The Sky Pilot in No Man's Land by Ralph Connor
Chapter XII. A Man of God
Barry was standing beside his father's grave, in a little plot in the Boulogne cemetery set apart for British officers. They had, one by one, gone away and left him until, alone, he stood looking down on the simple wooden cross on which were recorded the name, age, and unit of the soldier with the date of his death, and underneath the simple legend, eloquent of heroic sacrifice, "Died of wounds received in action."
Throughout the simple, beautiful burial service he had not been acutely conscious of grief. Even now he wondered that he could shed no tears. Rather did an exultant emotion fill his soul as he looked around upon the little British plot, with its rows of crosses, and he was chiefly conscious of a solemn, tender pride that he was permitted to share that glorious offering which his Empire was making for the saving of the world. But, in this moment, as he stood there alone close to his father's grave, and surrounded by those examples of high courage and devotion, he became aware of a mighty change wrought in him during these last three days. He had experienced a veritable emancipation of soul. He was as if he had been born anew.
The old sense of failure in his work, the feeling of unfitness for it, and the old dread of it, had been lifted out of his soul, and not only was he a new man, but he felt himself to be charged with a new mission, because he had a new message for his men. No longer did he conceive himself as a moral policeman or religious censor, whose main duty it was to stand in judgment over the faults and sins of the men of his battalion. No more would the burden of his message be a stern denunciation of these faults and sins. Standing there to-day, he could only wonder at his former blindness and stupidity and pride.
"Who am I," he said in bitter self-humiliation, "that I should judge my comrades? How little I knew myself."
"A man of God," his superintendent had said in his last letter to him. Yes, truly a man of God! A man not God! A man not to sit in God's place in judgment upon his fellow sinners, but to show them God, their Father.
Barry thought of the frequent rebukes he had administered to the officers and men for what he considered to be their sins. He groaned aloud.
"God will forgive me, I know," he said. "But will they?"
He tried to recall what the burden of his message to his battalion had been during these past months, but to him there came no clear and distinct memory of aught but warnings and denunciations, with reference to what he judged to be faulty in their conduct. To-day it seemed to him both sad and terrible.
How had he so failed and so misconceived the Master's plain teaching? He moved among sinners all His days, not with denunciations in His heart or voice, but only with pity and love.
"Be not anxious," He had said. "Consider the birds of the air. Not one of them falleth to the ground without your Father. How much more precious are you than the birds."
What a message for men going up to face the terrors and perils of the front line. "Be not anxious!"
"I was afraid," his father had said to him. That to him was inconceivable. That that gallant spirit should know terror seemed to him impossible. Yet even he had said, "I was afraid." And for the loneliness, what a message he now had. In their loneliness men cried out for the presence of a friend, and the Master had said:
"When ye pray, pray to your Father. Your Father knoweth. When ye pray, say, 'Our Father'!" And he had missed all this. What a mess he had made of his work! How sadly misread his Master's teaching and misinterpreted his Master's spirit!
Barry looked down upon the grave at his feet.
"But you knew, dad, you knew!" he whispered.
For the first time since he had become a chaplain, he thought of his work with gratitude and eagerness. He longed to see his men again. He had something to tell them. It was this: that God to them was like their fathers, their mothers, their brothers, their friends; only infinitely more loving, and without their faults.
With his head high and his feet light upon the earth, he returned to the R. A. M. C. Hospital, where he found Harry Hobbs, with his handbag and a letter from his O. C.
"Take a few days off," said the O. C. "We all sympathise with you. We miss you and shall be glad to see you, but take a few days now for yourself."
Barry was greatly touched, but he had only one desire now, and that was to return to his unit. His batman brought him also an order from the Assistant Director of Chaplain Service bidding him report at the earliest moment.
At Headquarters he learned that the A. D. C. S. had been in Boulogne, but had gone to Etaples, some thirty or forty miles distant, to visit the large hospitals there. He determined that to-morrow he would go to Etaples and report, after which he would proceed to his battalion.
