Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership





Title:      Shadows on the Rock
Author:     Willa Cather
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0200761.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted:          October 2002
Date most recently updated: October 2002

This eBook was produced by: Don Lainson dlainson@sympatico.ca

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html

Title:      Shadows on the Rock
Author:     Willa Cather





CONTENTS

1.  THE APOTHECARY

2.  CÉCILE AND JACQUES

3.  THE LONG WINTER

4.  PIERRE CHARRON

5.  THE SHIPS FROM FRANCE

6.  THE DYING COUNT

    EPILOGUE





Vous me demandez des graines de fleurs de ce pays.  Nous en faisons
venir de France pour notre jardin, n'y en ayant pas ici de fort
rares ni de fort belles.  Tout y est sauvage, les fleurs aussi bien
que les hommes.

Marie de l'Incarnation

(LETTRE À UNE DE SES SOEURS)

Québec, le 12 août, 1653





BOOK ONE

THE APOTHECARY



I


One afternoon late in October of the year 1697, Euclide Auclair,
the philosopher apothecary of Quebec, stood on the top of Cap
Diamant gazing down the broad, empty river far beneath him.  Empty,
because an hour ago the flash of retreating sails had disappeared
behind the green island that splits the St. Lawrence below Quebec,
and the last of the summer ships from France had started on her
long voyage home.

As long as La Bonne Espérance was still in sight, many of Auclair's
friends and neighbours had kept him company on the hill-top; but
when the last tip of white slid behind the curving shore, they went
back to their shops and their kitchens to face the stern realities
of life.  Now for eight months the French colony on this rock in
the North would be entirely cut off from Europe, from the world.
This was October; not a sail would come up that wide waterway
before next July.  No supplies; not a cask of wine or a sack of
flour, no gunpowder, or leather, or cloth, or iron tools.  Not a
letter, even--no news of what went on at home.  There might be new
wars, floods, conflagrations, epidemics, but the colonists would
never know of them until next summer.  People sometimes said that
if King Louis died, the Minister would send word by the English
ships that came to New York all winter, and the Dutch traders at
Fort Orange would dispatch couriers to Montreal.

The apothecary lingered on the hill-top long after his fellow
townsmen had gone back to their affairs; for him this severance
from the world grew every year harder to bear.  It was a strange
thing, indeed, that a man of his mild and thoughtful disposition,
city-bred and most conventional in his habits, should be found on a
grey rock in the Canadian wilderness.  Cap Diamant, where he stood,
was merely the highest ledge of that fortified cliff which was
"Kebec,"--a triangular headland wedged in by the joining of two
rivers, and girdled about by the greater river as by an encircling
arm.  Directly under his feet was the French stronghold,--scattered
spires and slated roofs flashing in the rich, autumnal sunlight;
the little capital which was just then the subject of so much
discussion in Europe, and the goal of so many fantastic dreams.

Auclair thought this rock-set town like nothing so much as one of
those little artificial mountains which were made in the churches
at home to present a theatric scene of the Nativity; cardboard
mountains, broken up into cliffs and ledges and hollows to
accommodate groups of figures on their way to the manger; angels
and shepherds and horsemen and camels, set on peaks, sheltered in
grottoes, clustered about the base.

Divest your mind of Oriental colour, and you saw here very much
such a mountain rock, cunningly built over with churches, convents,
fortifications, gardens, following the natural irregularities of
the headland on which they stood; some high, some low, some thrust
up on a spur, some nestling in a hollow, some sprawling unevenly
along a declivity.  The Château Saint-Louis, grey stone with steep
dormer roofs, on the very edge of the cliff overlooking the river,
sat level; but just beside it the convent and church of the
Récollet friars ran downhill, as if it were sliding backwards.  To
landward, in a low, well-sheltered spot, lay the Convent of the
Ursulines . . . lower still stood the massive foundation of the
Jesuits, facing the Cathedral.  Immediately behind the Cathedral
the cliff ran up sheer again, shot out into a jutting spur, and
there, high in the blue air, between heaven and earth, rose old
Bishop Laval's Seminary.  Beneath it the rock fell away in a
succession of terraces like a circular staircase; on one of these
was the new Bishop's new Palace, its gardens on the terrace below.

Not one building on the rock was on the same level with any other,--
and two hundred feet below them all was the Lower Town, crowded
along the narrow strip of beach between the river's edge and the
perpendicular face of the cliff.  The Lower Town was so directly
underneath the Upper Town that one could stand on the terrace of
the Château Saint-Louis and throw a stone down into the narrow
streets below.

These heavy grey buildings, monasteries and churches, steep-pitched
and dormered, with spires and slated roofs, were roughly Norman
Gothic in effect.  They were made by people from the north of
France who knew no other way of building.  The settlement looked
like something cut off from one of the ruder towns of Normandy or
Brittany, and brought over.  It was indeed a rude beginning of a
"new France," of a Saint-Malo or Rouen or Dieppe, anchored here in
the ever-changing northern light and weather.  At its feet, curving
about its base, flowed the mighty St. Lawrence, rolling north
toward the purple line of the Laurentian mountains, toward frowning
Cap Tourmente which rose dark against the soft blue of the October
sky.  The Île d'Orléans, out in the middle of the river, was like a
hilly map, with downs and fields and pastures lying in folds above
the naked tree-tops.

On the opposite shore of the river, just across from the proud rock
of Quebec, the black pine forest came down to the water's edge; and
on the west, behind the town, the forest stretched no living man
knew how far.  That was the dead, sealed world of the vegetable
kingdom, an uncharted continent choked with interlocking trees,
living, dead, half-dead, their roots in bogs and swamps, strangling
each other in a slow agony that had lasted for centuries.  The
forest was suffocation, annihilation; there European man was
quickly swallowed up in silence, distance, mould, black mud, and
the stinging swarms of insect life that bred in it.  The only
avenue of escape was along the river.  The river was the one thing
that lived, moved, glittered, changed,--a highway along which men
could travel, taste the sun and open air, feel freedom, join their
fellows, reach the open sea . . . reach the world, even!

After all, the world still existed, Auclair was thinking, as he
stood looking up the way by which La Bonne Espérance had gone out
only an hour ago.  He was not of the proper stuff for a colonist,
and he knew it.  He was a slender, rather frail man of about fifty,
a little stooped, a little grey, with a short beard cut in a point,
and a fair complexion delicately flushed with pink about his cheeks
and ears.  His blue eyes were warm and interested, even in
reflection,--they often had a kindling gleam as if his thoughts
were pictures.  Except for this lively and inquiring spirit in his
glance, everything about him was modest and retiring.  He was
clearly not a man of action, no Indian-fighter or explorer.  The
only remarkable thing about his life was that he had not lived it
to the end exactly where his father and grandfather had lived
theirs,--in a little apothecary shop on the Quai des Célestins, in
Paris.

The apothecary at last turned his back to the river.  He was
glancing up at the sun to reckon the time of day, when he saw a
soldier coming up the grassy slope of Cap Diamant by the irregular
earth path that led to the redoubt.  The soldier touched his hat
and called to him.

"I thought I recognized your figure up here, Monsieur Euclide.  The
Governor requires your presence and has sent a man down to your
shop to fetch you."

Auclair thanked him for his trouble and went down the hill with him
to the Château.  The Governor was his patron, the Count de
Frontenac, in whose service he had come out to Canada.



II


It was late in the afternoon when Auclair left the Château and made
his way through the garden of the Recollet friars, past the new
Bishop's Palace, and down to his own house.  He lived on the steep,
winding street called Mountain Hill, which was the one and only
thoroughfare connecting the Upper Town with the Lower.  The Lower
Town clustered on the strip of beach at the foot of the cliff, the
Upper Town crowned its summit.  Down the face of the cliff there
was but this one path, which had probably been a mere watercourse
when Champlain and his men first climbed up it to plant the French
lilies on the crest of the naked rock.  The watercourse was now a
steep, stony street, with shops on one side and the retaining walls
of the Bishop's Palace on the other.  Auclair lived there for two
reasons: to be close at hand where Count Frontenac could summon him
quickly to the Château, and because, thus situated on the winding
stairway connecting the two halves of Quebec, his services were
equally accessible to the citizens of both.

On entering his door the apothecary found the front shop empty, lit
by a single candle.  In the living-room behind, which was partly
shut off from the shop by a partition made of shelves and cabinets,
a fire burned in the fireplace, and the round dining-table was
already set with a white cloth, silver candlesticks, glasses, and
two clear decanters, one of red wine and one of white.

Behind the living-room there was a small, low-roofed kitchen, built
of stone, though the house itself was built of wood in the earliest
Quebec manner,--double walls, with sawdust and ashes filling in the
space between the two frames, making a protection nearly four feet
thick against the winter cold.  From this stone kitchen at the back
two pleasant emanations greeted the chemist: the rich odour of
roasting fowl, and a child's voice, singing.  When he closed the
heavy wooden door behind him, the voice called:  "Is it you, Papa?"

His daughter ran in from the kitchen,--a little girl of twelve,
beginning to grow tall, wearing a short skirt and a sailor's
jersey, with her brown hair shingled like a boy's.

Auclair stooped to kiss her flushed cheek.  "Pas de clients?" he
asked.

"Mais, oui!  Beaucoup de clients.  But they all wanted very simple
things.  I found them quite easily and made notes of them.  But why
were you gone so long?  Is Monsieur le Comte ill?"

"Not ill, exactly, but there is troublesome news from Montreal."

"Please change your coat now, Papa, and light the candles.  I am so
anxious about the poulet.  Mère Laflamme tried hard to sell me a
cock, but I told her my father always complained of a cock."  The
daughter's eyes were shaped like her father's, but were much
darker, a very dark blue, almost black when she was excited, as she
was now about the roast.  Her mother had died two years ago, and
she made the ménage for her father.

Contrary to the custom of his neighbours, Auclair dined at six
o'clock in winter and seven in summer, after the day's work was
over, as he was used to do in Paris,--though even there almost
everyone dined at midday.  He now dropped the curtains over his two
shop windows, a sign to his neighbours that he was not to be
disturbed unless for serious reasons.  Having put on his indoor
coat, he lit the candles and carried in the heavy soup tureen for
his daughter.

They ate their soup in appreciative silence, both were a little
tired.  While his daughter was bringing in the roast, Auclair
poured a glass of red wine for her and one of white for himself.

"Papa," she said as he began to carve, "what is the earliest
possible time that Aunt Clothilde and Aunt Blanche can get our
letters?"

Auclair deliberated.  Every fall the colonists asked the same
question of one another and reckoned it all anew.  "Well, if La
Bonne Espérance has good luck, she can make La Rochelle in six
weeks.  Of course, it has been done in five.  But let us say six;
then, if the roads are bad, and they are likely to be in December,
we must count on a week to Paris."

"And if she does not have good luck?"

"Ah, then who can say?  But unless she meets with very heavy
storms, she can do it in two months.  With this west wind, which we
can always count on, she will get out of the river and through the
Gulf very speedily, and that is sometimes the most tedious part of
the voyage.  When we came over with the Count, we were a month
coming from Percé to Quebec.  That was because we were sailing
against this same autumn wind which will be carrying La Bonne
Espérance out to sea."

"But surely the aunts will have our letters by New Year's, and then
they will know how glad I was of my béret and my jerseys, and how
we can hardly wait to open the box upstairs.  I can remember my
Aunt Blanche a little, because she was young and pretty, and used
to play with me.  I suppose she is not young now, any more; it is
eight years."

"Not young, exactly, but she will always have high spirits.  And
she is well married, and has three children who are a great joy to
her."

"Three little cousins whom I have never seen, and one of them is
named for me!  Cécile, André, Rachel."  She spoke their names
softly.  These little cousins were almost like playfellows.  Their
mother wrote such long letters about them that Cécile felt she knew
them and all their ways, their individual faults and merits.
Cousin Cécile was seven, very studious, bien sérieuse, already
prepared for confirmation; but she would eat only sweets and highly
spiced food.  André was five, truthful and courageous, but he bit
his nails.  Rachel was a baby, in the midst of teething when they
last heard of her.

Cécile would have preferred to live with Aunt Blanche and her
children when she should go back to France; but by her mother's
wish she was destined for Aunt Clothilde, who had long been a widow
of handsome means and was much interested in the education of young
girls.  The face of this aunt Cécile could never remember, though
she could see her figure clearly,--standing against the light, she
always seemed to be, a massive woman, short and heavy though not
exactly fat,--square, rather, like a great piece of oak furniture;
always in black, widow's black that smelled of dye, with gold rings
on her fingers and a very white handkerchief in her hand.  Cécile
could see her head, too, carried well back on a short neck, like a
general or a statesman sitting for his portrait; but the face was a
blank, just as if the aunt were standing in a doorway with blinding
sunlight behind her.  Cécile was once more trying to recall that
face when her father interrupted her.

"What are we having for dessert tonight, my dear?"

"We have the cream cheese you brought from market yesterday, and
whichever conserve you prefer; the plums, the wild strawberries, or
the gooseberries."

"Oh, the gooseberries, by all means, after chicken."

"But, Papa, you prefer the gooseberries after almost everything!
It is lucky for us we can get all the sugar we want from the Count.
Our neighbours cannot afford to make conserves, with sugar so dear.
And gooseberries take more than anything else."

"There is something very palatable about the flavour of these
gooseberries, a bitter tang that is good for one.  At home the
gooseberries are much larger and finer, but I have come to like
this bitter taste."

"En France nous avons tous les légumes, jusqu'aux dattes," murmured
Cécile.  She had never seen a date, but she had learned that phrase
from a book, when she went to day-school at the Ursulines.

Immediately after dinner the apothecary went into the front shop to
post his ledger, while his daughter washed the dishes with the hot
water left in an iron kettle on the stove, where the birch-wood
fire was now smouldering coals.  She had scarcely begun when she
heard a soft scratching at the single window of her kitchen.
Through the small panes of glass a face was looking in,--a
terrifying face, but one that she expected.  She nodded and
beckoned with her finger.  A short, heavy man shuffled into the
kitchen.  He seemed loath to enter, yet drawn by some desire
stronger than his reluctance.  Cécile went to the stove and filled
a bowl.

"There is your soup for you, Blinker."

"Merci, Ma'm'selle."  The man spoke out of the side of his mouth,
as he looked out of the side of his face.  He was so terribly
cross-eyed that Cécile had never really looked into his eyes at
all,--this was why he was called Blinker.  He took a half-loaf from
his coat-pocket and began to eat the soup eagerly, trying not to
make a noise.  Eating was difficult for him,--he had once had an
abscess in his lower jaw, it had suppurated, and pieces of the bone
had come out.  His face was badly shrunken on that side, under the
old scars.  He knew it distressed Cécile if he gurgled his soup; so
he struggled between greed and caution, dipping his bread to make
it easy chewing.

This poor mis-shapen fellow worked next door, tended the oven fires
for Nicholas Pigeon, the baker, so that the baker could get his
night's sleep.  His wages were the baker's old clothes, two pairs
of boots a year, a pint of red wine daily, and all the bread he
could eat.  But he got no soup there, Madame Pigeon had too many
children to feed.

When he had finished his bowl and loaf, he rose and without saying
anything took up two large wooden pails.  One was full of refuse
from the day's cooking, the other full of dish-water.  These he
carried down Mountain Hill, through the market square to the edge
of the shore, and there emptied them into the river.  When he came
back, he found a very small glass of brandy waiting for him on the
table.

"Merci, Ma'm'selle, merci beaucoup," he muttered.  He sat down and
sipped it slowly, watching Cécile arrange the kitchen for the
night.  He lingered while the floor was swept, the last dish put in
place on the shelves, the dish-towels hung to dry on a wire above
the stove, following all these operations intently with his crooked
eyes.  When she took up her candle, he must go.  He put down his
glass, got up, and opened the back door, but his feet seemed nailed
to the sill.  He stood blinking with that incredibly stupid air,
blinking out of the side of his face, and Cécile could not be sure
that he saw her or anything else.  He made a fumbling as if to
button his coat, though there were no buttons on it.

"Bon soir, Ma'm'selle," he muttered.

Since this happened every night, Cécile thought nothing of it.  Her
mother had begun to look out for Blinker a little before she became
so ill, and he was one of the cares the daughter had inherited.  He
had come out to the colony four years ago, and like many others who
came he had no trade.  He was strong, but so ill-favoured that
nobody wanted him about.  Neighbour Pigeon found he was faithful
and dependable, and taught him to stoke the wood fire and tend the
oven between midnight and morning.  Madame Auclair felt sorry for
the poor fellow and got into the way of giving him his soup at
night and letting him do the heavy work, such as carrying in wood
and water and taking away the garbage.  She had always called
Blinker by his real name, Jules.  He had a cave up in the rocky
cliff behind the bakery, where he kept his chest,--he slept there
in mild weather.  In winter he slept anywhere about the ovens that
he could find room to lie down, and his clothes and woolly red hair
were usually white with ashes.  Many people were afraid of him,
felt that he must have crooked thoughts behind such crooked eyes.
But the Pigeons and Auclairs had got used to him and saw no harm in
him.  The baker said he could never discover how the fellow made a
living at home, or why he had come out to Canada.  Many
unserviceable men had come, to be sure, but they were usually
adventurers who disliked honest work,--wanted to fight the Iroquois
or traffic in beaver-skins, or live a free life hunting game in the
woods.  This Blinker had never had a gun in his hands.  He had such
a horror of the forest that he would not even go into the near-by
woods to help fell trees for firewood, and his fear of Indians was
one of the bywords of Mountain Hill.  Pigeon used to tell his
customers that if the Count went to chastise the Iroquois beyond
Cataraqui, Blinker would hide in his cave in Quebec.  Blinker
protested he had been warned in a dream that he would be taken
prisoner and tortured by the Indians.



Dinner was the important event of the day in the apothecary's
household.  The luncheon was a mere goûter.  Breakfast was a pot of
chocolate, which he prepared very carefully himself, and a fresh
loaf which Pigeon's oldest boy brought to the door.  But his dinner
Auclair regarded as the thing that kept him a civilized man and a
Frenchman.  It put him in a mellow mood, and he and his daughter
usually spent the long evening very happily without visitors.  She
read aloud to him, the fables of La Fontaine or his favourite
Plutarch, and he corrected her accent so that she would not be
ashamed when she returned home to the guardianship of that
intelligent and exacting Aunt Clothilde.  It was only in the
evening that her father had time to talk to her.  All day he was
compounding remedies, or visiting the sick, or making notes for a
work on the medicinal properties of Canadian plants which he meant
to publish after his return to Paris.  But in the evening he was
free, and while he enjoyed his Spanish snuff their talk would
sometimes lead far away and bring out long stories of the past.
Her father would try to recall to her their old shop on the Quai
des Célestins, where he had grown up and where she herself was
born.  She thought she could remember it a little, though she was
only four years old when they sailed with the Count for the New
World.  It was a narrow wedge, that shop, built in next to the
carriage court of the town house of the Frontenacs.  Auclair's
little chamber, where he slept from his sixth year until his
marriage, was on the third floor, under the roof.  Its one window
looked out upon the carriage court and across it to the front of
the mansion, which had only a blind wall on the street and faced
upon its own court.

When he was a little boy, he used to tell Cécile, nothing ever
changed next door, except that after a rain the cobbles in the yard
were whiter, and the ivy on the walls was greener.  Every morning
he looked out from his window on the same stillness; the shuttered
windows behind their iron grilles, the steps under the porte-
cochère green with moss, pale grass growing up between the stones
in the court, the empty stables at the back, the great wooden
carriage gates that never opened,--though in one of them a small
door was cut, through which the old caretaker came and went.

"Naturally," Auclair would tell his daughter, "having seen the
establishment next door always the same, I supposed it was meant to
be like that, and was there, perhaps, to give a little boy the
pleasure of watching the swallows build nests in the ivy.  The
Count had been at home when I was an infant in arms, and once, I
believe, when I was three, but I could not remember.  Imagine my
astonishment when, one evening about sunset, a dusty coach with
four horses rattled down the Quai and stopped at the carriage
entrance.  Two footmen sprang down from the box, rang the outer
bell, and, as soon as the bar was drawn, began pulling and prying
at the gates, which I had never seen opened in my life.  It seemed
to me that some outrage was being committed and the police should
be called.  At last the gates were dragged inward, and the coach
clattered into the court.  If anything more happened that night I
do not recall it.

"The next morning I was awakened by shouting under my window, and
the sound of shutters being taken down.  I ran across my room and
peeped out.  The windows over there were not only unshuttered, but
open wide.  Three young men were leaning out over the grilles
beating rugs, shaking carpets and wall-hangings into the air.  In a
moment a blacksmith came in his leather apron, with a kit of tools,
and began to repair the hinges of the gates.  Boys were running in
and out, bringing bread, milk, poultry, sacks of grain and hay for
the horses.  When I went down to breakfast, I found my father and
mother and grandparents all very much excited and pleased, talking
a great deal.  They already knew in which chamber the Count had
slept last night, the names of his equerries, what he had brought
with him for supper in a basket from Fontainebleau, and which wines
old Joseph had got up from the cellar for him.  I had scarcely ever
heard my family talk so much.

"Not long after breakfast the Count himself came into our shop.  He
greeted my father familiarly and began asking about the people of
the Quarter as if he had been away only a few weeks.  He inquired
for my mother and grandmother, and they came to pay their respects.
I was pulled out from under the counter where I had hidden, and
presented to him.  I was frightened because he was wearing his
uniform and such big boots.  Yes, he was a fine figure of a man
forty years ago, but even more restless and hasty than he is now.
I remember he asked me if I wanted to be a soldier, and when I told
him that I meant to be an apothecary like my father, he laughed and
gave me a silver piece."

Though Auclair so often talked to his daughter of the past, it was
not because there was nothing happening in the present.  At that
time the town of Quebec had fewer than two thousand inhabitants,
but it was always full of jealousies and quarrels.  Ever since
Cécile could remember, there had been a feud between Count
Frontenac and old Bishop Laval.  And now that the new Bishop,
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier, had just come back from France after
a three years' absence, the Count was quarrelling with him!  Then
there was always the old quarrel between the two Bishops
themselves, which had broken out with fresh vigour upon de Saint-
Vallier's return.  Everyone in the diocese took sides with one
prelate or the other.  Since he landed in September, scarcely a
week went by that Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier did not wreck some
cherished plan of the old Bishop.



Before they went to bed, Auclair and his daughter usually took a
walk.  The apothecary believed this habit conducive to sound
slumber.  Tonight, as they stepped out into the frosty air and
looked up, high over their heads, on the edge of the sheer cliff,
the Château stood out against the glittering night sky, the second
storey of the south wing brilliantly lighted.

"I suppose the Count's candles will burn till long past midnight,"
Cécile remarked.

"Ah, the Count has many things to trouble him.  The King has not
been very generous in rewarding his services in the last campaign.
Besides, he is old, and the old do not sleep much."

As they climbed Mountain Hill, they passed in front of Monseigneur
de Saint-Vallier's new episcopal Palace, and that, too, was ablaze
with lights.  Cécile longed to see inside that building, toward
which the King himself had given fifteen thousand francs.  It was
said that Monseigneur had brought back with him a great many fine
pieces of furniture and tapestry to furnish it.  But he was not
fond of children, as the old Bishop was, and his servants were very
strict, and there seemed to be no way in which one could get a peep
behind those heavy curtains at the windows.

Their walk was nearly always the same.  On a precipitous rock,
scored over with dark, uneven streets, there were not many ways
where one could stroll with a careless foot after nightfall.  When
the wind was not too biting, they usually took the path up to the
redoubt on Cap Diamant and looked down over the sleeping town and
the great pale avenue of river, with black forest stretching beyond
it to the sky.  From there the Lower Town was a mere sprinkle of
lights along the water's edge.  The rock-top, blocked off in dark
masses that were convents and churches and gardens, was now sunk in
sleep.  The only lighted windows to be seen were in the Château, in
the Bishop's Palace, and on the top floor of old Bishop Laval's
Seminary, out there on its spur overhanging the river.  That top
floor, the apothecary told his daughter, was the library, and
likely enough some young Canadian-born Seminarians to whom Latin
came hard were struggling with the Church Fathers up there.



III


Auclair did a good trade in drugs and herbs and remedies of his own
compounding, but his pay was small, and very little of it was in
money.  Besides, people wasted a great deal of his time in
conversation and thus interfered with his study of Canadian plants.
Like most philosophers, he was not averse to discourse, but here
much of the talk was gossip and very trivial.  The colonists liked
to drop in at his house upon the slightest pretext; the interior
was like home to the French-born.  On a heavy morning, when clouds
of thick grey fog rolled up from the St. Lawrence, it cheered one
to go into a place that was like an apothecary's shop at home; to
glimpse the comfortable sitting-room through the tall cabinets and
chests of drawers that separated without entirely shutting it off
from the shop.

Euclide Auclair had come over with the Count de Frontenac eight
years ago, as his apothecary and physician, and had therefore been
able to bring whatever he liked of his personal possessions.  He
came with a full supply of drugs and specifics, his distilling
apparatus, mortars, balances, retorts, and carboys, all the
paraphernalia of his trade, even the stuffed baby alligator,
brought long ago to Paris by some sailor from the West Indies and
purchased by Auclair's grandfather to ornament the shop on the Quai
des Célestins.

Madame Auclair had brought her household goods, without which she
could not imagine life at all, and the salon behind the shop was
very much like their old salon in Paris.  There was the same well-
worn carpet, made at Lyon, the walnut dining-table, the two large
arm-chairs and high-backed sofa upholstered in copper-red cotton-
velvet, the long window-curtains of a similar velvet lined with
brown.  The same candelabra and china shepherd boy sat on the
mantel, the same colour prints of pastoral scenes hung on the
walls.  Madame had brought out to Canada the fine store of linen
that had been her marriage portion, her feather beds and coverlids
and down pillows.  As long as she lived, she tried to make the new
life as much as possible like the old.  After she began to feel
sure that she would never be well enough to return to France, her
chief care was to train her little daughter so that she would be
able to carry on this life and this order after she was gone.

Madame Auclair had kept upon her feet until within a few weeks of
her death.  When a spasm of coughing came on (she died of her
lungs) and she was forced to lie down on the red sofa there under
the window, she would beckon Cécile to the footstool beside her.
After she got her breath again and was resting, she would softly
explain many things about the ménage.

