Part 6 out of 13
"Yes!" replied Blind Bartemy, holding out his hand to be shaken. "I
see by your voice, Master Pothier, that you have not said grace over
bare bones during your absence. But where have you been this long
"Oh, fleecing the King's subjects to the best of my poor ability in
the law! and without half the success of you and Max here, who toll
the gate of the Basse Ville more easily than the Intendant gets in
the King's taxes!"
"Why not?" replied Bartemy, with a pious twist of his neck, and an
upward cast of his blank orbs. "It is pour l'amour de Dieu! We
beggars save more souls than the Curé; for we are always exhorting
men to charity. I think we ought to be part of Holy Church as well
as the Gray Friars."
"And so we are part of Holy Church, Bartemy!" interrupted Max
Grimeau. "When the good Bishop washed twelve pair of our dirty feet
on Maunday Thursday in the Cathedral, I felt like an Apostle--I did!
My feet were just ready for benediction; for see! they had never
been washed, that I remember of, since I marched to the relief of
Prague! But you should have been out to Belmont to-day, Master
Pothier! There was the grandest Easter pie ever made in New France!
You might have carried on a lawsuit inside of it, and lived off the
estate for a year--I ate a bushel of it. I did!"
"Oh, the cursed luck is every day mine!" replied Master Pothier,
clapping his hands upon his stomach. "I would not have missed that
Easter pie--no, not to draw the Pope's will! But, as it is laid
down in the Coutume d' Orléans (Tit. 17), the absent lose the
usufruct of their rights; vide, also, Pothier des Successions--
I lost my share of the pie of Belmont!"
"Well, never mind, Master Pothier," replied Max. "Don't grieve;
you shall go with us to-night to the Fleur-de-Lis in the Sault au
Matelot. Bartemy and I have bespoken an eel pie and a gallon of
humming cider of Normandy. We shall all be jolly as the
marguilliers of Ste. Roche, after tithing the parish!"
"Have with you, then! I am free now: I have just delivered a letter
to the Intendant from a lady at Beaumanoir, and got a crown for it.
I will lay it on top of your eel pie, Max!"
Angélique, from being simply amused at the conversation of the old
beggars, became in an instant all eyes and ears at the words of
"Had you ever the fortune to see that lady at Beaumanoir?" asked
Max, with more curiosity than was to be expected of one in his
"No; the letter was handed me by Dame Tremblay, with a cup of wine.
But the Intendant gave me a crown when he read it. I never saw the
Chevalier Bigot in better humor! That letter touched both his purse
and his feelings. But how did you ever come to hear of the Lady of
"Oh, Bartemy and I hear everything at the gate of the Basse Ville!
My Lord Bishop and Father Glapion of the Jesuits met in the gate one
day and spoke of her, each asking the other if he knew who she was--
when up rode the Intendant; and the Bishop made free, as Bishops
will, you know, to question him whether he kept a lady at the
"'A round dozen of them, my Lord Bishop!' replied Bigot, laughing.
La! It takes the Intendant to talk down a Bishop! He bade my Lord
not to trouble himself, the lady was under his tutelle! which I
comprehended as little, as little--"
"As you do your Nominy Dominy!" replied Pothier. "Don't be angry,
Max, if I infer that the Intendant quoted Pigean (Tit. 2, 27): 'Le
Tuteur est comptable de sa gestion.'"
"I don't care what the pigeons have to say to it--that is what the
Intendant said!" replied Max, hotly, "and THAT, for your law
grimoire, Master Pothier!" Max snapped his fingers like the lock of
his musket at Prague, to indicate what he meant by THAT!
"Oh, inepte loquens! you don't understand either law or Latin, Max!"
exclaimed Pothier, shaking his ragged wig with an air of pity.
"I understand begging; and that is getting without cheating, and
much more to the purpose," replied Max, hotly. "Look you, Master
Pothier! you are learned as three curates; but I can get more money
in the gate of the Basse Ville by simply standing still and crying
out Pour l'amour de Dieu! than you with your budget of law lingo-
jingo, running up and down the country until the dogs eat off the
calves of your legs, as they say in the Nivernois."
"Well, never mind what they say in the Nivernois about the calves of
my legs! Bon coq ne fut jamais gras!--a game-cock is never fat--and
that is Master Pothier dit Robin. Lean as are my calves, they will
carry away as much of your eel pie to-night as those of the stoutest
carter in Quebec!"
"And the pie is baked by this time; so let us be jogging!"
interrupted Bartemy, rising. "Now give me your arm, Max! and with
Master Pothier's on the other side, I shall walk to the Fleur-de-Lis
straight as a steeple."
The glorious prospect of supper made all three merry as crickets on
a warm hearth, as they jogged over the pavement in their clouted
shoes, little suspecting they had left a flame of anger in the
breast of Angélique des Meloises, kindled by the few words of
Pothier respecting the lady of Beaumanoir.
Angélique recalled with bitterness that the rude bearer of the note
had observed something that had touched the heart and opened the
purse of the Intendant. What was it? Was Bigot playing a game with
Angélique des Meloises? Woe to him and the lady of Beaumanoir if he
was! As she sat musing over it a knock was heard on the door of her
boudoir. She left the balcony and reëntered her room, where a neat,
comely girl in a servant's dress was waiting to speak to her.
The girl was not known to Angélique. But courtesying very low, she
informed her that she was Fanchon Dodier, a cousin of Lizette's.
She had been in service at the Château of Beaumanoir, but had just
left it. "There is no living under Dame Tremblay," said she, "if
she suspect a maid servant of flirting ever so little with M.
Froumois, the handsome valet of the Intendant! She imagined that I
did; and such a life as she has led me, my Lady! So I came to the
city to ask advice of cousin Lizette, and seek a new place. I am
sure Dame Tremblay need not be so hard upon the maids. She is
always boasting of her own triumphs when she was the Charming
"And Lizette referred you to me?" asked Angélique, too occupied just
now to mind the gossip about Dame Tremblay, which another time she
would have enjoyed immensely. She eyed the girl with intense
curiosity; for might she not tell her something of the secret over
which she was eating her heart out?
"Yes, my Lady! Lizette referred me to you, and told me to be very
circumspect indeed about what I said touching the Intendant, but
simply to ask if you would take me into your service. Lizette need
not have warned me about the Intendant; for I never reveal secrets
of my masters or mistresses, never! never, my Lady!"
"You are more cunning than you look, nevertheless," thought
Angélique, "whatever scruple you may have about secrets." "Fanchon,"
said she, "I will make one condition with you: I will take you into
my service if you will tell me whether you ever saw the Lady of
Angélique's notions of honor, clear enough in theory, never
prevented her sacrificing them without compunction to gain an object
or learn a secret that interested her.
"I will willingly tell you all I know, my Lady. I have seen her
once; none of the servants are supposed to know she is in the
Château, but of course all do." Fanchon stood with her two hands in
the pockets of her apron, as ready to talk as the pretty grisette
who directed Lawrence Sterne to the Opéra Comique.
"Of course!" remarked Angélique, "a secret like that could never be
kept in the Château of Beaumanoir! Now tell me, Fanchon, what is
she like?" Angélique sat up eagerly and brushed back the hair from
her ear with a rapid stroke of her hand as she questioned the girl.
There was a look in her eyes that made Fanchon a little afraid, and
brought out more truth than she intended to impart.
"I saw her this morning, my Lady, as she knelt in her oratory: the
half-open door tempted me to look, in spite of the orders of Dame
"Ah! you saw her this morning!" repeated Angélique impetuously; "how
does she appear? Is she better in looks than when she first came to
the Château, or worse? She ought to be worse, much worse!"
"I do not know, my Lady, but, as I said, I looked in the door,
although forbid to do so. Half-open doors are so tempting, and one
cannot shut one's eyes! Even a keyhole is hard to resist when you
long to know what is on the other side of it--I always found it so!"
"I dare say you did! But how does she look?" broke in Angélique,
impatiently stamping her dainty foot on the floor.
"Oh, so pale, my Lady! but her face is the loveliest I ever saw,--
almost," added she, with an after-thought; "but so sad! she looks
like the twin sister of the blessed Madonna in the Seminary chapel,
"Was she at her devotions, Fanchon?"
"I think not, my Lady: she was reading a letter which she had just
received from the Intendant."
Angélique's eyes were now ablaze. She conjectured at once that
Caroline was corresponding with Bigot, and that the letter brought
to the Intendant by Master Pothier was in reply to one from him.
"But how do you know the letter she was reading was from the
Intendant? It could not be!" Angélique's eyebrows contracted
angrily, and a dark shadow passed over her face. She said "It could
not be," but she felt it could be, and was.
"Oh, but it was from the Intendant, my Lady! I heard her repeat his
name and pray God to bless François Bigot for his kind words. That
is the Intendant's name, is it not, my Lady?"
"To be sure it is! I should not have doubted you, Fanchon! but
could you gather the purport of that letter? Speak truly, Fanchon,
and I will reward you splendidly. What think you it was about?"
"I did more than gather the purport of it, my Lady: I have got the
letter itself!" Angélique sprang up eagerly, as if to embrace
Fanchon. "I happened, in my eagerness, to jar the door; the lady,
imagining some one was coming, rose suddenly and left the room. In
her haste she dropped the letter on the floor. I picked it up; I
thought no harm, as I was determined to leave Dame Tremblay to-day.
Would my Lady like to read the letter?"
Angélique fairly sprang at the offer. "You have got the letter,
Fanchon? Let me see it instantly! How considerate of you to bring
it! I will give you this ring for that letter!" She pulled a ring
off her finger, and seizing Fanchon's hand, put it on hers. Fanchon
was enchanted; she admired the ring, as she turned it round and
round her finger.
"I am infinitely obliged, my Lady, for your gift. It is worth a
million such letters," said she.
"The letter outweighs a million rings," replied Angélique as she
tore it open violently and sat down to read.
The first word struck her like a stone:
"DEAR CAROLINE:"--it was written in the bold hand of the Intendant,
which Angélique knew very well--"You have suffered too much for my
sake, but I am neither unfeeling nor ungrateful. I have news for
you! Your father has gone to France in search of you! No one
suspects you to be here. Remain patiently where you are at present,
and in the utmost secrecy, or there will be a storm which may upset
us both. Try to be happy, and let not the sweetest eyes that were
ever seen grow dim with needless regrets. Better and brighter days
will surely come. Meanwhile, pray! pray, my Caroline! it will do
you good, and perhaps make me more worthy of the love which I know
is wholly mine.
Angélique devoured rather than read the letter. She had no sooner
perused it than she tore it up in a paroxysm of fury, scattering its
pieces like snowflakes over the floor, and stamping on them with her
firm foot as if she would tread them into annihilation.
