The old gunsmith laughed noiselessly, and then from habit, I suppose, began to hum as he does in his shop—stopping instantly, however, when he realized what he was doing.
During the evening the Scotch Preacher got me to one side and said:
“David, we can’t let the old man go.”
“No, sir,” I said, “we can’t.”
“All he needs, Davy, is cheering up. It’s a cold world sometimes to the old.”
I suppose the Scotch Preacher was saying the same thing to all the other men of the company.
When we were preparing to go, Dr. McAlway turned to Carlstrom and said:
“How is it, Carlstrom, that you have come to hold such a place in this community? How is it that you have got ahead so rapidly?”
The old man leaned forward, beaming through his spectacles, and said eagerly:
“It ist America; it ist America.”
“No, Carlstrom, no—it is not all America. It is Carlstrom, too. You work, Carlstrom, and you save.”
Every day since Wednesday there has been a steady pressure on Carlstrom; not so much said in words, but people stopping in at the shop and passing a good word. But up to Monday morning the gunsmith went forward steadily with his preparations to leave. On Sunday I saw the Scotch Preacher and found him perplexed as to what to do. I don’t know yet positively, that he had a hand in it, though I suspect it, but on Monday afternoon Charles Baxter went by my house on his way to town with a broken saw in his buggy. Such is the perversity of rival artists that I don’t think Charles Baxter had ever been to Carlstrom with any work. But this morning when I went to town and stopped at Carlstrom’s shop I found the gunsmith humming louder than ever.
“Well, Carlstrom, when are we to say good-by?” I asked.
“I’m not going,” he said, and taking me by the sleeve he led me over to his bench and showed me a saw he had mended. Now, a broken saw is one of the high tests of the genius of the mender. To put the pieces together so that the blade will be perfectly smooth, so that the teeth match accurately, is an art which few workmen of to-day would even attempt.
“Charles Baxter brought it in,” answered the old gunsmith, unable to conceal his delight. “He thought I couldn’t mend it!”
To the true artist there is nothing to equal the approbation of a rival. It was Charles Baxter, I am convinced, who was the deciding factor. Carlstrom couldn’t leave with one of Baxter’s saws unmended! But back of it all, I know, is the hand and the heart of the Scotch Preacher.
The more I think of it the more I think that our gunsmith possesses many of the qualities of true greatness. He has the serenity, and the humour, and the humility of greatness. He has a real faith in God. He works, he accepts what comes. He thinks there is no more honourable calling than that of gunsmith, and that the town he lives in is the best of all towns, and the people he knows the best people.