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THE GOLDEN DOG.
(LE CHIEN D'OR.)
by William Kirby
AUTHOR'S PREFATORY NOTE.
TO THE PUBLIC:
In the year 1877 the first edition of "The Golden Dog" (Le Chien
d'Or) was brought out in the United States, entirely without my
knowledge or sanction. Owing to the inadequacy of the then existing
copyright laws, I have been powerless to prevent its continued
publication, which I understand to have been a successful and
profitable undertaking for all concerned, except the author, the
book having gone through many editions.
It was, consequently, a source of gratification to me when I was
approached by Messrs. L. C. Page & Company, of Boston, with a
request to revise "The Golden Dog," and re-publish it through them.
The result is the present edition, which I have corrected and
revised in the light of the latest developments in the history of
Quebec, and which is the only edition offered to my readers with the
sanction and approval of its author.
Niagara, Canada, May, 1897.
I. MEN OF THE OLD RÉGIME
II. THE WALLS OF QUEBEC
III. A CHATELAINE OF NEW FRANCE
V. THE ITINERANT NOTARY
VII. THE INTENDANT BIGOT
VIII. CAROLINE DE ST. CASTIN
IX. PIERRE PHILIBERT
X. AMÉLIE DE REPENTIGNY
XI. THE SOLDIER'S WELCOME
XII. THE CASTLE OF ST. LOUIS
XIII. THE CHIEN D'OR
XIV. THE COUNCIL OF WAR
XV. THE CHARMING JOSEPHINE
XVI. ANGÉLIQUE DES MELOISES
XVII. SPLENDIDE MENDAX
XVIII. THE MEROVINGIAN PRINCESS
XIX. PUT MONEY IN THY PURSE
XXI. SIC ITUR AD ASTRA
XXII. SO GLOZED THE TEMPTER
XXIII. SEALS OF LOVE, BUT SEALED IN VAIN
XXIV. THE HURRIED QUESTION OF DESPAIR
XXV. BETWIXT THE LAST VIOLET AND THE EARLIEST ROSE
XXVI. THE CANADIAN BOAT SONG
XXVII. CHEERFUL YESTERDAYS AND CONFIDENT TO-MORROWS
XXVIII. A DAY AT THE MANOR HOUSE
XXIX. FELICES TER ET AMPLIUS
XXX. "NO SPEECH OF SILK WILL SERVE YOUR TURN"
XXXI. THE BALL AT THE INTENDANT'S PALACE
XXXII. "ON WITH THE DANCE"
XXXIII. LA CORRIVEAU
XXXIV. WEIRD SISTERS
XXXV. "FLASKETS OF DRUGS, FULL TO THEIR WICKED LIPS"
XXXVI. THE BROAD, BLACK GATEWAY OF A LIE
XXXVII. ARRIVAL OF PIERRE PHILIBERT
XXXVIII. A WILD NIGHT INDOORS AND OUT
XXXIX. MÈRE MALHEUR
XL. QUOTH THE RAVEN, "NEVERMORE!"
XLI. A DEED WITHOUT A NAME
XLII. "LET'S TALK OF GRAVES AND WORMS AND EPITAPHS"
XLIII. SILK GLOVES OVER BLOODY HANDS
XLIV. THE INTENDANT'S DILEMMA
XLV. "I WILL FEED FAT THE ANCIENT GRUDGE I BEAR HIM"
XLVI. THE BOURGEOIS PHILIBERT
XLVII. A DRAWN GAME
XLVIII. "IN GOLD CLASPS LOCKS IN THE GOLDEN STORY"
XLIX. THE MARKET-PLACE ON ST. MARTIN'S DAY
L. "BLESSED THEY WHO DIE DOING THY WILL"
LI. EVIL NEWS RIDES POST
LII. THE LAMP OF REPENTIGNY
LIII. "LOVELY IN DEATH THE BEAUTEOUS RUIN LAY"
LIV. "THE MILLS OF GOD GRIND SLOWLY"
THE GOLDEN DOG.
(LE CHIEN D'OR.)
MEN OF THE OLD RÉGIME.
"'See Naples, and then die!' That was a proud saying, Count, which
we used to hear as we cruised under lateen sails about the glorious
bay that reflects from its waters the fires of Vesuvius. We
believed the boast then, Count. But I say now, 'See Quebec, and
live forever!' Eternity would be too short to weary me of this
lovely scene--this bright Canadian morning is worthy of Eden, and
the glorious landscape worthy of such a sun-rising."
Thus exclaimed a tall, fair Swedish gentleman, his blue eyes
sparkling, and every feature glowing with enthusiasm, Herr Peter
Kalm, to His Excellency Count de la Galissonière, Governor of New
France, as they stood together on a bastion of the ramparts of
Quebec, in the year of grace 1748.
A group of French and Canadian officers, in the military uniforms of
Louis XV., stood leaning on their swords, as they conversed gaily
together on the broad gravelled walk at the foot of the rampart.
They formed the suite in attendance upon the Governor, who was out
by sunrise this morning to inspect the work done during the night by
the citizens of Quebec and the habitans of the surrounding country,
who had been hastily summoned to labor upon the defences of the
A few ecclesiastics, in black cassocks, dignitaries of the Church,
mingled cheerfully in the conversation of the officers. They had
accompanied the Governor, both to show their respect, and to
encourage, by their presence and exhortations, the zeal of the
colonists in the work of fortifying the capital.
War was then raging between old England and old France, and between
New England and New France. The vast region of North America,
stretching far into the interior and southwest from Canada to
Louisiana, had for three years past been the scene of fierce
hostilities between the rival nations, while the savage Indian
tribes, ranged on the one side and on the other, steeped their
moccasins in the blood of French and English colonists, who, in
their turn, became as fierce, and carried on the war as
relentlessly, as the savages themselves.
Louisbourg, the bulwark of New France, projecting its mailed arm
boldly into the Atlantic, had been cut off by the English, who now
overran Acadia, and began to threaten Quebec with invasion by sea
and land. Busy rumors of approaching danger were rife in the
colony, and the gallant Governor issued orders, which were
enthusiastically obeyed, for the people to proceed to the walls and
place the city in a state of defence, to bid defiance to the enemy.
Rolland Michel Barrin, Count de la Galissonière, was remarkable no
less for his philosophical attainments, that ranked him high among
the savans of the French Academy, than for his political abilities
and foresight as a statesman. He felt strongly the vital interests
involved in the present war, and saw clearly what was the sole
policy necessary for France to adopt in order to preserve her
magnificent dominion in North America. His counsels were neither
liked nor followed by the Court of Versailles, then sinking fast
into the slough of corruption that marked the closing years of the
reign of Louis XV.
Among the people who admired deeds more than words the Count was
honored as a brave and skilful admiral, who had borne the flag of
France triumphantly over the seas, and in the face of her most
powerful enemies--the English and Dutch. His memorable repulse of
Admiral Byng, eight years after the events here recorded,--which led
to the death of that brave and unfortunate officer, who was shot by
sentence of court martial to atone for that repulse,--was a glory to
France, but to the Count brought after it a manly sorrow for the
fate of his opponent, whose death he regarded as a cruel and unjust
act, unworthy of the English nation, usually as generous and
merciful as it is brave and considerate.
The Governor was already well-advanced in years. He had entered
upon the winter of life, that sprinkles the head with snow that
never melts, but he was still hale, ruddy, and active. Nature had,
indeed, moulded him in an unpropitious hour for personal comeliness,
but in compensation had seated a great heart and a graceful mind in
a body low of stature, and marked by a slight deformity. His
piercing eyes, luminous with intelligence and full of sympathy for
everything noble and elevated, overpowered with their fascination
the blemishes that a too curious scrutiny might discover upon his
figure; while his mobile, handsome lips poured out the natural
eloquence of clear thoughts and noble sentiments. The Count grew
great while speaking: his listeners were carried away by the magic
of his voice and the clearness of his intellect.
He was very happy this morning by the side of his old friend, Peter
Kalm, who was paying him a most welcome visit in New France. They
had been fellow-students, both at Upsal and at Paris, and loved each
other with a cordiality that, like good wine, grew richer and more
generous with age.
Herr Kalm, stretching out his arms as if to embrace the lovely
landscape and clasp it to his bosom, exclaimed with fresh
enthusiasm, "See Quebec, and live forever!"
"Dear Kalm," said the Governor, catching the fervor of his friend,
as he rested his hand affectionately on his shoulder, "you are as
true a lover of nature as when we sat together at the feet of
Linnaeus, our glorious young master, and heard him open up for us the
arcana of God's works; and we used to feel like him, too, when he
thanked God for permitting him to look into his treasure-house and
see the precious things of creation which he had made."
"Till men see Quebec," replied Kalm, "they will not fully realize
the meaning of the term, 'God's footstool.' It is a land worth
"Not only a land to live for, but a land to die for, and happy the
man who dies for it! Confess, Kalm,--thou who hast travelled in all
lands,--think'st thou not it is indeed worthy of its proud title of
"It is indeed worthy," replied Kalm; "I see here a scion of the old
oak of the Gauls, which, if let grow, will shelter the throne of
France itself in an empire wider than Caesar wrested from Ambiotrix."
"Yes," replied the Count, kindling at the words of his friend, "it
is old France transplanted, transfigured, and glorified,--where her
language, religion, and laws shall be handed down to her posterity,
the glory of North America as the mother-land is the glory of
The enthusiastic Galissonière stretched out his hands and implored a
blessing upon the land entrusted to his keeping.
It was a glorious morning. The sun had just risen over the hilltops
of Lauzon, throwing aside his drapery of gold, purple, and crimson.
The soft haze of the summer morning was floating away into
nothingness, leaving every object fresh with dew and magnified in
the limpid purity of the air.
The broad St. Lawrence, far beneath their feet, was still partially
veiled in a thin blue mist, pierced here and there by the tall mast
of a King's ship or merchantman lying unseen at anchor; or, as the
fog rolled slowly off, a swift canoe might be seen shooting out into
a streak of sunshine, with the first news of the morning from the
Behind the Count and his companions rose the white glistening walls
of the Hôtel Dieu, and farther off the tall tower of the newly-
restored Cathedral, the belfry of the Recollets, and the roofs of
the ancient College of the Jesuits. An avenue of old oaks and
maples shaded the walk, and in the branches of the trees a swarm of
birds fluttered and sang, as if in rivalry with the gay French talk
and laughter of the group of officers, who waited the return of the
Governor from the bastion where he stood, showing the glories of
Quebec to his friend.
