The Golden Road
XXIII. A Missionary Heroine
Accordingly, that afternoon we bearded the lion in his den. The road we took was
a beautiful one, for we went "cross lots," and we enjoyed it, in spite of the fact
that we did not expect the interview with Mr. Campbell to be a very pleasant one.
To be sure, he had been quite civil on the occasion of our last call upon him, but
the Story Girl had been with us then and had beguiled him into good-humour and
generosity by the magic of her voice and personality. We had no such ally now,
and Mr. Campbell was known to be virulently opposed to missions in any shape
"I don't know whether it would have been any better if I could have put on my
good clothes," said Cecily, with a rueful glance at her print dress, which, though
neat and clean, was undeniably faded and RATHER short and tight. "The Story
Girl said it would, and I wanted to, but mother wouldn't let me. She said it was all
nonsense, and Mr. Campbell would never notice what I had on."
"It's my opinion that Mr. Campbell notices a good deal more than you'd think for,"
I said sagely.
"Well, I wish our call was over," sighed Cecily. "I can't tell you how I dread it."
"Now, see here, Sis," I said cheerfully, "let's not think about it till we get there. It'll
only spoil our walk and do no good. Let's just forget it and enjoy ourselves."
"I'll try," agreed Cecily, "but it's ever so much easier to preach than to practise."
Our way lay first over a hill top, gallantly plumed with golden rod, where cloud
shadows drifted over us like a gypsying crew. Carlisle, in all its ripely tinted length
and breadth, lay below us, basking in the August sunshine, that spilled over the
brim of the valley to the far-off Markdale Harbour, cupped in its harvest- golden
Then came a little valley overgrown with the pale purple bloom of thistles and
elusively haunted with their perfume. You say that thistles have no perfume? Go
you to a brook hollow where they grow some late summer twilight at dewfall; and
on the still air that rises suddenly to meet you will come a waft of faint, aromatic
fragrance, wondrously sweet and evasive, the distillation of that despised thistle
Beyond this the path wound through a forest of fir, where a wood wind wove its
murmurous spell and a wood brook dimpled pellucidly among the shadows--the
dear, companionable, elfin shadows--that lurked under the low growing boughs.
Along the edges of that winding path grew banks of velvet green moss, starred
with clusters of pigeon berries. Pigeon berries are not to be eaten. They are
woolly, tasteless things. But they are to be looked at in their glowing scarlet. They
are the jewels with which the forest of cone-bearers loves to deck its brown
breast. Cecily gathered some and pinned them on hers, but they did not become
her. I thought how witching the Story Girl's brown curls would have looked twined
with those brilliant clusters. Perhaps Cecily was thinking of it, too, for she