It was two long days before Gordon returned to me. He knew the worst,
of course, but had lingered at Carletonville in the hope that he might
get some trace of Harold. A telegram to me, and another from me to
him, told enough to send him home at once. Poor Dorothy’s eyes looked
wonderingly upon us as her father held me in his arms so long and so
silently after he came in the door. Grandfather turned his troubled
face away, pretending to gaze out of the window.

“You look so old, Gordon,” I said unguardedly, as I drew back to look
once more on the haggard face.

“I _am_ old, my darling,” was all his answer, as he drew me to him

I forget what we talked about that evening–it was a dreadsome hour.
And I actually feared for Gordon. He seemed half crushed, and half
defiant, sometimes breaking out into a flood of grief, sometimes
sitting long in stony silence. I felt guilty in the thought that I was
more composed than he; once or twice I caught myself admitting that my
faith was stronger than his–but I dismissed the comparison as
pharisaical. Yet that was my chief concern for my husband–I feared
for the influence this sorrow would have on his secret life. I knew
then, oh! how well I knew, that only one anchor could hold amid a storm
like this. And the very ones who had taught me this were God and

The gloaming was just deepening into dark when I came back to the study
after telling Dorothy good-night; grandfather’s chair was close beside
Gordon’s, the white head visible through the gloom.

“Noo’s the time to use yir faith,” the old man was saying softly;
“naebody needs a licht till the mirk gathers roun’ aboot them. An’
there’s ae thing, there’s ae thing, my son, ye maun aye keep sayin’ to
yirsel’: the laddie’s juist as dear to God as he is to you an’
Helen–if ye love him, it’s because God loves us a’,” and the quivering
voice fell on my harrowed heart like music from some steeple far aloft.
“Aye,” he went on as if to himself, “Harold canna’ wanner ayont the
Faither’s care–an’ we can aye follow him wi’ prayer.

“Rax Gordon the Buik, lassie,” he suddenly said, after we had sat a
while in silence.

I did as I was bidden and Gordon received it without a word. It seemed
to me, though perhaps it was only fancy, as he held it a moment, then
opened it slowly and began turning the pages over, that there was a
reverent eagerness about it such as had long been wanting. I wondered,
fearfully, if this new ministry were already working its blessed way.
And he passed Hosea by, though he had been reading for some time from
that section of the Scriptures; he had some books on those old writers
that he was delving into, and he always read at family worship from the
parts he was studying for himself–there was so much of this that I had
really grown weary of the prophets, shameful though it may be to
confess it. Gordon still turned the leaves, nor stopped till he came
to the fourteenth of St. John: “Let not your heart be troubled,” which
he read with a trembling voice that interpreted it beyond all the power
of German scholarship. It was like a great anthem to my soul that
night, and I think I gloried as much in Gordon’s voice as in the
wonderful words.

When we knelt to pray I slipped over to Gordon’s chair, and we bowed
together, his hand tight clasped in mine. I prayed for Gordon all the
time we were bended thus, my heart full of a kind of thankful joy that
mingled strangely with the passion of loss and loneliness already
there. The prayer was beautiful; and just before its close Gordon
stopped, tried again, then faltered out with a kind of sob:

“And, oh, God, give us back our son–bring him back to us, oh, Father
of us all.” My heart leaped for joy, like one whose long night was
almost past.

No word was spoken as grandfather and I slipped out a few minutes
later; I went with him to his room, to see that everything was ready.
“The guid Shepherd’ll bring the wannerin’ lamb hame yet,” he said as I
turned to go, the strong features struggling with emotion; “He’ll bring
them baith back–back till Himsel’–did ye no’ tak’ notice o’ Gordon’s
prayer? He’s comin’ hame, thank God, he’s comin’ hame,” and the old
man’s voice was touched with heavenly hope.

The next morning, grandfather was astir with the birds. The day was
bright; and the weather–so long his daily care–was still a specialty
of grandfather’s. Indeed, he seemed to live more and more in the past,
the farther it receded. For days he would talk of little else but the
far-off Scottish hills, and the glint of the sun through the clouds
upon the heather, and the solemn responsibilities of the lambing
season, and the sagacity of his sheep-dogs, all of whose names he
remembered. How often, especially, would he tell us of “Ettrick” and
“Yarrow,” two of his choicest collies, named for his native streams.
“This wad be a graun’ day for the sheep,” or “there’ll be mony a lammie
i’ the plaid-neuk the day,” were frequent opinions of his when sunshine
or storm provoked them.

Poor dear grandfather! Far though he was from his beloved Scotland, it
was beautiful to see how deep and tranquil was the happiness of his
heart. He knew, of course, how sore was our own poverty, and I think
it chafed him sorely that he could not help. When he first came out to
the Western world, and to his only child, I really believe he thought
the hundred pounds he brought with him would make him well-to-do for
life. His idea was that all investments, in this new land, break into
golden harvest. So he had duly invested his hundred pounds–some
eloquent agent had led him on–in some sort of mining stocks.
Old-country people are so prone to think that the earth, on this new
continent, and the waters under the earth, and the mountains on top of
it, all turn to gold if you touch them. Well, he invested his hundred
sovereigns, and that was the end of grandfather’s financial career–but
have I not told all about this already?

Yet he was happy in his children–for so he regarded us both–and in
his children’s children. But that morning, the morning after Gordon
came home, he seemed collapsed with sorrow. Perhaps it was the
reaction–I do not know–but it was evident, anyhow, with what
absorbing love grandfather’s heart had gone out to the now departed
Harold. His face was thin and worn, as if he had been ill; his voice
was husky and his step was slow. All through breakfast he never broke
the silence except to speak of Harold, and it was pathetic to hear the
various suggestions the loving heart conjured up as to the best way to
get him back. He knew little about law, dear grandfather, except the
law of love. Finally Gordon told him, perhaps too candidly, that
Harold was doubtless by this time from under his country’s flag, and
that there was no absolution unless the money were refunded–not even
then, he added, except by the grace of those whom he had wronged.