The walls of the city ran along the edge of the cliff upwards as
they approached the broad gallery and massive front of the Castle of
St. Louis, and ascending the green slope of the broad glacis,
culminated in the lofty citadel, where, streaming in the morning
breeze, radiant in the sunshine, and alone in the blue sky, waved
the white banner of France, the sight of which sent a thrill of joy
and pride into the hearts of her faithful subjects in the New World.
The broad bay lay before them, round as a shield, and glittering
like a mirror as the mist blew off its surface. Behind the sunny
slopes of Orleans, which the river encircled in its arms like a
giant lover his fair mistress, rose the bold, dark crests of the
Laurentides, lifting their bare summits far away along the course of
the ancient river, leaving imagination to wander over the wild
scenery in their midst--the woods, glens, and unknown lakes and
rivers that lay hid far from human ken, or known only to rude
savages, wild as the beasts of chase they hunted in those strange
Across the broad valley of the St. Charles, covered with green
fields and ripening harvests, and dotted with quaint old homesteads,
redolent with memories of Normandy and Brittany, rose a long
mountain ridge covered with primeval woods, on the slope of which
rose the glittering spire of Charlebourg, once a dangerous outpost
of civilization. The pastoral Lairet was seen mingling its waters
with the St. Charles in a little bay that preserves the name of
Jacques Cartier, who with his hardy companions spent their first
winter in Canada on this spot, the guests of the hospitable
Donacana, lord of Quebec and of all the lands seen from its lofty
Directly beneath the feet of the Governor, on a broad strip of land
that lay between the beach and the precipice, stood the many-gabled
Palace of the Intendant, the most magnificent structure in New
France. Its long front of eight hundred feet overlooked the royal
terraces and gardens, and beyond these the quays and magazines,
where lay the ships of Bordeaux, St. Malo, and Havre, unloading the
merchandise and luxuries of France in exchange for the more rude,
but not less valuable, products of the Colony.
Between the Palace and the Basse Ville the waves at high tide washed
over a shingly beach where there were already the beginnings of a
street. A few rude inns displayed the sign of the fleur-de-lis or
the imposing head of Louis XV. Round the doors of these inns in
summer-time might always be found groups of loquacious Breton and
Norman sailors in red caps and sashes, voyageurs and canoemen from
the far West in half Indian costume, drinking Gascon wine and Norman
cider, or the still more potent liquors filled with the fires of the
Antilles. The Batture kindled into life on the arrival of the fleet
from home, and in the evenings of summer, as the sun set behind the
Côte à Bonhomme, the natural magnetism of companionship drew the
lasses of Quebec down to the beach, where, amid old refrains of
French ditties and the music of violins and tambours de Basque, they
danced on the green with the jovial sailors who brought news from
the old land beyond the Atlantic.
"Pardon me, gentlemen, for keeping you waiting," said the Governor,
as he descended from the bastion and rejoined his suite. "I am so
proud of our beautiful Quebec that I can scarcely stop showing off
its charms to my friend Herr Kalm, who knows so well how to
appreciate them. But," continued he, looking round admiringly on
the bands of citizens and habitans who were at work strengthening
every weak point in the fortifications, "my brave Canadians are busy
as beavers on their dam. They are determined to keep the saucy
English out of Quebec. They deserve to have the beaver for their
crest, industrious fellows that they are! I am sorry I kept you
"We can never count the moments lost which your Excellency gives to
the survey of our fair land," replied the Bishop, a grave, earnest-
looking man. "Would that His Majesty himself could stand on these
walls and see with his own eyes, as you do, this splendid patrimony
of the crown of France. He would not dream of bartering it away in
exchange for petty ends and corners of Germany and Flanders, as is
rumored, my Lord."
"True words and good, my Lord Bishop," replied the Governor; "the
retention of all Flanders now in the strong hands of the Marshal de
Saxe would be a poor compensation for the surrender of a glorious
land like this to the English."
Flying rumors of some such proposal on the part of France had
reached the Colony, with wild reports arising out of the endless
chaffering between the negotiators for peace, who had already
assembled at Aix la Chapelle. "The fate of America will one day be
decided here," continued the Governor; "I see it written upon this
rock, 'Whoever rules Quebec will sway the destinies of the
continent.' May our noble France be wise, and understand in time
the signs of empire and of supremacy!"
The Bishop looked upwards with a sigh. "Our noble France has not
yet read those tokens, or she misunderstands them. Oh, these
faithful subjects of hers! Look at them, your Excellency." The
Bishop pointed toward the crowd of citizens hard at work on the
walls. "There is not a man of them but is ready to risk life and
fortune for the honor and dominion of France, and yet they are
treated by the Court with such neglect, and burdened with exactions
that take from life the sweet reward of labor! They cannot do the
impossible that France requires of them--fight her battles, till her
fields, and see their bread taken from them by these new ordinances
of the Intendant."
"Well, my Lord," replied the Governor, affecting a jocularity he
did not feel, for he knew how true were the words of the Bishop,
"we must all do our duty, nevertheless: if France requires
impossibilities of us, we must perform them! That is the old
spirit! If the skies fall upon our heads, we must, like true Gauls,
hold them up on the points of our lances! What say you, Rigaud de
Vaudreuil? Cannot one Canadian surround ten New Englanders?" The
Governor alluded to an exploit of the gallant officer whom he turned
"Probatum est, your Excellency! I once with six hundred Canadians
surrounded all New England. Prayers were put up in all the churches
of Boston for deliverance when we swept the Connecticut from end to
end with a broom of fire."
"Brave Rigaud! France has too few like you!" remarked the Governor
with a look of admiration.
Rigaud bowed, and shook his head modestly. "I trust she has ten
thousand better;" but added, pointing at his fellow-officers who
stood conversing at a short distance, "Marshal de Saxe has few the
equals of these in his camp, my Lord Count!" And well was the
compliment deserved: they were gallant men, intelligent in looks,
polished in manners, and brave to a fault, and all full of that
natural gaiety that sits so gracefully on a French soldier.
Most of them wore the laced coat and waistcoat, chapeau, boots, lace
ruffles, sash, and rapier of the period--a martial costume befitting
brave and handsome men. Their names were household words in every
cottage in New France, and many of them as frequently spoken of in
the English Colonies as in the streets of Quebec.
There stood the Chevalier de Beaujeu, a gentleman of Norman family,
who was already famed upon the frontier, and who, seven years later,
in the forests of the Monongahela, crowned a life of honor by a
soldier's death on the bloody field won from the unfortunate
Braddock, defeating an army ten times more numerous than his own.
Talking gayly with De Beaujeu were two gallant-looking young men of
a Canadian family which, out of seven brothers, lost six slain in
the service of their King--Jumonville de Villiers, who was
afterwards, in defiance of a flag of truce, shot down by order of
Colonel Washington, in the far-off forests of the Alleghenies,
and his brother, Coulon de Villiers, who received the sword of
Washington when he surrendered himself and garrison prisoners of
war, at Fort Necessity, in 1754.
Coulon de Villiers imposed ignominious conditions of surrender upon
Washington, but scorned to take other revenge for the death of his
brother. He spared the life of Washington, who lived to become the
leader and idol of his nation, which, but for the magnanimity of the
noble Canadian, might have never struggled into independence.
There stood also the Sieur de Lery, the King's engineer, charged
with the fortification of the Colony, a man of Vauban's genius in
the art of defence. Had the schemes which he projected, and vainly
urged upon the heedless Court of Versailles, been carried into
effect, the conquest of New France would have been an impossibility.
Arm in arm with De Lery, in earnest conversation, walked the
handsome Claude de Beauharnais,--brother of a former Governor of the
Colony,--a graceful, gallant-looking soldier. De Beauharnais was
the ancestor of a vigorous and beautiful race, among whose posterity
was the fair Hortense de Beauharnais, who in her son, Napoleon III.,
seated an offshoot of Canada upon the imperial throne of France long
after the abandonment of their ancient colony by the corrupt House
Conspicuous among the distinguished officers by his tall, straight
figure and quick movements, was the Chevalier La Corne St. Luc,
supple as an Indian, and almost as dark, from exposure to the
weather and incessant campaigning. He was fresh from the blood and
desolation of Acadia, where France, indeed, lost her ancient colony,
but St. Luc reaped a full sheaf of glory at Grand Pré, in the Bay of
Minas, by the capture of an army of New Englanders. The rough old
soldier was just now all smiles and gaiety, as he conversed with
Monseigneur de Pontbriant, the venerable Bishop of Quebec, and
Father de Berey, the Superior of the Recollets.
The Bishop, a wise ruler of his Church, was also a passionate lover
of his country: the surrender of Quebec to the English broke his
heart, and he died a few months after the announcement of the final
cession of the Colony.
Father de Berey, a jovial monk, wearing the gray gown and sandals of
the Recollets, was renowned throughout New France for his wit more
than for his piety. He had once been a soldier, and he wore his
gown, as he had worn his uniform, with the gallant bearing of a
King's Guardsman. But the people loved him all the more for his
jests, which never lacked the accompaniment of genuine charity. His
sayings furnished all New France with daily food for mirth and
laughter, without detracting an iota of the respect in which the
Recollets were held throughout the colony.
Father Glapion, the Superior of the Jesuits, also accompanied the
Bishop. His close, black soutane contrasted oddly with the gray,
loose gown of the Recollet. He was a meditative, taciturn man,--
seeming rather to watch the others than to join in the lively
conversation that went on around him. Anything but cordiality and
brotherly love reigned between the Jesuits and the Order of St.
Francis, but the Superiors were too wary to manifest towards each
other the mutual jealousies of their subordinates.
The long line of fortifications presented a stirring appearance that
morning. The watch-fires that had illuminated the scene during the
night were dying out, the red embers paling under the rays of the
rising sun. From a wide circle surrounding the city the people had
come in--many were accompanied by their wives and daughters--to
assist in making the bulwark of the Colony impregnable against the
rumored attack of the English.
The people of New France, taught by a hundred years of almost
constant warfare with the English and with the savage nations on
their frontiers, saw as clearly as the Governor that the key of
French dominion hung inside the walls of Quebec, and that for an
enemy to grasp it was to lose all they valued as subjects of the
Crown of France.
