Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Canadian Illustrated News:
Images in the news: 1869-1883

Sample Issues of the Canadian Illustrated News

Table of Contents

December 29, 1883
Vol. XXVIII, No. 26

[page] 410

In Memoriam

Ever to us thy memory shall be green.
Love is not dead, and what to us doth seem
Involved in deepest mystery and woe,
Zephyr-like, across our wounded hearts shall blow.
And sheer us on our weary march across the plains,
Beckoning us to follow. And that which now remains,
Enfolded 'neath Mount Royal's wint'ry gloom,
Tells but of her who once again shall bloom—
Holds but the casket—our jewel has gone home.

Philip J. Elliott.
Montreal, Dec., 1883.

Led by Unseen Hands

A Christmas Trip to Montreal and its Consequences

By W. S. Humphreys

"Shall I be in time?"

The question repeated itself again and again as I sat in the comfortable railway carriage that was quickly conveying me to Montreal.

"But, in time for what?"

Ah! that I could not tell. My only feeling was an irresistible longing to get to the end of my journey — to meet I knew not what.

I had had a sort of dream the night before—nothing that I remembered very distinctly — nothing to cause me any unnecessary alarm; but I awoke in a cold perspiration, with an undefinable something buzzing in my head — a something confused and indistinct at first, but finally forming itself into a warning of impending peril to some one — some one connected with me — but I could not tell who.

I tried to shake off the feeling of uneasiness that almost overpowered me; but I tried in vain. The feeling grew—a feeling of dread of I knew not what. I felt I must act, and that quickly.

After swallowing a cup of coffee, and making a poor pretence at eating the savory breakfast prepared for me, I started to my room, hastily packed a small valise, and hurried out, with no purpose in view but that I was led by irresistible impulse.

My steps hurried me to the railway station, where I arrived a few minutes before the train started. Hastily procuring a ticket for Montreal, I jumped aboard, and the train was in motion.

Why had I taken the train to Montreal was a question I could not answer. Something seemed to be drawing me on — a something utterly beyond my control. Did I dread evil to any friend in the Canadian metropolis? That could not be, for the only friend I once had in that city — one I had hoped to have called by a dearer name — was married, I had been told, and was away in Europe. I had no relatives or friends in Montreal that I knew of; and yet I was leaving a comfortable home in Boston to make a long and tedious journey in the midst of winter — for what? I could not answer; for ever and anon, all through the journey, the question flashed through my brain:

"Shall I be in time?"

The stoppages were not long, but at each one I chafed and fumed at the delay. I could not read — I could not sleep — I could not chat with my fellow-passengers; — my brain was in a whirl; and I longed for motion — rapid motion. In my eagerness I asked the conductor to put on extra steam, totally forgetful that the train had to make certain connections; and when an extra long stoppage, as I thought, occurred, I got out of the car, even went to the engine-driver and asked him to hurry up. What other foolish things I did I know not, but all the time the question kept repeating itself:

"Shall I be in time? Shall I be in time?"

But all journeys come to an end, and I could have jumped for joy — and perhaps I did, for I was not accountable for my actions during that memorable trip — when the lights of Montreal were seen from St. Lambert. Then the journey through the Bridge was made, and I found myself, with several other passengers, hurrying from the "classic" Bonaventure Depot.

Where next was I to go? I had arrived safely at Montreal, and something seemed to whisper to me that I was in time; but what was the next move? The same irresistible impulse that had controlled my actions so far, seemed still to have possession of my whole being, and I surrendered myself entirely, if such were possible to it.

The 'busses of the different hotels were in waiting, and almost before I was aware of the fact I found myself in the conveyance belonging to the St. Lawrence Hall. Why I went there I knew not; as I had never, during my former visits to the city, stopped at this hotel. But even when I reached there I could not rest. After seeing my scanty baggage safely carried to my room, I hurriedly washed the travel stains from my person, donned extra wraps, and start out, noticing as I passed the office, that the clock pointed to twenty minutes to twelve.

But where was I going? I had not the remotest idea when I left the Hall. I seemed to have no control over my actions. Something was leading me on, and I blindly followed.

