Part 2 out of 4
village. Bonneroy was very quiet. Shutters were up to every shop,
nobody was out except a dog or two and the snow kept falling, falling,
still in as persistent a fashion as if it had not been doing the
same thing for six hours already. I found the shop shut up and the
door locked. I looked everywhere for a bell or knocker of some
description. There was neither, so I began to thump as hard as I
could with my feet against the door. In a minute or two I heard
Delle Josephine coming. Perhaps I had alarmed the poor soul. She did
look troubled on opening the door and admitted me hurriedly, even
suspiciously, I thought. The door of the little sitting-room was
closed, so fancying that perhaps she had a visitor I refrained from
much talking and asking her to cook me some eggs presently and bring
them up, I went to my room.
These cold days I had to keep a fire in the small open "Franklin"
stove going almost constantly. She had not forgotten to supply it
with coals during my absence, and lighting my two lamps I was soon
fairly comfortable. How it did snow! Lifting the blind I could
actually look down on an ever-increasing drift below my window and
dimly wonder if I should get out at all on the morrow. If not, I
proposed to return to Montreal at once. I should gain nothing by
being confined in the house at Bonneroy. Delle Josephine appeared
with eggs and tea--green tea, alas for that village shortcoming--
there was no black tea to be found in it, and I looked narrowly at
her as she set it down, wondering if anything was amiss with her.
But she seemed all right again and I conjectured that I had simply
interrupted a _tete-a-tete_with some visitor in the sitting-room at
the time of my return. When I had finished my tea I sat back and
watched my fire. Those little open "Franklin" stoves are almost
equal to a fireplace; they show a great deal of fire and you can
fancy your flame on an English hearth very easily--if you have any
imagination. As I sat there, it suddenly came home to me what a
curious life this was for me; living quite alone over a tiny village
shop in _Le Bos Canada_, with a queer little spinster like Delle
Josephine. Snowed up, with her too! To-morrow I would certainly have
to go and shovel that snow away from the front door and take down
the shutters and discover again to the world the contents of the one
window, particularly that frightful hat! I would--here I started it
must be confessed almost out of my seat, as turning my head suddenly
I saw on a chair behind the door the identical hat I was thinking
about! I sat up and looked at it. It must have been there all the
time I was eating my tea. I still sat and looked. I felt vaguely
uncomfortable for a moment, then my common sense asserted itself and
told me that Delle Josephine must have been altering it or something
of that kind and had forgotten to take it away. I wondered if she
sat in my room when I was away. I had rather she did not. Just as I
was about to rise and look at it more closely, a tap came at my door.
I rose and admitted Delle Josephine. She took the tea-things away in
her usual placid manner, but came back the next moment as if she had
forgotten something, clearly the hat. With a slight deprecatory
laugh she removed it and went hurriedly down the stair. Whatever had
she been doing with it, I thought, and settled with a sigh of
satisfaction once more to my work, now that the nightmare in red, a
kind of mute scarlet "Raven," was gone from my room. How very quiet
it was. Not a single sleigh passed, no sounds came from the houses
opposite or from next door, the whole world seemed smothered in the
soft thick pillows of snow quietly gathering upon it. After a while,
however, I could distinctly hear the sound of voices downstairs.
Delle Josephine had a visitor, undoubtedly. Was it a man or a woman?
Not a large company I gathered; it seemed like one person besides
herself. I opened my door, it sounded so comfortably in my lonely
bachelor ear to catch in that strange little house anything so
cheerful as the murmur of voices. My curiosity once aroused, did not
stop here. I went outside the door, not exactly to listen, but as
one does sometimes in a lazy yet inquisitive mood, when anything is
going on at all unusual. This was an unusual occurrence. If Delle
Josephine had visitors often, I was not aware of it. Never before
had I noticed the slightest sound proceed from her sitting-room
after dusk. So I waited a bit listening. Yes there was talking going
on, but in French. As I did not understand her _patois_ very clearly,
I thought there would be no harm in overhearing, and further I
thought I should like to have a peep at her and her companion. I
could see that the door was partly open. Taking off my slippers, I
ran softly down and found it wide enough open to admit of my seeing
the entire room and occupants in the looking-glass, that being
opposite. It was quite dark in the little hall and I should be
unobserved. So I crept--most rudely I am willing to say--into the
furthest shadow of this hall and looked straight before me.
I saw none but Delle Josephine herself. But she was a sight for the
gods. Seated on a kind of ottoman, directly in front of the
looking-glass, she was holding an animated conversation with _herself_,
wearing a large white antimacassar--one of those crocheted things
all in wheels--pinned under her chin and falling away at the back
like a cloak, and upon her head--the wonderful scarlet hat! I was
amazed, startled, dismayed. To see that shrivelled little old woman
so travestying her hideous charms, smiling at and bowing to herself,
her yellow skin forming a frightful contrast to the intense red of
her immense hat and her bright black eyes, was a pitiful and unique
spectacle. I had intended but to take a peep at the supposed visitor
and then go back to my room, but the present sight was one which
fascinated me to such an extent that I could only look and wonder.
She spoke softly to herself in French, appearing to be carrying on a
conversation with her image in the glass. The feathers of the bird
of paradise swept her shoulder--the one that was higher than the
other--and mingled with the wheels of the white antimacassar. I
looked as long as I dared and then, fearing from her movements that
the strange scene would soon be over I went softly up again to my
room. But I thought about it all evening, all night in fact. The
natural inquiry was--was the poor girl a maniac? Even if only a
harmless one, it would be well to know. As I sat down again by my
fire I considered the matter in every light. It was a queer prospect.
Outside the snow still fell. Inside, the fire languished and the
time wore on till at half-past ten I really was compelled to call on
my landlady for more coal. I could hear the muttered French still
going on, but I did not know where the coal was and could not fetch
it myself. I must break in upon her rhapsodizing.
"Delle Boulanger!" I called from my open door. "Delle Boulanger!"
The talking stopped. In a few moments Delle Josephine appeared, calm
and smiling, _minus_ the hat and the antimacassar. "Coming, _monsieur_"
"I shall want some more coal," said I, "It is getting colder, I think,
"_Mais oui, monsieur; il fait fret, il fait bien fret ce soir_, and
de snow--oh! It is _comme_--de old winter years ago, dat I remember,
_monsieur_, but not you. _Eh! bien_, the coal!"
I discovered nothing morbid about her manner; she was amiable and
respectful as usual, if a little more garrulous. The French will
talk at all times about anything, but our conversation always came
to a sudden stop the moment one of us relapsed into the mother tongue.
As long as a sort of common maccaronic was kept to we managed to
understand one another. After I made up my fire I sat up till long
past twelve. I heard no more talking downstairs but I could fancy
her still arrayed in those festive yet ghastly things, seated
opposite her own reflection, intent as a mummy and not unlike one
restored in modern costume. Pulling the blind aside before going to
bed, I could see with awe the arching snowdrifts outside my window.
If it went on snowing, I should not be able to open it on the morrow.
My prediction was verified in the morning. The snow had ceased
falling, but lay piled up against the lower half of my window. On
the level there appeared to be about three feet, while the drifts
showed from six to twenty feet I had never seen anything like it,
and was for sometime lost in admiration. Across the road the
children of the _epider_ and the good man himself were already busy
trying to shovel some of it away from the door. It seemed at first
sight a hopeless task and I, looking down at Delle Josephine's door,
wondered how on earth we were ever to get out of it when not a
particle of it was to be seen. Not all that day did I get out of the
house, and but for the absorbing interest I suddenly found centred
in Delle Josephine I would have chafed terribly at being so shut up.
Trains, were blockaded of course, it was the great fall of '81, and
interrupted travel for half of a week. All that day I waited so to
speak for the evening. Snow-boys there were many; customers none.
The little Frenchwoman brought me some dinner at one o'clock, pork,
tinned tomatoes, and a cup of coffee. About five o'clock I strolled
down into the shop, it was lighted very meagrely with three oil lamps.
Delle Josephine was seated on a high chair behind the one counter
at work on some ribbon--white ribbon. She was quilling it, and
looked up with some astonishment as I walked up to her.
"Do you object to a visitor Miss Josephine?" said I with the most
amiable manner I could muster. Poor soul! I should have thought she
would have welcomed one.
"_Mais non Monsieur_ but I speak so little English."
"And I so little French. But we can manage to understand each other
a little, I think. What do you say to the weather? When shall I be
able to go out?"
Delle Josephine laughed. She went on quilling the ribbon that looked
so white against her yellow hands.
"O _Monsieur_ could go out dis day if he like, but de snow ver bad,
"Do you ever go out, Miss Josephine?"
"_Non Monsieur_. I have not been out for what you call a valk--it
will be five years that I have not been."
"But you go to church, I suppose?"
"_Mais oui Monsieur_, but that is so near. And the good _Pere Le
Jeune_--he come to see me. He is all the frien Delle Josephine has, ah!
"Ah! Bonneroi isn't much of a place, is it? Have you ever been to
Quebec or Montreal?"
"Ah! _Quebec--oui_, I live there once, many years ago. I was taken
when I was ver young by _Madame de la Corne de la Colombiere pour
une bonne; vous comprenez_?"
"Oh! _bonne_, yes, we use that word too. It means a nursemaid, eh!
Were there children in the family?"
Delle Josephine dropped her ribbon and threw up her hands.
"_Mon Dieu! les enfants! Mais oui, Monsieur_, they were nine children!
There was _Maamselle Louise_ and _Maamselle Angelique_ with the
tempaire of the _diable_ himself _oui Monsieur_, and Francois and Rene
and _l'petite Catherine_, and the rest I forget _Monsieur_. And
dey live in a fine _chateau_, with horse and carridge and everything
as it would be if they were in their own France. _Monsieur_ has been
Only in Paris, I told her; a spasmodic run across the Channel--Paris
in eight hours. Two days there then return--
"That does not give one much idea of France."
"_Nou, non, Monsieur_. But there is no countree like France dey say
dat familee--and that is true, eh, _Monsieur_?"
"I am afraid I cannot agree with you, Delle Josephine," said I.
"To me there is no country like England, but that may be because I
am an Englishman. Tell me how long did you live in Quebec with this
"I was there ten year _Monsieur_. Then one day, I had a great
accidence--oh! a ver sad ting, ver sad!" The Frenchwoman laid
down the ribbon and went on. "A ver sad ting happen to me and the
_bebe Catherine_. We were out _l'ptite_ and me, for a valk, and we
come to a part of the town ver slant, ver hilly. _L'ptite Catherine_
was in her carridge and I let go, and she go all down, _Monsieur_,
and I too over the hill--the cleef, you call it--but the _bebe_ was
killed and I _Monsieur_, I was alive, but like this!" showing her
shoulder. "And what did they do?"
"At the _chateau_? Ah, _figure-toi, monsieur_, the agony of dat
_pauvre dame_! I was sent away, she would not see me, and I left
_Quebec_ at once. I was no more _bonne_, monsieur; Delle Josephine
was enough dat. I could make de hats and de bonnets for de ladees,
so I come away out to Bonneroi, and I haf made de hats and de
bonnets for the ladees of Bonneroi for twenty year."
