BEAUTY

To John Outram, preacher, the Gospel was not bound by leathern covers. He read it in every good and perfect thing. And when the path to happiness led away from a stately spire and the plaudits of his fellows, he trod it with one on whom Beauty, too, had laid its spell.

BENGE ATLEE August 15 1926

BEAUTY

To John Outram, preacher, the Gospel was not bound by leathern covers. He read it in every good and perfect thing. And when the path to happiness led away from a stately spire and the plaudits of his fellows, he trod it with one on whom Beauty, too, had laid its spell.

BENGE ATLEE August 15 1926

BEAUTY

BENGE ATLEE

To John Outram, preacher, the Gospel was not bound by leathern covers. He read it in every good and perfect thing. And when the path to happiness led away from a stately spire and the plaudits of his fellows, he trod it with one on whom Beauty, too, had laid its spell.

DOCTOR SAM PENROSE and

Alf Lee were standing in the latter’s drugstore by the window facing George Street, when the former declared in his downright way “I tell you, Alf, he’s a doomed man!” “Well, it’s a pleasant doom,” Alf replied with a chuckle. “She’ll brisken him up and Andrew’s money’ll make a tidy windfall for a parson.”

The old doctor stared down the Basin to where, over the North Mountain, the sun was a splurge of crimson and gold, and a vague regret draped itself about his large mouth.

“I tell you he’s a doomed man, Alf . . That young fellow don’t want a strongminded woman and a lot of money ... He wants—”

He hesitated. His eyes which had gleamed, as though from a swiftly caught vision, clouded over in an ■ oddly disconcerted way. It was as though a thread he had caught had grown too finely spun to follow. He grunted, gave his huge bulk a shake, tightened his great lower jaw and brought his fist down on the counter with a thud.

“What’s wrong with us Nova Scotians?” he demanded vehemently. “Why ain’t we inheriting heaven right here in this Apple Valley? . . . Eh?”

Alf shook his head; when Sam Penrose asked such questions no man but himsel — and he not always— could give answer.

The leonine head of the doctor shot forward with a jerk; he rapped words out like bullets. “I tell you we take things too serious! We take our religion, and our rotten politics, and ourselves too blamed serious! It’s,all wrong! We ain’t sweet—that’s what ails us! . . . But that boy is—he’s something rare in these parts, He’s a playboy with a nice singing voice —and by jimminy, Alf, we need playboys with nice singing voices right here in this Valley to keep our noses out of the muck ... I tell you Tes doomed!” '

Without another word he flung himself out of the drugstore and set off up George Street, muttering incoherently to himself and swinging his clenched fists as though he sought an enemy.

About a half mile ahead the Rev. John Outram also walked up George Street, and it was because they. had seen him pass in front • of the drugstore window that the two older men had spoken of ips affairs. He was a tall, slim young man with'a delicate, sensitive face, and the slight §toop: of those who live, with books. Something lovable and shy in his appearance . made you look after him with : a feeling that contained something of pity; and the pity was there , because :you felt that.dn the battle of life ,he would be the buffet! of stronger natures and of circumstances, to meet which he had the wrong kind of weapons.

By the tfme the old doctor, still, .muttering to himself,, had reached his tumbled, shaggy house, the young man was opposite Andrew Whitman’s gateway, and his steps seemed to lag irresolutely, as though some potent influence was drawing him toward t)he large and pretentious house that stood s@ff boldly behind the well ordered garden. With an effort he went on, walking more quickly .now, and presently came to the Mile Corner. There he stopped, leaned against the wood fence and stared up the Green Hill road.

It was significaht that where he stood, Appledale ended and George Street diverged into two roads; one that led toward Green Hill and the other up the mountain to Greenwood. But he was not to see the significance yet; the sheer lyric beauty of the world about him and the night above him had captured his soul—as beauty always did. That was the riddle of John Outram; he was, in spite of his calling, a pagan at heart, and the things that came to him through his senses mattered more than those that came through his reason. He adored beauty, craved beauty. Because of this he was beautiful in himself, and no man in the Apple Valley had so serenely sweet an expression in his eyes; no man there saw such visions, or could catch up the commonplaces of environment and transmute them into such sensuous splendor.

