardly hear yourself speak or give an
order. But that was nothing to when Mullins got up again, and beat on
the table for silence and made one of those crackling speeches--just
the way business men speak--the kind of speech that a college man
simply can't make. I wish I could repeat it all. I remember that it
began: "Now boys, you know what we're here for, gentlemen," and it
went on just as good as that all through. When Mullins had done he
took out a fountain pen and wrote out a cheque for a hundred dollars,
conditional on the fund reaching fifty thousand. And there was a
burst of cheers all over the room.
Just the moment he had done it, up sprang George Duff,--you know the
keen competition there is, as a straight matter of business, between
the banks in Mariposa,--up sprang George Duff, I say, and wrote out a
cheque for another hundred conditional on the fund reaching seventy
thousand. You never heard such cheering in your life.
And then when Netley walked up to the head of the table and laid down
a cheque for a hundred dollars conditional on the fund reaching one
hundred thousand the room was in an uproar. A hundred thousand
dollars! Just think of it! The figures fairly stagger one. To think
of a hundred thousand dollars raised in five minutes in a little
place like Mariposa!
And even that was nothing! In less than no time there was such a
crowd round Mullins trying to borrow his pen all at once that his
waistcoat was all stained with ink. Finally when they got order at
last, and Mullins stood up and announced that the conditional fund
had reached a quarter of a million, the whole place was a perfect
babel of cheering. Oh, these Whirlwind Campaigns are wonderful
I can tell you the Committee felt pretty proud that first day. There
was Henry Mullins looking a little bit flushed and excited, with his
white waistcoat and an American Beauty rose, and with ink marks all
over him from the cheque signing; and he kept telling them that he'd
known all along that all that was needed was to get the thing started
and telling again about what he'd seen at the University Campaign and
about the professors crying, and wondering if the high school
teachers would come down for the last day of the meetings.
Looking back on the Mariposa Whirlwind, I can never feel that it was
a failure. After all, there is a sympathy and a brotherhood in these
things when men work shoulder to shoulder. If you had seen the
canvassers of the Committee going round the town that evening
shoulder to shoulder from the Mariposa House to the Continental and
up to Mullins's rooms and over to Duffs, shoulder to shoulder, you'd
have understood it.
I don't say that every lunch was quite such a success as the first.
It's not always easy to get out of the store if you're a busy man,
and a good many of the Whirlwind Committee found that they had just
time to hurry down and snatch their lunch and get back again. Still,
they came, and snatched it. As long as the lunches lasted, they came.
Even if they had simply to rush it and grab something to eat and
drink without time to talk to anybody, they came.
No, no, it was not lack of enthusiasm that killed the Whirlwind
Campaign in Mariposa. It must have been something else. I don't just
know what it was but I think it had something to do with the
financial, the book-keeping side of the thing.
It may have been, too, that the organization was not quite correctly
planned. You see, if practically everybody is on the committees, it
is awfully hard to try to find men to canvass, and it is not
allowable for the captains and the committee men to canvass one
another, because their gifts are spontaneous. So the only thing that
the different groups could do was to wait round in some likely
place--say the bar parlour of Smith's Hotel--in the hope that
somebody might come in who could be canvassed.
You might ask why they didn't canvass Mr. Smith himself, but of
course they had done that at the very start, as I should have said.
Mr. Smith had given them two hundred dollars in cash conditional on
the lunches being held in the caff of his hotel; and it's awfully
hard to get a proper lunch I mean the kind to which a Bishop can
express regret at not being there--under a dollar twenty-five. So
Mr. Smith got back his own money, and the crowd began eating into the
benefactions, and it got more and more complicated whether to hold
another lunch in the hope of breaking even, or to stop the campaign.
It was disappointing, yes. In spite of all the success and the
sympathy, it was disappointing. I don't say it didn't do good. No
doubt a lot of the men got to know one another better than ever they
had before. I have myself heard Judge Pepperleigh say that after the
campaign he knew all of Pete Glover that he wanted to. There was a
lot of that kind of complete satiety. The real trouble about the
Whirlwind Campaign was that they never clearly understood which of
them were the whirlwind and who were to be the campaign.
Some of them, I believe, took it pretty much to heart. I know that
Henry Mullins did. You could see it. The first day he came down to
the lunch, all dressed up with the American Beauty and the white
waistcoat. The second day he only wore a pink carnation and a grey
waistcoat. The third day he had on a dead daffodil and a cardigan
undervest, and on the last day, when the high school teachers should
have been there, he only wore his office suit and he hadn't even
shaved. He looked beaten.
It was that night that he went up to the rectory to tell the news to
Dean Drone. It had been arranged, you know, that the rector should
not attend the lunches, so as to let the whole thing come as a
surprise; so that all he knew about it was just scraps of information
about the crowds at the lunch and how they cheered and all that.