“He’ll write to us onyway, will he no’?” grandfather asked plaintively
at last.

“Oh, yes,” I said quite confidently; “oh, yes, he’ll write.”

But Gordon seemed anxious to prepare me for possible disappointment.
“He likely will, if he’s getting on well,” he said slowly, fearfully;
“if he succeeds, wherever he is, I mean. If he doesn’t, I’m–I’m

I dissented warmly from this. Harold loved his mother, I affirmed.
And then I remember how Gordon said something about the change in a
boy’s whole nature that an experience of this kind is liable to bring
about; a word or two about the moral sensibilities being blunted, or
something of that sort. Whereat I flared up in warm remonstrance,
breaking into eulogy of my son. It was not till afterwards that I
realized how all my thought of Harold, when he came home that night,
and when he went away, was always of his misfortune and never of his
sin–almost as if he had been pitifully wronged. But I suppose that is
the way of every woman’s heart, and I cannot but think it is partly
God’s way too.

Early in the forenoon grandfather disappeared, sending word by a
messenger that he had availed himself of an opportunity to go into the
country. It was evening when he returned, but I never saw a man more
changed. His face was aglow with strange enthusiasm and the signs of
healing were upon him.

“I juist couldna’ help it,” he said apologetically as he entered, his
shepherd’s crook in his hand. “I was fair longin’ to see the sheep,
an’ the hills, yince mair–my heart was sair for them. An’ I got a
chance wi’ a mon that was gaein’ oot–he was settin’ up some kind o’
machinnery. An’ I had a graun’ day on the hills,” he went on
delightedly; “it was fair graun’. There was a laddie mindin’ some
sheep–he was a fine laddie; he minded me o’ Harold–and I helpit him
a’ the day. There wasna’ ony heather, nae doot–but the hills were
bonnie–and the laddie had a collie dog or twa that minded me o’ hame.
An’ I carried yin puir wee lammie in my arms–it was ailin’–and I
lilted the auld psalms yince mair aneath God’s blue sky; it was maist
as guid as hame,” and the aged voice was all aglow with gladness.

“You had a lovely day for it, grandfather,” I said, smiling.

“Aye,” he answered, “it was a bonnie day–an’ aboot yin or twa o’clock
there cam’ a wee bit rain–a Scotch mist, ye ken, and it minded me o’
hame–oh, it’s been a graun’ day the day. But I canna’ think what it
was gied me sic’ a longin’ for the hills–it was fair fearsome–it’s
no’ a’thegither canny, I’m dootin’,” and the old man shook his head in
an eerie kind of way, so characteristic of his race. “I’m gaein’ to
bed,” he said, moving already towards the stair; “I’m fair din oot.

“What’s yon black thing hangin’ there?” he suddenly demanded, the keen
eyes resting on the door at the back of the hall.

I paid little or no attention to the question, deeming it unimportant;
we went on talking for a few minutes.

“Lassie,” he suddenly broke out again, “run, lassie, an’ see what’s yon
black thing hangin’ on the door.”

Dorothy went as directed. “It’s mamma’s rain coat,” she said a moment
later, returning with it in her hand.

“Aye,” said the old man, apparently relieved, “aye, it’s naethin’ but a
cloak–but it fashed me to look at it; I thocht it lookit like–like
yin o’ thae crape things,” he added with an embarrassed little laugh.
This gave me a queer creepy feeling at the time, but I thought little
more about it then; it came back to us later on, however.

Grandfather went to bed immediately, and Gordon and I were not long
behind him. It was about one o’clock, I think, or perhaps a little
later, when I was wakened from my sleep by a strange sound, half groan,
half cry. I went out at once into the hall and soon traced the sign of
distress to grandfather’s room. The old man was raised up in the bed,
partly sitting; and the light I quickly kindled told the story in a
flash as I glanced at the ashen face.

“It’s my heart,” he said huskily; “it’s yin o’ thae spells like I had
lang syne. It winna’ be lang, I’m dootin’.”

I was terrified, for I thought I could descry the stamp of death
already. There was a majestic calm, an unwonted stillness, upon the
old man’s face. I called Gordon at once; he evidently shared my fear,
for he rushed away for a doctor. It was but a few minutes before he
returned with the physician. The latter was not long in telling us the

“It’s simply a total collapse,” he whispered to Gordon and me as we
followed him out into the hall. “He can hardly live till the morning;
yes, it’s his heart–a case of syncope. Don’t be alarmed if he grows
delirious, or semi-delirious–they often do, just from sheer weakness.
That roaming about the country, to-day, that you spoke of–and the
excitement of it–have probably been too much for him.”

“Shall we tell him?” asked Gordon, pale and trembling.

“Perhaps it would be just as well. Has he everything in order?–his
will, I mean, and everything like that, you know?”

“That isn’t important,” said Gordon; “father had little to will–yet I
think he ought to be told. But I cannot–I couldn’t do it. Will you?”

The doctor nodded and turned slowly towards the room. We did not hear
what he said, but a moment later grandfather faintly called for Gordon.
We both went into the chamber of death.

“Rax me my wallet–you’ll find it in the kist,” said the old man,
pointing towards a trunk in the corner of the room.