Fanchon was not unaccustomed to exhibitions of feminine wrath; but
she was fairly frightened at the terrible rage that shook Angélique
from head to foot.
"Fanchon! did you read that letter?" demanded she, turning suddenly
upon the trembling maid. The girl saw her mistress's cheeks twitch
with passion, and her hands clench as if she would strike her if she
Shrinking with fear, Fanchon replied faintly, "No, my Lady; I cannot
"And you have allowed no other person to read it?"
"No, my Lady; I was afraid to show the letter to any one; you know I
ought not to have taken it!"
"Was no inquiry made about it?" Angélique laid her hand upon the
girl's shoulder, who trembled from head to foot.
"Yes, my Lady; Dame Tremblay turned the Château upside down, looking
for it; but I dared not tell her I had it!"
"I think you speak truth, Fanchon!" replied Angélique, getting
somewhat over her passion; but her bosom still heaved, like the
ocean after a storm. "And now mind what I say!"--her hand pressed
heavily on the girl's shoulder, while she gave her a look that
seemed to freeze the very marrow in her bones. "You know a secret
about the Lady of Beaumanoir, Fanchon, and one about me too! If you
ever speak of either to man or woman, or even to yourself, I will
cut the tongue out of your mouth and nail it to that door-post!
Mind my words, Fanchon! I never fail to do what I threaten."
"Oh, only do not look so at me, my Lady!" replied poor Fanchon,
perspiring with fear. "I am sure I never shall speak of it. I
swear by our Blessed Lady of Ste. Foye! I will never breathe to
mortal that I gave you that letter."
"That will do!" replied Angélique, throwing herself down in her
great chair. "And now you may go to Lizette; she will attend to
you. But REMEMBER!"
The frightened girl did not wait for another command to go.
Angélique held up her finger, which to Fanchon looked terrible as a
poniard. She hurried down to the servants' hall with a secret held
fast between her teeth for once in her life; and she trembled at the
very thought of ever letting it escape.
Angélique sat with her hands on her temples, staring upon the fire
that flared and flickered in the deep fireplace. She had seen a
wild, wicked vision there once before. It came again, as things
evil never fail to come again at our bidding. Good may delay, but
evil never waits. The red fire turned itself into shapes of lurid
dens and caverns, changing from horror to horror until her creative
fancy formed them into the secret chamber of Beaumanoir with its one
fair, solitary inmate, her rival for the hand of the Intendant,--her
fortunate rival, if she might believe the letter brought to her so
strangely. Angélique looked fiercely at the fragments of it lying
upon the carpet, and wished she had not destroyed it; but every word
of it was stamped upon her memory, as if branded with a hot iron.
"I see it all, now!" exclaimed she--"Bigot's falseness, and her
shameless effrontery in seeking him in his very house. But it shall
not be!" Angélique's voice was like the cry of a wounded panther
tearing at the arrow which has pierced his flank. "Is Angélique des
Meloises to be humiliated by that woman? Never! But my bright
dreams will have no fulfilment so long as she lives at Beaumanoir,--
so long as she lives anywhere!"
She sat still for a while, gazing into the fire; and the secret
chamber of Beaumanoir again formed itself before her vision. She
sprang up, touched by the hand of her good angel perhaps, and for
the last time. "Satan whispered it again in my ear!" cried she.
"Ste. Marie! I am not so wicked as that! Last night the thought
came to me in the dark--I shook it off at dawn of day. To-night it
comes again,--and I let it touch me like a lover, and I neither
withdraw my hand nor tremble! To-morrow it will return for the last
time and stay with me,--and I shall let it sleep on my pillow! The
babe of sin will have been born and waxed to a full demon, and I
shall yield myself up to his embraces! O Bigot, Bigot! what have
you not done? C'est la faute à vous! C'est la faute à vous!" She
repeated this exclamation several times, as if by accusing Bigot she
excused her own evil imaginings and cast the blame of them upon him.
She seemed drawn down into a vortex from which there was no escape.
She gave herself up to its drift in a sort of passionate
abandonment. The death or the banishment of Caroline were the only
alternatives she could contemplate. "'The sweetest eyes that were
ever seen'--Bigot's foolish words!" thought she; "and the influence
of those eyes must be killed if Angélique des Meloises is ever to
mount the lofty chariot of her ambition."
"Other women," she thought bitterly, "would abandon greatness for
love, and in the arms of a faithful lover like Le Gardeur find a
compensation for the slights of the Intendant!"
But Angélique was not like other women: she was born to conquer men--
not to yield to them. The steps of a throne glittered in her wild
fancy, and she would not lose the game of her life because she had
missed the first throw. Bigot was false to her, but he was still
worth the winning, for all the reasons which made her first listen
to him. She had no love for him--not a spark! But his name, his
rank, his wealth, his influence at Court, and a future career of
glory there--these things she had regarded as her own by right of
her beauty and skill in ruling men. "No rival shall ever boast she
has conquered Angélique des Meloises!" cried she, clenching her
hands. And thus it was in this crisis of her fate the love of Le
Gardeur was blown like a feather before the breath of her passionate
selfishness. The weights of gold pulled her down to the nadir.
Angélique's final resolution was irrevocably taken before her eager,
hopeful lover appeared in answer to her summons recalling him from
the festival of Belmont.
SEALS OF LOVE, BUT SEALED IN VAIN.
She sat waiting Le Gardeur's arrival, and the thought of him began
to assert its influence as the antidote of the poisonous stuff she
had taken into her imagination. His presence so handsome, his
manner so kind, his love so undoubted, carried her into a region of
intense satisfaction. Angélique never thought so honestly well of
herself as when recounting the marks of affection bestowed upon her
by Le Gardeur de Repentigny. "His love is a treasure for any woman
to possess, and he has given it all to me!" said she to herself.
"There are women who value themselves wholly by the value placed
upon them by others; but I value others by the measure of myself. I
love Le Gardeur; and what I love I do not mean to lose!" added she,
with an inconsequence that fitted ill with her resolution regarding
the Intendant. But Angélique was one who reconciled to herself all
professions, however opposite or however incongruous.
A hasty knock at the door of the mansion, followed by the quick,
well-known step up the broad stair, brought Le Gardeur into her
presence. He looked flushed and disordered as he took her eagerly-
extended hand and pressed it to his lips.
Her whole aspect underwent a transformation in the presence of her
lover. She was unfeignedly glad to see him. Without letting go his
hand she led him to the sofa, and sat down by him. Other men had
the semblance of her graciousness, and a perfect imitation it was
too; but he alone had the reality of her affection.
"O Le Gardeur!" exclaimed she, looking him through and through, and
detecting no flaw in his honest admiration, "can you forgive me for
asking you to come and see me to-night? and for absolutely no
reason--none in the world, Le Gardeur, but that I longed to see you!
I was jealous of Belmont for drawing you away from the Maison des
"And what better reason could I have in the world than that you were
longing to see me, Angélique? I think I should leave the gate of
Heaven itself if you called me back, darling! Your presence for a
minute is more to me than hours of festivity at Belmont, or the
company of any other woman in the world."
Angélique was not insensible to the devotion of Le Gardeur. Her
feelings were touched, and never slow in finding an interpretation
for them she raised his hand quickly to her lips and kissed it. "I
had no motive in sending for you but to see you, Le Gardeur!" said
she; "will that content you? If it won't--"
"This shall," replied he, kissing her cheek--which she was far from
averting or resenting.
"That is so like you, Le Gardeur!" replied she,--"to take before it
is given!" She stopped--"What was I going to say?" added she. "It
was given, and my contentment is perfect to have you here by my
side!" If her thoughts reverted at this moment to the Intendant it
was with a feeling of repulsion, and as she looked fondly on the
face of Le Gardeur she could not help contrasting his handsome looks
with the hard, swarthy features of Bigot.
"I wish my contentment were perfect, Angélique; but it is in your
power to make it so--will you? Why keep me forever on the threshold
of my happiness, or of my despair, whichever you shall decree? I
have spoken to Amélie tonight of you!"
"O do not press me, Le Gardeur!" exclaimed she, violently agitated,
anxious to evade the question she saw burning on his lips, and
distrustful of her own power to refuse; "not now! not to-night!
Another day you shall know how much I love you, Le Gardeur! Why
will not men content themselves with knowing we love them, without
stripping our favors of all grace by making them duties, and in the
end destroying our love by marrying us?" A flash of her natural
archness came over her face as she said this.
"That would not be your case or mine, Angélique," replied he,
somewhat puzzled at her strange speech. But she rose up suddenly
without replying, and walked to a buffet, where stood a silver
salver full of refreshments. "I suppose you have feasted so
magnificently at Belmont that you will not care for my humble
hospitalities," said she, offering him a cup of rare wine, a recent
gift of the Intendant,--which she did not mention, however. "You
have not told me a word yet of the grand party at Belmont. Pierre
Philibert has been highly honored by the Honnêtes Gens I am sure!"
"And merits all the honor he receives! Why were you not there too,
Angélique? Pierre would have been delighted," replied he, ever
ready to defend Pierre Philibert.
"And I too! but I feared to be disloyal to the Fripponne!" said she,
half mockingly. "I am a partner in the Grand Company you know, Le
Gardeur! But I confess Pierre Philibert is the handsomest man--
except one--in New France. I own to THAT. I thought to pique
Amélie one day by telling her so, but on the contrary I pleased her
beyond measure! She agreed without excepting even the one!"
"Amélie told me your good opinions of Pierre, and I thanked you for
it!" said he, taking her hand. "And now, darling, since you cannot
with wine, words, or winsomeness divert me from my purpose in making
you declare what you think of me also, let me tell you I have
promised Amélie to bring her your answer to-night!"
The eyes of Le Gardeur shone with a light of loyal affection.
Angélique saw there was no escaping a declaration. She sat
irresolute and trembling, with one hand resting on his arm and the
other held up deprecatingly. It was a piece of acting she had
rehearsed to herself for this foreseen occasion. But her tongue,
usually so nimble and free, faltered for once in the rush of
emotions that well-nigh overpowered her. To become the honored wife
of Le Gardeur de Repentigny, the sister of the beauteous Amélie, the
niece of the noble Lady de Tilly, was a piece of fortune to have
satisfied, until recently, both her heart and her ambition. But now
Angélique was the dupe of dreams and fancies. The Royal Intendant
was at her feet. France and its courtly splendors and court
intrigues opened vistas of grandeur to her aspiring and unscrupulous
ambition. She could not forego them, and would not! She knew that,
all the time her heart was melting beneath the passionate eyes of Le
"I have spoken to Amélie, and promised to take her your answer to-
night," said he, in a tone that thrilled every fibre of her better
nature. "She is ready to embrace you as her sister. Will you be my
Angélique sat silent; she dared not look up at him. If she had, she
knew her hard resolution would melt. She felt his gaze upon her
without seeing it. She grew pale and tried to answer no, but could
not; and she would not answer yes.
