The Passing Glory
Grit may damn Tory, and Tory Grit, but love is no respecter of politics
JAMES H. POWER
IN THE Republic to the south, Nova Scotians or Bluenoses, are noted for a number of things, their codfish, pretty girls and college professors. In Nova Scotia, a Nova Scotian is noted on account of one, or both, of two things, his politics and his religion. Wealth, is, of course, respected and strange to say is considered to be the result of one of these. The most incomprehensible thing of all is that politics and religion are not a matter of conviction but the result of birth—and the greatest of these is politics.
Unlike Gaul. Nova Scotia is divided into only two parts—Grits and Tories. The Grits damn the Tories, and the Tories damn the Grits; and if one is too disgusted to be either he is damned by both; doubly damned so to speak. This is as true to-day as it was one hundred years ago, the only difference being that at the present, due to the wide and ready dissemination of news, one may be damned with greater invective and with better results, should the occasion demand. Tolerance was, and is, a minus quality in the mathematics of politics.
/”\N THE shores of Cobequid Bay—a halfway resting place between Truro and Windsor—nestled the village of Maitland. It straggled along the main road, skirted the shores of the Bay on one side, while the farms beginning on the other side retreated to the hinterland beyond. The road formed the principal street along the sides of which the stores of the merchants occupied the most strategic positions.
On week days the hitching posts outside the shops were surrounded by horses and wagons, while their owners stood or sat on the steps chewing tobacco or smoking, and at the same time discussing theology or arguing over politics.
Farther down the street and below the bend which marked the junction of the shore road and that which served as a highway to the interior, and which likewise marked the farthest boundary of the village proper, lay the shipyards and the wharves. At low tide they rose from flats of dark red clay, dank with the smell of the sea. At full tide they were lapped and caressed by the swirling tides of the Fundy. Tide out, the wharves for the most part were deserted, the decks of the vessels warped there lying ten or fifteen feet below wharf level, their keels feet deep in red clay. On this account, their cargoes were unable to be charged or discharged, but low tide or high tide ‘the yards’ were hives of activity. The smell of oakum, the rasp of saw, and the dull thud of mallet were forever on the air. The village was happy and contented, one could feel that. The stores and houses newly painted, for the most part cream-colored or white, with roofs and shutters of red or green. The farmers from the surrounding country brought their produce to Maitland—their apples, potatoes, turnips, cabbage, hay and beeves—and from there had them shipped by water to Boston, Portland or New York. The merchants of the town traded with the West Indies Singapore, Peru, Spain, France and England and many a Maitland matron wore at the harvest festival a shawl fashioned by the cunning fingers of some Spanish seamstress. All this brought contentment and prosperity to the village, but that which brought the greatest wealth and was the especial pride of the countryside were the shipyards.
In these yards all kinds of ships were built—brig and brigantine, schooner and four master—and built, not only for the captains of Nova Scotia but for Yankee and English skippers as well.
The largest and busiest was owned by Malcolm Putnam. Enoch Eaton owned one also but his was not as large. The Putnam yard was the yard of Maitland. The owner, a hard-headed Scotchman, in his youth had been a shipwright and had foreseen at an early age the wealth to be amassed in the construction of ships. He had started on a small scale but was now the wealthiest and most successful ship builder in all Nova Scotia. He not only built ships for others but built, manned and sailed a line of vessels—four stickers—of his own. His house, not far from his yard—he insisted on being near to supervise the work he undertook—was a huge northern colonial mansion, at once indicative of the wealth of its owner and of his importance in the community.
A man, reticent, of indomitable will, of irascible temper, an ardent Tory, and a Presbyterian.
His rival builder, Enoch Eaton, he daily damned as a snivelling Anglican—sitting on the theological fence, and afraid to denounce popery and all its works. Yet, in his heart, he forgave him. This because Eaton was a staunch Tory, perhaps even more prejudiced and rabid
than himself. Putnam considered it a stroke of good' fortune to be born a Presbyterian—a mark of good sense and intelligence to be a Tory. He lived for three things —his shipyards—his politics—and his religion.
