"I say, you blessed Colonial, what's come
over you?" Linklater was obviously disturbed. He had just returned from
a summer's yachting through the Norway fjords, brown and bursting with
life. The last half-hour he had been pouring forth his experiences to
his friend Martin. These experiences were some of them exciting, some of
them of doubtful ethical quality, but all of them to Linklater at least
interesting. During the recital it was gradually borne in upon him that
his friend Martin was changed. Linklater, as the consciousness of the
change in his friend grew upon him, was prepared to resent it. "What the
deuce is the matter with you?" he enquired. "Are you ill?"
"Never better. I could at this present
moment sit upon your fat and florid carcass."
"Well, what then is wrong? I say, you
haven't—it isn't a girl, is it?"
"Nothing so lucky for a bloomin' Colonial
in this land of wealth and culture. If I only dared!"
"There's something," insisted Linklater;
"but I've no doubt it will develop. Meantime let us go out, and, in your
own picturesque vocabulary, let us 'hit the flowing bowl.'"
"No, Sir!" cried Martin emphatically. "No
more! I am on the water wagon, and have been all summer."
"I knew it was something," replied
Linklater gloomily, "but I didn't think it was quite so bad as that. No
wonder you've had a hard summer!"
"Best summer ever!" cried Martin. "I only
wish I had started two years ago when I came to this bibulous burgh."
"How came it? Religion?"
"No; just horse sense, and the old chief."
"Dunn!" exclaimed Linklater. "I always
knew he was against that sort of thing in training, but I didn't think
he would carry it to this length."
"Yes, Dunn! I say, old boy, I've no doubt
you think you know him, I thought so, too, but I've learned some this
summer. Here's a yarn, and it is impressive. Dunn had planned an
extensive walking tour in the Highlands; you know he came out of his
exams awfully fagged. Well, at this particular moment it happened that
Balfour Murray—you know the chap that has been running that settlement
joint in the Canongate for the last two years—proposes to Dunn that he
should spend a few weeks in leading the young hopefuls in that
interesting and uncleanly neighbourhood into paths of virtue and higher
citizenship by way of soccer and kindred athletic stunts. Dunn in his
innocence agrees, whereupon Balfour Murray promptly develops a sharp
attack of pneumonia, necessitating rest and change of air, leaving the
poor old chief in the deadly breach. Of course, everybody knows what the
chief would do in any deadly breach affair. He gave up his Highland
tour, shouldered the whole Canongate business, organised the thing as
never before, inveigled all his friends into the same deadly breach,
among the number your humble servant, who at the time was fiercely
endeavouring in the last lap of the course to atone for a two years'
loaf, organised a champion team which has licked the spots off
everything in sight, and in short, has made the whole business a howling
success; at the cost, however, of all worldly delights, including his
Highland tour and the International."
"Oh, I say!" moaned Linklater. "It makes
me quite ill to think of the old chief going off this way."
Martin nodded sympathetically. "Kind of
'Days that are no more,' 'Lost leader' feeling, eh?"
"Exactly, exactly! Oh, it's rotten! And
you, too! He's got you on this same pious line."
"Look here," shouted Martin, with menace
in his voice, "are you classifying me with the old chief? Don't be a
Linklater brightened perceptibly. "Now
you're getting a little natural," he said in a hopeful tone.
"Oh, I suppose you'd like to hear me
string out a lot of damns."
"Well, it might help. I wouldn't feel
quite so lonely. But don't violate—"
"I'd do it if I thought it would really
increase your comfort, though I know I'd feel like an infernal ass. I've
got new light upon this 'damning' business. I've come to regard it as
the refuge of the mentally inert, not to say imbecile, who have lost the
capacity for originality and force in speech. For me, I am cured."
"Ah!" said Linklater. "Dunn again, I
"Not a bit! Clear case of psychological
reaction. After listening to the Canongate experts I was immediately
conscious of an overwhelming and mortifying sense of inadequacy, of
amateurishness; hence I quit. Besides, of course, the chief is making
rather a point of uplifting the Canongate forms of speech."