The vision she had so wickedly revelled in flashed again upon her at
this supreme moment. She saw, in a panorama of a few seconds, the
gilded halls of Versailles pass before her, and with the vision came
the old temptation.
"Angélique!" repeated he, in a tone full of passionate entreaty,
"will you be my wife, loved as no woman ever was,--loved as alone Le
Gardeur de Repentigny can love you?"
She knew that. As she weakened under his pleading and grasped both
his hands tight in hers, she strove to frame a reply which should
say yes while it meant no; and say no which he should interpret yes.
"All New France will honor you as the Châtelaine de Repentigny!
There will be none higher, as there will be none fairer, than my
bride!" Poor Le Gardeur! He had a dim suspicion that Angélique was
looking to France as a fitting theatre for her beauty and talents.
She still sat mute, and grew paler every moment. Words formed
themselves upon her lips, but she feared to say them, so terrible
was the earnestness of this man's love, and no less vivid the
consciousness of her own. Her face assumed the hardness of marble,
pale as Parian and as rigid; a trembling of her white lips showed
the strife going on within her; she covered her eyes with her hand,
that he might not see the tears she felt quivering under the full
lids, but she remained mute.
"Angélique!" exclaimed he, divining her unexpressed refusal; "why do
you turn away from me? You surely do not reject me? But I am mad
to think it! Speak, darling! one word, one sign, one look from
those dear eyes, in consent to be the wife of Le Gardeur, will bring
life's happiness to us both!" He took her hand, and drew it gently
from her eyes and kissed it, but she still averted her gaze from
him; she could not look at him, but the words dropped slowly and
feebly from her lips in response to his appeal:
"I love you, Le Gardeur, but I will not marry you!" said she. She
could not utter more, but her hand grasped his with a fierce
pressure, as if wanting to hold him fast in the very moment of
He started back, as if touched by fire. "You love me, but will not
marry me! Angélique, what mystery is this? But you are only trying
me! A thousand thanks for your love; the other is but a jest,--a
good jest, which I will laugh at!" And Le Gardeur tried to laugh,
but it was a sad failure, for he saw she did not join in his effort
at merriment, but looked pale and trembling, as if ready to faint.
She laid her hands upon his heavily and sadly. He felt her refusal
in the very touch. It was like cold lead. "Do not laugh, Le
Gardeur, I cannot laugh over it; this is no jest, but mortal
earnest! What I say I mean! I love you, Le Gardeur, but I will not
She drew her hands away, as if to mark the emphasis she could not
speak. He felt it like the drawing of his heartstrings.
She turned her eyes full upon him now, as if to look whether love of
her was extinguished in him by her refusal. "I love you, Le
Gardeur--you know I do! But I will not--I cannot--marry you now!"
"Now!" he caught at the straw like a drowning swimmer in a
whirlpool. "Now? I said not now but when you please, Angélique!
You are worth a man's waiting his life for!"
"No, Le Gardeur!" she replied, "I am not worth your waiting for; it
cannot be, as I once hoped it might be; but love you I do and ever
shall!" and the false, fair woman kissed him fatuously. "I love
you, Le Gardeur, but I will not marry you!"
"You do not surely mean it, Angélique!" exclaimed he; "you will not
give me death instead of life? You cannot be so false to your own
heart, so cruel to mine? See, Angélique! My saintly sister Amélie
believed in your love, and sent these flowers to place in your hair
when you had consented to be my wife,--her sister; you will not
refuse them, Angélique?"
He raised his hand to place the garland upon her head, but Angélique
turned quickly, and they fell at her feet. "Amélie's gifts are not
for me, Le Gardeur--I do not merit them! I confess my fault: I am,
I know, false to my own heart, and cruel to yours. Despise me,--
kill me for it if you will, Le Gardeur! better you did kill me,
perhaps! but I cannot lie to you as I can to other men! Ask me not
to change my resolution, for I neither can nor will." She spoke
with impassioned energy, as if fortifying her refusal by the
reiteration of it.
"It is past comprehension!" was all he could say, bewildered at her
words thus dislocated from all their natural sequence of association.
"Love me and not marry me!--that means she will marry another!"
thought he, with a jealous pang. "Tell me, Angélique," continued
he, after several moments of puzzled silence, "is there some
inscrutable reason that makes you keep my love and reject my hand?"
"No reason, Le Gardeur! It is mad unreason,--I feel that,--but it
is no less true. I love you, but I will not marry you." She spoke
with more resolution now. The first plunge was over, and with it
her fear and trembling as she sat on the brink.
The iteration drove him beside himself. He seized her hands, and
exclaimed with vehemence,--"There is a man--a rival--a more
fortunate lover--behind all this, Angélique des Meloises! It is not
yourself that speaks, but one that prompts you. You have given your
love to another, and discarded me! Is it not so?"
"I have neither discarded you, nor loved another," Angélique
equivocated. She played her soul away at this moment with the
mental reservation that she had not yet done what she had resolved
to do upon the first opportunity--accept the hand of the Intendant
"It is well for that other man, if there be one!" Le Gardeur rose
and walked angrily across the room two or three times. Angélique
was playing a game of chess with Satan for her soul, and felt that
she was losing it.
"There was a Sphinx in olden times," said he, "that propounded a
riddle, and he who failed to solve it had to die. Your riddle will
be the death of me, for I cannot solve it, Angélique!"
"Do not try to solve it, dear Le Gardeur! Remember that when her
riddle was solved the Sphinx threw herself into the sea. I doubt
that may be my fate! But you are still my friend, Le Gardeur!"
added she, seating herself again by his side, in her old fond,
coquettish manner. "See these flowers of Amélie's, which I did not
place in my hair; I treasure them in my bosom!" She gathered them
up as she spoke, kissed them, and placed them in her bosom.
"You are still my friend, Le Gardeur?" Her eyes turned upon him
with the old look she could so well assume.
"I am more than a thousand friends, Angélique!" replied he; "but I
shall curse myself that I can remain so and see you the wife of
The very thought drove him to frenzy. He dashed her hand away and
sprang up towards the door, but turned suddenly round. "That curse
was not for you, Angélique!" said he, pale and agitated; "it was for
myself, for ever believing in the empty love you professed for me.
Good-by! Be happy! As for me, the light goes out of my life,
Angélique, from this day forth."
"Oh, stop! stop, Le Gardeur! do not leave me so!" She rose and
endeavored to restrain him, but he broke from her, and without adieu
or further parley rushed out bareheaded into the street. She ran to
the balcony to call him back, and leaning far over it, cried out,
"Le Gardeur! Le Gardeur!" That voice would have called him from
the dead could he have heard it, but he was already lost in the
darkness. A few rapid steps resounded on the distant pavement, and
Le Gardeur de Repentigny was lost to her forever!
She waited long on the balcony, looking over it for a chance of
hearing his returning steps, but none came. It was the last impulse
of her love to save her, but it was useless. "Oh, God!" she
exclaimed in a voice of mortal agony, "he is gone forever--my Le
Gardeur! my one true lover, rejected by my own madness, and for
what?" She thought "For what!" and in a storm of passion, tearing
her golden hair over her face, and beating her breast in her rage,
she exclaimed,--"I am wicked, unutterably bad, worse and more
despicable than the vilest creature that crouches under the bushes
on the Batture! How dared I, unwomanly that I am, reject the hand I
worship for sake of a hand I should loathe in the very act of
accepting it? The slave that is sold in the market is better than
I, for she has no choice, while I sell myself to a man whom I
already hate, for he is already false to me! The wages of a harlot
were more honestly earned than the splendor for which I barter soul
and body to this Intendant!"
The passionate girl threw herself upon the floor, nor heeded the
blood that oozed from her head, bruised on the hard wood. Her mind
was torn by a thousand wild fancies. Sometimes she resolved to go
out like the Rose of Sharon and seek her beloved in the city and
throw herself at his feet, making him a royal gift of all he claimed
She little knew her own wilful heart. She had seen the world bow to
every caprice of hers, but she never had one principle to guide her,
except her own pleasure. She was now like a goddess of earth,
fallen in an effort to reconcile impossibilities in human hearts,
and became the sport of the powers of wickedness.
She lay upon the floor senseless, her hands in a violent clasp. Her
glorious hair, torn and disordered, lay over her like the royal robe
of a queen stricken from her throne and lying dead upon the floor of
It was long after midnight, in the cold hours of the morning, when
she woke from her swoon. She raised herself feebly upon her elbow,
and looked dazedly up at the cold, unfeeling stars that go on
shining through the ages, making no sign of sympathy with human
griefs. Perseus had risen to his meridian, and Algol, her natal
star, alternately darkened and brightened as if it were the scene of
some fierce conflict of the powers of light and darkness, like that
going on in her own soul.
Her face was stained with hard clots of blood as she rose, cramped
and chilled to the bone. The night air had blown coldly upon her
through the open lattice; but she would not summon her maid to her
assistance. Without undressing she threw herself upon a couch, and
utterly worn out by the agitation she had undergone, slept far into
THE HURRIED QUESTION OF DESPAIR.
Le Gardeur plunged headlong down the silent street, neither knowing
nor caring whither. Half mad with grief, half with resentment, he
vented curses upon himself, upon Angélique, upon the world, and
looked upon Providence itself as in league with the evil powers to
thwart his happiness,--not seeing that his happiness in the love of
a woman like Angélique was a house built on sand, which the first
storm of life would sweep away.
"Holla! Le Gardeur de Repentigny! Is that you?" exclaimed a voice
in the night. "What lucky wind blows you out at this hour?" Le
Gardeur stopped and recognized the Chevalier de Pean. "Where are
you going in such a desperate hurry?"
"To the devil!" replied Le Gardeur, withdrawing his hand from De
Pean's, who had seized it with an amazing show of friendship. "It
is the only road left open to me, and I am going to march down it
like a garde du corps of Satan! Do not hold me, De Pean! Let go my
arm! I am going to the devil, I tell you!"
"Why, Le Gardeur," was the reply, "that is a broad and well-
travelled road--the king's highway, in fact. I am going upon it
myself, as fast and merrily as any man in New France."
"Well, go on it then! March either before or after me, only don't
go with me, De Pean; I am taking the shortest cuts to get to the end
of it, and want no one with me." Le Gardeur walked doggedly on; but
De Pean would not be shaken off. He suspected what had happened.
"The shortest cut I know is by the Taverne de Menut, where I am
going now," said he, "and I should like your company, Le Gardeur!
Our set are having a gala night of it, and must be musical as the
frogs of Beauport by this hour! Come along!" De Pean again took
his arm. He was not repelled this time.
