COLIN found an old friend waiting for him at
Mrs. McNabb’s. It was no less a personage than Goarden Weaver, the hired
man. Goarden had just returned from "the drive" (the floating of logs
down the streams to the sawmills). He had spent the entire winter in the
shanty, working with a large gang on the Opeango, a small tributary of
the Grand or Ottawa River. On the break-up in the spring, Goarden
followed "the drive" down to Quebec, where, true to the practice of the
average "shanty lad" (to say nothing of his own instincts), he had gone
on a spree, and wound up without a penny of his hard-earned wages left.
He was, in fact, obliged to borrow from a chum who was less prodigal
than he in his carousings, in order to pay his passage home. He had
heard of Colin’s good fortune, and determined to apply for a job.
"Yeh see, it’s jist like this," said Goarden,
hitching up his braceless trousers, which always had a tendency to hang
down and "bag." "I’ve about decided t’ cut th’ hull bizness an’
make a noo deal. Th’ cards hasn’t come my way uv late, an’ I’m so down
on my luck thet I want a noo deck altogether. Th’ shanty’s all right,
an’ th’ boys is all right, but th’ cards is unlucky, an’ ef I don’t make
a change, I’m li’ble t’ go t’ th’ divil altogether. When a man gits it
into his head thet he’s down on his luck an’ thet th’ cards is stacked
agin him, he may jist as well quit. He’s like a house as is haunted.
Nobody ‘11 live in it. Jist so if a man’s luck’s gone bad, he’s got no
confidence. Th’ ony thing fer t’ do is t’ get out, t' jump th’ job, t’
cut an’ run, t’ hunt noo diggin’s. I thort uv goin’ t’ Californy an’
diggin’ gold, but I don’t know nobody thar, an’ I’d get lonesome-like,
an’ p’r’aps blow my brains out. I thort uv Africky, but th’ blacks is
sitch uncanny critters thet I quit the idee. Yisterday one uv my fren’s
‘What about th’ noo dook, —
young Colin? ye needn’t go no furder ‘n him. His nibs ‘II give ye a job
t’ look arter his hosses an’ dawgs in Englan’.’ I knowed as how I hadn’t
much experience wit dawgs, fer I ony owned but one, Coaley, in my life,
an’ Jock, th’ drover, said thet as he wuz curly he must be a spaniel.
But I knowed better. He wuz a coaley because "Coaley" wuz his name when
I got him frum Mrs. Bedor, th’ Frenchwoman up th’ Snow Road. But I
think, Colin, thet I could lick dawgs with any uv yer bloomin’
Englishmen, fer my fren’ tells me thet th’ job is whipper-in uv th’
"I think you could make a better success with the
horses, Goarden," said Colin, after a pause. "There is quite a lot of
them, and I believe that if you are sincere in your desire to reform, I
could arrange to get you into the stables."
"That’s zactly my lay!" said the delighted Goarden.
"I’ll show them infernal furriners in Europe thet I kin give ‘em cards
an’ spades in han’lin’ hosses, an’ beat ‘em. Why, Colin," he continued,
rising and walking about enthusiastically, while his blazing red necktie
flowed down over his shirt bosom, "I driv Bill Pepper’s bay team half
last winter, an’ ye know how skittish th’ off mare is, although a better
nag flyer looked through a boss collar! One day some sneaky scut stuck
some big burrs roun’ th’ mare’s legs an’ tail unbeknown t’ me, an’ I hed
th’ divil’s own time with her. She kicked an’ kicked, till she smashed
th’ whippletree an’ broke th’ harness, an’ snapped th’ ribbons, an’
nearly killed th’ chore boy. Oh, if I ony knowed who done it," said
Goarden, with fire flashing from his eyes, "I’d break him in two an’ lam
both pieces together quicker’n chain lightnin'd chase a squ’r’l roun" a
crooked~grained hemlock with tb’ bark off!"
"Oh, hold on!" said Colin. "You wouldn’t do all
"That I would, an’ more too," said the blood-thirsty
"Well, then, Goarden," said Colin, "we shall consider
that you are engaged to look after the horses at Beaumont."
"Mairsee, marisee, bien buckoo," said Goarden,
seizing Colin’s hand.