Once, I believe, he caught sight of the Newspacket with a two-inch
headline: A QUARTER OF A MILLION, but he wouldn't let himself read
further because it would have spoilt the surprise.
I saw Mullins, as I say, go up the street on his way to Dean Drone's.
It was middle April and there was ragged snow on the streets, and the
nights were dark still, and cold. I saw Mullins grit his teeth as he
walked, and I know that he held in his coat pocket his own cheque for
the hundred, with the condition taken off it, and he said that there
were so many skunks in Mariposa that a man might as well be in the
Head Office in the city.
The Dean came out to the little gate in the dark,--you could see the
lamplight behind him from the open door of the rectory,--and he shook
hands with Mullins and they went in together.
The Beacon on the Hill
Mullins said afterward that it was ever so much easier than he
thought it would have been. The Dean, he said, was so quiet. Of
course if Mr. Drone had started to swear at Mullins, or tried to
strike him, it would have been much harder. But as it was he was so
quiet that part of the time he hardly seemed to follow what Mullins
was saying. So Mullins was glad of that, because it proved that the
Dean wasn't feeling disappointed as, in a way, he might have.
Indeed, the only time when the rector seemed animated and excited in
the whole interview was when Mullins said that the campaign had been
ruined by a lot of confounded mugwumps. Straight away the Dean asked
if those mugwumps had really prejudiced the outcome of the campaign.
Mullins said there was no doubt of it, and the Dean enquired if the
presence of mugwumps was fatal in matters of endeavour, and Mullins
said that it was. Then the rector asked if even one mugwump was, in
the Christian sense, deleterious. Mullins said that one mugwump
would kill anything. After that the Dean hardly spoke at all.
In fact, the rector presently said that he mustn't detain Mullins too
long and that he had detained him too long already and that Mullins
must be weary from his train journey and that in cases of extreme
weariness nothing but a sound sleep was of any avail; he himself,
unfortunately, would not be able to avail himself of the priceless
boon of slumber until he had first retired to his study to write some
letters; so that Mullins, who had a certain kind of social quickness
of intuition, saw that it was time to leave, and went away.
It was midnight as he went down the street, and a dark, still night.
That can be stated positively because it came out in court
afterwards. Mullins swore that it was a dark night; he admitted,
under examination, that there may have been the stars, or at least
some of the less important of them, though he had made no attempt, as
brought out on cross-examination, to count them: there may have been,
too, the electric lights, and Mullins was not willing to deny that it
was quite possible that there was more or less moonlight. But that
there was no light that night in the form of sunlight, Mullins was
absolutely certain. All that, I say, came out in court.
But meanwhile the rector had gone upstairs to his study and had
seated himself in front of his table to write his letters. It was
here always that he wrote his sermons. From the window of the room
you looked through the bare white maple trees to the sweeping outline
of the church shadowed against the night sky, and beyond that, though
far off, was the new cemetery where the rector walked of a Sunday (I
think I told you why): beyond that again, for the window faced the
east, there lay, at no very great distance, the New Jerusalem. There
were no better things that a man might look towards from his study
window, nor anything that could serve as a better aid to writing.
But this night the Dean's letters must have been difficult indeed to
write. For he sat beside the table holding his pen and with his head
bent upon his other hand, and though he sometimes put a line or two
on the paper, for the most part he sat motionless. The fact is that
Dean Drone was not trying to write letters, but only one letter. He
was writing a letter of resignation. If you have not done that for
forty years it is extremely difficult to get the words.
So at least the Dean found it. First he wrote one set of words and
then he sat and thought and wrote something else. But nothing seemed
The real truth was that Dean Drone, perhaps more than he knew
himself, had a fine taste for words and effects, and when you feel
that a situation is entirely out of the common, you naturally try, if
you have that instinct, to give it the right sort of expression.
I believe that at the time when Rupert Drone had taken the medal in
Greek over fifty years ago, it was only a twist of fate that had
prevented him from becoming a great writer. There was a buried author
in him just as there was a buried financier in Jefferson Thorpe. In
fact, there were many people in Mariposa like that, and for all I
know you may yourself have seen such elsewhere. For instance, I am
certain that Billy Rawson, the telegraph operator at Mariposa, could
easily have invented radium. In the same way one has only to read
the advertisements of Mr. Gingham, the undertaker, to know that there
is still in him a poet, who could have written on death far more
attractive verses than the Thanatopsis of Cullen Bryant, and under a
title less likely to offend the public and drive away custom. He has
told me this himself.