"I don't care where I go, De Pean!" replied he, forgetting his
dislike to this man, and submitting to his guidance,--the Taverne
de Menut was just the place for him to rush into and drown his
disappointment in wine. The two moved on in silence for a few
"Why, what ails you, Le Gardeur?" asked his companion, as they
walked on arm in arm. "Has fortune frowned upon the cards, or your
mistress proved a fickle jade like all her sex?"
His words were irritating enough to Le Gardeur. "Look you, De Pean,
said he, stopping, "I shall quarrel with you if you repeat such
remarks. But you mean no mischief I dare say, although I would not
swear it!" Le Gardeur looked savage.
De Pean saw it would not be safe to rub that sore again. "Forgive
me, Le Gardeur!" said he, with an air of sympathy well assumed. "I
meant no harm. But you are suspicious of your friends to-night as a
Turk of his harem."
I have reason to be! And as for friends, I find only such friends
as you, De Pean! And I begin to think the world has no better!"
The clock of the Recollets struck the hour as they passed under the
shadow of its wall. The brothers of St. Francis slept quietly on
their peaceful pillows, like sea birds who find in a rocky nook a
refuge from the ocean storms. "Do you think the Recollets are
happy, De Pean?" asked he, turning abruptly to his companion.
"Happy as oysters at high water, who are never crossed in love,
except of their dinner! But that is neither your luck nor mine, Le
Gardeur!" De Pean was itching to draw from his companion something
with reference to what had passed with Angélique.
"Well, I would rather be an oyster than a man, and rather be dead
than either!" was the reply of Le Gardeur. "How soon, think you,
will brandy kill a man, De Pean?" asked he abruptly, after a pause
"It will never kill you, Le Gardeur, if you take it neat at Master
Menut's. It will restore you to life, vigor, and independence of
man and woman. I take mine there when I am hipped as you are, Le
Gardeur. It is a specific for every kind of ill-fortune,--I warrant
it will cure and never kill you."
They crossed the Place d'Armes. Nothing in sight was moving except
the sentries who paced slowly like shadows up and down the great
gateway of the Castle of St. Louis.
"It is still and solemn as a church-yard here," remarked De Pean;
"all the life of the place is down at Menut's! I like the small
hours," added he as the chime of the Recollets ceased. "They are
easily counted, and pass quickly, asleep or awake. Two o'clock in
the morning is the meridian of the day for a man who has wit to
wait for it at Menut's!--these small hours are all that are worth
reckoning in a man's life!"
Without consenting to accompany De Pean, Le Gardeur suffered himself
to be led by him. He knew the company that awaited him there--the
wildest and most dissolute gallants of the city and garrison were
usually assembled there at this hour.
The famous old hostelry was kept by Master Menut, a burly Breton who
prided himself on keeping everything full and plenty about his
house--tables full, tankards full, guests full, and himself very
full. The house was to-night lit up with unusual brilliance, and
was full of company--Cadet, Varin, Mercier, and a crowd of the
friends and associates of the Grand Company. Gambling, drinking,
and conversing in the loudest strain on such topics as interested
their class, were the amusements of the night. The vilest thoughts,
uttered in the low argot of Paris, were much affected by them.
They felt a pleasure in this sort of protest against the extreme
refinement of society, just as the collegians of Oxford, trained
beyond their natural capacity in morals, love to fall into slang
and, like Prince Hal, talk to every tinker in his own tongue.
De Pean and Le Gardeur were welcomed with open arms at the Taverne
de Menut. A dozen brimming glasses were offered them on every side.
De Pean drank moderately. "I have to win back my losses of last
night," said he, "and must keep my head clear." Le Gardeur,
however, refused nothing that was offered him. He drank with all,
and drank every description of liquor. He was speedily led up into
a large, well-furnished room, where tables were crowded with
gentlemen playing cards and dice for piles of paper money, which was
tossed from hand to hand with the greatest nonchalance as the game
ended and was renewed.
Le Gardeur plunged headlong into the flood of dissipation. He
played, drank, talked argot, and cast off every shred of reserve.
He doubled his stakes, and threw his dice reckless and careless
whether he lost or won. His voice overbore that of the stoutest of
the revellers. He embraced De Pean as his friend, who returned his
compliments by declaring Le Gardeur de Repentigny to be the king of
good fellows, who had the "strongest head to carry wine and the
stoutest heart to defy dull care of any man in Quebec."
De Pean watched with malign satisfaction the progress of Le
Gardeur's intoxication. If he seemed to flag, he challenged him
afresh to drink to better fortune; and when he lost the stakes, to
drink again to spite ill luck.
But let a veil be dropped over the wild doings of the Taverne de
Menut. Le Gardeur lay insensible at last upon the floor, where he
would have remained had not some of the servants of the inn who knew
him lifted him up compassionately and placed him upon a couch, where
he lay, breathing heavily like one dying. His eyes were fixed; his
mouth, where the kisses of his sister still lingered, was partly
opened, and his hands were clenched, rigid as a statue's.
"He is ours now!" said De Pean to Cadet. "He will not again put his
head under the wing of the Philiberts!"
The two men looked at him, and laughed brutally.
"A fair lady whom you know, Cadet, has given him liberty to drink
himself to death, and he will do it."
"Who is that? Angélique?" asked Cadet.
"Of course; who else? and Le Gardeur won't be the first or last man
she has put under stone sheets," replied De Pean, with a shrug of
"Gloria patri filioque!" exclaimed Cadet, mockingly; "the Honnêtes
Gens will lose their trump card. How did you get him away from
Belmont, De Pean?"
"Oh, it was not I! Angélique des Meloises set the trap and whistled
the call that brought him," replied De Pean.
"Like her, the incomparable witch!" exclaimed Cadet with a hearty
laugh. "She would lure the very devil to play her tricks instead of
his own. She would beat Satan at his best game to ruin a man."
"It would be all the same, Cadet, I fancy--Satan or she! But where
is Bigot? I expected him here."
"Oh, he is in a tantrum to-night, and would not come. That piece of
his at Beaumanoir is a thorn in his flesh, and a snow-ball on his
spirits. She is taming him. By St. Cocufin! Bigot loves that
"I told you that before, Cadet. I saw it a month ago, and was sure
of it on that night when he would not bring her up to show her to
"Such a fool, De Pean, to care for any woman! What will Bigot do
with her, think you?"
"How should I know? Send her adrift some fine day I suppose, down
the Rivière du Loup. He will, if he is a sensible man. He dare not
marry any woman without license from La Pompadour, you know. The
jolly fish-woman holds a tight rein over her favorites. Bigot may
keep as many women as Solomon--the more the merrier; but woe befall
him if he marries without La Pompadour's consent! They say she
herself dotes on Bigot,--that is the reason." De Pean really
believed that was the reason; and certainly there was reason for
"Cadet! Cadet!" exclaimed several voices. "You are fined a basket
of champagne for leaving the table."
"I'll pay it," replied he, "and double it; but it is hot as Tartarus
in here. I feel like a grilled salmon." And indeed, Cadet's broad,
sensual face was red and glowing as a harvest moon. He walked a
little unsteady too, and his naturally coarse voice sounded thick,
but his hard brain never gave way beyond a certain point under any
quantity of liquor.
"I am going to get some fresh air," said he. "I shall walk as far
as the Fleur-de-Lis. They never go to bed at that jolly old inn."
"I will go with you!" "And I!" exclaimed a dozen voices.
"Come on then; we will all go to the old dog-hole, where they keep
the best brandy in Quebec. It is smuggled of course, but that makes
it all the better."
Mine host of the Taverne de Menut combatted this opinion of the
goodness of the liquors at the Fleur-de-Lis. His brandy had paid
the King's duties, and bore the stamp of the Grand Company, he said;
and he appealed to every gentleman present on the goodness of his
Cadet and the rest took another round of it to please the landlord,
and sallied out with no little noise and confusion. Some of them
struck up the famous song which, beyond all others, best expressed
the gay, rollicking spirit of the French nation and of the times of
the old régime:
"'Vive Henri Quatre!
Vive le Roi vaillant!
Ce diable à quatre
A le triple talent,
De boire et de battre,
Et d'être un vert galant!'"
When the noisy party arrived at the Fleur-de-Lis, they entered
without ceremony into a spacious room--low, with heavy beams
and with roughly plastered walls, which were stuck over with
proclamations of governors and intendants and dingy ballads brought
by sailors from French ports.
A long table in the middle of the room was surrounded by a lot of
fellows, plainly of the baser sort,--sailors, boatmen, voyageurs,--
in rough clothes, and tuques--red or blue,--upon their heads. Every
one had a pipe in his mouth. Some were talking with loose,
loquacious tongues; some were singing; their ugly, jolly visages--
half illumined by the light of tallow candles stuck in iron sconces
on the wall--were worthy of the vulgar but faithful Dutch pencils of
Schalken and Teniers. They were singing a song as the new company
At the head of the table sat Master Pothier, with a black earthen
mug of Norman cider in one hand and a pipe in the other. His budget
of law hung on a peg in the corner, as quite superfluous at a free-
and-easy at the Fleur-de-Lis.
Max Grimeau and Blind Bartemy had arrived in good time for the eel
pie. They sat one on each side of Master Pothier, full as ticks and
merry as grigs; a jolly chorus was in progress as Cadet entered.
The company rose and bowed to the gentlemen who had honored them
with a call. "Pray sit down, gentlemen; take our chairs!" exclaimed
Master Pothier, officiously offering his to Cadet, who accepted it
as well as the black mug, of which he drank heartily, declaring old
Norman cider suited his taste better than the choicest wine.
"We are your most humble servitors, and highly esteem the honor of
your visit," said Master Pothier, as he refilled the black mug.
"Jolly fellows!" replied Cadet, stretching his legs refreshingly,
"this does look comfortable. Do you drink cider because you like
it, or because you cannot afford better?"
"There is nothing better than Norman cider, except Cognac brandy,"
replied Master Pothier, grinning from ear to ear. "Norman cider is
fit for a king, and with a lining of brandy is drink for a Pope! It
will make a man see stars at noonday. Won't it, Bartemy?"
"What! old turn-penny! are you here?" cried Cadet, recognizing the
old beggar of the gate of the Basse Ville.
"Oh, yes, your Honor!" replied Bartemy, with his professional whine,
"pour l'amour de Dieu!"
"Gad! you are the jolliest beggar I know out of the Friponne,"
replied Cadet, throwing him a crown.
"He is not a jollier beggar than I am, your Honor," said Max
Grimeau, grinning like an Alsatian over a Strasbourg pie. "It was I
sang bass in the ballad as you came in--you might have heard me,
"To be sure I did; I will be sworn there is not a jollier beggar in
Quebec than you, old Max! Here is a crown for you too, to drink the
Intendant's health and another for you, you roving limb of the law,
Master Pothier! Come, Master Pothier! I will fill your ragged gown
full as a demijohn of brandy if you will go on with the song you
"We were at the old ballad of the Pont d'Avignon, your Honor,"
replied Master Pothier.