That evening, he visited the men in the hospital, coming upon many Canadians whose joy in seeing a chaplain from their own country touched Barry to the heart. He took their messages which he promised to transmit to their folks at home, and left with them something of the serene and exultant peace that filled his own soul.
From Ewen Innes and others of the Wapiti draft, he learned something of his father's work and place in their battalion. Soldiers are not eloquent in speech, but mostly in silence. Their words halted when they came to speak of their sergeant major's soldierly qualities,--for his father had become the sergeant major of the battalion--his patience, his skill, his courage.
"He knew his job, sir," said one of them. "He was always onto it."
"It was his care of his men that we thought most of," said Ewen, who continued to relate incidents that had come under his own observation of this characteristic, tears the while flowing down his cheeks.
"He never thought of himself, sir. It was our comfort first. He was far more than our sergeant major. He watched us like a father; that's what he did."
As Barry listened to the soldiers telling of his father in broken words, and with flowing tears, he almost wondered at them for their tears and wondered at himself that he had none. Tears seemed to be so much out of place in telling such a tale as that.
The train for Etaples leaving at an unearthly hour in the morning, Barry went to take farewell of the V. A. D. the night before.
"That is an awfully early hour," she said, "and, oh, such a wretched train." There was in her voice an almost maternal solicitude for his comfort.
"That's nothing," said Barry. "When I see you here at your unending work, it makes me feel more and more like a slacker."
"Wait for me here a moment," she said, and hurried away to return shortly in such a glow of excitement as even her wonted calm and self-restraint could not quite hide.
"I'm going to drive you to Etaples to-morrow in my car. I know the matron and some of the nurses in the American hospital there."
"You don't mean it," said Barry, "but are you sure it's not a terrible bore for you? I am much afraid that I have been a nuisance to you, and you have been so very, very good to me."
"A bore!" she cried, and the brown eyes were wide open in surprise. "A bore, and you a Canadian! Why, you are one of my brothers' friends, and besides you seem to me a friend of our family. My uncle Howard, you know, told me all about you. Besides," she added in a voice of great gentleness, "you remember, I promised."
Barry caught her hand.
"I wish I could tell you all I feel about it, but somehow I can't get the words."
She allowed her hand to remain in his for a moment or two; then withdrawing it, said hurriedly, with a slight colour showing in her cheeks:
"I think I understand." Then changing her tone abruptly, and dropping into the business-like manner of a V. A. D., she said, "So, we'll go to-morrow. It will he a splendid run, if the day is fine. We had better start by nine o'clock to give us a long day." Then, as if forgetting she was a V. A. D., she added with a little catch in her voice, "Oh, I shall love it!"
The day proved to be fine,--one of those golden days of spring that have given to the land its name of "sunny France." It was a day for life and youth and hope. A day on which war seemed more than ever a cruel outrage upon humanity. But across the sunniest days, across the shining face of France, and across their spirits, too, the war cast its black shadow. They both, however, seemed to have resolved that for that day at least they would turn their eyes from that shadow and let them rest only where the sun was shining.
The V. A. D. with her mind intent upon her wheel could only contribute, as her share in the conversation, descriptive and somewhat desultory comments upon points of interest along the way. Barry, because it harmonised with his mood, talked about his father and all their years together but ever without obtrusion of his grief. The experiences of the past three days, which they had shared, seemed to have established between them a sense of mutual confidence and comradeship such as in ordinary circumstances would have demanded years of companionship to effect. This sense of sympathy and of perfect understanding on the part of the girl at his side, together with the fascinating charm of her beauty, and her sweetness, was to Barry's stricken heart like a healing balm to an aching wound.
They were in sight of Etaples before Barry imagined they could have made more than half the journey.
"Etaples, so soon! It cannot be!"
"But it is," said the girl, throwing a bright smile at him, "and that's the hospital, on the hill yonder, where the flag is flying."
"Why," exclaimed Barry, "that's the American flag! What's the American flag doing there?"
