Jordan is a Hard Road
Sir Gilbert Parker
Author of “The WeaversThe Right of Way”
“Thc.Money Master,” etc.
SYNOPSIS Hill \lindm, ex-train rob hcr, et,m< s to Askatoon to lire, creating lively ihsiussion among the townspeople as to his motirrs. lie stays at the Sun bright llotil. and lues an > xemplary life, reeding Ins bible on Sundays on the Hotel piro h m full ii ew of ei cry one. Hinden shows special interest in the school taught by t'ora Unify, a pretty and popular young woman, and Hrs. Finley, the midhrr. displays animosity toward him. H-e calls on Airs. Finley one evening and in the ciursc of the rnneersation it derelops that F'ira i* Hinden's daugh ter, giren to Airs. Finley to raise by Hinden on his wife's death. Hinden avows his intention of winning his way to power in Askatoon.
THE CAMP MEETING
REVIVAL meetings are generally held in great halls or churches; but the strikingly successful revival meeting at Mayo, Nolan Doyle’s ranch, was held in tents, and it was therefore called a Camp Meeting. It was the first that had ever been held between Winnipeg and the Rockies. Therefore the population of Askatoon was numerously reinforced by the religious pilgrim from outside, and also by the inquisitive sinner who came to see, be seen, and enjoy whatever sensation the pious exercises might beget To these was added the visittr and citizen, who was neither religions nor simple, but who had pursued his way without being convicted of unrighteousness on the one hand or being reputed irreligious on the other. His particular conversion, when it came, was no sensation; he was simply convicted of original sin and the atonement and the r ecessity for finding salvation. His consequent pain, agony, and spiritual disturbance was indispensable to a proper passage from the ranks of the unsaved to the saved. He received the sympathy of those who went about embracing, exhorting and whispering comfort; but his capture caused less rejoicing lhan when some real outcast, some acknowledged sinner, reprobate, drunkard, ovil-liver or scoffer, bent to the spiritual storm and strove with the spirit, until at last, tossing upon the sea of emotion he felt his fingers grip the bulwark of the ship of salvation. Then, lifted on a wave of passion to its safe deck, he cried out. “I’m saved! Saved! Bless the Lord!” while all around him rose the cry of “Glory! Glory!” with all the emotional ejaculations which signified that a soul was snatched from the burning.
The great revival preacher, Ephraim Masterman, was a reaper without a rival so far as the West had known. In the great tent he alternately prayed and exhorted, blessed and wept, soothed and
clamored, and exultingly embraced the conquered ones translated from the anxious seat to the platform of the saved with its spectacular joy.
IT was just after the harvest, the weather was still delightfully, indeed, amorously warm, and in the lull that followed the strenuous activities of the wheat harvest—or the almost complete harvest —the fervid air of exalted sentiment was highly stimulating. It was perhaps unfortunate that while the tents were pitched in the open there was. very near by, a grove of trees offering invitations to the pleasures of indolence. The cynic might well'be scornful of the too neighborly association of the Godly love in tiie tents in the open and the profane love in the grove that shadowed them.
The Young Doctor scratched his chin in reflection when Terence Brennan, the millionaire railway owner and ranches, fresh from a hasty visit to the Camp Meeting, made out of curioaity while paying a visit to Mrs. Nolan Doyle, his sister, said to him: “Did you ever read Bobby Burns’ ‘Holy Fair’?” And when the Young Doctor nodded in reply, added cynically, “ ‘And mon y a job begun that day will end in hockmagandy, or some ither place.’ ”
The Young Doctor’s reply was a little sever#. After all, Terence Brennan was an absentee millionaire who could afford any pleasure he wanted, and therefore could more easily escape the divine discontent possessing those whose field of life is limited, whose pleasures, mental and emotions spiritual, are few.
“It’s no bad thing to get back into the primitive life and to the primary emotions,” he said. “You are too sophisticated and incredulous, Brennan. ‘Evil tot him that evil thinks.’ You’re doing very well out of Askatoon, Brennan. It contributes its share of your railway profits, and you’d better let us work out our own salvation. In fear and trembling, of course, it will be—fear that you’ll raise your freight rates on us; but for Heaven’s sake let us live our own life. You selfish millionaires are critical because your souls are so small.”.
Brennan laughed good-naturedly. He loved attack; it was the breath of life to him.
