From: Glengarry Schooldays
"How many did you say, Craven, of those Glengarry men of yours?"
Professor Gray was catechizing his nephew.
"Ten of them, sir, besides the minister's son, who is going to take the
full university course."
"And all of them bound for the ministry?"
"So they say. And judging by the way they take life, and the way, for
instance, they play shinny, I have a notion they will see it through."
"They come of a race that sees things through," answered the professor.
"And this is the result of this Zion Hill Academy I have been hearing so
"Well, sir, they put in a good year's work, I must say."
"You might have done worse, sir. Indeed, you deserve great credit, sir."
"I? Not a bit. I simply showed them what to do and how to do it. But
there's a woman up there that the world ought to know about. For love of
"Oh, the world!" snorted the professor. "The world, sir! The Lord
deliver us! It might do the world some good, I grant."
"It is for love of her these men are in for the ministry."
"You are wrong, sir. That is not their motive."
"No, perhaps it is not. It would be unfair to say so, but yet she--"
"I know, sir. I know, sir. Bless my soul, sir. I know her. I knew her
before you were born. But--yes, yes--" the professor spoke as if to
himself--"for love of her men would attempt great things. You have
these names, Craven? Ah! Alexander Stewart, Donald Cameron, Thomas
Finch--Finch, let me see--ah, yes, Finch. His mother died after a long
illness. Yes, I remember. A very sad case, a very sad case, indeed."
"And yet not so sad, sir," put in Craven. "At any rate, it did not
seem so at the time. That night it seemed anything but sad. It was
The professor laid down his list and sat back in his chair.
"Go on, sir," he said, gazing curiously at Craven. "I have heard a
little about it. Let me see, it was the night of the great match, was it
"Did you know about that? Who told you about the match, sir?"
"I hear a great many things, and in curious ways. But go on, sir, go
Craven sat silent, and from the look in his eyes his thoughts were far
"Well, sir, it's a thing I have never spoken about. It seems to me, if I
may say so, something quite too sacred to speak of lightly."
Again Craven paused, while the professor waited.
"It was Hughie sent me there. There was a jubilation supper at
the manse, you understand. Thomas Finch, the goal-keeper, you
know--magnificent fellow, too--was not at the supper. A messenger had
come for him, saying that his mother had taken a bad turn. Hughie was
much disappointed, and they were all evidently anxious. I offered to
drive over and inquire, and of course the minister's wife, though she
had been on the go all day long, must needs go with me. I can never
forget that night. I suppose you have noticed, sir, there are times
when one is more sensitive to impressions from one's surroundings than
others. There are times with me, too, when I seem to have a very vital
kinship with nature. At any rate, during that drive nature seemed to get
close to me. The dark, still forest, the crisp air, the frost sparkling
in the starlight on the trees--it all seemed to be part of me. I fear I
am not explaining myself."
Craven paused again, and his eyes began to glow. The professor still
"When we reached the house we found them waiting for death. The
minister's wife went in, I waited in the kitchen. By and by Billy Jack,
that's her eldest son, you know, came out. 'She is asking for you,' he
said, and I went in. I had often seen her before, and I rather think
she liked me. You see, I had been able to help Thomas along pretty well,
both in school and with his night work, and she was grateful for what I
had done, absurdly grateful when one considers how little it was. I had
seen death before, and it had always been ghastly, but there was nothing
ghastly in death that night. The whole scene is before me now, I suppose
always will be."
His dead, black eyes were beginning to show their deep, red fire.
The professor looked at him for a moment or two, and then said,
"Proceed, if you please," and Craven drew a long breath, as if recalling
himself, and went on.
"The old man was there at one side, with his gray head down on the
bed, his little girl kneeling beside him with her arm round his neck,
opposite him the minister's wife, her face calm and steady, Billy Jack
standing at the foot of the bed--he and little Jessac the only ones in
the room who were weeping--and there at the head, Thomas, supporting
his mother, now and then moistening her lips and giving her sips of
stimulant, and so quick and steady, gentle as a woman, and smiling
through it all. I could hardly believe it was the same big fellow who
three hours before had carried the ball through the Front defense. I
tell you, sir, it was wonderful.
"There was no fuss or hysterical nonsense in that room. The mother lay
there quite peaceful, pain all gone--and she had had enough of it in
her day. She was quite a beautiful woman, too, in a way. Fine eyes,
remarkable eyes, splendidly firm mouth, showing great nerve, I should
say. All her life, I understand, she lived for others, and even now her
thought was not of herself. When I came in she opened her eyes. They
were like stars, actually shining, and her smile was like the sudden
breaking of light through a cloud. She put out her hand for mine, and
said--and I value these words, sir--'Mr. Craven, I give you a mither's
thanks and a mither's blessing for a' you have done for ma laddie.' She
was Lowland Scotch, you know. My voice went all to pieces. I tried to
say it was nothing, but stuck. Thomas helped me out, and without a shake
or quiver in his voice, he answered for me.
"'Yes, indeed, mother, we'll not forget it.'
"'And perhaps you can help him a bit still. He will be needing it,' she
"I assure you, sir, that quiet steadiness of Thomas and herself braced
me up, and I was able to make my promise. And then she said, with a look
that somehow reminded me of the deep, starlit night outside, through
which I had just come, 'And you, Mr. Craven, you will give your life to
"Again my voice failed me. It was so unexpected, and quite overwhelming.
Once more Thomas answered for me.
"'Yes, mother, he will, sure,' and she seemed to take it as my promise,
for she smiled again at me, and closed her eyes.
"I had read of triumphant death-bed scenes, and all that before, without
taking much stock in them, but believe me, sir, that room was full of
glory. The very faces of those people, it seemed to me, were alight. It
may be imagination, but even now, as I think of it, it seems real. There
were no farewells, no wailing, and at the very last, not even tears.
Thomas, who had nursed her for more than a year, still supported her,
the smile on his face to the end. And the end"--Craven's voice grew
unsteady--"it is difficult to speak of. The minister's wife repeated the
words about the house with many mansions, and those about the valley
of the shadow, and said a little prayer, and then we all waited for the
end--for myself, I confess with considerable fear and anxiety. I had
no need to fear. After a long silence she sat up straight, and in her
Scotch tongue, she said, with a kind of amazed joy in her tone, 'Ma
fayther! Ma fayther! I am here.' Then she settled herself back in her
son's arms, drew a deep breath, and was still. All through the night
and next day the glory lingered round me. I went about as in a strange
world. I am afraid you will be thinking me foolish, sir."
The stern old professor was openly wiping his eyes. He seemed quite
unable to find his voice. At length he took up the list again, and began
to read it mechanically.
"What! What's this?" he said, suddenly, pointing to a name on the list.
"That, sir, is John Craven."
"Do you mean that you, too--"
"Yes, I mean it, if you think I am fit."
"Fit, Jack, my boy! None of us are fit. But what--how did this come?"
The professor blew his nose like a trumpet.
"That I can hardly tell myself," said Craven, with a kind of wonder
in his voice; "but at any rate it is the result of my Glengarry School
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