Linklater gazed steadily at this friend,
then said with mournful deliberation, "You don't drink, you don't swear,
you don't smoke—"
"Oh, that's your grouch, is it?" cried
Martin. "Forgive me; here's my pouch, old chap; or wait, here's
something altogether finer than anything you've been accustomed to. I
was at old Kingston's last night, and the old boy would have me load up
with his finest. You know I've been working with him this summer.
Awfully fine for me! Dunn got me on; or rather, his governor. There you
are now! Smoke that with reverence."
"Ah," sighed Linklater, as he drew in his
first whiff, "there is still something left to live for. Now tell me,
what about Cameron?"
"Oh, Cameron! Cameron's all up a tree. The
last time I saw him, by Jove, I was glad it was in the open daylight and
on a frequented street. His face and manner suggested Roderick Dhu, The
Black Douglas, and all the rest of that interesting gang of cutthroats.
I can't bring myself to talk of Cameron. He's been the old chief's
relaxation during dog-days. It makes me hot to see Dunn with that chap."
"Why, what's the trouble?"
"He tried him out in half a dozen
positions, in every one of which he proved a dead failure. The last was
in Mr. Rae's office, a lawyer, you know, Writer, to use your lucid and
luminous speech. That experiment proved the climax." At the memory of
that experience Martin laughed loud and long. "It was funny! Mr. Rae,
the cool, dignified, methodical, exact man of the law, struggling to
lick into shape this haughty Highland chieftain, who in his heart
scorned the whole silly business. The result, the complete
disorganisation of Mr. Rae's business, and total demoralisation of Mr.
Rae's office staff, who one and all swore allegiance to the young chief.
Finally, when Mr. Rae had reached the depths of desperation, Cameron
graciously deigned to inform his boss that he found the office and its
claims quite insupportable."
"Oh, it must have been funny. What
"What happened? You bet old Rae fell on
his neck with tears of joy, and sent him off with a handsome honorarium,
as your gentle speech has it. That was a fortnight ago. Then Dunn, in
despair, took Cameron off to his native haunts, and there he is to this
day. By the same token, this is the very afternoon that Dunn returns.
Let us go to meet him with cornets and cymbals! The unexpected pleasure
of your return made me quite forget. But won't he revel in you, old
"I don't know about that," said Linklater
gloomily. "I've a kind of feeling that I've dropped out of this
"What?" Then Martin fell upon him.
But if Martin's attempts to relieve his
friend of melancholy forebodings were not wholly successful, Dunn's
shout of joy and his double-handed shake as he grappled Linklater to
him, drove from that young man's heart the last lingering shade of doubt
as to his standing with his friends.
On his way home Dunn dropped into Martin's
diggings for a "crack," and for an hour the three friends reviewed the
summer's happenings, each finding in the experience of the others as
keen a joy as in his own.
Linklater's holiday had been the most
fruitful in exciting incident. For two months he and his crew had dodged
about among quaint Norwegian harbours and in and out of fjords of
wonderful beauty. Storms they had weathered and calms they had endured;
lazy days they had spent, swimming, fishing, loafing; and wild days in
fighting gales and high-running seas that threatened to bury them and
their crew beneath their white-topped mountainous peaks.
"I say, that must have been great," cried
Dunn with enthusiastic delight in his friend's experiences.
"It sounds good, even in the telling,"
cried Martin, who had been listening with envious ears. "Now my
experiences are quite other. One word describes them, grind, grind,
grind, day in and day out, in a gallant but futile attempt to justify
the wisdom of my late examiners in granting me my Triple."
"Don't listen to him, Linklater," said
Dunn. "I happen to know that he came through with banners flying and
drums beating; and he has turned into no end of a surgeon. I've heard
old Kingston on him."
"But what about you, Dunn?" asked
Linklater, with a kind of curious uncertainty in his voice, as if
dreading a tale of calamity.
"Oh, I've loafed about town a little,
golfing a bit and slumming a bit for a chap that got ill, and in spare
moments looking after Martin here."
"And the International?"
