Read CHAPTER IV - THE SECOND JOHN MCALPINE of Duncan Polite The Watchman of Glenoro , free online book, by Marian Keith, on ReadCentral.com.

Donald’s first year at college passed uneventfully.  He returned the next spring to his work on the farm, covered with honours, full of tales of his studies or his freshman adventures, but never a word of his final destiny, though Duncan Polite anxiously awaited it.  He was in some trouble about Donald.  He had set up a high standard for his boy and was pained and surprised when he failed to attain it.  If only Mr. Cameron were living, he often reflected with a sigh, he would soon set Donald’s feet in the right path.  The lack of a pastor was a great grief to Duncan Polite.  What would happen to his covenant if the flock were left so long shepherdless?

And then into the midst of his doubts and fears, his anxiety for the future and his regrets for the past, there came such a rich and abounding blessing, such an abundant answer to all his prayers, that for a season the Watchman was overwhelmed with contrite joy.  For, after nearly a year of dissension, the congregations of Glenoro and the Tenth concession of Oro at last made choice of a minister, a choice which won the unanimous approval of both churches and suited everyone from old Andrew Johnstone to the Hamilton girls.  He seemed to possess every requisite to suit the varied tastes of the varied people of Glenoro church.  The old folk overlooked his youth, and the Oa forgot his lack of Gaelic in the light of his great achievement, for he possessed one quality that made it possible for him to bind together in peace and harmony the different factions of the church.  It was not that he was very handsome, that he had a free, winning manner, it was not that he had had a brilliant career at college or that his professors prophesied a great future for him, it was not that he was an eloquent preacher and was filled with zeal for his Master.  All these were important; but they sank into insignificance before his cardinal virtue, that which placed him immeasurably above all other probationers and made Duncan Polite look upon him as the embodiment of all his hopes, for was he not a grandson of Glenoro’s hero, and himself John McAlpine Egerton?

What more could Glenoro hope for on this earth?  What more could be desired?  Mr. McAlpine come back to them!  It seemed too good to be true.  He did not even need to preach for a call.  In fact, he had had no intention of doing so, but Peter Farquhar and Donald Fraser had heard him preach one Sabbath in Toronto when they went to the Exhibition, and they brought home such a glowing report of this second John McAlpine that at the close of his college term they all with one consent invited him to come and be their pastor.  Even the Oa went for him solidly; a Gaelic preacher seemed an impossible luxury in these degenerate times, anyway, and, as Peter Farquhar said, “Mr. McAlpine’s grandson without the Gaelic was better than any other man with it.”

There had not been such a congregation in the Glenoro church since the days of the first John McAlpine as there was the Sabbath after the young man’s induction.  All the old people who had not come out to church since Mr. Cameron’s death were there.  Many of them remembered their young pastor’s grandfather, whose fiery zeal and burning eloquence melted the hearts of those who had gone astray and shook to the very foundations of their being the most hardened sinners,-and here was his counterpart raised up to take his place!

As the young man stood up during the singing of the first psalm, many aged eyes noted with loving eagerness certain resemblances in voice and gesture to their hero.  His face was handsome and clear-cut and lit by a pair of kindly, frank, blue eyes, a face which betokened a generous and amiable disposition.  And the way he held up his fine head and straightened his broad shoulders was so like the first John McAlpine that many an old couple nudged each other with delight.

Miss Cotton had never seen the first McAlpine, but as she sat at the end of the Hamilton pew she could not resist giving Maggie a nudge when the handsome young man’s eyes travelled in their direction, a nudge so pregnant of meaning that Maggie giggled and transferred the same to Sarah, whence it passed down the long row, setting ribbons and flowers quivering, all to the extreme disapproval of Mrs. Fraser, who was not too much occupied with the new minister to overlook any of the misdemeanours of the Hamilton pew.