Gordon handed him a large leather case which a brief search revealed.
The shaking hand fumbled a moment or two before it withdrew a somewhat
bulky document. “This is what they gi’ed me for my hunnerd pounds,” he
said, a half-shamed smile coming over the strong features. “They ca’ed
them stocks,” he added, “stocks in a mine, ye ken. I got the shares
for saxpence each–an’ they said they was awfu’ valuable–and I tuk a’
they’d gie me for a hunnerd pounds.” Then he named a certain mine in
Northern Ontario, and I thought I saw the faintest smile on Gordon’s
face. He took the paper from his father’s hand and laid it on the

“I made the shares ower to Helen, lang syne,” the old man said humbly;
“gin they turn oot to be worth onythin’, they’re for her. I didna’ ken
when I micht be ta’en awa’–an’ it’s aye weel to be ready.”

I faltered some poor words of thanks which the sinking man did not seem
to hear. A new, strange light came into his eyes as we waited beside
his bed. The doctor had withdrawn now, powerless to do more.

“Gang an’ fetch the plaidie,” he suddenly directed, “the yin I used to
wear at hame; an’ pit it aboot my shoulders–the nicht’s growin’ cauld.
An’ I canna’ find the sheep,” he suddenly cried, half starting in his
bed; “I hear them bleatin’ on the hills–but I canna’ find them a’.”

Then his eyes, large and luminous with the light of the unseen,
revolved slowly till they fixed themselves on Gordon. “Kneel doon,
laddie,” he said gently, yet with the majesty of a prophet, “kneel doon
beside me.”

Gordon knelt low by the bed; one trembling hand, outstretched, was laid
upon his head. The dying eyes looked far beyond into the Unknown.
“Gordon,” he said, almost in a whisper, “I see yir mither–she’s wi’ us
noo.” I actually started and looked up, following the lifted gaze.
“An’ she’s lookin’ doon at ye, my son–an’ the love is fair shinin’
frae her een. It was her that made ye a minister, my laddie. When ye
was a wee bit bairn, me and her gi’ed ye up to God; an’ mony a night,
when ye didna’ ken, she bendit by yir bed an’ pleaded wi’ God to mak’
ye a minister–a minister, my laddie, o’ the Everlastin’ Gospel. Div
ye hear me, Gordon?”

“Yes, father, yes,” and Gordon was sobbing now; “yes, I hear, father.”

“An’ she wants ye to keep the troth, my son. I’m gaein’ to her
noo–an’ I’ll tell her ye’ll be a guid minister, Gordon, a guid
minister o’ the New Testament, leadin’ puir sinners to the Cross. Wull
ye no’ bid me tell her that, my laddie?” and the dying lips paused for

“Yes,” faltered the broken man beside the bed, “yes, father, tell
mother that.”

The light of peace stole across the aged face. “I’m ready to gang
noo,” the gentle voice went on, “an’ yir mither’s beckonin’. I’m
comin’, mither; I’ll be wi’ ye soon. An’ Gordon’s comin’ tae–an’
Helen–an’ they’ll bring baith the bairns wi’ them.” Then his eyes
turned slowly upon Gordon. “I’m ready to gang noo in peace,” he said
faintly–“but there’s yin puir lammie,” a troubled expression looking
out from the dying eyes, “there’s yin puir lammie that I canna’ find.
Oh, my son,” the voice rising again and the prophet-like eyes fastened
upon Gordon, “tak’ guid care o’ the sheep–it’s an awesome thing to be
an unfaithfu’ shepherd; tak’ care o’ the sheep, my laddie–an’ where’s
Harold? Is the bairn no’ hame the nicht?”

Then swift delirium seemed to seize him, and he rose violently where he
lay, the last eddy of life swirling in the sullen stream of death. “I
canna’ find the lamb that’s wannered,” he cried, in a voice that
startled us; “I canna’ find it, an’ the mirk is fallin’. Ettrick,
come!–ho! Yarrow. Where are ye, Yarrow? Find it, my bonnie–find it
and bring it hame.” Then suddenly the dying lips pressed themselves
together and a faint whistle floated out on the midnight air.

I seized Gordon by the shoulder. “Hush,” said my husband, his face
like death itself; “hush–he’s calling his dogs.”

“They’re breakin’,” he cried despairingly; “the sheep’s
scatterin’–they’re gaein’ to wanner–where’s my crook? Gordon, bide
ye here, my laddie, till yir faither turns them back. Come,
Ettrick–Yarrow, come!” and again the dread whistle floated from his

We tried to compose him, speaking tender words. Slowly the look of
peace stole back upon the old man’s face. He lay with eyes almost
closed. “They’re a’ hame noo,” he murmured gently; “aye, they’re a’
safe in the fold, my laddie, an’ they’ll gang oot nae mair till the
mirk is by–we can rest noo till the mornin’,” as he lay back in calm

Suddenly the dying eyes were lifted to his son. “Lilt me a psalm,” he
murmured; “we’ll sing afore we gang to sleep; but dinna’ wake yir
mither–yir mither’s restin’.”

“What shall I sing, father?” Gordon asked in an awesome voice.

“A psalm, my–laddie,” the words coming faint and slow; “ye ken the yin
I’m needin’–there’s only yin psalm for a shepherd.”

Gordon looked at me. One hand was in his father’s; the other was
outstretched to me, and I knelt beside him. Then with trembling voice,
my clearer note mingling with Gordon’s quivering bass, we sang together:

“The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want–
He makes me down to lie,”

and just as we were midway in the majestic strain

“Yea though I walk through death’s dark vale
Yet will I fear none ill”

the old shepherd passed through the valley with his Lord.

