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Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson

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of gold over and saw the enameled drawing on the back,--a crest
clearly outlined.

He started. The crest was quite familiar.

"Where did you get this?" he demanded in English, and with such
blunt suddenness that she was startled. "Where did it come from?"

"I have always had it."

"Always? It's the Tarleton crest. Do you belong to that family?"

"Indeed I do not know. Papa Roussillon says he thinks I do."

"Well, this is strange and interesting," said Beverley, rather to
himself than addressing her. He looked from the miniature to the
crest and back to the miniature again, then at Alice. "I tell you
this is strange," he repeated with emphasis. "It is exceedingly
strange."

Her cheeks flushed quickly under their soft brown and her eyes
flashed with excitement.

"Yes, I know." Her voice fluttered; her hands were clasped in her
lap. She leaned toward him eagerly. "It is strange. I've thought
about it a great deal."

"Alice Tarleton; that is right; Alice is a name of the family.
Lady Alice Tarleton was the mother of the first Sir Garnett
Tarleton who came over in the time of Yardley. It's a great
family. One of the oldest and best in Virginia." He looked at her
now with a gaze of concentrated interest, under which her eyes
fell. "Why, this is romantic!" he exclaimed, "absolutely romantic.
And you don't know how you came by this locket? You don't know who
was your father, your mother?"

"I do not know anything."

"And what does Monsieur Roussillon know?"

"Just as little."

"But how came he to be taking you and caring for you? He must know
how he got you, where he got you, of whom he got you? Surely he
knows--"

"Oh, I know all that. I was twelve years old when Papa Roussillon
took me, eight years ago. I had been having a hard life, and but
for him I must have died. I was a captive among the Indians. He
took me and has cared for me and taught me. He has been very, very
good to me. I love him dearly."

"And don't you remember anything at all about when, where, how the
Indians got you?"

"No." She shook her head and seemed to be trying to recollect
something. "No, I just can't remember; and yet there has always
been something like a dream in my mind, which I could not quite
get hold of. I know that I am not a Catholic. I vaguely remember a
sweet woman who taught me to pray like this: 'Our Father who art
in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.'"

And Alice went on through the beautiful and perfect prayer, which
she repeated in English with infinite sweetness and solemnity, her
eyes uplifted, her hands clasped before her. Beverley could have
sworn that she was a shining saint, and that he saw an aureole.

"I know," she continued, "that sometime, somewhere, to a very dear
person I promised that I never, never, never would pray any prayer
but that. And I remember almost nothing else about that other
life, which is far off back yonder in the past, I don't know
where,--sweet, peaceful, shadowy; a dream that I have all but lost
from my mind."

Beverley's sympathy was deeply moved. He sat for some minutes
looking at her without speaking. She, too, was pensive and silent,
while the fire sputtered and sang, the great logs slowly melting,
the flames tossing wisps of smoke into the chimney still booming
to the wind.

"I know, too, that I am not French," she presently resumed, "but I
don't know just how I know it. My first words must have been
English, for I have always dreamed of talking in that language,
and my dimmest half recollections of the old days are of a large,
white house, and a soft-voiced black woman, who sang to me in that
language the very sweetest songs in the world."

It must be borne in mind that all this was told by Alice in her
creole French, half bookish, half patois, of which no translation
can give any fair impression.

Beverley listened, as one who hears a clever reader intoning a
strange and captivating poem. He was charmed. His imagination
welcomed the story and furnished it with all that it lacked of
picturesque completeness. In those days it was no uncommon thing
for a white child to be found among the Indians with not a trace
left by which to restore it to its people. He had often heard of
such a case. But here was Alice right before him, the most
beautiful girl that he had ever seen, telling him the strangest
story of all. To his mind it was clear that she belonged to the
Tarleton family of Virginia. Youth always concludes a matter at
once. He knew some of the Tarletons; but it was a widely scattered
family, its members living in almost every colony in America. The
crest he recognized at a glance by the dragon on the helmet with
three stars. It was not for a woman to bear; but doubtless it had
been enameled on the locket merely as a family mark, as was often
done in America.

"The black woman was your nurse, your mammy," he said. "I know by
that and by your prayer in English, as well as by your locket,
that you are of a good old family."

Like most Southerners, he had strong faith in genealogy, and he
held at his tongue's tip the names of all the old families. The
Carters, the Blairs, the Fitzhughs, the Hansons, the Randolphs,
the Lees, the Ludwells, the Joneses, the Beverleys, the Tarletons--
a whole catalogue of them stretched back in his memory. He knew
the coat of arms displayed by each house. He could repeat their
legends.

"I wish you could tell me more," he went on. "Can't you recollect
anything further about your early childhood, your first
impressions--the house, the woman who taught you to pray, the old
black mammy? Any little thing might be of priceless value as
evidence."

Alice shrugged her shoulders after the creole fashion with
something of her habitual levity of manner, and laughed. His
earnestness seemed disproportioned to the subject, as she fancied
he must view it, although to her it had always been something to
dream over. It was impossible for her to realize, as he did, the
importance of details in solving a problem like that involved in
her past history. Nor could she feel the pathos and almost tragic
fascination with which her story had touched him.

"There is absolutely nothing more to tell," she said. "All my life
I have tried to remember more, but it's impossible; I can't get
any further back or call up another thing. There's no use trying.
It's all like a dream--probably it is one. I do have such dreams.
In my sleep I can lift myself into the air, just as easy, and fly
back to the same big white house that I seem to remember. When you
told me about your home it was like something that I had often
seen before. I shall be dreaming about it next!"

Beverley cross-questioned her from every possible point of view;
he was fascinated with the mystery; but she gave him nothing out
of which the least further light could be drawn. A half-breed
woman, it seemed, had been her Indian foster-mother; a silent,
grave, watchful guardian from whom not a hint of disclosure ever
fell. She was, moreover, a Christian woman, had received her
conversion from an English-speaking Protestant missionary. She
prayed with Alice, thus keeping in the child's mind a perfect
memory of the Lord's prayer.

"Well," said Beverley at last, "you are more of a mystery to me,
the longer I know you."

"Then I must grow every day more distasteful to you."

"No, I love mystery."

He went away feeling a new web of interest binding him to this
inscrutable maiden whose life seemed to him at once so full of
idyllic happiness and so enshrouded in tantalizing doubt. At the
first opportunity he frankly questioned M. Roussillon, with no
helpful result. The big Frenchman told the same meager story. The
woman was dying in the time of a great epidemic, which killed most
of her tribe. She gave Alice to M. Roussillon, but told him not a
word about her ancestry or previous life. That was all.

A wise old man, when he finds himself in a blind alley, no sooner
touches the terminal wall than he faces about and goes back the
way he came. Under like circumstances a young man must needs try
to batter the wall down with his head. Beverley endeavored to
break through the web of mystery by sheer force. It seemed to him
that a vigorous attempt could not fail to succeed; but, like the
fly in the spider's lines, he became more hopelessly bound at
every move he made. Moreover against his will he was realizing
that he could no longer deceive himself about Alice. He loved her,
and the love was mastering him body and soul. Such a confession
carries with it into an honest masculine heart a sense of
contending responsibilities. In Beverley's case the clash was
profoundly disturbing. And now he clutched the thought that Alice
was not a mere child of the woods, but a daughter of an old family
of cavaliers!

With coat buttoned close against the driving wind, he strode
toward the fort in one of those melodramatic moods to which youth
in all climes and times is subject. It was like a slap in the face
when Captain Helm met him at the stockade gate and said:

"Well, sir, you are good at hiding."

"Hiding! what do you mean, Captain Helm?" he demanded, not in the
mildest tone.

"I mean, sir, that I've been hunting you for an hour and more,
over the whole of this damned town. The English and Indians are
upon us, and there's no time for fooling. Where are all the men?"

Beverley comprehended the situation in a second. Helm's face was
congested with excitement. Some scouts had come in with the news
that Governor Hamilton, at the head of five or six hundred
soldiers and Indians, was only three or four miles up the river.

"Where are all the men?" Helm repeated.

"Buffalo hunting, most of them," said Beverley.

"What in hell are they off hunting buffaloes for?" raged the
excited captain.

"You might go to hell and see," Beverley suggested, and they both
laughed in sheer masculine contempt of a predicament too grave for
anything but grim mirth.

What could they do? Even Oncle Jazon and Rene de Ronville were off
with the hunters. Helm sent for M. Roussillon in the desperate
hope that he could suggest something; but he lost his head and
hustled off to hide his money and valuables. Indeed the French
people all felt that, so far as they were concerned, the chief
thing was to save what they had. They well knew that it mattered
little which of the two masters held over them--they must shift
for themselves. In their hearts they were true to France and
America; but France and America could not now protect them against
Hamilton; therefore it would be like suicide to magnify patriotism
or any other sentiment objectionable to the English. So they acted
upon M. Roussillon's advice and offered no resistance when the new
army approached.

"My poor people are not disloyal to your flag and your cause,"
said good Father Beret next morning to Captain Helm, "but they are
powerless. Winter is upon us. What would you have us do? This
rickety fort is not available for defense; the men are nearly all
far away on the plains. Isn't it the part of prudence and common
sense to make the best of a desperate situation? Should we resist,
the British and their savage allies would destroy the town and
commit outrages too horrible to think about. In this case
diplomacy promises much more than a hopeless fight against an
overwhelming force."

"I'll fight 'em," Helm ground out between his teeth, "if I have to
do it single-handed and alone! I'll fight 'em till hell freezes
over!"

Father Beret smiled grimly, as if he, too, would enjoy a lively
skirmish on the ice of Tophet, and said:

"I admire your courage, my son. Fighting is perfectly proper upon
fair occasion. But think of the poor women and children. These old
eyes of mine have seen some terrible things done by enraged
savages. Men can die fighting; but their poor wives and daughters--
ah, I have seen, I have seen!"

