Part 5 out of 13
upon the plan of life he has sketched out for both of you?"
"My good brother sketches so many plans of life that I really am not
certain I know the one you refer to." She guessed what was coming,
and held her breath hard until she heard the reply.
"Well, you of course know that his plan of life depends mainly upon
an alliance between yourself and the Chevalier de Repentigny."
She gave vent to her anger and disappointment. She rose up
suddenly, and, grasping the Intendant's arm fiercely, turned him
half round in her vehemence. "Chevalier Bigot! did you come here to
propose for me on behalf of Le Gardeur de Repentigny?"
"Pardon me, Mademoiselle; it is no proposal of mine,--on behalf of
Le Gardeur. I sanctioned his promotion. Your brother, and the
Grand Company generally, would prefer the alliance. I don't!" He
said this with a tone of meaning which Angélique was acute enough to
see implied Bigot's unwillingness to her marrying any man--but
himself, was the addendum she at once placed to his credit. "I
regret I mentioned it," continued he, blandly, "if it be contrary to
"It is contrary to my wishes," replied she, relaxing her clutch of
his arm. "Le Gardeur de Repentigny can speak for himself. I will
not allow even my brother to suggest it; still less will I discuss
such a subject with the Chevalier Bigot."
"I hope you will pardon me, Mademoiselle--I will not call you
Angélique until you are pleased with me again. To be sure, I should
never have forgiven you had you conformed to your brother's wishes.
It was what I feared might happen, and I--I wished to try you; that
"It is dangerous trying me, Chevalier," replied she, resuming her
seat with some heat. "Don't try me again, or I shall take Le
Gardeur out of pure SPITE," she said. Pure love was in her mind,
but the other word came from her lips. "I will do all I can to
rescue him from the Honnêtes Gens, but not by marrying him,
They seemed to understand each other fully. "It is over with now,"
said Bigot. "I swear to you, Angélique, I did not mean to offend
you,--you cut deep."
"Pshaw!" retorted she, smiling. "Wounds by a lady are easily cured:
they seldom leave a mark behind, a month after."
"I don't know that. The slight repulse of a lady's finger--a touch
that would not crush a gnat--will sometimes kill a strong man like a
sword-stroke. I have known such things to happen," said Bigot.
"Well, happily, my touch has not hurt you, Chevalier. But, having
vindicated myself, I feel I owe you reparation. You speak of
rescuing Le Gardeur from the Honnêtes Gens. In what way can I aid
"In many ways and all ways. Withdraw him from them. The great
festival at the Philiberts--when is it to be?"
"To-morrow! See, they have honored me with a special invitation."
She drew a note from her pocket. "This is very polite of Colonel
Philibert, is it not?" said she.
Bigot glanced superciliously at the note. "Do you mean to go,
Angélique?" asked he.
"No; although, had I no feelings but my own to consult, I would
"Whose feelings do you consult, Angélique," asked the Intendant, "if
not your own?"
"Oh, don't be flattered,--the Grand Company's! I am loyal to the
association without respect to persons."
"So much the better," said he. "By the way, it would not be amiss
to keep Le Gardeur away from the festival. These Philiberts and the
heads of the Honnêtes Gens have great sway over him."
"Naturally; they are all his own kith and kin. But I will draw him
away, if you desire it. I cannot prevent his going, but I can find
means to prevent his staying!" added she, with a smile of confidence
in her power.
"That will do, Angélique,--anything to make a breach between them!"
While there were abysses in Bigot's mind which Angélique could not
fathom, as little did Bigot suspect that, when Angélique seemed to
flatter him by yielding to his suggestions, she was following out a
course she had already decided upon in her own mind from the moment
she had learned that Cecile Tourangeau was to be at the festival of
Belmont, with unlimited opportunities of explanation with Le Gardeur
as to her treatment by Angélique.
The Intendant, after some pleasant badinage, rose and took his
departure, leaving Angélique agitated, puzzled, and dissatisfied, on
the whole, with his visit. She reclined on the seat, resting her
head on her hand for a long time,--in appearance the idlest, in
reality the busiest, brain of any girl in the city of Quebec. She
felt she had much to do,--a great sacrifice to make,--but firmly
resolved, at whatever cost, to go through with it; for, after all,
the sacrifice was for herself, and not for others.
THE MEROVINGIAN PRINCESS.
The interior of the Cathedral of St. Marie seemed like another
world, in comparison with the noisy, bustling Market Place in front
The garish sunshine poured hot and oppressive in the square outside,
but was shorn of its strength as it passed through the painted
windows of the Cathedral, filling the vast interior with a cool,
dim, religious light, broken by tall shafts of columns, which
swelled out into ornate capitals, supporting a lofty ceiling, on
which was painted the open heavens with saints and angels adoring
A lofty arch of cunning work overlaid with gold, the masterpiece of
Le Vasseur, spanned the chancel, like the rainbow round the throne.
Lights were burning on the altar, incense went up in spirals to the
roof; and through the wavering cloud the saints and angels seemed to
look down with living faces upon the crowd of worshippers who knelt
upon the broad floor of the church.
It was the hour of Vespers. The voice of the priest was answered by
the deep peal of the organ and the chanting of the choir. The vast
edifice was filled with harmony, in the pauses of which the ear
seemed to catch the sound of the river of life as it flows out of
the throne of God and the Lamb.
The demeanor of the crowd of worshippers was quiet and reverential.
A few gay groups, however, whose occupation was mainly to see and
be seen, exchanged the idle gossip of the day with such of their
friends as they met there. The fee of a prayer or two did not seem
excessive for the pleasure, and it was soon paid.
The perron outside was a favorite resort of the gallants of fashion
at the hour of Vespers, whose practice it was to salute the ladies
of their acquaintance at the door by sprinkling their dainty fingers
with holy water. Religion combined with gallantry is a form of
devotion not quite obsolete at the present day, and at the same
The church door was the recognized spot for meeting, gossip,
business, love-making, and announcements; old friends stopped to
talk over the news, merchants their commercial prospects. It was
at once the Bourse and the Royal Exchange of Quebec: there were
promulgated, by the brazen lungs of the city crier, royal
proclamations of the Governor, edicts of the Intendant, orders of
the Court of Justice, vendues public and private,--in short, the
life and stir of the city of Quebec seemed to flow about the door
of St. Marie as the blood through the heart of a healthy man.
A few old trees, relics of the primeval forest, had been left for
shade and ornament in the great Market Place. A little rivulet of
clear water ran sparkling down the slope of the square, where every
day the shadow of the cross of the tall steeple lay over it like a
A couple of young men, fashionably dressed, loitered this afternoon
near the great door of the Convent in the narrow Street that runs
into the great square of the market. They walked about with short,
impatient turns, occasionally glancing at the clock of the
Recollets, visible through the tall elms that bounded the garden of
the Gray Friars. Presently the door of the Convent opened. Half a
dozen gaily-attired young ladies, internes or pupils of the Convent,
sallied out. They had exchanged their conventual dress for their
usual outside attire, and got leave to go out into the world on some
errand, real or pretended, for one hour and no more.
They tripped lightly down the broad steps, and were instantly joined
by the young men who had been waiting for them. After a hasty,
merry hand-shaking, the whole party proceeded in great glee towards
the Market Place, where the shops of the mercers and confectioners
offered the attractions they sought. They went on purchasing
bonbons and ribbons from one shop to another until they reached the
Cathedral, when a common impulse seized them to see who was there.
They flew up the steps and disappeared in the church.
In the midst of their devotions, as they knelt upon the floor, the
sharp eyes of the young ladies were caught by gesticulations of the
well-gloved hand of the Chevalier des Meloises, as he saluted them
across the aisle.
The hurried recitation of an Ave or two had quite satisfied the
devotion of the Chevalier, and he looked round the church with an
air of condescension, criticizing the music and peering into the
faces of such of the ladies as looked up, and many did so, to return
The young ladies encountered him in the aisle as they left the
church before the service was finished. It had long since been
finished for him, and was finished for the young ladies also when
they had satisfied their curiosity to see who was there and who with
"We cannot pray for you any longer, Chevalier des Meloises!" said
one of the gayest of the group; "the Lady Superior has economically
granted us but one hour in the city to make our purchases and attend
Vespers. Out of that hour we can only steal forty minutes for a
promenade through the city, so good-by, if you prefer the church to
our company, or come with us and you shall escort two of us. You
see we have only a couple of gentlemen to six ladies."
"I much prefer your company, Mademoiselle de Brouague!" replied he
gallantly, forgetting the important meeting of the managers of the
Grand Company at the Palace. The business, however, was being
cleverly transacted without his help.
Louise de Brouague had no great esteem for the Chevalier des
Meloises, but, as she remarked to a companion, he made rather a neat
walking-stick, if a young lady could procure no better to promenade
"We come out in full force to-day, Chevalier," said she, with a
merry glance round the group of lively girls. "A glorious sample of
the famous class of the Louises, are we not?"
"Glorious! superb! incomparable!" the Chevalier replied, as he
inspected them archly through his glass. "But how did you manage to
get out? One Louise at a time is enough to storm the city, but six
of them at once--the Lady Superior is full of mercy to-day."
"Oh! is she? Listen: we should not have got permission to come out
to-day had we not first laid siege to the soft heart of Mère des
Seraphins. She it was who interceded for us, and lo! here we are,
ready for any adventure that may befall errant demoiselles in the
streets of Quebec!"
Well might the fair Louise de Brouague boast of the famous class
of "the Louises," all composed of young ladies of that name,
distinguished for beauty, rank, and fashion in the world of New
Prominent among them at that period was the beautiful, gay Louise de
Brouague. In the full maturity of her charms, as the wife of the
Chevalier de Lery she accompanied her husband to England after the
cession of Canada, and went to Court to pay homage to their new
sovereign, George III., when the young king, struck with her grace
and beauty, gallantly exclaimed,--
"If the ladies of Canada are as handsome as you, I have indeed made
To escort young ladies, internes of the Convent, when granted
permission to go out into the city, was a favorite pastime, truly a
labor of love, of the young gallants of that day,--an occupation, if
very idle, at least very agreeable to those participating in these
stolen promenades, and which have not, perhaps, been altogether
discontinued in Quebec even to the present day.
The pious nuns were of course entirely ignorant of the contrivances
of their fair pupils to amuse themselves in the city. At any rate
they good-naturedly overlooked things they could not quite prevent.
They had human hearts still under their snowy wimples, and perhaps
did not wholly lack womanly sympathy with the dear girls in their
"Why are you not at Belmont to-day, Chevalier des Meloises?" boldly
asked Louise Roy, a fearless little questioner in a gay summer robe.
