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Shon Mcgann’s Tobogan Ride
by [?]

“Oh, it’s down the long side of Farcalladen Rise,
With the knees pressing hard to the saddle, my men;
With the sparks from the hoofs giving light to the eyes,
And our hearts beating hard as we rode to the glen!

“And it’s back with the ring of the chain and the spur,
And it’s back with the sun on the hill and the moor,
And it’s back is the thought sets my pulses astir!
But I’ll never go back to Farcalladen more.”

Shon McGann was lying on a pile of buffalo robes in a mountain hut,–an Australian would call it a humpey,–singing thus to himself with his pipe between his teeth. In the room, besides Shon, were Pretty Pierre, Jo Gordineer, the Hon. Just Trafford, called by his companions simply “The Honourable,” and Prince Levis, the owner of the establishment. Not that Monsieur Levis, the French Canadian, was really a Prince. The name was given to him with a humorous cynicism peculiar to the Rockies. We have little to do with Prince Levis here; but since he may appear elsewhere, this explanation is made.

Jo Gordineer had been telling The Honourable about the ghost of Guidon Mountain, and Pretty Pierre was collaborating with their host in the preparation of what, in the presence of the Law–that is of the North-West Mounted Police–was called ginger-tea, in consideration of the prohibition statute.

Shon McGann had been left to himself–an unusual thing; for everyone had a shot at Shon when opportunity occurred; and never a bull’s-eye could they make on him. His wit was like the shield of a certain personage of mythology.

He had wandered on from verse to verse of the song with one eye on the collaborators and an ear open to The Honourable’s polite exclamations of wonder. Jo had, however, come to the end of his weird tale–for weird it certainly was, told at the foot of Guidon Mountain itself, and in a region of vast solitudes–the pair of chemists were approaching “the supreme union of unctuous elements,” as The Honourable put it, and in the silence that fell for a moment there crept the words of the singer:

“And it’s down the long side of Farcalladen Rise,
And it’s swift as an arrow and straight as a spear–“

Jo Gordineer interrupted. “Say, Shon, when’ll you be through that tobogan ride of yours? Aint there any end to it?”

But Shon was looking with both eyes now at the collaborators, and he sang softly on:

“And it’s keen as the frost when the summer-time dies,
That we rode to the glen and with never a fear.”

Then he added: “The end’s cut off, Joey, me boy; but what’s a tobogan ride, annyway?”

“Listen to that, Pierre. I’ll be eternally shivered if he knows what a tobogan ride is!”

“Hot shivers it’ll be for you, Joey, me boy, and no quinine over the bar aither,” said Shon.

“Tell him what a tobogan ride is, Pierre.”

And Pretty Pierre said: “Eh, well, I will tell you. It is like-no, you have the word precise, Joseph. Eh? What?”

Pierre then added something in French. Shon did not understand it, but he saw The Honourable smile, so with a gentle kind of contempt he went on singing:

“And it’s hey for the hedge, and it’s hey for the wall!
And it’s over the stream with an echoing cry;
And there’s three fled for ever from old Donegal,
And there’s two that have shown how bold Irishmen die.”

The Honourable then said, “What is that all about, Shon? I never heard the song before.”

“No more you did. And I wish I could see the lad that wrote that song, livin’ or dead. If one of ye’s will tell me about your tobogan rides, I’ll unfold about Farcalladen Rise.”