The Black Creek Stopping-House
Part 3 out of 3
there were times when he was almost afraid to go to bed. Still, when he
found out that dogs were not so dangerous, he began to think his mother
might have overstated the man question, too.
One day Johnny got away from his mother, when she was busy training the
other little rabbits in the old trick of dodging under the wire fence
just when the dog is going to grab you. Johnny knew how it was done--it
was as easy as rolling off a log for him, and so he ran away. He came
up at the Agricultural Grounds. He had often been close to the fence
before, but his mother had said decidedly he must never go in.
Just beside the gate he found a bread crust which was lovely, and there
might be more, mightn't there? There wasn't a person in sight, or a
dog. Johnny went a little farther in and found a pile of cabbage
leaves--a pile of them, mind you--he really didn't know what to think
of his mother--she certainly was the limit! Johnny grew bolder; a
little farther on he found more bread crumbs and some stray lettuce
leaves--he began to feel a little sorry for his mother--lettuce
leaves, cabbage leaves and bread crumbs--and she had said, "Don't go
in there, Johnny, whatever you do!"
The band was playing, and there were flags in the air, but Johnny
didn't notice it. He didn't know, of course, that the final lacrosse
match of the season was going to be played that afternoon. Johnny had
just gone into one of the cattle sheds to see what was there, when a
little boy, with flopped-out ears and a Cow Brand Soda cap on,
stealthily closed the gate. Johnny didn't know he had on a Cow Brand
Soda cap, and he didn't know that the gate was shut, but he did know
that that kind of a yell meant business. He wasn't afraid. Pshaw! He'd
give young Mr. Flop-Ears a run for his money. Come on, kid--r-r-r-r-r!
Johnny ran straight to the gate with a rabbit's unerring instinct, and
hurled himself against it in vain. The flop-eared boy screamed with
laughter. Then there were more Boys. And Dogs. All screaming. The
primitive savage in them was awake now. Here was a wild thing who
defied them, with all his speed. Johnny was running now with his ears
laid back, mad with terror, dogs barking, boys screaming, even men
joining in the chase, for the lust for blood was on them. Again Johnny
made the circuit of the field--the noise grew--a hundred voices, it
seemed, not one that was friendly. It was one little throbbing rabbit
against the field, with all the odds against him, running for his life,
and losing! "Sic him, Togo! Sic him, Collie! Gee! Can't he run? But
we've got him this time. He'll soon slow up." A dog snapped at him and
his hind leg grew heavy. Some one struck at him with a lacrosse stick,
He found himself running alone. Behind him a dog yelped with pain, and
above the noise someone shouted: "Here, you kids, let up on that! Shame
on you! Let him alone! Call off your dogs, there! Poor little duffer,
let him go. Get back there, Twin!"
Johnny ran dazed and dizzy, and once more made the circuit and dashed
again for the gate. But this time the gate was open, and Johnny was
free! Saved, and by whom?
Well, of course, old Mrs. Rabbit didn't believe a word of it when
Johnny went home and told her who called off the dogs and opened the
gate for him. She said,--well, she talked very plainly to Johnny, but
he stuck to it, that he owed his life to one of the Bad Men who wear
clothes the color of grass, and whose gun spits fire and death. For old
Mrs. Rabbit made just the same mistake that many people make of
thinking that a man that hunts must be cruel, forgetting that the true
sportsman loves the wild things he makes war on, and though he kills
them, he does it fairly and openly.
THE ELUSIVE VOTE
AN UNVARNISHED TALE OF SEPTEMBER 21st, 1911
John Thomas Green did not look like a man on whom great issues might
turn. His was a gentle soul encased in ill-fitting armour. Heavy blue
eyes, teary and sad, gave a wintry droop to his countenance; his nose
showed evidence of much wiping, and the need of more. When he spoke,
which was infrequent, he stammered; when he walked he toed in.
He was a great and glorious argument in favor of woman suffrage; he was
the last word, the _piece de resistance_; he was a living, walking,
yellow banner, which shouted "Votes for Women," for in spite of his
many limitations there was one day when he towered high above the
mightiest woman in the land; one day that the plain John Thomas was
clothed with majesty and power; one day when he emerged from obscurity
and placed an impress on the annals of our country. Once every four
years John Thomas Green came forth (at the earnest solicitation of
friends) and stood before kings.
The Reciprocity fight was on, and nowhere did it rage more hotly than
in Morton, where Tom Brown, the well-beloved and much-hated
Conservative member, fought for his seat with all the intensity of his
Irish blood. Politics were an incident to Tom--the real thing was the
fight! and so fearlessly did he go after his assailants--and they were
many--that every day greater enthusiasm prevailed among his followers,
who felt it a privilege to fight for a man who fought so well for
The night before the election the Committee sat in the Committee Rooms
and went carefully over the lists. They were hopeful but not hilarious
--there had been disappointments, desertions, lapses!
