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- The Seats Of The Mighty, Volume 3. - 10/13 -
the spirit of the Marquis de Montcalm, though none is envious of his cause."
He bowed gravely. "Causes are good or bad as they are ours or our neighbours'. The lion has a good cause when it goes hunting for its young; the deer has a good cause when it resists the lion's leap upon its fawn."
I did not reply, for I felt a faintness coming; and at that moment the Seigneur Duvarney came to me, and put his arm through mine. A dizziness seized me, my head sank upon his shoulder, and I felt myself floating away into darkness, while from a great distance came a voice:
"It had been kinder to have ended it last year."
"He nearly killed your son, Duvarney." This was the voice of the Marquis in a tone of surprise.
"He saved my life, Marquis," was the sorrowful reply. "I have not paid back those forty pistoles, nor ever can, in spite of all."
"Ah, pardon me, seigneur," was the courteous rejoinder of the General.
That was all I heard, for I had entered the land of complete darkness. When I came to, I found that my foot had been bandaged, there was a torch in the wall, and by my side something in a jug, of which I drank, according to directions in a surgeon's hand on a paper beside it.
I was easier in all my body, yet miserably sick still, and I remained so, now shivering and now burning, a racking pain in my chest. My couch was filled with fresh straw, but in no other wise was my condition altered from the first time I had entered this place. My new jailer was a man of no feeling that I could see, yet of no violence or cruelty; one whose life was like a wheel, doing the eternal round. He did no more nor less than his orders, and I made no complaint nor asked any favour. No one came to me, no message found its way.
Full three months went by in this fashion, and then, one day, who should step into my dungeon, torch in hand, but Gabord! He raised the light above his head, and looked down at me most quizzically.
"Upon my soul--Gabord!" said I. "I did not kill you, then?"
"Upon your soul and upon your body, you killed not Gabord."
"And what now, quarrelsome Gabord?" I questioned cheerfully.
He shook some keys. "Back again to dickey-bird's cage. 'Look you,' quoth Governor, 'who will guard and bait this prisoner like the man he mauled?' 'No one,' quoth a lady who stands by Governor's chair. And she it was who had Governor send me here--even Ma'm'selle Duvarney. And she it was who made the Governor loose off these chains."
He began to free me from the chains. I was in a vile condition. The irons had made sores upon my wrists and legs, my limbs now trembled so beneath me that I could scarcely walk, and my head was very light and dizzy at times. Presently Gabord ordered a new bed of straw brought in; and from that hour we returned to our old relations, as if there had not been between us a fight to the death. Of what was going on abroad he would not tell me, and soon I found myself in as ill a state as before. No Voban came to me, no Doltaire, no one at all. I sank into a deep silence, dropped out of a busy world, a morsel of earth slowly coming to Mother Earth again.
A strange apathy began to settle on me. All those resources of my first year's imprisonment had gone, and I was alone: my mouse was dead; there was no history of my life to write, no incident to break the pitiful monotony. There seemed only one hope: that our army under Amherst would invest Quebec and take it. I had no news of any movement, winter again was here, and it must be five or six months before any action could successfully be taken; for the St. Lawrence was frozen over in winter, and if the city was to be seized it must be from the water, with simultaneous action by land.
I knew the way, the only way, to take the city. At Sillery, west of the town, there was a hollow in the cliffs, up which men, secretly conveyed above the town by water, could climb. At the top was a plateau, smooth and fine as a parade-ground, where battle could be given, or move be made upon the city and citadel, which lay on ground no higher. Then, with the guns playing on the town from the fleet, and from the Levis shore with forces on the Beauport side, attacking the lower town where was the Intendant's palace, the great fortress might be taken, and Canada be ours.
This passage up the cliff side at Sillery I had discovered three years before.
