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bition? Let me say that I believe the whole fundamental question of human brotherhood and social democracy to be at the bottom of it. It is in making this effort to adapt myself to the common ideals and standards of my neighbors that I have learned the truths I want to tell you about. And when I say my self, I mean Miriam too; for if a married man has not the coöperation of his wife in an undertaking of this sort, he is defeated before he begins.
I have come to the conclusion that the whole conception of caste is an anachronism and out of place in a democracy such as we wish ours to be. Caste is one of the singularly persistent survivals of a less enlightened age. Our civilization should have outgrown it, but even in this day and in this country the consciousness of caste is virtually universal. Instinctively (instinct is largely inherited habit) we classify people according to their wealth, earning capacity, social position, raiment, education, political rank or other manifestation of worldly success. It is artificial and absurd, and we all know in our hearts that it has little or nothing to do with character and the real worth of a man. It seldom takes into consideration the spiritual qualities which are the only ones of permanent value.
I will not say that the sense of caste is absent in the country. Quite otherwise. But country people do not accept caste unquestioningly, as city people are inclined to do. Their social hierarchy is less rigid. They are more inclined to view claims to caste with suspicion. I think they are more nearly ready
to throw the whole fabric of caste overboard. Joseph Sutton, I believe, was a man liberated from caste.
I flatter myself that I have achieved a partial emancipation. I think I have succeeded in destroying some of the illusions. I know that some of my town acquaintances, observing me under different conditions and at different times of the year, have been perplexed as to how to place me. This amuses and secretly pleases me. I should like nothing better than to prove that their whole system of classification is nonsense.
This sense of caste breeds a ridiculous sort of competition. People are forever trying to climb up an entirely imaginary and illusory ladder, trying to slip somehow into a niche above that of their neighbors. If one means proves ineffective, they try another. If circumstances of birth, breeding, environment or financial resources seem to have condemned them to a certain stratum of society, they try to make people think they belong to a higher one. If the facts won't bear them out, they try to bluff.
There is not so much of this endless and futile competition in the country. We know one another too well. We're pretty shrewd, too, when it comes to that; bluffing doesn't go far. The result is a greater social candor and sincerity. Joseph Sutton made no pretenses whatever.
And out of all this comes simplicity, or as near an approach to simplicity as we complex and muddling human beings can hope at present to achieve. One needs to become as a little child, you know, to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. On my farm I have found a more complete simplicity than anywhere else-sim
plicity of living, simplicity of practical affairs, simplicity of human contact, simplicity of philosophic outlook. Contentment and simplicity, I am persuaded, are two of the most desirable ends of life.
The achievement of this outlook has been one of the chief rewards of my life here and of my effort to fit myself into the rural environment. I have found human friendliness and frankness. I have found a more serene and satisfying philosophy of life; and in this I am conscious of a spiritual renewal that is most heartening. It shows that a man can be made over into something a little more satisfactory to himself.
Very often I have come upon a discarded snake-skin in the stone walls or in my woodpile. The reptile has emerged a new and shining creature, leaving behind him an integument that has served its purpose and is no longer of any use to him. Man, always tending to become casehardened in his ideas, can thus slough off his old self if he will. The possibility of human metamorphosis is one of the most encouraging things I know of.
When I began this paper I had it in mind to point out some of the things that have endeared this farm of ours to us since the day when we received the title deed from Mr. Sutton. And perhaps I have done
it. For nothing ties us more securely to the place than these human connections as they appear in the light of our clearing perception of them.
We love our friendly white house and its familiar contents; we love our natural surroundings and count them beautiful; we love our occupations in house and barn, garden and orchard; we love our animal comrades here. But nothing that we have produced on these acres, no fruits or grains or vegetables, can equal in value the spiritual crops that have sprung up and come to fruition, scarcely noticed, like the wild cherries in the hedgerows.
It is not mere sentiment, I think, the attachment we feel for this place, though I don't know of many things better than sentiment. We have a strong sense of home, both of us, and I would not part with that for any wealth or power. All around us we see people giving up their homes; the children have married and gone away, and the house seems too large, and the servant problem has become insoluble. We cannot understand how they can esteem so lightly a thing as precious and enduring as home. For our part, we have been sending down our roots deeper and deeper each year into the stony but not uncongenial soil, and we are proud and happy in our bondage.
THE FINDING OF FITZGERALD
A True Story of the Royal North-West Mounted Police
T. MORRIS LONGSTRETH
E'LL never know now," said the Mounted Policeman, more to his photograph album than to me, "what made him do it. Fitz wasn't the one to talk, anyway."
I smiled inwardly. They were all alike in that, these Mounted Police, and now Staff-Sergeant Dempster was talking at last. To be sure I had survived several hours of misgivings. He had read my letter of introduction and said nothing-had invited me to supper and said next to nothing, and we had done the dishes still in silence, until a photograph on the wall had blessedly led to the album whose pages were memory.
I reasoned that if a man had crossed from Halifax to Vancouver, taken the boat to Skagway, the train to White Horse, another boat down the Yukon to Stewart River, and then penetrated for three days into the dark backward and abysm of that territory to see Dempster at his little isolated detachment, it would at least prove a certain sincerity. But the famous non-com. who was now lighting his pipe, had met other sincere questioners and remained unmoved, and I wondered. what might move him.
The regular features of his almost Indian-dark face spoke steadiness,
his deep brown eyes and low voice harmonized with the vast silent setting beyond the cabin door, for he had lived so long with stillness as to contemn expression. And then, without preamble, he spoke of the days of Francis J. Fitzgerald, while I watched the long, motionless sub-arctic summer twilight gather over one of the great solitudes of the world-the theater of this story.
