There was a pail of swamp water in the middle of the room, at the bottom of which lay some little black things. As this water became warm, these little fellows began to rise and become frolicksome. Like minute porpoises or dolphins, they joined in the mazy dance, and rose higher and higher. All night long, by the light of the kerosene lamp, they indulged in silent but unceasing hilarity. The snores of the sleepers, the watchful dream-yaps of Muggins, did not affect them. They were bound to have a good time, and they were having it. Morning came, and the sun stole in through the window. Then, the wiggler grew tired, and came, like many tired beings, to the top. For a time he was quiescent, but soon the sun's rays gave force to the inner impulse which "rent the veil of his old husk," and transformed it into a canoe or raft, containing a draggle-tailed-looking creature with a big head and six staggery legs. Poising itself upon the raft, the outcome of the wiggler sunned its crumplety wings, till "like gauze they grew," and then all of it, a whole pailful of it, made for the sleepers, to help its more mature relations, which had come in through the open window to the light, to practice amateur phlebotomy upon them. The pedestrians awoke to feel uncomfortable, and rub and scratch their faces, heads, necks, and hands. "It's clean devoured I am, Wilks," cried Coristine. "The plagues of Egypt have visited us," replied the dominie. So, they arose and dressed themselves, and descended to the noisome bar-room. There they found Timotheus, awake and busy, while, at their heels, frisking about and looking for recognition, was their night guard Muggins. Timotheus informed them that he had already been out probing the well with a pike pole, and had brought up the long defunct bodies of a cat and a hen, with an old shoe and part of a cabbage, to say nothing of other things as savoury. They decided to take no more meals cooked with such water in that house, paid their bill to Timotheus, buckled on their knapsacks, and, with staff in hand, sallied forth into the pure outside air of the morning. Coristine ran over to the store in which the post office was kept, and posted his two letters. There was no sign of Matt, the landlord, of Mr. Rawdon, or of their assailants of the night before. Muggins, however, followed them, and no entreaties, threats, or stones availed to drive the faithful creature back to his master and the hotel where he slept.
The pedestrians passed the black, sluggish creek, out of which the wigglers had come, and struck into a country, flat but more interesting than that they had left behind them. After they had gone a couple of miles they came to a clear running stream, in which they had a splendid wash, that tended to allay the irritation of the mosquito bites. Then they brought forth the remains of their biscuits and cheese, and partook of a clean meal, which Coristine called a good foundation for a smoke, Muggins sitting upon his hind legs and catching fragments of captain's biscuits and whole gingersnaps in his mouth, as if he had never done anything else. It was very pleasant to sit by the brook on that bright July morning, after the horrors of the Peskiwanchow tavern, to have clean food and abundance of pure water. As the dominie revelled in it, he expressed the opinion that Pindar was right when he said "ariston men hudor," which, said the lawyer, means that water is the best of all the elements, but how would Mr. Pindar have got along without earth to walk on, air to breathe, and fire to cook his dinner?
"I'm no philosopher, Wilks, like you, but it seems to me that perfection is found in no one thing. If it was, the interdependence of the universe would be destroyed; harmony would be gone, and love, which is just the highest harmony, be lost. That's just why I couldn't be a unitarian of any kind. As Tennyson says, 'one good custom would corrupt the world.'"
"Pardon me, Corry, he does not say that, but makes Arthur say:—
God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."
"Better and better! but that's what the churches don't see, nor the politicians, nor the socialists, nor the prohibitionists, nor the scientists, nor anybody else hardly, it seems to me. When a man's got two eyes to see with, why should he shut one and keep out half the view? This 'ariston men hudor' idea—I'm not arguing against temperance, for it's temperate enough we are both—but this one thing is best notion would bring the beautiful harmonious world into dull, dead uniformity. There's a friend of mine that studies his Bible without any reference to the old systems of theology, and finds these old systems have made some big mistakes in interpreting its sayings, when a newspaper blockhead comes along and says if he won't conform let him go out of the church. There's a one-eyed man for you, an ecclesiastical Polyphemus! Our politicians are just the same, without a broad, liberal idea to clothe their naked, thieving policies with. And the scientists! some of them stargazing, like Thales, so that they fall into the ditch of disrepute by failing to observe what's nearer home, and others, like Bunyan's man in Interpreter's house, so busy with the muckrake that they are ignorant of the crown held over their heads. Now, you and I are liberal and broad, we can love nature and love God too, we can admire poetry and put our hands to any kind of honest work; you can teach boys with your wonderful patience, and, with your pluck, knock a door in, and stand up, like a man, to fight for your friend. But, Wilks, my boy, I'm afraid it's narrow we are, too, about the women."
"Come, come, Corry, that subject, you know—"
"All right, not another word," interposed the lawyer, laughing and springing to his feet; "let us jog along
A village schoolmaster was he, With hair of glittering grey; As blithe a man as you could see On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass, And by the streaming rills, We travelled merrily, to pass A day among the hills."
"When did you take to Wordsworth, Corry?"
"Oh, many a time, but I refreshed my memory with that yesterday, when I came across the tear in the old man's eye."
"It is most appropriate, for there, on the right, are actual hills."
As the travellers approached the rising ground, which the dominie had perceived, the lawyer remarked that the hillocks had an artificial look.
"And they are undoubtedly artificial," replied Wilkinson.
"This is the township of Nottawasaga, once inhabited by the Tobacco tribe of the Hurons, who had many villages, and grew tobacco and corn, besides making beads, pipes, and other articles, for sale or barter. They made their pipes out of the Trenton sandstone. A great many village sites and ossuaries have been found in the township, the latter containing thousands of skeletons. They have all been opened up by the settlers for the sake of the copper kettles and other objects buried in them. These long, narrow hillocks are earthworks, the foundation of a rude fortification or palisade round a village. The Archaeological Reports of the Canadian Institute contain very full and interesting accounts of the explorations made in this very region. We are on historic ground, Corry."
"Poor old Lo!" ejaculated the lawyer, "whatever is that dog after? Hi, Muggins, Muggins!"
But Muggins would not leave the earthwork into which he was digging with rapidly moving forepaws. As Coristine remarked, it was a regular Forepaugh's circus. When the pedestrians came up to him, he had a large hole made in apparently fresh dug earth, and had uncovered a tin box, japanned above. This the pair disinterred with their walking-sticks, amid great demonstrations from the terrier. The lawyer opened it judicially, and found it to contain a lot of fragments of hard limestone, individually labelled. Looking over these, his eye rested on one marked P.B. Miss Du Plessis, lot 3, concession 2, township of Flanders. Others were labelled T. Mulcahy, S. Storch, R. McIver, O. Fish, with their lots, concessions and townships, and the initials F.M. and P.
"What is the import of this?" asked the schoolmaster.
"Import or export, it's the Grinstun man, the owner of this sagacious dog, that buried this box till he had time to bring a waggon for it. These are samples of grindstone rock, and, if I am not a Dutchman, F means fair, M, middling, P, poor, and P.B., prime boss, and that is Miss Du Plessis. Gad! we've got her now, Jewplesshy, Do Please, Do Please-us, are just Du Plessis. It's a pleasant sort of name, Wilks, my boy?"
"What are you going to do with this treasure trove, might I ask?" inquired the dominie.
"Bury it," replied the lawyer.
"I trust you will make no unfair use of the information it contains, part of which was confided to me privately, and under seal of secrecy, by Mr. Rawdon?"
"Now, Wilks, howld your tongue about that. I ask you no questions, you tell me no lies nor anything else. If you think I'm going to see a girl cheated, just because she is a girl, you don't know your friend. But you do, you honest old Wilks, don't you now?"
"Very well, only remember I breathed no hint of this in your ear."
"All right, old man," answered Miss Du Plessis' self-constituted advocate, as he shovelled the earth in over the tin box. "Muggins, you rascal, if you dig that up again, I'll starve you to death."
The pedestrians deserted the archaeological find, and trudged away into the north west.
"Wilks, my dear, I feel like the black crow," said Coristine, as they journeyed along the pleasant highway.
"Like what?" asked the dominie, adjusting his eye-glass.
"Like the crow, don't you know?
Said one black crow unto his mate, What shall we do for grub to ate?
Faith, it'll be an awful thing if we're going to die of starvation in the wilderness."
"I thought you were a botanist, Corry?"
"So I am, in a small way."
"Then, what bushes are those in that beaver meadow?"
In another minute, the lawyer, closely followed by Muggins, was in the meadow, exclaiming "Vaccinium Canadense! Come on, Wilks, and have a feast." Muggins was eating the berries with great satisfaction, and Coristine kept him company. The dominie also partook of them, remarking: "This is the whortleberry, or berry of the hart, vulgarly called the huckleberry, although huckle means a hump, which is most inappropriate."
"That reminds me of a man with a hump, though there wasn't much heart to him," said Coristine, his mouth full of fruit. "He undertook to write on Canada after spending a month here. He said the Canadians have no fruit but a very inferior raspberry, and that they actually sell bilberries in the shops. As a further proof of their destitution, he was told that haws and acorns are exposed for sale in the Montreal markets. Such a country, he said, is no place for a refined Englishman. I don't wonder my countrymen rise up against the English."
"You forget, Corry, that I am English, and proud of my descent from the Saxon Count Witikind."
"Beg your pardon, Wilks, but you're a good Englishman, and I never dreamt your progenitor was that awful heathen:—
Save us, St. Mary, from flood and from fire, From famine and pest, and Count Witikind's ire.
As the Englishmen said, there is no need to hask 'ow the hell got into your name."