Billy Weaver, loyal to the cause, but of pessimistic nature, testified
that Sam Cowery had been "talkin' pretty shrewd about reciprocity," by
which Billy did not mean "shrewd" at all, but rather crooked and
adverse. However, there was no mistaking Billy's meaning of the word
when one heard him say it with his inimitable "down-the-Ottaway"
accent. It is only the feeble written word which requires explanation.
George Burns was reported to have said he did not care whether he voted
or not; if it were a wet day he might, but if it were weather for
stacking he'd stack, you bet! This was a gross insult to the President
of the Conservative Association, whose farm he had rented and lived on
for the last five years, during which time there had been two
elections, at both of which he had voted "right." The President had not
thought it necessary to interview him at all this time, feeling sure
that he was within the pale. But now it seemed that some trifler had
told him that he would get more for his barley and not have to pay so
much for his tobacco if Reciprocity carried, and it was reported that
he had been heard to say, with picturesque eloquence, that you could
hardly expect a man to cut his throat both ways by voting against it!
These and other kindred reports filled the Committee with apprehension.
The most unmoved member of the company was the redoubtable Tom himself,
who, stretched upon the slippery black leather lounge, hoarse as a frog
from much addressing of obdurate electors, was endeavoring to sing
"Just Before the Battle, Mother," hitting the tune only in the most
The Secretary, with the list in his hand, went over the names:
"Jim Stewart--Jim's solid; he doesn't want Reciprocity, because he sent
to the States once for a washing-machine for his wife, and smuggled it
through from St. Vincent, and when he got it here his wife wouldn't use
"Abe Collins--Abe's not right and never will be--he saw Sir Wilfrid
"John Thomas Green--say, how about Jack? Surely we can corral Jack.
He's working for you, Milt, isn't he?" addressing one of the
"Leave him to me," said Milt, with an air of mystery; "there's no one
has more influence with Jack than me. No, he isn't with me just now,
he's over with my brother Angus; but when he comes in to vote I'll be
there, and all I'll have to do is to lift my eyes like this" (he showed
them the way it would be done) "and he'll vote--right."
"How do you know he will come, though?" asked the Secretary, who had
learned by much experience that many and devious are the bypaths which
lead away from the polls!
"Yer brother Angus will be sure to bring him in, won't he, Milt?" asked
John Gray, the trusting one, who believed all men to be brothers.
There was a tense silence.
Milt took his pipe from his mouth. "My brother Angus," he began,
dramatically, girding himself for the effort--for Milt was an orator of
Twelfth of July fame--"Angus Kennedy, my brother, bred and reared, and
reared and bred, in the principles of Conservatism, as my poor old
father often says, has gone over--has deserted our banners, has steeped
himself in the false teachings of the Grits. Angus, my brother," he
concluded, impressively, "is--not right!"
"What's wrong with him?" asked Jim Grover, who was of an analytical
turn of mind.
"Too late to discuss that now!" broke in the Secretary; "we cannot
trace Angus's downfall, but we can send out and get in John Thomas. We
need his vote--it's just as good as anybody's."
Jimmy Rice volunteered to go out and get him. Jimmy did not believe in
leaving anything to chance. He had been running an auto all week and
would just as soon work at night as any other time. Big Jack Moore,
another enthusiastic Conservative, agreed to go with him.
When they made the ten-mile run to the home of the apostate Angus, they
met him coming down the path with a lantern in his hand on the way to
feed his horses.
They, being plain, blunt men, unaccustomed to the amenities of election
time, and not knowing how to skilfully approach a subject of this kind,
simply announced that they had come for John Thomas.
"He's not here," said Angus, looking around the circle of light that
the lantern threw.
"Are you sure?" asked James Rice, after a painful pause.
"Yes," said Angus, with exaggerated ease, affecting not to notice the
significance of the question. "Jack went to Nelson to-day, and he ain't
back yet. He went about three o'clock," went on Angus, endeavoring to
patch up a shaky story with a little interesting detail. "He took over
a bunch of pigs for me that I am shippin' into Winnipeg, and he was
goin' to bring back some lumber."
"I was in Nelson to-day, Angus," said John Moore, sternly; "just came
from there, and I did not see John Thomas."
Angus, though fallen and misguided, was not entirely unregenerate; a
lie sat awkwardly on his honest lips, and now that his feeble effort at
deception had miscarried, he felt himself adrift on a boundless sea. He
wildly felt around for a reply, and was greatly relieved by the arrival
of his father on the scene, who, seeing the lights of the auto in the
yard, had come out hurriedly to see what was the matter. Grandpa
Kennedy, although nearing his ninetieth birthday, was still a man of
affairs, and what was still more important on this occasion, a lifelong
Conservative. Grandpa knew it was the night before the election; he
also had seen what he had seen. Grandpa might be getting on, but he
could see as far through a cellar door as the next one. Angus, glad of
a chance to escape, went on to the stable, leaving the visiting
gentlemen to be entertained by Grandpa.
Grandpa was a diplomat; he wanted to have no hard feelings with anyone.
"Good-night, boys," he cried, in his shrill voice; he recognized the
occupants of the auto and his quick brain took in the situation. "Don't
it beat all how the frost keeps off? This reminds me of the fall,
'leven years ago--we had no frost till the end of the month. I ripened
three bushels of Golden Queen tomatoes!" All this was delivered in a
very high voice for Angus's benefit--to show him, if he were listening,
how perfectly innocent the conversation was.