"Is it possible?" I said, much touched by the little story.
"And the ladies of Bonneroi, are they hard to please?"
Delle Josephine, who had spoken with the customary vim and gesture
of the French while--telling her tale, resumed her quilling and said,
with a shrug of one shoulder,
"They do not know much, and dat is true." I laughed at the ironical
"And you--you provide the _modes_?"
"I haf been to Quebec" she said quietly.
"Twenty years ago," I thought, but had too much respect for the
queer little soul to say it aloud.
"I see amongst other things," I went on, "a most--remarkable--a very
pretty, I should say--hat in your window. The red one, you know,
with the bird of paradise."
Delle Josephine looked up quickly. "Dat is not for sale,
"No? Why, I had some idea of perhaps purchasing it for a friend of
mine. Did you make that hat yourself?"
She nodded with a sort of conscious pride. Yet it was not for sale!
I wondered why. The strange scene of the foregoing evening came into
my mind, and I began to understand this singular--case of monomania.
It must be that having lived so many years in almost solitary
confinement, one might say, her mind had slightly given away, and
she found her only excitement and relaxation in posing before the
glass in that extraordinary manner. I hardly knew whether it would
be an act of kindness to remove the hat; she talked quite rationally
and cheerfully, and remembering the innate vanity of the French as a
nation, I concluded to let the matter rest That night I heard no
talking in the sitting-room. I slept profoundly, and woke up later
than usual We were not dug out yet, though two snow-boys with their
shovels were doing their best to unearth us. I waited some time for
Delle Josephine to appear with the tray; but she too was late,
evidently, for at ten o'clock she had not come. I dressed and went
down stairs. As I passed the sitting-room I saw her tricked out as
before in the hat and the antimacassar seated on the ottoman in
front of the looking-glass. Heavens, she looked more frightful than
ever! I made up my mind to speak to her at, once, and see if I could
not stop such hideous mummery. But when I advanced I perceived that
indeed I had come too late. The figure on the ottoman was rigid in
death. How it ever held itself up at all I could never think, for I
gave a loud cry, and rushing from the room knocked against the open
door and fell down senseless.
Outside, I suppose, the snow-boys shovelled away as hard as ever.
When I came to myself I did not need to look around; I knew in a
flash where I was, and remembered what had happened. I ran to the
shop door and hammered with all my might.
"Let me out!" I cried. "Open the door! open the door! for Heaven's
sake!" Then I ran upstairs, and did the same at my window. It seemed
years upon years of time till they were enabled to open the door and
let me out. I rushed out bareheaded, forgetful of the intense cold,
thinking first of all of the, priest _Pere Le Jeune_, so strong is
habit, so potent are traditions. I knew where he lived, up the first
turning in a small red brick house next the church of St. Jean
Baptiste. I told him the facts of the case as well as I could and he
came back at once with me. There was nothing to be done. Visitation
of God or whatever the cause of death Delle Josephine Boulanger was
dead. The priest lifted his hands in horror when he saw the ghostly
hat. I asked him what he knew about her, but he seemed ignorant of
everything concerning the poor thing, except the _aves_ she repeated
and the number of times she came to confession. But when we came to
look over her personal effects in the drawers and boxes of the shop,
there could be no doubt but that she had been thoroughly though
harmlessly insane. We found I should think about one hundred and
fifty boxes: from tiny little ones of pasteboard to large square
ones of deal, full of rows and rows of white quilled ribbon, similar
to the piece I had seen her working at on that last night of her
life on earth. Some of the ribbon was yellow with age, others
fresher looking, but in each box was a folded bit of paper with
these words written inside,
_Pour l'ptite Catherine_.
"What money there was, _Pere Le Jeune_ must have appropriated for I
saw nothing of any. After the dismal funeral, to which I went, I
gathered my effects together and went to the hotel. The first day I
could proceed, I returned to Montreal and have not visited Bonneroi
since. The family of _de la Corne de La Colombiere_ still reside
somewhere near Quebec, I believe. The _chateau_ is called by the
charming name of Port Joli, and perhaps some day I may feel called
upon to tell them of the strange fate which befell their poor
Josephine. Whether the melancholy accident which partly bereft her
of her reason was the result of carelessness I cannot say but I
shall be able, I think, to prove to them that she never forgot the
circumstance, and was to the day of her death occupied in making
ready for the little coffin and shroud of her '_p'tite Catherine_.'
My sketch of the frost bound Montmorenci was never finished, and
indeed my winter sketching fell through altogether after that
unhappy visit to Bonneroy. I was for weeks haunted by that terrible
sight, half ludicrous, half awful, and I have, now that I am married,
a strong dislike to scarlet in the gowns or head-gear of my wife and
The Story of Etienne Chezy D'Alencourt
As my friends know, I was born an Englishman, spending the first
twenty-four years of my life in England. On my twenty-fifth birthday
I set foot on the shore of the great North American Continent,
destined for a time to be my home. Two days afterwards I entered the
office set apart for me in the handsome Government Buildings at
Ottawa, and began my duties. A transfer had recently been effected
between the Home and Canadian Civil Service, and I had been chosen
to fill the vacant colonial post. Having no ties or obligations of
any kind I had nothing to lose by the transaction except the
pleasure and advantage of living in England, which, however, had
ceased for one or two reasons to be dear to me.
I did not, however, remain very long in the Service. I found it
pleasant work but monotonous, and receiving shortly after I went out
a legacy bequeathed by a widowed aunt I had almost forgotten,
determined to leave it and devote myself to study and travel. Like
many Englishmen, I had taken no trouble to ascertain the real points
of interest about me. I had been content with mastering and getting
through my work, and with mingling out of hours with the small but
thoroughly charming set I had found ready to welcome me on my
arrival as the "new Englishman." On the whole, I was popular, though
one great flaw--_i.e._--lack of high birth and desirable home
connections, weighed to an alarming extent with the dowagers of the
I had, on leaving the Service, made up my mind to study the people
of the Dominion. The English Canadians were easily disposed of in
this way; most of them were Scotch, and the rest appeared to be Irish.
I then began on the Indian population. But this was not so easy. It
seemed impossible to find even a single Indian without going some
At last I unearthed one descendant of the Red man who kept a small
tavern in the lower part of the town; a dirty frame tenement almost
entirely hidden by an immense sign hanging outside, having the figure,
heroic size of an Iroquois in full evening dress, feathers, bare
legs and tomahawk.
This place was known as "Tommy's." But Tommy himself was only half
an Indian, and swore such bad swears in excellent English, that I
was forced to leave after a minute's inspection.
Then I began on the French-Canadians. There were plenty of them. In
the Buildings, on the streets, in the markets, in shops, they were all
over. Some of the most charming people I know were French-Canadians.
My landlady and her husband, quiet, sober devout people, were
What I wanted to find, though, was a genuine unadulterated
French-Canadian of the class known as the _habitans_. I could
recollect many dark-eyed, fierce-mustached men whom I had seen since
my residence in Canada, and whom I conjectured must have been
_habitans_. Up the Gatineau and down the St. Lawrence, it would be
easy to find whom I wanted, but I preferred to wait on in town. I
had many a disappointment. One day it would be a cabman, another day
a clerk. Though they all _looked_ French, they invariably turned
out to be English or Scotch. My notions of hair and skin and eyes
were being all turned upside down; my favorite predispositions
annulled, my convictions changed to fallacies--in short I was
thoroughly bewildered. I could not find my _habitant_. At the same
time, when I did find him, he would have to know how to speak some
English, for I could only speak very little French. I read it well
of course, wrote it quite easily, but on essaying conversation was
always seized with that instinctive horror of making a fool of myself,
which besets most Englishmen when they would attempt a foreign
language. Besides, the _patois_ these people spoke was vastly
different from ordinary French, as taught in schools and colleges,
and what it might be like I had not in those days the faintest idea,
not having read Rabelais.
The worst _desillusionnement_ I suffered I will recount. One day I
noticed an elderly man clad in corduroy trousers, shabby brown
velveteen coat, conical straw hat and dirty blue shirt, lounging
about a wharf I sometimes frequented where, at one time, would lay
from thirty to fifty barges laden with lumber. Bargetown it might
have been called; it was a veritable floating colony of French and
Swede, Irish and Scotch, jabbering and smoking by day and lying
quietly at night under the stars, save for the occasional jig and
scrape of the fiddle of some active Milesian. Here, had I fully
known it, was my chance for observation, but I was ignorant at that
time of the ways of these people and did not venture among them. But
the man in the velvet coat interested me. He gesticulated the whole
time most violently, waved his arms about and made great use of his
pipe, which he used to point with. I could not hear what he was
saying for his back was turned to me and the wind carried all he
said to the bargemen, as he wished it to do I suppose.
How splendidly that coat becomes him, thought I. The descendant of
some fine old French settler, how superbly he carries himself!
The conical becomes on him a cocked hat and in place of ragged
fringe and buttons hanging by a single string, I see the buckles and
bows, the sword and cane of a by-gone age!
I made up my mind to address him, when to my disgust he got into one
of the barges, which moved off slowly, transporting him, as I
supposed, to his northern home.
The next morning the bell of my front door attracted my attention by
ringing three or four times. Evidently my landlady was out. I
sauntered to the door and found my _habitant_ of the velveteen coat
and duty blue shirt!
Gracious heaven! I was overcome! By what occult power had he been
driven here to deliver himself into my hands? Before I could speak,
"Av ye plaze, sorr, will yez be having any carrpets to bate? I'm
taking orders against the sphring claning, sorr."
"Oh! are you?" said I. I began to feel very sorry for myself, very
sorry, indeed, at this supreme instant. "Do you live near here?" I
"Shure and I do, sorr. Jist beyant yez. I pass yez every day in the
week. Me number's 415"--He was about handing me a greasy bit of paper,
when I slammed the door in his face and retired to my own room to
meditate on the strange accent and peculiar calling of this
descendant of the "fine old French settler."
My next choice, however, proved a fortunate one. I got into a
street-car one evening late in the month of March. It was the winter
street-car, a great dark caravan, with a long narrow bench down
either side and a mass of hay all along the middle, with a
melancholy lamp at the conductor's end. Although fairly light outside,
it was quite dark inside the caravan, so the conductor set about
lighting the lamp. This is the way he did it. Opening the door he
put his head in, looked all around, shut the door and stopped his
horses. Then he opened the door again and put his head in again,
keeping the door open this time that we might inhale the fresh March
night air. I say we, because when I grew accustomed to the dark, I
saw there was another occupant of the car, a man seated on the
opposite seat a little way down. The conductor felt under the seat
for something which I suppose was the can which, taken presently by
him to the corner grocery before which we had stopped, came back
replenished with coal oil. After he had filled the lamp, he lit in
succession three matches, persistently holding them up so that they
all went out one after the other. He felt in his pockets but he had
no more. Then he asked me. I had none. Then he asked the other man.