"Your father has a delicate appetite," she would murmur, "and the
food here is coarse.  If it is not very carefully prepared, he will
not eat and will fall ill.  And he cannot sleep between woollen
coverlids, as many people do here; his skin is sensitive.  The
sheets must be changed every two weeks, but do not try to have them
washed in the winter.  I have brought linen enough to last the
winter through.  Keep folding the soiled ones away in the cold
upstairs, and in April, when the spring rains come and all the
water-barrels are full of soft rain-water, have big Jeanette come
in and do a great washing; give the house up to her, and let her
take several days to do her work.  Beg her to iron the sheets
carefully.  They are the best of linen and will last your lifetime
if they are well treated."

Madame Auclair never spoke of her approaching death, but would say
something like this:

"After a while, when I am too ill to help you, you will perhaps
find it fatiguing to do all these things alone, over and over.  But
in time you will come to love your duties, as I do.  You will see
that your father's whole happiness depends on order and regularity,
and you will come to feel a pride in it.  Without order our lives
would be disgusting, like those of the poor savages.  At home, in
France, we have learned to do all these things in the best way, and
we are conscientious, and that is why we are called the most
civilized people in Europe and other nations envy us."

After such admonition Madame Auclair would look intently into the
child's eyes that grew so dark when her heart was touched, like the
blue of Canadian blueberries, indeed, and would say to herself:
"Oui, elle a beaucoup de loyauté."

During the last winter of her illness she lay much of the time on
her red sofa, that had come so far out to this rock in the
wilderness.  The snow outside, piled up against the window-panes,
made a grey light in the room, and she could hear Cécile moving
softly about in the kitchen, putting more wood into the iron stove,
washing the casseroles.  Then she would think fearfully of how much
she was entrusting to that little shingled head; something so
precious, so intangible; a feeling about life that had come down to
her through so many centuries and that she had brought with her
across the wastes of obliterating, brutal ocean.  The sense of "our
way,"--that was what she longed to leave with her daughter.  She
wanted to believe that when she herself was lying in this rude
Canadian earth, life would go on almost unchanged in this room with
its dear (and, to her, beautiful) objects; that the proprieties
would be observed, all the little shades of feeling which make the
common fine.  The individuality, the character, of M. Auclair's
house, though it appeared to be made up of wood and cloth and glass
and a little silver, was really made of very fine moral qualities
in two women: the mother's unswerving fidelity to certain
traditions, and the daughter's loyalty to her mother's wish.

It was because of these things that had gone before, and the kind
of life lived there, that the townspeople were glad of any excuse
to stop at the apothecary's shop.  Even the strange, bitter,
mysterious Bishop Laval (more accusing and grim than ever, now that
the new Bishop had returned and so disregarded him) used to tramp
heavily into the shop for calomel pills or bandages for his
varicose legs, and peer, not unkindly, back into the living-room.
Once he had asked for a sprig from the box of parsley that was kept
growing there even in winter, and carried it away in his hand,--
though, as everyone knew, he denied himself all the comforts of the
table and ate only the most wretched and unappetizing food.

In a corner, concealed from the shop by tall cabinets, and well
away from the window draughts, stood M. Auclair's four-post bed,
with heavy hangings.  Underneath it was a child's bed, pulled out
at night, where Cécile still slept in cold weather.  Sometimes on a
very bitter night, when the grip of still, intense cold tightened
on the rock as if it would extinguish the last spark of life, the
pharmacist would hear his daughter softly stirring about, moving
something, covering something.  He would thrust his night-cap out
between the curtains and call:

"Qu'est-ce que tu fais, petite?"

An anxious, sleepy voice would reply;

"Papa, j'ai peur pour le persil."

It had never frozen in her mother's time, and it should not freeze
in hers.



IV


The accident of being born next the Count de Frontenac's house in
Paris had determined Euclide Auclair's destiny.  He had grown up a
studious, thoughtful boy, assisting his father in the shop.  Every
afternoon he read Latin with a priest at the Jesuits on the rue
Saint-Antoine.  Count Frontenac's irregular and unexpected returns
to town made the chief variety in his life.

It was usually after some chagrin or disappointment that the Count
came back to the Quai des Célestins.  Between campaigns he lived at
Île Savary, his estate on the Indre, near Blois.  But after some
slight at Court, or some difficulty with his creditors, he would
suddenly arrive at his father's old town house and shut himself up
for days, even weeks, seeing no one but the little people of the
parish of Saint-Paul.  He had few friends of his own station in
Paris,--few anywhere.  He was a man who got on admirably with his
inferiors,--seemed to find among them the only human ties that were
of any comfort to him.  He was poor, which made him boastful and
extravagant, and he had always lived far beyond his means.  At Île
Savary he tried to make as great a show as people who were much
better off than he,--to equal them in hospitality, in dress,
gardens, horses and carriages.  But when he was in Paris, living
among the quiet, faithful people of the quarter, he was a different
man.  With his humble neighbours his manners were irreproachable.
He often dropped in at the pharmacy to see his tenants, the
Auclairs, and would sometimes talk to the old grandfather about his
campaigns in Italy and the Low Countries.

The Count had begun his military life at fifteen, and wherever
there was fighting in Europe, he always managed to be there.  In
each campaign he added to his renown, but never to his fortune.
When his military talents were unemployed, he usually got into
trouble of some sort.  It was after his Italian campaign, when he
was recuperating from his wounds in his father's old house on the
Quai, that he made his unfortunate marriage.  Euclide's father
could remember that affair very well.  Madame de la Grange-
Frontenac and her husband lived together but a short while,--and
now they had been separated for almost a lifetime.  She still lived
in Paris, with a brilliant circle about her,--had an apartment in
the old Arsenal building, not far from the Count's house, and when
she received, he sometimes paid his respects with the rest of the
world, but he never went to see her privately.

When Euclide was twenty-two, Count Frontenac was employed by the
Venetians to defend the island of Crete against the Turks.  From
that command he returned with great honour, but poorer than ever.
For the next three years he was idle.  Then, suddenly, the King
appointed him Governor General of Canada, and he quitted Europe for
ten years.

During that decade Euclide's father and mother died.  He married,
and devoted himself seriously to his profession.  Too seriously for
his own good, indeed.  Although he was so content with familiar
scenes and faces as to be almost afraid of new ones, he was not
afraid of new ideas,--or of old ideas that had gone out of fashion
because surgeons and doctors were too stupid to see their value.
The brilliant reign of Louis XIV was a low period in medicine;
dressmakers and tailors were more considered than physicians.
Euclide had gone deep into the history of medicine in such old
Latin books as were stuffed away in the libraries of Paris.  He
looked back to the time of Ambroise Paré, and still further back to
the thirteenth century, as golden ages in medicine,--and he
considered Fagon, the King's physician, a bigoted and heartless
quack.

When sick people in his own neighbourhood came to Euclide for help,
he kept them away from doctors,--gave them tisanes and herb-teas
and poultices, which at least could do no harm.  He advised them
about their diet; reduced the surfeit of the rich, and prescribed
goat's milk for the poorly nourished.  He was strongly opposed to
indiscriminate blood-letting, particularly to bleeding from the
feet.  This eccentricity made him very unpopular, not only with the
barber-surgeons of the parish, but with their patients, and even
estranged his own friends.  Bleeding from the feet was very much in
vogue just then; it made a sick man feel that the utmost was being
done for him.  At Versailles it was regularly practised on members
of the King's household.  Euclide's opposition to this practice
lost him many of his patrons.  His neighbours used to laugh and say
that whether bleeding from the feet harmed other people or not, it
had certainly been very bad for the son of their reliable old
pharmacien, Alphonse Auclair.

Euclide's business contracted steadily, so that, with all his
wife's good management and his own devotion to his profession, he
scarcely knew where to turn; until one day the Count de Frontenac
walked into the shop and put out his hand as if to rescue a
drowning man.  Auclair had never heard of the Count's difficulties
with the Jesuits in Canada, and knew nothing about his recall by
the King, until he appeared at the shop door that morning, ten
years older, but no richer or better satisfied with the world than
when he went away.

The Count was out of favour at Versailles, his estate on the Indre
had run down during his absence in Canada, and he had not the means
to repair it, so he now spent a good deal of time in the house next
door.  His presence there, and his patronage, eased the strain of
the Auclairs' position.  Moreover, he restored to Euclide the ten
years' rent for the shop, which had been scrupulously paid to the
Count's agent while he was away.

The Count was lonely in his town house.  Many of his old
acquaintances had accomplished their earthly period and been
carried to the Innocents or the churchyard of Saint-Paul while he
was far away in Quebec.  His wife was still entertaining her
friends at her apartment in the old Arsenal, and the Count
occasionally went there on her afternoons at home.  Time hung heavy
on his hands, and he often sent for Euclide to come to him in a
professional capacity,--a flimsy pretext, for, though past sixty,
the Count was in robust health.  Of an evening they would sometimes
sit in the Count's library, talking of New France.  Frontenac's
thoughts were there, and he liked to tell an eager listener about
its great lakes and rivers, the climate, the Indians, the forests
and wild animals.  Often he would dwell upon the explorations and
discoveries of his ill-fated young friend Robert Cavelier de La
Salle, one of the few men for whom, in his long life, he ever felt
a warm affection.

Gradually there grew up in Auclair's mind the picture of a country
vast and free.  He fell into a habit of looking to Canada as a
possible refuge, an escape from the evils one suffered at home, and
of wishing he could go there.

This seemed a safe desire to cherish, since it was impossible of
fulfilment.  Euclide was a natural city-dweller; one of those who
can bear poverty and oppression, so long as they have their old
surroundings, their native sky, the streets and buildings that have
become part of their lives.  But though he was a creature of habit
and derived an actual pleasure from doing things exactly as he had
always done them, his mind was free.  He could not shut his eyes to
the wrongs that went on about him, or keep from brooding upon them.
In his own time he had seen taxes grow more and more ruinous,
poverty and hunger always increasing.  People died of starvation in
the streets of Paris, in his own parish of Saint-Paul, where there
was so much wealth.  All the while the fantastic extravagances of
the Court grew more outrageous.  The wealth of the nation, of the
grain lands and vineyards and forests of France, was sunk in
creating the pleasure palace at Versailles.  The richest peers of
the realm were ruining themselves on magnificent Court dresses and
jewels.  And, with so many new abuses, the old ones never grew
less; torture and cruel punishments increased as the people became
poorer and more desperate.  The horrible mill at the Châtelet
ground on day after day.  Auclair lived too near the prisons of
Paris to be able to forget them.  In his boyhood a harmless old man
who lodged in their own cellar was tortured and put to death at the
Châtelet for a petty theft.

One morning, in the summer when Cécile was four years old, Count
Frontenac made one of his sudden reappearances in Paris and sent
for Euclide.  The King had again appointed him Governor General of
Canada, and he would sail in a few weeks.  He wished to take
Auclair with him as his personal physician.  The Count was then
seventy years old, and he was as eager to be gone as a young man
setting off on his first campaign.

Auclair was terrified.  Indeed, he fell ill of fright, and neither
ate nor slept.  He could not imagine facing any kind of life but
the one he had always lived.  His wife was much the braver of the
two.  She pointed out that their business barely made them a
livelihood, and that after the Count went away it would certainly
decline.  Moreover, the Count was their landlord, and he had now
decided to sell his town property.  Who knew but that the purchaser
might prove a hard master,--or that he might not pull down the
apothecary shop altogether to enlarge the stables?



V


It was the day after La Bonne Espérance had set sail for France.
Auclair and his daughter were on their way to the Hôtel Dieu to
attend the Reverend Mother, who had sprained her ankle.  Quebec is
never lovelier than on an afternoon of late October; ledges of
brown and lavender clouds lay above the river and the Île
d'Orléans, and the red-gold autumn sunlight poured over the rock
like a heavy southern wine.  Beyond the Cathedral square the two
lingered under the allée of naked trees beside the Jesuits'
college.  These trees were cut flat to form an arbour, the branches
interweaving and interlacing like basket-work, and beneath them ran
a promenade paved with flat flagstones along which the dry yellow
leaves were blowing, giving off a bitter perfume when one trampled
them.  Cécile loved that allée, because when she was little the
Fathers used to let her play there with her skipping-rope,--few
spots in Kebec were level enough to jump rope on.  Behind the
avenue of trees the long stone walls of the monastery--seven feet
thick, those walls--made a shelter from the wind; they held the
sun's heat so well that it was possible to grow wall grapes there,
and purple clusters were cut in September.

Behind the Jesuits' a narrow, twisted, cobbled street dropped down
abruptly to the Hôtel Dieu, on the banks of the little river St.
Charles.  Auclair and his daughter went through the garden into the
refectory, where Mother Juschereau de Saint-Ignace was seated, her
sprained foot on a stool, directing the work of her novices.  She
was a little over forty, a woman of strong frame, tall, upright,
with a presence that bespoke force rather than reserve; a handsome
face,--the large, open features mobile and alert, perhaps a trifle
masculine.  She was the first Reverend Mother of the foundation who
was Canadian-born, and she had been elected to that office when she
was but thirty-four years of age.  She was a religious of the
practical type, sunny and very outright by nature,--enthusiastic,
without being given to visions or ecstasies.

As the visitors entered, the Superior made as if to rise, but
Auclair put out a detaining hand.

"I am two days late, Reverend Mother.  In your mind you have been
chiding me for neglect.  But it is a busy time for us when the last
ships sail.  We have many family letters to write; and I examine my
stock and make out my order for the drugs I shall need by the first
boats next summer."

"If you had not come today, Monsieur Euclide, you would surely have
found me on my feet tomorrow.  When the Indians have a sprain, in
the woods, they bind their leg tightly with deer thongs and keep on
the march with their party.  And they recover."

"Dear Mother Juschereau, the idea of such treatment is repugnant to
me.  We are not barbarians, after all."

"But they are flesh and blood; how is it they recover?"

As he pushed back her snow-white skirt a little and began gently to
unwind the bandage from her foot, Auclair explained his reasons for
believing that the savages were much less sensitive to pain than
Europeans.  Cécile fell to admiring the work Mother Juschereau had
in hand.  Her lap and the table beside her were full of scraps of
bright silk and velvet and sheets of coloured paper.  While she
overlooked the young Sisters at their tasks, her fingers were
moving rapidly and cleverly, making artificial flowers.  She had
great skill at this and delighted in it,--it was her one
recreation.

"Yes, my dear," she said, "I am making these for the poor country
parishes, where they have so little for the altar.  These are wild
roses, such as I used to gather when I was a child at Beauport.
Oh, the wild flowers we have in the fields and prairies about
Beauport!"

When he had applied his ointment and bandaged her foot in fresh
linen, the apothecary went off to the hospital medicine room, in
charge of Sister Marie Domenica, whom he was instructing in the
elements of pharmacy, and Cécile settled herself on the floor at
Mother Juschereau's knee.  Theirs was an old friendship.

The Reverend Mother (Jeanne Franc Juschereau de la Ferté was her
proud name) held rather advanced views on caring for the sick.  She
did not believe in leaving everything to God, and had availed her
hospital of Auclair's skill ever since he first came to Quebec.
Quick to detect a trace of the charlatan in anyone, she felt
confidence in Auclair because his pretensions were so modest.  She
addressed him familiarly as "Monsieur Euclide," scolded him for
teaching his daughter Latin, and was keenly interested in his study
of Canadian plants.  Cécile had been coming to the Hôtel Dieu with
her father almost every week since she was five years old, and
Mother Juschereau always found time to talk to her a little; but
today was a very unusual opportunity.  The Mother was seldom to be
found seated in a chair; when she was not on her knees at her
devotions, she was on her feet, hurrying from one duty to another.

"It has been a long while since you told me a story, Reverend
Mother," Cécile reminded her.

Mother Juschereau laughed.  She had a deep warmhearted laugh,
something left over from her country girlhood.  "Perhaps I have no
more to tell you.  You must know them all by this time."

"But there is no end to the stories about Mother Catherine de
Saint-Augustin.  I can never hear them all."

"True enough, when you speak her name, the stories come.  Since I
have had to sit here with my sprain, I have been recalling some of
the things she used to tell me herself, when I was not much older
than you."

While her hands flew among the scraps of colour, Mother Juschereau
began somewhat formally:

"Before she had left her fair Normandy (avant quelle ait quitté sa
belle Normandie), while Sister Catherine was a novice at Bayeux,
there lived in the neighbourhood a pécheresse named Marie.  She had
been a sinner from her early youth and was so proof against all
counsel that she continued her disorders even until an advanced
age.  Driven out by the good people of the town, shunned by men and
women alike, she fell lower and lower, and at last hid herself in a
solitary cave.  There she dragged out her shameful life, destitute
and consumed by a loathsome disease.  And there she died; without
human aid and without the sacraments of the Church.  After such a
death her body was thrown into a ditch and buried like that of some
unclean animal.

"Now, Sister Catherine, though she was so young and had all the
duties of her novitiate to perform, always found time to pray for
the souls of the departed, for all who died in that vicinity,
whether she had known them in the flesh or not.  But for this
abandoned sinner she did not pray, believing, as did everyone else,
that she was for ever lost.

"Twelve years went by, and Sister Catherine had come to Canada and
was doing her great work here.  One day, while she was at prayer in
this house, a soul from purgatory appeared to her, all pale and
suffering, and said:

"'Sister Catherine, what misery is mine!  You commend to God the
souls of all those who die.  I am the only one on whom you have no
compassion.'

"'And who are you?' asked our astonished Mother Catherine.

"'I am that poor Marie, the sinner, who died in the cave.'

"'What,' exclaimed Mother Catherine, 'were you then not lost?'

"'No, I was saved, thanks to the infinite mercy of the Blessed
Virgin.'

"'But how could this be?'

"'When I saw that I was about to die in the cave, and knew that I
was abandoned and cast out by the world, unclean within and
without, I felt the burden of all my sins.  I turned to the Mother
of God and cried to her:  Queen of Heaven, you are the last refuge
of the ruined and the outcast; I am abandoned by all the world; I
have no hope but you; you alone have power to reach where I am
fallen; Mary, Mother of Jesus, have pity upon me!  The tender
Mother of all made it possible for me to repent in that last hour.
I died and I was saved.  The Holy Mother procured for me the favour
of having my punishment abridged, and now only a few masses are
required to deliver me from purgatory.  I beseech you to have them
said for me, and I will never cease my prayers to God and the
Blessed Virgin for you.'

"Mother Catherine at once set about having masses said for that
poor Marie.  Some days later there appeared to her a happy soul,
more brilliant than the sun, which smiled and said:  'I thank you,
my dear Catherine, I go now to paradise to sing the mercies of God
for ever, and I shall not forget to pray for you.'"

Here Mother Juschereau glanced down at the young listener, who had
been following her intently.  "And now, from this we see--" she
went on, but Cécile caught her hand and cried coaxingly,

"N'expliquez pas, chère Mère, je vous en supplie!"

Mother Juschereau laughed and shook her finger.

"You always say that, little naughty!  N'expliquez pas!  But it is
the explanation of these stories that applies them to our needs."

"Yes, dear Mother.  But there comes my father.  Tell me the
explanation some other day."

Mother Juschereau still looked down into her face, frowning and
smiling.  It was the kind of face she liked, because there was no
self-consciousness in it, and no vanity; but she told herself for
the hundredth time:  "No, she has certainly no vocation."  Yet for
an orphan girl, and one so intelligent, there would certainly have
been a career among the Hospitalières.  She would have loved to
train that child for the Soeur Apothicaire of her hospital.  Her
good sense told her it was not to be.  When she talked to Cécile of
the missionaries and martyrs, she knew that her words fell into an
eager mind; admiration and rapture she found in the girl's face,
but it was not the rapture of self-abnegation.  It was something
very different,--almost like the glow of worldly pleasure.  She was
convinced that Cécile read altogether too much with her father, and
had told him so; asking him whether he had perhaps forgotten that
he had a girl to bring up, and not a son whom he was educating for
the priesthood.



While her father and Mother Juschereau were going over an inventory
of hospital supplies, Cécile went into the chapel to say a prayer
for the repose of Mother de Saint-Augustin.  There, in the quiet,
she soon fell to musing upon the story of that remarkable girl who
had braved the terrors of the ocean and the wilderness and come out
to Canada when she was barely sixteen years old, and this Kebec was
but a naked rock rising out of the dark forest.

Catherine de Saint-Augustin had begun her novitiate with the
Hospitalières at Bayeux when she was eleven and a half years of
age, and by the time she was fourteen she was already, in her
heart, vowed to Canada.  The letters and Relations of the Jesuit
missionaries, eagerly read in all the religious houses of France,
had fired her bold imagination, and she begged to be sent to save
the souls of the savages.  Her superiors discouraged her and
forbade her to cherish this desire; Catherine's youth and bodily
frailness were against her.  But while she went about her tasks in
the monastery, this wish, this hope, was always with her.  One day
when she was peeling vegetables in the novices' refectory, she cut
her hand, and, seeing the blood flow, she dipped her finger in it
and wrote upon the table:


     Je mourrai au Canada
     Soeur Saint-Augustin


That table, with its inscription, was still shown at Bayeux as an
historic relic.

Though Catherine's desire seemed so far from fulfilment, she had
not long to wait.  In the winter of 1648, Père Vimont, from the
Jesuit mission in Canada, came knocking at the door of the
monastère at Bayeux, recruiting sisters for the little foundation
of Hospitalières already working in Kebec.  Catherine was told that
she was too young to go, and her father firmly refused to give his
permission.  But in her eagerness the girl wrote petition after
petition to her Bishop and superiors, and at last her request was
brought to the attention of the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria.  The
Queen's intercession won her father's consent.

When, after a voyage of many months, unparalleled for storms and
hardships, Catherine and her companions anchored under the rock of
Kebec and were rowed ashore, she fell upon her knees and kissed the
earth where she first stepped upon it.

Made Superior of the Hôtel Dieu at an early age, she died before
she was forty.  At thirty-seven she had burned her life out in
vigils, mortifications, visions, raptures, all the while carrying
on a steady routine of manual labour and administrative work,
observing the full discipline of her order.  For long before her
death she was sustained by visions in which the spirit of Father
Brébeuf, the martyr, appeared to her, told her of the glories of
heaven, and gave her counsel and advice for all her perplexities in
this world.  It was at the direction of Father Brébeuf,
communicated to her in these visions, that she chose Jeanne Franc
Juschereau de la Ferté to succeed her as Superior, and trained her
to that end.  To many people the choice seemed such a strange one
that Père Brébeuf must certainly have instigated it.  Mother
Catherine de Saint-Augustin was slight, nervous, sickly from
childhood, yet from childhood precocious and prodigious in
everything; always dedicating herself to the impossible and always
achieving it; now getting a Queen of France to speak for her, now
winning the spirit of the hero priest from paradise to direct and
sustain her.  And the woman she chose to succeed her was hardy,
sagacious, practical,--a Canadienne, and the woman for Canada.




BOOK TWO

CÉCILE AND JACQUES



I


On the last Friday of October Auclair went as usual to the market,
held in front of Notre Dame de la Victoire, the only church in the
Lower Town.  All the trade in Quebec went on in the Lower Town, and
the principal merchants lived on the market square.  Their houses
were built solidly around three sides of it, wall against wall, the
shops on the ground floor, the dwelling-quarters upstairs.  On the
fourth side stood the church.  The merchants' houses had formerly
been of wood, but sixteen years ago, just after the Count de
Frontenac was recalled to France, leaving Canada a prey to so many
misfortunes, the Lower Town had been almost entirely wiped out by
fire.  It was rebuilt in stone, to prevent a second disaster.  This
square, which was the centre of commerce, now had a look of
permanence and stability; houses with walls four feet thick, wide
doorways, deep windows, steep, slated roofs and dormers.  La Place,
as it was called, was an uneven rectangle, cobble-paved, sloping
downhill like everything else in Quebec, with gutters to carry off
the rainfall.  In the middle was a grass plot (pitifully small,
indeed), protected by an iron fence and surmounted by a very ugly
statue of King Louis.

On market days the space about this iron fence was considered the
right of the countrywomen, who trudged into Quebec at dawn beside
the dogs that drew their little two-wheeled carts.  Against the
fence they laid out their wares; white bodies of dressed ducks and
chickens, sausages, fresh eggs, cheese, butter, and such vegetables
as were in season.  On the outer edge of the square the men
stationed their carts, on which they displayed quarters of fresh
pork, live chickens, maple sugar, spruce beer, Indian meal, feed
for cows, and long black leaves of native tobacco tied in bunches.
The fish and eel carts, because of their smell and slimy drip, had
a corner of the square to themselves, just at the head of La Place
Street.  The fishmongers threw buckets of cold water over their
wares at intervals, and usually a group of little boys played just
below, building "beaver-dams" in the gutter to catch the overflow.

This was an important market day, and Auclair went down the hill
early.  The black frosts might set in at any time now, and today he
intended to lay in his winter supply of carrots, pumpkins,
potatoes, turnips, beetroot, leeks, garlic, even salads.  On many
of the wagons there were boxes full of earth, with rooted lettuce
plants growing in them.  These the townspeople put away in their
cellars, and by tending them carefully and covering them at night
they kept green salad growing until Christmas or after.  Auclair's
neighbour, Pigeon the baker, had a very warm cellar, and he grew
little carrots and spinach down there long after winter had set in.
The great vaulted cellars of the Jesuits and the Récollet friars
looked like kitchen gardens when the world above ground was frozen
stark.  Careless people got through the winter on smoked eels and
frozen fish, but if one were willing to take enough trouble, one
could live very well, even in Quebec.  It was the long, slow
spring, March, April, early May, that tried the patience.  By that
time the winter stores had run low, people were tired of
makeshifts, and still not a bud, not a salad except under cold-
frames.

The market was full of wood doves this morning.  They were killed
in great numbers hereabouts, were sold cheap, and made very
delicate eating.  Every fall Auclair put down six dozens of them in
melted lard.  He had six stone jars in his cellar for that purpose,
packing a dozen birds to the jar.  In this way he could eat fresh
game all winter, and, preserved thus, the birds kept their flavour.
Frozen venison was all very well, but feathered creatures lost
their taste when kept frozen a long while.

Auclair carried his purchases over to the cart of his butter-maker,
Madame Renaude.  Renaude-le-lièvre, she was called, because she had
a hare-lip, and a bristling black moustache as well.  She was a
big, rough Norman woman, who owned seven cows, was extremely clean
about her dairy, and quite the reverse in her conversation.  In the
town there was keen competition for her wares; but as she was
rheumatic, she was more or less in thralldom to the apothecary, and
seldom failed him.