“There, there, I’ll give you the chips for the game,” he replied. “You can say you’ve won; but you’re right; I’m in a mood to be critical of Askatoon ; so I suppose I’m not a really good judge of your holy fair.”
“Wherefore critical?” asked the Young Doctor, his mind, as always, alert for every shiver of colors in the kaleidoscope of life.
BRENNAN chuckled and lighted a cigar. “Well, Bill Minden in Askatoon—Bill Minden as school trustee, Bill Minden standing for mayor, Bill Minden as the fatherly philanthropist, patting the school children on the head, chucking the young lady teacher under the chin, magnetizing the town and corporation with a wave of his bonnie brown hand— well, isn’t that enough to make a railway president critical of Askatoon? Once to my knowledge, and twice to my instinct. Bill Minden has gone through the pockets of the passengers of my tn» ns and has scooped the cash from the express-car; and here he is now the pet lamb of the fold!”
“Is that why you are here?” asked the Young Doctor.
“You ought to know better. Isn’t my family here—Norah Doyle out at Mayo, and my father and mother ! I didn't know that Minden was in Askatoon till I saw him at the camp meeting this afternoons till I saw him getting inside the big tent with a look bn his face like the Queen of Sheba when she met Solomon. It beata me. What's he here fort What’s his game?”
“Well, some mm, when they're tired of doing tiie world, seek the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” answered the Young Doctor. “When you're tired of doing the world, Brennan, whan you’ve finished ‘watering stock* in tiie tities, perhaps you'll come, too, and water the onions in your own back garden here? like a king who, having had everything the world can offer, in the spirit at the Sybarite turns hermit, and trias the simple life from sheer luxury of living.” “Perhaps you’re right,” answered the millionaire. “The gay Griselda, finding the candle of enjoyment all burnt up, and only the black snuff left, comee and lights tiie wick again at the altar of the church, and ends her days in peace, properly penitent, pleasantly pious, prudently prepared.”
The Young Doctor roared with laughter. “Brennan, you’ve been liitening to Bill Minden. That’s his game, and you’ve caught on. Alliteration is a di ieaae with him. A choicer vocabulary I've never known.”
“Suppose the camp meeting catches „him—converts him, eh?”
“Well, that would please Mrs. Finley,” remarked the Young Doror with a meaning smile.
“Mrs. Finley? Oh! old Steve Finley’s widow, eh? Is she making up to Bill?” “No, but she seams to have a fancy for ¿kving his soul, and she has iffered up petitions in the* prayer-meeti:ig pretty
constantly of late, that Bill shall be snatched from the burning.”
THE two men had walked along the street until they had almost reached the door of the post-office. At that moment Cora Finley stepped out of the postoffice door, and with eyes alight and excitement in her face, came quickly towards the Young Doctor.
“Oh! what do you suppose has happened!” she said. “Mr. Masterman has had a stroke or something, at the Camp Meeting, and they’re bringing him in to Asks toon.”
Terence Brennan looked at the girl inquiringly, then said : “I’ve only just come from there, I didn’t hear of it.”
“That’s easily explained,” she answered. “There was no school to-day, the telegraph operator wanted to go to the Camp Meeting, and I’ve taken her place at the key. You know I learned telegraphy a long time ago,” she added to the Young Doctor. “There’s-a branchline to Mayo where the Camp Meeting is, and I’ve jnst got the news over the wire. They’re bringing him in.”
“So endeth the spiritual free-an-easy,” remarked Brennan, with an ironical smile.
The girl’s eyes flashed. “You wouldn’t understand.” she said; “you’re a Roman Catholic.”
“No. I suppose I wouldn’t underttand,” the millionaire drawled pleasantly. “It wants a sensitive mind like Bill Minden’* to grasp such things.”
The girl’s eyes flashed indignation. “Some men sin and pay, like Mr. Minden,” she said ; “and others sin and don’t
“Why should they if they don’t have to?” pleasantly retorted Brennan.
“Those that sin and are sorry, and suffer and pay now, don’t have to pay in the end,” she replied severely.
“Well, I’ll put it off as long as possible,” remarked the capitalist. “ ’Jordan is a hard road to travel’.”
The Young Doctor’s eyes had been searching the girl’s face, with a curious, almost set, alertness. ^Something in her dark blue eyes riveted his attention.
“I see it,” he said to himself suddenly and with a thumping of his heart. “By George, I see it!”
