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In the Midst of Alarms

In the Midst of Alarms

Illustrated by C. Moore-Smith
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 278
  • Book Info
    In the Midst of Alarms
    Book Description:

    In the Midst of Alarmsis a story of the attempted Fenian invasion of Canada in 1866.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5660-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-4)
    (pp. 5-12)

    In the marble-floored vestibule of the Metropolitan Grand Hotel in Buffalo, Professor Stillson Renmark stood and looked about him with the anxious manner of a person unused to the gaudy splendor of the modern American house of entertainment. The professor had paused halfway between the door and the marble counter, because he began to fear that he had arrived at an inopportune time, that something unusual was going on. The hurry and bustle bewildered him.

    An omnibus, partly filled with passengers, was standing at the door, its steps backed over the curbstone, and beside it was a broad, flat van,...

    (pp. 13-23)

    The sky parlor, as Yates had termed it, certainly commanded a very extensive view. Immediately underneath was a wilderness of roofs. Further along were the railway tracks that Yates objected to; and a line of masts and propeller funnels marked the windings of Buffalo Creek, along whose banks arose numerous huge elevators, each marked by some tremendous letter of the alphabet, done in white paint against the somber brown of the big building. Still farther to the west was a more grateful and comforting sight for a hot day. The blue lake, dotted with white sails and an occasional trail...

    (pp. 24-38)

    “What’s all this tackle?” asked the burly and somewhat red-faced customs officer at Fort Erie.

    “This,” said Yates, “is a tent, with the poles and pegs appertaining thereto. These are a number of packages of tobacco, on which I shall doubtless have to pay something into the exchequer of her Majesty. This is a jug used for the holding of liquids. I beg to call your attention to the fact that it is at present empty, which unfortunately prevents me making a libation to the rites of good-fellowship. What my friend has in that valise I don’t know, but I...

    (pp. 39-54)

    Bartlett was silent for a long time, but there was evidently something on his mind, for he communed with himself, his mutterings growing louder and louder, until they broke the stillness; then he struck the horses, pulled them in, and began his soliloquy over again. At last he said abruptly to the professor:

    “What’s this Revolution he talked about?”

    “It was the War of Independence, beginning in 1776.”

    “Never heard of it. Did the Yanks fight us?”

    “The colonies fought with England.”

    “What colonies?”

    “The country now called the United States.”

    “They fit with England, eh? Which licked?”

    “The colonies...

    (pp. 55-64)

    “What’s up? what’s up?” cried Yates drowsily next morning, as a prolonged hammering at his door awakened him.

    “Well,you’renot, anyhow.” He recognized the voice of young Hiram. “I say, breakfast’s ready. The professor has been up an hour.”

    “All right; I’ll be down shortly,” said Yates, yawning, adding to himself: “Hang the professor!” The sun was streaming in through the east window, but Yates never before remembered seeing it such a short distance above the horizon in the morning, He pulled his watch from the pocket of his vest, hanging on the bedpost. It was not yet seven...

    (pp. 65-81)

    Margaret Howard stood at the kitchen table kneading dough. The room was called the kitchen, which it was not, except in winter. The stove was moved out in spring to a lean-to, easily reached through the open door leading to the kitchen veranda.

    When the stove went out or came in, it marked the approach or the departure of summer. It was the heavy pendulum whose swing this way or that indicated the two great changes of the year. No job about the farm was so much disliked by the farmer and his boys as the semiannual removal of the...

    (pp. 82-94)

    Yates had intended to call at the Bartletts and escort Renmark back to the woods; but when he got outside he forgot the existence of the professor, and wandered somewhat aimlessly up the side road, switching at the weeds that always grow in great profusion along the ditches of a Canadian country thoroughfare. The day was sunny and warm, and as Yates wandered on in the direction of the forest he thought of many things. He had feared that he would find life deadly dull so far from New York, without even the consolation of a morning paper, the feverish...