Beverley felt a pang of terror shoot through his heart as Father
Beret's simple words made him think of Alice in connection with an
Indian massacre.

"Of course, of course it's horrible to think of," said Helm; "but
my duty is clear, and that flag," he pointed to where la banniere
d'Alice Roussillon was almost blowing away in the cold wind, "that
flag shall not come down save in full honor."

His speech sounded preposterously boastful and hollow; but he was
manfully in earnest; every word came from his brave heart.

Father Beret's grim smile returned, lighting up his strongly
marked face with the strangest expression imaginable.

"We will get all the women inside the fort," Helm began to say.

"Where the Indians will find them ready penned up and at their
mercy," quickly interpolated the priest "That will not do."

"Well, then, what can be done?" Beverley demanded, turning with a
fierce stare upon Father Beret. "Don't stand there objecting to
everything, with not a suggestion of your own to offer."

"I know what is best for my people," the old man replied softly,
still smiling, "I have advised them to stay inside their houses
and take no part in the military event. It is the only hope of
averting an indiscriminate massacre, and things worse."

The curt phrase, "things worse," went like a bullet-stroke through
Beverley's heart. It flashed an awful picture upon his vision.
Father Beret saw his face whiten and his lips set themselves to
resist a great emotion.

"Do not be angry with me, my son," he said, laying a hand on the
young man's arm. "I may be wrong, but I act upon long and
convincing experience."

"Experience or no experience," Helm exclaimed with an oath, "this
fort must be manned and defended. I am commanding here!"

"Yes, I recognize your authority," responded the priest in a firm
yet deferential tone, "and I heartily wish you had a garrison; but
where is your command, Captain Helm?" Then it was that the doughty
Captain let loose the accumulated profanity with which he had been
for some time well-nigh bursting. He tiptoed in order to curse
with extremest violence. His gestures were threatening. He shook
his fists at Father Beret, without really meaning offence.

"Where is my garrison, you ask! Yes, and I can tell you. It's
where you might expect a gang of dad blasted jabbering French
good-for-nothings to be, off high-gannicking around shooting
buffaloes instead of staying here and defending their wives,
children, homes and country, damn their everlasting souls! The few
I have in the fort will sneak off, I suppose."

"The French gave you this post on easy terms, Captain," blandly
retorted Father Beret.

"Yes, and they'll hand it over to Hamilton, you think, on the same
basis," cried Helm, "but I'll show you! I'll show you, Mr.
Priest!"

"Pardon me, Captain, the French are loyal to you and to the flag
yonder. They have sworn it. Time will prove it. But in the present
desperate dilemma we must choose the safer horn."

Saying this Father Beret turned about and went his way. He was
chuckling heartily as he passed out of the gate.

"He is right," said Beverley after a few moments of reflection,
during which he was wholly occupied with Alice, whose terrified
face in his anticipation appealed to him from the midst of howling
savages, smoking cabins and mangled victims of lust and massacre.
His imagination painted the scene with a merciless realism that
chilled his blood. All the sweet romance fell away from Vincennes.

"Well, sir, right or wrong, your, duty is to obey orders," said
Helm with brutal severity.

"We had better not quarrel, Captain," Beverley replied. "I have
not signified any unwillingness to obey your commands. Give them,
and you will have no cause to grumble."

"Forgive me, old fellow," cried the impulsive commander. "I know
you are true as steel. I s'pose I'm wound up too tight to be
polite. But the time is come to do something. Here we are with but
five or six men--"

He was interrupted by the arrival of two more half-breed scouts.

Only three miles away was a large flotilla of boats and canoes
with cannon, a force of Indians on land and the British flag
flying,--that was the report.

"They are moving rapidly," said the spokesman, "and will be here
very soon. They are at least six hundred strong, all well armed."

"Push that gun to the gate, and load it to the muzzle, Lieutenant
Beverley," Helm ordered with admirable firmness, the purple flush
in his face giving way to a grayish pallor. "We are going to die
right here, or have the honors of war."

Beverley obeyed without a word. He even loaded two guns instead of
one--charging each so heavily that the last wad looked as if ready
to leap from the grimy mouth.

Helm had already begun, on receiving the first report, a hasty
letter to Colonel Clark at Kaskaskia. He now added a few words and
at the last moment sent it out by a trusted man, who was promptly
captured by Hamilton's advance guard. The missive, evidently
written in installments during the slow approach of the British,
is still in the Canadian archives, and runs thus:

"Dear Sir--At this time there is an army within three miles of
this place; I heard of their coming several days beforehand. I
sent spies to find the certainty--the spies being taken prisoner
I never got intelligence till they got within three miles of town.
As I had called the militia and had all assurances of their
integrity I ordered at the firing of a cannon every man to appear,
but I saw but few. Captain Buseron behaved much to his honor and
credit, but I doubt the conduct of a certain gent. Excuse haste,
as the army is in sight. My determination is to defend the
garrison, (sic) though I have but twenty-one men but what has left
me. I refer you to Mr. Wmes (sic) for the rest. The army is within
three hundred yards of the village. You must think how I feel; not
four men that I really depend upon; but am determined to act
brave--think of my condition. I know it is out of my power to
defend the town, as not one of the militia will take arms, though
before sight of the army no braver men. There is a flag at a small
distance, I must conclude.

"Your humble servant,

"Leo'd Helm. Must stop."

"To Colonel Clark."

Having completed this task, the letter shows under what a nervous
strain, Helm turned to his lieutenant and said:

"Fire a swivel with a blank charge. We'll give these weak-kneed
parly-voos one more call to duty. Of course not a frog-eater of
them all will come. But I said that a gun should be the signal.
Possibly they didn't hear the first one, the damned, deaf,
cowardly hounds!"

Beverley wheeled forth the swivel and rammed a charge of powder
home. But when he fired it, the effect was far from what it should
have been. Instead of calling in a fresh body of militia, it
actually drove out the few who up to that moment had remained as a
garrison; so that Captain Helm and his Lieutenant found themselves
quite alone in the fort, while out before the gate, deployed in
fine open order, a strong line of British soldiers approached with
sturdy steps, led by a tall, erect, ruddy-faced young officer.

CHAPTER IX

THE HONORS OF WAR

Gaspard Roussillon was thoroughly acquainted with savage warfare,
and he knew all the pacific means so successfully and so long used
by French missionaries and traders to control savage character;
but the emergency now upon him was startling. It confused him. The
fact that he had taken a solemn oath of allegiance to the American
government could have been pushed aside lightly enough upon
pressing occasion, but he knew that certain confidential agents
left in Vincennes by Governor Abbott had, upon the arrival of
Helm, gone to Detroit, and of course they had carried thither a
full report of all that happened in the church of St. Xavier, when
Father Gibault called the people together, and at the fort, when
the British flag was hauled down and la banniere d'Alice
Roussillon run up in its place. His expansive imagination did full
credit to itself in exaggerating the importance of his part in
handing the post over to the rebels. And what would Hamilton think
of this? Would he consider it treason? The question certainly bore
a tragic suggestion.

M. Roussillon lacked everything of being a coward, and treachery
had no rightful place in his nature. He was, however, so in the
habit of fighting windmills and making mountains of molehills that
he could not at first glance see any sudden presentment with a
normal vision. He had no love for Englishmen and he did like
Americans, but he naturally thought that Helm's talk of fighting
Hamilton was, as his own would have been in a like case, talk and
nothing more. The fort could not hold out an hour, he well knew.
Then what? Ah, he but too well realized the result.

Resistance would inflame the English soldiers and madden the
Indians. There would be a massacre, and the belts of savages would
sag with bloody scalps. He shrugged his shoulders and felt a chill
creep up his back.

The first thing M. Roussillon did was to see Father Beret and take
counsel of him; then he hurried home to dig a great pit under his
kitchen floor in which he buried many bales of fur and all his
most valuable things. He worked like a giant beaver all night
long. Meantime Father Beret went about over the town quietly
notifying the inhabitants to remain in their houses until after
the fort should surrender, which he was sure would happen the next
day.

"You will be perfectly safe, my children," he said to them. "No
harm can come to you if you follow my directions."

Relying implicitly upon him, they scrupulously obeyed in every
particular.

He did not think it necessary to call at Roussillon place, having
already given M. Roussillon the best advice he could command.

Just at the earliest break of day, while yet the gloom of night
scarcely felt the sun's approach, a huge figure made haste along
the narrow streets in the northern part of the town. If any person
had been looking out through the little holes, called windows, in
those silent and rayless huts, it would have been easy to
recognize M. Roussillon by his stature and his gait, dimly
outlined as he was. A thought, which seemed to him an inspiration
of genius, had taken possession of him and was leading him, as if
by the nose, straight away to Hamilton's lines. He was freighted
with eloquence for the ear of that commander, and as he strode
along facing the crisp morning air he was rehearsing under his
breath, emphasizing his periods in tragic whispers with sweeping
gestures and liberal facial contortions. So absorbed was he in his
oratorical soliloquy that he forgot due military precaution and
ran plump into the face of a savage picket guard who, without
respect for the great M. Roussillon's dignity, sprang up before
him, grunted cavernously, flourished a tomahawk and spoke in
excellent and exceedingly guttural Indian:

"Wah, surrender!"

It is probable that no man ever complied with a modest request in
a more docile spirit than did M. Roussillon upon that occasion. In
fact his promptness must have been admirable, for the savage
grunted approval and straightway conducted him to Hamilton's
headquarters on a batteau in the river.

The British commander, a hale man of sandy complexion and probably
under middle age, was in no very pleasant humor. Some of his
orders had been misunderstood by the chief of his Indian allies,
so that a premature exposure of his approach had been made to the
enemy.

