Part 13 out of 13
At his own reiterated command, he was given over to the hands of
some soldiers and led off, followed by a great crowd of people, to
the main guard of the Castle of St. Louis, where he was left a
prisoner, while another portion of the multitude gathered about the
scene of the tragedy, surrounded the body of the Bourgeois, which
was lifted off the ground and borne aloft on men's shoulders,
followed by wild cries and lamentations to the House of the Golden
Dog,--the house which he had left but half an hour before, full of
life, vigor and humanity, looking before and after as a strong man
looks who has done his duty, and who feels still able to take the
world upon his shoulders and carry it, if need were.
The sad procession moved slowly on amid the pressing, agitated
crowd, which asked and answered a hundred eager questions in a
breath. The two poor Recollet brothers, Daniel and Ambrose, walked
side by side before the bleeding corpse of their friend, and stifled
their emotions by singing, in a broken voice that few heard but
themselves, the words of the solitary hymn of St. Francis d'Assisi,
the founder of their order:
"Praised be the Lord, by our sweet sister Death,
From whom no man escapes, howe'er he try!
Woe to all those who yield their parting breath
In mortal sin! But blessed those who die
Doing thy will in that decisive hour!
The second death o'er such shall have no power.
Praise, blessing, and thanksgiving to my Lord!
For all He gives and takes be He adored!"
Dame Rochelle heard the approaching noise and tumult. She looked
out of the window and could see the edge of the crowd in the market-
place tossing to and fro like breakers upon a rocky shore. The
people in the streets were hurrying towards the market. Swarms of
men employed in the magazines of the Bourgeois were running out of
the edifice towards the same spot.
The dame divined at once that something had happened to her master.
She uttered a fervent prayer for his safety. The noise grew
greater, and as she reached out of the window to demand of passers-
by what was the matter, a voice shouted up that the Bourgeois was
dead; that he had been killed by the Grand Company, and they were
bringing him home.
The voice passed on, and no one but God heeded the long wail of
grief that rose from the good dame as she fell upon her knees in
the doorway, unable to proceed further. She preserved her
The crowd now swarmed in the streets about the doors of the house.
Presently were heard the shuffling steps of a number of men in the
great hall, bearing the body of the Bourgeois into the large room
where the sunshine was playing so gloriously.
The crowd, impelled by a feeling of reverence, stood back; only a
few ventured to come into the house.
The rough habitans who brought him in laid him upon a couch and
gazed for some moments in silent awe upon the noble features, so
pale and placid, which now lay motionless before them.
Here was a man fit to rule an empire, and who did rule the half of
New France, who was no more now, save in the love and gratitude of
the people, than the poorest piece of human clay in the potter's
field. The great leveller had passed his rule over him as he passes
it over every one of us. The dead lion was less now than the living
dog, and the Golden Dog itself was henceforth only a memory, and an
epitaph forever of the tragedy of this eventful day.
"Oh, my master! my good, noble master!" exclaimed Dame Rochelle as
she roused herself up and rushed to the chamber of the dead. "Your
implacable enemies have killed you at last! I knew it! Oh, I knew
that your precious life would one day pay the penalty of your truth
and justice! And Pierre! Oh, where is he on this day of all days
of grief and sorrow?"
She wrung her hands at the thought of Pierre's absence to-day, and
what a welcome home awaited him.
The noise and tumult in the street continued to increase. The
friends of the Bourgeois poured into the house, among them the
Governor and La Corne St. Luc, who came with anxious looks and
hasty steps to inquire into the details of the murder.
The Governor, after a short consultation with La Corne St. Luc, who
happened to be at the Castle, fearing a riot and an attack upon the
magazines of the Grand Company, ordered the troops immediately under
arms and despatched strong detachments under the command of careful
and trusty officers to the Palace of the Intendant, and the great
warehouse of the Friponne, and also into the market-place, and to
the residence of the Lady de Tilly, not knowing in what direction
the fury of the populace might direct itself.
The orders were carried out in a few minutes without noise or
confusion. The Count, with La Corne St. Luc, whose countenance bore
a concentration of sorrow and anger wonderful to see, hastened down
to the house of mourning. Claude Beauharnais and Rigaud de
Vaudreuil followed hastily after them. They pushed through the
crowd that filled the Rue Buade, and the people took off their hats,
while the air resounded with denunciations of the Friponne and
appeals for vengeance upon the assassin of the Bourgeois.
The Governor and his companions were moved to tears at the sight of
their murdered friend lying in his bloody vesture, which was open to
enable the worthy Dr. Gauthier, who had run in all haste, to examine
the still oozing wound. The Recollet Brother Daniel still knelt in
silent prayer at his feet, while Dame Rochelle with trembling hands
arranged the drapery decently over her dead master, repeating to
"It is the end of trouble, and God has mercifully taken him away
before he empties the vials of his wrath upon this New France, and
gives it up for a possession to our enemies! What says the prophet?
'The righteous perisheth and no man layeth it to heart, and merciful
men are taken away, none considering that the righteous are taken
away from the evil to come!'"
The very heart of La Corne St. Luc seemed bursting in his bosom, and
he choked with agony as he placed his hand upon the forehead of his
friend, and reflected that the good Bourgeois had fallen by the
sword of his godson, the old man's pride,--Le Gardeur de Repentigny!
"Had death come to him on the broad, common road of mortality,--had
he died like a soldier on the battlefield," exclaimed La Corne, "I
would have had no spite at fate. But to be stabbed in the midst of
his good deeds of alms, and by the hand of one whom he loved! Yes,
by God! I will say it! and by one who loved him! Oh, it is
terrible, Count! Terrible and shameful to me as if it had been
the deed of my own son!"
"La Corne, I feel with you the grief and shame of such a tragedy.
But there is a fearful mystery in this thing which we cannot yet
unravel. They say the Chevalier de Pean dropped an expression that
sounded like a plot. I cannot think Le Gardeur de Repentigny would
deliberately and with forethought have killed the Bourgeois."
"On my life he never would! He respected the Bourgeois, nay, loved
him, for the sake of Pierre Philibert as well as for his own sake.
Terrible as is his crime, he never committed it out of malice
aforethought. He has been himself the victim of some hellish plot,--
for a plot there has been. This has been no chance melee, Count,"
exclaimed La Corne St. Luc impetuously.
"It looks like a chance melee, but I suspect more than appears on
the surface," replied the Governor. "The removal of the Bourgeois
decapitates the party of the Honnêtes Gens, does it not?"
"Gospel is not more true! The Bourgeois was the only merchant in
New France capable of meeting their monopoly and fighting them with
their own weapons. Bigot and the Grand Company will have everything
their own way now."
"Besides, there was the old feud of the Golden Dog," continued the
Governor. "Bigot took its allusion to the Cardinal as a personal
insult to himself, did he not, La Corne?"
"Yes; and Bigot knew he deserved it equally with his Eminence, whose
arch-tool he had been," replied La Corne. "By God! I believe Bigot
has been at the bottom of this plot. It would be worthy of his
"These are points to be considered, La Corne. But such is the
secrecy of these men's councils, that I doubt we may suspect more
than we shall ever be able to prove." The Governor looked much
"What amazes me, Count, is not that the thing should be done, but
that Le Gardeur should have done it!" exclaimed La Corne, with a
"That is the strangest circumstance of all, La Corne," observed the
Governor. "The same thought has struck me. But he was mad with
wine, they say; and men who upset their reason do not seldom reverse
their conduct towards their friends; they are often cruelest to
those whom they love best."
"I will not believe but that he was made drunk purposely to commit
this crime!" exclaimed La Corne, striking his hand upon his thigh.
"Le Gardeur in his senses would have lost his right hand sooner than
have raised it against the Bourgeois."
"I feel sure of it; his friendship for Pierre Philibert, to whom he
owed his life, was something rarely seen now-a-days," remarked the
La Corne felt a relief in bearing testimony in favor of Le Gardeur.
"They loved one another like brothers," said he, "and more than
brothers. Bigot had corrupted the habits, but could never soil the
heart or lessen the love of Le Gardeur for Pierre Philibert, or his
respect for the Bourgeois, his father."
"It is a mystery, La Corne; I cannot fathom it. But there is one
more danger to guard against," said the Governor meditatively, "and
we have sorrow enough already among our friends."
"What is that, Count?" La Corne stood up erect as if in mental
defiance of a new danger.
"Pierre Philibert will return home to-night," replied the Governor;
"he carries the sharpest sword in New France. A duel between him
and Le Gardeur would crown the machinations of the secret plotters
in this murder. He will certainly avenge his father's death, even
upon Le Gardeur."
La Corne St. Luc started at this suggestion, but presently shook his
head. "My life upon it," said he, "Le Gardeur would stand up to
receive the sword of Pierre through his heart, but he would never
fight him! Besides, the unhappy boy is a prisoner."
"We will care well for him and keep him safe. He shall have
absolute justice, La Corne, but no favor."
An officer entered the room to report to the Governor that the
troops had reached their assigned posts, and that there was no
symptom of rioting among the people in any quarter of the city.
The Governor was greatly relieved by these tidings. "Now, La
Corne," said he, "we have done what is needful for the public. I
can spare you, for I know where your heart yearns most to go, to
offer the consolations of a true friend."
"Alas, yes," replied La Corne sadly. "Men weep tears of water, but
women tears of blood! What is our hardest grief compared with the
overwhelming sorrow and desolation that will pass over my poor
goddaughter, Amélie de Repentigny, and the noble Lady de Tilly at
this doleful news?"
"Go comfort them, La Corne, and the angel of consolation go with
you!" The Governor shook him by the hand and wished him Godspeed.
La Corne St. Luc instantly left the house. The crowd uncovered and
made way for him as they would have done for the Governor himself,
as with hasty strides he passed up the Rue du Fort and on towards
the Cape, where stood the mansion of the Lady de Tilly.
"Oh, Rigaud, what a day of sorrow this is!" exclaimed the Governor
to De Vaudreuil, on their return to the Castle of St. Louis. "What
a bloody and disgraceful event to record in the annals of New
"I would give half I have in the world could it be forever blotted
out," replied De Vaudreuil. "Your friend, Herr Kalm, has left us,
fortunately, before he could record in his book, for all Europe to
read, that men are murdered in New France to sate the vengeance of a
Royal Intendant and fill the purses of the greatest company of
thieves that ever plundered a nation."