"Good morning, Madame Renaude.  Have you my lard for me this
morning, as you promised?  I must buy my wood doves today."

"Yes, Monsieur Auclair, and I had to kill my pet pig to get it for
you, too; one that had slept under the same roof with me."

She spoke very loud, and the farmer at the next stall made an
indecent comment.

"Hold your dirty jaw, Joybert.  If I had a bad egg, I'd paste you."
Old Joybert squinted and looked the other way.  "Yes, Monsieur
Auclair, you never saw such lard as he made, as sweet as butter.
He made two firkins.  Surely you won't need so much,--I can sell it
anywhere."

"Yes, indeed, madame, I shall need every bit of it.  Six dozen
birds I have to put down, and I can't do with less."

"But, monsieur, what do you do with the grease after you take your
doves out?"

"Why, some of it we use in cooking, and the rest I think my
daughter gives to our neighbours."

"To that Blinker, eh?  That's a waste!  If you were to bring it
back to me, I could easily sell it over again and we could both of
us make something.  The hunters who come up from Three Rivers in
winter carry nothing but cold grease to fill their bellies.  You
forget you are not in France, monsieur.  Here grease is meat, not
something to throw to criminals."

"I will consider the matter, madame.  Now that I am sure of my
lard, I must go and select my birds.  Good morning, and thank you."

After he had finished his marketing, Auclair put his basket down on
the church steps and went inside to say a prayer.  Notre Dame de la
Victoire was a plain, solid little church, built of very hard rough
stone.  It had already stood through one bombardment from the
waterside, and was dear to the people for that reason.  The windows
were narrow and set high, like the windows in a fortress, making an
agreeable dusk inside.  Occasionally, as someone entered to pray, a
flash of sunlight and a buzz of talk came in from the Place, cut
off when the door closed again.

While the apothecary was meditating in the hush and dusk of the
church, he noticed a little boy, kneeling devoutly at one after
another of the Stations of the Cross.  He was at once interested,
for he knew this child very well; a chunky, rather clumsy little
boy of six, unkept and uncared for, dressed in a pair of old
sailor's breeches, cut off in the leg for him and making a great
bulk of loose cloth about his thighs.  His ragged jacket was as
much too tight as the trousers were too loose, and this gave him
the figure of a salt-shaker.  He did not look at Auclair or the
several others who came and went, being entirely absorbed in his
devotions.  His lips moved inaudibly, he knelt and rose slowly,
clumsily, very carefully, his cap under his arm.  Though all his
movements were so deliberate, his attention did not wander,--seemed
intently, heavily fixed.  Auclair carefully remained in the shadow,
making no sign of recognition.  He respected the child's
seriousness.

This boy was the son of 'Toinette Gaux, a young woman who was quite
irreclaimable.  Antoinette was Canadian-born; her mother had been
one of the "King's Girls," as they were called.  Thirty years ago
King Louis had sent several hundred young Frenchwomen out to Canada
to marry the bachelors of the disbanded regiment of Carignan-
Salières.  Many of these girls were orphans or poor girls of good
character; but some were bad enough, and 'Toinette's mother proved
one of the worst.  She had one daughter, this 'Toinette,--as pretty
and as worthless a girl as ever made eyes at the sailors in any
seaport town in France.  It once happened that 'Toinette fell in
love, and then she made great promises of reform.  One of the hands
on La Gironde had come down with a fever in Quebec and was lying
sick in the Hôtel Dieu when his ship sailed for France.  After he
was discharged from the hospital, he found himself homeless in a
frontier town in winter, too weak to work.  'Toinette took him in,
drove her old sweethearts away, and married him.  But soon after
this boy, Jacques, was born, she returned to her old ways, and her
husband disappeared.  It was thought that his shipmates had hidden
him on board La Gironde and taken him home.

'Toinette and another woman now kept a sailors' lodging-house in
the Lower Town, up beyond the King's warehouses.  They were
commonly called La Grenouille and L'Escargot, because, every
summer, when the ships from France began to come in, they stuck in
their window two placards:  "FROGS," "SNAILS," to attract the
hungry sailors, whether they had those delicacies on hand or not.
'Toinette, called La Grenouille, was still good to look at; yellow
hair, red cheeks, lively blue eyes, an impudent red mouth over
small pointed teeth, like a squirrel's.  Her partner, the poor
snail, was a vacant creature, scarcely more than half-witted,--and
the hard work, of course, was put off on her.

This unfortunate child, Jacques, in spite of his bad surroundings,
was a very decent little fellow.  He told the truth, he tried to be
clean, he was devoted to Cécile and her father.  When he came to
their house to play, they endeavoured to give him some sort of
bringing-up, though it was difficult, because his mother was
fiercely jealous.

It was two years ago, soon after her mother's death, that Cécile
had first noticed Jacques playing about the market place, and begun
to bring him home with her, wash his face, and give him a piece of
good bread to eat.  Auclair thought it natural for a little girl to
adopt a friendless child, to want something to care for after
having helped to care for her mother so long.  But he did not
greatly like the idea of anything at all coming from La
Grenouille's house to his, and he was determined to deprive Cécile
of her playfellow if he saw any signs of his bad blood.  Observing
the little boy closely, he had come to feel a real affection for
him.

Once, not long ago, when the children were having their goûter in
the salon, and the apothecary was writing at his desk, he overheard
Jacques telling Cécile where he would kick any boy who broke down
his beaver-dam, and he used a nasty word.

"Oh, Jacques!" Cécile exclaimed, "that is some horrible word you
have heard the sailors say!"

Auclair, glancing through the partition, saw the child's pale face
stiffen and his round eyes stare; he said nothing at all, but he
looked frightened.  The apothecary guessed at once that it was not
from a sailor but from La Grenouille herself he had got that
expression.

Cécile went on scolding him.  "Now I am going to do what the
Sisters at the convent do when a child says anything naughty.  Come
into the kitchen, and I will wash your mouth out with soap.  It is
the only way to make your mouth clean."

All this time Jacques said nothing.  He went obediently into the
kitchen with Cécile, and when he came back he was wiping his eyes
with the back of his hand.

"Is it gone?" he asked solemnly.

This morning, as Auclair watched Jacques at his devotions, it
occurred to him that the boatmen who brought the merchants up from
Montreal to see the Count were doubtless staying with La
Grenouille.  Likely enough something rowdy had gone on there last
night, and the little boy felt a need of expiation.  The apothecary
went out of the church softly and took up his basket.  All the way
up the hill he wondered why La Grenouille should have a boy like
that.

When he reached home, he called Cécile, who was busy in the room
upstairs, where she slept until cold weather.  As he gave her his
basket, he asked her whether she had seen Jacques lately.

"No, I haven't happened to.  Why, is anything the matter?"

"Oh, nothing that I know of.  But I saw him in church just now,
saying his prayers at the Stations of the Cross, and I felt sorry
for him.  Perhaps he is getting old enough to realize."

"Was he clean, Papa?"

The apothecary shook his head.

"Far from clean.  I never saw him so badly off.  His toes were
sticking out of his shoes, and when he knelt I could see that he
had no stockings on."

"Oh, dear, and I have never finished the pair I began for him!
Papa, if you were to let me off from reading to you for a few
evenings, I could soon get them done."

"But his shoes, daughter!  It would be a mere waste to give the
child new stockings.  And shoes are very dear."

Cécile sat down for a moment and thought, while her father put on
his shop apron.  "Papa," she said suddenly, "would you allow me to
speak to the Count?  He is kind to children, and I believe he would
get Jacques some shoes."



II


That afternoon Cécile ran up the hill with a light heart.  She was
always glad of a reason for going to the Château,--often slipped
into the courtyard merely to see who was on guard duty.  Her little
friend Giorgio, the drummer boy, was at his post on the steps
before the great door, and the moment he saw Cécile he snatched his
drumsticks from his trousers pocket and executed a rapid flourish
in the air above his drum, making no noise.  Cécile laughed, and
the boy grinned.  This was an old joke, but they still found it
amusing.  Giorgio was stationed there to announce the arrival of
the commanding officer, and of all distinguished persons, by a
flourish on his drum.  The drum-call echoed amazingly in the empty
court, could be heard even in the apothecary shop down the hill, so
that one always knew when the Count had visitors.

Cécile told the soldier on duty that she would like to see Picard,
the Count's valet, and while she waited for him, she went up the
steps to talk with Giorgio and to ask him if his cold were better,
and when he had last heard from his mother.

The boy's real name was Georges Million; his family lived over on
the Île d'Orléans, and his father was a farmer, Canadian-born.  But
the old grandfather, who was of course the head of the house, had
come from Haute-Savoie as a drummer in the Carignan-Salières
regiment.  He played the Alpine horn as well, and still performed
on the flute at country weddings.  This grandson, Georges, took
after him,--was musical and wanted nothing in the world but a
soldier's life.  When he was fifteen, he came into Quebec and
begged the Governor to let him enter the native militia.  He was
very small for his age, but he was a good-looking boy, and the
Count took him on as a drummer until he should grow tall enough to
enlist.  He put him into a blue coat, high boots, and a three-
cornered hat, and stationed him at the door to welcome visitors.
For some reason the Count always called him Giorgio, and that had
become his name in Quebec.

Giorgio's life was monotonous; his duties were to keep clean and
trim, and to stand perfectly idle in a draughty courtyard for hours
at a time.  There were very few distinguished persons in Quebec,
and not all of those were on calling terms with Count Frontenac.
The Intendant, de Champigny, came to the Château when it was
necessary, but his relations with the Count were formal rather than
cordial.  Sometimes, indeed, he brought Madame de Champigny with
him, and when they rolled up in their carrosse, Giorgio had a great
opportunity.  Old Bishop Laval, who would properly have been
announced by the drum, had not crossed the threshold of the Château
for years.  The new Bishop had called but twice since his return
from France.  Dollier de Casson, Superior of the Sulpician Seminary
at Montreal, was a person to be greeted by the drum, and so was
Jacques Le Ber, the rich merchant.  Sometimes Daniel du Lhut, the
explorer in command of Fort Frontenac, came to Quebec, and, very
rarely, Henri de Tonti,--that one-armed hero who had an iron hook
in place of a hand.  For all Indian chiefs and messengers, too,
Giorgio could beat his drum long and loud.  This form of welcome
was very gratifying to the savages.  But often the days passed one
after another when the drummer had no one to salute but the
officers of the fort, and life was very dull for him.

When a friendly soldier was on guard, Cécile would often run in to
give the drummer boy some cardamon seeds or raisins from her
father's shop, and to gossip with him for a while.  This afternoon
their talk was cut short by the arrival of the Count's valet,
through whom one approached his master.  Picard had been with the
Count since the Turkish wars, and Cécile had known him ever since
she could remember.  He took her by the hand and led her into the
Château and upstairs to the Count's private apartment in the south
wing.

The apartment was of but two rooms, a dressing-cabinet and a long
room with windows on two sides, which was both chamber and study.
The Governor was seated at a writing-table in the south end, a
considerable distance from his fireplace and his large curtained
bed.  He was nearly eighty years old, but he had changed very
little since Cécile could remember him, except that his teeth had
grown yellow.  He still walked, rode, struck, as vigorously as
ever, and only two years ago he had gone hundreds of miles into the
wilderness on one of the hardest Indian campaigns of his life.
When Picard spoke to him, he laid down his pen, beckoned Cécile
with a long forefinger, put his arm about her familiarly, and drew
her close to his side, inquiring about her health and her father's.
As he talked to her, his eyes took on a look of uneasy, mocking
playfulness, with a slightly sarcastic curl of the lips.  Cécile
was not afraid of him.  He had always been one of the important
figures in her life; when she was little she used to like to sit on
his knee, because he wore such white linen, and satin waistcoats
with jewelled buttons.  He took great care of his person when he
was at home.  Nothing annoyed him so much as his agent's neglecting
to send him his supply of lavender-water by the first boat in the
spring.  It vexed him more than a sharp letter from the Minister,
or even from the King.

After replying to his courtesies Cécile began at once:

"Monsieur le Comte, you know little Jacques Gaux, the son of La
Grenouille?"

The old soldier nodded and sniffed, drooping the lid slightly over
one eye,--an expression of his regard for a large class of women.
She understood.

"But he is a good little boy, Monsieur le Comte, and he cannot help
it about his mother.  You know she neglects him, and just now he is
very badly off for shoes.  I am knitting him some stockings, but
the shoes we cannot manage."

"And if I were to give you an order on the cobbler?  That is soon
done.  It is very nice of you to knit stockings for him.  Do you
knit your own?"

"Of course, monsieur!  And my father's."

The old Count looked at her from out his deep eye-sockets, and felt
for the hard spots on her palm.  "You are content down there,
keeping house for your father?  Not much time for play, I take it?"

"Oh, everything we do, my father and I, is a kind of play."

He gave a dry chuckle.  "Well said!  Everything we do is.  It gets
rather tiresome,--but not at your age, perhaps.  I am very well
pleased with you, Cécile, because you do so well for your father.
We have too many idle girls in Kebec, and I cannot say that Kebec
is exceptional.  I have been about the world a great deal, and I
have found only one country where the women like to work,--in
Holland.  They have made an ugly country very pretty."  He slipped
a piece of money into her hand.  "That is for your charities.  Get
the frog's son what he needs, and Picard will give Noël Pommier an
order for his shoes.  And is there nothing you would like for
yourself?  I have never forgot what a brave sailor you were on the
voyage over.  You cried only once, and that was when we were coming
into the Gulf, and a bird of prey swooped down and carried off a
little bird that perched on one of our yard-arms.  I wish I had
some sweetmeats; you do not often pay me a visit."

"Perhaps you would let me look at your glass fruit," Cécile
suggested.

The Count got up and led her to the mantelpiece.  Between the tall
silver candlesticks stood a crystal bowl full of glowing fruits of
coloured glass: purple figs, yellow-green grapes with gold vine-
leaves, apricots, nectarines, and a dark citron stuck up endwise
among the grapes.  The fruits were hollow, and the light played in
them, throwing coloured reflections into the mirror and upon the
wall above.

"That was a present from a Turkish prisoner whose life I spared
when I was holding the island of Crete," the Count told her.  "It
was made by the Saracens.  They blow it into those shapes while the
glass is melted.  Every piece is hollow; that is why they look
alive.  Here in Canada it reminds one of the South.  You admire
it?"

"More than anything I have ever seen," said Cécile fervently.

He laughed.  "I like it myself, or I should not have taken so much
trouble to bring it over.  I think I must leave it to you in my
will."

"Oh, thank you, monsieur, but it is quite enough to look at it; one
would never forget it.  It is much lovelier than real fruit."  She
curtsied and thanked him again and went out softly to where Picard
was waiting for her in the hall.  She wished that she could some
time go there when the Count was away, and look as long as she
pleased at the glass fruit and at the tapestries on the walls of
the long room.  They were from his estate at Île Savary and
represented garden scenes.  One could study them for hours without
seeing all the flowers and figures.



III


The next morning Auclair sent Cécile up to the Ursuline convent
with some borax de Venise which the Mother Superior required, and a
bottle of asafoetida for one of the Sisters who was ailing.  At this
time of year Cécile always felt a little homesick for the Sisters
and her old life at the Ursuline school.  She had left it so early,
because of her mother's illness, and she never passed the garden
walls without looking wistfully at the tree-tops which rose above
them.  From her walks on Cap Diamant she could look down into the
rectangular courts and see, through the leafless boughs, the rows
of dormer windows in the white roofs, each opening into a Sister's
bare little room.  One teacher she loved better than any of the
others: Sister Anne de Sainte-Rose, who taught history and the
French language.  She was a niece of the Bishop of Tours, had been
happily married, and had led a brilliant life in the great world.
Only after the death of her young husband and infant son had she
become a religious.  She had charm and wit and the remains of great
beauty--everything that would appeal to a little girl brought up on
a rude frontier.  Cécile still saw her when she went to the convent
on errands, and she was always invited to the little miracle plays
which Sister Anne had the pensionnaires give at Christmas-time, for
the good of their French and their deportment.  But her little
visits with her teacher were very short,--stolen pleasures.  The
nuns were always busy, and if you once dropped out of the school
life, you could not share it any more.

This morning she did not see Sister Anne at all; and after
delivering her packages to Sister Agatha, the porteress, she turned
away to enjoy the weather.  It was on days like this that she loved
her town best.  The autumn fog was rolling in from the river so
thick that she seemed to be walking through drifts of brown cloud.
Only a few roofs and spires stood out in the fog, detached and
isolated: the flèche of the Récollet chapel, the slate roof of the
Château, the long, grey outline of Bishop Laval's Seminary,
floating in the sky.  Everything else was blotted out by rolling
vapours that were constantly changing in density and colour; now
brown, now amethyst, now reddish lavender, with sometimes a glow of
orange overhead where the sun was struggling behind the thick
weather.

It was like walking in a dream.  One could not see the people one
passed, or the river, or one's own house.  Not even the winter
snows gave one such a feeling of being cut off from everything and
living in a world of twilight and miracles.  After loitering on her
way, she set off for the Lower Town to look for Jacques.

Cécile never on any account went to his mother's house to find him.
Sometimes, in searching for him, she went behind the King's
warehouses, as far as the stone paving extended.  Beyond the paving
the strip of beach directly underneath Cap Diamant grew so narrow
that there was room for barely a dozen houses to sit in a straight
line against the foot of the cliff, and they were the slum of
Quebec.  Respectability stopped with the cobble-stones.

This morning she did not have to go so far; she found Jacques in a
group of little boys who had kindled a fire of sticks at the foot
of Notre Dame street, behind the church.  Before she came up to the
children, a light sprinkle began to fall.  In a few seconds all the
brownish-lilac masses of vapour melted away, leaving a lead-
coloured sky, and the rain came down in streams, like water poured
from a great height.  Cécile caught Jacques by the arm and ran with
him into the church, which had often been a refuge to them in
winter.  Not that the church was ever heated, but in there one was
out of the wind, and perhaps the bright colours made one feel the
cold less.  This morning the church was empty, except for an old
man and three women at their prayers.  There were a few benches on
either side of the nave, for old people who could not stand during
mass, and the children slipped into one of these, sitting close
together to keep warm.

"It's been a long time since we were in here together," Cécile
whispered.

He nodded.

"But you come in to say your prayers, don't you, every day?"

"I think so," he answered vaguely.

"That is right.  I like this church better than any other.  Even in
the chapel of the Ursulines I don't feel so much at home, though I
used to be there every day when I was going to school.  This is our
own church, isn't it, Jacques?"

He glanced up at her and smiled faintly.  This child never looked
very well.  He was not thin,--rather chunky, on the contrary,--but
there was no colour in his cheeks, or even in his lips.  That,
Cécile knew, was because he wasn't properly nourished.

"You might tell me about some nice saint," said Jacques presently.
She began to whisper the story of Saint Anthony of Padua, who stood
quite near them, ruddy and handsome, with a sheaf of lilies on one
arm and the Holy Child on the other.

It chanced that this one church* in the Lower Town, near Jacques's
little world, where he and Cécile had so often made rendezvous, was
peculiarly the church of childhood.  It had been renamed Notre Dame
de la Victoire five years ago, after the Count had driven off Sir
William Phips's besieging fleet, in recognition of the protection
which Our Lady had afforded Quebec in that hour of danger.  But
originally it was called the Church of the Infant Jesus, and the
furnishings and decorations which had been sent over from France
were appropriate for a church of that name.


* The charm of this old church was greatly spoiled by unfortunate
alterations in the lighting, made in the autumn of 1929.


Two paintings hung in the Lady Chapel, both of Sainte Geneviève as
a little girl.  In one she sat under a tree in a meadow, with a
flock of sheep all about her, and a distaff in her hand, while two
angels watched her from a distance.  In the other she was reading
an illuminated scroll,--but here, too, she was in a field and
surrounded by her flock.

The high altar was especially interesting to children, though it
was not nearly so costly or so beautiful as the altar in the
Ursulines' chapel with its delicate gold-work.  It was very simple
indeed,--but definite.  It was a representation of a feudal castle,
all stone walls and towers.  The outer wall was low and thick, with
many battlements; the second was higher, with fewer battlements;
the third seemed to be the wall of the palace itself, with towers
and many windows.  Within the arched gateway (hung with little
velvet curtains that were green or red or white according to the
day) the Host was kept.  Cécile had always taken it for granted
that the Kingdom of Heaven looked exactly like this from the
outside and was surrounded by just such walls; that this altar was
a reproduction of it, made in France by people who knew; just as
the statues of the saints and of the Holy Family were portraits.
She had taught Jacques to believe the same thing, and it was very
comforting to them both to know just what Heaven looked like,--
strong and unassailable, wherever it was set among the stars.

Out of this walled castle rose three tall stone towers, with holy
figures on them.  On one stood a grave Sainte Anne, regally clad
like a great lady of this world, with a jewelled coronet upon her
head.  On her arm sat a little dark-skinned Virgin, her black hair
cut straight across the back like a scholar's, her hands joined in
prayer.  Sainte Anne was noble in bearing, but not young; her
delicately featured face was rather worn by life, and sad.  She
seemed to know beforehand all the sorrows of her own family, and of
the world it was to succour.

On the central tower, which was the tallest and rose almost to the
roof of the church, the Blessed Mother and Child stood high up
among the shadows.  Today, with the leaden sky and floods of rain,
it was too dark up there to see her clearly; but the children
thought they saw her, because they knew her face so well.  She was
by far the loveliest of all the Virgins in Kebec, a charming figure
of young motherhood,--oh, very young, and radiantly happy, with a
stately crown, and a long, blue cloak that parted in front over a
scarlet robe.  The little Jesus on her arm was not a baby,--he
looked as if he would walk if she put him down, and walk very well.
He was so intelligent and gay, a child in a bright and joyful mood,
both arms outstretched in a gesture of welcome, as if he were
giving a fête for his little friends and were in the act of
receiving them.  He was a little Lord indeed, in his gaiety and
graciousness and savoir-faire.

The rain fell on the roof and drove against the windows.  Outside,
the ledges of bare rock and all the sloping streets were running
water; everything was slippery and shiny with wet.  The children
sat contentedly in their corner, feeling the goodness of shelter.
Jacques remarked that it would be nice if there were more candles.
The tapers on the votive candle-stand were burning low, and nobody
was coming in now because of the downpour.  It was pleasanter, they
agreed, when there were enough candles burning before Sainte Anne
to show the gold flowers on her cloak.

"Why don't you light a candle, Cécile?" Jacques asked.  "You do,
sometimes."

"Yes, but this morning I haven't any money with me."

Jacques sighed.  "It would be nice," he repeated.

"I wonder, Jacques, if it would be wrong for me to take a candle,
and then bring the ten sous down later, when the rain stops."

Jacques brightened.  He thought that a very good idea.

"But it's irregular, Jacques.  Perhaps it would not be right."

"You wouldn't forget, would you?"

"Oh, no!  But I might be struck by lightning or something on the
way home.  And then, I expect, I'd die in sin."

"But I would tell your father, and he would give me the ten sous to
put in the box.  I wouldn't forget."

She saw he wanted very much to light a candle.  "Well, perhaps.
I'll try it this once, and I'll light one for you, too.  Only be
sure you don't forget, if anything happens to me."

They went softly up to the feet of Sainte Anne, where the candles
were burning down in the metal basin.  Each of them took a fresh
taper from the box underneath, lit it, and fitted its hollow base
upon one of the little metal horns.  After saying a prayer they
returned to their bench to enjoy the sight of the two new bright
spots in the brownish gloom.  Sure enough, when the fresh tapers
were burning well, the gold flowers on Sainte Anne's cloak began to
show; not entire, but wherever there was a fold in the mantle, the
gold seemed to flow like a glistening liquid.  Her figure emerged
from the dusk in a rich, oily, yellow light.

After a long silence Jacques spoke.

"Cécile, all the saints in this church like children, don't they?"

"Oh, yes!  And Our Lord loves children.  Because He was a child
Himself, you know."

Jacques had something else in mind.  In a moment he brought it out.
"Sometimes sailors are fond of children, too."

"Yes," she agreed with some hesitation.

He sensed a reservation in her voice.

"And they're awful brave," he went on feelingly.  "If it wasn't for
the sailors, we wouldn't have any ships from France, or anything."

"That's true," Cécile assented.

Jacques relapsed into silence.  He was thinking of a jolly Breton
sailor who had played with him in the summer, and carved him a
marvellous beaver out of wood and painted its teeth white.  He had
sailed away on La Garonne three weeks ago, nearly breaking
Jacques's heart.  With that curious tact of childhood, which fails
less often than the deepest diplomacy, Jacques almost never
referred to his mother or her house or the people who came there,
when he was with Cécile and her father.  When he went to see them,
he left his little past behind him, as it were.

At last the fall of water on the roof grew fainter, and the light
clearer.  Cécile said she must be going home now.  "Come along with
me, Jacques.  Never mind about your clothes," seeing that he hung
back, "that will be all right.  Perhaps my father will give you a
bath while I am getting our déjeuner, and we will all have our
chocolate together."

As they quitted their bench, someone entered the church; a very
heavy, tall old man with wide, stooping shoulders and a head
hanging forward.  When he took off his shovel hat at the door, a
black skull-cap still remained over his scanty locks.  He carried a
cane and seemed to move his legs with some difficulty under his
long, black gown.  It was old Bishop Laval himself, who had been
storm-bound for an hour and more at the house of one of the
merchants on the square.  Cécile hurried up to him before he should
have time to kneel.

"Excuse me, Monseigneur l'Ancien," she said respectfully, "but if
it is quite convenient would you be so kind as to lend me twenty
sous?"

The old man looked down at her, frowning.  His eyes were large and
full, but set deep back under his forehead.  He had such a very
large, drooping nose, and such a grim, bitter mouth, that he might
well have frightened a child who didn't know him.  With
considerable difficulty he got a little black purse out from under
his gown.  There was not much in it.

"You see," Cécile explained, "the little boy and I wished to offer
candles, and I had no money with me.  I was going up to my father's
shop to get some, but I would rather not leave the church owing for
the candles."

