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At Bamber’s Boom
by [?]

His trouble came upon him when he was old. To the hour of its coming he had been of shrewd and humourous disposition. He had married late in life, and his wife had died, leaving him one child–a girl. She grew to womanhood, bringing him daily joy. She was beloved in the settlement; and there was no one at Bamber’s Boom, in the valley of the Madawaska, but was startled and sorry when it turned out that Dugard, the river-boss, was married. He floated away down the river, with his rafts and drives of logs, leaving the girl sick and shamed. They knew she was sick at heart, because she grew pale and silent; they did not know for some months how shamed she was. Then it was that Mrs. Lauder, the sister of the Roman Catholic missionary, Father Halen, being a woman of notable character and kindness, visited her and begged her to tell all.

Though the girl–Nora–was a Protestant, Mrs. Lauder did this: but it brought sore grief to her. At first she could hardly bear to look at the girl’s face, it was so hopeless, so numb to the world: it had the indifference of despair. Rumour now became hateful fact. When the old man was told, he gave one great cry, then sat down, his hands pressed hard between his knees, his body trembling, his eyes staring before him.

It was Father Halen who told him. He did it as man to man, and not as a priest, having travelled fifty miles for the purpose. “George Magor,” said he, “it’s bad, I know, but bear it–with the help of God. And be kind to the girl.”

The old man answered nothing. “My friend,” the priest continued, “I hope you’ll forgive me for telling you. I thought ‘twould be better from me, than to have it thrown at you in the settlement. We’ve been friends one way and another, and my heart aches for you, and my prayers go with you.”

The old man raised his sunken eyes, all their keen humour gone, and spoke as though each word were dug from his heart. “Say no more, Father Halen.” Then he reached out, caught the priest’s hand in his gnarled fingers, and wrung it.

The father never spoke a harsh word to the girl. Otherwise he seemed to harden into stone. When the Protestant missionary came, he would not see him. The child was born before the river-drivers came along again the next year with their rafts and logs. There was a feeling abroad that it would be ill for Dugard if he chanced to camp at Bamber’s Boom. The look of the old man’s face was ominous, and he was known to have an iron will.

Dugard was a handsome man, half French, half Scotch, swarthy and admirably made. He was proud of his strength, and showily fearless in danger. For there were dangerous hours to the river life: when, for instance, a mass of logs became jammed at a rapids, and must be loosened; or a crib struck into the wrong channel, or, failing to enter a slide straight, came at a nasty angle to it, its timbers wrenched and tore apart, and its crew, with their great oars, were plumped into the busy current. He had been known to stand singly in some perilous spot when one log, the key to the jam, must be shifted to set free the great tumbled pile. He did everything with a dash. The handspike was waved and thrust into the best leverage, the long robust cry, “O-hee-hee-hoi!” rolled over the waters, there was a devil’s jumble of logs, and he played a desperate game with them, tossing here, leaping there, balancing elsewhere, till, reaching the smooth rush of logs in the current, he ran across them to the shore as they spun beneath his feet.