Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Making Of A Man
by [?]

Soon after dark, John Fairmeadow, with a pack on his broad back, swung from the Jumping Jimmy trail into the clearing of Swamp’s End, ceasing only then his high, vibrant song, and came striding down the huddled street, a big man in rare humour with life, labour and the night. A shadow–not John Fairmeadow’s shadow–was in cautious pursuit; but of this dark, secret follower John Fairmeadow was not aware. Near the Cafe of Egyptian Delights he stumbled. The pursuing Shadow gasped; and John Fairmeadow was so mightily exercised for his pack that he ejaculated in a fashion most unministerial, but recovered his footing with a jerk, and doubtless near turned pale with apprehension. But the pack was safe–the delicate contents, whatever they were, quite undisturbed. John Fairmeadow gently adjusted the pack, stamped the snow from his soles, as a precautionary measure, wiped the frost from his brows and eyelids, in the same cautious wisdom, and, still followed by the Shadow, strode on, but with infinitely more care. At the Red Elephant–Pale Peter’s glowing saloon–he turned in. The bar, as always, in these days, gave the young apostle to those unrighteous parts a roaring welcome. It was become the fashion: big, bubbling, rosy John Fairmeadow, with the square jaw, the frank, admonitory tongue, the tender and persuasive heart, the competent, not unwilling fists, was welcome everywhere, from the Bottle River camps and the Cant-hook cutting to the bunk-houses of the Yellow Tail, from beyond the Divide to the lower waters of the Big River, in every saloon, bunk-house, superintendent’s office and cook’s quarters of his wide green parish–welcome to preach and to pray, to bury, marry, gossip and scold, and, upon goodly provocation, to fight, all to the same righteous end. A clean man: a big, broad-shouldered, deep-chested, long-legged body, with a soul to match it–a glowing heart and a purpose lifted high. There was no mistaking the man by men.

John Fairmeadow, clad like a lumber-jack, upright, now, in the full stature of a man, body and soul, grinned like a delighted schoolboy. His fine head was thrown back, in the pride of clean, sure strength; his broad face was in a rosy glow; his great chest still heaved with the labour of a stormy trail; his gray eyes flashed and twinkled in the soft light of Pale Peter’s many lamps. Twinkled?–and with merriment?–in that long, stifling, roaring, smoky, fume-laden room? For a moment: then closed, a bit worn, and melancholy, too; but presently, with reviving faith to urge them, opened wide and heartily, and began to twinkle again. The bar was in festive array: Christmas greens, red berries, ribbons, tissue-paper and gleaming tinfoil–flash of mirrors, bright colour, branches of pine, cedar and spruce from the big balsamic woods. It was crowded with lumber-jacks–great fellows from the forest, big of body and passion, here gathered in celebration of the festival. John Fairmeadow, getting all at once and vigorously under way, shouted “Merry Christmas, boys!” and “Hello, Charlie!” to the bartender; and he shook hands with Pale Peter, slapped Billy the Beast on the back, roared a greeting to Gingerbread Jenkins, exclaimed “Merry Christmas!” with the speed and detonation of a Gatling gun, inquired after Butcher Long’s brood of kids in the East, and cried “Hello, old man!” and “What’s the good word from Yellow Tail?” and “How d’ye do?” and “Glad t’ see you!” and everywhere shook hands and clapped backs–carefully preserving, however, his own back from being slapped–and devoutly ejaculated “God bless you, men! A Merry Christmas to you all and every one!” and eventually disappeared in the direction of Pale Peter’s living-quarters, leaving an uproar of genial delight behind him.

John Fairmeadow’s Shadow, however, unable to enter the bar of the Red Elephant, waited in seclusion across the windy street.

* * * * *