"It's flying over an American hospital," said the V. A. D. "I think it's such a beautiful flag. In the breeze, it seems to me the most beautiful of all the flags. The stripes seem to flow out from the stars. Of course," she added hurriedly, "the Union Jack with all its historic meaning and its mingled crosses, is splendidly glorious and is more decorative, but I always think, when I see those floating stripes, that the Americans have the most beautiful flag."
"I admit," said Barry, "it's a beautiful flag, but--well, I'm a Britisher, I suppose, and see it with British eyes. But why is that flag flying here in France? How do the authorities allow that? It's a neutral flag--awfully neutral, too."
"I understand they have permission from the French authorities to fly that flag over every American institution in France. And you know," continued the girl with rising enthusiasm, "if they are neutral, they have immensely helped us, too, haven't they?--in munitions and that sort of thing."
"That's true enough," agreed Barry, "and it's all the more wonderful when you think of the millions of Germans that they have in their country. I heard a very fine thing, not long ago, from a friend of mine. A Pittsburgh oil man about to close a deal, with a traveller, with millions in it, suddenly discovered that his oil was to go to the Germans. At once the deal was off, and, though the price was considerably raised, there was, in his own words, 'Nothing 'doing!' 'No stuff of mine,' he said, 'shall go to help an enemy of the Anglo-Saxon race.' That's the way I believe the real Americans feel."
"This is a wonderful hospital," said the V. A. D. "Whenever I see it, I somehow feel my heart grow warm to the American people for the splendid way in which they have helped poor France, for, you know, in the first months of the war, the French hospitals were perfectly ghastly."
"I know, I know!" cried Barry. "And the Canadians, too, have chipped in a bit. We have a Canadian hospital in Paris, for the French, and others are being organised."
They turned in at the gate and found themselves in a beautiful quadrangle, set out with grass plots and flowers and cement walks. The building itself, an ancient royal palace, had been enlarged by means of sun-parlours and porches which gave it an air of wonderful cheeriness and brightness.
"I will run in and see if any of my friends are about," said the V. A. D. "Wait here for me. Unless you care to come in," she added.
"No, I will wait here. I don't just feel like meeting strangers but, if there are Canadians in the hospital, I should like to see them. And perhaps you can discover where my chief can be found, if you don't mind."
Hardly had she passed within the door, when another car came swiftly to the gate and drew up a little in front of Barry's. A girl leaped from the wheel and with a spring in her step, which spoke of a bounding vitality, ran up the steps.
What thought caught her it is difficult to say, but on the topmost step she spun around and looked straight into Barry's eyes.
"Paula!" he shouted, and was out of the car and at the foot of the steps, with hand outstretched, when, with a single touch of her foot to the steps, she was at him, with both hands reaching for his.
"Barry, oh, Barry! It can't be you!" she panted. Her face went red, then white, then red again. "Oh, it's better than a drink to see you. Whence, how, why, whither? Oh, never mind answering," she went on. "It's enough to see you."
A step behind her diverted her attention from Barry. Barry ran up the steps, and taking the V. A. D. by the hand, led her down.
"I want you to meet a friend of mine," he said and introduced Paula.
Paula's eyes, keen as a knife-point, were upon the V. A. D.'s face.
"I'm glad to know you," she said frankly, offering her hand. "Principally," she added, with a little laugh, "because you know Barry."
The V. A. D. bowed with the slight reserve characteristic of her, and took Paula's hand.
"I, too, am pleased," she said, "to meet a friend of Captain Dunbar." Then she added with increased cordiality, "and I'm glad to meet an American in France. I know your matron, and some of the nurses."
"Good!" cried Paula. "Now, then, you'll both of you take lunch with me."
The V. A. D. demurred.
"Of course you will," cried Paula. "Oh, Barry, I'm just ready to die from seeing you again. Come along!" she cried, impulsively, catching the V. A. D. by the arm. "Come along and park your buzzwagon here beside mine."
She ran to her car, sprang in and whirled it into place before the V. A. D. had hers well started.