Thrust by circumstances into a profession in which the things of the senses were regarded with suspicion, he realized neither his great gift nor his pagan heart. Indeed, it is highly probable that that part of his nature would have withered and died, but for a sweet tenor voice the development of which had led him inevitably to reach out after further beauty. He liked nothing better than to sit at the organ in his own church at Appledale, or, bette! still, in the little church at Greenwood where he preached every second Sunday afternoon, and sing his heart out through the medium of gospel songs— the only ones he could allow himself to sing in such places. And that led him to seek further beauty in the world about him—in the Apple Valley that was so lyric and secluded, so simple and so profound.

He was a pagan; and that night as he stood at the Mile Corner, he saw in Sam Lynch’s misty orchards visions of delight. Two darky women, trailing loquacity and the fumes of rum, passed him on their way home from the day’s work in Appledale; but so deeply had he drawn into himself that he did not hear their husky laughter until it was a faint echo of their presence. When he did, something primal and ecstatic stirred in him, as though that laughter came from the throats of nymphs calling him up the mountain enticingly.

Sighing deeply, he shook himself and started off at a sharp pace back toward Appledale. This time he turned in at the Whitman gateway, walked swiftly up the steps and rang the bell. It was answered by Andrew Whitman himself, a large, thick-boned man, with a greedy, twisted smile, over whose shrewd gray eyes the heavy brows swept together harshly. Recognizing his visitor, a smile lightened the merchant’s features, behind which the crafty purpose hovered like a hawk, altering his expression to as near an appearance of cordiality as it could achieve. He was Appledale’s richest man, a deacon in the church, and he welcomed the minister with a heartiness of which most men would have been afraid.

“Step right in, Mr. Outram,” he exclaimed, rubbing his hands together as though there were oil in the palms;, “go right into the parlor. Mary’s in there with her mother.”

T ATER that night the minister stood with Mary Whitman beneath a clump of willows on the bank of the Snake River, below the old sand-pit. They were leaning against the wood fence watching the river change from ebb to flood, and overhead the wind from across the marsh rustled the leaves to tremulous murmurings. Through the purple sieve of heaven, starlight filtered, to gleam fitfully on the restless river bosom. Across the river on the Corette side of Canada Point a single light glowed in the kitchen window of old man Maitland’s farmhouse, and for some time John Outram had had his eyes fixed on it intently, as though he had captured in it some pin-point of eternity.

He was thinking with an absorbing earnestness of the girl at his side. He had been attracted to Mary Whitman soon after his arrival in Appledale, because of her virile personality, her well-ordered mind—she was the only girl in Appledale who had up to that time taken a university degree—and because she possessed, to a marked extent, those qualities of womanhood which had grown in his mind, as a result of his training and traditions, into an ideal.

For some time he had known that he was going to ask her to marry him, but had been waiting for a great moment. He felt that such a moment should be warm and pulsating, himself forced on by a passionate urge, and she, too, lifted out of herself, so that when they swept into one another’s arms it would be like to waves meeting and merging tempestuously.

He turned to her from the light in the Maitland farmhouse. She had been staring at the eddying river, but as he moved, she lifted her eyes so that their glances met. It came to him then that he had found the moment for which he had been waiting. His pulses tightened. In the darkness her tall, generous body, strong firm face and relentless grey eyes were outlined vaguely. Because of the darkness and the effect of her nearness on him he could not see her clearly. Rather, he saw a vision of her. The wind blew her hair and clothes so that she gave an indefinite impression of movement and unrest and languor.

The words burst from his sensitive lips. He swayed towards her, and she toward him; he caught her into his arms with rapture. The night wrapped itself about them, fusing them into one. Suddenly, he became aware of a tremendous accession of power; as though through contact with her he had gained some of her strength. She was, perhaps, the goddess of the Snake River, by means of whose immortality he was reaching hands into heaven to lay hold on fire. ¡^{

AS THEY walked slowly homeward the sense of strength grew and he felt for the first time in his life that he was ordained to power. His feet seemed to strike the earth more firmly His spirit reached out to grapple valiantly with life. When they were about to part at her door he said: “We’ll be able to get married next spring, I think. Perhaps we can build a small house down by the—”

She interrupted him with a sharp, incisive gesture. “Not in Appledale, John! We’re not going to stay here and stagnate. You must get a bigger church somewhere. This place is too small for you.”

