About the Author

Morley Callaghan

Morley Callaghan was the author of fifteen novels, including A Time for Judas, It's Never Over, The Loved and the Lost, and Such Is My Beloved. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and received a host of honours in Canada, including the Governor General's Award for Fiction.

Books by this Author
It's Never Over

It's Never Over

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : historical
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Strange Fugitive

Strange Fugitive

by Morley Callaghan
introduction by James Dubro
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : historical
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Such Is My Beloved

Such Is My Beloved

Penguin Modern Classics Edition
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary, classics
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Excerpt

Father Dowling took off his hat and looked around slowly as if it were most important that he find a proper place to put it. He saw the room with the faded blue flowers on the wall-paper, the thick blue curtains on the window, the wide iron bed, painted white but chipped badly at the posts, and the copper-colored carpet that had a spot worn thin near the side of the bed. There were two chairs in the room. A door led into the next room. While he was looking around, the tall fair girl, who was wearing a loose blue dress that concealed the angularity of her body, assumed a ready smile, came over beside him and began to help him off with his coat with a dreadful efficiency. And the little, dark one with the round brown eyes and the smooth soft skin and a big bunch of black hair at the nape of her neck, jumped up from her chair with the same impressive efficiency, and in the affected manner of a great lady, extended her left hand with the elbow crooked as if he would be permitted just to touch the tips of her fingers. "How do you do, Sweetie. We are so mighty pleased to see you. You can't go wrong in coming here to see me."

"Who said he was coming to you?"

"He'll want to come to me. Won't you want to come to me?"

"Take it easy, Midge. Don't be so pushing. He doesn't want you. Why, he first spoke to me. You heard him speak to me. Hell, though, if Rosy Cheeks wants you, it's all the same to me."

"I'm not trying to rush him. Let him suit himself."

As Father Dowling listened, all the words from the sermon of the old missionary priest that had been in his head were forgotten, and by this time Ronnie, the tall one, was pulling off his scarf. Holding the scarf in her hand, she stood still. She saw his Roman collar and knew he was a priest. They both looked scared for a moment, then Ronnie said, "For the love of God, Midge, look what the wind blew in."

"He can't stay here. What are you going to do with him?"

"I didn't bring him. Maybe the poor guy wants to stay."

But Father Dowling had gained confidence in the one moment while the girls were abashed, so he waited to see what they would do. Starting to laugh, Ronnie said, "Don't get nervous, Father. It's all the same to us, you know," and her brisk, efficient manner returned, the grin settled on her face and she reached out in a hurry and took hold of his arm. Midge, who was slower to speak, had stepped back, frowning and timid; then she, too, grew bolder and she began to shake her shoulders till her full breasts swayed, and coming closer to him, she said, "Are you going for Ronnie, or do you want to leave it to me?"

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The Loved and the Lost

The Loved and the Lost

by Morley Callaghan
afterword by Edmund Wilson
introduction by David Staines
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
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They Shall Inherit the Earth
Excerpt

One
In the early summer evening Andrew Aikenhead, of the firm of Hillquist and Aikenhead, had gone out seeking his son. He had crossed slowly through the traffic with an eager expression on his upturned florid face. He was there on the sidewalk in the crowd, in the way of the passing people, looking up at the rooming house where his son lived, and he was full of delight, as though he had at last taken a necessary step that would bring joy again into his life.

He went into the house, and when he stood in the hall and saw by the names on the wall that his son was on the third floor, he began to climb the red-carpeted stairs, puffing and sighing at every fifth step. On the second floor, where the light was brighter, he saw a small, neat man with such delicate features and such fair wavy hair parted in the middle that he looked like a pretty boy, except that his blue eyes were redrimmed and shrewd, and this man was tiptoeing along the hall carrying a basket of fruit in both hands. The light overhead shone on the blue grapes, the yellow pears and the glossy peaches as he stooped and placed the basket of fruit on the carpet by the door of a room.

“Could you tell me where Michael Aikenhead lives?” Andrew Aikenhead asked.

“Mike Aikenhead,” the man said, straightening up and looking embarrassed. “Sure, I can tell you. Go on upstairs. The last room on the right at the back. He’s in there.” Andrew Aikenhead went on climbing the stairs again, while the fairhaired young man looked doubtfully at the basket of fruit he had placed like an offering outside that door.