Then as Angus's lantern disappeared behind the stable, the old man's
voice was lowered, and he gave forth this cryptic utterance:
"_John Thomas is in the cellar_."
Then he gaily resumed his chatter, although Angus was safe in the
stable; but Grandpa knew what he knew, and Angus's woman might be
listening at the back door. "Much election talk in town, boys?" he
asked, breezily. They answered him at random. Then his voice fell
again. "Angle's dead against Brown--won't let you have John Thomas--put
him down cellar soon as he saw yer lights; Angie's woman is sittin on
the door knittin'--she's wors'n him--don't let on I give it away--I
don't want no words with her!--Yes, it's grand weather for threshin';
won't you come on away in? I guess yer horse will stand." The old man
roared with laughter at his own joke.
John Moore and James Rice went back to headquarters for further advice.
Angus's woman sitting on the cellar door knitting was a contingency
that required to be met with guile.
Consternation sat on the face of the Committee when they told their
story. They had not counted on this. The wildest plans were discussed.
Tom Stubbins began a lengthy story of an elopement that happened down
at the "Carp," where the bride made a rope of the sheets and came down
from an upstairs window. Tom was not allowed to finish his narrative,
though, for it was felt that the cases were not similar.
No one seemed to be particularly anxious to go back and interrupt Mrs.
Then there came into the assembly one of the latest additions to the
Conservative ranks, William Batters, a converted and reformed Liberal.
He had been an active member of the Liberal party for many years, but
at the last election he had been entirely convinced of their
unworthiness by the close-fisted and niggardly way in which they
dispensed the election money.
He heard the situation discussed in all its aspects. Milton Kennedy,
with inflamed oratory, bitterly bewailed his brother's defection--"not
only wrong himself, but leadin' others, and them innocent lambs!"--but
he did not offer to go out and see his brother. The lady who sat
knitting on the cellar door seemed to be the difficulty with all of
The reformed Liberal had a plan.
"I will go for him," said he. "Angus will trust me--he doesn't know I
have turned. I'll go for John Thomas, and Angus will give him to me
without a word, thinkin' I'm a friend," he concluded, brazenly.
"Look at that now!" exclaimed the member elect. "Say, boys, you'd know
he had been a Grit--no honest, open-faced Conservative would ever think
of a trick like that!"
"There is nothing like experience to make a man able to see every
side," said the reformed one, with becoming modesty.
An hour later Angus was roused from his bed by a loud knock on the
door. Angus had gone to bed with his clothes on, knowing that these
were troublesome times.
"What's the row?" he asked, when he had cautiously opened the door.
"Row!" exclaimed the friend who was no longer a friend, "You're the man
that's makin' the row. The Conservatives have 'phoned in to the
Attorney-General's Department to-night to see what's to be done with
you for standin' between a man and his heaven-born birthright, keepin'
and confinin' of a man in a cellar, owned by and closed by you!"
This had something the air of a summons, and Angus was duly impressed.
"I don't want to see you get into trouble. Angus," Mr. Batters went on;
"and the only way to keep out of it is to give him to me, and then when
they come out here with a search-warrant they won't find nothin'."
Angus thanked him warmly, and, going upstairs, roused the innocent John
from his virtuous slumbers. He had some trouble persuading John, who
was a profound sleeper, that he must arise and go hence; but many
things were strange to him, and he rose and dressed without very much
Angus was distinctly relieved when he got John Thomas off his hands--he
felt he had had a merciful deliverance.
On the way to town, roused by the night air, John Thomas became
"Them lads in the automobile, they wanted me pretty bad, you bet," he
chuckled, with the conscious pride of the much-sought-after; "but gosh,
Angus fixed them. He just slammed down the cellar door on me, and says
he, 'Not a word out of you, Jack; you've as good a right to vote the
way you want to as anybody, and you'll get it, too, you bet.'"
The reformed Liberal knitted his brows. What was this simple child of
nature driving at?
John Thomas rambled on: "Tom Brown can't fool people with brains, you
bet you--Angus's woman explained it all to me. She says to me, 'Don't
let nobody run you, Jack--and vote for Hastings. You're all right,
Jack--and remember Hastings is the man. Never mind why--don't bother
your head--you don't have to--but vote for Hastings.' Says she, 'Don't
let on to Milt, or any of his folks, or Grandpa, but vote the way you
want to, and that's for Hastings!'"
When they arrived in town the reformed Liberal took John Thomas at once
to the Conservative Hotel, and put him in a room, and told him to go to
bed, which John cheerfully did. Then he went for the Secretary, who was
also in bed. "I've got John Thomas," he announced, "but he says he's a
Grit and is going to vote for Hastings. I can't put a dint in him--he
thinks I'm a Grit, too. He's only got one idea, but it's a solid one,
and that is 'Vote for Hastings.'"
The Secretary yawned sleepily. "I'll not go near him. It's me for
sleep. You can go and see if any of the other fellows want a job.
