MILLBROOK - 1888

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Sir Adolph's Bell Embroglio

We don't have much excitement as a rule in this beautiful little village, but at present it is the focal point of interest in a very interesting ecclesiastical military-member-of-parliament-veteran-Midlanders affair.

While in the Northwest, fighting the battles of the country in 1885, the Millbrook contingent of the Midland Battalion, got possession of the bell of the Roman Catholic church, at Frog Lake, after the burning of the sacred edifice, and they clung to it as a trophy of prowess or a relic of the campaign. It was highly valued, and they had not little difficulty in defending it against the looting instincts of other members of the Midlands. However, the much-prized treasure was brought safely to Millbrook, and securely cached. At length, it was decided not to permit so splendid a relic to waste its tin-tinabulations on silence and the bell was hoisted to a place of honour on the fire hall. Though giving the bell this prominent and responsible position, the pro tem pore owners of it not wish to give undue publicity to the fact of its possession. But bells of brass, as well as that class spelt thus, b-e-l-l-e-s, cannot keep a secret, and the whereabouts of the bell came to the care of Bishop Grandin, of the diocese in the Northwest in which the Frog Lake church had been situated.

His Lordship at once made a formal demand upon Sir Adolph Caron, Minister of Militia, for the restoration of the bell to its proper owners. The Minister of Militia, it is stated, employed Mr. Henry Alfred Ward, Port Hope, and M.P., for East Durham, to conduct the delicate negotiations, for securing possession of the rebellion relic. In pursuit of his mission, Mr. Ward went to Millbrook, and made earnest efforts to carry out Sir Adolph's desperate wish that he might save the bell from being used on an Orange Lodge hall, and to restore it to its original functions.

But the Millbrook Midlanders were obdurate - they would listen to "no surrender" of their spoil. Even the promise on behalf of the anxious, Sir Adolph, that he would, instead, supply even a better bell, was to no avail. They could not trust the promises of the gallant minister of war - they considered a bell in the hand was worth any number of bells promised by the minister - they couldn't "chime in" with his proposition. Even the promise of Sir Adolph that he would come in person to Millbrook and take over the bell, failed to move the retentive Midlanders.

The prospective vision of the minister swaggering through the village in his official uniform, bedizened, blazing and befrogged with gold lace, was no temptation - they must have another bell in their hands before they gave up the Frog Lake bell. And thus the negotiations, as well as the bell, hang in suspense. Sir Adolph may be speedily expected in the village carrying a big bell like an auctioneer's boy, and the longer he waits - the nearer the 12th of July approaches - the bigger the bell will have to be. Uneasy lies the head pillowed on a portfolio of the minister of war. Mr. Ward has retired from the negotiations hopeless of making any impression on the obstinacy of the boys who say they are going to hang on to that bell, and vow vengeance on any one daring to lay hands on that bell to take it down.

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