Grandfather was right. The Good Shepherd had brought Gordon back. I
am quite at a loss to tell just how the change came about, or what its
actual evidences were–but the great ministry in accomplishing it was
the ministry of sorrow. Sorrow and love–that ever undivided
pair–seemed to have conspired for their perfect work. It began, I
think, with the crushing weight that fell upon our hearts in the loss
of Harold and in all the shame and anguish connected with it. That was
God’s way, I have always thought, of teaching Gordon how much a
father’s heart can suffer–and the inevitable outcome of that is the
Cross itself if God our Father be. How could His love escape love’s
inevitable pain, any more than ours? Then, besides, grandfather’s
home-going had been a second ordination for Gordon, and the ministry
that followed was new and beautiful. So was mine, if I may designate
my poor service by such a lofty word; for now I knew beyond a
peradventure that God hears and answers prayer. I verily believe
grandfather and I prayed him back between us.

The very day after Gordon’s father entered into rest I was sitting in
the gloaming, thinking of the life that had gone from us; one never
knows how dear is an aged life, till the silver-haired presence is
withdrawn. And I heard something that started my heart singing
heavenward with gratitude.

Gordon and Dorothy were at the piano, on which our daughter now loved
to show her new-found skill. And softly on the evening air there
floated out to me the strains of the hymn he had asked her to play.
Surely there is no music, this side of heaven, so sweet as that which a
man’s strong voice and a girl’s fluttering note combine to make.

“We’ll sing it again,” I heard Gordon saying; “every word is golden,
Dorothy. Come now:

‘Jesus loves me, He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin
Let His little child come in'”

and then followed some words of Gordon’s which I could hardly catch.
But I heard enough to know that he was teaching our little girl the
great and blessed doctrine which he himself had learned by his mother’s
knee. How I gloried in this new theology, asserting once again its
holy spell upon my husband’s heart, no human tongue can tell.

The months went by. And if ever a man was happy in his work, that man
was Gordon Laird. In his work, I say–for our home lay still under the
shadow of its great and bitter sorrow. After one or two unsatisfactory
letters, followed by a final one of despairing note, no word had come
from Harold. This was what Gordon had feared. Those months stand out
before me now, each one almost separate in its pain, like sombre
mountain peaks robed in cloud. I know all about the anguish of those
who roam some desert waste searching for a spring, or with parched lips
upturned to the unsoftening skies. The slowly dying hope, the burning
fever whenever I heard the postman’s knock, the sickening
disappointment, all surge again like a turgid flood about me when I
allow my mind to dwell on those days of silence.

Yet if I suffered I believe Gordon, in a deep, silent way, suffered
even more. My heart ached more for him than for myself. I almost came
to change my mind as to which of the children had first place in
Gordon’s heart–it seemed to cry out now for Harold as for nothing else
on earth. Although, and I write it gladly for the comfort of some like
stricken soul, all this worked its gracious ministry upon his troubled
life. Embattled long as his spirit had been with inward misgiving and
silent doubt, this last dark mystery would have wrought sore havoc, I
cannot but believe, had it not been so terrible. Its very fierceness
of attack drove him in upon the Lord whom he had found afresh; and his
soul found its comfort in simplicity of faith and childlike urgency of
prayer. The songs we shall sing in the Yonderland shall give their
chiefest praise for the burdens that were too heavy to be borne alone.

I have spoken of Gordon’s urgency of prayer. It was he, not I, who
suggested that we should have a set time, every morning, when we should
pray for nothing else but this–that Harold might be brought back to
us. And it was Gordon, not I, who led Dorothy to include in her
evening prayer the plea that God would bring her brother home.

Yes, I think sometimes that the great Father led my husband into the
wilderness for this very purpose, to make him a minister after His own
heart. I said to him once, just about the time we first began to
realize we weren’t going to hear from Harold:

“All this won’t affect your life-work, will it, Gordon–your preaching,
I mean?” for it was only natural, after all that had transpired, that I
should have some secret misgivings.

His answer lingers with me like a chime of bells, though it came in
tones subdued and low: “No,” he said; “no–I’m going to preach now to
broken hearts.”

“Then you’ll never lack a congregation, my darling,” was the response I
made; and I have always thought it was given me in that hour what to

Nor did the congregation fail to come. Gordon had wonderful powers, as
everybody must know by this time–he had always had them–and now he
had a wonderful message. His heart, and not his brain, was now the
source of his splendid sermons; a wounded heart at that–and it is from
the crushed and broken flower that the sweetest perfume breathes. So
it was no wonder that his humble pulpit became like a golden fount to
parched and thirsty souls; and the pathway trodden by the throng that
pressed about it became ever more deep and wide.

People came to Gordon’s little church from every part of Hertford. I
did not wonder at this, for rich and poor alike will crowd about a
spring; but little by little it became evident that not a few of our
worshippers were from Gordon’s old congregation in St. Andrew’s. It’s
wonderful how everybody loves a hero–especially if the hero doesn’t
know he’s one. I was the first to notice this; or, at least, the first
to say anything about it. Gordon gave no sign of exultation, but I
knew it filled his heart to overflowing. Strangely enough, one of
those who by and by were most regular in attendance was Mr. Ashton
himself, his first appearance almost striking Gordon dumb. But I
always thought he really began to esteem my husband that night Gordon
dealt so faithfully with him. Besides, he had lost his own son–by the
more kindly way of death–and I attributed it partly, too, to that. It
matters not.

This feature of our congregation–the attendance of St. Andrew’s folk,
I mean–became so pronounced at last that it began to be rumoured about
the city that many of them would like to call their old minister back
again, if he would return to their denomination. I spoke of it once to
Gordon–my heart could not conceal its eagerness–but he received it
after such a fashion that I mentioned it no more. Not then, at least.
But I’m afraid I hoped and longed; for I was born a woman, and pride
died hard within me.

