Part 11 out of 13
"None that I know of. She asked for none, poor girl! I gave her
none, though I would have given her the King's treasury had she
wished for it."
"But she might have had money when she came, Bigot," continued
Cadet, not doubting but robbery had been the motive for the murder.
"It may be, I never questioned her," replied Bigot; "she never spoke
of money; alas! all the money in the world was as dross in her
estimation. Other things than money occupied her pure thoughts."
"Well, it looks like robbers: they have ransacked the drawers and
carried off all she had, were it much or little," remarked Cadet,
still continuing his search.
"But why kill her? Oh, Cadet, why kill the gentle girl, who would
have given every jewel in her possession for the bare asking?"
"Nay, I cannot guess," said Cadet. "It looks like robbers, but the
mystery is beyond my wit to explain. What are you doing, Bigot?"
Bigot had knelt down by the side of Caroline; he lifted her hand
first to his lips, then towards Cadet, to show him the stalk of a
rose from which the flower had been broken, and which she held with
a grip so hard that it could not be loosened from her dead fingers.
The two men looked long and earnestly at it, but failed to make a
conjecture even why the flower had been plucked from that broken
stalk and carried away, for it was not to be seen in the room.
The fragment of a letter lay under a chair. It was a part of that
which La Corriveau had torn up and missed to gather up again with
the rest. Cadet picked it up and thrust it into his pocket.
The blood streaks upon her white robe and the visible stabs of a
fine poniard riveted their attention. That that was the cause of
her death they doubted not, but the mute eloquence of her wounds
spoke only to the heat. It gave no explanation to the intellect.
The whole tragedy seemed wrapped in inexplicable mystery.
"They have covered their track up well!" remarked Cadet. "Hey! but
what have we here?" Bigot started up at the exclamation. The door
of the secret passage stood open. La Corriveau had not closed it
after her when making her escape. "Here is where the assassins have
found entrance and exit! Egad! More people know the secret of your
Château than you think, Bigot!"
They sprang forward, and each seizing a lamp, the two men rushed
into the narrow passage. It was dark and still as the catacombs.
No trace of anything to the purpose could they perceive in the
vaulted subterranean way to the turret.
They speedily came to the other end; the secret door there stood
open also. They ascended the stairs in the tower, but could see no
trace of the murderers. "It is useless to search further for them
at this time," remarked Cadet, "perhaps not safe at any time, but I
would give my best horse to lay hands on the assassins at this
Gardeners' tools lay around the room. "Here," exclaimed Cadet, "is
what is equally germane to the matter, and we have no time to lose."
He seized a couple of spades and a bar of iron, and bidding Bigot go
before him with the lights, they returned to the chamber of death.
"Now for work! This sad business must be done well, and done
quickly!" exclaimed Cadet. "You shall see that I have not forgotten
how to dig, Bigot!"
Cadet threw off his coat, and setting to work, pulled up the thick
carpet from one side of the chamber. The floor was covered with
broad, smooth flags, one of which he attacked with the iron bar,
raised the flagstone and turned it over; another easily followed,
and very soon a space in the dry brown earth was exposed, large
enough to make a grave.
Bigot looked at him in a sort of dream. "I cannot do it, Cadet! I
cannot dig her grave!" and he threw down the spade which he had
taken feebly in his hand.
"No matter, Bigot! I will do it! Indeed, you would only be in my
way. Sit down while I dig, old friend. Par Dieu! this is nice work
for the Commissary General of New France, with the Royal Intendant
Bigot sat down and looked forlornly on while Cadet with the arms of
a Hercules dug and dug, throwing out the earth without stopping for
the space of a quarter of an hour, until he had made a grave large
and deep enough to contain the body of the hapless girl.
"That will do!" cried he, leaping out of the pit. "Our funeral
arrangements must be of the briefest, Bigot! So come help me to
shroud this poor girl."
Cadet found a sheet of linen and some fine blankets upon a couch in
the secret chamber. He spread them out upon the floor, and motioned
to Bigot without speaking. The two men lifted Caroline tenderly and
reverently upon the sheet. They gazed at her for a minute in solemn
silence, before shrouding her fair face and slender form in their
last winding-sheet. Bigot was overpowered with his feelings, yet
strove to master them, as he gulped down the rising in his throat
which at times almost strangled him.
Cadet, eager to get his painful task over, took from the slender
finger of Caroline a ring, a love-gift of Bigot, and from her neck a
golden locket containing his portrait and a lock of his hair. A
rosary hung at her waist; this Cadet also detached, as a precious
relic to be given to the Intendant by and by. There was one thread
of silk woven into the coarse hempen nature of Cadet.
Bigot stooped down and gave her pale lips and eyes, which he had
tenderly closed, a last despairing kiss, before veiling her face
with the winding-sheet as she lay, white as a snow-drift, and as
cold. They wrapped her softly in the blankets, and without a word
spoken, lowered the still, lissom body into its rude grave.
The awful silence was only broken by the spasmodic sobs of Bigot as
he leaned over the grave to look his last upon the form of the fair
girl whom he had betrayed and brought to this untimely end. "Mea
culpa! Mea maxima culpa!" said he, beating his breast. "Oh, Cadet,
we are burying her like a dog! I cannot, I cannot do it!"
The Intendant's feelings overcame him again, and he rushed from the
chamber, while Cadet, glad of his absence for a few moments, hastily
filled up the grave and, replacing with much care the stone slabs
over it, swept the debris into the passage and spread the carpet
again smoothly over the floor. Every trace of the dreadful deed was
obliterated in the chamber of murder.
Cadet, acutely thinking of everything at this supreme moment, would
leave no ground of suspicion for Dame Tremblay when she came in the
morning to visit the chamber. She should think that her lady had
gone away with her master as mysteriously as she had come, and no
further inquiry would be made after her. In this Cadet was right.
It was necessary for Cadet and Bigot now to depart by the secret
passage to the tower. The deep-toned bell of the château struck
"We must now be gone, Bigot, and instantly," exclaimed Cadet. "Our
night work is done! Let us see what day will bring forth! You must
see to it to-morrow, Bigot, that no man or woman alive ever again
enter this accursed chamber of death!"
Cadet fastened the secret door of the stair, and gathering up his
spades and bar of iron, left the chamber with Bigot, who was passive
as a child in his hands. The Intendant turned round and gave one
last sorrowful look at the now darkened room as they left it. Cadet
and he made their way back to the tower. They sallied out into the
open air, which blew fresh and reviving upon their fevered faces
after escaping from the stifling atmosphere below.
They proceeded at once towards their horses and mounted them, but
Bigot felt deadly faint and halted under a tree while Cadet rode
back to the porter's lodge and roused up old Marcele to give him
some brandy, if he had any, "as of course he had," said Cadet.
"Brandy was a gate-porter's inside livery, the lining of his laced
coat which he always wore. Cadet assumed a levity which he did not
Marcele fortunately could oblige the Sieur Cadet. "He did line his
livery a little, but lightly, as his Honor would see!" said he,
bringing out a bottle of cognac and a drinking-cup.
"It is to keep us from catching cold!" continued Cadet in his
peculiar way. "Is it good?" He placed the bottle to his lips and
Marcele assured him it was good as gold.
"Right!" said Cadet, throwing Marcele a louis d'or. "I will take
the bottle to the Intendant to keep him from catching cold too!
Mind, Marcele, you keep your tongue still, or else--!" Cadet held
up his whip, and bidding the porter "good-night!" rejoined Bigot.
Cadet had a crafty design in this proceeding. He wanted not to tell
Marcele that a lady was accompanying them; also not to let him
perceive that they left Beaumanoir without one. He feared that the
old porter and Dame Tremblay might possibly compare notes together,
and the housekeeper discover that Caroline had not left Beaumanoir
with the Intendant.
Bigot sat faint and listless in his saddle when Cadet poured out a
large cupful of brandy and offered it to him. He drank it eagerly.
Cadet then filled and gulped down a large cupful himself, then gave
another to the Intendant, and poured another and another for himself
until, he said, he "began to feel warm and comfortable, and got the
damnable taste of grave-digging out of his mouth!"
The heavy draught which Cadet forced the Intendant to take relieved
him somewhat, but he groaned inwardly and would not speak. Cadet
respected his mood, only bidding him ride fast. They spurred their
horses, and rode swiftly, unobserved by any one, until they entered
the gates of the Palace of the Intendant.
The arrival of the Intendant or the Sieur Cadet at the Palace at any
untimely hour of the night excited no remark whatever, for it was
the rule, rather than the exception with them both.
Dame Tremblay was not surprised next morning to find the chamber
empty and the lady gone.
She shook her head sadly. "He is a wild gallant, is my master! No
wilder ever came to Lake Beauport when I was the Charming Josephine
and all the world ran after me. But I can keep a secret, and I
will! This secret I must keep at any rate, by the Intendant's
order, and I would rather die than be railed at by that fierce Sieur
Cadet! I will keep the Intendant's secret safe as my teeth, which
he praised so handsomely and so justly!"
The fact that Caroline never returned to the Château, and that the
search for her was so long and so vainly carried on by La Corne St.
Luc and the Baron de St. Castin, caused the dame to suspect at last
that some foul play had been perpetrated, but she dared not speak
The old woman's suspicions grew with age into certainties, when at
last she chanced to talk with her old fellow servant, Marcele, the
gatekeeper, and learned from him that Bigot and Cadet had left the
Château alone on that fatal night. Dame Tremblay was more perplexed
than ever. She talked, she knew not what, but her talk passed into
the traditions of the habitans.
It became the popular belief that a beautiful woman, the mistress of
the powerful Intendant Bigot, had been murdered and buried in the
Château of Beaumanoir.
SILK GLOVES OVER BLOODY HANDS.
It was long before Angélique came to herself from the swoon in which
she had been left lying on the floor by La Corriveau. Fortunately
for her it was without discovery. None of the servants happened to
come to her room during its continuance, else a weakness so strange
to her usual hardihood would have become the city's talk before
night, and set all its idle tongues conjecturing or inventing a
reason for it. It would have reached the ears of Bigot, as every
spray of gossip did, and set him thinking, too, more savagely than
he was yet doing, as to the causes and occasions of the murder of
All the way back to the Palace, Bigot had scarcely spoken a word to
Cadet. His mind was in a tumult of the wildest conjectures, and his
thoughts ran to and fro like hounds in a thick brake darting in
every direction to find the scent of the game they were in search
of. When they reached the Palace, Bigot, without speaking to any
one, passed through the anterooms to his own apartment, and threw
himself, dressed and booted as he was, upon a couch, where he lay
like a man stricken down by a mace from some unseen hand.