They're all down at a ball at the station. Get one of those wakeful
spirits to reason with John."
The conspirator made his way stealthily to the station, from whence
there issued the sound of music and dancing. Not wishing to alarm the
Grits, many of whom were joining in the festivities, and who would have
been quick to suspect that something was on foot, if they saw him
prowling around, he crept up to the window and waited until one of the
faithful came near. Gently tapping on the glass, he got the attention
of the editor, the very man he wanted, and, in pantomime, gave him to
understand that his presence was requested. The editor, pleading a
terrific headache, said good-night, or rather good-morning, to his
hostess, and withdrew. From his fellow-worker who waited in the shadow
of the trees outside, he learned that John Thomas had been secured in
the body but not in spirit.
The newspaper man readily agreed to labor with the erring brother and
hoped to be able to deliver his soul alive.
Once again was John Thomas roused from his slumbers, and not by a
familiar voice this time, but by an unknown vision in evening dress.
The editor was a convincing man in his way, whether upon the subject of
reciprocity or apostolic succession, but John was plainly bored from
the beginning, and though he offered no resistance, his repeated "I
know that!" "That's what I said!" were more disconcerting than the most
vigorous opposition. At daylight the editor left John, and he really
had the headache that he had feigned a few hours before.
Then John Thomas tried to get a few winks of unmolested repose, but it
was election day, and the house was early astir. Loud voices sounded
through the hall. Innumerable people, it seemed, mistook his room for
their own. Jack rose at last, thoroughly indignant and disposed to
quarrel. He had a blame good notion to vote for Brown after all, after
the way he had been treated.
When he had hastily dressed himself, discussing his grievances in a
loud voice, he endeavored to leave the room, but found the door
securely locked. Then his anger knew no bounds. He lustily kicked on
the lower panel of the door and fairly shrieked his indignation and
The chambermaid, passing, remonstrated with him by beating on the other
side of the door. She was a pert young woman with a squeaky voice, and
she thought she knew what was wrong with the occupant of 17. She had
heard kicks on doors before.
"Quiet down, you, mister, or you'll get yourself put in the cooler--
that's the best place for noisy drunks."
This, of course, annoyed the innocent man beyond measure, but she was
gone far down the hall before he could think of the retort suitable.
When she finished her upstairs work and came downstairs to peel the
potatoes, she mentioned casually to the bartender that whoever he had
in number 17 was "smashin' things up pretty lively!"
The bartender went up and liberated the indignant voter, who by this
time had his mind made up to vote against both Brown and Hastings, and
furthermore to renounce politics in all its aspects for evermore.
However, a good breakfast and the sincere apologies of the hotel people
did much to restore his good humor. But a certain haziness grew in his
mind as to who was who, and at times the disquieting thought skidded
through his murky brain that he might be in the enemy's camp for all he
knew. Angus and Mrs. Angus had said, "Do what you think is right and
vote for Hastings," and that was plain and simple and easily
understood. But now things seemed to be all mixed up.
The committee were ill at ease about him. The way he wagged his head
and declared he knew what was what, you bet, was very disquieting, and
the horrible fear haunted them that they were perchance cherishing a
serpent in their bosom.
The Secretary had a proposal: "Take him out to Milt Kennedy's. Milt
said he could work him. Take him out there! Milt said all he had to do
was to raise his eyes and John Thomas would vote right."
The erstwhile Liberal again went on the road with John Thomas, to
deliver him over to the authority of Milt Kennedy. If Milt could get
results by simply elevating his eyebrows, Milt was the man who was
Arriving at Milt's, he left the voter sitting in the buggy, while he
went in search of the one who could control John's erring judgment.
While sitting there alone, another wandering thought zig-zagged through
John's brain. They were making a fool of him, some way! Well, he'd let
them see, b'gosh!
He jumped out of the buggy, and hastily climbed into the hay-mow. It
was a safe and quiet spot, and was possessed of several convenient
eye-holes through which he could watch with interest the search which
He saw the two men coming up to the barn, and as they passed almost
below him, he heard Milt say, "Oh, sure, John Thomas will vote right--I
can run him all right!--he'll do as I say. Hello, John! Where is he?"
They went into the house--they searched the barn--they called, coaxed,
entreated. They ran down to the road to see if he had started back to
town; he was as much gone as if he had never been!
"Are you dead sure you brought him?" Milt asked at last in desperation,
as he turned over a pile of sacks in the granary.
"Gosh! ain't they lookin' some!" chuckled the elusive voter, as he
watched with delight their unsuccessful endeavors to locate him. "But
there's lots of places yet that they hain't thought of; they hain't
half looked for me yet. I may be in the well for all they know." Then
he began to sing to himself, "I know something I won't tell!"
It was not every day that John Thomas Green found himself the centre of
attraction, and he enjoyed the sensation.
