"Another basket of eggs,
Mr. Cameron, and such delicious cream! I
am deeply grieved to see you so nearly well."
"For you will be leaving us of course."
"Thanks, that is kind of you."
"And there will be an end to eggs and cream. Ah! You are a
man." And the trim, neat, bright-faced nurse shook her finger at
"So I have often remarked to myself these six weeks."
"A friend is a great discovery and by these same tokens you have
"Truly, they have been more than kind."
"This makes the twelfth visit in six weeks," said the nurse. "In
busy harvest and threshing time, too. Do you know what that
"To a certain extent. It is awfully good of them."
"But she is shy, shy--and I think she is afraid of YOU. Her chief
interest appears to be in the kitchen, which she has never failed
The blood slowly rose in Cameron's face, from which the summer tan
had all been bleached by his six weeks' fight with fever, but he
made no reply to the brisk, sharp-eyed, sharp-minded little nurse.
"And I know she is dying to see you, and, indeed," she chuckled,
"it might do you good. She is truly wonderful." And again the
nurse laughed. "Don't you think you could bear a visit?" The
smile broadened upon her face.
But unaware she had touched a sensitive spot in her patient, his
"I shall be more than pleased to have an opportunity to thank Miss
Haley for her great kindness," he replied with dignity.
"All right," replied the nurse. "I shall bring her in. Now
excite yourself. That fever is not so far away. And only a few
minutes. When we farmers go calling--I am a farmer, remember, and
know them well--when we go calling we take our knitting and spend
In a few moments she returned with Mandy. The difference between
the stout, red-faced, coarse-featured, obtrusively healthy country
girl, heavy of foot and hand, slow of speech and awkward of manner,
and the neat, quick, deft-fingered, bright-faced nurse was so
marked that Cameron could hardly control the wave of pity that
swept through his heart, for he could see that even Mandy herself
was vividly aware of the contrast. In vain Cameron tried to put
her at her ease. She simply sat and stared, now at the walls, now
at the floor, refusing for a time to utter more than monosyllables,
punctuated with giggles.
"I want to thank you for the eggs and cream. They are fine," said
"Oh, pshaw, that's nothin'! Lots more where they come from,"
replied Mandy with a giggle.
"But it's a long way for you to drive; and in the busy time too."
"Oh, we had to come in anyway for things," replied Mandy, making
light of her service.
"You are all well?"
"Oh, pretty middlin'. Ma ain't right smart. She's too much to
and that's the truth."
"And the boys?" Cameron hesitated to be more specific.
"Oh, there's nothin' eatin' them. I don't bother with them much."
Mandy was desperately twisting her white cotton gloves.
At this point the nurse, with a final warning to the patient not
to talk too much and not to excite himself, left the room. In a
moment Mandy's whole manner changed.
"Say!" she cried in a hurried voice; "Perkins is left."
"I couldn't jist stand him after--after--that night. Dad wanted
him to stay, but I couldn't jist stand him, and so he quit."
"I jist hate him since--since--that night. When I think of what he
done I could kill him. My, I was glad to see him lyin' there in
the dust!" Mandy's words came hot and fast. "They might 'a
you." For the first time in the interview she looked fairly into
Cameron's eyes. "My, you do look awful!" she said, with difficulty
commanding her voice.
"Nonsense, Mandy! You see, it wasn't my leg that hurt me. It
the fever that pulled me down."
"Oh, I'll never forget that night!" cried Mandy, struggling to keep
her lips from quivering.
"Nor will I ever forget what you did for me that night, Mandy. Sam
told me all about it. I shall always be your friend."
For a moment longer she held him with her eyes. Then her face grew
suddenly pale and, with voice and hands trembling, she said:
"I must go. Good-by."
He took her great red hand in his long thin fingers.
"Good-by, Mandy, and thank you."
"My!" she said, looking down at the fingers she held in her hand.
"Your hands is awful thin. Are you sure goin' to git better?"
"Of course I am, and I am coming out to see you before I go."
She sat down quickly, still holding his hand, as if he had struck
her a heavy blow.
"Before you go? Where?" Her voice was hardly above a whisper;
face was white, her lips beyond her control.
"Out West to seek my fortune." His voice was jaunty and he feigned
not to see her distress. "I shall be walking in a couple of weeks
or so, eh, nurse?"
"A couple of weeks?" replied the nurse, who had just entered.
"Yes, if you are good."
Mandy hastily rose.