He walked homeward tremulous with excitement. What a tremendous woman Mary Whitman was! Until that night he had been completely satisfied with Appledale; content to linger indefinitely in the midst of her lyric beauty; totally without desire to go beyond the green hills that hemmed in her fruitful orchards. But Mary had made him vividly aware of a world beyond, upon whose face he might carve his name. She had stirred him to battle. She had asked him to lay the world at her feet—what less, then, could he do?

He came to Mrs. Redding’s where he boarded, but could not go in. His emotions, wild things that must have the free air to wander in, carried him on up the street. Suddenly a desire to revisit the place of rapture took hold of him and turned his feet down Hallett’s Lane to the Willows by the Snake River.

But it was not now the same place. Stirred by some pernicious wand, the atmosphere about those willows had altered. The wind sang of regret; the stars, those eyes of heaven, asked painful and terrible questions that he dared not answer. Quickly the excitement that had driven him thither died in his breast and in its place rose the solemn spectre of a doubt. Everything about him, the night, the hills, the immeasurable length of circumstances, seemed to crowd in on him to make a narrow prison cell. In vain he tried to beat the spectre back. In vain he tried to drive from his mind the suspicion that he had closed a door, beyond which plaintive voices were already calling.

In the end he hurried away from the willows and back to Mrs. Redding’s. Before he crept into bed he prayed long and earnestly, the fear in his heart forcing petition after petition to his lips. When he woke the next morning his first thought was a leaping hope that the happenings of the previous night had been but part of a disordered dream. When hope dashed itself against reality in the bright sunlight that streaked into his room he tried to upbraid himself into a sterner frame of mind. He prayed again.

It was because prayer was powerless to allay his unrest that he set off in the afternoon for Greenwood. All the way up the mountain, troubled thoughts swarmed about his brain like flies about refuse. So great was the load of apprehension that he could not raise his eyes from the narrow ribbon of road to view the riches summer was spreading forth so lavishly. When he came to the village he unharnessed his horse mechanically and put her in the weathered old stable. Then he entered the church whose ugliness could not be concealed, even by the bower of maples in which it nestled, and went straight to the organ that stood on that raised platform by the pulpit.

A moment later, to his own accompaniment, he was singing fervidly . . .

FOR the past few weeks, in fact, ever since the advent of summer, Netty Ramsay had felt working painfully within her, longings and desires with which none she knew could sympathize. The truth was she stood trembbling on the threshold of womanhood and could hear outside a portal, through which she soon must pass, the wild rush and roar of human passions. Partly because she was a little terrified she set out that afternoon to seek a place of refuge. A slim, boyish-looking girl with pale oval face, straight black hair and distantly focused eyes, she suggested a figure on an old frieze; there was an intangible spirituality about her that artists sometimes capture but which seldom seems to be in human face or figure. She was going to Elder Lake and the path that led there struck off from the main road at the church.

Suddenly through the still woods John Outram’s second song burst upon her. She stopped to listen to the throbbing music. Presently, curiosity driving her forward on tip-toe to the nearest window, she peered in furtively, then drew a sharp, quick breath. From where she stood she could see the singer’s face caught in an iridescent shaft of sunlight that fell upon it from one of the other windows. It was as if God had turned his spotlight on the singer and she thought that she never had seen so beautiful a face. It affected her so that she forgot the pulsing voice and could only stare at the singer fascinatedly, for in a sudden flash of sympathy she saw the thing that might have been hidden from another—that the minister wanted something he could not get! Pity welled up in her heart. It : seemed so tragic that one with such a face could not have what he wanted. She j wished she could reach out with her hand and brush from it all trace of longing; felt, with certainty, the power of her touch; but just then the song ended and in fear that she might be discovered she drew away from the window and set off again up the path toward Elder Lake.

By the time John Outram had sung the fourth gospel song he felt better, and rising from the organ came out of the church. He looked up and down the road and then pulled out his watch. It was a little after four o’clock and he realized that soon he must think of returning to Appledale. But this journey to Greenwood had been an escape, and he was still a fugitive. He was not yet ready to go back and yield himself up. The furtive hand of doubt had not yet ceased plucking at his heart. He started along the path that Netty had taken a little while before. Walking under shadowing trees where the breath of earth smelt of life and death he realized that he must slay, that afternoon, the dragon of doubt that was laying waste his happiness, and return to Mary Whitman an eager lover. He must find again the enchantment that had been broken by his second visit to the willows by Snake River.