"Hark, Rigaud! do not say such things," interrupted the Governor; "I
trust it is not so bad as that; but it shall be seen into, if I
remain Governor of New France. The blood of the noble Bourgeois
shall be requited at the hands of all concerned in his assassination.
The blame of it shall not rest wholly upon that unhappy Le Gardeur.
We will trace it up to its very origin and fountain-head."
"Right, Count; you are true as steel. But mark me! if you begin to
trace this assassination up to its origin and fountain-head, your
letters of recall will be despatched by the first ship that leaves
France after the news reaches Versailles." Rigaud looked fixedly at
the Count as he said this.
"It may be so, Rigaud," replied the Count, sadly; "strange things
take place under the régime of the strange women who now rule the
Court. Nevertheless, while I am here my whole duty shall be done.
In this matter justice shall be meted out with a firm and impartial
hand, no matter who shall be incriminated!"
The Count de la Galissonière at once summoned a number of his most
trusted and most sagacious councillors together--the Intendant was
not one of those summoned--to consider what steps it behooved them
to take to provide for the public safety and to ensure the ends of
justice in this lamentable tragedy.
EVIL NEWS RIDES POST.
The sunbeams never shone more golden through the casement of a
lady's bower than on that same morning of St. Martin's through the
window of the chamber of Amélie de Repentigny, as she sat in the
midst of a group of young ladies holding earnest council over the
dresses and adornments of herself and companions, who were to be her
bridesmaids on her marriage with Pierre Philibert.
Amélie had risen from pleasant dreams. The tender flush of
yesterday's walk on the banks of the Lairet lingered on her cheek
all night long, like the rosy tint of a midsummer's sunset. The
loving words of Pierre floated through her memory like a strain of
divine music, with the sweet accompaniment of her own modest
confessions of love, which she had so frankly expressed.
Amélie's chamber was vocal with gaiety and laughter; for with her
to-day were the chosen friends and lifelong companions who had ever
shared her love and confidence.
These were, Hortense Beauharnais, happy also in her recent betrothal
to Jumonville de Villiers; Héloise de Lotbinière, so tenderly
attached to Amélie, and whom of all her friends Amélie wanted most
to call by the name of sister; Agathe, the fair daughter of La Corne
St. Luc, so like her father in looks and spirit; and Amélie's
cousin, Marguerite de Repentigny, the reflection of herself in
feature and manners.
There was rich material in that chamber for the conversation of such
a group of happy girls. The bridal trousseau was spread out before
them, and upon chairs and couches lay dresses of marvellous fabric
and beauty,--muslins and shawls of India and Cashmere, and the
finest products of the looms of France and Holland. It was a
trousseau fit for a queen, and an evidence at once of the wealth of
the Lady de Tilly and of her unbounded love for her niece, Amélie.
The gifts of Pierre were not mingled with the rest, nor as yet had
they been shown to her bridesmaids,--Amélie kept them for a pretty
surprise upon another day.
Upon the table stood a golden casket of Venetian workmanship, the
carvings of which represented the marriage at Cana in Galilee. It
was stored with priceless jewels which dazzled the sight and
presented a constellation of starry gems, the like of which had
never been seen in the New World. It was the gift of the Bourgeois
Philibert, who gave this splendid token of his affection and utter
contentment with Amélie as the bride of his son and heir.
The girls were startled in the midst of their preparations by the
sudden dashing past of a horseman, who rode in a cloud of dust,
followed by a wild, strange cry, as of many people shouting together
in lamentation and anger.
Amélie and Héloise looked at each other with a strange feeling, but
sat still while the rest rushed to the balcony, where they leaned
eagerly over to catch sight of the passing horseman and discover the
meaning of the loud and still repeated cry.
The rider had disappeared round the angle of the Cape, but the cry
from the city waxed still louder, as if more and more voices joined
Presently men on horseback and on foot were seen hurrying towards
the Castle of St. Louis, and one or two shot up the long slope of
the Place d'Armes, galloping towards the mansion of the Lady de
Tilly, talking and gesticulating in the wildest manner.
"In God's name, what is the matter, Monsieur La Force?" exclaimed
Hortense as that gentleman rode furiously up and checked his horse
violently at the sight of the ladies upon the balcony.
Hortense repeated her question. La Force took off his hat and
looked up, puzzled and distressed. "Is the Lady de Tilly at home?"
inquired he eagerly.
"Not just now, she has gone out; but what is the matter, in heaven's
name?" repeated she, as another wild cry came up from the city.
"Is Mademoiselle Amélie home?" again asked La Force with agitated
"She is home. Heavens! have you some bad news to tell her or the
Lady de Tilly?" breathlessly inquired Hortense.
"Bad news for both of them; for all of us, Hortense. But I will not
be the bearer of such terrible tidings,--others are following me;
ask them. Oh, Hortense, prepare poor Amélie for the worst news that
ever came to her."
The Sieur La Force would not wait to be further questioned,--he rode
The bridesmaids all turned pale with affright at these ominous
words, and stood looking at each other and asking what they could
Amélie and Héloise caught some of the conversation between Hortense
and La Force. They sprang up and ran to the balcony just as two of
the servants of the house came rushing up with open mouths, staring
eyes, and trembling with excitement. They did not wait to be asked
what was the matter, but as soon as they saw the ladies they shouted
out the terrible news, as the manner of their kind is, without a
thought of the consequences: that Le Gardeur had just killed the
Bourgeois Philibert in the market-place, and was himself either
killed or a prisoner, and the people were going to burn the Friponne
and hang the Intendant under the tablet of the Golden Dog, and all
the city was going to be destroyed.
The servants, having communicated this piece of wild intelligence,
instantly rushed into the house and repeated it to the household,
filling the mansion in a few moments with shrieks and confusion.
It was in vain Hortense and Agathe La Corne St. Luc strove to
withhold the terrible truth from Amélie. Her friends endeavored
with kindly force and eager exhortations to prevent her coming to
the balcony, but she would not be stayed; in her excitement she had
the strength of one of God's angels. She had caught enough of the
speech of the servants to gather up its sense into a connected
whole, and in a moment of terrible enlightenment, that came like a
thunderbolt driven through her soul, she understood the whole
significance of their tidings.
Her hapless brother, maddened with disappointment, drink, and
desperation, had killed the father of Pierre, the father of her
betrothed husband, his own friend and hers; why or how, was a
mystery of amazement.
She saw at a glance all the ruin of it. Her brother a murderer, the
Bourgeois a bleeding corpse. Pierre, her lover and her pride,
lost,--lost to her forever! The blood of his father rising up
between them calling for vengeance upon Le Gardeur and invoking a
curse upon the whole house of Repentigny.
The heart of Amélie, but a few moments ago expanding with joy and
overflowing with the tenderest emotions of a loving bride, suddenly
collapsed and shrivelled like a leaf in the fire of this unlooked-
She stared wildly and imploringly in the countenances of her
trembling companions as if for help, but no human help could avail
her. She spake not, but uttering one long, agonizing scream, fell
senseless upon the bosom of Héloise de Lotbinière, who, herself nigh
fainting, bore Amélie with the assistance of her friends to a couch,
where she lay unconscious of the tears and wailing that surrounded
Marguerite de Repentigny with her weeping companions remained in the
chamber of Amélie, watching eagerly for some sign of returning
consciousness, and assiduously administering such restoratives as
were at hand.
Their patience and tenderness were at last rewarded,--Amélie gave a
flutter of reviving life. Her dark eyes opened and stared wildly
for a moment at her companions with a blank look, until they rested
upon the veil and orange blossoms on the head of Agathe, who had put
them on in such a merry mood and forgotten in the sudden catastrophe
to take them off again.
The sight of the bridal veil and wreath seemed to rouse Amélie to
consciousness. The terrible news of the murder of the Bourgeois
by Le Gardeur flashed upon her mind, and she pressed her burning
eyelids hard shut with her hands, as if not to see the hideous
Her companions wept, but Amélie found no relief in tears as she
murmured the name of the Bourgeois, Le Gardeur, and Pierre.
They spoke softly to her in tones of tenderest sympathy, but she
scarcely heeded them, absorbed as she was in deepest despair, and
still pressing her eyes shut as if she had done with day and cared
no more to see the bright sunshine that streamed through the
lattice. The past, present, and future of her whole life started up
before her in terrible distinctness, and seemed concentrated in one
present spot of mental anguish.
Amélie came of a heroic race, stern to endure pain as to inflict it,
capable of unshrinking fortitude and of desperate resolves. A few
moments of terrible contemplation decided her forever, changed the
whole current of her life, and overthrew as with an earthquake the
gorgeous palace of her maiden hopes and long-cherished anticipations
of love and happiness as the wife of Pierre Philibert.
She saw it all; there was no room for hope, no chance of averting
the fatal doom that had fallen upon her. Her life, as she had long
pictured it to her imagination, was done and ended. Her projected
marriage with Pierre Philibert? It was like sudden death! In one
moment the hand of God had transported her from the living to the
dead world of woman's love. A terrible crime had been perpetrated,
and she, innocent as she was, must bear the burden of punishment.
She had but one object now to live for: to put on sackcloth and
ashes, and wear her knees out in prayer before God, imploring
forgiveness and mercy upon her unhappy brother, and expiate the
righteous blood of the just man who had been slain by him.
She rose hastily and stood up. Her face was beautiful as the face
of a marble Niobe, but as pale and as full of anguish.
"My loving bridesmaids," said she, "it is now all over with poor
Amélie de Repentigny; tell Pierre," and here she sobbed, almost
choking in her grief, "tell Pierre not to hate me for this blood
that lies on the threshold of our house! Tell him how truly and
faithfully I was preparing to devote myself to his happiness as his
bride and wife; tell him how I loved him, and I only forsake him
because it is the inexorable decree of my sad fate; not my will, but
my cruel misfortune. But I know his noble nature; he will pity, not
hate me. Tell him it will even rejoice me where I am going to know
that Pierre Philibert still loves me. I cannot, dare not ask him to
pardon Le Gardeur! I dare not pardon him myself! But I know Pierre
will be just and merciful to my poor brother, even in this hour of
"And now," continued she, speaking with a terrible energy, "put away
these bridal deceits; they will never be worn by me! I have a garb
more becoming the bridal of death; more fitting to wear by the
sister of--O God! I was going to say, of a murderer!"