Cadet had coarser ways of relieving himself from the late unusual
strain upon his rough feelings. He went down to the billiard-room,
and joining recklessly in the game that was still kept up by De
Pean, Le Gardeur, and a number of wild associates, strove to drown
all recollections of the past night at Beaumanoir by drinking and
gambling with more than usual violence until far on in the day.
Bigot neither slept nor wished to sleep. The image of the murdered
girl lying in her rude grave was ever before him, with a vividness
so terrible that it seemed he could never sleep again. His thoughts
ran round and round like a mill-wheel, without advancing a step
towards a solution of the mystery of her death.
He summoned up his recollections of every man and woman he knew in
the Colony, and asked himself regarding each one, the question, "Is
it he who has done this? Is it she who has prompted it? And who
could have had a motive, and who not, to perpetrate such a bloody
One image came again and again before his mind's eye as he reviewed
the list of his friends and enemies. The figure of Angélique
appeared and reappeared, intruding itself between every third or
fourth personage which his memory called up, until his thoughts
fixed upon her with the maddening inquiry, "Could Angélique des
Meloises have been guilty of this terrible deed?"
He remembered her passionate denunciation of the lady of Beaumanoir,
her fierce demand for her banishment by a lettre de cachet. He knew
her ambition and recklessness, but still, versed as he was in all
the ways of wickedness, and knowing the inexorable bitterness of
envy, and the cruelty of jealousy in the female breast,--at least in
such women as he had for the most part had experience of,--Bigot
could hardly admit the thought that one so fair as Angélique, one
who held him in a golden net of fascination, and to whom he had been
more than once on the point of yielding, could have committed so
great a crime.
He struggled with his thoughts like a man amid tossing waves,
groping about in the dark for a plank to float upon, but could find
none. Still, in spite of himself, in spite of his violent
asseverations that "it was IMPOSSIBLE;" in spite of Cadet's
plausible theory of robbers,--which Bigot at first seized upon as
the likeliest explanation of the mystery,--the thought of Angélique
ever returned back upon him like a fresh accusation.
He could not accuse her yet, though something told him he might have
to do so at last. He grew angry at the ever-recurring thought of
her, and turning his face to the wall, like a man trying to shut out
the light, resolved to force disbelief in her guilt until clearer
testimony than his own suspicions should convict her of the death of
Caroline. And yet in his secret soul he dreaded a discovery that
might turn out as he feared. But he pushed the black thoughts
aside; he would wait and watch for what he feared to find.
The fact of Caroline's concealment at Beaumanoir, and her murder at
the very moment when the search was about to be made for her, placed
Bigot in the cruelest dilemma. Whatever his suspicions might be, he
dared not, by word or sign, avow any knowledge of Caroline's
presence, still less of her mysterious murder, in his Château. Her
grave had been dug; she had been secretly buried out of human sight,
and he was under bonds as for his very life never to let the
dreadful mystery be discovered.
So Bigot lay on his couch, for once a weak and frightened man,
registering vain vows of vengeance against persons unknown, vows
which he knew at the moment were empty as bubbles, because he dared
not move hand or foot in the matter to carry them out, or make open
accusation against any one of the foul crime. What thoughts came to
Bigot's subtle mind were best known to himself, but something was
suggested by the mocking devil who was never far from him, and he
caught and held fast the wicked suggestion with a bitter laugh. He
then grew suddenly still and said to himself, "I will sleep on it!"
and pillowing his head quietly, not in sleep, but in thoughts deeper
than sleep, he lay till day.
Angélique, who had never in her life swooned before, felt, when she
awoke, like one returning to life from death. She opened her eyes
wondering where she was, and half remembering the things she had
heard as things she had seen, looked anxiously around the room for
La Corriveau. She rose up with a start when she saw she was gone,
for Angélique recollected suddenly that La Corriveau now held the
terrible secret which concerned her life and peace for evermore.
The thing she had so long wished for, and prayed for, was at last
done! Her rival was out of the way! But she also felt that if the
murder was discovered her own life was forfeit to the law, and the
secret was in the keeping of the vilest of women.
A mountain, not of remorse, but of apprehension, overwhelmed her for
a time. But Angélique's mind was too intensely selfish, hard, and
superficial, to give way to the remorse of a deeper nature.
She was angry at her own cowardice, but she feared the suspicions of
Bigot. There was ever something in his dark nature which she could
not fathom, and deep and crafty as she knew herself to be, she
feared that he was more deep and more crafty than herself.
What if he should discover her hand in this bloody business? The
thought drove her frantic, until she fancied she repented of the
Had it brought a certainty, this crime, then--why, then--she had
found a compensation for the risk she was running, for the pain she
was enduring, which she tried to believe was regret and pity for her
victim. Her anxiety redoubled when it occurred to her that Bigot,
remembering her passionate appeals to him for the removal of
Caroline, might suspect her of the murder as the one alone having a
palpable interest in it.
"But Bigot shall never believe it even if he suspect it!" exclaimed
she at last, shaking off her fears. "I have made fools of many men
for my pleasure, I can surely blind one for my safety; and, after
all, whose fault is it but Bigot's? He would not grant me the
lettre de cachet nor keep his promise for her removal. He even gave
me her life! But he lied; he did not mean it. He loved her too
well, and meant to deceive me and marry her, and I have deceived
him and shall marry him, that is all!" and Angélique laughed a
hysterical laugh, such as Dives in his torments may sometimes give
"La Corriveau has betrayed her trust in one terrible point,"
continued she, "she promised a death so easy that all men would say
the lady of Beaumanoir died of heartbreak only, or by God's
visitation! A natural death! The foul witch has used her stiletto
and made a murder of that which, without it, had been none! Bigot
will know it, must know it even if he dare not reveal it! for how in
the name of all the saints is it to be concealed?
"But, my God! this will never do!" continued she, starting up, "I
look like very guilt!" She stared fiercely in the mirror at her
hollow eyes, pale cheeks, and white lips. She scarcely recognized
herself. Her bloom and brightness had vanished for the time.
"What if I have inhaled some of the poisoned odor of those cursed
roses?" thought she, shuddering at the supposition; but she
reassured herself that it could not be. "Still, my looks condemn
me! The pale face of that dead girl is looking at me out of mine!
Bigot, if he sees me, will not fail to read the secret in my looks."
She glanced at the clock: the morning was far advanced towards noon;
visitors might soon arrive, Bigot himself might come, she dare not
deny herself to him. She would deny herself to no one to-day! She
would go everywhere and see everybody, and show the world, if talk
of it should arise, that she was wholly innocent of that girl's
She would wear her brightest looks, her gayest robe, her hat and
feathers, the newest from Paris. She would ride out into the city,--
go to the Cathedral,--show herself to all her friends, and make
every one say or think that Angélique des Meloises had not a care or
trouble in the world.
She rang for Fanchon, impatient to commence her toilet, for when
dressed she knew that she would feel like herself once more, cool
and defiant. The touch of her armor of fashionable attire would
restore her confidence in herself, and enable her to brave down any
suspicion in the mind of the Intendant,--at any rate it was her only
resource, and Angélique was not one to give up even a lost battle,
let alone one half gained through the death of her rival.
Fanchon came in haste at the summons of her mistress. She had long
waited to hear the bell, and began to fear she was sick or in one of
those wild moods which had come over her occasionally since the
night of her last interview with Le Gardeur.
The girl started at sight of the pale face and paler lips of her
mistress. She uttered an exclamation of surprise, but Angélique,
anticipating all questions, told her she was unwell, but would dress
and take a ride out in the fresh air and sunshine to recruit.
"But had you not better see the physician, my Lady?--you do look so
pale to-day, you are really not well!"
"No, but I will ride out;" and she added in her old way, "perhaps,
Fanchon, I may meet some one who will be better company than the
physician. Qui sait?" And she laughed with an appearance of gaiety
which she was far from feeling, and which only half imposed on the
quick-witted maid who waited upon her.
"Where is your aunt, Fanchon? When did you see Dame Dodier?" asked
she, really anxious to learn what had become of La Corriveau.
"She returned home this morning, my Lady! I had not seen her for
days before, but supposed she had already gone back to St. Valier,--
but Aunt Dodier is a strange woman, and tells no one her business."
"She has, perhaps, other lost jewels to look after besides mine,"
replied Angélique mechanically, yet feeling easier upon learning the
departure of La Corriveau.
"Perhaps so, my Lady. I am glad she is gone home. I shall never
wish to see her again."
"Why?" asked Angélique, sharply, wondering if Fanchon had
conjectured anything of her aunt's business.
"They say she has dealings with that horrid Mère Malheur, and I
believe it," replied Fanchon, with a shrug of disgust.
"Ah! do you think Mère Malheur knows her business or any of your
aunt's secrets, Fanchon?" asked Angélique, thoroughly roused.
"I think she does, my Lady,--you cannot live in a chimney with
another without both getting black alike, and Mère Malheur is a
black witch as sure as my aunt is a white one," was Fanchon's reply.
"What said your aunt on leaving?" asked her mistress.
"I did not see her leave, my Lady; I only learned from Ambroise
Gariepy that she had crossed the river this morning to return to St.
"And who is Ambroise Gariepy, Fanchon? You have a wide circle of
acquaintance for a young girl, I think!" Angélique knew the dangers
of gossiping too well not to fear Fanchon's imprudences.
"Yes, my Lady," replied Fanchon with affected simplicity, "Ambroise
Gariepy keeps the Lion Vert and the ferry upon the south shore; he
brings me news and sometimes a little present from the pack of the
Basque pedlers,--he brought me this comb, my Lady!" Fanchon turned
her head to show her mistress a superb comb in her thick black hair,
and in her delight of talking of Ambroise Gariepy, the little inn of
the ferry, and the cross that leaned like a failing memory over the
grave of his former wife, Fanchon quite forgot to ease her mind
further on the subject of La Corriveau, nor did Angélique resume the
Fanchon's easy, shallow way of talking of her lover touched a
sympathetic chord in the breast of her mistress. Grand passions
were grand follies in Angélique's estimation, which she was less
capable of appreciating than even her maid; but flirtation and
coquetry, skin-deep only, she could understand, and relished beyond
all other enjoyments. It was just now like medicine to her racking
thoughts to listen to Fanchon's shallow gossip.
