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spring, that battle was almost over. The days in the silent woods and the nights spent with his uncle in the camp and afterwards in his cabin on the raft did their work with Ranald.
The timber-cut that year was the largest that had ever been known on the Upper Ottawa. There was great crowding of rafts on the drive, and for weeks the chutes were full, and when the rafts were all brought together at Quebec, not only were the shores lined and Timber Cove packed, but the broad river was full from Quebec to Levis, except for the steamboat way which must be kept open.
For the firm of Raymond & St. Clair this meant enormous increase of business, and it was no small annoyance that at this crisis they should have detected their Quebec agent in fraud, and should have been forced to dismiss him. The situation was so critical that Mr. St. Clair himself, with Harry as his clerk, found it necessary to spend a month in Quebec. He took with him Maimie and her great friend Kate Raymond, the daughter of his partner, and established himself in the Hotel Cheval Blanc.
On the whole, Maimie was not sorry to visit the ancient capital of Canada, though she would have chosen another time. It was rather disappointing to leave her own city in the West, just at the beginning of the spring gayeties. It was her first season, and the winter had been distinguished by a series of social triumphs. She was the toast of all the clubs and the belle of all the balls. She had developed a rare and fascinating beauty and had acquired an air so distingue that even her aunt, Miss St. Clair, was completely satisfied. It was a little hard for her to leave the scene of her triumphs and to abandon the approaching gayeties.
But Quebec had its compensations, and then there were the De Lacys, one of the oldest English families of Quebec. Tne St. Clairs had known them for many years. Their blood was unquestionably blue, they were wealthy, and, besides, the only son and representative of the family was now lieutenant attached to the garrison at the Citadel. Lieutenant De Lacy suggested possibilities to Maimie. Quebec might be endurable for a month.
"What a lovely view and how picturesque 1"
Maimie was standing at the window looking down upon the river with its fleet of rafts. Beside her stood Kate, and at another window Harry.
"What a lot of timber 1" said Harry. "And the town is just full of lumbermen. A fellow said there must be six thousand of them, so there will be lots of fun."
"Fun ?" exclaimed Kate.
"Fun I rather. These fellows have been up in the woods for some five or six months, and when they get to town where there is whisky and—and—that sort of thing, they just get wild. They say it is awful."
"Just horrible 1" said Maimie, in a disgusted tone.
"But splendid," said Kate; "that is, if they don't hurt any one."
"Hurt anybody!" exclaimed Harry. "Oh, not at all; they are always extremely careful not to hurt any one. They are as gentle as lambs. I say, let us go down to the river and look at the rafts. De Lacy was coming up, but it is too late now for him. Besides, we might run across Maimie's man from Glengarry."
"Maimie's man from Glengarry 1" exclaimed Kate. "Has she a man there, too?"
"Nonsense, Kate 1" said Maimie, blushing. "He is talking about Ranald, you know. One of Aunt Murray's young men, up in Glengarry. You have heard me speak of him often."
"Oh, the boy that pulled you out of the fire," said Kate.
"Yes," cried Harry, striking an attitude, " and the boy that for love of her entered the lists, and in a fistic tournament upheld her fair name and—"
"Oh, Harry, do have some sense 1" said Maimie, impatiently. '• Hush, here conies some one; Lieutenant De Lacy, I suppose."
It was the lieutenant, handsome, tall, well made, with a high-bred if somewhat dissipated face, an air of blast indifference a little overdone, and an accent which he had brought back with him from Oxford, and which he was anxious not to lose. Indeed, the bare thought of the possibility of his dropping into the flat semi-nasal of his native land filled the lieutenant with unspeakable horror.
"We were just going down to the river," said Maimie, after the introductions were over, "but I suppose it is all old to you, and you would not care to go?"
"Aw, charmed, I'm sure." (The lieutenant pronounced it "shuah.") "But it is rathaw, don't you know, not exactly clean.''
"He is thinking of his boots," said Harry, scornfully, looking down at the lieutenant's shining patent leathers.
"Really," said the lieutenant, mildly, "awfully dirty street, though."
"But we want to see the shantymen," said Kate, frankly.
"Oh, the men 1 Very proper, but not so very discriminating, you know."
"I love the shantymen," exclaimed Kate, enthusiastically. "Maimie told me all about them."
"By Jove! I'll join to-morrow," exclaimed the lieutenant with gentle excitement.
"They would not have you," answered Kate. "Besides, you would have to eat pork and onions and things."
The lieutenant shuddered, gazing reproachfully at Kate.
"Onions 1" he gasped; "and you love them?"
"Let us go along, then," said Harry. "We will have a look at them, anyway."
