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Duck Lake
Chapter XIV. The Coming of the Father

'HELLO, More, you here?’ exclaimed Silas Woods, on seeing Tom More in the bar-room of the ‘Duck Lake Hotel.'

‘Given up housekeeping, eh?’

‘What’s that?’ asked More, assuming a bellicose attitude.

‘Have you given up housekeeping?' I asked.

‘See here, if you fellers want to fight, just go outside,’ roared Dodge, the proprietor.

‘I only asked More a civil question, Dodge,’ remarked Woods.

‘You insulatered me,’ said the drunken man, with menacing manner and thickened speech, ‘and I’ll have shatishfashion.’

‘What’s the row, anyhow?’ demanded Dodge, laying his hand forcibly upon More’s shoulder, and pulling him back.

‘I only asked him if he had given up housekeeping.’

‘Why did you say that?’ asked Dodge.

'Why, well—because I saw his Chubb in the preacher’s place some time ago, sittin’ in a chair, quite at home like, and now as I passed I seed both him and his sister Jennie. So, thinks I, More must have given them up to the preacher.’

‘What was you a-doin’ at the preacher’s?’

‘Just a-tellin’ him about our wee Maggie. She’s sinkin’ fast. Give me a drink of whisky, Dodge. I’ve been up with her for two nights.’ Jennie’s father waited to hear no more. When Dodge went to help Woods to the liquor, he staggered out. He found his way to the room that he had occupied, and, after securing his gun, he started off through the woods, taking the road which led to the Parsonage.

In his call upon the Parsonage that morning Woods had left startling news about the condition of his little Maggie, and Mr. Hewitt was filled with deepest anxiety about his little parishioner. Chubb was much better, and was able to be up and show Jennie his little bear, and other things around the place. So with Jennie to play with him, and keep him company, the young preacher saw no reason why he should not ride up to the Woods’ home, and see what he could do to minister to the little sufferer.

Dinner was therefore quickly prepared, and after a few words of caution to Jennie and Chubb to stay by the house until his return, Mr. Hewitt sprang into his saddle, and rode away.

In the middle of the afternoon, Chubb and Jennie heard some one or some thing in the bush near the house. Running out, they saw a man stumbling along the path, and ere he came out of the bush something, a stone or a root, caught his foot, and he fell full length on the ground. Jennie wanted to run to assist him, but Chubb restrained her. The man rose slowly to his feet, and came staggering along.

‘Oh, it’s father!’ said Jennie; and in terror she seized Chubb’s arm, his sore arm, and though it hurt him, he only straightened himself up like a man, and bore the pain.

‘I know it,’ he replied to his sister’s exclamation, ‘and he’s drunk. Run into the house, Jennie, and hide.’

‘What will you do?’

‘Never mind me. Run into the house, and shut the door, quick!’ demanded Chubb; and Jennie obeyed, though she took her position at the window.

Bruised from his fall, surly in temper, and crazed with liquor, More came unsteadily along.

‘Come here,’ he shouted, as he noticed Chubb standing near the house, ‘come here, you young rascal, and I’ll teach you to run away from your home again!’

Chubb did not move, but calmly watched his father. More straightened himself up a moment, as if in surprise. He looked around him at the strange surroundings, and realized that he was on new ground. So he thought to adopt a new tack.

‘Chubb, my son.' he said, with a cunning leer, ‘come to your father. Come and see what he has for you.’

Chubb did not move.

More took several very unsteady steps nearer the boy.

‘Chubb, my dear boy,’ he almost whined. ‘Come to your papa.'

Father and son were now nearly in touch with each other.

‘Well, if you won’t come to me, I’ll make you!’ said the man, as he sprang forward with a shout.

But Chubb was not there to be crushed by the weight of the man. Quickly taking several steps at right-angles to the charge, he again turned and faced his father. Barely recovering himself from a fall, the father turned, and, with an oath, ran after his son. The little fellow ran down the path to the lake, and sprang into the canoe, intending to paddle out of his father’s reach. But ere he got away his father grabbed the end of the canoe. Chubb put his paddle against a stone, and shoved with all his might. This caused his father to lose his balance and fall splashing into the water. The shock greatly sobered him, but it only gave his mean spirit better control of a shaky body. The father hung on to the canoe, and Chubb thought that he was caught. Dropping his paddle, he ran and jumped out of the canoe on the opposite side from that where his father was struggling in the water, trying to regain his feet. Pouring out terrible threats of vengeance, the father came up from the water. In reaching for the canoe, he had dropped his gun, and now, as he came up, dripping and angry that Chubb had eluded him, he picked it up again, and swinging it as a club, he followed after his boy.

The excitement and exercise had been too much for the poor little fellow, and he fell exhausted, and fainted. Jennie had been watching the whole of the proceedings from a corner of the window. When she saw her brother fall, she forgot his words to remain in, and ran to his assistance. She reached him only a moment before her father.

‘You young rascal, are you here also?’ he said, and gave his little girl such a blow with his hand that it sent her staggering back in pain.

‘Oh, pa!’ she said, partially recovering from the blow, and trying to keep back her tears, ‘oh, don’t kill Chubb! he’s been awful hurt with a bear.’

‘Get away home with you!' shouted the father.

Then seizing his boy he shook him. But Chubb showed no signs of consciousness.

‘I’ll bring you round,’ said he, ‘see if I don’t!’

Then, to Jennie’s horror, she saw her father pick Chubb up, carry him back to the lake, and souse his head in the water.

‘There.' shouted the father, as he splashed the boy’s head up and down, ‘I’ll learn you to trip your father in the water!’

Jennie, unable to stand this any longer, picked up a stick, and, running to the bank, beat her father as hard as she could on his back.

‘Let him alone, let him alone!’ shouted Jennie, as she beat her father.

Lifting Chubb up, More threw him on the bank, and then seized Jennie. He cruelly pinned her arms behind her back, and then, seizing her stick, he beat her furiously over her head and shoulders.

‘Now you cut for home.' shouted the father; and he gave Jennie a shove into the path that led towards their distant log cabin.

Turning his attention again to Chubb, he stood him on his feet, and shook him. The boy opened his eyes, and instantly closed them again, from sheer exhaustion.

‘Here, none of your monkeying! Get to your feet and walk.' demanded the father, enforcing his words with a cuff on the side of the head.

Chubb opened his eyes again, and looked wildly around to see where Jennie was. Seeing her up the path, he thought that she was safe enough, and then he fainted away again.

‘You won’t do as I say, eh?’ declared the father. Then, with a stick as thick as his arm, he beat the boy as he lay on the ground.

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