A moment afterwards the three had separated, the girl to go beck te the the millionaire to mount his horse and gallop away to the pleasant little boose where his eld father and mother peacefully Hvedja^the pleatyJto
orhT"h had seized him. The r^egieu* 'dov— = A rtwtiuur vet, gr-.aCy dutWed ir consequence.
The class meeting arranged for the morning was as harten of emotion^ sic as a tin pan is of melody. Dejecion. irritation, prevailed. Those who
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were responsible for the organization of the great gathering talked mournfully of the spiritual loss; but there was another loss upon which they were all discreetly silent, until Rigby, the druggist, who was an especially candid soul, remarked that three days more and they would have had enough cash profit out of the Camp Meeting to pay the debt off the church.
“We expected to net three thousand dollars.” he said; “and we’ve got two thousand five hundred of it; .but the chances of getting the last five hundred ain’t worth a pinch of bakin’ soda.”
Here a voice intervened. “Have faith, ’brother Rigby, have faith!” it cried. ’Baking soda makes the dough rise; from faith will rise our deliverer. Perhaps even while we are troubled here, one cometh of whom it may be asid, ‘Who is this that cometh with dyed garments from Bazrah traveling in the greatness of his strength?’ ”
Curiosity would bring a crowd to the late afternoon meeting, and interest for one day would be tolerably secure; but it would quickly and finally evaporate unless someone could be found who would raise the standard With a new religious slogan.
THE weather was propitious, the late afternoon was very warm, and the comfort of physical warmth is a great encouragement and a great support to an organized meeting. One local minister opened the proceedings very wisely with a hymn, and it was a good hymn. It was the hymn which Bill Minden had quoted to Mrs. Finley, “When I Can Read My Title Clear to Mansions in the Skies/’ It started well, but it finished on a wave of fueling with a little lower crest than that of previous days. Another minister from the mountains was about to pray, when a shrill and throbbing voice rang out from the crowd singing, “Hold the Fort for I Am Coming,” and the congregation, responding to the inspiration, joined in with great fervor, to the delight of the leaders. Prayer by the mountain preacher followed, but it lacked what on^ of the critics at the back of the tent called " “snap,” and he further remarked that it reached the audience it was intended to reach, but he’d take a bet that it didn’t reach the Lord.
It was apparent that the emotion of the meeting required flagellation. The ltaders sees found them ml UP m heavy
ttma asnal was required The Rev. Ephraim Masterman had not been rugged. hi» had not been the voice of the vt-rraru'.ar, but he Lad b&;_cu young, eloquent., sentimental, vivid and hypnotic, and having caught the women first by his sad beauty and his ecstasy, he had got the men by a really magnetic force. The white-haired imitator with his stereo-
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typed language and illustrations and adiurations, without a note of originality, was but an imitation of the real thing, of the real emotional power which the stricken revivalist had pushed, too far. The congregation was slipping away swiftly out of control, in spite of the speaker’s energetic outbursts here and there, of pleadings to sinners, when suddenly, in a short pause of the harangue —indeed in its most desperate moment— a beautiful, clear, full-throated voice rang out above the subdued clamor of those who had found and those who were finding peace. It sang:
“There’s a land that is fairer than dan And by faith we can see it afar.
And our Saviour waits over the way To prepare us a dwelling place them."
IT WAS the voice of the leader of the choir, Cora Finley. Something in it vibrated like the strings of a violin. It had neither cant, sentimentality nor whining. It rang true metal. , It was the convinced outpouring of a simple soul that knew no guile, which belonged to all that was, had ever been, or ever had been taught. It was the first note that she had sung at this revival meeting; it was the first time that she had ever taken part as one who had joined the church. The great congregation let her sing the whole verse without joining in, while tear^ filled Mrs. Fitaley’s eyes and trickled dawn her cheek; for it seemed to her that the prayers of years had been answered; that her girl “had got religion.” The meeting was magnetized once again,; and the second verse began in a very storm of exhortation. The preachers had failed and the previous hymns had failed; they had seemed forced and unreal; but now the real thing possessed the meeting.