John Hamilton, himself, was in a state of dazed joy and quite oblivious of his daughters.  Any sort of a minister was an object of reverent delight to the pious old man, but this one was so much better than he had ever dreamed, that he looked at him with something akin to awe.

Andrew Johnstone sat at the end of his pew as straight and forbidding as ever, but the gleam of his eyes, from underneath his bristling brows, showed that his spirit was rejoicing.

Back in the last row, the young men of the church sat regarding the new minister with approval and some envy.  Syl Todd, who did not follow after his parents’ form of religion, but went now to the Presbyterian Church and now to the Methodist, with impartial irregularity, emphatically declared Mr. Egerton the most stylish looking fellow he had seen since he left the States, and during the sermon silently registered a vow that he would part his hair in the middle, too, just as soon as he got home.

Peter McNabb’s voice seemed charged with the universal rejoicing.  Not since he had missed Mr. Cameron behind him had the precentor let his notes roll out so tumultuously glorious as when he led the first psalm,

  “Oh come let us sing to the Lord,
  Come let us everyone
  A joyful noise make to the Rock
  Of our Salvation!”

But of all the happy hearts in that congregation, there was none like Duncan Polite’s.  He looked up at the young divine standing, like Saul, head and shoulders above the people, and there came to his mind the words spoken by the Lord to Samuel, “Behold the man whom I spoke to thee of!” This was the man of promise, the man of his dreams.

The very air of the church seemed electric as the young minister opened the Bible and began his sermon.  The earnest for the future contained in the text thrilled Duncan’s soul, “For I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  “Nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified!” Duncan Polite repeated the words to himself again and again.  Ah, what a transformation was coming over his glen, what a glorious fulfilment of his covenant-“Nothing but Jesus Christ!”

The discourse surpassed even their expectations.  It was a fine sermon, sound enough in doctrine to suit the ruling elder and brilliant enough in delivery to keep Syl Todd awake.  Indeed, Miss Cotton declared afterwards that it was the cleverest sermon she ever listened to, for she didn’t understand more than half of it.

But Glenoro’s literary attainments were not represented by Eliza Cotton.  The bulk of the congregation carried the sermon to their homes to discuss it until another one came, and Duncan and Andrew stood so long at the former’s gate, going carefully over it point by point, that they forgot time and place and were almost late for Sabbath school.

After the service the congregation pressed about their new pastor, welcoming him with hearty handshakes.  He went down the aisle in his free, kindly manner, grasping the outstretched hands, and almost overcome by the tearful greeting from the old people.  His own eyes were moist when at last he was able to get away and out into the street.  The people stood crowding the steps to watch him pass up the hill accompanied by the precentor.  Mrs. McNabb had been a school teacher in her younger days, and on account of this distinction the McNabb household was the recognised stopping place for any genteel visitor in the Glen.  Consequently, they had the honour of boarding the minister, and, as he walked out of the gate and up the road, the McNabb family moved reverently in his wake, resplendent in his reflected glory.

For the next two days after that happy Sabbath, Duncan Polite moved about in a radiant dream.  He was waiting in childlike faith for the blessings which were to descend.  His whole thought was turned upon Donald.  Here was the man to influence him and bring him to a sense of the great work awaiting his efforts.  He was sitting at his door one evening a few days after the new minister’s advent, looking down into his glen.  His hopes for the valley had never been so high.  The little ravine lay in purple shadow, but on the crest of the opposite hill he saw one tall pine standing up erect and grand and all ablaze where it caught the last gleam of the dying sun, a pine tree with golden needles like the one in the fairy tale.  Duncan’s heart, always in keen sympathy with Nature, thrilled at the sight.  It seemed to him the bright promise of a new and greater day.  He turned and saw Donald coming up the path.

“Oh, and will you be going to the Glen?” he asked, making room for the young man on the doorstep beside him.

“Yes, but I can’t sit down, Uncle.  Anything to look after?”

“Oh, no, it will be good of you to be always remembering the old man; no, but-will you be seeing the minister, I wonder?”