"From the windward side, I hope," said the lieutenant, gently.
"I am going right on the raft," declared Kate, stoutly, "if we can only find Ranald."
"Meaning who, exactly?" questioned De Lacy.
"A lumberman whom Maimie adores."
"How happy !" said De Lacy.
"Nonsense, Lieutenant De Lacy," said Maimie, impatiently and a little haughtily; "he is a friend of my aunt's up in the county of Glengarry."
"No nonsense about it," said Harry, indignant that his sister should seem indifferent to Ranald. "He is a great friend of us all; and you will see—she will fly into his arms."
"Heaven forbid I" ejaculated the lieutenant, much shocked.
"Harry, how can you be so— 1" said Maimie, much annoyed. "What will the lieutenant think of me?"
"Ah, if I only might tell!" said the lieutenant, looking at her with languishing eyes. But already Kate was downstairs and on her way to the street.
As they neared the lower town, the narrow streets became more and more crowded with men in the shantymen's picturesque dress, and they had some difficulty in making their way through the jolly, jostling crowds. As they were nearing the river, they saw coming along the narrow sidewalk a burly FrenchCanadian, dressed in the gayest holiday garb of the shantymen—red shirt and sash, corduroys tucked into red top-boots, a little round soft hat set upon the back of his black curls, a gorgeous silk handkerchief around his neck, and a big gold watch-chain with seals at his belt. He had a bold, handsome face, and swaggered along the sidewalk, claiming it all with an assurance fortified by whisky enough to make him utterly regardless of any but his own rights.
"Hello 1" he shouted, as he swaggered along. "Make way, I'm de boss bully on de reever Hottawa." It was his day of glory, and it evidently pleased him much that the people stood aside to let him pass. Then he broke into song—
"En roulant ma bottle roulant.
"This, I suppose, is one of your beloved shantymen," said the lieutenant, turning to Kate, who was walking with Harry behind.
"Isn't he lovely 1" exclaimed Kate.
"Oh," cried Maimie, in terror, " let us get into a shop 1"
"Quite unnecessary, I assure you," said the lieutenant, indifferently. "I have not the least idea that he will molest you."
The lumberman by this time had swaggered up to the party, expecting them to make way, but, instead, De Lacy stiffened his' shoulder, caught the Frenchman in the chest, and rolled him off into the street. Surprised and enraged, the Frenchman turned to demolish the man who had dared to insult the "boss bully on de reever Hottawa."
"Vous n'avez pas remarque' la demoiselle," said the lieutenant, in a tone of politeness.
The lumberman, who had swaggered up ready to strike, glanced at Maimie, took off his hat, and made a ceremonious bow.
"Eh bien 1 Non I Pardon, Mams'elle."
"Bon jour," said Lieutenant De Lacy, with a military salute, and moved on, leaving the lumberman staring after them as if he had seen a vision.
"Beauty and the Beast," murmured the lieutenant. "Thought I was in for it, sure. Really wonderful, don't you know 1"
"Do you think we had better go on?" said Maimie, turning to Kate and Harry.
"Why not? Why, certainly 1" they exclaimed.
"These horrid men," replied Maimie.
"Dear creatures I" said the lieutenant, glancing at Kate with a mildly pathetic look. "Sweet, but not always fragrant."
"Oh, they won't .hurt us. Let us go on.
"Certainly, go on," echoed Harry, impatiently.
"Safe enough, Miss St. Clair, but," pulling out his scented handkerchief, "rather trying."
"Oh, get on, De Lacy," cried Harry, and so they moved on.
The office of Raymond & St. Clair stood near the wharves. Harry paused at the door, not quite sure whether to go in or not It was easy to discover work in that office.
"You might ask if Ranald has come," said Kate. "Maimie is too shy."
Harry returned in a few moments, quite excited.
"The Macdonald gang are in, and the Big Macdonald was here not half an hour ago, and Ranald is down at the raft beyond the last wharf. I know the place."
"Oh, do let us go on 1" cried Kate, to whom Harry had been extolling Ranald on the way down. "You really ought to inspect your timber, Harry, shouldn't you?"
"Most certainly, and right away. No saying what might happen."
"Awful slush," said the lieutenant, glancing at Maimie's face. "Do you think the timber wouldn't keep for a week?"
"Oh, rubbish I A week !" cried Harry. "He is thinking of his boots again."
To be quite fair to the lieutenant, it was Maimie's doubtful face, rather than his shiny boots, that made him hesitate. She was evidently nervous and embarrassed. The gay, easy manner which was her habit was gone.
