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Whatever it was that rendered it necessary for Duckworth to "see the fellows," that necessity vanished in the presence of Nora.
"Are you going to take in the polo?" he asked.
"Am I? Am I going to continue breathing?" cried Nora. "Come along, Mother, we must go if we are to get a good place."
"May I find one for you," said Mr. Duckworth, quite forgetting that he "must see the fellows," and thinking only of his good luck in falling in with such a "stunning-looking girl." He himself had changed into flannels, and with his athletic figure, his brown, healthy face, brown eyes and hair, was a thoroughly presentable young man. He found a place with ease for his party, a dozen people offering to make room for them. As Mr. Duckworth let his eyes rest upon the young lady at his side his sense of good-fortune grew upon him, for Nora in white pique skirt and batiste blouse smartly girdled with a scarlet patent leather belt, in white canvas shoes and sailor hat, made a picture good to look at. Her dark olive brown skin, with rich warm colour showing through the sunburn of her cheeks, her dark eyes, and her hair for once "done up in style" under Kathleen's supervision, against the white of her costume made her indeed what her escort thought, "a stunning- looking girl." Usually careless as to her appearance, she had yielded to Kathleen's persuasion and had "gotten herself up to kill." No wonder her friends of both sexes followed her with eyes of admiration, for no one envied Nora, her frank manner, her generous nature, her open scorn at all attempts to win admiration, made her only friends.
"Bring your mother over here," cried Mrs. Waring-Gaunt, who rejoiced exceedingly in the girl's beauty. "Why, how splendidly you are looking to-day," she continued in a more confidential tone as the party grouped themselves about her. "What have you been doing to yourself? You are looking awfully fine."
"Am I?" said Nora, exceedingly pleased with herself. "I am awfully glad. It is all Kathleen's doing. I got me the belt and the hat new for this show."
"Very smart, that belt, my dear," said her friend.
"I rather fancy it myself, and Kathleen would do up my hair in this new way," said Nora, removing her hat that the full glory of her coiffure might appear. "Do you like it?"
"Perfectly spiffing!" ejaculated Mr. Duckworth, who had taken a seat just behind her chair.
Nora threw him a challenging glance that made that young man's heart skip a beat or two as all the excitements of the match had not.
"Are you a judge?" said the girl, tipping her saucy chin at him.
"Am I? With four sisters and dozens of cousins to practise on, I fancy I might claim to be a regular bench show expert."
"Then," cried Nora with sudden animation, "you are the very man I want."
"Thank you so much," replied Mr. Duckworth fervently.
"I mean, perhaps you can advise me. Now as you look at me--" The young man's eyes burned into hers so that with all her audacity Nora felt the colour rising in her face. "Which would you suggest as the most suitable style for me, the psyche knot or the neck roll?"
"I beg your pardon? I rather--"
"Or would you say the French twist?"
"Ah, the French twist--"
"Or simply marcelled and pomped?"
"I am afraid--"
"Or perhaps the pancake or the coronet?"
"Well," said the young man, desperately plunging, "the coronet I should say would certainly not be inappropriate. It goes with princesses, duchesses and that sort of thing. Don't you think so, Mrs. Waring-Gaunt?" said Duckworth, hoping to be extricated. That lady, however, gave him no assistance but continued to smile affectionately at the girl beside her. "What style is this that you have now adopted, may I ask?" inquired Mr. Duckworth cautiously.
"Oh, that's a combination of several. It's a creation of Kathleen's which as yet has received no name."
"Then it should be named at once," said Duckworth with great emphasis. "May I suggest the Thunderbolt? You see, of course--so stunning."
"They are coming on," cried Nora, turning her shoulder in disdain upon the young man. "Look, there's your brother, Mrs. Waring- Gaunt. I think he is perfectly splendid."
"Which is he?" said Mr. Duckworth, acutely interested.
"That tall, fine-looking man on the brown pony."
"Oh, yes, I see. Met him this morning. By Jove, he is some looker too," replied Mr. Duckworth with reluctant enthusiasm.
"And there is the High River Captain," said Mrs. Waring-Gaunt, "on the grey."