What was to come after none could tell, but for the moment all was well. Today was as yesterday; the darkness war lit up. Veins tingled, hearts swelled, tear* flowed, voices rang out. In the middle of (the third verae, there was a sudden move ment which* attracted attention and a 'man’s voice calling. Then, all at once, before the congregation could realize what was happening títere sprang on to the platform a man with a great touzlec head, bushy heard and blaring blue eye» “Saved!” he cried. “Saved! Glory hr to God! There’s a had that ta fairer thar. day ! I’m going—Tm gotsg— I'm going there* Glory he to God *”
'found it! I’ve found it!“ ahíle
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rame from all sides; “Bless the Lord Givry lx* to Cod. he’s -a' &t;»d.”
i wo minutes afterwards Minden MU pouring out a flood of eloquence which even drowned the memory of Ephraim Masterman. Here was something right out of the core of nature. Here was a mar of the people, in the language of
the people, talking in a vernacular »train which roused the meeting to wonder and to passion. Now all the past reading of Bill’s Old Testament supplied him with texts, phrases, illustrations without number.
MINIEN FORMS A PARTNERSHIP.
* I ' HE CAMP Meeting was saved by -*■ Bill Minden, the converted, and for three day9 the great “effort” went on. At the end of it Mr. Rigby, the druggist, treasurer of Grace Church, announced that the debt on the building was redeemed.
The newspapers of the West exclaimed sympathetically, and here and there cynically, on Bill Minden’s “getting grace” as it was colloquially called. It certainly was a sensation; but the violence of the spiritual gymnastics was somewhat abated by the fact tha*: Minden in all his public life, if it might be so called, had been the amaaing anomaly of a man who had stuck-up coaches and trains, and had even killed men while carrying a Bible in his i addle-bag. Paradox he had always >een, and now, as a definite entity without contradiction he was startling but he did not defy understanding. It was as though a surgical operation had produced from a character composite of both crime and goodness a consistent whole.
The \oung Doctor was profoundly interested in what he called the Case. No one in Askâtoon but himself had seen the singular likeness between the deep blue eyes of Cora Finley, and those of the notorious Minden. Once he got the clue, he began to travel back, with scientific certainty, through a hundred incidents of Minden’s life at Askatoon. and through many circumstances surrounding his transfer from the highwayman’s enterprise to his new civic virtue. At the end of the journey he found the truth—Minden was the irirl’s father. He could not. however, roe«.« what had been the past relations btfwu Mrs. Finley and Minden, and why it was that Mrs. Finley, until Minder’» cw his danpst ervCar
lacutor incur« oí Ue the turnen
sheep of the flock turned miracuously white, there was no smack of vanity or self-consciousness about him. As Jonas Billings said :
“He surely is a wonder. You’d think
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•rt'ved » a ►hiver pne>*at:f but there was 'an oben—ion in his brain and heart which controlled, possessed him: he wanted more." The acknowledgment of the girl as his daughter was denied him, but he had a supreme joy and vanity in what she was. Respectability
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up. I’m a brother to every man, an’ I’t most a brother to them that’s on the pad that’s cornin’ an’ goin’. I’m at hom * with the wayfarer, an’ he’s at home with me. Y’ve got to follow ÿ’r bent in the stete
Continued on page 71
Continued from page 35
of life which the Lord has called you to. I want to be just u-here I’ve always been, while not being as I’ve always been. If I’m goin’ to do any good with my religion, which I got while the lowly lamp still held out to ‘luminate, I mus’n’t shake my shanks away from the passin’ show. What’s the good o’ my livin’ among believers! What I’ve got to do is to live among the damned. Being familiar with them, I get a better chance of gettin’ my hand on to them, and coaxin’ them out of the broad path into the neat and narrow way, where the light of love lingers long as life lasts.”
In his “soul to soul” talks, as he called them, he never could resiät this alliteration. His preachings, his prayers, and his exhortations were filled with striking phrases; it was a unique gift.
“No, the tavern’s the place for me, and a tavern it shall be,” he added. “I’m of the passin’ world, prepared to penetrate the pilgrim’s impenitent «oui. To the tavern door comes the young yearlin’ of the herd and the old buck of the bad lands. A word in season, a whisper in the night, a warnin’ in the mornin’ an’ you never know but you’ve snatched a soul out of the cinders.”
IT WAS a good argument, still the prayer-people felt it incongruous that their new leader, their profligate prodigal. now a tower of strength in the Lord’s house, should still remain in the house of Rimmon, where scenes of drunkenness occurred; where even a migratory strumpet might now and again be seen. What discontent might have developed till the fresh convert was disciplined at quarterly meeting would never be known, because on a certain inspired day Minden found the way out. One night he had not slept at all thinking of his “little gal,” and in the morning, soon after sunrise, sitting on the stoop of the hotel, he saw passing down the street another victim of insomnia—John Warner, the real estate agent. Only the day before he had heard of Warner’s impending bankruptcy. The poor man had built a hotel and could not pay for it, and the mortgagees and the banks were crowding tocrush him; to get out of his mangled remains financial profit while yet it would not fail them. As Minden watched Warner passing with haggard face and downcast look, there flashed into his mind the solution of his own problem. He rose hurriedly from the verandah and strode down the street after the broken man.