In the little hall at the top, where there were only two doors, Andrew Aikenhead coughed, and then he began to clear his throat like a man who is about to make an important speech and offers a few preliminary sounds as a friendly gesture. Then he stood still, looking at the brown-painted door while his heart fluttered strangely and there was a yearning in him that his son might remember and know his voice that had sounded so loud. And when he rapped and his son’s voice called carelessly, “Come in,” he was full of gladness; and as he opened the door he thought, “That’s a good omen. Things will go well.”

His son, Michael, was sitting at a desk with his feet curled around the legs of the chair, and because the light on the desk was one of those lamps that students use which throw the rays of light in a pyramid shape full upon the desk, the father could not quite see the face in the shadow. The long fingers of one of his son’s big hands crossed quickly through the light and spread through his hair, and then he got up awkwardly. He was a big dark fellow, and he came across the room slowly, his hand stretched out to his smiling father. “Hello, I hardly knew you. I mean I was surprised to see you,” he said.

“Didn’t you hear me cough in the hall, Michael?”

“No, I was reading.”

“I knew you’d be surprised. I guess you didn’t expect me at all,” the father said, and then he sat down on the bed, for he was out of breath from climbing the stairs, and he looked around the room while he rested. It was one of those attic rooms with sloping ceilings. There was only a bed, an old golden-oak dresser, a heavy desk with one end of it piled high with books, the long window, with a radiator under it, and a worn green carpet on the floor. At one end of the room was a little alcove that could be used as a kitchenette, for there was a gas stove there and a kettle and a coffee pot. And when Andrew Aikenhead saw how poor his son was and that he lived in this plain room, he sighed, and he was deeply embarrassed and he could not look up, even though he knew his son preferred this poverty to the comfort of his father’s house.

Michael was a graduate civil engineer who was waiting for some development in the industrial life of the city that would give him work. He had left his father’s house when he started at the university. He hadn’t been able to get along with his father the last ten years. The hostility between them had begun at the time of the father’s second marriage; it had begun on the day when he had brought his second wife to the house, and day after day it grew, with the father helpless and wondering, until it was time for Michael to go to the university, and then he had said he would live alone and be independent and support himself. At the university he had waited on tables, he had pressed trousers and taken out ashes, and he had sold magazines around the country in the summer.

Andrew Aikenhead remembered all this as he smiled humbly and looked at his son who was standing there holding his body tense, ready to retreat. He saw how calm his son’s face was and he felt the firmness in him, and then he began to fear timidly that Michael would not need him now at all. He wanted to say, “You don’t need me now, Michael, but don’t be hostile. I could hardly bear it when you left us. I never really knew why you disliked me. I never really knew till this day. Many men marry the second time. Their sons go on living with them.” But his head drooped and a hurt expression came into his eyes that made him look lost and helpless in that attic room, for the more he remembered the more he longed to make one sincere and friendly remark that would break the silence that was embarrassing both of them. “This place isn’t very comfortable to have a chat in, is it?” he said.

“I’ll go out and have a drink with you, if you want to,” Michael said.

“Have a drink with me?”

“Sure. There’s a place around the corner.”

“That’s splendid,” he said, and he picked up his hat quickly, for the simple words of the speech he had planned to use for this occasion would not come to him, and his face was reddening. They were just going out when they heard some one knocking, and when Michael opened the door his father saw a fair girl with big candid blue eyes and thick yellow hair in a long bob and a round high-cheek-boned face. She was wearing a light-blue knitted sweater that was tight at her waist. When she smiled at Michael, his father thought it was the warmest and friendliest smile he had ever seen. She was carrying the basket of fruit the little fair man had placed outside her door.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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White Narcissus

White Narcissus

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
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Excerpt

One

Richard Milne was only two hours away from the city, and it seemed to be still with him. He found incredibly foreign the road down which he swung, as though with resolution. Its emptiness shortly became impressive. He met no one, and it seemed to lead burrowing, dusty, into the bleak wind, into the centre of lost wastes screened by scattered and fretful trees. The trees sighed as though in abandonment from struggling forests which, the man knew, would seem to recede as he went forward. He felt lost in this too-familiar country, and slackened his pace.
 
It was an immediate relief to get out of Lower Warping after ten minutes tramping its empty and shrunken streets, and inquire for a lodging-place. The old Hotel, known to his boyhood by no other name – blue-grey clapboards, two storeys and gable windows breasting the cross-roads – was closed. Richard Milne saw that before he had gone a hundred yards down the cindered path from the station. He went back to learn from a meditative youth on a baggage truck whether there was now any other hotel in the place.
 
“Nope!” The fellow’s grin showed a gap in his teeth. He raised his voice against an irruption of the departed, hooting train. “Tom Hughes puts up the travellers sometimes. If you’re travellin’ with some line he buys, you might try there. He lives above the store. Was you going to stay long?”
 