Our means were still as meagre, our struggle as sore as ever.
Besides–and how pitiful was the effort–we were trying in a poor
helpless way to save a little for the payment of Harold’s debt; we
tried to set aside just so much as his schooling would have cost, if he
had never left us. Every penny thus laid away had our hearts’ blood
upon it; and was, I doubt not, precious in His sight who gave those two
mites their fame.

Things were at their very darkest along this line about four or five
months after Harold went away. And it was just then something happened
that showed conclusively which way the ruling passion of Gordon’s heart
was turned.

I was almost weeping over my accounts that night. These I kept in a
ridiculously large scribbling book, marking down the smallest item of
expenditure; for Gordon entrusted our finances to my hands, if so
elaborate a term may be devoted to so scanty an exchequer. Generally I
brought the account out pretty even at the close of every
week–“sundries” were a great help towards this happy end. But this
particular night everything seemed all “through other,” to quote a
favourite phrase of grandfather’s. Nothing was clear except that there
was a deficit–and that was dreadfully evident; but even the
all-adjusting sundries could not show just how or whence it came.

So there we sat, I with the big scribbling book before me, a freshly
sharpened pencil in my hand, a cloud of perplexity on my brow, gazing,
a little moistly I’m afraid, at the plaintive statement of receipts and

“Never mind, Helen,” Gordon said, “you’ve done the best you can–and I
know you’ve made every dollar go as far as any woman in the world could
do. Don’t bother any more about it–charge that deficit up to profit
and loss and call it square.”

“But it’s nothing to laugh about,” I answered gloomily; “we’re going
behind, Gordon–just as sure as anything, we’re going behind.”

“Only financially,” he said lightly; “we’re going ahead other ways, my

“But that’s a lot,” I protested.

“It doesn’t seem much to me,” Gordon replied, the lightness all
vanished now.

“What do you mean?” I said, looking up a little testily, I fear.

“Oh, only this; when anybody has a sorrow so much greater–like
ours–financial troubles don’t amount to much. I want Harold–oh,
Helen, I want our boy back again,” with which he broke out, strong man
though he was, into such a storm of crying as would have done credit to
the tearfullest of women.

This puzzled, almost alarmed, me. Indeed, I was beginning to fear, and
not without more reasons than one, that the long tension of grief and
disappointment were proving too much for Gordon’s intense and sensitive
nature. I looked at him a moment as he sat before me with his head
bowed in his hands; then I did what I believe was the very wisest
thing–I comforted him for a little as best I could in my woman’s way,
though my heart was just as heavy as his own; then I said we really
must go on with our accounts. And in a minute or two we were both
bended once again above the big scribbling book, going into every item
as carefully as though we were auditing the books of the Bank of

Suddenly, just as I was declaring that the butcher must have sent that
same bill twice, a ring came to the door. I was glad. Gordon answered
the summons, as he always did at night. And, to my amazement, our
visitor turned out to be a Mr. Bradwin, one of the well-known brokers
of Hertford, and a prominent member of our old congregation in St.

“Excuse my calling at this time of night, Dr. Laird,” he apologized,
after he was seated and a few words of greeting had passed between us;
“but the fact is I’ve just received some news that I think you’ll find
decidedly interesting”–I cannot be positive, but I really think he
glanced about the shabbily furnished room as he spoke–“and I couldn’t
wait till to-morrow to tell you.”

“I hope it’s good news, Mr. Bradwin,” said Gordon, a very faint smile
playing on his face.

My impulsive nature got the better of my judgment. “Is it about St.
Andrew’s, Mr. Bradwin?” I asked in an eager voice, my eyes leaping from
his face to Gordon’s.

“No, it isn’t,” replied our caller, and my eyes fell. “But it’s good
news for all that–decidedly good news, I should say. It’s about
something a little more important–to you, at least; something that has
more to do with your happiness, I fancy.”

Gordon sprang to his feet and his voice rang out like a pistol-shot:
“It’s about Harold, sir–it’s about our boy!” He was standing in front
of Mr. Bradwin now, his cheeks like snow, his eyes like fire. It was
almost awful to see him. “Thank God,” he cried, his voice half a laugh
and half a cry; “you’ve heard where he is, haven’t you?–and you’ve
come to tell us. Why didn’t we think of it before, Helen?–we might
have known that was the news that couldn’t wait. Tell me, sir–tell us
both,” and in his eagerness he bent over and took the astonished man by
the shoulders.

A moment later his withdrawn hands were clasped upon his eyes with a
gesture of inexpressible grief and he was groping his way to a chair.
No word had been uttered; but the denial spoke from Mr. Bradwin’s face,
or else he shook his head in disavowal–I could not see, but I knew
that the hope glowing a moment since in Gordon’s heart was in ashes
now. Our visitor’s news was not of Harold.

“I’m so sorry,” Mr. Bradwin began confusedly; “I forgot all about
that–about your son; and I really almost hate now to tell you what I
was so anxious to tell a little while ago. But it’s good news, at any
rate–even if it’s not the best.” Having said this he paused, looking
from one to the other of his auditors.

“What is it, Mr. Bradwin?” I asked, not a little curious.

“It’s about some stocks–some shares,” replied the broker, feeling a
little more at ease with the familiar words; “such assets–stocks, I
mean, especially mining stocks–are always springing little surprises
on the people that hold them. Both ways, Mrs. Laird, you know–both
good and bad,” as he smiled, a little artificially I thought, at me.
“But in this case I’m glad to be able to say the surprise is a pleasant
one–a decidedly pleasant one, Mrs. Laird; indeed, uncommonly so, I
should say. Quite beyond the ordinary, as I think you’ll agree.”