The morning sun of May shone through the mullioned windows of his dining room, through which the tossing branches of the maples outside cast checkered patterns on the table linen. Putnam had finished his breakfast and was leisurely engaged in reading a copy of The Nova Scotian, while he puffed contentedly at his pipe. He subscribed to The Nova Scotian but not to its principles and read it better to inform himself upon the political intrigues of those he styled ‘dirty Grits’.
He read the shipping notes, the arrivals and departure of vessels and steamers from Halifax. The Cunards for ten years now, had operated a line of steamships sailing from Halifax to Liverpool and these sailings were always of interest to him.
While the steamship had passed the experimental stage, Malcolm Putnam’s faith in the sailing vessel was still unshaken.
“They may go a little faster,” he often had told Eaton, “but they will never be as inexpensive as the sailboat. To generate steam you must burn coal or wood, and that costs money. We don’t have to pay for wind, eh, Eaton?” and he would invariably chuckle and nudge his old crony in the side. “Mark my words, many a life will be lost in those steam contraptions, before they are safe. Stick to the wind Eaton, it’s safer. Yes, and costs you nothing.’ He barely had finished reading the shipping notes when, suddenly, the sound of voices was heard in the hall.
Putnam recognized the voice as that of Enoch Eaton. “Come in, Eaton,” he called, “come in.”
Steps sounded along the hall and the door burst open to admit the figure of a man with a newspaper in his hand, which he waved excitedly in the air, at the same time hopping from one foot to the other. He was about to speak when Putnam interrupted him:
“A keg of canary to a puncheon of rum, that I know what you’ve come for? Come Eaton, a bet!”
The newcomer shook his head, “No, man, no! I guess ye ken what ’tis.”
“Well, I’ll tell you! It’s Howe’s speech in Halifax. Speak up man! Speak up!”
“By crismus, Putnam you’re right. Did you ever read such rot. Railway from Halifax to Portland. Man we’ll be ruined by taxation. That fellow Howe is stark mad.” “He’s a fool. We don’t need a railway. We’re a maritime people, I tell you, Eaton! Damn those dirty Grits! But don’t worry, we’ll have him out the next election. I’ll buy Hants up myself if necessary. The man’s crazy. Why, what better proof do you want than this?” Putnam reached for the newspaper and ran his eye down the column, “Here it is, listen to what that crazy loon said,” and began to read:
‘I am neither a prophet or the son of a prophet, yet I will venture to predict that in five years we shall make the journey hence to Quebec and Montreal, and home through Portland and St. John by rail, and I believe that many in this room will live to hear the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains, and to make the journey from Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days’.
Putnam put the paper down. “Eaton, if you had told me that a man in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one would talk such rubbish, I wouldn’t have believed you. Imagine going from the Atlantic to the Pacific in five or six days—ridiculous, the man’s an id:ot.”
Amused by the apparent absurdity of the extract which they had just read, the pair laughed heartily. After a minute or so they became calm.
“But, Putnam, suppose that is done? Suppose that is done?”
“Well, what of it, man? But it can’t be done,” this latter hurriedly.
“Yes; but suppose it is done, Putnam? Do you realize what that means to us?”
“Well; what of it old friend, what of it?”
“From the Atlantic to the Pacific in five days means our ruin. Our fastest ships take months to ‘beat’ the Horn.”
“Our ruin,” Putnam repeated. Then came understanding, “My God! Eaton, you’re right. But I won’t have it, I tell you, I won’t have it.” He brought his clenched fist down on the table, making the cups and saucers dance a merry jig.
“You won’t have what, father?” the two men turned to find Phoebe, only daughter and child of Malcolm Putnam, standing in the doorway.
She was a young girl of eighteen or nineteen years of age. Dark ringlets piled high on her head—dark as midnight—contrasted strongly with the pink and white of her skin. Deep blue-gray eyes showed her Celtic blood, and her mouth was small and puckered like a scarlet rose-bud. She tripped lightly into the room, five feet two or three, in crinoline, and came directly to her father, throwing her arm around his shoulder while she bent to kiss him.
“You won’t have what, father?” she repeated.
“Nothing, nothing, Phoebe ” and Malcolm Putnam patted his daughter’s arm.
“But you were angry at something or someone; not the servants I hope?”