She was pretty, and sprightly as Titania. Her long chestnut hair
was the marvel and boast of the Convent and, what she prized more,
the admiration of the city. It covered her like a veil down to her
knees when she chose to let it down in a flood of splendor. Her
deep gray eyes contained wells of womanly wisdom. Her skin, fair
as a lily of Artois, had borrowed from the sun five or six faint
freckles, just to prove the purity of her blood and distract the eye
with a variety of charms. The Merovingian Princess, the long-haired
daughter of kings, as she was fondly styled by the nuns, queened it
wherever she went by right divine of youth, wit, and beauty.
"I should not have had the felicity of meeting you, Mademoiselle
Roy, had I gone to Belmont," replied the Chevalier, not liking the
question at all. "I preferred not to go."
"You are always so polite and complimentary," replied she, a trace
of pout visible on her pretty lips. "I do not see how any one could
stay away who was at liberty to go to Belmont! And the whole city
has gone, I am sure! for I see nobody in the street!" She held an
eye-glass coquettishly to her eye. "Nobody at all!" repeated she.
Her companions accused her afterwards of glancing equivocally at the
Chevalier as she made this remark; and she answered with a merry
laugh that might imply either assent or denial.
"Had you heard in the Convent of the festival at Belmont,
Mademoiselle Roy?" asked he, twirling his cane rather majestically.
"We have heard of nothing else and talked of nothing else for a
whole week!" replied she. "Our mistresses have been in a state of
distraction trying to stop our incessant whispering in the school
instead of minding our lessons like good girls trying to earn good
conduct marks! The feast, the ball, the dresses, the company, beat
learning out of our heads and hearts! Only fancy, Chevalier," she
went on in her voluble manner; "Louise de Beaujeu here was asked to
give the Latin name for Heaven, and she at once translated it
"Tell no school tales, Mademoiselle Roy!" retorted Louise de
Beaujeu, her black eyes flashing with merriment. "It was a good
translation! But who was it stumbled in the Greek class when asked
for the proper name of the anax andron, the king of men in the
Iliad?" Louise Roy looked archly and said defiantly, "Go on!"
"Would you believe it, Chevalier, she replied 'Pierre Philibert!'
Mère Christine fairly gasped, but Louise had to kiss the floor as a
penance for pronouncing a gentleman's name with such unction."
"And if I did I paid my penance heartily and loudly, as you may
recollect, Louise de Beaujeu, although I confess I would have
preferred kissing Pierre Philibert himself if I had had my choice!"
"Always her way! won't give in! never! Louise Roy stands by her
translation in spite of all the Greek Lexicons in the Convent!"
exclaimed Louise de Brouague.
"And so I do, and will; and Pierre Philibert is the king of men, in
New France or Old! Ask Amélie de Repentigny!" added she, in a half
whisper to her companion.
"Oh, she will swear to it any day!" was the saucy reply of Louise de
Brouague. "But without whispering it, Chevalier des Meloises,"
continued she, "the classes in the Convent have all gone wild in
his favor since they learned he was in love with one of our late
companions in school. He is the Prince Camaralzaman of our fairy
"Who is that?" The Chevalier spoke tartly, rather. He was
excessively annoyed at all this enthusiasm in behalf of Pierre
"Nay, I will tell no more fairy tales out of school, but I assure
you, if our wishes had wings the whole class of Louises would fly
away to Belmont to-day like a flock of ring-doves."
Louise de Brouague noticed the pique of the Chevalier at the mention
of Philibert, but in that spirit of petty torment with which her sex
avenges small slights she continued to irritate the vanity of the
Chevalier, whom in her heart she despised.
His politeness nearly gave way. He was thoroughly disgusted with
all this lavish praise of Philibert. He suddenly recollected that
he had an appointment at the Palace which would prevent him, he
said, enjoying the full hour of absence granted to the Greek class
of the Ursulines.
"Mademoiselle Angélique has of course gone to Belmont, if pressing
engagements prevent YOU, Chevalier," said Louise Roy. "How
provoking it must be to have business to look after when one wants
to enjoy life!" The Chevalier half spun round on his heel under the
quizzing of Louise's eye-glass.
"No, Angélique has not gone to Belmont," replied he, quite piqued.
"She very properly declined to mingle with the Messieurs and
Mesdames Jourdains who consort with the Bourgeois Philibert! She
was preparing for a ride, and the city really seems all the gayer
by the absence of so many commonplace people as have gone out to
Louise de Brouague's eyes gave a few flashes of indignation. "Fie,
Chevalier! that was naughtily said of you about the good Bourgeois
and his friends," exclaimed she, impetuously. "Why, the Governor,
the Lady de Tilly and her niece, the Chevalier La Corne St. Luc,
Hortense and Claude de Beauharnais, and I know not how many more
of the very élite of society have gone to do honor to Colonel
Philibert! And as for the girls in the Convent, who you will allow
are the most important and most select portion of the community,
there is not one of us but would willingly jump out of the window,
and do penance on dry bread and salt fish for a month, just for one
hour's pleasure at the ball this evening, would we not, Louises?"
Not a Louise present but assented with an emphasis that brought
sympathetic smiles upon the faces of the two young chevaliers who
had watched all this pretty play.
The Chevalier des Meloises bowed very low. "I regret so much,
ladies, to have to leave you! but affairs of State, you know--
affairs of State! The Intendant will not proceed without a full
board: I must attend the meeting to-day at the Palace."
"Oh, assuredly, Chevalier," replied Louise Roy. "What would become
of the Nation, what would become of the world, nay, what would
become of the internes of the Ursulines, if statesmen and warriors
and philosophers like you and the Sieurs Drouillon and La Force here
(this in a parenthesis, not to scratch the Chevalier too deep), did
not take wise counsel for our safety and happiness, and also for the
welfare of the nation?"
The Chevalier des Meloises took his departure under this shower of
The young La Force was as yet only an idle dangler about the city;
but in the course of time became a man of wit and energy worthy of
his name. He replied gaily,--
"Thanks, Mademoiselle Roy! It is just for sake of the fair internes
of the Convent that Drouillon and I have taken up the vocation of
statesmen, warriors, philosophers, and friends. We are quite ready
to guide your innocent footsteps through the streets of this
perilous city, if you are ready to go."
"We had better hasten too!" ejaculated Louise Roy, looking archly
through her eye-glass. "I can see Bonhomme Michel peeping round the
corner of the Côte de Lery! He is looking after us stray lambs of
the flock, Sieur Drouillon!"
Bonhomme Michel was the old watchman and factotum of the monastery.
He had a general commission to keep a sharp eye upon the young
ladies who were allowed to go out into the city. A pair of horn
spectacles usually helped his vision,--sometimes marred it, however,
when the knowing gallants slipped a crown into his hand to put in
the place of his magnifiers! Bonhomme Michel placed all his
propitiation money--he liked a pious word--in his old leathern sack,
which contained the redemption of many a gadding promenade through
the streets of Quebec. Whether he reported what he saw this time is
not recorded in the Vieux Récit, the old annals of the Convent. But
as Louise Roy called him her dear old Cupid, and knew so well how to
bandage his eyes, it is probable the good nuns were not informed of
the pleasant meeting of the class Louises and the gentlemen who
escorted them round the city on the present occasion.
PUT MONEY IN THY PURSE.
The Chevalier des Meloises, quite out of humor with the merry
Louises, picked his way with quick, dainty steps down the Rue du
Palais. The gay Louises, before returning to the Convent, resolved
to make a hasty promenade to the walls to see the people at work
upon them. They received with great contentment the military
salutes of the officers of their acquaintance, which they
acknowledged with the courtesy of well-trained internes, slightly
exaggerated by provoking smiles and mischievous glances which had
formed no part of the lessons in politeness taught them by the nuns.
In justice be it said, however, the girls were actuated by a nobler
feeling than the mere spirit of amusement--a sentiment of loyalty to
France, a warm enthusiasm for their country, drew them to the walls:
they wanted to see the defenders of Quebec, to show their sympathy
and smile approval upon them.
"Would to heaven I were a man," exclaimed Louise de Brouague, "that
I might wield a sword, a spade, anything of use, to serve my
country! I shame to do nothing but talk, pray, and suffer for it,
while every one else is working or fighting."
Poor girl! she did not foresee a day when the women of New France
would undergo trials compared with which the sword stroke that kills
the strong man is as the touch of mercy,--when the batteries of
Wolfe would for sixty-five days shower shot and shell upon Quebec,
and the South shore for a hundred miles together be blazing with the
fires of devastation. Such things were mercifully withheld from
their foresight, and the light-hearted girls went the round of the
works as gaily as they would have tripped in a ballroom.
The Chevalier des Meloises, passing through the Porte du Palais, was
hailed by two or three young officers of the Regiment of Béarn, who
invited him into the Guard House to take a glass of wine before
descending the steep hill. The Chevalier stopped willingly, and
entered the well-furnished quarters of the officers of the guard,
where a cool flask of Burgundy presently restored him to good humor
with himself, and consequently with the world.
"What is up to-day at the Palace?" asked Captain Monredin, a
vivacious Navarrois. "All the Gros Bonnets of the Grand Company
have gone down this afternoon! I suppose you are going too, Des
"Yes! They have sent for me, you see, on affairs of State--what
Penisault calls 'business.' Not a drop of wine on the board!
Nothing but books and papers, bills and shipments, money paid, money
received! Doit et avoir and all the cursed lingo of the Friponne!
I damn the Friponne, but bless her money! It pays, Monredin! It
pays better than fur-trading at a lonely outpost in the northwest."
The Chevalier jingled a handful of coin in his pocket. The sound
was a sedative to his disgust at the idea of trade, and quite
reconciled him to the Friponne.
"You are a lucky dog nevertheless, to be able to make it jingle!"
said Monredin, "not one of us Béarnois can play an accompaniment to
your air of money in both pockets. Here is our famous Regiment of
Béarn, second to none in the King's service, a whole year in arrears
without pay! Gad! I wish I could go into 'business,' as you call
it, and woo that jolly dame, La Friponne!
"For six months we have lived on trust. Those leeches of Jews, who
call themselves Christians, down in the Sault au Matelot, won't cash
the best orders in the regiment for less than forty per cent.
"That is true!" broke in another officer, whose rather rubicund face
told of credit somewhere, and the product of credit,--good wine and
good dinners generally. "That is true, Monredin! The old
curmudgeon of a broker at the corner of the Cul de Sac had the
impudence to ask me fifty per cent. discount upon my drafts on
Bourdeaux! I agree with Des Meloises there: business may be a good
thing for those who handle it, but devil touch their dirty fingers
"Don't condemn all of them, Emeric," said Captain Poulariez, a
quiet, resolute-looking officer. "There is one merchant in the city
who carries the principles of a gentleman into the usages of
commerce. The Bourgeois Philibert gives cent. per cent. for good
orders of the King's officers, just to show his sympathy with the
army and his love for France."