She had done what she had done, she reflected, and it could not be
undone! why should she give way to regret, and lose the prize for
which she had staked so heavily? She would not do it! No, par
Dieu! She had thrown Le Gardeur to the fishes for the sake of the
Intendant, and had done that other deed! She shied off from the
thought of it as from an uncouth thing in the dark, and began to
feel shame of her weakness at having fainted at the tale of La
The light talk of Fanchon while dressing the long golden hair of her
mistress and assisting her to put on a new riding-dress and the
plumed hat fresh from Paris, which she had not yet displayed in
public, did much to restore her equanimity.
Her face had, however, not recovered from its strange pallor. Her
eager maid, anxious for the looks of her mistress, insisted on a
little rouge, which Angélique's natural bloom had never before
needed. She submitted, for she intended to look her best to-day,
she said. "Who knows whom I shall fall in with?"
"That is right, my Lady," exclaimed Fanchon admiringly, "no one
could be dressed perfectly as you are and be sick! I pity the
gentleman you meet to-day, that is all! There is murder in your
eye, my Lady!"
Poor Fanchon believed she was only complimenting her mistress, and
at other times her remark would only have called forth a joyous
laugh; now the word seemed like a sharp knife: it cut, and Angélique
did not laugh. She pushed her maid forcibly away from her, and was
on the point of breaking out into some violent exclamation when,
recalled by the amazed look of Fanchon, she turned the subject
adroitly, and asked, "Where is my brother?"
"Gone with the Chevalier de Pean to the Palace, my Lady!" replied
Fanchon, trembling all over, and wondering how she had angered her
"How know you that, Fanchon?" asked Angélique, recovering her usual
"I overheard them speaking together, my Lady. The Chevalier de Pean
said that the Intendant was sick, and would see no one this
"Yes, what then?" Angélique was struck with a sudden consciousness
of danger in the wind. "Are you sure they said the Intendant was
sick?" asked she.
"Yes, my Lady! and the Chevalier de Pean said that he was less sick
than mad, and out of humor to a degree he had never seen him
"Did they give a reason for it? that is, for the Intendant's
sickness or madness?" Angélique's eyes were fixed keenly upon her
maid, to draw out a full confession.
"None, my Lady, only the Chevalier des Meloises said he supposed it
was the news from France which sat so ill on his stomach."
"And what then, Fanchon? you are so long of answering!" Angélique
stamped her foot with impatience.
Fanchon looked up at the reproof so little merited, and replied
quickly, "The Chevalier de Pean said it must be that, for he knew of
nothing else. The gentlemen then went out and I heard no more."
Angélique was relieved by this turn of conversation. She felt
certain that if Bigot discovered the murder he would not fail to
reveal it to the Chevalier de Pean, who was understood to be the
depository of all his secrets. She began to cheer up under the
belief that Bigot would never dare accuse any one of a deed which
would be the means of proclaiming his own falseness and duplicity
towards the King and the Marquise de Pompadour.
"I have only to deny all knowledge of it," said she to herself,
"swear to it if need be, and Bigot will not dare to go farther in
the matter. Then will come my time to turn the tables upon him in a
way he little expects! Pshaw!" continued she, glancing at her gay
hat in the mirror, and with her own dainty fingers setting the
feather more airily to her liking. "Bigot is bound fast enough to
me now that she is gone! and when he discovers that I hold his
secret he will not dare meddle with mine."
Angélique, measurably reassured and hopeful of success in her
desperate venture, descended the steps of her mansion, and,
gathering up her robes daintily, mounted her horse, which had long
been chafing in the hands of her groom waiting for his mistress.
She bade the man remain at home until her return, and dashed off
down the Rue St. Louis, drawing after her a hundred eyes of
admiration and envy.
She would ride down to the Place d'Armes, she thought, where she
knew that before she had skirted the length of the Castle wall half
a dozen gallants would greet her with offers of escort, and drop any
business they had in hand for the sake of a gallop by her side.
She had scarcely passed the Monastery of the Recollets when she was
espied by the Sieur La Force, who, too, was as quickly discovered by
her, as he loitered at the corner of the Rue St. Ann, to catch sight
of any fair piece of mischief that might be abroad that day from her
classes in the Convent of the Ursulines.
"Angélique is as fair a prize as any of them," thought La Force, as
he saluted her with Parisian politeness, and with a request to be
her escort in her ride through the city.
"My horse is at hand, and I shall esteem it such an honor," said La
Force, smiling, "and such a profit too," added he; "my credit is low
in a certain quarter, you know where!" and he laughingly pointed
towards the Convent. "I desire to make HER jealous, for she has
made me madly so, and no one can aid in an enterprise of that kind
better than yourself, Mademoiselle des Meloises!"
"Or more willingly, Sieur La Force!" replied she, laughing. "But
you overrate my powers, I fear."
"Oh, by no means," replied La Force; "there is not a lady in Quebec
but feels in her heart that Angélique des Meloises can steal away
her lover when and where she will. She has only to look at him
across the street, and presto, change! he is gone from her as if by
magic. But will you really help me, Mademoiselle?"
"Most willingly, Sieur La Force,--for your profit if not for your
honor! I am just in the humor for tormenting somebody this morning;
so get your horse and let us be off!"
Before La Force had mounted his horse, a number of gaily-dressed
young ladies came in sight, in full sail down the Rue St. Ann, like
a fleet of rakish little yachts, bearing down upon Angélique and her
"Shall we wait for them, La Force?" asked she. "They are from the
"Yes, and SHE is there too! The news will be all over the city in
an hour that I am riding with you!" exclaimed La Force in a tone of
Five girls just verging on womanhood, perfect in manner and
appearance--as the Ursulines knew well how to train the young olive-
plants of the Colony,--walked on demurely enough, looking apparently
straight forward, but casting side glances from under their veils
which raked the Sieur La Force and Angélique with a searching fire
that nothing could withstand, La Force said; but which Angélique
remarked was simply "impudence, such as could only be found in
They came nearer. Angélique might have supposed they were going
to pass by them had she not known too well their sly ways. The
foremost of the five, Louise Roy, whose glorious hair was the boast
of the city, suddenly threw back her veil, and disclosing a charming
face, dimpled with smiles and with a thousand mischiefs lurking
in her bright gray eyes, sprang towards Angélique, while her
companions--all Louises of the famous class of that name--also
threw up their veils, and stood saluting Angélique and La Force
with infinite merriment.
Louise Roy, quizzing La Force through a coquettish eyeglass which
she wore on a ribbon round her pretty neck, as if she had never seen
him before, motioned to him in a queenly way as she raised her
dainty foot, giving him a severe look, or what tried to be such but
was in truth an absurd failure.
He instantly comprehended her command, for such it was, and held
out his hand, upon which she stepped lightly, and sprang up to
Angélique, embracing and kissing her with such cordiality that, if
it were not real, the acting was perfect. At the same time Louise
Roy made her understand that she was not the only one who could
avail herself of the gallant attentions of the Sieur La Force.
In truth Louise Roy was somewhat piqued at the Sieur La Force, and
to punish him made herself as heavy as her slight figure would admit
of. She stood perched up as long as she could, and actually enjoyed
the tremor which she felt plainly enough in his hand as he continued
to support her, and was quite disposed to test how long he could or
would hold her up, while she conversed in whispers with Angélique.
"Angélique!" said she. "They say in the Convent that you are to
marry the Intendant. Your old mistress, Mère St. Louis, is crazy
with delight. She says she always predicted you would make a great
"Or none at all, as Mère St. Helene used to say of me; but they know
everything in the Convent, do they not?" Angélique pinched the arm
of Louise, as much as to say, "Of course it is true." "But who told
you that, Louise?" asked she.
"Oh, every bird that flies! But tell me one thing more. They say
the Intendant is a Bluebeard, who has had wives without number,--
nobody knows how many or what became of them, so of course he kills
them. Is that true?"
Angélique shrank a little, and little as it was the movement was
noticed by Louise. "If nobody knows what became of them, how should
I know, Louise?" replied she. "He does not look like a Bluebeard,
"So says Mère St. Joseph, who came from the Convent at Bordeaux, you
know, for she never tires telling us. She declares that the
Chevalier Bigot was never married at all, and she ought to know that
surely, as well as she knows her beads, for coming from the same
city as the Intendant, and knowing his family as she does--"
"Well, Louise," interrupted Angélique impatiently, "but do you not
see the Sieur La Force is getting tired of holding you up so long
with his hand? For heaven's sake, get down!"
"I want to punish him for going with you, and not waiting for me,"
was the cool whisper of Louise. "But you will ask me, Angélique, to
the wedding, will you not? If you do not," continued she, "I shall
die!" and delaying her descent as long as possible, she commenced a
new topic concerning the hat worn by Angélique.
"Mischief that you are, get down! The Sieur La Force is my cavalier
for the day, and you shall not impose on his gallantry that way! He
is ready to drop," whispered Angélique.
"One word more, Angélique." Louise was delighted to feel the hand
of La Force tremble more and more under her foot.
"No, not a word! Get down!"
"Kiss me then, and good-by, cross thing that you are! Do not keep
him all day, or all the class besides myself will be jealous,"
replied Louise, not offering to get down.
Angélique had no mind to allow her cavalier to be made a horse-block
of for anybody but herself. She jerked the bridle, and making her
horse suddenly pirouette, compelled Louise to jump down. The
mischievous little fairy turned her bright laughing eyes full upon
La Force and thanked him for his great courtesy, and with a
significant gesture--as much as to say he was at liberty now to
escort Angélique, having done penance for the same--rejoined her
expectant companions, who had laughed heartily at her manoeuvre.
"She paints!" was Louise's emphatic whisper to her companions, loud
enough to be heard by La Force, for whom the remark was partly
intended. "She paints! and I saw in her eyes that she has not slept
all night! She is in love! and I do believe it is true she is to
marry the Intendant!"
This was delicious news to the class of Louises, who laughed out
like a chime of silver bells as they mischievously bade La Force and
Angélique bon voyage, and passed down the Place d'Armes in search of
fresh adventures to fill their budgets of fun--budgets which, on
their return to the Convent, they would open under the very noses of
the good nuns (who were not so blind as they seemed, however), and
regale all their companions with a spicy treat, in response to the
universal question ever put to all who had been out in the city,
"What is the news?"
La Force, compliant as wax to every caprice of Angélique, was
secretly fuming at the trick played upon him by the Mischief of the
Convent,--as he called Louise Roy,--for which he resolved to be
revenged, even if he had to marry her. He and Angélique rode down
the busy streets, receiving salutations on every hand. In the great
square of the market-place Angélique pulled up in front of the
Why she stopped there would have puzzled herself to explain. It was
not to worship, not to repent of her heinous sin: she neither
repented nor desired to repent. But it seemed pleasant to play at
repentance and put on imaginary sackcloth.
