I think I have met “Ralph Conner.” Indeed, I am sure I have–once in a canoe on the Red River, once on the Assinaboine, and twice or thrice on the prairies to the West. That was not the name he gave me, but, if I am right, it covers one of the most honest and genial of the strong characters that are fighting the devil and doing good work for men all over the world. He has seen with his own eyes the life which he describes in this book, and has himself, for some years of hard and lonely toil, assisted in the good influences which he traces among its wild and often hopeless conditions. He writes with the freshness and accuracy of an eye-witness, with the style (as I think his readers will allow) of a real artist, and with the tenderness and hopefulness of a man not only of faith but of experience, who has seen in fulfillment the ideals for which he lives.
The life to which he takes us, though far off and very strange to our tame minds, is the life of our brothers. Into the Northwest of Canada the young men of Great Britain and Ireland have been pouring (I was told), sometimes at the rate of 48,000 a year. Our brothers who left home yesterday–our hearts cannot but follow them. With these pages Ralph Conner enables our eyes and our minds to follow, too; nor do I think there is any one who shall read this book and not find also that his conscience is quickened. There is a warfare appointed unto man upon earth, and its struggles are nowhere more intense, nor the victories of the strong, nor the succors brought to the fallen, more heroic, than on the fields described in this volume.
GEORGE ADAM SMITH.
The story of the book is true, and chief of the failures in the making of the book is this, that it is not all the truth. The light is not bright enough, the shadow is not black enough to give a true picture of that bit of Western life of which the writer was some small part. The men of the book are still there in the mines and lumber camps of the mountains, fighting out that eternal fight for manhood, strong, clean, God-conquered. And, when the west winds blow, to the open ear the sounds of battle come, telling the fortunes of the fight.
Because a man’s life is all he has, and because the only hope of the brave young West lies in its men, this story is told. It may be that the tragic pity of a broken life may move some to pray, and that that divine power there is in a single brave heart to summon forth hope and courage may move some to fight. If so, the tale is not told in vain.
- Chapter I. Christmas Eve in a Lumber Camp
- Chapter II. The Black Rock Christmas
- Chapter III. Waterloo. Our Fight - His Victory
- Chapter IV. Mrs. Mavor's Story
- Chapter V. The Making of the League
- Chapter VI. Black Rock Religion
- Chapter VII. The First Black Rock Communion
- Chapter VIII. The Breaking of the League
- Chapter IX. The League's Revenge
- Chapter X. What Came to Slavin
- Chapter XI. The Two Calls
- Chapter XII. Love is Not All
- Chapter XIII. How Nelson Came Home
- Chapter XIV. Graeme's New Birth
- Chapter XV. Coming to Their Own