XXIII. The Good-Conduct Club
A light rain had been falling all day--a little, delicate, beautiful spring rain, that
somehow seemed to hint and whisper of mayflowers and wakening violets. The
harbour and the gulf and the low-lying shore fields had been dim with pearl-gray
mists. But now in the evening the rain had ceased and the mists had blown out to
sea. Clouds sprinkled the sky over the harbour like little fiery roses. Beyond it the
hills were dark against a spendthrift splendour of daffodil and crimson. A great
silvery evening star was watching over the bar. A brisk, dancing, new-sprung
wind was blowing up from Rainbow Valley, resinous with the odours of fir and
damp mosses. It crooned in the old spruces around the graveyard and ruffled
Faith's splendid curls as she sat on Hezekiah Pollock's tombstone with her arms
round Mary Vance and Una. Carl and Jerry were sitting opposite them on
another tombstone and all were rather full of mischief after being cooped up all
"The air just SHINES to-night, doesn't it? It's been washed so clean, you see,"
said Faith happily.
Mary Vance eyed her gloomily. Knowing what she knew, or fancied she knew,
Mary considered that Faith was far too light-hearted. Mary had something on her
mind to say and she meant to say it before she went home. Mrs. Elliott had sent
her up to the manse with some new-laid eggs, and had told her not to stay longer
than half an hour. The half hour was nearly up, so Mary uncurled her cramped
legs from under her and said abruptly,
"Never mind about the air. Just you listen to me. You manse young ones have
just got to behave yourselves better than you've been doing this spring--that's all
there is to it. I just come up to-night a-purpose to tell you so. The way people are
talking about you is awful."
"What have we been doing now?" cried Faith in amazement, pulling her arm
away from Mary. Una's lips trembled and her sensitive little soul shrank within
her. Mary was always so brutally frank. Jerry began to whistle out of bravado. He
meant to let Mary see he didn't care for HER tirades. Their behaviour was no
business of HERS anyway. What right had SHE to lecture them on their
"Doing now! You're doing ALL the time," retorted Mary. "Just as soon as the talk
about one of your didos fades away you do something else to start it up again. It
seems to me you haven't any idea of how manse children ought to behave!"
"Maybe YOU can tell us," said Jerry, killingly sarcastic.
Sarcasm was quite thrown away on Mary.
"_I_ can tell you what will happen if you don't learn to behave yourselves. The
session will ask your father to resign. There now, Master Jerry-know-it-all. Mrs.
Alec Davis said so to Mrs. Elliott. I heard her. I always have my ears pricked up
when Mrs. Alec Davis comes to tea. She said you were all going from bad to
worse and that though it was only what was to be expected when you had
nobody to bring you up, still the congregation couldn't be expected to put up with
it much longer, and something would have to be done. The Methodists just laugh