The other man laughed and replied in French. I did not understand
what he said but saw him supply the conductor with a couple of
matches. When the lamp was finally lighted I looked more closely at
him. He was a working man from his attire: colored shirt, coat of a
curious bronze colour much affected by the Canadian labourer, old
fur cap with ears, and moccasins. At his feet stood a small tin pail
with a cover. His face was pale and singularly well-cut. His hair was
black and very smooth and shiny; a very slight moustache gave
character to an otherwise effeminate countenance and his eyes were
blue, very light blue indeed and mild in their expression. We smiled
involuntarily as the conductor departed. The man was the first to
"De conductor not smoke, surely," he said, showing me his pipe in
one hand. "I always have the matches."
"So do I, as a general thing,". I rejoined. "One never knows when a
match may be wanted in this country." I spoke rather surlily, for I
had been getting dreadfully chilled while the conductor was opening
and shutting the door. The man bent forward eagerly, though without
a trace of rudeness in his manner.
"You do not live here, eh?"
"Oh! yes, I do now, but I was thinking of England when I spoke."
"That is far away from here, surely."
"Ah! yes," I sighed. So did the man opposite me. We were silent then
for a few moments when he spoke again.
"There is a countree I should like to see and dat is France. I hear,
sir, I hear my mother talk of dat countree, and I tink--I should
like to go there. But that is far away from here, too far away, sure."
My heart leapt up. Here, if ever, must be the man I was in search of.
"You are a French-Canadian, I suppose?"
"Yes, Sir, I am dat."
"And where do you live?" said I.
"I work in de mill; de largess mill in the Chaudiere. You know dat
great water, the fall under the bridge, dat we call the Chaudiere."
"I know it well," said I, "but I have never gone properly over any
of the mills. I should like to go some day very much. Should I see
you anywhere if I went down?"
He stared, but gave me the name of his mill. It belonged to one of
the wealthiest lumber kings of the district. I resolved to go down
the next day.
"What is your name," I asked. The man hesitated a minute before he
"Netty!" I repeated "What a curious name! You have another name, I
expect. That must only be a nickname."
"_Mais oui Monsieur_. My name is much longaire than dat. My whole
name is Etienne Guy Chezy D'Alencourt, but no man call me dat,
specially in de mill. 'Netty'--dey all know 'Netty.'"
It was a long name, truly, and a high-sounding one,--but I preferred
thinking of him by it than by the meaningless soubriquet of
"Netty." At the next corner he got out, touching his cap to me quite
politely as he passed.
I was in high spirits that evening, for I believed I had found my
_habitant_. I went down to the Chaudiere the following day, and
got permission to go over Mr. ----'s mill I found it very
interesting, but my mind was not sufficiently centered on planks and
logs and booms to adequately appreciate them. I wanted "Netty."
After I had made the complete round of the mill I came upon him hard
at work in his place turning off planks in unfailing order as they
whizzed along. The noise was deafening, of bolts and bars, and saws
and chains, with the roar of the great cascade outside. He saw me
and recognized me on my approach, but he could not speak for some
time. It was most monotonous work, I thought. No conversation allowed,
not even possible; the truly demoniacal noise, yet just outside on
the other side of a small window, the open country, the mighty
waters of the ever-boiling "Kettle," or Chauldron, and the steep
spray-washed cliff. Standing on my toes I could, looking out of
Netty's small window, discover all this. The ice was still in the
river, half the fall itself was frozen stiff, and reared in gabled
arches to the sky. I watched the two scenes alternately until at 6
o'clock the wheels ran down, the belts slackened and the men knocked
Netty walked out with me at my request, and learning that he had to
return in an hour I proposed we should have a meal together
somewhere and a talk at the same time. He must have been greatly
astonished at a complete stranger in another walk of life fastening
upon him in this manner, but he gave no hint of either surprise or
fear, and maintained the same mild demeanour I had noticed in him
the day before.
It was darkening rapidly and I did not know where to go for a meal.
Netty told me he ought to go to St. Patrick St. I knew the locality
and did not think it necessary to go all that way, "unless anybody
will be waiting for you, expecting you."
"Oh! not dat I live in a boarding house, my mother--she in the
countree, far from here."
"Then, 'I said,' you can go where you like. Do you know any place
near here where we can get a cup of tea and some eggs? What will do
for you, I daresay, and I hardly want as much."
But he knew of no reliable place and after walking about for a
quarter of an hour we finally went to the refreshment room at the
station and ordered beer and tea and sandwiches.
"I daresay you wonder at my bringing you out here with me. You'd get
a better meal perhaps at your boarding-house. But do you know I've
taken a fancy to you and, I want to see a little more of you and
learn how you live, if you will kindly tell me. I am interested in
your people, the French-Canadians."
This sounds very clumsily put and so it did then, but I was obliged
to explain my actions in some way and what is better than the truth?
Lies, I have no doubt to some people, but I was compelled to be
truthful to this man who carried a gentle and open countenance with
him. No gentleman could have answered me more politely than he did
"Sir I am astonish--_oui un peu_, but if there is anyting I can tell
you, anyting I can show you I shall be ver glad. The mill--how do
you find dat, Sir?
"I like to watch you work very much, but the noise"--
Netty laughed, showing his radiant white teeth.
"_Mais oui_, de noise is bad, but one soon custom to dat. I am in de
mill for four year. I come from up in de north--from the Grand
Calumet--do you know there, Sir?"
"That is an island is it not? Yes, I know where it is, near Allumette,
but I have never been so far up on the Ottawa. And the Gatineau,
that is a river, is it not? What pretty names these French ones are!
Gatineau!" I repeated thinking. "That comes, I fancy having heard
somewhere, from Demoiselle Marie Josephe Gatineau Duplessis, wife of
one of the first French settlers. By the way your name is a curious
one. Say it again."
Netty very gravely repeated, "Etienne Guy Chezy D'Alencourt."
"Was your father a native Canadian?"
"The name seems familiar to me," I remarked. "I daresay if you cared
to look the matter up, you might find that your great grandfather
was something or other under the Intendant Bigot or Vaudreuil, or
earlier still under Maisonneuve the gallant founder of Montreal. Ah!
how everybody seems to have forgotten those old days. Even in Canada,
you see, there is something to look back upon."
My companion seemed rather puzzled as I talked in this strain. Very
probably it was over his head. I found he could neither read nor
write, had been reared in the pine-clad and icy fastnesses of Grand
Calumet Island all alone by his mother--an old dame now about seventy.
He himself was about thirty he judged, though he was far from sure.
He was a good Catholic in intention, though very ignorant of all
ritual. From his youth he had been employed on the rafts and
lumber-slides of the Ottawa river until his four years' session at
the mill, where he had picked up the English he knew. He had made no
friends he told me. The more I conversed with him the more I was
impressed with his simple and polite manners, his innate good
breeding, and his faith and confidence in the importance of daily
toil and all honest labour. He smoked a little, drank a little, but
never lost his head became obtrusively familiar, noisy or inquisitive.
I felt ashamed to think how deliberately I had sought him out, to
pry into the secrets and facts of his daily life, but solaced myself
into the assurance that it could not at least bode him harm and it
might possibly do him some service.
When we returned to the mill, I was astonished at the weirdness of
the scene. The entire premises were flooded with the electric light
and the men were working away, and the saws, belts and bars all in
motion as if it were the middle of the day. What a pandemonium of
sound and colour and motion it was! The strong resinous odor of the
pine-wood mingled with the fresh air blown in from the river, and I
inhaled both eagerly.
It was almost powerful enough to affect the head, and I fancied I
caught myself reeling a little as I walked out on to the bridge,
swaying just the least bit as the torrent of angry water swept under
it I had said "_Bonsoir_" to my friend the Frenchman and was free to
go home. But I lingered long on the heaving bridge, though it was
cold and starless, and I got quite wet with the dashed-up spray.
Up the river gleamed the icy masses of the frozen fall, beyond that
the northern country of the northern waters stretched away up to the
North Pole with little, if any, human interruption.
Down the river on the three superb cliffs, rising high out of the
water, sparkled the many lights in the Gothic windows of the
buildings. On either side were the illuminated mills with their
rushing logs and their myriad busy hands piling, smoothing and
sawing the monsters of the forest helpless under the fetters of
leather and steel.
For the events which followed, I hold myself alone and altogether
responsible. Nearly every evening I spent at the Chaudiere, either
watching my new friend at his work or lounging on the bridge, and
always finishing the day by walking home with him to his boarding
house. Thus I got to know him very well, and I soon discovered one
thing that he was far from strong. Even a life-long residence among
the purifying and strengthening airs of the keen fresh North had not
protected him from the insidious ravages of that dread complaint--
consumption. I fancied the hereditary taint must be on his father's
side, for he always alluded to his mother as being exceptionally
healthy. On Sundays I accompanied him to Church in the morning at
the Basilica; in the afternoons we used to walk all over the town in
various directions. Of course, on all these excursions, I did most
of the talking. He was a good listener, and readily improved in
understanding and appreciation. Noticing that he was particularly
fond of any story connected with the life of the early French in
Canada, I read up all the works I could find on the subject, going
often to the Parliamentary Library for that purpose, and retailing
the more interesting and intelligible facts to him afterwards. Crusoe
did not watch over and educate Friday any more carefully than I my
mild and gentlemanly "Shantyman" in his blue shirt and canvas
I grew at last, after three months' intimacy with him, quite to love
him, and I am sure my affection was reciprocated for he ever
welcomed me with a strong, clinging pressure of my hand and a smile
which was a brighter one than that which his face had worn when I
met him first. A strange friendship, but one which I felt to be so
absorbing that I could not have endured other friends. April passed,
and May, and with the hot weather Etienne, whose health gave way all
at once, would have to return for a short visit to the old mother
all by herself on the island of Grand Calumet.
I feared to let him go, he looked more delicate in my eyes every day,
but I knew it would be good for him in many ways. So a day came that
saw my friend D'Alencourt go back to his northern home. He would not
ask me to go and visit him, he had too much natural pride for that,
but I made up my mind to find him out, for all that. As may be
supposed I was like the traditional fish out of the traditional water
for some time after his departure.
I read and amused myself in any way that offered, but cared not to
experiment on any more French-Canadians.
In my reading I read for two, and made notes of anything I thought
would interest Etienne. One day I came across the same name as
his own, borne by a certain young soldier, a sprig of the French
_noblesse_ who had followed in the train of Bigot, the dissolute
and rapacious Governor of New France. I meditated long over this. The
name was identical--Guy Chezy D'Alencourt. In the case of my friend
the mill-hand there was simply the addition of Etienne, the first
Christian name. Could he possibly be the descendant of this daring
and gallant officer, of whose marriage and subsequent settling in
Canada I could find no mention? The thing seemed unlikely, yet
perfectly possible. I had predicted it myself. As if to fasten my
thoughts even more securely on the absent Etienne that very day
arrived a letter from Grand Calumet. It was addressed to me in a
laboured but most distinct hand. I thought that Etienne had
commissioned the priest doubtless to write for him or some other
friend, but when I opened it I found to my great surprise that it was
from Etienne himself and in his own handwriting, the result he told
me of work at home in his Lower Town boarding-house.