"And I was playing it," interrupted Jean La Marche; "you might have
heard my violin, it is a good one!" Jean would not hide his talent
in a napkin on so auspicious an occasion as this. He ran his bow
over the strings and played a few bars,--"that was the tune, your
"Ay, that was it! I know the jolly old song! Now go on!" Cadet
thrust his thumbs into the armholes of his laced waistcoat and
listened attentively; rough as he was, he liked the old Canadian
Jean tuned his fiddle afresh, and placing it with a knowing jerk
under his chin, and with an air of conceit worthy of Lulli, began to
sing and play the old ballad:
"'A St. Malo, beau port de mer,
Trois navires sont arrivés,
Chargés d'avoine, chargés de bled;
Trois dames s'en vont les merchander!'"
"Tut!" exclaimed Varin, "who cares for things that have no more
point in them than a dumpling! give us a madrigal, or one of the
devil's ditties from the Quartier Latin!"
"I do not know a 'devil's ditty,' and would not sing one if I did,"
replied Jean La Marche, jealous of the ballads of his own New
France. "Indians cannot swear because they know no oaths, and
habitans cannot sing devil's ditties because they never learned
them; but 'St. Malo, beau port de mer,'--I will sing that with any
man in the Colony!"
The popular songs of the French Canadians are simple, almost
infantine, in their language, and as chaste in expression as the
hymns of other countries. Impure songs originate in classes who
know better, and revel from choice in musical slang and indecency.
"Sing what you like! and never mind Varin, my good fellow," said
Cadet, stretching himself in his chair; "I like the old Canadian
ballads better than all the devil's ditties ever made in Paris! You
must sing your devil's ditties yourself, Varin; our habitans won't,--
that is sure!"
After an hour's roystering at the Fleur-de-Lis the party of
gentlemen returned to the Taverne de Menut a good deal more unsteady
and more obstreperous than when they came. They left Master Pothier
seated in his chair, drunk as Bacchus, and every one of the rest of
his companions blind as Bartemy.
The gentlemen, on their return to the Taverne de Menut, found De
Pean in a rage. Pierre Philibert had followed Amélie to the city,
and learning the cause of her anxiety and unconcealed tears, started
off with the determination to find Le Gardeur.
The officer of the guard at the gate of the Basse Ville was able to
direct him to the right quarter. He hastened to the Taverne de
Menut, and in haughty defiance of De Pean, with whom he had high
words, he got the unfortunate Le Gardeur away, placed him in a
carriage, and took him home, receiving from Amélie such sweet and
sincere thanks as he thought a life's service could scarcely have
"Par Dieu! that Philibert is a game-cock, De Pean," exclaimed Cadet,
to the savage annoyance of the Secretary. "He has pluck and
impudence for ten gardes du corps. It was neater done than at
Beaumanoir!" Cadet sat down to enjoy a broad laugh at the expense
of his friend over the second carrying off of Le Gardeur.
"Curse him! I could have run him through, and am sorry I did not,"
exclaimed De Pean.
"No, you could not have run him through, and you would have been
sorry had you tried it, De Pean," replied Cadet. "That Philibert is
not as safe as the Bank of France to draw upon. I tell you it was
well for yourself you did not try, De Pean. But never mind,"
continued Cadet, "there is never so bad a day but there is a fair
to-morrow after it, so make up a hand at cards with me and Colonel
Trivio, and put money in your purse; it will salve your bruised
feelings." De Pean failed to laugh off his ill humor, but he took
Cadet's advice, and sat down to play for the remainder of the night.
"Oh, Pierre Philibert, how can we sufficiently thank you for your
kindness to my dear, unhappy brother?" said Amélie to him, her eyes
tremulous with tears and her hand convulsively clasping his, as
Pierre took leave of her at the door of the mansion of the Lady de
"Le Gardeur claims our deepest commiseration, Amélie," replied he;
"you know how this has happened?"
"I do know, Pierre, and shame to know it. But you are so generous
ever. Do not blame me for this agitation!" She strove to steady
herself, as a ship will right up for a moment in veering.
"Blame you! what a thought! As soon blame the angels for being
good! But I have a plan, Amélie, for Le Gardeur--we must get him
out of the city and back to Tilly for a while. Your noble aunt has
given me an invitation to visit the Manor House. What if I manage
to accompany Le Gardeur to his dear old home?"
"A visit to Tilly in your company would, of all things, delight Le
Gardeur," said she, "and perhaps break those ties that bind him to
These were pleasing words to Philibert, and he thought how
delightful would be her own fair presence also at Tilly.
"All the physicians in the world will not help Le Gardeur as will
your company at Tilly!" exclaimed she, with a sudden access of hope.
"Le Gardeur needs not medicine, only care, and--"
"The love he has set his heart on, Amélie! Men sometimes die when
they fail in that." He looked at her as he said this, but instantly
withdrew his eyes, fearing he had been overbold.
She blushed, and only replied, with absolute indirection, "Oh, I am
so thankful to you, Pierre Philibert!" But she gave him, as he
left, a look of gratitude and love which never effaced itself from
his memory. In after-years, when Pierre Philibert cared not for the
light of the sun, nor for woman's love, nor for life itself, the
tender, impassioned glance of those dark eyes wet with tears came
back to him like a break in the dark clouds, disclosing the blue
heaven beyond; and he longed to be there.
BETWIXT THE LAST VIOLET AND THE EARLIEST ROSE.
"Do not go out to-day, brother, I want you so particularly to stay
with me to-day," said Amélie de Repentigny, with a gentle, pleading
voice. "Aunt has resolved to return to Tilly to-morrow; I need your
help to arrange these papers, and anyway, I want your company,
brother," added she, smiling.
Le Gardeur sat feverish, nervous, and ill after his wild night spent
at the Taverne de Menut. He started and reddened as his sister's
eyes rested on him. He looked through the open window like a wild
animal ready to spring out of it and escape.
A raging thirst was on him, which Amélie sought to assuage by
draughts of water, milk, and tea--a sisterly attention which he more
than once acknowledged by kissing the loving fingers which waited
upon him so tenderly.
"I cannot stay in the house, Amélie," said he; "I shall go mad if I
do! You know how it has fared with me, sweet sister! I yesterday
built up a tower of glass, high as heaven, my heaven--a woman's
love; to-day I am crushed under the ruins of it."
"Say not so, brother! you were not made to be crushed by the nay of
any faithless woman. Oh! why will men think more of our sex than we
deserve? How few of us do deserve the devotion of a good and true
"How few men would be worthy of you, sweet sister!' replied he,
proudly. "Ah! had Angélique had your heart, Amélie!"
"You will be glad one day of your present sorrow, brother," replied
she. "It is bitter I know, and I feel its bitterness with you, but
life with Angélique would have been infinitely harder to bear."
He shook his head, not incredulously, but defiantly at fate. "I
would have accepted it," said he, "had I been sure life with her had
been hard as millstones! My love is of the perverse kind, not to be
transmuted by any furnace of fiery trial."
"I have no answer, brother, but this:" and Amdlie stooped and kissed
his fevered forehead. She was too wise to reason in a case where
she knew reason always made default.
"What has happened at the Manor House," asked he after a short
silence, "that aunt is going to return home sooner than she expected
when she left?"
"There are reports to-day of Iroquois on the upper Chaudière, and
her censitaires are eager to return to guard their homes from the
prowling savages; and what is more, you and Colonel Philibert are
ordered to go to Tilly to look after the defence of the Seigniory."
Le Gardeur sat bolt upright. His military knowledge could not
comprehend an apparently useless order. "Pierre Philibert and I
ordered to Tilly to look after the defence of the Seigniory! We had
no information yesterday that Iroquois were within fifty leagues of
Tilly. It is a false rumor raised by the good wives to get their
husbands home again! Don't you think so, Amélie?" asked he, smiling
for the first time.
"No, I don't think so, Le Gardeur! but it would be a pretty ruse de
guerre, were it true. The good wives naturally feel nervous at
being left alone--I should myself," added she, playfully.
"Oh, I don't know! the nervous ones have all come with the men to
the city; but I suppose the works are sufficiently advanced, and the
men can be spared to return home. But what says Pierre Philibert to
the order despatching him to Tilly? You have seen him since?"
Amélie blushed a little as she replied, "Yes, I have seen him; he is
well content, I think, to see Tilly once more in your company,
"And in yours, sister!--Why blush, Amélie? Pierre is worthy of you,
should he ever say to you what I so vainly said last night to
Angélique des Meloises!" Le Gardeur held her tightly by the hand.
Her face was glowing scarlet,--she was in utter confusion. "Oh,
stop, brother! Don't say such things! Pierre never uttered such
thoughts to me!--never will, in all likelihood!"
"But he will! And, my darling sister, when Pierre Philibert shall
say he loves you and asks you to be his wife, if you love him, if
you pity me, do not say him nay!" She was trembling with agitation,
and without power to reply. But Le Gardeur felt her hand tighten
upon his. He comprehended the involuntary sign, drew her to him,
kissed her, and left the topic without pressing it further; leaving
it in the most formidable shape to take deep root in the silent
meditations of Amélie.
The rest of the day passed in such sunshine as Amélie could throw
over her brother. Her soft influence retained him at home: she
refreshed him with her conversation and sympathy, drew from him the
pitiful story of his love and its bitter ending. She knew the
relief of disburdening his surcharged heart; and to none but his
sister, from whom he had never had a secret until this episode in
his life, would he have spoken a word of his heart's trouble.
Numerous were the visitors to-day at the hospitable mansion of the
Lady de Tilly; but Le Gardeur would see none of them except Pierre
Philibert, who rode over as soon as he was relieved from his
military attendance at the Castle of St. Louis.
Le Gardeur received Pierre with an effusion of grateful affection--
touching, because real. His handsome face, so like Amélie's, was
peculiarly so when it expressed the emotions habitual to her; and
the pleasure both felt in the presence of Pierre brought out
resemblances that flashed fresh on the quick, observant eye of
The afternoon was spent in conversation of that kind which gives and
takes with mutual delight. Le Gardeur seemed more his old self
again in the company of Pierre; Amélie was charmed at the visible
influence of Pierre over him, and a hope sprang up in her bosom that
the little artifice of beguiling Le Gardeur to Tilly in the
companionship of Pierre might be the means of thwarting those
adverse influences which were dragging him to destruction.