He reached the clearing at the edge of the lake and saw Netty on the big rock that jutted out into the water. She was seated with her elbows on her knees, her chin in her cupped hands, staring across the water distantly. His first impulse was to turn quickly away, for he had come here to be alone; but something in the girl’s attitude drew him toward her. Absurd though it might be, he had a feeling that she could help him.

He was quite close before she turned with a startled exclamation and scrambled to her feet. “Hello, Netty!” he greeted her. “What are you doing here all alone?”

She made no reply but stood awkwardly twisting the lower part of her blouse. Realizing her shyness, he picked up a small stone and sent it skipping across the mirroring surface of the lake. When it finally lost momentum and sank he turned to her again, addressing her now in terms of complete equality: “It’s a fine thing to be able to dream, Netty,” he said, gravely.

As her eyes found his timidly he'went on with an eagerness he could not restrain: “Yes, it’s a fine thing to be able to dream! That’s how men found God, Netty. That’s how men are always finding an answer to their riddles ... Sit down, and I’ll tell you what I feel about it.”

She seated herself obediently on the rock again and standing there on the sane’s before her he began to preach what was probably the greatest and truest sermon of his life. Some potent wine seemed to have entered his veins, for he spoke fluently and with tremendous conviction, flinging out words and gestures with an unusual assurance. That the girl had aught to do with that stimulation he did not guess, but it was because of her presence there that the great thoughts whirling through his brain became articulate. Perhaps her rapt attention, the eager way with which she drank in his words, had something to do with it. It seemed to her that at last she had met another spirit who saw life and felt life as she did herself.

“Dreams have made gods of men, Netty! Gods! You and I when we dream are gods. What is that water out there? A lake? And is this greenness all around us only trees? Not for us dreamers, Netty! We change them with our magic into something more wonderful than lakes and trees. And it makes us gods!”

The waning afternoon flung longer shadows about them, but borne up by the flow of his thoughts John Outram talked on. It was as though he were afraid to stop lest something that now possessed him should leave him as it had found him. When at last, during a brief pause that was to have linked the last spoken idea with yet another, Netty uneasily rose to her feet and declared that she must hurry home to help her mother with the supper, a poignant regret took hold of him. If only he could have, like Joshua, commanded the sun to stand still he would have done so. Instead he walked silently at the side of the girl along the shadowy path that led back to reality. Ás he glanced down every now and then half furtively at her, something in her face, in the lovely shadows under her long, dark eyelashes and under the curve of her chin, set vague emotions stirring that broke into words just as they came within sight of the little church.

“Blessed are they who have sweetness and light, Netty;” he said, “for they shall inherit the hearts of men.”

They had stopped, were facing each other. In the dramatic silence that enveloped them she said abruptly: “You look like Jesus!”

He stared at her aghast. “Netty! Netty! Y ou mustn’t say a thing like that! My dear child, no one can look like Him!”

“You do,” she insisted doggedly.

The naked, the naive conviction in her clear young eyes silenced any further protest. As they walked along, the minister in him began to lose its hold and he allowed the thing she had said to move through his mind without protest. He, too, had his picture of Jesus—It had come from the same pictorial source as hers— and he could see that he did look like Jesus! But what an odd thing for her to have discovered the resemblance!

They came to the stable by the church. She helped him harness his horse and when he drove away stood looking after him. Her eyes were wide and luminous; there' was an expression in them as though she saw more in his going than a man driving down the road.

John Outram was thinking of that resemblance, his natural egotism reaching out in thoughts to which it had given birth. A new and tremendous vista opened out before him. He looked like Jesus —and an indifferent world lay heavily in need of forgotten gospels. Couldn’t he, then, as no other, revive the dying evangel and spread the fires of eternal hope in the hearts of men? The breathless and mighty possibility fascinated him.

When, finally, from the top of Cedar Hill he could see the lights of Appledale gleaming up from the night-encircled valley, he clenched his hands and cried aloud: “I must get away from this place! I must have a wider field!”

And when, immediately afterwards, he thought of Mary Whitman, it was with eagerness of a lover coming home across the world to his heart’s desire.