THE WALLS OF QUEBEC.
Count de la Galissonière, accompanied by his distinguished
attendants, proceeded again on their round of inspection. They were
everywhere saluted with heads uncovered, and welcomed by hearty
greetings. The people of New France had lost none of the natural
politeness and ease of their ancestors, and, as every gentleman of
the Governor's suite was at once recognized, a conversation,
friendly even to familiarity, ensued between them and the citizens
and habitans, who worked as if they were building their very souls
into the walls of the old city.
"Good morning, Sieur de St. Denis!" gaily exclaimed the Governor to
a tall, courtly gentleman, who was super-intending the labor of a
body of his censitaires from Beauport. "'Many hands make light
work,' says the proverb. That splendid battery you are just
finishing deserves to be called Beauport. What say you, my Lord
Bishop?" turning to the smiling ecclesiastic. "Is it not worthy of
"Yes, and blessing both; I give it my episcopal benediction,"
replied the Bishop, "and truly I think most of the earth of it is
taken from the consecrated ground of the Hôtel Dieu--it will stand
"Many thanks, my Lord!"--the Sieur de St. Denis bowed very low--
"where the Church bars the door Satan will never enter, nor the
English either! Do you hear, men?" continued he, turning to his
censitaires, "my Lord Bishop christens our battery Beauport, and
says it will stand fire!"
"Vive le Roi!" was the response, an exclamation that came
spontaneously to the lips of all Frenchmen on every emergency of
danger or emotion of joy.
A sturdy habitan came forward, and doffing his red tuque or cap,
addressed the Governor: "This is a good battery, my Lord Governor,
but there ought to be one as good in our village. Permit us to
build one and man it, and we promise your Excellency that no
Englishman shall ever get into the back door of Quebec while we have
lives to defend it." The old habitan had the eye of a soldier--he
had been one. The Governor knew the value of the suggestion, and at
once assented to it, adding, "No better defenders of the city could
be found anywhere than the brave habitans of Beauport."
The compliment was never forgotten; and years afterwards, when Wolfe
besieged the city, the batteries of Beauport repelled the assault of
his bravest troops, and well-nigh broke the heart of the young hero
over the threatened defeat of his great undertaking, as his brave
Highlanders and grenadiers lay slain by hundreds upon the beach of
The countenances of the hardy workers were suddenly covered with
smiles of welcome recognition at the sight of the well-known
Superior of the Recollets.
"Good morning!" cried out a score of voices; "good morning, Father
de Berey! The good wives of Beauport send you a thousand
compliments. They are dying to see the good Recollets down our
way again. The Gray Brothers have forsaken our parish."
"Ah!" replied the Superior, in a tone of mock severity, while his
eyes overran with mirthfulness, "you are a crowd of miserable
sinners who will die without benefit of clergy--only you don't know
it! Who was it boiled the Easter eggs hard as agates, which you
gave to my poor brother Recollets for the use of our convent? Tell
me that, pray! All the salts and senna in Quebec have not sufficed
to restore the digestion of my poor monks since you played that
trick upon them down in your misnamed village of Beauport!"
"Pardon, Reverend Father de Berey!" replied a smiling habitan, "it
was not we, but the sacrilegious canaille of St. Anne who boiled the
Easter eggs! If you don't believe us, send some of the good Gray
Friars down to try our love. See if they do not find everything
soft for them at Beauport, from our hearts to our feather beds, to
say nothing of our eggs and bacon. Our good wives are fairly
melting with longing for a sight of the gray gowns of St. Francis
once more in our village."
"Oh! I dare be bound the canaille of St. Anne are lost dogs like
The habitans thought this sounded like a doxology, and some crossed
themselves, amid the dubious laughter of others, who suspected
Father de Berey of a clerical jest.
"Oh!" continued he, "if fat Father Ambrose, the cook of the convent,
only had you, one at a time, to turn the spit for him, in place of
the poor dogs of Quebec, which he has to catch as best he can, and
set to work in his kitchen! but, vagabonds that you are, you are
rarely set to work now on the King's corvée--all work, little play,
and no pay!"
The men took his raillery in excellent part, and one, their
spokesman, bowing low to the Superior, said,--"Forgive us all the
same, good Father. The hard eggs of Beauport will be soft as lard
compared with the iron shells we are preparing for the English
breakfast when they shall appear some fine morning before Quebec."
"Ah, well, in that case I must pardon the trick you played upon
Brothers Mark and Alexis; and I give you my blessing, too, on
condition you send some salt to our convent to cure our fish, and
save your reputations, which are very stale just now among my good
A general laugh followed this sally, and the Reverend Superior went
off merrily, as he hastened to catch up with the Governor, who had
moved on to another point in the line of fortifications.
Near the gate of St. John they found a couple of ladies, encouraging
by their presence and kind words a numerous party of habitans,--one
an elderly lady of noble bearing and still beautiful, the rich and
powerful feudal Lady of the Lordship, or Seigniory, of Tilly; the
other her orphan niece, in the bloom of youth, and of surpassing
loveliness, the fair Amélie de Repentigny, who had loyally
accompanied her aunt to the capital with all the men of the
Seigniory of Tilly, to assist in the completion of its defences.
To features which looked as if chiselled out of the purest Parian
marble, just flushed with the glow of morn, and cut in those perfect
lines of proportion which nature only bestows on a few chosen
favorites at intervals to show the possibilities of feminine beauty,
Amélie de Repentigny added a figure which, in its perfect symmetry,
looked smaller than it really was, for she was a tall girl: it
filled the eye and held fast the fancy with the charms of a thousand
graces as she moved or stood, suggestive of the beauty of a tame
fawn, that in all its movements preserves somewhat of the coyness
and easy grace of its free life.
Her hair was very dark and thick, matching her deep liquid eyes,
that lay for the most part so quietly and restfully beneath their
long shading lashes,--eyes gentle, frank, and modest, looking
tenderly on all things innocent, fearlessly on all things harmful;
eyes that nevertheless noted every change of your countenance, and
read unerringly your meaning more from your looks than from your
words. Nothing seemed to hide itself from that pure, searching
glance when she chose to look at you.
In their depths you might read the tokens of a rare and noble
character--a capability of loving which, once enkindled by a worthy
object, might make all things that are possible to devoted womanhood
possible to this woman, who would not count her life anything either
for the man she loved or the cause she espoused. Amélie de
Repentigny will not yield her heart without her judgment; but when
she does, it will be a royal gift--never to be recalled, never to be
repented of, to the end of her life. Happy the man upon whom she
shall bestow her affection! It will be his forever. Unhappy all
others who may love her! She may pity, but she will listen to no
voice but the one which rules her heart, to her life's end!
Both ladies were in mourning, yet dressed with elegant simplicity,
befitting their rank and position in society. The Chevalier Le
Gardeur de Tilly had fallen two years ago, fighting gallantly for
his King and country, leaving a childless widow to manage his vast
domain and succeed him as sole guardian of their orphan niece,
Amélie de Repentigny, and her brother Le Gardeur, left in infancy to
the care of their noble relatives, who in every respect treated them
as their own, and who indeed were the legal inheritors of the
Lordship of Tilly.
Only a year ago, Amélie had left the ancient Convent of the
Ursulines, perfected in all the graces and accomplishments taught
in the famous cloister founded by Mère Marie de l'Incarnation
for the education of the daughters of New France, generation after
generation of whom were trained, according to her precepts, in
graces of manner as well as in the learning of the age--the latter
might be forgotten; the former, never. As they became the wives and
mothers of succeeding times, they have left upon their descendants
an impress of politeness and urbanity that distinguishes the people
of Canada to this day.
Of all the crowd of fair, eager aspirants contending for honors on
the day of examination in the great school, crowns had only been
awarded to Amélie and to Angélique des Meloises--two girls equal in
beauty, grace, and accomplishments, but unlike in character and in
destiny. The currents of their lives ran smoothly together at the
beginning. How widely different was to be the ending of them!
The brother of Amélie, Le Gardeur de Repentigny, was her elder by a
year--an officer in the King's service, handsome, brave, generous,
devoted to his sister and aunt, but not free from some of the vices
of the times prevalent among the young men of rank and fortune in
the colony, who in dress, luxury, and immorality, strove to imitate
the brilliant, dissolute Court of Louis XV.
Amélie passionately loved her brother, and endeavored--not without
success, as is the way with women--to blind herself to his faults.
She saw him seldom, however, and in her solitary musings in the far-
off Manor House of Tilly, she invested him with all the perfections
he did and did not possess; and turned a deaf, almost an angry ear,
to tales whispered in his disparagement.
A CHATELAINE OF NEW FRANCE.
The Governor was surprised and delighted to encounter Lady de Tilly
and her fair niece, both of whom were well known to and highly
esteemed by him. He and the gentlemen of his suite saluted them
with profound respect, not unmingled with chivalrous admiration for
noble, high-spirited women.
"My honored Lady de Tilly and Mademoiselle de Repentigny," said the
Governor, hat in hand, "welcome to Quebec. It does not surprise,
but it does delight me beyond measure to meet you here at the head
of your loyal censitaires. But it is not the first time that the
ladies of the House of Tilly have turned out to defend the King's
forts against his enemies."
This he said in allusion to the gallant defence of a fort on the
wild Iroquois frontier by a former lady of her house.
"My Lord Count," replied the lady, with quiet dignity, "'tis no
special merit of the house of Tilly to be true to its ancient fame--
it could not be otherwise. But your thanks are at this time more
due to these loyal habitans, who have so promptly obeyed your
proclamation. It is the King's corvée to restore the walls of
Quebec, and no Canadian may withhold his hand from it without
"The Chevalier La Corne St. Luc will think us two poor women a weak
accession to the garrison," added she, turning to the Chevalier and
cordially offering her hand to the brave old officer, who had been
the comrade in arms of her husband and the dearest friend of her
"Good blood never fails, my Lady," returned the Chevalier, warmly
grasping her hand. "You out of place here? No! no! you are at home
on the ramparts of Quebec, quite as much as in your own drawing-room
at Tilly. The walls of Quebec without a Tilly and a Repentigny
would be a bad omen indeed, worse than a year without a spring or a
summer without roses. But where is my dear goddaughter Amélie?"
