It was the custom in Doctor
Dunn's household that, immediately
after dinner, his youngest son would spend half an hour in the
study with his father. It was a time for confidences. During
half hour father and son met as nearly as possible on equal terms,
discussing, as friends might, the events of the day or the plans
for the morrow, school work or athletics, the latest book or the
newest joke; and sometimes the talk turned upon the reading at
evening prayers. This night the story had been one of rare beauty
and of absorbing interest, the story, viz., of that idyllic scene
on the shore of Tiberias where the erring disciple was fully
restored to his place in the ranks of the faithful, as he had been
restored, some weeks before, to his place in the confidence of his
"That was a fine story, Rob?" began Doctor Dunn.
"That it was," said Rob gravely. "It was fine for Peter to get
"Just so," replied his father. "You see, when a man once turns his
back on his best Friend, he is never right till he gets back
"Yes, I know," said Rob gravely. For a time he sat with a shadow
of sadness and anxiety on his young face. "It is terrible!" he
"Terrible?" inquired the Doctor. "Oh, yes, you mean Peter's fall?
Yes, that was a terrible thing--to be untrue to our Master and
faithless to our best Friend."
"But he did not mean to, Dad," said Rob quickly, as if springing to
the fallen disciple's defence. "He forgot, just for a moment, and
was awfully sorry afterwards."
"Yes, truly," said his father, "and that was the first step back."
For a few moments Rob remained silent, his face sad and troubled.
"Man! It must be terrible!" at length he said, more to himself
than to his father. The Doctor looked closely at the little lad.
The eager, sensitive face, usually so radiant, was now clouded and
"What is it, Rob? Is it something you can tell me?" asked his
father in a tone of friendly kindness.
Rob moved closer to him. The father waited in silence. He knew
better than to force an unwilling confidence. At length the lad,
with an obvious effort at self-command, said:
"It is to-morrow, Daddy, that Cameron--that Mr. Cameron is going
"To-morrow? So it is. And you will be very sorry, Rob.
course, he will come back."
"Oh, Dad," cried Rob, coming quite close to his father, "it isn't
that! It isn't that!"
His father waited. He did not understand his boy's trouble, and so
he wisely refrained from uttering word that might hinder rather
than help. At length, with a sudden effort, Rob asked in a low,
"Do you think, Dad, he has--got--back?"
"Got back?" said his father. "Oh, I see. Why, my boy?
you know of it? Did you know there was a letter from a man named
Potts, that completely clears your friend of all crime?"
"Is there?" asked the boy quickly. "Man! That is fine!
always knew he could not do anything really bad--I mean, anything
that the police could touch him for. But it is not that, Dad.
I have heard Jack say he used to be different when he came down
first, and now sometimes he--" The lad's voice fell silent. He
could not bring himself to accuse his hero of any evil. His father
drew him close to his side.
"You mean that he has fallen into bad ways--drink, and things like
The boy hung his head; he was keenly ashamed for his friend. After
a few moments' silence he said:
"And he is going away to Canada to-morrow, and I wonder, Dad, if he
has--got--back? It would be terrible-- Oh, Dad, all alone and
The boy's voice sank to a whisper, and a rush of tears filled his
"I see what you mean, my boy. You mean it would be terrible for
him to be in that far land, and away from that Friend we know and
The lad looked at his father through his tears, and nodded his
head, and for some moments there was silence between them. If the
truth must be told, Doctor Dunn felt himself keenly rebuked by his
little son's words. Amid the multitude of his responsibilities,
the responsibility for his sons' best friend he had hardly
"I am glad that you spoke of it, Rob; I am glad that you spoke of
it. Something will be done. It is not, after all, in our
Still, we must stand ready to help. Good-night, my boy. And
remember, it is always good to hurry back to our best Friend, if
ever we get away from Him."
The boy put his arms around his father's neck and kissed him good-night; then, kissing him again, he whispered: "Thank you, Daddy."
And from the relief in his tone the father recognised that upon him
the lad had laid all the burden of his solicitude for his friend.