    (pp. 95-101)

    “I tell you what it is, Renny,” said Yates, a few days after the soap episode, as he swung in his hammock at the camp, “I’m learning something new every day.”

    “Not really?” asked the professor in surprise.

    “Yes, really. I knew it would astonish you. My chief pleasure in life, professor, is the surprising of you. I sometimes wonder why it delights me; it is so easily done.”

    “Never mind about that. What have you been learning?”

    “Wisdom, my boy; wisdom in solid chunks. In the first place, I am learning to admire the resourcefulness of these people around...

    (pp. 102-110)

    Renmark walked through the woods and then across the fields, until he came to the road. He avoided the habitations of man as much as he could, for he was neither so sociably inclined nor so frequently hungry as was his companion. He strode along the road, not caring much where it led him. Everyone he met gave him “Good-day,” after the friendly custom of the country. Those with wagons or lighter vehicles going in his direction usually offered him a ride, and went on, wondering that a man should choose to walk when it was not compulsory. The professor,...

  11. CHAPTER X.
    (pp. 111-122)

    “Hello! Hello, there! Wake up! Break-fa-a-a-st! I thought that would fetch you. Gosh ! I wish I had your job at a dollar a day!”

    Yates rubbed his eyes, and sat up in the hammock. At first he thought the forest was tumbling down about his ears, but as he collected his wits he saw that it was only young Bartlett who had come crashing through the woods on the back of one horse, while he led another by a strap attached to a halter. The echo of his hearty yell still resounded in the depths of the woods, and...

    (pp. 123-134)

    People who have but a superficial knowledge of the life and times here set down may possibly claim that the grocery store, and not the blacksmith’s shop, used to be the real country club—the place where the politics of the country were discussed; where the doings of great men were commended or condemned, and the government criticised. It is true that the grocery store was the club of the village, when a place like the Corners grew to be a village; but the blacksmith’s shop was usually the first building erected on the spot where a village was ultimately...

    (pp. 135-142)

    Margaret had never met any man but her father who was so fond of books as Professor Renmark. The young fellows of her acquaintance read scarcely anything but the weekly papers; they went with some care through the yellow almanac that was given away free, with the grocer’s name printed on the back. The marvelous cures the almanac recorded were of little interest, and were chiefly read by the older folk, but the young men reveled in the jokes to be found at the bottom of every page, their only drawback being that one could never tell the stories at...

    (pp. 143-154)

    Anyone passing the Corners that evening would have quickly seen that something important was on. Vehicles of all kinds lined the roadway, drawn in toward the fence, to the rails of which the horses were tied. Some had evidently come from afar, for the fame of the revivalist was widespread. The women, when they arrived, entered the schoolhouse, which was brilliantly lighted with oil lamps. The men stood around outside in groups, while many sat in rows on the fences, all conversing about every conceivable topic except religion. They apparently acted on the theory that there would be enough religion...

    (pp. 155-168)

    When people are thrown together, especially when they are young, the mutual relationship existing between them rarely remains stationary. It drifts toward like or dislike ; and cases have been known where it progressed into love or hatred.

    Stillson Renmark and Margaret Howard became at least very firm friends. Each of them would have been ready to admit this much. These two had a good foundation on which to build up an acquaintance in the fact that Margaret’s brother was a student in the university of which the professor was a worthy member. They had also a subject of difference,...

    (pp. 169-177)

    Before night three more telegraph boys found Yates, and three more telegrams in sections helped to carpet the floor of the forest. The usually high spirits of the newspaper man went down and down under the repeated visitations. At last he did not even swear, which, in the case of Yates, always indicated extreme depression. As night drew on he feebly remarked to the professor that he was more tired than he had ever been in going through an election campaign. He went to his tent bunk early, in a state of such utter dejection that Renmark felt sorry for...