The old man nodded and looked slightly amused.  He put two pieces
in her hand, and she went to the front of the church to slip them
in the box, leaving Jacques, who had got back against the wall as
far as he could go, to bear the scrutiny of the Bishop's
smouldering eyes.  When she came back, she found them regarding
each other in silence, but very intently; the old man staring down
from his height, the little boy, his finger in his mouth, looking
up at the Bishop shyly, but in a way that struck her as very
personal.  Cécile took him by the hand and led him to the door.
Glancing back over her shoulder, she saw the Bishop sink heavily to
his knees with something between a sigh and a groan.

Everything was glittering when they stepped out into the square; no
sun yet, but a bright rain-grey light, silver and cut steel and
pearl on the grey roofs and walls.  Long veils of smoky fog were
caught in the pine forests across the river.  And how fresh the air
smelled!

"Jacques," Cécile asked wonderingly, "do you know Monseigneur
Laval?  Did he ever talk to you?"

"I think once he did."

"What about?"

"I don't remember."

They went hand in hand up the hill.



He both did and did not remember; it came back to him in flashes,
unrelated pictures, like a dream.  Perhaps it was a dream.  He
could never have told Cécile about it, since it was hard for him to
talk even about things he knew very well.  But whenever he chanced
to see old Bishop Laval, he felt that once, long ago, something
pleasant had happened between them.

It had happened two years ago, when he was only four, before he
knew the Auclairs at all.  It was in January.  A light, sticky snow
had fallen irresolutely, at intervals, all day.  Toward evening the
weather changed; the sun emerged, just sinking over the great pine
forest to the west, hung there, an angry ball, and all the snow-
covered rock blazed in orange fire.  The sun became a half-circle,
then a mere red eyebrow, then dropped behind the forest, leaving
the air clear blue, and much colder, with a pale lemon moon riding
high overhead.  There was no wind, it was a night of still
moonlight, and within an hour after sunset the wet snow had frozen
fast over roofs and spires and trees.  Everything on the rock was
sheathed in glittering white ice.  It was a sight to stir the
dullest blood.  Some trappers from Three Rivers were in town.  They
had supper with La Grenouille, and afterwards persuaded her to go
for a ride in their dog-sledges up the frozen St. Lawrence.
Jacques was in bed asleep.  'Toinette threw an extra blanket over
him and put an armful of wood in the stove, then went off with the
young men, taking L'Escargot with her.  She meant to be out only an
hour or two; but they had plenty of brandy along to keep them warm,
and so they made a night of it.  Dog-sledging by moonlight on that
broad marble highway, with no wind, was fine sport.

After she had been gone a couple of hours, Jacques wakened up very
cold and called for his mother.  Presently he got up and went to
look for her.  He went to L'Escargot's bed, and that, too, was
empty.  The moonlight shone in brightly, but the fire had gone out,
and all about him things creaked with the cold.  He found his shoes
and an old shawl and went out into the snow to look for his mother.
The poor neighbour houses were silent.  He went behind the King's
storehouse and up Notre Dame street to the market square.  The
worthy merchants were long ago in bed, and all the houses were dark
except one, where the mother of the family was very sick.  The
statue of King Louis, with a cloak and helmet of snow, looked
terrifying in the moonlight.  Jacques already knew better than to
knock at that solid, comfortable house where he saw a lighted
window; he knew his mother wasn't well thought of by these rich
people.  Not knowing where to turn, he took the only forward way
there was, up Mountain Hill.

Luckily, one other person was abroad that night.  Old Bishop Laval,
who never spared himself, had been down to the square to sit with
the sick woman.  He came toiling up the hill in his fur cloak and
his tall fur cap, which was almost as imposing as his episcopal
mitre, a cane in one hand, a lantern in the other.  His valet
followed behind.  They were passing the new Bishop's Palace, now
cold and empty, as Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier was in France.
Just as they wound under the retaining wall of the terrace, they
heard a child crying.  The Bishop stopped and flashed his lantern
this way and that.  On the flight of stone steps that led up
through the wall to the episcopal residence, he saw a little boy,
almost a baby, sitting in the snow, crouching back against the
masonry.

"Where does he belong?" asked the Bishop of his donné.

"Ah, that I cannot tell, Monseigneur," replied Houssart.

"Pick him up and bring him along," said the Bishop.

"Unbutton your coat and hold him against your body."  The lantern
moved on.

The old Bishop lived in the Priests' House, built as a part of his
Seminary.  His private rooms were poor and small.  All his silver
plate and velvet and linen he had given away little by little, to
needy parishes, to needy persons.  He had given away the revenues
of his abbeys in France, and had transferred his vast grants of
Canadian land to the Seminary.  He lived in naked poverty.

When they reached home, he commanded Houssart to build a fire in
the fireplace at once (had he been alone he would have undressed
and gone to bed in the cold) and to heat water, that he might give
the child a warm bath.

"Is there any milk?" he asked.

Houssart hesitated.  "A little, for your chocolate in the morning,
Monseigneur."

"Get it and put it to warm on the hearth.  Pour a little cognac in
it, and bring any bread there is in the house."

One strange thing Jacques could remember afterwards.  He was
sitting on the edge of a narrow bed, wrapped in a blanket, in the
light of a blazing fire.  He had just been washed in warm water;
the basin was still on the floor.  Beside it knelt a very large old
man with big eyes and a great drooping nose and a little black cap
on his head, and he was rubbing Jacques's feet and legs very softly
with a towel.  They were all alone then, just the two of them, and
the fire was bright enough to see clearly.  What he remembered
particularly was that this old man, after he had dried him like
this, bent down and took his foot in his hand and kissed it; first
the one foot, then the other.  That much Jacques remembered.

When the servant returned, they gave the child warm milk with a
little bread in it, and put him into the Bishop's bed, though
Houssart begged to take him to his own.

"No, we will not move him.  He is falling asleep already.  I do not
know if that flush means a fever or not."

"Monseigneur," Houssart whispered, "now that I have seen him in the
light, I recognize this child.  He is the son of that 'Toinette
Gaux, the woman they call La Grenouille."

"Ah!" the old man nodded thoughtfully.  "That, too, may have a
meaning.  Throw more wood on the fire and go.  I shall rest here in
my arm-chair with my fur coat over my knees until it is time to
ring the bell."  The Bishop got up at four o'clock every morning,
dressed without a fire, went with his lantern into the church, and
rang the bell for early mass for the working people.  Many good
people who did not want to go to mass at all, when they heard that
hoarse, frosty bell clanging out under the black sky where there
was not yet even a hint of daybreak, groaned and went to the
church.  Because they thought of the old Bishop at the end of the
bell-rope, and because his will was stronger than theirs.  He was a
stubborn, high-handed, tyrannical, quarrelsome old man, but no one
could deny that he shepherded his sheep.

When his donné had gone and he was left with the sleeping child,
the Bishop settled his swollen legs upon a stool, covered them with
his cloak, and sank into meditation.  This was not an accident, he
felt.  Why had he found, on the steps of that costly episcopal
residence built in scorn of him and his devotion to poverty, a male
child, half-clad and crying in the merciless cold?  Why had this
reminder of his Infant Saviour been just there, under that house
which he never passed without bitterness, which was like a thorn in
his flesh?  Had he been too much absorbed in his struggles with
governors and intendants, in the heavy labour of founding and
fixing his church upon this rock, in training a native priesthood
and safeguarding their future?

Monseigneur de Laval had not always been a man of means and
measures.  Long ago, in Bernières's Hermitage at Caen, his life had
been wholly given up to meditation and prayer.  Not until he was
sent out to Canada to convert a frontier mission into an enduring
part of the Church had he become a man of action.  His life, as he
reviewed it, fell into two even periods.  The first thirty-six
years had been given to purely personal religion, to bringing his
mind and will into subjection to his spiritual guides.  The last
thirty-six years had been spent in bringing the minds and wills of
other people into subjection to his own,--since he had but one
will, and that was the supremacy of the Church in Canada.  Might
this occurrence tonight be a sign that it was time to return to
that rapt and mystical devotion of his earlier life?

In the morning, after he returned from offering early mass in the
church, before it was yet light, the Bishop sent his man about over
the hill, to this house and that, wherever there were young
children, begging of one shoes, of another a little frock,--
whatever the mother could spare from the backs of her own brood.

'Toinette Gaux had returned home meanwhile, and was frightened at
missing her son.  But she was ashamed to go out and look for him.
Some neighbour would bring him back, she thought,--and, insolent as
she was, she dreaded the moment.  She got her deserts, certainly,
when two long, black shadows fell upon the glistening snow before
her door; the Bishop in his tall fur cap, prodding the icy crust
with his cane, and behind him Houssart, carrying the little boy.

The Bishop came in without knocking, and motioned his man to put
the child down and withdraw.  He stood for some moments confronting
the woman in silence.  'Toinette was no fool; she felt all his
awfulness; the long line of noble blood and authority behind him,
the power of the Church and the power of the man.  She wished the
earth would swallow her.  Not a shred of her impudence was left
her.  Her tongue went dry.  His silence was so dreadful that it was
a relief when he began to thunder and tell her that even the beasts
of the forest protected their young (Les ourses et les louves
protègent leurs petits).  He meant to watch over this boy, he said;
if she neglected him, he would take the child and put him with the
Sisters of the Congregation, not here, but in Montreal, to place
him as far as possible from a worthless mother.

'Toinette knew that he would do it, too.  When she was a little
girl, she used to hear talk about just such a high-handed
proceeding of the Bishop's.  A rich man in Quebec had brought a
girl over from France to work as a bonne in his family.  The Bishop
thought she did not come to mass often enough and was not receiving
proper religious training.  So one day when he met her on the
street, he took her by the hand and led her to the Ursuline convent
and put her with the cloistered Sisters.  There she stayed until
the Governor gave her master a warrant to search the rock for his
maid and take her wherever he found her.  But 'Toinette knew that a
woman of her sort, without money or good repute, had little chance
of getting her boy back if once the Bishop took him away.

She kept Jacques in the house all the rest of the winter, and never
went out herself except L'Escargot was there to watch him.  It was
not until the summer ships came, bringing new lovers and new
distractions, that Jacques was allowed to go into the streets to
play.



IV


Cécile was taking Jacques to Noël Pommier to be measured for his
shoes.  The cobbler lived half-way down Holy Family Hill, the steep
street that plunged from the Cathedral down toward the St.
Lawrence.  There were other shoemakers in Quebec, but all persons
of quality went to Pommier, unless they had had a short answer from
him at some time.  He would not hurry a piece of work for anybody,--
not for the Count or the Intendant or the Bishop.  If anyone tried
to hurry him, he became surly and was likely to say something that
a self-important person could not allow himself to overlook.  It
was rumoured that he had spoken unbecomingly to the valet of
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier, and had told him it would be better
if his master had all his shoes made in Paris, where he spent so
much of his time.  Certainly the new Bishop had ceased to patronize
him, which was a grief to Pommier's pious mother.

When the children entered the cobbler's door, they found him seated
at his bench with a shoe between his knees, sewing the sole to the
upper.  Seeing that it was M. Auclair's daughter, he rose and put
down his work.  He was a thick-set man with stooped shoulders; his
head was grown over with coarse black hair cut short like bristles,
his fleshy face was dark red, and seamed with hard creases.  The
purple veins that spread like little roots about his nostrils
suggested an occasional indulgence in brandy.  When Pommier stood
up, with his blackened hands hanging beside his leather apron, and
his corded, hairy arms bare to the elbow, he looked like a black
bear standing upright.  His eyes, too, were small like a bear's,
and somewhat bloodshot.

"Bonjour, Mademoiselle Cécile, what can I do for you?"

"If you please, Monsieur Pommier, I have brought little Jacques
Gaux to be measured for his shoes.  Has the Count's valet spoken to
you about it?"

Pommier nodded.  "Sit down there, little man, and let me see."  He
put Jacques down on a straw-topped stool (an old one his father had
brought from Rouen, along with his bench and tools), took off the
wretched foot-gear he had on, and began to study his feet and to
make measurements.

While this was going on in deep silence, a door at the back of the
house opened, and Pommier's mother, a thin, lively old woman with a
crutch, came tapping lightly across the living-room and into the
shop.  She embraced Cécile with delight, and spoke very kindly to
Jacques when he was presented to her.

"I have never seen this little fellow before, since I don't get
about much, but I like to know all the children in Quebec.  You
will be very content with fine new shoes, my boy?"

"Oui, madame," Jacques murmured.

"And you have quite neglected me of late, Cécile.  I know you are
busy enough down there, but I have been looking for you every day
since the ships sailed.  My son saw your father at the market
yesterday and observed that he was laying in good supplies for
you."  Madame Pommier seated herself on one of the wooden chairs
without backs and rested her crutch across her knees.  She always
came into the shop when there were clients, and she liked to know
what her son was doing every minute of the day.

When Cécile was little, Madame Pommier used to come to see her
mother very often.  She was one of the first friends Madame Auclair
made in Quebec, and had given her a great deal of help in her
struggle to keep house in a place where there were none of the
conveniences to which she was accustomed.  The Pommiers themselves
were old residents, had lived here ever since this Noël was a young
lad, and his father had been the Count's shoemaker during his first
governorship, twenty-odd years ago.  Just about the time that
Madame Auclair's health began to fail, Madame Pommier had fallen on
the icy hill in front of her own door and broken her hip.  The good
chirurgien Gervaise Beaudoin attended her, but though the bone
knit, it came together badly and left one leg much shorter than the
other.  M. Auclair had made a crutch for her, and as she was slight
and very active, she was soon able to get about in her own house
and attend to her duties.  Many a time Cécile had found her by her
stove, the crutch under her left arm, handling her pots and
casseroles as deftly as if she were not propped up by a wooden
stick.  Sometimes in winter she even got to mass.  Her son had set
an arm-chair upon runners, and in this he pushed her up the hill
over the snow to the Cathedral.

After the cobbler had made his measurements and noted them down, he
took up his work again and began driving his awl through the
leather, drawing the big needle with waxed thread through after it.
Tools of any sort had a fascination for Cécile; she loved to watch
a shoemaker or a carpenter at work.  Jacques, who had never seen
anything of the kind before, followed Pommier's black fingers with
astonishment.  They both sat quietly, and the old lady joined them
in admiringly watching her clever son.  Suddenly she bethought
herself of something, and pointed with her crutch to a little
cabinet of shelves covered by a curtain.  There ladies' shoes, sent
in for repair or made to order, were kept, as being rather too
personal to expose on the open shelves with the men's boots.

"Tirez, tirez," whispered Madame Pommier.  Cécile got up and drew
back the curtain, and at once knew what the old lady wished her to
see: a beautiful pair of red satin slippers, embroidered in gold
and purple, with leather soles and red leather heels.

"Oh, madame, how lovely!  To whom do they belong?"

"To Monseigneur l'Ancien.  They are his house slippers.  My son is
to put new soles on them,--see, they are almost worn through.
Houssart says he paces his chamber in the night when he is at his
devotions, so that he will not be overcome by sleep."

"But these are so small, can he possibly wear them?  And his walk
is so heavy, too."

"Ah, that is because of his legs, which are bad.  But he has a very
slender foot, very distinguished.  That is the Montmorency in him;
he is of noble blood, you know."

Here Pommier himself reached up to a row of wooden lasts over his
head and handed one of them to Cécile.

"That is his foot, mademoiselle."

Cécile took the smoothly shaped wood in her hands and examined it
curiously.  On the sole Noël had scratched with his awl:  "Mgr.
Lav'."

"And next it," said Madame Pommier, "you will find the Governor's.
He, too, has a fine foot, very high in the arch, but large, as is
needful for a soldier.  And there to the left is the Intendant's,
and Madame de Champigny's."

"Oh, Monsieur Pommier, you have the feet of all the great people
here!  Did you make them all yourself?"

"Ah, no!  Some are from my father's time.  Yes, you may look at
them if it amuses you."

Cécile took them down one after another.  To be sure, they all
looked a good deal alike to her, but she could guess the original
of each form from the awl scratches on the sole.  On one she
spelled the letters "R. CAV."  She was trying to think whose that
might be, when Pommier startled her a little by saying in a very
peculiar tone of voice:

"That foot will not come back."

She could not tell whether he was angry or sorry,--there was
something so harsh in his tone.

"But why, Monsieur Noël, why not?"

"It went too far," he replied with the same bitter shortness.

She stared at the letters.  The old lady beckoned her and traced
over the inscription with her finger.  "That is my husband's
marking; he always made capitals.  It means Robert Cavelier de La
Salle."

Cécile drew a deep breath.  "Monsieur Noël believes he is really
dead, then?"

Noël looked up from his black threads.  "Everyone knows he is dead,
mademoiselle.  The people who say he will come back are fools.  He
was murdered, a thousand miles from here.  Tonti brought the word.
Robert de La Salle has come into this shop many a time when I was a
lad.  He was a true man, mademoiselle, and nobody was true to him,
except Monsieur le Comte; not his own brother, nor his nephew, nor
his King.  It is always like that when there is a great one in a
family.  But I shall always keep his last.  That foot went farther
than any other in New France."  He dropped his eyes and began
driving his awl again.

Cécile knew it would be useless to question him,--such an outburst
was most unusual from Pommier.  But when she got home, she brought
the matter up to her father and asked him whether it was true that
the Abbé Cavelier had turned against his brother.

"I don't know, my dear.  Nobody knows what happened down there.
The Count blames him, but then, the Count always hated the Abbé."



V


It was the afternoon of All Saints' Day, and Jacques had come up
the hill through a driving sleet storm to put on his new shoes for
the first time.  When he had carefully laced them, he stood up in
them and, looking from one to the other of his friends, smiled a
glad, surprised, soft smile.  He was certainly not a handsome
child, but he had one beauty,--his baby teeth.  When his pale lips
parted, his teeth showed like two rows of pearls, really; even,
regular, all the same size, lustrous like those pearls that have
just a faint shimmer of lilac.  The hard crusts, which were his
fare for the most part, kept them polished like veritable jewels.
Cécile only hoped that when his second teeth came in, they would
not be narrow and pointed, of the squirrel kind, like his mother's.

When M. Auclair asked Jacques if the shoes were comfortable, he
looked up wonderingly and said:  "Mais, oui, monsieur," as if they
could not possibly be otherwise.

The apothecary went back into his shop, where he was boiling pine
tops (bourgeons des pins) to make a cough-syrup.  Cécile told
Jacques she had found in her Lives of the Saints the picture of a
little boy who looked very much like him.

"I shall always keep it for a picture of you, Jacques.  Look, it is
little Saint Edmond.  He was an English saint, and he became
Archbishop of Cantorbéry.  But he died in France, at the monastery
of Pontigny.  Sit here beside me, and I will read you what it says
about him.


"Edmond était tout enfant un modèle de vertu, grâce aux tendres
soins de sa pieuse mère.  On ne le voyait qu'à l'école et à
l'église, partageant ses journées entre la prière et l'étude, et se
privant des plaisirs les plus innocents pour s'entretenir avec
Jésus et sa divine Mère à laquelle il voua un culte tout spécial.
Un jour qu'il fuyait ses compagnons de jeu, pour se recueillir
intimement, l'Enfant Jésus lui apparaît, rayonnant de beauté et le
regarde avec amour en lui disant:  'Je te salue, mon bien-aimé.'
Edmond tout éblouî n'ose répondre et le divin Sauveur reprend:
'Vous ne me connaissez donc pas?--Non, avoue l'enfant, je n'ai pas
cet honneur et je crois que vous ne devez pas me connaître non
plus, mais me prenez pour un autre.--Comment, continue le petit
Jésus, vous ne me reconnaissez pas, moi qui suis toujours à vos
côtés et vous accompagne partout.  Regardez-moi; je suis Jésus,
gravez toujours ce nom en votre coeur et imprimez-le sur votre front
et je vous préserverai de mort subite ainsi que tous ceux qui
feront de même.'"


The little woodcut in Cécile's old book showed the boy saint very
like Jacques indeed; a clumsy little fellow, abashed at the
apparition, standing awkwardly with his finger in his mouth; his
chin had no tip, because the old block from which he was printed
was worn away.  Beside him stood the Heavenly Child, all surrounded
by rays, just Edmond's height, friendly like a playfellow, and
treading on the earth, not floating in the air as visions are wont
to do.  Jacques bent over the book, his thumb on the page to keep
it flat, and asked Cécile to read it over again, so that he could
remember.  When she finished, he drew a long, happy sigh.

"I wish the little Jesus would appear to me like that, standing on
the ground.  Then I would not be frightened," he murmured.

"I don't believe He ever does, in Canada, Jacques.  Though perhaps
He appears to the recluse in Montreal, she is so very holy.  I know
angels come to her.  But I expect He is often near you and keeps
you from harm, as He said to Saint Edmond; moi qui suis toujours à
vos côtés et vous accompagne partout.  Now you can look at the
other pictures while I make our chocolate.  Since this is All
Saints' Day, we ought to think a great deal about the saints."

Left in the corner of the red sofa, Jacques held the book, but he
did not turn the pages.  He sat looking at the logs burning in the
fireplace and making gleams on the china shepherd boy, the object
of his especial admiration.  He heard the sleet pecking on the
window-panes and thought how nice it was to have a place like this
to come to.  When the chocolate began to give off its rich odour,
his nostrils quivered like a puppy's.  Cécile carried her father's
cup to him in the shop, and then she and Jacques sat down at one
corner of the table, where she had spread a napkin over the cloth.

Much as Jacques loved chocolate (in so far as he knew, this was the
only house in the world in which that comforting drink was made),
there was something he cared more about, something that gave him a
kind of solemn satisfaction,--Cécile's cup.  She had a silver cup
with a handle; on the front was engraved a little wreath of roses,
and inside that wreath was the name, "Cécile" cut in the silver.
Her Aunt Clothilde had given it to her when she was but a tiny
baby, so it had been hers all her life.  That was what seemed so
wonderful to Jacques.  His clothes had always belonged to somebody
else before they were made over for him; he slept wherever there
was room for him, sometimes with his mother, sometimes on a bench.
He had never had anything of his own except his toy beaver,--and
now he would have his shoes, made just for him.  But to have a
little cup, with your name on it . . . even if you died, it would
still be there, with your name.

More than the shop with all the white jars and mysterious
implements, more than the carpet and curtains and the red sofa,
that cup fixed Cécile as born to security and privileges.  He
regarded it with respectful, wistful admiration.  Before the milk
or chocolate was poured, he liked to hold it and trace with his
finger-tips the letters that made it so peculiarly and almost
sacredly hers.  Since his attention was evidently fixed upon her
cup, more than once Cécile had suggested that he drink his
chocolate from it, and she would use another.  But he shook his
head, unable to explain.  That was not at all what her cup meant to
him.  Indeed, Cécile could not know what it meant to him; she was
too fortunate.

They had scarcely finished the last drop and the last crumb, when
the shop door opened and they heard a woman's voice.  Without a
word Jacques slipped to the floor and began to take off his new
shoes.  Cécile sat still.

In the front shop Auclair was confronted by a vehement young woman,
slightly out of breath, her head and shoulders tightly wrapped in a
shawl, her cheeks reddened by the wind, and her fair hair curling
about her forehead and glistening with water drops.  The apothecary
rose and said politely:

"Good day, 'Toinette, what will you have?"

She tossed her head.  "None of your poisons, thank you!  I believe
my son is here?"

"I think so.  He is in very good hands when he is here."

'Toinette struck an attitude, her hand on her hip.  "Je suis mère,
vous savez!  The care of my son is my affair."

"Very true."

"What is this I hear about your getting shoes for him?  I am his
mother.  I will get him shoes when I think it necessary.  I am
poor, it is true; but I want none of your money that is the price
of poisons."

"Bien.  I will take care that you get none of it.  But I did not
pay for the shoes.  They were bought with the Governor's money."

'Toinette looked interested.  Sharp points showed in her eyes, like
the points of her teeth.  "The Governor?  Ah, that is different.
The Governor is our protector, he owes us something.  And the King
owes something to the children of those poor creatures, like my
mother, whom he sent out here under false pretences."

Auclair held up a warning finger.  He was sorry for her, because he
saw how ill at ease she was under her impertinence.  "Do not
quarrel with the Government, my girl.  That can do you no good, and
it might get you into trouble."

'Toinette loosened her shawl and then wound it tight.  She wished
she had been more civil; perhaps they would have offered her some
chocolate.  She called shrilly for Jacques.  He came at once,
without saying a word, his new shoes in his hands, his old ones on
his feet.  His mother caught him by the shoulder with a jerk,--she
could not cuff him in the apothecary's presence.  "Au revoir,
monsieur," she snapped, as Auclair opened the door for her.  She
went down the hill with her defiant stride, her head high, and
Jacques walked after her as fast as he could, wearing an expression
of intense gravity, blinking against the sleet, and carrying his
new shoes, soles up, out in front of him in a most unnatural way,
as if he were carrying a basin full of water and trying not to
spill it.

Auclair thrust his head out and watched them round the turn, then
closed the door.  He looked in upon his daughter and remarked:

"She has shown her teeth; now she will not make any more trouble
for a while.  She will let him wear his shoes.  She was pleased and
was afraid of showing it."

"He pulled off his new stockings and stuffed them inside his shirt,
Papa!"

Auclair laughed.  "How often I have seen children and dogs, and
even brave men, take on quick sly ways to protect themselves from
an ill-tempered woman!  I doubt whether she is very rough with him
at home.  When she is among people who look down on her, she takes
it out on him."



That night after dinner they did not go for their usual walk, since
the weather was so bleak, but sat by the fire listening to the
rattle of the sleet on the windows.

"Papa," said Cécile, "shall you have a mass said for poor Bichet
this year, as always?"

"Yes, on the tenth of November, the day on which he was hanged."

This mass Auclair had said at the Récollets' chapel where Count
Frontenac heard mass every morning.

"Please tell me about Bichet again, and it will be fresh in my mind
when I go to the mass."

"It will not keep you awake, as it did the first time I told you?
We must not grieve about these things that happened long ago,--and
this happened when the Count was in Canada the first time, while
your grandfather and grandmother were both living.