I dropped the letter. He had taught himself to, write! This was the
first fruit of my intimacy with him, and I hardly knew whether I was
pleased or not. But I clearly saw that this night-work added to the
arduous toil and late hours imposed upon him by his place in the
mill had probably been the cause of undermining his bodily strength.
The letter itself ran:
"Dear Sir,--The frend of Etienne D'Alenconrt, he can write you--he
can send you a _lettre_ from the Grand Calumet, his island that
is green, Monsieur, and full of sweet berries. If you would come,
Mossier, you would find Etienne and his mother reddy to do all they
can. Still, Monsieur shall in this please alway himself, the friend
and benefactor of Etienne Chezy D'Alencourt."
GRAND CALUMET ISLAND.
"It was at night, when Monsieur had gone home, that I learnt myself
to write and thank him for all teaching from the books beside."
Of course, I would accept the invitation. I decided to go in a
week's time and wrote to that effect. I wished to reprimand him for
having overtaxed his strength as I was sure he had done in sitting
up teaching himself how to write, but respect for the dear fellow's
perseverance and ability restrained me.
Only when I got him again, I said to myself, I would stop that. I
took with me a gun, fishing rods and tackle, a mosquito net, plenty
of cigars and a hamper of tinned meats, tea, coffee and biscuits.
My journey was nearly altogether by water and I enjoyed every inch
of the beautiful river. After I reached the landing stage, a place
called Lichfield, I had to wait an hour before proceeding in the
direction which I had found out it would be necessary to follow in
order to find Etienne and his mother.
I shall never forget the delight of that one hour passed in rambling
through the lonely green wood that covered the island down to the
shore. The ferns were young and freshly unfurled, the moss was
everywhere, green and close and soft like velvet and star-clustering,
gray and yellow. The surviving flowers were the large white blossoms
of the woodland lily, and the incoming _Linnaea_ began to show the
faint pink of its twin bells, afterwards to be so sweet and fragrant.
I thought of that passage in the letter which told of "the island
that was green and full of sweet berries." Not a bad description for
a person whom the world must perforce term an illiterate man.
When my conveyance arrived, it proved to be a stage of antiquated
type and I suffered horribly during the journey of three hours. At
the end of that time, I was set down with my luggage at the gate of
a small log hut, with a little garden in front, bordered with
beautiful pink and green stones, the like of which I had never seen
before. A snake fence ran in front of this and on two sides, at the
back was a thick wood.
Etienne was ready for me at which I rejoiced, fearing to make myself
known to the dame his mother.
Once more I felt that honest and affectionate hand grasp, once more
I met those clear and steady blue eyes, and I noted the flush of
pride which overspread his face when I told him that I had received
his letter and marvelled at it.
"Mossieu know so much and Etienne so ver little." But when the flush
had died away, I was pained exceedingly to see the pallor of his
cheeks and the prominence of his high cheekbones. His walk was
unsteady too, he put his feet down, I noticed, as if they were light
instead of solid supports for his body, a sure sign of great
physical weakness. My worst fears were realized when I saw on the
deal table in the front room, furnished with home-made rugs drawn
from woolen rags dyed all colors and some plain deal furniture
stained brown, a little pile of books. There were two copy-books,
two dictionaries, a small "Histoire de Canada" and some illustrated
magazines. I saw that he could read, too, pretty well, for he
presently drew my attention to a very old book indeed, that lay on a
shelf, a little Roman Catholic missal with tarnished gold clasps and
"Dat was belong to my fader," he said, "for many a year; and it was
from his fader he get it."
I looked at it eagerly all over. The fly-leaf bore no inscription,
but up in one corner, in faded red ink, was something that looked
like a monogram with a device underneath. I would have examined it
at once but that Etienne was anxious to read me a little of the
Latin which he had picked out with infinite patience, I should think.
I promised to help him a little occasionally, but told him that he
was not looking well and had better be content with ignorance in
this lovely summer weather.
"When the winter comes and you are back at the mill, you can study
as much as you like."
The old dame was sallow and sunken from a life of incessant hard work.
The climate itself, so changeable as well as inclement in these
northern wilds, is enough to pinch the face and freeze the blood,
although at the time of my visit it was hot, intensely hot for so
early in the summer. Moreover, the old dame was not given to talking.
So taciturn a Frenchwoman I never met elsewhere. They are usually
characterized by a vivacious loquacity which is the seal of their
nationality. But this one was silent in the extreme and had, as her
son told me, never once held a conversation with him on any subject
whatever. Of his father he knew literally only this fact--that be
had been a "shantyman" in his time too, and was killed by a strained
rope striking him across the middle. Etienne did not remember him.
The time sped on. They made me as comfortable as they could in the
front or "best" room, but, when I thought it would not offend them,
I slept outside--"_couchant a la belle etoile_" as Rousseau has it--
and beautiful nights those were I spent in this manner. We had
plenty of fruit--wild strawberries and raspberries--pork and beans
and potatoes forming the staple articles of diet. There was no cow,
no horse, no dog belonging to the house. Fish we could get ourselves
in plenty, and eggs made their appearance in a farmer's wagon about
twice a week. Etienne and I spent entire days out-of-doors, shooting,
fishing, walking, reading. I tried to take his mind off his books,
but it was of no use. He had got so attached to his studies and new
pursuits in life that one day he startled me by asserting that he
did not intend to go back to the mill in future. I remonstrated
gently with him, reminding him that as yet his education was very
incomplete, that few situations of the kind he probably aspired to
would be open to him for some time to come, and that in the meantime
he must suffer from want of money, and thus be the cause of seeing
his mother suffer as well. But he startled me further in reply by
stating that he knew himself to be slowly dying of consumption and
that he would shortly be of little use to anyone. His wish was to
leave Canada altogether and die in--France! France, the country of
his dreams, the goal of his dying ambition, the land of the golden
_fleur de lis_, of the chivalrous soldiers, the holy women and the
pious fathers who colonized the land of his birth!
I remonstrated with him as I have said. I expostulated in every key;
I took his mother into my confidence as well as I could since she
knew not a word of English; I laughed at him, I wept over him, I
endeavoured by every argument in my power to make him change my mind,
I failed. Then when I understood how firmly his mind was set upon
this extraordinary idea, I made up my mind to accompany him, in fact,
not to leave him at all until he either grew wiser and stronger, or
else died the death he predicted for himself. I found that the old
dame had quite a store of money saved by her little by little every
year from Etienne's earnings, and from what she made by selling the
rugs I mentioned. These sold for a dollar and upwards according to
the size. Putting some of my own to this fund of hers, I calculated
she had enough to go upon for at least a year. Wants are few in that
district. Then I turned my attention to Etienne. He was growing worse;
he would lie for hours reading or attempting to read with great
beads of perspiration mounting on his brow. The heat was excessive
and proved very bad for him. I judged he would be better in town and
after I had been on the island for about two months, I begged him to
return with me. I promised him that once there, I would not leave him
for a day, and would even consider the possibility of taking him
across the ocean. He still maintained his calm and perfect manners
and insisted upon paying his fare down the river which I let him do,
knowing that soon his stock of money would be exhausted and he would
then be at my mercy. No sign of cupidity was apparent in his demeanor,
yet I wondered how he ever thought to reach France unless I paid his
way. Like all consumptives, he had a trick of rallying now and then
and appearing better than he really was. This occurred on our
arrival in town. He took long walks with me again daily and seemed
so much stronger that I again dared to suggest the propriety of his
returning to the mill, but to no purpose. He drooped at the very
thought, and I perceived that his apparent recovery was but a
delusion, I soon saw he was weaker than ever. But whenever he was at
all able, he persisted in reading what he could understand and
really his progress was a marvel to me. So it came about that one
evening, towards the close of September where we had sometimes to
light the lamp as early as half-past six, I returned to my rooms
about that hour of the day (we shared rooms together, so fond had I
grown of him, and I trust, he of me) to find him poring over the
little Catholic Missal.
"In this light? This will never do. And you could not light the lamp
yourself, my poor Etienne!"
When it was lighted, I saw indeed from his weak and excited
appearance that he was unable to do anything for himself. Lying on
my sofa, he had in one hand the scarlet-edged missal, and in the
other the book I have referred to, which contained a short sketch of
Guy Chezy D'Alencourt the handsome and reckless lieutenant of
_La Nouvelle France_.
He could hardly speak but through his gasping I could gather that he
wished me to examine the words in the corner of fly-leaf I had once
noticed before and believed to be a monogram. I quieted him a little,
then bringing the lamp-light to bear upon the faded ink, I was able
to decipher the device, which comprised a crown, three _fleurs-de-lis_
under, and a lamb bearing a banner, with the letters I.H.S. upon it.
"The arms of Rouen!" I exclaimed "and above them, some initials, yes,
My companion sat up in his excitement.
"Ah! dat is what I cannot make quite out! Tree letter--_oui, vite,
cher mosdieu, vite_!"
I had to look very closely indeed to decipher these, but with the
aid of a small lens I found them to be "G. C. D'A."
There could be little doubt but that Etienne was the lineal
descendant of Guy Chezy D'Alencourt, native of Rouen, who came to
Canada in the same year as Bigot. I told him so and wondered what
his thoughts could be, for clasping my hands with as much force as
he possessed--and that is at times a wonderful force in the clasp of
the dying--he said with a great effort:
"If dat is so, _mossieu_, if dat is so, I have _O le bon Dieu_--I
have--_mossieu_, I have--O if dat is true"--
He fell back and I caught no more. The excitement proved too much
for my poor friend. When I spoke to him, he was unconscious and he
never fully recovered his senses. Alas! he lay in a few weeks,
beneath the sod of Grand Calumet Island, and France is ignorant of
the fact that a true aristocrat and simple-hearted gentleman existed
in the humble person of my friend the _habitant_, Etienne Guy Chezy
D'Alencourt, _alias_ "Netty."
Descendez a L'Ombre, ma Jolie Blonde.
The Honourable Bovyne Vaxine Vyrus refused to be vaccinated. Stoutly,
firmly and persistently refused to be vaccinated. Not even the
temptation of exposing to the admiring gaze of a medical man the
superb muscles and colossal proportions of an arm which had beaten
Grace and thrashed (literally) Villiers of the Guards, weighed with
"It's deuced cool!" he said, to his cousin Clarges, of Clarges St.
Mayfair, a fair, slight fellow, with a tiny yellow moustache.
"Haven't I been six times to India, and twice to Africa; that filthy
Algiers, you remember, and Turkey, and New Orleans, and Lisbon, and
Naples? and now, when I was done only eight years ago at home, here
I am to be done again, where, I am sure, it all looks clean enough
and healthy! It makes me ill, and I _won't_ be done; laid up for a
week and lose all the fun I came for!"