So the Dean tried first this and then that and nothing would seem to
suit. First of all he wrote:
"It is now forty years since I came among you, a youth full of life
and hope and ardent in the work before me--" Then he paused, doubtful
of the accuracy and clearness of the expression, read it over again
and again in deep thought and then began again:
"It is now forty years since I came among you, a broken and
melancholy boy, without life or hope, desiring only to devote to the
service of this parish such few years as might remain of an existence
blighted before it had truly begun--" And then again the Dean
stopped. He read what he had written; he frowned; he crossed it
through with his pen. This was no way to write, this thin egotistical
strain of complaint. Once more he started:
"It is now forty years since I came among you, a man already
tempered and trained, except possibly in mathematics--" And then
again the rector paused and his mind drifted away to the memory of
the Anglican professor that I spoke of, who had had so little sense
of his higher mission as to omit the teaching of logarithms. And the
rector mused so long that when he began again it seemed to him that
it was simpler and better to discard the personal note altogether,
and he wrote:
"There are times, gentlemen, in the life of a parish, when it comes
to an epoch which brings it to a moment when it reaches a point--"
The Dean stuck fast again, but refusing this time to be beaten went
"--reaches a point where the circumstances of the moment make the
epoch such as to focus the life of the parish in that time."
Then the Dean saw that he was beaten, and he knew that he not only
couldn't manage the parish but couldn't say so in proper English, and
of the two the last was the bitterer discovery.
He raised his head, and looked for a moment through the window at the
shadow of the church against the night, so outlined that you could
almost fancy that the light of the New Jerusalem was beyond it. Then
he wrote, and this time not to the world at large but only to
"My dear Harry, I want to resign my charge. Will you come over and
When the Dean at last rose from writing that, I think it was far on
in the night. As he rose he looked again through the window, looked
once and then once more, and so stood with widening eyes, and his
face set towards what he saw.
What was that? That light in the sky there, eastward?--near or far
he could not say. Was it already the dawn of the New Jerusalem
brightening in the east, or was it--look--in the church
itself,--what is that?--that dull red glow that shines behind the
stained-glass windows, turning them to crimson? that fork of flame
that breaks now from the casement and flashes upward, along the
wood--and see--that sudden sheet of fire that springs the windows of
the church with the roar of splintered glass and surges upward into
the sky, till the dark night and the bare trees and sleeping street
of Mariposa are all illumined with its glow!
Fire! Fire! and the sudden sound of the bell now, breaking upon the
So stood the Dean erect, with one hand pressed against the table for
support, while the Mariposa fire bell struck out its warning to the
sleeping town,--stood there while the street grew loud with the
tumult of voices,--with the roaring gallop of the fire brigade,--with
the harsh note of the gong--and over all other sounds, the great
seething of the flames that tore their way into the beams and rafters
of the pointed church and flared above it like a torch into the
So stood the Dean, and as the church broke thus into a very beacon
kindled upon a hill,--sank forward without a sign, his face against
the table, stricken.
You need to see a fire in a place such as Mariposa, a town still half
of wood, to know what fire means. In the city it is all different. To
the onlooker, at any rate, a fire is only a spectacle, nothing more.
Everything is arranged, organized, certain. It is only once perhaps
in a century that fire comes to a large city as it comes to the
little wooden town like Mariposa as a great Terror of the Night.
That, at any rate, is what it meant in Mariposa that night in April,
the night the Church of England Church burnt down. Had the fire
gained but a hundred feet, or less, it could have reached from the
driving shed behind the church to the backs of the wooden shops of
the Main Street, and once there not all the waters of Lake Wissanotti
could stay the course of its destruction. It was for that hundred
feet that they fought, the men of Mariposa, from the midnight call of
the bell till the slow coming of the day. They fought the fire, not
to save the church, for that was doomed from the first outbreak of
the flames, but to stop the spread of it and save the town. They
fought it at the windows, and at the blazing doors, and through the
yawning furnace of the open belfry; fought it, with the Mariposa
engine thumping and panting in the street, itself aglow with fire
like a servant demon fighting its own kind, with tall ladders
reaching to the very roof, and with hose that poured their streams of
tossing water foaming into the flames.
Most of all they fought to save the wooden driving shed behind the
church from which the fire could leap into the heart of Mariposa.
That was where the real fight was, for the life of the town. I wish
you could have seen how they turned the hose against the shingles,
ripping and tearing them from their places with the force of the
driven water: how they mounted on the roof, axe in hand, and cut
madly at the rafters to bring the building down, while the black
clouds of smoke rolled in volumes about the men as they worked. You
could see the fire horses harnessed with logging chains to the
uprights of the shed to tear the building from its place.
