PRIZE STORIES OF 1924
talk enthusiastically on that subject, and several times told me that it was about the best community in the world and certainly deserved to grow.
The many new families coming both to farm and town offered to establish neighbourly relations with Maggie, and she always extended the delightful hospitality of her home. Some weeks or months later the newcomers would hear Maggie’s life story. They didn’t believe it. Having been taught all their lives what sort of women did such things, they could see for themselves that Maggie was not that sort. Bluff and hearty she was, to be sure, but not immoral. Well, they were right, in a way. Maggie wasn’t immoral; she was unmoral.
The time came when there were more new settlers than old residents. Whenever I was asked about the story, I said I didn’t know, until one day I heard my father reply to the same question, “She was a good neighbour for more than twenty years.” That struck me as much better, so I adopted it. I suppose many others side-stepped in the same way. At any rate, the story of Maggie simply fell down. There were more people who didn’t believe it than did.
One of the strangest phases of the controversy about Maggie (it was waged for some three years between the newcomers who liked her and the older residents who felt she should be ostracized) was that none of the newcomers ever asked her directly to explain her children’s names, and none of the older residents was clever enough to prove his or her story by Maggie’s own testimony. She would not have denied it. Neither would any of the boys; but they were not asked, even after her death.
I have never known of another case in which Bacon’s comment on death was so strikingly proved true. It was he who said, “Death closeth the door to envy and is a passport to good fame.”
There was a little creek which ran through our pasture and Maggie’s. Usually it was about ten feet wide, but sometimes it disappeared. After a heavy rain it became a torrent fifty yards wide and tore down fences. There was a cloudburst in the hills upstream the year Carl Stanton was married. He was then twenty years of age. As the country became more thickly settled, people had encroached on the bed of