"See here," said Colin, "none of that, Goarden! Don’t
work off any of your French jargon on me, or the engagement is cancelled
at once. You can see how it will take on the natives in Europe, but I
should think, after your experience that day when the road work was
being done, and you tried to work off your ‘tourley, lourley, lipsey
ring,’ that you would have retired from the French business in this
Goarden was quite crestfallen. However, after
thanking Colin in English, he went off in fairly good humour, which
rapidly increased as congratulations were showered upon him by his
That same evening several old friends dropped in to
see Colin. Among the number were Muckle Peter, Jock the drover, and old
The object which Nathan had in view was to confer his
blessing upon Colin in "the noo spear," as Nathan put it, to which the
young man had been called, and incidentally to request Colin to send him
out from the old country one of those latest Bible Concordances about
which he had read, in one of the religious monthlies. Nathan "allowed as
it was mighty handy" for a man like himself, who was frequently called
upon to officiate at religious and other ceremonies, "to hey one o’ them
air Concordances by him so that he might cover the ground thorally both
in prayer and exhortation."
Colin promised to send him the volume; although,
after Nathan departed that evening, Jock, the drover, did his best to
persuade Colin to substitute "Jack Sheppard’s Murders" or some other
exciting volume for the Concordance.
"It’s all very well fer you, Colin," Jock said,
"because you’re goin’ to be three er four thousand miles away; but think
uv us poor divils who hey hed t’ listen t’ Nathan’s long prayers an’
exertations fer fifty odd years! When Nathan gits a Concordance,
there’ll be no endoorin’ uv him. Why, Colin, he’ll ring in the
Concordance Ofl everythin’ in th’ good book frum th’ Garden uv Eden down
to John’s Revelation! No, Colin, it’ll niver do; either you’ll hey to go
back on your promise or we’ll hey t’ kill off Nathan."
But Nathan received his Concordance all the same, and
he still survives in the settlement, although Jock, the drover, declares
that if the old man is not " removed" (that is
the diplomatic expression he employs), an awful lot of souls will be
lost, as the length of his prayers and exhortations has been productive
of widespread profanity.
Nathan would have liked exceedingly to "put up a
prayer" on behalf of Colin that evening, before he left, but Jock,
suspecting his design, would commence the relation of some exciting and
racy yarn whenever the old man veered round in that direction. So they
tired him out, and he finally took his leave, content with laying his
hands upon Colin’s head and repeating several passages of Scripture,
more or less appropriate.
After he was gone, Colin had a chat with Muckle
Peter, while Jock talked to the widow and joked with Katie about her
approaching marriage. Poor modest Katie, she blushed like a rose when
any one referred to the matter!
"What am I going to do, Peter," said Colin, "when I
can’t hear you sing the Psalms any more?"
"Thet Ah canna tell," answered Muckle Peter;
"although Ah suppose they’ll be havin’ braw singers in th’ auld lan’."
"None, I think, so powerful as yourself, Peter,"
"Weel, weel, ye’ll no’ be sayin’ sae?" said the
precentor, greatly pleased at Colin’s ambiguous compliment.
"I do say it, indeed, Peter. While I was in the old
land, I frankly confess I heard no such’ voice as yours."
Again Peter was so pleased that he said: "Why, but
you’d be gettin’ a church f’r me in th’ auld countree, Coalin, lad! Ah’m
no’ sae attached to th’ ain here thet Ah wouldna
pull up stakes an’ gang back tae th’ lan’ frae whuch Ah cam’ whan Ah wis
but a chiel. Ah’ll no’ say but what Ah would
accept a temptin’ offer, even if Ah hed tae leave ma chairge here; an’
forby, Coalin, lad, Ah’m no’ sae shure thet they a’ appreciate me here,
an’ it wad dae them muckle guid tae be left wi’oot onybody tae raise
their tunes. Yoan pasty-faced clown wha keeps th’ toll-gate hes a notion
‘at he can carry on th’ Psalmody, but Ah’ll wager ma new buckskin
moggasins agin his meersham pipe ‘at he canna sing th’ first fower bars
o’ Auld Hunner, an’ Ah’ll raise th’ tune f’r hum an’ gie hum a guid
"Well, well," said Colin, not wishing to have Muckle
Peter continue in a controversial mood, "I’ll keep my eye about me, and
if I see a good musical opening in one of the great churches, that I am
confident you can fill with credit to yourself and with satisfaction to
the congregation, I’ll be sure to send you word."
Although Colin never sent for Muckle Peter, he
frequently wrote him the kindest of letters, sending him music books and
asking his opinion upon musical questions. The letters, the questions,
and the music books pleased Muckle Peter mightily, and he used to
exhibit them among his neighbours, and sound Colin’s praises, while to
those who did not know Colin personally Muckle Peter referred to him as
"a frien’ o’ mine wha’s awa’ up in th’ gentry o’ Englan’."