Angélique's brief contact with the fresh, sunny nature of Louise Roy
had sensibly raised her spirits. It lifted the cloud from her brow,
and made her feel more like her former self. The story, told half
in jest by Louise, that she was to marry the Intendant, flattered
her vanity and raised her hopes to the utmost. She liked the city
to talk of her in connection with the Intendant.
The image of Beaumanoir grew fainter and fainter as she knelt down
upon the floor, not to ask pardon for her sin, but to pray for
immunity for herself and the speedy realization of the great object
of her ambition and her crime!
The pealing of the organ, rising and falling in waves of harmony,
the chanting of choristers, and the voice of the celebrant during
the service in honor of St. Michael and all the angels, touched her
sensuous nature, but failed to touch her conscience.
A crowd of worshippers were kneeling upon the floor of the
Cathedral, unobstructed in those days by seats and pews, except on
one side, where rose the stately bancs of the Governor and the
Intendant, on either side of which stood a sentry with ported arms,
and overhead upon the wall blazed the royal escutcheons of France.
Angélique, whose eyes roved incessantly about the church, turned
them often towards the gorgeous banc of the Intendant, and the
thought intruded itself to the exclusion of her prayers, "When shall
I sit there, with all these proud ladies forgetting their devotions
through envy of my good fortune?"
Bigot did not appear in his place at church to-day. He was too
profoundly agitated and sick, and lay on his bed till evening,
revolving in his astute mind schemes of vengeance possible and
impossible, to be carried out should his suspicions of Angélique
become certainties of knowledge and fact. His own safety was at
stake. The thought that he had been outwitted by the beautiful,
designing, heartless girl, the reflection that he dare not turn to
the right hand nor to the left to inquire into this horrid
assassination, which, if discovered, would be laid wholly to his own
charge, drove him to the verge of distraction.
The Governor and his friend Peter Kalm occupied the royal banc.
Lutheran as he was, Peter Kalm was too philosophical and perhaps too
faithful a follower of Christ to consider religion as a matter of
mere opinion or of form rather than of humble dependence upon God,
the Father of all, with faith in Christ and the conscientious
striving to love God and his neighbor.
A short distance from Angélique, two ladies in long black robes, and
evidently of rank, were kneeling with downcast faces, and hands
clasped over their bosoms, in a devout attitude of prayer and
Angélique's keen eye, which nothing escaped, needed not a second
glance to recognize the unmistakable grace of Amélie de Repentigny
and the nobility of the Lady de Tilly.
She started at sight of these relatives of Le Gardeur's, but did not
wonder at their presence, for she already knew that they had
returned to the city immediately after the abduction of Le Gardeur
by the Chevalier de Pean.
Startled, frightened, and despairing, with aching hearts but
unimpaired love, Amélie and the Lady de Tilly had followed Le
Gardeur and reoccupied their stately house in the city, resolved to
leave no means untried, no friends unsolicited, no prayers unuttered
to rescue him from the gulf of perdition into which he had again so
Within an hour after her return, Amélie, accompanied by Pierre
Philibert, had gone to the Palace to seek an interview with her
brother. They were rudely denied. "He was playing a game of piquet
for the championship of the Palace with the Chevalier de Pean, and
could not come if St. Peter, let alone Pierre Philibert, stood at
the gate knocking!"
This reply had passed through the impure lips of the Sieur de
Lantagnac before it reached Amélie and Pierre. They did not believe
it came from their brother. They left the Palace with heavy hearts,
after long and vainly seeking an interview, Philibert resolving to
appeal to the Intendant himself and call him to account at the
sword's point, if need be, for the evident plot in the Palace to
detain Le Gardeur from his friends.
Amélie, dreading some such resolution on the part of Pierre, went
back next day alone to the Palace to try once more to see Le
She was agitated and in tears at the fate of her brother. She was
anxious over the evident danger which Pierre seemed to court, for
his sake and--she would not hide the truth from herself--for her own
sake too; and yet she would not forbid him. She felt her own noble
blood stirred within her to the point that she wished herself a man
to be able to walk sword in hand into the Palace and confront the
herd of revellers who she believed had plotted the ruin of her
She was proud of Pierre, while she trembled at the resolution which
she read in his countenance of demanding as a soldier, and not as a
suppliant, the restoration of Le Gardeur to his family.
Amélie's second visit to the Palace had been as fruitless as her
first. She was denied admittance, with the profoundest regrets on
the part of De Pean, who met her at the door and strove to exculpate
himself from the accusation of having persuaded Le Gardeur to depart
from Tilly, and of keeping him in the Palace against the prayers of
De Pean remembered his presumption as well as his rejection by
Amélie at Tilly, and while his tongue ran smooth as oil in polite
regrets that Le Gardeur had resolved not to see his sister to-day,
her evident distress filled him with joy, which he rolled under his
tongue as the most delicate morsel of revenge he had ever tasted.
Bowing with well-affected politeness, De Pean attended her to her
carriage, and having seen her depart in tears, returned laughing
into the Palace, remarking, as he mimicked the weeping countenance
of Amélie, that "the Honnêtes Gens had learned it was a serious
matter to come to the burial of the virtues of a young gentleman
like Le Gardeur de Repentigny."
On her return home Amélie threw herself on the neck of her aunt,
repeating in broken accents, "My poor Le Gardeur! my brother! He
refuses to see me, aunt! He is lost and ruined in that den of all
iniquity and falsehood!"
"Be composed, Amélie," replied the Lady de Tilly; "I know it is hard
to bear, but perhaps Le Gardeur did not send that message to you.
The men about him are capable of deceiving you to an extent you have
no conception of,--you who know so little of the world's baseness."
"O aunt, it is true! He sent me this dreadful thing; I took it, for
it bears the handwriting of my brother."
She held in her hand a card, one of a pack. It was the death-card
of superstitious lookers into futurity. Had he selected it because
it bore that reputation, or was it by chance?
On the back of it he had written, or scrawled in a trembling hand,
yet plainly, the words: "Return home, Amélie. I will not see you.
I have lost the game of life and won the card you see. Return home,
dear sister, and forget your unworthy and ruined brother, Le
Lady de Tilly took the card, and read and re-read it, trying to find
a meaning it did not contain, and trying not to find the sad meaning
it did contain.
She comforted Amélie as best she could, while needing strength
herself to bear the bitter cross laid upon them both, in the sudden
blighting of that noble life of which they had been so proud.
She took Amélie in her arms, mingling her own tears with hers, and
bidding her not despair. "A sister's love," said she, "never
forgets, never wearies, never despairs." They had friends too
powerful to be withstood, even by Bigot, and the Intendant would be
compelled to loosen his hold upon Le Gardeur. She would rely upon
the inherent nobleness of the nature of Le Gardeur himself to wash
itself pure of all stain, could they only withdraw him from the
seductions of the Palace. "We will win him from them by counter
charms, Amélie, and it will be seen that virtue is stronger than
vice to conquer at last the heart of Le Gardeur."
"Alas, aunt!" replied the poor girl, her eyes suffused with tears,
"neither friend nor foe will avail to turn him from the way he has
resolved to go. He is desperate, and rushes with open eyes upon his
ruin. We know the reason of it all. There is but one who could
have saved Le Gardeur if she would. She is utterly unworthy of my
brother, but I feel now it were better Le Gardeur had married even
her than that he should be utterly lost to himself and us all. I
will see Angélique des Meloises myself. It was her summons brought
him back to the city. She alone can withdraw him from the vile
companionship of Bigot and his associates at the Palace."
Angélique had been duly informed of the return of Amélie to the
city, and of her fruitless visits to the Palace to see her brother.
It was no pleasure, but a source of angry disappointment to
Angélique that Le Gardeur, in despair of making her his wife,
refused to devote himself to her as her lover. He was running wild
to destruction, instead of letting her win the husband she aspired
to, and retain at the same time the gallant she loved and was not
willing to forego.
She had seen him at the first sober moment after his return from
Tilly, in obedience to her summons. She had permitted him to pour
out again his passion at her feet. She had yielded to his kisses
when he claimed her heart and hand, and had not refused to own the
mutual flame that covered her cheek with a blush at her own
falseness. But driven to the wall by his impetuosity, she had at
last killed his reviving hopes by her repetition of the fatal words,
"I love you, Le Gardeur, but I will not marry you!"
Angélique was seized with a sudden impulse to withdraw from the
presence of Amélie in the Cathedral before being discovered by her.
She was half afraid that her former school companion would speak to
her on the subject of Le Gardeur. She could not brazen it out with
Amélie, who knew her too well, and if she could, she would gladly
avoid the angry flash of those dark, pure eyes.
The organ was pealing the last notes of the Doxology, and the voices
of the choristers seemed to reëcho from the depths of eternity the
words, "in saecula saeculorum," when Angélique rose up suddenly to
leave the church.
Her irreverent haste caused those about her to turn their heads at
the slight confusion she made, Amélie among the rest, who recognized
at once the countenance of Angélique, somewhat flushed and
irritated, as she strove vainly, with the help of La Force, to get
out of the throng of kneeling people who covered the broad floor of
Amélie deemed it a fortunate chance to meet Angélique so
opportunely--just when her desire to do so was strongest. She
caught her eye, and made her a quick sign to stay, and approaching
her, seized her hands in her old, affectionate way.
"Wait a few moments, Angélique," said she, "until the people depart.
I want to speak to you alone. I am so fortunate to find you here."
"I will see you outside, Amélie. The Sieur La Force is with me, and
cannot stay." Angélique dreaded an interview with Amélie.
"No, I will speak to you here. It will be better here in God's
temple than elsewhere. The Sieur La Force will wait for you if you
ask him; or shall I ask him?" A faint smile accompanied these words
of Amélie, which she partly addressed to La Force.
La Force, to Angélique's chagrin, understanding that Amélie desired
him to wait for Angélique outside, at once offered to do so.
"Or perhaps," continued Amélie, offering her hand, "the Sieur La
Force, whom I am glad to see, will have the politeness to accompany
the Lady de Tilly, while I speak to Mademoiselle des Meloises?"
La Force was all compliance. "He was quite at the service of the
ladies," he said politely, "and would esteem it an honor to
accompany the noble Lady de Tilly."
The Lady de Tilly at once saw through the design of her niece. She
acceded to the arrangement, and left the Cathedral in company with
the Sieur La Force, whom she knew as the son of an old and valued
He accompanied her home, while Amélie, holding fast to the arm of
Angélique until the church was empty of all but a few scattered
devotees and penitents, led her into a side chapel, separated from
the body of the church by a screen of carved work of oak, wherein
stood a small altar and a reliquary with a picture of St. Paul.
