" My dear sir," began Carnaquay, in his blandest
and most formal speech, yet giving his opponent an icy
look which chilled him to the marrow, " my dear sir,
permit me to express to you, in the presence of these
gentlemen, my clear conviction that you are transgress
ing the bounds of decorum and decency. The restric
tions of my profession prevent me from expressing my
contempt for you as I would like." He slowly raised
his long arm and pointed his finger at the now trembling
Blaney. " I therefore say to you that one of two things
must be done. Either you present me a written apology,
through this board of gentlemen, or I accept the call
which has recently been extended to me."
234 RONALD CARNAQUAY
Carnaquay stood quite still, nearly a half minute after
he had uttered this withering speech, and seemed to
transfix, with eye and finger, the utterly discomfited and
demoralized little man. He was Blaney s superior, physi
cally and mentally, and even morally in some ways ;
and his utter loathing for the vermin-like nature of the
man before him was written in every feature of his
strong, determined, handsome face.
The silence was absolute. Then Carnaquay turned
to the others, and, in the quietest of voices, said : "I
regret, gentlemen, to have been obliged to express my
self so plainly, but I hold to the terms which I have
named. I wish you all a very good evening." And he
went out, master of the situation, knowing that his power
and position had warranted his safe outburst, and con
fident that the apology and the salary would both reach
him, in the regular course of events. And he was quite
correct in his judgment.
"COMING EVENTS CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEFORE"
Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them, then, or
bear with them." MARCUS AURELIUS.
MR. AND MRS. FREEMAN were walking home from the
chapel. It was Sunday evening, and the clergyman was
tired, after the day s duties ; and his wife, who always
followed every thought and movement of his public life
with sympathy and even with anxiety, was almost as
tired as was he. Lawrence s face showed alternating
feelings ; his brow at one moment became clouded, and
straightway the corners of his mouth began to curl
upward, as if some amusing idea were struggling against
a general mood of depression.
His wife noted his absent manner, and inquired con
cerning it. " What is the line of your reflections,
Lawrence ? It can t be next Sunday s sermon."
"No," responded her husband, slowly; "I wasn t
thinking about next Sunday, I was thinking about this
Sunday. Did you notice how badly those boys in the
Sunday-school choir behaved ? "
"Indeed, I did," said Mrs. Freeman. "At one mo
ment I wanted to shake some of them, and at the
next moment I had hard work to keep from laughing
" The little rascals ! " exclaimed Freeman, with a broad
smile on his face. " Uncle Ben can t cope with them ;
236 RONALD CARNAQUAY
that is evident. Something must be done, in the way
of change. I feared, when he asked permission to
gather and train them, that they would prove too
much for him."
"The old man seems fond of them, though," said
Mrs. Freeman; "he treats them as if they were his
own children. He won t relish the idea of giving
them up. Do you think he has any suspicion that
the plan is not an entire success?"
" That I can t say. But we certainly must not allow
such lawlessness as they indulge in. Uncle Ben never
can control them. I might as well accept that fact.
But how to approach him on the matter ! I hardly
know how he will take it. He is so devoted to the
chapel, and especially to the Sunday-school, that I
really don t know what course to pursue."
"You might write him a letter about it."
"Yes, I could do that. In such a case a letter is
easier to manage than a direct talk. But with Uncle
Ben I feel reluctant to do that. He is so absolutely
straightforward, himself, that I feel unwilling to use
any indirect method." And after a moment s reflec
tion Freeman added : " I think I will adopt the simplest
plan, and speak to him. I do hate greatly to hurt the
poor old soul s feelings."
The next morning, being Monday, was largely given
up by Freeman, as by most busy ministers, to all kinds
of little duties odds and ends of the week s work ; and
among these fragmentary tasks was the visit to Uncle
Ben. He found the old man clearing away the remains
of his breakfast ; the cats were finishing their morning
meal, and one of them was licking clean a plate, evi
dently Uncle Ben s, where he had left it on the
carpenter s bench which served as a table. " Ain t
he a beauty?" said the old man, admiringly, to Mr.
"COMING EVENTS CAST SHADOWS BEFORE" 237
Freeman, and nodding his head toward the handsome
Uncle Ben s sleeves were rolled up, and his hands
were plunged into a pan of dish-water. " That s the
one ez likes music best," he continued. " Wait now,
I ll show ye ! " And he withdrew his hands, dried them
hastily on a mass of rags, and picked up his violin.
