THE SAME GRENFELL
Doctor Grenfell is not alone the doctor of the coast. He is also a duly appointed magistrate, and wherever he happens to be on Sundays, where there is no preacher to conduct religious services, and it rarely happens there is one, for preachers are scarce on the coast, he takes the preacher’s place. It does not matter whether it is a Church of England, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, or a Baptist congregation, he speaks to the people and conducts the service with fine unsectarian religious devotion. Grenfell is a deeply religious man, and in his religious life there is no buncomb or humbug. He lives what he preaches. In his audiences at his Sunday services are Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, and they all love him and will travel far to hear him.
Norman Duncan, in that splendid book, “Doctor Grenfell’s Parish,” tells the story of a man who had committed a great wrong, amounting to a crime. The man was brought before Grenfell, as Labrador magistrate. He acknowledged his crime, but was defiant. The man cursed the doctor.
“You will do as I tell you,” said the Doctor, “or I will put you under arrest, and lock you up.”
The man laughed, and called Doctor Grenfell’s attention to the fact that he was outside his judicial district, and had no power to make the arrest.
“Never mind,” warned the Doctor quietly. “I have a crew strong enough to take you into my district.”
The man retorted that he, also, had a crew.
“Are the men of your crew loyal enough to fight for you?” asked the Doctor. “There’s going to be a fight if you don’t submit without it. This is what you must do,” he continued. “You will come to the church service at seven o’clock on Sunday evening, and before the whole congregation you will confess your crime.”
Again the man cursed the Doctor and defied him. It happened that this man was a rich trader and felt his power.
The man did not appear at the church on Sunday evening. Doctor Grenfell announced to the congregation that the man was to appear to confess and receive judgment, and he asked every one to keep his seat while he went to fetch the fellow.
He found the man in a neighbor’s house, surrounded by his friends. It was evident the man’s crew had no mind to fight for him, they knew he was guilty. The man was praying, perhaps to soften the Doctor’s heart.
[Illustration: “I HAVE A CREW STRONG ENOUGH TO TAKE YOU INTO MY DISTRICT”]
“Prayer is a good thing in its place,” said the Doctor, “but it doesn’t ‘go’ here. Come with me.”
The man, like a whipped dog, went with the Doctor. Entering the meeting room, he stood before the waiting congregation and made a complete confession.
“You deserve the punishment of man and God?” asked the Doctor.
“I do,” said the man, no longer defiant.