"Bovey, though you _are_ the strongest fellow in England, you're no
less a coward!"
Young Clarges looked up as he spoke, seriously: "_I_ shall be done!"
"You? Well, so I should expect from a baby like you, Arthur! You
will never grow up, never learn to think for yourself! Now let me
alone on the subject, and let us look up this country place we were
told about!" But Clarges was not easily silenced.
"Think of Lady Violet, Bovey! If anything were to happen to you out
here, and the children, Bovey,--Rex and Florence, you know!"
"Oh! cut it, now, Arthur; I tell you it's of no use!"
Young Clarges looked out across the river, and bit the tiny yellow
moustache. "Then I won't be done, either!" said he to himself.
"It's borne in upon me that one of us has got to get this accursed
thing, and if I can prevent it, it shan't be Bovey!" What a strange
scene it was beneath, around, above and opposite them! Beneath
flowed the river, solid with sawdust, the yellow accumulation of
which sent up a strong resinous smell that almost made them giddy;
to the left the tumultuous foam of the Chaudiere cast a delicate
veil of spray over the sharp outlines of the bridge traced against a
yellow sky; to the right, the water stretched away in a dull gray
expanse, bordered by grim pines and flat sterile country. Around
them the three mighty cliffs on which the Capital is built, above
them the cold gray of an autumnal sky, and opposite them the long
undulations of purplish brown hills that break the monotony of the
view, and beyond which stretch away to an untrodden north the wastes
and forests of an uncleared continent.
"Are we looking due north, now, Arthur, do you know?"
"I suppose so," returned Clarges. He was astride a cannon and still
biting the tiny moustache. "Yes, by the direction of the sunset we
must be, I suppose. I say, if we are, you know, I should like to be
able to tell between what two trees--it would have to be between two
of those trees there--we should have to walk to get to the North Pole."
The Hon. Bovyne looked around suddenly and laughed. He was fishing
apparently in his pockets for a paper or something of the kind, as
he had a number of letters in his hand, looking them over.
"What two trees? Where? Arthur, you _are_ a donkey. What are you
"I say," returned Clarges, "that it is perfectly true that as we sit
here, facing due north, all we have to do is to walk straight over
"On the sawdust?"
"Certainly, over those hills and between two of those trees in order
to get to the North Pole. Curious, isn't it? If you look awfully
close, real hard, you know, you can almost count their branches as
they stand up against the sky. Like little feathers--huff-f-f-f--one
could almost blow them away!"
The Honorable Bovyne laughed again. Clarges was a mystery to him, as
to many others. Half-witted he sometimes called him, though on other
occasions he stood in awe of his bright, candid, fearless nature,
and his truthful and reckless tongue.
"I say," went on Clarges excitedly, shading his eyes with his hand.
"There are two trees out there in a straight line from this very
cannon that--that I should know again, Bovey! Do look where I point
now like a good fellow. Don't you see there, following the chimney
of that big red place, factory or other, right in a line with that
at the very top of the hill at its highest point, two trees that
stand a little apart from the others and have such funny branches--Oh!
you must be able to see them by those queer branches! One crooks out
on one side just as the other does on the other tree. That isn't
very lucid, but you see what I mean can't you? They make a sort of--
The Hon. Bovyne shaded his eyes with his hand and looked out over
the river and distant hills. "I see a line of trees, feathery trees,
you aptly call them my dear Arthur, but I can't make out your
particular two. How is it possible, at such a distance, to see
anything like a _lyre_ of all things? Come along, I've found the
address I wanted. It reads most peculiarly. It seems there are still
a great number of French people around here, in fact, all over this
Province which they sometimes call Lower Canada. Do you remember
much of your French?" I spoke a lot in Algiers of course but I fancy
it isn't much like this jargon. Our destination is or appears to be,
_c/o Veuve Peter Ross, Les Chats_, pronounced _Lachatte_, so
Simpson told me.
"Who told you about the place?" enquired young Clarges getting off
the cannon? "Simpson? What sort of a fellow is he?"
"Who? Simpson?" said his cousin in turn. "Um--not bad. Been out
here too long, though. Awfully quiet, goes in for steady work and
takes hardly any exercise. I wonder why it is the fellows here don't
walk more! New country and all that; I should have thought they would
all go in for country walks and shooting and sports of all kinds.
They don't, you know, from some reason or other. It can't be the
fault of the country."
"You forget the roads, Bovey, and the fences, and the interminable
distances and the immense rivers, and the long winter. I say, it
looks like snow to-night, doesn't it?"
"What do you know about snow!" rejoined the Hon. Bovyne. "Let us get
on, there's a good fellow--confound you! don't stare at those
imaginary trees any longer, but come along."
Certainly young Clarges was possessed with the queerest fancy about
those trees. "I say, Bovey, they were funny, though, to strike me
like that, out of all the others! I am sure I should know them again.
Perhaps some day we'll take a fly and go out there--I wonder if
there's an inn? Does what's her name, your old Scotch lady, keep an
inn, or is it a farm we're going to?"
"Scotch? Why do you say Scotch? She's French, I tell you. Simpson
says she can't speak a word of English."
"But 'Peter Ross' is Scotch, isn't it? At least you can't make it
French, however you twist it"
"I'm not anxious to twist it. Don't you see, Arthur, she is
evidently a Frenchwoman who married a man called Peter Ross; she is
the _veuve_, widow, you know! of the lamented Scotchman. Now do you
understand? But it _is_ peculiar."
"Very," said Clarges. "When do we start?"
"There's a train to-morrow morning at eight o'clock, but I thought
we had better hire a trap, and a man to bring the trap back, and put
all our things, tents and so on, into it, and go out comfortably so
as to see the country."
"All right!" said Clarges. "By Jove, what a splendid night it's
going to be, stars out already, Bovey! Don't you hope it'll be like
this tomorrow? Shall we camp out the first night and think of--of--
Lady Violet by our camp fire, and Rex and Florence--how they'd like
to see us, wouldn't they? And they can't, you know, they're three
thousand miles away, trying to make out each other's faces in the
November fog, eh! Bovey? I say, what shall we get to eat out there,
at Lachatte, you know, the country always makes me desperately hungry."
"Oh! we shall do well enough. Simpson says she is a capital old woman,
lives entirely alone; will cook for us, wait on us, make us pancakes,
I expect, and give us plenty of that stuff we had this morning at
"Sweet stuff?" asked Clarges. "_I_ know. Syrup, maple syrup, that'll
Simpson, the authority, thrice quoted by the elder of the two
Englishmen, appeared at dinner with them that evening. He was a
hard-working, stodgy son of person who had come out to the Canadian
Civil Service fifteen years, ago, lived much by himself until he
took a wife out of a Canadian village, a phlegmatic, stolid,
unimaginative sort of a girl, who was nevertheless a good wife and an
excellent housekeeper. Simpson sniffed at the dinner. It wasn't as
good as his own. He felt ill at ease in the presence of the two men,
whose airy talk and loud laughter struck him with a keen sense of
its novelty. They joked about everything. Clarges particularly was
in high feather. The wine, which came partly from the hotel and
partly from the Hon. Bovyne's hamper, flowed often and freely, and
Simpson, who was a very moderate fellow, wondered at the quantity
his friends seemed to be able to imbibe. "Without showing any traces
of it, either," he said to himself. "All this vivacity is natural;
I remember the type; in fact, I was something like it myself ten or
twelve years ago."
After dinner, Clarges rushed up stairs and down again with a small
silk plush packet of photographs tied with ribbons. The men were in
the smoking room.
"I say, I want Simpson to see Lady Violet, Bovey."
"All right, and the children too? You sentimental ass, Arthur!"
Clarges laughed. It was a funny laugh, a kind of inane ripple that
nevertheless tickled everybody who heard it. "But it's too smoky here.
Come up stairs to the drawing room. There's a jolly big drawing room
with a piano, and we can say what we want to, everyone stares here so!"
"I should think they would," said Simpson quietly. "Why do you get
yourself up like that, simply because you're in Canada? A knitted
waistcoat, three sizes too large for you--"
"That's to admit of heavy underclothing," said Clarges, not in the
least perturbed. "Knickerbockers," continued Simpson, "that are
certainly one size too small; a cap that looks like a hangman's, and
a coat that must have come off Praed St."
The Hon. Bovyne laughed long and loud. "Oh, Arthur, Arthur!" he said.
But young Clarges did not mind in the least. Indeed, had he but known
it, and be it remembered to his merit that he did not know it, he
made a fair and manly picture as he stood under the light of the
chandelier. His slim, well-knit figure was more prepossessing than
the herculean proportions of his cousin, "the strongest man in
England;" his crisp fair hair brushed boyishly up on one side and
his well-trimmed moustache of silky yellow, his keen gray eyes and
delicate features, all went far in point of attractiveness,
especially when added to these mere physical details, rang the
infectious laugh, clear, hearty and youthful, and spoke the natural,
honest, unrestrained tongue.
In the drawing room Clarges established himself on a sofa between
the other two. "Now, Simpson," he said, "you must excuse me calling
you Simpson so freely, by the way, but you know, Bovey always calls
you Simpson--you don't mind, do you? You bang away at my clothing
all you like, and in return I'll call you Simpson. Now I'm going to
show you Lady Violet. You know who she is, she is Bovey's wife,
_and_ the loveliest woman in England. Loveliest woman in England,
look at that!" Clarges held up very carefully, out at arm's length,
a very fine photograph of an undeniably beautiful woman. "Bovey's
wife." he ejaculated again. "You never saw her, so you don't know
what beauty is, do you? But here's the next best thing, her
photograph, and such a photograph! Now, you be good, as we say to
the children, and I'll show you that again after all the others."
Next he showed him in a sort of ecstasy, Bovey's children.
"Rex and Florence," he said, in an awe-struck tone. Bovey laughed,
so did Simpson. So would anybody have done.
"What are you laughing at," said young Clarges, solemnly. "Oh, at me!
that's all right, everybody laughs at me. I knew it couldn't be the
children. Now here's another lovely girl," and then there was
another and still another, and then a group in hunting attire just
after the breakfast; then pretty interiors with dainty rooms and
women and children and dogs, a capital likeness of Fred Burnaby,
Vyrus' fellow-officer, autographs of Gordon and Wolseley, a garden
party at Clarges Mount, a water-party at Richmond, photograph's and
sketches taken in Algiers, Cairo, Damascus, Bombay and Edinburgh.
Simpson sat through all this slightly bored and confused. What had
he to do with this kind of life? Once he had had some gleams of it,
it is true, but that was years ago, before his modest little
establishment was in existence, presided over by the plain, but
virtuous Matilda of his later days.
"Well, now," said he, preparing to take his leave, "is there
anything further you want to know about your plans, for I suppose I
shall scarcely see you again before you leave if you get off tomorrow
morning as you intend. One thing--of course you've been vaccinated?"