Barry waited where they had left him. The sudden appearing of Paula had stirred within him depths of feeling that almost overpowered him. His mind was far away in Athabasca, once more he was seeing the dark pool, the swiftly flowing water, the campfire, and his father bending over it. His heart was quivering as if a hand had been rudely thrust into a raw wound in it.
The V. A. D. held Paula a few moments beside her car, speaking quickly and earnestly. When they rejoined Barry, Paula's eyes were soft with unshed tears, and her voice was very gentle.
"I know, Barry," she said. "Miss Vincent just told me. Oh, what terrible changes this war brings to us all. We see so many sad things here every day. It's terribly sad for you, Barry."
"Yes, it is sad, Paula, and it is going to be lonely. You have brought back to me that bright day on the Athabasca. But," he added earnestly, "after all, in this war everything personal is so small. Besides, he was so splendid, you know, and the boys told me he played the game up there right to the end. So I'm not going to shame him; at least, I'm trying not to."
But bright as was Barry's smile, Paula caught the quivering of his lips, and turned quickly away from him.
After a moment or two of silence, she cried, with her old impulsiveness, "Now you will both lunch with me. I'm the quartermaster of this outfit, and have a small parlour of my own. We shall have a lovely, cosy time, just Miss Vincent, you and myself together."
"But," replied the V. A. D., "I have just arranged with the matron to lunch with her."
"Oh, rubbish! I'll cut that out, all right. What's the use of being quartermaster if I can't arrange a lunch party to suit myself?"
Still the V. A. D. demurred. With her, breaking an engagement for lunch was a serious affair--was indeed taking a liberty which no English girl would think of doing.
"Oh, that's nonsense!" cried Paula. "I'll make it perfectly all right. Look here," she cried, wheeling upon the V. A. D., "you Britishers are so terribly correct. I'll show you a little shirtsleeve diplomacy. Besides, if you don't come in on this you can have the matron, and I'll take Barry," she said with a threatening smile. "Watch me!" she added, as she ran away.
"What a splendid girl!" said the V. A. D. "And that captivating American way she has. Perfectly ripping, I call it. I do hope we shall be friends."
In a short time Paula came rushing back into the room, announcing triumphantly that arrangements had been made according to her programme, with the matron in hearty accord.
"And she sends her love," she said to the V. A. D. "She would not have you on any account miss this party. She is desperately grieved that she cannot accept my invitation to join us. Of course, I knew the old dear couldn't. And we are to meet her afterwards."
The little lunch party was, on the whole, a success. To the conversation Paula contributed the larger part, Barry doing his best to second her. But in spite of his heroic efforts, his mind would escape him, far away to the sunny Athabasca plains, and the gleaming river and the smooth slipping canoe, and then with swift transition to the little British plot in the cemetery at Boulogne.
At such times, Paula, reading his face, would momentarily falter in her gay talk, only to begin again with renewed vivacity. On one topic, however, she had no difficulty in holding Barry's attention. It was when she told of the organising and despatching of the American Red Cross units to France, and more especially of her own unit, organised and financed by her father.
"I am awfully sorry he is not here to-day. He would have loved to have seen you again, Barry."
"And I to have seen him," said Barry. "He is a big man, and it is fine of him to do this thing. It's just like the big, generous- hearted Americans--they are so unstinted in their sympathies, and they back them up for all they are worth."
"And how efficient they are," added the V. A. D. in warm admiration. "This hospital, you know," turning to Barry, "is perfectly wonderful. Its equipment! Its appliances! I have often heard our O. C. speak in the most rapturous envy of the Etaples American Red Cross unit."