“No, no, little one,” her father assured her, “I was only reading one of those damn fool speeches of Howe’s, and something he said annoyed me.”
“Oh, has Mr. Howe spoken again? Let me see his speech. You know I like to read them.”
“Well, you shouldn’t,” her father replied, with some heat. “Nothing that man says is fit for any lady to hear or read. I shouldn’t waste my time in that way either. Besides, it’s all rubbish.”
Nothing loath, Phoebe Putnam took the paper her father had just laid aside. “What was it that annoyed you, father?” she asked.
Malcolm Putnam pointed out the passage which he had just finished reading, and which his daughter now read in turn. “Oh, won’t that be fine!” she said, when she had finished reading; “to go from Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days. Do you think that is possible?”
“No, I don’t!” her father replied. “And what is more I don’t think that man Howe ever wrote or said a sensible thing in his life.”
“Oh, but father! Joseph Howe is a very clever man, and he is also a great poet. Don’t you like his poetry, Mr. Eaton?” she asked, turning to her father’s friend.
“Can’t say that I ever read any. Don’t like that stuff anyway. The only poetry I know is a good schooner all sail set bowling along with the wind abeam. That’s poetry, eh, Putnam? And if she has a full cargo the money that it will earn, will play a mighty good tune to accompany it. Ah, Phoebe, my girl, that’s the only kind of poetry I like ”
“Well! I do believe you're jealous of Mr. Howe, I really do. I’m going to read all his speech.” With that she gathered up the copy of The Nova Scotian she had been reading and left the room.
'TpHE main street of Maitland is also part of the main road which runs somewhat circuitously between Windsor and Truro. From a country road running now between fields, and anon through timber, it turns a bend in the river valley, and is metamorphosed into the busiest section of a busy town.
At the end of this road, stands a low, one-story building. It stands on the left-hand side of the road, facing the marshes and mud flats of the Basin, when the tide is low or the glistening waters of the ocean when the tide is full.
The building itself is weatherbeaten and in need of paint, and the shingles of its roof and sides make a crazy patchwork sort of pattern. Its only redeeming feature is the view of the Bay and neighboring country. Yet, to Brian Doyle that alone was not its only redeeming feature—the rent was cheap.
Brian Doyle sat at his desk, buried to the ears in a newspaper. The warm sun filtered through the windows and the flies droned heavily, beating their wings frantically against the window panes. The door stood open. On the steps a dog lay dozing in the sun. The sign above the door, ‘Brian Doyle, Barrister, etc.’ swung creakingly, on rusty hinges, in the gentle summer wind. The air was warm and redolent with the fresh smell of the farmyards from the hills beyond. A shadow fed .across the open door. The lone occupant of the room read on, yet at last became conscious of the presence of someone other than himself. He raised his head slowly from the paper and as his eyes encountered the lithe figure in the doorway the warm blood suffused his cheeks.
The pink and white flowered gowm of muslin fell from
the girl’s hips in billowy folds almost to sweep the ground, barely concealing the dainty feet encased in shining pattent leather. The bodice of the same material fitted snugly, concealing, yet at the same time accentuating her approach to maturity. Her mouth, partly opened, trembled as the strings under a harpist’s hand, while her eyes of dark blue, gleamed pensively from beneath their lashes.
The young man, for he was young, twenty-th ee or four, scrambled to his feet.
“Phoebe!” he cried: “what happy thought brings you here?”
She dropped a curtsy. “And pray Mr. Doyle, may not a young lady consult an eminent counsel?”
They stood gazing at one another, the man in open admiration of his visitor; the girl enjoying and secretly pleased at the homage. Finally she spoke.
“You are embarrassing me, Mr. Doyle. Am I to be gaped at like any country girl? Will you not ask me to take a seat, or must I collapse at your feet before you realize I am tired? You see, I walked from home to your office here, a good mile.”
A broad smile illumined the face of the man. “Faith, and you are handsome, Phoebe, please come in, I was forgetting myself.”
He advanced towards the door with outstretched hands, which the girl took and followed him inside. He handed her to a seat. She sat down smoothing out the wrinkles in her lap.
“What is it, Phoebe? I hardly expected a visit from you so early this morning.”