"Oh, yes, Monteith, he played for All Canada last year, didn't he?" said Nora with immense enthusiasm. "He is perfectly splendid."
"I hear the High River club has really sent only its second team, or at least two of them," said Mrs. Waring-Gaunt. "Certainly Tremaine is not with them."
"I hope they get properly trimmed for it," said Nora, indignantly. "Such cheek!"
The result of the match quite exceeded Nora's fondest hopes, for the High River team, having made the fatal error of despising the enemy, suffered the penalty of their mistake in a crushing defeat. It was certainly a memorable day for Wolf Willow, whose inhabitants were exalted to a height of glory as they never experienced in all their history.
"Serves us right," said Monteith, the High River Captain, apologising for his team's poor display to his friend, Hec Ross, who had commanded the Wolf Willow team. "We deserved to be jolly well licked, and we got what was coming to us."
"Oh, we're not worrying," replied the Wolf Willow Captain, himself a sturdy horseman and one of the most famous stick handlers in the West. "Of course, we know that if Murray and Knight had been with you the result would have been different."
"I am not at all sure about that," replied Monteith. "That new man of yours, Romayne, is a wonder. Army man, isn't he?"
"Yes, played in India, I believe."
"Oh, no wonder he's such a don at it. You ought to get together a great team here, Ross, and I should like to bring our team down again to give you a real game."
"Say two weeks. No. That throws it a little late for the harvest. Say a week from to-day."
"I shall let you know to-night," said Ross. "You are staying for the spellbinding fest and entertainment, are you not?"
"Sure thing; we are out for the whole day. Who are on for the speaking?"
"Gilchrist for one, our Member for the Dominion, you know."
"Oh, yes, strong man, I believe. He's a Liberal, of Course."
"Yes," replied Ross, "he's a Grit all right, hide-bound too--"
"Which you are not, I take it," replied Monteith with a laugh.
"Traditionally I am a Conservative," said Ross, "but last election I voted Liberal. I don't know how you were but I was keen on Reciprocity."
"The contrary with me," replied Monteith. "Traditionally I am a Liberal, but I voted Conservative."
"You voted against Reciprocity, you a western man voted against a better market for our wheat and stuff, and against cheaper machinery?"
"Yes, I knew quite well it would give us a better market for our grain here, and it would give us cheaper machinery too, but--do you really care to know why I switched?"
"Sure thing; I'd like awfully to hear if you don't mind. We are not discussing politics, you understand."
"No. Well," said Monteith, "two things made me change my party. In the first place, to be quite frank, I was afraid of American domination. We are a small people yet. Their immense wealth would overwhelm our manufacturers and flood our markets with cheap stuff, and with trade dominance there would more easily go political dominance. You remember Taft's speech? That settled it for me. That was one thing. The other was the Navy question. I didn't like Laurier's attitude. I am a Canadian, born right here in Alberta, but I am an Imperialist. I am keen about the Empire and that sort of thing. I believe that our destiny is with the Empire and that with the Empire we shall attain to our best. And since the Empire has protected us through all of our history, I believe the time has come when we should make our contribution to its defence. We ought to have a fleet, and that fleet in time of war should automatically be merged with the Imperial Navy. That's how I felt at the last election. This autonomy stuff of Laurier's is all right, but it should not interfere with Imperial unity."
"It's a funny thing," replied Ross. "I take the opposite side on both these points. I was born in the Old Country and like most Old Country people believe in Free Trade. So I was keen to wipe out all barriers between the United States and ourselves in trade. I believe in trading wherever you can get the best terms. As for American domination, I have not the slightest fear in the world of the Yankees. They might flood our markets at first, probably would, but they would certainly bring in capital. We need capital badly, you know that. And why should not factories be established on this side of the line with American money? Pennsylvania does not hurt New York, nor Illinois Dakota. Why then, with all trade barriers thrown down, should the United States hurt Canada? And then on the other side, we get a market for everything we grow at our doors. Reciprocity looked good to me. As for imperilling our Imperial connections--I do not mean to be offensive at all--of course you see what your position amounts to--that our financial interests would swamp our loyalty, that our loyalty is a thing of dollars and cents. My idea is that nothing in the world from the outside can ever break the bonds that hold Canada to the Empire, and after all, heart bonds are the strong bonds. Then in regard to the Navy, I take the other view from you also. I believe I am a better Canadian than you, although I am not Canadian born. I think there's something awfully fine in Canada's splendid independence. She wants to run her own ranch, and by George she will, and everything on it. She is going to boss her own job and will allow no one else to butt in. I agree with what you say about the Empire. Canada ought to have a Navy and quick. She ought to take her share of the burden of defence. But I agree here with Laurier. I believe her ships should be under her own control. For after all only the Canadian Government has the right to speak the word that sends them out to war. Of course, when once Canada hands them over to the Imperial Navy, they will fall into line and take their orders from the Admiral that commands the fleet. Do you know I believe that Laurier is right in sticking out for autonomy."