    (pp. 178-197)

    The Fenians, feeling that they had to put their best foot foremost in the presence of their prisoners, tried at first to maintain something like military order in marching through the woods. They soon found, however, that this was a difficult thing to do. Canadian forests are not as trimly kept as English parks. Tim walked on ahead with the lantern, but three times he tumbled over some obstruction, and disappeared suddenly from view, uttering maledictions. His final effort in this line was a triumph. He fell over the lantern and smashed it. When all attempts at reconstruction failed, the...

    (pp. 198-215)

    When the two prisoners, with their three captors, came in sight of the Canadian volunteers, they beheld a scene which was much more military than the Fenian camp. They were promptly halted and questioned by a picket before coining to the main body; the sentry knew enough not to shoot until he had asked for the countersign. Passing the picket, they came in full view of the Canadian force, the men of which looked very spick and span in uniforms which seemed painfully new in the clear light of the fair June morning. The guns, topped by a bristle of...

    (pp. 216-229)

    The man who wanted to see the fight did not see it, and the man who did not want to see it saw it. Yates arrived on the field of conflict when all was over ; Renmark found the battle raging around him before he realized that things had reached a crisis.

    When Yates reached the tent, he found it empty and torn by bullets. The fortunes of war had smashed the jar, and the fragments were strewn before the entrance, probably by some disappointed man who had tried to sample the contents and had found nothing.

    “Hang it all!”...

    (pp. 230-238)

    The result of the struggle was similar in effect to an American railway accident of the first class. One officer and five privates were killed on the Canadian side, one man was missing, and many were wounded. The number of the Fenians killed will probably never be known. Several were buried on the field of battle, others were taken back by O’Neill’s brigade when they retreated.

    Although the engagement ended as Yates had predicted, yet he was wrong in his estimate of the Canadians. Volunteers are invariably underrated by men of experience in military matters. The boys fought well, even...

    (pp. 239-246)

    Margaret spoke caressingly to her horse, when she opened the stable door, and Gypsy replied with that affectionate, low guttural whinny which the Scotch graphically term “nickering.” She patted the little animal; and if Gypsy was surprised at being saddled and bridled at that hour of the night, no protest was made, the horse merely rubbing its nose lovingly up and down Margaret’s sleeve as she buckled the different straps. There was evidently a good understanding between the two.

    “No, Gyp,” she whispered, “I have nothing for you to-night—nothing but hard work and quick work. Now, you mustn’t make...

    (pp. 247-253)

    Yates had stubbornly refused to give up his search for rest and quiet in spite of the discomfort of living in a leaky and battered tent. He expressed regret that he had not originally camped in the middle of Broadway, as being a quieter and less exciting spot than the place he had chosen; but, having made the choice, he was going to see the last dog hung, he said. Renmark had become less and less of a comrade. He was silent, and almost as gloomy as Hiram Bartlett himself. When Yates tried to cheer him up by showing him...

    (pp. 254-263)

    Yates walked merrily down the road, whistling “Gayly the troubadour.” Perhaps there is no moment in a man’s life when he feels the joy of being alive more keenly than when he goes to propose to a girl of whose favorable answer he is reasonably sure—unless it be the moment he walks away an accepted lover. There is a magic about a June night, with its soft, velvety darkness and its sweet, mild air laden with the perfumes of wood and field. The enchantment of the hour threw its spell over the young man, and he resolved to live...

    (pp. 264-275)

    Yates stood for a moment regarding the dejected attitude of his friend.

    “Hello, old man!” he cried, “you have the most ‘hark-from-the-tombs’ appearance I ever saw. What’s the matter?”

    Renmark looked up.

    “Oh, it’s you, is it?”

    “Of course it’s I. Been expecting anybody else?”

    “No. I have been waiting for you, and thinking of a variety of things.”

    “You look it. Well, Renny, congratulate me, my boy. She’s mine, and I’m hers—which are two ways of stating the same delightful fact. I’m up in a balloon, Renny. I’m engaged to the prettiest, sweetest, and most delightful girl there...

  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 276-278)