“Oh, Brian! Have you read Mr. Howe’s speech in the paper. I couldn’t wait ’till I met you. I had to come right down. I got the paper from Daddy this morning and read every word. Gracious, but Mr. Howe has made Daddy cross. Did you read the speech?”
“I had just finished it when you came in. I wish you had heard him deliver it. It was the night before last. I was in Halifax on business—I’ve told you a secret—to see Mr. Howe.”
“To see Mr. Howe? Oh, Brian! You didn’t tell me you were going for that.”
“It’s a secret, Phoebe. He sent for me. When I helped him, here, the last election, he promised he wouldn’t forget, and he hasn’t.”
“What did he tell you Brian? What?”
“That’s another secret. To get back to the night he delivered the address. The hall was packed. It was in the Masonic Hall, and it wasn’t nearly big enough. You should have heard the crowd when he rose to speak. The applause was thunderous. And when he spoke—his voice, his personality, his imagination, his vocabulary!”
“Daddy says he’s a lunatic. Why, he told Mr. Eaton this morning that if the Grits built a railroad that it will ruin us with taxation, and Mr. Eaton said it wasn’t only that, but he and Daddy would be ruined if trains could go from Halifax to the Pacific in five days. Do you think that is possible?”
“There, there!” he assured her. “Don’t you worry over political speeches, Phoebe. Although I admit women should know something about politics, you should concern yourself with the finer things in life. Leave the politics to men.”
“Yes,” she mused, “I believe you’re right. Politics are dreadful. Why, in the last election Angus McLeod, you know him? He is Daddy’s ship designer, became terribly drunk and got into a fight with Enos Clarke, just because Enos voted Grit. I think politics are dreadful, and yet,” she continued in a pensive tone, “I wish you wouldn’t besuch an ardent Grit, because if you weren’t I think Daddy would like you a whole lot more. He can’t stand a Grit, Brian. Why, do you know what he is teaching Angus McLeod’s boy? He’ll ask young Angus: ‘Which would you sooner be, a Grit or a dead dog?’ and the boy will say: ‘A dead dog.’ ”
The two laughed heartily at the joke. Their laughter rang high and clear—the light-hearted laughter of carefree youth.
“Brian,” the girl spoke, “you could be a Tory just as well as a Grit. What difference is there? When the Grits are in the Tories try to put them out, and when the Tories are in the Grits try the same thing. The country goes on just the same. You know it might make a great
deal of difference writh Daddy.” The girl dropped her eyes and the blood mantled in her cheeks.
“I can’t, Phoebe, I can’t! I tell you Howe is right.”
“Oh! perhaps you prefer Mr. Howe to me. Is that it? Well, I’d better—”
She did not voice her thought for Brian Doyle interrupted her. “There, there you pretty tyrant! Didn’t I tell you not to bother your head about politics. But Phoebe, I’ll tell you a secret. It doesn’t matter whether your father likes me or not.” Brian Doyle’s voice filled. “Howe promised me, in fact my ” Then he stopped
“I’ve told you too much, oh, Phoebe! I can—” He stopped once again.
“Phoebe?” he asked.
“It doesn’t make any difference to you, what I am, does it?”
The girl lowered her eyes. Her toes made rotary movements on the floor. The man paled during the silence. Then Phoebe Putnam raised her head.
“You know it doesn’t, Brian. Why do you ask me?"
He swept the girl into his arms, and her arms in turn crept up around his shoulders. Their lips met. Time was suspended. After a moment or so—
“But it doesn’t matter what I am, Phoebe?" he asked, once again.
“Nothing matters, Brian—only you and I,” Then becoming conscious of their position, she hastily disengaged herself, blushing prettily.
“Oh! I have almost forgotten what I came for. Daddy wants you to come to the house this evening to talk law, Won’t that be nice?” she asked, glancing from beneath her lashes at her lover. “Come early, he wants to have a talk to you. He knows you were in Halifax and just got back,” she added.
“All right. Tell him I’ll be there.”
Phoebe walked to the door, blew a kiss in his direction and was gone.
He followed her, a smile on his lips. From the doer he watched her treading lightly up the street. She turned and waved to him with her handkerchief, and then was
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hidden by the elms which lined the roadside.