"Corry, this is most unseemly. I wonder you are not ashamed to speak thus, with that innocent dog beside you."
"O, dad, he's heard worse things than that; haven't you now, Muggins? Trust him to live with a cad of a Grinstun man, and not to pick up bad language."
"Ullo, there, you dog-stealers!" fell upon the ears of the berry-pickers like a thunder clap. They looked up, and saw a neat waggonette, drawn by a team of well-kept bay horses, in which, on a back seat, sat Mr. Rawdon and a little girl with long fair hair. On the front seat were two well-dressed women, one of whom was driving; the other wore a widow's cap, and had a gentle, attractive face. The waggon stopped for them to come on to the road, which, leaving their berries, they did, taking off their hats to the ladies as they approached.
"We did all we could, Mr. Rawdon, to make your dog go back to the hotel, but he insisted on following us," said Wilkinson, apologetically.
"All very fine, my beauty, you 'ooked 'im and got 'im to shew you ware this 'ere box was. I'm hup to your larks, and you such a hinnocent too!"
Wilkinson was indignant, and denied having anything to do with the box.
"Be careful what you say, Mr. Rawdon," said Coristine, "I'm a lawyer, and may make a case, if you are not judicious in your language."
"Oh come hoff, I don't mean no 'arm; it's just my fun. 'Ave you any hobjection to give these 'ere gents a lift, Mrs. Thomas?"
"None, whatever," replied the lady who was driving.
"Then, if you don't mind, I'll get hin halongside hof your sister hin front, hand leave them to keep company with little Marjorie 'ere," said the working geologist; and climbed over into the front seat outside of the attractive widow. Still, the pedestrians hesitated, till Mrs. Thomas, a by no means uncomely woman, said: "Get in, gentlemen, we shall be pleased to have your company." This decided them. They sprang into the waggon, one on each side of the little girl called Marjorie. The horses trotted along, and Muggins hovered about them, with an occasional ecstatic bark.
"I like you and your little dog," said Marjorie to Coristine, who replied: "God bless you for a little darling." After this interchange of confidence, they became great friends. Wilkinson found himself somewhat left out, but the Grinstun man threw him an odd bone, now and then, in the shape of a geological remark, keeping clear, however, of grindstones.
"What's your name, Marjorie?" asked the lawyer.
"My name is Marjorie," she replied.
"Yes, but what's your other name?"
"Is that your father's name?"
"No, my papa's name is Captain Thomas."
"And has he got a ship on Lake Simcoe?"
"Yes, how did you know? He's got a ship, and a lumber yard, and a saw mill, and a farm, and a lot of things. Saul is on the farm, and Mr. Pratt works the mill, and Gudgeon looks after the yard, and Sylvanus is on the boat."
"Who is Saul?"
"He's the father of Sylvanus and Timotheus. Only Timotheus doesn't work for us. He wouldn't say his catechism on Sundays, so Saul said he had to go. I don't wonder he wouldn't say his catechism, do you? It speaks about God's getting awful angry and cursing. God doesn't get angry with little boys and girls and curse them, does he, Mr. What's your name?"
"My name is Coristine, but the name my little sister would have called me, if I had had a little sister like you, would be Eugene. No, I never read that God cursed any little girls and boys, nor anybody, not even the devil."
"And he's very very bad, isn't he? My cousin Marjorie Carruthers, that I'm called after, says Timotheus should have learned his catechism; but she doesn't think God curses children. Then I said he oughtn't to learn what isn't true."
"O my darlint, but it's right you are. I wish I had you up on the dais at the Synod, to teach the bishops and all the clergy. Is she a nice little girl, your cousin Marjorie?"
"She's nice, but she isn't little, not a single bit. She lives away away in Toronto, and teaches school. Now, put your head down and I'll whisper something in your ear."
Coristine put his head down beside the long, fair curls, and Marjorie whispered, pointing a finger at the same time towards the widow: "That's my Aunt Marjorie, and she's Marjorie's mother."
"Where is cousin Marjorie now!"
"She's up at Uncle Carruthers', along with Miss Du Plessis. Do you know Miss Du Plessis? Oh, she's lovely, and, do you know?—put down your head again—that ugly little man sitting by Auntie says he's going to marry her. Isn't it too bad?"
"Infernal little beast! O, my dear Marjorie, I beg your pardon. I was thinking of that rascal of a mosquito on your hand—there, he's dead! Yes, it would be too bad, but she'll never marry such a man as that."
"Perhaps she'll have to, because she's very poor, and he says he's going to make heaps and heaps of money. People shouldn't marry for money, should they?"
"No, dear, they should marry for love, if they marry at all. Will you marry me when you grow to be a young lady?"
"No, you'll be too old then. Put your head down. You go and take away Miss Du Plessis from that naughty, bad little man, and I'll love you, O, ever so much.'
"But perhaps she won't have me."
"Oh, yes she will, because you would look very nice if you would take that black stuff that scratched me off your face."
"I will, I'll get a clean shave at Collingwood this very night."
"Then I'll get Auntie to write to Marjorie and tell her that my own Prince Charming, with a clean shave, is coming to take Cecile away from the ugly little rich man that says: 'An' 'ow is my young friend?' Won't that be nice?"
"Oh, please don't tell your aunt to write that."
"But I will, so there!"
The waggonette was now in the midst of a rather pretty village situated on a branch of the Nottawasaga River, and came to a stand still opposite the post office.
"If you gentlemen have business in the village, you can get out here," said Mrs. Thomas, "but, if not, we shall be pleased to have you dine with us."
The pedestrians thought of their last tavern experience, and felt disposed to accept the hospitable invitation, but Marjorie clinched their resolution by saying: "Eugene is coming to dinner with me, and his friend may come too," at which everybody laughed. The waggon moved on for another half mile, and then stopped in front of a pretty and commodious frame house, painted white, with red-brown doors and window frames and green shutters. Porch and verandah were covered with Virginia creeper, climbing roses and trumpet honeysuckle. Mr. Rawdon looked after himself, but Wilkinson and Coristine helped the ladies and the little girl to dismount, while an old man with a shock head, evidently Saul, took the horses round. Muggins greeted the whole party with a series of wiggles and barks, whereupon the Grinstun man gave him a savage kick that sent the dog away yelping.
"I said you were a naughty, bad, cruel man to my own self and to people I like," said Marjorie with indignation, "but now I say it right out to you, and for everybody to hear that wants to—a nasty, ugly, cruel little man!"
The working geologist was very angry and got very red in the face. Had he dared, he would probably have kicked the girl too. Policy compelled him to keep his temper outwardly, so he turned it off with a laugh, and said: "You don't know that little beast has I do, Marjorie, or you wouldn't go hand take 'is part. Of all the hungrateful, treacherous, sneakin', bad-'earted curs that ever gnawed a bone, 'e's the top-sawyer."
"I don't believe it," answered Marjorie stoutly, and with all the license allowed to a late and only child.
When the ladies took off their bonnets and rejoined their guests in the parlour, the pedestrians were much struck with their appearance and demeanour, especially in the case of Mrs. Carmichael, than whom no lady could have been more gentle mannered and gracious. She had evidently had enough of Mr. Rawdon, for she turned in the most natural way to Wilkinson and engaged him in conversation on a variety of topics. The schoolmaster found her a charming talker and an interested listener. Marjorie and Coristine sat on a sofa with Muggins between them, while the working geologist banged about some photographs on a centre table. At dinner, to which Mrs. Thomas soon summoned them, Coristine had the post of honour with Marjorie to his right. Mrs. Carmichael sat at the foot of the table with Wilkinson by her side, and Rawdon was at Mrs. Thomas' left. While doing justice to an excellent repast, the lawyer informed his hostess that he was not an entire stranger to her family, and gave an account of his passage in the Susan Thomas from Belle Ewart to Barrie. He also referred to Sylvanus and Timotheus, and dwelt upon the excellent service rendered by the latter. The Grinstun man disliked the turn things were taking, as he felt himself out in the cold, for the widow absorbed the dominie, and Marjorie would not look at him.
When dessert came on the table, he turned to the schoolmaster and rudely interrupted his conversation, saying: "Look 'ere, Mr. Favosites Wilkinsonia, I don't see as you've hany call to keep hall the widder's talk to yourself. I move we change places," and he rose to effect the change.
"Really," said Wilkinson, with offended dignity, "I am not accustomed to anything of that description at a dinner party where there are ladies; but, if it's Mrs. Carmichael's desire that we should interchange seats, I am ready to comply."
Mrs. Carmichael evidently did not relish being called "the widder," nor the society of Mr. Rawdon, for she answered, "Certainly not, Mr. Wilkinson," and resumed her conversation with him. The baffled geologist turned to the hostess, while Marjorie engaged Coristine's attention, and in a petulant way stated his case. "You know the kind of man I ham, Mrs. Thomas, I'm a man of haction. I strike wen the hiron's 'ot. By good luck, I went back to Peskiwanchow last night, though it is a beastly 'ole, and got letters hat the post hoffice this mornin'. My hagent, at Toronto says, Mrs. Do Please-us is pretty badly hout for want of chink, hand that the girl's ready to jump hat hany reasonable hoffer. Now, hall I say his, give a man a chance. If she's the stunner they say she his, I'll marry her hinside of a week and make a lady of 'er, and hallow the hold 'ooman a pound a week, yes, I'll go has 'igh has thirty shillin', that's seven dollars and a 'arf. You get me a hinvite or give me a hintroduction to your brother's 'ouse in Flanders, and get the widder to back it hup with a good word to 'er daughter that's Miss Do Please-us's bosom friend, and I'll give the capting the contrack to carry hall the grinstuns shipped to Lake Simcoe ports." Then, sinking his voice to a whisper, he continued, "I'll do one better; I'll show you ware there's has fine a quarry of buildin' stun hon your farm 'ere has can be got hanyware in Canidy. Then, wot's to 'inder your 'avin the best 'ouse twixt 'ere and Collinwood?" This last stroke of policy carried his point, and secured him the promise of an introduction, but Mrs. Thomas could not promise for her sister. All the time, Coristine, who could not help overhearing, twisted his moustache fiercely, and, under his breath, called the geologist a contemptible and unspeakable little cad.