Most of all I wish you could have seen Mr. Smith, proprietor, as I
think you know, of Smith's Hotel, there on the roof with a fireman's
helmet on, cutting through the main beam of solid cedar, twelve by
twelve, that held tight still when the rafters and the roof tree were
down already, the shed on fire in a dozen places, and the other men
driven from the work by the flaming sparks, and by the strangle of
the smoke. Not so Mr. Smith! See him there as he plants himself firm
at the angle of the beams, and with the full impact of his two
hundred and eighty pounds drives his axe into the wood! I tell you it
takes a man from the pine country of the north to handle an axe!
Right, left, left, right, down it comes, with never a pause or stay,
never missing by a fraction of an inch the line of the stroke! At it,
Smith! Down with it! Till with a shout from the crowd the beam gapes
asunder, and Mr. Smith is on the ground again, roaring his directions
to the men and horses as they haul down the shed, in a voice that
dominates the fire itself.
Who made Mr. Smith the head and chief of the Mariposa fire brigade
that night, I cannot say. I do not know even where he got the huge
red helmet that he wore, nor had I ever heard till the night the
church burnt down that Mr. Smith was a member of the fire brigade at
all. But it's always that way. Your little narrow-chested men may
plan and organize, but when there is something to be done, something
real, then it's the man of size and weight that steps to the front
every time. Look at Bismarck and Mr. Gladstone and President Taft and
Mr. Smith,--the same thing in each case.
I suppose it was perfectly natural that just as soon as Mr. Smith
came on the scene he put on somebody's helmet and shouted his
directions to the men and bossed the Mariposa fire brigade like
Bismarck with the German parliament.
The fire had broken out late, late at night, and they fought it till
the day. The flame of it lit up the town and the bare grey maple
trees, and you could see in the light of it the broad sheet of the
frozen lake, snow covered still. It kindled such a beacon as it
burned that from the other side of the lake the people on the night
express from the north could see it twenty miles away. It lit up
such a testimony of flame that Mariposa has never seen the like of it
before or since. Then when the roof crashed in and the tall steeple
tottered and fell, so swift a darkness seemed to come that the grey
trees and the frozen lake vanished in a moment as if blotted out of
When the morning came the great church of Mariposa was nothing but a
ragged group of walls with a sodden heap of bricks and blackened
wood, still hissing here and there beneath the hose with the sullen
anger of a conquered fire. Round the ruins of the fire walked the
people of Mariposa next morning, and they pointed out where the wreck
of the steeple had fallen, and where the bells of the church lay in a
molten heap among the bricks, and they talked of the loss that it was
and how many dollars it would take to rebuild the church, and whether
it was insured and for how much. And there were at least fourteen
people who had seen the fire first, and more than that who had given
the first alarm, and ever so many who knew how fires of this sort
could be prevented.
Most noticeable of all you could see the sidesmen and the wardens and
Mullins, the chairman of the vestry, talking in little groups about
the fire. Later in the day there came from the city the insurance men
and the fire appraisers, and they too walked about the ruins, and
talked with the wardens and the vestry men. There was such a luxury
of excitement in the town that day that it was just as good as a
But the strangest part of it was the unexpected sequel. I don't know
through what error of the Dean's figures it happened, through what
lack of mathematical training the thing turned out as it did. No
doubt the memory of the mathematical professor was heavily to blame
for it, but the solid fact is that the Church of England Church of
Mariposa turned out to be insured for a hundred thousand, and there
were the receipts and the vouchers, all signed and regular, just as
they found them in a drawer of the rector's study. There was no doubt
about it. The insurance people might protest as they liked. The
straight, plain fact was that the church was insured for about twice
the whole amount of the cost and the debt and the rector's salary and
the boarding-school fees of the littlest of the Drones all put
There was a Whirlwind Campaign for you! Talk of raising money,--that
was something like! I wonder if the universities and the city
institutions that go round trying to raise money by the slow and
painful method called a Whirlwind Campaign, that takes perhaps all
day to raise fifty thousand dollars, ever thought of anything so
beautifully simple as this.
The Greater Testimony that had lain so heavily on the congregation
went flaming to its end, and burned up its debts and its obligations
and enriched its worshippers by its destruction. Talk of a beacon on
a hill! You can hardly beat that one.
I wish you could have seen how the wardens and the sidesmen and
Mullins, the chairman of the vestry, smiled and chuckled at the
thought of it. Hadn't they said all along that all that was needed
was a little faith and effort? And here it was, just as they said,
and they'd been right after all.
Protest from the insurance people? Legal proceedings to prevent
payment? My dear sir! I see you know nothing about the Mariposa
court, in spite of the fact that I have already said that it was one
of the most precise instruments of British fair play ever
established. Why, Judge Pepperleigh disposed of the case and
dismissed the protest of the company in less than fifteen minutes!