"I am awfully interested in what you say, and I don't believe we are so far apart. It's a thousand pities they did not keep together in the Commons. They could easily have worked it out."
"Yes, it was a beastly shame," replied Ross.
"But isn't it rather queer," said Monteith, "and isn't it significant, too? Here I am, born in Canada, sticking out against reciprocity and anxious to guard our Imperial connection and ready to hand our Navy clean over to the Imperial authorities, and on the other hand, there you are, born in the Old Country, you don't appear to care a darn about Imperial connections. You let that take care of itself, and you stick up for Canadian autonomy to the limit."
"Well, for one thing," replied Ross, "we ought to get together on the Navy business. On the trade question we represent, of course, two schools of economics, but we ought not to mix up the flag with our freight. This flag-flapping business makes me sick."
"There you are again," said Monteith. "Here I am, born right here in the West, and yet I believe in all the flag-flapping you can bring about and right here in this country too. Why, you know how it is with these foreigners, Ruthenians, Russians, Germans, Poles. Do you know that in large sections of this western country the foreign vote controls the election? I believe we ought to take every means to teach them to love the flag and shout for it too. Oh, I know you Old Country chaps. You take the flag for granted, and despise this flag-raising business. Let me tell you something. I went across to Oregon a little while ago and saw something that opened my eyes. In a little school in the ranching country in a settlement of mixed foreigners--Swedes, Italians, Germans, Jews-- they had a great show they called 'saluting the flag.' Being Scotch you despise the whole thing as a lot of rotten slushy sentimentality, and a lot of Canadians agree with you. But let me tell you how they got me. I watched those kids with their foreign faces, foreign speech--you ought to hear them read--Great Scott, you'd have to guess at the language. Then came this flag-saluting business. A kid with Yiddish written all over his face was chosen to carry in the flag, attended by a bodyguard for the colours, and believe me they appeared as proud as Punch of the honour. They placed the flag in position, sang a hymn, had a prayer, then every kid at a signal shot out his right hand toward the flag held aloft by the Yiddish colour bearer and pledged himself, heart, and soul, and body, to his flag and to his country. The ceremony closed with the singing of the national hymn, mighty poor poetry and mighty hard to sing, but do you know listening to those kids and watching their foreign faces I found myself with tears in my eyes and swallowing like a darn fool. Ever since that day I believe in flag-flapping."
"Maybe you are right," replied Ross. "You know we British folk are so fearfully afraid of showing our feelings. We go along like graven images; the more really stirred up, the more graven we appear. But suppose we move over to the platform where the speechifying is to be done."
In front of the school building a platform had been erected, and before the stage, preparations had been made for seating the spectators as far as the school benches and chairs from neighbours' houses would go. The programme consisted of patriotic songs and choruses with contributions from the minstrel company. The main events of the evening, however, were to be the addresses, the principal speech being by the local member for the Dominion Parliament, Mr. J. H. Gilchrist, who was to be followed by a local orator, Mr. Alvin P. Jones, a former resident of the United States, but now an enthusiastic, energetic and most successful farmer and business man, possessing one of the best appointed ranches in Alberta. The chairman was, of course, Reverend Evans Rhye. The parson was a little Welshman, fat and fussy and fiery of temper, but his heart was warmly human, and in his ministry he manifested a religion of such simplicity and devotion, of such complete unselfishness as drew to him the loyal affection of the whole community. Even such sturdy Presbyterians as McTavish, the Rosses, Angus Frazer and his mother, while holding tenaciously and without compromise to their own particular form of doctrine and worship, yielded Mr. Rhye, in the absence of a church and minister of their own denomination, a support and esteem unsurpassed even among his own folk. Their attitude was considered to be stated with sufficient clearness by Angus Frazer in McTavish's store one day. "I am not that sure about the doctrine, but he has the right kind of religion for me." And McTavish's reply was characteristic: "Doctrine! He has as gude as you can expec' frae thae Episcopawlian buddies. But he's a Godly man and he aye pays his debts whatever," which from McTavish was as high praise as could reasonably be expected.