Shortly afterwards, much to Marjorie's grief, the pedestrians put on their knapsacks and grasped their sticks for the road. They warmly thanked their hostess and her accomplished sister for their kind hospitality, and for the exceedingly pleasant hours they had spent in their company. They were cordially invited to call any time when they were near the village, and especially when the captain was at home, as he would never forgive himself for missing this treat. Marjorie kissed her Eugene, telling him to be a good boy, and remember what he had promised her about "you know who." "Ullo young 'ooman," said the Grinstun man, "you had ort to save one of them for yours haffectionately," at which the small lady was so indignant that she threatened to box his ugly big ears. "O Marjorie, how rude! whatever will these gentlemen from Toronto think!" Coristine could not bear to leave his little friend in disgrace, without a word of comfort, so he said: "Pardon me, Mrs. Thomas, for saying that the rudeness did not originate with Marjorie," for which the child gave him a grateful glance. "You had better keep your dog in, Mr. Rawdon," called out Wilkinson, "or he will be after us again." The little man ran down the garden walk to get a farewell kick at his property, but Muggins, foreseeing danger, ran out of the gate, which old Saul held open for him. "You can keep the beastly cur, I don't want 'im, hungrateful, treacherous, long legged, 'airy brute," the last two adjectives being put in for Coristine's benefit, as allusions to his height and his moustache.
"Come back, Mr. Wilkinson," called Mrs. Carmichael. The dominie returned, and had a large fragrant rose pinned by fair hands to his button hole, blushing violently all the time. "You come back too, Eugene, but don't let Muggy in or he'll be kicked," cried Marjorie, who, on her favourite's return, gave him another parting salute and pinned two roses on his coat. Muggins waited for them till they closed the gate finally behind them, lifted their hats three times, and began their afternoon's journey.
"That Mrs. Carmichael," remarked Wilkinson, "is one of the most intelligent and lady-like women I ever met, and she is wonderfully well read in the poets, Corry."
"I thought that subject was tabooed between us, Wilks?"
"Oh no, my dear fellow, I have no objection to the sex in a Platonic way."
"Dad, but it wasn't very platonic you looked when the pretty widow was fastening that button hole for you. Was she talking about her daughter at the schools?"
"Not a word; she did not even hint that she had a daughter. She must have been very young when the doctor married her."
"Well, that's one thing we have to thank that howling cad of a Grinstun man for. I'm real sorry I missed having a chat with Saul about the catechism."
"What is that!" So the lawyer related his conversation with Marjorie, and Wilkinson said, "Really, Corrie, as an educationist, I must say you do wrong to encourage such pertness in so young a child."
"Pertness is it? It's nature's own cleverness in the sweet little lass. Wilks, I'd give a good deal to have that little sunbeam or one like her with me all the time."
"Adopt one," suggested the schoolmaster.
"Adopt one," replied the lawyer with a bitter laugh, "adopt one for Mrs. Marsh to look after? No, when I've a house of my own and a good housekeeper, and more time to spend on a child, I'll think over the hint."
The pair tramped steadily on, though the sun was hot, for there was a pleasant breeze, and the scenery became bolder and more picturesque. They came to rising ground, at the foot of which lay a fertile valley, and beyond it the Blue Mountains. Gazing across at them, the dominie exclaimed:—
Yon azure ridge, Is it a perishable cloud—or there Do we behold the frame of Erin's coast?
"No, Wilks, no! Erin's away on the confines of Wellington and Peel, and we are on those of Simcoe and Grey."
"Slight man, did you not perceive that I quoted poetry, and that the allusion is to your native isle?"
"Faith. I wish the real Erin was over there; it's the old lady would be in my arms as fast as I could run across. But this place deserves a song, so here goes:—
Though down in yonder valley The mist is like a sea, Though the sun be scarcely risen, There's light enough for me. For, be it early morning, Or be it late at night, Cheerily ring our footsteps, Right, left, right.
We wander by the woodland That hangs upon the hill; Hark! the cock is tuning His morning clarion shrill; And hurriedly awaking From his nest amid the spray, Cheerily now, the blackbird, Whistling, greets the day. For be it early morning, etc.
We gaze upon the streamlet, As o'er the bridge we lean; We watch its hurried ripples We mark its golden green. Oh, the men of the north are stalwart, And the norland lasses fair; And cheerily breathes around us The bracing norland air. We smoke our black old meerschaums, We smoke from morn till night, While cheerily ring our footsteps, Right, left, right."
"Well done, Corry! I thought at first it was your own composition, but I see it is an English song."
"Yes, it came out long ago as 'The Tramp's Song' in Sharpe's Magazine, where I found it, and changed moor and moorland to north and norland, as better suited to our purpose. It's a good song."
"What kind of vehicle is that just in front of us?"
"It's a pole on four wheels drawn by a team of oxen, and I'm going to make a triumphant entry into Collingwood on it. The driver is a negro, as black as my boots—were." Coristine soon overtook the remarkable vehicle, and accosted the driver, telling him that he had ridden on horses, donkeys, mules, and once each on a cow, a camel and an elephant; in all sorts of carriages, carts and waggons, even to a gun carriage, but never on a pole behind an ox team. Had he any objections to letting him and his friend get aboard? The coloured gentleman showed a fine set of ivory, and said he had no dejections in the leas', and guessed the oxen didn't hab none. "The po-ul," he remarked, "is thar, not foh ridin' on, but ter keep the axles apaht, so's ter load on bodes and squab timbah. If yoh's that way inclined, the po-ul aint a gwine ter break frew, not with yoh dismenshuns. Guess the oxen doan hab ter stop fer yoh bof ter git aboahd?"
"Not a bit," said Coristine, as he jumped on the pole behind the driver. "Come on, Wilks, it's a cross between the tight rope and the tiller of the Susan Thomas." But the dominie refused to be charmed or inveigled into a position of peril or ridicule.
"Yoh best take this yeah feed-bag ter save yoh pants and fezz'etate the keepin' of yoh ekilibroom," said the courteous darkey, as he handed the lawyer one of the bags that formed his own cushion.
"Wilks, with a feed-bag under you, riding on a rail is just heavenly."
"If it was a rai-ul, you'd know it mighty soon, boss, fer rai-uls is angulish and shahp and hahd on the pants, but a po-ul is rounded and smoove. How are yoh comin' along?"
"In great shape, Mr. ——"
"Maguffin, sah, is my applenashun. Tobias Mortimah Magrudah Maguffin. The low down folks around, they teenames me Tobe and Toby, that's the shanty men and mill hans. But when I goes whar they's a meetin' of the bruddren, it's Mistah Maguffin, ebery time."
The pole cart, as Coristine called it, was going down hill, now, and the oxen began to run.
"Hole on tight, Mistah, them cattle's too lazy to stop runnin' befoh they gits to the determination ob this dercliverty," called the driver; and the lawyer held on in spite of frantic cries from his companion. "Come off, Coristine, come off, and do not make an object of yourself before the whole town." Coristine held on till the bottom of the hill was reached. Then he shook hands with his coloured brother, returned him the feed bag, and waited for Wilkinson. In friendly converse they entered the town of Collingwood, and put up at a clean and comfortable, almost fashionable, hotel. There, for the night, they may be left in safety, with this remark, that Coristine fulfilled his promise to the little girl, and got a clean shave before retiring.
Collingwood—Colonel Morton—Maguffin Engaged—Stepping Westward—Wild Thyme and a Bath—The Shale-works—Muggins and the Clergymen—Durham Mustard, and Marjorie—The Squire—The Grinstun Man—Lunch, Wordsworth and Original Poetry—Two Old People on the Blue Mountains.
At supper they had, for their vis-a-vis, a tall, aristocratic-looking man, attired airily in a mixture of jean and silk. His nose was aquiline, his eyes grey and piercing withal, his hair grey, but abundant, and his clean shaved mouth and chin mingled delicacy with strength of character.
"The weathah has been wahm, gentlemen," he remarked; to which statement they assented.
"I obsehved you entah the ho-tel, and pehceived that you are travelling for pleasuhe by yo-ah knapsacks. I also am travelling, partly foh pleasuhe, partly foh mattahs of family business. My ideahs, gentlemen, are old fashioned, too much so foh railyoads. The Mississippi is ouah natuhal highway from the South, but, unfohtunately, the to me unpleasant railyoad had to connect its head watahs with Lake Michigan, by which route I find myself heah, on my way to a city called To-hon-to. You know it, I pehsume?"
Wilkinson's geographical lore was now unfolded. He discussed the Mississippi, although he had not been on that river, exhibited an intimate acquaintance with cities and routes which had never seen him in the flesh, and, by his quiet, gentlemanly, and, to the much older man, deferential tone, was admitted to the confidence of Colonel Morton, of Louisiana, South American trader, ship-owner and the possessor of a fine estate, which, although it had suffered greatly during the war, in which the colonel commanded a cavalry regiment, was yet productive and remunerative.