Prohibition, it appeared, had caused the place to close, at which Milne was inclined to wonder, since it had afforded hospitality to his last visit, scarcely a year ago. In any event, the remainder of the hamlet was so torpid that on the spur of the moment he determined to get out of it at once, and without seeking a welcome from any of these people who, it came to him, must exist, for the flowers beside their coloured verandas twitched peevish, proud heads in the wind, while the wire gates before their lawns were primly closed. And if he succeeded in finding them, would anyone remember him? No, he would walk out to the farm. For some reason he did not leave his bag, but carried it in his hand.
 
This matter was only one in the series of actions and adjustments which were a part of his determination, of his plans, and of the trip from the city. He had passed through it all with the impulsive consciousness of nothing but the goal. He must see Ada Lethen, though it were for the last time. Now, alone on the windy road, he began to hesitate, to wonder. The fields, river banks, the astounding, overwhelming sky he seemed to have forgotten, questioned him as an alien. What was he doing there? And what good, he further asked himself, would his coming do? He had returned often enough before. He was moved to ward off despair by reminding himself that he could do nothing else. He had been compelled to come back. But if memory could prove so fugacious, how had he trusted it so long? Uncertainty came into his mind. But lifting his head he went forward.
 
Like the village which had seemed still smaller than a village, smaller than it had ever been before, this countryside had the look of having arisen about him foreignly with the incredible immediacy of a dream. The road made fitful efforts at directness, and would ignore the swing of the high riverbanks, only a little farther on to skirt a depression, a sunken, rich flat, bearing rank, blue-green oats surrounded by drooping willows, elms through which only a glimpse of the brown ripples of water could be seen; again, underbrush, small maples, wild apples, green sumach came right to the road and hung over the fence, hiding the drop of a ravine. A place of choked vistas.
 
The road was easy walking for the greater part, with firm gravel at first, and then, after a mile, occasional sandy spots, rutted, with hoof-beaten soil between the wheel marks. Richard Milne had buried his bare toes in this sand as a schoolboy. Recalling himself with a smile, he reflected that he was no longer much of a countryman, since he was allowing mere impressions of the place to take his mind, his eye, from its utilitarian aspect. He could not have told yet “how the crops looked,” compared with the country he had seen from the train. And doubtless he would be asked by the first acquaintance he met to deliver an opinion.
 
Passably flourishing, he surmised, almost having forgotten how far these harvests, so assiduously watched over by men, should have progressed in maturity at the end of June. The corn, he recalled, should be knee-high by the twelfth of July, and was far from that now. The wheat was in head, though still green, short and spindly, waving on almost discernible soil of light-coloured knolls. Oats were dark in the rich hollows, fading to a brighter green on the slopes. The clover heads were red, clustered; ah, there was something on which he could compliment an old-time friend. Perhaps the other things would come on better later.
 
He wasn’t sure that he cared, he admitted, after these years. He had borne his share of such preoccupations, which seemed designed to pen his youthful hopes forever within this congeries of haphazard mis-shapen fields. Yet it all came back to him, fields and years, more poignant at every yard he traversed, and he knew that he could never be freed from the hold of this soil, however far from it he had travelled, though he were never to be called back by itself, but by a forfeit of love which in final desperation he had come to redeem or tear from its roots forever.
 
Again he found that he had hastened; then sauntering on with an appearance of ease, the memories stirred within him so that he should not have wished to meet an old neighbour on the road. Nothing could be farther from his wishes than a revealing sign of these conflicting emotions. At best it would be inadequate. And the presence of another would make any such display ridiculous, he reflected, thinking of the rebellious period in which he nearly had hated the place and its inhabitants. He glanced at the house he was passing.
 
Until now buildings had been part of the village in his mind and, indeed, there had been no rural mail-box at the roadside before this one. Lilac bushes stood at either side of the gate; a path curved from townward between the gate and across the lawn, long grass of an evenness which showed that occasionally it was mown. The lumbering farm-house seemed to stand on the edge of a brink, for nothing showed behind it but, in the distance, the round tops of apple trees, grey-green in the almost apparent wind. At the first glance he felt that the barn and other buildings might have dropped away, but turning he saw the unpainted, sagging-ridged building standing on the edge of the hollow, as near the road where he had unwittingly passed it, as the house. It had been moved up from the slope behind in his absence.
 