Having lost so much sleep the night before, a great drowsiness fell on
John Thomas, and curling himself up in the hay, he sank into a sweet,
While he lay there, safe from alarms, the neighborhood was shaken with
a profound sensation. John Thomas was lost. Lost, and his vote lost
Milton Kennedy, who had to act as scrutineer at the poll in town, was
forced to leave home with the mystery unsolved. Before going, he
'phoned to Billy Adams, one of the faithful, and in guarded speech,
knowing that he was surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, broke the news!
Billy Adams immediately left his stacking, and set off to find his lost
Mrs. Alex Porter lived on the next farm to Billy Adams, and being a
lady of some leisure, she usually managed to get in on most of the
'phone conversations. Billy Adams' calls were very seldom overlooked by
her, for she was on the other side of politics, and it was always well
to know what was going on. Although she did not know all that was said
by the two men, she heard enough to assure her that crooked work was
going on. Mrs. Alex Porter declared she was not surprised. She threw
her apron over her head and went to the field and told Alex. Alex was
not surprised. In fact, it seems Alex had expected it!
They 'phoned in cipher to Angus, Mrs. Angus being a sister of Mrs. Alex
Porter. Mrs. Angus told them to speak out plain, and say what they
wanted to, even if all the Conservatives on the line were listening.
Then Mrs. Porter said that John Thomas was lost over at Milt Kennedy's.
They had probably drugged him or something.
Then Angus's wife said he was safe enough. Billy Batters had come and
got him the night before. At the mention of Billy Batters there was a
sound of suppressed mirth all along the line. Mrs. Angus's sister
fairly shrieked. "Billy Batters! Don't you know he has turned
Conservative!--he's working tooth and nail for Brown." Mrs. Angus
called Angus excitedly. Everybody talked at once; somebody laughed; one
or two swore. Mrs. Porter told Milt Kennedy's wife she'd caught her
eavesdropping this time sure. She'd know her cackle any place, and
Milt's wife told Mrs. Porter to shut up--she needn't talk about
eavesdroppers,--good land! and Mrs. Porter told Mrs. Milt she should
try something for that voice of hers, and recommended machine oil, and
Central rang in and told them they'd all have their 'phones taken out
if they didn't stop quarreling; and John Thomas, in the hay-mow, slept
on, as peacefully as an innocent babe!
In the committee rooms, Jack's disappearance was excitedly discussed.
The Conservatives were not sure that Bill Batters was not giving them
the double cross--once a Grit, always a Grit! Angus was threatening to
have him arrested for abduction--he had beguiled John Thomas from the
home of his friends, and then carelessly lost him.
William Batters realized that he had lost favor in both places, and
anxiously longed for a sight of John Thomas's red face, vote or no
At four o'clock John Thomas awoke much refreshed, but very hungry. He
went into the house in search of something to eat. Milton and his wife
had gone into town many hours before, but he found what he wanted, and
was going back to the hay-mow to finish his sleep, just as Billy Adams
was going home after having cast his vote.
Billy Adams seized him eagerly, and rapidly drove back to town. Jack's
vote would yet be saved to the party!
It was with pardonable pride that Billy Adams reined in his foaming
team, and rushed John Thomas into the polling booth, where he was
greeted with loud cheers. Nobody dare ask him where he had been--time
was too precious. Milton Kennedy, scrutineer, lifted his eyebrows as
per agreement. Jack replied with a petulant shrug of his good shoulder
and passed in to the inner chamber.
The Conservatives were sure they had him. The Liberals were sure, too.
Mrs. Angus was sure Jack would vote right after the way she had
reasoned with him and showed him!
When the ballots were counted, there were several spoiled ones, of
course. But there was one that was rather unique. After the name of
Thomas Brown, there was written in lead pencil, "_None of yer
business_!" which might have indicated a preference for the other name
of John Hastings, only for the fact that opposite his name was the curt
remark, "_None of yer business, either_!"
Some thought the ballot was John Thomas Green's.
THE WAY OF THE WEST
(Reprinted by permission of _The Globe_, Toronto.)
Thomas Shouldice was displeased, sorely, bitterly displeased: in fact,
he was downright mad, and being an Irish Orangeman, this means that he
was ready to fight. You can imagine just how bitterly Mr. Shouldice was
incensed when you hear that the Fourth of July had been celebrated with
flourish of flags and blare of trumpets right under his very nose--in
Canada--in British dominions!
The First of July, the day that should have been given up to "doin's,"
including the race for the greased pig, the three-legged race, and a
ploughing match, had passed into obscurity, without so much as a
pie-social; and it had rained that day, too, in torrents, just as if
Nature herself did not care enough about the First to try to keep it dry.
The Fourth came in a glorious day, all sunshine and blue sky, with
birds singing in every poplar bluff, and it was given such a
celebration as Thomas had never seen since the "Twelfth" had been held
in Souris. The American settlers who had been pouring into the Souris
valley had--without so much as asking leave from the Government at
Ottawa, the school trustees, or the oldest settler, who was Thomas
himself--gone ahead and celebrated. Every American family had brought
their own flagpole, in "joints," with them, and on the Fourth immense
banners of stars and stripes spread their folds in triumph on the
The celebration was held in a large grove just across the road from
Thomas Shouldice's little house; and to his inflamed patriotism, every
firecracker that split the air, every cheer that rent the heavens,
every blare of their smashing band music, seemed a direct challenge to
King Edward himself, God bless him!