Amélie, with a wild desperation, gathered up the gay robes and
garlands and threw them in a heap in the corner of the chamber. "My
glory is departed!" said she. "Oh, Hortense, I am punished for the
pride I took in them! Yet it was not for myself, but for the sake
of him, I took pride in them! Bestow them, I pray you, upon some
more happy girl, who is poor in fortune, but rich in love, who will
wear them at her bridal, instead of the unhappy Amélie."
The group of girls beheld her, while their eyes were swimming with
tears. "I have long, long kept a bridal veil in my closet," she
went on, "and knew not it was to be mine!" Opening a wardrobe, she
took out a long black veil. It had belonged to her grandaunt, the
nun, Madelaine de Repentigny, and was kept as an heirloom in her
"This," said she, "shall be mine till death! Embrace me, O my
sisters, my bridesmaids and companions. I go now to the Ursulines
to kneel at the door and crave admittance to pass a life of
penitence for Le Gardeur, and of prayer for my beloved Pierre."
"O Amélie, think what you do!" exclaimed Hortense Beauharnais; "be
not hasty, take not a step that cannot be recalled. It will kill
"Alas! I have killed him already!" said she; "but my mind is made
up! Dear Hortense, I love Pierre, but oh, I could never look at his
face again without shame that would burn like guilt. I give myself
henceforth to Christ, not for my own sake, but for his, and for my
unhappy brother's! Do not hinder me, dear friends, and do not
follow me! May you all be happy in your happiness, and pray for
poor Amélie, whom fate has stricken so hard and so cruelly in the
very moment of her brightest hopes! And now let me go--alone--and
God bless you all! Bid my aunt to come and see me," added she; "I
cannot even wait her return."
The girls stood weeping around her, and kissed and embraced her over
and over. They would not disobey her request to be allowed to go
alone to the Convent, but as she turned to depart, she was clasped
around the neck by Héloise de Lotbinière, exclaiming that she should
not go alone, that the light of the world had gone out for her as
well as for Amélie, and she would go with her.
"But why, Héloise, would you go with me to the Convent?" asked
Amélie, sadly. She knew but too well why.
"Oh, my cousin! I too would pray for Le Gardeur! I too--but no
matter! I will go with you, Amélie! If the door of the Ursulines
open for you, it shall open for Héloise de Lotbinière also."
"I have no right to say nay, Héloise, nor will I," replied Amélie,
embracing her; "you are of my blood and lineage, and the lamp of
Repentigny is always burning in the holy chapel to receive broken-
hearted penitents like you and me!"
"Oh, Héloise, do not you also leave us! Stay till to-morrow!"
exclaimed the agitated girls, amazed at this new announcement.
"My mind is made up; it has long been made up!" replied Héloise. "I
only waited the marriage of Amélie before consummating my resolution
to enter the convent. I go now to comfort Amélie, as no other
friend in the world can comfort her. We shall be more content in
the midst of our sorrows to be together."
It was in vain to plead with or to dissuade them. Amélie and
Héloise were inexorable and eager to be gone. They again kissed
their companions, with many tears bidding them a last farewell, and
the two weeping girls, hiding their heads under their veils, left
the bright mansion that was their home, and proceeded with hasty
steps towards the Convent of the Ursulines.
THE LAMP OF REPENTIGNY.
Closely veiled, acknowledging no one, looking at no one, and not
themselves recognized by any, but clinging to each other for mutual
support, Amélie and Héloise traversed swiftly the streets that led
to the Convent of the Ursulines.
At the doors, and in the porches and galleries of the old-fashioned
houses, women stood in groups, discussing eagerly the wild reports
that were flying to and fro through the city, and looking up and
down the streets for further news of the tragedy in the market-
place. The male part of the population had run off and gathered
in excited masses around the mansion of the Golden Dog, which was
suddenly shut up, and long streamers of black crape were hanging at
Many were the inquisitive glances and eager whisperings of the good
wives and girls as the two ladies, deeply veiled in black, passed by
with drooping heads and handkerchiefs pressed against their faces,
while more than one quick ear caught the deep, suppressed sobs that
broke from their bosoms. No one ventured to address them, however,
although their appearance caused no little speculation as to who
they were and whither they were going.
Amélie and Héloise, almost fainting under their sorrow, stood upon
the broad stone step which formed the threshold that separated the
world they were entering into from the world they were leaving.
The high gables and old belfry of the Monastrey stood bathed in
sunlight. The figure of St. Joseph that dominated over the ancient
portal held out his arms and seemed to welcome the trembling
fugitives into the house with a gesture of benediction.
The two ladies paused upon the stone steps. Amélie clasped her arm
round Héloise, whom she pressed to her bosom and said, "Think before
you knock at this door and cross the threshold for the last time,
Héloise! You must not do it for my sake, darling."
"No, Amélie," replied she sadly. "It is not wholly for your sake.
Would I could say it were! Alas! If I remained in the world, I
could even now pity Le Gardeur, and follow him to the world's end;
but it must not--cannot be. Do not seek to dissuade me, Amélie, for
it is useless."
"Your mind is made up, then, to go in with me, my Héloise?" said
Amélie, with a fond, questioning look.
"Fully, finally, and forever!" replied she, with energy that left no
room for doubt. "I long ago resolved to ask the community to let me
die with them. My object, dear sister, is like yours: to spend my
life in prayers and supplications for Le Gardeur, and be laid, when
God calls me to his rest, by the side of our noble aunt, Mère
Madelaine de Repentigny, whose lamp still burns in the Chapel of the
Saints, as if to light you and me to follow in her footsteps."
"It is for Le Gardeur's sake I too go," replied Amélie; "to veil my
face from the eyes of a world I am ashamed to see, and to expiate,
if I can, the innocent blood that has been shed. But the sun shines
very bright for those to whom its beams are still pleasant!" said
she, looking around sadly, as if it were for the last time she bade
adieu to the sun, which she should never again behold under the free
vault of heaven.
Héloise turned slowly to the door of the Convent. "Those golden
rays that shine through the wicket," said she, "and form a cross
upon the pavement within, as we often observed with schoolgirl
admiration, are the only rays to gladden me now. I care no more for
the light of the sun. I will live henceforth in the blessed light
of the lamp of Repentigny. My mind is fixed, and I will not leave
you, Amélie. 'Where thou goest I will go, where thou lodgest I will
lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'"
Amélie kissed her cousin tenderly. "So be it, then, Héloise. Your
heart is broken as well as mine. We will pray together for Le
Gardeur, beseeching God to pity and forgive."
Amélie knocked at the door twice before a sound of light footsteps
was heard within. A veiled nun appeared at the little wicket and
looked gravely for a moment upon the two postulantes for admission,
repeating the formula usual on such occasions.
"What seek you, my sisters?"
"To come in and find rest, good Mère des Seraphins," replied Amélie,
to whom the portière was well known. "We desire to leave the world
and live henceforth with the community in the service and adoration
of our blessed Lord, and to pray for the sins of others as well as
"It is a pious desire, and no one stands at the door and knocks but
it is opened. Wait, my sisters, I will summon the Lady Superior to
The nun disappeared for a few minutes. Her voice was heard again as
she returned to the wicket: "The Lady Superior deputes to Mère
Esther the privilege, on this occasion, of receiving the welcome
postulantes of the house of Repentigny."
The portière retired from the wicket. The heavy door swung
noiselessly back, opening the way into a small antechamber, floored
with smooth flags, and containing a table and a seat or two. On
either side of the interior door of the antechamber was a turnstile
or tourelle, which enabled the inmates within to receive anything
from the outside world without being themselves seen. Amélie and
Héloise passed through the inner door, which opened as of its own
accord, as they approached it with trembling steps and troubled
A tall nun, of commanding figure but benign aspect, received the
two ladies with the utmost affection, as well-known friends.
Mère Esther wore a black robe sweeping the ground. It was bound at
the waist by a leathern girdle. A black veil fell on each side of
the snowy fillet that covered her forehead, and half covered the
white wimple upon her neck and bosom.
At the first sight of the veil thrown over the heads of Amélie and
Héloise, and the agitation of both, she knew at once that the time
of these two girls, like that of many others, had come. Their
arrival was a repetition of the old, old story, of which her long
experience had witnessed many instances.
"Good mother," exclaimed Amélie, throwing her arms around the nun,
who folded her tenderly to her bosom, although her face remained
calm and passionless, "we are come at last! Héloise and I wish to
live and die in the monastery. Good Mother Esther, will you take us
"Welcome both!" replied Mère Esther, kissing each of them on the
forehead. "The virgins who enter in with the bridegroom to the
marriage are those whose lamps are burning! The lamp of Repentigny
is never extinguished in the Chapel of Saints, nor is the door of
the monastery ever shut against one of your house."
"Thanks, good mother! But we bring a heavy burden with us. No one
but God can tell the weight and the pain of it!" said Amélie sadly.
"I know, Amélie, I know; but what says our blessed Lord? 'Come unto
me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you
"I seek not rest, good mother," replied she sadly, "but a place for
penance, to melt Heaven with prayers for the innocent blood that has
been shed to-day, that it be not recorded forever against my
brother. Oh, Mère Esther, you know my brother, Le Gardeur; how
generous and kind he was! You have heard of the terrible occurrence
in the market-place?"
"Yes, I have heard," said the nun. "Bad news reaches us ever
soonest. It fills me with amazement that one so noble as your
brother should have done so terrible a deed."
"Oh, Mère Esther!" exclaimed Amélie eagerly, "it was not Le Gardeur
in his senses who did it. No, he never knowingly struck the blow
that has killed me as well as the good Bourgeois! Alas! he knew not
what he did. But still he has done it, and my remaining time left
on earth must be spent in sackcloth and ashes, beseeching God for
pardon and mercy for him."
"The community will join you in your prayers, Amélie," replied the
Esther stood wrapt in thought for a few moments. "Héloise!" said
she, addressing the fair cousin of Amélie, "I have long expected
you in the monastery. You struggled hard for the world and its
delights, but God's hand was stronger than your purposes. When He
calls, be it in the darkest night, happy is she who rises instantly
to follow her Lord!"
"He has indeed called me, O mother! and I desire only to become a
faithful servant of His tabernacle forever. I pray, good Mère
Esther, for your intercession with the Mère de la Nativité. The
venerable Lady Superior used to say we were dowerless brides, we of
the house of Lotbinière."