"I am a widowah, suh, and a childless old man," continued the colonel; "my only boy fell in the wah ah, and it broke his mother's heaht. Pahdon me," he said, as his voice shook a little, and the least glimmer of a tear stood in his eye, "I rahely talk of these mattahs of a puhely pehsonal kind, but, as you are kind enough to be intehested in my affaiahs, I say this much by way of explanation."
"I am sure, Colonel Morton, we deeply sympathize with you in so great a double bereavement," interposed the dominie.
"Indeed we do, sir, most sincerely," added the lawyer.
"I thank you, gentlemen," answered the courteous Southerner. "I was going to remahk that the only pehson in whom I feel a family intehest is my lamented wife's sistah, a Madame Du Plessis, who has resided foh many yeahs in yoah city of To-hon-to. May I enquiah, gentlemen, if you have, either of you, heahd the name befoah?"
Coristine replied that, incidentally, he had heard the names of both Madame Du Plessis and her daughter.
"I am awaah, suh, that my wife's sister has a daughtah. Can you tell me of my sister-in-law's suhcumstances, and what her daughtah, my niece, is like in appeahance?"
"Only from hearsay, Colonel. Madame Du Plessis is said to be in straightened circumstances, and I learn, from several quarters, that Miss Du Plessis is an attractive and amiable young lady; 'illigant' is what a countryman of mine, who served under her father, termed his young mistress."
"And her baptismal name, suh?"
"Is Cecile, I think."
"Ah, to be suah, my deah wife's name, Cecilia, gallicized. She and Madame Du Plessis were Castilians of Lima. Du Plessis was theah in the ahmy, I in commehcial puhsuits, and we mahhied the sistahs, the belles of the Rimac.
Que' es la vida? Un frenesi Que' es la vida? Una ilusion, Una sombra, una ficcion.
You read Spanish, Mr. Wilkinson?"
"A little, sir; I think I recognize Calderon in these lines."
"Right, Mr. Wilkinson; I thank you, suh, foh yoah pleasing companionship. Good evening, gentlemen!" With a courtly bow, the colonel retired from the table.
At the coloured barber's the pedestrians met Mr. Maguffin, who greeted Coristine, saying:—
"Hopes yoh doan feel none the wuhse ob yoh ride on the po-ul," adding: "Mistah Poley, what runs this yeah stablishment, he's my nuncle's oldes' boy, and he abstracks a cohnah ob the same ter my disposhul foh ohfice pupposes, supposin' I'm wahnted by folks as cahn't find me."
"That's very convenient," replied the lawyer, as he settled down in the barber's chair.
"It am, sah. I doan' tote ox teams no moah, po-ul nor no po-ul, when I kin drive and ride the fasses and sassies hawses that is made; no, sah, not much!"
"You are tired of teaming, then?"
"I am wohn out, sah, wif bein' called Toby and a po-ul-cat. I doan find no Scripcher reffunce foh Tobias, and yoh know what a po-ul-cat is; it's nuffin moah no less nor a skink."
The victims of the barber and his assistant kept the soap out of their mouths with difficulty. As his tormentor deserted him for a moment, the schoolmaster remarked that the Iroquois about the Lake of the Two Mountains called the Trappist monks there by the same savoury name, on account of some fancied resemblance between their dress and the coat of the Mephitis Americana.
Mr. Maguffin was listening intently, thinking the conversation was meant for his edification, and politely interposed:—
"No, sah, I ain't no Mefferdis. I was bawn and raised a Baktis. Poley, now, he's a Mefferdis, and I ain't a gwine ter speak no harm of no Crishtchun bruddern what's tryin' ter do right accordin' ter they lights. But ter be called Toby and Poul-cat by low down white tresh, that trial ob the flesh and speerut is a fohgone conclusion, sah."
The shaving operation completed, the travellers returned to the hotel, and found Colonel Morton on what he called the piazza, smoking a good Havana cigar. He opened his case for his companions of the supper table, and Coristine accepted, while Wilkinson courteously declined.
"I tell you what I want to do, Mr. Cohistine. I want to puhchase two saddle hawses, a good one foh myself, and not a bad one foh my sehvant. Unfohtunately, my boy took sick on the way, and I had to send him home on the Mississippi steamah. That means, I must get me a new sehvant, able to ride well and handle hawses. I pehsume it will be hahd to find a cullahed boy, a niggro, in these pahts, so I must take whateveh can be got that will suit."
"Not at all, Colonel," replied Coristine, with effusion. "I think I can get you a negro who is out of place, is a good rider, and, I imagine, a good judge of horses. If you like, I'll go after him at once and tell him to report to you to-morrow morning."
"My deah suh, you are altogethah too kind."
"Not a bit of it; when will I tell him to call upon you?"
"Would seven o'clock be too eahly? Plantation and ahmy life have made me a light sleepah, so that I am up befoh the genehality of hotel guests."
"The very time. Excuse me for running away, I want to bag my man."
So Coristine left the colonel to parade the piazza with Wilkinson, and resought the barber shop.
The shop was closed, but a light still burned within. Coristine knocked, and Tobias opened the door. "You're the very man I want," cried the lawyer.
"Anything done gwine wrong, boss?" asked Mr. Maguffin.
The lawyer explained the circumstances to him at length, eulogized Colonel Morton, and told the negro to make his best appearance at the hotel, sharp at seven next morning.
"Do yoh say the gemman'll gib me thirty dollars a munf and cloves ter boot, and me ridin' behine him all ober the roads on hawseback!" asked Tobias.
"Yes, I think I can promise those terms," replied the legal go-between.
"Then, yoh say foh me, if he's please foh ter hab me Maguffin, not Tobias, but Maguffin is his man, and I kin pick him out two lubby hawses, cheap as a po-ul-caht, and I cahn't say no cheapah. My respecs and humble expreshun ob gracious apprecherashun ter yoh, Mistah Kerosene."
The lawyer rushed back to the veranda, and found the colonel and Wilks still in conversation, and, wonder of wonder, Wilkinson was actually smoking a cigar, which he occasionally inserted between his lips, and then held away at arm's length, while he puffed out the smoke in a thin blue cloud. Wisely, he did not express astonishment at this unheard of feat of his friend, but informed the colonel that he had seen the coloured man, whose name was Tobias, but preferred to be called Maguffin, that he was willing to engage for thirty dollars a month and his clothes, and that he could put his new master in the way of getting two suitable horses. "I think, Colonel, you can reckon on his being here punctually at seven to-morrow."
"I shall nevah cease, Mr. Cohistine, to be sensible of yoah great kindness to an entiah styangah, suh. Oblige me by smoking anothah cigah, if they are to yoah liking."
So Corry lit a fresh cigar, and the three paraded the verandah till it was very late, engaging in all manner of pleasant conversation. When the stumps were thrown away, the colonel invited the comrades to visit his rooms for a moment before retiring. Entering his private sitting-room, he produced a quaintly-shaped but large glass bottle, which he flanked with three tumblers and a carafe of water. "Help yohselves, gentlemen," he said, courteously; "this old Bourbon is good foh countehacting the effects of the night aiah. Some prefer Monongahela, but good old Bourbon in modehation cahn't be suhpahssed." The pedestrians filled up, and bowed to their host as they drank, and the colonel, doing the same, said, "My thanks to yoh, gentlemen, foh yoah kindness to a styangah—to yoah good health and ouah futhah pleasant acquaintance!" Then they severally retired, and the hotel closed for the night.
The next morning Coristine, whose room was just over the main entrance, was awakened by a loud discussion in the hall of the hotel. "Clare out now," cried the porter, "the bar's not opind yit, an' we don't want naygurs round whin the guests do be comin' down the stairs; clare, now, I tell yeez."
"I'se heah, Mike, on bisness wif Cunnel Morting," said a well-known voice; and continued, "yoh go and tell the cunnel that Mistah Maguffin is waitin' foh to pay his respecs."
"Go along wid yeez, Oi say, ye black scum av the airth, wid yer Cornel Mortins, the loikes av you! Faix, Oi'll tache yeez who's yer betthers wid this broom-handle."
"Gently, my good man, gently!" said the colonel, soothingly, as he laid his hand on Mike's shoulder. "This boy has business with me. Come in heah, Maguffin."
Tobias went in, with a triumphant glance at Mike, and, arrangements being completed, was soon at work, blacking his master's boots. Then he had a second breakfast at the servant's table, after which the colonel sallied forth with him, to provide him with a befitting suit of clothes, and to inspect the horses he had deemed suitable for the use of his new employer and himself. While they were gone, Wilkinson and his friend descended to a late breakfast, during which the hotel clerk handed the lawyer a telegram, signed Tylor, Woodruff, and White, and containing the words, "Look up Colonel Morton, Madame Du Plessis, 315 Bluebird Avenue, Parkdale." So the colonel had been corresponding with his firm, and he must either wait till that worthy returned, or leave a note for him. "Bawderashin, anyway, when a man's out for a holiday, can't he be left alone a bit!" Then, turning to his friend, he asked, "And, are they troubling you with letters and telegrams, too, Wilks, my darling?" The dominie replied, "I have only one letter about a poor lady teacher, who is in consumption, I fear. They want an extension of holidays for her, which is rather hard to get."
"But you'll get it for her, Wilks, my dear?"
"Of course I will, if I have to do her work as well as my own."
"I knew it, Wilks, I knew it. You're as soft hearted as a girl, for all your adamant exterior. God bless you, my dear boy!"
"Corry, Corry, what allowances must be made for your exaggerated Irish language! What is there like adamant about me, I should like to know?"