He started on the lively " Invitation to the Waltz," by
Weber; and, at the first sound, the cat sat back from
the now emptied plate, and licked her chops. Next she
gave an expansive and comfortable gape. Then, climb
ing down to the floor, in the sinewy and dainty fashion
of the feline species, she came over and rubbed con
tentedly against her master s leg.
Pride and affection beamed on Uncle Ben s round,
red face. " Tell yer what tis," he remarked, stopping
the music, " them ar cats is cur ous creeturs. They
know een a most z much z a human. Why, you kin
allus tell which way the storm is, by the way them cats
p int their tails when they re a-washin up."
Uncle Ben, with fiddle in one hand and bow in the
other, dilated on the surpassing value of his pets as
weather indicators. Lawrence agreed amiably, with
nods and smiles. He always saw the picturesque ele
ment in the unique old figure, and felt the simple sin
cerity of the nature beneath it. And when Uncle Ben
triumphantly extended his arm and fiddle in the direc
tion of the black cat, now washing his face, with tail
pointing westward, the kind-hearted minister resisted
the temptation to point out the tiger-gray cat by the
stove, who was also performing his ablutions, but with
caudal appendage pointing due northeast.
Lawrence was trying to find some good opening for
his distasteful errand, but the conversation went on, for
several minutes, and no opportunity offered. Perhaps
2 3 3 RONALD CARNAQUAY
he would best take up the matter abruptly. A less
sympathetic person would have made easy work of it ;
Ronald Carnaquay, for instance, would have laughed
and joked, and in an offhand way made clear his wishes
to the old man, and very likely would not have caused
him much pain ; at least, if he had opened a wound, he
would have soothed and healed it with the salve of his
bluff good nature and rough sympathy.
But that was not a way possible for a man like Law
rence Freeman, who had a feminine delicacy of feeling.
Lawrence followed, responsively, Uncle Ben s lethargic
monologue. The old man s unfailing sweetness was a
living epistle to him, anxious and even irritable as he
sometimes was tempted to become. " Naow you jest
see them beauties ! " said Uncle Ben, leaning over from
the rough box which was his pantry, and holding out
some objects toward his visitor. Two small, salted,
mackerel they were, and a potato. " Ain t they lovely ? "
continued he, and his big, round, red face showed a
genuine delight. " Bill Dawkins giv um ter me this
mornin ; thet comes er gittin up airly. I dew so love
a nice mack rel, cooked jest right, an a nice mealy per-
tater with it, an some salt an a leetle mite er milk
all mixed up tergether."
The old man had a way of enumerating the virtues of
his comestibles, which was of itself appetizing. He
smacked his lips, and looked as tenderly at the two lone
victims of hook and salt, and the not gigantic potato,
as though he had been a gastronomic connoisseur seated
at Bignon s table in Paris.
Freeman s heart gave a little bound of tenderness and
pity, as he looked and listened. This impoverished, in
firm old man, happy and artless as a child, content and
even enthusiastic over his extremely scanty fare it was
a touching and suggestive sight; and the clergyman saw
"COMING EVENTS CAST SHADOWS BEFORE" 239
with new force the truthfulness of one of his oft-repeated
"points " in preaching, that physical objects and external
acquisitions are only the occasions of happiness, whereas
the inner capacity is the real cause of it. He was on
the edge of suggesting that butter was also good on a
baked potato, but he restrained his tongue. Butter was
not on the list of Uncle Ben s daily diet ; it was a lux
ury; and when it came, he enjoyed it, and when it was
lacking, he enjoyed the salt and the rather thin milk.
At this point Lawrence saw a chance to broach the
subject which weighed on his mind. " I think eels are
pretty good to eat," said he, putting as much gastro
nomic interest into his voice as he could. " Do you
ever get hold of any of them, Uncle Ben ? "
Then the old man entered upon a long dissertation on
the subject of eels their nature, habits, and their value
as food. When he had brought his remarks to a close,
Lawrence added a word of agreement and then went
on : " Yes, eels are queer, squirming creatures. Some
times when I see those boys in the Sunday-school choir,
restless and active and mischievous, they remind me of
a basket of eels. It s their nature to be so, I suppose.
I think, though, that they cause you no end of trouble,
Uncle Ben, and I sometimes wish you hadn t the care
"They hain t much trouble, Mr. Freeman. They re
awful good boys, all on em."