TN THE months that followed he could •I not altogether forget what Netty had said to him that day. Its tremendous suggestiveness kept reacting on him consciously and unconsciously. And all the time Mary Whitman kept insisting that he must get away from Appledale into a wider world; kept inflaming his ambition. The two factors working together caused in him a restlessness and a dissatisfaction with his lot that had hitherto been so lyrically saitsfying.

Driven by this restlessness he went several times that autumn to the little church at Greenwood. He would go into the church to sing and afterwards sometimes he met Netty Ramsay. He never made an appointment to meet her, but she would see him drive up the road to the church and go down there. They would walk along the path to Elder Lake or sit talking on the church steps. These meetings developed a sort of surreptitious fascination for him. He found something extraordinarily satisfying in the way Netty reacted to life. She unfolded before him like a flower whose perfume was a naive sympathy and understanding. At times he felt intensely sorry for her; felt that, like himself, she was being wasted in those hills; wished earnestly that he could place her in a more fitting setting. Sometimes as he drove homeward he would paint glowing pictures of the woman she might become if placed in the circumstances he imagined for her. Many times on such a motive his imagination would improvise all the way from Greenwood to Appledale.

But the winter, holding the hills in a grip of snow, put an end to all but Sunday visits to the little church. In February, Mary Whitman went away to St. John, New Brunswick, to visit at a cousin of her father’s, a wealthy merchant there. The minister was down to the train to see her off, and as it moved out and she waved to him from the car platform he experienced a sudden feeling of helplessness. The destiny over which she had been presiding so strongly, so clear-headedly seemed to scatter like leaves in a wind. He told himself, as he walked hurriedly away from the station, that it must be a great love that bound him to her. When she returned, spring had come again and the buds were breaking into leaf in the apple orchards. Because of an unexpected wedding at which he had to officiate he was not able to get down to the train to meet her, but when he called at her house that night he was astonished at the change in her. She seemed in those two months to have become a woman of the world; she carried herself with a subtle air of superiority; she was smartly and yet simply dressed—for the first time it struck him that she was really beautiful.

When at last they were left alone in the front parlor she turned to him eagerly. “My dear,” she began, with a gesture of her strong hand such as Circe might have used in turning swine into men, “I believe our opportunity has come! Uncle Jared, you know, is deacon in the First Baptist Church in St. John. Their minister resigned last week! I told Uncle Jared about you—praised you up to the skies— and he’s awfully interested. He promised me that you should have an opportunity to preach there before a call is made. Isn’t it wonderful? If you get the church we can be married at once.”

He was overwhelmed. Although he had often thought of the way he would grasp opportunity when it came, now that it was within reach he felt strangely doubtful of himself. Could he handle a great city church? Could he—

“You must get some sermons ready at once,” Mary went on energetically; “better sermons than you've ever preached before.”

In the two weeks that followed she told him all manner of things about the church in St. John, informing him intimately and shrewdly concerning the people in it who mattered and how he must approach them. When he had finished the two sermons he had been working on she had him read them to her and her father one night. He had taken considerable pains over them and really felt they were the best he could do; but when he had finished reading them she cried in her downright Way: “They won’t do for St. John! They’re too old fashioned. People don’t want that kind of sermon any longer, John. You’ve got to interest a city congregation as well as instruct them. Hasn’t he, father?”

Andrew Whitman nodded his head; declared in his shrewd, calculating way: “She’s dead right, Mr. Outram. Things aren’t like they used to be. When I started in business it didn’t matter how I handled my goods so long as I could supply the demand. Now I’ve got to dress my front window so’s people can see I handle better stuff than Porter’s.”

It struck John Outram that Mary Whitman and her father were asking him to turn the carpenter of Nazareth into a popinjay; a strutting vanity to catch men’s eyes.

Mary must have seen something of this in his expression for she said at once: “People are lazy about religion, John. They’ve got to be stirred up. You can only do that by attracting their attention and holding it. Didn’t Christ perform miracles? You can’t do that but you can preach in an arresting way—and preach the same gospel.”

Somewhat reassured by her downright logic, he agreed to go over the sermons again and left shortly afterwards with several cogent suggestions churning in his mind. On the way home he caught up with Dr. Sam Penrose, who had been spending the evening with his old friend, Mrs. Dave Ritchie.

“I hear you’re interested in young Netty Ramsay out at Greenwood,” said the old man, after they had exchanged greetings.

