"As I have said, the mystery behind it remains unsolved, but Foxy's reign is at an end, and with him goes the store, for which I am devoutly thankful.
"I would my tale ended here with the downfall of Foxy, but, my dear Ned, I have to record a sadder and more humiliating downfall than that--the abject and utter collapse of my noble self. I have once more played the fool, and played into the hands of the devil, mine own familiar and well-beloved devil.
"The occasion I need not enlarge upon; it always waits. A long day's skate, a late supper with some of the wilder and more reckless outcasts of this steady-going community that frequent the back store, results in my appearing at the manse door late at night, very unsteady of leg and incoherent of speech. By a most unhappy chance, a most scurvy trick my familiar devil played upon me, the door is opened by the minister's wife. I can see her look of fear, horror, and loathing yet. It did more to pull me together than a cold bath, so that I saved myself the humiliation of speech and escaped to my room.
"And now, what do you think? Reproaches, objurgations, and final dismissal on the part of the padre, tearful exhortations to repentance on the part of his wife? Not a bit. If you believe me, sir, my unhappy misadventure remains a secret with her. She told not a soul. Remarkably fine, I call that. And what more, think you? A cold and haughty reserve, or a lofty pity, with the fearful expectation of judgment? Not in the least. Only a little added kindness, a deeper note to the frank, sympathetic interest she has always shown, and that is all. My dear chap, I offered to leave, but when she looked at me with those great hazel-brown eyes of hers and said, 'Why should you go? Would it be better for you any place else?' I found myself enjoying the luxury of an entirely new set of emotions, which I shall not analyze to you. But I feel more confident than ever that I shall either die early or end in being a saint.
"And now, do you know, she persists in ignoring that anything has taken place, talks to me about her young men and her hopes for them, the work she would do for them, and actually asks my assistance! It appears that ever since their Great Revival, which is the beginning of days to them, events being dated from before the Great Revival or after, some of these young men have a desire to be ministers, or think they have. It is really her desire, I suspect, for them. The difficulty is, preparation for college. In this she asks my help. The enormous incongruity of the situation does not appear to strike her, that I, the--too many unutterable things--should be asked to prepare these young giants, with their 'tremenjous' religious convictions, for the ministry; nevertheless I yield myself to do anything and everything she lays upon me. I repeat, I shall without doubt end in being a saint myself, and should not be surprised to find myself with these 'tremenjous' young men on the way to Holy Orders. Fancy the good Doctor's face! He would suspect a lurking pleasantry in it all.
"This letter, I know, will render chaotic all your conceptions of me, and in this chaos of mind I can heartily sympathize. What the next chapter will be, God only knows! It depends upon how my familiar devil behaves himself. Meantime, I am parleying with him, and with some anxiety as to the result subscribe myself,
The challenge from the Front was for the best two out of three, the first game to be played the last day of the year. Steadily, under Craven's coaching, the Twentieth team were perfected in their systematic play; for although Craven knew nothing of shinny, he had captained the champion lacrosse team of the province of Quebec, and the same general rules of defense and attack could be applied with equal success to the game of shinny. The team was greatly strengthened by the accession of Thomas Finch and Don Cameron, both of whom took up the school again with a view to college. With Thomas in goal, Hughie said he felt as if a big hole had been filled up behind him.
The master caused a few preliminary skirmishes with neighboring teams to be played by way of practice, and by the time the end of the year had come, he felt confident that the team would not disgrace their school. His confidence was not ill-founded.