The clergyman was inclined to believe that the repair was not strictly needed, though it would account for a delay; but one or two of the station hands had reached the engine and, following instructions, they lifted Farren down, and wheeled him on a baggage truck to the doctor’s house. The doctor seemed to have no doubt of the man’s recovery but said that he must not be moved again for a day or two; and Hardie went back to the station, reassured and less troubled than he had been for some time. The attitude of the engineer, fireman, and construction gang, was encouraging. It confirmed his belief that the lawless element was tolerated rather than regarded with sympathy, and the patience of the remainder of the community would become exhausted before long. Though he admitted the influence of a bad example, he had firm faith in the rank and file.
A HARMLESS CONSPIRACY
On the evening that George left for Brandon, Edgar drove over to the Grant homestead.
“It’s Saturday night, my partner’s gone, and I felt I deserved a little relaxation,” he explained.
“It’s something to be able to feel that; the men who opened up this wheat-belt never got nor wanted anything of the kind,” Grant rejoined. “But as supper’s nearly ready, you have come at the right time.”
Edgar turned to Flora.
“Your father always makes me feel that I belong to a decadent age. One can put up with it from him, because he’s willing to live up to his ideas, which is not a universal rule, so far as my experience of moralizers goes. Anyhow, I’ll confess that I’m glad to arrive in time for a meal. The cooking at our place might be improved; George, I regret to say, never seems to notice what he eats.”
“That’s a pretty good sign,” said Grant.
“It strikes me as a failing for which I have to bear part of the consequences.”
“If you felt that you had to make an excuse for coming, couldn’t you have made a more flattering one?”
“Ah!” said Edgar, “you have caught me out. But I could give you a number of better reasons. It isn’t my fault you resent compliments.”
Flora rose and they entered the room where the hired men were gathering for the meal. When it was over, they returned to the smaller room and found seats near an open window, Grant smoking, Flora embroidering, while Edgar mused as he watched her. Dressed in some simple, light-colored material, which was nevertheless tastefully cut, she made an attractive picture in the plainly furnished room, the walls of which made an appropriate frame of uncovered native pine, for he always associated her and her father with the land to which they belonged. There was nothing voluptuous in any line of the girl’s face or figure; the effect was chastely severe, and he knew that it conveyed a reliable hint of her character. This was not marked by coldness, but rather by an absence of superficial warmth. The calmness of her eyes spoke of depth and balance. She was steadfast and consistent; a daughter of the stern, snow-scourged North.