The seclusion of this place commended itself to the feelings of
Amélie. She made Angélique kneel down by her side before the altar.
After breathing a short, silent prayer for help and guidance, she
seized her companion by both hands and besought her "in God's name
to tell her what she had done to Le Gardeur, who was ruining
himself, both soul and body."
Angélique, hardy as she was, could ill bear the searching gaze of
those pure eyes. She quailed under them for a moment, afraid that
the question might have some reference to Beaumanoir, but reassured
by the words of Amélie, that her interview had relation to Le
Gardeur only, she replied: "I have done nothing to make Le Gardeur
ruin himself, soul or body, Amélie. Nor do I believe he is doing
so. Our old convent notions are too narrow to take out with us into
the world. You judge Le Gardeur too rigidly, Amélie."
"Would that were my fault, Angélique!" replied she earnestly, "but
my heart tells me he is lost unless those who led him astray remit
him again into the path of virtue whence they seduced him."
Angélique winced, for she took the allusion to herself, although in
the mind of Amélie it referred more to the Intendant. "Le Gardeur
is no weakling to be led astray," replied she. "He is a strong man,
to lead others, not to be led, as I know better than even his
Amélie looked up inquiringly, but Angélique did not pursue the
thought nor explain the meaning of her words.
"Le Gardeur," continued Angélique, "is not worse, nay, with all his
faults, is far better than most young gallants, who have the
laudable ambition to make a figure in the world, such as women
admire. One cannot hope to find men saints, and we women to be such
sinners. Saints would be dull companions. I prefer mere men,
"For shame, Angélique! to say such things before the sacred shrine,"
exclaimed Amélie, indignantly stopping her. "What wonder that men
are wicked, when women tempt them to be so! Le Gardeur was like
none of the gallants you compare him with! He loved virtue and
hated vice, and above all things he despised the companionship of
such men as now detain him at the Palace. You first took him from
me, Angélique! I ask you now to give him back to me. Give me back
my brother, Angélique des Meloises!" Amélie grasped her by the arm
in the earnestness of her appeal.
"I took him from you?" exclaimed Angélique hotly. "It is untrue!
Forgive my saying so, Amélie! I took him no more than did Héloise
de Lotbinière or Cecile Tourangeau! Will you hear the truth? He
fell in love with me, and I had not the heart to repulse him,--nay,
I could not, for I will confess to you, Amélie, as I often avowed to
you in the Convent, I loved Le Gardeur the best of all my admirers!
And by this blessed shrine," continued she, laying her hand upon it,
"I do still! If he be, as some say he is, going too fast for his
own good or yours or mine, I regret it with my whole heart; I regret
it as you do! Can I say more?"
Angélique was sincere in this. Her words sounded honest, and she
spoke with a real warmth in her bosom, such as she had not felt in a
Her words impressed Amélie favorably.
"I think you speak truly, Angélique," replied she, "when you say you
regret Le Gardeur's relapse into the evil ways of the Palace. No
one that ever knew my noble brother could do other than regret it.
But oh, Angélique, why, with all your influence over him did you not
prevent it? Why do you not rescue him now? A word from you would
have been of more avail than the pleading of all the world beside!"
"Amélie, you try me hard," said Angélique, uneasily, conscious of
the truth of Amélie's words, "but I can bear much for the sake of Le
Gardeur! Be assured that I have no power to influence his conduct
in the way of amendment, except upon impossible conditions! I have
tried, and my efforts have been vain as your own!"
"Conditions!" replied Amélie, "what conditions?--but I need not ask
you! He told me in his hour of agony of your inexplicable dealing
with him, and yet not so inexplicable now! Why did you profess to
love my brother, leading him on and on to an offer of his hand, and
then cruelly reject him, adding one more to the list of your
heartless triumphs? Le Gardeur de Repentigny was too good for such
a fate from any woman, Angélique!" Amélie's eyes swam in tears of
indignation as she said this.
"He was too good for me!" said Angélique, dropping her eyes. "I
will acknowledge that, if it will do you any good, Amélie! But can
you not believe that there was a sacrifice on my part, as well as on
his or yours?"
"I judge not between you, Angélique! or between the many chances
wasted on you; but I say this Angélique des Meloises, you wickedly
stole the heart of the noblest brother in New France, to trample it
under your feet!"
"'Fore God, I did not, Amélie!" she replied indignantly. "I loved
and do love Le Gardeur de Repentigny, but I never plighted my troth
to him, I never deceived him! I told him I loved him, but I could
not marry him! And by this sacred cross," said she, placing her
hands upon it, "it is true! I never trampled upon the heart of Le
Gardeur; I could kiss his hands, his feet, with true affection as
ever loving woman gave to man; but my duty, my troth, my fate, were
in the hands of another!"
Angélique felt a degree of pleasure in the confession to Amélie of
her love for her brother. It was the next thing to confessing it to
himself, which had been once the joy of her life, but it changed not
one jot her determination to wed only the Intendant, unless--yes,
her busy mind had to-day called up a thousand possible and
impossible contingencies that might spring up out of the unexpected
use of the stiletto by Corriveau. What if the Intendant, suspecting
her complicity in the murder of Caroline, should refuse to marry
her? Were it not well in that desperate case to have Le Gardeur to
fall back upon?
Amélie watched nervously the changing countenance of Angélique. She
knew it was a beautiful mask covering impenetrable deceit, and that
no principle of right kept her from wrong when wrong was either
pleasant or profitable.
The conviction came upon Amélie like a flash of inspiration that she
was wrong in seeking to save Le Gardeur by seconding his wild offer
of marriage to Angélique. A union with this false and capricious
woman would only make his ruin more complete and his latter end
worse than the first. She would not urge it, she thought.
"Angélique," said she, "if you love Le Gardeur, you will not refuse
your help to rescue him from the Palace. You cannot wish to see him
degraded as a gentleman because he has been rejected by you as a
"Who says I wish to see him degraded as a gentleman? and I did not
reject him as a lover! not finally--that is, I did not wholly mean
it. When I sent to invite his return from Tilly it was out of
friendship,--love, if you will, Amélie, but from no desire that he
should plunge into fresh dissipation."
"I believe you, Angélique! You could not, if you had the heart of a
woman loving him ever so little, desire to see him fall into the
clutches of men who, with the wine-cup in one hand and the dice-box
in the other, will never rest until they ruin him, body, soul, and
"Before God, I never desired it, and to prove it, I have cursed De
Pean to his face, and erased Lantagnac from my list of friends, for
coming to show me the money he had won from Le Gardeur while
intoxicated. Lantagnac brought me a set of pearls which he had
purchased out of his winnings. I threw them into the fire and would
have thrown him after them, had I been a man! 'fore God, I would,
Amélie! I may have wounded Le Gardeur, but no other man or woman
shall injure him with my consent."
Angélique spoke this in a tone of sincerity that touched somewhat
the heart of Amélie, although the aberrations and inconsistencies of
this strange girl perplexed her to the utmost to understand what she
"I think I may trust you, Angélique, to help me to rescue him from
association with the Palace?" said Amélie, gently, almost
submissively, as if she half feared a refusal.
"I desire nothing more," replied Angélique. "You have little faith
in me, I see that,"--Angélique wiped her eyes, in which a shade of
moisture could be seen,--"but I am sincere in my friendship for Le
Gardeur. The Virgin be my witness, I never wished his injury, even
when I injured him most. He sought me in marriage, and I was bound
"You are to marry the Intendant, they say. I do not wonder, and yet
I do wonder, at your refusing my brother, even for him."
"Marry the Intendant! Yes, it is what fools and some wise people
say. I never said it myself, Amélie."
"But you mean it, nevertheless; and for no other would you have
thrown over Le Gardeur de Repentigny."
"I did not throw him over," she answered, indignantly. "But why
dispute? I cannot, Amélie, say more, even to you! I am distraught
with cares and anxieties, and know not which way to turn."
"Turn here, where I turn in my troubles, Angélique!" replied Amélie,
moving closer to the altar. "Let us pray for Le Gardeur."
Angélique obeyed mechanically, and the two girls prayed silently for
a few moments, but how differently in spirit and feeling! The one
prayed for her brother,--the other tried to pray, but it was more
for herself, for safety in her crime and success in her deep-laid
scheming. A prayer for Le Gardeur mingled with Angélique's
devotions, giving them a color of virtue. Her desire for his
welfare was sincere enough, and she thought it disinterested of
herself to pray for him.
Suddenly Angélique started up as if stung by a wasp. "I must take
leave of you, my Amélie," said she; "I am glad I met you here. I
trust you understand me now, and will rely on my being as a sister
to Le Gardeur, to do what I can to restore him perfect to you and
the good Lady de Tilly."
Amélie was touched. She embraced Angélique and kissed her; yet so
cold and impassive she felt her to be, a shiver ran through her as
she did so. It was as if she had touched the dead, and she long
afterwards thought of it. There was a mystery in this strange girl
that Amélie could not fathom nor guess the meaning of. They left
the Cathedral together. It was now quite empty, save of a lingering
penitent or two kneeling at the shrines. Angélique and Amélie
parted at the door, the one eastward, the other westward, and,
carried away by the divergent currents of their lives, they never
THE INTENDANT'S DILEMMA.
"Did I not know for a certainty that she was present till midnight
at the party given by Madame de Grandmaison, I should suspect her,
by God!" exclaimed the Intendant, as he paced up and down his
private room in the Palace, angry and perplexed to the uttermost
over the mysterious assassination at Beaumanoir. "What think you,
"I think that proves an alibi," replied Cadet, stretching himself
lazily in an armchair and smoking with half-shut eyes. There was
a cynical, mocking tone in his voice which seemed to imply that
although it proved an alibi, it did not prove innocence to the
satisfaction of the Sieur Cadet.
"You think more than you say, Cadet. Out with it! Let me hear the
worst of your suspicions. I fancy they chime with mine," said the
Intendant, in quick reply.
"As the bells of the Cathedral with the bells of the Recollets,"
drawled out Cadet. "I think she did it, Bigot, and you think the
same; but I should not like to be called upon to prove it, nor you
either,--not for the sake of the pretty witch, but for your own."
"I could prove nothing, Cadet. She was the gayest and most light-
hearted of all the company last night at Madame de Grandmaison's. I
have made the most particular inquiries of Varin and Deschenaux.