“Say, wait a minute, Mr. Warner,” he
Apathetically, the other turned, but he did not speak.
“Tell me. what did your hotel cost you?” Minden asked. “What did it cost you according to the bills and the auditors?” “Seventeen thousand dollars—all I had, and six thousand more than I had,” answered the other.
“I’ll give eighteen thousand for it,” said Minden, ‘if you can show me straight
it cost you that.”
“It’s worth twenty-five thousand,” responded Warner with a new, tremulous look of hope in his face.
“Well, then. I’ll give twenty thousand,
if you're givin’ it t’ me straight,” returned Minden.
In vain the other tried to conquer himself. but he had eaten nothing for a couple of days, and he had not slept at all for three whole nights. He opened hi9 lips once or twice to speak, then a great convulsion shook him, and he burst into tears. Sobs shook him as Minden hurried him across the street into the Sunbright Hotel, and upstairs into his own room.
When Warner could control himself sufficiently lie said “My God, but you’re a Christian, Mr. Minden!”
WHY DID Minden buy a hotel at a cost of twenty thousand dollars? At first glance it seemed bad enough to live in an hotel when you were a professing Christian, but to buy a hotel deliberately, which would be licensed to sell, “Wine, beer and other spirituous and fermented liquors,” seemed flying in the face of a newly got reputation for grace. Bill saw the full significance of the situation he had created, but he had staked all on his inspired hazard, and he would see it through. The news, of his purchase traveled swiftly through the town, and many a sour-tempered sinner essayed to run across him during the day with the dark purpose of “showing him up,” as they put it. For one of the “saved” to buy a hotel, was, as Jonas Bilings said, enough to make a eat laugh. The unregenerate laughed eonsupnedly. and Billings announced that Minden hadn’t learned yet how to be a Christian. He guessed that as Bill had been taking things without paying for than all his life, the new habit of paying for what he wanted, 'sort of in-
toxicated him; an’ he’ll want to buy a race-course next, an’ a brass band to go With it.”
Good humor marked the sardonic criticism of nearly every unregenerate; but Patsy Kernaghan, who had become Bill’s most ferocious and unassuaged critic since his conversion, fairly danced in triumph to the Young Doctor’s office, bursting in upon his medical friend as he was cleaning instruments after an operation. On this unconventional entrance the Young Doctor thrust a long knife out at Patsy medodramatically.
“I’ll cut your face away from that ugly nose of yours, Kernaghan,” he said, “if you enter my office again without knocking.”
“Aw, Doctor dear,” rejoined the other excitedly—“aw, put it away. It doesn’t matter cutting away me face—it’s never been anny use to me; but have you heard what’s happened? Did ye get the news? Did ye hear the thunderbolt drop?”
“You mean about Minden and Warner’s hotel?” answered the other lazily.
“Tare an’ ’ouns, isn’t that a thunderbolt^ Isn't that a fine scrape? In today an’ out to-morrow, like a landleaguer an’ Limerick Gaol ! Here to-day and away to-morrow, like the clods of the valley! In the arms of the Methodies last week, and back again to Beelzeboob this week. Shure, I think he was mad—just struck down by a gurl’s voice in a crowded tint, an’ all the people shouting round him ‘Glory be’! He hadn’t been used to it, and him gettin’ old—that’s what’s the matter with him.”
• “Ah, you had hopes he would join the
Catholics, Patsy.” remarked the Young Doctor, with a careful edge to his voice.
“Shure, I thought there was that much sense left rill him. There was hopes he’d get the balance of his mind in this good air, but, annyhow, glory be, he didn’t stay long among thim Methhodies. He breaks out like a young bull, an’ buys a hotel, an’ begorra, he’s goin’ to run it himself, too!”
“So there’s hope for him yet, eh?”