“Yes, sure, I’m going to the Hamiltons’”-Donald essayed to make this remark in a casual tone, as though this were not his almost daily habit-“I’m going to the Hamiltons’ and Archie said Mr. Egerton was to be there to-night.  They asked him down to meet some of the young folks.”

Duncan’s face beamed.  “Oh, indeed, and that would be a fine thing!” he cried enthusiastically.  He did not detain his nephew longer, for once he was anxious to see the boy off for the village.  Formerly, he had suffered much anxiety because Donald and Sandy spent their evenings hanging around the corner with a crowd of idlers, or at the Hamiltons’, where there was nothing but frivolity and gaiety, but now all this was changed, for had not Mr. McAlpine returned to them?  And was not the Glen a place of blessing to any young person who entered it?

A few minutes after Donald had reached his destination, the young minister passed out of Peter McNabb’s gate on the slope of the north hill and in company with the boys and girls of his boarding place, went away down towards the Hamiltons’.  He walked along buoyantly, filled with admiration of the lovely little valley stretched at his feet.  Although the dusk was gathering, his movements were noted and commented upon by everyone within seeing distance.  The cane he carried came in for special notice, opinion upon it varying from Syl Todd, who was hurrying, oiled and perfumed, towards the Hamiltons’ from the opposite direction and who was overcome with envious admiration, to Mrs. Fraser, who, from the post-office veranda, noted the implement of fashion with some misgiving.  Of course, it was all right for a minister to carry one if he chose.  He was too far above the rest of the community to be judged by ordinary standards; but there was no denying that a slim cane savoured of “pride,” and might prove a stumbling-block to Donald Neil and wee Andra and such wayward youths as were easily led astray.

Meanwhile, the object of all this interest had arrived at the gate between the big oaks.  The house was a blaze of light, notwithstanding the early hour.  Bars of pink lamp-light stretched out across the dusky lawn and into the dark corners of the orchard.  Someone was playing a lively jig on the organ.  There was a mingled sound of talking, laughter, screams and hurrying feet, and all the usual evening hubbub of this lively place.

The Hamilton family consisted of seven girls who were allowed more clothes and liberty than was considered quite respectable in Glenoro society.  The Hamilton parents were not usually reckoned in speaking of the household and were at best only accessory.  Old John Hamilton lived in a state of good-natured bewilderment when in the bosom of his lively family.  He spent the day at his flour mill down the river road and in the evenings read his Bible and his weekly paper undisturbed and happy amid all the rush and din.  His wife was a bright little woman who, having had a hard time in her own youth, felt there was some compensation in allowing the girls to “have their fling,” as she termed it, until they “settled down.”

As the minister approached, Mrs. Hamilton was standing at the gate waiting to welcome him, Miss Cotton beside her.  Being the village dressmaker, Miss Cotton had the open sesame to every home in the neighbourhood and held its occupants at the mercy of her sharp tongue and needle.  To-night she chose to bestow her company upon the Hamiltons, determined to lose nothing of the excitement consequent upon the new minister’s introduction to society.

The big sitting-room, to which Mrs. Hamilton led her guest, was full of young folks, the Frasers, the Duffys, the Baskervilles, the Balfs and a crowd of McDonalds; college students, farmers and mill-hands, for Glenoro knew no social lines.

But amid all the crowd, the stranger’s eye picked out a girl at the other end of the room.  She was seated on the organ-stool playing, and turned at the sudden silence announcing the minister’s entrance.  She was dressed in a transparent white gown with a blue ribbon wound round her slender throat; the lamp on the organ above shed a soft glow upon a dainty head of clustering brown curls and a face of exquisite shape and feature.