"Poor old Bichet had lodged in our cellar since I was a boy.  He
was a knife-grinder and used to go out every day with his wheel on
his back, and he picked up a few sous at his trade.  But he could
never have kept himself in shoes, having to walk so much, if your
grandfather had not given him his old ones.  He paid us nothing for
his lodging, of course.  He had his bed on the floor in a dry
corner of our cellar, where the sirops and elixirs were kept.  In
very cold weather your grandmother would put a couple of bricks
among the coals when she was getting supper, and old Bichet would
take these hot bricks down and put them in his bed.  And she often
saved a cup of hot soup and a piece of bread for the old man and
let him eat them in the warm kitchen, for he was very neat and
cleanly.  When I had any spending-money, or when I was given a fee
for carrying medicines to some house in the neighbourhood, I always
saved a little for the old knife-grinder.  He was reserved and
uncomplaining and never inflicted his troubles upon us, though he
must have had many.  On Saturdays, when your grandmother cooked a
joint and had a big fire, she used to heat a kettle of water for
him, and he carried it down to his corner and washed himself.  He
was a Christian and went to mass.  He was a kind man, gentle to
creatures below him,--for there were those even worse off.

"Now, on the rue du Figuier stood a house that had long been
closed, for the family had gone to live at Fontainebleau, and the
empty coach-house was used as a store-room for old pieces of
furniture.  The caretaker was a careless fellow who went out to
drink with his cronies and left the place unguarded.  In the coach-
house were two brass kettles which had lain there for many years,
doing nobody any good.  Bichet must have seen them often, as he
went in and out to sharpen the caretaker's carving-knife.

"One night, when this fellow was carousing, Bichet carried off
those two pots.  He took them to an ironmonger and sold them.
Nobody would ever have missed them; but Bichet had an enemy.  Near
us there lived a degenerate, half-witted boy of a cruel
disposition.  He tortured street cats, and even sparrows when he
could catch them.  Old Bichet had more than once caught him at his
tricks and reproved him and set his victims at liberty.  That boy
was cunning, and he used to spy on Bichet.  He saw him carrying off
those brass kettles and reported him to the police.  Bichet was
seized in the street, when he was out with his grindstone, and
taken to the Châtelet.  He confessed at once and told where he had
sold the pots.  But that was not enough for the officers; they put
him to torture and made him confess to a lifetime of crime; to
having stolen from us and from the Frontenac house--which he had
never done.

"Your grandfather and I hurried to the prison to speak for him.
Your grandfather told them that a man so old and infirm would admit
anything under fright and anguish, not knowing what he said; that a
confession obtained under torture was not true evidence.  This
infuriated the Judge.  If we would take oath that the prisoner had
never stolen anything from us, they would put him into the
strappado again and make him correct his confession.  We saw that
the only thing we could do for our old lodger was to let him pass
quickly.  Luckily for Bichet, the prison was overcrowded, and he
was hanged the next morning.

"Your grandmother never got over it.  She had for a long while
struggled with asthma every winter, and that year when the asthma
came on, she ceased to struggle.  She said she had no wish to live
longer in a world where such cruelties could happen."

"And I am like my grandmother," cried Cécile, catching her father's
hand.  "I do not want to live there.  I had rather stay in Quebec
always!  Nobody is tortured here, except by the Indians, in the
woods, and they know no better.  But why does the King allow such
things, when they tell us he is a kind King?"

"It is not the King, my dear, it is the Law.  The Law is to protect
property, and it thinks too much of property.  A couple of brass
pots, an old saddle, are reckoned worth more than a poor man's
life.  Christ would have forgiven Bichet, as He did the thief on
the cross.  We must think of him in paradise, where no law can
touch him.  I believe that harmless old man is in paradise long
ago, and when I have a mass said for him every year, it is more for
my own satisfaction than for his.  I should like him to know, too,
that our family remembers him."

"And I, Father, as long as I live, I will always have a mass said
for Bichet on the day he died."



VI


On All Souls' Day Cécile went to church all day long; in the
morning to the Ursuline chapel, in the afternoon to the Hôtel Dieu,
and last of all down to the Church of Notre Dame de la Victoire to
pray for her mother in the very spot where Madame Auclair had
always knelt at mass.  All the churches were full of sorrowful
people; Cécile met them coming and going, and greeted them with
lowered eyes and subdued voice, as was becoming.  But she herself
was not sorrowful, though she supposed she was.

The devotions of the day had begun an hour after midnight.  Old
Bishop Laval had no thought that anyone should forget the solemn
duties of the time.  He was at his post at one o'clock in the
morning to ring the Cathedral bell, and from then on until early
mass he rang it every hour.  It called out through the intense
silence of streets where there were no vehicles to rumble, but only
damp vapours from the river to make sound more intense and
startling, to give it overtones and singular reverberations.


     "Priez pour les Morts,
      Vous qui reposez,
      Priez pour les tré-pas-sés!"


it seemed to say, as if the exacting old priest himself were
calling.  One had scarcely time to murmur a prayer and turn over in
one's warm bed, before the bell rang out again.

At twelve years it is impossible to be sad on holy days, even on a
day of sorrow; at that age the dark things, death, bereavement,
suffering, have only a dramatic value,--seem but strong and moving
colours in the grey stretch of time.

On such solemn days all the stories of the rock came to life for
Cécile; the shades of the early martyrs and great missionaries drew
close about her.  All the miracles that had happened there, and the
dreams that had been dreamed, came out of the fog; every spire,
every ledge and pinnacle, took on the splendour of legend.  When
one passed by the Jesuits', those solid walls seemed sentinelled by
a glorious company of martyrs, martyrs who were explorers and
heroes as well; at the Hôtel Dieu, Mother Catherine de Saint-
Augustin and her story rose up before one; at the Ursulines', Marie
de l'Incarnation overshadowed the living.

At Notre Dame de la Victoire one remembered the miraculous
preservation for which it had been named, when this little church,
with the banner of the Virgin floating from its steeple, had stood
untouched through Sir William Phips's bombardment, though every
heretic gun was aimed at it.  Cécile herself could remember that
time very well; the Lower Town had been abandoned, and she and her
mother, with the other women and children, were hidden in the
cellars of the Ursuline convent.  Even there they were not out of
gun range; a shell had fallen into the court just as Sister Agatha
was crossing it, and had taken off the skirt of her apron, though
the Sister herself was not harmed.

To the older people of Kebec, All Souls' was a day of sad
remembrance.  Their minds went back to churches and cemeteries far
away.  Now the long closed season was upon them, and there would be
no letters, no word of any kind from France for seven, perhaps
eight, months.  The last letters that came in the autumn always
brought disturbing news to one household or another; word that a
mother was failing, that a son had been wounded in the wars, that a
sister had gone into a decline.  Friends at home seemed to forget
how the Canadians would have these gloomy tidings to brood upon all
the long winter and the long spring, so that many a man and woman
dreaded the arrival of those longed-for summer ships.

Fears for the sick and old so far away, sorrow for those who died
last year--five years ago--many years ago,--memories of families
once together and now scattered; these things hung over the rock of
Kebec on this day of the dead like the dark fogs from the river.
The cheerful faces were those in the convents.  The Ursulines and
the Hospitalières, indeed, were scarcely exiles.  When they came
across the Atlantic, they brought their family with them, their
kindred, their closest friends.  In whatever little wooden vessel
they had laboured across the sea, they carried all; they brought to
Canada the Holy Family, the saints and martyrs, the glorious
company of the Apostles, the heavenly host.

Courageous these Sisters were, accepting good and ill fortune with
high spirit,--with humour, even.  They never vulgarly exaggerated
hardships and dangers.  They had no hours of nostalgia, for they
were quite as near the realities of their lives in Quebec as in
Dieppe or Tours.  They were still in their accustomed place in the
world of the mind (which for each of us is the only world), and
they had the same well-ordered universe about them: this all-
important earth, created by God for a great purpose, the sun which
He made to light it by day, the moon which He made to light it by
night,--and the stars, made to beautify the vault of heaven like
frescoes, and to be a clock and compass for man.  And in this safe,
lovingly arranged and ordered universe (not too vast, though nobly
spacious), in this congenial universe, the drama of man went on at
Quebec just as at home, and the Sisters played their accustomed
part in it.  There was sin, of course, and there was punishment
after death; but there was always hope, even for the most depraved;
and for those who died repentant, the Sisters' prayers could do
much,--no one might say how much.

So the nuns, those who were cloistered and those who came and went
about the town, were always cheerful, never lugubrious.  Their
voices, even when they spoke to one through the veiled grille, were
pleasant and inspiriting to hear.  Most of them spoke good French,
some the exquisite French of Tours.  They conversed blithely,
elegantly.  When, on parting from a stranger, a Sister said
pleasantly:  "I hope we shall meet in heaven," that meant nothing
doleful,--it meant a happy appointment, for tomorrow, perhaps!

Inferretque deos Latio.  When an adventurer carries his gods with
him into a remote and savage country, the colony he founds will,
from the beginning, have graces, traditions, riches of the mind and
spirit.  Its history will shine with bright incidents, slight,
perhaps, but precious, as in life itself, where the great matters
are often as worthless as astronomical distances, and the trifles
dear as the heart's blood.



VII


A heavy snowfall in December meant that winter had come,--the
deepest reality of Canadian life.  The snow fell all through the
night of St. Nicholas' Day, but morning broke brilliant and clear,
without a wisp of fog, and when one stepped out of the door, the
sunlight on the glittering terraces of rock was almost too intense
to be borne; one closed one's eyes and seemed to swim in throbbing
red.  Before noon there was a little thaw, the snow grew soft on
top.  But as the day wore on, a cold wind came up and the surface
froze, to the great delight of the children of Quebec.  By three
o'clock a crowd of them were coasting down the steep hill named for
the Holy Family, among them Cécile and her protégé.  Before she and
her father had finished their déjeuner, Jacques had appeared at the
shop door, wearing an expectant, hopeful look unusual to him.
Cécile remembered that she had promised to take him coasting on her
sled when the first snow came.  She unfastened his ragged jacket
and buttoned him into an old fur coat that she had long ago
outgrown.  Her mother had put it away in one of the chests
upstairs, not because she expected ever to have another child, but
because all serviceable things deserve to be taken care of.

When they reached the coasting-hill, the sun was already well down
the western sky (it would set by four o'clock), and the light on
the snow was more orange than golden; the long, steep street and
the little houses on either side were a cold blue, washed over with
rose-colour.  They went down double,--Jacques sat in front, and
Cécile, after she had given the sled a running start, dropped on
the board behind him.  Every time they reached the bottom, they
trudged back up the hill to the front of the Cathedral, where the
street began.

When the sun had almost sunk behind the black ridges of the western
forest, Cécile and Jacques sat down on the Cathedral steps to eat
their goûter.  While they sat there, the other children began to go
home, and the air grew colder.  Now they had the hill all to
themselves,--and this was the most beautiful part of the afternoon.
They thought they would like to go down once more.  With a quick
push-off their sled shot down through constantly changing colour;
deeper and deeper into violet, blue, purple, until at the bottom it
was almost black.  As they climbed up again, they watched the last
flames of orange light burn off the high points of the rock.  The
slender spire of the Récollet chapel, up by the Château, held the
gleam longest of all.

Cécile saw that Jacques was cold.  They were not far from Noël
Pommier's door, so she said they would go in and get warm.

The cobbler had pulled his bench close to the window and was making
the most of the last daylight.  Cécile begged him not to get up.

"We have only come in to get warm, Monsieur Pommier."

"Very good.  You know the way.  Come here, my boy, let me see
whether your shoes keep the snow out."  He reached for Jacques's
foot, felt the leather, and nodded.  Cécile passed into the room
behind the shop, called to Madame Pommier in her kitchen, and asked
if they might sit by her fire.

"Certainly, my dear, find a chair.  And little Jacques may have my
footstool; it is just big enough for him.  Noël," she called, "come
put some wood on the fire, these children are frozen."  She came in
bringing two squares of maple sugar--and a towel for Jacques to
wipe his fingers on.  He took the sugar and thanked her, but she
saw that his eyes were fixed upon a dark corner of the room where a
little copper lamp was burning before some coloured pictures.
"That is my chapel, Jacques.  You see, being lame, I do not get to
mass very often, so I have a little chapel of my own, and the lamp
burns night and day, like the sanctuary lamp.  There is the Holy
Mother and Child, and Saint Joseph, and on the other side are
Sainte Anne and Saint Joachim.  I am especially devoted to the Holy
Family."

Drawn out by something in her voice, Jacques ventured a question.

"Is that why this is called Holy Family Hill, madame?"

Madame Pommier laughed and stooped to pat his head.  "Quite the
other way about, my boy!  I insisted upon living here because the
hill bore that name.  My husband was for settling in the Basse
Ville, thinking it would be better for his trade.  But we have not
starved here; those for whom the street was named have looked out
for us, maybe.  When we first came to this country, I was
especially struck by the veneration in which the Holy Family was
held in Kebec, and I found it was so all out through the distant
parishes.  I never knew its like at home.  Monseigneur Laval
himself has told me that there is no other place in the world where
the people are so devoted to the Holy Family as here in our own
Canada.  It is something very special to us."

Cécile liked to think they had things of their own in Canada.  The
martyrdoms of the early Church which she read about in her Lives of
the Saints never seemed to her half so wonderful or so terrible as
the martyrdoms of Father Brébeuf, Father Lalemant, Father Jogues,
and their intrepid companions.  To be thrown into the Rhone or the
Moselle, to be decapitated at Lyon,--what was that to the tortures
the Jesuit missionaries endured at the hands of the Iroquois, in
those savage, interminable forests?  And could the devotion of
Sainte Geneviève or Sainte Philomène be compared to that of Mother
Catherine de Saint-Augustin or Mother Marie de l'Incarnation?

"My child, I believe you are sleepy," said Madame Pommier
presently, when both her visitors had been silent a long while.
She liked her friends to be entertaining.

Cécile started out of her reverie.  "No, madame, but I was thinking
of a surprise I have at home, and perhaps I had better tell you
about it now.  You remember my Aunt Clothilde?  I am sure my mother
often talked to you of her.  Last summer she sent me a box on La
Licorne: a large wooden box, with a letter telling me not to open
it.  We must not open it until the day before Christmas, because it
is a crèche; so, you see, we shall have a Holy Family, too.  And we
have been hoping that on Christmas Eve, before the midnight mass,
Monsieur Noël will bring you to see it.  You have not been in our
house, you know, since my mother died."

"Noel, my son, what do you say to that?"

The cobbler had come in from the shop to light his candle at the
fire.

"The invitation is for you too, Monsieur Noël, from my father."

The cobbler smiled and stood with the stump of candle in his hand
before bending down to the blaze.

"That can be managed, and my thanks to monsieur your father.  If
there is snow, I will push my mother down in her sledge, and if the
ground is naked, I will carry her on my back.  She is no great
weight."

"I shall like to see the inside of your house again, Cécile.  I
miss it.  I have not been there since that time when your mother
was ill, and Madame de Champigny sent her carriage to convey me."

Cécile remembered the time very well.  It was after old Madame
Pommier was crippled; Madame Auclair had long been too ill to leave
the house.  There was then only one closed carriage in Quebec, and
that belonged to Madame de Champigny, wife of the Intendant.  In
some way she heard that the apothecary's sick wife longed to see
her old friend, and she sent her carrosse to take Madame Pommier to
the Auclairs'.  It was a mark of the respect in which the cobbler
and his mother were held in the community.

When Jacques and Cécile ran out into the cold again, from the
houses along the tilted street the evening candlelight was already
shining softly.  Up at the top of the hill, behind the Cathedral,
that second afterglow, which often happens in Quebec, had come on
more glorious than the first.  All the western sky, which had been
hard and clear when the sun sank, was now throbbing with fiery
vapours, like rapids of clouds; and between, the sky shone with a
blue to ravish the heart,--that limpid, celestial, holy blue that
is only seen when the light is golden.

"Are you tired, Jacques?"

"A little, my legs are," he admitted.

"Get on the sled and I will pull you up.  See, there's the evening
star--how near it looks!  Jacques, don't you love winter?"  She put
the sled-rope under her arms, gave her weight to it, and began to
climb.  A feeling came over her that there would never be anything
better in the world for her than this; to be pulling Jacques on her
sled, with the tender, burning sky before her, and on each side, in
the dusk, the kindly lights from neighbours' houses.  If the Count
should go back with the ships next summer, and her father with him,
how could she bear it, she wondered.  On a foreign shore, in a
foreign city (yes, for her a foreign shore), would not her heart
break for just this?  For this rock and this winter, this feeling
of being in one's own place, for the soft content of pulling
Jacques up Holy Family Hill into paler and paler levels of blue
air, like a diver coming up from the deep sea.



VIII


On the morning of the twenty-fourth of December Cécile lay snug in
her trundle-bed, while her father lit the fires and prepared the
chocolate.  Although the heavy red curtains had not yet been drawn
back, she knew that it was snowing; she had heard the crunch of
fresh snow under the Pigeon boy's feet when he brought the morning
loaf to the kitchen door.  Even before that, when the bell rang for
five o'clock mass, she knew by its heavy, muffled tone that the air
was thick with snow and that it was not very cold.  Whenever she
heard the early bell, it was as if she could see the old Bishop
with his lantern at the end of the bell-rope, and the cold of the
church up there made her own bed seem the warmer and softer.  In
winter the old man usually carried a little basin as well as his
lantern.  It was his custom to take the bowl of holy water from the
font in the evening, carry it into his kitchen, and put it on the
back of the stove, where enough warmth would linger through the
night to keep it from freezing.  Then, in the morning, those who
came to early mass would not have a mere lump of ice to peck at.
Monseigneur de Laval was very particular about the consecrated oils
and the holy water; it was not enough for him that people should
merely go through the forms.  Cécile did not always waken at the
first bell, which rang in the coldest hour of the night, but when
she did, she felt a peculiar sense of security, as if there must be
powerful protection for Kebec in such steadfastness, and the new
day, which was yet darkness, was beginning as it should.  The
punctual bell and the stern old Bishop who rang it began an orderly
procession of activities and held life together on the rock, though
the winds lashed it and the billows of snow drove over it.

With the sound of the crackling fire a cool, mysterious fragrance
of the forest, very exciting because it was under a roof, came in
from the kitchen,--the breath of all the fir boughs and green moss
that Cécile and Blinker had brought in yesterday from the Jesuits'
wood.  Today they would unpack the crèche from France,--the box
that had come on La Licorne in midsummer and had lain upstairs
unopened for all these months.

Auclair brought the chocolate and placed it on a little table
beside his daughter's bed.  They always breakfasted like this in
winter, while the house was getting warm.  This morning they had
finally to decide where they would set out the crèche.  Weeks ago
they had agreed to arrange it in the deep window behind the sofa,--
but then the sofa would have to be put on the other side of the
room!  This morning they found the thought of moving the sofa,
where Madame Auclair used so often to recline, unendurable.  It
would quite destroy the harmony of their salon.  The room, the
house indeed, seemed to cling about that sofa as a centre.

There was another window in the room,--seldom uncurtained, because
it opened directly upon the side wall of the baker's house, and the
outlook was uninteresting.  It was narrow, but Auclair said he
could remedy that.  As soon as his shop was put in order, he would
construct a shelf in front of the window-sill, but a little lower;
then the scene could be arranged in two terraces, as was customary
at home.

Cécile spent the morning covering the window and the new shelf with
moss and fir branches until it looked like a corner in the forest,
and at noon she waylaid Blinker, just getting up from his bed
behind the baker's ovens, and sent him to go and hunt for Jacques.

When Blinker returned with the boy, he himself looked in through
the door so wistfully that Cécile asked him to come and open the
box for her in the kitchen.  There were a great number of little
figures in the crate, each wrapped in a sheath of straw.  As
Blinker took them one at a time out of the straw and handed them to
Cécile, he kept exclaiming:  "Regardez, ma'm'selle, un beau petit
âne!" . . .  "Voilà, le beau mouton!"  Cécile had never seen him
come so far out of his shell; she had supposed that his shrinking
sullenness was a part of him, like his crooked eyes or his red
hair.  When all the figures were unwrapped and placed on the
dining-table in the salon, Blinker gathered up the straw and
carried it with the crate into the cellar.  She had thought that
would be the last of him, but when he came back and stood again in
the doorway, she hadn't the heart to send him away.  She asked him
to come in and sit down by the fire.  Her mother had never done
that, but today there seemed no way out of it.  The fête which she
meant so especially for Jacques, turned out to be even more for
Blinker.

Jacques, indeed, was so bewildered as to seem apathetic, and was
afraid to touch anything.  Only when Cécile directed him would he
take up one of the figures from the table and carry it carefully to
the window where she was making the scene.  The Holy Family must be
placed first, under a little booth of fir branches.  The Infant was
not in His Mother's arms, of course, but lay rosy and naked in a
little straw-lined manger, in which he had crossed the ocean.  The
Blessed Virgin wore no halo, but a white scarf over her head.  She
looked like a country girl, very naïve, seated on a stool, with her
knees well apart under her full skirt, and very large feet.  Saint
Joseph, a grave old man in brown, with a bald head and wrinkled
brow, was placed opposite her, and the ox and the ass before the
manger.

"Those are all that go inside the stable," Cécile explained,
"except the two angels.  We must put them behind the manger; they
are still watching over Him."

"Is that the stable, Cécile?  I think it's too pretty for a
stable," Jacques observed.

"It's a little cabine of branches, like those the first
missionaries built down by Notre Dame des Anges, when they landed
here long ago.  They used to say the mass in a little shelter like
that, made of green fir boughs."

Jacques touched one of the unassorted figures on the table with the
tip of his finger.  "Cécile, what are those animals?"

"Why, those are the camels, Jacques.  Did you never see pictures of
them?  The three Kings came on camels, because they can go a long
time without water and carry heavy loads.  They carried the gold
and frankincense and myrrh."

"I don't think I know about the Kings and the Shepherds very well,"
Jacques sighed.  "I wish you would tell me."

While she placed the figures, Cécile began the story, and Jacques
listened as if he had never heard it before.  There was another
listener, by the fireplace behind her, and she had entirely
forgotten him until, with a sniffling sound, Blinker suddenly got
up and went out through the kitchen, wiping his nose on his sleeve.
Then Jacques noticed how dusky it had grown in the room; the window
behind the sofa was a square of dull grey, like a hole in the wall
of the house.  He caught up his cap and ran out through the shop,
calling back:  "Oh, I am late!"

Jacques had been gone only a few minutes when Giorgio, the drummer
boy from the Château, came in to see the crèche, and to bid Cécile
good-bye for three days, as the Count had let him off to go home to
his family on the Île d'Orléans.  He had left his drum in the
guard-house, and already he felt free.  He would walk the seven
miles up to Montmorency (perhaps he would be lucky enough to catch
a ride in some farmer's sledge for part of the way), then cross the
river on the ice.  The north channel had been frozen hard for
several weeks now.  He would have a long walk after he got over to
the island, too; but even if the night were dark, he knew the way,
and he would get there in time to hear mass at his own paroisse.
After mass his family would make réveillon,--music and dancing, and
a supper with blood sausages and pickled pigs' feet and dainties of
that sort.

"And before daybreak, mademoiselle, my grandfather will play the
Alpine horn.  He always does that on Christmas morning.  If you
were awake, you would hear it even over here.  Such a beautiful
sound it has, and the old man plays so true!"

Georges bought some cloves and bay-leaves for his mother (he had
just been paid, and rattled the coins in his pocket), then started
up the hill with such a happy face that Cécile wished she were
going with him, over those seven snowy miles to Montmorency.

"He will almost certainly catch a ride," her father told her.
"Even on the river there will be sledges coming and going tonight."



IX


That evening, soon after the dinner-table was cleared, the Auclairs
heard a rapping at the shop door and went out to receive Madame
Pommier in her chair on runners, very like the sledges in which
great ladies used to travel at home.  Her son lifted her out in all
her wrappings and carried her into the salon, where the
apothecary's armchair was set for her.  But before she would accept
this seat of honour, she must hobble all over the house to satisfy
herself that things were kept just as they used to be in Madame
Auclair's time.  She found everything the same, she said, even to
Blinker, having his sip of brandy in the kitchen.

After they had settled down before the fire to wait for the
Pigeons, who were always late, Jacques Gaux came hurrying in
through the shop, looking determined and excited.  He forgot to
speak to the visitors and went straight up to Cécile, holding out
something wrapped in a twist of paper, such as the merchants used
for small purchases.

"I have a surprise for you," he said.  "It is for the crèche, for
the little Jesus."

When she took off the paper, she held in her hand Jacques's well-
known beaver.

"Oh, Jacques, how nice of you!  I don't believe there was ever a
beaver in a crèche before."  She was a little perplexed; the animal
was so untraditional--what was she to do with him?

"He isn't new," Jacques went on anxiously.  "He's just my little
old beaver the sailor made me, but he could keep the baby warm.  I
take him to bed with me when I'm cold sometimes, and he keeps me
warm."

Madame Pommier's sharp ears had overheard this conversation, and
she touched Cécile with the end of her crutch.  "Certainly, my
dear, put it there with the lambs, before the manger.  Our Lord
died for Canada as well as for the world over there, and the beaver
is our very special animal."

Immediately Madame Pigeon and her six children arrived.  Auclair
brought out his best liqueurs, and the Pommiers and Pigeons, being
from the same parish in Rouen, began recalling old friends at home.
Cécile was kept busy filling little glasses, but she noticed that
Jacques was content, standing beside the crèche like a sentinel,
paying no heed to the Pigeon children or anyone else, quite lost in
the satisfaction of seeing his beaver placed in a scene so radiant.
Before the evening was half over, he started up suddenly and began
looking for his coat and cap.  Cécile followed him into the shop.

"Don't you want your beaver, Jacques?  Or will you leave him until
Epiphany?"

He looked up at her, astonished, a little hurt, and quickly thrust
his hands behind him.  "Non, c'est pour toujours," he said
decisively, and went out of the door.

"See, madame," Madame Pommier was whispering to Madame Pigeon, "we
have a bad woman amongst us, and one of her clients makes a toy for
her son, and he gives it to the Holy Child for a birthday present.
That is very nice."

"C'est ça, madame, c'est ça," said matter-of-fact Madame Pigeon,
quite liking the idea, now that her attention was called to it.