"Good mawnin, gentlemen," said the soft voice of the colonel, "I am delighted to see you looking so well. I envy you Canadian gentlemen yoah fine fyesh complexions and yoah musical voices. We have sawft voices in the south, but it is a soht of niggro sawftness, gained by contact I pehsume. My sehvant and I byeakfasted some time ago."
"I trust he is to your liking, Colonel?" enquired Coristine.
"Suh, you have found me a jewel in Maguffin, and he has found me two splendid roadsters that are now being fitted with saddles. We staht for To-hon-to in an houah, gentlemen."
"By the bye, Colonel, I have a telegram from my firm that concerns you. It says 'Look up Colonel Morton, Madame Du Plessis, 315 Bluebird Avenue, Parkdale."
"But wheah is Pahkdale?"
"It is a suburb of Toronto. You had better keep the telegram."
"So, Mr. Cohistine, you are a lawyeh?"
"Yes; of the firm of Tylor, Woodruff, and White, but I'm not that now, I'm a gentleman out on a grand stravague."
"You may be a lawyeh, suh, but you are a gentleman as well, and I hope to meet you befoah many days are past. Good mawnin, my kind friends!"
The knapsacks were put on boldly, in the very parlour of the hotel, and their bearers strode along the lake road into the west, as coolly as if they were doing Snowden or Windermere. It was a glorious morning, and they exulted in it, rejoicing in the joy of living. The dominie had written his letter to the vulgar school-trustees, and felt good, with the approbation of a generous conscience. He recited with feeling:—
"What, you are stepping westward?" "Yea"— 'Twould be a wildish destiny, If we, who thus together roam In a strange land, and far from home, Were in this place the guests of chance; Yet who would stop, or fear t' advance, Though home or shelter he had none, With such a sky to lead him on.
The dewy ground was dark and cold;
"Faith, 'tis nothing of the kind, Wilks," interrupted Coristine; but the dominie went on unheeding.
Behind, all gloomy to behold, And stepping westward seemed to be A kind of heavenly destiny: I liked the greeting; 'twas a sound Of something without place or bound And seemed to give me spiritual right To travel through that region bright.
The voice was soft, and she who spake Was walking by her native lake; The salutation had to me The very sound of courtesy; Its power was felt; and while my eye Was fix'd upon the glorious sky, The echo of the voice enwrought A human sweetness with the thought Of travelling through the world that lay Before me in my endless way.
"O Wilks, but you're the daisy. So you're going to travel through the world with the human sweetness of the soft voice of courtesy? You're a fraud, Wilks, you're as soft-hearted as a fozy turnip."
"Corry, a little while ago you called me adamant. You are inconsequential, sir."
"All right, Wilks, my darling. But isn't it a joy to have the colonel taking the bad taste of the Grinstun man out of your mouth?"
"The colonel, no doubt, is infinitely preferable. He is a gentleman, Corry, and that is saying a good deal."
"Hurroo for a specimen! look at that bank on your left, beyond that wet patch, it's thyme, it is. Thymus serpyllum, and Gray says it's not native, but adventitious from Europe. Maccoun says the same; I wonder what my dear friend, Spotton, says? But here it is, and no trace of a house or clearing near. It's thyme, my boy, and smells sweet as honey:—
Old father Time, as Ovid sings, Is a great eater up of things, And, without salt or mustard, Will gulp you down a castle wall, As easily as, at Guildhall, An alderman eats custard."
"Drop your stupid Percy anecdote poems, Corry, and listen to this," cried the dominie, as he sang:—
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows, I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows, Where oxlips and the nodding violets blow, Where oxlips linger, nodding violets blow, I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grow-ow-ow-ow-ows!!!
The lawyer joined in the chorus, encored the song, and trolled "ow ow ow ow ows" until the blood vessels over his brain pan demanded a rest. "Wilks," he said, "you're a thing of beauty and a joy forever."
Soon the road trended within a short distance of the lake shore. The blue waves were tumbling in gloriously, and swished up upon the shelving limestone rocks. "What is the time, Corry?" asked Wilkinson. "It's eleven by my repeater," he answered. "Then it is quite safe to bathe; what do you say to a dip?" The lawyer unstrapped his knapsack, and hastened off the road towards the beach. "Come on, Wilks," he cried, "we'll make believe that it's grampusses we are."
"What is a grampus?" enquired the dominie.
"Dad, if I know," replied his friend.
"A grampus, sir, etymologically is 'un grand poisson,' but, biologically, it is no fish at all, being a mammal, mid-way between a dolphin and a porpoise."
"So you got off that conundrum a porpoise to make a fool of me, Wilks?"
"O, Corry, you make me shudder with your villainous puns."
"That's nothing to what I heard once. There were some fellows camping, and they had two tents and some dogs for deerhunting. As it was raining, they let the hounds sleep in one of the tents, when one of the fellows goes round and says: 'Shut down your curtains.' 'Were you telling them that to keep the rain out?' asked one, when the rascal answered: 'To all in tents and purp houses.' Wasn't that awful, now?"
The water was cold but pleasant on a hot day, and the swimmers enjoyed striking out some distance from shore and then being washed in by the homeward-bound waves. They sat, with their palms pressed down beside them, on smooth ledges of rock, and let the breakers lap over them. The lawyer was thinking it time to get out, when he saw Wilkinson back into the waves with a scared face. "Are you going for another swim, Wilks, my boy?" he asked. "Look behind you," whispered the schoolmaster. Coristine looked, and was aware of three girls, truly rural, sitting on the bank and apparently absorbed in contemplating the swimmers. "This is awful!" he ejaculated, as he slid down into deep water; "Wilks, it's scare the life out of them I must, or we'll never get back to our clothes. Now, listen to me." Dipping his head once more under water till it dripped, he let out a fearful sound, like "Gurrahow skrrr spat, you young gurruls, an' if yeez don't travel home as fast as yer futs'll taake yeez, it's I'll be afther yeez straight, och, garrahow skrr spat whishtubbleubbleubble!" The rural maidens took to their heels and ran, as Coristine swam into shore. In a minute the swimmers were into their clothes and packs, and resumed their march, much refreshed by the cool waters of the Georgian Bay.
"And where is it we're bound for now, Wilks?"
"For the abandoned shale-works at the foot of the Blue Mountains."
"Fwhat's that, as Jimmie Butler said about the owl?"
"The Utica formation, which crops out here, consists largely of bituminous shales, that yield mineral oil to the extent of twenty gallons to the ton. But, since the oil springs of the West have been in operation, the usefulness of these shales is gone. The Indians seem to have made large use of the shale, for a friend of mine found a hoe of that material on an island in the Muskoka lakes. Being easily split and worked, it was doubtless very acceptable to the metal wanting aborigines."
"But, if the works are closed up, what will we see?"
"We shall meet with fossils in the shale, with trilobites, such as the Asaphus Canadensis, a crustacean, closely allied to the wood-louse, and occasionally found rolled up, like it, into a defensive ball, together with other specimens of ancient life."
"Wilks, my son, who's doing Gosse's Canadian Naturalist, now, I'd like to know? Pity we hadn't the working geologist along for a lesson."
"I am sorry if I have bored you with my talk, but I thought you were interested in science. Does this suit you better?
Many a little hand Glanced like a touch of sunshine on the rocks, Many a light foot shone like a jewel set In the dark crag; and then we turn'd, we wound About the cliffs, the copses, out and in, Hammering and clinking, chattering stony names Of shale and hornblende, rag and trap and tuff, Amygdaloid and trachyte, till the sun Grew broader towards his death and fell, and all The rosy heights came out above the lawns."
"That's better, avic. Tennyson's got the shale there, I see. But rag and trap and tuff is the word, and tough the whole business is. Just look at that living blue bell, there, it's worth all the stony names of rock and fossil.
Let the proud Indian boast of his jessamine bowers, His garlands of roses and moss-covered dells, While humbly I sing of those sweet little flowers, The blue bells of Scotland, the Scottish blue bells. We'll shout in the chorus forever and ever, The blue bells of Scotland, the Scottish blue bells."
"You are a nice botanist, Mr. Coristine, to confound that campanula with the Scottish blue-bell, which is a scilla, or wild hyacinth."
"Poetic license, my dear friend, poetic license! Hear this now:—
Let the Blue Mountains boast of their shale that's bituminous, Full of trilobites, graptolites and all the rest, It may not be so learned, or ancient, or luminous, But the little campanula's what I love best. So we'll shout in the chorus forever and ever, The little campanula's worth all the rest.
Whew! What do you think of that for an impromptu song, Wilks?"
"I think that you are turning your back upon your own principle that there is no best, or no one best, and that everything is best in its place."
"Barring old Nick and the mosquitoes, Wilks, come now?"
"Well, an exception may be made in their favour, but what says the poet:—
O yet we trust that somehow good Will be the final goal of ill.
Come, along, though, for we have much to see before sunset."
"You don't think that good is going to come out of the devil and mosquitoes?"
"Yes I do; not to themselves, perhaps, but to humanity."
"I saw a book once with the title "Why Doesn't God Kill the Devil?" and sympathized with it. Why doesn't He?"
"Because man wants the devil. As soon as the world ceases to want him, so soon is his occupation gone."
"Wilks, my dear, that's an awful responsibility lying on us men, and I fear what you say is too true. So here's for the shale works."
