It was a Sabbath day in
late August, and in no month of the year
does a Sabbath day so chime with the time. For the Sabbath day is
a day for rest and holy thought, and the late August is the rest
time of the year, when the woods and fields are all asleep in a
slumberous blue haze; the sacred time, too, for in late August old
Mother Earth is breathing her holiest aspirations heavenward,
having made offering of her best in the full fruitage of the year.
Hence a Sabbath day in late August chimes marvellously well with
And this particular Sabbath day was perfect of its kind, a dreamy,
drowsy day, a day when genial suns and hazy cool airs mingle in
excellent harmony, and the tired worker, freed from his week's
toil, basks and stretches, yawns and revels in rest under the
orchard trees; unless, indeed, he goes to morning church. And to
morning church Cameron went as a rule, but to-day, owing to a dull
ache in his head and a general sense of languor pervading his
limbs, he had chosen instead, as likely to be more healing to his
aching head and his languid limbs, the genial sun, tempered with
cool and lazy airs under the orchard trees. And hence he lay
watching the democrat down the lane driven off to church by
Perkins, with Mandy beside him in the front seat, the seat of
authority and of activity, and Mr. Haley alone in the back seat,
the seat of honour and of retirement. Mrs. Haley was too overborne
by the heat and rush of the busy week to adventure the heat and
dust of the road, and to sustain the somewhat strenuous discourse
of the Reverend Harper Freeman, to whose flock the Haleys belonged.
This, however, was not Mrs. Haley's invariable custom. In the
cooler weather it was her habit to drive on a Sunday morning to
church, sitting in the back seat beside her husband, with Tim and
Mandy occupying the front seat beside the hired man, but during the
heat and hurry of the harvest time she would take advantage of the
quietness of the house and of the two or three hours' respite from
the burden of household duties to make up arrears of sleep
accumulated during the preceding week, salving her conscience, for
she had a conscience in the matter, with a promise that she might
go in the evening when it was cooler and when she was more rested.
This promise, however, having served its turn, was never fulfilled,
for by the evening the wheels of household toil began once more to
turn, and Mrs. Haley found it easier to worship vicariously,
sending Mandy and Tim to the evening service. And to this service
the young people were by no means loath to go, for it was held on
fair evenings in MacBurney's woods, two miles away by the road, one
mile by the path through the woods. On occasion Perkins would
hitch up in the single buggy Dexter, the fiery young colt, too
fiery for any other to drive, and, as a special attention to his
employer's daughter, would drive her to the service. But since the
coming of Cameron, Mandy had allowed this custom to fall into
disuse, at first somewhat to Perkins' relief, for the colt was
restless and fretted against the tie rein; and, besides, Perkins
was not as yet quite prepared to acknowledge any special relationship
between himself and the young lady in question before the assembled
congregation, preferring to regard himself and to be regarded by
others as a free lance. Later, however, as Mandy's preference for
a walk through the woods became more marked, Perkins, much to his
disgust, found himself reduced to the attitude of a suppliant,
urging the superior attraction of a swift drive behind Dexter as
against a weary walk to the service. Mandy, however, with the
directness of her simple nature, had no compunction in frankly
maintaining her preference for a walk with Tim and Cameron through
the woods; indeed, more than once she allowed Perkins to drive off
with his fiery colt, alone in his glory.
But this Sabbath morning, as Cameron lay under the orchard trees,
he was firmly resolved that he would give the whole day to the
nursing of the ache in his head and the painful languor in his
body. And so lying he allowed his mind to wander uncontrolled over
the happenings of the past months, troubled by a lazy consciousness
of a sore spot somewhere in his life. Gradually there grew into
clearness the realisation of the cause of this sore spot.
"What is the matter with Perkins?" he asked of Tim, who had
declined to go to church, and who had strolled into the orchard to
be near his friend.
"What is the matter with Perkins?" Cameron asked a second time, for
Tim was apparently too much engaged with a late harvest apple to
"How?" said the boy at length.
"He is so infernally grumpy with me."
