the Ninth Concession
Chapter XXIV - Nathan is elected Chairman
A PUBLIC MEETING of the ratepayers
will be held in the schoolhouse on Tuesday evening, the 10th instant,
convening at 8 o’clock, for the purpose of discussing the political
questions of the day.
God save the Queen.
POSTERS bearing the above legend
were to be seen about the first of July, adorning the walls of the tavern,
the post-office, the toll-gate, and the red door of Dooley’s blacksmith
shop. Several were pasted on boards, and the latter nailed to trees along
the town-line, and where the roads forked at the turns to Tuffy’s Corners
and Hornersville. A general election had been called, and the politicians
were going about discussing the questions of the day, buttonholing the
settlers, and making a vigorous canvass of the neighbourhood. The names of
Baldwin and La Fontaine were heard on every hand, together with that of
John A. Macdonald (then a rising young politician), Francis Hincks, and M.
C. Cameron, who delighted in the cognomen of the "bare-footed boy," which
had been given him by an opponent as a name of opprobrium.
The burning issues before the people
were the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, the Double Shuffle, and
Representation by Population, or Rep. by Pop., as it was called for short.
In the summer months, when a meeting
was on, the settlers usually assembled an hour or so before the time
announced for the meeting to begin; and as they sat about on the top rails
of the fence adjoining the schoolhouse, awaiting the arrival of the
speakers, and discussing in their own way the public questions, it was
most interesting to listen to their remarks.
Muckle Peter, who was a supporter of
Baldwin and La Fontaine, opined that these politicians would certainly
carry the day, because "he hed been tell’t, but couldna vouch fer ‘t, thet
Baldwin hed came frae th’ same country es himsel’, an’ hoo could he help
Dooley, who was a Tory and a
worshipper at the shrine of John A. Macdonald, curled up his lip
contemptuously at Muckle Peter’s remark and said : —"Be japers, I’d back
Jawn A. agin th’ hull crowd o’ yer Baldwins. I niver knowed a Baldwin thet
wuz worth salt till his porridge, an’ I heered es how this man yer a-talkin’
aboot is no better thin he ought t’ be. In fact, it is rayported thet he
wants t’ divide th’ hull Clurgy Resarves among himself an’ his fam’ly."
This sally of Dooley’s created a
laugh, which Muckle Peter checked by remarking, with a sinister grin, that
"howsumever th’ Resarves would be deevided, one thing wuz sure, th’ church
o’ th’ dark ages tae whuch Dooley belonged wad no’ receive an acre."
Thus the time was occupied until the
first buggy arrived, with one of the candidates and his friends. The
candidate was of course very affable, and went about among the settlers,
calling them by name and speaking to them as familiarly as if he knew each
one intimately. Ere many minutes had elapsed, one after another of the
settlers who were known to "hae a likin’ fer his bitters," was invited by
a knowing wink from the candidate or his companion to make an excursion
towards the buggy, in which was found a large jar of whiskey. By the time
the other candidate had arrived and his supporters had also been invited
to visit his buggy a few times, a number of the intelligent electors were
Shortly after this a spontaneous
movement was made towards the schoolhouse. Nathan, who was very officious
on such occasions, usually snuffed and lighted the tallow candles that
burned in the sockets of the "sconces" hanging on the walls. Then, after
all was ready, there was an embarrassing pause, for some one had to move
the appointment of a chairman. As has been previously stated, there was no
one who loved the office as dearly as Nathan Larkins, and he took up a
prominent seat at the front near the master’s desk, in order that he might
be the more likely to be selected.
Jock, the drover, who had visited
the buggy of the John A. candidate pretty frequently, was in great good
humour, and he determined to have a "rise" out of old Nathan, so he stood
up and said : —
"I move thet our old an’
distinguished neighbour, Nathan Larkins, be summoned t’ th’ high offis uv
chairman, a position uv lofty dignity, callin’ es it does fer th’ exercise
uv a very high order uv judicial prescience. Before Mr. Larkins is
elected, howsumever, I would, on behalf uv myself an’ my fellow-settlers,
call upon him fer a full, frank, an’ untrammelled statement uv his policy
in conductin’ th’ meetin’, should his fellow-countrymen see it t’ be their
dooty t’ ‘lect him."
There is always a man in every
community who follows the practice of seconding motions. The function does
not call for the exercise of any powers of oratory, nor is it calculated
to exhaust the brain. It very often, however, results in the man’s name
appearing in print, and he receives some little prominence at a very
slight cost. The individual in the Scotch Settlement who always seconded
motions was Paul Drew, —a well-meaning, "religious" personage whom Muckle
Peter delighted to tease occasionally by asking him if he had ever yet
received an "aunswer tae thet lang epusle thet aince he wrote tae th’
"Second the motion," muttered Paul
Drew, shuffling halfway to his feet.
While always impressed with a sense
of his own importance, Nathan was overwhelmed at discovering the lofty
opinion that was, as he fancied from Jock’s splendid tribute, entertained
by the settlers with regard to himself. He said: —
"Fellow-citizens of this settlement
and gentlemen from Hornersville, Tuffy’s Corners, and the Snow Road, for I
see you all here, I promise you that if you see fit to repose such high
confidence in one of yourselves, who realises his utter unworthiness
(cough) and inability to discharge the functions appertaining to the
office, I shall, God helping me, do the best in my power to hold the
scales equal between the combatants and to administer even-handed justice
This speech settled it, and Nathan
was duly elected to the chair.
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