Later in the evening, when his elder son came home, the father
called him in, and frankly gave him the substance of the
conversation of the earlier part of the evening.
Jack laughed somewhat uneasily. "Oh, Rob is an awfully religious
little beggar; painfully so, I think, sometimes--you know what I
mean, Sir," he added, noticing the look on his father's face.
"I am not sure that I do, Jack," said his father, "but I want to
tell you, that as far as I am concerned, I felt distinctly rebuked
at the little chap's anxiety for his friend in a matter of such
vital import. His is a truly religious little soul, as you say,
but I wonder if his type is not more nearly like the normal than
is ours. Certainly, if reality, simplicity, sincerity are the
qualities of true religious feeling--and these, I believe, are the
qualities emphasised by the Master Himself--then it may indeed be
that the boy's type is nearer the ideal than ours."
At this point Mrs. Dunn entered the room.
"Anything private?" she enquired with a bright smile at her
"Not at all! Come in!" said Doctor Dunn, and he proceeded to
repeat the conversation with his younger son, and his own recent
"I am convinced," he added, "that there is a profundity of meaning
in those words, 'Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as
a little child, he shall not enter therein,' that we have not yet
fathomed. I suspect Wordsworth is not far astray when he suggests
that with the passing years we grow away from the simplicity of our
faith and the clearness of our vision. There is no doubt that to
Rob, Jesus is as real as I am."
"There is no doubt of that," said his wife quickly.
"Not only as real, but quite as dear; indeed, dearer. I shall
never forget the shock I received when I heard him one day, as a
wee, wee boy, classifying the objects of his affection. I remember
the ascending scale was: 'I love Jack and Daddy just the same,
then mother, then Jesus.' It was always in the highest place,
Jesus; and I believe that the scale is the same to-day, unless
Jack," she added, with a smile at her son, "has moved to his
"Not much fear of that, mother," said Jack, "but I should not be
surprised if you are quite right about the little chap. He is a
queer little beggar!"
"There you are again, Jack," said his father, "and it is upon that
point I was inclined to take issue with you when your mother
"I think I shall leave you," said the mother. "I am rather tired,
and so I shall bid you good-night."
"Yes," said the father, when they had seated themselves again, "the
very fact that to you, and to me for that matter, Rob's attitude of
mind should seem peculiar raises the issue. What is the normal
type of Christian faith? Is it not marked by the simplicity and
completeness of the child's?"
"And yet, Sir," replied Jack, "that simplicity and completeness is
the result of inexperience. Surely the ideal faith is not that
which ignores the facts and experiences of life?"
"Not exactly," replied his father, "yet I am not sure but after
all, 'the perfect love which casteth out fear' is one which ignores
the experiences of life, or, rather, classifies them in a larger
category. That is, it refuses to be disturbed by life's experiences,
because among those experiences there is a place for the enlarged
horizon, the clearer vision. But I am not arguing about this
matter; I rather wish to make a confession and enlist your aid.
Frankly, the boy's words gave me an uneasy sense of failure in my
duty to this young man; or, perhaps I should say, my privilege. And
really, it is no wonder! Here is this little chap actually carrying
every day a load of intense concern for our friend, as to whether,
as he puts it himself, 'he has come back.' And, after all, Jack, I
wonder if this should not have been more upon our minds? The young
man, I take it, since his mother's death has little in his home life
to inspire him with religious faith and feeling. If she had been
alive, one would not feel the same responsibility; she was a
singularly saintly woman."
"You are quite right, Sir," said Jack quickly, "and I suspect you
rather mean that I am the one that should feel condemned."
"Not at all! Not at all, Jack! I am thinking, as every man
of my own responsibility, though, doubtless, you have yours as
well. Of course I know quite well you have stuck by him splendidly
in his fight for a clean and self-controlled life, but one wonders
whether there is not something more."
"There is, Sir!" replied his son quickly. "There undoubtedly is!