"Well, sir, who are you?" he gruffly demanded, when M. Roussillon
loomed before him.

"I am Gaspard Roussillon, the Mayor of Vincennes," was the lofty
reply. "I have come to announce to you officially that my people
greet you loyally and that my town is freely at your command." He
felt as important as if his statements had been true.

"Humph, that's it, is it? Well, Mr. Mayor, you have my
congratulations, but I should prefer seeing the military commander
and accepting his surrender. What account can you give me of the
American forces, their numbers and condition?"

M. Roussillon winced, inwardly at least, under Hamilton's very
undeferential air and style of address. It piqued him cruelly to
be treated as a person without the slightest claim to respect. He
somehow forgot the rolling and rhythmical eloquence prepared for
the occasion.

"The American commander naturally would not confide in me,
Monsieur le Gouverneur, not at all; we are not very friendly; he
ousted me from office, he offended me--" he was coughing and
stammering.

"Oh, the devil! what do I care? Answer my question, sir," Hamilton
gruffly interrupted. "Tell me the number of American troops at the
fort, sir."

"I don't know exactly. I have not had admittance to the fort. I
might be deceived as to numbers; but they're strong, I believe,
Monsieur le Gouverneur, at least they make a great show and much
noise."

Hamilton eyed the huge bulk before him for a moment, then turning
to a subaltern said:

"Place this fellow under guard and see that he doesn't get away.
Send word immediately to Captain Farnsworth that I wish to see him
at once."

The interview thereupon closed abruptly. Hamilton's emissaries had
given him a detailed account of M. Roussillon's share in
submitting Vincennes to rebel dominion, and he was not in the
least inclined toward treating him graciously.

"I would suggest to you, Monsieur le Gouverneur, that my official
position demands--" M. Roussillon began; but he was fastened upon
by two guards, who roughly hustled him aft and bound him so
rigidly that he could scarcely move finger or toe.

Hamilton smiled coldly and turned to give some orders to a
stalwart, ruddy young officer who in a canoe had just rowed
alongside the batteau.

"Captain Farnsworth," he said, acknowledging the military salute,
"you will take fifty men and make everything ready for a
reconnaissance in the direction of the fort. We will move down the
river immediately and choose a place to land. Move lively, we have
no time to lose."

In the meantime Beverley slipped away from the fort and made a
hurried call upon Alice at Roussillon place. There was not much
they could say to each other during the few moments at command.
Alice showed very little excitement; her past experience had
fortified her against the alarms of frontier life; but she
understood and perfectly appreciated the situation.

"What are you going to do?" Beverley demanded in sheer despair. He
was not able to see any gleam of hope out of the blackness which
had fallen around him and into his soul.

"What shall you do?" he repeated.

"Take the chances of war," she said, smiling gravely. "It will all
come out well, no doubt."

"I hope so, but--but I fear not."

His face was gray with trouble. "Helm is determined to fight, and
that means--"

"Good!" she interrupted with spirit. "I am so glad of that. I wish
I could go to help him! If I were a man I'd love to fight! I think
it's just delightful."

"But it is reckless bravado; it is worse than foolishness," said
Beverley, not feeling her mood. "What can two or three men do
against an army?"

"Fight and die like men," she replied, her whole countenance
lighting up. "Be heroic!"

"We will do that, of course; we--I do not fear death; but you--
you--" His voice choked him.

A gun shot rang out clear in the distance, and he did not finish
speaking.

"That's probably the beginning," he added in a moment, extending
both hands to her. "Good bye. I must hurry to the fort. Good bye."

She drew a quick breath and turned so white that her look struck
him like a sudden and hard blow. He stood for a second, his arms
at full reach, then:

"My God, Alice, I cannot, cannot leave you!" he cried, his voice
again breaking huskily.

She made a little movement, as if to take hold of his hands: but
in an instant she stepped back a pace and said;

"Don't fear about me. I can take care of myself. I'm all right.
You'd better return to the fort as quickly as you can. It is your
country, your flag, not me, that you must think of now."

She folded her arms and stood boldly erect.

Never before, in all his life, had he felt such a rebuke. He gave
her a straight, strong look in the eyes.

"You are right, Alice." he cried, and rushed from the house to the
fort.

She held her rigid attitude for a little while after she heard him
shut the front gate of the yard so forcibly that it broke in
pieces, then she flung her arms wide, as if to clasp something,
and ran to the door; but Beverley was out of sight. She turned and
dropped into a chair. Jean came to her out of the next room. His
queer little face was pale and pinched; but his jaw was set with
the expression of one who has known danger and can meet it
somehow.

"Are they going to scalp us?" he half whispered presently, with a
shuddering lift of his distorted shoulders.

Her face was buried in her hands and she did not answer. Childlike
he turned from one question to another inconsequently.

"Where did Papa Roussillon go to?" he next inquired. "Is he going
to fight?"

She shook her head.

"They'll tear down the fort, won't they?"

If she heard him she did not make any sign.

"They'll kill the Captain and Lieutenant and get the fine flag
that you set so high on the fort, won't they, Alice?"

She lifted her head and gave the cowering hunchback such a stare
that he shut his eyes and put up a hand, as if afraid of her. Then
she impulsively took his little misshapen form in her arms and
hugged it passionately. Her bright hair fell all over him, almost
hiding him. Madame Roussillon was lying on a bed in an adjoining
room moaning diligently, at intervals handling her rosary and
repeating a prayer. The whole town was silent outside.

"Why don't you go get the pretty flag down and hide it before they
come?" Jean murmured from within the silken meshes of Alice's
hair.

In his small mind the gaudy banner was the most beautiful of all
things. Every day since it was set up he had gone to gaze at it as
it fluttered against the sky. The men had frequently said in his
presence that the enemy would take it down if they captured the
fort.

Alice heard his inquisitive voice; but it seemed to come from far
off; his words were a part of the strange, wild swirl in her
bosom. Beverley's look, as he turned and left her, now shook every
chord of her being. He had gone to his death at her command. How
strong and true and brave he was! In her imagination she saw the
flag above him, saw him die like a panther at bay, saw the gay rag
snatched down and torn to shreds by savage hands. It was the
tragedy of a single moment, enacted in a flashlight of
anticipation.

She released Jean so suddenly that he fell to the floor. She
remembered what she had said to Beverley on the night of the dance
when they were standing under the flag.

"You made it and set it up," he lightly remarked; "you must see
that no enemy ever gets possession of it, especially the English."

"I'll take it down and hide it when there's danger of that," she
said in the same spirit.

And now she stood there looking at Jean, without seeing him, and
repeated the words under her breath.

"I'll take it down and hide it. They shan't have it."

Madame Roussillon began to call from the other room in a loud,
complaining voice; but Alice gave no heed to her querulous
demands.

"Stay here, Jean, and take care of Mama Roussillon," she presently
said to the hunchback. "I am going out; I'll be back soon; don't
you dare leave the house while I'm gone; do you hear?"

She did not wait for his answer; but snatching a hood-like fur cap
from a peg on the wall, she put it on and hastily left the house.

Down at the fort Helm and Beverley were making ready to resist
Hamilton's attack, which they knew would not be long deferred. The
two heavily charged cannon were planted so as to cover the space
in front of the gate, and some loaded muskets were ranged near by
ready for use.

"We'll give them one hell of a blast," growled the Captain,
"before they overpower us."

Beverley made no response in words; but he was preparing a bit of
tinder on the end of a stick with which to fire the cannon. Not
far away a little heap of logs was burning in the fort's area.

The British officer, already mentioned as at the head of the line
advancing diagonally from the river's bank, halted his men at a
distance of three hundred yards from the fort, and seemed to be
taking a deliberately careful survey of what was before him.

"Let 'em come a little nearer, Lieutenant," said Helm, his jaw
setting itself like a lion's. "When we shoot we want to hit."

He stooped and squinted along his gun.

"When they get to that weedy spot out yonder," he added, "just
opposite the little rise in the river bank, we'll turn loose on
'em."

Beverley had arranged his primitive match to suit his fancy, and
for probably the twentieth time looked critically to the powder in
the beveled touch-hole of his old cannon. He and Helm were facing
the enemy, with their backs to the main area of the stockade, when
a well known voice attracted their attention to the rear.

"Any room for a feller o' my size in this here crowded place?" it
demanded in a cracked but cheerful tenor. "I'm kind o' outen
breath a runnin' to git here."

They turned about. It was Oncle Jazon with his long rifle on his
shoulder and wearing a very important air. He spoke in English,
using the backwoods lingo with the ease of long practice.

"As I's a comin' in f'om a huntin' I tuck notice 'at somepin' was
up. I see a lot o' boats on the river an' some fellers wi' guns a
scootin' around, so I jes' slipped by 'em all an' come in the back
way. They's plenty of 'em, I tell you what! I can't shoot much,
but I tuck one chance at a buck Indian out yander and jes'
happened to hit 'im in the lef' eye. He was one of the gang 'at
scalped me down yander in Kaintuck."

The greasy old sinner looked as if he had not been washed since he
was born. He glanced about with furtive, shifty eyes, grimaced and
winked, after the manner of an animal just waking from a lazy nap.

"Where's the rest o' the fighters?" he demanded quizzically,
lolling out his tongue and peeping past Helm so as to get a
glimpse of the English line. "Where's yer garrison? Have they all
gone to breakfas'?"

The last question set Helm off again cursing and swearing in the
most melodramatic rage.

Oncle Jazon turned to Beverley and said in rapid French: "Surely
the man's not going to fight those fellows yonder?"

Beverley nodded rather gloomily.

"Well," added the old man, fingering his rifle's stock and taking
another glance through the gate, "I can't shoot wo'th a cent,
bein' sort o' nervous like; but I'll stan' by ye awhile, jes' for
luck. I might accidentally hit one of 'em."