AS BRIAN DOYLE strolled up the A main street of Maitland that evening to keep the appointment with Malcolm Putnam, he passed many a group of men sitting on the steps of the country stores or lounging idly at the various corners. Some spoke to him by name, deferentially, and with a twitch at their caps. At times he stopped to pass a word with someone he knew personally.
The young lawyer was not a native of Maitland. He had come there a year or so before from Pictou where he had studied law in some practising lawyer’s office. In Maitland he had made friends slowly, principally due to the reticence of the country folk, and the fact that they firmly held to the superstition that to talk to a lawyer ‘cost money’.
Dusk was settling as he turned into the driveway of Putnam’s house. Lights from the candles shone somewhat dimly from the living room in the front of the house, giving the windows the appearance of cat’s eyes. Through the partly drawn curtains he could see two men and a girl seated around the open fire. The nights still were cool and rendered the more uncomfortable by the dank mists of Fundy, the waters of which he could hear rumbling in the distance. Within the house, everything looked warm and cosy. He mounted the steps and rapped with the brass knocker on the door. In a moment or so Phoebe Putnam opened it.
“Come in, Mr. Doyle! We have been waiting for you. Give me your hat,” as he followed her into the hall. He handed her his hat and their hands met; he could have sworn, with a gentle pressure on her part. His pulses thumped madly. In the darkened hall he wished to—. Then he heard her father calling. They passed into.v the living room where Malcolm Putnam! and Enoch Eaton sat smoking before thè fire. He nodded to the two men.
“Well, Doyle, what news have you learned in Halifax? Take a seat, and, Phoebe, pour Mr. Doyle—what shall it be Doyle, sherry from Italy, or port from Ireland? I’ve got them both. Ah, Doyle! That’s the best with being a maritime people. You trade with the world. Pick and choose the best. Two ships in last week. One from the Mediterranean, the other from Ireland. Hence I can offer you sherry or port. Come! What shall it be? Sherry! Shucks, Doyle, you are not much of an Irishman. Patronize your own country. The Irish make the best port in the world.”
Brian Doyle sipped his sherry, and laid the empty glass on the table.
“Well,” he replied to Putnam's queries, “Halifax is pretty well agog over the railway question just now. Seems to be the only thing of interest. Everyone is talking about it. Howe’s just got back from the old country. It appears they think well of the scheme in England.”
“I suppose,” Malcolm Putnam interrupted, “you heard Howe in Halifax?” Receiving an affirmative nod, he continued; “What did you think of the speech? But, what’s the use of me asking you! You’re such a party bound Grit, you’d believe Howe if lie told you the moon was made out of green cheese. Eh, Eaton?”
Enoch Eaton removed the pipe from his mouth, “Aye, Putnam! Ask him what he thinks of the Halifax to the Pacific scheme. I’ll warrant lie considers that fine.” He replaced his pipe in his mouth and puffed vigorously, blowing clouds of smoke ceiling-wards.
“I’m afraid, Mr. Eaton,” Doyle answered, “that you are correct. I know you think that I follow Howe blindly. 1 don’t.
I follow him because I believe that he is correct. That is the secret, gentlemen. The reason Howe is such a great man.
Anyone can be right some of the time and incorrect most of the time, but it is a mark of genius to be wrong some of the time and correct most of the time. Yes, gentlemen! I believe that some day, very soon, you can make the journey from Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days.”
The two men looked at each other significantly and smiled. Eaton shook his head.
“Fine young man, Putnam, but daft on Howe.”
“Come now, Mr. Eaton! I may be an admirer of Howe, Doyle replied, “but I can see his faults.”
“That’s encouraging, Eaton,” Putnam spoke. “We may be able to make a good Tory out of him yet.”
“Not if the Tories keep on the policy they are pursuing. But don’t let us quarrel, gentlemen. Think of the lasting benefit to the country if Howe is correct. Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days means the opening up of the great Northwest. Why, I have read that the soil out there is so rich you do not need to cultivate it. A marvellous wheat producing country. Think what that means! To be a great wheat producing country. Perhaps the greatest in the world. Why we’ll become a nation, with the fate of other nations in our grasp. With Upper and Lower Canada, and the Maritimes united by a railroad. Think, gentlemen, think what that means!”