The pedestrians ceased their theological discussion and went towards the deserted buildings, where, in former days, a bad smelling oil had been distilled from the slaty-looking black stones, which lay about in large numbers. Wilkinson picked up fossils enough, species of trilobites chiefly, with a few graptolites, lingulas and strophomenas, to start a museum. These, as Coristine had suggested in Toronto, he actually tied up in his silk handkerchief, which he slung on the crook of his stick and carried over his shoulder. The lawyer also gathered a few, and bestowed them in the side pocket of his coat not devoted to smoking materials. The pair were leaving the works for the ascent of the mountain, when barks were heard, then a pattering of feet, and soon the breathless Muggins jumped upon them with joyous demonstrations.
"Where has he been? How came we not to miss him?" asked the dominie, and Coristine answered rather obliquely:—
"I don't remember seeing him since we entered Collingwood. Surely he didn't go back to the Grinstun man."
"It is hard to be poetical on a dog called Muggins," remarked Wilkinson; "Tray seems to be the favourite name. Cowper's dogs are different, and Wordsworth has Dart and Swallow, Prince and Music, something like Actaeon's dogs in 'Ovid.' Nevertheless, I like Muggins."
"Oh, Tray is good, Wilks:—
To my dear loving Shelah, so far, far away, I can never return with my old dog Tray; He's lazy and he's blind, You'll never, never find A bigger thief than old dog Tray."
"Corry, this is bathos of the worst description. You are like a caterpillar; you desecrate the living leaf you touch."
"Wilks, that's hard on the six feet of me, for your caterpillar has a great many more. But that dog's gone back again."
As they looked after his departing figure, the reason was obvious. Two lightly, yet clerically, attired figures were coming up the road, and on the taller and thinner of the twain the dog was leaping with every sign of genuine affection.
"I'm afraid, Wilks, that Muggins is a beastly cur, a treacherous 'ound, a hungrateful pup; look at his antics with that cadaverous curate, keeping company with his sleek, respectable vicar. O Muggy, Mug, Mug!"
The pedestrians waited for the clergy, who soon came up to them, and exchanged salutations.
"My dawg appears to know you," said the tall cassocked cleric in a somewhat lofty, professional tone.
"He ought to," replied Wilkinson, "seeing that he was given to me by a Mr. Rawdon, a working geologist, as he calls himself."
"Ow, really now, it seems to me rather an immoral transaction for your ah friend, Mr. Rawdon, to give away another man's property."
"Mr. Rawdon is no friend of mine, but his dog took a fancy to us, and followed us from Dromore to Collingwood."
"Allow me to assure you that Muggins is not this ah Mr. Rawdon's dawg at all. I trained him from a puppy at Tossorontio. The Bishop ordered me from there to Flanders, and, in the hurry of moving, the dawg was lost; but now, I should rather say stowlen. My friend, the Reverend Mr. Errol and myself, my name is Basil Perrowne, Clerk, had business in Collingwood last night, when Muggins, most opportunely, met us, and went howme with me."
"Well, Mr. Perrowne, I am very glad you have recovered your dog, which I was only too glad to rescue from a somewhat inhuman master. My name is Wilkinson, of the Toronto schools, my friend is Mr. Coristine, of Osgoode Hall, barrister."
The gentlemen exchanged formal salutations, and proceeded on their way, Wilkinson with Perrowne, and Coristine with Erroll. Muggins was in the seventh heaven of delight.
"You belong to Tossorontio, Mr. Perrowne?" asked Wilkinson, by way of starting the conversation.
"Ow, now! I said I had trained Muggins from a pup there, but that ownly extends owver a few years. Durham is my university, which you may have heard of."
"I am familiar by name with the university and the cathedral, although the juvenile geography books say that Durham is famous for its mustard."
"Ow, now, really, they down't, do they? Ow dear, mustard! We Durham men can serve it out pretty hot, you know. You belong to the Church, of course, Mr. Wilkinson?"
"I was brought up in the Church of England, and educated in what are called Church principles; I am fond of the Prayer Book and the Service, but, to my way of thinking, the Church is far more extensive than our mere Anglican communion."
"Ow, yes, there are Christian people, who, I howpe, will get to heaven some way through the uncovenanted mercies, in spite of their horrid schism from the True Body. There is Errol, now, whom, out of mere courtesy, I call reverend, but he is no more reverend than Muggins. His orders are ridiculous, not worth a farthing candle."
"Come, come, Mr. Perrowne, his orders are as good as those of St. Timothy, which were laid on him by the hands of the Presbytery."
"That is precisely what the cheeky dissenter says himself. We have dropped that line of controversy now, for one ever so much more practical."
"I hope you don't take off your coats and fight it out? You have the advantage in height and youth, but Mr. Errol seems a strong and active man."
"Now, we down't fight. I have set a cricket club a-gowing, and he has turned a neglected field into a golf links. My club makes Churchmen, and his makes Scotch dissenters."
"I thought the Presbyterian Church was established in Scotland?"
"Ow, down't you see, we are not in Scotland."
"Then, in Canada, there is no established church, unless it be the Roman Catholic in the Province of Quebec."
"Ow, well, drop that, you know; we are the Church, and all the outside people are dissenters. I down't antagonize him. He helped me to make my crease, and joined my club, and I play golf with him every fine Monday morning. But the young fellows have now true English spirit here. Errol has twenty golfers to my six cricketers. When he and I are added, that makes eight, not near enough, you know. As a mission agency, my club has not succeeded yet, but every time I make a cricketer, I make a Churchman."
"I have known some very good cricketers that were not Anglicans."
"Now you haven't, my dear sir; you thought you have, but you haven't; that's the trouble with those who reject Church authority. The Methodist plays rounder, what you call base-ball; the Independents and Baptists played croquet and lawn tennis after other people stopped playing them; the Presbyterian plays golf; and the Churchman plays cricket."
"To argue with one who sweeps all experience aside with a wave of his hand," said the schoolmaster, indignantly, "is not to argue at all. It is a case of Roma locuta."
"Ow, yes, just sow, you know, we down't argue, we simply assert the truth."
"How d'ye like the Durham mustard, Wilks, my boy?" put in Coristine from the rear, where he and Mr. Errol were laughing amusedly; "it's hot, isn't it, not much solid food, but lots of flavour? It reminds me of The Crew, when he said what was, is, and ever shall be, Amen. Mr. Perrowne is the owner of a splendid dog, and he is a splendid dogmatist. What he doesn't know isn't worth knowing."
"Ow, thanks awfully, Mr. Coristine, you are really too flattering!" gravely and gratefully replied the parson. Wilkinson was afraid that his friend's banter might become too apparent, as the simple egotism of the graduate of Durham led him on, so, he changed the subject, and soon had the cleric quoting Virgil and Mrs. Hemans.
Meanwhile Coristine and Mr. Errol were taking one another's measure. The lawyer recited to his companion the conversation between Marjorie and himself relative to Timotheus. He found that Errol knew Marjorie, who had often been in his church and Sunday school in Flanders. "She's a comical little piece," he said; "her Sunday school teacher asked her who killed Goliath? and what do you think was her reply!"
"Give it up."
"It was 'Jack,' no less than Jack the Giant-Killer."
"The darlin'!" cried the lawyer, with admiration, and straightway won the minister's heart.
"Marjorie has a cousin stopping at the house of Mr. Carruthers, one of my elders, since last Tuesday night, as blithe and bonnie a young leddy as man could wish to see. While she's here, she's just the light of the whole country side."
Mr. Coristine did not care for this turn in the conversation.
"Tell me some more about little Marjorie," he said.
"Ah," replied the minister, "then you know that her cousin is called Marjorie, too! Little Marjorie went to church once with Miss Du Plessis, whom Perrowne had got to sing in the choir, that was last summer, if I mind right, and, when the two rideeclus candles on the altar were lighted, and the priest, as he calls himself, came in with his surplice on, she put her face down in Miss Cecile's lap. 'What's the trouble, Marjorie?' asked Miss Du Plessis, bending over her. 'He's going to kiss us all good-night,' sobbed the wee thing. 'No he is not, Marjorie; he's on his knees, praying,' replied the young leddy, soothingly. 'That's what papa always does, when he's dressed like that, before he kisses me good-night, but he takes off his boots and things first,' and she sobbed again, for fear Perrowne was coming to kiss them all, put out the candles, and go to bed. If Miss Du Plessis had not been a sober-minded lass, she would have laughed out in the middle of the choir. As it was, she had to hand Marjorie over to a neighbour in a back seat, before the bit lassie would be comforted."
"Ah! did you ever now? the little innocent!"
"It's not that improbable that there'll be a marriage in the church before long. Perrowne's just clean daft and infatuated with his occasional soprano. He's sent her the 'Mirror of Devotion' and the 'Soul's Questioner,' and a lot of nicely bound trash, and walks home with her whenever he has the chance, to the scandal and rage of all his farmers' daughters. It's very injudeecious o' Perrowne, and has dreeven two of his best families to the Kirk. Not that she's no a braw looking lass, stately and deegnified, but she has na the winsomeness of Miss Marjorie."
"Is that your quarter, Mr. Errol?"
"Hech, sirs, I'm an old bachelor that'll never see five and forty again; but, as we say in Scotch or the vernacular Doric, 'an auld carle micht dae waur.' There's not a more sensible, modest, blithesome, bonnie lassie in all the land. It's a thousand peeties some young, handsome, well to do steady, God-fearing man has na asked at her to be 'the light o' his ain fireside.' Gin I were as young as you, Mr. Coristine, I would na think twice about it."
"Avaunt, tempter!" cried the lawyer, "such a subject as matrimony is strictly tabooed between me and my friend."
"I'll be your friend, I hope, but I cannot afford to taboo marriages. Not to speak of the fees, they're the life of a well-ordered, healthy congregation."