If Pierre Philibert grew more animated in the presence of those
bright eyes, which were at once appreciative and sympathizing,
Amélie drank in the conversation of Pierre as one drinks the wine of
a favorite vintage. If her heart grew a little intoxicated, what
the wonder? Furtively as she glanced at the manly countenance of
Pierre, she saw in it the reflection of his noble mind and
independent spirit; and remembering the injunction of Le Gardeur,--
for, woman-like, she sought a support out of herself to justify a
foregone conclusion,--she thought that if Pierre asked her she could
be content to share his lot, and her greatest happiness would be to
live in the possession of his love.
Pierre Philibert took his departure early from the house of the Lady
de Tilly, to make his preparations for leaving the city next day.
His father was aware of his project, and approved of it.
The toils of the day were over in the house of the Chien d'Or. The
Bourgeois took his hat and sword and went out for a walk upon the
cape, where a cool breeze came up fresh from the broad river. It
was just the turn of tide. The full, brimming waters, reflecting
here and there a star, began to sparkle under the clear moon that
rose slowly and majestically over the hills of the south shore.
The Bourgeois sat down on the low wall of the terrace to enjoy the
freshness and beauty of the scene which, although he had seen it a
hundred times before, never looked lovelier, he thought, than this
evening. He was very happy in his silent thoughts over his son's
return home; and the general respect paid him on the day of his fête
had been more felt, perhaps, by the Bourgeois than by Pierre
As he indulged in these meditations, a well-known voice suddenly
accosted him. He turned and was cordially greeted by the Count de
la Galissonière and Herr Kalm, who had sauntered through the garden
of the Castle and directed their steps towards the cape with
intention to call upon the Lady de Tilly and pay their respects to
her before she left the city.
The Bourgeois, learning their intentions, said he would accompany
them, as he too owed a debt of courtesy to the noble lady and her
niece Amélie, which he would discharge at the same time.
The three gentlemen walked gravely on, in pleasant conversation.
The clearness of the moonlit night threw the beautiful landscape,
with its strongly accentuated features, into contrasts of light and
shade to which the pencil of Rembrandt alone could have done
justice. Herr Kalm was enthusiastic in his admiration,--moonlight
over Drachenfels on the Rhine, or the midnight sun peering over the
Gulf of Bothnia, reminded him of something similar, but of nothing
so grand on the whole as the matchless scene visible from Cape
Diamond--worthy of its name.
Lady de Tilly received her visitors with the gracious courtesy
habitual to her. She especially appreciated the visit from the
Bourgeois, who so rarely honored the houses of his friends by his
welcome presence. As for His Excellency, she remarked, smiling, it
was his official duty to represent the politeness of France to the
ladies of the Colony, while Herr Kalm, representing the science of
Europe, ought to be honored in every house he chose to visit,--she
certainly esteemed the honor of his presence in her own.
Amélie made her appearance in the drawing-room, and while the
visitors stayed exerted herself to the utmost to please and interest
them by taking a ready and sympathetic part in their conversation.
Her quick and cultivated intellect enabled her to do so to the
delight, and even surprise, of the three grave, learned gentlemen.
She lacked neither information nor opinions of her own, while her
speech, soft and womanly, gave a delicacy to her free yet modest
utterances that made her, in their recollections of her in the
future, a standard of comparison,--a measure of female perfections.
Le Gardeur, learning who were in the house, came down after a while
to thank the Governor, the Bourgeois, and Herr Kalm for the honor
of their visit. He exerted himself by a desperate effort to be
conversable,--not very successfully, however; for had not Amélie
watched him with deepest sympathy and adroitly filled the breaks in
his remarks, he would have failed to pass himself creditably before
the Governor. As it was, Le Gardeur contented himself with
following the flow of conversation which welled up copiously from
the lips of the rest of the company.
After a while came in Félix Baudoin in his full livery, reserved for
special occasions, and announced to his lady that tea was served.
The gentlemen were invited to partake of what was then a novelty in
New France. The Bourgeois, in the course of the new traffic with
China that had lately sprung up in consequence of the discovery of
ginseng in New France, had imported some chests of tea, which the
Lady de Tilly, with instinctive perception of its utility, adopted
at once as the beverage of polite society. As yet, however, it was
only to be seen upon the tables of the refined and the affluent.
A fine service of porcelain of Chinese make adorned her table,
pleasing the fancy with its grotesque pictures,--then so new, now so
familiar to us all. The Chinese garden and summer-house, the fruit-
laden trees, and river with overhanging willows; the rustic bridge
with the three long-robed figures passing over it; the boat floating
upon the water and the doves flying in the perspectiveless sky--who
does not remember them all?
Lady de Tilly, like a true gentlewoman, prized her china, and
thought kindly of the mild, industrious race who had furnished her
tea-table with such an elegant equipage.
It was no disparagement to the Lady de Tilly that she had not read
English poets who sang the praise of tea: English poets were in
those days an unknown quantity in French education, and especially
in New France until after the conquest. But Wolfe opened the great
world of English poetry to Canada as he recited Gray's Elegy with
its prophetic line,--
"The paths of glory lead but to the grave,"
as he floated down the St. Lawrence in that still autumnal night to
land his forces and scale by stealth the fatal Heights of Abraham,
whose possession led to the conquest of the city and his own heroic
death, then it was the two glorious streams of modern thought and
literature united in New France, where they have run side by side to
this day,--in time to be united in one grand flood stream of
The Bourgeois Philibert had exported largely to China the newly
discovered ginseng, for which at first the people of the flowery
kingdom paid, in their sycee silver, ounce for ounce. And his
Cantonese correspondent esteemed himself doubly fortunate when he
was enabled to export his choicest teas to New France in exchange
for the precious root.
Amélie listened to an eager conversation between the Governor and
Herr Kalm, started by the latter on the nature, culture, and use of
the tea-plant,--they would be trite opinions now,--with many daring
speculations on the ultimate conquest of the tea-cup over the wine-
cup. "It would inaugurate the third beatitude!" exclaimed the
philosopher, pressing together the tips of the fingers of both
hands, "and the 'meek would inherit the earth;'" so soon as the use
of tea became universal, mankind would grow milder, as their blood
was purified from the fiery products of the still and the wine-
press! The life of man would be prolonged and made more valuable.
"What has given China four thousand of years of existence?" asked
Herr Kaim, abruptly, of the Count.
The Count could not tell, unless it were that the nation was dead
already in all that regarded the higher life of national existence,--
had become mummified, in fact,--and did not know it.
"Not at all!" replied Herr Kalm. "It is the constant use of the
life-giving infusion of tea that has saved China! Tea soothes the
nerves; it clears the blood, expels vapors from the brain, and
restores the fountain of life to pristine activity. Ergo, it
prolongs the existence of both men and nations, and has made China
the most antique nation in the world."
Herr Kalm was a devotee to the tea-cup; he drank it strong to excite
his flagging spirits, weak to quiet them down. He took Bohea with
his facts, and Hyson with his fancy, and mixed them to secure the
necessary afflatus to write his books of science and travel. Upon
Hyson he would have attempted the Iliad, upon Bohea he would
undertake to square the circle, discover perpetual motion, or reform
the German philosophy.
The professor was in a jovial mood, and gambolled away gracefully as
a Finland horse under a pack-saddle laden with the learning of a
dozen students of Abo, travelling home for the holidays.
"We are fortunate in being able to procure our tea in exchange for
our useless ginseng," remarked the Lady de Tilly, as she handed the
professor a tiny plate of the leaves, as was the fashion of the day.
After drinking the tea, the infused leaves were regarded as quite a
fashionable delicacy. Except for the fashion, it had not been
perhaps considered a delicacy at all.
The observation of the Lady de Tilly set the professor off on
another branch of the subject. "He had observed," he said, "the
careless methods of preparing the ginseng in New France, and
predicted a speedy end of the traffic, unless it were prepared to
suit the fancy of the fastidious Chinese."
"That is true, Herr Kalm," replied the Governor, "but our Indians
who gather it are bad managers. Our friend Philibert, who opened
this lucrative trade, is alone capable of ensuring its continuance.
It is a mine of wealth to New France, if rightly developed. How
much made you last year by ginseng, Philibert?"
"I can scarcely answer," replied the Bourgeois, hesitating a moment
to mention what might seem like egotism; "but the half million I
contributed towards the war in defence of Acadia was wholly the
product of my export of ginseng to China."
"I know it was! and God bless you for it, Philibert!" exclaimed the
Governor with emotion, as he grasped the hand of the patriotic
"If we have preserved New France this year, it was through your
timely help in Acadia. The King's treasury was exhausted,"
continued the Governor, looking at Herr Kalm, "and ruin imminent,
when the noble merchant of the Chien d'Or fed, clothed, and paid the
King's troops for two months before the taking of Grand Pré from the
"No great thing in that, your Excellency," replied the Bourgeois,
who hated compliments to himself. "If those who have do not give,
how can you get from those who have not? You may lay some of it to
the account of Pierre too,--he was in Acadia, you know, Governor."
A flash of honest pride passed over the usually sedate features of
the Bourgeois at the mention of his son.
Le Gardeur looked at his sister. She knew instinctively that his
thoughts put into words would say, "He is worthy to be your father,
Amélie!" She blushed with a secret pleasure, but spoke not. The
music in her heart was without words yet; but one day it would fill
the universe with harmony for her.
The Governor noticed the sudden reticence, and half surmising the
cause, remarked playfully, "The Iroquois will hardly dare approach
Tilly with such a garrison as Pierre Philibert and Le Gardeur, and
with you, my Lady de Tilly, as commandant, and you, Mademoiselle
Amélie, as aide-de-camp!"
"To be sure! your Excellency," replied the Lady de Tilly. "The
women of Tilly have worn swords and kept the old house before now!"
she added playfully, alluding to a celebrated defence of the château
by a former lady of the Manor at the head of a body of her
censitaires; "and depend upon it, we shall neither give up Tilly nor
Le Gardeur either, to whatever savages claim them, be they red or
The lady's allusion to his late associates did not offend Le
Gardeur, whose honest nature despised their conduct, while he
liked their company. They all understood her, and laughed. The
Governor's loyalty to the King's commission prevented his speaking
his thoughts. He only remarked, "Le Gardeur and Pierre Philibert
will be under your orders, my Lady, and my orders are that they are
not to return to the city until all dangers of the Iroquois are
"All right, your Excellency!" exclaimed Le Gardeur. "I shall obey
my aunt." He was acute enough to see through their kindly scheming
for his welfare; but his good nature and thorough devotion to his
aunt and sister, and his affectionate friendship for Pierre, made
him yield to the project without a qualm of regret. Le Gardeur was
assailable on many sides,--a fault in his character--or a weakness--
which, at any rate, sometimes offered a lever to move him in
directions opposite to the malign influences of Bigot and his
The company rose from the tea-table and moved to the drawing-room,
where conversation, music, and a few games of cards whiled away a
couple of hours very pleasantly.