By eleven o'clock the company had become a little heavy from the
heat of the fire and the good wine from the Count's cellar, and
everyone felt a need of the crisp out-of-doors air.  The weather
had changed at noon, and now the stars were flashing in a clear
sky,--a sky almost over-jewelled on that glorious night.  The three
families agreed that it would be well to start for the church very
early and get good places.  The Cathedral would be full to the
doors tonight.  Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier was to say the mass,
and the old Bishop would be present, with a great number of clergy,
and the Seminarians were to sing the music.  Monseigneur de Saint-
Vallier would doubtless wear the aube of rich lace given him by
Madame de Maintenon for his consecration at Saint-Sulpice, in
Paris, ten years ago.  In one matter he and the old Bishop always
agreed; that the services of the Church should be performed in
Quebec as elaborately, as splendidly, as anywhere else in the
world.  For many years Bishop Laval had kept himself miserably poor
to make the altar and the sacristy rich.

After everyone had had a last glass of liqueur, Madame Pommier was
carried out to her sledge and tucked under her bearskin.  The
company proceeded slowly; pushing the chair up the steep curves of
Mountain Hill and around the Récollet chapel, over fresh snow that
had not packed, was a little difficult.  When they reached the top
of the rock, many houses were alight.  Across the white ledges that
sloped like a vast natural stairway down to the Cathedral, black
groups were moving, families and friends in little flocks, all
going toward the same goal,--the doors of the church, wide open and
showing a ruddy vault in the blue darkness.




BOOK THREE

THE LONG WINTER



I


One morning between Christmas and New Year's Day a man still young,
of a handsome but unstable countenance, clad in a black cassock
with violet piping, and a rich fur mantle, entered the apothecary
shop, greeted the proprietor politely, and asked for four boxes of
sugared lemon peel.

It was not the young Bishop's custom to do his shopping himself; he
sent his valet.  This was the first time he had ever come inside
the pharmacy.  Auclair took off his apron as a mark of respect to a
distinguished visitor, but replied firmly that, much to his regret,
he had only three boxes left, and one of them he meant to send as a
New Year's greeting to Mother Juschereau, at the Hôtel Dieu.  He
would be happy to supply Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier with the
other two; and he had several boxes of apricots put down in sugar,
if they would be of any use to him.  Monseigneur declared they
would do very well, paid for them, and said he would carry them
away himself.  Auclair protested that he or his little daughter
could leave them at the Palace.  But no, the Bishop insisted upon
carrying his parcel.  As he did not leave the shop at once, Auclair
begged him to be seated.

Saint-Vallier sat down and threw back his fur mantle.  "Have you by
any chance seen Monseigneur de Laval of late?" he inquired.  "I am
deeply concerned about his health."

"No, Monseigneur, I have not seen him since the mass on Christmas
Eve.  But the bell has been ringing every morning as usual."

Saint-Vallier's arched eyebrows rose still higher, and he made a
graceful, conciliatory gesture with his hand.  "Ah, his habits, you
know; one cannot interfere with them!  But his valet told mine that
the ulcer on his master's leg had broken out again, and that seems
to me dangerous."

"I am sorry to hear it," said Auclair.  "It is hardly dangerous,
but painful and distressing."

"Especially so, since he will not remain in bed, and conceals the
extent of his suffering even from his own Seminarians."  The Bishop
paused a moment, then continued in a tone so confidential as to be
flattering.  "I have been wondering, Monsieur Auclair, whether,
provided we could obtain his consent, you would be willing to try a
cauterization of the arm, to draw the inflammation away from the
affected part.  This was done with great success for Père La
Chaise, the King's confessor, who had an ulcer between the toes
while I was in office at Versailles."

"That was probably a form of gout," Auclair observed.  "Monseigneur
de Laval's affliction is quite different.  He suffers from enlarged
and congested veins in the leg.  Such ulcers are hard to heal, but
they are seldom fatal."

"But why not at least try the simple remedy which was so beneficial
in the case of Père La Chaise?" urged the Bishop.  There was a
shallow brilliance in his large fine eyes which made Auclair
antagonistic.

"Because, Monseigneur," he said firmly, "I do not believe in it;
and because it has been tried already.  Two years ago, when you
were in France, Doctor Beaudoin made a cauterization upon
Monseigneur de Laval, and he has since told me that he believes it
was useless."

The Bishop looked thoughtfully about at the white jars on the
shelves.  "You are very advanced in your theories of medicine, are
you not, Monsieur Auclair?"

"On the contrary, I am very old-fashioned.  I think the methods of
the last century better than those of the present time."

"Then you do not believe in progress?"

"Change is not always progress, Monseigneur."  Auclair spoke
quietly, but there was meaning in his tone.  Saint-Vallier made
some polite inquiry about the condition of old Doctor Beaudoin, and
took his leave.  His call, Auclair suspected, was one of the
overtures he occasionally made to people who were known partisans
of old Bishop Laval.

During the stay in France from which he had lately returned,
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier had induced the King to reverse
entirely Laval's system for the training and government of the
Canadian clergy, thus defeating the dearest wishes of the old man's
heart and undoing the devoted labour of twenty years.  Everything
that made Laval's Seminary unique and specially fitted to the needs
of the colony had been wiped out.  His system of a movable clergy,
sent hither and thither out among the parishes at the Bishop's
discretion and always returning to the Seminary as their head and
centre, had been changed by royal edict to the plan of appointing
curés to permanent livings, as in France,--a method ill fitted to a
new, wild country where within a year the population of any parish
might be reduced by half.  The Seminary, which Laval had made a
thing of power and the centre of ecclesiastical authority, a
chapter, almost an independent order, was now reduced to the state
of a small school for training young men for the priesthood.

These were some of the griefs that made the old Bishop bear so
mournful a countenance.  The wilfulness of his successor (chosen by
himself, he must always bitterly remember!) went even further;
Saint-Vallier had taken away books and vases and furniture from the
Seminary to enrich his new Palace.  It was whispered that he had
made his Palace so large because he intended to take away the old
Bishop's Seminarians and transfer them to the episcopal residence,
to have them under his own eye.  If this were done, Bishop Laval
would be left living in the Priests' House, guarding a lofty
building of long, echoing corridors and empty dormitories, round a
deserted courtyard where the grass would soon be growing between
the stones.  Monseigneur Laval's friends could but hope that de
Saint-Vallier would be off for France again before he carried out
this threat.

Saint-Vallier was a man of contradictions, and they were stamped
upon his face.  One saw there something slightly hysterical, and
something uncertain,--though his manner was imperious, and his
administration had been arrogant and despotic.  Auclair had once
remarked to the Count that the new Bishop looked less like a
churchman than like a courtier.  "Or an actor," the Count replied
with a shrug.  Large almond-shaped eyes under low-growing brown
hair and delicate eyebrows, a long, sharp nose--and then the lower
part of his face diminished, like the neck of a pear.  His mouth
was large and well shaped, but seldom in repose; his chin narrow,
receding, with a dimple at the end.  He had a dark skin and
flashing white teeth like an Italian,--indeed, his face recalled
the portraits of eccentric Florentine nobles.  He was still only
forty-four; he had been Bishop of Quebec now twelve years,--and
seven of them had been spent in France!

Auclair had never liked de Saint-Vallier.  He did not doubt the
young Bishop's piety, but he very much doubted his judgment.  He
was rash and precipitate, he was volatile.  He acted too often
without counting the cost, from some dazzling conception,--one
could not say from impulse, for impulses are from the heart.  He
liked to reorganize and change things for the sake of change, to
make a fine gesture.  He destroyed the old before he had clearly
thought out the new.  When he first came to Canada, he won all
hearts by his splendid charities; but he went back to France
leaving the Seminary many thousand francs in debt as the result of
his generous disbursements, and the old Bishop had to pay this debt
out of the Seminary revenues.  For years now, he had seemed
feverishly determined to undo whatever he could of the old Bishop's
work.  This was the more galling to the old man because he himself
had gone to France and chosen de Saint-Vallier and recommended him
to Rome.  Saint-Vallier had at first exhibited the most delicate
consideration for his aged predecessor, but this attitude lasted
only a short while.  He was as changeable and fickle as a woman.
Indeed, he had received a large part of his training under a woman,
though by no means a fickle or capricious one.

When Jean Baptiste de la Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier came
to Court in the capacity of the King's almoner, Madame de Maintenon
was past the age of youthful folly,--if indeed she had ever known
such an age.  (A poor girl from the West Indies, landing penniless
in France with all her possessions in a band-box, she had had
little time for follies, except such as helped her to get on in the
world.)  The young priest who was one day to be the second Bishop
of Quebec knew her only after she had become the grave and far-
seeing woman who so greatly influenced the King for the last thirty
years of his reign.

Saint-Vallier was the seventh child of a noble family of Dauphiné.
His eldest brother, Comte de Saint-Vallier, was Captain of the
King's Guard, and secured for the young priest the appointment of
Aumônier ordinaire to the King when he was but twenty-three years
of age.  He retained that office for nearly ten years, and was
constantly in accord with Madame de Maintenon in emptying the
King's purse for worthy charities.  Saint-Vallier was by no means
without enemies at Court.  The clergy and even the Archbishop of
Paris disliked him.  They considered that he made his piety too
conspicuous and was lacking in good taste.  His oval face, with the
bloom of youth upon it, his beautiful eyes, full of humility and
scorn at the same time, were seen too much and too often.  He had a
hundred ways of making himself stand out from the throng, and his
exceptional piety was like a reproach to those of the clergy who
were more conventional and perhaps more worldly.  He obtained from
the King special permission to wear at Court the long black gown,
which at that time was not worn by the priests at Versailles.  So
attired, he was more conspicuous than courtiers the most richly
apparelled.  His fellow abbés found de Saint-Vallier's acts of
humility undignified, and his brother, the Captain of the Guard,
found them ridiculous.  One day the Captain met the Abbé following
the Sacrament through the street, ringing a little hand-bell.  The
Captain awaited his brother's return to the Palace and told him
angrily that his conduct was unworthy of his family, and that he
had better retire to La Trappe, where his piety would be without an
audience.  But to be without an audience was the last thing the
young Abbé desired.

Nevertheless, in his own way he was a sincere man.  He refused the
rich and honourable bishopric of Tours, repeatedly offered him by
the King, and accepted the bishopric of Quebec,--the poorest and
most comfortless honour the Crown had to offer.

By the time de Saint-Vallier made his third trip back to France,
the King knew very well that he was not much wanted in Canada;
every boat brought complaints of his arrogance and his rash
impracticality.  The King could not unmake a bishop, once he was
consecrated, but he could detain him in France,--and that he did,
for three years.  During de Saint-Vallier's long absences in Europe
his duties devolved upon Monseigneur de Laval.  There was no one
else in Canada who could ordain priests, administer the sacrament
of confirmation, consecrate the holy oils.  Though in the
performance of these duties the old Bishop had to make long
journeys in canoes and sledges, very fatiguing at his age, he
undertook them without a murmur.  He was glad to take up again the
burdens he had once so gladly laid down.



II


After Epiphany, Auclair was away from home a great deal.  The old
chirurgien Gervaise Beaudoin was ill, and the apothecary went to
see him every afternoon, leaving Cécile to tend the shop.  When he
was at home, he was much occupied in making cough-syrups from pine
tops, and from horehound and honey with a little laudanum; or he
was compounding tonics, and liniments for rheumatism.  The months
that were dull for the merchants were the busiest for him.  He and
his daughter seldom went abroad together now, but their weekly
visit to the Hôtel Dieu they still managed to make.  One evening at
dinner, after one of these visits, Cécile spoke of an incident that
Mother Juschereau had related to her in the morning.

"Father, did you ever hear that once long ago, when an English
sailor lay sick at the Hôtel Dieu, Mother Catherine de Saint-
Augustin ground up a tiny morsel of bone from Father Brébeuf's
skull and mixed it in his gruel, and it made him a Christian?"

Her father looked at her across the table and gave a perplexing
chuckle.

"But it is true, certainly?  Mother Juschereau told me only today."

"Mother Juschereau and I do not always agree in the matter of
remedies, you know.  I consider human bones a very poor medicine
for any purpose."

"But he was converted, the sailor.  He became a Christian."

"Probably Mother de Saint-Augustin's own saintly character, and her
kindness to him, had more to do with the Englishman's conversion
than anything she gave him in his food."

"Why, Father, Mother Juschereau would be horrified to hear you!
There are so many sacred relics, and they are always working
cures."

"The sacred relics are all very well, my dear, and I do not deny
that they work miracles,--but not through the digestive tract.
Mother de Saint-Augustin meant well, but she made a mistake.  If
she had given her heretic a little more ground bone, she might have
killed him."

"Are you sure?"

"I think it probable.  It is true that in England, in every
apothecary shop, there is a jar full of pulverized human skulls,
and that terrible powder is sometimes dispensed in small doses for
certain diseases.  Even in France it is still to be found in many
pharmacies; but it was never sold in our shop, not even in my
grandfather's time.  He had seen a proof made of that remedy.  A
long while ago, when Henry of Navarre was besieging Paris, the
people held out against him until they starved by hundreds.  I have
heard my grandfather tell of things too horrible to repeat to you.
The famine grew until there was no food at all; people killed each
other for a morsel.  The bakers shut their shops; there was not a
handful of flour left, they had used all the forage meant for
beasts; they had made bread of hay and straw, and now that was all
gone.  Then some of the starving went to the cemetery of the
Innocents, where there was a great wall of dry bones, and they
ground those bones to powder and made a paste of it and baked it in
ovens; and as many as ate of that bread died in agony, as if they
had swallowed poison.  Indeed, they had swallowed poison."

"But those were ordinary bones, maybe bones of wicked people.  That
would be different."

"No bones are good to be taken into the stomach, Cécile.  God did
not intend it.  The relics of the saints may work cures at the
touch, they may be a protection worn about the neck; those things
are outside of my knowledge.  But I am the guardian of the stomach,
and I would not permit a patient to swallow a morsel of any human
remains, not those of Saint Peter himself.  There are enough
beautiful stories about Mother de Saint-Augustin, but this one is
not to my liking."

Cécile could only hope it would never happen that her father and
Mother Juschereau would enter into any discussion of miraculous
cures.  Her father must be right; but she felt in her heart that
what Mother Juschereau told her had certainly occurred, and the
English sailor had been converted by Father Brebeuf's bone.



III


"Ma'm'selle, have you heard the news from Montreal?"

Blinker had just come in for his soup, and Cécile saw that he was
greatly excited.

No, she had heard nothing; what did he mean?

"Ma'm'selle, there has been a miracle at Montreal.  The recluse has
had a visit from the angels,--the night after Epiphany, when there
was the big snow-storm.  That day she broke her spinning-wheel, and
in the night two angels came to her cell and mended it for her.
She saw them."

"How did you hear this, Blinker?"

"Some men got in from Montreal this morning, in dog-sledges, and
they brought the word.  They brought letters, too, for the Reverend
Mother at the Ursulines'.  If you go there, you will likely hear
all about it."

"You are sure she saw the angels?"

He nodded.  "Yes, when she got up to pray, at midnight.  They say
her wheel was mended better than a carpenter could do it."

"The men didn't say which angels, Blinker?"

He shook his head.  He was just beginning his soup.  Cécile dropped
into one of the chairs by the table.  "Why, one of them might have
been Saint Joseph himself; he was a carpenter.  But how was it she
saw them?  You know she keeps her spinning-wheel up in her work-
room, over the cell where she sleeps."

"Just so, ma'm'selle, it is just so the men said.  She goes into
the church to pray every night at midnight, and when she got up on
Epiphany night, she saw a light shining from the room overhead, and
she went up her little stair to see what was the matter, and there
she found the angels."

"Did they speak to her?"

"The men did not say.  Maybe the Reverend Mother will know."

"I will go there tomorrow, and I will tell you everything I hear.
It's a wonderful thing to happen, so near us--and in that great
snow-storm!  Don't you like to know that the angels are just as
near to us here as they are in France?"

Blinker turned his head, glancing all about the kitchen as if
someone might be hiding there, leaned across the table, and said to
her in such a mournful way:

"Ma'm'selle, I think they are nearer."

When he had drunk his little glass and gone away for the last time,
Cécile went in and told her father the good news from Montreal.  He
listened with polite interest, but she had of late begun to feel
that his appreciation of miracles was not at all what it should be.
They were reading Plutarch this winter, and tonight they were in
the middle of the life of Alexander the Great, but her thoughts
strayed from the text.  She made so many mistakes that her father
said she must be tired, and, gently taking the book from her,
continued the reading himself.

Later, while she was undressing, her father filled the kitchen
stove with birch logs to hold the heat well through the night.  He
blew out the candles, and himself got ready for bed.  After he had
put on his night-cap and disappeared behind his curtains, Cécile,
who had feigned to be asleep, turned over softly to watch the dying
fire, and with a sigh abandoned herself to her thoughts.  In her
mind she went over the whole story of the recluse of Montreal.

Jeanne Le Ber, the recluse, was the only daughter of Jacques Le
Ber, the richest merchant of Montreal.  When she was twelve years
old, her parents had brought her to Quebec and placed her in the
Ursuline convent to receive her education.  She remained here three
years, and that was how she belonged to Quebec as well as to Ville-
Marie de Montréal.  Sister Anne de Sainte-Rose saw at once that
this pupil had a very unusual nature, though her outward demeanour
was merely that of a charming young girl.  The Sister had told
Cécile that in those days Jeanne was never melancholy, but warm and
ardent, like her complexion; gracious in her manner, and not at all
shy.  She was at her ease with strangers,--all distinguished
visitors to Montreal were entertained at her father's house.  But
underneath this exterior of pleasing girlhood, Sister Anne felt
something reserved and guarded.  While she was at the convent,
Jeanne often received gifts and attentions from her father's
friends in Quebec; and from home, boxes of sweets and dainties.
But everything that was sent her she gave away to her schoolmates,
so tactfully that they did not realize she kept nothing for
herself.

Jeanne completed her studies at the convent, returned home to
Montreal, and was in a manner formally introduced to the world
there.  Her father was fond of society and lavish in hospitality;
proud of his five sons, but especially devoted to his only
daughter.  He loved to see her in rich apparel, and selected the
finest stuffs brought over from France for her.  Jeanne wore these
clothes to please him, but whenever she put on one of her gay
dresses, she wore underneath it a little haircloth shirt next her
tender skin.

Soon after Jeanne's return from school her father and uncle gave to
the newly-completed parish church of Montreal a rich lamp of
silver, made in France, to burn perpetually before the Blessed
Sacrament.  The Le Bers' house on Saint Paul street was very near
the church, and from the window of her upstairs bedroom Jeanne
could see at night the red spark of the sanctuary lamp showing in
the dark church.  When everyone was asleep and the house was still,
it was her custom to kneel beside her casement and pray, the while
watching that spot of light.  "I will be that lamp" she used to
whisper.  "I will be that lamp; that shall be my life."

Jacques Le Ber announced that his daughter's dowry would be fifty
thousand gold écus, and there were many pretendants for her hand.
Cécile had often heard it said that the most ardent and most
favoured of these was Auclair's friend Pierre Charron, who still
lived next door to the Le Bers in Montreal.  He had been Jeanne's
playfellow in childhood.

Jeanne's shining in the beau monde of Ville-Marie de Montréal was
brief.  For her the only real world lay within convent walls.  She
begged to be allowed to take the vows, but her father's despair
overcame her wish.  Even her spiritual directors, and that noble
soldier-priest Dollier de Casson, Superior of the Sulpician
Seminary, advised her against taking a step so irrevocable.  She at
last obtained her parents' consent to imitate the domestic retreat
of Sainte Catherine of Siena, and at seventeen took the vow of
chastity for five years and immured herself within her own chamber
in her father's house.  In her vigils she could always look out at
the dark church, with the one constant lamp which generous Jacques
Le Ber had placed there, little guessing how it might affect his
life and wound his heart.

Upon her retirement Jeanne had explained to her family that during
the five years of her vow she must on no account speak to or hold
communication with them.  Her desire was for the absolute
solitariness of the hermit's life, the solitude which Sainte Marie
l'Égyptienne had gone into the desert of the Thebais to find.  Her
parents did not believe that a young girl, affectionate and gentle
from her infancy, could keep so harsh a rule.  But as time went on,
their hearts grew heavier.  From the day she took her vow, they
never had speech with her or saw her face,--never saw her bodily
form, except veiled and stealing down the stairway like a shadow on
her way to mass.  Jacques Le Ber no longer gave suppers on feast-
days.  He stayed more and more in his counting-room, drove about in
his sledge in winter, and cruised in his sloop in summer; avoided
the house that had become the tomb of his hopes.

Before her withdrawal Jeanne had chosen an old serving-woman,
exceptional for piety, to give her henceforth such service as was
necessary.  Every morning at a quarter to five this old dame went
to Jeanne's door and attended her to church to hear early mass.
Many a time Madame Le Ber concealed herself in the dark hallway to
see her daughter's muffled figure go by.  After the return from
mass, the same servant brought Jeanne her food for the day.  If any
dish of a rich or delicate nature was brought her, she did not eat
it, but fasted.

She went always to vespers, and to the high mass on Sundays and
feast-days.  On such occasions people used to come in from the
neighbouring parishes for a glimpse of that slender figure, the
richest heiress in Canada, clad in grey serge, kneeling on the
floor near the altar, while her family, in furs and velvet, sat in
chairs in another part of the church.

At the end of five years Jeanne renewed her vow of seclusion for
another five years.  During this time her mother died.  On her
death-bed she sent one of the household to her daughter's door,
begging her to come and give her the kiss of farewell.

"Tell her I am praying for her, night and day," was the answer.

When she had been immured within her father's house for almost ten
years, Jeanne was able to accomplish a cherished hope; she devoted
that dot, which no mortal man would ever claim, to build a chapel
for the Sisters of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin.  Behind
the high altar of this chapel she had a cell constructed for
herself.  At a solemn ceremony she took the final vows and entered
that cell from which she would never come forth alive.  Since that
time she had been known as la recluse de Ville-Marie.

Jeanne's entombment and her cell were the talk of the province, and
in the country parishes where not much happened, still, after two
years, furnished matter for conversation and wonder.  The cell,
indeed, was not one room, but three, one above another, and within
them the solitaire carried on an unvarying routine of life.  In the
basement cubicle was the grille through which she spoke to her
confessor, and by means of which she was actually present at mass
and vespers, though unseen.  There, through a little window, her
meagre food was handed to her.  The room above was her sleeping-
chamber, constructed by the most careful measurements for one
purpose; her narrow bed against the wall was directly behind the
high altar, and her pillow, when she slept, was only a few inches
from the Blessed Sacrament on the other side of the partition.

The upper cell was her atelier, and there she made and embroidered
those beautiful altar-cloths and vestments which went out from her
stone chamber to churches all over the province: to the Cathedral
at Quebec, and to the poor country parishes where the altar and its
ministrant were alike needy.  She had begun this work years before,
in her father's house, and had grown very skilful at it.  Old
Bishop Laval, so sumptuous in adorning his Cathedral, had more than
once expressed admiration for her beautiful handiwork.  When her
eyes were tired, or when the day was too dark for embroidering, she
spun yarn and knitted stockings for the poor.

In her work-room there was a small iron stove with a heap of
faggots, and in the most severe cold of winter the recluse lit a
little fire, not for bodily comfort, but because her fingers became
stiff with the cold and lost their cunning,--indeed, there were
sometimes days on which they would actually have frozen at their
task.  Every night at midnight, winter and summer, Jeanne rose from
her cot, dressed herself, descended into her basement room, opened
the grille, and went into the church to pray for an hour before the
high altar.  On bitter nights many a kind soul in Montreal (and on
the lonely farms, too) lay awake for a little, listening to the
roar of the storm, and wondered how it was with the recluse, under
her single coverlid.

She bore the summer's heat as patiently as the winter's cold.  Only
last July, when the heat lay so heavy in her chamber with its one
small window, her confessor urged her to quit her cell for an hour
each day after sunset and take the air in the cloister garden,
which her window looked out upon.

She replied:  Ah, mon père, ma chambre est mon paradis terrestre;
c'est mon centre; c'est mon élément.  Il n'y a pas de lieu plus
délicieux, ni plus salutaire pour moi; point de Louvre, point de
palais, qui me soit plus agréable.  Je préfère ma cellule à tout le
reste de l'univers.



For long after the night when Cécile first heard of the angels'
visit to Mademoiselle Le Ber, the story was a joy to her.  She told
it over and over to little Jacques on his rare visits.  Throughout
February the weather was so bad that Jacques could come only when
Blinker (who was always a match for 'Toinette) went down and
brought him up Mountain Hill on his back.  The snows fell one upon
another until the houses were muffled, the streets like tunnels.
Between the storms the weather was grey, with armies of dark clouds
moving across the wide sky, and the bitter wind always blowing.
Quebec seemed shrunk to a mere group of shivering spires; the whole
rock looked like one great white church, above the frozen river.

By many a fireside the story of Jeanne Le Ber's spinning-wheel was
told and re-told with loving exaggeration during that severe
winter.  The word of her visit from the angels went abroad over
snow-burdened Canada to the remote parishes.  Wherever it went, it
brought pleasure, as if the recluse herself had sent to all those
families whom she did not know some living beauty,--a blooming
rose-tree, or a shapely fruit-tree in fruit.  Indeed, she sent them
an incomparable gift.  In the long evenings, when the family had
told over their tales of Indian massacres and lost hunters and the
almost human intelligence of the beaver, someone would speak the
name of Jeanne Le Ber, and it again gave out fragrance.

The people have loved miracles for so many hundred years, not as
proof or evidence, but because they are the actual flowering of
desire.  In them the vague worship and devotion of the simple-
hearted assumes a form.  From being a shapeless longing, it becomes
a beautiful image; a dumb rapture becomes a melody that can be
remembered and repeated; and the experience of a moment, which
might have been a lost ecstasy, is made an actual possession and
can be bequeathed to another.



IV


One night in March there was a knock at the apothecary's door, just
as he was finishing his dinner.  Only sick people, or strangers who
were ignorant of his habits, disturbed him at that hour.  Peeping
out between the cabinets, Cécile saw that the visitor was a thick-
set man in moccasins, with a bearskin coat and cap.  His long hair
and his face covered with beard told that he had come in from the
woods.

"Don't you remember me, Monsieur Auclair?" he asked in a low, sad
voice.  "I am Antoine Frichette; you used to know me."

"It is your beard that changes you, Antoine.  Sit down."

"Ah, it is more than that," the man sighed.

"Besides, I thought you were in the Montreal country,--out from the
Sault Saint-Louis, wasn't it?"

"Yes, monsieur, I went out there, but I had no luck.  My brother-
in-law died in the woods, and I got a strain that made me no good,
so I came back to live with my sister until I am cured."