When a man is truly brave himself there is nothing that touches
him like an exhibition of absolutely unselfish gameness in
another. A rush of admiration for Oncle Jazon made Beverley feel
like hugging him.

Meantime the young British officer showed a flag of truce, and,
with a file of men, separated himself from the line, now
stationary, and approached the stockade. At a hundred yards he
halted the file and came on alone, waving the white clout. He
boldly advanced to within easy speaking distance and shouted:

"I demand the surrender of this fort."

"Well, you'll not get it, young man," roared Helm, his profanity
well mixed in with the words, "not while there's a man of us
left!"

"Ye'd better use sof' soap on 'im, Cap'n," said Oncle Jazon in
English, "cussin' won't do no good." While he spoke he rubbed the
doughty Captain's arm and then patted it gently.

Helm, who was not half as excited as he pretended to be, knew that
Oncle Jazon's remark was the very essence of wisdom; but he was
not yet ready for the diplomatic language which the old trooper
called "soft soap."

"Are you the British commander?" he demanded.

"No," said the officer, "but I speak for him."

"Not to me by a damned sight, sir. Tell your commander that I will
hear what he has to say from his own mouth. No understrapper will
be recognized by me."

That ended the conference. The young officer, evidently indignant,
strode back to his line, and an hour later Hamilton himself
demanded the unconditional surrender of the fort and garrison.

"Fight for it," Helm stormed forth. "We are soldiers."

Hamilton held a confab with his officers, while his forces, under
cover of the town's cabins, were deploying so as to form a half
circle about the stockade. Some artillery appeared and was planted
directly opposite the gate, not three hundred yards distant. One
blast of that battery would, as Helm well knew, level a large part
of the stockade.

"S'posin' I hev' a cannon, too, seein' it's the fashion," said
Oncle Jazon. "I can't shoot much, but I might skeer 'em. This
little one'll do me."

He set his rifle against the wall and with Beverley's help rolled
one of the swivels alongside the guns already in position.

In a few minutes Hamilton returned under the white flag and
shouted:

"Upon what terms will you surrender?"

"All the honors of war," Helm firmly replied. "It's that or fight,
and I don't care a damn which!"

Hamilton half turned away, as if done with the parley, then facing
the fort again, said:

"Very well, sir, haul down your flag."

Helm was dumfounded at this prompt acceptance of his terms. Indeed
the incident is unique in history.

As Hamilton spoke he very naturally glanced up to where la
banniere d'Alice Roussillon waved brilliantly. Someone stood
beside it on the dilapidated roof of the old blockhouse, and was
already taking it from its place. His aid, Captain Farnsworth, saw
this, and the vision made his heart draw in a strong, hot flood It
was a girl in short skirts and moccasins, with a fur hood on her
head, her face, thrillingly beautiful, set around with fluffs of
wind-blown brown-gold hair. Farnsworth was too young to be
critical and too old to let his eyes deceive him. Every detail of
the fine sketch, with its steel-blue background of sky, flashed
into his mind, sharp-cut as a cameo. Involuntarily he took off his
hat.

Alice had come in by way of the postern. She mounted to the roof
unobserved, and made her way to the flag, just at the moment when
Helm, glad at heart to accept the easiest way out of a tight
place, asked Oncle Jazon to lower it.

Beverley was thinking of Alice, and when he looked up he could
scarcely realize that he saw her; but the whole situation was
plain the instant she snatched the staff from its place; for he,
too, recollected what she had said at the river house. The memory
and the present scene blended perfectly during the fleeting
instant that she was visible. He saw that Alice was smiling
somewhat as in her most mischievous moods, and when she jerked the
staff from its fastening she lifted it high and waved it once,
twice, thrice defiantly toward the British lines, then fled down
the ragged roof-slope with it and disappeared. The vision remained
in Beverley's eyes forever afterward. The English troops, thinking
that the flag was taken down in token of surrender, broke into a
wild tumult of shouting.

Oncle Jazon intuitively understood just what Alice was doing, for
he knew her nature and could read her face. His blood effervesced
in an instant.

"Vive Zhorzh Vasinton! Vive la banniere d'Alice Roussillon!" he
screamed, waving his disreputable cap round his scalpless head.
"Hurrah for George Washington! Hurrah for Alice Roussillon's
flag!"

It was all over soon. Helm surrendered himself and Beverley with
full honors. As for Oncle Jazon, he disappeared at the critical
moment. It was not just to his mind to be a prisoner of war,
especially under existing conditions; for Hamilton's Indian allies
had some old warpath scores to settle with him dating back to the
days when he and Simon Kenton were comrades in Kentucky.

When Alice snatched the banner and descended with it to the
ground, she ran swiftly out through the postern, as she had once
before done, and sped along under cover of the low bluff or swell,
which, terrace-like, bounded the flat "bottom" lands southward of
the stockade. She kept on until she reached a point opposite
Father Beret's hut, to which she then ran, the flag streaming
bravely behind her in the wind, her heart beating time to her
steps.

It was plainly a great surprise to Father Beret, who looked up
from his prayer when she rushed in, making a startling clatter,
the loose puncheons shaking together under her reckless feet.

"Oh, Father, here it is! Hide it, hide it, quick!"

She thrust the flag toward him.

"They shall not have it! They shall never have it!"

He opened wide his shrewd, kindly eyes; but did not fairly
comprehend her meaning.

She was panting, half laughing, half crying. Her hair, wildly
disheveled, hung in glorious masses over her shoulders. Her face
beamed triumphantly,

"They are taking the fort," she breathlessly added, again urging
the flag upon him, "they're going in, but I got this and ran away
with it. Hide it, Father, hide it, quick, quick, before they
come!"

The daring light in her eyes, the witching play of her dimples,
the madcap air intensified by her attitude and the excitement of
the violent exercise just ended--something compounded of all
these and more--affected the good priest strangely. Involuntarily
he crossed himself, as if against a dangerous charm.

"Mon Dieu, Father Beret," she exclaimed with impatience, "haven't
you a grain of sense left? Take this flag and hide it, I tell you!
Don't stay there gazing and blinking. Here, quick! They saw me
take it, they may be following me. Hurry, hide it somewhere!"

He comprehended now, rising from his knees with a queer smile
broadening on his face. She put the banner into his hands and gave
him a gentle push.

"Hide it, I tell you, hide it, you dear old goose!"

Without sneaking he turned the staff over and over in his hand,
until the flag was closely wrapped around it, then stooping he
lifted a puncheon and with it covered the gay roll from sight.

Alice caught him in her arms and kissed him vigorously on the
cheek. Her warm lips made the spot tingle.

"Don't you dare to let any person have it! It's the flag of George
Washington."

She gave him a strong squeeze.

He pushed her from him with both hands and hastily crossed
himself; but his eyes were laughing.

"You ought to have seen me; I waved the flag at them--at the
English--and one young officer took off his hat to me! Oh, Father
Beret, it was like what is in a novel. They'll get the fort, but
not the banner! Not the banner! I've saved it, I've saved it!"

Her enthusiasm gave a splendor to her countenance, heightening its
riches of color and somehow adding to its natural girlish
expression an audacious sweetness. The triumphant success of her
undertaking lent the dignity of conscious power to her look, a
dignity which always sits well upon a young and somewhat
immaturely beautiful face.

Father Beret could not resist her fervid eloquence, and he could
not run away from her or stop up his ears while she went on. So he
had to laugh when she said:

"Oh, if you had seen it all you would have enjoyed it. There was
Oncle Jazon squatting behind the little swivel, and there were
Captain Helm and Lieutenant Beverley holding their burning sticks
over the big cannon ready to shoot--all of them so intent that
they didn't see me--and yonder came the English officer and his
army against the three. When they got close to the gate the
officer called out: 'Surrender!' and then Captain Helm yelled
back: 'Damned if I do! Come another step and I'll blow you all to
hell in a second!' I was mightily in hopes that they'd come on; I
wanted to see a cannon ball hit that English commander right in
the face; he looked so arrogant."

Father Beret shook his head and tried to look disapproving and
solemn.

Meantime down at the fort Hamilton was demanding the flag. He had
seen Alice take it down, and supposed that it was lowered
officially and would be turned over to him. Now he wanted to
handle it as the best token of his bloodless but important
victory.

"I didn't order the flag down until after I had accepted your
terms," said Helm, "and when my man started to obey, we saw a
young lady snatch it and run away with it."

"Who was the girl?"

"I do not inform on women," said Helm.

Hamilton smiled grimly, with a vexed look in his eyes, then turned
to Captain Farnsworth and ordered him to bring up M. Roussillon,
who, when he appeared, still had his hands tied together.

"Tell me the name of the young woman who carried away the flag
from the fort. You saw her, you know every soul in this town. Who
was it, sir?"

It was a hard question for M. Roussillon to answer. Although his
humiliating captivity had somewhat cowed him, still his love for
Alice made it impossible for him to give the information demanded
by Hamilton. He choked and stammered, but finally managed to say:

"I assure you that I don't know--I didn't look--I didn't see--It
was too far off for me to--I was some-what excited--I--"

"Take him away. Keep him securely bound," said Hamilton. "Confine
him. We'll see how long it will take to refresh his mind. We'll
puncture the big windbag."

While this curt scene was passing, the flag of Great Britain rose
over the fort to the lusty cheering of the victorious soldiers.

Hamilton treated Helm and Beverley with extreme courtesy. He was a
soldier, gruff, unscrupulous and cruel to a degree; but he could
not help admiring the daring behavior of these two officers who
had wrung from him the best terms of surrender. He gave them full
liberty, on parole of honor not to attempt escape or to aid in any
way an enemy against him while they were prisoners.