The newcomer took this all in with a glance, experiencing a sensation of decided pleasure, but his attention was called by his hostess, who proceeded to introduce him to the assembly.  The laughing, chattering groups broke up and all stood back against the wall, stiff and silent, while Mrs. Hamilton triumphantly piloted her guest down the long rows.  He shook hands cordially with all and gave a pleasant word of recognition to the few he had met before.  The young men received him with a hasty and somewhat limp handshake and an awkward “how d’ye do;” the young women were more graceful, but quite as diffident, and all were painfully respectful.  But there was one young man who displayed neither awkwardness nor shyness.  He stood leaning easily against the organ, but straightened himself as the minister approached and was thus between him and the girl at the instrument.

“This is another Mr. McDonald,” Mrs. Hamilton was saying for the fifth time, adding the usual vague explanation, “Mr. Neil More, Donald Neil More, you know, Mr. Egerton.”

Mr. Egerton did not know, but he could not help feeling that this young man was quite capable of distinguishing himself, even though he bore an ambiguous name.  He was tall enough to let his eyes look down just a trifle as he shook hands, but perhaps that was because of the way he held his head.  He was friendly and kind; but the young minister, accustomed to the adulation of rural friends, somehow missed the look of deference from his fearless dark eyes and instinctively experienced a slight feeling of constraint.

But the next introduction was an unmixed pleasure, when a pair of sweet grey eyes were raised for an instant to his face and Mrs. Hamilton said, unable to keep a tremor of pride from her voice, “And this is our Jessie, Mr. Egerton.”

He was sorry that she did not speak, but she gave him her hand with an alluring shyness, and then he understood why the Hamiltons’ was such a centre of attraction.

The introductions were finished at last and the visitor found himself anchored rather insecurely to a slippery haircloth sofa and seated beside a small, youngish woman with a very haughty air, who, he learned, was the schoolmaster’s wife.

The buzz of talk had commenced again, though much subdued, and he was at liberty to examine the company.  They were four grown-up Hamilton girls, he noticed, and three little ones.  With the exception of the beauty on the organ-stool, the young ladies were rather puzzling to a stranger.  They were all tall and fair and pretty, but the minister’s quick eye soon noted distinguishing characteristics.  Bella, the eldest and the one to whom the young Johnstone giant was paying such obvious attentions, was the tallest and fairest.  Sarah, the one with the affected air of discontent, was the third in the quartette.  He also discovered afterwards that she was the cleverest and quite aware of the fact, and the noisy rattle-brain who was up to some mischief in a corner and to whom Mrs. Hamilton was making gesticulatory appeals, was Maggie, the fourth girl.

But he was compelled to give his attention to his immediate neighbours; with Mrs. Watson on one side and Miss Cotton on the other, he was soon possessed of an exhaustive history of everyone present.  Sarah Hamilton went to the High School and was dreadful stuck up about it; Allan Fraser, the pale young man talking to her, was studying medicine, and young Donald Neil was going to be a minister.  Both ladies agreed, however, that Mr. Egerton would consider Donald’s conduct anything but clerical, though he was good to his mother, poor woman-a bad time she had with those noisy rascals -

The steady flow of information was interrupted by the appearance of Mr. Hamilton.  He had been struggling with his coat and a clean collar ever since the minister’s arrival, and now came stumbling hurriedly into the room.

“Eh, eh, good evening, Mr. Egerton,” he cried heartily, “good evening, sir, Ah’m jist that glad to see ye in the hoose, came awa into the other room, come awa, man, an’ we’ll have a quiet word.”

“Now, pa,” protested Mrs. Hamilton, who had been hovering round her guest, “don’t take Mr. Egerton away out there!”

“Tuts, mother, Ah’ll bring him back to the lassies, never fear!” he cried, with ingenuous indiscretion.  “Come awa, sir!”

The young man followed his host across the hall and into the dining room.  It was a big, rag-carpeted room; a large easy chair was set beside the long table and a number of newspapers were strewn about.  The evening breeze blew in cool and sweet, setting the stiff, white curtains swaying and bringing the refreshing scent of the river.