Along St. James street, up Bleury, then along Dorchester street west. Was I led by this invisible power, when presently my steps were arrested by hearing voices singing in sweet strains. I drew nearer, and the words were wafted to my ears:

"Christians, awake! salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born;
Rise to adore the Mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
Sing the glad tidings first with cheer begun,
Of God made man, the Blessed Virgin's Son."

What does it mean? A Christmas carol! Can it be possible? I rapidly asked myself these questions, and then remember what I had forgotten all through my journey, that this was Christmas Eve — nay rather, Christmas Day, for it is now past midnight; and I had left my home in Boston at this joyous time — for what?

But while the choristers are singing their joyful strains on the midnight air, I am moving rapidly forward by no will of my own, and the words fade in the distance:

"This day hath God fulfilled His promised word,
This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord!"

But what is that lurid glare in the sky? And hark! The ringing of bells — the rushing of horses — the shouting of men!

"Fire! fire!"

A terrible cry, so out of unison with the sweet strains I had so lately heard. As though on wings I flew in the direction of the illumination, and again the question flashes through my brain:

"Shall I be in time?"

I cannot tell how I reached the spot; but I arrived, panting and blowing with my exertions, to find that the burning building was a large mansion, evidently the residence of some wealthy man. My hasty glance told me this much, and I saw that the firemen were busily engaged in playing on the burning building.

But my eyes wandered in search of some one, some one I knew, but could not find. A cry, however, reached my ear:

"My daughter! Will no one save my daughter?"

And turning I saw a grey-haired old gentleman, wringing his hands, and tears glistening in his eyes.

"Where is she?" I hastily asked.

"In that part of the house they are now playing on," he answered pointing to the north end of the building, where the fire had apparently originated.

"A ladder! a ladder!" I cried, hurrying in the direction indicated by the old man.

"The ladder is there," some one replied; "but it is certain death to whoever ventures up."

"Nevertheless I will try," I hurriedly rejoin, rushing towards the ladder.

And then I paused to look up — but only for a moment, although the sight was one to make the stoutest heart quail. But, for myself, I seemed to have lost that very necessary adjunct to the "human form divine" — I had no more power over myself than I had had all day — an irresistible power still led me on.

The sight, however, was an awful one. The fire had broken out, apparently in the lower story, and had reached the second flat, flames pouring out of the windows in great tongues consuming everything within reach. Great volumes of smoke were ejected from the windows of the upper flats, and it was the third flat that I must reach.

All this I took in the momentary glance I cast upward, with my foot on the lower rung of the ladder. Then I bounded up, the warning cry ringing in my ears:

"Come back! Come back, or you are a dead man."

Up, up, through blinding smoke and scorching flame, the perspiration pouring in great beads down my forehead — my breath coming in short gasps — up, up — past the second story, the heat being almost unbearable; — up, up — the third story is reached, and I pause a moment before entering the opening window, through which dense clouds of smoke are ejected and volumes of hot vapers [sic] are pouring. Then I bound into the room, and grope my way in the darkness. What direction I took I cannot tell. I appeared to be hurried along and guided by the invisible but uncontrollable force that had guided all my actions during the whole of the day. I appeared to rush directly across the room to an open door, through which I passed, and entered a long passage, down which I hurried, and at the end of which I entered another room, when something impelled me to pause. Then the same invisible force prompted me to stoop and grope on the floor with my hands, and after a few moments' search they came in contact with something that I felt at once was the object of my search. Hastily lifting up the body I turned to retrace my steps by the same direction in which I had come. But now the smoke was of a much denser character, and was pouring out from all the crevices in the floor. I could hear the fire cracking under my feet, and occasionally a flame shot up right in my path. But I heeded none of these things, and, although well nigh suffocated, I held firmly to the burden I carried and rushed madly onward.

On — on — on I sped. The passage was passed, and I had just got to the door of the room I had first entered when a part of the flooring gave way and the flames shot upward right in front of me. But I heeded them not; in fact I had no power to stop myself; with a bound I jumped into the fiery furnace, and landed safely on the other side, well nigh exhausted.

Here a breath of air greeted me, and I knew I was near the window. Still groping in the dark, I soon found the opening; the ladder was still there. I stepped out, went down a few steps, — staggered, and I thought I should lose my hold, — recovered and went down — down — down — then heard a mighty shout — fell — and remembered no more.