" They re not really bad boys, I know," responded the
minister, pushing steadily on in his purpose, " but they
are very hard to handle ; and I ve thought, of late, that
perhaps I ought not to let you wear yourself out with
The old man stopped in his work, as he always did
when he wished to talk, and said, " Naow, do you know,
I love them boys, an I keep thinkin they are a gwine
2 4 o RONALD CARNAQUAY
ter dew better. They really mean ter, only they
" Yes, I know. We can t expect them to remember,
very long, and they have such animal spirits to control,
that I don t wonder they often break out into mischief."
Uncle Ben did not reply, and Lawrence went on with
reluctance, yet with determination. " I was speaking
with my wife about it yesterday, and I told her that I
thought we ought to relieve you of the burden, especially
as we need you so much, with your violin, for the general
singing of the school."
Uncle Ben again stopped his work, and stood looking
steadily and reflectively at his visitor. What he was
thinking, Lawrence could not quite determine. The
dull old face was never an expressive one, and the emo
tions behind it never burned fiercely, but always with a
subdued and gentle glow. He took off his spectacles,
and wiped them ineffectively on a piece of newspaper.
" I mus say, Mr. Freeman, ez them boys does try my
soul sometimes, an Ithough I ve prayed fer grace, I
don t seem to git nuff ter keep me ; and I vaow, I dew
almost git mad with um sometimes, specially yisterday
when they hid my fiddle-bow under the cushions. But
there," he added, apologetically, " I wuz ashamed to git
riled about sech a leetle thing. Why, Mr. Freeman,
what is a fiddle-bow, viewed in the light of eternity? "
"You dear old saint!" exclaimed Lawrence, impul
sively, rising to his feet. Then he said more quietly,
but with conviction, "Well, Uncle Ben, you shall not
go on being fretted, Sunday after Sunday, with their
capers. I will not allow it. We need you for other
things. I shall attend to the matter. And now I must
As he shook hands with the old man, Uncle Ben
cleared his throat, in a preparatory way, and began :
"COMING EVENTS CAST SHADOWS BEFORE" 241
" Hold on jest a minute or two, Mr. Freeman ! I
wanted to ask a favor of yer. I I er want ter
make my will."
Lawrence hoped that he did not show in his face
the utter surprise which he felt in his heart. " A
will ! Of what significance would be a will, in the
disposal of such slender possessions ? " But Uncle
Ben went slowly on : " Tain t much I ve got, but these
ere things er mine, when I m through with em, I don t
want strangers to knock em round. I want you to hev
em." And he laid his other hand (both hands wet from
his dish washing) affectionately on Freeman s hand.
Lawrence was taken wholly by surprise, and was
deeply moved with the pathos of the situation. His
mind rapidly took an inventory of the poor old man s
effects a chair or two, a few pots and kettles, one or
two ugly chromo pictures, and a half dozen dilapidated
books. Not much more. But the old man s all. And
to be given away by a will ! And the cats also ! the
cats ! At least four in number. Were they to be in
cluded in the legacy ?
The mingled humor and pathos were almost more
than Lawrence could meet, with a calm face ; but he
saw how earnest his old friend was, and he received his
words sympathetically. " I respect your wish," he said,
" and I feel honored by your confidence. Now, if you
really hold to your purpose "
He paused interrogatively, and Uncle Ben nodded his
head, " Then you might see somebody, and have a will
drawn up ; some lawyer, probably."
A slight shadow spread over the old man s face, at
the mention of lawyers. " I don t like em, them law
yers," he said distrustfully.
Lawrence smiled. He knew the prejudices of such
a person. "Well, I think you might go to my friend,
242 RONALD CARNAQUAY
Mr. Marshall, Mr. Thomas Marshall ; you know him.
He has had experience in such matters. You can trust
"Yes, I reckin I kin," assented Uncle Ben. "I was
a tellin Mis Snow "
He suddenly dropped his visitor s hand. " I snum ! "
he exclaimed with clumsy haste. " Ef I didn t tell Mis
Snow I d come over to see her this forenoon ! An I
clean forgot it."
Whereupon he began, with a ludicrous effort at
haste, his preparations to go out. This sense of obliga
tion was so strong that he forgot his visitor, for several
moments ; and Freeman, silently and with amusement
and yet pity, stood observing his awkward haste.
"Well, good-by, Uncle Ben," he said, at length;
" I must be going. I have an engagement myself."