"Come on, old chap," said Martin, "take
"Well," admitted Dunn, "I had to chuck it.
But," he hastened to add, "Nesbitt has got the thing in fine shape,
though of course lacking the two brilliant quarters of last year and the
half—for Cameron's out of it—it's rather rough on Nesbitt."
"Oh, I say! It's rotten, it's really
ghastly! How could you do it, Dunn?" said Linklater. "I could weep tears
To this Dunn made no reply. His
disappointment was even yet too keen for him to treat it lightly.
"Anything else seemed quite impossible," at length he said; "I had to
"By the way," said Martin, "how's
Again Dunn paused. "I wish I could tell
you. He's had hard luck this summer. He somehow can't get hold of
himself. In fact, I'm quite worried about Cameron. I can't tell you
chaps the whole story, but last spring he had a really bad jolt."
"Well, what's he going to do?" Martin
asked, somewhat impatiently.
"I wish I knew," replied Dunn gloomily.
"There seems nothing he can get here that's suitable. I'm afraid he will
have to try the Colonies; Canada for preference."
"Oh, I say, Dunn," exclaimed Martin, "it
can't really be as bad as all that?"
Dunn laughed. "I apologise, old chap. That
was rather a bad break, wasn't it? But all the same, to a Scotchman, and
especially to a Highlander, to leave home and friends and all that sort
of thing, you know—"
"No, he doesn't know," cried Linklater.
"The barbarian! How could he?"
"No, thank God," replied Martin fervently,
"I don't know! To my mind any man that has a chance to go to Canada on a
good job ought to call in his friends and neighbours to rejoice with
"But I say, that reminds me," said Dunn.
"Mr. Rae is coming to have a talk with my governor and me about this
very thing to-morrow night. I'd like awfully if you could drop in,
Martin; and you, too, Linklater."
Linklater declined. "My folks have
something on, I fear."
Martin hesitated, protesting that there
was "altogether too much of this coddling business" in the matter of
Cameron's future. "Besides, my work is rather crowding me."
"Oh, my pious ancestors! Work!" exclaimed
Linklater in disgust. "At this season of the year! Come, Martin, this
pose is unworthy of you."
"If you could, old man," said Dunn
earnestly, "we won't keep you long. It would be a great help to us all."
"All right, I'll come," said Martin.
"There'll be no one there but Mr. Rae.
We'll just have a smoke and a chat."
But in this expectation Dunn was reckoning
without his young brother, Rob, who, ever since a certain momentous
evening, had entered into a covenant of comradeship with the young lady
who had figured so prominently in the deliverance of his beloved Cameron
from pending evil, and who during the summer had allowed no week to pass
without spending at least a part of a day with her. On this particular
evening, having obtained leave from his mother, the young gentle man had
succeeded in persuading his friend to accept an invitation to dinner,
assuring her that no one would be there except Jack, who was to arrive
home the day before.
The conclave of Cameron's friends found
themselves, therefore, unexpectedly reinforced by the presence of Miss
Brodie, to the unmingled joy of all of them, although in Martin's case
his joy was tinged with a certain fear, for he stood in awe of the young
lady, both because of her reputation for cleverness, and because of the
grand air which, when it pleased her, she could assume. Martin, too,
stood in wholesome awe of Doctor Dunn, whose quiet dignity and old-time
courtesy exercised a chastening influence upon the young man's somewhat
picturesque style of language and exuberance of metaphor. But with Mrs.
Dunn he felt quite at ease, for with that gentle, kindly soul, her boys'
friends were her friends and without question she took them to her
Immediately upon Mr. Rae's arrival
Cameron's future became the subject of conversation, and it required
only the briefest discussion to arrive at the melancholy, inevitable
conclusion that, as Mr. Rae put it, "for a young man of his peculiar
temperament, training, and habits, Scotland was clearly impossible."
"But I have no doubt," continued that
excellent adviser, "that in Canada, where the demand for a high standard
of efficiency is less exacting, and where openings are more plentiful,
the young man will do very well indeed."
