In fact, before I had finished my second cup of Maud-mixed coffee, my companion, with a little show of haste, had gone in search of the kirk, and I followed him, with more scrupulousness, as soon as I could without breaking the day of rest. Although it was Sunday, I could not but notice that Baddeck was a clean-looking village of white wooden houses, of perhaps seven or eight hundred inhabitants; that it stretched along the bay for a mile or more, straggling off into farmhouses at each end, lying for the most part on the sloping curve of the bay. There were a few country-looking stores and shops, and on the shore three or four rather decayed and shaky wharves ran into the water, and a few schooners lay at anchor near them; and the usual decaying warehouses leaned about the docks. A peaceful and perhaps a thriving place, but not a bustling place. As I walked down the road, a sailboat put out from the shore and slowly disappeared round the island in the direction of the Grand Narrows. It had a small pleasure party on board. None of them were drowned that day, and I learned at night that they were Roman Catholics from Whykokornagh.
The kirk, which stands near the water, and at a distance shows a pretty wooden spire, is after the pattern of a New England meeting-house. When I reached it, the house was full and the service had begun. There was something familiar in the bareness and uncompromising plainness and ugliness of the interior. The pews had high backs, with narrow, uncushioned seats. The pulpit was high,—a sort of theological fortification,—approached by wide, curving flights of stairs on either side. Those who occupied the near seats to the right and left of the pulpit had in front of them a blank board partition, and could not by any possibility see the minister, though they broke their necks backwards over their high coat-collars. The congregation had a striking resemblance to a country New England congregation of say twenty years ago. The clothes they wore had been Sunday clothes for at least that length of time.
Such clothes have a look of I know not what devout and painful respectability, that is in keeping with the worldly notion of rigid Scotch Presbyterianism. One saw with pleasure the fresh and rosy-cheeked children of this strict generation, but the women of the audience were not in appearance different from newly arrived and respectable Irish immigrants. They wore a white cap with long frills over the forehead, and a black handkerchief thrown over it and hanging down the neck,—a quaint and not unpleasing disguise.
The house, as I said, was crowded. It is the custom in this region to go to church,—for whole families to go, even the smallest children; and they not unfrequently walk six or seven miles to attend the service. There is a kind of merit in this act that makes up for the lack of certain other Christian virtues that are practiced elsewhere. The service was worth coming seven miles to participate