"But you shall not be dowerless, Héloise!" burst out Amélie. "You
shall enter the convent with as rich a dowry as ever accompanied an
"No, Amélie; if they will not accept me for myself, I will imitate
my aunt, the admirable quêteuse, who, being, like me, a dowerless
postulante, begged from house to house throughout the city for the
means to open to her the door of the monastery.
"Héloise," replied Mère Esther, "this is idle fear. We have waited
for you, knowing that one day you would come, and you will be most
welcome, dowered or not!"
"You are ever kind, Mère Esther, but how could you know I should
come to you?" asked Héloise with a look of inquiry.
"Alas, Héloise, we know more of the world and its doings than is
well for us. Our monastery is like the ear of Dionysius: not a
whisper in the city escapes it. Oh, darling, we knew you had failed
in your one great desire upon earth, and that you would seek
consolation where it is only to be found, in the arms of your Lord."
"It is true, mother; I had but one desire upon earth, and it is
crushed; one little bird that nestled a while in my bosom, and it
has flown away. The event of to-day has stricken me and Amélie
alike, and we come together to wear out the stones of your pavement
praying for the hapless brother of Amélie."
"And the object of Héloise's faithful love!" replied the nun with
tender sympathy. "Oh! how could Le Gardeur de Repentigny refuse a
heart like yours, Héloise, for the sake of that wild daughter of
levity, Angélique des Meloises?
"But come, I will conduct you to the venerable Lady Superior, who is
in the garden conversing with Grand'mère St. Pierre, and your old
friend and mistress, Mère Ste. Helène."
The news of the tragedy in the market-place had been early carried
to the Convent by the ubiquitous Bonhomme Michael, who was out that
day on one of his multifarious errands in the service of the
The news had passed quickly through the Convent, agitating the
usually quiet nuns, and causing the wildest commotion among the
classes of girls, who were assembled at their morning lessons in the
great schoolroom. The windows were clustered with young, comely
heads, looking out in every direction, while nuns in alarm streamed
from the long passages to the lawn, where sat the venerable
Superior, Mère Migeon de la Nativité, under a broad ash-tree, sacred
to the Convent by the memories that clustered around it. The Ste.
Therèse of Canada, Mère Marie de l'Incarnation, for lack of a better
roof, in the first days of her mission, used to gather around her
under that tree the wild Hurons as well as the young children of the
colonists, to give them their first lessons in religion and letters.
Mère Esther held up her finger warningly to the nuns not to speak,
as she passed onward through the long corridors, dim with narrow
lights and guarded by images of saints, until she came into an open
square flagged with stones. In the walls of this court a door
opened upon the garden into which a few steps downwards conducted
The garden of the monastery was spacious and kept with great care.
The walks meandered around beds of flowers, and under the boughs of
apple-trees, and by espaliers of ancient pears and plums.
The fruit had long been gathered in, and only a few yellow leaves
hung upon the autumnal trees, but the grass was still green on the
lawn where stood the great ash-tree of Mère Marie de l'Incarnation.
The last hardy flowers of autumn lingered in this sheltered spot.
In these secluded alleys the quiet recluses usually walked and
meditated in peace, for here man's disturbing voice was never heard.
But to-day a cluster of agitated nuns gathered around the great ash-
tree, and here and there stood groups of black and white veils; some
were talking, while others knelt silently before the guardian of the
house, the image of St. Joseph, which overlooked this spot,
considered particularly sacred to prayer and meditation.
The sight of Mère Esther, followed by the well-known figures of
Amélie and Héloise, caused every head to turn with a look of
recognition; but the nuns were too well disciplined to express
either surprise or curiosity in the presence of Mère Migeon, however
much they felt of both. They stood apart at a sign from the Lady
Superior, leaving her with a nun attendant on each side to receive
Mère Esther and her two companions.
Mère Migeon de la Nativité was old in years, but fresh in looks and
alert in spirit. Her features were set in that peculiar expression
of drooping eyelids and placid lips which belongs to the Convent,
but she could look up and flash out on occasion with an air of
command derived from high birth and a long exercise of authority as
Superior of the Ursulines, to which office the community had elected
her as many trienniums as their rules permitted.
Mère Migeon had been nearly half a century a nun, and felt as much
pride as humility in the reflection. She liked power, which,
however, she exercised wholly for the benefit of her subjects in the
Convent, and wore her veil with as much dignity as the Queen her
crown. But, if not exempt from some traces of human infirmity, she
made amends by devoting herself night and day to the spiritual and
temporal welfare of the community, who submitted to her government
with extreme deference and unquestioning obedience.
Mère Migeon had directed the two sorrowing ladies to be brought into
the garden, where she would receive them under the old tree of Mère
Marie de l'Incarnation.
She rose with affectionate eagerness as they entered, and embraced
them one after the other, kissing them on the cheek; "her little
prodigals returning to the house of their father and mother, after
feeding on the husks of vanity in the gay world which was never made
"We will kill the fatted calf in honor of your return, Amélie. Will
we not, Mère Esther?" said the Lady Superior, addressing Amélie
rather than Héloise.
"Not for me, reverend Mère; you shall kill no fatted calf, real or
symbolical, for me!" exclaimed Amélie. "I come only to hide myself
in your cloister, to submit myself to your most austere discipline.
I have given up all. Oh, my Mère, I have given up all! None but
God can know what I have given up forever!"
"You were to have married the son of the Bourgeois, were you not,
Amélie?" asked the Superior, who, as the aunt of Varin, and by
family ties connected with certain leading spirits of the Grand
Company, had no liking for the Bourgeois Philibert; her feelings,
too, had been wrought upon by a recital of the sermon preached in
the marketplace that morning.
"Oh, speak not of it, good Mère! I was betrothed to Pierre
Philibert, and how am I requiting his love? I should have been his
wife, but for this dreadful deed of my brother. The Convent is all
that is left to me now."
"Your aunt called herself the humble handmaid of Mary, and the lamp
of Repentigny will burn all the brighter trimmed by a daughter of
her noble house," answered Mère Migeon.
"By two daughters, good Mere! Héloise is equally a daughter of our
house," replied Amélie, with a touch of feeling.
Mère Esther whispered a few words in the ear of the Superior,
advising her to concede every request of Amélie and Héloise, and
returned to the wicket to answer some other hasty call from the
Messengers despatched by Bonhomme Michael followed one another at
short intervals, bringing to the Convent exact details of all that
occurred in the streets, with the welcome tidings at last that the
threatened outbreak had been averted by the prompt interposition of
the Governor and troops. Comparative quietness again reigned in
every quarter of the city.
Le Gardeur de Repentigny had voluntarily surrendered himself to the
guard and given up his sword, being overwhelmed with remorse for his
act. He had been placed, not in irons as he had demanded, but as a
prisoner in the strong ward of the Castle of St. Louis.
"I pray you, reverend Mère Superior," said Amélie, "permit us now
to go into the Chapel of Saints to lay our hearts, as did our
kinswoman, Madelaine de Repentigny, at the feet of our Lady of
"Go, my children, and our prayers shall go with you," replied the
Superior; "the lamp of Repentigny will burn brighter than ever to-
night to welcome you."
The Chapel of Saints was held in reverence as the most sacred place
in the monastery. It contained the shrines and relics of many
saints and martyrs. The devout nuns lavished upon it their choicest
works of embroidery, painting, and gilding, in the arts of which
they were eminent. The old Sacristaine was kneeling before the
altar as Amélie and Héloise entered the Chapel.
An image of the Virgin occupied a niche in the Chapel wall, and
before it burned the silver lamp of Repentigny which had been hung
there two generations before, in memory of the miraculous call of
Madelaine de Repentigny and her victory over the world.
The high-bred and beautiful Madelaine had been the delight and pride
of Ville Marie. Stricken with grief by the death of a young officer
to whom she was affianced, she retired to Quebec, and knelt daily at
the feet of our Lady of Pouvoir, beseeching her for a sign if it was
her will that she should become an Ursuline.
The sign was given, and Madelaine de Repentigny at once exchanged
her gay robes for the coarse black gown and veil, and hung up this
votive lamp before the Madonna as a perpetual memorial of her
Seven generations of men have passed away since then. The house of
Repentigny has disappeared from their native land. Their name and
fame lie buried in oblivion, except in that little Chapel of the
Saints where their lamp still burns brightly as ever. The pious
nuns of St. Ursule, as the last custodians of the traditions of New
France, preserve that sole memorial of the glories and misfortunes
of the noble house,--the lamp of Repentigny.
Amélie and Héloise remained long in the Chapel of Saints, kneeling
upon the hard floor as they prayed with tears and sobs for the soul
of the Bourgeois and for God's pity and forgiveness upon Le Gardeur.
To Amélie's woes was added the terrible consciousness that, by this
deed of her brother, Pierre Philibert was torn from her forever.
She pictured to herself his grief, his love, his despair, perhaps
his vengeance; and to add to all, she, his betrothed bride, had
forsaken him and fled like a guilty thing, without waiting to see
whether he condemned her.
An hour ago Amélie had been the envy and delight of her gay
bridesmaids. Her heart had overflowed like a fountain of wine,
intoxicating all about her with joy at the hope of the speedy coming
of her bridegroom. Suddenly the idols of her life had been
shattered as by a thunderbolt, and lay in fragments around her feet.
The thought came upon her like the rush of angry wings. She knew
that all was over between her and Pierre. The cloister and the veil
were all that were left to Amélie de Repentigny.
"Héloise, dearest sister!" exclaimed she, "my conscience tells me I
have done right, but my heart accuses me of wrong to Pierre, of
falseness to my plighted vows in forsaking him; and yet, not for
heaven itself would I have forsaken Pierre. Would that I were dead!
Oh, what have I done, Héloise, to deserve such a chastisement as
this from God?"
Amélie threw her arms around the neck of Héloise, and leaning her
head on her bosom, wept long and without restraint, for none saw
them save God.
"Listen!" said Héloise, as the swelling strain of the organ floated
up from the convent chapel. The soft voices of the nuns mingled in
plaintive harmony as they sang the hymn of the Virgin:
"Pia Mater! Fons amoris!
Me sentire vim doloris
Fac, ut tecum lugeam!"
Again came the soft pleading notes of the sacred hymn:
"Quando corpus morietur,
Fac ut animae donetur
Paradisi gloria! Amen!"
The harmony filled the ears of Amélie and Héloise, like the lap of
the waves of eternity upon the world's shore. It died away, and
they continued praying before Our Lady of Grand Pouvoir.