But though I have no hesitation in speaking to men down in the
Settlement about these things, you know, still, somehow, to a man
of your own class, and to a personal friend, one hesitates. One
shrinks from what seems like assuming an attitude of superiority."
"I appreciate that," said his father, "but yet one wonders to what
extent this shrinking is due to a real sense of one's own
imperfections, and to what extent it is due to an unwillingness to
risk criticism, even from ourselves, in a loyal attempt to serve
the Master and His cause. And, besides that, one wonders whether
from any cause one should hesitate to do the truly kind and
Christian thing to one's friend. I mean, you value your religion;
or, to put it personally, as Rob would, you would esteem as your
chief possession your knowledge of the Christ, as Friend and
Saviour. Do not loyalty to Him and friendship require that you
share that possession with your dearest friend?"
"I know what you mean, Sir," said Jack earnestly. "I shall think
it over. But don't you think a word from you, Sir--"
His father looked at his son with a curious smile.
"Oh, I know what you are thinking," said his son, "but I assure you
it is not quite a case of funk."
"Do you know, Jack," said his father earnestly, "we make our
religion far too unreal; a thing either of forms remote from life,
or a thing of individualistic emotion divorced from responsibility.
One thing history reveals, that the early propagandum for the faith
was entirely unprofessional. It was from friend to friend, from
man to man. It was horizontal rather than perpendicular."
"Well, I shall think it over," said Jack.
"Do you know," said his father, "that I have the feeling of having
accepted from Rob responsibility for our utmost endeavour to bring
it about that, as Rob puts it, 'somehow he shall get back'?"
It was full twenty minutes before train time when Rob, torn with
anxiety lest they should be late, marched his brother on to the
railway platform to wait for the Camerons, who were to arrive from
the North. Up and down they paraded, Dunn turning over in his mind
the conversation of the night before, Rob breaking away every three
minutes to consult the clock and the booking clerk at the wicket.
"Will he come to us this afternoon, Jack, do you think?" enquired
"Don't know! He turned down a football lunch! He has his
and his father with him."
"His sister could come with him!" argued the boy.
"What about his father?"
Rob had been close enough to events to know that the Captain
constituted something of a difficulty in the situation.
"Well, won't he have business to attend to?"
His brother laughed. "Good idea, Rob, let us hope so! At any
we will do our best to get Cameron and his sister to come to us.
We want them, don't we?"
"We do that!" said the boy fervently; "only I'm sure something will
happen! There," he exclaimed a moment later, in a tone of
disappointment and disgust, "I just knew it! There is Miss Brodie
and some one else; they will get after him, I know!"
"So it is," said Dunn, with a not altogether successful attempt at
"Aw! you knew!" said Rob reproachfully.
"Well! I kind of thought she might turn up!" said his brother,
with an air of a convicted criminal. "You know she is quite a
friend of Cameron's. But what is Sir Archibald here for?"
"They will just get him, I know," said Rob gloomily, as he followed
his brother to meet Miss Brodie and her uncle.
"We're here!" cried that young lady, "to join in the demonstration
to the hero! And, my uncle being somewhat conscience-stricken over
his tardy and unwilling acceptance of our superior judgment in the
recent famous case, has come to make such reparation as he can."
"What a piece of impertinence! Don't listen to her, Sir!" cried
Sir Archibald, greeting Dunn warmly and with the respect due an
International captain. "The truth is I have a letter here for him
to a business friend in Montreal, which may be of service. Of
course, I may say to you that I am more than delighted that this
letter of Potts has quite cleared the young man, and that he goes
to the new country with reputation unstained. I am greatly
delighted! greatly delighted! and I wish the opportunity to say
"Indeed, we are all delighted," replied Dunn cordially, "though, of
course, I never could bring myself to believe him guilty of crime."
"Well, on the strength of the judgment of yourself and, I must
confess, of this young person here, I made my decision."
"Well," cried Miss Brodie, "I gave you my opinion because it was my
opinion, but I confess at times I had my own doubts--"
Here she paused abruptly, arrested by the look on young Rob's face;
it was a look of surprise, grief, and horror.