Just what the jurisdiction of Judge Pepperleigh's court is I don't
know, but I do know that in upholding the rights of a Christian
congregation--I am quoting here the text of the decision--against the
intrigues of a set of infernal skunks that make too much money,
anyway, the Mariposa court is without an equal. Pepperleigh even
threatened the plaintiffs with the penitentiary, or worse.
How the fire started no one ever knew. There was a queer story that
went about to the effect that Mr. Smith and Mr. Gingham's assistant
had been seen very late that night carrying an automobile can of
kerosene up the street. But that was amply disproved by the
proceedings of the court, and by the evidence of Mr. Smith himself.
He took his dying oath,--not his ordinary one as used in the License
cases, but his dying one,--that he had not carried a can of kerosene
up the street, and that anyway it was the rottenest kind of kerosene
he had ever seen and no more use than so much molasses. So that point
Dean Drone? Did he get well again? Why, what makes you ask that? You
mean, was his head at all affected after the stroke? No, it was not.
Absolutely not. It was not affected in the least, though how anybody
who knows him now in Mariposa could have the faintest idea that his
mind was in any way impaired by the stroke is more than I can tell.
The engaging of Mr. Uttermost, the curate, whom perhaps you have
heard preach in the new church, had nothing whatever to do with Dean
Drone's head. It was merely a case of the pressure of overwork. It
was felt very generally by the wardens that, in these days of
specialization, the rector was covering too wide a field, and that if
he should abandon some of the lesser duties of his office, he might
devote his energies more intently to the Infant Class. That was all.
You may hear him there any afternoon, talking to them, if you will
stand under the maple trees and listen through the open windows of
the new Infant School.
And, as for audiences, for intelligence, for attention--well, if I
want to find listeners who can hear and understand about the great
spaces of Lake Huron, let me tell of it, every time face to face with
the blue eyes of the Infant Class, fresh from the infinity of spaces
greater still. Talk of grown-up people all you like, but for
listeners let me have the Infant Class with their pinafores and their
Teddy Bears and their feet not even touching the floor, and Mr.
Uttermost may preach to his heart's content of the newer forms of
doubt revealed by the higher criticism.
So you will understand that the Dean's mind is, if anything, even
keener, and his head even clearer than before. And if you want proof
of it, notice him there beneath the plum blossoms reading in the
Greek: he has told me that he finds that he can read, with the
greatest ease, works in the Greek that seemed difficult before.
Because his head is so clear now.
And sometimes,--when his head is very clear,--as he sits there
reading beneath the plum blossoms he can hear them singing beyond,
and his wife's voice.
The Extraordinary Entanglement of Mr. Pupkin
Judge Pepperleigh lived in a big house with hardwood floors and a
wide piazza that looked over the lake from the top of Oneida Street.
Every day about half-past five he used to come home from his office
in the Mariposa Court House. On some days as he got near the house he
would call out to his wife:
"Almighty Moses, Martha! who left the sprinkler on the grass?"
On other days he would call to her from quite a little distance off:
"Hullo, mother! Got any supper for a hungry man?"
And Mrs. Pepperleigh never knew which it would be. On the days when
he swore at the sprinkler you could see his spectacles flash like
dynamite. But on the days when he called: "Hullo, mother," they were
simply irradiated with kindliness.
Some days, I say, he would cry out with a perfect whine of
indignation: "Suffering Caesar! has that infernal dog torn up those
geraniums again?" And other days you would hear him singing out:
"Hullo, Rover! Well, doggie, well, old fellow!"
In the same way at breakfast, the judge, as he looked over the
morning paper, would sometimes leap to his feet with a perfect howl
of suffering, and cry: "Everlasting Moses! the Liberals have carried
East Elgin." Or else he would lean back from the breakfast table with
the most good-humoured laugh you ever heard and say: "Ha! ha! the
Conservatives have carried South Norfolk."
And yet he was perfectly logical, when you come to think of it. After
all, what is more annoying to a sensitive, highly-strung man than an
infernal sprinkler playing all over the place, and what more
agreeable to a good-natured, even-tempered fellow than a
well-prepared supper? Or, what is more likeable than one's good, old,
affectionate dog bounding down the path from sheer delight at seeing
you,--or more execrable than an infernal whelp that has torn up the
geraniums and is too old to keep, anyway?
As for politics, well, it all seemed reasonable enough. When the
Conservatives got in anywhere, Pepperleigh laughed and enjoyed it,
simply because it does one good to see a straight, fine, honest fight
where the best man wins. When a Liberal got in, it made him mad, and
he said so,--not, mind you, from any political bias, for his office
forbid it,--but simply because one can't bear to see the country go
absolutely to the devil.