"But if you are not," continued the nurse severely, "it may be
months. Stay, Miss Haley, I am going to bring Mr. Cameron his
afternoon tea and you can have some with him. Indeed, you look
quite done up. I am sure all that work you have been telling me
about is too much for you."
Her kindly tones broke the last shred of Mandy's self-control. She
sank into her chair, covered her face with her great red hands and
burst into tempestuous weeping. Cameron sat up quickly.
"What in the name of goodness is wrong, Mandy?"
"Lie down at once, Mr. Cameron!" said the nurse sternly. "Hush,
hush, Miss Haley! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Don't
know that you are hurting him?"
She could have chosen no better word. In an instant Mandy was on
her feet, mopping off her face and choking down her sobs.
"Ain't I a fool?" she cried angrily. "A blamed fool. Well, I
won't bother you any longer. Guess I'll go now. Good-by all."
Without another look at Cameron she was gone.
Cameron lay back upon his pillows, white and nerveless.
"Now can you tell me," he panted, "what's up?"
"Search me!" said the nurse gaily, "but I forbid you to speak a
single word for half an hour. Here, drink this right off! Now,
not a word! What will Dr. Martin say? Not a word! Yes, I
see her safely off the place. Quiet now!" She kept up a
continuous stream of sprightly chatter to cover her own anxiety and
to turn the current of her patient's thoughts. By the time she had
reached the entrance hall, however, Mandy had vanished.
"Great silly goose!" said the indignant nurse. "I'd see myself far
enough before I'd give myself away like that. Little fool!
have a temperature sure and I will catch it. Bah! These girls!
Next time she sees him it will not be here. I hope the doctor will
just give me an hour to get him quiet again."
But in this hope she was disappointed, for upon her return to her
patient she found Dr. Martin in the room. His face was grave.
"What's up, nurse? What is the meaning of this rotten pulse?
has he been having to eat?"
"Well, Dr. Martin, I may as well confess my sins," replied the
nurse, "for there is no use trying to deceive you anyway. Mr.
Cameron has had a visitor and she has excited him."
"Ah!" said the doctor in a relieved tone. "A visitor! A lady
visitor! A charming, sympathetic, interested, and interesting visitor."
"Exactly!" said the nurse with a giggle.
"It was Miss Haley, Martin," said Cameron gravely.
The doctor looked puzzled.
"The daughter of the farmer with whom I was working," explained
"Ah, I remember her," said the doctor. "And a deuce of a time I
had with her, too, getting you away from her, if I remember aright.
I trust there is nothing seriously wrong in that quarter?" said
Martin with unusual gravity.
"Oh, quit it, Martin!" said Cameron impatiently. "Don't rag.
She's an awful decent sort. Her looks are not the best of her."
"Ah! I am relieved to hear that," said the doctor earnestly.
"She is very kind, indeed," said the nurse. "For these six weeks
she has fed us up with eggs and cream so that both my patient and
myself have fared sumptuously every day. Indeed, if it should
continue much longer I shall have to ask an additional allowance
for a new uniform. I have promised that Mr. Cameron shall visit
the farm within two weeks if he behaves well."
"Exactly!" replied the doctor. "In two weeks if he is good.
only question that troubles me is--is it quite safe? You see in
his present weak condition his susceptibility is decidedly
emphasised, his resisting power is low, and who knows what might
happen, especially if she should insist? I shall not soon forget
the look in her eye when she dared me to lay a finger upon his
"Oh, cut it out, Martin!" said Cameron. "You make me weary."
lay back on his pillow and closed his eyes.
The nurse threw a signal to the doctor.
"All right, old man, we must stop this chaff. Buck up and in two
weeks we will let you go where you like. I have something in mind
for you, but we won't speak of it to-day."
The harvest was safely stored. The yellow stubble showed the fields
at rest, but the vivid green of the new fall wheat proclaimed the
astounding and familiar fact that once more Nature had begun her
ancient perennial miracle. For in those fields of vivid green the
harvest of the coming year was already on the way. On these green
fields the snowy mantle would lie soft and protecting all the long
winter through and when the spring suns would shine again the fall
wheat would be a month or more on the way towards maturity.
Somehow the country looked more rested, fresher, cleaner to Cameron
than when he had last looked upon it in late August. The rain had
washed the dust from the earth's face and from the green sward that
bordered the grey ribbon of the high road that led out from the
city. The pastures and the hay meadows and the turnip fields were
all in their freshest green, and beyond the fields the forest stood
glorious in all its autumn splendour, the ash trees bright yellow,
the oaks rich brown, and the maples all the colours of the rainbow.