“There’s no hypokrasy in the Cat’lic Church. Shure, a man can keep a hotel or be a doctor!—it doesn’t matter how bad he is. The Church just says, Do your dooty where y’are placed; whether it’s tradin’ with good whiskey or dosin’ with bad poisin. If ’Hs so, Doctor dear, thin there y’are. The Church saves you in spite of it. That’s not the way with the Methodies. Niver mind where y’are placed, come out of it they say. Come out of it, an’ be a baker or a tinsmith or a storekeeper or an insurance agent, or an undertaker; an’ there y’are! Thim’s the Hevenly trades that’s pursooed in the mansions in the skies. Aw, Doctor dear, I was afeared Bill Minden was losin’ his mind; but I shouldn’t wonder but some good angel with a bottle of Hinnisy’s brandy stepped up till him last rright, as he was getting into bed an’ whispered in his ear what was good for him. So he woke up in the marnin’ with an empty bpttle in his hand an’ a new mind; an’ seein’ Warner’s hotel yander he observed his duty an’ done it, an’ was saved from the grave of the hypocrik an’ the hell of the lunatic.”
“Well, I’m not so sure of that,” answered the Young Doctor. “I’d like to
hear what Minden says to the dass! leaders to-night. They’re getting thumbj screws ready for him, I hear. There j were never any inquisitors in Spain like Í these, Patsy. The Spanish crowd said. ! ‘Be of good cheer, for by this you shall be saved’; while the Askatoor, inquisitors l say. ‘Put out his eyes, cut off his tongue, and let him be damned.’ Kernaghan, my i lad. I’m not at all sure there isn’t a nigger j in William Minden’s fence. He’ll roast ; them. I’m thinking.”
The Young Doctor was quite right. There was to be a class-meeting in the evening, and at it the prayer-people would sit in judgment on Minden, the converted one. It was a difficult position. Minden had greatly increased the church membership; he had been an “instrument of grace,” the rescuer of the lost. Also he had been a rich source of financial profit, and their hearts were sick that this hotelbusiness might force them to expel him from their communion. In any one else the matter would have called for reproach and discipline only, but in Minden’s case, it was a degrading return to ¡ the husks the swine did eat, and it was j too notorious not to notice it in a large way.
Minden knew it all. He depended on one thing, and he went to find it at the house of Mrs. Finley. It was five o’clock in the afternoon and to his joy, Mrs. Finley w’as absent and Cora was at home. He entered on her at a moment when she was making for supper what are called biscuits in the WestIn her white apron and flour-covered hands, with eyes alight and cheeks abloom, with an air of genteel Business about her, she was a very picture of domesticity. Minden’s heart grew big with pride.
“Peace be to this house,” he said with Oriental quaintness and an Occidental smile.
“And unto you, friend, also,” she rereplied, with a joyous naturalness.
Presently she added, “I can't quite make out why it is, Mr. Minden, that the first time we met, your eyes seemed familiar to me, and just now when you came in, it seemed as if I knew you ages ago somewhere.”
A flush stole slowly over Minden’s face. She had startled him. It was almost as though she had called him father.
“Well, it must ha’ been all right bej tween us ages ago,” he answered, “for you surely are kind to me now. You don’t stand me off as though I ought to be breakin’ stones.”
“You have been breaking stones." she answered. “You have broken the stone ot many, a hard heart; you’ve made people happy that were unhappy before. That s the thing about religion which I understand.” she added. “I don’t think I ever had any grace, as mother understands it; but helping someone that needs help is my religion.” •
“You don’t just think all the time about saving your own soul, then?” asked her visitor. j
“I think that’s selfish,” she answered. ¡ “You’ve got to be thinking of others or i you don’t have happiness.” Then while I wiping the flour from her fingers, she con; tinued :
“That’s why you bought John Warner’s j hotel, isn’t it? You werenT thinking of -yourself, but of him. Some of the classleaders are mad at you, but you know' why you did it, and you’re going to explain to the meeting to-night, aren’t you?”
FOR A moment Minden was silent, then as though with an effort, he replied: “No. I guess I was selfish after all.”
“I don't believe it,” she replied stoutly. He shook his head perplexedly. “I’ll tell you why I bought that hotel, an’ I’m telling you first of all. I’m hopin’ too you’re not goin’ to fly out an’ say shame on me when I’ve told you. I bought that tavern, not to run it as a place where anybody can get drunk if he likes or play cards, and shoot off his mouth. I bought it for the town’s good. I’m goin’ to run it as a temperance hotel. LotaArf people know me in the West, an’ lots who don’t know me want to see me, as if I was a hyena in a circus; an’ I’ll draw. That tavern ’ll be a home for the weary, for the traveller cornin’ or goin’. I can do more good in a temperance hotel like that than ten churches can. for there’ll be a word in season for them that never enter a church—not a word of .religion, but just good tidin’s, just a sort of sense of bein’ all right.”