"Your brother-in-law?  Not Michel Proulx, surely?  I am grieved to
hear that, Antoine.  He cannot well be spared here.  We have few
such good workmen."

"But you see, monsieur, no building goes on in Kebec in the winter,
and there was the chance to make something in the woods.  But he is
dead, and I am not much better.  I got down from Montreal only
today,--we had a hard fight coming in this snow.  I came to you
because I am a sick man.  I tore something loose inside me.  Look,
monsieur, can you do anything for that?"  He stood up and
unbuttoned his bearskin jacket.  A rupture, Auclair saw at once,--
and for a woodsman that was almost like a death-sentence.

Yes, he told Frichette, he could certainly do something for him.
But first they would be seated more comfortably, and have a talk.
He took the poor fellow back into the sitting-room and gave him his
own arm-chair by the fire.

"This is my daughter, Cécile, Antoine; you remember her.  Now I
will give you something to make you feel better at once.  This is a
very powerful cordial, there are many healing herbs in it, and it
will reach the sorest spot in a sick man.  Drink it slowly, and
then you must tell me about your bad winter."

The woodsman took the little glass between his thick fingers and
held it up to the fire-light.  "C'est jolie, la couleur," he
observed childishly.  Presently he slid off his fur jacket and sat
in his buckskin shirt and breeches.  When he had finished the
cordial, his host filled his glass again, and Antoine sighed and
looked about him.  "C'est tranquille, chez vous, comme toujours,"
he said with a faint smile.  "I bring you a message, monsieur, from
Father Hector Saint-Cyr."

"From Father Hector?  You have seen him?  Come, Cécile, Antoine is
going to tell us news of our friend."  Auclair rose and poured a
little cordial for himself.

"He said he will be here very soon, God willing, while the river is
still hard.  He had a letter from the new Bishop telling him to
come down to Kebec.  He asked me to say that he invited himself to
dinner with you.  He is a man in a thousand, that priest.  We have
been through something together.  But that is a long story."

"Begin at the beginning, Frichette, my daughter and I have all
evening to listen.  So you and Proulx went into the woods, out from
the Sault?"

"Yes, we went early in the fall, when the hunting was good, and we
took Joseph Choret from Three Rivers.  We put by plenty of fish, as
soon as it was cold enough to freeze them.  We meant to go up into
the Nipissing country in the spring, and trade for skins.  The
Nipissings don't come to the settlements much, and I know a little
of their language.  We made a good log house in the fall, good
enough, but you know what a man my brother-in-law was for hewing;
he wasn't satisfied.  When the weather kept open, before Christmas,
he wanted to put in a board floor.  I cannot say how it happened.
You know yourself, monsieur, what a man he was with the ax,--he
hewed the beams for Notre Dame de la Victoire when he was but a
lad, and how many houses in Kebec didn't he hew the beams and
flooring for?  He could cut better boards with his ax than most men
can with a saw.  He was not a drinking man, either; never took a
glass too much.  Very well; one day out there he was hewing boards
to floor our shack, and something happens,--the ax slips and lays
his leg open from the ankle to the knee.  There is a big vein
spouting blood, and I catch it and tie it with a deer-gut string I
had in my pocket.  Maybe that gut was poisoned some way, for the
wound went bad very soon.  We had no linen, so I dressed it with
punk wood, as the Indians do.  I boiled pine chips and made
turpentine, but it did no good.  He got black to the thigh and
began to suffer agony.  The only thing that eased him was fresh
snow heaped on his leg.  I don't know if it was right, but he
begged for it.  After Christmas I saw it was time to get a priest.

"It was three days' journey in to the Sault mission, and the going
was bad.  There wasn't snow enough for snow-shoes,--just enough to
cover the roots and trip you.  I took my snowshoes and grub-sack on
my back, and made good time.  The second day I came to a place
where the trees were thin because there was no soil, only flint
rock, in ledges.  And there one big tree, a white pine, had blown
over.  It hadn't room to fall flat, the top had caught in the
branches of another tree, so it lay slanting and made a nice
shelter underneath, like a shanty, high enough to stand in.  The
top was still fresh and green and made thick walls to keep out the
wind.  I cleared away some of the inside branches and had a good
sleep in there.  Next morning when I left that place, I notched a
few trees as I went, so I could find it when I brought the priest
back with me.  Ordinarily I don't notch trees to find my way back.
When there is no sun, I can tell directions like the Indians."

Here Auclair interrupted him.  "And how is that, Antoine?"

Frichette smiled and shrugged.  "It is hard to explain,--by many
things.  The limbs of the trees are generally bigger on the south
side, for example.  The moss on the trunks is clean and dry on the
north side,--on the south side it is softer and maybe a little
rotten.  There are many little signs; put them all together and
they point you right.

"I got to the mission late the third night and slept in a bed.
Early the next morning Father Hector was ready to start back with
me.  He had two young priests there but he would go himself.  He
carried his snowshoes and a blanket and the Blessed Sacrament on
his back, and I carried the provisions--smoked eels and cold
grease--enough for three days.  We slept the first night in that
shelter under the fallen pine, and made a good start the next day.
That was Epiphany, the day of the big snow all over Canada.  When
we had been out maybe two hours, the snow began to fall so thick we
could hardly see each other, and I told Father Hector we better
make for that shelter again.  It took us nearly all day to get back
over the ground we had covered in two hours before the storm began.
By God, I was glad to see that thin place in the woods again!  I
was afraid I'd lost it.  There was our tree, heaped over with snow,
with the opening to the south still clear.  We crept in and got our
breath and unrolled our blankets.  A little snow had sifted in, but
not much.  It had packed between the needles of that pine top until
it was like a solid wall and roof.  It was warm in there; no wind
got through.  Father Hector said some prayers, and we rolled up in
our blankets and slept most of the day and let the storm come.

"Next day it was still snowing hard, and I was afraid to start out.
We ate some lard, and an eel apiece, but I could see the end of our
provisions pretty soon.  We were thirsty and ate the snow, which
doesn't satisfy you much.  Father Hector said prayers and read his
breviary.  When I went to sleep, I heard him praying to himself,
very low,--and when I wakened he was still praying, just the same.
I lay still and listened for a long while, but I didn't once hear
an Ave Maria, and not the name of a saint could I make out.  At
last I turned over and told Father Hector that was certainly a long
prayer he was saying.  He laughed.  'That's not a prayer, Antoine,'
he says; 'that's a Latin poem, a very long one, that I learned at
school.  If I am uncomfortable, it diverts my mind, and I remember
my old school and my comrades.'

"'So much the better for you, Father,' I told him.  'But a long
prayer would do no harm.  I don't like the look of things.'

"The next day the snow had stopped, but a terrible bitter wind was
blowing.  We couldn't have gone against it, but since it was behind
us, I thought we'd better get ahead.  We hadn't food enough to see
us through, as it was.  That was a cruel day's march on an empty
belly.  Father Hector is a good man on snowshoes, and brave, too.
My pack had grown lighter, and I wanted to carry his, but he would
not have it.  When it began to get dark, we made camp and ate some
cold grease and the last of our eels.  I built a fire, and we took
turns, one of us feeding the fire while the other slept.  I was so
tired I could have slept on into eternity.  Father Hector had to
throw snow in my face to waken me.

"Before daylight the wind died, but the cold was so bitter we had
to move or freeze.  It was good snowshoeing that day, but with
empty bellies and thirst and eating snow, we both had colic.  That
night we ate the last of our lard.  I wasn't sure we were going
right,--the snow had changed the look of everything.  When Father
Hector took off the little box he carried that held the Blessed
Sacrament, I said:  'Maybe that will do for us two, Father.  I
don't see much ahead of us.'

"'Never fear, Antoine,' says he, 'while we carry that, Someone is
watching over us.  Tomorrow will bring better luck.'

"It did, too, just as he said.  We were both so weak we made poor
headway.  But by the mercy of God we met an Indian.  He had a gun,
and he had shot two hares.  When he saw what a bad way we were in,
he made a fire very quick and cooked the hares,--and he ate very
little of that meat himself.  He said Indians could bear hunger
better than the French.  He was a kind Indian and was glad to give
us what he had.  Father Hector could speak his language, and
questioned him.  Though I had never seen him before, he knew where
our shack was, and said we were pointed right.  But I told him I
was tired out and wanted a guide, and I would pay him well in shot
and powder if he took us in.

"We got back to our shack six days after we left the mission, and
they were the six worst days of the winter.  My brother-in-law was
very bad.  He died while Father Hector was there, and had a
Christian burial.  The Indian took Father Hector back to the
mission.  Soon after that I got this strain in my side, and I lost
heart.  I left our stores for Joseph Choret to trade with, and I
went down to the Sault and then to Montreal.  I found a sledge
party about to come down the river, and they brought me to Kebec.
Now I am here, what can you do for me, Monsieur Auclair?"

The apothecary's kindly tone did not reassure Frichette.  He looked
searchingly into his face and asked:

"Will it grow back, my inside, like it was?"

Auclair felt very sorry for him.  "No, it will not grow back,
Antoine.  But tomorrow I will make you a support, and you will be
more comfortable."

"But not to carry canoes over portages, I guess?  No?  Nor to go
into the woods at all, maybe?"  He sank back in the chair.  "Then I
don't know how I'll make a living, monsieur.  I am not clever with
tools, like my brother-in-law."

"We'll find a way out of that, Antoine."

Frichette did not heed him.  "It's a funny thing," he went on.  "A
man sits here by the warm fire, where he can hear the bell ring for
mass every morning and smell bread baked fresh every day, and all
that happened out there in the woods seems like a dream.  Yet here
I am, no good any more."

"Courage, mon bourgeois, I am going to give you a good medicine."

Frichette shook his head and spread his thick fingers apart on his
knees.  "There is no future for me if I cannot paddle a canoe up
the big rivers any more."

"Perhaps you can paddle, Antoine, but not carry."

Antoine rose.  "In this world, who paddles must carry, monsieur.
Good night, Mademoiselle Cécile.  Father Hector will be surprised
to see how you have grown.  He thinks a great deal about that good
dinner you are going to give him, I expect.  You ask him if it
tastes as good as those hares the Indian cooked for him when he was
out with Frichette."



V


Father Hector Saint-Cyr was not long in following his messenger.
On the day of his arrival in Kebec he stopped at the apothecary
shop, but, Auclair being out, he saw only Cécile, and they arranged
that he should come to dinner the following evening.

He came after hearing vespers at the Cathedral, attended to the
door of the pharmacy by a group of Seminarians, who always followed
him about when he was in town.  This was his first meeting with
Auclair, and there was a cordial moisture in the priest's eyes as
he embraced his old friend and kissed him on both cheeks.

"How many times on my way from Ville-Marie I have enjoyed this
moment in anticipation, Euclide," he declared.  "Only solitary men
know the full joys of friendship.  Others have their family; but to
a solitary and an exile his friends are everything."

Father Hector was the son of a noted family of Aix-en-Provence; his
good breeding and fine presence were by no means lost upon his
Indian parishioners at the Sault.  The savages, always scornful of
meekness and timidity, believed that a man was exactly what he
looked.  They used Father Hector better than any of his
predecessors because he was strong and fearless and handsome.  If
he was humble before Heaven, he was never so with his converts.  He
took a high hand with them.  If one were drunk or impertinent, he
knocked him down.  More than once he had given a drunken Indian a
good beating, and the Indian had come and thanked him afterwards,
telling him he did quite right.

Cécile thought it a great honour to entertain a man like Father
Hector at their table, and she was much gratified by his frank
enjoyment of everything; of the fish soup with which she had taken
such pains, and the wood doves, cooked in a casserole with
mushrooms and served with wild rice.  Her father had brought up
from the cellar a bottle of fine old Burgundy which the Count had
sent them for New Year's.  She scarcely ate at all herself, for
watching their guest.

When Auclair said that this dinner was to make up to Father Hector
for the one he missed on Epiphany, he laughed and protested that on
Epiphany he had dined very well.

"Smoked eels and cold lard--what more does a man want in the woods?
It was on the day following that we began to feel the pinch,--and
the next day, and the next.  Frichette made a great fuss about it,
but certainly it was not the first time either he or I had gone
hungry.  If one had not been through little experiences of that
kind, one would not know how to enjoy a dinner like this."  He
reached out and put his hand lightly on Cécile's head.  "How I wish
you could keep her from growing up, Euclide!"

She blushed with joy at the touch of that large, handsome hand
which the Indians feared.

"Yes," he went on, looking about him, "these are great occasions in
a missionary's life.  The next time I am overtaken by a storm in
the woods, the recollection of this evening will be food and warmth
to me.  I shall see it in memory as plainly as I see it now; this
room, so like at home, this table with everything as it should be;
and, most of all, the feeling of being with one's own kind.  How
many times, out there, I shall live over this evening again, with
you and Cécile."  Father Hector tasted his wine, inhaling it with a
deep breath.  "Very clearly, Euclide, it was arranged in Heaven
that I should be a missionary in a foreign land.  I am peculiarly
susceptible to the comforts of the fireside and to the charm of
children.  If I were a teacher in the college at home, where I have
many young nieces and nephews, I should be always planning for
them.  I should sink into nepotism, the most disastrous of the
failings of the popes."

Auclair had to remind Cécile when it was time to bring in the
dessert.  She had quite forgot where they were in the dinner, so
intent was she upon Father Hector's talk, upon watching his brown
face and white forehead, with a sweep of black hair standing out
above it.

"And now, Cécile," said her father, "shall we tell Father Hector
our secret?  Next autumn the Count expects to return to France, and
we go with him.  We think you have been a missionary long enough;
that it is time for you to become a professor of rhetoric again.
We expect you to go back with us,--or very soon afterwards."

Father Hector smiled, but shook his head.  "Ah, no.  Thank you, but
no.  I have taken a vow that will spoil your plans for me.  I shall
not return to France."

Auclair had put his glass to his lips, but set it down untasted.
"Not return?" he echoed.

"Not at all, Euclide; never."

"But when my wife was here, you both used to plan--"

"Ah, yes.  That was my temptation.  Now it is vanquished."  He sat
for a moment smiling.  Then he began resolutely:

"Listen, my friend.  No man can give himself heart and soul to one
thing while in the back of his mind he cherishes a desire, a secret
hope, for something very different.  You, as a student, must know
that even in worldly affairs nothing worth while is accomplished
except by that last sacrifice, the giving of oneself altogether and
finally.  Since I made that final sacrifice, I have been twice the
man I was before."

Auclair felt disturbed, a little frightened.  "You have made a vow,
you say?  Is it irrevocable?"

"Irrevocable.  And what do you suppose gave me the strength to make
that decision?  Why, merely a good example!"  At this point Father
Hector glanced at Cécile and saw that she had almost ceased to
breathe in her excitement; that her eyes, in the candlelight, were
no longer blue, but black.  Again he put out his hand and touched
her head.  "See, she understands me!  From the beginning women
understand devotion, it is a natural grace with them; they have
only to learn where to direct it.  Men have to learn everything.

"There was among the early missionaries, among the martyrs, one
whom I have selected for my especial reverence.  I mean Noël
Chabanel, Euclide.  He was not so great a figure as Brébeuf or
Jogues or Lalemant, but I feel a peculiar sympathy for him.  He
perished, you remember, in the great Iroquois raid of '49.  But his
martyrdom was his life, not his death.

"He was a little different from all the others,--equal to them in
desire, but not in fitness.  He was only thirty years of age when
he came, and was from Toulouse, that gracious city.

"Chabanel had been a professor of rhetoric like me, and like me he
was fond of the decencies, the elegancies of life.  From the
beginning his life in Canada was one long humiliation and
disappointment.  Strange to say, he was utterly unable to learn the
Huron language, though he was a master of Greek and Hebrew and
spoke both Italian and Spanish.  After five years of devoted study
he was still unable to converse or to preach in any Indian tongue.
He was sent out to the mission of Saint Jean in the Tobacco nation,
as helper to Father Charles Gamier.  Father Gamier, though not at
all Chabanel's equal in scholarship, had learned the Huron language
so thoroughly that the Indians said there was nothing more to teach
him,--he spoke like one of themselves.

"His humiliating inability to learn the language was only one of
poor Chabanel's mortifications.  He had no love for his converts.
Everything about the savages and their mode of life was utterly
repulsive and horrible to him; their filth, their indecency, their
cruelty.  The very smell of their bodies revolted him to nausea.
He could never feel toward them that long-suffering love which has
been the consolation of our missionaries.  He never became hardened
to any of the privations of his life, not even to the vermin and
mosquitos that preyed upon his body, nor to the smoke and smells in
the savage wigwams.  In his struggle to learn the language he went
and lived with the Indians, sleeping in their bark shelters,
crowded with dogs and dirty savages.  Often Father Chabanel would
lie out in the snow until he was in danger of a death self-
inflicted, and only then creep inside the wigwam.  The food was so
hateful to him that one might say he lived upon fasting.  The flesh
of dogs he could never eat without becoming ill, and even corn-meal
boiled in dirty water and dirty kettles brought on vomiting; so
that he used to beg the women to give him a little uncooked meal in
his hand, and upon that he subsisted.

"The Huron converts were more brutal to him than to Father Gamier.
They were contemptuous of his backwardness in their language, and
they must have divined his excessive sensibility, for they took
every occasion to outrage it.  In the wigwam they tirelessly
perpetrated indecencies to wound him.  Once when a hunting party
returned after a long famine, they invited him to a feast of flesh.
After he had swallowed the portion in his bowl, they pulled a human
hand out of the kettle to show him that he had eaten of an Iroquois
prisoner.  He became ill at once, and they followed him into the
forest to make merry over his retchings.

"But through all these physical sufferings, which remained as sharp
as on the first day, the greatest of his sufferings was an almost
continual sense of the withdrawal of God.  All missionaries have
that anguish at times, but with Chabanel it was continual.  For
long months, for a whole winter, he would exist in the forest,
every human sense outraged, and with no assurance of the nearness
of God.  In those seasons of despair he was constantly beset by
temptation in the form of homesickness.  He longed to leave the
mission to priests who were better suited to its hardships, to
return to France and teach the young, and to find again that peace
of soul, that cleanliness and order, which made him the master of
his mind and its powers.  Everything that he had lost was awaiting
him in France, and the Director of Missions in Quebec had suggested
his return.

"On Corpus Christi Day, in the fifth year of his labours in Canada
and the thirty-fifth of his age, he cut short this struggle and
overcame his temptation.  At the mission of Saint Matthias, in the
presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, he made a vow of
perpetual stability (perpetuam stabilitatem) in the Huron missions.
This vow he recorded in writing, and he sent copies of it to his
brethren in Kebec.

"Having made up his mind to die in the wilderness, he had not long
to wait.  Two years later he perished when the mission of Saint
Jean was destroyed by the Iroquois,--though whether he died of cold
in his flight through the forest, or was murdered by a faithless
convert for the sake of the poor belongings he carried on his back,
was not surely known.  No man ever gave up more for Christ than
Noël Chabanel; many gave all, but few had so much to give.

"It was perhaps in memory of his sufferings that I, in my turn,
made a vow of perpetual stability.  For those of us who are
unsteadfast by nature, who have other lawful loves than our
devotion to our converts, it is perhaps the safest way.  My
sacrifice is poor compared with his.  I was able to learn the
Indian languages; I have a house where I can, at least, pray in
solitude; I can keep clean, and am seldom hungry, except by
accident in the journeys I have to make.  But Noël Chabanel--ah,
when your faith is cold, think of him!  How can there be men in
France this day who doubt the existence of God, when for the love
of Him weak human beings have been able to endure so much?"

Cécile looked up at him in bewilderment.  "Are there such men,
Father?" she whispered.

"There are, my child,--but it is the better for you if you have
never heard of them."

Presently it was time that Father Hector should get back to
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier's Palace, where he was lodged during
his stay in Quebec.

"And your books, Father Hector?  Will you not take them back to the
Sault with you?  If I leave Canada before you visit Quebec again,
what shall I do with them?"  Auclair opened a cabinet and pointed
to a row of volumes bound in vellum.  Father Hector's eyes
brightened as he looked at them, but he shook his head.

"No, I shall not take them this time.  If you go away, give them to
Monseigneur l'Ancien to keep for me.  If they could be eaten, or
worn on the back, he would give them to the poor, certainly.  But
Greek and Latin texts will be safe with him.  I will not say good-
bye, for I shall come tomorrow to lay in a supply of medicines for
my mission."



After Auclair had disappeared behind his bed-curtains that night,
he lay awake a long while, regretting that a man with Father
Hector's gifts should decide to live and die in the wilderness, and
wondering whether there had not been a good deal of misplaced
heroism in the Canadian missions,--a waste of rare qualities which
did nobody any good.

"Ah, well," he sighed at last, "perhaps that is the box of precious
ointment which was acceptable to the Saviour, and I am like the
disciples who thought it might have been used better in another
way."

This solution allowed him to go to sleep.



VI


About the middle of March, soon after Father Hector's visit, the
weather went sick, as it were.  The air suddenly grew warm and
springlike, and for three days there was a continuous downpour of
rain.  The deep snow drank it up like a thirsty sponge, but never
melted.  Not a patch of ground showed through, even on the hill-
sides.  But the snow darkened; everything grew grey like faintly
smoked glass.  The ice in the river broke up before Quebec, and
olive-green water carried grey islands of ice and snow slowly
northward.  The great pine forests, across the river and on the
western sky-line, were no longer bronze, but black.  The only
colours in the world were black and white and grey,--bewildering
variations of clouded white and grey.  The Laurentian mountains, to
the north, sometimes showed a little blue in their valleys, when
the fogs thinned enough to let them be seen.  After the interval of
rain everything froze hard again and stayed frozen,--but no fresh
snow fell.  The white winter was gone.  Only the smirched ruins of
winter remained, mournful and bleak and impoverished, frozen into
enduring solidity.

Behind the Auclairs' little back yard and the baker's, the cliff
ran up to the Château in a perpendicular wall, and the face of it
was overgrown with wild cherry bushes and knotty little Canadian
willows.  It was up there that one looked, from the back door, for
the first sign of spring.  But all through April those stumps and
twigs were so forbidding, so black and ugly, that Cécile often
wondered whether anything short of a miracle of the old-fashioned
kind could ever make the sap rise in them again.

A great many people in the town were sick at this time, and Cécile
herself caught a cold and was feverish.  Her father wrapped her in
blankets and made her sit with her feet in a hot mustard bath while
she drank a great quantity of sassafras tea.  Then he put her to
bed and entertained her with an account of the cures his father and
grandfather had effected with sassafras.  It was one of the
medicinal plants of the New World in which he had great faith.  It
had been first brought to Europe by Sir Walter Raleigh, he said,
and had been for a time a very popular remedy in France.  Even when
it went out of fashion, the pharmacy on the Quai des Célestins had
remained loyal to it, and continued to use sassafras after it
became expensive because of infrequent supply.  His father got it
from London, where it still came in occasional shipments from the
Virginia colony.

Cécile was kept in bed for three days,--in her father's big bed,
with the curtains drawn back, while her father himself attended to
all the household duties.  He was an accomplished cook, and
continual practice in making medicines kept his hand expert in
handling glass and earthenware and in regulating heat.  He debated
the advisability of sending for Jeanette, the laundress, or of
asking Madame Pigeon to come in and help him.  "Mais non, nous
sommes plus tranquilles comme ça," he decided.  That was the
important thing--tranquillity.  In the evenings he read aloud to
his daughter; and even when he was in the shop, she could hear
everything his clients had to say, so she was not dull.  If her
father was disengaged for a moment, he came in to chat with her.
They talked about Father Hector, and of how soon they could hope
for green salads in the market, and of whether it could be true
that Pierre Charron was home from the Great Lakes already, since
there was a rumour that he had been seen in Montreal.

It was a pleasant and a novel experience to lie warm in bed while
her father was getting dinner in the kitchen, and to feel no
responsibility at all; to listen to the drip of the rain, to watch
the grey daylight fade away in the salon, and the firelight grow
redder and redder on the old chairs and the sofa, on the gilt
picture-frames and the brass candlesticks.  But her mind roamed
about the town and was dreamily conscious of its activities and of
the lives of her friends; of the dripping grey roofs and spires,
the lighted windows along the crooked streets, the great grey river
choked with ice and frozen snow, the never-ending, merciless forest
beyond.  All these things seemed to her like layers and layers of
shelter, with this one flickering, shadowy room at the core.

They dined on the little table beside the bed (as they so often
breakfasted even when she was well), and after dinner her father
closed the door so that she would not be disturbed by the noise he
made in washing the dishes, or even by Blinker's visit.  It was
while he was thus alone in the kitchen that he had, one evening, a
strange interview with Blinker.

When Blinker had finished his tasks, he asked timidly if monsieur
would please give him a little of that medicine again, to make him
sleep.

Auclair looked at him doubtfully.

"How long is it you have not been sleeping?"

"Oh, a long time!  Please, monsieur, give me something."

"Sit down, Jules.  What is the matter?  You are strong and healthy.
You do not overeat.  I cannot understand why you have this trouble.
Perhaps you have something on your mind."

"Perhaps."

"That will often keep one awake.  I am not a man to meddle, but if
you told me what worries you, I should know better what to do for
you."

Blinker's head drooped.  He looked very miserable.

"Monsieur, I am an unfortunate man.  If I told you, you might put
me out."

"You have told your confessor?"

"It was not a sin.  Not what they call a sin.  It was a
misfortune."

"Well, we will never put you out, Jules, be sure of that."

Blinker, with his hands knotted on his knees, seemed to be trying
to bring something up out of himself.  "Monsieur," he said at last,
"I am unfortunate.  I was brought up to a horrible trade.  I was a
torturer in the King's prison at Rouen."

Auclair started, but he caught himself quickly.

"Well, Jules," he said quietly, "that, too, is the King's service."

"Sale service, monsieur," the poor wretch exclaimed bitterly, "sale
métier!  It was my father who did those things,--he was under the
chief, he had to do it.  I was afraid of him, for he was a hard
man.  I had no chance to learn another trade.  Nobody wanted the
prison folks about.  In the street people would curse us.  My
father gave me brandy when he made me help him, all I could hold.
He said it was right to punish the wicked, but I could never get
used to it.  Then something dreadful happened."  Blinker was
shivering all over.

Auclair poured him a glass of spirits and put some more wood into
the stove.  "You had better get it out, my boy.  That will help
you," he told him.