"I think perhaps we had better go, since we are here," she said, doubtfully.
"Exactly; it is what I most desired," said the lieutenant, gallantly.
Scores of rafts lay moored along the wharves and shore, and hundreds of lumbermen were to be seen everywhere, not only on the timber and wharves, but crowding the streets and the doors of the little saloons.
For half an hour they walked along, watching the men at work with the timber on the river. Some were loading the vessels lying at anchor, some were shifting the loose timber about. When they reached the end of the last wharf, they saw a strapping young lumberman, in a shanty costume that showed signs of the woods, running some loose sticks of timber round the end of the raft. With great skill he was handling his pike, walking the big sticks and running lightly over the timber too small to carry him, balancing himself on a single stick while he moved the timber to the bit of open water behind the raft, and all with a grace and dexterity that excited Kate's admiration to the highest degree.
"Rather clever, that," said the lieutenant, lazily. "Hello 1 close call, that; ha 1 bravo I" It was not often the lieutenant allowed himself the luxury of excitement, but the lumberman running his timber slipped his pike pole and found himself balancing on the edge of open water. With a mighty spring he cleared the open space, touched a piece of small timber that sank under him. and at the next spring landed safe on the raft. Maimie's scream sounded with the lieutenant's "bravo.' At the cry the young fellow looked up. It was Ranald.
"Hello, there!" cried Harry ; and, with an answering shout, Ranald, using his pike as a jumping-pole, cleared the open space, ran lightly over the floating sticks, and with another spring reached the shore. Without a moment's hesitation he dropped his pole and came almost running towards them, his face radiant with delight.
"Maimie !" he exclaimed, holding out his hand, wet and none too clean.
"How do you do ?" said Maimie. She had noticed the look of surprise and mild disgust on the lieutenant's face, and she was embarrassed. Ranald was certainly not lovely to look at. His shirt was open at the neck, torn and dirty. His trousers and boots were much the worse of their struggle with the bush.
"This is Mr. Macdonald, Lieutenant De Lacy," Maimie hurried to say. The lieutenant offered a limp hand.
"Chawmed, I'm shuah," he murmured.
"What?" said Ranald.
"Lovely weather," murmured the lieutenant again, looking at his fingers that Ranald had just let go.
"Well, old chap," said Harry, grasping Ranald's hand and throwing his arm about his shoulder, "I am awfully glad to find you. We have been hunting you for half an hour. But hold up, here you are. Let me introduce you to Miss Kate Raymond, the best girl anywhere."
Kate came forward with a frank smile. "I am very glad to meet you," she said. "I have heard so much about you, and I am going to call you Ranald, as they all do."
"How lovely!" sighed De Lacy.
Her greeting warmed Ranald's heart that somehow had been chilled in the meeting. Something was wrong. Was it this fop of a soldier, or had Maimie changed? Ranald glanced at her face. No, she was the same, only more beautiful than he had dreamed. But while she was shaking hands with him, there flashed across his mind the memory of the first time he had seen her, and the look of amusement upon her face then, that had given him such deadly offense. There was no amusement now, but there was embarrassment and something else. Ranald could not define it, but it chilled his heart, and at once he began to feel how badly dressed he was. The torn shirt, the ragged trousers, and the old unshapely boots that he had never given a thought to before, now seemed to burn into his flesh. Unconsciously he backed away and turned to go.
"Where are you off to ?" cried Harry. "Do you think we are going to let you go now? We had hard enough work finding you. Come up to the office and see the governor. He wants to see you badly."
Ranald glanced at the lieutenant, immaculate except where the slush had speckled his shiny boots, and then at his own ragged attire. "I think I will not go up now," he said.
"Well, come up scon," said Maimie, evidently relieved.
"No !" said Kate, impetuously, " come right along now." As she spoke she ranged herself beside him.
For a moment or two Ranald hesitated, shot a searching glance at Maimie's face, and then, with a reckless laugh, said, "I will go now," and set off forthwith, Kate proudly marching at one side, and Harry on the other, leaving Maimie and the lieutenant to follow after.
And a good thing it was for Ranald that he did go that day with Harry to his "governor's" office. They found the office in a " swither," as Harry said, over the revelations of fraud that were coming to light every day—bookkeeper, clerk, and timber-checker having all been in conspiracy to defraud the company.
"Where have you been, Harry?" said his father in an annoyed tone as his son entered the office. "You don't seem to realize how much there is to do just now."
"Looking up Ranald, father," said Harry, cheerfully.
"Ah, the young man from Glengarry?" said Mr. St. Clair, rising. "I am glad to know you, and to thank you in person for your prompt courage in saving my daughter."