I stammered out something about my ignorance of all such matters.
Gordon said nothing, for interest was now dead within him.

“You are aware, of course,” Mr. Bradwin resumed, “you’re aware, Mrs.
Laird, that the shares are in your name?–they were transferred to you
by Mr. Laird, your husband’s father, before his death.”

“Oh,” I exclaimed, beginning to remember; “you mean those papers
grandfather gave us?”

“Precisely, madam–at least, I presume we’re thinking of the same
thing. Your father-in-law invested five hundred dollars, a hundred
pounds rather, in the mine–and they’ve just struck a fine vein of
silver–the richest yet discovered in New Ontario, there’s no doubt of
that. The old gentleman got his shares for a song–about ten cents
each, I believe–and now they’ve jumped to an almost fabulous price.
So the profit is tremendous,” as Mr. Bradwin drew his chair close up to
mine, all embarrassment vanished now.

“How much are they worth?” I asked with feminine precipitancy.

Mr. Bradwin drew a pencil from his pocket and reached over to the table
for a piece of paper. It did seem funny that the scrap he picked up
and began to cover with figures was that wretched butcher’s bill that
had been giving Gordon and me so much trouble a few minutes before.

“Surely I’ve made a mistake,” he said after a little silence; “it seems
an incredibly large amount. No, that must be it,” drawing in his
breath in an awe-stricken kind of way after he had revised his
reckoning at least three times; “yes, your shares are worth that, at
the very lowest computation,” and he handed the greasy butcher’s bill,
transfigured and glorified now, over to my shaking hand. “I’m
commissioned to offer you that much, madam, for every share you hold.”

I don’t think I heard him. My first move was to Gordon’s desk in the
corner, a great womanlike fear seizing me lest the precious papers had
been lost, or that they might reveal something to disturb this fairy
dream. I fumbled in one of the drawers; they were there; I drew them
forth. Yes, it was just as the broker had assured me. The number of
shares was so plain that he who ran might read.

“Hold on to those certificates, Mrs. Laird,” I think I heard Mr.
Bradwin say; “there’s a heap of happiness in them.” But I paid no
attention to his words as I moved over, my eyes so cloudy I could
hardly see, to where my husband still sat in silence. I cared nothing
that a stranger was looking on, thought of nothing, remembered nothing
but the long years of bitter poverty and secret struggle through which
poor Gordon had carried on his work so bravely. I threw myself into
his arms, my whole frame shaken with the emotion that would not be
repressed; I clasped him about the neck, the precious documents crushed
in my fevered grasp as I drew the yielding head gently down upon my
bosom, faltering out as best I could the tidings that our poverty was
ended and our days of darkness past and gone. And I told him how I
loved him for all the splendid courage and silent self-denial that he
would never need to practice more.

“I’d advise you not to sell outright, madam–that’s my advice to you as
a friend,” the broker’s voice announced in a monotone. I looked up a
moment–the man’s back was turned; (wherefore I have thought more
kindly of brokers ever since). “Your best way will be to sell a
certain amount–and retain an interest; an interest, Mrs. Laird.
They’re going ahead to develop the mine–and then you’re sure of both,
Mrs. Laird. And I–I congratulate you, madam.”

I fear my response was very scant, if indeed any came at all. At any
rate, Mr. Bradwin withdrew a minute or two later, announcing his
purpose to return the following day.

But it could not have been more than a minute or two after his
departure when we heard the footfall of some one ascending the steps to
the door. “He must be coming back,” I said; “I suppose he’s forgotten

“I don’t think it’s a man’s step,” said Gordon; “it’s a boy, if I’m not

His surmise was correct. A boy it was, and a very agitated and urgent
boy at that. He was ragged too.

“I want you to come with me,” the lad broke out as soon as he was
admitted, fixing his earnest gaze on Gordon. “I was at Bethany
Sunday-school last Sunday–and I know you–and I want you to come home
with me quick,” twirling his battered hat in his hand as he spoke.

“What’s your name, my boy?” asked Gordon, moving over to him.

“It’s Tim–Tim Rayfield–an’ we live on Finner’s Flats,” naming the
most notorious section of the city, part of it bordering on Gordon’s

“Do you always attend Bethany, Tim?” asked Gordon, smiling down at the
desperately earnest face.

“No, sir, wasn’t there only once,” answered the boy; “but I learned a
lot–an’ won’t you come, sir? There ain’t no time to lose. My
father’s dyin’, sir–an’ I want you to get him in.”

“What?” and Gordon’s face was full of amazement; “in where?–where do
you want me to get your father in?–you mean the hospital, do you, my

“No, sir–into heaven. That’s what the teacher said about it last
Sunday–about when folks was dyin’–an’ how they get ’em in. An’ dad,
he’s dyin’–an’ I want you to get him in.”

The face of the poor ignorant child was aglow with its eagerness of
hope and fear. The signs of poverty and neglect were everywhere about
him, and the ill-nourished frame told how severe had life’s struggle
been to him. But the glint of the Eternal was on the grimy face,
upturned to Gordon in wistful entreaty. His plea was the plea of love,
his prayer the prayer of faith; and the scene could not have been more
holy if some white-robed priest had been interceding before the Throne.

Gordon’s arms went out impulsively towards the lad; I believe he put
them a moment about his neck.

“Yes, my boy,” he said in an unsteady voice; “yes, I’ll go. And we’ll
get your father in–yes, please God, we’ll get him in.”