As he spoke the old soldier embraced Amélie and kissed her cheek
with fatherly effusion. She was a prodigious favorite. "Welcome,
Amélie!" said he, "the sight of you is like flowers in June. What a
glorious time you have had, growing taller and prettier every day
all the time I have been sleeping by camp-fires in the forests of
Acadia! But you girls are all alike; why, I hardly knew my own
pretty Agathe when I came home. The saucy minx almost kissed my
eyes out--to dry the tears of joy in them, she said!"
Amélie blushed deeply at the praises bestowed upon her, yet felt
glad to know that her godfather retained all his old affection.
"Where is Le Gardeur?" asked he, as she took his arm and walked a
few paces apart from the throng.
Amélie colored deeply, and hesitated a moment. "I do not know,
godfather! We have not seen Le Gardeur since our arrival." Then
after a nervous silence she added, "I have been told that he is at
Beaumanoir, hunting with His Excellency the Intendant."
La Corne, seeing her embarrassment, understood the reluctance of her
avowal, and sympathized with it. An angry light flashed beneath his
shaggy eyelashes, but he suppressed his thoughts. He could not help
remarking, however, "With the Intendant at Beaumanoir! I could have
wished Le Gardeur in better company! No good can come of his
intimacy with Bigot; Amélie, you must wean him from it. He should
have been in the city to receive you and the Lady de Tilly."
"So he doubtless would have been, had he known of our coming. We
sent word, but he was away when our messenger reached the city."
Amélie felt half ashamed, for she was conscious that she was
offering something unreal to extenuate the fault of her brother--
her hopes rather than her convictions.
"Well, well! goddaughter! we shall, at any rate, soon have the
pleasure of seeing Le Gardeur. The Intendant himself has been
summoned to attend a council of war today. Colonel Philibert left
an hour ago for Beaumanoir."
Amélie gave a slight start at the name; she looked inquiringly, but
did not yet ask the question that trembled on her lips.
"Thanks, godfather, for the good news of Le Gardeur's speedy
return." Amélie talked on, her thoughts but little accompanying her
words as she repeated to herself the name of Philibert. "Have you
heard that the Intendant wishes to bestow an important and honorable
post in the Palace upon Le Gardeur--my brother wrote to that
"An important and honorable post in the Palace?" The old soldier
emphasized the word HONORABLE. "No, I had not heard of it,--never
expect to hear of an honorable post in the company of Bigot, Cadet,
Varin, De Pean, and the rest of the scoundrels of the Friponne!
Pardon me, dear, I do not class Le Gardeur among them, far from it,
dear deluded boy! My best hope is that Colonel Philibert will find
him and bring him clean and clear out of their clutches."
The question that had trembled on her lips came out now. For her
life she could not have retained it longer.
"Who is Colonel Philibert, godfather?" asked she, surprise,
curiosity, and a still deeper interest marking her voice, in spite
of all she could do to appear indifferent.
"Colonel Philibert?" repeated La Corne. "Why, do not you know? Who
but our young Pierre Philibert; you have not forgotten him, surely,
Amélie? At any rate he has not forgotten you: in many a long night
by our watch-fires in the forest has Colonel Philibert passed the
hours talking of Tilly and the dear friends he left there. Your
brother at any rate will gratefully remember Philibert when he sees
Amélie blushed a little as she replied somewhat shyly, "Yes,
godfather, I remember Pierre Philibert very well,--with gratitude
I remember him,--but I never heard him called Colonel Philibert
"Oh, true! He has been so long absent. He left a simple ensign en
second and returns a colonel, and has the stuff in him to make a
field-marshal! He gained his rank where he won his glory--in
Acadia. A noble fellow, Amélie! loving as a woman to his friends,
but to his foes stern as the old Bourgeois, his father, who placed
that tablet of the golden dog upon the front of his house to spite
the Cardinal, they say,--the act of a bold man, let what will be the
true interpretation of it."
"I hear every one speak well of the Bourgeois Philibert," remarked
Amélie. "Aunt de Tilly is ever enthusiastic in his commendation.
She says he is a true gentleman, although a trader."
"Why, he is noble by birth, if that be needed, and has got the
King's license to trade in the Colony like some other gentlemen I
wot of. He was Count Philibert in Normandy, although he is plain
Bourgeois Philibert in Quebec; and a wise man he is too, for with
his ships and his comptoirs and his ledgers he has traded himself
into being the richest man in New France, while we, with our
nobility and our swords, have fought ourselves poor, and receive
nothing but contempt from the ungrateful courtiers of Versailles."
Their conversation was interrupted by a sudden rush of people,
making room for the passage of the Regiment of Béarn, which composed
part of the garrison of Quebec, on their march to their morning
drill and guard-mounting,--bold, dashing Gascons in blue and white
uniforms, tall caps, and long queues rollicking down their supple
backs, seldom seen by an enemy.
Mounted officers, laced and ruffled, gaily rode in front.
Subalterns with spontoons and sergeants with halberds dressed the
long line of glistening bayonets. The drums and fifes made the
streets ring again, while the men in full chorus, à gorge deployée,
chanted the gay refrain of La Belle Canadienne in honor of the
lasses of Quebec.
The Governor and his suite had already mounted their horses, and
cantered off to the Esplanade to witness the review.
"Come and dine with us today," said the Lady de Tilly to La Corne
St. Luc, as he too bade the ladies a courteous adieu, and got on
horseback to ride after the Governor.
"Many thanks! but I fear it will be impossible, my Lady: the council
of war meets at the Castle this afternoon. The hour may be
deferred, however, should Colonel Philibert not chance to find the
Intendant at Beaumanoir, and then I might come; but best not expect
A slight, conscious flush just touched the cheek of Amélie at the
mention of Colonel Philibert.
"But come if possible, godfather," added she; "we hope to have Le
Gardeur home this afternoon. He loves you so much, and I know you
have countless things to say to him."
Amélie's trembling anxiety about her brother made her most desirous
to bring the powerful influence of La Corne St. Luc to bear upon
Their kind old godfather was regarded with filial reverence by both.
Amélie's father, dying on the battle-field, had, with his latest
breath, commended the care of his children to the love and
friendship of La Corne St. Luc.
"Well, Amélie, blessed are they who do not promise and still
perform. I must try and meet my dear boy, so do not quite place me
among the impossibles. Good-by, my Lady. Good-by, Amélie." The
old soldier gaily kissed his hand and rode away.
Amélie was thoroughly surprised and agitated out of all composure by
the news of the return of Pierre Philibert. She turned aside from
the busy throng that surrounded her, leaving her aunt engaged in
eager conversation with the Bishop and Father de Berey. She sat
down in a quiet embrasure of the wall, and with one hand resting her
drooping cheek, a train of reminiscences flew across her mind like a
flight of pure doves suddenly startled out of a thicket.
She remembered vividly Pierre Philibert, the friend and fellow-
student of her brother: he spent so many of his holidays at the old
Manor-House of Tilly, when she, a still younger girl, shared their
sports, wove chaplets of flowers for them, or on her shaggy pony
rode with them on many a scamper through the wild woods of the
Seigniory. Those summer and winter vacations of the old Seminary of
Quebec used to be looked forward to by the young, lively girl as
the brightest spots in the whole year, and she grew hardly to
distinguish the affection she bore her brother from the regard in
which she held Pierre Philibert.
A startling incident happened one day, that filled the inmates of
the Manor House with terror, followed by a great joy, and which
raised Pierre Philibert to the rank of an unparalleled hero in the
imagination of the young girl.
Her brother was gambolling carelessly in a canoe, while she and
Pierre sat on the bank watching him. The light craft suddenly
upset. Le Gardeur struggled for a few moments, and sank under the
blue waves that look so beautiful and are so cruel.
Amélie shrieked in the wildest terror and in helpless agony, while
Philibert rushed without hesitation into the water, swam out to the
spot, and dived with the agility of a beaver. He presently
reappeared, bearing the inanimate body of her brother to the shore.
Help was soon obtained, and, after long efforts to restore Le
Gardeur to consciousness,--efforts which seemed to last an age to
the despairing girl,--they at last succeeded, and Le Gardeur was
restored to the arms of his family. Amélie, in a delirium of joy
and gratitude, ran to Philibert, threw her arms round him, and
kissed him again and again, pledging her eternal gratitude to the
preserver of her brother, and vowing that she would pray for him to
her life's end.
Soon after that memorable event in her young life, Pierre Philibert
was sent to the great military schools in France to study the art of
war with a view to entering the King's service, while Amélie was
placed in the Convent of the Ursulines to be perfected in all the
knowledge and accomplishments of a lady of highest rank in the
Despite the cold shade of a cloister, where the idea of a lover is
forbidden to enter, the image of Pierre Philibert did intrude, and
became inseparable from the recollection of her brother in the mind
of Amélie. He mingled as the fairy prince in the day-dreams and
bright imaginings of the young, poetic girl. She had vowed to pray
for him to her life's end, and in pursuance of her vow added a
golden bead to her chaplet to remind her of her duty in praying for
the safety and happiness of Pierre Philibert.
But in the quiet life of the cloister, Amélie heard little of the
storms of war upon the frontier and down in the far valleys of
Acadia. She had not followed the career of Pierre from the military
school to the camp and the battlefield, nor knew of his rapid
promotion, as one of the ablest officers in the King's service, to a
high command in his native Colony.
Her surprise, therefore, was extreme when she learned that the boy
companion of her brother and herself was no other than the renowned
Colonel Philibert, Aide-de-Camp of His Excellency the Governor-
There was no cause for shame in it; but her heart was suddenly
illuminated by a flash of introspection. She became painfully
conscious how much Pierre Philibert had occupied her thoughts for
years, and now all at once she knew he was a man, and a great and
noble one. She was thoroughly perplexed and half angry. She
questioned herself sharply, as if running thorns into her flesh, to
inquire whether she had failed in the least point of maidenly
modesty and reserve in thinking so much of him; and the more she
questioned herself, the more agitated she grew under her self-
accusation: her temples throbbed violently; she hardly dared lift
her eyes from the ground lest some one, even a stranger, she
thought, might see her confusion and read its cause. "Sancta
Maria," she murmured, pressing her bosom with both hands, "calm my
soul with thy divine peace, for I know not what to do!"
So she sat alone in the embrasure, living a life of emotion in a few
minutes; nor did she find any calm for her agitated spirits until
the thought flashed upon her that she was distressing herself
needlessly. It was most improbable that Colonel Philibert, after
years of absence and active life in the world's great affairs, could
retain any recollection of the schoolgirl of the Manor House of
Tilly. She might meet him, nay, was certain to do so in the society
in which both moved; but it would surely be as a stranger on his
part, and she must make it so on her own.