How long I remained unconscious I know not. Presently I awoke, glanced round the apartment, but all was strange. I tried to think, but my head was confused, strange sounds seemed to be surging through my brain. My body seemed to be sore all over. I tried to turn on my pillow, but my arm gave a terrible twitch, warning me to lie still. Where I was or how I came there I could not tell; but while I was ruminating on my present condition and trying to find a solution to the mystery, the sweet strains fell upon my ear:

"Christians, awake! salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born."

Then memory returned and I remembered all that had transpired since I left Boston, and I involuntarily uttered:

"Oh! was I in time?"

It was little more than a whisper, but my words were heard and a kindly voice said:

"Did you speak, my boy?"

Surely I knew that voice; but where had I heard it before, were my thoughts, as I repeated my previous question:

"Was I in time?"

"In time for what, Fred?" said the same voice, and moving to my side of the bed the speaker bent over me.

Glancing up I was astonished to see Mr. Hartley, my old employer.

"Hr. [sic] Hartley?" I ejaculated.

"Yes, my boy; did you not know me?"

"But I don't understand," I began, confusedly. "How came I to be in your house?"

"This is not my house, Fred," the old gentleman answered. "My house, as you are aware, was burned down last night, and we are now temporarily domiciled with a kind neighbor. But, my boy, tell me, de [sic] you suffer any pain?" he added solicitously.

I had forgotten all about my wounded arm in my excitement at seeing my old employer, and had made an attempt to raise myself in bed, but a sharp twitch caused me to wince, as I replied:

"I feel a little pain; but tell me, Mr. Hartley, is your daughter safe?"

"Yes, my boy, thanks to you, she is alive and well to-day. No words of mine can express my gratitude to you for what you have done," the old man said, with feeling; "but Amy herself will thank you. I will go and fetch her."

"Oh, no, no, no!" I exclaimed, for I felt that I could not at that moment bear to meet the woman I had loved and lost.

"But, yes, yes, yes!" returned the old gentleman, chuckling, and leaving the room.

Left alone my mind wandered back to the happy days of long ago. I remembered, as a boy, entering the office of Mr. Hartley as a junior and gradually rising to the post of confidential clerk, treated by my employer more as a friend than an employee. I remembered being commissioned to go to his residence and meeting little Amy, his school-girl daughter; then later being invited to dine with his family and again meeting, not the school-girl, but the beautiful young woman. I remembered that I loved her as a school girl, but as a woman my love increased with tenfold force. I remembered the many happy evenings I spent in her society, enjoying to the full love's first young dreams. I remembered the first time I spoke to her of love, and the drooping eyelids of the fair maiden as she responded to my avowal. I remembered the first rapturous kiss of love imprinted on those pure lips, and the many plans we laid for the future. But that future! how dark it had been! Mr. Hartley, who had been my friend in all business affairs, would not hear of my engagement to his daughter. He could not think of it — the idea was preposterous — to think that his clerk had the presumption to think of marrying his only child and heiress. I offered to wait, telling him that I would go away and make a fortune and then return and claim the hand of his daughter. But, no! Mr. Hartley said he had other views in that direction, and that I must abandon all hope. I then went to Amy and asked her to marry me in defiance of her father, but the young lady declared positively that she could never marry without the consent of her parent. As it appeared impossible to obtain this consent I resigned my position in Mr. Hartley's employ, feeling that I could no longer remain in the same city as Amy and see some other man claim what I so ardently desired. I then went to Boston, and tried by hard work to forget Amy; but that I found impossible, notwithstanding that a little more than a year ago I had been informed that she had married the man of her father's choice — a cousin, and had gone to Europe on a wedding tour. All these things rapidly passed through my brain, and then came the remembrance that this was the woman that I had saved from an awful death the night before — the woman I loved more than my life, and whose deadly peril had brought me from Boston to her rescue — the wife of another man.

But my thoughts were interrupted by a slight rustle of silk, and I felt — for I could not yet look up — that a being was bending over me, and in a few moments the single word was uttered:

"Fred!"