“Y-yes—I am,” replied the minister with a start. The doctor’s question made him uncomfortable; he had avoided going to Greenwood that spring except to preach.

“Her mother called me in to have a look at her the other day when I was out there.”

“Is she sick?”

“Consumption.”

“Consumption?” John Outram cried in horror. “Consumption? . . . But how could she—”

“She’s a Ramsay. There’s been consumption in that family for two generations—and when it gets into a backwoods family it stays. Why? Because they’re frightened of God’s good winter air; because they think windows are only to let light in. That’s why!”

They had come to Mrs. Redding’s. Laying his hand heavily on the gate, the old man went on gruffly: “They won’t listen! If you tell ’em to open their windows every old woman in the village shakes her head. People are such a lot of sheep that they’d sooner take an old woman’s word than a doctor’s. I tell you the people of Nova Scotia are steeped in ignorance and superstition! It’s their ignorance that’s killing fine girls like Netty—their damned ignorance! . . God help us!”

The old man raised his clenched fists into the air and then, swinging on his heel with an angry growl, stumped off down George Street cursing the things that loaded the dice in favor of his greatest enemy, Death. John Outram stared after him like a man who had been struck a blow. Netty Ramsay dying! Dying in the spring of the year with life breaking out everywhere in the hills. Dying in the spring of her life that gave such promise of golden summer. It was terrible!

Unlatching the gate he entered the house and went up to his room. For over an hour he paced the floor agitatedly, thinking of death and its terrors.

THE next afternoon he set off for Greenwood. Arriving there, he put his horse up at the church stable and hurried along the road to the Ramsay cottage. Her mother answered his knock and informed him that Netty had gone out somewhere.

“But Doctor Penrose told me she was sick?” he exclaimed in surprise.

“Oh, she ain’t bad yet, Mr. Outram. It’s only just begun. It’s in her chest. The Ramsays are weak that way. I thank God I’m a Spurr, Mr. Outram. The Spurrs never had anything wrong with them like that.”

The fatalism, the foolish pride of family of the unhappy woman over whose house tragedy hovered, shocked him. He wanted to get away; asked her agitatedly: “Do you know which way she went?”

She shook her head dismally. “No, sir, I don’t. She never tells me where she’s going—just wanders off.”

Sick at heart he left her and set off for Elder Lake. What chance had that poor girl in the midst of such fatalism and inaction? She would go out like a parched flower in an untended garden.

He did not find her at the lake, and returning to the church sat down on the steps to wait. The afternoon waned—but still she did not come. At last he went again to her house, thinking she might have returned unseen—but she had not. Finally, he realized that he would have to return to Appledale without seeing her.

Driving homeward he came, about a mile from Greenwood, to the top of a hill beyond which lay a wooded valley. Over in the west where the North Mountain was a smudge of purple, the clouds were catching fire. As he reined in and sat watching them, the thought of Netty Ramsay fading in the spring like a flower withered by late frost swept over him with a renewed poignancy.

The pity of it—oh, the pity of it! The tears smarted in his eyes. If there were only something he could do! If only—

Suddenly through the silence that enveloped him there came a sound so faint he barely heard it. He strained to listen. Someone was singing far away in the woods! Only for an instant did he hesitate, for that voice, singing through the spring that was in the world, called him imperatively. Springing from the buggy he tied the horse to the nearest telephone pole and set off into the undergrowth. On he hurried, his heart beating eagerly.

Reaching at length the edge of a clearing, he stopped suddenly, and, clutching a slender birch, stared awe-struck at a sight he would never thereafter forget. The clearing hung out like a shelf above him from the wall of forest, and from its edge there was a sharp drop to where Elder Brook, ceasing to be a gentle stillwater, tumbled riotously into the valley. On that edge, silhouetted against the sunset, stood Netty, the figure of a girlwoman against a red-gold sky, and she was singing across the valley to the departing sun. John Outram drew his breath painfully because of the warm and passionate beauty of the sight.

“I must go back to the hills Where the tall trees are, And the water falls over the rocks; For the valley is going to sleep And the sun is going away. I must say farewell To my dreams that are going, too . .

That was a new song to him; neither words nor music had he heard before. Suddenly he realized that the singer was making her own words and melody; that the poetry that is in all youth was welling up from her heart to find music on her lips. She was bidding farewell to her dreams. In the plaintive earnestness of her voice there was an intensity of feeling that wrung^ his heart. “I must say farewell

“My God!” His voice caught huskily over the exclamation that was half prayer, half wonder.