"Well, I wish he were paymaster of the forces, that is all, and then
I could go to him if I wanted to," replied Monredin.
"Why do you not go to him?" asked Poulariez.
"Why, for the same reason, I suppose, so many others of us do not,"
replied Monredin. "Colonel Dalquier endorses my orders, and he
hates the Bourgeois cordially, as a hot friend of the Intendant
ought to do. So you see I have to submit to be plucked of my best
pen-feathers by that old fesse-mathieu Penisault at the Friponne!"
"How many of yours have gone out to the great spread at Belmont?"
asked Des Meloises, quite weary of commercial topics.
"Par Dieu!" replied Monredin, "except the colonel and adjutant, who
stayed away on principle, I think every officer in the regiment,
present company excepted--who being on duty could not go, much to
their chagrin. Such a glorious crush of handsome girls has not been
seen, they say, since our regiment came to Quebec."
"And not likely to have been seen before your distinguished arrival--
eh, Monredin?" ejaculated Des Meloises, holding his glass to be
refilled. "That is delicious Burgundy," added he, "I did not think
any one beside the Intendant had wine like that."
"That is some of La Martinière's cargo," replied Poulariex. "It was
kind of him, was it not, to remember us poor Béarnois here on the
wrong side of the Atlantic?"
"And how earnestly we were praying for that same Burgundy,"
ejaculated Monredin, "when it came, as if dropped upon us by
Providence! Health and wealth to Captain La Martinière and the good
Another round followed.
"They talk about those Jansenist convulsionnaires at the tomb of
Master Paris, which are setting all France by the ears," exclaimed
Monredin, "but I say there is nothing so contagious as the drinking
of a glass of wine like that."
"And the glass gives us convulsions too, Monredin, if we try it too
often, and no miracle about it either," remarked Poulariez.
Monredin looked up, red and puffy, as if needing a bridle to check
his fast gait.
"But they say we are to have peace soon. Is that true, Des
Meloises?" asked Poulariez. "You ought to know what is under the
cards before they are played."
"No, I don't know; and I hope the report is not true. Who wants
peace yet? It would ruin the King's friends in the Colony." Des
Meloises looked as statesmanlike as he could when delivering this
"Ruin the King's friends! Who are they, Des Meloises?" asked
Poulariez, with a look of well-assumed surprise.
"Why, the associates of the Grand Company, to be sure! What other
friends has the King got in New France?"
"Really! I thought he had the Regiment of Béarn for a number of
them--to say nothing of the honest people of the Colony," replied
"The Honnêtes Gens, you mean!" exclaimed Des Meloises. "Well,
Poulariez, all I have to say is that if this Colony is to be kept up
for the sake of a lot of shopkeepers, wood-choppers, cobblers, and
farmers, the sooner the King hands it over to the devil or the
English the better!"
Poulariex looked indignant enough; but from the others a loud laugh
followed this sally.
The Chevalier des Meloises pulled out his watch. "I must be gone to
the Palace," said he. "I dare say Cadet, Varin, and Penisault will
have balanced the ledgers by this time, and the Intendant, who is
the devil for business on such occasions, will have settled the
dividends for the quarter--the only part of the business I care
"But don't you help them with the work a little?" asked Poulariez.
"Not I; I leave business to them that have a vocation for it.
Besides, I think Cadet, Vargin, and Penisault like to keep the inner
ring of the company to themselves." He turned to Emeric: "I hope
there will be a good dividend to-night, Emeric," said he. "I owe
you some revenge at piquet, do I not?"
"You capoted me last night at the Taverne de Menut, and I had three
aces and three kings."
"But I had a quatorze, and took the fishes," replied Des Meloises.
"Well, Chevalier, I shall win them back to-night. I hope the
dividend will be good: in that way I too may share in the 'business'
of the Grand Company."
"Good-by, Chevalier; remember me to St. Blague!" (This was a
familiar sobriquet of Bigot.) "Tis the best name going. If I had
an heir for the old château on the Adour, I would christen him Bigot
The Chevalier des Meloises left the officers and proceeded down the
steep road that led to the Palace. The gardens were quiet to-day--
a few loungers might be seen in the magnificent alleys, pleached
walks, and terraces; beyond these gardens, however, stretched the
King's wharves and the magazines of the Friponne. These fairly
swarmed with men loading and unloading ships and bateaux, and piling
and unpiling goods.
The Chevalier glanced with disdain at the magazines, and flourishing
his cane, mounted leisurely the broad steps of the Palace, and was
at once admitted to the council-room.
"Better late than never, Chevalier des Meloises!" exclaimed Bigot,
carelessly glancing at him as he took a seat at the board, where sat
Cadet, Varin, Penisault, and the leading spirits of the Grand
Company. "You are in double luck to-day. The business is over, and
Dame Friponne has laid a golden egg worth a Jew's tooth for each
partner of the Company."
The Chevalier did not notice, or did not care for, the slight touch
of sarcasm in the Intendant's tone. "Thanks, Bigot!" drawled he.
"My eggs shall be hatched to-night down at Menut's. I expect to
have little more left than the shell of it to-morrow."
"Well, never mind! We have considered all that, Chevalier. What
one loses another gets. It is all in the family. Look here,"
continued he, laying his finger upon a page of the ledger that lay
open before him, "Mademoiselle Angélique des Meloises is now a
shareholder in the Grand Company. The list of high, fair, and noble
ladies of the Court who are members of the Company will be honored
by the addition of the name of your charming sister."
The Chevalier's eyes sparkled with delight as he read Angélique's
name on the book. A handsome sum of five digits stood to her
credit. He bowed his thanks with many warm expressions of his sense
of the honor done his sister by "placing her name on the roll of the
ladies of the Court who honor the Company by accepting a share of
"I hope Mademoiselle des Meloises will not refuse this small mark of
our respect," observed Bigot, feeling well assured she would not
deem it a small one.
"Little fear of that!" muttered Cadet, whose bad opinion of the sex
was incorrigible. "The game fowls of Versailles scratch jewels out
of every dung-hill, and Angélique des Meloises has longer claws than
any of them!"
Cadet's ill-natured remark was either unheard or unheeded; besides,
he was privileged to say anything. Des Meloises bowed with an air
of perfect complaisance to the Intendant as he answered,--"I
guarantee the perfect satisfaction of Angélique with this marked
compliment of the Grand Company. She will, I am sure, appreciate
the kindness of the Intendant as it deserves."
Cadet and Varin exchanged smiles, not unnoticed by Bigot, who smiled
too. "Yes, Chevalier," said he, "the Company gives this token of
its admiration for the fairest lady in New France. We have bestowed
premiums upon fine flax and fat cattle: why not upon beauty, grace,
and wit embodied in handsome women?"
"Angélique will be highly flattered, Chevalier," replied he, "at the
distinction. She must thank you herself, as I am sure she will."
"I am happy to try to deserve her thanks," replied Bigot; and, not
caring to talk further on the subject,--"what news in the city this
afternoon, Chevalier?" asked he; "how does that affair at Belmont go
"Don't know. Half the city has gone, I think. At the Church door,
however, the talk among the merchants is that peace is going to be
made soon. Is it so very threatening, Bigot?"
"If the King wills it, it is." Bigot spoke carelessly.
"But your own opinion, Chevalier Bigot; what think you of it?"
"Amen! amen! Quod fiat fiatur! Seigny John, the fool of Paris,
could enlighten you as well as I could as to what the women at
Versailles may decide to do," replied Bigot in a tone of impatience.
"I fear peace will be made. What will you do in that case, Bigot?"
asked Des Meloises, not noticing Bigot's aversion to the topic.
"If the King makes it, invitus amabo! as the man said who married
the shrew." Bigot laughed mockingly. "We must make the best of it,
Des Meloises! and let me tell you privately, I mean to make a good
thing of it for ourselves whichever way it turns."
"But what will become of the Company should the war expenditure
stop?" The Chevalier was thinking of his dividend of five figures.
"Oh! you should have been here sooner, Des Meloises: you would have
heard our grand settlement of the question in every contingency of
peace or war."
"Be sure of one thing," continued Bigot, "the Grand Company will
not, like the eels of Melun, cry out before they are skinned. What
says the proverb, 'Mieux vaut êngin que force' (craft beats
strength)? The Grand Company must prosper as the first condition of
life in New France. Perhaps a year or two of repose may not be
amiss, to revictual and reinforce the Colony; and by that time we
shall be ready to pick the lock of Bellona's temple again and cry
Vive la guerre! Vive la Grande Compagnie! more merrily than ever!"
Bigot's far-reaching intellect forecast the course of events, which
remained so much subject to his own direction after the peace of Aix
la Chapelle--a peace which in America was never a peace at all, but
only an armed and troubled truce between the clashing interests and
rival ambitions of the French and English in the New World.
The meeting of the Board of Managers of the Grand Company broke up,
and--a circumstance that rarely happened--without the customary
debauch. Bigot, preoccupied with his own projects, which reached
far beyond the mere interests of the Company, retired to his couch.
Cadet, Varin, and Penisault, forming an interior circle of the
Friponne, had certain matters to shape for the Company's eye. The
rings of corruption in the Grand Company descended, narrower and
more black and precipitous, down to the bottom where Bigot sat, the
Demiurgos of all.
The Chevalier des Meloises was rather proud of his sister's beauty
and cleverness, and in truth a little afraid of her. They lived
together harmoniously enough, so long as each allowed the other his
or her own way. Both took it, and followed their own pleasures, and
were not usually disagreeable to one another, except when Angélique
commented on what she called his penuriousness, and he upon her
extravagance, in the financial administration of the family of the
The Chevalier was highly delighted to-day to be able to inform
Angélique of her good fortune in becoming a partner of the Friponne
and that too by grace of his Excellency the Intendant. The
information filled Angélique with delight, not only because it made
her independent of her brother's mismanagement of money, but it
opened a door to her wildest hopes. In that gift her ambition found
a potent ally to enable her to resist the appeal to her heart which
she knew would be made to-night by Le Gardeur de Repentigny.
The Chevalier des Meloises had no idea of his sister's own aims. He
had long nourished a foolish fancy that, if he had not obtained the
hand of the wealthy and beautiful heiress of Repentigny, it was
because he had not proposed. Something to-day had suggested the
thought that unless he did propose soon his chances would be nil,
and another might secure the prize which he had in his vain fancy
set down as his own.
He hinted to Angélique to-day that he had almost resolved to marry,
and that his projected alliance with the noble and wealthy house of
Tilly could be easily accomplished if Angélique would only do her
share, as a sister ought, in securing her brother's fortune and
"How?" asked she, looking up savagely, for she knew well at what her
brother was driving.