The Hon. Bovyne muttered, "bah!" Clarges began putting the
photographs away, all but Lady Violet.
"Then you haven't been done, eh?" said Simpson, interrogatively.
"I would if I were you. You can't tell where you're going or whom
you'll meet. Why, you can 'do' yourself if you object to a medical
man fussing around."
"Can you?" said Clarges.
"I don't object," said Bovey, loftily; "but I must say I think it is
making a ridiculous and most unnecessary fuss about the matter. Why,
there are half a dozen diseases as virulent as the small-pox
stalking about in every large town, and we don't take those! Why
should we take the small-pox when we don't take the cholera, or the--
"Yes," observed Simpson, in his quiet manner, "I thought you would
stick for want of details. The fact is, that you can inoculate for
small-pox, and you can't as yet, for cholera or leprosy, and so wise
people accept the fact, the revelation if you will, and get
vaccinated. However, as far as your immediate surroundings go,
you're safe enough. Old Mrs. Ross will do all she can for you, and
it isn't far, only twenty two miles from town after all. You'll be
walking in in a day or two for another tent or a barrel of whiskey.
Nothing like whiskey, Canadian whiskey, out in camp on cold nights."
Simpson got up.
"I wonder," said he, suddenly, "how you escaped being done on the
train. You came up from Quebec _via_ St. Martin's Junction, didn't you?"
"Oh! your importunate Inspector did make an effort on my behalf, but
I was firm. Nearly had a lodging in the Police Station though, but I
told him who we were and swore to having marks the size of
flat-irons on both arms, so he let me go."
"And you," said Simpson, turning to Clarges. "Me! oh! I shall be done.
I say, couldn't I walk out with you now and see a doctor about it? I
believe I will, Bovey, if you can spare me. For look you, Simpson, I
am the plaything of his leisure hours, a kind of Yorick, you know,
and he might be dull."
The Hon. Bovyne looked grave for a second, "I believe I _should_ be
dull without you, dear boy, though you are a crank. Let me see, how
old are you, Arthur?"
"Twenty-two," answered Clarges. "Good heaven!" exclaimed the Hon.
Bovine, "and I am getting perilously near to forty. We'll change the
subject. I'm very sleepy. Don't expect to find me up when you come in,
Arthur; to-morrow night, remember, we may be sleeping on the cold
ground, I shall get all the rest I can to-night." Clarges and the
other man took their leave.
"Once more, Bovey," said the former, "won't you be done? Simpson,
make him! See here, look once more at Lady Violet, speak with
_her_ lips, look with _her_ eyes--the loveliest woman in England!"
"Go and get 'done,' as you call it, for heaven's sake, and let me
alone!" was all he got in reply.
But Clarges did not get done. He had an idea and this was his idea:
To walk to some doctor recommended by Simpson and procure an
instrument suitable for the purpose, and the necessary material, and
to vaccinate his cousin himself. The first part was easy enough.
Simpson vaguely wondering at his light-hearted talk, left him at a
doctor's surgery door, and Clarges, who could always get what he
wanted from anybody in any part of the world, soon persuaded the
doctor to give him a "point" and all necessary instructions.
"A small lancet is really a better thing," said that gentleman,
"but you will manage all right, I daresay. We must really take every
precaution we can. Good evening."
All this was easy; now arose the difficulty, how best to tackle Bovey.
"He's such a giant of a fellow," thought Clarges. "But if he is only
asleep as he hinted he would be, there'll not be much difficulty.
What will he do when he finds it out in the morning, supposing I am
successful in operating upon him to-night? What a suggestive word! I
am quite the surgeon. But I'll do it--Arthur Clarges, see that you
_do_ do it, by all you hold dear and sacred in old England!"
On his return, however, to the hotel, he found that his cousin was
clearly wide-awake again.
"Hang it all!" he said to himself, "why isn't he asleep?" But the Hon.
Bovyne was not in the least sleepy. He rallied Arthur on his poor
arm but fortunately did not ask to look at it. He ordered up a
sherry cobbler apiece and brought out some of his rarest weeds.
"I say, what do you think of Simpson, Bovey?" said Clarges, suddenly.
"Think? why, that there's nothing in him to think about."
"Did you know he was married?"
"No; is he?" Bovey was always laconic.
"Yes, and he has four children. Just think, four! Two boys and two
"How interesting!" The two men smoked silently for a few minutes,
then Clarges said, "It must be a beautiful thing to be married, you
"Well, I _ought_ to know," returned his cousin.
Clarges put his cigar down and went on. "To have somebody that
belongs to you, and to know that you belong to somebody; that's
marriage, and I think it must be very beautiful. Of course, you
belong to other people too, just the same, and they belong to you,
but not so much, not in the same way. You don't go to church all in
a tremble with your father and your mother, or your sister or your
brother. You don't wear a ring--a beautiful, great broad band of gold,
you know, always shining there on your finger--or you don't put one
on for anybody else save just the person that belongs to you in that
way, in the way of marriage, you know. And to be able to think
wherever you are, 'Well, there is that person, anyway, thinking of me,
waiting for me; the whole world doesn't matter if that person is
really there, anywhere, thinking of me, waiting for me.' Now, you
know, _I'll_ never feel that, never, in this world. What good is
there in me? I may be Arthur Clarges, of Clarges, of course, but
without money, that means nothing. I say, Bovey, it's rather ghastly,
but it's perfectly true. I haven't a single soul in the world but
you and Lady Violet to think of me at all, or for me to think of."
"I don't suppose you have," said the Hon. Bovyne, thoughtfully.
"You are a lone beggar, Arthur, but a cheery one nevertheless."
"So you see," Clarges went on, "If in accompanying you around the
world in search of new pleasures and exciting experiences, anything
happens to me, you know, Arthur Clarges, of Clarges, nobody need mind.
There isn't anybody to mind."
"All this because Simpson has got four children! Well, I hope you'll
get married yet, Arthur, you queer fish, and have six, two more than
Simpson. I know what you are driving at, however. You think me a
selfish brute. You can't understand how I can leave Lady Vi., and
the two kids, and go off annually on tours of exploration and so
forth. I tell you, I am the better for it, and she is the better for
it, and nobody is any the worst for it, unless it be yourself. Men
who have knocked about as I have done, will continue to knock about
as long as they live. In the army, out of the army, all the same.
Lady Vi. understands me, and I her, and you forget, Arthur, that you
"Then may I never get any older," said Charles, almost rudely.
Not long afterwards his cousin, slightly heavy with wine, went to bed.
Clarges, abnormally wakeful, tried to read _Bell's Life_ which lay
before him and waited until Bovey was fast asleep. They occupied the
same room, a large double-bedded one, which opened into a bathroom
and parlour _en suite_. When he was perfectly certain that his
cousin was sound asleep, so sound that "a good yelp from the county
pack, and a stirring chorus of 'John Peel' by forty in pink could
not wake him," thought Clarges, the latter undertook his delicate
task and accomplished it. He did it quickly and skilfully with a
tiny lancet he found in his cousin's well-appointed travelling bag.
Bovey never stirred. Clarges next undertook to "do" himself. Then a
strange thing happened. He had gone to the glass and bared his left
arm when a sudden faintness overcame him. He tried to shake it off
and sat down. Presently it left him and he felt quite as usual. Then
he made a second attempt. The same thing occurred again. This time it
was worse, and sight and strength failing, he sank on his own bed,
fainting. By a tremendous effort he prevented entire unconsciousness
from taking place and lay there half dressed and tremulous.
"Well, I _am a fool_! I can't help it. I can't try any more to-night,
for I am as weak and sleepy--if I can get up and undress it's as
much as I am capable of. But Bovey's all right. There's Lady Violet"--
turning his eyes to the photograph he had stuck in the looking glass
frame--"she'd thank me if she knew." Sweet Lady Vi--so good to all
around her--so good to me--dear Lady Vi, the loveliest woman in
When Clarges awoke he was chilled and dazed, couldn't remember where
he was and what he had done. When he did recollect, he rose quietly,
extinguished the gas and made the room as dark as possible, in hopes
that Bovey might outsleep himself in the morning. Then he went to
bed properly, putting as a final precaution, his watch an hour in
advance. It thus happened that by Clarges' watch it was a quarter
past ten when he awoke. He rose first and bullied his cousin to that
extent that the latter tumbled out of bed and flung on his clothes
without indulging in his usual bath. At eleven the trap was due and
Bovey was all on fire, bundled his things around recklessly and
swore a little at Clarges for keeping him up the night before.
Clarges was nervous, but up to the present time was master of the
situation. At breakfast, Bovey discovered the mistake, but
attributed it to Clarges' carelessness in such matters aggravated by
a probable bad arm.
"Why I took your watch for an authority instead of my own, I don't
know," said he. "But last night I thought you were the clearer of
the two, in fact, I don't recollect winding mine at all, and it
seems now that _you_ were the delinquent." "Yes, I must have been,"
said Clarges, self-reproachfully.
At eleven the trap came, and by noon they were half-way to their
destination. The road winding higher and higher as it followed the
magnificent curves of the Gatineau was very beautiful, and revealed
at each turn a superb panorama of water, and wood and sky. For a
long time the Buildings were visible, towering over trees and valleys.
Once the sun came out and lit up the cold, gray scene.
"Pull up, Johnny," said the Hon. Bovyne, "I want to see this. Why,
its immense, this is! Arthur, how's your arm?"
But Clarges was evidently struck with something. "I say, over there,
is where we were yesterday, Bovey, I can imagine I see the very spot,
cannon and all."
"Just as then you imagined you saw a couple of trees here, eh? Now
go along, Johnny, and sit down, Arthur. It doesn't agree with you to
be vaccinated. I'm afraid you're too imaginative already my boy. By
the way, how _is_ your arm?"
"Its a novel situation," thought Clarges. "_He's_ the one, not me.
Its _his_ arm, not mine. But my turn will come to-night; pretty soon
he'll find it out for himself."
Arrived at the house of _Veuve_ Peter Ross, they found it clean and
inviting; warmed by a wood stove and carpeted with home-made rugs.
The old woman took a great interest in their arrival and belongings
and jabbered away incessantly, in French. Did they but request her
to "cherchez un autre blankette!" or fry an additional egg, up went
her hands, her eyes and her shoulders, and such a tirade of excited
French was visited upon them that they soon forebore asking her for
anything but went about helping themselves. At first they thought
she was angry when these outbreaks took place, but Bovey, who could
partially understand her, gathered that she was far from offended,
but given over to the national habit of delivering eloquent and
theatrical monologues on the slightest provocation. She had no
lodgers at the present moment; a Frenchman had left the day before,
and the prospect was in every way favorable, to the comfort of the
When the dusk fell, Bovey made a camp-fire.
"It's what we came for," he said, "and we can't begin too early or
have enough of it, and I feel chilly, queer, quite unlike myself
to-night. It's a depressing country just about here."