They needed no asking, but burst out at once into praise and
admiration of her gaiety and wit. It is certain she was not at
"You often boasted you knew women better than I, and I yielded the
point in regard to Angélique," replied Cadet, refilling his pipe.
"I did not profess to fathom the depths of that girl, but I thought
you knew her. Egad! she has been too clever for you, Bigot! She
has aimed to be the Lady Intendant, and is in a fair way to succeed!
That girl has the spirit of a war-horse; she would carry any man
round the world. I wish she would carry me. I would rule
Versailles in six weeks, with that woman, Bigot!"
"The same thought has occurred to me, Cadet, and I might have been
entrapped by it had not this cursed affair happened. La Pompadour
is a simpleton beside Angélique des Meloises! My difficulty is to
believe her so mad as to have ventured on this bold deed."
"'Tis not the boldness, only the uselessness of it, would stop
Angélique!" answered Cadet, shutting one eye with an air of lazy
"But the deceitfulness of it, Cadet! A girl like her could not be
so gay last night with such a bloody purpose on her soul. Could
she, think you?"
"Couldn't she? Tut! Deceit is every woman's nature! Her wardrobe
is not complete unless it contains as many lies for her occasions as
ribbons for her adornment!"
"You believe she did it then? What makes you think so, Cadet?"
asked Bigot eagerly, drawing near his companion.
"Why, she and you are the only persons on earth who had an interest
in that girl's death. She to get a dangerous rival out of the way,--
you to hide her from the search-warrants sent out by La Pompadour.
You did not do it, I know: ergo, she did! Can any logic be plainer?
That is the reason I think so, Bigot."
"But how has it been accomplished, Cadet? Have you any theory? SHE
can not have done it with her own hand."
"Why, there is only one way that I can see. We know she did not
do the murder herself, therefore she has done it by the hand of
another. Here is proof of a confederate, Bigot,--I picked this up
in the secret chamber." Cadet drew out of his pocket the fragment
of the letter torn in pieces by La Corriveau. "Is this the
handwriting of Angélique?" asked he.
Bigot seized the scrap of paper, read it, turned it over and
scrutinized it, striving to find resemblances between the writing
and that of every one known to him. His scrutiny was in vain.
"This writing is not Angélique's," said he. "It is utterly unknown
to me. It is a woman's hand, but certainly not the hand of any
woman of my acquaintance, and I have letters and billets from almost
every lady in Quebec. It is proof of a confederate, however, for
listen, Cadet! It arranges for an interview with Caroline, poor
girl! It was thus she was betrayed to her death. It is torn, but
enough remains to make the sense clear,--listen: 'At the arched door
about midnight--if she pleased to admit her she would learn
important matters concerning herself--the Intendant and the Baron de
St. Castin--speedily arrive in the Colony.' That throws light upon
the mystery, Cadet! A woman was to have an interview with Caroline
at midnight! Good God, Cadet! not two hours before we arrived! And
we deferred starting in order that we might rook the Signeur de Port
Neuf! Too late! too late! Oh cursed word that ever seals our fate
when we propose a good deed!" and Bigot felt himself a man injured
and neglected by Providence.
"'Important matters relating to herself,'" repeated Bigot, reading
again the scrap of writing. "'The Intendant and the Baron de St.
Castin--speedily to arrive in the Colony.' No one knew but the
sworn Councillors of the Governor that the Baron de St. Castin was
coming out to the Colony. A woman has done the deed, and she has
been informed of secrets spoken in Council by some Councillor
present on that day at the Castle. Who was he? and who was she?"
questioned Bigot, excitedly.
"The argument runs like water down hill, Bigot! but, par Dieu! I
would not have believed that New France contained two women of such
mettle as the one to contrive, the other to execute, a masterpiece
of devilment like that!"
"Since we find another hand in the dish, it may not have been
Angélique after all," remarked Bigot. "It is hard to believe one so
fair and free-spoken guilty of so dark and damnable a crime." Bigot
would evidently be glad to find himself in error touching his
"Fairest without is often foulest within, Bigot," answered Cadet,
doggedly. "Open speech in a woman is often an open trap to catch
fools! Angélique des Meloises is free-spoken and open-handed enough
to deceive a conclave of cardinals; but she has the lightest heels
in the city. Would you not like to see her dance a ballet de
triomphe on the broad flagstone I laid over the grave of that poor
girl? If you would, you have only to marry her, and she will give a
ball in the secret chamber!"
"Be still, Cadet! I could take you by the throat for suggesting it!
But I will make her prove herself innocent!" exclaimed Bigot, angry
at the cool persistence of Cadet.
"I hope you will not try it to-day, Bigot." Cadet spoke gravely
now. "Let the dead sleep, and let all sleeping dogs and bitches
lie still. Zounds! we are in greater danger than she is! you cannot
stir in this matter without putting yourself in her power. Angélique
has got hold of the secret of Caroline and of the Baron de St.
Castin; what if she clear herself by accusing you? The King would
put you in the Bastile for the magnificent lie you told the
Governor, and La Pompadour would send you to the Place de Grève when
the Baron de St. Castin returned with the bones of his daughter, dug
up in your Château!"
"It is a cursed dilemma!" Bigot fairly writhed with perplexity.
"Dark as the bottomless pit, turn which way we will. Angélique
knows too much, that is clear; it were a charity, if it were a safe
thing, to kill her too, Cadet!"
"Not to be thought of, Bigot; she is too much in every man's eye,
and cannot be stowed away in a secret corner like her poor victim.
A dead silence on every point of this cursed business is our only
policy, our only safety." Cadet had plenty of common sense in the
rough, and Bigot was able to appreciate it.
The Intendant strode up and down the room, clenching his hands in a
fury. "If I were sure! sure! she did it, I would kill her, by God!
such a damnable cruel deed as this would justify any measure of
vengeance!" exclaimed he, savagely.
"Pshaw! not when it would all rebound upon yourself. Besides, if
you want vengeance, take a man's revenge upon a woman; you can do
that! It will be better than killing her, much more pleasant, and
quite as effectual."
Bigot looked as Cadet said this and laughed: "You would send her
to the Parc aux cerfs, eh, Cadet? Par Dieu! she would sit on the
throne in six months!"
"No, I do not mean the Parc aux cerfs, but the Château of
Beaumanoir. But you are in too ill humor to joke to-day, Bigot."
Cadet resumed his pipe with an air of nonchalance.
"I never was in a worse humor in my life, Cadet! I feel that I have
a padlock upon every one of my five senses; and I cannot move hand
or foot in this business."
"Right, Bigot, do not move hand or foot, eye or tongue, in it. I
tell you the slightest whisper of Caroline's life or death in your
house, reaching the ears of Philibert or La Corne St. Luc, will
bring them to Beaumanoir with warrants to search for her. They will
pick the Château to pieces stone by stone. They will drag Caroline
out of her grave, and the whole country will swear you murdered her,
and that I helped you, and with appearances so strong against us
that the mothers who bore us would not believe in our innocence!
Damn the women! The burying of that girl was the best deed I did
for one of the sex in my life, but it will be the worst if you
breath one word of it to Angélique des Meloises, or to any other
person living. I am not ready to lose my head yet, Bigot, for the
sake of any woman, or even for you!"
The Intendant was staggered by the vehemence of Cadet, and impressed
by the force of his remarks. It was hard to sit down quietly and
condone such a crime, but he saw clearly the danger of pushing
inquiry in any direction without turning suspicion upon himself. He
boiled with indignation. He fumed and swore worse than his wont
when angry, but Cadet looked on quietly, smoking his pipe, waiting
for the storm to calm down.
"You were never in a woman's clutches so tight before, Bigot,"
continued Cadet. "If you let La Pompadour suspect one hair of your
head in this matter, she will spin a cart-rope out of it that will
drag you to the Place de Grève."
"Reason tells me that what you say is true, Cadet," replied Bigot,
"To be sure; but is not Angélique a clever witch to bind François
Bigot neck and heels in that way, after fairly outwitting and
running him down?"
Cadet's cool comments drove Bigot beside himself. "I will not stand
it; by St. Maur! she shall pay for all this! I, who have caught
women all my life, to be caught by one thus! she shall pay for it!"
"Well, make her pay for it by marrying her!" replied Cadet. "Par
Dieu! I am mistaken if you have not got to marry her in the end! I
would marry her myself, if you do not, only I should be afraid to
sleep nights! I might be put under the floor before morning if she
liked another man better!"
Cadet gave way to a feeling of hilarity at this idea, shaking his
sides so long and heartily that Bigot caught the infection, and
joined in with a burst of sardonic laughter.
Bigot's laughter was soon over. He sat down at the table again,
and, being now calm, considered the whole matter over, point by
point, with Cadet, who, though coarse and unprincipled, was a shrewd
counsellor in difficulties.
It was determined between the two men that nothing whatever should
be said of the assassination. Bigot should continue his gallantries
to Angélique, and avoid all show of suspicion in that quarter. He
should tell her of the disappearance of Caroline, who had gone away
mysteriously as she came, but profess absolute ignorance as to her
Angélique would be equally cautious in alluding to the murder; she
would pretend to accept all his statements as absolute fact. Her
tongue, if not her thoughts, would be sealed up in perpetual silence
on that bloody topic. Bigot must feed her with hopes of marriage,
and if necessary set a day for it, far enough off to cover all the
time to be taken up in the search after Caroline.
"I will never marry her, Cadet!" exclaimed Bigot, "but will make her
regret all her life she did not marry me!"
"Take care, Bigot! It is dangerous playing with fire. You don't
half know Angélique."
"I mean she shall pull the chestnuts out of the fire for me with her
pretty fingers, until she burn them," remarked Bigot, gruffly.
"I would not trust her too far! In all seriousness, you have but
the choice of two things, Bigot: marry her or send her to the
"I would not do the one, and I could not do the other, Cadet," was
Bigot's prompt reply to this suggestion.
"Tut! Mère Migeon de la Nativité will respect your lettre de
cachet, and provide a close, comfortable cell for this pretty
penitent in the Ursulines," said Cadet.
"Not she! Mère Migeon gave me one of her parlor-lectures once, and
I care not for another. Egad, Cadet! she made me the nearest of
being ashamed of François Bigot of any one I ever listened to!
Could you have seen her, with her veil thrown back, her pale face
still paler with indignation, her black eyes looking still blacker
beneath the white fillet upon her forehead, and then her tongue,
Cadet! Well, I withdrew my proposal and felt myself rather
cheapened in the presence of Mère Migeon."
"Ay, I hear she is a clipper when she gets a sinner by the hair!