But as he continued to stare at the slim figure framed in the red glow on the edge of the world, so that she seemed to belong as much to heaven as to earth, she became the personification of youth, of beauty, of life itself. It was because of her presence there that the world was full of luminous magic! For the moment beauty triumphed over death. His hungry spirit reached out to her as it had to no other being. She was warmth and light and the song from her heart was also a song from his own. He wanted no more of life than warmth and light and a song from the heart. In the springtide about him the whole earth was calling for these things; they were the imperative, transcending needs.

He opened his mouth to call to her but made no sound. It came to him arrestingly that he had broken in on a holy spectacle; that he could no more go forward to face her now than Moses could have faced God in the burning bush on Mount Horeb. He must go back to Appledale and return another day.

He had taken a step away, when suddenly her song ended in a harsh cough that echoed through the woods like a laugh from hell. It brought him back to reality with a start. And then he saw that the light beyond the crest on which she stood was fading quickly and the clouds changing from crimson to gray.

Turning away with a catch in his throat that sounded like a sob, he started to run swiftly from the spot. He wanted to cry; there was something in his heart that only tears could have eased. Arriving at length under a tall fir tree that stood a little off the road, he stopped there and stood staring bleakly into distance. Suddenly he fell to his knees under that tree and began to pray fervently.

“O God, save Netty Ramsay! Renew her strength! Remove, 0 heavenly Father, the terrible hand of death from her! It may be Thou hast need of her in Heaven. Father, we have need of her on earth. I have need of her: 0 dear God, I have such need of her!”

Then he rose to his feet, stumbled out into the road and drove back through the dusk to Appledale.

WHEN he arrived home that night he found a letter waiting for him. It was from the trustees of the First Baptist Church of St. John, inviting him to go that Sunday and preach for them. Coming as it did at the end of the experience he had gone through, it threw him into a panic. It was already Thursday; he would have to leave for St. John on Saturday—and the two sermons he had prepared were still in the shreds Mary Whitman had left them the night before. He did not see how he could get them ready in the short time remaining. Barely tasting the supper Mrs. Redding had kept hot for him, he hurried down to the Whitman home and told Mary about the letter. She was jubilant—brushed aside his doubts with a laugh — and set to work in her masterful way to help him. When he left her that night he carried in hi3 pocket the rough draft of two sermons— clever, arresting sermons that were more hers than his own. Never had ha realized until that night the power and clearness of her mind. She had such a way of seeing things in the large, of grasping an idea in its most emphatic aspect of illumining it with an apt quotation! He was filled with admiration.

Later, as he was getting into bed, he thought of Netty. The vision he had seen that afternoon swept before him again. Then he remembered the feelings that had surged into his heart as he prayed for her life. He experienced a qualm of conscience —wondered if he had been quite fair to Mary—and yet, he told himself, he had only wanted Netty to live that beauty might not die. He sighed. Life had become a net of tangled emotions in the last twenty four hours.

ALL the next morning he worked at the two sermons—but he worked badly. He could not get his mind off Netty; he could not get away from the thought that the vision he had seen of her held more significance than he knew. By about half past two in the afternoon, the thought of her keeping lonely vigil in those hills became unbearable and, throwing aside the unfinished sermons, he started for Greenwood. It was opposite the schoolhouse that he ran into Mary Whitman on her way into town.

“Where are you going?” she cried, as he drew into the sidewalk.

“To Greenwood,” he replied—but something accusing in the way she had spoken to him caused his color to rise uncomfortably.

"To Greenwood?” she cried in amazement. “What for?” “To see a sick girl." "Is she dying? Did thev send for vou?" “No.”

She took hold of the rail of the buggy seat and demanded, her eyes two whips: "John, have you finished those sermons? Have you memorized them as I told you to?"

“No I haven't," he replied uneasily. "Do you think you’re acting fairly? I've done everything 1 could to get you this chance, John everythingand now you're trying to throw it away. If it were absolutely necessary for you to see this girl I’d be the last person in the world to stand in your way—but you say it isn’t. You can see her when you come back from ft. John ... It looks to me as if

you didn’t want to get the church.”