"It is," said Clarges, anxious to keep his friend a little longer in
the dark. "We'll be all right when it's really night, you know, and
the fire blazes up. What a jolly tent and what glorious blankets? We
ought to go to bed early, for it was awfully late the last night
There! now its getting better. Hoop-la! more sticks Bovey! Throw
them on, make it blaze up. Here we are in the primeval forest at last,
Bovey, pines and moss, and shadows and sounds--What's that now? Is
that on the river?"
For suddenly they heard the most wonderful strain coming from that
direction. The river was about three or four hundred yards away
across the road, in front of them, and upon a raft slowly passing by
were a couple of _habitans_ singing. What strain was this, so weird,
so solemn, so earnest, yet so pathetic, so sweet, so melodious!
"Descendez a l'ombre
Ma jolie blonde."
Those were the words they caught, no more, but the tune eluded them.
"It's the queerest tune I ever heard!" ejaculated Clarges. He had a
smattering of music, and not a bad ear.
"Can't get it for the life of me. It's like--I tell you what it's
like Bovey, its got the same--you know--the same intervals--that's
the word--that the priests chant in! And then, just when you're
thinking it has, off it goes into something like opera bouffe or
those French rounds our nurse used to sing. But isn't it pretty? I
say--where's Lady Violet now, Bovey, eh? Don't you wish she could
see us, see you there, quite the pioneer, looking like Queen
Elizabeth's giant porter in this queer light? and how she would
catch up that tune and bring it out on the piano, and make ever so
much more of it with her clever fingers, first like a battle-cry,
men marching and marching you know, and then put in a wonderful
chord that would make us all creep and sigh as she would glide into
the loveliest nocturne, you know--I say, what a nocturne we're having,
eh! Do you think it's any livelier now?"
"My boy," said the Hon. Bovyne, solemnly, "You are right, it is a
nocturne and a wonderful one. I'm not given to expressing myself
poetically as you know, so I shall content myself with saying that
its immense, and now will you pass the whiskey? I certainly feel
shaky to-night, but I shall sleep out here all the same. What are
you going to do?"
"I prefer to try the house, I think," answered Clarges, and so he did.
When he was going to bed, heartily grateful that his cousin was as
yet ignorant of his interference, he looked long and earnestly from
his one window in the roof at the scene outside before he attempted
again the process of self-vaccination. He could see the mighty
flames of Bovey's camp-fire, a first-class fire, well planned and
well plied. He could see the pale outline of the tent and the dark
figure of his cousin wrapped in rugs and blankets by the side of the
fire. He could see the tall pines and the little firs, the
glistening line of river and the circles of gleaming white stones
that marked the garden beds in front. The first snow of the year was
just beginning to fall in tiny flakelets that melted as soon as they
touched the ground.
"When they're all covered with snow, it must be pretty," thought
Clarges. "Like all the Christmas trees in the world put together!
The winter is beginning, the long cold, constant Canadian winter we
have heard so much about. Good-bye, dear Lady Violet, good-bye,
dear old England!" Clarges sat on the side of the bed with his arm
ready. But the faintness came again, this time with a sickening
thrill of frightful pain and apprehension, and he rolled over in a
deathly swoon with his own words ringing in his ears.
When the morning broke, it broke in bright sunshine and with an inch
or so of snow on the ground. The Hon. Bovyne, though feeling
unaccountably ill and irritable, was delighted.
"Still I fear we are too late in the season for much camping," he
said, "I must see Arthur about it."
He waited till ten, eleven, half-past eleven. No Arthur, not even
the old woman about. He wondered very much. He approached the house,
and finding nobody coming at his knock, opened the door and went in.
Something wrong. He knew that at once. The air was stifling,
horrible, with an unknown quantity in it, it seemed to him. He threw
open the front room door. _Veuve_ Peter Ross was in her bed, ill,
and of small-pox. He could tell her that, for certain. He rushed
up-stairs and found Clarges on his bed, raving, delirious.
What was it he heard?
"Bovey's all right! Bovey's all right?" This was all, repeated over
The Hon. Bovyne was neither a fool nor a coward. He tore off his
coat and looked at his arm, then he dragged his cousin out of the
room, down the stairs and out of the fatal house. Propping him up
against a sturdy pine and covering him with all available warm
clothing, he sped like wind to the nearest house. But neither the
swift, keen self-reproaches of Bovey, nor the skill of the best
physician to be found in the town, nor the pure, fresh pine-scented
air, nor the yearning perchance of a dead yet present mother could
prevail. The young life went out in delirium and in agony, but
"thank God," thought Bovey, "in complete unconsciousness."
When he set about removing his tent and other camping apparatus some
time later, he was suddenly struck with the appearance of the tree
against which poor Clarges had been propped. He looked again and
again. "I must be dreaming," said the Hon. Bovyne. "That tree--oh!
its impossible--nevertheless, that tree has its counterpart in the
one opposite it, and both have extraordinary branches! They bend
upward, making a kind of--of--what was it Arthur saw in those
imaginary trees of his only--_yesterday_--my God--it is true--a kind
of lyre shape! There it is, and the more I look at it the clearer it
grows, and to think he has _died_ there--!! And beneath there he is
buried, and the raftsmen will pass within a few hundred yards of him
where he lies, and will sing the same strain that so fascinated him,
but he will not hear it, and learn it and bring it back for Lady
Violet, the loveliest woman in England! For he has gone down into
the eternal shadow that no man ever penetrates."
The Prisoner Dubois.
Miss Cecilia Maxwell was the only child of Sir Robert Maxwell, K. C.
M. G., member of the Cabinet, chief orator of the Liberal party, and
understudy for the part of Premier, who, although a Scotchman by
birth, was a typical Canadian--free, unaffected, honest and sincere.
His bushy iron-gray hair, his keen gray eyes, his healthy florid
color, and the well-trimmed black moustache, which gave his face an
unusually youthful appearance for a man of his age, went with a fine
stalwart physique and a general bodily conformation apparently in
keeping with the ideas of early rising, cold ablutions and
breakfasts of oatmeal porridge that the ingenuous mind is apt to
associate with Scotch descent and bringing-up. His daughter was a
very beautiful girl. Born in the shadow of the pines, she had been
educated successively in Edinburgh, Brussels and Munich, had been
presented at Court, been through two London seasons, spent half of
one winter in South America, another in Bermuda, had been ogled by
lords, worshipped by artists, and loved by everybody.
Once more in Canada, she took her place in the limited yet exacting
political circles of the Capital, of Toronto, and of distant Winnipeg.
Life was full of duties, and she shirked none, though on days when
they were put away earlier than usual she would fall to musing of
the country place down the river she had not seen for years, with
the beautiful woods, and the simple, contented French, and the
evenings on the water.
"That great, lonely river," she thought on one occasion, looking
idly out of her window. "What other river in the world is like it?--
and the tiny French villages with the red roofs and doors, and the
sparkling spires and the queer people. Delle Lisbeth, and _veuve_
Macleod, and Pierre--poor Pierre. I have never forgotten Pierre,
with his solemn eyes and beautiful brown hair. And how he knew the
flowers in the wood, and what were those songs he used to sing?" And
Cecilia sang a couple of verses of:
"Un Canadian errant,
Banni de ses foyers."
When Sir Robert entered later he found her listless and preoccupied.
"You mustn't look like that to-night," he said. "Don't forget that
this is your first important dinner-party: three French members and
their wives, and La Colombiere, the new Minister of Finance, to whom
you must be as charming as possible. This North-West business is
quickening as fast as it can. The Metis are really up, there's no
doubt about it."
"In rebellion?" asked Cecilia breathlessly. There was an added
interest in life directly to the imaginative girl.
"Ay," said her father, "there's a rascal at the bottom of it we've
been after for a long time; but now, run away and look bright at
dinner, like a good girl."
The small clique of Frenchmen and their wives could not but have
been charmed with their reception that evening. The dinner was good,
and not too heavy nor long, the wines excellent (for Sir Robert did
not as yet favor the "Scott" Act), and the suavity of his manner
combined with the appearance and grace of his daughter, in a
delicate dress of primrose and brown, with amber in her beautiful
golden plaits and round her whitest neck, left nothing to be desired.
And yet on that very first night in her capacity as hostess, Cecilia
found she had to learn to play a part, the part of woman, which all
women who have just left off being girls find so hard to play at
first. For naturally the report of the Metis revolt had spread.
Sir Robert did a brave thing. He referred to it directly they were
seated, and then everybody felt at ease. Now it could be talked
about if anybody chose--and Cecilia did so choose.
"Who is this young Frenchman," she asked of La Colombiere, "that is
identified with this new rising? I have been away, and am ignorant
of it all."
"His name is Dubois--Pierre Dubois," returned La Colombiere with a
gleaming smile. "He calls himself the representative of the
French-Canadian party. Bah! such men!" But Cecilia's heart had given
a mighty leap and then stopped, she almost thought, for ever.
"Pierre--Pierre Dubois?" she reiterated in her surprise. Her fan of
yellow feathers dropped from her lap, and her face showed
extraordinary interest for a moment.
"You know him M'lle.?" said La Colombiere, returning her the fan.
For an instant she was the centre of attention. Then with a flutter
of the yellow feathers that subjugated the four impressionable
Frenchmen completely, she resumed her usual manner.
"I know the name, certainly. There was somebody of that name living
at Port Joli where we go in the Summer you know."
"Oh!" said Laflamme carelessly, a little man with a bald head and a
diplomatist's white moustache, "Dubois is not a new offender. He has
been recognized as an agitator for three or four years. He has the
eyes of the ox and the wavy hair of the sculptor. He is to be admired--
_vraiment_--and has the gift of speech."
When the dinner was over Cecilia played for them in the drawing-room.
Somehow or other, she wandered into the tender yet buoyant melody of
the _chanson_ she had hummed earlier in the day.
"Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers."
"Hum-hum," trolled little Laflamme. "So you know our songs? _Ca va
"That was taught me" said Cecilia, "once down the river at Port Joli."
But she did not say who had taught her. Later on when the guests
were gone and Sir Robert was preparing to go back to the office, his
daughter said very quietly.
"Papa do you remember that young man at Port Joli who was staying
with the cure for his health, the one who was so kind and showed me
so many things, the woods, you know and the water, and who talked so
"I remember the one you mean, I think, but not his name. Why, dear
"His name was Dubois," returned Cecilia. "Pierre Dubois!"
"Dubois? Are you sure? That is very singular" said her father.
"And he talked beautifully you say? It must be _this_ one."
"That is what I think" said Cecilia, seeing her father to the door.
Then ensued a period of hard work for Cecilia. She read the papers
assiduously, going up every day to the Parliamentary reading-rooms
for that purpose that she might lose no aspect of the affair. She
followed every detail of the rebellion, even possessing herself of
many of her father's papers bearing on the matter. Those details are
well known; how the whisper ran through our peaceful land, breathing
of war and battle and blood-shed; how our gallant men marched to the
front in as superb a faith and as perfect a manhood as ever troops
have shown in this country or the Old; how some fell by the way, and
how others were reserved to be clasped again to the bosoms of wife
and mother and how some met with the finest fate of all, or at least
the most fitting fate for a true soldier--death on the battle-field.