I suppose, too, it was partly the effect of sitting in court all day
listening to cases. One gets what you might call the judicial temper
of mind. Pepperleigh had it so strongly developed that I've seen him
kick a hydrangea pot to pieces with his foot because the accursed
thing wouldn't flower. He once threw the canary cage clear into the
lilac bushes because the "blasted bird wouldn't stop singing." It was
a straight case of judicial temper. Lots of judges have it, developed
in just the same broad, all-round way as with Judge Pepperleigh.
I think it must be passing sentences that does it. Anyway,
Pepperleigh had the aptitude for passing sentences so highly
perfected that he spent his whole time at it inside of court and out.
I've heard him hand out sentences for the Sultan of Turkey and Mrs.
Pankhurst and the Emperor of Germany that made one's blood run cold.
He would sit there on the piazza of a summer evening reading the
paper, with dynamite sparks flying from his spectacles as he
sentenced the Czar of Russia to ten years in the salt mines--and made
it fifteen a few minutes afterwards. Pepperleigh always read the
foreign news--the news of things that he couldn't alter--as a form of
wild and stimulating torment.
So you can imagine that in some ways the judge's house was a pretty
difficult house to go to. I mean you can see how awfully hard it must
have been for Mr. Pupkin. I tell you it took some nerve to step up
on that piazza and say, in a perfectly natural, off-hand way: "Oh,
how do you do, judge? Is Miss Zena in? No, I won't stay, thanks; I
think I ought to be going. I simply called." A man who can do that
has got to have a pretty fair amount of savoir what do you call it,
and he's got to be mighty well shaved and have his cameo pin put in
his tie at a pretty undeniable angle before he can tackle it. Yes,
and even then he may need to hang round behind the lilac bushes for
half an hour first, and cool off. And he's apt to make pretty good
time down Oneida Street on the way back.
Still, that's what you call love, and if you've got it, and are well
shaved, and your boots well blacked, you can do things that seem
almost impossible. Yes, you can do anything, even if you do trip over
the dog in getting off the piazza.
Don't suppose for a moment that Judge Pepperleigh was an
unapproachable or a harsh man always and to everybody. Even Mr.
Pupkin had to admit that that couldn't be so. To know that, you had
only to see Zena Pepperleigh put her arm round his neck and call him
Daddy. She would do that even when there were two or three young men
sitting on the edge of the piazza. You know, I think, the way they
sit on the edge in Mariposa. It is meant to indicate what part of the
family they have come to see. Thus when George Duff, the bank
manager, came up to the Pepperleigh house, he always sat in a chair
on the verandah and talked to the judge. But when Pupkin or Mallory
Tompkins or any fellow like that came, he sat down in a sidelong
fashion on the edge of the boards and then they knew exactly what he
was there for. If he knew the house well, he leaned his back against
the verandah post and smoked a cigarette. But that took nerve.
But I am afraid that this is a digression, and, of course, you know
all about it just as well as I do. All that I was trying to say was
that I don't suppose that the judge had ever spoken a cross word to
Zena in his life.--Oh, he threw her novel over the grape-vine, I
don't deny that, but then why on earth should a girl read trash like
the Errant Quest of the Palladin Pilgrim, and the Life of Sir
Galahad, when the house was full of good reading like The Life of Sir
John A. Macdonald, and Pioneer Days in Tecumseh Township?
Still, what I mean is that the judge never spoke harshly to Zena,
except perhaps under extreme provocation; and I am quite sure that he
never, never had to Neil. But then what father ever would want to
speak angrily to such a boy as Neil Pepperleigh? The judge took no
credit himself for that; the finest grown boy in the whole county and
so broad and big that they took him into the Missinaba Horse when he
was only seventeen. And clever,--so clever that he didn't need to
study; so clever that he used to come out at the foot of the class in
mathematics at the Mariposa high school through sheer surplus of
brain power. I've heard the judge explain it a dozen times. Why,
Neil was so clever that he used to be able to play billiards at the
Mariposa House all evening when the other boys had to stay at home
Such a powerful looking fellow, too! Everybody in Mariposa remembers
how Neil Pepperleigh smashed in the face of Peter McGinnis, the
Liberal organizer, at the big election--you recall it--when the old
Macdonald Government went out. Judge Pepperleigh had to try him for
it the next morning--his own son. They say there never was such a
scene even in the Mariposa court. There was, I believe, something
like it on a smaller scale in Roman history, but it wasn't half as
dramatic. I remember Judge Pepperleigh leaning forward to pass the
sentence,--for a judge is bound, you know, by his oath,--and how
grave he looked and yet so proud and happy, like a man doing his duty
and sustained by it, and he said:
"My boy, you are innocent. You smashed in Peter McGinnis's face, but
you did it without criminal intent. You put a face on him, by
Jehoshaphat! that he won't lose for six months, but you did it
without evil purpose or malign design. My boy, look up! Give me your
hand! You leave this court without a stain upon your name."