Martin took the lawyer up somewhat
sharply. "In other words, I understand you to mean that the man who is a
failure in Scotland may become a success in Canada."
"Exactly so. Would you not say so, Mr.
"It depends entirely upon the cause of
failure. If failure arises from unfitness, his chances in Canada are
infinitely less than in Scotland."
"And why?" inquired Miss Brodie somewhat
Martin hesitated. It was extremely
difficult in the atmosphere of that home to criticise one whom he knew
to be considered as a friend of the family.
"Why, pray?" repeated Miss Brodie.
"Well, of course," began Martin
hesitatingly, "comparisons are always odious."
"Oh, we can bear them." Miss Brodie's
smile was slightly sarcastic.
"Well, then, speaking generally," said
Martin, somewhat nettled by her smile, "in this country there are heaps
of chaps that simply can't fall down because of the supports that
surround them, supports of custom, tradition, not to speak of their
countless friends, sisters, cousins, and aunts; if they're anyways half
decent they're kept a going; whereas if they are in a new country and
with few friends, they must stand alone or fall. Here the crowd support
them; there the crowd, eager to get on, shove them aside or trample them
"Rather a ghastly picture that," said Miss
"But true; that is, of the unfit. People
haven't time to bother with them; the game is too keen."
"Surely the picture is overdrawn," said
"It may be, Sir," replied Martin, "but I
have seen so many young fellows who had been shipped out to Canada
because they were failures at home. I have seen them in very hard luck."
"And what about the fit?" inquired Miss
"They get credit for every ounce that's in
"But that is so in Scotland as well."
"Pardon me, Miss Brodie, hardly. Here even
strong men and fit men have to wait half a lifetime for the chance that
calls for all that's in them. They must march in the procession and the
pace is leisurely. In Canada the chances come every day, and the man
that's ready jumps in and wins."
"Ah, I see!" exclaimed Miss Brodie. "There
are more ladders by which to climb."
"Yes," cried Martin, "and fewer men on
"But," argued Dunn, "there are other
causes of failure in this country. Many a young fellow, for instance,
cannot get a congenial position."
"Yes," replied Martin quickly, "because
you won't let him; your caste law forbids. With us a man can do anything
decent and no one thinks the less of him."
"Ah, I see!" again cried Miss Brodie, more
eagerly than before. "Not only more ladders, but more kinds of ladders."
"Exactly," said Martin with an approving
glance. "And he must not be too long in the choosing."
"Then, Mr. Martin," said Mr. Rae, "what
would you suggest for our young friend?"
But this Martin refused to answer.
"Surely there are openings for a young
fellow in Canada," said Dunn. "Take a fellow like myself. What could I
"You?" cried Martin, his eyes shining with
loving enthusiasm. "There are doors open on every business street in
every town and city in Canada for you, or for any fellow who has brain
or brawn to sell and who will take any kind of a job and stay with it."
"Well, what job, for instance?"
"What job?" cried Martin. "Heaps of them."
At this point a diversion was created by
the entrance of "Lily" Laughton. Both Martin and Dunn envied the easy
grace of his manner, his perfect self-possession, as he greeted each
member of the company. For each he had exactly the right word. Miss
Brodie he greeted with an exaggerated devotion, but when he shook hands
with Dunn there was no mistaking the genuine warmth of his affection.
"Heard you were home, old chap, so I
couldn't help dropping in. Of course I knew that Mrs. Dunn would be sure
to be here, and I more than suspected that my dear Miss Brodie," here he
swept her an elaborate bow, "whom I discovered to be away from her own
home, might be found in this pleasant company."
"Yes, I fear that my devotion to her
youngest boy is leading me to overstep the bounds of even Mrs. Dunn's
vast and generous hospitality."
"Not a bit, my dear," replied Mrs. Dunn
kindly. "You bring sunshine with you, and you do us all good."