“No, jist ye set doon here, Mr. Egerton,” said his host heartily, “an’ mind, as long’s ye’re in Glenoro, ye canna come too often!  The lassies cut up a bit dust in the room yonder, but there’s always a quiet corner here, an’ me an’ Mr. Watson here,-tuts, tuts, Ah was forgettin’-this is Maister Watson, our schoolmaster, aye, aye!”

A small, slim, young man, with a dark, thin face and bristling hair jumped briskly from the depths of an easy chair and grasped Mr. Egerton’s hand.

“Pleased to meet you, sir, pleased to meet you, I’m sure,” he cried effusively.  “I’ve been most anxious to meet you, especially since Sunday, sir.  That sermon was the best I’ve ever heard in Ontario, sir; yes, sir, the very best, patriotism, patriotism, from beginning to end!  That’s the thing!  That’s what the country needs, sir!”

He pumped his auditor’s hand up and down vigorously while he spoke, then, at the end, flung it from him, stepped back a pace and, striking an attitude, stood gazing up admiringly at the young minister.

John Egerton was decidedly surprised and a trifle disconcerted.  He had not considered his sermon at all patriotic, though he did remember a slight allusion to the greatness of the heritage of Canadians, but he was a cordial young man and had come to Glenoro prepared to meet all sorts of people.  Besides, he was still very young and had not yet got over feeling a thrill of pleasure when his sermon was praised.

“I am glad you liked it,” he said smilingly, as he seated himself.  “So you think we need more patriotism?”

“Patriotism!  Well I should think so!  It’s the crying need of this country, sir!  I’m glad I’ve got some one to sympathise with me at last.  Do you know, Mr. Egerton,” he drew up his chair closer and lowered his voice confidentially, “you’ll find this an awfully backward place in that respect.  If all rural Canadian places are as bad, I don’t know what’s to become of this country, sir!  Why, the absence of any public spirit is simply appalling!  Why, Mr. Hamilton here can tell you that when Mrs. Watson and I came here two years ago there wasn’t a flag in Glenoro, sir!”

Mr. Hamilton acquiesced apologetically; he opened his mouth as if to speak, looked ashamed, and said nothing.

“Yes, sir,” the schoolmaster was rattling along, “Mrs. Watson and I were in the States for a number of years and I can tell you there’s where they know how to do things.  Great country that, I tell you, sir, isn’t it?  Well, they know how to be patriotic there, I can tell you; flags waving, bands playing and crowds cheering.  It’s inspiring!  But we could make something even of Canada if her people only had a little more go.  What do you think about our organising a patriotic society here, sir?”

John Egerton sat back in his chair, and together the two young men settled the destiny of Canada and her provinces, as well as of Britain and her colonies, while their host sat in rapt attention.  He told Peter McNabb at the blacksmith shop the next day that it was, without doubt, the most edifying talk to which he had ever listened.  It was interrupted by a summons to the sitting room to join in the singing.  Wee Andra, who was the leader in musical circles and who had as his equipment for the position a bass voice in proportion to his size, was marshalling his forces around the instrument.  They made room for the minister in the best position.  He found it very pleasant to stand and look over Jessie’s bright curls as he sang.  They rendered a number of gospel hymns and a new anthem which they were preparing for the Methodist service next Sabbath evening, the four parts going very harmoniously.  Those young Presbyterians who had a vague fear of their minister discovering that they sang in the Methodist choir, were both relieved and pleased when he cried out, at the end of the anthem, “Why, that’s grand!  I think I shall turn Methodist myself!” And the Methodists present laughed delightedly.

Then Sandy Neil, who was an imp of mischief, produced the college song book which Allan Fraser had introduced into Glenoro the summer before.  The girls were shocked at the thought of showing such a frivolous thing to the minister, and Bella Hamilton tried to conceal it behind the sofa; but, to the astonishment of all, he exclaimed as he caught sight of it, “The College Song Book!  Why, here’s an old friend!  I’ve sung everything in that book till I’ve cracked my voice more times than I can tell.  Come along, boys, let’s have ‘The Three Crows!’”