The audience comprised the total population of Wolf Willow and its vicinity, as well as visitors from the country within a radius of ten or fifteen miles.
Mr. J. H. Gilchrist, M. P., possessed the initial advantages of Scotch parentage and of early Scotch training, and besides these he was a farmer and knew the farmer's mind. To these advantages he added those of a course of training in Toronto University in the departments of metaphysics and economics, and an additional advantage of five years' pedagogical experience. He possessed, moreover, the gift of lucid and forceful speech. With such equipment small wonder that he was in demand for just such occasions as a Dominion Day celebration and in just such a community as Wolf Willow. The theme of his address was Canadian Citizenship, Its Duties and Its Responsibilities, a theme somewhat worn but possessing the special advantage of being removed from the scope of party politics while at the same time affording opportunity for the elucidation of the political principles of that party which Mr. Gilchrist represented, and above all for a fervid patriotic appeal. With Scotch disdain of all that savoured of flattery or idle compliment, Mr. Gilchrist plunged at once into the heart of his subject.
"First, the area of Canada. Forty-six years ago, when Canada became a nation, the Dominion possessed an area of 662,148 square miles; to-day her area covers 3,729,665 square miles, one-third the total size of the British Empire, as large as the continent of Europe without Russia, larger by over one hundred thousand square miles than the United States."
"Hear, hear," cried an enthusiastic voice from the rear.
"Aye, water and snow," in a rasping voice from old McTavish.
"Water and snow," replied Mr. Gilchrist. "Yes, plenty of water, 125,000 square miles of it, and a good thing it is too for Canada. Some people sniff at water," continued the speaker with a humorous glance at McTavish, "but even a Scotchman may with advantage acknowledge the value of a little water." The crowd went off into a roar of laughter at the little Scotchman who was supposed to be averse to the custom of mixing too much water with his drink.
"My friend, Mr. McTavish," continued the speaker, "has all a Scotchman's hatred of bounce and brag. I am not indulging in foolish brag, but I maintain that no Canadian can rightly prize the worth of his citizenship who does not know something of his country, something of the wealth of meaning lying behind that word 'Canada,' and I purpose to tell you this evening something of some of Canada's big things. I shall speak of them with gratitude and with pride, but chiefly with a solemnising sense of responsibility.
"As for the 'water and the snow' question: Let me settle that now. Water for a great inland continental country like ours is one of its most valuable assets for it means three things. First, cheap transportation. We have the longest continuous waterway in the world, and with two small cuttings Canada can bring ocean-going ships into the very heart of the continent. Second, water means climate rainfall, and there need be no fear of snow and frost while great bodies of open water lie about. And third, water power. Do you know that Canada stands first in the world in its water power? It possesses twice the water power of the United States (we like to get something in which we can excel our American cousins), and lying near the great centres of population too. Let me give you three examples. Within easy reach of Vancouver on the west coast there is at least 350,000 horse power, of which 75,000 is now in use. Winnipeg, the metropolitan centre of Canada, where more than in any place else can be heard the heart beat of the Dominion, has 400,000 horse power available, of which she now uses 50,000. Toronto lies within reach of the great Niagara, whose power no one can estimate, while along the course of the mighty St. Lawrence towns and cities lie within touch of water power that is beyond all calculation as yet. And do you Alberta people realise that right here in your own province the big Bassano Dam made possible by a tiny stream taken from the Bow River furnishes irrigation power for over a million acres? Perhaps that will do about the water."
"Oo aye," said McTavish, with profound resignation in his voice. "Ye'll dae wi' that."