A neat turn-out, similar to that of Mrs. Thomas, came rattling along the road. "That's John Carruthers' team," remarked the minister, and such it turned out to be.
"Maister Errol," said its only occupant, a strong and honest-faced man with a full brown beard, "yon's a fine hanky panky trick to play wi' your ain elder an' session clerk."
"Deed John," returned the minister, relapsing into the vernacular; "I didna ken ye were i' the toon ava, but 'oor bit dander has gien us the opportunity o' becomin' acquent wi' twa rale dacent lads." Then, turning to the lawyer, "excuse our familiar talk, Mr. Coristine, and let me introduce Squire Carruthers, of Flanders." The two men exchanged salutations, and Perrowne, having turned back with Wilkinson, the same ceremony was gone through with the latter. They were then all courteously invited to get into the waggon. Errol and Perrowne sprang in with an air of old proprietorship, but the two pedestrians respectfully declined, as they were especially anxious to explore the mountain beauties of this part of the country on foot and at their leisure.
"Aweel, gentlemen," cried the squire, "gin ye'll no come the noo, we'll just expect to see ye before the Sawbath. The Church and the Kirk'll be looking for the wayfarers, and my house, thank Providence, is big eneuch to gie ye a kindly welcome."
The parsons ably seconded Mr. Carruthers' peculiar mixture of English and Lowland Scotch, on the latter of which he prided himself, but only when in the company of someone who could appreciate it. Wilkinson looked at Coristine, and the lawyer looked at the dominie, for here they were invited to go straight into the jaws of the lion. Just then, they descried, climbing painfully up the hill, but some distance behind them, the Grinstun man; there was no mistaking him. "Hurry, and drive away," cried Coristine, in an under tone; "that cad there, the same that stole Muggins, is going to your house, Squire. For any sake, don't facilitate his journey."
"I'll no stir a hoof till ye promise to come to us, Mr. Coristine, and you, Mr. Wilkins, tae."
"All right, many thanks, we promise," they cried together, and the waggon rattled away.
"Now, Wilks, over this ditch, sharp, and into the brush, till this thief of the world goes by. We've deprived him of a ride, and that's one good thing done."
Together they jumped the ditch, and squatted among the bushes, waiting for the Grinstun man. They heard him puffing up the rising ground, saw his red, perspiring face in full view, and heard him, as he mopped himself with a bandanna, exclaim: "Blowed if I haint bin and lost the chance of a lift. Teetotally blawst that hold hass of a driver, and them two soft-'eaded Tomfools of hamateur scientists ridin' beside 'im. I knew it was Muggins, the cur I stole, and guv a present of to that there guy of a Favosites Wilkinsonia. I don't trust 'im, the scaly beggar, for hall 'is fine 'eroic speeches. 'E'll be goin' and splittin' on me to that gal, sure as heggs. And that Currystone, six feet of 'ipocrisy and hinsolence, drat the long-legged, 'airy brute. O crikey, but it's 'ot; 'owever, I must 'urry on, for grinstuns is grinstuns, and a gal, with a rich hold huncle, ridin' a fine 'orse, with a nigger behind 'im carryin' his portmantle, haint to be sneezed hat. Stre'ch your pegs, Mr. Rawdon, workin' geologist hand minerologist!"
"By Jove!" cried Coristine, when the Grinstun man was out of sight; "that cad has met the colonel, and has been talking to him."
"A fine nephew-in-law he will get in him!" growled Wilkinson; "I have half a mind—excuse me Corry."
"I thought you were very much taken with the old Southerner."
"Yes, that is it," and the dominie relapsed into silence.
"It's about lunch time, Wilks, and, as there's sure to be no water on the top of the hill, I'll fill my rubber bag at the spring down there, and carry it up, so that we can enjoy the view while taking our prandial."
Wilkinson vouchsafed no reply. He was in deep and earnest thought about something. Taking silence for consent, Coristine tripped down the hill a few yards, with a square india rubber article in his hand. It had a brass mouthpiece that partly screwed off, when it was desirable to inflate it with air, as a cushion, pillow, or life-preserver, or to fill it with hot water to take the place of a warming-pan. Now, at the spring by the roadside, he rinsed it well out, and then filled it with clear cold water, which he brought back to the place where the schoolmaster was leaning on his stick and pondering. Replacing the knapsack, out of which the india rubber bag had come, the lawyer prepared to continue the ascent. In order to rouse his reflective friend, he said, "Wilks, my boy, you've dropped your fossils."
"I fear, Corry, that I have lost all interest in fossils."
"Sure, that Grinstun man's enough to give a man a scunner at fossils for the rest of his life."
"It is not exactly that, Corry," replied the truthful dominie; "but I need my staff and my handkerchief, and I think I will leave the specimens on the road, all except these two Asaphoi, the perplexing, bewildering relics of antiquity. This world is full of perplexities still, Corry." So saying, the dominie sighed, emptied his bandanna of all but the two fossils, which he transferred to his pocket, and, with staff in hand, recommenced the upward journey. In ten minutes they were on the summit, and beheld the far-off figure of the working geologist on the further slope. In both directions the view was magnificent. They sat by the roadside on a leafy bank overshaded with cool branches, and, producing the reduplication of the Barrie stores procured the night before at Collingwood, proceeded to lunch al fresco. The contents of the india rubber bag, qualified with the spirit in their flasks, cheered the hearts of the pedestrians and made them more inclined to look on the bright side of life. Justice having been done to the biscuits and cheese, Coristine lit his pipe, while the dominie took a turn at Wordsworth.
With musical intonation, Wilkinson read aloud:—
Some thought he was a lover, and did woo: Some thought far worse of him, and judged him wrong: But verse was what he had been wedded to; And his own mind did like a tempest strong Come to him thus, and drove the weary wight along.
With him there often walked in friendly guise, Or lay upon the moss by brook or tree, A noticeable man with large grey eyes, And a pale face that seemed undoubtedly As if a blooming face it ought to be; Heavy his low-hung lip did oft appear, Depress'd by weight of musing phantasy; Profound his forehead was, though not severe; Yet some did think that he had little business here.
He would entice that other man to hear His music, and to view his imagery. And, sooth, these two did love each other dear, As far as love in such a place could be; There did they dwell—from earthly labour free, As happy spirits as were ever seen: If but a bird, to keep them company, Or butterfly sate down, they were, I ween, As pleased as if the same had been a maiden queen.
"That's the true stuff, Wilks, and has the right ring in it, for we love each other dear, and are as happy spirits as were ever seen, but not a large grey eye, pale face, or low-hung lip between us. Just hear my music now, and view my imagery with your mind's eye:—
Far down the ridge, I see the Grinstun man, Full short in stature and rotund is he, Pale grey his watery orbs, that dare not scan His interlocutor, and his goatee, With hair and whiskers like a furnace be: Concave the mouth from which his nose-tip flies In vain attempt to shun vulgarity. O haste, ye gods, to snatch from him the prize, And send him hence to weep—and to geologize!"
"The rhythm is all right, Corry, and the rhyme, but I hope you do not call that poetry?"
"If that isn't superior to a good many of Wordsworth's verses, Wilks, I'll eat my hat, and that would be a pity this hot weather. Confess now, you haythen, you," cried the lawyer, making a lunge at his companion with his stick, which the latter warded off with his book.
"There are some pretty poor ones," the schoolmaster granted grudgingly, "but the work of a great poet should not be judged by fragments."
"Wilks, apply the rule; I have only given you one stanza of the unfinished epic, which unborn generations will peruse with admiration and awe, 'The Grinstun Quarry Restored':—
I have striven hard for my high reward Through many a changing year Now, the goal I reach; it is mine to teach. Stand still, O man, and hear!
I shall wreathe my name, with the brightness of fame, To shine upon history's pages; It shall be a gem in the diadem Of the past to future ages!
Oh, Wilks for immortality!" cried the light-hearted lawyer, rising with a laugh.
Looking back towards the ascent, he perceived two bowed figures struggling up the hill under largish, and, apparently, not very light burdens.
"Wilks, my dear, we're young and vigorous, and down there are two poor old grannies laden like pack mules in this broiling sun. Let us leave our knapsacks here, and give them a hoist."
The schoolmaster willingly assented, and followed his friend, who flew down the hill at breakneck speed, in a rapid but more sober manner. The old couple looked up with some astonishment at a well-dressed city man tearing down the hill towards them like a schoolboy, but their astonishment turned to warmest gratitude, that found vent in many thankful expressions, as the lawyer shouldered the old lady's big bundle, and, as, a minute later, the dominie relieved her partner of his. They naturally fell into pairs, the husband and Wilkinson leading, Coristine and the wife following after. In different ways the elderly pair told their twin burden-bearers the same story of their farm some distance below the western slope of the mountain, of their son at home and their two daughters out at service, and mentioned the fact that they had both been schoolteachers, but, as they said with apologetic humility, only on third-class county certificates. Old Mr. Hill insisted on getting his load back when the top of the mountain was reached, and the pedestrians resumed their knapsacks and staves, but the lawyer utterly refused to surrender his bundle to the old lady's entreaties. The sometime schoolteachers were intelligent, very well read in Cowper, Pollock, and Sir Walter Scott, as well as in the Bible, and withal possessed of a fair sense of humour. The old lady and Coristine were a perpetual feast to one another. "Sure!" said he, "it's bagmen the ignorant creatures have taken us for more than once, and it's a genuine one I am now, Mrs. Hill," at which the good woman laughed, and recited the Scotch ballad of the "Wee Wifukie coming frae the fair," who fell asleep, when "by came a packman wi' a little pack," and relieved her of her purse and placks, and "clippit a' her gowden locks sae bonnie and sae lang." This she did in excellent taste, leaving out any objectionable expressions in the original. When she repeated the words of the Wifukie at the end of each verse, "This is nae me," consequent on her discovery that curls and money were gone, the lawyer laughed heartily, causing the pair in front, who were discussing educational matters, to look round for the cause of the merriment. "I'm the man," shouted Coristine to them, "the packman wi' a little pack." Then Mr. Hill knew what it was.