"By your accepting Le Gardeur without more delay! All the city
knows he is mad in love, and would marry you any day you choose if
you wore only the hair on your head. He would ask no better
"It is useless to advise me, Renaud!" said she, "and whether I take
Le Gardeur or no it would not help your chance with Amélie! I am
sorry for it, for Amélie is a prize, Renaud! but not for you at any
price. Let me tell you, that desirable young lady will become the
bride of Pierre Philibert, and the bride of no other man living."
"You give one cold encouragement, sister! But I am sure, if you
would only marry Le Gardeur, you could easily, with your tact and
cleverness, induce Amélie to let me share the Tilly fortune. There
are chests full of gold in the old Manor House, and a crow could
hardly fly in a day over their broad lands!"
"Perfectly useless, brother! Amélie is not like most girls. She
would refuse the hand of a king for the sake of the man she loves,
and she loves Pierre Philibert to his finger-ends. She has married
him in her heart a thousand times. I hate paragons of women, and
would scorn to be one, but I tell you, brother, Amélie is a paragon
of a girl, without knowing it!"
"Hum, I never tried my hand on a paragon: I should like to do so,"
replied he, with a smile of decided confidence in his powers. "I
fancy they are just like other women when you can catch them with
their armor off."
"Yes, but women like Amélie never lay off their armor! They seem
born in it, like Minerva. But your vanity will not let you believe
me, Renaud! So go try her, and tell me your luck! She won't
scratch you, nor scold. Amélie is a lady, and will talk to you like
a queen. But she will give you a polite reply to your proposal that
will improve your opinions of our sex."
"You are mocking me, Angélique, as you always do! One never knows
when you are in jest or when in earnest. Even when you get angry,
it is often unreal and for a purpose! I want you to be serious for
once. The fortune of the Tillys and De Repentignys is the best in
New France, and we can make it ours if you will help me."
"I am serious enough in wishing you those chests full of gold, and
those broad lands that a crow cannot fly over in a day; but I must
forego my share of them, and so must you yours, brother!" Angélique
leaned back in her chair, desiring to stop further discussion of a
topic she did not like to hear.
"Why must you forego your share of the De Repentigny fortune,
Angélique? You could call it your own any day you chose by giving
your little finger to Le Gardeur! you do really puzzle me."
The Chevalier did look perplexed at his inscrutable sister, who only
smiled over the table at him, as she nonchalantly cracked nuts and
sipped her wine by drops.
"Of course I puzzle you, Renaud!" said she at last. "I am a puzzle
to myself sometimes. But you see there are so many men in the
world,--poor ones are so plenty, rich ones so scarce, and sensible
ones hardly to be found at all,--that a woman may be excused for
selling herself to the highest bidder. Love is a commodity only
spoken of in romances or in the patois of milkmaids now-a-days!"
"Zounds, Angélique! you would try the patience of all the saints in
the calendar! I shall pity the fellow you take in! Here is the
fairest fortune in the Colony about to fall into the hands of Pierre
Philibert--whom Satan confound for his assurance! A fortune which I
always regarded as my own!"
"It shows the folly and vanity of your sex! You never spoke a word
to Amélie de Repentigny in the way of wooing in your life! Girls
like her don't drop into men's arms just for the asking."
"Pshaw! as if she would refuse me if you only acted a sister's part!
But you are impenetrable as a rock, and the whole of your fickle sex
could not match your vanity and caprice, Angélique."
She rose quickly with a provoked air.
"You are getting so complimentary to my poor sex, Renaud," said she,
"that I must really leave you to yourself, and I could scarcely
leave you in worse company."
"You are so bitter and sarcastic upon one!" replied he, tartly; "my
only desire was to secure a good fortune for you, and another for
myself. I don't see, for my part, what women are made for, except
to mar everything a man wants to do for himself and for them!"
"Certainly everything should be done for us, brother; but I have no
defence to make for my sex, none! I dare say we women deserve all
that men think of us, but then it is impolite to tell us so to our
faces. Now, as I advised you, Renaud, I would counsel you to study
gardening, and you may one day arrive at as great distinction as the
Marquis de Vandriere--you may cultivate chou chou if you cannot
raise a bride like Amélie de Repentigny."
Angélique knew her brother's genius was not penetrating, or she
would scarcely have ventured this broad allusion to the brother of
La Pompadour, who, by virtue of his relationship to the Court
favorite, had recently been created Director of the Royal Gardens.
What fancy was working in the brain of Angélique when she alluded to
him may be only surmised.
The Chevalier was indignant, however, at an implied comparison
between himself and the plebeian Marquis de Vandriere. He replied,
with some heat,--
"The Marquis de Vandriere! How dare you mention him and me
together! There's not an officer's mess in the army that receives
the son of the fishmonger! Why do you mention him, Angélique? You
are a perfect riddle!"
"I only thought something might happen, brother, if I should ever go
to Paris! I was acting a charade in my fancy, and that was the
solution of it!"
"What was? You would drive the whole Sorbonne mad with your
charades and fancies! But I must leave you."
"Good-by, brother,--if you will go. Think of it!--if you want to
rise in the world you may yet become a royal gardener like the
Marquis de Vandriere!" Her silvery laugh rang out good-humoredly as
he descended the stairs and passed out of the house.
She sat down in her fauteuil. "Pity Renaud is such a fool!" said
she; "yet I am not sure but he is wiser in his folly than I with all
my tact and cleverness, which I suspect are going to make a greater
fool of me than ever he is!"
She leaned back in her chair in a deep thinking mood. "It is
growing dark," murmured she. "Le Gardeur will assuredly be here
soon, in spite of all the attractions of Belmont. How to deal with
him when he comes is more than I know: he will renew his suit, I am
For a moment the heart of Angélique softened in her bosom. "Accept
him I must not!" said she; "affront him I will not! cease to love
him is out of my power as much as is my ability to love the
Intendant, whom I cordially detest, and shall marry all the same!"
She pressed her hands over her eyes, and sat silent for a few
minutes. "But I am not sure of it! That woman remains still at
Beaumanoir! Will my scheming to remove her be all in vain or no?"
Angélique recollected with a shudder a thought that had leaped in
her bosom, like a young Satan, engendered of evil desires. "I dare
hardly look in the honest eyes of Le Gardeur after nursing such a
monstrous fancy as that," said she; "but my fate is fixed all the
same. Le Gardeur will vainly try to undo this knot in my life, but
he must leave me to my own devices." To what devices she left him
was a thought that sprang not up in her purely selfish nature.
In her perplexity Angélique tied knot upon knot hard as pebbles in
her handkerchief. Those knots of her destiny, as she regarded them,
she left untied, and they remain untied to this day--a memento of
her character and of those knots in her life which posterity has
puzzled itself over to no purpose to explain.
A short drive from the gate of St. John stood the old mansion of
Belmont, the country-seat of the Bourgeois Philibert--a stately
park, the remains of the primeval forest of oak, maple, and pine;
trees of gigantic growth and ample shade surrounded the high-roofed,
many-gabled house that stood on the heights of St. Foye overlooking
the broad valley of the St. Charles. The bright river wound like a
silver serpent through the flat meadows in the bottom of the valley,
while the opposite slopes of alternate field and forest stretched
away to the distant range of the Laurentian hills, whose pale blue
summits mingled with the blue sky at midday or, wrapped in mist at
morn and eve, were hardly distinguishable from the clouds behind
The gardens and lawns of Belmont were stirring with gay company to-
day in honor of the fête of Pierre Philibert upon his return home
from the campaign in Acadia. Troops of ladies in costumes and
toilettes of the latest Parisian fashion gladdened the eye with
pictures of grace and beauty which Paris itself could not have
surpassed. Gentlemen in full dress, in an age when dress was an
essential part of a gentleman's distinction, accompanied the ladies
with the gallantry, vivacity, and politeness belonging to France,
and to France alone.
Communication with the mother country was precarious and uncertain
by reason of the war and the blockade of the Gulf by the English
cruisers. Hence the good fortune and daring of the gallant Captain
Martinière in running his frigate, the Fleur-de-Lis, through the
fleet of the enemy, enabling him among other things to replenish the
wardrobes of the ladies of Quebec with latest Parisian fashions,
made him immensely popular on this gala day. The kindness and
affability of the ladies extended without diminution of graciousness
to the little midshipmen even, whom the Captain conditioned to take
with him wherever he and his officers were invited. Captain
Martinière was happy to see the lads enjoy a few cakes on shore
after the hard biscuit they had so long nibbled on shipboard. As
for himself, there was no end to the gracious smiles and thanks he
received from the fair ladies at Belmont.
At the great door of the Manor House, welcoming his guests as they
arrived, stood the Bourgeois Philibert, dressed as a gentleman of
the period, in attire rich but not ostentatious. His suit of dark
velvet harmonized well with his noble manner and bearing. But no
one for a moment could overlook the man in contemplating his dress.
The keen, discriminating eye of woman, overlooking neither dress nor
man, found both worthy of warmest commendation, and many remarks
passed between the ladies on that day that a handsomer man and more
ripe and perfect gentleman than the Bourgeois Philibert had never
been seen in New France.
His grizzled hair grew thickly all over his head, the sign of a
tenacious constitution. It was powdered and tied behind with a
broad ribbon, for he hated perukes. His strong, shapely figure was
handsomely conspicuous as he stood, chapeau in hand, greeting his
guests as they approached. His eyes beamed with pleasure and
hospitality, and his usually grave, thoughtful lips were wreathed in
smiles, the sweeter because not habitually seen upon them.
The Bourgeois had this in common with all complete and earnest
characters, that the people believed in him because they saw that he
believed in himself. His friends loved and trusted him to the
uttermost, his enemies hated and feared him in equal measure; but no
one, great or small, could ignore him and not feel his presence as a
solid piece of manhood.
It is not intellect, nor activity, nor wealth, that obtains most
power over men; but force of character, self-control, a quiet,
compressed will and patient resolve; these qualities make one man
the natural ruler over others by a title they never dispute.