“Pi.t, I do, Mary. I assure you I do.” “Then why don’t you act as if you did?” Suddenly he felt ashamed of his reasons for going to Greenwood. She had that power over him-—and what was more she made him feel that her indictment was justified. “I’m sorry,” he muttered apologetically. “I’ll turn back. Can I give you a lift into town?”

He left her at her father’s store, and returning home set to work again on the sermons.

The next day he took the train for St. John.

THE anthem had ended, the last deep sonorous note of the organ echoed into silence, and John Outram, standing in the pulpit, faced the sea of upturned faces. He saw men and women looking up at him' eagerly, waiting for his message Then suddenly he saw them no longer as a congregation curious to learn the kind of preacher he was, but as creatures hungry for the bread of life, hungry after something that would bring into their lives a certainty of God’s presence. On his lips trembled the sermon that he and Mary Whitman had prepared. The words, learned by heart like a schoolboy’s lesson, swept up for utterance. Would such words, he suddenly asked himself, bring these people the spirit of God?

Panic gripped him. He saw the faces before him alter expression as the fact became communicated to them that he was in difficulties. Then, in a moment, they faded, He saw the little wooded lane leading from Elder Brook to the church at Greenwood. He saw Netty Ramsay’s upturned face; heard her exclaim again: “You look like Jesus!”

He looked like Jesus, and he was about to give these waiting people a gospel that had found no real sanction in his heart, a gospel designed by another to catch the fancies of these people, a clever snare to entrap their approval! Then he saw Netty Ramsay again, standing on that rampart against the sunset, pouring out her young soul in a farewell message to life—saw beauty and light dying out of the world, leaving it in darkness—saw, as he never had before, the need of men for that beauty and light.

With a sudden dynamic movement he flung back his shoulders and faced the astonished congregation who were by now staring at him in a sort of painful fascination.

“Brethren,” he cried, his voice ringing with a vibrant clearness through the big church, “you will find my text in these words: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God!’ ”

Only once before, when he had unfolded to Netty the vision that possessed his heart, had he ever preached as he did that morning. Words came to him as though God were whispering over his shoulder. He spoke as one inspired, flinging out his credo to these people in eloquent passion. When the service was over and he was walking home with Mary’s uncle, with whom he was staying, the latter exclaimed shrewdly: “You made an excellent impression, Mr. Outram. I should say the church was yours for the taking.”

He did not reply—his thoughts were in a welter. He felt like one, who after riding the wind, is suddenly caught up like a rag and blown willy-nilly. How he got through the rest of the day and the evening service he never afterwards knew. When he returned to Appledale the next day the first thing he did was to call on Mary Whitman. He was with her for nearly an hour—a terrible, self-debasing, torturing hour. Then he went down to DT. Sam Penrose’s office. The old man was seated in a chair by the window staring vacantly out, the lower part of his face hanging like a blanket from his fierce eyes.

He wasted no time over preliminaries. “Doctor,” he asked with an almost dramatic earnestness, “is there any hope for Netty Ramsay—any real hope a man could cling to?”

The old man peered up at him with a start; then his face hardened like a piece of granite and he banged his fist down on his cluttered desk. “Damn it, there’s always hope!”

“Tell me what can be done for her?” John Outram demanded eagerly.

In the other’s eyes gleamed a sudden understanding. His face softened. Leaning forward he laid a hand on the minister’s shoulder. “Son,” he said, “take her away from this cantakerous Nova Scotia climate. Take her out west where the air’s dry and sweet. Then give her a good reason for living—a tremendous, overpowering reason for living. And then, damn it—” his hand tightened like a vise on the minister’s shoulder—“make her sleep with her window open winter and summer!”

The young man rose and started toward the door. Sam Penrose let him get almost there, staring after him with a quizzical, hungry look—then he called out:

“Son!”

The other turned. Rising slowly the old man walked over to him and laid his hand again on his shoulder. “I’ve got a pretty fair idea what you reckon to do,” he said, quietly. “It’ll hurt you like blazes— people’ll talk and criticize—but you’re doing the right thing . . . God bless you!” And he pushed the minister out through the door so that the latter wouldn’t see the thing that was in his eyes.

Walking quickly up George Street to Mrs. Redding’s, John Outram harnessed his horse. And then he set off along the Greenwood road, driving through the springtide of the world with an eager heart, to find beauty—to give to beauty that other, greater gift that would make it deathless.