"Grumpy? He's sore, I guess."
"You bet! Ever since I beat him in the turnips that day."
"Ever since YOU beat him?" asked Cameron in amazement. "Why should
he be sore against me?"
"He knows it was you done it," said Tim.
"Nonsense, Tim! Besides, Perkins isn't a baby. He surely
hold that against me."
"Huh, huh," said Tim, "everybody's pokin' fun at him, and he hates
that, and ever since the picnic, too, he hates you."
"But why in the world?"
"Oh, shucks!" said Tim, impatient at Cameron's density. "I guess
you know all right."
"Know? Not I!"
"Honor bright, Tim," replied Cameron, sitting up. "Now, honestly,
tell me, Tim, why in the world Perkins should hate me."
"You put his nose out of joint, I guess," said Tim with a grin.
"Oh, rot, Tim! How?"
"Every how," said Tim, proceeding to elaborate. "First when you
came here you were no good--I mean--" Tim checked himself hastily.
"I know what you mean, Tim. Go on. You are quite right.
couldn't do anything on the farm."
"Now," continued Tim, "you can do anything jist as good as him--
except bindin', of course. He's a terror at bindin', but at
pitchin' and shockin' and loadin' you're jist as good."
"But, Tim, that's all nonsense. Perkins isn't such a fool as to
hate me because I can keep up my end."
"He don't like you," said Tim stubbornly.
"But why? Why in the name of common sense?"
"Well," said Tim, summing up the situation, "before you come he
used to be the hull thing. Now he's got to play second fiddle."
But Cameron remained unenlightened.
"Oh, pshaw!" continued Tim, making further concessions to his
friend's stupidity. "At the dances, at the raisin's, runnin',
jumpin'--everythin'--Perkins used to be the King Bee. Now--"
Tim's silence furnished an impressive close to the contrast. "Why!
They all think you are just fine!" said Tim, with a sudden burst of
"All the boys. Yes, and the girls, too," said Tim, allowing his
solemn face the unusual luxury of a smile.
"Aw, yeh know well enough--the Murray girls, and the MacKenzies,
and the hull lot of them. And then--and then--there's Mandy, too."
Here Tim shot a keen glance at his friend, who now sat leaning
against the trunk of an apple tree with his eyes closed.
"Now, Tim, you are a shrewd little chap"--here Cameron sat upright--
"but how do you know about the girls, and what is this you say
about Mandy? Mandy is good to me--very kind and all that, but--"
"She used to like Perkins pretty well," said Tim, with a kind of
"Oh, he thought he jist owned her. Guess he ain't so sure now,"
added Tim. "I guess you've changed Mandy all right."
It was the one thing Cameron hated to hear, but he made light of
"Oh, nonsense!" he exclaimed. "But if I did I would be mighty glad
of it. Mandy is too good for a man like Perkins. Why, he isn't
"He's a terror," replied Tim seriously. "They are all scairt of
him. He's a terror to fight. Why, at MacKenzie's raisin' last
year he jist went round foamin' like an old boar and nobody dast
say a word to him. Even Mack Murray was scairt to touch him.
he gets like that he ain't afraid of nothin' and he's awful quick
Tim proceeded to enlarge upon this theme, which apparently
fascinated him, with tales of Perkins' prowess in rough-and-tumble
fighting. But Cameron had lost interest and was lying down again
with his eyes closed.
"Well," he said, when Tim had finished his recital, "if he is that
kind of a man Mandy should have nothing to do with him."
But Tim was troubled.
"Dad likes him," he said gloomily. "He is a good hand. And ma
likes him, too. He taffies her up."
"And Mandy?" enquired Cameron.
"I don't know," said Tim, still more gloomy. "I guess he kind of
makes her. I'd--I'd jist like to take a lump out of him."
eyes blazed into a sudden fire. "He runs things on this farm
altogether too much."
"Buck up then, Tim, and beat him," said Cameron, dismissing the
subject. "And now I must have some sleep. I have got an awful
Tim was quick enough to understand the hint, but still he hovered
"Say, I'm awful sorry," he said. "Can't I git somethin'? You
didn't eat no breakfast."