They went out together into the darkness, the boy leading the way with
such haste as stirs the feet of those who race with death. And I was
left alone, the little table still littered with the relics of our
financial conference. The stainful butcher’s bill lay on top of
all–and the magic document, with its story of our shares, was still
held tightly in my hand.

I did not open it again; but I sat long looking at it–and it struck me
even then how helpless it was to aid in the real tragedies of life.

I have asked Gordon to write down for me his experiences of that night.
Two considerations led me to this course: first, because the incident
had so much to do with his own soul’s life, his faith, his future
ministry; second, because Gordon was so much more able than I, when one
of life’s great events was concerned, to tell it as it should be told.

When I asked him to undertake this duty–to write out the story of that
midnight errand–I practically had to tell him I was putting our life
experience, or a large portion of it, down in black and white. But I
don’t think Gordon ever suspected it was meant for other eyes than
those of our own immediate dear ones–and one of the great moments of
my life will be when my husband sees this book, if, indeed, it shall
ever deserve a name so great.

Here is Gordon’s story of that night, just as he wrote it out
himself–I told him my story began with a foreword, so he said he’d
have one too.

* * * * *


I am writing this, so personal though it seem, because Helen wants it.
If it hadn’t been for the children’s mother, their father never could
have told what he is now about to write. Some time, perhaps long after
my poor day’s work is done, they may read this page from the volume of
their father’s life. May the same grace enrich, the same truth ennoble
their youthful lives: “The angel that redeemed me from all evil bless”
them both, as a father’s lips prayed long ago.

* * * * *

When little Tim Rayfield told me he wanted me to “get his father in,” I
knew one of the crucial moments of my life had come. Indeed, I felt
the hour was almost as critical for me as for Tim’s dying father. Why,
I need not state at length. But perhaps I ought to say this much, that
I felt a new sense of power as I pressed on through the night with
Tim’s grimy hand in mine. I use the word “new” advisedly–for I must
tell, no matter whose eye may yet read the confession, that, for some
years before, I had shrunk from such scenes as these in helplessness
and despair; I had lost the joy of the miraculous in my ministry; I can
honestly say that I always tried to be faithful to every duty, but
little by little the glory and the power of a Supernatural Gospel had
slipped away from me.

I have seen people smile when I use the word “supernatural” as the only
fitting term to characterize a gospel. But such as smile have very
smiling lives. The word–and all that is behind the word–has a very
different meaning when laughter is banished from the lips, when the
voice of joy is hushed, when some fateful sorrow falls and we can only
stumble on through the encircling gloom. Such an hour came to me,
filled with a bitterness worse than death; it was then I found my Lord
anew. When the billows overswept and whelmed me I learned to pray;
when the shadows closed in about me I descried the Divine Friend among
them; when I lost my boy, and my father-heart was broken, I learned of
One who gave His own Son, His well-beloved Son.

Let me revise my words. It was not I who “found my Lord”; but He found
me–He and Helen–and they sought me hand in hand.

“That’s the room,” said Tim, panting from his haste, for the little
fellow had led me at great speed; “there, d’ye see that light in the
window–that upstairs window?”

I saw, and in a moment we were climbing a decrepit stair. Groping our
way along an unlighted passage, my guide, still clinging to my hand,
turned sharply into the squalid home. It consisted evidently of two
rooms, the inner of which contained the couch whereon lay Tim’s sinking

The boy never stopped till he had led me to the very edge of the bed.
A few tattered covers wrapped the form of the dying man. His face,
already conforming to the stamp of death, told the story of a
lifetime’s sin. Nobody could look upon it without reading there the
tokens of a life of passion and excess. The heavy eyes looked up
sullenly into my face as I stood above him.

“It’s the preacher, Gus–don’t,” pleaded a woman who bent above him;
for his lips were framing some word she evidently feared my ears would
catch. “Don’t, Gus–he’s goin’ to help you if he can; Tim fetched
him–he’s the preacher from the Hollow, an’ Tim seen him last Sunday.”

The man’s set features seemed to relax a little as I took his hand. I
hesitated as to how I should best begin–but he opened the way himself.

“I’m all ready for sea, boss,” he broke out with a gasping laugh; “last
voyage, looks like–an’ nobody don’t know the port. But I’ve got my
papers, Cap’n–I’ve got my papers, an’ I’ll have to sail.”

“Don’t mind him, sir,” his wife said in a hushed voice; “he’s an old
sailor, you see–only two years since he quit the sea and come here to
live. He got his left foot hurt–an’ that’s what’s killin’ him
now–he’s got gangarene, sir.”

“Goin’ to be a dirty night, boss, by the looks o’ things,” the dying
tar broke in with pitiful bravado; “the wind’s risin’, ain’t it–better
shorten sail, eh?”

I put my face close to his. “Do you want a pilot, my friend?” I asked
him low.

“Don’t call me that,” he retorted gruffly; “call me mate–I was mate on
the _Dolphin_ when that dam crowbar fell on my foot.”

“Don’t you want a pilot, mate?” I asked again.

“Where to take me?” looking far through the window into the dark.

“To the harbour,” I answered softly.

“I don’t know where it is.”

“He knows.”

“Say,” and the eyes were now fixed very intently on me; “I’m goin’ to
ask ye a question. An’ I want an answer straight–no tackin’ or
manoeuvrin’–d’ye think I’m dyin’, Cap’n?”

“Yes,” I answered; “yes, you’re dying, sir.”

“Then get him in,” broke out poor Tim with a piteous wail as he
presented himself in front of me and looked up into my face; “please
get him in quick, afore he dies–that’s what I fetched you for,
sir–oh, please get him in.”