" All right, Mr. Freeman," responded Uncle Ben,
busily putting away his dishes, and not even turning his
head. "Come in again soon! I love ter hev ye."
And there was no mistaking his honest plainness of
speech, despite his entire neglect of conventional cour
So Lawrence, smiling, as he walked along the streets,
at the novelty of the scene which he had just shared,
went back to his rooms ; he was eager to describe the
situation to his wife. It was one of his most natural
sources of pleasure, this of recounting to her his daily
doings ; and he knew how kindly she felt toward the
simple old man, and how eager she would be to hear
the result of his errand.
Thus, occupied with thoughts half amusing and half
pitying, he reached home, and as he entered what he
and his wife called their "office," - dining room, study,
and reception room combined, his train of reflections
was disturbed by finding Mrs. Freeman entertaining a
"COMING EVENTS CAST SHADOWS BEFORE" 243
visitor ; and that visitor was the always welcome Mrs.
Greetings and commonplaces were interchanged,
and then that sort of pause ensued, which usually comes
where two people, in somewhat confidential intercourse,
are invaded by a third ; the conversation became forced
and discursive. Mrs. Freeman, always a little reticent,
seemed more reticent than usual. The fair young
widow, whose fresh, rosy face and large dark eyes dar
ingly defied her mourning garb, seemed making a dis
tinct effort to be interesting.
Freeman was too sensitive to " atmosphere " to be
unmindful of these things ; and soon arose, saying that
he must be going to the chapel, to overlook some
carpenter-work in one of the class rooms. But Mrs.
Guthrie, quite as quick as he in all social matters, her
self arose, took a hasty but affectionate leave of both
her friends, and slipped out of the room with her usual
ease and grace.
So soon as the two were alone, Lawrence said : " I
see that I intruded. I am sorry that I came back
quite so soon." Then he went about some work, leav
ing to his wife, if she chose, to explain her interview
with Mrs. Guthrie. This was the unwritten law of
their happy relationship ; intimate and confidential as
that relationship was, they never tore down reserves
between themselves, but each left to the other the
autonomy of his own circle of personality. But now,
as in most cases, silence was broken voluntarily, and
Mrs. Freeman said : " There wasn t so much conspiracy
as you might suppose, Lawrence. Adeline ran over to
invite me to an afternoon tea, and just as you came in
we had spoken of Ronald Carnaquay."
She paused, to peer into the work-basket before her,
and her husband smiled, and inquired casually, as he
244 RONALD CARNAQUAY
turned the pages of a concordance : " Well, how does
the Great and Only get on ? Still electrifying, I
" Very likely," assented Mrs. Freeman, " although we
did not speak about his public life. Adeline told me
that she had consented to teach a class in Emmanuel
Sunday-school. She says that she has more leisure
than she knows what to do with, and I rather en
couraged her in her purpose. The simple fact is that
she is young and very active, and I can t think she is
interested especially in Ronald Carnaquay. She spoke
of him once as noisy and vulgar, yet her voice did not
have quite the scornful edge that I have often noted in
it. I think that she is a trifle flattered by the compli
ment he pays her in thus urging her to teach ; you know
he has no lack of teachers."
" They are all maidens or widows, I am told," sug
gested her husband, with fun lurking in his deep-set
eyes. " That is the joyous fate of bachelor ministers."
Then he added with an afterthought, " Isn t Olive
Marshall teaching in the school now ? "
Mrs. Freeman nodded assent. " Yes, Mrs. Marshall
objected, somewhat, but Olive had her way in the end.
She is a dear, sweet girl. I wonder I have you
heard anybody speak of Ronald Carnaquay s showing
a somewhat marked interest in her ? "
Lawrence paused, and gave serious attention to his
wife s words. " No," he at length replied, " I have
heard nothing of the sort. Why, Carnaquay is old
enough to "
" No, no ! " interrupted Mrs. Freeman, with her under
lip curling significantly. " Nobody is too old or too
young for anything, in affairs of the heart. Carnaquay
is not far from thirty-five, and Olive is seventeen. She
seems younger, though, for her mother and father have
"COMING EVENTS CAST SHADOWS BEFORE" 245
wisely kept her a simple girl, as long as possible, not let
ting her become an affected young lady, at a premature
"But I can t believe," said Freeman, "that there is
any likelihood of "
" No, perhaps not ; but that was precisely what Mrs.