Amélie sang exquisitely. The Governor was an excellent musician,
and accompanied her. His voice, a powerful tenor, had been
strengthened by many a conflict with old Boreas on the high seas,
and made soft and flexible by his manifold sympathies with all that
is kindly and good and true in human nature.
A song of wonderful pathos and beauty had just been brought down
from the wilds of the Ottawa, and become universally sung in New
France. A voyageur flying from a band of Iroquois had found a
hiding-place on a rocky islet in the middle of the Sept Chutes. He
concealed himself from his foes, but could not escape, and in the
end died of starvation and sleeplessness. The dying man peeled off
the white bark of the birch, and with the juice of berries wrote
upon it his death song, which was found long after by the side of
his remains. His grave is now a marked spot on the Ottawa. La
Complainte de Cadieux had seized the imagination of Amélie. She
sang it exquisitely, and to-night needed no pressing to do so,
for her heart was full of the new song, composed under such
circumstances of woe. Intense was the sympathy of the company,
as she began:
"'Petit rocher de la haute montagne,
Je viens finir ici cette campagne!
Ah! doux echos, entendez mes soupirs!
En languissant je vais bientôt--mourir.'"
There were no dry eyes as she concluded. The last sighs of Cadieux
seemed to expire on her lips:
"'Rossignole, va dire à ma maîtresse,
A mes enfans, qu'un adieu je leur laisse,
Que j'ai gardé mon amour et ma foi,
Et desormais faut renoncer à moi.'"
A few more friends of the family dropped in--Coulon de Villiers,
Claude Beauharnais, La Corne St. Luc, and others, who had heard of
the lady's departure and came to bid her adieu.
La Corne raised much mirth by his allusions to the Iroquois. The
secret was plainly no secret to him. "I hope to get their scalps,"
said he, "when you have done with them and they with you, Le
The evening passed on pleasantly, and the clock of the Recollets
pealed out a good late hour before they took final leave of their
hospitable hostess, with mutual good wishes and adieus, which with
some of them were never repeated. Le Gardeur was no little touched
and comforted by so much sympathy and kindness. He shook the
Bourgeois affectionately by the hand, inviting him to come up to
Tilly. It was noticed and remembered that this evening Le Gardeur
clung filially, as it were, to the father of Pierre, and the
farewell he gave him was tender, almost solemn, in a sort of sadness
that left an impress upon all minds. "Tell Pierre--but indeed, he
knows we start early," said Le Gardeur, "and the canoes will be
waiting on the Batture an hour after sunrise.
The Bourgeois knew in a general way the position of Le Gardeur, and
sympathized deeply with him. "Keep your heart up, my boy!" said he
on leaving. "Remember the proverb,--never forget it for a moment,
Le Gardeur: Ce que Dieu garde est bien gardé!"
"Good-by, Sieur Philibert!" replied he, still holding him by the
hand. "I would fain be permitted to regard you as a father, since
Pierre is all of a brother to me!"
"I will be a father, and a loving one too, if you will permit me, Le
Gardeur," said the Bourgeois, touched by the appeal. "When you
return to the city, come home with Pierre. At the Golden Dog, as
well as at Belmont, there will be ever welcome for Pierre's friend
as for Pierre's self."
The guests then took their departure.
The preparations for the journey home were all made, and the
household retired to rest, all glad to return to Tilly. Even Felix
Baudoin felt like a boy going back on a holiday. His mind was
surcharged with the endless things he had gathered up, ready to pour
into the sympathizing ear of Barbara Sanschagrin; and the servants
and censitaires were equally eager to return to relate their
adventures in the capital when summoned on the King's corvée to
build the walls of Quebec.
THE CANADIAN BOAT-SONG.
"V'là l'bon vent!
V'là l'joli vent!
V'là l'bon vent!
Ma mie m'appelle!
V'là l'bon vent!
V'là l'joli vent!
V'là l'bon vent!
Ma mie m'attend!"
The gay chorus of the voyageurs made the shores ring, as they kept
time with their oars, while the silver spray dripped like a shower
of diamonds in the bright sunshine at every stroke of their rapid
paddles. The graceful bark canoes, things of beauty and almost of
life, leaped joyously over the blue waters of the St. Lawrence as
they bore the family of the Lady de Tilly and Pierre Philibert with
a train of censitaires back to the old Manor House.
The broad river was flooded with sunshine as it rolled majestically
between the high banks crowned with green fields and woods in full
leaf of summer. Frequent cottages and villages were visible along
the shores, and now and then a little church with its bright spire
or belfry marked the successive parishes on either hand.
The tide had already forced its way two hundred leagues up from the
ocean, and still pressed irresistibly onward, surging and wrestling
against the weight of the descending stream.
The wind too was favorable. A number of yachts and bateaux spread
their snowy sails to ascend the river with the tide. They were for
the most part laden with munitions of war for the Richelieu on their
way to the military posts on Lake Champlain, or merchandise for
Montreal to be reladen in fleets of canoes for the trading posts up
the river of the Ottawas, the Great Lakes, or, mayhap, to supply the
new and far-off settlements on the Belle Rivière and the Illinois.
The line of canoes swept past the sailing vessels with a cheer. The
light-hearted crews exchanged salutations and bandied jests with
each other, laughing immoderately at the well-worn jokes current
upon the river among the rough voyageurs. A good voyage! a clear
run! short portages and long rests! Some inquired whether their
friends had paid for the bear and buffalo skins they were going to
buy, or they complimented each other on their nice heads of hair,
which it was hoped they would not leave behind as keepsakes with the
The boat-songs of the Canadian voyageurs are unique in character,
and very pleasing when sung by a crew of broad-chested fellows
dashing their light birch-bark canoes over the waters rough or
smooth, taking them, as they take fortune, cheerfully,--sometimes
skimming like wild geese over the long, placid reaches, sometimes
bounding like stags down the rough rapids and foaming saults.
Master Jean La Marche, clean as a new pin and in his merriest mood,
sat erect as the King of Yvetot in the bow of the long canoe which
held the Lady de Tilly and her family. His sonorous violin was
coquettishly fixed in its place of honor under his wagging chin, as
it accompanied his voice while he chanted an old boat-song which had
lightened the labor of many a weary oar on lake and river, from the
St. Lawrence to the Rocky Mountains.
Amélie sat in the stern of the canoe, laying her white hand in the
cool stream which rushed past her. She looked proud and happy to-
day, for the whole world of her affections was gathered together in
that little bark.
She felt grateful for the bright sun; it seemed to have dispelled
every cloud that lately shaded her thoughts on account of her
brother, and she silently blessed the light breeze that played with
her hair and cooled her cheek, which she felt was tinged with a warm
glow of pleasure in the presence of Pierre Philibert.
She spoke little, and almost thanked the rough voyageurs for their
incessant melodies, which made conversation difficult for the time,
and thus left her to her own sweet silent thoughts, which seemed
almost too sacred for the profanation of words.
An occasional look, or a sympathetic smile exchanged with her
brother and her aunt, spoke volumes of pure affection. Once or
twice the eyes of Pierre Philibert captured a glance of hers which
might not have been intended for him, but which Amélie suffered him
to intercept and hide away among the secret treasures of his heart.
A glance of true affection--brief, it may be, as a flash of
lightning--becomes, when caught by the eyes of love, a real thing,
fixed and imperishable forever. A tender smile, a fond word of
love's creation, contains a universe of light and life and
immortality,--small things, and of little value to others, but to
him or her whom they concern more precious and more prized than the
treasures of Ind.
Master Jean La Marche, after a few minutes' rest, made still more
refreshing by a draught from a suspicious-looking flask, which, out
of respect for the presence of his mistress, the Lady de Tilly, he
said contained "milk," began a popular boat-song which every
voyageur in New France knew as well as his prayers, and loved to his
The canoe-men pricked up their ears, like troopers at the sound of a
bugle, as Jean La Marche began the famous old ballad of the king's
son who, with his silver gun, aimed at the beautiful black duck, and
shot the white one, out of whose eyes came gold and diamonds, and
out of whose mouth rained silver, while its pretty feathers,
scattered to the four winds, were picked up by three fair dames, who
with them made a bed both large and deep--
"For poor wayfaring men to sleep."
Master Jean's voice was clear and resonant as a church bell newly
christened; and he sang the old boat-song with an energy that drew
the crews of half-a-dozen other canoes into the wake of his music,
all uniting in the stirring chorus:
"Fringue! Fringue sur la rivière!
Fringue! Fringue sur l'aviron!"
The performance of Jean La Marche was highly relished by the
critical boatmen, and drew from them that flattering mark of
approval, so welcome to a vocalist,--an encore of the whole long
ballad, from beginning to end.
As the line of canoes swept up the stream, a welcome cheer
occasionally greeted them from the shore, or a voice on land joined
in the gay refrain. They draw nearer to Tilly, and their voices
became more and more musical, their gaiety more irrepressible, for
they were going home; and home to the habitans, as well as to their
lady, was the world of all delights.
The contagion of high spirits caught even Le Gardeur, and drew him
out of himself, making him for the time forget the disappointments,
resentments, and allurements of the city.
Sitting there in the golden sunshine, the blue sky above him, the
blue waters below,--friends whom he loved around him, mirth in every
eye, gaiety on every tongue,--how could Le Gardeur but smile as the
music of the boatmen brought back a hundred sweet associations?
Nay, he laughed, and to the inexpressible delight of Amélie and
Pierre, who watched every change in his demeanor, united in the
chorus of the glorious boat-song.
A few hours of this pleasant voyaging brought the little fleet of
canoes under the high bank, which from its summit slopes away in a
wide domain of forests, park, and cultivated fields, in the midst of
which stood the high-pointed and many-gabled Manor House of Tilly.
Upon a promontory--as if placed there for both a land and sea mark,
to save souls as well as bodies--rose the belfry of the Chapel of
St. Michael, overlooking a cluster of white, old-fashioned cottages,
which formed the village of St. Michael de Tilly.
Upon the sandy beach a crowd of women, children, and old men had
gathered, who were cheering and clapping their hands at the
unexpected return of the lady of the Manor with all their friends
The fears of the villagers had been greatly excited for some days
past by exaggerated reports of the presence of Iroquois on the
upper waters of the Chaudière. They not unnaturally conjectured,
moreover, that the general call for men on the King's corvée, to
fortify the city, portended an invasion by the English, who, it was
rumored, were to come up in ships from below, as in the days of Sir
William Phipps with his army of New Englanders, the story of whose
defeat under the walls of Quebec was still freshly remembered in the
traditions of the Colony.