With this empty piece of casuistry, Amélie, like others of her sex,
placed a hand of steel, encased in a silken glove, upon her heart,
and tyrannically suppressed its yearnings. She was a victim, with
the outward show of conquest over her feelings. In the consciousness
of Philibert's imagined indifference and utter forgetfulness, she
could meet him now, she thought, with equanimity--nay, rather
wished to do so, to make sure that she had not been guilty of
weakness in regard to him. She looked up, but was glad to see her
aunt still engaged in conversation with the Bishop on a topic which
Amélie knew was dear to them both,--the care of the souls and bodies
of the poor, in particular those for whom the Lady de Tilly felt
herself responsible to God and the King.
While Amélie sat thinking over the strange chances of the morning, a
sudden whirl of wheels drew her attention.
A gay calèche, drawn by two spirited horses en flèche, dashed
through the gateway of St. John, and wheeling swiftly towards
Amélie, suddenly halted. A young lady attired in the gayest fashion
of the period, throwing the reins to the groom, sprang out of the
calèche with the ease and elasticity of an antelope. She ran up the
rampart to Amélie with a glad cry of recognition, repeating her name
in a clear, musical voice, which Amélie at once knew belonged to no
other than the gay, beautiful Angélique des Meloises. The newcomer
embraced Amélie and kissed her, with warmest expressions of joy at
meeting her thus unexpectedly in the city. She had learned that
Lady de Tilly had returned to Quebec, she said, and she had,
therefore, taken the earliest opportunity to find out her dear
friend and school-fellow to tell her all the doings in the city.
"It is kind of you, Angélique," replied Amélie, returning her caress
warmly, but without effusion. "We have simply come with our people
to assist in the King's corvée; when that is done, we shall return
to Tilly. I felt sure I should meet you, and thought I should know
you again easily, which I hardly do. How you are changed--for the
better, I should say, since you left off conventual cap and
costume!" Amélie could not but look admiringly on the beauty of the
radiant girl. "How handsome you have grown! but you were always
that. We both took the crown of honor together, but you would alone
take the crown of beauty, Angélique." Amélie stood off a pace or
two, and looked at her friend from head to foot with honest
admiration, "and would deserve to wear it too," added she.
"I like to hear you say that, Amélie; I should prefer the crown of
beauty to all other crowns! You half smile at that, but I must tell
the truth, if you do. But you were always a truth-teller, you know,
in the convent, and I was not so! Let us cease flatteries."
Angélique felt highly flattered by the praise of Amélie, whom she
had sometimes condescended to envy for her graceful figure and
lovely, expressive features.
"Gentlemen often speak as you do, Amélie," continued she, "but,
pshaw! they cannot judge as girls do, you know. But do you really
think me beautiful? and how beautiful? Compare me to some one we
"I can only compare you to yourself, Angélique. You are more
beautiful than any one I know," Amélie burst out in frank
"But, really and truly, do you think me beautiful, not only in your
eyes, but in the judgment of the world?"
Angélique brushed back her glorious hair and stared fixedly in the
face of her friend, as if seeking confirmation of something in her
"What a strange question, Angélique! Why do you ask me in that
"Because," replied she with bitterness, "I begin to doubt it. I
have been praised for my good looks until I grow weary of the
iteration; but I believed the lying flattery once,--as what woman
would not, when it is repeated every day of her life?"
Amélie looked sufficiently puzzled. "What has come over you,
Angélique? Why should you doubt your own charms? or really, have
you found at last a case in which they fail you?"
Very unlikely, a man would say at first, second, or third sight of
Angélique des Meloises. She was indeed a fair girl to look upon,--
tall, and fashioned in nature's most voluptuous mould, perfect in
the symmetry of every part, with an ease and beauty of movement not
suggestive of spiritual graces, like Amélie's, but of terrestrial
witcheries, like those great women of old who drew down the very
gods from Olympus, and who in all ages have incited men to the
noblest deeds, or tempted them to the greatest crimes.
She was beautiful of that rare type of beauty which is only
reproduced once or twice in a century to realize the dreams of a
Titian or a Giorgione. Her complexion was clear and radiant, as of
a descendant of the Sun God. Her bright hair, if its golden ripples
were shaken out, would reach to her knees. Her face was worthy of
immortality by the pencil of a Titian. Her dark eyes drew with a
magnetism which attracted men, in spite of themselves, whithersoever
she would lead them. They were never so dangerous as when, in
apparent repose, they sheathed their fascination for a moment, and
suddenly shot a backward glance, like a Parthian arrow, from under
their long eyelashes, that left a wound to be sighed over for many a
The spoiled and petted child of the brave, careless Renaud d'Avesne
des Meloises, of an ancient family in the Nivernois, Angélique grew
up a motherless girl, clever above most of her companions, conscious
of superior charms, always admired and flattered, and, since she
left the Convent, worshipped as the idol of the gay gallants of the
city, and the despair and envy of her own sex. She was a born
sovereign of men, and she felt it. It was her divine right to be
preferred. She trod the earth with dainty feet, and a step aspiring
as that of the fair Louise de La Vallière when she danced in the
royal ballet in the forest of Fontainebleau and stole a king's heart
by the flashes of her pretty feet. Angélique had been indulged by
her father in every caprice, and in the gay world inhaled the
incense of adulation until she regarded it as her right, and
resented passionately when it was withheld.
She was not by nature bad, although vain, selfish, and aspiring.
Her footstool was the hearts of men, and upon it she set hard her
beautiful feet, indifferent to the anguish caused by her capricious
tyranny. She was cold and calculating under the warm passions of a
voluptuous nature. Although many might believe they had won the
favor, none felt sure they had gained the love of this fair,
Angélique took the arm of Amélie in her old, familiar schoolgirl
way, and led her to the sunny corner of a bastion where lay a
The girls sat down upon the old gun. Angélique held Amélie by both
hands, as if hesitating how to express something she wished to say.
Still, when Angélique did speak, it was plain to Amélie that she had
other things on her mind than what her tongue gave loose to.
"Now we are quite alone, Amélie," said she, "we can talk as we used
to do in our school-days. You have not been in the city during the
whole summer, and have missed all its gaieties?"
"I was well content. How beautiful the country looks from here!"
replied Amélie. "How much pleasanter to be in it, revelling among
the flowers and under the trees! I like to touch the country as
well as to look at it from a distance, as you do in Quebec."
"Well, I never care for the country if I can only get enough of the
city. Quebec was never so gay as it has been this year. The Royal
Roussillon, and the freshly arrived regiments of Béarn and Ponthieu,
have turned the heads of all Quebec,--of the girls, that is.
Gallants have been plenty as bilberries in August. And you may be
sure I got my share, Amélie." Angélique laughed aloud at some
secret reminiscences of her summer campaign.
"It is well that I did not come to the city, Angélique, to get my
head turned like the rest; but now that I am here, suppose I should
mercifully try to heal some of the hearts you have broken!"
"I hope you won't try. Those bright eyes of yours would heal too
effectually the wounds made by mine, and that is not what I desire,"
replied Angélique, laughing.
"No! then your heart is more cruel than your eyes. But, tell me,
who have been your victims this year, Angélique?"
"Well, to be frank, Amélie, I have tried my fascinations upon the
King's officers very impartially, and with fair success. There
have been three duels, two deaths, and one captain of the Royal
Roussillon turned cordelier for my sake. Is that not a fair return
for my labor?"
"You are shocking as ever, Angélique! I do not believe you feel
proud of such triumphs," exclaimed Amélie.
"Proud, no! I am not proud of conquering men. That is easy! My
triumphs are over the women! And the way to triumph over them is to
subdue the men. You know my old rival at school, the haughty
Françoise de Lantagnac: I owed her a grudge, and she has put on the
black veil for life, instead of the white one and orange-blossoms
for a day! I only meant to frighten her, however, when I stole her
lover, but she took it to heart and went into the Convent. It was
dangerous for her to challenge Angélique des Meloises to test the
fidelity of her affianced, Julien de St. Croix."
Amélie rose up in honest indignation, her cheek burning like a coal
of fire. "I know your wild talk of old, Angélique, but I will not
believe you are so wicked as to make deadly sport of our holiest
"Ah, if you knew men as I do, Amélie, you would think it no sin to
punish them for their perjuries."
"No, I don't know men," replied Amélie, "but I think a noble man is,
after God, the worthiest object of a woman's devotion. We were
better dead than finding amusement in the pain of those who love us;
pray what became of Julien de St. Croix after you broke up his
intended marriage with poor Françoise?"
"Oh! I threw him to the fishes! What did I care for him? It was
mainly to punish Françoise's presumption that I showed my power and
made him fight that desperate duel with Captain Le Franc."
"O Angélique, how could you be so unutterably wicked?"
"Wicked? It was not my fault, you know, that he was killed. He was
my champion, and ought to have come off victor. I wore a black
ribbon for him a full half-year, and had the credit of being devoted
to his memory; I had my triumph in that if in nothing else."
"Your triumph! for shame, Angélique! I will not listen to you: you
profane the very name of love by uttering such sentiments. The gift
of so much beauty was for blessing, not for pain. St. Mary pray for
you, Angélique: you need her prayers!" Amélie rose up suddenly.
"Nay, do not get angry and go off that way, Amélie," ejaculated
Angélique. "I will do penance for my triumphs by relating my
defeats, and my special failure of all, which I know you will
rejoice to hear."
"I, Angélique? What have your triumphs or failures to do with me?
No, I care not to hear." Angélique held her half forcibly by the
"But you will care when I tell you that I met an old and valued
friend of yours last night at the Castle--the new Aide-de-Camp of
the Governor, Colonel Philibert. I think I have heard you speak of
Pierre Philibert in the Convent, Amélie?"
Amélie felt the net thrown over her by the skilful retiaria. She
stood stock-still in mute surprise, with averted eye and deeply
blushing cheek, fighting desperately with the confusion she feared
to let Angélique detect. But that keen-sighted girl saw too
clearly--she had caught her fast as a bird is caught by the fowler.
"Yes, I met with a double defeat last night," continued Angélique.
"Indeed! pray, from whom?" Amélie's curiosity, though not usually a
troublesome quality, was by this time fairly roused.