When winter set well in Gabord brought me a blanket, and though last year I had not needed it, now it was most grateful. I had been fed for months on bread and water, as in my first imprisonment, but at last--whether by orders or not, I never knew--he brought me a little meat every day, and some wine also. Yet I did not care for them, and often left them untasted. A hacking cough had never left me since my attempt at escape, and I was miserably thin, and so weak that I could hardly drag myself about my dungeon. So, many weeks of the winter went on, and at last I was not able to rise from my bed of straw, and could do little more than lift a cup of water to my lips and nibble at some bread. I felt that my hours were numbered.
At last, one day, I heard commotion at my dungeon door; it opened, and Gabord entered and closed it after him. He came and stood over me, as with difficulty I lifted myself upon my elbow.
"Come, try your wings," said he.
"It is the end, Gabord?" asked I.
"Not paradise yet!" said he.
"Then I am free?" I asked.
"Free from this dungeon," he answered cheerily.
I raised myself and tried to stand upon my feet, but fell back. He helped me to rise, and I rested an arm on his shoulder.
I tried to walk, but faintness came over me, and I sank back. Then Gabord laid me down, went to the door, and called in two soldiers with a mattress. I was wrapped in my cloak and blankets, laid thereon, and so was borne forth, all covered even to my weak eyes. I was placed in a sleigh, and as the horses sprang away, the clear sleigh-bells rang out, and a gun from the ramparts was fired to give the noon hour, I sank into unconsciousness.
A DANSEUSE AND THE BASTILE
Recovering, I found myself lying on a couch, in a large, well-lighted room hung about with pictures and adorned with trophies of the hunt. A wide window faced the foot of the bed where I lay, and through it I could see--though the light hurt my eyes greatly--the Levis shore, on the opposite side of the St. Lawrence. I lay and thought, trying to discover where I was. It came to me at last that I was in a room of the Chateau St. Louis. Presently I heard breathing near me, and, looking over, I saw a soldier sitting just inside the door.
Then from another corner of the room came a surgeon with some cordial in a tumbler, and, handing it to me, he bade me drink. He felt my pulse; then stopped and put his ear to my chest, and listened long.
"Is there great danger?" asked I.
"The trouble would pass," said he, "if you were stronger. Your life is worth fighting for, but it will be a struggle. That dungeon was slow poison. You must have a barber," added he; "you are a ghost like this."
I put my hand up, and I found my hair and beard were very long and almost white. Held against the light, my hands seemed transparent. "What means my coming here?" asked I.
He shook his head. "I am but a surgeon," he answered shortly, meanwhile writing with a flourish on a piece of paper. When he had finished, he handed the paper to the soldier, with an order. Then he turned to go, politely bowing to me, but turned again and said, "I would not, were I you, trouble to plan escape these months yet. This is a comfortable prison, but it is easier coming in than going out. Your mind and body need quiet. You have, we know, a taste for adventure"--he smiled--"but is it wise to fight a burning powder magazine?"
"Thank you, monsieur," said I, "I am myself laying the fuse to that magazine. It fights for me by-and-bye."
He shrugged a shoulder. "Drink," said he, with a professional air which almost set me laughing, "good milk and brandy, and think of nothing but that you are a lucky man to have this sort of prison."
He bustled out in an important way, shaking his head and talking to himself. Tapping the chest of a bulky soldier who stood outside, he said brusquely, "Too fat, too fat; you'll come to apoplexy. Go fight the English, lazy ruffian!"
The soldier gave a grunt, made a mocking gesture, and the door closed on me and my attendant. This fellow would not speak at all, and I did not urge him, but lay and watched the day decline and night come down. I was taken to a small alcove which adjoined the room, where I slept soundly.
Early the next morning I waked, and there was Voban sitting just outside the alcove, looking at me. I sat up in bed and spoke to him, and he greeted me in an absent sort of way. He was changed as much as I; he moved as one in a dream; yet there was the ceaseless activity of the eye, the swift, stealthy motion of the hand. He began to attend me, and I questioned him; but he said he had orders from mademoiselle that he was to tell nothing--that she, as soon as
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