The silence was suddenly broken. Hasty steps traversed the little
chapel. A rush of garments caused Amélie and Héloise to turn
around, and in an instant they were both clasped in the passionate
embrace of the Lady de Tilly, who had arrived at the Convent.
"My dear children, my poor, stricken daughters," exclaimed she,
kissing them passionately and mingling her tears with theirs, "what
have you done to be dashed to the earth by such a stroke of divine
"Oh, aunt, pardon us for what we have done!" exclaimed Amélie, "and
for not asking your consent, but alas! it is God's will and doing!
I have given up the world; do not blame me, aunt!"
"Nor me, aunt!" added Héloise; "I have long known that the cloister
was my sole heritage, and I now claim it."
"Blame you, darling! Oh, Amélie, in the shame and agony of this day
I could share the cloister with you myself forever, but my work is
out in the wide world, and I must not withdraw my hand!"
"Have you seen Le Gardeur? Oh, aunt! have you seen my brother?"
asked Amélie, seizing her hand passionately.
"I have seen him, and wept over him," was the reply. "Oh, Amélie!
great as is his offence, his crime, yes, I will be honest calling it
such,--no deeper contrition could rend his heart had he committed
all the sins forbidden in the Decalogue. He demands a court martial
to condemn him at once to death, upon his own self-accusation and
confession of the murder of the good Bourgeois."
"Oh, aunt, and he loved the Bourgeois so! It seems like a hideous
dream of fright and nightmare that Le Gardeur should assail the
father of Pierre Philibert, and mine that was to be!"
At this thought the poor girl flung herself upon the bosom of the
Lady de Tilly, convulsed and torn by as bitter sobs as ever drew
"Le Gardeur! Le Gardeur! Good God! what will they do with him,
aunt? Is he to die?" cried she imploringly, as with streaming eyes
she looked up at her aunt.
"Listen, Amélie! Compose yourself and you shall hear. I was in the
Church of Notre Dame des Victoires when I received the tidings. It
was long before the messenger found me. I rose instantly and
hastened to the house of the Bourgeois, where its good master lay
dead in his bloody vesture. I cannot describe the sad sight,
Amélie! I there learned that the Governor and La Corne St. Luc had
been to the house of the Bourgeois and had returned to the Castle."
"Oh, aunt, did you see him? Did you see the good old Bourgeois?
And you know he is dead?"
"Yes, Amélie, I saw him, and could have wished my eyesight blasted
forever after. Do not ask me more."
"But I must, aunt! Did you see--oh, why may I not yet utter his
dear name?--did you see Pierre?"
"Yes, Amélie. Pierre came home unexpectedly while I was weeping
over the dead corpse of his father. Poor Pierre! my own sorrows
were naught to his silent grief! It was more terrible than the
wildest outburst of passion I ever saw!"
"And what did he say? Oh, aunt, tell me all! Do not spare me one
word, however bitter! Did he not curse you? Did he not curse me?
And above all, Le Gardeur? Oh, he cursed us all; he heaped a
blasting malediction upon the whole house of Repentigny, did he
"Amélie, be composed! Do not look at me so wildly with these dear
eyes, and I will tell you." Her aunt tried to soothe her with fond
"I will be composed! I am calm! Look now, aunt, I am calm!"
exclaimed the grief-stricken girl, whose every nerve was quivering
with wild excitement.
The Lady de Tilly and Héloise made her sit down, while each held
forcibly a hand to prevent an access of hysteria. Mère Ste. Vierge
rose and hastily left the chapel to fetch water.
"Amélie, the nobleness of Pierre Philibert is almost beyond the
range of fallible mortals," said the Lady de Tilly. "In the sudden
crash of all his hopes he would not utter a word of invective
against your brother. His heart tells him that Le Gardeur has been
made the senseless instrument of others in this crime."
"A thousand thanks, dearest aunt, for your true appreciation of
Pierre! I know he deserves it all; and when the veil covers my head
forever from the eyes of men, it will be my sole joy to reflect that
Pierre Philibert was worthy, more than worthy, of my love! But what
said he further, aunt? Oh, tell me all!"
"He rose from his knees beside the corpse of his father," continued
the lady, "and seeing me kneeling, raised me and seated me in a
chair beside him. He asked me where you were, and who was with you
to support and comfort you in this storm of affliction. I told him,
and he kissed me, exclaiming, 'Oh, aunt,--mother, what shall I do?'"
"Oh, aunt! did Pierre say that? Did he call you aunt and mother?
And he did not curse me at all? Poor Pierre!" And she burst out
into a flood of tears which nothing could control.
"Yes Amélie! His heart is bleeding to death with this dreadful
sword-stroke of Le Gardeur's," said the Lady de Tilly, after waiting
till she recovered somewhat.
"And will he not slay Le Gardeur? Will he not deem it his duty to
kill my brother and his?" cried she. "He is a soldier and must!"
"Listen, Amélie. There is a divinity in Pierre that we see only in
the noblest of men; he will not slay Le Gardeur. He is his brother
and yours, and will regard him as such. Whatever he might have done
in the first impulse of anger, Pierre will not now seek the life of
Le Gardeur. He knows too well whence this blow has really come. He
has been deeply touched by the remorse and self-accusation of Le
"I could kiss his feet! my noble Pierre! Oh, aunt, aunt! what have
I not lost! But I was betrothed to him, was I not?" She started up
with a shriek of mortal agony. "They never can recall that!" she
cried wildly. "He was to have been mine! He is still mine, and
forever will be mine! Death will reunite what in life is sundered!
Will it not, aunt?"
"Yes; be composed, darling, and I will tell you more. Nay, do not
look at me so, Amélie!" The Lady de Tilly stroked her cheek and
kissed the dark eyes that seemed flaring out of their sockets with
"When I had recovered strength enough to go to the Castle to see the
Count, Pierre supported me thither. He dared not trust himself to
see Le Gardeur, who from his prison sent message after message to
him to beg death at his hand.
"I held a brief conference with the Governor, La Corne St. Luc, and
a few gentlemen, who were hastily gathered together in the council-
chamber. I pleaded long, not for pardon, not even for Le Gardeur
could I ask for pardon, Amélie!" exclaimed the just and noble
woman,--"but for a calm consideration of the terrible circumstances
which had surrounded him in the Palace of the Intendant, and which
had led directly to the catastrophe."
"And what said they? Oh, be quick, aunt! Is not Le Gardeur to be
tried by martial law and condemned at once to death?"
"No, Amélie! The Count de la Galissonière, with the advice of his
wisest counsellors, among whom is your godfather and others, the
dearest friends of both families, have resolved to send Le Gardeur
to France by the Fleur de Lys, which sails to-morrow. They do this
in order that the King may judge of his offence, as also to prevent
the conflict that may arise between the contending factions in the
Colony, should they try him here. This resolution may be wise, or
not, I do not judge; but such is the determination of the Governor
and Council, to which all must submit."
Amélie held her head between her palms for some moments. She was
violently agitated, but she tried to consider, as best she might,
the decision with regard to her brother.
"It is merciful in them," she said, "and it is just. The King will
judge what is right in the sight of God and man. Le Gardeur was but
a blind instrument of others in this murder, as blind almost as the
sword he held in his hand. But shall I not see him, aunt, before he
is sent away?"
"Alas, no! The Governor, while kind, is inexorable on one point.
He will permit no one, after this, to see Le Gardeur, to express
either blame or approval of his deed, or to report his words. He
will forbid you and me and his nearest friends from holding any
communication with him before he leaves the Colony. The Count has
remitted his case to the King, and resolved that it shall be
accompanied by no self-accusation which Le Gardeur may utter in his
frantic grief. The Count does this in justice as well as mercy,
"Then I shall never see my brother more in this world,--never!"
exclaimed Amélie, supporting herself on the arm of Héloise. "His
fate is decided as well as mine, and yours too, O Héloise."
"It may not be so hard with him as with us, Amélie," replied
Héloise, whose bosom was agitated with fresh emotions at every
allusion to Le Gardeur. "The King may pardon him, Amélie." Héloise
in her soul hoped so, and in her heart prayed so.
"Alas! If we could say God pardoned him!" replied Amélie, her
thoughts running suddenly in a counter-current. "But my life must
be spent in imploring God's grace and forgiveness all the same,
whether man forgive him or no."
"Say not my life, but our lives, Amélie. We have crossed the
threshold of this house together for the last time. We go no more
out to look upon a world fair and beautiful to see, but so full of
disappointment and wretchedness to have experience of!"
"My daughters," exclaimed the Lady de Tilly, "another time we will
speak of this. Harken, Amélie! I did not tell you that Pierre
Philibert came with me to the gate of the Convent to see you. He
would have entered, but the Lady Superior refused inexorably to
admit him even to the parlor."
"Pierre came to the Convent,--to the Convent?" repeated Amélie with
fond iteration, "and they would not admit him. Why would they not
admit him? But I should have died of shame to see him. They were
kind in their cruelty. Poor Pierre! he thinks me still worthy of
some regard." She commenced weeping afresh.
"He would fain have seen you, darling," said her aunt. "Your flight
to the Convent--he knows what it means--overwhelms him with a new
"And yet it cannot be otherwise. I dare not place my hand in his
now, for it would redden it! But it is sweet amid my affliction to
know that Pierre has not forgotten me, that he does not hate me,
nay, that he still loves me, although I abandon the world and him
who to me was the light of it. Why would they not admit him?"
"Mère Migeon is as hard as she is just, Amélie. I think too she has
no love for the Philiberts. Her nephew Varin has all the influence
of a spoilt son over the Lady Superior."
Amélie scarcely regarded the last remark of her aunt, but repeated
the words, "Hard and just! Yes, it is true, and hardness and
justice are what I crave in my misery. The flintiest couch shall be
to me a bed of down, the scantiest fare a royal feast, the hardest
penance a life of pleasure. Mère Migeon cannot be more hard nor
more just to me than I would be to myself."
"My poor Amélie! My poor Héloise!" repeated the lady, stroking
their hair and kissing them both alternately; "be it as God wills.
When it is dark every prospect lies hid in the darkness, but it is
there all the same, though we see it not; but when the day returns
everything is revealed. We see naught before us now but the image
of our Lady of Grand Pouvoir illumined by the lamp of Repentigny,
but the sun of righteousness will yet arise with healing on his
wings for us all! But oh, my children, let nothing be done hastily,
rashly, or unbecoming the daughters of our honorable house."