Guthrie was talking about, when you came in so sud
denly. She told me that in her judgment the young
girl was infatuated with Carnaquay. She has seen them
together often, and the child shows plain signs of her
great delight in his society."
There was silence between them, for a few moments ;
each had suspended work. Then Freeman said, reflec
tively : " I can t think that anything will come of it ; still,
stranger things have happened ; and then, too, Olive is
a woman grown. We call her a child, but she is as old
as many young women have been on their wedding-day."
" But she is so unformed," suggested Mrs. Freeman,
resuming her work. " She has no more worldly wisdom
than have most young people of fifteen."
" Very likely," responded her husband. " But that
very quality of ingenuous simplicity would be, by psycho
logical laws, the very thing which would be attractive to
a shrewd, distrustful nature like Carnaquay s. But there !
I don t credit the gossip in the least. For my part, I
would more incline to suspect some growing interest
between Carnaquay and Adeline Guthrie."
At this point, the somewhat absent-minded clergyman
recollected that he ought to be at the chapel, to overlook
repairs ; and, taking up his hat, he set off at once.
" God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures
Boasts two soul-sides, one to face the world with,
One to show a woman when he loves her."
IT was quite natural that the minister and his wife
should be interested in whatever concerned Ronald
Carnaquay and Emmanuel Church ; and their interest
became doubled when the future of their dear young
friend, Olive Marshall, was under discussion. But acute
as their surmises were, they were made in the dark;
and it is permitted the reader of a transcript of human
life, like the present one, to know more about the inter
action of the forces involved, than does any one person
age in the drama.
I may say at once that Ronald Carnaquay was in
deed considerably drawn to Olive Marshall. In part,
he was interested in her evident interest in him, so
frankly and even blushingly expressed. He was not
unaware of the nervous tension in the sylph-like young
maiden, which his presence aroused. He had noted,
often, the heightened color in her cheek, and the bright
ening of the soft blue eyes, as she became aware of his
presence. He was even not above adding fuel to this
romantic passion a few fagots in the form of tender
glances, and a gentle pressure of the hand, and a marked
caress of the voice as he addressed her. So far as he
was concerned, he simply enjoyed, sensuously, the agree-
able emotions which her fresh, youthful face and figure
aroused in him. Beyond that, he at times mildly spun
fancies, and even calmly wondered (so strong was the
mercantile instinct within him) how much the mill-
owner s wealth would net, if his affairs were all settled
There was, however, another force in the field, which
somewhat complicated the situation. This was Mrs.
Guthrie s conscious resolution framed after consider
able silent debate to see more of her minister and to
try to develop him into a higher type of man. " Even
if he must become less a minister," she added to her
self, grimly, " in order to become more a man."
Therefore she had sent the note of acceptance which
she had temporarily placed in her desk, and she had
taken up Sunday-school work in Emmanuel Church.
This brought her in contact, repeatedly, with Carnaquay,
and, although his conceit and vulgarity amazed her, she
was really pleased by his manifest consideration for her
opinions and her society. Moreover, she was cognizant
of Carnaquay s attitude toward Olive Marshall, and,
like an athlete, she enjoyed putting forth her clever
resources, to try to counteract the attractiveness of
Olive s physical charms.
Thus it came about and Ronald Carnaquay seized
every advantage which the fair young widow cautiously
conceded that the two were much together, alone ;
and although the object of the various interviews was
always conspicuously kept in view, by the artful clergy
man, Adeline noted, with amused interest, that he was
very willing to talk on any subject whatsoever.
What she really aimed at doing was this, stated con
cretely : She was resolved that he should dress in better
taste, out of the pulpit and especially in it ; and that he
should soften down his glaring extremes of manner ;
248 RONALD CARNAQUAY
also that he should read more and think more on sub
jects suited to his profession ; and especially was she
tenaciously bent on toning down his inordinate conceit
of his own abilities.
She secretly called him her " savage " ; and she was
confident of educating him into higher standards of taste
Carnaquay had seen an average number of women, in
his life, and fancied that he knew them and how to get
along with them, about as well as he knew men ; but, as
Adeline Guthrie quickly perceived, he had thus far seen
little of really cultivated women. He had often met
men of cultivation, but such men learn to waive their
own finer preferences in speech and manner and stand
ards of taste, when dealing with other men, in business
ways ; and they more readily adopt the tone and lan
guage of the street and shop, than do the women with
whom they associate in their homes.