"Exactly my sentiments!" exclaimed "Lily"
with enthusiasm. "But what are you all doing? Just having a
For a moment no one replied; then Dunn
said, "We were just talking about Cameron, who is thinking of going to
"To Canada of all places!" exclaimed
"Lily" in tones of horrified surprise. "How truly dreadful! But why
should Cameron of all beings exile himself in those remote and barbarous
"And why should he not?" cried Miss
Brodie. "What is there for a young man of spirit in Mr. Cameron's
position in this country?"
"Why, my dear Miss Brodie, how can you
ask? Just think of the heaps of things, of perfectly delicious things,
Cameron can do,—the Highlands in summer, Edinburgh, London, in the
season, a run to the Continent! Just think of the wild possibility of a
life of unalloyed bliss!"
"Don't be silly!" said Miss Brodie. "We
are talking seriously."
"Seriously! Why, my dear Miss Brodie, do
"But what could he do for a life-work?"
said Dunn. "A fellow must have something to do."
"Oh, dear, I suppose so," said "Lily" with
a sigh. "But surely he could have some position in an office or
"Exactly!" replied Miss Brodie. "How
beautifully you put it! Now Mr. Martin was just about to tell us of the
things a man could do in Canada when you interrupted."
"Awfully sorry, Martin. I apologise.
Please go on. What do the natives do in Canada?"
"Please don't pay any attention to him,
Mr. Martin. I am extremely interested. Now tell me, what are the
openings for a young fellow in Canada? You said the professions are all
It took a little persuasion to get Martin
started again, so disgusted was he with Laughton's references to his
native country. "Yes, Miss Brodie, the professions are all wide open,
but of course men must enter as they do here, but with a difference.
Take law, for instance: Knew a chap—went into an office at ten dollars a
month—didn't know a thing about it. In three months he was raised to
twenty dollars, and within a year to forty dollars. In three or four
years he had passed his exams, got a junior partnership worth easily two
thousand dollars a year. They wanted that chap, and wanted him badly.
But take business: That chap goes into a store and—"
"A store?" inquired "Lily."
"Yes, a shop you call it here; say a
"Drygoods? What extraordinary terms these
"Oh, draper's shop," said Dunn
impatiently. "Go on, Martin; don't mind him."
"A draper's clerk!" echoed "Lily." "To
sell tapes and things?"
"Yes," replied Martin stoutly; "or
"Do you by any chance mean that a
University man, a gentleman, takes a position in a grocer's shop to sell
butter and cheese?"
"I mean just that," said Martin firmly.
"Oh, please!" said "Lily" with a violent
shudder. "It is too awful!"
"There you are! You wouldn't demean
"Not I!" said "Lily" fervently.
"Or disgrace your friends. You want a
gentleman's job. There are not enough to go round in Canada."
"Oh, go on," said Miss Brodie impatiently.
"'Lily,' we must ask you to not interrupt. What happens? Does he stay
"Not he!" said Martin. "From the small
business he goes to bigger business. First thing you know a man wants
him for a big job and off he goes. Meantime he saves his money, invests
wisely. Soon he is his own boss."
"That's fine!" cried Miss Brodie. "Go on,
Mr. Martin. Start him lower down."
"All right," said Martin, directing his
attention solely to the young lady. "Here's an actual case. A young
fellow from Scotland found himself strapped—"
"Strapped? What DOES he mean?" said "Lily"
in an appealing voice.
"On the rocks."
"Dear me!" cried Miss Brodie impatiently.
"You are terribly lacking in imagination. Broke, he means."
"Well, finds himself broke," said Martin;
"gets a shovel, jumps into a cellar—"
"And why a cellar, pray?" inquires "Lily"
mildly. "To hide himself from the public?"
"Not at all; they were digging a cellar
preparatory to building a house."
"He jumps in, blisters his hands, breaks
his back—but he stays with the job. In a week the boss makes him
timekeeper; in three months he himself is boss of a small gang; the next
year he is made foreman at a hundred a month or so."
"A hundred a month?" cries "Lily" in
astonishment. "Oh, Martin, please! We are green, but a hundred pounds a
"Dollars," said Martin shortly. "Don't be
an ass! I beg pardon," he added, turning to Mrs. Dunn, who was meantime
"A hundred dollars a month; that is—I am
so weak in arithmetic—twenty pounds, I understand. Go on, Martin; I'm
waiting for the carriage and pair."