The room was still as death except for the crackle of the wood in the fireplace.
“Oh, Mr. Doyle! Do you really think so?”
The sound of Phoebe’s voice broke the spell.
“Doyle,” Putnam almost shouted, “You’re an idiot. Why damme, man, a railroad from Halifax to the Pacific would not pay for the grease on its axles. Who is going to build it? Who is going to put up the money? Do you think the people in Yarmouth, Lunenburg and along the whole South Shore will stand for a scheme which will take the bread out of their mouths? Do you realize that we are a Maritime people? That our wealth is derived from the sea? We have a motto —‘E mare merces'—‘From the sea wealth’ —and ’tis a good one. I’ve done well by the sea, eh, Eaton? I tell you young man, if Howe attempts to put his railroad over in Nova Scotia, he’s done. We have our eye on a man—a man who will prove more than his match, if we can get him out. Dr. Tupper from Cumberland, eh, Eaton?”
“I know how you feel. Mr. Putnam,” Doyle answered, “And yet I tell you Howe’s prophecy will be fulfilled. It will be a great thing for this country of ours. Why not face the inevitable. We are entering into the age of steam and iron. The day of the sailing ship is through. Accept that as a fact. You know it as well as I do—even better. Why not go into steel and steam? They tell me there is all sorts of iron-ore at Trenton. Why not move your shipyards there?”
“For what?” Putnam asked.
“Why, build your ships of iron or steel instead of wood. See how successful the Cunards are?”
“You're a fool, Doyle. Don’t you think I know my business? You’re a lawyer. Well, ‘let the shoemaker stick to his last.' That is a pretty good axiom. You stay at law, Doyle; Eaton and I will build ships. Come, let’s have a drink!”
The three men filled their glasses. Putnam turned to his daughter.
“Sing for us, Phoebe."
“What shall 1 sing father?"
“Anything. Why not ‘Annie Laurie'?”
The opening chords of the.song sounded in the room. Then the girl's voice, clear and sweet, filled the room with the plaintive cadence of the old Scotch song.
“Man, that’s a good song,” and Eaton
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shook his head in satisfaction at his own words. There was silence for a minute or so and then Putnam, his tone one of curiosity, turned to Doyle.
“Suppose,” he asked, “that the railroad went through, what would happen to Maitland? What would happen to Maitland?”
Brian Doyle did not reply for a moment or so. Then: “You would be forced out of business. Steam is faster than wind, Mr. Putnam, and that is what this age is crying for -speed and then more speed; let the price be what it may.”
“And what of Maitland?” Putnam queried.
“Oh, as to that, Maitland will be finished, too. When the iron vessel comes in, the wooden one must go out, and Maitland will go also. A few people may remain, I suppose, but take away the chief and only industry and what will happen?” The lawyer spread out empty hands. “That will remain for those who remain,” he finished.
Malcolm Putnam chuckled grimly. “Look, Doyle, I am old enough to be your father. I have seen strange things in my time. Fanatics, and those things conceived by the minds of fanatics. The iron ship is a myth, I tell you, and that railroad of Howe’s as well. Nothing will ever come of them. Let me show you the confidence I have in Maitland and shipbuilding. I wanted to see you to-night and for a particular reason. It’s well the conversation took the turn it did. Murray Eaton, you know him?”
The lawyer nodded assent.
“Well,” Putnam continued. “He is expected home next week on the Sea Mist. Eaton and I have thought for a long while now that it would be well to unite the families, eh, Eaton? You see I have no boys to take the business when I have goneand Eaton has no girls: I don’t want the business I have labored for all my life to pass out of the family; no more does Eaton want his to slip away. We’ll combine the families and their fortunes. Make the Putnam-Eaton shipyards known the world over. That, for my faith in Maitland, and in wooden ships.” Then he continued more hurriedly and in a tenser tone. “I want a marriage agreement, Doyle. Something to protect Phoebe so she will never want. You understand me, Doyle? You’ll do it?”
“Does Phoebe know of this? Does she know of your plan?” Doyle asked of Putnam. He turned to catch Phoebe's eye. She had gone. Had she pretended to love him, and all the while . . . ? Strange shapes and objects passed before his eyes. The room slowly revolved around him but he steadied himself.