The party of the Honnêtes Gens, the "honest folks" as they were
derisively called by their opponents, regarded the Bourgeois
Philibert as their natural leader. His force of character made men
willingly stand in his shadow. His clear intellect, never at fault,
had extended his power and influence by means of his vast mercantile
operations over half the continent. His position as the foremost
merchant of New France brought him in the front of the people's
battle with the Grand Company, and in opposition to the financial
policy of the Intendant and the mercantile assumption of the
But the personal hostility between the Intendant and the Bourgeois
had its root and origin in France, before either of them crossed the
ocean to the hither shore of the Atlantic. The Bourgeois had been
made very sensible of a fact vitally affecting him, that the decrees
of the Intendant, ostensibly for the regulation of trade in New
France, had been sharply pointed against himself. "They draw
blood!" Bigot had boasted to his familiars as he rubbed his hands
together with intense satisfaction one day, when he learned that
Philibert's large trading-post in Mackinaw had been closed in
consequence of the Indians having been commanded by royal authority,
exercised by the Intendant, to trade only at the comptoirs of the
Grand Company. "They draw blood!" repeated he, "and will draw the
life yet out of the Golden Dog." It was plain the ancient grudge of
the courtly parasite had not lost a tooth during all those years.
The Bourgeois was not a man to talk of his private griefs, or seek
sympathy, or even ask counsel or help. He knew the world was
engrossed with its own cares. The world cares not to look under the
surface of things for sake of others, but only for its own sake, its
own interests, its own pleasures.
To-day, however, cares, griefs, and resentments were cast aside, and
the Bourgeois was all joy at the return of his only son, and proud
of Pierre's achievements, and still more of the honors spontaneously
paid him. He stood at the door, welcoming arrival after arrival,
the happiest man of all the joyous company who honored Belmont that
A carriage with outriders brought the Count de la Galissonière and
his friend Herr Kalm and Dr. Gauthier, the last a rich old bachelor,
handsome and generous, the physician and savant par excellence of
Quebec. After a most cordial reception by the Bourgeois the
Governor walked among the guests, who had crowded up to greet him
with the respect due to the King's representative, as well as to
show their personal regard; for the Count's popularity was unbounded
in the Colony except among the partizans of the Grand Company.
Herr Kalm was presently enticed away by a bevy of young ladies,
Hortense de Beauharnais leading them, to get the learned professor's
opinion on some rare specimens of botany growing in the park.
Nothing loath--for he was good-natured as he was clever, and a great
enthusiast withal in the study of plants--he allowed the merry,
talkative girls to lead him where they would. He delighted them in
turn by his agreeable, instructive conversation, which was rendered
still more piquant by the odd medley of French, Latin, and Swedish
in which it was expressed.
An influx of fresh arrivals next poured into the park--the Chevalier
de la Corne, with his pretty daughter, Agathe La Corne St. Luc; the
Lady de Tilly and Amélie de Repentigny, with the brothers de
Villiers. The brothers had overtaken the Chevalier La Corne upon
the road, but the custom of the highway in New France forbade any
one passing another without politely asking permission to do so.
"Yes, Coulon," replied the Chevalier; "ride on!" He winked
pleasantly at his daughter as he said this. "There is, I suppose,
nothing left for an old fellow who dates from the sixteen hundreds
but to take the side of the road and let you pass. I should have
liked, however, to stir up the fire in my gallant little Norman
ponies against your big New England horses. Where did you get them?
Can they run?"
"We got them in the sack of Saratoga," replied Coulon, "and they ran
well that day, but we overtook them. Would Mademoiselle La Corne
care if we try them now?"
Scarcely a girl in Quebec would have declined the excitement of a
race on the highroad of St. Foye, and Agathe would fain have driven
herself in the race, but being in full dress to-day, she thought of
her wardrobe and the company. She checked the ardor of her father,
and entered the park demurely, as one of the gravest of the guests.
"Happy youths! Noble lads, Agathe!" exclaimed the Chevalier,
admiringly, as the brothers rode rapidly past them. "New France
will be proud of them some day!"
The rest of the company now began to arrive in quick succession.
The lawn was crowded with guests. "Ten thousand thanks for coming!"
exclaimed Pierre Philibert, as he assisted Amélie de Repentigny and
the Lady de Tilly to alight from their carriage.
"We could not choose but come to-day, Pierre," replied Amélie,
feeling without displeasure the momentary lingering of his hand as
it touched hers. "Nothing short of an earthquake would have kept
aunt at home," added she, darting a merry glance of sympathy with
her aunt's supposed feelings.
"And you, Amélie?" Pierre looked into those dark eyes which shyly
turned aside from his gaze.
"I was an obedient niece, and accompanied her. It is so easy to
persuade people to go where they wish to go!" She withdrew her hand
gently, and took his arm as he conducted the ladies into the house.
She felt a flush on her cheek, but it did not prevent her saying in
her frank, kindly way,--"I was glad to come to-day, Pierre, to
witness this gathering of the best and noblest in the land to honor
your fête. Aunt de Tilly has always predicted greatness for you."
"And you, Amélie, doubted, knowing me a shade better than your
"No, I believed her; so true a prophet as aunt surely deserved one
Pierre felt the electric thrill run through him which a man feels at
the moment he discovers a woman believes in him. "Your presence
here to-day, Amélie! you cannot think how sweet it is," said he.
Her hand trembled upon his arm. She thought nothing could be
sweeter than such words from Pierre Philibert. With a charming
indirectness, however, which did not escape him, she replied, "Le
Gardeur is very proud of you to-day, Pierre."
He laid his fingers upon her hand. It was a delicate little hand,
but with the strength of an angel's it had moulded his destiny and
led him to the honorable position he had attained. He was
profoundly conscious at this moment of what he owed to this girl's
silent influence. He contented himself, however, with saying, "I
will so strive that one day Amélie de Repentigny shall not shame to
say she too is proud of me."
She did not reply for a moment. A tremor agitated her low, sweet
voice. "I am proud of you now, Pierre,--more proud than words can
tell to see you so honored, and proudest to think you deserve it
It touched him almost to tears. "Thanks, Amélie; when you are proud
of me I shall begin to feel pride of myself. Your opinion is the
one thing in life I have most cared for,--your approbation is my
Her eyes were eloquent with unspoken words, but she thought, "If
that were all!" Pierre Philibert had long received the silent
reward of her good opinion and approbation.
The Bourgeois at this moment came up to salute Amélie and the Lady
"The Bourgeois Philibert has the most perfect manner of any
gentleman in New France," was the remark of the Lady de Tilly to
Amélie, as he left them again to receive other guests. "They say he
can be rough and imperious sometimes to those he dislikes, but to
his friends and strangers, and especially to ladies, no breath of
spring can be more gentle and balmy." Amélie assented with a mental
reservation in the depths of her dark eyes, and in the dimple that
flashed upon her cheek as she suppressed the utterance of a pleasant
fancy in reply to her aunt.
Pierre conducted the ladies to the great drawing-room, which was
already filled with company, who overwhelmed Amélie and her aunt
with the vivacity of their greeting.
In a fine shady grove at a short distance from the house, a row of
tables was set for the entertainment of several hundreds of the
hardy dependents of the Bourgeois; for while feasting the rich the
Bourgeois would not forget his poorer friends, and perhaps his most
exquisite satisfaction was in the unrestrained enjoyment of his
hospitality by the crowd of happy, hungry fellows and their
families, who, under the direction of his chief factor, filled the
tables from end to end, and made the park resound with songs and
merriment--fellows of infinite gaiety, with appetites of Gargantuas
and a capacity for good liquors that reminded one of the tubs of the
Danaïdes. The tables groaned beneath mountains of good things, and
in the centre of each, like Mont Blanc rising from the lower Alps,
stood a magnificent Easter pie, the confection of which was a
masterpiece of the skill of Maître Guillot Gobet, the head cook of
the Bourgeois, who was rather put out, however, when Dame Rochelle
decided to bestow all the Easter pies upon the hungry voyageurs,
woodmen, and workmen, and banished them from the menu of the more
patrician tables set for the guests of the mansion.
"Yet, after all," exclaimed Maître Guillot, as he thrust his head
out of the kitchen door to listen to the song the gay fellows were
singing with all their lungs in honor of his Easter pie; "after all,
the fine gentlemen and ladies would not have paid my noble pies such
honor as that! and what is more the pies would not have been eaten
up to the last crumb!" Maître Guillot's face beamed like a harvest
moon, as he chimed in with the well-known ditty in praise of the
great pie of Rouen:
"'C'est dans la ville de Rouen,
Ils ont fait un paté si grand,
Ils ont fait un paté si grand,
Qu'ils ont trouvê un homme dedans!'"
Maître Guillot would fain have been nearer, to share in the shouting
and clapping of hands which followed the saying of grace by the good
Curé of St. Foye, and to see how vigorously knives were handled, and
how chins wagged in the delightful task of levelling down mountains
of meat, while Gascon wine and Norman cider flowed from ever-
The Bourgeois and his son, with many of his chief guests, honored
for a time the merry feast out-of-doors, and were almost inundated
by the flowing cups drunk to the health and happiness of the
Bourgeois and of Pierre Philibert.
Maître Guillot Gobet returned to his kitchen, where he stirred up
his cooks and scullions on all sides, to make up for the loss of his
Easter pies on the grand tables in the hall. He capered among them
like a marionette, directing here, scolding there, laughing, joking,
or with uplifted hands and stamping feet despairing of his
underlings' cooking a dinner fit for the fête of Pierre Philibert.
Maître Guilot was a little, fat, red-nosed fellow, with twinkling
black eyes, and a mouth irascible as that of a cake-baker of Lerna.
His heart was of the right paste, however, and full as a butter-boat
of the sweet sauce of good nature, which he was ready to pour over
the heads of all his fellows who quietly submitted to his dictation.
But woe to man or maid servant who delayed or disputed his royal
orders! An Indian typhoon instantly blew. At such a time even Dame
Rochelle would gather her petticoats round her and hurry out of the
storm, which always subsided quickly in proportion to the violence
of its rage.
Maître Guillot knew what he was about, however. He did not use, he
said, to wipe his nose with a herring! and on that day he was going
to cook a dinner fit for the Pope after Lent, or even for the
Reverend Father De Berey himself, who was the truest gourmet and the
best trencherman in New France.
Maître Guillot honored his master, but in his secret soul he did not
think his taste quite worthy of his cook! But he worshipped Father
De Berey, and gloried in the infallible judgment and correct taste
of cookery possessed by the jolly Recollet. The single approbation
of Father De Berey was worth more than the praise of a world full of
ordinary eating mortals, who smacked their lips and said things were
good, but who knew no more than one of the Cent Suisses why things
were good, or could appreciate the talents of an artiste of the
Maître Guillot's Easter pie had been a splendid success. "It was
worthy," he said, "to be placed as a crown on top of the new
Cathedral of St. Marie, and receive the consecration of the Bishop."
Lest the composition of it should be forgotten, Maître Guillot had,
with the solemnity of a deacon intoning the Litany, ravished the ear
of Jules Painchaud, his future son-in-law, as he taught him the
secrets of its confection.