"Oh, all I want is sleep, Tim. I will be all right tomorrow,"
replied Cameron, touched by the tone of sympathy in Tim's voice.
"You are a fine little chap. Trot along and let me sleep."
But no sleep came to Cameron, partly because of the hammer knocking
in his head, but chiefly because of the thoughts set going by Tim.
Cameron was not abnormally egotistical, but he was delightedly
aware of the new place he held in the community ever since the now
famous Dominion Day picnic, and, now that the harvest rush had
somewhat slackened, social engagements had begun to crowd upon him.
Dances and frolics, coon hunts and raisings were becoming the vogue
throughout the community, and no social function was complete
without the presence of Cameron. But this sudden popularity had
its embarrassments, and among them, and threatening to become
annoying, was the hostility of Perkins, veiled as yet, but none the
less real. Moreover, behind Perkins stood a band of young fellows
of whom he was the recognised leader and over whom his ability in
the various arts and crafts of the farm, his physical prowess in
sports, his gay, cheery manner, and, it must be said, the
reputation he bore for a certain fierce brute courage in rough-and-tumble fighting, gave him a sort of ascendency.
But Perkins' attitude towards him did not after all cause Cameron
much concern. There was another and more annoying cause of
embarrassment, and that was Mandy. Tim's words kept reiterating
themselves in his brain, "You've changed Mandy all right." Over
this declaration of Tim's, Cameron proceeded to argue with himself.
He sat bolt upright that he might face himself on the matter.
"Now, then," he said to himself, "let's have this thing out."
"Most willingly. This girl was on the way to engagement to this
young man Perkins. You come on the scene. Everything is
"Well! What of it? It's a mighty good thing for her."
"But you are the cause of it."
"The occasion, rather."
"No, the cause. You have attracted her to you."
"I can't help that. Besides, it is a mere passing whim. She'll
get over all that?" And Cameron laughed scornfully in his own
"Do you know that? And how do you know it? Tim thinks
"Oh, confound it all! I see that I shall have to get out of here."
"A wise decision truly, and the sooner the better. Do you propose
to go at once?"
"At once? Well, I should like to spend the winter here. I have
made a number of friends and life is beginning to be pleasant."
"Exactly! It suits your convenience, but how about Mandy?"
"Oh, rubbish! Must I be governed by the fancies of that silly
girl? Besides, the whole thing is absurdly ridiculous."
"But facts are stubborn, and anyone can see that the girl is--"
"Hang it all! I'll go at the end of the month."
"Very well. And in the leave-taking--?"
"It is pleasant to be appreciated and to carry away with one
memories, I will not say tender, but appreciative."
"I can't act like a boor. I must be decent to the girl.
she isn't altogether a fool."
"No, but very crude, very primitive, very passionate, and therefore
"All right, I shall simply shake hands and go."
So, with the consequent sense of relief that high resolve always
brings, Cameron lay down again and fell into slumber and dreams of
From these dreams of home Mandy recalled him with a summons to
dinner. As his eye, still filled with the vision of his dreams,
fell upon her in all the gorgeous splendour of her Sunday dress, he
was conscious of a strong sense of repulsion. How coarse, how
crude, how vulgar she appeared, how horribly out of keeping with
those scenes through which he had just been wandering in his
"I want no dinner, Mandy," he said shortly. "I have a bad head and
I am not hungry."
"No dinner?" That a man should not want dinner was to Mandy quite
inexplicable, unless, indeed, he were ill.
"Are you sick?" she cried in quick alarm.
"No, I have a headache. It will pass away," said Cameron, turning
over on his side. Still Mandy lingered.
"Let me bring you a nice piece of pie and a cup of tea."
"No," he said, "bring me nothing. I merely wish to sleep."
But Mandy refused to be driven away.
"Say, I'm awful sorry. I know you're sick."
"Nonsense!" said Cameron, impatiently, waiting for her to be gone.
Still Mandy hesitated.