"That's where you get left," said Martin.
"No carriage and pair for this chap yet awhile; overalls and slouch hat
for the next five years for him. Then he begins contracting on his own."
"I beg your pardon," says "Lily."
"I mean he begins taking jobs on his own."
"Great!" cried Miss Brodie.
"Or," continued Martin, now fairly started
on a favourite theme, "there are the railroads all shouting for men of
experience, whether in the construction department or in the operating
"Does anyone here happen to understand
him?" inquires "Lily" faintly.
"Certainly," cried Miss Brodie; "all the
intelligent people do. At least, I've a kind of notion there are big
things doing. I only wish I were a man!"
"Oh, Miss Brodie, how can you?" cried
"Lily." "Think of us in such a contingency!"
"But," said Mr. Rae, "all of this is most
interesting, extremely interesting, Mr. Martin. Still, they cannot all
arrive at these exalted positions."
"No, Mr. Rae. I may have given that
impression. I confess to a little madness when I begin talking Canada."
"Ah!" exclaimed "Lily."
"But I said men of brawn and brains, you
"And bounce, to perfect the alliteration,"
"Yes, bounce, too," said Martin; "at
least, he must never take back-water; he must be ready to attempt
anything, even the impossible."
"That's the splendid thing about it!"
cried Miss Brodie. "You're entirely on your own and you never say die!"
"Oh, my dear Miss Brodie," moaned "Lily"
in piteous accents, "you are so fearfully energetic! And then, it's all
very splendid, but just think of a—of a gentleman having to potter
around among butter and cheese, or mess about in muddy cellars! Ugh!
Positively GHAWSTLY! I would simply die."
"Oh, no, you wouldn't, 'Lily,'" said
Martin kindly. "We have afternoon teas and Browning Clubs, too, you must
remember, and some 'cultchaw' and that sort of thing."
There was a joyous shout from Dunn.
"But, Mr. Martin," persisted Mr. Rae,
whose mind was set in arriving at a solution of the problem in hand, "I
have understood that agriculture was the chief pursuit in Canada."
"Farming! Yes, it is, but of course that
means capital. Good land in Ontario means seventy-five to a hundred
dollars per acre, and a man can't do with less than a hundred acres;
besides, farming is getting to be a science now-a-days, Sir."
"Ah, quite true! But to a young man bred
on a farm in this country—"
"Excuse me, Mr. Rae," replied Martin
quickly, "there is no such thing in Canada as a gentleman farmer. The
farmer works with his men."
"Do you mean that he actually works?"
inquired "Lily." "With the plough and hoe, and that sort of thing?"
"Works all day long, as long as any of his
men, and indeed longer."
"And does he actually live—? of course he
doesn't eat with his servants?" said "Lily" in a tone that deprecated
the preposterous proposition.
"They all eat together in the big
kitchen," replied Martin.
"How awful!" gasped "Lily."
"My father does," replied Martin, a little
colour rising in his cheek, "and my mother, and my brothers. They all
eat with the men; my sister, too, except when she waits on table."
"Fine!" exclaimed Miss Brodie. "And why
not? 'Lily,' I'm afraid you're horribly snobbish."
"Thank the Lord," said "Lily" devoutly, "I
live in this beloved Scotland!"
"But, Mr. Martin, forgive my persistence,
I understand there is cheaper land in certain parts of Canada; in, say,
"Ah, yes, Sir, of course, lots of it;
square miles of it!" cried Martin with enthusiasm. "The very best out of
doors, and cheap, but I fancy there are some hardships in Manitoba."
"But I see by the public newspapers,"
continued Mr. Rae, "that there is a very large movement in the way of
emigration toward that country."
"Yes, there's a great boom on in Manitoba
"Boom?" said "Lily." "And what exactly may
that be in the vernacular?"
"I take it," said Mr. Rae, evidently
determined not to allow the conversation to get out of his hands, "you
mean a great excitement consequent upon the emigration and the natural
rise in land values?"