In the orchard--ah, the wonder and the joy of it! even the bare and
bony limbs of the apple trees only helped to reveal the sumptuous
wealth of their luscious fruit. For it was apple time in the land!
The evanescent harvest apples were long since gone, the snows were
past their best, the pippins were mellowing under the sharp
persuasion of the nippy, frosty nights and the brave gallantry of
the sunny days. In this ancient warfare between the frosty nights
and the gallant sunny days the apples ripened rapidly; and well
that they should, for the warfare could not be for long. Already
in the early morning hours the vanguard of winter's fierce hosts
was to be seen flaunting its hoary banners even in the very face of
the gallant sun so bravely making stand against it. But it was the
time of the year in which men felt it good to be alive, for there
was in the air that tang that gives speed to the blood, spring to
the muscle, edge to the appetite, courage to the soul, and zest to
life--the apple time of the year.
It was in apple time that Cameron came back to the farm. Under
compulsion of Mandy, Haley had found it necessary to drive into the
city for some things for the "women folk" and, being in the city,
he had called for Cameron and had brought him out. Under
compulsion, not at all because Haley was indifferent to the
prospect of a visit from his former hired man, not alone because
the fall plowing was pressing and the threshing gang was in the
neighbourhood, but chiefly because, through the channel of Dr.
Martin, the little nurse, and Mandy, it had come to be known in the
Haley household and in the country side that the hired man was a
"great swell in the old country," and Haley's sturdy independence
shrank from anything that savoured of "suckin' round a swell," as
he graphically put it. But Mandy scouted this idea and waited for
the coming of the expected guest with no embarrassment from the
knowledge that he had been in the old country "a great swell."
Hence when, through a crack beside the window blind, she saw him, a
poor, pale shadow, descending wearily and painfully from the buggy,
the great mother heart in the girl welled with pity. She could
hardly forbear rushing out to carry him bodily in her strong arms
to the spare room and lay him where she had once helped to lay him
the night of the tragedy some eight weeks before. But in this
matter she had learned her lesson. She remembered the little nurse
and her indignant scorn of the lack of self-control she had shown
on the occasion of her last visit to the hospital. So, instead of
rushing forth, she clutched the curtains and forced herself to
stand still, whispering to herself the while, "Oh, he will die
sure! He will die sure!" But when she looked upon him seated
comfortably in the kitchen with a steaming glass of ginger and
whiskey, her mother's unfailing remedy for "anything wrong with the
insides," she knew he would not die and her joy overflowed in boisterous welcome.
For five days they all, from Haley to Tim, gave him of their very
best, seeking to hold him among them for the winter, for they had
learned that his mind was set upon the West, till Cameron was
ashamed, knowing that he must go.
The last afternoon they all spent in the orchard. The Gravensteins,
in which species of apple Haley was a specialist, were being picked,
and picked with the greatest care, Cameron plucking them from the
limbs and dropping them into a basket held by Mandy below. It was
one of those sunny days when, after weeks of chilly absence, summer
comes again and makes the world glow with warmth and kindly life and
quickens in the heart the blood's flow. Cameron was full of talk
and fuller of laughter than his wont; indeed he was vexed to find
himself struggling to maintain unbroken the flow of laughter and of
talk. But in Mandy there was neither speech nor laughter, only a
quiet dignity that disturbed and rebuked him.
The last tree of Gravensteins was picked and then there came the
time of parting. Cameron, with a man's selfish desire for some
token of a woman's adoration, even although he well knew that he
could make no return, lingered in the farewell, hoping for some
sign in the plain quiet face and the wonderful eyes with their new
mystery that when he had gone he would not be forgotten; but though
the lips quivered pitifully and the heavy face grew drawn and old
and the eyes glowed with a deeper fire, the words, when they came,
came quietly and the eyes looked steadily upon him, except that for
one brief moment a fire leaped in them and quickly died down. But
when the buggy, with Tim driving, had passed down the lane, behind
the curtain of the spare room the girl stood looking through the
crack beside the blind, with both hands pressed upon her bosom, her
breath coming in sobs, her blue lips murmuring brokenly, "Good-by,
good-by! Oh, why did you come at all? But, oh, I'm glad you
God help me, I'm glad you came!" Then, when the buggy had turned
down the side lane and out of sight, she knelt beside the bed and
kissed, again and again, with tender, reverent kisses, the pillow
where his head had lain.