Mr. Shouldice worked all day at his hay-meadow, just to show them! He
worked hard, too, never deigning a glance at their "carryin's on," just
to let them know that he did not care two cents for their Fourth of
His first thought was to feign indifference, but when he saw the
Wilsons, the Wrays, the Henrys, Canadian-bred and born, driving over to
the enemy's camp, with their Sunday clothes on and big boxes of
provisions on the "doggery" of their buckboards, his indifference fled
and was replaced by profanity. It comforted him a little when he
reflected that not an Orangeman had gone. They were loyal sons and
true, every one of them. These other ignorant Canadians might forget
what they owed to the old flag, but the Orangemen--never.
Thomas's rage against the Yankees was intensified when he saw Father
O'Flynn walking across the plover slough. Then he was sure that the
Americans and Catholics were in league against the British.
A mighty thought was conceived that day in the brain of Thomas
Shouldice, late Worshipful Master of the Carleton Place Loyal Orange
Lodge No. 23. They would celebrate the Twelfth, so they would; he'd
like to see who would stop them. Someone would stand up for the flag
that had braved a thousand years of battle and the breeze. He blew his
nose noisily on his red handkerchief when he thought of this.
They would celebrate the Twelfth! They would "walk." He would gather up
"the boys" and get someone to make a speech. They would get a fifer
from Brandon. It was the fife that could stir the heart in you! And the
fifer would play "The Protestant Boys" and "Rise, Sons of William,
Rise!" Anyone that tried to stop him would get a shirt full of sore
Thomas went home full of the plan to get back at the invaders!
Rummaging through his trunk, he found, carefully wrapped with chewing
tobacco and ground cedar, to keep the moths away, the regalia that he
had worn, proudly and defiantly, once in Montreal, when the crowd that
obstructed the triumphal march of the Orange Young Britons had to be
dispersed by the "melitia." It was a glorious day, and one to be
remembered with pride, for there had been shots fired and heads
His man, a guileless young Englishman, came in from mowing, gaily
whistling the refrain the Yankee band had been playing at intervals all
afternoon. It was "Dixie Land," and at first Thomas did not notice it.
Rousing at last to the sinister significance of the tune, he ordered
its cessation, in rosy-hued terms, and commended all such Yankee tunes
and those that whistled them to that region where popular rumor has it
that pots boil with or without watching.
Thomas Shouldice had lived by himself for a number of years. It was
supposed that he had a wife living somewhere in "the States," which
term to many Canadians indicates a shadowy region where bad boys,
unfaithful wives and absconding embezzlers find refuge and dwell in dim
Thomas's devotion to the Orange Order was nothing short of a passion.
He believed that but for its institution and perpetuation Protestant
blood would flow like water. He always spoke of the "Stuarts" in an
undertone, as if he were afraid they might even yet come back and make
"rough house" for King Edward.
There were only two Catholic families in the neighborhood, and
peaceable, friendly people they were, too; but Thomas believed they
should be intimidated to prevent trouble. "The old spite is in them,"
he told himself, "and nothing will show them where they stand like a
The next day Thomas left his haying and rounded up the faithful. There
were seven members of the order in the community, all of whom were
willing to stand for their country's honor. There was James Shewfelt,
who was a drummer, and could play the tunes without the fife at all.
There was John Barker, who did a musical turn in the form of a twenty-
three verse ballad beginning:
"When Popery did flourish in
Dear Ireland o'er the sea,
There came a man from Amsterdam
To set ould Ireland free!
To set ould Ireland free, boys,
To set ould Ireland free,--
There came a man from Amsterdam
To set ould Ireland free!"
There was William Breeze, who was a little hard of hearing, but loyal
to the core. He had seven boys in his family, so there was still hope
for the nation. There was Patrick Mooney, who should have been wearing
the other color if there is anything in a name. But there isn't. There
was John Burns, who had been an engineer, but, having lost a foot, had
taken to farming. He was the farthest advanced in the order next to
Thomas Shouldice, having served a term as District Grand Master, and
was well up in the Grand Black Chapter. These would form the nucleus of
the procession. The seven little Breezes would be admitted to the ranks
if their mother could find suitable decoration for them. Of course, the
weather was warm and the subject of clothing was not so serious as it
might have been.
Thomas drove nineteen miles to the nearest town to get a speaker and a
fifer. The fifer was found, and, quite fortunately, was open for
engagement. The speaker was not so easily secured. Thomas went to the
Methodist missionary. The missionary was quite a young man and had the
reputation of being an orator. He listened gravely while his visitor
unfolded his plan.
"I'll tell you what to do, Mr. Shouldice," he said, smiling, when the
other had finished the recital of his country's wrongs. "Get Father
O'Flynn; he'll make you a speech that will do you all good."
Thomas was too astonished for words. "But he's a Papist!" he sputtered
"Oh, pshaw! Oh, pshaw! Mr. Shouldice," the young man exclaimed;
"there's no division of creed west of Winnipeg. The little priest does
all my sick visiting north of the river, and I do his on the south.