Nor was it long before Helm's genial and sociable disposition won
the Englishman's respect and confidence to such an extent that the
two became almost inseparable companions, playing cards, brewing
toddies, telling stories, and even shooting deer in the woods
together, as if they had always been the best of friends.

Hamilton did not permit his savage allies to enter the town, and
he immediately required the French inhabitants to swear allegiance
to Great Britain, which they did with apparent heartiness, all
save M. Roussillon, who was kept in close confinement and bound
like a felon, chafing lugubriously and wearing the air of a
martyr. His prison was a little log pen in one corner of the
stockade, much open to the weather, its gaping cracks giving him a
dreary view of the frozen landscape through which the Wabash
flowed in a broad steel-gray current. Helm, who really liked him,
tried in vain to procure his release; but Hamilton was inexorable
on account of what he regarded as duplicity in M. Roussillon's
conduct.

"No, I'll let him reflect," he said; "there's nothing like a
little tyranny to break up a bad case of self-importance. He'll
soon find out that he has over-rated himself!"

CHAPTER X

M. ROUSSILLON ENTERTAINS COLONEL HAMILTON

A day or two after the arrival of Hamilton the absent garrison of
buffalo hunters straggled back to Vincennes and were duly sworn to
demean themselves as lawful subjects of Great Britain. Rene de
Ronville was among the first to take the oath, and it promptly
followed that Hamilton ordered him pressed into service as a wood-
chopper and log-hauler during the erection of a new blockhouse,
large barracks and the making of some extensive repairs of the
stockade. Nothing could have been more humiliating to the proud
young Frenchman. Every day he had to report bright and early to a
burly Irish Corporal and be ordered about, as if he had been a
slave, cursed at, threatened and forced to work until his hands
were blistered and his muscles sore. The bitterest part of it all
was that he had to trudge past both Roussillon place and the
Bourcier cabin with the eyes of Alice and Adrienne upon him.

Hamilton did not forget M. Roussillon in this connection. The
giant orator soon found himself face to face with a greater trial
even than Rene's. He was calmly told by the English commander that
he could choose between death and telling who it was that stole
the flag.

"I'll have you shot, sir, to-morrow morning if you prevaricate
about this thing any longer," said Hamilton, with a right deadly
strain in his voice. "You told me that you knew every man, woman
and child in Vincennes at sight. I know that you saw that girl
take the flag--lying does not serve your turn. I give you until
this evening to tell me who she is; if you fail, you die at
sunrise to-morrow."

In fact, it may be that Hamilton did not really purpose to carry
out this blood-thirsty threat; most probably he relied upon M.
Roussillon's imagination to torture him successfully; but the
effect, as time proved, could not be accurately foreseen.

Captain Farnsworth had energy enough for a dozen ordinary men.
Before he had been in Vincennes twelve hours he had seen every
nook and corner of its surface. Nor was his activity due
altogether to military ardor, although he never let pass an
opportunity to serve the best interests of his commander; all the
while his mind was on the strikingly beautiful girl whose saucy
countenance had so dazzled him from the roof-top of the fort, what
time she wrenched away the rebel flag.

"I'll find her, high or low," he thought, "for I never could fail
to recognize that face. She's a trump."

It was not in Alice's nature to hide from the English. They had
held the town and fort before Helm came, and she had not found
them troublesome under Abbott. She did not know that M. Roussillon
was a prisoner, the family taking it for granted that he had gone
away to avoid the English. Nor was she aware that Hamilton felt so
keenly the disappearance of the flag. What she did know, and it
gladdened her greatly, was that Beverley had been well treated by
his captor. With this in her heart she went about Roussillon place
singing merry snatches of Creole songs; and when at the gate,
which still hung lop-sided on account of Beverley's force in
shutting it, she came unexpectedly face to face with Captain
Farnsworth, there was no great surprise on her part.

He lifted his hat and bowed very politely; but a bold smile broke
over his somewhat ruddy face. He spoke in French, but in a
drawling tone and with a bad accent:

"How do you do, Mademoiselle; I am right glad to see you again."

Alice drew back a pace or two. She was quick to understand his
allusion, and she shrank from him, fearing that he was going to
inquire about the flag.

"Don't be afraid," he laughed. "I am not so dangerous. I never did
hurt a girl in all my life. In fact, I am fond of them when
they're nice."

"I am not in the least afraid," she replied, assuming an air of
absolute dismissal, "and you don't look a bit ferocious, Monsieur.
You may pass on, if you please."

He flushed and bit his lip, probably to keep back some hasty
retort, and thought rapidly for a moment. She looked straight at
him with eyes that stirred and dazzled him. He was handsome in a
coarse way, like a fine young animal, well groomed, well fed,
magnetic, forceful; but his boldness, being of a sort to which she
had not been accustomed, disturbed her vaguely and strangely.

"Suppose that I don't pass on?" he presently ventured, with just a
suspicion of insolence in his attitude, but laughing until he
showed teeth of remarkable beauty and whiteness. "Suppose that I
should wish to have a little chat with you, Mademoiselle?"

"I have been told that there are men in the world who think
themselves handsome, and clever, and brilliant, when in fact they
are but conceited simpletons," she remarked, rather indifferently,
muffling herself in her fur wrap. "You certainly would be a fairly
good hitching-post for our horses if you never moved." Then she
laughed out of the depth of her hood, a perfectly merry laugh, but
not in the least flattering to Captain Farnsworth's vanity. He
felt the scorn that it conveyed.

His face grew redder, while a flash from hers made him wish that
he had been more gracious in his deportment. Here, to his
surprise, was not a mere creole girl of the wild frontier.

Her superiority struck him with the force of a captivating
revelation, under the light of which he blinked and winced.

She laid a shapely hand on the broken gate and pushed it open.

"I beg your pardon, Mademoiselle;" his manner softened as he
spoke; "I beg your pardon; but I came to speak to you about the
flag--the flag you took away from the fort."

She had been half expecting this; but she was quite unprepared,
and in spite of all she could do showed embarrassment.

"I have come to get the flag; if you will kindly bring it to me,
or tell me where it is I--"

She quickly found words to interrupt him with, and at the same
time by a great effort pulled herself together.

"You have come to the wrong place," she flung in. "I assure you
that I haven't the flag."

"You took it down, Mademoiselle."

"Oh, did I?"

"With bewitching grace you did, Mademoiselle. I saw and admired.
Will you fetch it, please?"

"Indeed I won't."

The finality in her voice belied her face, which beamed without a
ray of stubbornness or perversity. He did not know how to
interpret her; but he felt that he had begun wrong. He half
regretted that he had begun at all.

"More depends upon returning that flag than you are probably aware
of," he presently said in a more serious tone. "In fact, the life
of one of your townsmen, and a person of some importance here I
believe, will surely be saved by it. You'd better consider,
Mademoiselle. You wouldn't like to cause the death of a man."

She did not fairly grasp the purport of his words; yet the change
in his manner, and the fact that he turned from French to English
in making the statement, aroused a sudden feeling of dread or dark
apprehension in her breast. The first distinct thought was of
Beverley--that some deadly danger threatened him.

"Who is it?" she frankly demanded.

"It's the Mayor, the big man of your town, Monsieur Roussillon, I
think he calls himself. He's got himself into a tight place. He'll
be shot to-morrow morning if that flag is not produced. Governor
Hamilton has so ordered, and what he orders is done."

"You jest, Monsieur."

"I assure you that I speak the plain truth."

"You will probably catch Monsieur Roussillon before you shoot
him." She tossed her head.

"He is already a prisoner in the fort."

Alice turned pale.

"Monsieur, is this true?" Her voice had lost its happy tone. "Are
you telling me that to--"

"You can verify it, Mademoiselle, by calling upon the commander at
the fort. I am sorry that you doubt my veracity. If you will go
with me I will show you M. Roussillon a tightly bound prisoner."

Jean had crept out of the gate and was standing just behind Alice
with his feet wide apart, his long chin elevated, his head resting
far back between his upthrust shoulders, his hands in his pockets,
his uncanny eyes gazing steadily at Farnsworth. He looked like a
deformed frog ready to jump.

Alice unmistakably saw truth in the Captain's countenance and felt
it in his voice. The reality came to her with unhindered effect.
M. Roussillon's life depended upon the return of the flag. She put
her hands together and for a moment covered her eyes with them.

"I will go now, Mademoiselle," said Farnsworth; "but I hope you
will be in great haste about returning the flag."

He stood looking at her. He was profoundly touched and felt that
to say more would be too brutal even for his coarse nature; so he
simply lifted his hat and went away.

Jean took hold of Alice's dress as she turned to go back into the
house.

"Is he going to take the flag? Can he find it? What does he want
with it? What did you do with the flag, Alice?" he whined, in his
peculiar, quavering voice. "Where is it?"

Her skirt dragged him along as she walked.

"Where did you put it, Alice?"

"Father Beret hid it under his floor," she answered,
involuntarily, and almost unconsciously. "I shall have to take it
back and give it up."

"No--no--I wouldn't," he quavered, dancing across the veranda as
she quickened her pace and fairly spun him along. "I wouldn't let
'em have it at all."

Alice's mind was working with lightning speed. Her imagination
took strong grip on the situation so briefly and effectively
sketched by Captain Farnsworth. Her decision formed itself
quickly.

"Stay here, Jean. I am going to the fort. Don't tell Mama
Roussillon a thing. Be a good boy."

She was gone before Jean could say a word. She meant to face
Hamilton at once and be sure what danger menaced M. Roussillon. Of
course, the flag must be given up if that would save her foster
father any pain; and if his life were in question there could not
be too great haste on her part.

She ran directly to the stockade gate and breathlessly informed a
sentinel that she must see Governor Hamilton, into whose presence
she was soon led. Captain Farnsworth had preceded her but a minute
or two, and was present when she entered the miserable shed room
where the commander was having another talk with M. Roussillon.