Conversation with the Hills—Tobacco—Rural Hospitality—The Deipnosophist and Gastronomic Dilemma—Mr. Hill's Courtship—William Rufus rouses the Dominie's Ire—Sleep—The Real Rufus—Acts as Guide—Rawdon Discussed—The Sluggard Farmer—The Teamsters—The Wasps—A Difference of Opinion.
It was very pleasant for all four, the walk down the mountain road; and the pedestrians enjoyed the scenery all the more with intelligent guides to point out places of interest. The old schoolteacher, having questioned Wilkinson as to his avocation, looked upon him as a superior being, and gratified the little corner of good-natured vanity that lies in most teachers' hearts. Coristine told the wife that he trusted her daughters had good places, where they would receive the respect due to young women of such upbringing; and she replied:—
"O yes, sir, they are both in one family, the family of Squire Carruthers in Flanders. Tryphena is the eldest; she's twenty-five, and is cook and milker and helps with the washing. Tryphosa is only twenty, and attends to the other duties of the house. Mrs. Carruthers is not above helping in all the work herself, so that she knows how to treat her maids properly. Still, I am anxious about them."
"Nothing wrong with their health, I hope?" asked the lawyer.
"No, sir; in a bodily way they enjoy excellent health."
"Pardon me, Mrs. Hill," interrupted Coristine, "for saying that your perfectly correct expression calls up that of a friend of mine. Meeting an old college professor, very stiff and precise in manner and language, he had occasion to tell him that, as a student, he had enjoyed very poor health. 'I do not know about the enjoying of it, sir,' he answered, 'but I know your health was very poor.' Ha, ha! but I interrupted you."
"I was going to say, sir, that I have never been ambitious, save to keep a good name and live a humbly useful life, with food convenient for me, as Agur, the son of Jakeh, says in the Book of Proverbs, in which, I suppose, he included clothing and shelter, but I did hope my girls would look higher than the Pilgrims."
"You don't mean John Bunyan's Christian and Christiana, and Great Heart, and the rest of them?"
"Oh, no!" replied the old lady, laughing, "mine are living characters, quite unknown to the readers of books, Sylvanus and Timotheus, the sons of old Saul Pilgrim."
"Oh, that's their name, is it? The Crew never told me his surname, nor did Captain Thomas."
"You know Sylvanus' captain, then? But, has he many sailors besides Pilgrim?"
"No; that's why I call him The Crew. It's like a Scotch song, 'The Kitty of Loch Goil,' that goes:—
For a' oor haill ship's companie, Was twa laddy and a poy, prave poys
Sylvanus is The Crew, who goes on a cruise, like Crusoe. O, do forgive me, Mrs. Hill, for so forgetting myself; we have been so long away from ladies' society," which, considering the circumstances of the preceding day, was hardly an ingenuous statement.
"I am not so troubled about the elder Pilgrim and Tryphena," continued the old lady, "because Tryphena is getting up a little in years for the country; I believe they marry later in the city, Mr. Coristine?"
"O yes, always, very much, I'm sure," answered the lawyer, confusedly.
"Tryphena is getting up, and—well, she takes after her father in looks, but will make any man a good wife. Then the elder Pilgrim has good morals, and is affectionate, soft I should be disposed to call him; and he has regular employment all the year round, though often away from home. He has money saved and in the bank, and has a hundred-acre farm in the back country somewhere. He says, if Tryphena refuses him, he will continue to risk his life among the perils of the deep, by which the silly fellow means Lake Simcoe." Here the quondam schoolmistress broke into a pleasant laugh that had once been musical.
"And Miss Tryphosa, did I understand you to say you apprehend anything in her quarter from the Pilgrims?" enquired Coristine.
"Please say Tryphosa, sir; I do not think that young girls in service should be miss'd."
"But they are very much missed when they go away and get married; don't grudge me my little joke, Mrs. Hill."
"I would not grudge you anything so poor," she replied, shaking a forefinger at the blushing lawyer. "You are right in supposing I apprehend danger to Tryphosa from the younger Pilgrim. She is—well, something like what I was when I was young, and she is only a child yet, though well grown. Then, this younger Pilgrim has neither money nor farm; besides, I am told, that he has imbibed infidel notions, and has lately become the inmate of a disreputable country tavern. If you had a daughter, sir, would you not tremble to think of her linking her lot with so worthless a character?" Before the lawyer could reply, the old man called back: "Mother, I think you had better give the gentleman a rest; he must be tired of hearing your tongue go like a cow-bell in fly time." Coristine protested, but his companion declined to continue the conversation.
"The mistress is as proud of wagging that old tongue of hers," remarked the dominie's companion, "as if she had half the larnin' of the country, and she no more nor a third class county certificut."
"Many excellent teachers have begun on them," remarked Wilkinson.
"But she begun and ended there; the next certificut she got was a marriage one, and, in a few years, she had a class in her own house to tache and slipper."
"Your wife seems to be a very superior woman, Mr. Hill."
"That's where the shoe pinches me. Shuparior! it's that she thinks herself, and looks down on my book larnin' that's as good as her own. But, I'll tell ye, sir, I've read Shakespeare and she hasn't, not a word."
"How is that?"
"Her folks were a sort of Lutherian Dutch they call Brethren. They're powerful strict, and think it a mortal sin to touch a card or read a play. My own folks were what they called black-mouthed Prosbytarians, from the north of Ireland, but aijewcation made me liberal-minded. It never had that effect on the mistress, although her own taycher was an old Scotch wife that spent her time tayching the childer Scott, and Pollok's 'Course of Time,' and old Scotch ballads like that Packman one she was reciting to your friend. Now, I larnt my boys and gyurls, when I was school tayching, some pieces of Shakespeare, and got them to declaim at the school exhibitions before the holidays. I minded some of them after I was married, and, one day when it was raining hard, I declaimed a lovely piece before Persis, that's the mistress' name, when the woman began to cry, and fell on her knees by the old settle, and prayed like a born praycher. She thought I had gone out of my mind; so, after that, I had to keep Shakespeare to myself. Sometimes I've seen Tryphosa take up the book and read a bit, but Rufus, that's the baby, is just like his mother—he'll neither play a card, nor read a play, nor smoke, nor tell lies. I dunno what to do with the boy at all, at all."
"But it is rather a good thing, or a series of good things, not to play cards, nor smoke, nor tell lies," remarked Wilkinson. "Perhaps the baby is too young to smoke or read Shakespeare."
"He's eighteen and a strapping big fellow at that, our baby Rufus. He can do two men's work in a day all the week through, and go to meetin' and Sunday school on Sundays; but he's far behind in general larnin' and in spirit, not a bit like his father. Do I understand you object to smoking, sir?"
"Not a bit," replied his companion, "but my friend Coristine smokes a pipe, and, as smokers love congenial company, I had better get him to join you, and relieve him of his load." So saying, Wilkinson retired to the silent pair in the rear, took the old lady's bundle from the lawyer and sent him forward to smoke with the ancient schoolmaster. The latter waxed eloquent on the subject of tobackka, after the pipes were filled and fairly set agoing.
"There was a fanatic of a praycher came to our meetin' one Sunday morning last winter, and discoorsed on that which goeth out of a man. He threeped down our throats that it was tobackka, and that it was the root of bitterness, and the tares among the wheat, which was not rightly translated in our English Bible. He said using tobackka was the foundation of all sin, and that, if you counted up the letters in the Greek tobakko, because Greek has no c, the number would be 483, and, if you add 183 to that, it would make 666, the mark of the Beast; and, says he, any man that uses tobackka is a beast! It was a powerful sarmon, and everybody was looking at everybody else. When the meetin' was over, I met Andrew Hislop, a Sesayder, and I said to him, 'Annerew!' says I, 'what do you think of that blast? Must we give up the pipe or be Christians no more?' Says Andrew, 'Come along wi' me,' and I went to his house and he took down a book off a shelf in his settin' room. 'Look at this, Mr. Hill,' says he, 'you that have the book larnin', 'tis written by these godly Sesayders, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, and is poetry.' I took the book and read the piece, and what do you think it was?"
"Charles Lamb's farewell to tobacco," said Coristine wildly:—
Brother of Bacchus, later born, The Old World were sure forlorn, Wanting thee.
'No, sir; it was a 'Gospel Sonnet on Tobackka and Pipes'; pipes, mind you, as well—all about this Indian weed, and the pipe which is so lily white. Oh, sir, it was most improvin'. And that fanatic of a praycher, not fit to blacken the Erskines' shoes, even if they were Sesayders! I went home and I says, 'Rufus, my son,' and he says, 'Yes, fayther!' Says I, 'Rufus, am I a Christian man, though frail and human, am I a Christian man or am I not?' Rufus says, 'You are a Christian, fayther.' Then says I, 'What is the praycher, Rufus, my boy?' and Rufus, that uses tobackka in no shape nor form, says, 'He's a consayted, ignerant, bigitted bladderskite of a Pharisee!' Sir, I was proud of that boy!'