The boys let him have them with a rare good will, till the house rang.  Sandy Neil got up on the back of the sofa, where the minister could not see him, and flapped his arms and cawed and altogether imitated the antics of a crow to such perfection that the girls around him were ready to die of smothered laughter.  They sang all the old favourites, and when they came to one they did not know, the minister sang it alone.  He had a fine deep musical voice, and when he rendered the history of “The Walloping Window Blind,” he was rewarded with a hearty and unanimous round of applause.

Wee Andra quite fell in love with him, his diffidence entirely disappearing under the other’s frank manner.

“My, I wish you’d get a choir in our church, Mr. Egerton!” he exclaimed in a burst of confidence when they had rendered another anthem with the minister’s aid.  But John Egerton was too astute to respond to this, otherwise than by a smile.  He had learned something already of Glenoro’s divided opinions and knew better than to take either side.  But he sat down beside the choir leader and they talked about music and the newest anthems and the conducting of choral societies until Wee Andra was completely charmed.

They were interrupted by a commotion at the other end of the room; a group of young people were trying to learn a new game, and Mr. Sylvanus Todd was initiating them into its mysteries.  But partly from a defective memory, and partly from terror of Maggie Hamilton’s sharp and reviling tongue, he was getting woefully puzzled.  The minister sprang up and came to his assistance.  He knew the game well, explained it with a few bright, quick words and soon had the whole room joining.  He was so free and unaffected, so absolutely one of themselves, that he won all hearts.  Very soon all the restraint of his presence had melted away.  They joined in the games with even more than their usual vim.  The room rang with merriment.  They played “Kitchen Furniture” and “Handkerchief”-yes, and even “Old Dan Tucker.”  This latter was suggested by Sandy Neil, of course, to the horror of the staider ones, for “Dan Tucker” perilously resembled dancing and was proscribed in most houses.  Indeed, even at the Hamiltons’ it was indulged in only behind closed doors and when Mrs. Hamilton was at a safe distance.  But the minister was ready for anything; he went into the jolly circling ring of boys and girls as “Dan Tucker” himself, and when the time for changing partners came, he caught Jessie Hamilton’s hand just as Donald Neil was reaching for it and swung her into the centre, her eyes dancing, her curls flying.

There was never quite such a grand time before, even at the Hamiltons’; the noise increased, the laughter grew wilder and the dust flew out of the carpet.

They ended up with an uproarious game of “Blind Man’s Buff,” in which Julia Duffy, a big muscular Irish girl, caught Mr. Egerton round the neck in a strangling grasp, and when she discovered whom she was embracing, she shrieked in horrified dismay, “Murderin’ blazes!  If it ain’t the preacher!”

The crowd went off into roars of laughter, none joining so heartily as the minister himself, who was compelled to lean against the wall for support, and wipe the tears from his eyes.

“Shades of Mr. McAlpine!” said Donald Neil to his chum, as he found himself driven into a corner, “he’s up-to-date and no mistake!”

“The Oa’ll rear up on its hind legs when it hears,” whispered Wee Andra with a broad grin.  “There’s no flies on him, though, I can tell you.  I do like to see a minister actin’ like a human being!”

Donald made no reply.  He had been brought up under Duncan Polite’s influence and was not quite prepared to agree with his friend.

Supper was announced at this moment.  Jessie and Bella had slipped away some time before to assist in its preparation, for as soon as the minister had left the dining room Mrs. Hamilton had proceeded to bring up all her culinary triumphs of the morning and spread them out in magnificent array.  Eliza Cotton, who assisted the girls to lay the table, gave up exclaiming at last, and resolved she would make Mrs. Fraser just green with envy telling her about it.  For, of course, if one didn’t do one’s best at a visit from the minister, what possible combination of circumstances could call it forth?