"And snow," cried the speaker. "We would not willingly be without our snow in Canada. Snow means winter transport, better business, lumbering, and above all, wheat. Where you have no snow and frost you cannot get the No. 1 hard wheat. Don't quarrel with the snow. It is Canada's snow and frost that gives her the first place in the world in wheat production. So much for the water and the snow."
McTavish hitched about uneasily. He wanted to have the speaker get done with this part of his theme.
From Canada's area Mr. Gilchrist passed on to deal with Canada's resources, warning his audience that the greater part of these resources was as yet undeveloped and that he should have to indulge in loud-sounding phrases, but he promised them that whatever words he might employ he would still be unable to adequately picture to their imagination the magnitude of Canada's undeveloped wealth. Then in a perfect torrent he poured forth upon the people statistics setting forth Canada's possessions in mines and forests, in fisheries, in furs, in agricultural products, and especially in wheat. At the word "wheat" he pulled up abruptly.
"Wheat," he exclaimed, "the world's great food for men. And Canada holds the greatest wheat farm in all the world. Not long ago Jim Hill told the Minneapolis millers that three-fourths of the wheat lands on the American continent were north of the boundary line and that Canada could feed every mouth in Europe. Our wheat crop this year will go nearly 250,000,000 bushels, and this, remember, without fertilisation and with very poor farming, for we Western Canadians are poor farmers. We owe something to our American settlers who are teaching us something of the science and art of agriculture. Remember, too, that our crop comes from only one- seventh of our wheat lands. Had the other six-sevenths been cropped, our wheat yield would be over three and a half billion bushels--just about the world's supply. We should never be content till Canada does her full duty to the world, till Canada gives to the world all that is in her power to give. I make no apology for dwelling at such length upon Canada's extent and resources.
"Now let me speak to you about our privileges and responsibilities as citizens of this Dominion. Our possessions and material things will be our destruction unless we use them not only for our own good, but for the good of the world. And these possessions we can never properly use till we learn to prize those other possessions of heart and mind and soul."
With a light touch upon the activities of Canadians, in the development of their country in such matters as transportation and manufactures, he passed to a consideration of the educational, social, industrial, political and religious privileges which Canadian citizens enjoyed.
"These are the things," he cried, "that have to do with the nation's soul. These are the things that determine the quality of a people and their place among the nations, their influence in the world. In the matter of education it is the privilege of every child in Canada to receive a sound training, not only in the elementary branches of study, but even in higher branches as well. In Canada social distinctions are based more upon worth than upon wealth, more upon industry and ability than upon blue blood. Nowhere in the world is it more profoundly true that
"'A man's a man for a' that; The rank is but the guinea's stamp; The man's the gowd for a' that.'"
At this old McTavish surprised the audience and himself by crying out, "Hear-r-r, hear-r-r," glancing round defiantly as if daring anyone to take up his challenge.
"In matters of religion," continued the speaker, "the churches of Canada hold a position of commanding influence, not because of any privileges accorded them by the State, nor because of any adventitious or meretricious aids, but solely because of their ability to minister to the social and spiritual needs of the people."
Briefly the speaker proceeded to touch upon some characteristic features of Canadian political institutions.
"Nowhere in the world," he said, "do the people of a country enjoy a greater measure of freedom. We belong to a great world Empire. This connection we value and mean to cherish, but our Imperial relations do not in the slightest degree infringe upon our liberties. The Government of Canada is autonomous. Forty-six years ago the four provinces of Canada were united into a single Dominion with representative Government of the most complete kind. Canada is a Democracy, and in no Democracy in the world does the will of the people find more immediate and more complete expression than in our Dominion. With us political liberty is both a heritage and an achievement, a heritage from our forefathers who made this Empire what it is, and an achievement of our own people led by great and wise statesmen. This priceless possession of liberty we shall never surrender, for the nation that surrenders its liberty, no matter what other possessions it may retain, has lost its soul."
The address concluded with an appeal to the people for loyal devotion to the daily duties of life in their various relations as members of families, members of the community, citizens of the Province and of the Dominion. In the applause that followed the conclusion of this address, even old McTavish was observed to contribute his share with something amounting almost to enthusiasm.
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