"That is to say," continued Miss Brodie hastily, answering the
look, and recognising that her high place in Rob's regard was in
peril, "the whole thing was a mystery--was impossible to solve--I
mean," she continued, stumbling along, "his own attitude was so
very uncertain and so unsatisfactory--if he had only been able to
say clearly 'I am not guilty' it would have been different--I mean--
of course, I don't believe him guilty. Don't look at me like
that, Rob! I won't have it! But was it not clever of that dear
Mr. Rae to extract that letter from the wretched Potts?"
"There's the train!" cried Dunn. "Here, Rob, you stay here with
me! Where has the young rascal gone!"
"Look! Oh, look!" cried Miss Brodie, clutching at Dunn's arm, her
eyes wide with terror. There before their horrified eyes was young
Rob, hanging on to the window, out of which his friend Cameron was
leaning, and racing madly with the swiftly moving train, in
momentary danger of being dragged under its wheels. With a cry,
Dunn rushed forward.
"Merciful heavens!" cried Miss Brodie. "Oh! he is gone!"
A porter, standing with his back towards the racing boy, had
knocked his feet from under him. But as he fell, a strong hand
grabbed him, and dragged him to safety through the window.
Pale and shaking, the three friends waited for the car door to be
opened, and as Rob issued in triumphant possession of his friend,
Miss Brodie rushed at him and, seizing him in her strong grasp,
"You heartless young rascal! You nearly killed me--not to speak of
yourself! Here," she continued, throwing her arms about him, and
giving him a loud smack, "take that for your punishment! Do you
hear, you nearly killed me! I had a vision of your mangled form
ground up between the wheels and the platform. Hold on, you can't
get away from me! I have a mind to give you another!"
"Oh, Miss Brodie, please," pleaded Cameron, coming forward to Rob's
rescue, "I assure you I was partly to blame; it is only fair I
should share his punishment."
"Indeed," cried Miss Brodie, the blood coming back into her cheeks
that had been white enough a moment before, "if it were not for
your size, and your--looks, I should treat you exactly the same,
though not with the same intent, as our friend Mr. Rae would say.
You did that splendidly!"
"Alas! for my size," groaned Cameron--he was in great spirits--"and
alas! for my ugly phiz!"
"Who said 'ugly'?" replied Miss Brodie. "But I won't rise to your
bait. May I introduce you to my uncle, Sir Archibald Brodie, who
has a little business with you?"
"Ah! Mr. Cameron," said that gentleman, "that was extremely well
done. Indeed, I can hardly get back my nerve--might have been an
ugly accident. By the way, Sir," taking Cameron aside, "just a
moment. You are on your way to Canada? I have a letter which I
thought might be of service to you. It is to a business friend of
mine, a banker, in Montreal, Mr. James Ritchie. You will find him
a good man to know, and I fancy glad to serve any--ah--friend of
On hearing Sir Archibald's name, Cameron's manner became distinctly
haughty, and he was on the point of declining the letter, when Sir
Archibald, who was quick to observe his manner, took him by the arm
and led him somewhat further away.
"Now, Sir, there is a little matter I wish to speak of, if you will
permit. Indeed, I came specially to say how delighted I am that
the--ah--recent little unpleasantness has been removed. Of course
you understand my responsibility to the Bank rendered a certain
course of action imperative, however repugnant. But, believe me, I
am truly delighted to find that my decision to withdraw the--ah--
action has been entirely justified by events. Delighted, Sir!
Delighted! And much more since I have seen you."
Before the overflowing kindliness of Sir Archibald's voice and
manner, Cameron's hauteur vanished like morning mist before the
"I thank you, Sir Archibald," he said, with dignity, "not only for
this letter, but especially for your good opinion."
"Very good! Very good! The letter will, I hope, be useful,"
replied Sir Archibald, "and as for my opinion, I am glad to find
not only that it is well founded, but that it appears to be shared
by most of this company here. Now we must get back to your party.
But let me say again, I am truly glad to have come to know you."