"We'll never know now what prompted the brown-haired boy, rather tall and slight, to stand before the recruiting officer in Halifax-the autumn of '88 I think it was—and say he would like to join up. He had been working in a shoe store and found that walls were a torment to him. He told Sergeant McGibbon his age was twenty-one years and six months, and when McGibbon expressed a doubt that despite a blasted Irish assurance, he looked barely seventeen, Fitz remarked that one shouldn't always judge a man by his looks. There was something attractive about him, even as a kid, and when the sawbones passed on him as a fair candidate, McGibbon swallowed his doubts and signed him on. So Fitzgerald went home and announced to his family he was leaving for Regina.
"Fitz hadn't been long on the force before he emerged from that state of suppression so becoming to a buck, to appear before the Commissioner-Commissioner Larry Herchmer, then-to answer to the charge of using profane language toward a superior. He was sternly admonished, since cursing even a corporal is improper. Still more improper was it to be seen crossing the barrack's-square under tow, like one of his native Halifax barges, with a constable carrying his hat. Fitz's defense was just like him. He said that if he had been able to get more liquor during the winter, the few drinks he'd taken wouldn't have gone so to his head. Herchmer warned him that he'd be dismissed for a single repetition.
"Fitz must have taken the warning to heart. For nine years nothing was heard of him even on the defaulter's sheet. But the life had got him. He kept on re-engaging, postponing the commonplaces of civilian ambitionmoney, a home, a settled existenceand acquiring a fondness for the unfrequented places and the strange enjoyments which are the gift of insecurity. As a boy he had let an old sailor tattoo a star on the back of his right hand; a star, mind you, and not an anchor-there's a difference. And now, after nine years, his star was about to rise.
"Inspector Moodie, one of the great pioneering men of this outfit, chose Fitzgerald for company on the long patrol from Edmonton up here. It took the best part of two years, and Moodie recommended Constable Fitz for promotion. As a corporal he volunteered for the mounted rifles
in the South African War. An incident of that time will show you his determination to carry out anything he set his mind on. He was camping several miles from the place where his application had to be registered. During the night he was awakened and on rushing out of the tent to see what was wrong, caught his little toe in a guy rope and broke the bone. The next day he walked several miles without his boot which he put on just before reaching the office. He was afraid if they knew of the broken toe he would not be able to get away with the bunch.
"It was shortly after the war that I first saw him. He had just come from London. He was handsome now, straight, well-set and his clear gray eyes seemed able to tell your very thoughts. He had won honors, the confidence of men, and had seen the world. Down East he met a girl who must have had more than the usual charm, for Fitz went to the length of getting engaged."
The staff-sergeant paused to refill his pipe. "With all respect to women," he resumed, "they are not a man's destiny. That is a mystery already in the veins, a necessity to be drunk from the cup of chance. This girl must have seen the star on Fitzgerald's hand, and caught the eagerness in his voice when she let him talk about his long patrols, the passes of the Skeena and the silent rivers flooding north. But she blinded herself to these signs or she would have insisted on his 'purchasing.' She made the mistake of letting him go North unmarried, to finish out his term. They never ceased to be engaged, but never saw each other again. She could not know, and per
haps Fitz did not fully comprehend how deeply wedded he was to the North. It is a strange and silent bride whose hold, once established, is too strong for any man to break. Why should a man, able, witty and with social gifts, seek a place like this? Why should he turn from men and desire the unconsciousness of nature? I have often wondered, but I do not know.
"I said a place like this, but where Sergeant Fitzgerald went with three constables in 1903, to establish the detachment of Fort Macpherson, was infinitely worse. Here at Mayo we get several mails a summer, but in those days, if a boat reached the delta of the Mackenzie once a year it was an event, and the fort, which was a Hudson's Bay Company hut surrounded by the dilapidated shelters of Eskimo and Indian, was still farther away, up the Peel, and as filthy as inaccessible. But Fitz saw to it that his men fitted themselves into the life of the place, a thorn in the trader's flesh, a godsend to the missionary, and for the natives a source of unfailing relief when hungry, ill or bored.
"Consoling the natives was not, of course, the primary reason for the creation of this outpost. Macpher
son was to be the base for a more ambitious undertaking the conquest of the western arctic. Whalers had tapped oil and were playing hob with the natives on the coast, customs were to be collected, and to collect customs one must occupy the country. So leaving two constables at Macpherson, Fitzgerald took a Constable Sutherland with him to Herschel island where the emotional Irishman and the high-strung Mon
treal lad established the most northerly police post in the world.
"Fitz never would talk much about those days. He aged under them. Herschel island was no place for a white man-a bare rock, devoid of wood or fresh water, some distance from shore, in a zone where the wind never ceased blowing and the shore ice never disappeared; for company, whaling crews; for duty, curbing animal debauch and collecting tithes. Yet they carried it out, kept the whalers from landing liquor, and established law and order—just the two of them. Never for a day did they let the force down.
"Yes, Fitz came into his own there. It was a curious paradise his star had led him to, yet more congenial than the prairie, city or sea. And when a man definitely throws in his life. with the North, it becomes at once home and kingdom to him. As staffsergeant and inspector, Fitz managed his frozen kingdom well, jesting with Constable Carter, a good solid worker, keeping house at Herschel with Selig and Kinney, vying with Forrest, the best Northern man that ever mushed from Dawson to Macpherson."
"After yourself," I interpolated. "After nobody." Dempster looked out of the window for a full minute before he continued. "I must tell you about that stretch of country, 500 miles over the Yukon watersheds. Harry Mapley was the first man to make the run. He had built up a pretty fair frontiersman's physique in the wilds of London, like a lot of men in the outfit, and showed us that a hazardous patrol across treeless plateaus and along intricate