“Anything wrong?” Putnam asked, seeing the young man’s pallor.
“No,” Doyle assured him, "I think the sherry must have gone to my head.”
“Howe’s speeches more likely,” Eaton grunted from his seat by the fireside.
“But pardon me, Mr. Putnam, you were speaking of Miss Phoebe and Mr. Eaton’s son.”
“Yes, yes! I want a marriage agreement. Damme, man, you know what I want better than myself.”
“I suppose Miss Phoebe knows of this arrangement. Unless she consents
“Consents!” Putnam’s voice rose in anger. “You fool! did you ever know man or woman to refuse to do Malcolm Putnam’s bidding? But, you’ll have it ready, Doyle? Next week?”
The lawyer did not reply for the moment, and when he did his face was crimson.
“1 did not intend to tell you, Mr. Putnam, it is a secret, but the truth of the matter is that I shall not have time."
“And why not?” Putnam interrupted, not pretending to hide the curiosity in his voice.
Brian Doyle smiled. “When 1 was in Halifax the first of the week I was offered a position on the board which is to investi-
gate the feasibility of the proposed railroad from . .”
“Doyle!” Putnam interrupted once again, “don’t tell me you have stooped so low as to accept a position from that man ...” The older man hardly dared to pronounce the name. His statement was couched as a question. As one who knows he is about to hear bad news but dares to hope he is mistaken.
“Yes, from Howe,” the young lawyer finished.
“Ah!” Malcolm Putnam let the exclamation escape through his tightly clenched lips, as if jealous to part with it. His voice was imperative and the tone like the icy breath of September’s wind—cutting keen.
“Doyle, you have deceived me and I cannot forgive you that. You can’t be a friend of mine and a friend of Howe’s also. Apparently you have chosen. That is for yourself. But, sir! You are a fool. Do you think Howe will always retain his popularity? I tell you,” and his voice dropped to a sibilant whisper, shaken with hatred and contempt, “we have our eye on a man who’ll make history for N ova Scotia. Y es, and who will undo Howe.
“Remember my words. Remember Doyle, what I predict. Tupper will be a household word in Nova Scotia before very long. But enough of this. You have betrayed my confidence.”
He stood up and Brian Doyle took the hint. These three men were almost stoical now in their behaviour. Their features did not betray the slightest emotion. The young lawyer did not offer to shake hands. He knew it would be useless and he did not desire the ignominy of being repulsed. He bowed to Putnam and Eaton and they bowed stiffly in return. He left them standing like two of the ‘Old Guard’ with their backs to the fire.
The moon was full and as he walked down the graveled walk to the sea, he could see its reflection like a band of molten silver, stretching into the depths of the water. The tide was full and he could hear the lap, lap, lap of the water against the wharves. Then the sound of scurrying feet and as he turned, Phoebe Putnam flung herself into his arms.
“Take me with you, Brian,” she sobbed. “Take me with you.”
He held her tightly. Could feel her body lithe and warm against his own. She was his! Who had a better right to her than himself? Maitland was done. The shipyards were done. It wasn’t as if . . . ! He had an appointment from Howe. Then, the fact that he could feel her crying, her breast rising and falling, made him aware of their situation.
“A full moon and a full tide, is wishing time they say in Ireland. Whatever you wish, Macushla, will come true. What do you wish?” he whispered.
“To go with you,” she whispered back.
Then lip met lip—then once again.
FT AYE you sent word to my daughter?”
-*■ The words, barely audible, were addressed to the nurse who sat by the bedside.
“Yes, Mr. Putnam. We expect her to-morrow at the latest. You are comfortable?”
“Quite comfortable, nurse. To-morrow .1 want to see her again before— before it’s too late. Will to-morrow be too late, nurse?”
“Hush! Don't talk like that, you may live . . .”
“Ah, nurse, you know better. But, what matter! We are all alike—always trying to dodge the inevitable. I was like the rest; I tried to fool myself. Look at Maitland! A deserted village. Our shipyards crumbling into ruins. Howe did for us with his railway. ‘Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days.’ - Howe was right about that. Who would have thought it possible?