What was the proposal you made to her, Bigot?" asked Cadet, smiling
as if he knew.
"Oh, it was not worth a livre to make such a row about! I only
proposed to send a truant damsel to the Convent to repent of MY
faults, that was all! But I could never dispose of Angélique in
that way," continued the Intendant, with a shrug.
"Egad! she will fool any man faster than he can make a fool of her!
But I would try Mère Migeon, notwithstanding," replied Cadet. "She
is the only one to break in this wild filly and nail her tongue fast
to her prayers!"
"It is useless trying. They know Angélique too well. She would
turn the Convent out of the windows in the time of a neuvaine. They
are all really afraid of her," replied Bigot.
"Then you must marry her, or do worse, Bigot. I see nothing else
for it," was Cadet's reply.
"Well, I will do worse, if worse can be; for marry her I will not!"
said Bigot, stamping his foot upon the floor.
"It is understood, then, Bigot, not a word, a hint, a look is to be
given to Angélique regarding your suspicions of her complicity in
"Yes, it is understood. The secret is like the devil's tontine,--he
catches the last possessor of it."
"I expect to be the last, then, if I keep in your company, Bigot,"
Cadet having settled this point to his mind, reclined back in his
easy chair and smoked on in silence, while the Intendant kept
walking the floor anxiously, because he saw farther than his
companion the shadows of coming events.
Sometimes he stopped impatiently at the window, beating a tattoo
with his nails on the polished casement as he gazed out upon the
beautiful parterres of autumnal flowers, beginning to shed their
petals around the gardens of the Palace. He looked at them without
seeing them. All that caught his eye was a bare rose-bush, from
which he remembered he had plucked some white roses which he had
sent to Caroline to adorn her oratory; and he thought of her face,
more pale and delicate than any rose of Provence that ever bloomed.
His thoughts ran violently in two parallel streams side by side,
neither of them disappearing for a moment amid the crowd of other
affairs that pressed upon his attention,--the murder of Caroline and
the perquisition that was to be made for her in all quarters of the
Colony. His own safety was too deeply involved in any discovery
that might be made respecting her to allow him to drop the subject
out of his thought for a moment.
By imposing absolute silence upon himself in the presence of
Angélique, touching the death of Caroline, he might impose a like
silence upon her whom he could not acquit of the suspicion of having
prompted the murder. But the certainty that there was a confederate
in the deed--a woman, too, judging by the fragment of writing picked
up by Cadet--tormented him with endless conjectures.
Still, he felt, for the present, secure from any discovery on that
side; but how to escape from the sharp inquisition of two men like
La Corne St. Luc and Pierre Philibert? And who knew how far the
secret of Beaumanoir was a secret any longer? It was known to two
women, at any rate; and no woman, in Bigot's estimation of the sex,
would long keep a secret which concerned another and not herself.
"Our greatest danger, Cadet, lies there!" continued the Intendant,
stopping in his walk and turning suddenly to his friend. "La Corne
St. Luc and Pierre Philibert are commissioned by the Governor to
search for that girl. They will not leave a stone unturned, a
corner unransacked in New France. They will find out through the
Hurons and my own servants that a woman has been concealed in
Beaumanoir. They will suspect, if they do not discover who she was.
They will not find her on earth,--they will look for her under the
earth. And, by St. Maur! it makes me quake to think of it, Cadet,
for the discovery will be utter ruin! They may at last dig up her
murdered remains in my own Château! As you said, the Bastile and
the Place de Grève would be my portion, and ruin yours and that of
all our associates."
Cadet held up his pipe as if appealing to Heaven. "It is a cursed
reward for our charitable night's work, Bigot," said he. "Better
you had never lied about the girl. We could have brazened it out or
fought it out with the Baron de St. Castin or any man in France!
That lie will convict us if found out!"
"Pshaw! the lie was a necessity," answered Bigot, impatiently." But
who could have dreamed of its leading us such a dance as it has
done! Par Dieu! I have not often lied except to women, and such
lies do not count! But I had better have stuck to truth in this
matter, Cadet. I acknowledge that now."
"Especially with La Pompadour! She is a woman. It is dangerous to
lie to her,--at least about other women."
"Well, Cadet, it is useless blessing the Pope or banning the Devil!
We are in for it, and we must meet La Corne St. Luc and Pierre
Philibert as warily as we can. I have been thinking of making safe
ground for us to stand upon, as the trappers do on the great
prairies, by kindling a fire in front to escape from the fire in
"What is that, Bigot? I could fire the Château rather than be
tracked out by La Corne and Philibert," said Cadet, sitting upright
in his chair.
"What, burn the Château!" answered Bigot. "You are mad, Cadet! No;
but it were well to kindle such a smoke about the eyes of La Corne
and Philibert that they will need to rub them to ease their own pain
instead of looking for poor Caroline."
"How, Bigot? Will you challenge and fight them? That will not
avert suspicion, but increase it," remarked Cadet.
"Well, you will see! A man will need as many eyes as Argus to
discover our hands in this business."
Cadet started, without conjecturing what the Intendant contemplated.
"You will kill the bird that tells tales on us, Bigot,--is that it?"
"I mean to kill two birds with one stone, Cadet! Hark you; I will
tell you a scheme that will put a stop to these perquisitions by La
Corne and Philibert--the only two men I fear in the Colony--and at
the same time deliver me from the everlasting bark and bite of the
Bigot led Cadet to the window, and poured in his ear the burning
passions which were fermenting in his own breast. He propounded a
scheme of deliverance for himself and of crafty vengeance upon the
Philiberts which would turn the thoughts of every one away from the
Château of Beaumanoir and the missing Caroline into a new stream of
public and private troubles, amid the confusion of which he would
escape, and his present dangers be overlooked and forgotten in a
great catastrophe that might upset the Colony, but at any rate it
would free Bigot from his embarrassments and perhaps inaugurate a
new reign of public plunder and the suppression of the whole party
of the Honnêtes Gens.
"I WILL FEED FAT THE ANCIENT GRUDGE I BEAR HIM."
The Treaty of Aix La Chapelle, so long tossed about on the waves of
war, was finally signed in the beginning of October. A swift-
sailing goelette of Dieppe brought the tidings to New France, and in
the early nights of November, from Quebec to Montreal. Bonfires on
every headland blazed over the broad river; churches were decorated
with evergreens, and Te Deums sung in gratitude for the return of
peace and security to the Colony.
New France came out of the struggle scathed and scorched as by fire,
but unshorn of territory or territorial rights; and the glad
colonists forgot and forgave the terrible sacrifices they had made
in the universal joy that their country, their religion, language,
and laws were still safe under the Crown of France, with the white
banner still floating over the Castle of St. Louis.
On the day after the arrival of the Dieppe goelette bringing the
news of peace, Bigot sat before his desk reading his despatches and
letters from France, when the Chevalier de Pean entered the room
with a bundle of papers in his hand, brought to the Palace by the
chief clerk of the Bourgeois Philibert, for the Intendant's
The Bourgeois, in the course of his great commercial dealings, got
possession of innumerable orders upon the royal treasury, which in
due course had to be presented to the Intendant for his official
signature. The signing of these treasury orders in favor of the
Bourgeois never failed to throw Bigot into a fit of ill humor.
On the present occasion he sat down muttering ten thousand curses
upon the Bourgeois, as he glanced over the papers with knitted
eyebrows and teeth set hard together. He signed the mass of orders
and drafts made payable to Nicolas Philibert, and when done, threw
into the fire the pen which had performed so unwelcome an office.
Bigot sent for the chief clerk who had brought the bills and orders,
and who waited for them in the antechamber. "Tell your master, the
Bourgeois," said he, "that for this time, and only to prevent loss
to the foolish officers, the Intendant has signed these army bills;
but that if he purchase more, in defiance of the sole right of the
Grand Company, I shall not sign them. This shall be the last time,
The chief clerk, a sturdy, gray-haired Malouin, was nothing daunted
by the angry look of the Intendant. "I shall inform the Bourgeois
of your Excellency's wishes," said he, "and--"
"Inform him of my commands!" exclaimed Bigot, sharply. "What! have
you more to say? But you would not be the chief clerk of the
Bourgeois without possessing a good stock of his insolence!"
"Pardon me, your Excellency!" replied the chief clerk, "I was only
going to observe that His Excellency the Governor and the Commander
of the Forces both have decided that the officers may transfer their
warrants to whomsoever they will."
"You are a bold fellow, with your Breton speech; but by all the
saints in Saintonge, I will see whether the Royal Intendant or the
Bourgeois Philibert shall control this matter! And as for you--"
"Tut! cave canem! let this cur go back to his master," interrupted
Cadet, amused at the coolness of the chief clerk. "Hark you,
fellow!" said he, "present my compliments--the Sieur Cadet's
compliments--to your master, and tell him I hope he will bring his
next batch of army bills himself, and remind him that it is soft
falling at low tide out of the windows of the Friponne."
"I shall certainly advise my master not to come himself, Sieur
Cadet," replied the chief clerk; "and I am very certain of returning
in three days with more army bills for the signature of his
Excellency the Intendant."
"Get out, you fool!" shouted Cadet, laughing at what he regarded the
insolence of the clerk. "You are worthy of your master!" And Cadet
pushed him forcibly out of the door, and shut it after him with a
bang that resounded through the Palace.
"Don't be angry at him, Bigot, he is not worth it," said Cadet.
"'Like master like man,' as the proverb says. And, after all, I
doubt whether the furred law-cats of the Parliament of Paris would
not uphold the Bourgeois in an appeal to them from the Golden Dog."
Bigot was excessively irritated, for he was lawyer enough to know
that Cadet's fear was well founded. He walked up and down his
cabinet, venting curses upon the heads of the whole party of the
Honnêtes Gens, the Governor and Commander of the Forces included.
The Marquise de Pompadour, too, came in for a full share of his
maledictions, for Bigot knew that she had forced the signing of the
treaty of Aix la Chapelle,--influenced less by the exhaustion of
France than by a feminine dislike to camp life, which she had shared
with the King, and a resolution to withdraw him back to the gaieties
of the capital, where he would be wholly under her own eye and
"She prefers love to honor, as all women do!" remarked Bigot; "and
likes money better than either." The Grand Company pays the fiddler
for the royal fêtes at Versailles, while the Bourgeois Philibert
skims the cream off the trade of the Colony. This peace will
increase his power and make his influence double what it is
"Egad, Bigot!" replied Cadet, who sat near him smoking a large pipe
of tobacco, "you speak like a preacher in Lent. We have hitherto
buttered our bread on both sides, but the Company will soon, I fear,
have no bread to butter! I doubt we shall have to eat your decrees,
which will be the only things left in the possession of the
"My decrees have been hard to digest for some people who think they
will now eat us. Look at that pile of orders, Cadet, in favor of
the Golden Dog!"