Angélique saw her drift, and played with her anxiety for a few
"My first rebuff was from that gentlemanly philosopher from Sweden,
a great friend of the Governor, you know. But, alas, I might as
well have tried to fascinate an iceberg! I do not believe that he
knew, after a half-hour's conversation with me, whether I was man or
woman. That was defeat number one."
"And what was number two?" Amélie was now thoroughly interested in
"I left the dry, unappreciative philosopher, and devoted myself to
charm the handsome Colonel Philibert. He was all wit and courtesy,
but my failure was even more signal with him than with the cold
Amélie's eyes gave a sparkle of joy, which did not escape Angélique,
but she pretended not to see it. "How was that? Tell me, pray, how
you failed with Colonel Philibert?"
"My cause of failure would not be a lesson for you, Amélie. Listen!
I got a speedy introduction to Colonel Philibert, who, I confess, is
one of the handsomest men I ever saw. I was bent on attracting
"For shame, Angélique! How could you confess to aught so
unwomanly!" There was a warmth in Amélie's tone that was less
noticed by herself than by her companion.
"Well, it is my way of conquering the King's army. I shot my whole
quiver of arrows at Colonel Philibert, but, to my chagrin, hit not a
vital part! He parried every one, and returned them broken at my
feet. His persistent questioning about yourself, as soon as he
discovered we had been school companions at the Convent, quite
foiled me. He was full of interest about you, and all that
concerned you, but cared not a fig about me!"
"What could Colonel Philibert have to ask you about me?" Amélie
unconsciously drew closer to her companion, and even clasped her arm
by an involuntary movement which did not escape her friend.
"Why, he asked everything a gentleman could, with proper respect,
ask about a lady."
"And what did you say?"
"Oh, not half enough to content him. I confess I felt piqued that
he only looked on me as a sort of pythoness to solve enigmas about
you. I had a grim satisfaction in leaving his curiosity irritated,
but not satisfied. I praised your beauty, goodness, and cleverness
up to the skies, however. I was not untrue to old friendship,
Amélie!" Angélique kissed her friend on the cheek, who silently
allowed what, in her indignation a few moments ago, she would have
"But what said Colonel Philibert of himself? Never mind about me."
"Oh, impatient that you are! He said nothing of himself. He was
absorbed in my stories concerning you. I told him as pretty a fable
as La Fontaine related of the Avare qui avait perdu son trésor! I
said you were a beautiful chatelaine besieged by an army of lovers,
but the knight errant Fortunatus had alone won your favor, and would
receive your hand! The brave Colonel! I could see he winced at
this. His steel cuirass was not invulnerable. I drew blood, which
is more than you would have dared to do, Amélie! But I discovered
the truth hidden in his heart. He is in love with you, Amélie de
"Mad girl! How could you? How dare you speak so of me? What must
Colonel Philibert think?"
"Think? He thinks you must be the most perfect of your sex! Why,
his mind was made up about you, Amélie, before he said a word to me.
Indeed, he only just wanted to enjoy the supernal pleasure of
hearing me sing the praises of Amélie De Repentigny to the tune
composed by himself."
"Which you seem to have done, Angélique!"
"As musically as Mère St. Borgia when singing vespers in the
Ursulines," was Angélique's flippant reply.
Amélie knew how useless it was to expostulate. She swallowed her
mingled pleasure and vexation salt with tears she could not help.
She changed the subject by a violent wrench, and asked Angélique
when she had last seen Le Gardeur.
"At the Intendant's levee the other day. How like you he is, too,
only less amiable!"
Angélique did not respond readily to her friend's question about her
"Less amiable? that is not like my brother. Why do you think him
less amiable than me?"
"Because he got angry with me at the ball given in honor of the
arrival of the Intendant, and I have not been able to restore him to
perfect good humor with me since."
"Oh, then Le Gardeur completes the trio of those who are proof
against your fascinations?" Amélie was secretly glad to hear of the
displeasure of Le Gardeur with Angélique."
"Not at all, I hope, Amélie. I don't place Le Gardeur in the same
category with my other admirers. But he got offended because I
seemed to neglect him a little to cultivate this gay new Intendant.
Do you know him?"
"No; nor wish to! I have heard much said to his disadvantage. The
Chevalier La Corne St. Luc has openly expressed his dislike of the
Intendant for something that happened in Acadia."
"Oh, the Chevalier La Corne is always so decided in his likes and
dislikes: one must either be very good or very bad to satisfy him!"
replied Angélique with a scornful pout of her lips."
"Don't speak ill of my godfather, Angélique; better be profane on
any other topic: you know my ideal of manly virtues is the Chevalier
La Corne," replied Amélie.
"Well, I won't pull down your idol, then! I respect the brave old
soldier, too; but could wish him with the army in Flanders!"
"Thousands of estimable people augur ill from the accession of the
Intendant Bigot in New France, besides the Chevalier La Corne,"
Amélie said after a pause. She disliked censuring even the
"Yes," replied Angélique, "the Honnêtes Gens do, who think
themselves bound to oppose the Intendant, because he uses the royal
authority in a regal way, and makes every one, high and low, do
their devoir to Church and State."
"While he does his devoir to none! But I am no politician,
Angélique. But when so many good people call the Intendant a bad
man, it behooves one to be circumspect in 'cultivating him,' as you
"Well, he is rich enough to pay for all the broken pots: they say he
amassed untold wealth in Acadia, Amélie!"
"And lost the province for the king!" retorted Amélie, with all the
asperity her gentle but patriotic spirit was capable of. "Some say
he sold the country."
"I don't care!" replied the reckless beauty, "he is like Joseph in
Egypt, next to Pharaoh in authority. He can shoe his horses with
gold! I wish he would shoe me with golden slippers--I would wear
Angélique stamped her dainty foot upon the ground, as if in fancy
she already had them on.
"It is shocking if you mean it!" remarked Amélie pityingly, for she
felt Angélique was speaking her genuine thoughts. "But is it true
that the Intendant is really as dissolute as rumor says?"
"I don't care if it be true: he is noble, gallant, polite, rich, and
all-powerful at Court. He is reported to be prime favorite of the
Marquise de Pompadour. What more do I want?" replied Angélique
Amélie knew enough by report of the French Court to cause her to
shrink instinctively, as from a repulsive insect, at the name of the
mistress of Louis XV. She trembled at the thought of Angélique's
infatuation, or perversity, in suffering herself to be attracted by
the glitter of the vices of the Royal Intendant.
"Angélique!" exclaimed she, "I have heard things of the Intendant
that would make me tremble for you, were you in earnest."
"But I am in earnest! I mean to win and wear the Intendant of New
France, to show my superiority over the whole bevy of beauties
competing for his hand. There is not a girl in Quebec but would run
away with him tomorrow."
"Fie, Angélique! such a libel upon our sex! You know better. But
you cannot love him?"
"Love him? No!" Angélique repeated the denial scornfully. "Love
him! I never thought of love and him together! He is not handsome,
like your brother Le Gardeur, who is my beau-ideal of a man I could
love; nor has the intellect and nobility of Colonel Philibert, who
is my model of a heroic man. I could love such men as them. But my
ambition would not be content with less than a governor or royal
intendant in New France. In old France I would not put up with less
than the King himself!"
Angélique laughed at her own extravagance, but she believed in it
all the same. Amélie, though shocked at her wildness, could not
help smiling at her folly.
"Have you done raving?" said she; "I have no right to question your
selection of a lover or doubt your power, Angélique. But are you
sure there exists no insurmountable obstacle to oppose these high
aspirations? It is whispered that the Intendant has a wife, whom he
keeps in the seclusion of Beaumanoir. Is that true?"
The words burnt like fire. Angélique's eyes flashed out daggers.
She clenched her delicate hands until her nails drew blood from her
velvet palms. Her frame quivered with suppressed passion. She
grasped her companion fiercely by the arm, exclaiming,--"You have
hit the secret now, Amélie! It was to speak of that I sought you
out this morning, for I know you are wise, discreet, and every way
better than I. It is all true what I have said, and more too,
Amélie. Listen! The Intendant has made love to me with pointed
gallantry that could have no other meaning but that he honorably
sought my hand. He has made me talked of and hated by my own sex,
who envied his preference of me. I was living in the most gorgeous
of fool's paradises, when a bird brought to my ear the astounding
news that a woman, beautiful as Diana, had been found in the forest
of Beaumanoir by some Hurons of Lorette, who were out hunting with
the Intendant. She was accompanied by a few Indians of a strange
tribe, the Abenaquais of Acadia. The woman was utterly exhausted by
fatigue, and lay asleep on a couch of dry leaves under a tree, when
the astonished Hurons led the Intendant to the spot where she lay.
"Don't interrupt me, Amélie; I see you are amazed, but let me go
on!" She held the hands of her companion firmly in her lap as she
"The Intendant was startled out of all composure at the apparition
of the sleeping lady. He spoke eagerly to the Abenaquais in their
own tongue, which was unintelligible to the Hurons. When he had
listened to a few words of their explanation, he ran hastily to the
lady, kissed her, called her by name, 'Caroline!' She woke up
suddenly, and recognizing the Intendant, embraced him, crying
'François! 'François!' and fainted in his arms.
"The Chevalier was profoundly agitated, blessing and banning, in the
same breath, the fortune that had led her to him. He gave her wine,
restored her to consciousness, talked with her long, and sometimes
angrily; but to no avail, for the woman, in accents of despair,
exclaimed in French, which the Hurons understood, that the Intendant
might kill and bury her there, but she would never, never return
home any more."
Angélique scarcely took breath as she continued her eager recital.
"The Intendant, overpowered either by love of her or fear of her,
ceased his remonstrances. He gave some pieces of gold to the
Abenaquais, and dismissed them. The strange Indians kissed her on
both hands as they would a queen, and with many adieus vanished into
the forest. The lady, attended by Bigot, remained seated under the
tree till nightfall, when he conducted her secretly to the Château,
where she still remains in perfect seclusion in a secret chamber,
they say, and has been seen by none save one or two of the
Intendant's most intimate companions."
"Heavens! what a tale of romance! How learned you all this,
Angélique?" exclaimed Amélie, who had listened with breathless
attention to the narrative.
"Oh, partly from a hint from a Huron girl, and the rest from the
Intendant's Secretary. Men cannot keep secrets that women are
interested in knowing! I could make De Pean talk the Intendant's
head off his shoulders, if I had him an hour in my confessional.