The meeting was a tableau which would have been comical but for
the pressure of its tragic possibilities. Hamilton, stern and
sententious, stood frowning upon M. Roussillon, who sat upon the
ground, his feet and hands tightly bound, a colossal statue of
injured innocence.

Alice, as soon as she saw M. Roussillon, uttered a cry of
sympathetic endearment and flung herself toward him with open
arms. She could not reach around his great shoulders; but she did
her best to include the whole bulk.

"Papa! Papa Roussillon!" she chirruped between the kisses that she
showered upon his weather-beaten face.

Hamilton and Farnsworth regarded the scene with curious and
surprised interest. M. Roussillon began speaking rapidly; but
being a Frenchman he could not get on well with his tongue while
his hands were tied. He could shrug his shoulders; that helped him
some.

"I am to be shot, MA PETITE," he pathetically growled in his deep
bass voice; "shot like a dog at sunrise to-morrow."

Alice kissed M. Roussillon's rough cheek once more and sprang to
her feet facing Hamilton.

"You are not such a fiend and brute as to kill Papa Roussillon,"
she cried. "Why do you want to injure my poor, good papa?"

"I believe you are the young lady that stole the flag?" Hamilton
remarked, smiling contemptuously.

She looked at him with a swift flash of indignation as he uttered
these words.

"I am not a thief. I could not steal what was my own. I helped to
make that flag. It was named after me. I took it because it was
mine. You understand me, Monsieur."

"Tell where it is and your father's life will be spared."

She glanced at M. Roussillon.

"No, Alice," said he, with a pathetically futile effort to make a
fine gesture, "don't do it. I am brave enough to die. You would
not have me act the coward."

No onlooker would have even remotely suspected the fact that M.
Roussillon had chanced to overhear a conversation between Hamilton
and Farnsworth, in which Hamilton stated that he really did not
intend to hurt M. Roussillon in any event; he merely purposed to
humiliate the "big wind-bag!"

"Ah, no; let me die bravely for honor's sake--I fear death far
less than dishonor! They can shoot me, my little one, but they
cannot break my proud spirit." He tried to strike his breast over
his heart.

"Perhaps it would be just as well to let him be shot," said
Hamilton gruffly, and with dry indifference. "I don't fancy that
he's of much value to the community at best. He'll make a good
target for a squad, and we need an example."

"Do you mean it?--you ugly English brute--would you murder him?"
she stamped her foot.

"Not if I get that flag between now and sundown. Otherwise I shall
certainly have him shot. It is all in your hands, Mademoiselle.
You can tell me where the flag is." Hamilton smiled again with
exquisite cruelty.

Farnsworth stood by gazing upon Alice in open admiration. Her
presence had power in it, to which he was very susceptible.

"You look like a low, dishonorable, soulless tyrant," she said to
Hamilton, "and if you get my flag, how shall I know that you will
keep your promise and let Papa Roussillon go free?"

"I am sorry to say that you will have to trust me, unless you'll
take Captain Farnsworth for security. The Captain is a gentleman,
I assure you. Will you stand good for my veracity and sincerity,
Captain Farnsworth?"

The young man smiled and bowed.

Alice felt the irony; and her perfectly frank nature preferred to
trust rather than distrust the sincerity of others. She looked at
Farnsworth, who smiled encouragingly.

"The flag is under Father Beret's floor," she said.

"Under the church floor?"

"No, under the floor of his house."

"Where is his house?"

She gave full directions how to reach it.

"Untie the prisoner," Hamilton ordered, and it was quickly done.
"Monsieur Roussillon, I congratulate you upon your narrow escape.
Go to the priest's house, Monsieur, and bring me that flag. It
would be well, I assure you, not to be very long about it. Captain
Farnsworth, you will send a guard with Monsieur Roussillon, a
guard of honor, fitting his official dignity, a Corporal and two
men. The honorable Mayor of this important city should not go
alone upon so important an errand. He must have his attendants."

"Permit me to go myself and get it," said Alice, "I can do it
quickly. May I, please, Monsieur?"

Hamilton looked sharply at her.

"Why, certainly, Mademoiselle, certainly. Captain Farnsworth, you
will escort the young lady."

"It is not necessary, Monsieur."

"Oh, yes, it is necessary, my dear young lady, very necessary; so
let's not have further words. I'll try to entertain his honor, the
Mayor, while you go and get the flag. I feel sure, Mademoiselle,
that you'll return with it in a few minutes. But you must not go
alone."

Alice set forth immediately, and Farnsworth, try as hard as he
would, could never reach her side, so swift was her gait.

When they arrived at Father Beret's cabin, she turned and said
with imperious severity:

"Don't you come in; you stay out here: I'll get it in a minute."

Farnsworth obeyed her command.

The door was wide open, but Father Beret was not inside; he had
gone to see a sick child in the outskirts of the village. Alice
looked about and hesitated. She knew the very puncheon that
covered the flag; but she shrank from lifting it. There seemed
nothing else to do, however; so, after some trouble with herself,
she knelt upon the floor and turned the heavy slab over with a
great thump. The flag did not appear. She peeped under the other
puncheons. It was not there. The only thing visible was a little
ball of paper fragments not larger than an egg.

Farnsworth heard her utter a low cry of surprise or dismay, and
was on the point of going in when Father Beret, coming around the
corner of the cabin, confronted him. The meeting was so sudden and
unexpected that both men recoiled slightly, and then, with a
mutual stare, saluted.

"I came with a young lady to get the flag," said Farnsworth. "She
is inside. I hope there is no serious intrusion. She says the flag
is hidden under your floor."

Father Beret said nothing, but frowning as if much annoyed,
stepped through the doorway to Alice's side, and stooping where
she knelt, laid a hand on her shoulder as she glanced up and
recognized him.

"What are you doing, my child?"

"Oh, Father, where is the flag?" It was all that she could say.
"Where is the flag?"

"Why, isn't it there?"

"No, you see it isn't there! Where is it?"

The priest stood as if dumfounded, gazing into the vacant space
uncovered by the puncheon.

"Is it gone? Has some one taken it away?"

They turned up all the floor to no avail. La banniere d'Alice
Roussillon had disappeared, and Captain Farnsworth went forthwith
to report the fact to his commander. When he reached the shed at
the angle of the fort he found Governor Hamilton sitting stupid
and dazed on the ground. One jaw was inflamed and swollen and an
eye was half closed and bloodshot. He turned his head with a
painful, irregular motion and his chin sagged.

Farnsworth sprang to him and lifted him to his feet; but he could
scarcely stand. He licked his lips clumsily.

"What is the matter? What hurt you?"

The Governor rubbed his forehead trying to recollect.

"He struck me," he presently said with difficulty. "He hit me with
his fist Where--where is he?"

"Who?"

"That big French idiot--that Roussillon--go after him, take him,
shoot him--quick! I have been stunned; I don't know how long he's
been gone. Give the alarm--do something!"

Hamilton, as he gathered his wits together, began to foam with
rage, and his passion gave his bruised and swollen face a terrible
look.

The story was short, and may be quickly told. M. Roussillon had
taken advantage of the first moment when he and Hamilton were left
alone. One herculean buffet, a swinging smash of his enormous fist
on the point of the Governors jaw, and then he walked out of the
fort unchallenged, doubtless on account of his lordly and
masterful air.

"Ziff!" he exclaimed, shaking himself and lifting his shoulders,
when he had passed beyond hearing of the sentinel at the gate,
"ziff! I can punch a good stiff stroke yet, Monsieur le
Gouverneur. Ah, ziff!" and he blew like a porpoise.

Every effort was promptly made to recapture M. Roussillon; but his
disappearance was absolute; even the reward offered for his scalp
by Hamilton only gave the Indians great trouble--they could not
find the man.

Such a beginning of his administration of affairs at Vincennes did
not put Hamilton into a good humor. He was overbearing and
irascible at best, and under the irritation of small but
exceedingly unpleasant experiences he made life well-nigh
unendurable to those upon whom his dislike chanced to fall.
Beverley quickly felt that it was going to be very difficult for
him and Hamilton to get along agreeably. With Helm it was quite
different; smoking, drinking, playing cards, telling good stories--
in a word, rude and not unfrequently boisterous conviviality drew
him and the commandant together.

Under Captain Farnsworth's immediate supervision the fort was soon
in excellent repair and a large blockhouse and comfortable
quarters for the men were built. Every day added to the strength
of the works and to the importance of the post as a strategic
position for the advance guard of the British army.

Hamilton was ambitious to prove himself conspicuously valuable to
his country. He was dreaming vast dreams and laying large plans.
The Indians were soon anxious to gain his favor; and to bind them
securely to him he offered liberal pay in rum and firearms,
blankets, trinkets and ammunition for the scalps of rebels. He
kept this as secret as possible from his prisoners; but Beverley
soon suspected that a "traffic in hair," as the terrible business
had been named, was going on. Savages came in from far away with
scalps yet scarcely dry dangling at their belts. It made the young
Virginian's blood chill in his heart, and he regretted that he had
given Hamilton his parole of honor not to attempt to escape.

Among the Indians occasionally reporting to Hamilton with their
ghastly but valuable trophies was Long-Hair, who slipped into the
fort and out again rather warily, not having much confidence in
those Frenchmen who had once upon a time given him a memorable run
for his life.

Winter shut down, not cold, but damp, changeable, raw. The work on
the fort was nearly completed, and Rene de Ronville would have
soon been relieved of his servile and exasperating employment
under the Irish Corporal; but just at the point of time when only
a few days' work remained for him, he became furious, on account
of an insulting remark, and struck the Corporal over the head with
a handspike. This happened in a wood some miles from town, where
he was loading logs upon a sled. There chanced to be no third
person present when the deed was done, and some hours passed
before they found the officer quite cold and stiff beside the
sled. His head was crushed to a pulp.