"I'm awful sorry," she said again, and her voice, deep, tender,
full-toned, revealed her emotion.
Cameron turned impatiently towards her.
"Look here, Mandy! There's nothing wrong with me. I only want
little sleep. I shall be all right to-morrow."
But Mandy's fears were not to be allayed.
"Say," she cried, "you look awful bad."
"Oh, get out, Mandy! Go and get your dinner. Don't mind me."
Cameron's tone was decidedly cross.
Without further remonstrance Mandy turned silently away, but before
she turned Cameron caught the gleam of tears in the great blue
eyes. A swift compunction seized him.
"I say, Mandy, I don't want to be rude, but--"
"Rude?" cried the girl. "You? You couldn't be. You are
good--to me--and--I--don't--know--" Here her voice broke.
"Oh, come, Mandy, get away to dinner. You are a good girl. Now
leave me alone."
The kindness in his voice quite broke down Mandy's all too slight
control. She turned away, audibly sniffling, with her apron to her
eyes, leaving Cameron in a state of wrathful perplexity.
"Oh, confound it all!" he groaned to himself. "This is a rotten
go. By Jove! This means the West for me. The West!
that's the place. Here there is no chance anyway. Why did I
He rose from the grass, shivering with a sudden chill, went to his
bed in the hay mow, and, covering himself with Tim's blankets and
his own, fell again into sleep. Here, late in the afternoon, Tim
found him and called him to supper.
With Mandy's watchful eye upon him he went through the form of
eating, but Mandy was not to be deceived.
"You ain't eatin' nothin'," she said reproachfully as he rose from
"Enough for a man who is doing nothing," replied Cameron. "What I
want is exercise. I think I shall take a walk."
"Going to church?" she enquired, an eager light springing into her
"To church? I hadn't thought of it," replied Cameron, but,
catching the gleam of a smile on Perkins' face and noting the
utterly woebegone expression on Mandy's, he added, "Well, I might
as well walk to church as any place else. You are going, Tim?"
"Huh huh!" replied Tim.
"I am going to hitch up Deck, Mandy," said Perkins.
"Oh, I'm goin' to walk!" said Mandy, emphatically.
"All right!" said Perkins. "Guess I'll walk too with the crowd."
"Don't mind me," said Mandy.
"I don't," laughed Perkins, "you bet! Nor anybody else."
"And that's no lie!" sniffed Mandy, with a toss of her head.
"Better drive to church, Mandy," suggested her mother. "You know
you're jist tired out and it will be late when you get started."
"Tired? Late?" cried Mandy, with alacrity. "I'll be through
dishes in a jiffy and be ready in no time. I like the walk through
"Depends on the company," laughed Perkins again. "So do I.
we'll all go together."
True to her promise, Mandy was ready within half an hour. Cameron
shuddered as he beheld the bewildering variety of colour in her
attire and the still more bewildering arrangement of hat and hair.
"You're good and gay, Mandy," said Perkins. "What's the killing?"
Mandy made no reply save by a disdainful flirt of her skirts as
she set off down the lane, followed by Perkins, Cameron and Tim
bringing up the rear.
The lane was a grassy sward, cut with two wagon-wheel tracks, and
with a picturesque snake fence on either side. Beyond the fences
lay the fields, some of them with stubble raked clean, the next
year's clover showing green above the yellow, some with the grain
standing still in the shock, and some with the crop, the late oats
for instance, still uncut, but ready for the reaper. The turnip
field was splendidly and luxuriantly green with never a sign of the
brown earth. The hay meadow, too, was green and purple with the
second growth of clover.
