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By Ralph Connor
Canada – Fiction
Beyond the Marshes
Ralph Connor (Charles William Gordon)
Author of “Black Rock” and “The Sky Pilot”
The Westminster Company Limited
Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety—eight, by The Westminster Company, Limited, at the Department of Agriculture.
Have you ever caught the scent of the clover as you were whirled away by the train beyond the city on a summer’s day and sped through the rich pasture lands? And do you remember how you stepped forth at the first halting—place to secure a sprig of the sweet, homely flower that had spoken to you so eloquently in its own language, and how you pressed it in your book? Does not its perfume remain with you till this day? And every now and then a fragrance is wafted to our inner senses as we read some simple story which is to us as a breath of the clover, bringing us a message of sweetness and beauty, and going straight to our hearts with the power that belongs to the secrets which lie hidden at our lifers core.
And this sweet prairie idyll is surely one of those fragrant messages which lays its hold on us as we pause for a moment in the midst of our fevered lives and anxious thoughts, and step across the threshold of that chamber where we must needs put our shoes from off our feet, for the place whereon we stand is holy ground. And as we press on again to life’s duties, may we bear with us something of the precious perfume diffused by plants which are divine in their origin and which must be divine in their influence.
BEYOND THE MARSHES
The missionary of the Bonjour field found me standing bag in hand upon the railway platform watching my train steam away to the east. He is glad to see me. I am of his own kind, and there are so few of his kind about that his welcome is strong and warm. He is brown and spare and tough—looking. For six months he has driven along the pitching trails and corduroy roads, drenched by rains, scorched by suns, and pursued by the flies. As to the flies there is something to be said. They add much to the missionary’s burden, and furnish unequaled opportunity for the exercise of the Christian graces of patience and self—control. In early spring they appear, and throughout the whole summer they continue in varying forms, but in unvarying persistence and ferocity. There are marsh flies, the bulldogs, “which take the piece right out,” the gray wings, the blue devils (local name), which doubtless take several pieces right out, the mosquitoes, unsleeping, unmerciful, unspeakable, the sand flies, which go right in and disappear, and the black flies.
“When do they go away?” I asked a native.
“Oh, them black fellows go away on snow—shoes.”
These each and all have taken a nip and a suck from the missionary as he pushed on by night and by day through their savage territory. I glance at him, and sure enough they seem to have got all the juice out of him, but they have left the sinew and the bone. His nerve, too, is all there, and his heart is sound and “under his ribs,” which one of his admiring flock considers the right spot.
It is Saturday afternoon, and we are to drive to the farthest of his three stations to be ready for the Communion Service there, at half—past ten to—morrow morning.
“Where does it lie?” I ask.
“Oh, away beyond the Marshes,” was the answer. Every one evidently knows where the Great Marshes are.
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