But all my ingenuity could not extract from him what he did not
know--who that mysterious lady is, her name and family."
"Could the Huron hunters give no guess?" asked Amélie, thoroughly
interested in Angélique's story.
"No. They learned by signs, however, from the Abenaquais, that she
was a lady of a noble family in Acadia which had mingled its
patrician blood with that of the native chiefs and possessors of the
soil. The Abenaquais were chary of their information, however: they
would only say she was a great white lady, and as good as any saint
in the calendar."
"I would give five years of my life to know who and what that woman
is!" Angélique added, as she leaned over the parapet, gazing
intently at the great forest that lay beyond Charlebourg, in which
was concealed the Château of Beaumanoir."
"It is a strange mystery. But I would not seek to unravel it,
Angélique," remarked Amélie, "I feel there is sin in it. Do not
touch it: it will only bring mischief upon you if you do!"
"Mischief! So be it! But I will know the worst! The Intendant is
deceiving me! Woe be to him and her if I am to be their intended
victim! Will you not assist me, Amélie, to discover the truth of
"I? how can I? I pity you, Angélique, but it were better to leave
this Intendant to his own devices."
"You can very easily help me if you will. Le Gardeur must know this
secret. He must have seen the woman--but he is angry with me, for--
for--slighting him--as he thinks--but he was wrong. I could not
avow to him my jealousy in this matter. He told me just enough to
madden me, and angrily refused to tell the rest when he saw me so
infatuated--he called it--over other people's love affairs. Oh,
Amélie, Le Gardeur will tell you all if you ask him!"
"And I repeat it to you, Angélique, I cannot question Le Gardeur on
such a hateful topic. At any rate I need time to reflect, and will
pray to be guided right."
"Oh, pray not at all! If you pray you will never aid me! I know
you will say the end is wicked and the means dishonorable. But find
out I will--and speedily! It will only be the price of another
dance with the Chevalier de Pean, to discover all I want. What
fools men are when they believe we love them for their sakes and
not for our own!"
Amélie, pitying the wild humors, as she regarded them, of her old
school companion, took her arm to walk to and fro in the bastion,
but was not sorry to see her aunt and the Bishop and Father de Berey
"Quick," said she to Angélique, "smooth your hair, and compose your
looks. Here comes my aunt and the Bishop--Father de Berey too!"
Angélique prepared at once to meet them, and with her wonderful
power of adaptation transformed herself in a moment into a merry
creature, all light and gaiety. She saluted the Lady de Tilly and
the reverend Bishop in the frankest manner, and at once accepted an
interchange of wit and laughter with Father de Berey.
"She could not remain long, however, in the Church's company," she
said, "she had her morning calls to finish." She kissed the cheek
of Amélie and the hand of the Lady de Tilly, and with a coquettish
courtesy to the gentlemen, leaped nimbly into her calèche, whirled
round her spirited horses like a practised charioteer, and drove
with rapid pace down the crowded street of St. John, the observed of
all observers, the admiration of the men and the envy of the women
as she flashed by.
Amélie and the Lady de Tilly, having seen a plenteous meal
distributed among their people, proceeded to their city home--their
seigniorial residence, when they chose to live in the capital.
THE ITINERANT NOTARY.
Master Jean Le Nocher the sturdy ferryman's patience had been
severely tried for a few days back, passing the troops of habitans
over the St. Charles to the city of Quebec. Being on the King's
corvée, they claimed the privilege of all persons in the royal
service: they travelled toll-free, and paid Jean with a nod or a
jest in place of the small coin which that worthy used to exact on
This morning had begun auspiciously for Jean's temper however. A
King's officer, on a gray charger, had just crossed the ferry; and
without claiming the exemption from toll which was the right of all
wearing the King's uniform, the officer had paid Jean more than his
fee in solid coin and rode on his way, after a few kind words to the
ferryman and a polite salute to his wife Babet, who stood courtesying
at the door of their cottage.
"A noble gentleman that, and a real one!" exclaimed Jean, to his
buxom, pretty wife, "and as generous as a prince! See what he has
given me." Jean flipped up a piece of silver admiringly, and then
threw it into the apron of Babet, which she spread out to catch it.
Babet rubbed the silver piece caressingly between her fingers and
upon her cheek. "It is easy to see that handsome officer is from
the Castle," said Babet, "and not from the Palace--and so nice-
looking he is too, with such a sparkle in his eye and a pleasant
smile on his mouth. He is as good as he looks, or I am no judge of
"And you are an excellent judge of men, I know, Babet," he replied,
"or you would never have taken me!" Jean chuckled richly over his
own wit, which Babet nodded lively approval to. "Yes, I know a hawk
from a handsaw," replied Babet, "and a woman who is as wise as that
will never mistake a gentleman, Jean! I have not seen a handsomer
officer than that in seven years!"
"He is a pretty fellow enough, I dare say, Babet; who can he be? He
rides like a field-marshal too, and that gray horse has ginger in
his heels!" remarked Jean, as the officer was riding at a rapid
gallop up the long, white road of Charlebourg. "He is going to
Beaumanoir, belike, to see the Royal Intendant, who has not returned
yet from his hunting party."
"Whither they went three days ago, to enjoy themselves in the chase
and drink themselves blind in the Château while everybody else is
summoned to the city to work upon the walls!" replied Babet,
scornfully. "I'll be bound that officer has gone to order the gay
gallants of the Friponne back to the city to take their share of
work with honest people."
"Ah! the Friponne! The Friponne!" ejaculated Jean. "The foul fiend
fly away with the Friponne! My ferryboat is laden every day with
the curses of the habitans returning from the Friponne, where they
cheat worse than a Basque pedler, and without a grain of his
The Friponne, as it was styled in popular parlance, was the immense
magazine established by the Grand Company of Traders in New France.
It claimed a monopoly in the purchase and sale of all imports and
exports in the Colony. Its privileges were based upon royal
ordinances and decrees of the Intendant, and its rights enforced in
the most arbitrary manner--and to the prejudice of every other
mercantile interest in the Colony. As a natural consequence it
was cordially hated, and richly deserved the maledictions which
generally accompanied the mention of the Friponne--the swindle--a
rough and ready epithet which sufficiently indicated the feeling of
the people whom it at once cheated and oppressed.
"They say, Jean," continued Babet, her mind running in a very
practical and womanly way upon the price of commodities and good
bargains, "they say, Jean, that the Bourgeois Philibert will not
give in like the other merchants. He sets the Intendant at
defiance, and continues to buy and sell in his own comptoir as he
has always done, in spite of the Friponne."
"Yes, Babet! that is what they say. But I would rather he stood in
his own shoes than I in them if he is to fight this Intendant--who
is a Tartar, they say."
"Pshaw, Jean! you have less courage than a woman. All the women are
on the side of the good Bourgeois: he is an honest merchant--sells
cheap, and cheats nobody!" Babet looked down very complacently upon
her new gown, which had been purchased at a great bargain at the
magazine of the Bourgeois. She felt rather the more inclined to
take this view of the question inasmuch as Jean had grumbled, just a
little--he would not do more--at his wife's vanity in buying a gay
dress of French fabric, like a city dame, while all the women of the
parish were wearing homespun,--grogram, or linsey-woolsey,--whether
at church or market.
Jean had not the heart to say another word to Babet about the French
gown. In truth, he thought she looked very pretty in it, better
than in grogram or in linsey-woolsey, although at double the cost.
He only winked knowingly at Babet, and went on to speaking of the
"They say the King has long hands, but this Intendant has claws
longer than Satan. There will be trouble by and by at the Golden
Dog--mark that, Babet! It was only the other day the Intendant was
conversing with the Sieur Cadet as they crossed the ferry. They
forgot me, or thought I did not hear them; but I had my ears open,
as I always have. I heard something said, and I hope no harm, will
come to the good Bourgeois, that is all!"
"I don't know where Christian folk would deal if anything happened
him," said Babet, reflectively. "We always get civility and good
pennyworths at the Golden Dog. Some of the lying cheats of the
Friponne talked in my hearing one day about his being a Huguenot.
But how can that be, Jean, when he gives the best weight and the
longest measure of any merchant in Quebec? Religion is a just yard
wand, that is my belief, Jean!"
Jean rubbed his head with a perplexed air. "I do not know whether
he be a Huguenot, nor what a Huguenot is. The Curé one day said he
was a Jansenist on all fours, which I suppose is the same thing,
Babet--and it does not concern either you or me. But a merchant who
is a gentleman and kind to poor folk, and gives just measure and
honest weight, speaks truth and harms nobody, is Christian enough
for me. A bishop could not trade more honestly; and the word of the
Bourgeois is as reliable as a king's."
"The Curé may call the Bourgeois what he likes," replied Babet, "but
there is not another Christian in the city if the good Bourgeois be
not one; and next the Church there is not a house in Quebec better
known or better liked by all the habitans, than the Golden Dog; and
such bargains too, as one gets there!"
"Ay, Babet! a good bargain settles many a knotty point with a
"And with a man too, if he is wise enough to let his wife do his
marketing, as you do, Jean! But whom have we here?" Babet set her
arms akimbo and gazed.
A number of hardy fellows came down towards the ferry to seek a
"They are honest habitans of St. Anne," replied Jean. "I know them;
they too are on the King's corvée, and travel free, every man of
them! So I must cry Vive le Roi! and pass them over to the city.
It is like a holiday when one works for nothing!"
Jean stepped nimbly into his boat, followed by the rough country
fellows, who amused themselves by joking at Jean Le Nocher's
increasing trade and the need of putting on an extra boat these
stirring times. Jean put a good face upon it, laughed, and retorted
their quips, and plying his oars, stoutly performed his part in the
King's corvée by safely landing them on the other shore.
Meantime the officer who had lately crossed the ferry rode rapidly
up the long, straight highway that led up on the side of the
mountain to a cluster of white cottages and an old church,
surmounted by a belfry whose sweet bells were ringing melodiously
in the fresh air of the morning.
The sun was pouring a flood of golden light over the landscape.
The still glittering dewdrops hung upon the trees, shrubs, and long
points of grass by the wayside. All were dressed with jewels to
greet the rising king of day.