Hamilton, now thoroughly exasperated, began to look upon the
French inhabitants of Vincennes as all like M. Roussillon and
Rene, but waiting for an opportunity to strike him unawares. He
increased his military vigilance, ordered the town patrolled day
and night, and forbade public gatherings of the citizens, while at
the same time he forced them to furnish him a large amount of
provisions.

When little Adrienne Bourcier heard of Renews terrible act,
followed by his successful escape to the woods, and of the
tempting reward offered by Hamilton for his scalp, she ran to
Roussillon place well-nigh crazed with excitement. She had always
depended upon Alice for advice, encouragement and comfort in her
troubles; but in the present case there was not much that her
friend could do to cheer her. With M. Roussillon and Rene both
fugitives, tracked by wily savages, a price on their heads, while
every day added new dangers to the French inhabitants of
Vincennes, no rosy view could possibly be taken of the situation.
Alice did her best, however, to strengthen her little friend's
faith in a happy outcome. She quoted what she considered
unimpeachable authority to support her optimistic argument.

"Lieutenant Beverley says that the Americans will be sure to drive
Hamilton out of Vincennes, or capture him. Probably they are not
so very far away now, and Rene may join them and come back to help
punish these brutal Englishmen. Don't you wish he would, Adrienne?
Wouldn't it be romantic?"

"He's armed, I know that," said Adrienne, brightening a little,
"and he's brave, Alice, brave as can be. He came right back into
town the other night and got his gun and pistols. He was at our
house, too, and, oh!--"

She burst out crying again. "O Alice! It breaks my heart to think
that the Indians will kill him. Do you think they will kill him,
Alice?"

"He'll come nearer killing them," said Alice confidently, with her
strong, warm arms around the tiny lass; "he's a good woodsman, a
fine shot--he's not so easy to kill, my dear. If he and Papa
Roussillon should get together by chance they would be a match for
all the Indians in the country. Anyway, I feel that it's much
better for them to take their chances in the woods than to be in
the hands of Governor Hamilton. If I were a man I'd do just as
Papa Roussillon and Rene did; I'd break the bigoted head of every
Englishman that mistreated me, I'll do it, girl as I am, if they
annoy me, see if I don't!"

She was thinking of Captain Farnsworth, who had been from the
first untiring in his efforts to gain something more than a
passing acquaintance. As yet he had not made himself unbearable;
but Alice's fine intuition led her to the conclusion that she must
guard against him from the outset.

Adrienne's simple heart could not grasp the romantic criterion
with which Alice was wont to measure action. Her mind was single,
impulsive, narrow and direct in all its movements. She loved,
hated, desired, caressed, repulsed, not for any assignable reason
more solid or more luminous than "because." She adored Rene and
wanted him near her. He was a hero in her imagination, no matter
what he did. Little difference was it to her whether he hauled
logs for the English or smoked his pipe in idleness by the winter
fire--what could it matter which flag he served under, so that he
was true to her? Or whom he served if she could always have him
coming to see her and calling her his little pet? He might crush
an Irish Corporal's head every day, if he would but stroke her
hair and say: "My sweet little one."

"Why couldn't he be quiet and do as your man, Lieutenant Beverley,
did?" she cried in a sudden change of mood, the tears streaming
down her cheeks. "Lieutenant Beverley surrendered and took the
consequences. He didn't kill somebody and run off to be hunted
like a bear. No wonder you're happy, Alice; I'd be happy, too, if
Rene were here and came to spend half of every day with me. I--"

"Why, what a silly girl you are!" Alice exclaimed, her face
reddening prettily. "How foolishly you prattle! I'm sure I don't
trouble myself about Lieutenant Beverley--what put such absurd
nonsense into your head, Adrienne?"

"Because, that's what, and you know it's so, too. You love him
just as much as I love Rene, and that's just all the love in the
world, and you needn't deny it, Alice Roussillon!"

Alice laughed and hugged the wee, brown-faced mite of a girl until
she almost smothered her.

It was growing dusk when Adrienne left Roussillon place to go
home. The wind cut icily across the commons and moaned as it
whirled around the cabins and cattle-sheds. She ran briskly,
muffled in a wrap, partly through fear and partly to keep warm,
and had gone two-thirds of her way when she was brought to an
abrupt stop by the arms of a man. She screamed sharply, and Father
Beret, who was coming out of a cabin not far away, heard and knew
the voice.

"Ho-ho, my little lady!" cried Adrienne's captor in a breezy,
jocund tone, "you wouldn't run over a fellow, would you?" The
words were French, but the voice was that of Captain Farnsworth,
who laughed while he spoke. "You jump like a rabbit, my darling!
Why, what a lively little chick of a girl it is!"

Adrienne screamed and struggled recklessly.

"Now don't rouse up the town," coaxed the Captain. He was just
drunk enough to be quite a fool, yet sufficiently sober to imagine
himself the most proper person in the world. "I don't mean you any
harm, Mademoiselle; I'll just see you safe home, you know; 'scort
you to your residence; come on, now--that's a good girl."

Father Beret hurried to the spot, and when in the deepening gloom
he saw Adrienne flinging herself violently this way and that,
helplessly trying to escape from the clasp of a man, he did to
perfection what a priest is supposed to be the least fitted to do.
Indeed, considering his age and leaving his vocation out of the
reckoning, his performance was amazing. It is not certain that the
blow dealt upon Governor Hamilton's jaw by M. Roussillon was a
stiffer one than that sent straight from the priest's shoulder
right into the short ribs of Captain Farnsworth, who there-upon
released a mighty grunt and doubled himself up.

Adrienne recognized her assailant at the first and used his name
freely during the struggle. When Father Beret appeared she cried
out to him--

"Oh, Father--Father Beret! help me! help me!"

When Farnsworth recovered from the breath-expelling shock of the
jab in his side and got himself once more in a vertical position,
both girl and priest were gone. He looked this way and that,
rapidly becoming sober, and beginning to wonder how the thing
could have happened so easily. His ribs felt as if they had been
hit with a heavy hammer.

"By Jove!" he muttered all to himself, "the old prayer-singing
heathen! By Jove!" And with this very brilliant and relevant
observation he rubbed his sore side and went his way to the fort.

CHAPTER XI

A SWORD AND A HORSE PISTOL

We hear much about the "days that tried men's souls"; but what
about the souls of women in those same days? Sitting in the
liberal geniality of the nineteenth century's sunset glow, we
insist upon having our grumble at the times and the manners of our
generation; but if we had to exchange places, periods and
experiences with the people who lived in America through the last
quarter of the eighteenth century, there would be good ground for
despairing ululations. And if our men could not bear it, if it
would try their souls too poignantly, let us imagine the effect
upon our women. No, let us not imagine it; but rather let us give
full credit to the heroic souls of the mothers and the maidens who
did actually bear up in the center of that terrible struggle and
unflinchingly help win for us not only freedom, but the vast
empire which at this moment is at once the master of the world and
the model toward which all the nations of the earth are slowly but
surely tending.

If Alice was an extraordinary girl, she was not aware of it; nor
had she ever understood that her life was being shaped by
extraordinary conditions. Of course it could not but be plain to
her that she knew more and felt more than the girls of her narrow
acquaintance; that her accomplishments were greater; that she
nursed splendid dreams of which they could have no proper
comprehension, but until now she had never even dimly realized
that she was probably capable of being something more than a mere
creole lass, the foster daughter of Gaspard Roussillon, trader in
pelts and furs. Even her most romantic visions had never taken the
form of personal desire, or ambition in its most nebulous stage;
they had simply pleased her fresh and natural fancy and served to
gild the hardness and crudeness of her life,--that was all.

Her experiences had been almost too terrible for belief, viewed at
our distance from them; she had passed through scenes of
incredible horror and suffering, but her nature had not been
chilled, stunted or hardened. In body and in temper her
development had been sound and beautiful. It was even thus that
our great-grandmothers triumphed over adversity, hardship,
indescribable danger. We cannot say that the strong, lithe, happy-
hearted Alice of old Vincennes was the only one of her kind. Few
of us who have inherited the faded portraits of our revolutionary
forbears can doubt that beauty, wit and great lovableness
flourished in the cabins of pioneers all the way from the Edisto
to the Licking, from the Connecticut to the Wabash.

Beverley's advent could not fail to mean a great deal in the life
of a girl like Alice; a new era, as it were, would naturally begin
for her the moment that his personal influence touched her
imagination; but it is well not to measure her too strictly by the
standard of our present taste and the specialized forms of our
social and moral code. She was a true child of the wilderness, a
girl who grew, as the wild prairie rose grew, not on account of
innumerable exigencies, accidents and hardships, but in spite of
them. She had blushed unseen, and had wasted divine sweets upon a
more than desert air. But when Beverley came near her, at first
carelessly droning his masculine monotonies, as the wandering bee
to the lonely and lovely rose, and presently striking her soul as
with the wings of Love, there fell a change into her heart of
hearts, and lo! her haunting and elusive dreams began to condense
and take on forms that startled her with their wonderful splendor
and beauty. These she saw all the time, sleeping or waking; they
made bright summer of the frozen stream and snapping gale, the
snowdrifts and the sleet. In her brave young heart, swelled the
ineffable song--the music never yet caught by syrinx or flute or
violin, the words no tongue can speak.

Ah, here may be the secret of that vigorous, brave, sweet life of
our pioneer maids, wives, and mothers. It was love that gave those
tender hearts the iron strength and heroic persistence at which
the world must forever wonder. And do we appreciate those women?
Let the Old World boast its crowned kings, its mailed knights, its
ladies of the court and castle; but we of the New World, we of the
powerful West, let us brim our cups with the wine of undying
devotion, and drink to the memory of the Women of the Revolution,
--to the humble but good and marvelously brave and faithful women
like those of old Vincennes.