The Intendant had long regarded with indignation the ever increasing
trade and influence of the Bourgeois Philibert, who had become the
great banker as well as the great merchant of the Colony, able to
meet the Grand Company itself upon its own ground, and fairly divide
with it the interior as well as the exterior commerce of the Colony.
"Where is this thing going to end?" exclaimed Bigot, sweeping from
him the pile of bills of exchange that lay upon the table. "That
Philibert is gaining ground upon us every day! He is now buying up
army bills, and even the King's officers are flocking to him with
their certificates of pay and drafts on France, which he cashes at
half the discount charged by the Company!"
"Give the cursed papers to the clerk and send him off, De Pean!"
De Pean obeyed with a grimace, and returned.
"This thing must be stopped, and shall!" continued the Intendant,
"That is true, your Excellency," said De Pean. "And we have tried
vigorously to stop the evil, but so far in vain. The Governor and
the Honnêtes Gens, and too many of the officers themselves,
countenance his opposition to the Company. The Bourgeois draws a
good bill upon Paris and Bordeaux, and they are fast finding it
"The Golden Dog is drawing half the money of the Colony into his
coffers, and he will blow up the credit of the Friponne some fine
day when we least expect it, unless he be chained up," replied
"'A méchant chien court lien,' says the proverb, and so say I,"
replied Cadet. "The Golden Dog has barked at us for a long time;
par Dieu! he bites now!--ere long he will gnaw our bones in reality,
as he does in effigy upon that cursed tablet in the Rue Buade."
"Every dog has his day, and the Golden Dog has nearly had his,
Cadet. But what do you advise?" asked Bigot.
"Hang him up with a short rope and a shorter shrift, Bigot! You
have warrant enough if your Court friends are worth half a handful
"But they are not worth half a handful of chaff, Cadet. If I hung
the Bourgeois there would be such a cry raised among the Honnêtes
Gens in the Colony, and the whole tribe of Jansenists in France,
that I doubt whether even the power of the Marquise could sustain
Cadet looked quietly truculent. He drew Bigot aside. "There are
more ways than one to choke a dog, Bigot," said he. "You may put a
tight collar outside his throat, or a sweetened roll inside of it.
Some course must be found, and that promptly. We shall, before many
days, have La Corne St. Luc and young Philibert like a couple of
staghounds in full cry at our heels about that business at the
Château. They must be thrown off that scent, come what will,
The pressure of time and circumstance was drawing a narrower circle
around the Intendant. The advent of peace would, he believed,
inaugurate a personal war against himself. The murder of Caroline
was a hard blow, and the necessity of concealing it irritated him
with a sense of fear foreign to his character.
His suspicion of Angélique tormented him day and night. He had
loved Angélique in a sensual, admiring way, without one grain of
real respect. He worshipped her one moment as the Aphrodite of his
fancy; he was ready to strip and scourge her the next as the
possible murderess of Caroline. But Bigot had fettered himself with
a lie, and had to hide his thoughts under degrading concealments.
He knew the Marquise de Pompadour was jealously watching him from
afar. The sharpest intellects and most untiring men in the Colony
were commissioned to find out the truth regarding the fate of
Caroline. Bigot was like a stag brought to bay. An ordinary man
would have succumbed in despair, but the very desperation of his
position stirred up the Intendant to a greater effort to free
He walked gloomily up and down the room, absorbed in deep thought.
Cadet, who guessed what was brooding in his mind, made a sign to De
Pean to wait and see what would be the result of his cogitations.
Bigot, gesticulating with his right hand and his left, went on
balancing, as in a pair of scales, the chances of success or failure
in the blow he meditated against the Golden Dog. A blow which would
scatter to the winds the inquisition set on foot to discover the
hiding-place of Caroline.
He stopped suddenly in his walk, striking both hands together, as if
in sign of some resolution arrived at in his thoughts.
"De Pean!" said he, "has Le Gardeur de Repentigny shown any desire
yet to break out of the Palace?"
"None, your Excellency. He is fixed as a bridge to fortune. You
can no more break him down than the Pont Neuf at Paris. He lost,
last night, a thousand at cards and five hundred at dice; then drank
himself dead drunk until three o'clock this afternoon. He has just
risen; his valet was washing his head and feet in brandy when I came
"You are a friend that sticks closer than a brother, De Pean. Le
Gardeur believes in you as his guardian angel, does he not?" asked
Bigot with a sneer.
"When he is drunk he does," replied De Pean; "when he is sober I
care not to approach him too nearly! He is a wild colt that will
kick his groom when rubbed the wrong way; and every way is wrong
when the wine is out of him."
"Keep him full then!" exclaimed Bigot; "you have groomed him well,
De Pean! but he must now be saddled and ridden to hunt down the
biggest stag in New France!"
De Pean looked hard at the Intendant, only half comprehending his
"You once tried your hand with Mademoiselle de Repentigny, did you
not?" continued Bigot.
"I did, your Excellency; but that bunch of grapes was too high for
me. They are very sour now."
"Sly fox that you were! Well, do not call them sour yet, De Pean.
Another jump at the vine and you may reach that bunch of perfection!"
said Bigot, looking hard at him.
"Your Excellency overrates my ability in that quarter, and if I were
permitted to choose--"
"Another and a fairer maid would be your choice. I see, De Pean,
you are a connoisseur in women. Be it as you wish! Manage this
business of Philibert discreetly, and I will coin the Golden Dog
into doubloons for a marriage portion for Angélique des Meloises.
You understand me now?"
De Pean started. He hardly guessed yet what was required of him,
but he cared not in the dazzling prospect of such a wife and fortune
as were thus held out to him.
"Your Excellency will really support my suit with Angélique?" De
Pean seemed to mistrust the possibility of such a piece of
disinterestedness on the part of the Intendant.
"I will not only commend your suit, but I will give away the bride,
and Madame de Pean shall not miss any favor from me which she has
deserved as Angélique des Meloises," was Bigot's reply, without
changing a muscle of his face.
"And your Excellency will give her to me?" De Pean could hardly
believe his ears.
"Assuredly you shall have her if you like," cried Bigot, "and with a
dowry such as has not been seen in New France!"
"But who would like to have her at any price?" muttered Cadet to
himself, with a quiet smile of contempt,--Cadet thought De Pean a
fool for jumping at a hook baited with a woman; but he knew what the
Intendant was driving at, and admired the skill with which he angled
for De Pean.
"But Angélique may not consent to this disposal of her hand,"
replied De Pean with an uneasy look; "I should be afraid of your
gift unless she believed that she took me, and not I her."
"Hark you, De Pean! you do not know what women like her are made of,
or you would be at no loss how to bait your hook! You have made
four millions, they say, out of this war, if not more."
"I never counted it, your Excellency; but, much or little, I owe it
all to your friendship," replied De Pean with a touch of mock
"My friendship! Well, so be it. It is enough to make Angélique des
Meloises Madame de Pean when she finds she cannot be Madame
Intendant. Do you see your way now, De Pean?"
"Yes, your Excellency, and I cannot be sufficiently grateful for
such a proof of your goodness."
Bigot laughed a dry, meaning laugh. "I truly hope you will always
think so of my friendship, De Pean. If you do not, you are not the
man I take you to be. Now for our scheme of deliverance!
"Hearken, De Pean," continued the Intendant, fixing his dark, fiery
eyes upon his secretary; "you have craft and cunning to work out
this design and good will to hasten it on. Cadet and I, considering
the necessities of the Grand Company, have resolved to put an end to
the rivalry and arrogance of the Golden Dog. We will treat the
Bourgeois," Bigot smiled meaningly, "not as a trader with a baton,
but as a gentleman with a sword; for, although a merchant, the
Bourgeois is noble and wears a sword, which under proper provocation
he will draw, and remember he can use it too! He can be tolerated
no longer by the gentlemen of the Company. They have often pressed
me in vain to take this step, but now I yield. Hark, De Pean! The
Bourgeois must be INSULTED, CHALLENGED, and KILLED by some gentleman
of the Company with courage and skill enough to champion its rights.
But mind you! it must be done fairly and in open day, and without my
knowledge or approval! Do you understand?"
Bigot winked at De Pean and smiled furtively, as much as to say,
"You know how to interpret my words."
"I understand your Excellency, and it shall be no fault of mine if
your wishes, which chime with my own, be not carried out before many
days. A dozen partners of the Company will be proud to fight with
the Bourgeois if he will only fight with them."
"No fear of that, De Pean! give the devil his due. Insult the
Bourgeois and he will fight with the seven champions of Christendom!
so mind you get a man able for him, for I tell you, De Pean, I doubt
if there be over three gentlemen in the Colony who could cross
swords fairly and successfully with the Bourgeois."
"It will be easier to insult and kill him in a chance medley than
to risk a duel!" interrupted Cadet, who listened with intense
eagerness. "I tell you, Bigot, young Philibert will pink any man of
our party. If there be a duel he will insist on fighting it for his
father. The old Bourgeois will not be caught, but we shall catch a
Tartar instead, in the young one."
"Well, duel or chance medley be it! I dare not have him
assassinated," replied the Intendant. "He must be fought with in
open day, and not killed in a corner. Eh, Cadet, am I not right?"
Bigot looked for approval from Cadet, who saw that he was thinking
of the secret chamber at Beaumanoir.
"You are right, Bigot! He must be killed in open day and not in a
corner. But who have we among us capable of making sure work of the
"Leave it to me," replied De Pean. "I know one partner of the
Company who, if I can get him in harness, will run our chariot
wheels in triumph over the Golden Dog."
"And who is that?" asked Bigot eagerly.
"Le Gardeur de Repentigny!" exclaimed De Pean, with a look of
"Pshaw! he would draw upon us more readily! Why, he is bewitched
with the Philiberts!" replied Bigot.
"I shall find means to break the spell long enough to answer our
purpose, your Excellency!" replied De Pean. "Permit me only to take
my own way with him."
"Assuredly, take your own way, De Pean! A bloody scuffle between De
Repentigny and the Bourgeois would not only be a victory for the
Company, but would breakup the whole party of the Honnêtes Gens!"
The Intendant slapped De Pean on the shoulder and shook him by the
hand. "You are more clever than I believed you to be, De Pean. You
have hit on a mode of riddance which will entitle you to the best