The sweet tones of that voice that I had known and loved so well in bygone days caused a quiver to run through my frame, and forgetting everything in the bliss of having her once more by my side, I cried out:

"Oh, Amy! my love! my love!"

And before I could think of what I was doing I had drawn the dear face down, and imprinted kisses upon the pure lips.

But the thought that she was another's quickly returned, and I released her, pushed her from me, and cried:

"Oh, what am I doing. Forgive me. What would your husband say could he see what I have done?"

"My husband?" she queried. "What mean you?"

"What do I mean? Only that I believe you to be the wife of your cousin, and that the liberty I have just taken, though very sweet to me, might be viewed by him in another light."

"But you are mistaken," she answered; "when we parted I told you I would be true to you, and I have kept my word."

"And you will be mine, Amy?" I pleaded, again holding up the one arm I had power over.

"Yes, as I have always been, yours forever," she answered, burying her face on my shoulder.

After a few minutes of extreme bliss, we were interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Hartley. The old gentleman saw at a glance how matters stood, so advancing to our side he took Amy's hand and placed it in mine, said:

"Take her, Fred, my boy; you have fairly won her."

Then, after a pause, he continued:

"And now tell us how you came to be in Montreal at such an opportune moment, and how it was you failed to recognize the house that was burning or the old gentleman who asked you to save his daughter?"

And I told them all, just as I have related above; from the time I left Boston till I had awakened a short time ago, how I had been carried away by an uncontrollable impulse — from the beginning to the end hurried forward by some invisible force over which I had no control. When I concluded Mr. Hartley said:

"Truly a wonderful narrative! Your love for Amy led you to her side when she was in imminent peril; therefore I feel perfectly safe in entrusting her to your keeping."

"But when I fell?" I queried. "I remember nothing after that."

"Your fall was only about ten feet," answered Mr. Hartley. "When you were seen descending the ladder, with your burden, the men below hurriedly placed on the ground bedding and other things at hand to break your fall, should you slip, and when you fell Amy was safely caught by waiting hands below. You were not so fortunate, but I trust you will be sufficiently recovered to be up this evening."

And so the result proved, for beyond a dislocation of the shoulder, some severe bruises, a few slight burns and the loss of my whiskers, I suffered no evil effects from my adventure of the previous night; and with Amy by my side, and surrounded by kind friends, Christmas night passed all too rapidly away.

Two days after I returned to Boston to settle up my affairs, returning shortly afterwards to Montreal, where I again entered business with my former employer, and in due time obtained the hand of his daughter, my bonny bride.

Many Christmases have passed since the occurrence of the above events, and another one dawns to-morrow. As I sit writing these lines I hear youthful voices, practising for the great festival, and the words recall bygone days. My wife, who enters at this moment, also sings the sweet words, and, laying down my pen, I lend my voice to the glorious invocation:

"Christians, awake! salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born;
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above
Sing the glad tidings first with cheer begun,
Of God made Man, the Blessed Virgin's Son."


IT seems agreed that if the electric machine could be kept at a distance the light in private dwellings would be much more general. And this is what has been accomplished on the Metropolitan line. Between Nottinghill Gate, Edgware road, Gower street, and King's Cross, a new system has been adopted, which at this moment is working with success. The engine is at Edgware road, and the electric current can be transmitted from this centre along the wires, a distances of fifteen miles. If this achievement can be improved upon we shall soon have the electric light not only at our doors but inside them.

Chapter II

"Malden, Mass., Feb. 1, 1880. Gentlemen— I suffered with attacks of sick headache."

Neuralgia, female trouble, for years in the most terrible and excruciating manner.

No medicine or doctor could give me relief or cure until I used Hop Bitters.

"The first bottle nearly cured me;"

The second made me "as well and strong as when a child,

"And I have been so to this day."

My husband was an invalid for twenty years with a serious

"Kidney, liver and urinary complaint.

"Pronounced by Boston's best physicians—

"Incurable!"

Seven bottles of your bitters cured him and I know of the

"Lives of eight persons"

In my neighborhood that have been saved by your bitters.

And many more are using them with great benefit.

"They almost

Do miracles!,

Mrs. E.D. Slack.