But if Alice was being radically influenced by Beverley, he in
turn found a new light suffusing his nature, and he was not
unaware that it came out of her eyes, her face, her smiles, her
voice, her soul. It was the old, well-known, inexplicable, mutual
magnetism, which from the first has been the same on the highest
mountain-top and in the lowest valley. The queen and the milkmaid,
the king and the hind may come together only to find the king
walking off with the lowly beauty and her fragrant pail, while
away stalks the lusty rustic, to be lord and master of the queen.
Love is love, and it thrives in all climes, under all conditions.

There is an inevitable and curious protest that comes up unbidden
between lovers; it takes many forms in accordance with particular
circumstances. It is the demand for equality and perfection. Love
itself is without degrees--it is perfect--but when shall it see
the perfect object? It does see it, and it does not see it, in
every beloved being. Beverley found his mind turning, as on a
pivot, round and round upon the thought that Alice might be
impossible to him. The mystery of her life seemed to force her
below the line of his aristocratic vision, so that he could not
fairly consider her, and yet with all his heart he loved her.
Alice, on the other hand, had her bookish ideal to reckon with,
despite the fact that she daily dashed it contemptuously down. She
was different from Adrienne Bourcier, who bewailed the absence of
her un-tamable lover; she wished that Beverley had not, as she
somehow viewed it, weakly surrendered to Hamilton. His apparently
complacent acceptance of idle captivity did not comport with her
dream of knighthood and heroism. She had been all the time half
expecting him to do something that would stamp him a hero.

Counter protests of this sort are never sufficiently vigorous to
take a fall out of Love; they merely serve to worry his temper by
lightly hindering his feet. And it is surprising how Love does
delight himself with being entangled.

Both Beverley and Alice day by day felt the cord tightening which
drew their hearts together--each acknowledged it secretly, but
strove not to evince it openly. Meantime both were as happy and as
restlessly dissatisfied as love and uncertainty could make them.

Amid the activities in which Hamilton was engaged--his dealings
with the Indians and the work of reconstructing the fort--he found
time to worry his temper about the purloined flag. Like every
other man in the world, he was superstitious, and it had come into
his head that to insure himself and his plans against disaster, he
must have the banner of his captives as a badge of his victory. It
was a small matter; but it magnified itself as he dwelt upon it.
He suspected that Alice had deceived him. He sharply questioned
Father Beret, only to be half convinced that the good priest told
the truth when he said that he knew nothing whatever on the
subject beyond the fact that the banner had mysteriously
disappeared from under his floor.

Captain Farnsworth scarcely sympathized with his chief about the
flag, but he was nothing if not anxious to gain Hamilton's highest
confidence. His military zeal knew no bounds, and he never let
pass even the slightest opportunity to show it. Hence his
persistent search for a clue to the missing banner. He was no
respecter of persons. He frankly suspected both Alice and Father
Beret of lying. He would himself have lied under the existing
circumstances, and he considered himself as truthful and
trustworthy as priest or maiden.

"I'll get that flag for you," he said to Hamilton, "if I have to
put every man, woman and child in this town on the rack. It lies,
I think, between Miss Roussillon and the priest, although both
insistently deny it. I've thought it over in every way, and I
can't see how they can both be ignorant of where it is, or at
least who got it."

Hamilton, since being treated to that wonderful blow on the jaw,
was apt to fall into a spasm of anger whenever the name Roussillon
was spoken in his hearing. Involuntarily he would put his hand to
his cheek, and grimace reminiscently.

"If it's that girl, make her tell," he savagely commanded. "Let's
have no trifling about it. If it's the priest, then make him tell,
or tie him up by the thumbs. Get that flag, or show some good
reason for your failure. I'm not going to be baffled."

The Captain's adventure with Father Beret came just in time to
make it count against that courageous and bellicose missionary in
more ways than one. Farnsworth did not tell Hamilton or any other
person about what the priest had done to him, but nursed his sore
ribs and his wrath, waiting patiently for the revenge that he
meant soon to take.

Alice heard from Adrienne the story of Farnsworth's conduct and
his humiliating discomfiture at the hands of Father Beret. She was
both indignant and delighted, sympathizing with Adrienne and
glorying in the priest's vigorous pugilistic achievement.

"Well," she remarked, with one of her infectious trills of
laughter, "so far the French have the best of it, anyway! Papa
Roussillon knocked the Governor's cheek nearly off, then Rene
cracked the Irish Corporal's head, and now Father Beret has taught
Captain Farnsworth a lesson in fisticuffs that he'll not soon
forget! If the good work can only go on a little longer we shall
see every English soldier in Vincennes wearing the mark of a
Frenchman's blow." Then her mood suddenly changed from smiling
lightness to almost fierce gravity, and she added:

"Adrienne Bourcier, if Captain Farnsworth ever offers to treat me
as he did you, mark my words, I'll kill him--kill him, indeed I
will! You ought to see me!"

"But he won't dare touch you," said Adrienne, looking at her
friend with round, admiring eyes. "He knows very well that you are
not little and timid like me. He'd be afraid of you."

"I wish he would try it. How I would love to shoot him into
pieces, the hateful wretch! I wish he would."

The French inhabitants all, or nearly all, felt as Alice did; but
at present they were helpless and dared not say or do anything
against the English. Nor was this feeling confined to the Creoles
of Vincennes; it had spread to most of the points where trading
posts existed. Hamilton found this out too late to mend some of
his mistakes; but he set himself on the alert and organized
scouting bodies of Indians under white officers to keep him
informed as to the American movements in Kentucky and along the
Ohio. One of these bands brought in as captive Colonel Francis
Vigo, of St. Louis, a Spaniard by birth, an American by adoption,
a patriot to the core, who had large influence over both Indians
and Creoles in the Illinois country.

Colonel Vigo was not long held a prisoner. Hamilton dared not
exasperate the Creoles beyond their endurance, for he knew that
the savages would closely sympathize with their friends of long
standing, and this might lead to revolt and coalition against
him,--a very dangerous possibility. Indeed, at least one of the
great Indian chieftains had already frankly informed him that he
and his tribe were loyal to the Americans. Here was a dilemma
requiring consummate diplomacy. Hamilton saw it, but he was not of
a diplomatic temper or character. With the Indians he used a
demoralizing system of bribery, while toward the whites he was too
often gruff, imperious, repellant. Helm understood the whole
situation and was quick to take advantage of it. His personal
relations with Hamilton were easy and familiar, so that he did not
hesitate to give advice upon all occasions. Here his jovial
disposition helped him.

"You'd better let Vigo return to St. Louis," he said. They had a
bowl of something hot steaming between them. "I know him. He's
harmless if you don't rub him too hard the wrong way. He'll go
back, if you treat him well, and tell Clark how strong you are
here and how foolish it would be to think of attacking you. Clark
has but a handful of men, poorly supplied and tired with long,
hard marches. If you'll think a moment you cannot fail to
understand that you'd better be friends with this man Vigo. He and
Father Gibault and this old priest here, Beret, carry these
Frenchmen in their pockets. I'm not on your side, understand, I'm
an American, and I'd blow the whole of you to kingdom come in a
minute, if I could; but common sense is common sense all the same.
There's no good to you and no harm to Clark in mistreating, or
even holding this prisoner. What harm can he do you by going back
to Clark and telling him the whole truth? Clark knew everything
long before Vigo reached here. Old Jazon, my best scout, left here
the day you took possession, and you may bet he got to Kaskaskia
in short order. He never fails. But he'll tell Clark to stay where
he is, and Vigo can do no more."

What effect Helm's bold and apparently artless talk had upon
Hamilton's mind is not recorded; but the meager historical facts
at command show that Vigo was released and permitted to return
under promise that he would give no information to the enemy ON
HIS WAY to Kaskaskia.

Doubtless this bit of careless diplomacy on the Governor's part
did have a somewhat soothing effect upon a large class of
Frenchmen at Vincennes; but Farnsworth quickly neutralized it to a
serious extent by a foolish act while slightly under the influence
of liquor.

He met Father Beret near Roussillon place, and feeling his ribs
squirm at sight of the priest, he accosted him insolently,
demanding information as to the whereabouts of the missing flag.

A priest may be good and true--Father Beret certainly was--and yet
have the strongest characteristics of a worldly man. This thing of
being bullied day after day, as had recently been the rule,
generated nothing to aid in removing a refractory desire from the
priest's heart--the worldly desire to repeat with great increment
of force the punch against Famsworth's lower ribs.

"I order you, sir, to produce that rebel flag," said Farnsworth.
"You will obey forthwith or take the consequences. I am no longer
in the humor to be trifled with. Do you understand?"

"I might be forced to obey you, if I could," said the priest,
drawing his robe about him; "but, as I have often told you, my
son, I do not know where the flag is or who took it. I do not even
suspect any person of taking it. All that I know about it is the
simple fact that it is gone."

Father Beret's manner and voice were very mild, but there must
have been a hint of sturdy defiance somewhere in them. At all
events Farnsworth was exasperated and fell into a white rage.
Perhaps it was the liquor he had been drinking that made him
suddenly desperate.

"You canting old fool!" he cried, "don't lie to me any longer; I
won't have it. Don't stand there grinning at me. Get that flag, or
I'll make you."

"What is impossible, my son, is possible to God alone. Apud
homines hoc impossible est, apud Deum autem omnia possibilia
sunt."

"None of your Jesuit Latin or logic to me--I am not here to argue,
but to command. Get that flag. Be in a hurry about it, sir."

He whipped out his sword, and in his half drunken eyes there
gathered the dull film of murderous passion.

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