He knew this place very well, but not these improvements. It was the farm his uncle had owned, where he had lived as a boy. As he passed he looked at the mail-box. William A. Burnstile was the name. . . . How? Raffish, turbulent Bill Burnstile, big boy of the country school, up to whom little Dick Milne had looked with the hero-worship only bad boys can evoke – chronically unstable on growing up, until his departure for “the West” – was Bill Burnstile the firmly-established, evidently prudent or lucky farmer of this place?
 
While Richard Milne meditated, wondering whether he could not satisfy his curiosity as well as his need by putting up here for the night, he was decided by a series of shouts, wails, and pursuing cries. A boy of eleven with yellow hair on a thin neck rushed around the corner of the house, followed by a series younger, and turned at bay against their tumbling charge. Obviously this was no place for his sojourning; still, fascinated, he stayed and watched the children. The first, with exultant yips, trotted in a circle, and held high above his head a kitten, which clawed wistfully for a footing on the air. Two smaller boys, with shouts, jumped to reach it, seized the other by the legs and downed him to his own deprecating yells of “No fair, le’ me ’lone.” While they wrestled and squirmed in the grass, a little girl approached, and stepping gingerly among legs, managed to get hold of the kitten. She was running toward the man, to hide behind the snowball bushes at the side of the lawn, when an older girl appeared, calling out to the others. At that instant both girls caught sight of the stranger, and a hush came over the whole serried group of children, puffing yet with their struggle.
 
For an instant Richard Milne did not know whether or not to pass on. Of course, he would not stay here by deliberate choice, even if he could be accommodated. Still, there was his curiosity. “Boys!” he called. “Is this where Mr. Burnstile lives?”
 
They nudged each other to go and see what the man wanted. Finally, the second boy, the doughty wrestler, left the others and came over to the fence, turning his head in the wind as though to listen, his yellow hair ruffling. “Can’t hear. Wind’s wrong way.”
 
“Is this where Mr. Burnstile lives? I mean, ah, Bill Burnstile?”
 
“Why, that’s me! Oh, you mean my dad. Yes, he lives here. He’s cutting hay. Will any of us do?”
 
The man smiled. “Yes. Your father was out West for a time, wasn’t he? Well, you tell him that Dick Milne was here. Just see if he remembers.”
 
“Ouch! That’s Poison Ivy.” The boy had been leaning too close to the fence. “What? Oh, all right. I’ll tell him.” With a last look of wonder at the clothes of the stranger he was gone, skipping into the midst of the other children, who in the meantime had approached nearer – like steam melting into a cloud. The girl with the forgotten cat dangling looked after him.
 
They were so like a little group of perturbed animals, crying out half-audibly there in the wind, that Richard Milne laughed as he went on. The sight of the country children strangely refreshed him, and no longer was the place alien, but lonesome, waiting to welcome the footsteps of any returning wanderer. He smiled. This life was all as it had been, though these boys and girls would lack the excitement of his own childhood in recognizing “an old tramp.”
 
Evening was coming on, and even the apparently endless stationary evening of June waned after the supper hour. That consideration at least should urge him forward. Again he wondered; it seemed strange that no one he knew appeared in these familiar spaces. There was, of course, the one unchanging farm, where all his hopes were centred, his ultimate destination, and where he could expect no welcome. But surely before reaching it he would find people less interested in himself. He would have no trouble about a place for the night, and somewhere, if needed, there would be a boarding place for longer. He had money, after all, and that was usually unfailing in incidental uses. Still, the club-bag was becoming notably heavy.
 
The land became more rolling, hummocky, confused, with bare cultivated spots, thick brush along random, half-concealed fences. The road and the river seemed to rival each other in the vagrancy of their courses. The banks were now white clay, now green with weedy grass or up-grown shrubbery, a brief row of tall trees – over all of which the sun flowed coldly. A man was tiny enough in the midst of great cities, he remembered strangely, but here it was possible to wonder how many more of these roads there were stretching away into the evening, endlessly, bearing each its strung-out farms, its weight of enigmatic human and animal circumstance.
 
He seemed suddenly to have walked a great distance. A burden of his own past seemed to have descended upon him. How beautiful all this had been, and as the years of his boyhood slipped past without more than a dream of wider freedom, how dreary! The changing of the seasons had only emphasized the impression of monotony, and he had been held by inertia, and uncertain hope of fulfilment, on the only soil he knew. He had begun to write, and it was comparatively late that he had obeyed that questing-spirit which is the heritage of youth. Well, he had gone into the world and done all that he had dreamed of doing, and he had returned frequently enough with the one purpose, to the one being which could call him back; and still the land was the same, with a sorrowful sameness. It seemed that the beauty of this country should have increased, become clear and undeniable even to its preoccupied inhabitants. It always seemed that these people should have found larger interest and a wider view during his own period of Wanderjahre and Lehrjahre.
 