"LOVELY IN DEATH THE BEAUTEOUS RUIN LAY."
The chant of vespers had long ceased. The Angelus had rung its last
summons to invoke a blessing upon life and death at the close of the
day. The quiet nuns filed off from their frugal meal in the long
refectory and betook themselves to the community or to their
peaceful cells. The troop of children in their charge had been sent
with prayer to their little couches in the dormitory, sacred to
sleep and happy dreams.
Candles flickered through the long passages as veiled figures slowly
and noiselessly passed towards the chapel to their private
devotions. Scarcely a footfall reached the ear, nor sound of any
kind, except the sweet voice of Mère Madelaine de St. Borgia. Like
the flow of a full stream in the still moonlight, she sang her
canticle of praise to the guardian of the house, before she retired
"Ave, Joseph! Fili David juste!
Vir Mariae de qua natus est Jesus!"
Lady de Tilly sat listening as she held the hands of her two nieces,
thinking how merciless was Fate, and half rebelling in her mind
against the working of Providence. The sweet song of Mère St.
Borgia fell like soft rain upon her hard thoughts, and instilled a
spirit of resignation amid the darkness, as she repeated the words,
"Ave, Joseph!" She fought bitterly in her soul against giving up
her two lambs, as she called them, to the cold, scant life of the
cloister, while her judgment saw but too plainly that naught else
seemed left to their crushed and broken spirits. But she neither
suggested their withdrawal from the Convent, nor encouraged them to
In her secret thought, the Lady de Tilly regarded the cloister as a
blessed refuge for the broken-hearted, a rest for the weary and
overladen with earthly troubles, a living grave, which such may
covet and not sin; but the young, the joyous, the beautiful, and all
capable of making the world fairer and better, she would inexorably
shut out. Christ calls not these from the earthly paradise; but the
afflicted, the disappointed, the despairing, they who have fallen
helplessly down in the journey of life, and are of no further use in
this world, these he calls by their names and comforts them. But
for those rare souls who are too cold for aught but spiritual joys,
he reserves a peculiar though not his choicest benediction.
The Lady de Tilly pondered these thoughts over and over, in the
fulness of pity for her children. She would not leave the Convent
at the closing of the gates for the night, but remained the honored
guest of Mère Migeon, who ordered a chamber to be prepared for her
in a style that was luxurious compared with the scantily furnished
rooms allotted to the nuns.
Amélie prevailed, after much entreaty, upon Mère Esther, to
intercede with the Superior for permission to pass the night with
Héloise in the cell that had once been occupied by her pious
kinswoman, Mère Madelaine.
"It is a great thing to ask," replied Mère Esther as she returned
with her desired boon, "and a greater still to be obtained! But
Mère Migeon is in a benevolent mood tonight; for the sake of no one
else would she have granted a dispensation of the rules of the
That night Lady de Tilly held a long and serious conference with
Mère Migeon and Mère Esther, upon the event which had driven her
nieces to the cloister, promising that if, at the end of a month,
they persisted in their resolutions, she would consent to their
assumption of the white veil; and upon the completion of their
novitiate, when they took the final vows, she would give them up
with such a dower as would make all former gifts of the house of
Repentigny and Tilly poor in the comparison.
Mère Migeon was especially overjoyed at this prospect of relieving
the means of her house, which had been so terribly straitened of
late years. The losses occasioned by the war had been a never-
ending source of anxiety to her and Mère Esther, who, however, kept
their troubles as far as possible to themselves, in order that the
cares of the world might not encroach too far upon the minds of the
community. Hence they were more than ordinarily glad at this double
vocation in the house of Repentigny. The prospect of its great
wealth falling to pious uses they regarded as a special mark of
divine providence and care for the house of Ste. Ursule.
"Oh, Mère Esther! Mère Esther!" exclaimed the Lady Superior. "I
feel too great a satisfaction in view of the rich dower of these two
girls. I need much self-examination to weed out worldly thoughts.
Alas! Alas! I would rather be the humblest aunt in our kitchen
than the Lady Superior of the Ursulines. Blessed old Mère Marie
used to say 'a good turn in the kitchen was as good as a prayer in
Mère Esther reflected a moment, and said, "We have long found it
easier to pray for souls than to relieve bodies. I thank good St.
Joseph for this prospective blessing upon our monastery."
During the long and wasting war, Mère Migeon had seen her poor nuns
reduced to grievous straits, which they bore cheerfully, however, as
their share of the common suffering of their country. The cassette
of St. Joseph, wherein were deposited the oboli for the poor, had
long been emptied. The image of St. Joseph au Blé, that stood at
the great stair, and kept watch over the storeroom of corn and
bread, had often guarded an empty chamber. St. Joseph au Labeur,
overlooking the great kitchen of the Convent, had often been deaf to
the prayers of "my aunts," who prepared the food of the community.
The meagre tables of the refectory had not seldom been the despair
of the old depositaire, Mère St. Louis, who devoutly said her
longest graces over her scantiest meals.
"I thank St. Joseph for what he gives, and for what he withholds;
yea, for what he takes away!" observed Mère St. Louis to her special
friend and gossip, Mère St. Antoine, as they retired from the
chapel. "Our years of famine are nearly over. The day of the
consecration of Amélie de Repentigny will be to us the marriage at
Cana. Our water will be turned into wine. I shall no longer need
to save the crumbs, except for the poor at our gate."
The advent of Amélie de Repentigny was a circumstance of absorbing
interest to the nuns, who regarded it as a reward for their long
devotions and prayers for the restoration of their house to its old
prosperity. We usually count Providence upon our side when we have
consciously done aught to merit the good fortune that befalls us.
And now days came and went, went and came, as Time, the inexorable,
ever does, regardless of human joys or sorrows. Amélie, weary of
the world, was only desirous of passing away from it to that sphere
where time is not, and where our affections and thoughts alone
measure the periods of eternity. For time, there, is but the shadow
that accompanies the joys of angels, or the woes of sinners,--not
the reality. It is time here, eternity there!
The two postulantes seemed impressed with the spirit that, to their
fancies, lingered in the cell of their kinswoman, Mère Madelaine.
They bent their gentle necks to the heaviest yoke of spiritual
service which their Superior would consent to lay upon them.
Amélie's inflexible will made her merciless towards herself. She
took pleasure in the hardest of self-imposed penances, as if the
racking of her soul by incessant prayers, and wasting of her body by
vigils and cruel fastings, were a vicarious punishment, borne for
the sake of her hapless brother.
She could not forget Pierre, nor did she ever try to forget him. It
was observed by the younger nuns that when, by chance or design,
they mentioned his name, she looked up and her lips moved in silent
prayer; but she spoke not of him, save to her aunt and to Héloise.
These two faithful friends alone knew the inexpressible anguish with
which she had heard of Pierre's intended departure for France.
The shock caused by the homicide of the Bourgeois, and the
consequent annihilation of all the hopes of her life in a happy
union with Pierre Philibert, was too much for even her naturally
sound and elastic constitution. Her health gave way irrecoverably.
Her face grew thin and wan without losing any of its spiritual
beauty, as her soul looked through its ever more transparent
covering, which daily grew more and more aetherialized as she faded
away. A hectic flush, like a spot of fire, came and went for a
time, and at last settled permanently upon her cheek. Her eyes,
those glorious orbs, filled with unquenchable love, grew
supernaturally large and brilliant with the flames that fed upon
her vital forces. Amélie sickened and sank rapidly. The vulture
of quick consumption had fastened upon her young life.
Mère Esther and Mère Migeon shook their heads, for they were used to
broken hearts, and knew the infallible signs which denote an early
death in the young and beautiful. Prayers and masses were offered
for the recovery of Amélie, but all in vain. God wanted her. He
alone knew how to heal that broken heart. It was seen that she had
not long to live. It was known she wished to die.
Pierre heard the tidings with overwhelming grief. He had been
permitted but once to see her for a few brief moments, which dwelt
upon his mind forever. He deferred his departure to Europe in
consequence of her illness, and knocked daily at the door of the
Convent to ask after her and leave some kind message or flower,
which was faithfully carried to her by the friendly nuns who
received him at the wicket. A feeling of pity and sympathy for
these two affianced and unfortunate lovers stole into the hearts of
the coldest nuns, while the novices and the romantic convent girls
were absolutely wild over the melancholy fate of Pierre and Amélie.
He long solicited in vain for another interview with Amélie, but
until it was seen that she was approaching the end, it was not
granted him. Mère Esther interceded strongly with the Lady
Superior, who was jealous of the influence of Pierre with her young
novice. At length Amélie's prayers overcame her scruples. He was
told one day that Amélie was dying, and wished to see him for the
last time in this world.
Amélie was carried in a chair to the bars to receive her sorrowing
lover. Her pale face retained its statuesque beauty of outline, but
so thin and wasted!
"Pierre will not know me;" whispered she to Héloise, "but I shall
smile at the joy of meeting him, and then he will recognize me."
Her flowing veil was thrown back from her face. She spoke little,
but her dark eyes were fixed with devouring eagerness upon the door
by which she knew Pierre would come in. Her aunt supported her head
upon her shoulder, while Héloise knelt at her knee and fanned her
with sisterly tenderness, whispering words of sisterly sympathy in
Pierre flew to the Convent at the hour appointed. He was at once
admitted, with a caution from Mère Esther to be calm and not agitate
the dying girl. The moment he entered the great parlor, Amélie
sprang from her seat with a sudden cry of recognition, extending her
poor thin hands through the bars towards him. Pierre seized them,
kissing them passionately, but broke down utterly at the sight of
her wasted face and the seal of death set thereon.
"Amélie, my darling Amélie!" exclaimed he; "I have prayed so long to
see you, and they would not let me in."
"It was partly my fault, Pierre," said she fondly. "I feared to let
you see me. I feared to learn that you hate, as you have cause to
do, the whole house of Repentigny! And yet you do not curse me,
"My poor angel, you break my heart! I curse the house of
Repentigny? I hate you? Amélie, you know me better."
"But your good father, the noble and just Bourgeois! Oh, Pierre,
what have we not done to you and yours!"
She fell back upon her pillow, covering her eyes with her semi-
transparent hands, bursting, as she did so, into a flood of
passionate tears and passing into a dead faint.
Pierre was wild with anguish. He pressed against the bars. "For
God's sake, let me in!" exclaimed he; "she is dying!"