"Never fear them!" said old Louis, the one-eyed pilot. "It was in
my father's days. Many a time have I heard him tell the story--how,
in the autumn of the good year 1690, thirty-four great ships of the
Bostonians came up from below, and landed an army of ventres bleus
of New England on the flats of Beauport. But our stout Governor,
Count de Frontenac, came upon them from the woods with his brave
soldiers, habitans, and Indians, and drove them pell-mell back to
their boats, and stripped the ship of Admiral Phipps of his red
flag, which, if you doubt my word,--which no one does,--still hangs
over the high altar of the Church of Notre Dame des Victoires.
Blessed be our Lady, who saved our country from our enemies,--and
will do so again, if we do not by our wickedness lose her favor!
But the arbre sec--the dry tree--still stands upon the Point de
Levis, where the Boston fleet took refuge before beating their
retreat down the river again,--and you know the old prophecy: that
while that tree stands, the English shall never prevail against
Much comforted by this speech of old Louis the pilot, the villagers
of Tilly rushed to the beach to receive their friends.
The canoes came dashing into shore. Men, women, and children ran
knee-deep into the water to meet them, and a hundred eager hands
were ready to seize their prows and drag them high and dry upon the
"Home again! and welcome to Tilly, Pierre Philibert!" exclaimed Lady
de Tilly, offering her hand. "Friends like you have the right of
welcome here." Pierre expressed his pleasure in fitting terms, and
lent his aid to the noble lady to disembark.
Le Gardeur assisted Amélie out of the canoe. As he led her across
the beach, he felt her hand tremble as it rested on his arm. He
glanced down at her averted face, and saw her eyes directed to a
spot well remembered by himself--the scene of his rescue from
drowning by Pierre Philibert.
The whole scene came before Amélie at this moment. Her vivid
recollection conjured up the sight of the inanimate body of her
brother as it was brought ashore by the strong arm of Pierre
Philibert and laid upon the beach; her long agony of suspense, and
her joy, the greatest she had ever felt before or since, at his
resuscitation to life, and lastly, her passionate vow which she
made when clasping the neck of his preserver--a vow which she had
enshrined as a holy thing in her heart ever since.
At that moment a strange fancy seized her: that Pierre Philibert was
again plunging into deep water to rescue her brother, and that she
would be called on by some mysterious power to renew her vow or
fulfil it to the very letter.
She twitched Le Gardeur gently by the arm and said to him, in a half
whisper, "It was there, brother! do you remember?"
"I know it, sister!" replied he; "I was also thinking of it. I am
grateful to Pierre; yet, oh, my Amélie, better he had left me at the
bottom of the deep river, where I had found my bed! I have no
pleasure in seeing Tilly any more!"
"Why not, brother? Are we not all the same? Are we not all here?
There is happiness and comfort for you at Tilly."
"There was once, Amélie," replied he, sadly; "but there will be none
for me in the future, as I feel too well. I am not worthy of you,
"Come, brother!" replied she, cheerily, "you dampen the joy of our
arrival. See, the flag is going up on the staff of the turret, and
old Martin is getting ready to fire off the culverin in honor of
Presently there was a flash, a cloud of smoke, and the report of a
cannon came booming down to the shore from the Manor House.
"That was well done of Martin and the women!" remarked Felix
Baudoin, who had served in his youth, and therefore knew what was
fitting in a military salute. "'The women of Tilly are better than
the men of Beauce,' says the proverb."
"Ay, or of Tilly either!" remarked Josephte Le Tardeur, in a sharp,
snapping tone. Josephte was a short, stout virago, with a turned-up
nose and a pair of black eyes that would bore you through like an
auger. She wore a wide-brimmed hat of straw, overtopping curls as
crisp as her temper. Her short linsey petticoat was not chary of
showing her substantial ankles, while her rolled-up sleeves
displayed a pair of arms so red and robust that a Swiss milkmaid
might well have envied them.
Her remark was intended for the ear of José Le Tardeur, her husband,
a lazy, good-natured fellow, whose eyes had been fairly henpecked
out of his head all the days of his married life. Josephte's speech
hit him without hurting him, as he remarked to a neighbor. Josephte
made a target of him every day. He was glad, for his part, that the
women of Tilly were better soldiers than the men, and so much fonder
of looking after things! It saved the men a deal of worry and a
good deal of work.
"What are you saying, José?" exclaimed Felix, who only caught a few
"I say, Master Felix, that but for Mère Eve there would have been no
curse upon men, to make them labor when they do not want to, and no
sin either. As the Curé says, we could have lain on the grass
sunning ourselves all day long. Now it is nothing but work and
pray, never play, else you will save neither body nor soul. Master
Felix, I hope you will remember me if I come up to the Manor house."
"Ay, I will remember you, José," replied Felix, tartly; "but if
labor was the curse which Eve brought into the world when she ate
the apple, I am sure you are free from it. So ride up with the
carts, José, and get out of the way of my Lady's carriage!"
José obeyed, and taking off his cap, bowed respectfully to the Lady
de Tilly as she passed, leaning on the arm of Pierre Philibert, who
escorted her to her carriage.
A couple of sleek Canadian horses, sure-footed as goats and strong
as little elephants, drew the coach with a long, steady trot up the
winding road which led to the Manor House.
The road, unfenced and bordered with grass on each side of the
track, was smooth and well kept, as became the Grande Chaussée of
the Barony of Tilly. It ran sometimes through stretches of
cultivated fields--green pastures or corn-lands ripening for the
sickle of the censitaire. Sometimes it passed through cool, shady
woods, full of primeval grandeur,--part of the great Forest of
Tilly, which stretched away far as the eye could reach over the
hills of the south shore. Huge oaks that might have stood there
from the beginning of the world, wide-branching elms, and dark pines
overshadowed the highway, opening now and then into vistas of green
fields where stood a cottage or two, with a herd of mottled cows
grazing down by the brook. On the higher ridges the trees formed a
close phalanx, and with their dark tops cut the horizon into a long,
irregular line of forest, as if offering battle to the woodman's axe
that was threatening to invade their solitudes.
Half an hour's driving brought the company to the Manor House, a
stately mansion, gabled and pointed like an ancient château on the
It was a large, irregular structure of hammered stone, with deeply-
recessed windows, mullioned and ornamented with grotesque carvings.
A turret, loopholed and battlemented, projected from each of the
four corners of the house, enabling its inmates to enfilade every
side with a raking fire of musketry, affording an adequate defence
against Indian foes. A stone tablet over the main entrance of the
Manor House was carved with the armorial bearings of the ancient
family of Tilly, with the date of its erection, and a pious
invocation placing the house under the special protection of St.
Michael de Thury, the patron saint of the House of Tilly.
The Manor House of Tilly had been built by Charles Le Gardeur de
Tilly, a gentleman of Normandy, one of whose ancestors, the Sieur de
Tilly, figures on the roll of Battle Abbey as a follower of Duke
William at Hastings. His descendant, Charles Le Gardeur, came over
to Canada with a large body of his vassals in 1636, having obtained
from the King a grant of the lands of Tilly, on the bank of the St.
Lawrence, "to hold in fief and seigniory,"--so ran the royal
patent,--"with the right and jurisdiction of superior, moyenne and
basse justice, and of hunting, fishing, and trading with the Indians
throughout the whole of this royal concession; subject to the
condition of foi et hommage, which he shall be held to perform at
the Castle of St. Louis in Quebec, of which he shall hold under the
customary duties and dues, agreeably to the coutume de Paris
followed in this country."
Such was the style of the royal grants of seignioral rights conceded
in New France, by virtue of one of which this gallant Norman
gentleman founded his settlement and built this Manor House on the
shores of the St. Lawrence.
A broad, smooth carriage road led up to the mansion across a park
dotted with clumps of evergreens and deciduous trees. Here and
there an ancient patriarch of the forest stood alone,--some old oak
or elm, whose goodly proportions and amplitude of shade had found
favor in the eyes of the seigniors of Tilly, and saved it from the
axe of the woodman.
A pretty brook, not too wide to be crossed over by a rustic bridge,
meandered through the domain, peeping occasionally out of the
openings in the woods as it stole away like a bashful girl from the
eyes of her admirer.
This brook was the outflow of a romantic little lake that lay hidden
away among the wooded hills that bounded the horizon, an irregular
sheet of water a league in circumference, dotted with islands and
abounding with fish and waterfowl that haunted its quiet pools.
That primitive bit of nature had never been disturbed by axe or
fire, and was a favorite spot for recreation to the inmates of the
Manor House, to whom it was accessible either by boat up the little
stream, or by a pleasant drive through the old woods.
As the carriages drew up in front of the Manor House, every door,
window, and gable of which looked like an old friend in the eyes of
Pierre Philibert, a body of female servants--the men had all been
away at the city--stood ranged in their best gowns and gayest
ribbons to welcome home their mistress and Mademoiselle Amélie, who
was the idol of them all.
Great was their delight to see Monsieur Le Gardeur, as they usually
styled their young master, with another gentleman in military
costume, whom it did not take two minutes for some of the sharp-eyed
lasses to recognize as Pierre Philibert, who had once saved the life
of Le Gardeur on a memorable occasion, and who now, they said one to
another, was come to the Manor House to--to--they whispered what it
was to each other, and smiled in a knowing manner.
Women's wits fly swiftly to conclusions, and right ones too on most
occasions. The lively maids of Tilly told one another in whispers
that they were sure Pierre Philibert had come back to the Manor
House as a suitor for the hand of Mademoiselle Amélie, as was most
natural he should do, so handsome and manly looking as he was, and
mademoiselle always liked to hear any of them mention his name. The
maids ran out the whole chain of logical sequences before either
Pierre or Amélie had ventured to draw a conclusion of any kind from
the premises of this visit.
Behind the mansion, overlooking poultry-yards and stables which were
well hidden from view, rose a high colombière, or pigeon-house, of
stone, the possession of which was one of the rights which feudal
law reserved to the lord of the manor. This colombière was capable
of containing a large army of pigeons, but the regard which the Lady
de Tilly had for the corn-fields of her censitaires caused her to
thin out its population to such a degree that there remained only a
few favorite birds of rare breed and plumage to strut and coo upon
the roofs, and rival the peacocks on the terrace with their bright
In front of the mansion, contrasting oddly with the living trees
around it, stood a high pole, the long, straight stem of a pine-
tree, carefully stripped of its bark, bearing on its top the
withered remains of a bunch of evergreens, with the fragments of a
flag and ends of ribbon which fluttered gaily from it. The pole was
marked with black spots from the discharge of guns fired at it by
the joyous habitans, who had kept the ancient custom of May-day by
planting this May-pole in front of the Manor House of their lady.
The planting of such a pole was in New France a special mark of
respect due to the feudal superior, and custom as well as politeness
required that it should not be taken down until the recurrence of
another anniversary of Flora, which in New France sometimes found
the earth white with snow and hardened with frost, instead of
covered with flowers as in the Old World whence the custom was