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- The Seats Of The Mighty, Volume 2. - 2/15 -


I do not suppose he would stab a man in the back, or remove his neighbour's landmark in the night, though he'd rob him of it in open daylight, and call it "enterprise"--a usual word with him.

He is a favourite with Madame Cournal, who influences Bigot most, and one day we may see the boon companions at each other's throats; and if either falls, I hope it maybe Bigot, for Monsieur Doltaire is, at least, no robber. Indeed, he is kind to the poor in a disdainful sort of way. He gives to them and scoffs at them at the same moment; a bad man, with just enough natural kindness to make him dangerous. I have not seen much of the world, but some things we know by instinct; we feel them; and I often wonder if that is not the way we know everything in the end. Sometimes when I take my long walks, or go and sit beside the Falls of Montmorenci, looking out to the great city on the Heights, to dear Isle Orleans, where we have our pretty villa (we are to go there next week for three months--happy summer months), up at the blue sky and into the deep woods, I have strange feelings, which afterwards become thoughts; and sometimes they fly away like butterflies, but oftener they stay with me, and I give them a little garden to roam in--you can guess where. Now and then I call them out of the garden and make them speak, and then I set down what they say in my journal; but I think they like their garden best. You remember the song we used to sing at school?

"'Where do the stars grow, little Garaine? The garden of moons, is it far away? The orchard of suns, my little Garaine, Will you take us there some day?'

"'If you shut your eyes,' quoth little Garaine, 'I will show you the way to go To the orchard of suns, and the garden of moons, And the field where the stars do grow.

"'But you must speak soft,' quoth little Garaine, 'And still must your footsteps be, For a great bear prowls in the field of the stars, And the moons they have men to see.

"'And the suns have the Children of Signs to guard, And they have no pity at all-- You must not stumble, you must not speak, When you come to the orchard wall.

"'The gates are locked,' quoth little Garaine, 'But the way I am going to tell? The key of your heart it will open them all: And there's where the darlings dwell!'"

You may not care to read these lines again, but it helps to show what I mean: that everything is in the heart, and that nothing is at all if we do not feel it. Sometimes I have spoken of these things to my mother, but she does not see as I do. I dare not tell my father all I think, and Juste is so much a creature of moods that I am never sure whether he will be sensible and kind, or scoff. One can not bear to be laughed at. And as for my sister, she never thinks; she only lives; and she looks it--looks beautiful. But there, dear Lucie, I must not tire you with my childish philosophy, though I feel no longer a child. You would not know your friend. I can not tell what has come over me. Voila!

To-morrow we go to visit General Montcalm, who has just arrived in the colony. Bigot and his gay set are not likely to be there. My mother insists that I shall never darken the doors of the Intendant's palace.

Do you still hold to your former purpose of keeping a daily journal? If so, I beg you to copy into it this epistle and your answer; and when I go up to your dear manor house at Beauce next summer, we will read over our letters and other things set down, and gossip of the changes come since we met last. Do sketch the old place for me (as will I our new villa on dear Isle Orleans), and make interest with the good cure to bring it to me with your letter, since there are no posts, no postmen, yet between here and Beauce. The cure most kindly bears this to you, and says he will gladly be our messenger. Yesterday he said to me, shaking his head in a whimsical way, "But no treason, mademoiselle, and no heresy or schism." I am not quite sure what he meant. I dare hardly think he had Captain Moray in his mind. I would not for the world so lessen my good opinion of him as to think him suspicious of me when no other dare; and so I put his words down to chance hitting, to a humorous fancy.

Be sure, dear Lucie, I shall not love you less for giving me a prompt answer. Tell me of what you are thinking and what doing. If Juste can be spared from the Governor's establishment, may I bring him with me next summer? He is a difficult, sparkling sort of fellow, but you are so steady-tempered, so full of tact, getting your own way so quietly and cleverly, that I am sure I should find plenty of straw for the bricks of my house of hope, my castle in Spain!

