The Doctor A Tale of the Rockies
The Doctor A Tale of the Rockies
The building of a bank-barn was a watershed in farm chronology. Toward that event or from it the years took their flight. For many summers the big boulders were gathered from the fields and piled in a long heap at the bottom of the lane on their way to their ultimate destination, the foundation of the bank-barn. During the winter, previous the "timber was got out." From the forest trees, maple, beech or elm-for the pine was long since gone-the main sills, the plates, the posts and cross-beams were squared and hauled to the site of the new barn. Hither also the sand from the pit at the big hill, and the stone from the heap at the bottom of the lane, were drawn. And before the snow had quite gone the lighter lumber-flooring, scantling, sheeting and shingles-were marshalled to the scene of action. Then with the spring the masons and framers appeared and began their work of organising from this mass of material the structure that was to be at once the pride of the farm and the symbol of its prosperity.
From the very first the enterprise was carried on under the acknowledged, but none the less critical, observation of the immediate neighbourhood. For instance, it had been a matter of free discussion whether "them timbers of McLeod's new barn wasn't too blamed heavy," and it was Jack McKenzie's openly expressed opinion that "one of them 'purline plates' was so all-fired crooked that it would do for both sides at onct." But the confidence of the community in Jack Murray, framer, was sufficiently strong to allay serious forebodings. And by the time the masons had set firm and solid the many-coloured boulders in the foundation, the community at large had begun to take interest in the undertaking.
The McLeod raising was to be an event of no ordinary importance. It had the distinction of being, in the words of Jack Murray, framer, "the biggest thing in buildin's ever seen in them parts." Indeed, so magnificent were its dimensions that Ben Fallows, who stood just five feet in his stocking soles, and was, therefore, a man of considerable importance in his estimation, was overheard to exclaim with an air of finality, "What! two twenty-foot floors and two thirty-foot mows! It cawn't be did." Such was, therefore, the magnitude of the undertaking, and such the far-famed hospitality of the McLeods, that no man within the range of the family acquaintance who was not sick, or away from home, or prevented by some special act of Providence, failed to appear at the raising that day.
It was still the early afternoon, but most of the men invited were already there when the mill people drove up in the family democrat. The varied shouts of welcome that greeted them proclaimed their popularity.
"Hello, Barney! Good-day, Mrs. Boyle," said Mr. McLeod, who stood at the gate receiving his guests.
"Ye've brought the baby, I see, Charley, me boy," shouted Tom Magee, a big, good-natured son of Erin, the richness of whose brogue twenty years of life in Canada had failed to impoverish.
"We could hardly leave the baby at home to-day," replied the miller, as with tender care he handed the green bag containing his precious violin to his wife.
"No, indeed, Mr. Boyle," replied Mr. McLeod. "The girls yonder would hardly forgive us if Charley Boyle's fiddle were not to the fore. You'll find some oats in the granary, Barney. Come along, Mrs. Boyle. The wife will be glad of your help to keep those wild colts in order yonder, eh, Margaret, lassie?"
"Indeed, it is not Margaret Robertson that will be needing to be kept in order," replied Mrs. Boyle.
"Don't you be too sure of that, Mrs. Boyle," replied Mr. McLeod. "A girl with an eye and a chin like that may break through any time, and then woe betide you."
"Then I warn you, don't try the curb on me," said Margaret, springing lightly over the wheel and turning away with Mrs. Boyle toward the house, which wa