"And why should not it be?" cried Paula. "It's a question of money after all. We are not at war. We put in a few little hospitals here in France. We have more money thrown at us than we can use. And you talk about efficiency," she added, turning to the V. A. D. "Good Lord! My pater has just come back from London, where he was rubbering around with lords and dukes and things in a disgustingly un-American way I told him, and now he raves from morning until night over the efficiency of the British. He's been allowed to see some of their munition works, you know. I simply had to declaim the American Declaration of Independence to him three times a day to revive his drooping Democratic sentiments, and I had to sew Old Glory on to his pajamas so that he might dream proper American dreams. No, to tell you the truth," here Paula's voice took a deeper note, "every last American of us here in France is hot with humiliation and rage at his country's attitude,--monkeying with those baby-killing, woman-raping devils."
As she ended, her voice shook with passion, her cheeks were pale, and in her eyes shone two bright tears. Impulsively the V. A. D. rose from her place, ran around to Paula, and putting her arm around her neck, said:
"Oh, I do thank you, and I love you for your words," while Barry stood at attention, as if in the presence of his superior officer. "I salute you," he said with grave earnestness. "You worthily represent your brave and generous people."
"Oh, darn it all!" cried Paula, brushing away her tears. "I'm a fool, but you don't know how we Americans feel--real Americans, I mean, not the yellow hyphenated breed."
After lunch, Barry went to look up his chief, the assistant director of chaplain service, while Paula took charge of the V. A. D., saying:
"Run away, Barry, and see your Brass Hat. I'll show Miss Vincent how a quartermaster's department of a real hospital should be run."
His hour with the A. D. C. S. was a most stimulating experience for Barry. He found himself at once in touch with not an official thinking in terms of military regulations and etiquette, but a soldier and a man. For the A. D. C. S. was both. Through all the terrible days at Ypres, where the Canadians, in that welter of gas and fire and blood, had won their imperishable fame as fighting men, he had been with them, sharing their dangers and ministering to their wants with his brother officers of the fighting line. Physically an unimpressive figure, small and slight, yet he seemed charged with concentrated energy waiting release.
As Barry listened to his words coming forth in snappy, jerking phrases, he was fascinated by the bulldog jaw and piercing eyes of the little man. In brief, comprehensive, vigorous sentences, he set forth his ideals for the chaplain service in the Canadian army.
"Three things," he said, "I tell my men, should mark the Canadian chaplain service. The first, Unity--unity among themselves, unity with the other departments of the army. Two words describe our chaplains--Christian and Canadians. I am an Anglican myself, but on this side of the channel there are no Anglican, no Presbyterian, no Methodist chaplains, only Christian and Canadian chaplains. I have had to fight for this with high officials both in the army and in the church. I have won out, and while I'm here this will be maintained. The second thing is Spirituality. The Chaplain must be a Christian man, living in touch with the Divine--alive toward God. Third, Humanity. He must be 'touched with the feeling of our infirmity,' sharing the experiences of the men, getting to know their feelings, their fears, their loneliness, their misery, their anxieties, and God knows they have their anxieties for themselves and for their folks at home."
As Barry listened, he heard again his father's voice. "They need you. They are afraid. They are lonely. They need God."
"And remember," said the A. D. C. S., as he rose to close the interview, "that I am at your back. If you have any difficulty, let me know. If you are wrong, I promise to tell you. If you are right, I'll back you up. Now, let us go and look over the hospital. There are some of our fellows there. If you feel like saying anything in the convalescent ward, all right, but don't let it worry you."
As they went through the wards, Barry could not but notice how the faces of the patients brightened as his chief approached, and how their eyes followed him after he had passed.
They moved slowly through those long corridors, sanctified by the sufferings and griefs and hidden tears of homesick and homelonging men, to many of whom it seemed that the best of life was past.
When they had gone the length of the convalescent ward, the A. D. C. S. turned and, after getting permission of the medical superintendent, briefly introduced Barry to the wounded men, as "a man from the wild and woolly Canadian west, on his way up the line, and therefore competent to tell us about the war, and especially when it will end."
Beside them stood a piano, and on it lay a violin in its open case. Barry took up the violin, fingered its strings in an absent-minded way, and said:
"I don't know anything about the war, men, but I do know when it will end, and that is when we lick those Huns good and plenty, as our American friends would say," bowing to the doctor at his side. "I'm an awfully poor speaker, boys," he continued in a confidential tone, "but I can make this thing talk a bit."