With his white cap set rakishly on one side of his head and arms
akimbo, Maître Guillot gave Jules the famous recipe:
"Inside of circular walls of pastry an inch thick, and so rich as
easily to be pulled down, and roomy enough within for the Court of
King Pepin, lay first a thick stratum of mince-meat of two savory
hams of Westphalia, and if you cannot get them, of two hams of our
"Of our habitans!" ejaculated Jules, with an air of consternation.
"Precisely! don't interrupt me!" Maître Guillot grew red about the
gills in an instant. Jules was silenced. "I have said it!" cried
he; "two hams of our habitans! what have you to say against it--
stock fish, eh?"
"Oh, nothing, sir," replied Jules, with humility, "only I thought--"
Poor Jules would have consented to eat his thought rather than fall
out with the father of his Susette.
"You thought!" Maître Guillot's face was a study for Hogarth, who
alone could have painted the alto tone of voice as it proceeded from
his round O of a mouth. "Susette shall remain upon my hands an old
maid for the term of her natural life if you dispute the confection
of Easter pie!"
"Now listen, Jules," continued he, at once mollified by the
contrite, submissive air of his future son-in-law: "Upon the
foundation of the mince-meat of two hams of Westphalia,--or, if you
cannot get them, of two hams of our habitans,--place scientifically
the nicely-cut pieces of a fat turkey, leaving his head to stick out
of the upper crust, in evidence that Master Dindon lies buried
there! Add two fat capons, two plump partridges, two pigeons, and
the back and thighs of a brace of juicy hares. Fill up the whole
with beaten eggs, and the rich contents will resemble, as a poet
might say, 'fossils of the rock in golden yolks embedded and
enjellied!' Season as you would a saint. Cover with a slab of
pastry. Bake it as you would cook an angel, and not singe a
feather. Then let it cool, and eat it! And then, Jules, as the
Reverend Father de Berey always says after grace over an Easter pie,
SIC ITUR AD ASTRA.
The old hall of Belmont had been decorated for many a feast since
the times of its founder, the Intendant Talon; but it had never
contained a nobler company of fair women and brave men, the pick and
choice of their race, than to-day met round the hospitable and
splendid table of the Bourgeois Philibert in honor of the fête of
his gallant son.
Dinner was duly and decorously despatched. The social fashion of
New France was not for the ladies to withdraw when the wine followed
the feast, but to remain seated with the gentlemen, purifying the
conversation, and by their presence restraining the coarseness which
was the almost universal vice of the age.
A troop of nimble servitors carried off the carved dishes and
fragments of the splended pâtisseries of Maître Guillot, in such a
state of demolition as satisfied the critical eye of the chief cook
that the efforts of his genius had been very successful. He
inspected the dishes through his spectacles. He knew, by what was
left, the ability of the guests to discriminate what they had eaten
and to do justice to his skill. He considered himself a sort of
pervading divinity, whose culinary ideas passing with his cookery
into the bodies of the guests enabled them, on retiring from the
feast, to carry away as part of themselves some of the fine essence
of Maître Gobet himself.
At the head of his table, peeling oranges and slicing pineapples for
the ladies in his vicinity, sat the Bourgeois himself, laughing,
jesting, and telling anecdotes with a geniality that was contagious.
"'The gods are merry sometimes,' says Homer, 'and their laughter
shakes Olympus!'" was the classical remark of Father de Berey, at
the other end of the table. Jupiter did not laugh with less loss of
dignity than the Bourgeois.
Few of the guests did not remember to the end of their lives the
majestic and happy countenance of the Bourgeois on this memorable
At his right hand sat Amélie de Repentigny and the Count de la
Galissonière. The Governor, charmed with the beauty and
agreeableness of the young chatelaine, had led her in to dinner, and
devoted himself to her and the Lady de Tilly with the perfection of
gallantry of a gentleman of the politest court in Europe. On his
left sat the radiant, dark-eyed Hortense de Beauharnais. With a gay
assumption of independence Hortense had taken the arm of La Corne
St. Luc, and declared she would eat no dinner unless he would be her
cavalier and sit beside her! The gallant old soldier surrendered at
discretion. He laughingly consented to be her captive, he said, for
he had no power and no desire but to obey. Hortense was proud of
her conquest. She seated herself by his side with an air of triumph
and mock gravity, tapping him with her fan whenever she detected his
eye roving round the table, compassionating, she affirmed, her
rivals, who had failed where she had won in securing the youngest,
the handsomest, and most gallant of all the gentlemen at Belmont.
"Not so fast, Hortense!" exclaimed the gay Chevalier; "you have
captured me by mistake! The tall Swede--he is your man! The other
ladies all know that, and are anxious to get me out of your toils,
so that you may be free to ensnare the philosopher!"
"But you don't wish to get away from me! I am your garland,
Chevalier, and you shall wear me to-day. As for the tall Swede, he
has no idea of a fair flower of our sex except to wear it in his
button-hole,--this way!" added she, pulling a rose out of a vase and
archly adorning the Chevalier's vest with it.
"All pretence and jealousy, mademoiselle. The tall Swede knows how
to take down your pride and bring you to a proper sense of your
false conceit of the beauty and wit of the ladies of New France."
Hortense gave two or three tosses of defiance to express her
emphatic dissent from his opinions.
"I wish Herr Kalm would lend me his philosophic scales, to weigh
your sex like lambs in market," continued La Corne St. Luc; "but I
fear I am too old, Hortense, to measure women except by the fathom,
which is the measure of a man."
"And the measure of a man is the measure of an angel too scriptum
est, Chevalier!" replied she. Hortense had ten merry meanings in
her eye, and looked as if bidding him select which he chose. "The
learned Swede's philosophy is lost upon me," continued she, "he can
neither weigh by sample nor measure by fathom the girls of New
France!" She tapped him on the arm. "Listen to me, chevalier,"
said she, "you are neglecting me already for sake of Cecile
Tourangeau!" La Corne was exchanging some gay badinage with a
graceful, pretty young lady on the other side of the table, whose
snowy forehead, if you examined it closely, was marked with a red
scar, in figure of a cross, which, although powdered and partially
concealed by a frizz of her thick blonde hair, was sufficiently
distinct to those who looked for it; and many did so, as they
whispered to each other the story of how she got it.
Le Gardeur de Repentigny sat by Cecile, talking in a very sociable
manner, which was also commented on. His conversation seemed to be
very attractive to the young lady, who was visibly delighted with
the attentions of her handsome gallant.
At this moment a burst of instruments from the musicians, who
occupied a gallery at the end of the hall, announced a vocal
response to the toast of the King's health, proposed by the
Bourgeois. "Prepare yourself for the chorus, Chevalier," exclaimed
Hortense. "Father de Berey is going to lead the royal anthem!"
"Vive le Roi!" replied La Corne. "No finer voice ever sang Mass, or
chanted 'God Save the King!' I like to hear the royal anthem from
the lips of a churchman rolling it out ore rotundo, like one of the
Psalms of David. Our first duty is to love God,--our next to honor
the King! and New France will never fail in either!" Loyalty was
ingrained in every fibre of La Corne St. Luc.
"Never, Chevalier. Law and Gospel rule together, or fall together!
But we must rise," replied Hortense, springing up.
The whole company rose simultaneously. The rich, mellow voice of
the Rev. Father de Berey, round and full as the organ of Ste. Marie,
commenced the royal anthem composed by Lulli in honor of Louis
Quatorze, upon an occasion of his visit to the famous Convent of St.
Cyr, in company with Madame de Maintenon.
The song composed by Madame Brinon was afterwards translated into
English, and words and music became, by a singular transposition,
the national hymn of the English nation.
"God Save the King!" is no longer heard in France. It was buried
with the people's loyalty, fathoms deep under the ruins of the
monarchy. But it flourishes still with pristine vigor in New
France, that olive branch grafted on the stately tree of the British
Empire. The broad chest and flexile lips of Father de Berey rang
out the grand old song in tones that filled the stately old hall:
"'Grand Dieu! Sauvez le Roi!
Grand Dieu! Sauvez le Roi!
Sauvez le Roi!
Que toujours glorieux.
Voye ses ennemis
The company all joined in the chorus, the gentlemen raising their
cups, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs, and male and female
blending in a storm of applause that made the old walls ring with
joy. Songs and speeches followed in quick succession, cutting as
with a golden blade the hours of the dessert into quinzaines of
The custom of the times had reduced speechmaking after dinner to a
minimum. The ladies, as Father de Berey wittily remarked, preferred
private confession to public preaching; and long speeches, without
inlets for reply, were the eighth mortal sin which no lady would
The Bourgeois, however, felt it incumbent upon himself to express
his deep thanks for the honor done his house on this auspicious
occasion. And he remarked that the doors of Belmont, so long closed
by reason of the absence of Pierre, would hereafter be ever open to
welcome all his friends. He had that day made a gift of Belmont,
with all its belongings, to Pierre, and he hoped,--the Bourgeois
smiled as he said this, but he would not look in a quarter where his
words struck home,--he hoped that some one of Quebec's fair
daughters would assist Pierre in the menage of his home and enable
him to do honor to his housekeeping.
Immense was the applause that followed the short, pithy speech of
the Bourgeois. The ladies blushed and praised, the gentlemen
cheered and enjoyed in anticipation the renewal of the old
hospitalities of Belmont.
"The skies are raining plum cakes!" exclaimed the Chevalier La Corne
to his lively companion. "Joy's golden drops are only distilled in
the alembic of woman's heart! What think you, Hortense? Which of
Quebec's fair daughters will be willing to share Belmont with
"Oh, any of them would!" replied she. "But why did the Bourgeois
restrict his choice to the ladies of Quebec, when he knew I came
from the Three Rivers?"
"Oh, he was afraid of you, Hortense; you would make Belmont too good
for this world! What say you, Father de Berry? Do you ever walk on
The friar, in a merry mood, had been edging close to Hortense. "I
love, of all things, to air my gray gown on the cape of a breezy
afternoon," replied the jovial Recollet, "when the fashionables are
all out, and every lady is putting her best foot foremost. It is
then I feel sure that Horace is the next best thing to the Homilies:
"'Teretesque suras laudo, et integer ego!'"
The Chevalier La Corne pinched the shrugging shoulder of Hortense as
he remarked, "Don't confess to Father de Berey that you promenade on
the cape! But I hope Pierre Philibert will soon make his choice!
We are impatient to visit him and give old Provençal the butler a
run every day through those dark crypts of his, where lie entombed
the choicest vintages of sunny France."
The Chevalier said this waggishly, for the benefit of old Provençal,
who stood behind his chair looking half alarmed at the threatened
raid upon his well-filled cellars.
"But if Pierre should not commit matrimony," replied Hortense, "what
will become of him? and especially what will become of us?"