Do not give too much of my share of thy heart elsewhere, and continue to think me, my dear Lucie, thy friend, loyal and loving,

ALIXE DUVARNEY.

P.S.--Since the above was written we have visited the General. Both Monsieur Doltaire and Captain Moray were there, but neither took much note of me--Monsieur Doltaire not at all. Those two either hate each other lovingly, or love hatefully, I know not which, they are so biting, yet so friendly to each other's cleverness, though their style of word-play is so different: Monsieur Doltaire's like a bodkin-point, Captain Moray's like a musket-stock a-clubbing. Be not surprised to see the British at our gates any day. Though we shall beat them back, I shall feel no less easy because I have a friend in the enemy's camp. You may guess who. Do not smile. He is old enough to be my father. He said so himself six months ago.

ALIXE.

VIII

AS VAIN AS ABSALOM

Gabord, coming in to me one day after I had lain down to sleep, said, "See, m'sieu' the dormouse, 'tis holiday-eve; the King's sport comes to-morrow."

I sat up in bed with a start, for I knew not but that my death had been decided on without trial; and yet on second thought I was sure this could not be, for every rule of military conduct was against it.

"Whose holiday?" asked I after a moment; "and what is King's sport?"

"You're to play bear in the streets to-morrow--which is sport for the King," he retorted; "we lead you by a rope, and you dance the quickstep to please our ladies all the way to the Chateau, where they bring the bear to drum-head."

"Who sits behind the drum?" I questioned.

"The Marquis de Vaudreuil," he replied, "the Intendant, Master Devil Doltaire, and the little men." By these last he meant officers of the colonial soldiery.

So then, at last I was to be tried, to be dealt with definitely on the abominable charge. I should at least again see light and breathe fresh air, and feel about me the stir of the world. For a long year I had heard no voice but my own and Gabord's, had had no friends but my pale blades of corn and a timid mouse, day after day no light at all; and now winter was at hand again, and without fire and with poor food my body was chilled and starved. I had had no news of the world, nor of her who was dear to me, nor of Juste Duvarney save that he lived, nor of our cause. But succeeding the thrill of delight I had at thought of seeing the open world again there came a feeling of lassitude, of indifference; I shrank from the jar of activity. But presently I got upon my feet, and with a little air of drollery straightened out my clothes and flicked a handkerchief across my gaiters. Then I twisted my head over my shoulder as if I were noting the shape of my back and the set of my clothes in a mirror, and thrust a leg out in the manner of an exquisite. I had need to do some mocking thing at the moment, or I should have given way to tears like a woman, so suddenly weak had I become.

Gabord burst out laughing.

An idea came to me. "I must be fine to-morrow," said I. "I must not shame my jailer." I rubbed my beard--I had none when I came into this dungeon first.

"Aho!" said he, his eyes wheeling.

I knew he understood me. I did not speak, but went on running my fingers through my beard.

"As vain as Absalom," he added. "Do you think they'll hang you by the hair?"

"I'd have it off," said I, "to be clean for the sacrifice."

"You had Voban before," he rejoined; "we know what happened--a dainty bit of a letter all rose-lily scented, and comfits for the soldier. The pretty wren perches now in the Governor's house--a-cousining, a-cousining. Think you it is that she may get a glimpse of m'sieu' the dormouse as he comes to trial? But 'tis no business o' mine; and if I bring my prisoner up when called for, there's duty done!"

I saw the friendly spirit in the words.

"Voban," urged I, "Voban may come to me?"

"The Intendant said no, but the Governor yes," was the reply; "and that M'sieu' Doltaire is not yet come back from Montreal, so he had no voice. They look for him here to-morrow."

"Voban may come?" I asked again.

"At daybreak Voban--aho!" he continued. "There's milk and honey to-morrow," he added, and then, without a word, he drew forth from


The Seats Of The Mighty, Volume 2. - 2/15

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