They said it was one of the most moving scenes ever enacted in the
But the strangest thing is that if the judge had known what every one
else in Mariposa knew, it would have broken his heart. If he could
have seen Neil with the drunken flush on his face in the billiard
room of the Mariposa House,--if he had known, as every one else did,
that Neil was crazed with drink the night he struck the Liberal
organizer when the old Macdonald Government went out,--if he could
have known that even on that last day Neil was drunk when he rode
with the Missinaba Horse to the station to join the Third Contingent
for the war, and all the street of the little town was one great roar
But the judge never knew, and now he never will. For if you could
find it in the meanness of your soul to tell him, it would serve no
purpose now except to break his heart, and there would rise up to
rebuke you the pictured vision of an untended grave somewhere in the
great silences of South Africa.
Did I say above, or seem to imply, that the judge sometimes spoke
harshly to his wife? Or did you gather for a minute that her lot was
one to lament over or feel sorry for? If so, it just shows that you
know nothing about such things, and that marriage, at least as it
exists in Mariposa, is a sealed book to you. You are as ignorant as
Miss Spiffkins, the biology teacher at the high school, who always
says how sorry she is for Mrs. Pepperleigh. You get that impression
simply because the judge howled like an Algonquin Indian when he saw
the sprinkler running on the lawn. But are you sure you know the
other side of it? Are you quite sure when you talk like Miss
Spiffkins does about the rights of it, that you are taking all things
into account? You might have thought differently perhaps of the
Pepperleighs, anyway, if you had been there that evening when the
judge came home to his wife with one hand pressed to his temple and
in the other the cablegram that said that Neil had been killed in
action in South Africa. That night they sat together with her hand in
his, just as they had sat together thirty years ago when he was a law
student in the city.
Go and tell Miss Spiffkins that! Hydrangeas,--canaries,--
temper,--blazes! What does Miss Spiffkins know about it all?
But in any case, if you tried to tell Judge Pepperleigh about Neil
now he wouldn't believe it. He'd laugh it to scorn. That is Neil's
picture, in uniform, hanging in the dining-room beside the Fathers of
Confederation. That military-looking man in the picture beside him is
General Kitchener, whom you may perhaps have heard of, for he was
very highly spoken of in Neil's letters. All round the room, in fact,
and still more in the judge's library upstairs, you will see pictures
of South Africa and the departure of the Canadians (there are none of
the return), and of Mounted Infantry and of Unmounted Cavalry and a
lot of things that only soldiers and the fathers of soldiers know
So you can realize that for a fellow who isn't military, and who
wears nothing nearer to a uniform than a daffodil tennis blazer, the
judge's house is a devil of a house to come to.
I think you remember young Mr. Pupkin, do you not? I have referred to
him several times already as the junior teller in the Exchange Bank.
But if you know Mariposa at all you have often seen him. You have
noticed him, I am sure, going for the bank mail in the morning in an
office suit effect of clinging grey with a gold necktie pin shaped
like a riding whip. You have seen him often enough going down to the
lake front after supper, in tennis things, smoking a cigarette and
with a paddle and a crimson canoe cushion under his arm. You have
seen him entering Dean Drone's church in a top hat and a long frock
coat nearly to his feet. You have seen him, perhaps, playing poker in
Peter Glover's room over the hardware store and trying to look as if
he didn't hold three aces,--in fact, giving absolutely no sign of it
beyond the wild flush in his face and the fact that his hair stands
That kind of reticence is a thing you simply have to learn in
banking. I mean, if you've got to be in a position where you know for
a fact that the Mariposa Packing Company's account is overdrawn by
sixty-four dollars, and yet daren't say anything about it, not even
to the girls that you play tennis with,--I don't say, not a casual
hint as a reference, but not really tell them, not, for instance,
bring down the bank ledger to the tennis court and show them,--you
learn a sort of reticence and self-control that people outside of
banking circles never can attain.
Why, I've known Pupkin at the Fireman's Ball lean against the wall in
his dress suit and talk away to Jim Eliot, the druggist, without
giving the faintest hint or indication that Eliot's note for
twenty-seven dollars had been protested that very morning. Not a hint
of it. I don't say he didn't mention it, in a sort of way, in the
supper room, just to one or two, but I mean there was nothing in the
way he leant up against the wall to suggest it.
But, however, I don't mention that as either for or against Mr.