“A little wine, please. Thank you.
“But I was right about some things. Tupper ruined Howe. But my shipyards
were ruined by his railroad. The dirty Grit—the damn dirty Grit. You’re sure my daughter will come, nurse?”
“Yes, Mr. Putnam, she sent word that she was leaving Halifax this afternoon. She’ll be in Truro to-night, and will come down by the stage coach to-morrow afternoon.”
“She’ll come to Truro by rail, won’t she?”
“Those railroads are great things, nurse. I remember when it was proposed to build one, people laughed and said, ‘It would not pay for the grease on its axles’. But Howe was right about that—he just laughed and went ahead and built it.” “She left me you know, nurse—sixteen years ago—for a beggarly young lawyer. But I loved her all the more for that. When she went, I was building a ship that I had promised her I would call the Phoebe, and I did. Some wondered. What business was it of theirs? Stick to your word, nurse, no matter what happens. I can be accused of many things but never of breaking my word. I called her the Phoebei Funny too—she was lost—with all hands on the Labrador coast. Murray Eaton was her captain. He was lost, too. I lost them both. What’s that, nurse?” “Someone at the door. I think it’s Mr. Eaton. He said he would be over to have a talk with you.”
“Bring him up nurse—bring him up.” “Ah, there you are.oldfriend’” Putnam exclaimed as Eaton entered the room. “How are you? Bring your chair closer. Give Mr. Eaton a chair, nurse.”
“Here, Mr. Eaton. Now remember, Mr. Putnam, don’t you talk too much.” “Run away nurse, run away, like a good soul. What news, Eaton, what news?”
“Confederation is a fact, Putnam, I read it in the paper to-day. The Imperial Parliament has passed the Act. ‘The British North America Act,’ it is called.” “I knew it, Eaton, I knew it. What could Howe hope when he had a man like Tupper against him. I knew Tupper was a match for Howe. I said so years ago. Remember in ’55 when we bought Cumberland up for Tupper. That was vengeance, but the cursed fools elected Howe in Hants the next year. Tupper got him at last, though.! Dr. Tupper—‘The War Horse from Cumberland’—that’s a man for you, Eaton.”
“A Scotchman, Putnam.”
“Aye, Eaton, you’re right! Fill your
glass man. A toast to ‘The War Horse from Cumberland’.
The two men drained their glasses and Eaton set his on the table with apparent reluctance.
“That’s good whisky—damn good whisky,” he sighed.
“Vintage of 1840. I was building my first ship that year. Ah, the times we’ve had, but I’m afraid they are about over.” “Don’t say that, Putnam, don’t say that. If you go, I’ll be all alone. Aren’t you afraid?”
“I’m not afraid, Eaton. No! I shan’t be judged by the money I’ve stolen, and the evil I’ve done. I shan’t be judged for the oaths I’ve said and the lies I’ve told but by the ships I’ve built. I’ve been bad—damn bad, but the ships I’ve built were good ships—damn good. No green timber or rotten spars, all sound and true, and if some were lost—it was not because of that.”
“Hobnob, old man, hobnob! It may^be the last time.”
“Eaton, you’ll promise me a favor—a last promise?”
“Yes, of course.”
“When you read my will you’ll not be disappointed. Phoebe has been provided for. But I’ve also left a sum of money with which I want you to build a ship. You’ll build her?”
“The plans are in that desk. Open that drawer and get them.” Malcolm Putnam pointed to a cabinet which stood against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Enoch Eaton crossed the room took the plans from the desk, and handed them silently to Putnam. The sick man smoothed them out. His eyes sparkled, and his hands trembled with eagerness.
“See, see!” he indicated with gaunt outstretched fore-finger, “You’ll build her according to these plans—230 feet overall—42 feet breadth—mainmast 90 feet—I’ve made these calculations myself. I’ve worked years on them and if you’ll follow them, I’ll warrant you’ll have a ship faster than either the Lightning or Flying Cloud. Promise me, you’ll—” “What’s the matter, Putnam, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing. You’ll build her, Eaton? Say you’ll build her.”
“Yes! Of course!”
“A funny whim of mine. Call her'JThe Passing Glory.’”