For a month the country was in a delirium. Then joy-bells rang, and
bonfires blazed, and hands were struck in other hands for very
delight that the cause of all the mischief, the rebel chief, the
traitor Dubois was taken. Cecilia alone sat in her room in horror.
"What will they do with the prisoner Dubois?" she said with a
vehemence that dismayed Sir Robert.
"The prisoner Dubois? Why, they will hang him of course. He has
caused too much blood to be shed not to have to give some of his own."
Cecilia writhed as if in extreme pain. Her beauty, her grace, her
youth all seemed to leave her in a moment, and she stood faded and
old before her father.
"Oh, they will not do that! Imprison him or send him away--anything,
anything save that! See, they do not know him--poor Pierre, so kind,
so good--they do not know him as I knew him. Father, he could not
hurt a thing--he would step aside from the smallest living thing in
the path when we walked together that summer, and he helped
everybody that wanted help, there was nothing he could not do. And
he loves his country--at least he did so then. There is that song,
_'O mon cher Canada_,' he used to sing, and he told me of the
future of his country, and how he had prayed to be allowed to aid it
and push it forward. And he does not hate the English, only how can
he help loving the French more when he is one of them, and has good
French blood in his veins--better than many of the so-called English!
And he was born to be a leader and to bring men away from their home
into battle and make war for them, and where in that does he differ
from other heroes we are taught to love and admire? If you had ever
heard him talk, and had seen the people all gathered round him when
he spoke of all these things--as for his church and the Virgin, and
the priests, it would be well if you and all of us thought as much
about our religion, and loved and revered it as he did his!"
Cecilia broke down into incoherent sobs. Sir Robert sat aghast at
this startling confession. No need to tell him that it was prompted
"But what if he be insane, my dear?" he asked very quietly.
"Then it is still bad--it is worse," said Cecilia. "Will hanging an
insane man bring back the others that are slain? Will it make foul
fair and clean still cleaner? Will it bring peace and friendliness,
and right feeling, or will it bring a fiercer fire and a sharper
sword than our country has yet seen--a hand-to-hand fight between
rival races, a civil war based on national distinction!"
"What would you do?" said her father, walking up and down the room.
"What can I or anybody do? It is common law and common justice; if
he be found guilty he must swing for it. Personal intercession--"
"Might save him!" said the girl.
"Must not be thought of!" said her father.
"You mean, _you_ may not think of it. But others may--_I_ may. I am
a woman, free and untrammelled by either party or personal
considerations of any kind. Father, let _me_ try!"
"Cecilia, it is madness to take such a thing upon yourself. How is
it possible? What are your plans?"
"I do not know. I have not thought. All is in a haze through which I
see that vision of the hangman and the rope Father, let me try!"
Sir Robert thought for a moment, then he said: "Very well, my dear,
you shall try, on one condition; that first of all you have an
interview with Dubois himself. In fact, for your purpose it is
absolutely necessary that you should see him, in order to identify
him with the other Dubois you used to know. After that interview, if
you still persist in your course, I promise--rash as it certainly
seems--to help you. Now hold yourself in readiness to start for the
North-West at a moment's notice. I have private information that
tells me Dubois will be hung and any intervention on your part or
that of anybody else must be set on foot immediately, do you see?"
A few days afterwards Cecilia, unveiled, and dressed in an
irreproachable walking costume of gray, was taken to the gloomy
prison outside the little northern town of ----, where the prisoner
Dubois was confined. There was a bit of tricolor in her hat and her
cheeks were very pale--As the beautiful daughter of Sir Robert
Maxwell her way was sufficiently paved with politeness as she
presented her private order to see the prisoner. Her heart was
beating tumultuously and the blood surged round her temples. The
turnkey showed her into a small whitewashed room, opposite the cell
in which Dubois spent his time and informed her that in compliance
with strict orders he would have to be present during the interview,
to which Cecilia bent her head in assent; she could not have spoken
just then. "It is a strange thing that I am doing," she thought,
"but I shall see Pierre--poor Pierre." Approaching footsteps were
soon heard and the prisoner Dubois entered, escorted by two warders.
He started when he saw his visitor, and--stared.
"Mademoiselle,--" he said, evidently trying to recall her name and
"Cecile," she said, eagerly, "Ma'amselle Cecile you always called me,
and I liked it so much better than Cecilia. I think I like it still--
The prisoner Dubois frowned.
"If Mdme. Dubois had ears through these walls, you had not called me
'Pierre.' But--" laying his hand on his heart and bowing low,
"Pierre himself is flattered--_oui, mademoiselle_--by your attention--
_oui, vraiment_--and he is rejoiced to know that his image is
still cherished in that heart so fair, so _Anglaise_, so pure, so
good. _Belle-enfant, Je n'ai pas oublie nos amours_!"
The three men in the room suppressed a smile. Dubois stood with his
head thrown back, his arms folded and his soft dark eyes fixed on
Cecilia. She was still standing, indeed there was no chair in the
room, and her eyes were fixed on him as his upon herself. It was
Pierre, and yet not her Pierre. Rather an exaggerated growth--of the
man she had once known. The same soft brown hair, only thicker and
rougher, one drooping wave looking tangled and unkempt--the dreamy
eyes with the latent sneer in them dreamier than ever and yet the
sneer more visible, the thin sensitive nose thinner, the satisfied
mouth more satisfied and conscious, the weak chin fatally weaker.
And he was married, too! Mdme. Dubois--that must be his wife! How
strange it was! Cecilia's brain was in a frightful state of doubt
and fever and hesitation. It was necessary for her to explain her
presence there, however, for she could not but resent the opening
speech of the prisoner Dubois. She was growing very tired of standing,
moreover, but she would have died rather than have demanded a chair.
At length the turnkey observed her fatigue and sent one of the
warders for a chair.
"Fetch two," interposed Dubois, with a flourish of his hand.
"I myself shall sit down." When the man returned, bringing only one
chair on the plea that he could not find another, Cecilia, whose
nerve was returning, offered it to Dubois. He accepted it calmly and
sat down upon it, waiting to hear what she had to say. At this
signal instance of arch selfishness Cecilia felt her heart tighten
and her temples grow cold as if fillets of fire had been exchanged
for ribbons of snow.
"Sir," she began, "I am sorry to find you here." Dubois smiled the
smile of a great man who listens with condescension to what an
inferior has to say. "I am glad you have not forgotten me, because
all the time I was away, and it has been a long time, I never--it is
quite true--forgot you--I mean (for Dubois smiled again) I never
forgot that summer you spent near us at Port Joli, and the things
you talked about, about your future. When I came home I found you
had gone so much further than I know you ever intended to, and have
been the cause of so much trouble, and the death of brave men, and I
was very sorry." Cecilia leant on the bare table before her, and
felt that every moment as it passed brought with it a cooling of the
once passionate feeling she had entertained for the Dubois of her
childhood. But if the lover were gone, there remained the man,
husband and father, maybe the leader, the orator, the martyr, the
dear human being.
"So I thought that if it were possible at all, some step should be
taken to--to prevent the law from taking its course--its final
course perhaps." Cecilia felt her throat tighten as she spoke.
"You have plenty of friends--you must have--all the French will help
and many, many English, for it is no cause to die for, it is no
cause at all! There should never have been bloodshed on either side!"
Dubois uncrossed his long legs at last and said in his loftiest tone:
"_Chere enfant_, the French will not let me die. I--I myself--Pierre
Dubois--allowed to hang by the neck until I am dead! That will never
happen. _Voyez-vous donc cherie_, I am their King, their prophet,
their anointed, their fat priests acknowledge me, their women adore
Cecilia shrunk together as she listened. She had sought and she had
not found, she had expected and it had been denied her. At this
moment, the turnkey signified that time was up. She felt her heart
burning in an agony of undefined grief and disappointment in which
was also mingled the relief of resignation. The prisoner Dubois
bowed low with his hand on his heart and then pressing her own hand
lingeringly, gave her a tenderly insinuating glance. As she turned
away she heard him exchange a laugh and a jest with one of the
wardens, and her cheeks flamed with indignant anger. "Were he a good
or suffering man as I dreamed he was, I would have bent low and
kissed his hand; as it was, I am sorry I let him take mine."
She was calm when she reached her carriage in which sat her father
waiting. He divined at once that his plan had been successful.
"You look tired, my dear," was all he said.
"Yes, I have been standing for some time," Cecilia returned in a
"Could they not find you a chair in the establishment?"
"They found one," she said grimly, "and that was appropriated by the
"The prisoner Dubois!" thought Sir Robert. "It is well. We shall
hear no more of Pierre."
Two days before Christmas the prisoner Dubois underwent the extreme
penalty of the law. Cecilia sat in her room all that day. She never
quite made up her mind as to whether Pierre had been a lunatic or a
fanatic, a martyr or a fiend, an inspired criminal or a perverted
enthusiast. Perhaps he was a mixture of all.
How the Mr. Foxleys Came, Stayed and Never Went Away.
There flows in Western Canada, by which I mean a region east of the
Saskatchewan and west of the Thousand Islands, a singular and
beautiful stream. It is beautiful because it is narrow, undulating
and shallow, because it has graceful curves and rounded bends,
because its banks are willow-clad and its bed boulder-strewn,
because it flows along between happy farms and neat white villages,
because at one spot, it boasts a picturesque and ruined mill and a
moss-covered bridge and because--chiefly because--it is above all
things--placid. The mind familiar with our Canadian streams will
easily understand then, that if these be its attributes of beauty,
they also attest to its claim of singularity. For the Canadian river
is seldom placid, but oftener seething and steaming and foaming; or
else deep and dark and dangerous with many a mighty gorge and
tumbling cascade, wide and lonely and monotonous for the most part;
pine hung down to the very edge, black and lowering, or displaying
waving wisps of dry gray foliage that only resembles human hair.
What a contrast, then, does this cherished river I speak of, afford!
No local Laureate has as yet written it up, though picnic parties
used to gather themselves together on its banks and in its
well-wooded shades, defiling everything they touched from bark to
beach, leaving bits of bread here, dead pie there, buttering the
leaves, peppering the grass, salting the stones, and scattering
greasy crumpled paper--PAPER--PAPER--everywhere. That is what picnic
parties do all over the world, and with such gusto all of them, even
the Sunday-schools, Dorcases, W. C. T. U's. and all the rest of them,
that I really think it must be intended as a serious part of the
Picnicker's Ritual and forms very likely a peace-offering or
sacrifice of propitiation towards some unknown God. I don't think
the Druids left paper about underneath their oaks. But presumably
they left worse. Well, if as yet, this river I love so well has not
been immortalized in fiction, travels or verse, it has however
attracted the attention of several gifted members of the Royal
Academy--Royal Canadian of course, who have from time to time