The young man for whom the feast had been prepared was properly amazed as he took his seat at the long table, crowded with glass and gaily decorated with china and huge bouquets of tulips, and loaded with cakes and pies and tarts and jellies and cold meats and great heaps of snowy bread and great cups of creamy tea.

The schoolmaster sat next him and gave him his ideas upon the practicability of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Mrs. Hamilton on the other side heaped his plate at short intervals, without stopping to ask permission.  There was a great deal of noise and laughter at the other end of the table, for Maggie and Wee Andra and Sandy Neil were there.  The guest did not fail to notice that Jessie was quieter than her sisters; her big eyes had a thoughtful expression.  He caught himself wondering, more than once, what sort of girl she was; surely a person with a face like that could not be anything but perfect.

Mr. Hamilton sat at the head of the table, beaming good-nature all round, though he said very little except “Aye, oh aye,” in a reflective tone.  But, during a lull in the lively conversation at the other end of the table, he leaned over towards the minister with a question, “An’ what are ye, Mr. Egerton?  Of course, we all ken ye’re part Highland Scotch, but not all, Ah hope.”

The whole tableful was silent now and every eye was turned towards the young man addressed.  The question was one of great importance.  John Egerton laughed.  “Oh, don’t be alarmed,” he said gaily, “I have plenty of Lowland blood, too, Mr. Hamilton; the Highland Scotch is only the McAlpine side.  The Egertons are English, though.”

Mr. Hamilton looked doubtful.  “Oh aye,” he said.  “They never taught you the Gaelic, though.  Man, the Oa folk would a’ been pleased if ye could speak it.”

The young man raised his eyebrows with a comical affectation of despair.

“Don’t I wish I could!” he exclaimed.  “But I’m not so ignorant as they think.  I know more than ten words of Gaelic.  You fellows from the Oa remember to tell that!”

There was a hearty laugh round the table.  “By Jove, I will tell it,” said Donald Neil, when the conversation had become general again, “I’ll tell Catchach!”

“Tell him what?” inquired Wee Andra.

“That the minister speaks Gaelic.”

A shriek of laughter from those who heard greeted this announcement, and Wee Andra thumped his chum upon the back in the exuberance of his delight.

“Great head, Don!” he roared.  “Catchach’ll swallow him with joy before he has time to deny it.”

“Don Neil,” cried Jessie, “you surely wouldn’t play a trick on a minister!”

“It would be fearful wicked,” put in Sandy piously.

“He’ll never know,” laughed Donald.  “We’ll let Catchach foam a while and then bring him down to earth before he does any damage.”

“Well, a minister should be considered above such things,” said Sarah loftily.

“Not this minister,” said Don with conviction, “he’s able to take care of himself.  Eh, Andra?”

“You bet.  There’s nothin’ o’ the old hearse about him.  He’s jist like the rest of us.  It’ll be a howlin’ circus-” and he chuckled prodigiously.

“If you boys are up to any mischief about the minister,” warned Bella, “I’ll tell your father.  Andra-Hish!”

For the minister had arisen and was returning thanks for the food of which they had partaken.  The noise was hushed and every head instantly lowered.

The company broke up with the unanimous verdict that they had had a grand time and that the new minister was beyond praise.  The young man walked up the hill with Flora McNabb in an equal state of satisfaction.  He had the pleasant assurance that his young flock liked him and he felt sure he was going to be very happy in Glenoro.  He wondered laughingly what his fastidious Helen would say could she have seen him playing “Blind Man’s Buff” with Miss Duffy.  He wrote her a very laughable account of the affair before he retired, and went to bed to dream that he and she lived in the little manse by the bend in the river.

So the evening which Duncan Polite had prayed over so fervently came to an end and, as the young shepherd of the flock slept peacefully in his comfortable home in the valley, well pleased with himself and the world, the old Watchman lay awake in his little shanty on the hilltop, hoping and praying that the young servant of the Master had dropped some words that would lead Donald and the young people of the Glen into a higher and nobler life.