She clapped her hands* “There. I was sure you meant something good by it. but I see now how a big mind thinks.” “Say, don’t talk like that,” Minden answered with blinking eyes, while longing to kiss the spot on the top of her head where the light burnished her hair. “I’ll tell you what my plans are, because you’re the only person that can help me carry ’em out. If you say yes, then both of us together can make your mother say yes. She can be made to say it,” he continued almost introspectively. “You don’t know what I want? Well, listen. Your mother told me a week ago that this house has been sold by her landlord, and she has to give up and get out. Well, I want her to come and help me make that temperance hotel go—the first ever started out here in a big way, an’ I want you and her to come and live there. We can prove a hotel can be made like a home; we can make it a real reef-me-in rest-house. Not a drop of liquor ’ll ever enter it, if I can help it; but I can’t do it alone. There’s not one in a million has got the sense of home your mother has. She can make that place seem a home. \ We can kill two or three of the small taverns, and give the men that’s running them work in our place; for half the men that run taverns are sober and hate drink; they see too much of it. Don’t you take what I’m driving at? Will you do it?”
She certainly did not see all that he was driving at. What he wanted was this daughter of his and her reputed mother under his own roof, where he could see them every day, in the many hours of evvy day, and share with this wonderful girl the life of a home. As he awaited her reply his eyes grew bigger with intense scrutiny and suspense.
I_ï ER EYES like his were expanding, *■ *■ she too saw a vision ; it was the vision of a man’s work and constructive power, brought within the range of her own co-operation.
“Splendid—it’s splendid!” she exclaimed. “Of course I’ll do it, if mother will; and she must. She certainly must do it. Isn’t it a great, big. magnificent plan! That’s religion,” she continued. “It isn’t getting at a lot of people at Church on a Sunday, and a few at classmeetings in the week; but it’s getting at people coming and going, and going and coming, and sitting and resting in a place where things are taught without
words. Oh, dear, I wish fhother would come—but here she is!” she added, as the gate clicked.
A moment l^ter Mrs. Finley was inside the room, quickly perceiving an atmosphere of excitement.
“What is it?” she asked with a look of suspicion and reproof in her face, for she had heard of Minden’s new adventure with alarm and pain.
“Now don’t you offer to shake hands till I’ve told you everything,” Minden said. “I’ve been telling her because instinct would tell her what to do, but it would be good, full-grown common sense with you. I was more afraid of her than you, because you’d make up your mind on the merits and she’d make up her’s on her feelings.”
THOUGH Mrs. Finley w’as distressed and provoked at what she had heard about the tavern, there was a feeling for this man she could not conquer. He was a link with her old happy past. He hau given her joy through this child of his. In spite of everything she believed in him.
“Well, I'd like a cup of tea first,” she answered. “Maybe you’ll get it, Cora, while we talk.” she added to the girl.
Cora nodded, but before she left the room, she said, “Please remember I want you to do what he wants you to do.” When she reurned ten minutes later, she saw what she had seen but'a few times in her life, tears in Mrs. Finley’s eyes.
“We’ve got to do it, Cora; it’s a clear message from on high,” Mrs. Finley said.
Almost with an air of benevolence Cora watched the two drink their tea. It seemed to herself that she was removed to a height above them both. In the mar. there was a great human passion working; in the woman’s mind there was a conviction of a message from on high; in the girl’s there was a romance of doing good, of helping' her fellow-creatures, a view of something splendid, a sweet indefinite promise of the future. It was something bigger than herself, and there was in it neither spiritual fanaticism nor human vanity; only the jealous wisdom and aspiration of youth.
CO FAR Mfnden had had his way in ^everything in Askatoon. He had gone from sensation to sensation like the great adventurer he had always been. First the bogey man with a bad reputation, moving like a threatening cloud among them all; then the open-handed philanthropist who never turned a marble heart to anyone in misery or any good cause; then school-trustee; later the repentant sinner from whom there had been more joy than over the ninety-and-nine who needed no repentance; then Mayor; and after that the greatest sensation of all: the transportation of Mrs. Finley and her daughter to the Rest Awhile Hotel. There the capable, pious widow-woman with the cameo-hrooch and the mediaeval head became the organizer of a larger domestic scheme than she had ever known. Fiftyfive years old she was, the management of this large and various business did not prove too great for her capacity.