"We will drink his wine all the same, good fellow that he is! But
Pierre had as lief commit suicide as not commit matrimony; and who
would not? Look here, Pierre Philibert," continued the old soldier,
addressing him, with good-humored freedom. "Matrimony is clearly
your duty, Pierre; but I need not tell you so: it is written on your
face plain as the way betwen Peronne and St. Quintin,--a good,
honest way as ever was trod by shoe leather, and as old as Chinon in
Touraine! Try it soon, my boy. Quebec is a sack full of pearls!"
Hortense pulled him mischievously by the coat, so he caught her hand
and held it fast in his, while he proceeded: "You put your hand in
the sack and take out the first that offers. It will be worth a
Jew's ransom! If you are lucky to find the fairest, trust me it
will be the identical pearl of great price for which the merchant
went and sold all that he had and bought it. Is not that Gospel,
Father de Berey? I think I have heard something like that preached
from the pulpit of the Recollets?"
"Matter of brimborion, Chevalier! not to be questioned by laymen!
Words of wisdom for my poor brothers of St. Francis, who, after
renouncing the world, like to know that they have renounced
something worth having! But not to preach a sermon on your parable,
Chevalier, I will promise Colonel Philibert that when he has found
the pearl of great price,"--Father de Berey, who knew a world of
secrets, glanced archly at Amélie as he said this,--"the bells of
our monastery shall ring out such a merry peal as they have not rung
since fat Brother Le Gros broke his wind, and short Brother Bref
stretched himself out half a yard pulling the bell ropes on the
wedding of the Dauphin."
Great merriment followed the speech of Father de Berey. Hortense
rallied the Chevalier, a good old widower, upon himself not
travelling the plain way between Peronne and St. Quintin, and
jestingly offered herself to travel with him, like a couple of
gypsies carrying their budget of happiness pick-a-back through the
"Better than that!" La Corne exclaimed. Hortense was worthy to ride
on the baggage-wagons in his next campaign! Would she go? She gave
him her hand. "I expect nothing else!" said she. "I am a soldier's
daughter, and expect to live a soldier's wife, and die a soldier's
widow. But a truce to jest. It is harder to be witty than wise,"
continued she. "What is the matter with Cousin Le Gardeur?" Her
eyes were fixed upon him as he read a note just handed to him by a
servant. He crushed it in his hand with a flash of anger, and made
a motion as if about to tear it, but did not. He placed it in his
bosom. But the hilarity of his countenance was gone.
There was another person at the table whose quick eye, drawn by
sisterly affection, saw Le Gardeur's movement before even Hortense.
Amélie was impatient to leave her seat and go beside him, but she
could not at the moment leave the lively circle around her. She at
once conjectured that the note was from Angélique des Meloises.
After drinking deeply two or three times Le Gardeur arose, and with
a faint excuse that did not impose on his partner left the table.
Amélie rose quickly also, excusing herself to the Bourgeois, and
joined her brother in the park, where the cool night air blew fresh
and inviting for a walk.
Pretty Cecile Touraugeau had caught a glimpse of the handwriting as
she sat by the side of Le Gardeur, and guessed correctly whence it
had come and why her partner so suddenly left the table.
She was out of humor; the red mark upon her forehead grew redder as
she pouted in visible discontent. But the great world moves on,
carrying alternate storms and sunshine upon its surface. The
company rose from the table--some to the ball-room, some to the park
and conservatories. Cecile's was a happy disposition, easily
consoled for her sorrows. Every trace of her displeasure was
banished and almost forgotten from the moment the gay, handsome
Jumonville de Villiers invited her out to the grand balcony, where,
he said, the rarest pastime was going on.
And rare pastime it was! A group of laughing but half-serious girls
were gathered round Doctor Gauthier, urging him to tell their
fortunes by consulting the stars, which to-night shone out with
At that period, as at the present, and in every age of the world,
the female sex, like the Jews of old, asks signs, while the Greeks--
that is, the men--seek wisdom.
The time never was, and never will be, when a woman will cease to be
curious,--when her imagination will not forecast the decrees of fate
in regard to the culminating event of her life and her whole nature--
marriage. It was in vain Doctor Gauthier protested his inability
to read the stars without his celestial eye-glasses.
The ladies would not accept his excuses: he knew the heavens by
heart, they said, and could read the stars of destiny as easily as
the Bishop his breviary.
In truth the worthy doctor was not only a believer but an adept in
astrology. He had favored his friends with not a few horoscopes and
nativities, when pressed to do so. His good nature was of the
substance of butter: any one that liked could spread it over their
bread. Many good men are eaten up in that way by greedy friends.
Hortense de Beauharnais urged the Doctor so merrily and so
perseveringly, promising to marry him herself if the stars said so,
that he laughingly gave way, but declared he would tell Hortense's
fortune first, which deserved to be good enough to make her fulfil
her promise just made.
She was resigned, she said, and would accept any fate from the rank
of a queen to a cell among the old maids of St. Cyr! The girls of
Quebec hung all their hopes on the stars, bright and particular ones
especially. They were too loving to live single, and too proud to
live poor. But she was one who would not wait for ships to land
that never came, and plums to drop into her mouth that never
ripened. Hortense would be ruled by the stars, and wise Doctor
Gauthier should to-night declare her fate.
They all laughed at this free talk of Hortense. Not a few of the
ladies shrugged their shoulders and looked askance at each other,
but many present wished they had courage to speak like her to Doctor
"Well, I see there is nothing else for it but to submit to my ruling
star, and that is you, Hortense!" cried the Doctor; "so please
stand up before me while I take an inventory of your looks as a
preliminary to telling your fortune."
Hortense placed herself instantly before him. "It is one of the
privileges of our dry study," remarked he, as he looked admiringly
on the tall, charming figure and frank countenance of the girl
"The querent," said he gravely, "is tall, straight, slender, arms
long, hands and feet of the smallest, hair just short of blackness,
piercing, roving eyes, dark as night and full of fire, sight quick,
and temperament alive with energy, wit, and sense."
"Oh, tell my fortune, not my character! I shall shame of energy,
wit, and sense, if I hear such flattery, Doctor!" exclaimed she,
shaking herself like a young eagle preparing to fly.
"We shall see what comes of it, Hortense!" replied he gravely, as
with his gold-headed cane he slowly quartered the heavens like an
ancient augur, and noted the planets in their houses. The doctor
was quite serious, and even Hortense, catching his looks, stood very
silent as he studied the celestial aspects,
"Carrying through ether in perpetual round
Decrees and resolutions of the Gods."
"The Lord of the ascendant," said he, "is with the Lord of the
seventh in the tenth house. The querent, therefore, shall marry the
man made for her, but not the man of her youthful hope and her first
"The stars are true," continued he, speaking to himself rather than
to her. "Jupiter in the seventh house denotes rank and dignity by
marriage, and Mars in sextile foretells successful wars. It is
wonderful, Hortense! The blood of Beauharnais shall sit on thrones
more than one; it shall rule France, Italy, and Flanders, but not
New France, for Saturn in quintile looks darkly upon the twins who
"Come, Jumonville," exclaimed Hortense, "congratulate Claude on the
greatness awaiting the house of Beauharnais, and condole with me
that I am to see none of it myself! I do not care for kings and
queens in the third generation, but I do care for happy fortune in
the present for those I know and love! Come, Jumonville, have your
fortune told now, to keep me in countenance. If the Doctor hits the
truth for you I shall believe in him for myself."
"That is a good idea, Hortense," replied Jumonville; "I long ago
hung my hat on the stars--let the Doctor try if he can find it."
The Doctor, in great good humor, surveyed the dark, handsome face
and lithe, athletic figure of Jumonville de Villiers. He again
raised his cane with the gravity of a Roman pontifex, marking off
his templum in the heavens. Suddenly he stopped. He repeated more
carefully his survey, and then turned his earnest eyes upon the
"You see ill-fortune for me, Doctor!" exclaimed Jumonville, with
bright, unflinching eyes, as he would look on danger of any kind.
"The Hyleg, or giver of life, is afflicted by Mars in the eighth
house, and Saturn is in evil aspect in the ascendant!" said the
"That sounds warlike, and means fighting I suppose, Doctor. It is a
brave fortune for a soldier. Go on!" Jumonville was in earnest
"The pars fortunae," continued the Doctor, gazing upward, "rejoices
in a benign aspect with Venus. Fame, true love, and immortality
will be yours, Jumonville de Villiers; but you will die young under
the flag of your country and for sake of your King! You will not
marry, but all the maids and matrons of New France will lament your
fate with tears, and from your death shall spring up the salvation
of your native land--how, I see not; but decretum est, Jumonville,
ask me no more!"
A thrill like a stream of electricity passed through the company.
Their mirth was extinguished, for none could wholly free their minds
from the superstition of their age. The good Doctor sat down, and
wiped his moistened eye-glasses. He would tell no more to-night, he
said. He had really gone too far, making jest of earnest and
earnest of jest, and begged pardon of Jumonville for complying with
The young soldier laughed merrily. "If fame, immortality, and true
love are to be mine, what care I for death? It will be worth giving
up life for, to have the tears of the maids and matrons of New
France to lament your fate. What could the most ambitious soldier
The words of Jumonville struck a kindred chord in the bosom of
Hortense de Beauharnais. They were stamped upon her heart forever.
A few years after this prediction, Jumonville de Villiers lay slain
under a flag of truce on the bank of the Monongahela, and of all the
maids and matrons of New France who wept over his fate, none shed
more and bitterer tears than his fair betrothed bride, Hortense de
The prediction of the Sieur Gauthier was repeated and retold as a
strangely true tale; it passed into the traditions of the people,
and lingered in their memory generations after the festival of
Belmont was utterly forgotten.
When the great revolt took place in the English Colonies, the death
of the gallant Jumonville de Villiers was neither forgotten nor
forgiven by New France. Congress appealed in vain for union and
help from Canadians. Washington's proclamations were trodden under
foot, and his troops driven back or captured. If Canada was lost to
France partly through the death of Jumonville, it may also be said
that his blood helped to save it to England. The ways of Providence
are so mysterious in working out the problems of national existence
that the life or death of a single individual may turn the scales of
destiny over half a continent.
But all these events lay as yet darkly in the womb of the future.
The gallant Jumonville who fell, and his brother Coulon who took his
"noble revenge" upon Washington by sparing his life, were to-day the
gayest of the gay throng who had assembled to do honor to Pierre
While this group of merry guests, half in jest, half in earnest,
were trying to discover in the stars the "far-reaching concords"
that moulded the life of each, Amélie led her brother away from the
busy grounds near the mansion, and took a quiet path that led into
the great park which they entered.