"Yes, Sir," cried Martin, "you've hit it
"Then would there not be opportunity to
secure a considerable amount of land at a low figure in that country?"
"Most certainly! But it's fair to say that
success there means work and hardship and privation. Of course it is
always so in a new country; it was so in Ontario. Why, the new settlers
in Manitoba don't know what hardships mean in comparison with those that
faced the early settlers in Ontario. My father, when a little boy of ten
years, went with his father into the solid forest; you don't know what
that means in this country, and no one can who has not seen a solid mass
of green reaching from the ground a hundred feet high without a break in
it except where the trail enters. Into that solid forest in single file
went my grandfather, his two little boys, and one ox carrying a bag of
flour, some pork and stuff. By a mark on a tree they found the corner of
their farm." Martin paused.
"Do go on," said Miss Brodie. "Tell me the
very first thing he did."
But Martin seemed to hesitate. "Well," he
began slowly, "I've often heard my father tell it. When they came to
that tree with the mark on it, grandfather said, 'Boys, we have reached
our home. Let us thank God.' He went up to a big spruce tree, drove his
ax in to the butt, then kneeled down with the two little boys beside
him, and I have heard my father say that when he looked away up between
the big trees and saw the bit of blue sky there, he thought God was
listening at that blue hole between the tree-tops." Martin paused
abruptly, and for a few moments silence held the group. Then Doctor
Dunn, clearing his throat, said with quiet emphasis:
"And he was right, my boy; make no doubt
"Then?" inquired Miss Brodie softly. "If
you don't mind."
Martin laughed. "Then they had grub, and
that afternoon grandfather cut the trees and the boys limbed them off,
clearing the ground where the first house stood. That night they slept
in a little brush hut that did them for a house until grandmother came
two weeks later."
"What?" said Doctor Dunn. "Your
grandmother went into the forest?"
"Yes, Sir," said Martin; "and two miles of
solid black bush stretched between her and the next woman."
"Why, of course, my dear," said Mrs. Dunn,
taking part for the first time in the conversation. "What else?"
They all laughed.
"Of course, Mother," said her eldest son,
"that's what you would do."
"So would I, Mamma, wouldn't I?" whispered
Rob, leaning towards her.
"Certainly, my dear," replied his mother;
"I haven't the slightest doubt."
"And so would any woman worth her salt if
she loved her husband," cried Miss Brodie with great emphasis.
"Why, why," cried Doctor Dunn, "it's the
same old breed, Mother."
"But in Manitoba—?" began Mr. Rae, still
clinging to the subject.
"Oh, in Manitoba there is no forest to
cut. However, there are other difficulties. Still, hundreds are crowding
in, and any man who has the courage and the nerve to stay with it can
"And what did they do for schools?" said
Mrs. Dunn, returning to the theme that had so greatly interested her.
"There were no schools until father was
too big to be spared to go except for a few weeks in the winter."
"How big do you mean?"
"Fifteen!" exclaimed Miss Brodie. "A mere
"Infant!" said Martin. "Not much! At
fifteen my father was doing a man's full work in the bush and on the
farm, and when he grew to be a man he cleared most of his own land, too.
Why, when I was eleven I drove my team all day on the farm."
"And how did you get your education, Mr.
"Oh, they kept me at school pretty
steadily, except in harvest and hay time, until I was fourteen, and
after that in the winter months. When I was sixteen I got a teacher's
certificate, and then it was easy enough."
"And did you put yourself through
college?" inquired Mr. Rae, both interest and admiration in his voice,
for now they were on ground familiar in his own experience.
"Why, yes, mostly. Father helped, I
suspect more than he ought to, but he was anxious for me to get
"Rob," cried Miss Brodie suddenly, "let's
go! What do you say? We'll get a big bit of that land in the West, and
won't it be splendid to build up our own estate and all that?"
Rob glanced from her into his mother's
face. "I'd like it fine, Mamma," he said in a low voice, slipping his
hand into hers.
"But what about me, Rob?" said his mother,
smiling tenderly down into the eager face.