He's a good preacher, and the finest man at a deathbed I ever saw."
"This is not a deathbed, though, as it happens," Thomas replied, with
The young minister threw back his head and laughed uproariously. "Can't
tell that until it is over--I've been at a few Orange walks down East,
you know--took part in one myself once."
"Did you walk?" Thomas asked, brightening.
"No, I ran," the minister said, smiling.
"I thought you said you took part," Thomas snorted, with displeasure.
"So I did, but mine was a minor part. I stood behind the fence and
helped the Brennan boys and Patrick Costigan to peg at them!"
"Are ye a Protestant at all?" Thomas roared at him, now thoroughly
"Yes, I am," the minister said, slowly, "and I am something better
still; I am a Christian and a Canadian. Are you?"
Thomas beat a hasty retreat.
The Presbyterian minister was away from home, and the English Church
minister--who was also a young man lately arrived--said he would go
The Twelfth of July was a beautiful day, clear, sparkling and
cloudless. Little wayward breezes frolicked up and down the banks of
Moose Creek and rasped the surface of its placid pools, swollen still
from the heavy rains of the "First." In the glittering sunshine the
prairie lay a riot of color; the first wild roses now had faded to a
pastel pink, but on every bush there were plenty of new ones, deeply
crimson and odorous. Across the creek from Thomas Shouldice's little
house, Indian pipes and columbine reddened the edge of the poplar
grove, from the lowest branches of which morning-glories, white and
pink and purple, hung in graceful profusion.
Before noon a wagon filled with people came thundering down the trail.
As they came nearer Thomas was astonished to see that it was an
American family from the Chippen Hill district.
"Picnic in these parts, ain't there?" the driver asked.
Thomas was in a genial mood, occasioned by the day and the weather.
"Orange walk and picnic!" he replied, waving his hand toward the bluff,
where a few of the faithful were constructing a triumphal arch.
"Something like a cake-walk, is it?" the man asked, looking puzzled.
Mr. Shouldice stared at him incredulously.
"Did ye never hear of Orangemen down yer way?" he said.
"Never did, pard," the man answered. "We've peanut men, and apple
women, and banana men, but we've never heard much about orange men. But
we're right glad to come over and help the show along. Do you want any
money for the races?"
"We didn't count on havin' races; we're havin' speeches and some
The Yankee laughed good-humoredly.
"Well, friend, I pass there; but mother here is a W.C.T.U.-er from away
back. She'll knock the spots off the liquor business in fifteen
minutes, if you'd like anything in that line."
His wife interposed in her easy, drawling tones: "Now, Abe, you best
shet up and drive along. The kids are all hungry and want their
"We'll see you later, partner," said the man as they drove away.
Thomas Shouldice was mystified. "These Americans are a queer bunch," he
thought; "they're ignorant as all get out, but, gosh! they're
Over the hill to the south came other wagons filled with jolly
picnickers, who soon had their pots boiling over quickly-constructed
Thomas, who went over to welcome them, found that nearly all of them
were the very Americans whose unholy zeal for their own national
holiday had so embittered his heart eight days before.
They were full of enquiries as to the meaning of an Orange walk. Thomas
tried to explain, but, having only inflamed Twelfth of July oratory for
the source of his information, he found himself rather at a loss. But
the Americans gathered that it was something he used to do "down East,"
and they were sympathetic at once.
"That's right, you bet," one gray-haired man with a young face
exclaimed, getting rid of a bulky chew of tobacco that had slightly
impeded his utterance. "There's nothin' like keepin' up old
By two o'clock fully one hundred people had gathered.
Thomas was radiant. "Every wan is here now except that old Papist,
O'Flynn," he whispered to the drummer. "I hope he'll come, too, so I
do. It'll be a bitter pill for him to swallow."
The drummer did not share the wish. He was thinking, uneasily, of the
time two years ago--the winter of the deep snow--when he and his family
had been quarantined with smallpox, and of how Father O'Flynn had come
miles out of his way every week on his snowshoes to hand in a roll of
newspapers he had gathered up, no one knows where, and a bag of candies
for the little ones. He was thinking of how welcome the priest's little
round face had been to them all those long, tedious six weeks, and how
cheery his voice sounded as he shouted, "Are ye needin' anything,
Jimmy, avick? All right, I'll be back on Thursda', God willin'. Don't
be frettin', now, man alive! Everybody has to have the smallpox. Sure,
yer shaming the Catholics this year, Jimmy, keeping Lent so well." The
drummer was decidedly uneasy.
There is an old saying about speaking of angels in which some people
still believe. Just at this moment Father O'Flynn came slowly over the
Father O'Flynn was a typical little Irish priest, good-natured, witty,
emotional. Nearly every family north of the river had some cause for
loving the little man. He was a tireless walker, making the round of
his parish every week, no matter what the weather. He had a little
house built for him the year before at the Forks of the Assiniboine,
where he had planted a garden, set out plants and flowers, and made it
a little bower of beauty; but he had lived in it only one summer, for
an impecunious English couple, who needed a roof to cover them rather
urgently, had taken possession of it during his absence, and the kind-
hearted little father could not bring himself to ask them to vacate.
