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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter XXVII - The Young Hero’s Mother

DURING the months that were quickly passing, and bringing Colin so rapidly to that period when he must plunge into the world’s vortex, and seek what Dame Fortune had in store for him, Willie, in the great city of New York, had been patiently struggling, against hardship, adversity, and discouragement, to make a success of his humble position. He never neglected to write to his mother, and his bulky letters, breathing forth a courageous, hopeful spirit, and full of the little incidents he knew would please her, were happily read over and over again by her. Many times I have been a silent witness of the triumphant joy depicted on Mrs. McNabb’s face as she concluded one of Willie’s letters. Often the tears came to her eyes as she silently meditated on her son’s struggle with the world, but so long as she realised that he was true to the compass needle of honour and truth, she was happy.

Through the long winter evenings she would sit knitting socks for her boys, and if she did put ribs in the ones which she sent to Willie in a parcel at Christmas, who shall accuse her of partiality? Perhaps she fancied it was much colder in New York than it was in the Scotch Settlement; anyhow, was not Willie with the great folks of that great city, and should he not wear ribbed socks? No doubt the gentlemen there all wore ribbed socks.

Willie had made substantial progress. The man who was over him soon discovered that he could place absolute dependence on him, and that he was faithful, active, and ambitious. These qualities soon procured promotion for the young man, and by the arrival of the second Christmas after his departure from home, Willie was able to announce that he was receiving seventy-five pounds a year, and in the letter containing the announcement, he enclosed ten pounds for his mother. He also sent a box containing some appropriate present for each of his sisters and brothers. He frequently wrote to each one of them, and appeared to take special pleasure in writing to Colin, concerning whose future he was interesting himself. It was his intention to try to secure a situation for him in New York. This he no doubt would have done but for the trend of national events in the Great Republic.

The question of slavery and the emancipation of the slaves was then the all-important, all-consuming issue before the people, and events were rapidly drifting to that awful culmination, — the civil war between the North and South.

It was of course natural that Willie’s feelings should be enlisted on the side of the North. He sent his mother "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." The newspapers which he also sent to his home kept us fairly well informed of the critical situation, and we all learned to admire the great central figure in modern American history — Abraham Lincoln.

It was about this time we (I include myself in the widow’s household because I was so much interested that I knew all that was going on) received the newspaper from Willie containing the "Hero in New York" article, which the reader may imagine occasioned no little interest and excitement in the family circle.

When the account had been read to the widow, who suspected throughout the entire article that it was her son who was the hero, her heart went out in deep gratitude that he had been able to accomplish such an heroic act. Indeed, when the facts became known throughout the settlement, Willie’s fame was at a high pitch.

"It’ll no’ be onything less than Preesident o’ th’ United States they’ll be makin’ o’ hum," said Auld Peggy, the next time she drank a cup of tea at the widow’s. "I can see by yer cup, Mustress McNabb," she added, "thet Wullie is gaun tae be a great maun, an’ ye ought aye tae be prood o’ hum."

The widow did not need the exhortation of Auld Peggy to be proud of her son.

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