So down the lane and between the shorn fields, yellow and green,
between the clover fields and the turnips, they walked in silence,
for the spell of the Sabbath evening lay upon the sunny fields,
barred with the shadows from the trees that grew along the fence
lines everywhere. At the "slashing" the wagon ruts faded out and
the road narrowed to a single cow path, winding its way between
stumps and round log piles, half hidden by a luxuriant growth of
foxglove and fireweed and asters, and everywhere the glorious
goldenrod. Then through the bars the path led into the woods, a
noble remnant of the beech and elm and maple forest from which the
farm had been cut some sixty years before. Cool and shadowy they
stood, and shot through with bright shafts of gold from the
westering sun, full of mysterious silence except for the twittering
of the sleepy birds or for the remonstrant call of the sentinel
crow from his watch tower on the dead top of a great elm. Deeper
into the shade the path ran until in the gloom it faded almost out
Soothed by the cool shade, Cameron loitered along the path, pausing
to learn of Tim the names of plants and trees as he went.
"Ain't yeh never comin'?" called Mandy from the gloom far in front.
"What's all the rush?" replied Tim, impatiently, who loved nothing
better than a quiet walk with Cameron through the woods.
"Rush? We'll be late, and I hate walkin' up before the hull crowd.
Come on!" cried his sister in impatient tone.
"All right, Mandy, we're nearly through the woods. I begin to see
the clearing yonder," said Cameron, pointing to where the light was
beginning to show through the tree tops before them.
But they were late enough, and Mandy was glad of the cover of the
opening hymn to allow her to find her way to a group of her girl
friends, the males of the party taking shelter with a neighbouring
group of their own sex near by.
Upon the sloping sides of the grassy hills and under the beech
and maple trees, the vanguard of the retreating woods, sat the
congregation, facing the preacher, who stood on the grassy level
below. Behind them was the solid wall of thick woods, over them
time spreading boughs, and far above the trees the blue summer sky,
all the bluer for the little white clouds that sailed serene like
ships upon a sea. At their feet lay the open country, checkered by
the snake fences into fields of yellow, green, and brown, and
rolling away to meet the woods at the horizon.
The Sabbath rest filled the sweet air, breathed from the shady
woods, rested upon the checkered fields, and lifted with the hymn
to the blue heaven above. A stately cathedral it was, this place
of worship, filled with the incense of flowers and fields, arched
by the high dome of heaven, and lighted by the glory of the setting
Relieved by the walk for a time from the ache in his head, Cameron
surrendered himself to the mysterious influences of the place and
the hour. He let his eyes wander over the fields below him to the
far horizon, and beyond--beyond the woods, beyond the intervening
leagues of land and sea--and was again gazing upon the sunlit
loveliness of the Cuagh Oir. The Glen was abrim with golden light
this summer evening, the purple was on the hills and the little
loch gleamed sapphire at the bottom.
The preacher was reading his text.
"Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to
every man according to his several ability, and straightway took
his journey," and so on to the end of that marvellously wise tale,
wise with the wisdom of God, confirmed by the wisdom of human
The Reverend Harper Freeman's voice could hardly, even by courtesy,
be called musical; in fact, it was harsh and strident; but this
evening the hills, and the trees, and the wide open spaces,
Nature's mighty modulator, subdued the harshness, so that the voice
rolled up to the people clear, full, and sonorous. Nor was the
preacher possessed of great learning nor endued with the gift of
eloquence. He had, however, a shrewd knowledge of his people and
of their ways and of their needs, and he had a kindly heart, and,
more than all, he had the preacher's gift, the divine capacity for
For a time his words fell unheeded upon Cameron's outer ear.
"To every man his own endowments, some great, some small, but, mark
you, no man left quite poverty-stricken. God gives every man his
chance. No man can look God in the face, not one of you here can
say that you have had no chance."
Cameron's vagrant mind, suddenly recalled, responded with a quick
assent. Opportunity? Endowment? Yes, surely. His
back over the years of his education at the Academy and the
University, long lazy years. How little he had made of them!
Others had turned them into the gold of success. He wondered how
old Dunn was getting on, and Linklater, and little Martin. How far
away seemed those days, and yet only some four or five months
separated him from them.
"One was a failure, a dead, flat failure," continued the preacher.