It had been a moment of great heart .■searching on the part of the Methodist
community when, in the sacred enclosure of the class-meeting, Minden unfolded his plan, and Mrs. Finley made a decisive little speech in which she declared that she was called to do this thing; that the spirit had «¡poken to her; and that as the work had to be done she was calmly sure that she could do it as well, even a little better, than anybody else. Two or three women present sniffed at this self-confidence, but on the whole she was taken at her own valuation. That she. however. who had been the converted excriminal’s most austere critic, should leave her little home and become the housekeeper of his big tavern was a large, mouthful for these finicking religious feeders to swallow. There were two or three women present who. if they had dared, would have said. “Why don’t you marry him at once and have done with it!”
Good people as they were, it was natural they should be anxious that Mrs. Finley should not be a hypocrite; that the situation should be outwardly what it really was inwardly; for Mrs. Finley had no more idea of a closer association with Minden than he had. and it was as distant from his mind as Gehenna from Guadalupe. Minden was obsessed by one idea only—the home where his “little gal” would be.
It was not a home such as he would have liked; that is. a kind of stockade which should shut out the whole savage world. With the constant eoming and going through its doorways of hundreds of travellers, the Rest Awhile Tavern was only a home like the Arab’s tent or the Gipsy’s van ; though there were two secluded sets of rooms at either end of the capacious hostel, where the peace of home had its habitat. Also there was a little dining room common to the three, where they met at least three times a day; and by Minden’s careful ingenuity, there were many incidental meetings with the girl who was the apple of his eye. Askatoon watched the career of the Rest Awhile Hotel with abnormal scrutiny. Scores of wayfarers, attracted by the uftique character of the place, hoped to find a bottle behind^a door somewhere, or a secret panel which shielded some stimulant; but it was not long before the public became aware that the Rest Awhile Hotel was in fact, as in name, a temperance hotel, where sarsaparilla, lemonade, ginger-beer, ginger-ale, and Adam’s ale (pure cold water), were the only drinks to be had, besides tea, coffee or cocoa. No drunken man ever kept a foot within the Rest Awhile, and at last it came to be understood that Minden’s -scheme was working well. Then the religious community began to imagine it was they who had devised this wonderful social reform, wherein the comforts of Tome were united with the adventurous excitement of a pious summer picnic.
S MAYOR, Minden did his work well and wisely, and the business of the town was run economically. Only in the stationery department was there extravagance. His large way of doing things, his open-handedness, were expressed in the hand-writing which enabled him. by crowding, to put as many as fifty words on a sheet of foolscap; and if his fluency in writing had been like his -spasmodic fluency in speech the Mayor's archives would have cost the town much money.
As Patsy Kernaghan said to the Young Doctor:
“If he’s goin’ on being Mayor we’ll have to build a paper-mill, or he’ll have to get a sicretairy.”
“Well, there is Miss Finley,” remarked the Young Doctor, with a queer look.
Kernaghan nodded and jerked an approving hand. “Aw, yis, longhand an’ shorthand an’ anny hand, she knows, that gurl. She winds Bill Minden round her little finger. Shure, she’s always bin the same since the first day he come an’ she smiled a soft word till hifti, walking out of the gate of the Central School. Don’t you remember that, Doctor dear? Didn’t I tell it till ye?”
“Yes,” answered the Young Doctor, “I remember it well enough. He’s that fond of her, she might be his own daughter.”
“His own daughter! Do ye mean that peach blossom from the wild tree in the garden of Eden — that peach blossom belong to the wicked old lupus tree with the Dead Sea fruit on it? Awf Doctor
dear, is there anny lunacy in y’r family?”
The Young Doctor had never whispered his suspicions to a human being. As the West says, he never butted in. It was the soul of his business, the etiquette of his life that he should be railed in. So, until the time came, until he should be called in, if that ever was to be. no one should, guess what he thought Minden’s story was, or what was the secret of the firm of Minden, Finley and Finley.
HE WAS quite right. There was approaching Hie Rest Awhile Hotel an event, the one hand of which held happiness, while from the other streamed the black end of the midnight road.
Minden had treasured up all the late newspaper reports w'hich told of his conversion, vividly set forth against his past umbrageous career. Some sneered at his getting religion, some hinted at the habit of the pig returning to its wallow, calling him a natural-born crimina..
To be Continued. D