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- The Seats Of The Mighty, Volume 1. - 2/15 -
Tree in the winter of 1897 and 1898, and in the spring of 1898 it opened his new theatre in London.
PREFATORY NOTE TO FIRST EDITION
This tale would never have been written had it not been for the kindness of my distinguished friend Dr. John George Bourinot, C.M.G., of Ottawa, whose studies in parliamentary procedure, the English and Canadian Constitutions, and the history and development of Canada have been of singular benefit to the Dominion and to the Empire. Through Dr. Bourinot's good offices I came to know Mr. James Lemoine, of Quebec, the gifted antiquarian, and President of the Royal Society of Canada. Mr. Lemoine placed in my hands certain historical facts suggestive of romance. Subsequently, Mr. George M. Fairchild, Jr., of Cap Rouge, Quebec, whose library contains a valuable collection of antique Canadian books, maps, and prints, gave me generous assistance and counsel, allowing me "the run" of all his charts, prints, histories, and memoirs. Many of these prints, and a rare and authentic map of Wolfe's operations against Quebec are now reproduced in this novel, and may be considered accurate illustrations of places, people, and events. By the insertion of these faithful historical elements it is hoped to give more vividness to the atmosphere of the time, and to strengthen the verisimilitude of a piece of fiction which is not, I believe, out of harmony with fact.
To Sir Edward Seaforth, Bart., of Sangley Hope in Derbyshire, and Seaforth House in Hanover Square.
Dear Ned: You will have them written, or I shall be pestered to my grave! Is that the voice of a friend of so long standing? And yet it seems but yesterday since we had good hours in Virginia together, or met among the ruins of Quebec. My memoirs--these only will content you? And to flatter or cajole me, you tell me Mr. Pitt still urges on the matter. In truth, when he touched first upon this, I thought it but the courtesy of a great and generous man. But indeed I am proud that he is curious to know more of my long captivity at Quebec, of Monsieur Doltaire and all his dealings with me, and the motions he made to serve La Pompadour on one hand, and, on the other, to win from me that most perfect of ladies, Mademoiselle Alixe Duvarney.
Our bright conquest of Quebec is now heroic memory, and honour and fame and reward have been parcelled out. So I shall but briefly, in these memoirs (ay, they shall be written, and with a good heart), travel the trail of history, or discourse upon campaigns and sieges, diplomacies and treaties. I shall keep close to my own story; for that, it would seem, yourself and the illustrious minister of the King most wish to hear. Yet you will find figuring in it great men like our flaming hero General Wolfe, and also General Montcalm, who, I shall ever keep on saying, might have held Quebec against us, had he not been balked by the vain Governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil; together with such notorious men as the Intendant Bigot, civil governor of New France, and such noble gentlemen as the Seigneur Duvarney, father of Alixe.
I shall never view again the citadel on those tall heights where I was detained so barbarously, nor the gracious Manor House at Beauport, sacred to me because of her who dwelt therein--how long ago, how long! Of all the pictures that flash before my mind when I think on those times, one is most with me: that of the fine guest-room in the Manor House, where I see moving the benign maid whose life and deeds alone can make this story worth telling. And with one scene therein, and it the most momentous in all my days, I shall begin my tale.
I beg you convey to Mr. Pitt my most obedient compliments, and say that I take his polite wish as my command.
With every token of my regard, I am, dear Ned, affectionately your friend,
AN ESCORT TO THE CITADEL
When Monsieur Doltaire entered the salon, and, dropping lazily into a chair beside Madame Duvarney and her daughter, drawled out, "England's Braddock--fool and general--has gone to heaven, Captain Moray, and your papers send you there also," I did not shift a jot, but looked over at him gravely--for, God knows, I was startled--and I said,
"The General is dead?"
I did not dare to ask, Is he defeated? though from Doltaire's look I was sure it was so, and a sickness crept through me, for at the moment that seemed the end of our cause. But I made as if I had not heard his words about my papers.