Without further preface he began to play. He had not held a violin in his hands since he had played with his father at home. Unconsciously his fingers wandered into the familiar notes of Handel's Largo. He found the violin to possess an exceptionally rich and pure quality of tone.
As he began to play, a door opened behind them, admitting Paula, the V. A. D. and two or three young doctors, who took their places in the corner about the piano.
"Do you know this?" whispered Paula to the V. A. D., as she caught the strains of the Largo.
"Yes. I used to play it with my brother."
"Go to it, then," said Paula.
But the V. A. D. hesitated.
"Go on! Look at the boys, and look at his face."
The V. A. D. glanced about the room at the lines of pale and patient faces, which, in spite of the marks of pain, were so pathetically and resolutely bright. Then she glanced at Barry's face. He had forgotten all about his surroundings, and his face was illumined with the light from those hidden lamps that burn deep in the soul of genius, a light enriched and warmed by the glow of a heart in sympathy with its kind.
In obedience to Paula's command and a little push upon her shoulder, the V. A. D. sat down at the piano and touched the notes softly, feeling for the key, then fell in with the violin.
At the first note, Barry turned sharply about and as she found her key and began to follow, he stepped back to her side. Immediately, from his instrument, there seemed to flow a richer, fuller stream of melody. From the solemn and stately harmonies of the Largo, he passed to those old familiar airs, that never die and never lose their power over the human heart--"Annie Laurie" and "Ben Bolt," and thence to a rollicking French chanson, which rather bowled over his accompanist, but only for the first time though, for she had the rare gift of improvisation, and sympathetic accompaniment.
Then with a full arm bowing, he swept them into the fiercely majestic strains of the "Marseillaise," bringing the blue-coated orderlies about the door, and such patients as could stand, and the group about the piano to rigid attention. From the "Marseillaise" it was easy to pass into the noble simplicity of his own national song, "Oh, Canada!" where again his accompanist was quite able to follow, and thence to the Empire's National Anthem, which had for a hundred years or more lifted to their feet British soldiers and sailors the world over.
As he drew his bow over the last chord, Paula stepped to his side, and whispered in his ear:
"Where's America in this thing?"
Without an instant's break in the music, he dropped into a whimsical and really humorous rendering of "Yankee Doodle." Quickly the V. A. D. moved from the stool, caught Paula and thrust her into the vacant place. Then together the violin and piano rattled into a fantastic and brilliant variation of that famous and trifling air. Again, with a sudden change of mood, Barry swung into that old song of the homesick plantation negro, "The Suwanee River"--a simple enough air, but under the manipulations of a master lending itself to an interpretation of the deep and tender emotions which in that room and in that company of French, British, Canadian, American folk were throbbing in a common longing for the old home and the "old folks at home." Before he had played the air once through, the grey-haired American doctor was openly wiping his eyes, and his colleagues looking away from each other, ashamed of the tears that did them only honour.
Paula's flushed face and flashing eyes were eloquent of her deep emotion, while at her side the V. A. D. stood quiet, controlled, but with a glow of tender feeling shining in her face and in her soft brown eyes.
Not long did Barry linger amid those deeps of emotion, but straightening his figure to its full height, and throwing up his head, he, in full octaves, played the opening bars of what has come to be known as America's national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."
Instantly the A. D. C. S., the orderlies about the door, the wounded French, British and Canadian soldiers that could stand, sprang to attention and so remained while the violin, with its piano accompaniment, throbbed forth the sonorous chords. With the last bar, Barry dropped his bow to his side, but held the violin still at his chin. Not one of that company moved, but stood with their eyes fastened upon his face. After a moment's pause, he quietly lifted his bow again, and on the silence, still throbbing to the strains of that triumphant martial air, there stole out pure, sweet, as from some ethereal source, the long drawn, trembling notes of that old sacred melody, which, sounding over men and women in their hours of terror and anguish and despair, has lifted them to peace and comfort and hope--"Nearer, My God, to Thee."