But now he was coming to the Hymerson farm. Here he knew he would be safe, more or less at home. Old friends of his family in a large phrase, old neighbours at least, they would be glad to see him, if only from curiosity. There did not seem to be improvements in the place, he noted, nor neglect. Wire fencing extending part way along the road, then the old rankly growing hedge, until that was clipped low in front of the house. This was a great affair of cheap yellow brick, which had been a show-place in his boyhood. It already showed signs of decay. The roof, of wooden shingles, was brown, the wood of the gables stained brown with weather, and the originally white veranda posts and scrollings were flaked grey and lead-coloured. There were high weeds along the roadside, and the lawn itself was lush with grass, except for spots uprooted in irregular holes. The source of these holes became apparent in squeals from behind the house. The chorus, kept up so pertinaciously, foretold the supper hour of the pigs.
 
Entering in at the open lane, for there was no gate to the lawn, Richard Milne saw again the familiar buildings. The barn, an L-shaped huge structure of splotched grey beneath an old coat of pink paint, had been raised upon a foundation of cement blocks, abutted by lengthy graded approaches, which occupied much of the space of the yard.
 
The yard was a broad expanse strewn with apparent indiscrimination: smaller buildings and used machinery. A long, slatted corn-crib with sway-back roof looked as though, empty, it could have been drawn away by a team of horses. But yellow ears of corn protruded between the slats at one end, a remainder after the winter’s feeding. A similarly disreputable granary stood at the other side. And all about sprawled cultivators, harrows, discs, a mower, a bare wagon, the rack of which leaned against the side of the corn-crib.
 
These machines were not rusted in any state of disuse. In fact, they and the buildings, instead of giving the place a general effect of neglect, imparted a business-like aspect, as of work being in progress which forbade such fol-de-rols as neatness, newness, paint, and shelter from the elements of air and earth, for which all things were, in any case, ultimately destined.
 
Before Richard Milne came to the house he saw crossing the yard in the rear a flapping, overalled, small figure of a man, carrying a pair of dripping swill-pails. He waved, going forward without setting down his club-bag. It was Carson Hymerson, who went on to the swill-barrels and dipped the pails, heaving them out with a swish of water whitened by the admixture of chopped grain, and vegetable refuse curling over the rims.
 
“Just time supper, have good trip out? Hogs here they know it’s time for supper, ’Spose you’re glad to get away to the country once ’nawhile, how long you goin’ to stay?” Hymerson said all this apparently without breath, and with the automatic and evenly timed swiftness of a phonographic record turned at twice its normal speed. It was just his way, Richard remembered people said, as he shook hands with him. The farmer was over fifty, but still his ruddy, hard face, tinged to brass colour by tan, was unchanged by wrinkles, knobby as ever as to chin, nose, cheek-bones, and saltily blue of eye. “Well, Missus’ll want to see you better go in supper, I’ll be there right now.”
 
Milne hesitated, still holding his bag, but the tone had been so arbitrary that, considering that the man might have some other immediate task before the meal, he turned back toward the house, walking over a series of long, warped boards under the edges of which grass grew. The surface of the yard was sparsely green in places, where vegetation had survived the trampling of mud in the spring.
 
The screen-door under the porch was open, a woodburning range hummed cheerily, and there were steps from another room. “Shoo! Scat out of here!” A black cat sped before her, but Mrs. Hymerson, compared with her husband, was ceremonial in her reception. She wore a white shirtwaist with high collar, and a black pleated skirt.
 
“Why, how do you do; you’re quite a stranger, Richard. But I suppose I should call you Mr. Milne. I thought, you know, I heard Carson talking to somebody, but I couldn’t just be sure. You must stay for tea. How’s –” She seemed to recall that he lived apart from relatives, that he had no near ones. “How’s everything in the city? It must be hot there! Well! It’s nice to have you come back and see us.” She nodded.
 
Richard Milne, in the polite replies permitted him at intervals, was conscious of a subdued reservation, like excitement coming unreasonably into his mind. It was impatience, he discovered. He wanted to cloak it in random conversation, discussion of country doings, anything. He could have tried to arrange some provision for a long stay, but he knew that Mrs. Hymerson would be offended if he immediately proposed a definite arrangement. And then his uncertainty recalled that he did not know himself how long or in what manner he would be staying.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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