The wide, open fields of meadow, and corn-fields, ripening for
harvest, stretched far away, unbroken by hedge or fence. Slight
ditches or banks of turf, covered with nests of violets, ferns, and
wild flowers of every hue, separated contiguous fields. No other
division seemed necessary in the mutual good neighborhood that
prevailed among the colonists, whose fashion of agriculture had been
brought, with many hardy virtues, from the old plains of Normandy.
White-walled, red-roofed cottages, or more substantial farmhouses,
stood conspicuously in the green fields, or peered out of embowering
orchards. Their casements were open to catch the balmy air, while
in not a few the sound of clattering hoofs on the hard road drew
fair faces to the window or door, to look inquisitively after the
officer wearing the white plume in his military chapeau, as he
dashed by on the gallant gray.
Those who caught sight of him saw a man worth seeing--tall, deep-
chested, and erect. His Norman features, without being perfect,
were handsome and manly. Steel-blue eyes, solidly set under a broad
forehead, looked out searchingly yet kindly, while his well-formed
chin and firm lips gave an air of resolution to his whole look that
accorded perfectly with the brave, loyal character of Colonel
Philibert. He wore the royal uniform. His auburn hair he wore tied
with a black ribbon. His good taste discarded perukes and powder,
although very much in fashion in those days.
It was long since he had travelled on the highway of Charlebourg,
and he thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the road he traversed. But
behind him, as he knew, lay a magnificent spectacle, the sight of
the great promontory of Quebec, crowned with its glorious
fortifications and replete with the proudest memories of North
America. More than once the young soldier turned his steed, and
halted a moment or two to survey the scene with enthusiastic
admiration. It was his native city, and the thought that it was
threatened by the national enemy roused, like an insult offered to
the mother that bore him. He rode onward, more than ever impatient
of delay, and not till he passed a cluster of elm trees which
reminded him of an adventure of his youth, did the sudden heat pass
away, caused by the thought of the threatened invasion.
Under these trees he remembered that he and his school companion, Le
Gardeur de Repentigny, had once taken refuge during a violent storm.
The tree they stood under was shattered by a thunderbolt. They were
both stunned for a few minutes, and knew they had had a narrow
escape from death. Neither of them ever forgot it.
A train of thoughts never long absent from the mind of Philibert
started up vividly at the sight of these trees. His memory flew
back to Le Gardeur and the Manor House of Tilly, and the fair young
girl who captivated his boyish fancy and filled his youth with
dreams of glorious achievements to win her smiles and do her honor.
Among a thousand pictures of her hung up in his mind and secretly
worshipped he loved that which presented her likeness on that day
when he saved her brother's life and she kissed him in a passion of
joy and gratitude, vowing she would pray for him to the end of her
The imagination of Pierre Philibert had revelled in the romantic
visions that haunt every boy destined to prominence, visions kindled
by the eye of woman and the hope of love.
The world is ruled by such dreams, dreams of impassioned hearts, and
improvisations of warm lips, not by cold words linked in chains of
iron sequence,--by love, not by logic. The heart with its passions,
not the understanding with its reasoning, sways, in the long run,
the actions of mankind.
Pierre Philibert possessed that rich gift of nature, a creative
imagination, in addition to the solid judgment of a man of sense,
schooled by experience and used to the considerations and
responsibilities of weighty affairs.
His love for Amélie de Repentigny had grown in secret. Its roots
reached down to the very depths of his being. It mingled,
consciously or unconsciously, with all his motives and plans of
life, and yet his hopes were not sanguine. Years of absence, he
remembered, work forgetfulness. New ties and associations might
have wiped out the memory of him in the mind of a young girl fresh
to society and its delights. He experienced a disappointment in not
finding her in the city upon his return a few days ago, and the
state of the Colony and the stress of military duty had so far
prevented his renewing his acquaintance with the Manor House of
The old-fashioned hostelry of the Couronne de France, with its high-
pitched roof, pointed gables, and broad gallery, stood directly
opposite the rustic church and tall belfry of Charlebourg, not as a
rival, but as a sort of adjunct to the sacred edifice. The sign of
the crown, bright with gilding, swung from the low, projecting arm
of a maple-tree, thick with shade and rustling with the beautiful
leaves of the emblem of Canada. A few rustic seats under the cool
maple were usually occupied, toward the close of the day, or about
the ringing of the Angelus, by a little gathering of parishioners
from the village, talking over the news of the day, the progress of
the war, the ordinances of the Intendant, or the exactions of the
On Sundays, after Mass and Vespers, the habitans of all parts of the
extended parish naturally met and talked over the affairs of the
Fabrique--the value of tithes for the year, the abundance of Easter
eggs, and the weight of the first salmon of the season, which was
always presented to the Curé with the first-fruits of the field, to
ensure the blessing of plenty for the rest of the year.
The Reverend Curé frequently mingled in these discussions. Seated
in his accustomed armchair, under the shade of the maple in summer,
and in winter by the warm fireside, he defended, ex cathedra, the
rights of the Church, and good-humoredly decided all controversies.
He found his parishioners more amenable to good advice over a mug of
Norman cider and a pipe of native tobacco, under the sign of the
Crown of France, than when he lectured them in his best and most
learned style from the pulpit.
This morning, however, all was very quiet round the old inn. The
birds were singing, and the bees humming in the pleasant sunshine.
The house looked clean and tidy, and no one was to be seen except
three persons bending over a table, with their heads close together,
deeply absorbed in whatever business they were engaged in. Two of
these persons were Dame Bédard, the sharp landlady of the Crown of
France, and her no less sharp and pretty daughter, Zoë. The third
person of the trio was an old, alert-looking little man, writing at
the table as if for very life. He wore a tattered black robe,
shortened at the knees to facilitate walking, a frizzled wig,
looking as if it had been dressed with a currycomb, a pair of black
breeches, well-patched with various colors; and gamaches of brown
leather, such as the habitans wore, completed his odd attire, and
formed the professional costume of Master Pothier dit Robin, the
travelling notary, one of that not unuseful order of itinerants of
the law which flourished under the old régime in New France.
Upon the table near him stood a black bottle, an empty trencher,
and a thick scatter of crumbs, showing that the old notary had
despatched a hearty breakfast before commencing his present work of
A hairy knapsack lay open upon the table near his elbow, disclosing
some bundles of dirty papers tied up with red tape, a tattered
volume or two of the "Coutume de Paris," and little more than the
covers of an odd tome of Pothier, his great namesake and prime
authority in the law. Some linen, dirty and ragged as his law
papers, was crammed into his knapsack with them. But that was
neither here nor there in the estimation of the habitans, so long
as his law smelt strong in the nostrils of their opponents in
litigation. They rather prided themselves upon the roughness of
their travelling notary.
The reputation of Master Pothier dit Robin was, of course, very
great among the habitans, as he travelled from parish to parish and
from seigniory to seigniory, drawing bills and hypothecations,
marriage contracts and last wills and testaments, for the peasantry,
who had a genuine Norman predilection for law and chicanery, and a
respect amounting to veneration for written documents, red tape, and
sealing-wax. Master Pothier's acuteness in picking holes in the
actes of a rival notary was only surpassed by the elaborate
intricacy of his own, which he boasted, not without reason, would
puzzle the Parliament of Paris, and confound the ingenuity of the
sharpest advocates of Rouen. Master Pothier's actes were as full of
embryo disputes as a fig is full of seeds, and usually kept all
parties in hot water and litigation for the rest of their days. If
he did happen now and then to settle a dispute between neighbors, he
made ample amends for it by setting half the rest of the parish by
Master Pothier's nose, sharp and fiery as if dipped in red ink,
almost touched the sheet of paper on the table before him, as he
wrote down from the dictation of Dame Bédard the articles of a
marriage contract between her pretty daughter, Zoë, and Antoine La
Chance, the son of a comfortable but keen widow of Beauport.
Dame Bédard had shrewdly availed herself of the presence of Master
Pothier, and in payment of a night's lodging at the Crown of France,
to have him write out the contract of marriage in the absence of
Dame La Chance, the mother of Antoine, who would, of course, object
to the insertion of certain conditions in the contract which Dame
Bédard was quite determined upon as the price of Zoë's hand and
"There! Dame Bédard!" cried Master Pothier, sticking the pen behind
his ear, after a magnificent flourish at the last word," there is a
marriage contract fit to espouse King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba!
A dowry of a hundred livres tournoises, two cows, and a feather bed,
bedstead, and chest of linen! A donation entre vifs!"
"A what? Master Pothier, now mind! are you sure that is the right
word of the grimoire?" cried Dame Bédard, instinctively perceiving
that here lay the very point of the contract. "You know I only give
on condition, Master Pothier."
"Oh, yes! trust me, Dame Bédard. I have made it a donation entre
vifs, révocable pour cause d'ingratitude, if your future son-in-law,
Antoine la Chance, should fail in his duty to you and to Zoë."
"And he won't do his duty to Zoë, unless he does it to me, Master
Pothier. But are you sure it is strong enough? Will it hold Dame
La Chance by the foot, so that she cannot revoke her gifts although
I may revoke mine?"
"Hold Dame La Chance by the foot? It will hold her as fast as a
snapping-turtle does a frog. In proof of it, see what Ricard says,
page 970; here is the book." Master Pothier opened his tattered
volume, and held it up to the dame. She shook her head.
"Thanks, I have mislaid my glasses. Do you read, please!"
"Most cheerfully, good dame! A notary must have eyes for everybody--
eyes like a cat's, to see in the dark, and power to draw them in
like a turtle, so that he may see nothing that he does not want to
"Oh, bless the eyes of the notary!" Dame Bédard grew impatient.
"Tell me what the book says about gifts revocable--that is what
concerns me and Zoë."
"Well, here it is, dame: 'Donations stipulated revocable at the
pleasure of the donor are null. But this condition does not apply
to donations by contract of marriage.' Bourdon also says--"
"A fig for Bourdon, and all such drones! I want my gift made
revocable, and Dame La Chance's not! I know by long experience with
my dear feu Bédard how necessary it is to hold the reins tight over
the men. Antoine is a good boy, but he will be all the better for a
careful mother-in-law's supervision."
Master Pothier rubbed the top of his wig with his forefinger.
"Are you sure, dame, that Antoine La Chance will wear the bridle
"Assuredly! I should like to see son-in-law of mine who would not!
Besides, Antoine is in the humor just now to refuse nothing for sake
of Zoë. Have you mentioned the children, Master Pothier? I do not