The tension which had held the company was relaxed, the wounded men sank to their seats, the A. D. C. S. removed his hat, which, according to military regulations, he had worn to this moment. On all sides, heads dropped in an attitude of reverence, and so continued until Barry had drawn the last deep, vibrating note to a close.
When he had laid his violin in its case, the old American doctor came forward, with his hand extended.
"Let me, as an American and a Christian, thank you, sir," he said.
One by one the group of Americans came to shake hands with him, the last being Paula, who held his hand a moment and said softly:
"Thank you, Barry. I believe all that stuff now. I have learned it here."
The last of all to come was the V. A. D. Shyly, with a smile radiant through her tears, she offered her hand, saying: "Thank you! He would have liked that, I know."
"Captain Dunbar, where's your own violin?" The abrupt tone of the A. D. C. S. startled them all.
"At home, sir. I didn't think a chaplain would need one."
"Whose violin in this?" asked the A. D. C. S. in his brusque manner.
"I rather think this is mine," said one of the doctors.
"Will you sell it? I'll buy it from you, at any price you say. I want it for him."
"You can't buy it, colonel," said the doctor. "It's his now. I never knew it had all that heart stuff in it."
He took up the violin, and handed it to Barry. But Barry drew back in astonishment. Then the old doctor came forward.
"No, Travis," he said, "we'll do better than that. What did your fiddle cost?"
"A hundred and fifty dollars, I think."
"Travis, this company of Americans, representing their country here in France, as a token of their sympathy with the allies and their sacred cause, and of gratitude to you, sir," bowing to Barry, "will buy this instrument and present it to this young man, on condition that he repeat in similar circumstances the service he has rendered this afternoon. Am I right?" he asked, looking about him.
"You bet you are! Right you are!" said the doctors.
"Oh, doctor, you are a dear old thing!" exclaimed Paula.
Barry stood holding the instrument in his hand, unable to find his voice. The A. D. C. S. came to his aid.
"In the name of my chaplain, and in the name of thousands of Canadian soldiers to whom I promise you he will bring the blessing that he has brought us this afternoon, I thank you for this very beautiful and very characteristic American act."
"Well," said the old doctor, "I don't know how you folks feel, but I feel as if I had been to church."
"Now, sir," said the A. D. C. S. to Barry, in his military tone, "I am organising a company of musicians who will go through our camps and help the boys as you have helped us to-day. I would like you to be one of them. What do you say?"
"Oh, sir," exclaimed Barry hastily, laying the violin upon the piano and standing back from it, "don't make that an order, sir. I want to stay with my men."
His face was quivering with deep emotion. The A. D. C. S. looked into the quivering face.
"All right, Dunbar," he said, with a little laugh, and putting his hand on Barry's shoulder. "I guess you are all right."
"Some boy! What?" said the American doctor. "Here I think you had better take your fiddle along," handing Barry the violin. "It doesn't belong to any one in this bunch."
The burst of laughter that followed, all out of proportion to the humour of the remark, revealed the tensity of the strain through which they had passed.
Through the little town of Etaples they drove together in almost complete silence, until they had emerged into the country, lying spread out about them in all the tender beauty of the soft spring evening. As the car moved through the sweet silence of the open fields, the V. A. D. said softly:
"Oh, Captain Dunbar, I--"
"My name is Barry," he said gently.
A quick flush came into the beautiful face and a soft light to the brown eyes, as she answered:
"And mine is Phyllis." Then she hurried to add, "I was going to say that you helped me this afternoon as nothing has since my dear brothers went."
"Thank you, Phyllis. What you have been to me through all these days, I wish I could tell, but I can't find words."
Then they rode together in silence that was more eloquent than any words of theirs could be. At length Barry burst forth enthusiastically:
"Those Americans! What a beautiful and gracious act of kindness that was to me."
"Oh," replied Phyllis, with answering enthusiasm, "aren't they fine! That was perfectly ripping of them."