The two quiet nuns who were in attendance shook their heads at
Pierre's appeal to open the door. They were too well disciplined in
the iron rule of the house to open it without an express order from
the Lady Superior, or from Mère Esther. Their bosoms, abounding in
spiritual warmth, responded coldly to the contagion of mere human
passion. Their ears, unused to the voice of man's love, tingled at
the words of Pierre. Fortunately, Mère Esther, ever on the watch,
came into the parlor, and, seeing at a glance the need of the hour,
opened the iron door and bade Pierre come in. He rushed forward and
threw himself at the feet of Amélie, calling her by the most tender
appellatives, and seeking to recall her to a consciousness of his
That loved, familiar voice overtook her spirit, already winging its
flight from earth, and brought it back for a few minutes longer.
Mère Esther, a skilful nurse, administered a few drops of cordial,
and, seeing her dying condition, sent instantly for the physician
and the chaplain.
Amélie opened her eyes and turned them inquiringly around the group
until they fastened upon Pierre. A flash of fondness suddenly
suffused her face, as she remembered how and why he was there. She
threw her arms around his neck and kissed him many times, murmuring,
"I have often prayed to die thus, Pierre! close to you, my love,
close to you; in your arms and God's, where you could receive my
last breath, and feel in the last throb of my heart that it is
"My poor Amélie," cried he, pressing her to his bosom, "you shall
not die! Courage, darling! It is but weakness and the air of the
convent; you shall not die."
"I am dying now, Pierre," said she, falling back upon her pillow.
"I feel I have but a short time to live. I welcome death, since I
cannot be yours. But, oh, the unutterable pang of leaving you, my
Pierre could only reply by sobs and kisses. Amélie was silent for a
few moments, as if revolving some deep thought in her mind.
"There is one thing, Pierre, I have to beg of you," said she,
faltering as if doubting his consent to her prayer. "Can you, will
you, accept my life for Le Gardeur's? If I die for HIM, will you
forgive my poor blood-stained and deluded brother, and your own?
Yes, Pierre," repeated she, as she raised his hand to her lips and
kissed it, "your brother, as well as mine! Will you forgive him,
"Amélie! Amélie!" replied he with a voice broken with emotion, "can
you fancy other than that I would forgive him? I forgave Le Gardeur
from the first. In my heart I never accused him of my father's
death. Alas, he knew not what he did! He was but a sword in the
hands of my father's enemies. I forgave him then, darling, and I
forgive him wholly now, for your sake and his own."
"My noble Pierre!" replied she, putting out her arms towards him.
"Why might not God have suffered me to reward such divine goodness?
Thanks, my love! I now die content with all things but parting with
you." She held him fast by his hands, one of which she kept pressed
to her lips. They all looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to
speak again, for her eyes were wide open and fixed with a look of
ineffable love upon the face of Pierre, looking like life, after
life was fled. She still held him in her rigid clasp, but she moved
not. Upon her pale lips a smile seemed to hover. It was but the
shadow left behind of her retreating soul. Amélie de Repentigny was
dead! The angel of death had kissed her lovingly, and unnoticed of
any she had passed with him away.
The watchful eye of the Lady de Tilly was the first to see that
Amélie's breath had gone so quietly that no one caught her latest
sigh. The physician and chaplain rushed hurriedly into the chamber,
but too late. The great physician of souls had already put his
beloved to sleep,--the blessed sleep, whose dream is of love on
earth, and whose waking is in heaven. The great high priest of the
sons and daughters of men had anointed her with the oil of his
mercy, and sent his blessed angels to lead her to the mansions of
The stroke fell like the stunning blow of a hammer upon the heart of
Pierre. He had, indeed, foreseen her death, but tried in vain to
realize it. He made no outcry, but sat still, wrapped in a terrible
silence as in the midst of a desert. He held fast her dead hands,
and gazed upon her dead face until the heart-breaking sobs of
Héloise, and the appeals of Mère Esther, roused him from his stupor.
He rose up, and, lifting Amélie in his arms, laid her upon a couch
tenderly and reverently, as a man touches the holiest object of his
religion. Amélie was to him a sacrament, and in his manly love he
worshipped her more as a saint than as a woman, a creation of
heavenly more than of earthly perfections.
Pierre bent over her and closed for the last time those dear eyes
which had looked upon him so pure and so lovingly. He embraced her
dead form, and kissed those pallid lips which had once confessed her
unalterable love and truth for Pierre Philibert.
The agitated nuns gathered round them at the news of death in the
Convent. They looked wonderingly and earnestly at an exhibition of
such absorbing affection, and were for the most part in tears. With
some of these gentle women this picture of true love, broken in the
midst of its brightest hopes, woke sympathies and recollections
which the watchful eye of Mère Migeon promptly checked as soon as
she came into the parlor.
The Lady Superior saw that all was over, and that Pierre's presence
was an uneasiness to the nuns, who glanced at him with eyes of pity
and womanly sympathy. She took him kindly by the hand, with a few
words of condolence, and intimated that, as he had been permitted to
see the end, he must now withdraw from those forbidden precincts and
leave his lost treasure to the care of the nuns who take charge of
"THE MILLS OF GOD GRIND SLOWLY."
Pierre was permitted to see the remains of his affianced bride
interred in the Convent chapel. Her modest funeral was impressive
from the number of sad, sympathizing faces which gathered around her
The quiet figure of a nun was seen morn and eve, for years and years
after, kneeling upon the stone slab that covered her grave, laying
upon it her daily offering of flowers, and if the name of Le Gardeur
mingled with her prayers, it was but a proof of the unalterable
affection of Héloise de Lotbinière, known in religion as Mère St.
The lamp of Repentigny shed its beams henceforth over the grave of
the last representative of that noble house, where it still shines
to commemorate their virtues, and perpetuate the memory of their
misfortunes; but God has long since compensated them for all.
Lady de Tilly was inconsolable over the ruin of her fondest hopes.
She had regarded Pierre as her son, and intended to make him and
Amélie joint inheritors with Le Gardeur of her immense wealth. She
desired still to bequeath it to Pierre, not only because of her
great kindness for him, but as a sort of self-imposed amercement
upon her house for the death of his father.
Pierre refused. "I have more of the world's riches already than I
can use," said he; "and I value not what I have, since she is gone
for whose sake alone I prized them. I shall go abroad to resume my
profession of arms, not seeking, yet not avoiding an honorable
death, which may reunite me to Amélie, and the sooner the more
Lady de Tilly sought, by assiduous devotion to the duties of her
life and station, distraction from the gnawing cares that ever
preyed upon her. She but partially succeeded. She lived through
the short peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, and shared in the terrible
sufferings of the seven years' war that followed in its wake. When
the final conquest of New France overwhelmed the Colony, to all
appearances in utter ruin, she endowed the Ursulines with a large
portion of her remaining wealth, and retired with her nearest
kinsmen to France. The name of Tilly became extinct among the
noblesse of the Colony, but it still flourishes in a vigorous branch
upon its native soil of Normandy.
Pierre Philibert passed a sad winter in arranging and settling the
vast affairs of his father before leaving New France. In the spring
following the death of Amélie, he passed over to the old world,
bidding a long and last adieu to his native land.
Pierre endeavored manfully to bear up under the load of recollections
and sorrows which crushed his heart, and made him a grave and
melancholy man before his time. He rejoined the army of his
sovereign, and sought danger--his comrades said for danger's
sake--with a desperate valor that was the boast of the army; but few
suspected that he sought death and tempted fate in every form.
His wish was at last accomplished,--as all earnest, absorbing wishes
ever are. He fell valorously, dying a soldier's death upon the
field of Minden, his last moments sweetened by the thought that his
beloved Amélie was waiting for him on the other side of the dark
river, to welcome him with the bridal kiss promised upon the banks
of the Lake of Tilly. He met her joyfully in that land where love
is real, and where its promises are never broken.
The death of the Bourgeois Philibert, affecting so many fortunes,
was of immense consequence to the Colony. It led to the ruin of the
party of the Honnêtes Gens, to the supremacy of the Grand company,
and the final overthrow of New France.
The power and extravagance of Bigot after that event grew without
check or challenge, and the departure of the virtuous La
Galissonière left the Colony to the weak and corrupt administrations
of La Jonquière, and De Vaudreuil. The latter made the Castle of
St. Louis as noted for its venality as was the Palace of the
Intendant. Bigot kept his high place through every change. The
Marquis de Vaudreuil gave him free course, and it was more than
suspected shared with the corrupt Intendant in the plunder of the
These public vices bore their natural fruit, and all the efforts of
the Honnêtes Gens to stay the tide of corruption were futile.
Montcalm, after reaping successive harvests of victories, brilliant
beyond all precedent in North America, died a sacrifice to the
insatiable greed and extravagance of Bigot and his associates, who,
while enriching themselves, starved the army and plundered the
Colony of all its resources. The fall of Quebec, and the
capitulation of Montreal were less owing to the power of the English
than to the corrupt misgovernment of Bigot and Vaudreuil, and the
neglect by the court of France of her ancient and devoted Colony.
Le Gardeur, after a long confinement in the Bastille, where he
incessantly demanded trial and punishment for his rank offence of
the murder of the Bourgeois, as he ever called it, was at last
liberated by express command of the King, without trial and against
his own wishes. His sword was restored to him, accompanied by a
royal order bidding him, upon his allegiance, return to his
regiment, as an officer of the King, free from all blame for the
offence laid to his charge. Whether the killing of the Bourgeois
was privately regarded at Court as good service was never known.
But Le Gardeur, true to his loyal instincts, obeyed the King,
rejoined the army, and once more took the field.
Upon the outbreak of the last French war in America, he returned to
New France, a changed and reformed man; an ascetic in his living,
and, although a soldier, a monk in the rigor of his penitential
observances. His professional skill and daring were conspicuous
among the number of gallant officers upon whom Montcalm chiefly
relied to assist him in his long and desperate struggle against
the ever-increasing forces of the English. From the capture of
Chouaguen and the defence of the Fords of Montmorency, to the last
brave blow struck upon the plains of St. Foye, Le Gardeur de
Repentigny fulfilled every duty of a gallant and desperate soldier.
He carried his life in his hand, and valued it as cheaply as he did
the lives of his enemies.
