Spring time is nearing and there is a lot of thirsty Irish Catholics in the lumber camp. They tell the foreman they want to go get their sins forgiven. Well, they load into the boat sled, and with Walter as driver, they drive off.
At the first road house they insist on his stopping to warm. He knows it’s nothing more than a saloon and he does not go in. They drink—they urge him to come in and have a drink but he refuses. They drive on. But road houses are frequent and at every one they must needs stop. And every time they urge the boy to drink.
Finally, some great big Irish man grabs him and in spite of his striking and kicking, they carry him into the saloon. But he will not drink. Finally, they lay him on the counter and pour the vile stuff down his throat. It is strong and fiery and goes to his head at once. He is drunk and very angry.
He goes out to the sleigh, manages to get in, strikes the horses a blow with the whip. First one then another, the men come running out calling and swearing, but he lashes his horses on and on.
Finally, he sees a horse and cutter madly following him and he quite loses his reason and slashes and runs his horses for miles. True, it was the foreman. He had become anxious after letting Walter leave with that rabble of men, knowing full well they would all get drunk.
Had Walter known what the man’s intentions were he would have stopped. but he rushed on. The man finally stopped for he saw he would make the boy kill his horses.
Walter nears the neighborhood where he lives, but drunk though he was, he didn’t want his mother and father to see him in that condition. There was a young girl he liked lived in a home near by. He realized he was near that home and resolved to stop, feeling he would rather have these people see him than his own father and mother. It was dark. He turned his exhausted horses into the gate. He managed to unhitch them and put them in the barn. He came up to the back of the house, fell over a tub in the kitchen and swore. He use to tell us he swore but very very few times in his life. He had too sacred a regard for God to take his Holy Name in vain.
The young girl came to the door and said, “Who is there?” He said, “It’s Walter and I’m drunk.”
Her father and mother were Friends and had gone to prayer meeting. She had two brothers home younger than herself. She helped Walter in and said, “Surely thee isn’t drunk.” “Yes,” said he, “I’m drunk.”
She made him a cup of strong tea and he drank it. She fixed him some food but he could not eat. He got up and went to the barn, having asked for the lantern. She was afraid he might fall and set the barn on fire, and sent the boys out with him. He tried to drive them off for they kept laughing at him.
He tried to rub down the horses and finally came into the house and tumbled over on a lounge and went to sleep.
The father and mother came home and the children told them all they knew about it. Next day Walter’s father came. The foreman came. No one blamed Walter but the fine young team was ruined and had to be shot. And Walter had to remember that once he was drunk.