When his friends remonstrated with him, he turned the conversation by
telling them of another and a better Man of whom it was written that He
"had not where to lay His head."
Father O'Flynn was greeted with delight, by the younger ones
especially. The seven little Breezes were very demonstrative, and
Thomas Shouldice resolved to warn their father against the priest's
malign influence. He recalled a sentence or two from "Maria Monk,"
which said something like this: "Give us a child until he is ten years
old, and let us teach him our doctrine, and he's ours for evermore."
"Oh, they're deep ones, them Jesuits!"
Father O'Flynn was just in time for the "walk."
"Do you know what an Orange walk is, father?" one of the American women
asked, really looking for information.
"Yes, daughter, yes," the little priest answered, a shadow coming into
his merry grey eyes. He gave her an evasive reply, and then murmured to
himself, as he picked a handful of orange lilies: "It is an institution
of the Evil One to sow discord among brothers."
The walk began.
First came the fife and drum, skirling out an Orange tune, at which the
little priest winced visibly. Then followed Thomas Shouldice, in the
guise of King William. He was mounted on his own old, spavined grey
mare, that had performed this honorable office many times in her youth.
But now she seemed lacking in the pride that befits the part. Thomas
himself was gay with ribbons and a short red coat, whose gilt braid was
sadly tarnished. One of the Yankees had kindly loaned a mottled buggy-
robe for the saddle-cloth.
Behind Thomas marched the twenty-three-verse soloist and the other
faithful few, followed by the seven Breeze boys, gay with yellow
streamers made from the wrapping of a ham.
The Yankees grouped about were sorry to see so few in the procession.
They had brought along three or four of their band instruments to
furnish music if it were needed. As the end of the procession passed
them, two of the smaller boys swung in behind the last two Breezes.
It was an inspiration. Instantly the whole company stepped into line--
two by two, men, women, and children, waving their bunches of lilies!
Thomas, from his point of vantage, could see the whole company
following his lead, and his heart swelled with pride. Under the arch
the procession swept, stepping to the music, the significance of which
most of the company did not even guess at--good-natured, neighborly,
filled with the spirit of the West, that ever seeks to help along.
Everyone, even Father O'Flynn, was happier than James Shewfelt, the
The fifer paused, preparatory to changing the tune. It was the
drummer's opportunity. "Onward, Christian Soldiers," he sang, tapping
the rhythm on the drum. The fifer caught the strain. Not a voice was
silent, and unconsciously hand clasped hand, and the soft afternoon air
reverberated with the swelling cadence:
"We are not divided,
All one body we."
When the verse was done the fifer led off into another and another. The
little priest's face glowed with pleasure. "It is the Spirit of the
Lord," he whispered to himself, as he marched to the rhythm, his hand
closely held by the smallest Breeze boy, whose yellow streamers and
profuse decoration of orange lilies were at strange variance with his
companion's priestly robes. But on this day nothing was at variance.
The spirit of the West was upon them, unifying, mellowing, harmonizing
all conflicting emotions--the spirit of the West that calls on men
everywhere to be brothers and lend a hand.
The Church of England minister did make a speech, but not the one he
had intended. Instead of denominationalism, he spoke of brotherhood;
instead of religious intolerance, he spoke of religious liberty;
instead of the Prince of Orange, who crossed the Boyne to give
religious freedom to Ireland, he told of the Prince of Peace, who died
on the cross to save the souls of men of every nation and kindred and
In the hush that followed Father O'Flynn stepped forward and said he
thanked the brother who had planned this meeting; he was glad, he said,
for such an opportunity for friends and neighbors to meet; he spoke of
the glorious heritage that all had in this great new country, and how
all must stand together as brothers. All prejudices of race and creed
and doctrine die before the wonderful power of loving service. "The
West," he said, "is the home of loving hearts and neighborly kindness,
where all men's good is each man's care. For myself," he went on, "I
have but one wish, and that is to be the servant of all, to be the
ambassador of Him who went about doing good, and to teach the people to
love honor and virtue, and each other." Then, raising his hands, he led
the company in that prayer that comes ever to the lips of man when all
other prayers seem vain--that prayer that we can all fall back on in
our sore need:
"Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come."
Two hours later a tired but happy and united company sat down to supper
on the grass. At the head of the table sat Thomas Shouldice, radiating
good-will. A huge white pitcher of steaming golden coffee was in his
hand. He poured a cup of it brimming full, and handed it to the little
priest, who sat near him. "Have some coffee, father?" he said.
Where could such a scene as this be enacted--a Twelfth of July
celebration where a Roman Catholic priest was the principal speaker,
where the company dispersed with the singing of "God Save the King,"
led by an American band?
Nowhere, but in the Northwest of Canada, that illimitable land, with
its great sunlit spaces, where the west wind, bearing on its bosom the
spices of a million flowers, woos the heart of man with a magic spell
and makes him kind and neighborly and brotherly!
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