He never spoke to Angélique again. Once he met her full in the
face, upon the perron of the Cathedral of St. Marie. She started as
if touched by fire,--trembled, blushed, hesitated, and extended her
hand to him in the old familiar way,--with that look of witchery in
her eyes, and that seductive smile upon her lips, which once sent
the hot blood coursing madly in his veins. But Le Gardeur's heart
was petrified now. He cared for no woman more,--or if he did, his
thought dwelt with silent regret upon that pale nun in the Convent
of the Ursulines--once Héloise de Lotbinière--who he knew was
wasting her young life in solitary prayers for pardon for his great
His anger rose fiercely at the sight of Angélique, and Le Gardeur
forgot for a moment that he was a gentleman, a man who had once
loved this woman. He struck her a blow, and passed on. It
shattered her last illusion. The proud, guilty woman still loved Le
Gardeur, if she loved any man. But she felt she had merited his
scorn. She staggered, and sat down on the steps of the Cathedral,
weeping the bitterest tears her eyes had ever wept in her life. She
never saw Le Gardeur again.
After the conquest of New France, Le Gardeur retired with the
shattered remnant of the army of France, back to their native land.
His sovereign loaded him with honors which he cared not for. He had
none to share them with now! Lover, sister, friends, all were lost
and gone! But he went on performing his military duties with an
iron rigor and punctuality that made men admire, while they feared
him. His life was more mechanical than human. Le Gardeur spared
neither himself nor others. He never married, and never again
looked with kindly eye upon a woman. His heart was proof against
every female blandishment. He ended his life in solitary state and
greatness, as Governor of Mahé in India, many years after he had
left his native Canada.
One day, in the year of grace 1777, another council of war was
sitting in the great chamber of the Castle of St. Louis, under a
wonderful change of circumstances. An English governor, Sir Guy
Carleton, presided over a mixed assemblage of English and Canadian
officers. The royal arms and colors of England had replaced the
emblems and ensigns of France upon the walls of the council-chamber,
and the red uniform of her army was loyally worn by the old, but
still indomitable, La Corne St. Luc, who, with the De Salaberrys,
the De Beaujeus, Duchesnays, De Gaspes, and others of noblest name
and lineage in New France, had come forward as loyal subjects of
England's Crown to defend Canada against the armies of the English
Colonies, now in rebellion against the King.
"Read that, La Corne," said Sir Guy Carleton, handing him a
newspaper just received from England. "An old friend of yours, if I
mistake not, is dead. I met him once in India. A stern, saturnine
man he was, but a brave and able commander; I am sorry to hear of
his death, but I do not wonder at it. He was the most melancholy
man I ever saw."
La Corne took the paper and gave a start of intense emotion as he
read an obituary notice as follows:
"East Indies. Death of the Marquis de Repentigny. The Marquis Le
Gardeur de Repentigny, general of the army and Governor of Mahé,
died last year in that part of India, which he had, by his valor and
skill, preserved to France. This officer had served in Canada with
the reputation of an able and gallant soldier."
La Corne was deeply agitated; his lips quivered, and tears gathered
in the thick gray eyelashes that formed so prominent a feature of
his rugged but kindly face. He concluded his reading in silence,
and handed the paper to De Beaujeu, with the single remark, "Le
Gardeur is dead! Poor fellow! He was more sinned against than
sinning! God pardon him for all the evil he meant not to do! Is it
not strange that she who was the cursed cause of his ruin still
flourishes like the Queen of the Kingdom of Brass? It is hard to
justify the ways of Providence, when wickedness like hers prospers,
and virtues like those of the brave old Bourgeois find a bloody
grave! My poor Amélie, too! poor girl, poor girl!" La Corne St.
Luc sat silent a long time, immersed in melancholy reflections.
The Canadian officers read the paragraph, which revived in their
minds also sad recollections of the past. They knew that, by her
who had been the cursed cause of the ruin of Le Gardeur and of the
death of the Bourgeois, La Corne referred to the still blooming
widow of the Chevalier de Pean,--the leader of fashion and gaiety in
the capital now, as she had been thirty years before, when she was
the celebrated Angélique des Meloises.
Angélique had played desperately her game of life with the juggling
fiend of ambition, and had not wholly lost. Although the murder of
Caroline de St. Castin pressed hard upon her conscience, and still
harder upon her fears, no man read in her face the minutest asterisk
that pointed to the terrible secret buried in her bosom, nor ever
discovered it. So long as La Corriveau lived, Angélique never felt
safe. But fear was too weak a counsellor for her to pretermit
either her composure or her pleasures. She redoubled her gaiety and
her devotions; and that was the extent of her repentance! The dread
secret of Beaumanoir was never revealed. It awaited, and awaits
still, the judgment of the final day of account.
Angélique had intrigued and sinned in vain. She feared Bigot knew
more than he really did, in reference to the death of Caroline, and
oft, while laughing in his face, she trembled in her heart, when he
played and equivocated with her earnest appeals to marry her.
Wearied out at length with waiting for his decisive yes or no,
Angélique, mortified by wounded pride and stung by the scorn of Le
Gardeur on his return to the Colony, suddenly accepted the hand of
the Chevalier de Pean, and as a result became the recognized
mistress of the Intendant,--imitating as far as she was able the
splendor and the guilt of La Pompadour, and making the Palace of
Bigot as corrupt, if not as brilliant, as that of Versailles.
Angélique lived thenceforth a life of splendid sin. She clothed
herself in purple and fine linen, while the noblest ladies of the
land were reduced by the war to rags and beggary. She fared
sumptuously, while men and women died of hunger in the streets of
Quebec. She bought houses and lands, and filled her coffers with
gold out of the public treasury, while the brave soldiers of
Montcalm starved for the want of their pay. She gave fêtes and
banquets while the English were thundering at the gates of the
capital. She foresaw the eventual fall of Bigot and the ruin of the
country, and resolved that, since she had failed in getting himself,
she would make herself possessor of all that he had.
The fate of Bigot was a warning to public peculators and oppressors.
He returned to France soon after the surrender of the Colony, with
Cadet, Varin, Penisault, and others of the Grand Company, who were
now useless tools, and were cast aside by their court friends. The
Bastille opened its iron doors to receive the godless and wicked
crew, who had lost the fairest Colony of France, the richest jewel
in her crown. Bigot and the others were tried by a special
commission, were found guilty of the most heinous malversations of
office, and sentenced to make full restitution of the plunder of
the King's treasures, to be imprisoned until their fines and
restitutions were paid, and then banished from the kingdom forever.
It is believed that, by favor of La Pompadour, Bigot's heavy
sentence was commuted, and he retained a sufficiency of his ill-
gotten wealth to enable him, under a change of name, to live in ease
and opulence at Bordeaux, where he died.
Angélique had no sympathy for Bigot in his misfortunes, no regrets
save that she had failed to mould him more completely to her own
purposes, flattering herself that had she done so, the fortunes of
the war and the fate of the Colony might have been different. What
might have been, had she not ruined herself and her projects by the
murder of Caroline, it were vain to conjecture. But she who had
boldly dreamed of ruling king and kingdom by the witchery of her
charms and the craft of her subtle intellect, had to content herself
with the name of De Pean and the shame of a lawless connection with
She would fain have gone to France to try her fortunes when the
Colony was lost, but La Pompadour forbade her presence there,
under pain of her severest displeasure. Angélique raved at the
inhibition, but was too wise to tempt the wrath of the royal
mistress by disobeying her mandate. She had to content herself with
railing at La Pompadour with the energy of three furies, but she
never ceased, to the end of her life, to boast of the terror which
her charms had exercised over the great favorite of the King.
Rolling in wealth and scarcely faded in beauty, Angélique kept
herself in the public eye. She hated retirement, and boldly claimed
her right to a foremost place in the society of Quebec. Her great
wealth and unrivalled power of intrigue enabled her to keep that
place, down to the last.
The fate of La Corriveau, her confederate in her great wickedness,
was peculiar and terrible. Secured at once by her own fears, as
well as by a rich yearly allowance paid her by Angélique, La
Corriveau discreetly bridled her tongue over the death of Caroline,
but she could not bridle her own evil passions in her own household.
One summer day, of the year following the conquest of the Colony,
the Goodman Dodier was found dead in his house at St. Valier.
Fanchon, who knew something and suspected more, spoke out; an
investigation into the cause of death of the husband resulted in the
discovery that he had been murdered by pouring melted lead into his
ear while he slept. La Corriveau was arrested as the perpetrator of
the atrocious deed.
A special court of justice was convened in the great hall of the
Convent of the Ursulines, which, in the ruinous state of the city
after the siege and bombardment, had been taken for the headquarters
of General Murray. Mère Migeon and Mère Esther, who both survived
the conquest, had effected a prudent arrangement with the English
general, and saved the Convent from all further encroachment by
placing it under his special protection.
La Corriveau was tried with all the fairness, if not with all the
forms, of English law. She made a subtle and embarrassing defence,
but was at last fairly convicted of the cruel murder of her husband.
She was sentenced to be hung, and gibbetted in an iron cage, upon
the hill of Levis, in sight of the whole city of Quebec.
La Corriveau made frantic efforts during her imprisonment to engage
Angélique to intercede in her behalf; but Angélique's appeals were
fruitless before the stern administrators of English law. Moreover,
Angélique, to be true to herself, was false to her wicked
confederate. She cared not to intercede too much, or enough to
ensure success. In her heart she wished La Corriveau well out of
the way, that all memory of the tragedy of Beaumanoir might be swept
from the earth, except what of it remained hid in her own bosom.
She juggled with the appeals of La Corriveau, keeping her in hopes
of pardon until the fatal hour came, when it was too late for La
Corriveau to harm her by a confession of the murder of Caroline.
The hill of Levis, where La Corriveau was gibbetted, was long
remembered in the traditions of the Colony. It was regarded with
superstitious awe by the habitans. The ghost of La Corriveau long
haunted, and, in the belief of many, still haunts, the scene of her
execution. Startling tales, raising the hair with terror, were told
of her around the firesides in winter, when the snow-drifts covered
the fences, and the north wind howled down the chimney and rattled
the casement of the cottages of the habitans; how, all night long,
in the darkness, she ran after belated travellers, dragging her cage
at her heels, and defying all the exorcisms of the Church to lay her
Our tale is now done. There is in it neither poetic nor human
justice. But the tablet of the Chien d'Or still overlooks the Rue
Buade; the lamp of Repentigny burns in the ancient chapel of the
Ursulines; the ruins of Beaumanoir cover the dust of Caroline de St.
Castin; and Amélie sleeps her long sleep by the side of Héloise de