A cool salt-water breeze, following the flood tide that was coming
up the broad St. Lawrence, swept their faces as Amélie walked by the
side of Le Gardeur, talking in her quiet way of things familiar, and
of home interests until she saw the fever of his blood abate and his
thoughts return into calmer channels. Her gentle craft subdued his
impetuous mood--if craft it might be called--for more wisely cunning
than all craft is the prompting of true affection, where reason
responds like instinct to the wants of the heart.
They sat down upon a garden seat overlooking the great valley. None
of the guests had sauntered out so far, but Amélie's heart was full;
she had much to say, and wished no interruption.
"I am glad to sit in this pretty spot, Amélie," said he, at last,
for he had listened in silence to the sweet, low voice of his sister
as she kept up her half sad, half glad monologue, because she saw it
pleased him. It brought him into a mood in which she might venture
to talk of the matter that pressed sorely upon her heart.
"A little while ago, I feared I might offend you, Le Gardeur," said
she, taking his hand tenderly in hers, "if I spoke all I wished. I
never did offend you that I remember, brother, did I?"
"Never, my incomparable sister; you never did, and never could. Say
what you will, ask me what you like; but I fear I am unworthy of
your affection, sister."
"You are not unworthy; God gave you as my only brother, you will
never be unworthy in my eyes. But it touches me to the quick to
suspect others may think lightly of you, Le Gardeur."
He flinched, for his pride was touched, but he knew Amélie was
right. "It was weakness in me," said he, "I confess it, sister. To
pour wine upon my vexation in hope to cure it, is to feed a fire
with oil. To throw fire into a powder magazine were wisdom compared
with my folly, Amélie: I was angry at the message I got at such a
time. Angélique des Meloises has no mercy upon her lovers!"
"Oh, my prophetic heart! I thought as much! It was Angélique,
then, sent you the letter you read at table?"
"Yes, who else could have moved me so? The time was ill-chosen, but
I suspect, hating the Bourgeois as she does, Angélique intended to
call me from Pierre's fête. I shall obey her now, but tonight she
shall obey me, decide to make or mar me, one way or other! You may
read the letter, Amélie, if you will."
"I care not to read it, brother; I know Angélique too well not to
fear her influence over you. Her craft and boldness were always a
terror to her companions. But you will not leave Pierre's fête
tonight?" added she, half imploringly; for she felt keenly the
discourtesy to Pierre Philibert.
"I must do even that, sister! Were Angélique as faulty as she is
fair, I should only love her the more for her faults, and make them
my own. Were she to come to me like Herodias with the Baptist's
head in a charger, I should outdo Herod in keeping my pledge to
Amélie uttered a low, moaning cry. "O my dear infatuated brother,
it is not in nature for a De Repentigny to love irrationally like
that! What maddening philtre have you drank, to intoxicate you
with a woman who uses you so imperiously? But you will not go, Le
Gardeur!" added she, clinging to his arm. "You are safe so long as
you are with your sister,--you will be safe no longer if you go to
the Maison des Meloises tonight!"
"Go I must and shall, Amélie! I have drank the maddening philtre,--
I know that, Amélie, and would not take an antidote if I had one!
The world has no antidote to cure me. I have no wish to be cured of
love for Angélique, and in fine I cannot be, so let me go and
receive the rod for coming to Belmont and the reward for leaving it
at her summons!" He affected a tone of levity, but Amélie's ear
easily detected the false ring of it.
"Dearest brother!" said she, "are you sure Angélique returns, or is
capable of returning, love like yours? She is like the rest of us,
weak and fickle, merely human, and not at all the divinity a man in
his fancy worships when in love with a woman." It was in vain,
however, for Amélie to try to persuade her brother of that.
"What care I, Amélie, so long as Angélique is not weak and fickle to
me?" answered he; "but she will think her tardy lover is both weak
and fickle unless I put in a speedy appearance at the Maison des
Meloises!" He rose up as if to depart, still holding his sister by
Amélie's tears flowed silently in the darkness. She was not willing
to plant a seed of distrust in the bosom of her brother, yet she
remembered bitterly and indignantly what Angélique had said of her
intentions towards the Intendant. Was she using Le Gardeur as a
foil to set off her attractions in the eyes of Bigot?
"Brother!" said Amélie, "I am a woman, and comprehend my sex better
than you. I know Angélique's far-reaching ambition and crafty ways.
Are you sure, not in outward persuasion but in inward conviction,
that she loves you as a woman should love the man she means to
Le Gardeur felt her words like a silver probe that searched his
heart. With all his unbounded devotion, he knew Angélique too well
not to feel a pang of distrust sometimes, as she showered her
coquetries upon every side of her. It was the overabundance of her
love, he said, but he thought it often fell like the dew round
Gideon's fleece, refreshing all the earth about it, but leaving the
fleece dry. "Amélie!" said he, "you try me hard, and tempt me too,
my sister, but it is useless. Angélique may be false as Cressida to
other men, she will not be false to me! She has sworn it, with her
hand in mine, before the altar of Notre Dame. I would go down to
perdition with her in my arms rather than be a crowned king with all
the world of women to choose from and not get her."
Amélie shuddered at his vehemence, but she knew how useless was
expostulation. She wisely refrained, deeming it her duty, like a
good sister, to make the best of what she could not hinder. Some
jasmines overhung the seat; she plucked a handful, and gave them to
him as they rose to return to the house.
"Take them with you, Le Gardeur," said she, giving him the flowers,
which she tied into a wreath; "they will remind Angélique that she
has a powerful rival in your sister's love."
He took them as they walked slowly back. "Would she were like you,
Amélie, in all things!" said he. "I will put some of your flowers
in her hair to-night for your sake, sister."
"And for her own! May they be for you both an augury of good! Mind
and return home, Le Gardeur, after your visit. I shall sit up to
await your arrival, to congratulate you;" and, after a pause, she
added, "or to console you, brother!"
"Oh, no fear, sister!" replied he, cheeringly. "Angélique is true
as steel to me. You shall call her my betrothed tomorrow! Good-by!
And now go dance with all delight till morning." He kissed her and
departed for the city, leaving her in the ball-room by the side of
the Lady de Tilly.
Amélie related to her aunt the result of her conversation with Le
Gardeur, and the cause of his leaving the fête so abruptly. The
Lady de Tilly listened with surprise and distress. "To think," said
she, "of Le Gardeur asking that terrible girl to marry him! My only
hope is, she will refuse him. And if it be as I hear, I think she
"It would be the ruin of Le Gardeur if she did, aunt! You cannot
think how determined he is on this marriage."
"It would be his ruin if she accepted him!" replied the Lady de
Tilly. "With any other woman Le Gardeur might have a fair chance of
happiness; but none with her! More than one of her lovers lies in a
bloody grave by reason of her coquetries. She has ruined every man
whom she has flattered into loving her. She is without affection.
Her thoughts are covered with a veil of deceit impenetrable. She
would sacrifice the whole world to her vanity. I fear, Amélie, she
will sacrifice Le Gardeur as ruthlessly as the most worthless of her
"We can only hope for the best, aunt; and I do think Angélique loves
Le Gardeur as she never loved any other."
They were presently rejoined by Pierre Philibert. The Lady de Tilly
and Amélie apologized for Le Gardeur's departure,--he had been
compelled to go to the city on an affair of urgency, and had left
them to make his excuses. Pierre Philibert was not without a shrewd
perception of the state of affairs. He pitied Le Gardeur, and
excused him, speaking most kindly of him in a way that touched the
heart of Amélie. The ball went on with unflagging spirit and
enjoyment. The old walls fairly vibrated with the music and dancing
of the gay company.
The music, like the tide in the great river that night, reached its
flood only after the small hours had set in. Amélie had given her
hand to Pierre for one or two dances, and many a friendly, many a
half envious guess was made as to the probable Chatelaine of
SO GLOZED THE TEMPTER.
The lamps burned brightly in the boudoir of Angélique des Meloises
on the night of the fête of Pierre Philibert. Masses of fresh
flowers filled the antique Sèvres vases, sending delicious odors
through the apartment, which was furnished in a style of almost
royal splendor. Upon the white hearth a few billets of wood blazed
cheerfully, for, after a hot day, as was not uncommon in New France,
a cool salt-water breeze came up the great river, bringing reminders
of cold sea-washed rocks and snowy crevices still lingering upon the
mountainous shores of the St. Lawrence.
Angélique sat idly watching the wreaths of smoke as they rose in
shapes fantastic as her own thoughts.
By that subtle instinct which is a sixth sense in woman, she knew
that Le Gardeur de Repentigny would visit her to-night and renew
his offer of marriage. She meant to retain his love and evade his
proposals, and she never for a moment doubted her ability to
accomplish her ends. Men's hearts had hitherto been but potter's
clay in her hands, and she had no misgivings now; but she felt that
the love of Le Gardeur was a thing she could not tread on without a
shock to herself like the counter-stroke of a torpedo to the naked
foot of an Indian who rashly steps upon it as it basks in a sunny
She was agitated beyond her wont, for she loved Le Gardeur with a
strange, selfish passion, for her own sake, not for his,--a sort of
love not uncommon with either sex. She had the frankness to be half
ashamed of it, for she knew the wrong she was doing to one of the
most noble and faithful hearts in the world. But the arrival of the
Intendant had unsettled every good resolution she had once made to
marry Le Gardeur de Repentigny and become a reputable matron in
society. Her ambitious fantasies dimmed every perception of duty to
her own heart as well as his; and she had worked herself into that
unenviable frame of mind which possesses a woman who cannot resolve
either to consent or deny, to accept her lover or to let him go.
The solitude of her apartment became insupportable to her. She
sprang up, opened the window, and sat down in the balcony outside,
trying to find composure by looking down into the dark, still
street. The voices of two men engaged in eager conversation reached
her ear. They sat upon the broad steps of the house, so that every
word they spoke reached her ear, although she could scarcely
distinguish them in the darkness. These were no other than Max
Grimeau and Blind Bartemy, the brace of beggars whose post was at
the gate of the Basse Ville. They seemed to be comparing the amount
of alms each had received during the day, and were arranging for a
supper at some obscure haunt they frequented in the purlieus of the
lower town, when another figure came up, short, dapper, and carrying
a knapsack, as Angélique could detect by the glimmer of a lantern
that hung on a rope stretched across the street. He was greeted
warmly by the old mendicants.
"Sure as my old musket it is Master Pothier, and nobody else!"
exclaimed Max Grimeau rising, and giving the newcomer a hearty
embrace. "Don't you see, Bartemy? He has been foraging among the
fat wives of the south shore. What a cheek he blows--red as a
peony, and fat as a Dutch Burgomaster!" Max had seen plenty of the
world when he marched under Marshal de Belleisle, so he was at no
loss for apt comparisons.