Pupkin. That sort of thing is merely the A B C of banking, as he
himself told me when explaining why it was that he hesitated to
divulge the exact standing of the Mariposa Carriage Company. Of
course, once you get past the A B C you can learn a lot that is
So I think that if you know Mariposa and understand even the
rudiments of banking, you are perfectly acquainted with Mr. Pupkin.
What? You remember him as being in love with Miss Lawson, the high
school teacher? In love with HER? What a ridiculous idea. You mean
merely because on the night when the Mariposa Belle sank with every
soul on board, Pupkin put off from the town in a skiff to rescue
Miss Lawson. Oh, but you're quite wrong. That wasn't LOVE. I've
heard Pupkin explain it himself a dozen times. That sort of
thing,--paddling out to a sinking steamer at night in a crazy
skiff,--may indicate a sort of attraction, but not real love, not
what Pupkin came to feel afterwards. Indeed, when he began to think
of it, it wasn't even attraction, it was merely respect,--that's all
it was. And anyway, that was long before, six or seven months back,
and Pupkin admitted that at the time he was a mere boy.
Mr. Pupkin, I must explain, lived with Mallory Tompkins in rooms over
the Exchange Bank, on the very top floor, the third, with Mullins's
own rooms below them. Extremely comfortable quarters they were, with
two bedrooms and a sitting-room that was all fixed up with snowshoes
and tennis rackets on the walls and dance programmes and canoe club
badges and all that sort of thing.
Mallory Tompkins was a young man with long legs and check trousers
who worked on the Mariposa Times-Herald. That was what gave him his
literary taste. He used to read Ibsen and that other Dutch
author--Bumstone Bumstone, isn't it?--and you can judge that he was a
mighty intellectual fellow. He was so intellectual that he was, as he
himself admitted, a complete eggnostic. He and Pupkin used to have
the most tremendous arguments about creation and evolution, and how
if you study at a school of applied science you learn that there's no
hell beyond the present life.
Mallory Tompkins used to prove absolutely that the miracles were only
electricity, and Pupkin used to admit that it was an awfully good
argument, but claimed that he had heard it awfully well answered in a
sermon, though unfortunately he had forgotten how.
Tompkins used to show that the flood was contrary to geology, and
Pupkin would acknowledge that the point was an excellent one, but
that he had read a book,--the title of which he ought to have written
down,--which explained geology away altogether.
Mallory Tompkins generally got the best of the merely logical side of
the arguments, but Pupkin--who was a tremendous Christian--was much
stronger in the things he had forgotten. So the discussions often
lasted till far into the night, and Mr. Pupkin would fall asleep and
dream of a splendid argument, which would have settled the whole
controversy, only unfortunately he couldn't recall it in the morning.
Of course, Pupkin would never have thought of considering himself on
an intellectual par with Mallory Tompkins. That would have been
ridiculous. Mallory Tompkins had read all sorts of things and had
half a mind to write a novel himself--either that or a play. All he
needed, he said, was to have a chance to get away somewhere by
himself and think. Every time he went away to the city Pupkin
expected that he might return with the novel all finished; but though
he often came back with his eyes red from thinking, the novel as yet
Meantime, Mallory Tompkins, as I say, was a mighty intellectual
fellow. You could see that from the books on the bamboo bookshelves
in the sitting-room. There was, for instance, the "Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana" in forty volumes, that he bought on the instalment
plan for two dollars a month. Then when they took that away, there
was the "History of Civilization," in fifty volumes at fifty cents a
week for fifty years. Tompkins had read in it half-way through the
Stone Age before they took it from him. After that there was the
"Lives of the Painters," one volume at a time--a splendid thing in
which you could read all about Aahrens, and Aachenthal, and Aax and
men of that class.
After all, there's nothing like educating oneself. Mallory Tompkins
knew about the opening period of all sorts of things, and in regard
to people whose names began with "A" you couldn't stick him.
I don't mean that he and Mr. Pupkin lived a mere routine of studious
evenings. That would be untrue. Quite often their time was spent in
much less commendable ways than that, and there were poker parties in
their sitting-room that didn't break up till nearly midnight.
Card-playing, after all, is a slow business, unless you put money on
it, and, besides, if you are in a bank and are handling money all
day, gambling has a fascination.
I've seen Pupkin and Mallory Tompkins and Joe Milligan, the dentist,
and Mitchell the ticket agent, and the other "boys" sitting round the
table with matches enough piled up in front of them to stock a
factory. Ten matches counted for one chip and ten chips made a
cent--so you see they weren't merely playing for the fun of the
thing. Of course it's a hollow pleasure. You realize that when you
wake up at night parched with thirst, ten thousand matches to the
bad. But banking is a wild life and everybody knows it.
Sometimes Pupkin would swear off and keep away from the cursed thing
for weeks, and then perhaps he'd see by sheer accident a pile of
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