"Dead as a last years courtier, shifted from the scene," he replied; "and having little now to do, we'll go play with the rat in our trap."
I would not have dared look towards Alixe, standing beside her mother then, for the song in my blood was pitched too high, were it not that a little sound broke from her. At that, I glanced, and saw that her face was still and quiet, but her eyes were shining, and her whole body seemed listening. I dared not give my glance meaning, though I wished to do so. She had served me much, had been a good friend to me, since I was brought a hostage to Quebec from Fort Necessity. There, at that little post on the Ohio, France threw down the gauntlet, and gave us the great Seven Years War. And though it may be thought I speak rashly, the lever to spring that trouble had been within my grasp. Had France sat still while Austria and Prussia quarreled, that long fighting had never been. The game of war had lain with the Grande Marquise--or La Pompadour, as she was called--and later it may be seen how I, unwillingly, moved her to set it going.
Answering Monsieur Doltaire, I said stoutly, "I am sure he made a good fight; he had gallant men."
"Truly gallant," he returned--"your own Virginians among others" (I bowed); "but he was a blunderer, as were you also, monsieur, or you had not sent him plans of our forts and letters of such candour. They have gone to France, my captain."
Madame Duvarney seemed to stiffen in her chair, for what did this mean but that I was a spy? and the young lady behind them now put her handkerchief to her mouth as if to stop a word. To make light of the charges against myself was the only thing, and yet I had little heart to do so. There was that between Monsieur Doltaire and myself--a matter I shall come to by-and-bye--which well might make me apprehensive.
"My sketch and my gossip with my friends," said I, "can have little interest in France."
"My faith, the Grande Marquise will find a relish for them," he said pointedly at me. He, the natural son of King Louis, had played the part between La Pompadour and myself in the grave matter of which I spoke. "She loves deciding knotty points of morality," he added.
"She has had chance and will enough," said I boldly, "but what point of morality is here?"
"The most vital--to you," he rejoined, flicking his handkerchief a little, and drawling so that I could have stopped his mouth with my hand. "Shall a hostage on parole make sketches of a fort and send them to his friends, who in turn pass them on to a foolish general?"
"When one party to an Article of War brutally breaks his sworn promise, shall the other be held to his?" I asked quietly.
I was glad that, at this moment, the Seigneur Duvarney entered, for I could feel the air now growing colder about Madame his wife. He, at least, was a good friend; but as I glanced at him, I saw his face was troubled and his manner distant. He looked at Monsieur Doltaire a moment steadily, stooped to his wife's hand, and then offered me his own without a word; which done, he went to where his daughter stood. She kissed him, and, as she did so, whispered something in his ear, to which he nodded assent. I knew afterwards that she had asked him to keep me to dinner with them.
Presently turning to Monsieur Doltaire, he said inquiringly, "You have a squad of men outside my house, Doltaire?"
Doltaire nodded in a languid way, and answered, "An escort--for Captain Moray--to the citadel."
I knew now, as he had said, that I was in the trap; that he had begun the long sport which came near to giving me the white shroud of death, as it turned white the hair upon my head ere I was thirty-two. Do I not know, the indignities, the miseries I suffered, I owed mostly to him, and that at the last he nearly robbed England of her greatest pride, the taking of New France?--For chance sometimes lets humble men like me balance the scales of fate; and I was humble enough in rank, if in spirit always something above my place.
I was standing as he spoke these words, and I turned to him and said, "Monsieur, I am at your service."
"I have sometimes wished," he said instantly, and with a courteous if ironical gesture, "that you were in my service--that is, the King's."
I bowed as to a compliment, for I would not see the insolence, and I retorted, "Would I could offer you a company in my Virginia regiment!"
"Delightful! delightful!" he rejoined. "I should make as good a Briton as you a Frenchman, every whit."
I suppose he would have kept leading to such silly play, had I
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