"Not so much a wicked man, no murderer, no drunkard, no gambler,
but a miserable failure. Poor fellow! At the end of life a
wretched bankrupt, losing even his original endowment. How would
you like to come home after ten, twenty, thirty years of experiment
with life and confess to your father that you were dead broke and
Again Cameron's mind came back from its wandering with a start. Go
back to his father a failure! He drew his lip down hard over his
teeth. Not while he lived! And yet, what was there in prospect
for him? His whole soul revolted against the dreary monotony and
the narrowness of his present life, and yet, what other path lay
open? Cameron went straying in fancy over the past, or in
excursions into the future, while, parallel with his rambling, the
sermon continued to make its way through its various heads and
"Why?" The voice of the preacher rose clear, dominant, arresting.
"Why did he fail so abjectly, so meanly, so despicably? For there
is no excuse for a failure. Listen! No man NEED fail. A
is a failure is a mean, selfish, lazy chump." Mr. Freeman was
colloquial, if anything. "Some men pity him. I don't. I
use for him, and he is the one thing in all the world that God
himself has no use for."
Again Cameron's mind was jerked back as a runaway horse by a rein.
So far his life had been a failure. Was there then no excuse for
failure? What of his upbringing, his education, his environment?
He had been indulging the habit during these last weeks of shifting
responsibility from himself for what he had become.
"What was the cause of this young man's failure?" reiterated the
preacher. The preacher had a wholesome belief in the value of
reiteration. He had a habit of rubbing in his points. "He
the boss. Listen to his impudence! 'I knew thee to be a hard
man.' He blamed his own temperament and disposition. 'I was
afraid.' But the boss brings him up sharp and short. 'Quit
lying!' he said. 'I'll tell you what's wrong with you. You've
a mean heart, you ain't honest, and you're too lazy to live. Here,
take that money from him and give it to the man that can do most
with it, and take this useless loafer out of my sight.' And served
him right, too, say I, impudent, lazy liar."
Cameron found his mind rising in wrathful defense of the unhappy
wretched failure in the story. But the preacher was utterly
relentless and proceeded to enlarge upon the character of the
"Impudent! The way to tell an impudent man is to let him talk.
Now listen to this man cheek the boss! 'I knew you,' he said.
'You skin everybody in sight.' I have always noticed," remarked
the preacher, with a twinkle in his eye, "that the hired man who
can't keep up his end is the kind that cheeks the boss. And so it
is with life. Why, some men would cheek Almighty God. They
right round and face the other way when God is explaining things to
them, when He is persuading them, when He is trying to help them.
Then they glance back over their shoulders and say, 'Aw, gwan! I
know better than you.' Think of the impudence of them! That's
what many a man does with God. With GOD, mind you! GOD!
Father in heaven, your Brother, your Saviour, God as you know him
in the Man of Galilee, the Man you always see with the sick and the
outcast and the broken-hearted. It is this God that owns you and
all you've got--be honest and say so. You must begin by getting
right with God."
"God!" Once more Cameron went wandering back into the far away
days of childhood. God was very near then, and very friendly.
well he remembered when his mother had tucked him in at night and
had kissed him and had put out the light. He never felt alone and
afraid, for she left him, so she said, with God. It was God who
took his mother's place, near to his bedside. In those days God
seemed very near and very kind. He remembered his mother's look
one day when he declared to her that he could hear God breathing
just beside him in the dark. How remote God seemed to-day and how
shadowy, and, yes, he had to confess it, unfriendly. He heard no more of the sermon. With a curious ache in his heart he allowed
his mind to dwell amid those happy, happy memories when his mother
and God were the nearest and dearest to him of all he knew. It may
have been the ache in his head or the oppressive languor that
seemed to possess his body, but throughout the prayer that followed
the sermon he was conscious chiefly of a great longing for his
mother's touch upon his head, and with that a longing for his
boyhood's sense of the friendly God in his heart.
And so as the preacher led them up to God in prayer, Cameron bowed
his head with the others, thankful that he could still believe
that, though clouds and darkness might be about Him, God was not
beyond the reach of the soul's cry nor quite unmoved by human need.
And for the first time for years he sent forth as a little child
his cry of need, "God help me! God help me!"