"Oh, I'd come back for you, Mamma."
"Hold on there, youngster," said his elder
brother, "there are others that might have something to say about that.
But I say, Martin," continued Dunn, "we hear a lot about the big ranches
"Yes, in Alberta, but I confess I don't
know much about them. The railways are just building and people are
beginning to go in. But ranching needs capital, too. It must be a great
life! They practically live in the saddle. It's a glorious country!"
"On the whole, then," said Mr. Rae, as if
summing up the discussion, "a young man has better opportunities of
making his fortune, so to speak, in the far West rather than in, say,
"I didn't speak of fortune, Mr.
Rae,—fortune is a chance thing, more or less,—but what I say is this,
that any young man not afraid of work, of any kind of work, and willing
to stay with his job, can make a living and get a home in any part of
Canada, with a bigger chance of fortune in the West."
"All I say, Mr. Rae, is this," said Miss
Brodie emphatically, "that I only wish I were a man with just such a
chance as young Cameron!"
"Ah, my dear young lady, if all the young
men were possessed of your spirit, it would matter little where they
went, for they would achieve distinct success." As he spoke Mr. Rae's
smile burst forth in all its effulgent glory.
"Dear Mr. Rae, how very clever of you to
discover that!" replied Miss Brodie, smiling sweetly into Mr. Rae's
radiant face. "And how very sweet of you—ah, I beg your pardon; that
is—" The disconcerting rapidity with which Mr. Rae's smile gave place to
an appearance of grave, of even severe solemnity, threw Miss Brodie
quite "out of her stride," as Martin said afterward, and left her
floundering in a hopeless attempt to complete her compliment.
Her confusion was the occasion of
unlimited joy to "Lily," who was not unfamiliar with this facial
phenomenon on the part of Mr. Rae. "Oh, I say!" he cried to Dunn in a
gale of smothered laughter, "how does the dear man do it? It is really
too lovely! I must learn the trick of that. I have never seen anything
quite so appallingly flabbergasting."
Meantime Mr. Rae was blandly assisting
Miss Brodie out of her dilemma. "Not at all, Miss Brodie, not at all!
But," he continued, throwing his smile about the room, "I think, Doctor
Dunn, we have reason to congratulate ourselves upon not only a pleasant
but an extremely profitable evening—ah—as far as the matter in hand is
concerned. I hope to have further speech with our young friend," bowing
to Mr. Martin and bringing his smile to bear upon that young gentleman.
"Oh, certainly," began Martin with ready
geniality, "whenever you—eh? What did you say, Sir? I didn't quite—"
But Mr. Rae was already bidding Mrs. Dunn
goodnight, with a face of preternatural gravity.
"What the deuce!" said Martin, turning to
his friend Dunn. "Does the old boy often go off at half-cock that way?
He'll hurt himself some time, sure."
"Isn't it awful?" said Dunn. "He's got me
a few times that way, too. But I say, old boy, we're awfully grateful to
you for coming."
"I feel like a fool," said Martin; "as if
I'd been delivering a lecture."
"Don't think it," cried Miss Brodie, who
had drawn near. "You've been perfectly lovely, and I am so glad to have
got to know you better. For me, I am quite resolved to go to Canada."
"But do you think they can really spare us
all, Miss Brodie?" exclaimed "Lily" in an anxious voice. "For, of
course, if you go we must."
"No, 'Lily,' I'm quite sure they can't
spare you. Just think, what could the Browning-Wagner circle do?
Besides, what could we do with you when we were all working, for I can
quite see that there is no use going to Canada unless you mean to work?"
"You've got it, Miss Brodie," said Martin.
"My lecture is not in vain. There is no use going to Canada unless you
mean to work and to stay with the job till the cows come home."
"Till the cows come—?" gasped "Lily."
"Oh, never mind him, Mr. Martin! Come,
'Lily' dear, I'll explain it to you on the way home. Good-night, Mr.
Dunn; we've had a jolly evening. And as for our friend Cameron, I've
ceased to pity him; on the contrary, I envy him his luck."