I had seen the day when I almost feared to be alone with a dying man.
What I had to say, in those days, could be as well said to others as to
him. But now, as Tim besought me, and as his father looked up with
eyes in which a yearning hope was already to be seen, I felt that no
others must be near while I sought to help his soul. So I asked Tim
and his mother if they would withdraw to the adjoining room–they
should be called, I said, if the summons came apace.

Then I closed the door–for this hour had more than bridal
holiness–and I gave myself in love to the dying soul. The mock
heroism, the banter, fell off from him like a garment, for I think he
saw I believed in God. I need not tell, must not reveal, all he
disclosed to me from the dark storehouse of a wasted past. But I met
him, and his crimson sins, and his accusing conscience–I met them all,
and at every turn, with the Cross of the Lord Jesus and with the
all-atoning grace of God. How I gloried in that hour in the great
evangel! And how there rolled about me, with tides ample like the
ocean’s, the thought of the magnitude and infinitude of the love of
Christ! And how–oh, blessed memory to my long beleaguered soul–I
witnessed the ancient miracle with joy, marvelling anew at the
greatness and glory of the Gospel, scorning with high contempt all that
would raise its feeble hand against such power as may be seen wherever
a sinful soul meets with the pardoning Lord!

Over and over again I read to him from the third of John: “God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten son,” its richness growing on
my own soul as well as his.

“Let me see that,” said the dying mate; “I want to look at it–every
cap’n reads the log himself.”

I gave him the book and held the lamp above him.

“Ye haven’t got another of them, have ye, sir?” he asked wistfully.

“Of what?” said I.

“Of this here book–I want to read it when you’re gone; or Tim–Tim
could read it to me.”

I told him, of course, that I would leave the book.

“Turn down the page–mark the place,” he said, handing me the volume.
“I’m afeared I’d soon be driftin’ again if we lost it.”

“I’ll mark some other passages too,” I suggested, “some almost equally

“That there one’s enough,” he said, sinking back faintly on his pillow.

I sang him a hymn, the one that dying men should always hear; and then
I had a little prayer with him. His hands were folded and his eyes
were closed. When I rose from my knees he whispered something that I
shall treasure while memory lasts. But it needed only a glance to see
that the end was near. I opened the door to call his wife and child
back to him.

“Did you get him in, sir–did you get my father in?” were the first
words that greeted me as little Tim’s eyes leaped to mine.

“Yes, my boy–yes, please God, your father will get in,” though I could
hardly speak for the tears that choked me, so full of elemental power
was the pleading of the child.

“Come, Nancy,” and the old tar’s voice was very tender; “come close up
beside me. My foot ain’t hurtin’, Nancy–an’ my heart ain’t
hurtin’–nothin’s hurtin’ any more. I’ve cast anchor.”

“What d’ye say, Gus?” his wife asked in a wondering voice.

“I’ve cast anchor–where the preacher read. You’ll leave the book,
sir?” his voice swelling for a moment–“an’ you’re sure ye marked the

“Yes,” I said, “I’ll leave it–and it’s marked.”

“Call me mate,” the strange impulse prompting him again.

“I marked it, mate–and I turned down the page.”

“Then sing me that again–that bit about the gale.”

“What gale, mate?”

“That gale–the gale of life–that’s how it went before.”

I knew now what he meant. Nancy’s face was in her hands and little
Tim’s eyes were fixed lovingly on me as I began. When I came to the

“Hide me, oh my Saviour hide
Till the storm of life is past”

the dying man suddenly interrupted: “That’ll do,” he said, his voice
barely audible, “that’s the bit–that’s enough–that, an’ the place ye

We were soon all standing by his bed. The struggle was quickly over.
Suddenly his face assumed an expression of peace so deep that I thought
the harbour had been really won. But his eyes opened wide and both
hands went feebly out; Nancy took one in hers, the other clasped by
little Tim.

“The anchor holds,” he murmured; “Nancy, the anchor holds.”

A moment later his wife turned from the bed, her apron to her face,
groping her way with bitter outcry towards the adjoining room. Tim
followed; and through the open door I could hear the boy’s shaking

“Don’t cry, mammy; oh, mammy, don’t cry so hard. Dad got in,
mother–the preacher got him in.”

* * * * *

I sat up till Gordon got home that night, for I had much to discuss
with him. The precious document, with its wizard tidings of mining
shares, was still before me as he entered; and I broke out with some
word about what Mr. Bradwin had said. But when I looked up and saw the
far-off look of peace on Gordon’s face, I knew it was sprung from some
other source than this.

“You seem so happy, Gordon,” I said; “what makes it?”

He told me; but when he spoke about that last scene–he has called it
the anchor scene ever since–his voice faltered so he could hardly go

“We’ll put these away to-night,” I said, picking up the papers. “But
what do you intend to do with–with the money, Gordon?”

“I hadn’t thought of it,” he answered calmly. Then, after a pause;
“but I think we’ll enlarge the chapel. It needs it, you know–and this
seems like a glorious chance to do it.”

I wonder if my face showed my dissent. At any rate, I took the mighty
charter and restored it to the desk. “There’s one thing we’ll do
first, Gordon,” I said in a voice that implied finality, “and you won’t
dispute it, either.”

“What is it, Helen?” his words full of wonder.

“We’ll pay that–that debt of Harold’s,” I said, my face averted as I
leaned over the desk.

He was silent for long. “Yes, Helen,” he answered quietly at length;
“yes, we’ll do that first–that’s as holy as the other. Oh, Harold, my
son, my son–I wonder where Harold is to-night,” the words ringing with
a nameless pain.