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Duck Lake
Chapter XIX. The Father again

AFTER Jonas had served evening tea Mr. Hewitt whispered something into his ear. Chubb had asked several times during the day about his father and mother and Jennie. Mr. Hewitt also wondered why one of them at least had not come to see Chubb, and now he quietly sent Jonas to see what was going on. Jonas also had a message to carry to the school teacher. He found Mr. Green talking with ‘Father Miller,’ in the Matter’s barn.

‘He was all alone in the field diggin’ potatoes when I come up,’ he was telling the school teacher. ‘I never saw a man work so hard in my life. His Jennie was playing outside with little Bob and the baby, and his missus was scrubbin’ the floor. In the house I said. “Good day, Mrs. More, your floor is as white as a table.”

“We’re gettin’ ready for Chubb,” says More, comin’ up behind me. “That’s right,” says I. “I saw him to-day. He’s doin’ fine. And he was askin’ for you all.” Mrs. More just scrubbed right on, and never says a word, but Jennie she comes beside me and grips my hand tight. Pullin’ me down, she whispers, “It’s all right now. Pa loves us, and ma, she’s most washin’ the floor with her tears.” “Bless her soul,” says I.

“Mrs. More,” says I, touchin’ her and stoppin’ her scrubbin’. She stops, wipes her face and eyes with her apron. “My missus says she ought to have remembered your baby before this, and wants you now to accept these little things. She’d ’ave come herself, but the walkin’s so bad." The poor woman began cryin’ again. More, he turns to me and says— “Mr. Miller, you are too kind, you and your wife. You took our Jennie in, and saved her from catchin’ a death of cold. Thank Mrs. Miller for us, and tell her that we’ll both be over soon to see her.” “We’ll be glad to receive you when you come, and be sure you bring Jennie and the baby.” “We’ll remember,” says he. Then I kissed Jennie and the wee un, and I come away. Bless the Lord, for there’s a wonderful change there.’

Jonas stood by respectfully, waiting until Mr. Miller had finished his account Then he delivered his message, and hurried on to the Mores.

The teacher, after a hasty supper, went over to the Parsonage. He repeated with some comments of his own what Father Miller had told him about his visit to the Mores. Tears of thankfulness were in the preacher’s eyes long before the story was completed; but he still wanted to hear more, and eagerly awaited Jonas’ return.

‘What did you see, Jonas?’ asked Mr. Hewitt, a little impatiently, as Jonas entered.

‘Jonas see much. See a light, and look in window. Glass broken; Jonas see. Jonas hear. More, he make a new bed in corner. His missus, she cry and sew new blankets. When More, he done bed, he get a book, the book, and he sit down on chair by light. Jennie, she rock cradle and boy asleep on floor. The missus stop her sew. She hear him read. He find that place, Mr. Hewitt, you tell about and Chubb; the cow and bear and young ones, and he laugh and she laugh and Jennie laugh. Then he cry and they all cry. Then he turn back and read about the ox knows his owner, but people forget their God; and God, He say, Come, consider; your sins be red, I’ll make white as snow.'

‘That’s right, Jonas. That’s the first chapter of Isaiah.' said Mr. Hewitt in great delight. ‘What did he do next?’

‘He kneel down, missus kneel down, Jennie kneel dowm. Then More, he say: “Lord, we was like the ox. Forgive and make us good.” He say lot more. Then he say: “Make Chubb better, O God, and let him come home.” Then he say more. “Bless the teacher, and bless Mr. Hewitt, and, oh my God, make him well again.” “That’s right prayer for you, More,” say Jonas.’

‘Well,’ said Green, recovering control of his voice, ‘and what did you do then?’

‘Jonas leave More’s clothes at the door, and come away. He no talk to More, after More talk to the Great Spirit.’

About the middle of the afternoon of the next day, Mr. Hewitt was awakened out of a nap by a knock on his door.

‘Come in,’ he said; and Mr. More entered.

From his shoulder he swung a big bag of potatoes, and a smaller one.

‘How are you to-day, Mr. Hewitt?' he asked somewhat bashfully.

‘Oh, much better, thank you,’ said Hewitt, cheerily.

‘Where’s Chubb?’ ventured the father. ‘The day was so beautiful that Jonas took him and Mrs. Fitzgerald for a canoe-ride on the lake.’

‘Will they be in soon?’

‘May be in any minute.’

‘We can never thank you, Mr. Hewitt.’ ‘How’s Jennie?’ asked the preacher, cutting Mr. More rather short.

‘She is all right, but wants Chubb. And, Mr. Hewitt, so do we all. We’ve made a new bed for him, and got new blankets, and we’ll take good care of him. But we can’t thank you.’

‘Give thanks to God.’

‘We’ve done that, and will do it, and we’ll do it to you, too.’

‘Oh, father,’ said Chubb, bursting into the house, and rushing up to his father. The man sprang to his feet, and caught up his son.

‘Your father has come to take you home, Chubb.’

Chubb shook himself, and his father put him down. The boy looked puzzled. He came slowly over to the bed, and looked inquiringly into Mr. Hewitt’s eyes.

‘It is right, Chubb. I’d like to keep you; but it is right that you should go home.'

Chubb walked bravely over to his father. Mr. More picked his son tenderly up in his arms, and, saying ‘Good-bye,’ left for his own home.

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