"Lucky dog I" groaned the lieutenant in an undertone to Maimie.
Mr. St. Clair spoke to Ranald of his father and his uncle in words of highest appreciation, and as Ranald listened the reckless and hard look which had been gathering ever since his meeting with Maimie passed away and his face became earnest and touched with a tender pride.
"I hear about you frequently from my sister, Mr. Macdonald—or shall I say Ranald?" said Mr. St. Clair, kindly. "She apparently thinks something of you."
"I am proud to think so," replied Ranald, his face lighting up as he spoke, " but every one loves her. She is a wonderful woman, and good."
"Yes," said Mr. St. Clair, "that's it; "wonderful and good.'"
Then Maimie drew nearer. "How is Auntie?" she said. "What a shame not to have asked before I"
"She was very well last fall," said Ranald, looking keenly into Maimie's face, "but she is working too hard at the meetings."
"Meetings I" exclaimed Harry.
"Aye, for a year and more she has been at them every night till late."
"At meetings for a year? What meetings ?" cried Harry, astonished.
"Oh, Harry, you know about the great revival going on quite well," said Maimie.
"Oh, yes. I forgot. What a shame I What is the use of her killing herself that way?"
"There is much use," said Ranald, gravely. "They are making bad men good, and the whole countryside is new, and she is the heart of it all."
"I have no doubt about that," said Mr. St. Clair. "She will be the head and heart and hands and feet."
"You're just right, governor," said Harry, warmly. "There is no woman living like Aunt Murray."
There was silence for a few moments. Then Mr. St. Clair said suddenly:
"We are in an awful fix here. Not a man to be found that we can depend upon for bookkeeper, clerk, or checker."
Harry coughed slightly.
"Oh, of course, Harry is an excellent bookkeeper." Harry bowed low. "While he is at it," added Mr. St. Clair.
"Very neat one," murmured the lieutenant.
"Now, father, do not spoil a fine compliment in that way," cried Harry.
"But now the checker is gone," said Mr. St. Clair, " and that is extremely awkward."
"I say," cried Harry, "what will you give me for a checker right now?"
Mr. St. Clair looked at him and then at the lieutenant.
"Pardon me, Mr. St Clair," said that gentleman, holding up his hand. "I used to check a little at Rugby, but—"
"Not you, by a long hand/' interrupted Harry, disdainfully.
"This awfully charming brother of yours, so very frank, don't you know 1" said the lieutenant softly to Maimie, while they all laughed.
"But here is your man, governor," said Harry, laying his hand on Ranald.
"Ranald 1" exclaimed Mr. St. Clair. "Why, the very man 1 You understand timber, and you are ho.iest."
"I will answer for both with my head," said Harry.
"What do you say, Ranald ?" said Mr. St. Clair. "Will you take a day to think it over?"
"No," said Ranald; "I will be your checker." And so Ranald became part of the firm of Raymond & St. Clair.
"Come along, Ranald," said Harry. "We will take the girls home, and then come back to the office."
"Yes, do come," said Kate, heartily. Maimie said nothing.
"No," said Ranald; "I will go back to the raft first, and then come to the office. Shall I begin to-night?" he said to Mr. St. Clair.
"To-morrow morning will do, Ranald," said Mr. St. Clair. "Come up to the hotel and see us to-night." But Ranald said nothing. Then Maimie went up to him.
"Good-by, just now," she said, smiling into his face. "You will come and see us to-night, perhaps?"
Ranald looked at her, while the blood mounted slowly into his dark cheek, and said,
"Yes, I will come."
"What's the matter with you, Maimie?" said Harry, indignantly, when they had got outside. "You would think Ranald was a stranger, the way you treat him."
"And he is just splendid I I wish he had pulled me out of the fire," cried Kate.
"You might try the river," said the lieutenant. "I fancy he would go in. Looks that sort."
"Go in ?" cried Harry; "he would go anywhere." The lieutenant made no reply. He evidently considered that it was hardly worth the effort to interest himself in the young lumberman, but before he was many hours older he found reason to change his mind.
After taking the young ladies to their hotel, there was still an hour till the lieutenant's dinner, so, having resolved to cultivate the St. Clair family, he proposed accompanying Harry back to the office.
As they approached the lower portion of the town they heard wild shouts, and, sauntering down a side street, they came upon their French-Canadian friend of the afternoon. He was standing with his back against a wall trying to beat off three or four men, who were savagely striking and kicking at him, and crying the while,
"Gatineau I Gatineau I"
It was the Gatineau against the Ottawa.
"Our friend seems to have found the object of his search," said the lieutenant,