Hard as it was for Blinker to talk, he managed to tell his story.
In Rouen there was a rough sort of woman who lived down near the
river and did washing.  She was honest, but quarrelsome; her
neighbours didn't like her.  She had a little son who was a bad
boy, and she often thrashed him.  When he grew older, he struck
back, and they used to fight, to the great annoyance of the
neighbours.  One summer this boy disappeared.  A search was made
for him.  His mother was examined, and contradicted herself.  The
neighbours remembered hearing angry shouts and a smashing of
bottles one night; they began to say she had done away with him.
Someone made an accusation.  The laundress was taken before the
examiners again, but was sullen and refused to talk.  She was put
to the torture.  After half an hour she broke down and confessed
that she had killed her son, had put his body into a sack with
stones and dragged it to the river.  A few weeks later she was
hanged.

Not long afterwards Blinker began to have trouble with his lower
jaw, some decomposition of the bone; pieces of bone came out
through his cheek.  For weeks he never lay down, but walked the
floor all night.  Sometimes when he was full of brandy, he could
doze in a chair for half an hour.

But he had another misery, harder to bear than his jaw.  This was
the first time he had ever suffered great pain, and ghosts began to
haunt him.  The faces of people he had put to torture rose before
him, faces he had long forgotten.  When everybody else was asleep,
he could think of nothing but those faces.  He told himself it was
the law of the land and must be right; someone had to do it.  But
they never gave him any peace.

The suppuration in his jaw stopped at last.  The scars on his face
had begun to heal, when that murdered boy came back,--walked
insolently in the streets of Rouen.  The truth came out.  After his
quarrel with his mother he had hidden himself away on a boat tied
up to the wharf, had got to Le Havre undiscovered, and there
shipped as mousse on a bark bound for the West Indies.  He made the
voyage and came home.

Blinker began to walk the floor at night again, just as when his
jaw was at its worst.  How many of the others had been innocent?
He could never get the big washerwoman's screams out of his ears.
He would have made away with himself then, but he was afraid of
being punished after death.  If he dropped asleep from exhaustion,
he would dream of her.  He had only one hope; that miserable boy's
adventure had put a thought into his head.  If he could get away to
a new country, where nobody knew him for the executioner's son,
perhaps he would leave all that behind and forget it.  That was why
he had come to Kebec.  But sometimes, he never knew when or why,
these things would rise up out of the past . . . faces . . .
voices . . . even words, things they had said.

"They are inside me, monsieur, I carry them with me."  Blinker
closed his eyes and slowly dropped his head forward on his hands.

"Your sickness was a good chance for you, my poor fellow.
Suffering teaches us compassion.  There are some in Kebec, in high
places, who have not learned that yet.  If Monseigneur de Saint-
Vallier had ever known chagrin and disappointment, he would not
cross the old Bishop as he does.  I will give you something to make
you sleep tomorrow, but afterwards you will not need anything.
When God sent you that affliction in your face, he showed his mercy
to you.  And, by the way, who is your confessor?"

"Father Sébastien, at the Récollets'.  But I have wanted to tell
you, monsieur, ever since All Souls' Eve.  I came back late with my
buckets, and the door there was a little open,--you were telling
Ma'm'selle about the old man who stole the brass pots.  I wanted to
make away with myself--but you said something.  You said the law
was wrong, not us poor creatures.  Monsieur, I never hurt an animal
to amuse myself, as some do.  I was brought up to that trade."
Blinker stopped and wiped the sweat out of his eyes with his
sleeve.

The poor fellow had begun to give off a foul odour, as creatures do
under fear or anguish.  Auclair watched with amazement the twisted
face he saw every day above an armful of wood,--grown as familiar
to him as an ugly piece of furniture,--now become altogether
strange; it brought to his mind terrible weather-worn stone faces
on the churches at home,--figures of the tormented in scenes of the
Last Judgment.  He hastened to measure out a dose of laudanum.
After Blinker had gone out of the kitchen door, he made the sign of
the cross over his own heart before he blew out the candle and went
in to his daughter.

Cécile was flushed and excited; she had been crying, he saw.

"Oh father, why were you so long with Blinker, and what was he
telling you?  He sounded so miserable!"

Her father put her head back on the pillow and smoothed her hair.
"He was telling me all his old troubles, my dear, and when you are
well again, I will tell them to you.  We must be very kind to him.
Your mother was right when she said there was no harm in him.
Tomorrow I will go to Father Sébastien, and between us we will cure
his distress."

"Then it was not a crime?  You know some people say he was in the
galleys in France."

"No, he was never in the galleys.  He was one of the unfortunate of
this world.  You remember, when Queen Dido offers Æneas
hospitality, she says:  Having known misery, I have learned to pity
the miserable.  Our poor wood-carrier is like Queen Dido."



The next morning Cécile's recovery began.  As soon as she had drunk
her chocolate, her father brought a pair of woollen stockings and
told her to put them on.  When she looked up at him wonderingly, he
said:

"I have something to show you."

He wrapped her in a blanket, took her up in his arms, and carried
her into the kitchen, where the back door stood open.

"Look out yonder," he said, "and presently you will see something."

She looked out at the dreary cliff-side with its black, frozen
bushes and dirty snow, and long, grey icicles hanging from the
jagged rocks.  She wondered if there could be yellow buds on the
willows, perhaps; but they were still naked, like stiff black
briars.

Suddenly there was a movement up there, a flicker of something
swift and slender in the grey light, against the grey, granulated
snow,--then a twitter, a scolding anxious protest.  Now she knew
why her father had smiled so confidently when he lifted her out of
bed.

"Oh, Papa, it is our swallow!  Then the spring is coming!  Nothing
can keep it back now."  She put her head down on his shoulder and
cried a little.  He pretended not to notice it, but stood holding
her fast, patting her back, so muffled in folds of blanket.

"She is hunting her old nest, up among the crags.  I cannot see
whether it is still there.  But if it has been blown away, she can
easily build herself another.  She can get mud, because there is a
thaw every day now about noon, and the dead leaves are sticking up
wherever the snow melts."

"Is she the only one?  Is she all alone?"

"She is the only one here this morning, but her friends will be
close behind.  Listen, how she scolds!"

"Father," said Cécile suddenly, "where has she been, our swallow?
Where, do you think?"

"Oh, far away in the South!  Somewhere down there where Robert de
La Salle was murdered.  By the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps."

"And in France where do the swallows go in winter?"

"Very far.  Across the Mediterranean to Algérie, where the oranges
grow."

"Has our swallow been where there are oranges?  Do they grow by the
Gulf of Mexico?  Oh, Papa, I wish I could see an orange, on its
little tree!"

"You will see them when we go home.  There are fine old orange-
trees growing under glass in our own parish, and they are brought
out into the courtyards in summer."

"But couldn't we possibly grow one here in Quebec?  The Jesuits
have such great warm cellars; I am sure they could, if they tried."

Her father laughed as he carried her back to bed.  "I am afraid not
even the Jesuits could do that!  Now I am going to leave you for a
little while.  I will put a card on the door announcing that we are
closed until noon.  You are so much better, that I can make my
visit to the Hôtel Dieu this morning."

"And on your way, Papa, will you stop and tell Monseigneur l'Ancien
that our swallow has come?  For his book, you know."

Ever since he first came out to Canada, old Bishop Laval had kept a
brief weather record, noting down the date of the first snowfall,
when the river froze over, the nights of excessive cold, the storms
and the great thaws.  And for nearly forty years now he had
faithfully recorded the return of the swallow.




BOOK FOUR

PIERRE CHARRON


I


It was the first day of June.  Before dawn a wild calling and
twittering of birds in the bushes on the cliff-side above the
apothecary's back door announced clear weather.  When the sun came
up over the Île d'Orléans, the rock of Kebec stood gleaming above
the river like an altar with many candles, or like a holy city in
an old legend, shriven, sinless, washed in gold.  The quickening of
all life and hope which had come to France in May had reached the
far North at last.  That morning the Auclairs drank their chocolate
with all the doors and windows open.

Euclide was at his desk, making up little packets of saffron
flowers to flavour fish soups, when a slender man in buckskins,
with a quick swinging step, crossed the threshold and embraced him
before he had time to rise.  He was not a big fellow, this Pierre
Charron, hero of the fur trade and the coureurs de bois, not above
medium height, but quick as an otter and always sure of himself.
When Auclair, after returning his embrace with delight, drew back
to look at him and asked him how he was, he threw up his chin and
answered:

"Je me porte bien, comme toujours."

"And have you had a good winter, Pierre?"

"But yes.  I always have a good winter, monsieur.  I see to it."

"And how do you happen to be down so early?"

Charron's face changed.  He frowned.  "That is not so good.  My
mother was ailing.  They brought me word, out to Michilimackinac,
so I returned to Montreal in March.  She was better; the Sisters of
the Congregation had been taking care of her.  But I did not leave
her again.  No one can nurse her so well as I.  I stayed at home
and let the other fellows have my spring trade this year.  I can
afford it."

"But I must hear about your mother's ailment, my son; and first let
me call Cécile.  She will not want to lose even a minute of your
visit."

Auclair went back to the kitchen, and Cécile ran in without
stopping to take off her tablier.  It flashed across Pierre that
she was perhaps growing too tall to be kissed.  But she was quicker
than his thought, threw her arms about his neck, and gave him the
glad kiss of welcome.

"Oh, Pierre Charron, I am delighted at you, Pierre Charron!"

He stood laughing, holding both her hands and swinging them back
and forth in a rhythm of some sort, so that though they were
standing still, they seemed to be dancing.  Cécile was laughing,
too, as children do where they never have been afraid or uncertain.
"Oh, Pierre, have you been to the great falls again, and
Michilimackinac?"

"Everywhere, everywhere!"  He swung her hands faster and faster.

"And you will tell me about the big beaver towns?"

"Gently, Cécile," her father interposed.  "Pierre's mother has been
ill, and he will tell us first about her.  What was it like this
time, my boy, a return of her old complaint?"  The one long journey
Auclair had ever made away from Quebec since he landed here was to
go up to Montreal in Pierre's shallop to examine and prescribe for
Madame Charron.

From his first meeting with him, Auclair had loved this restless
boy (he was a boy then) who shot up and down the swift rivers of
Canada in his canoe; who was now at Niagara, now at the head of
Lake Ontario, now at the Sault Sainte Marie on his way into the
fathomless forbidding waters of Lake Superior.  To both Auclair and
Madame Auclair, Pierre Charron had seemed the type they had come so
far to find; more than anyone else he realized the romantic picture
of the free Frenchman of the great forests which they had formed at
home on the bank of the Seine.  He had the good manners of the Old
World, the dash and daring of the New.  He was proud, he was vain,
he was relentless when he hated, and quickly prejudiced; but he had
the old ideals of clan-loyalty, and in friendship he never counted
the cost.  His goods and his life were at the disposal of the man
he loved or the leader he admired.  Though his figure was still
boyish, his face was full of experience and sagacity; a fine bold
nose, a restless, rather mischievous mouth, white teeth, very
strong and even, sparkling hazel eyes with a kind of living flash
in them, like the sunbeams on the bright rapids upon which he was
so skilful.

Pierre's father, a soldier of fortune from Languedoc, had done well
in the fur trade and built himself a comfortable dwelling in
Montreal, on Saint Paul street, next the house of Jacques Le Ber.
Pierre was almost exactly the same age as Le Ber's daughter,
Jeanne; the two children had been playmates and had learned their
catechism together.  After Pierre's father was drowned in a storm
on Lake Ontario, Jacques Le Ber took the son into his employ to
train him for the fur business.  Of all the suitors for
Mademoiselle Le Ber's hand Pierre was thought to have the best
chance of success, and the merchant would have liked him for a son-
in-law.  At the time when Mademoiselle Le Ber, then fifteen, came
home from her schooling in Quebec, Pierre was her father's clerk
and was often at the house.  She had seemed favourably disposed
toward him.  It was an old story in Montreal that after Jeanne took
her first vow and immured herself in her father's house,
disappointment had driven young Charron into the woods.  He had
learned the Indian languages as a child, and the Indians liked and
trusted him, as they had liked his father.  All along the Great
Lakes, as far as Michilimackinac, he had a name among them for
courage and fair dealing, for a loyal friend and a relentless
enemy.  Every year he gave half the profits of his ventures to his
mother; the rest he squandered on drink and women and new guns, as
his comrades did.  But in Montreal his behaviour was always
exemplary, out of respect to his mother.

After accepting Auclair's invitation to come to supper that
evening, Charron said he must go to Noël Pommier to order a pair of
hard boots,--he was wearing moccasins.  "And will you come along,
little monkey?" he asked, making a face.  When Cécile was little,
he had always called her his petit singe.

She glanced eagerly at her father.  He nodded.  "Run along, and
give my respects to Madame Pommier."

Cécile slipped her hand into Charron's, and they went out into the
street.  Across the way, they saw Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier in
his garden, directing some workmen who were apparently building an
arbour for him.

"I see your grand neighbour has come home," Pierre observed.

"Oh yes, last September.  But you must have heard?  People say he
brought such beautiful things for his house; furniture and
paintings and tapestry and silver dishes.  Wouldn't you love to see
the inside of his Palace?"

"Not a bit!  He is too French for me."  Charron threw up his chin.

Cécile laughed.  "But my father is French, and so is Father Hector;
you like them."

"Oh, that is different.  But the man over there goes against me.
He smells of Versailles.  The old man is my Bishop.  But I could do
without any of them."

"Hush, Pierre Charron!  You are foolish to quarrel with the
priests.  I love Father Hector.  You can't say he isn't a brave
man."

Pierre shrugged.  "Oh, he is brave enough.  All the same, he's a
little too Frenchified for me.  You and I are Canadians, monkey.
We were born here."

"Why, I wasn't at all!  You know that."

"Well, if you weren't, you couldn't help it.  You got here early.
You were very little when I first saw you with your mother.
Cécile, every autumn, before I start for the woods, I have a mass
said at the paroisse in Ville-Marie for madame your mother."

Cécile pressed his hand softly and drew closer to him.  Whenever
Charron spoke of her mother, or of his own, his voice lost its tone
of banter; he became respectful, serious, simple.  It was clear
enough that for him the family was the first and final thing in the
human lot; and it was so engrafted with religion that he could only
say:  "Very well; religion for the fireside, freedom for the
woods."

As they passed the end of the long Seminary building, the door of
the garden stood open, and within they saw Bishop Laval, walking up
and down the sanded paths, his breviary open in his hand.  It was a
very small garden; a grass plot in the centre, a row of Lombardy
poplars along the wall, some lilac bushes, now in bloom, a wooden
seat with no back under a crooked quince-tree.  The old man caught
sight of Pierre, though he walked so noiselessly,--beckoned to him
and called out his name.  The Bishop knew everyone along the river
so well that it was said he could recognize a lost child by the
family look in its face.

Pierre snatched off his cap and they went inside the garden door.
Monseigneur inquired after the health of Madame Charron, and of the
aged nun Marguerite Bourgeoys.  And had Pierre heard whether
Mademoiselle Le Ber was in health?

Not directly.  He supposed she was as usual; he had heard nothing
to the contrary.

The Bishop breathed heavily, like a tired horse.  "All the sinners
of Ville-Marie may yet be saved by the prayers of that devoted
girl," he said with a certain meaning in his tone.  "And you, my
son, have you been to your confessor since your return from the
woods?"

Pierre said respectfully that he had.  The Bishop then turned to
Cécile and placed his hand upon her head, with the rare smile which
always seemed a little sad on his grim features.

"And here we have a child who borrows money,--and of a poor priest,
too!  Why did you never come to pay me back my twenty sous?"

"But Monseigneur l'Ancien, I gave them to Houssart, the very day
after!"

"I know you did, my child, but I should have liked it better if you
had come to me when you paid your debt.  You are not afraid of me?"

"Oh, no, Monseigneur!  But you are always occupied, and I did not
know whether you liked to have children come."

"I do.  I like it very much.  Make me a visit here in my garden
some morning at this hour, and I will share my lilacs with you;
they are coming on now.  Bring the little boy, if you like.  I hear
from the Pommiers that you and your father are making a good boy of
him, and that is very commendable in you."

During the rest of the short walk to the cobbler's, Pierre asked
what the Bishop meant by the twenty sous, but he seemed to pay
little attention to the story; he was rather overcast, indeed.  It
was not until he greeted Madame Pommier that he recovered his high
spirits.



II


For Charron, that evening, the apothecary brought up from his
cellar some fiery Bordeaux, proper for a son of Languedoc, and the
hours flew by.  After Cécile had said good-night and gone upstairs
to her summer bed-room, the two men talked on until after midnight;
of the woods, of the state of the fur trade, of the results of the
Count's last Indian campaign, and the ingratitude of the King, who
had rewarded his services so inadequately.

Pierre lost his reserve after a bottle or two of fine Gaillac, and
the conversation presently took a very personal turn.  Auclair, in
speaking of Madame Charron's illness, remarked that it was
fortunate she had such nurses at hand as the Sisters of the
Congregation.

"Oh, yes, they took good care of her, to be sure," Pierre admitted.
"And why not?  By Heaven, they owe me something, those women!
Fifty thousand gold écus, perhaps!"

"Charron," said his host reprovingly, "you do yourself wrong to
pretend that you are chagrined at having lost that dowry.  You are
not a mean-spirited man.  You have never cared much about money."

"Perhaps not, but I care about defeat.  If the venerable Bourgeoys
had not got hold of that girl in her childhood and overstrained her
with fasts and penances, she would be a happy mother today, not
sleeping in a stone cell like a prisoner.  There are plenty of
girls, ugly, poor, stupid, awkward, who are made for such a life.
It was bad enough when she was shut up in her father's house; but
now she is no better than dead.  Worse."

"Still, if it is the life she desires, and if her father can bear
it--"

"Oh, her father, poor man!  I do not like to meet him on the
street,--and he does not like to meet me.  I recall to him the days
when she first came home from Quebec and used to be at her mother's
side, at the head of a long table full of good company, always
looking out for everyone, saying the right thing to everyone.  It
did his eyes good to look at her.  He was never the same man after
she shut herself away.  I was in his employ then, and I know.  He
used to talk to me and say:  'It is like a fever; it will burn
itself out in time.  We shall all be happy again.'  This went on
three years, and he was always hoping.  But not I.  I saw her
before I broke away to the woods, though.  I made sure."

Pierre took out a pouch of strong Indian tobacco, pulverized it in
his brown palm, and put it into his pipe.  He drew the smoke in
deep, like a man overwrought.  Auclair had meant to bring out some
old brandy to flavour their talk, but he thought:  "No, better
not."  Aloud he said:

"You mean that you had an interview with Mademoiselle Le Ber after
she went into retreat?"

"Call it an interview.  I made sure."  Charron took the pipe out of
his mouth and spoke rapidly.  "It was in the fourth year of her
retreat.  I had lost hope, but I wanted to know.  She always went
out of the house to early mass.  One morning in the spring, when it
gets light early, I went to the narrow allée between her garden and
the church and waited there under an apple-tree that hung over the
wall.  When she came along with her old servant, I stepped out in
front of her and spoke.  Ah, that was a beautiful moment for me!
She had not changed.  She did not shrink away from me or reproach
me.  She was gracious and gentle, as always, and at her ease.  She
put back her grey veil as we talked, and looked me in the eyes.
There was still colour in her cheeks,--not rosy as she used to be,
but her face was fresh and soft, like the apple blossoms on that
tree where we stood.  She had no hard word for me.  She said she
was glad of a chance to see me again and to bid me farewell; she
meant to renew her vows when the five years were over, and we
should never meet again.  When I began to cry,--I was young then,--
and knelt down before her, she put her hand on my head; she did not
fear me or the few people who hurried past us into the church,--
they seemed frightened enough at such a sight, but she was calm.
She told me it would be better if I left her father, and that I
must marry.  I will always pray for you, she said, and when you
have children, I will pray for them.  As long as we are both in
this world, you may know I pray for you every day; that God may
preserve you from sudden death without repentance, and that we may
meet in heaven."

Charron sat silent for a moment, then bent over the candle and lit
his pipe, which had gone out.  "You know, monsieur, three times in
the woods my comrades have thought it was all over with me; a
powder explosion, my canoe going down under me in the rapids, and
then the gunshot wound I had in the Count's last campaign.  I have
remembered that promise; for I have certainly been delivered from
sudden death.  I remember, too, her voice when she said those
words,--it was still her own voice, which made people love to go to
her father's house, and one felt gay if she but spoke one's name.
And now it is harsh and hollow like an old crow's--terrible to
hear!"

Auclair began to wonder whether Pierre might have had anything to
drink before he came to dinner.  "Now you are talking wildly, my
boy.  We cannot know what her voice is like now."

"I know," said Charron sullenly.  He crossed the room to the door
of the enclosed staircase, and examined it to see that it was shut.
"The little one cannot hear, up there?  No?"  He sat down and
leaned forward, his elbows on the table.  "I know.  I have heard
her.  I have seen her."

"Pierre, you have not done anything irreverent, that the nuns will
never forgive?"  Auclair was alarmed by the very thought that the
sad solitaire, who asked for nothing on this earth but solitude,
had perhaps been startled.

Charron was too much excited and too sorry for himself at that
moment to notice his friend's apprehensions.

"It was like this," he went on presently.  "You know, because of my
mother, this year I got back to Montreal early, months before my
time.  There is not much to do there, God knows, except to be a
pig, and I never behave like dirt in my mother's town.  We live so
near the chapel of the Congregation that I can never get the
recluse out of my mind.  You remember there were two weeks of
terrible cold in March, and it made me wretched to think of her
walled up there.  No, don't misunderstand me!"  Charron's eyes came
back from their far-away point of vision and fixed intently,
distrustfully, on his friend's face.  "All that is over; one does
not love a woman who has been dead for nearly twenty years.  But
there is such a thing as kindness; one wouldn't like to think of a
dog that had been one's playfellow, much less a little girl,
suffering from cold those bitter nights.  You see, there are all
those early memories; one cannot get another set; one has but
those."  Pierre's voice choked, because something had come out by
chance, thus, that he had never said to himself before.  The
candles blurred before Auclair a little, too.  God was a witness,
he murmured, that he knew the truth of Pierre's remark only too
well.

After he had relit his pipe and smoked a little, Charron continued.
"You know she goes into the church to pray before the altar at
midnight.  Well, I hid myself in the church and saw her.  It is not
difficult for a man who has lived among the Indians; you slide into
the chapel when an old sacristan is locking up after vespers, and
stay there behind a pillar as long as you choose.  It was a long
wait.  I had my fur jacket on and a flask of brandy in my pocket,
and I needed both.  God's Name, is there any place so cold as
churches?  I had to move about to keep from aching all over,--but,
of course, I made no noise.  There was only the sanctuary lamp
burning, until the moon came round and threw some light in at the
windows.  I knew when it must be near midnight, you get to have a
sense of time in the woods.  I hid myself behind a pillar at the
back of the church.  I felt a little nervous, sorry I had come,
perhaps.--At last I heard a latch lift,--you could have heard a
rabbit breathe in that place.  The iron grille beside the altar
began to move outward.  She came in, carrying a candle.  She wore a
grey gown, and a black scarf on her head, but no veil.  The candle
shone up into her face.  It was like a stone face; it had been
through every sorrow."  Charron stopped and crossed himself.  He
shut his eyes and dropped his head in his hands.  "My friend, I
could remember a face!--I could remember Jeanne in her little white
furs, when I used to pull her on my sled.  Jacques Le Ber would
have burned Montreal down to keep her warm.  He meant to give her
every joy in the world, and she has thrown the world away. . . .
She put down her candle and went toward the high altar.  She walked
very slowly, with great dignity.  At first she prayed aloud, but I
scarcely understood her.  My mind was confused; her voice was so
changed,--hoarse, hollow, with the sound of despair in it.  Why is
she unhappy, I ask you?  She is, I know it!  When she prayed in
silence, such sighs broke from her.  And once a groan, such as I
have never heard; such despair--such resignation and despair!  It
froze everything in me.  I felt that I would never be the same man
again.  I only wanted to die and forget that I had ever hoped for
anything in this world.

"After she had bowed herself for the last time, she took up her
candle and walked toward that door, standing open.  I lost my head
and betrayed myself.  I was well hidden, but she heard me sob.

"She was not startled.  She stood still, with her hand on the latch
of the grille, and turned her head, half-facing me.  After a moment
she spoke.

"Poor sinner, she said, poor sinner, whoever you are, may God have
mercy upon you!  I will pray for you.  And do you pray for me also.

"She walked on and shut the grille behind her.  I turned the key in
the church door and let myself out.  No man was ever more miserable
than I was that night."



III


Ever since Cécile could remember, she had longed to go over to the
Île d'Orléans.  It was only about four miles down the river, and
from the slopes of Cap Diamant she could watch its fields and
pastures come alive in the spring, and the bare trees change from
purple-grey to green.  Down the middle of the island ran a wooded
ridge, like a backbone, and here and there along its flanks were
cleared spaces, cultivated ground where the islanders raised wheat
and rye.  Seen from the high points of Quebec, the island landscape
looked as if it had been arranged to please the eye,--full of folds
and wrinkles like a crumpled table-cloth, with little fields
twinkling above the dark tree-tops.  The climate was said to be
more salubrious than that of Quebec, and the soil richer.  All the
best vegetables and garden fruits in the market came from the Île,
and the wild strawberries of which Cécile's father was so fond.
Giorgio, the drummer boy, had often told her how well the farmers
lived over there; and about the great eel-fishings in the autumn,
when the islanders went out at night with torches and seined eels
by the thousand.

Pierre Charron had a friend on the island, Jean Baptiste Harnois,
the smith of Saint-Laurent, and he meant to go over and pay him a
visit this summer, before he went back to Montreal.  He had
promised to take Cécile along,--every time he came to the shop, he
reminded her that they were to make this excursion.  One fine
morning in the last week of June he dropped in to say that the wind
was right, and he would start for the island in about an hour, to
be gone for three days.

Very well, Auclair told him, Cécile would be ready.

"But three days, father!" she exclaimed; "can you manage for
yourself so long?  You bought so many things at the market for me
to cook."

"I can manage.  You must go by all means.  You may not have such a
chance again."

"Good," said Pierre.  "I will be back in an hour.  And she must
bring a warm coat; it will be cold out on the water."

Cécile had never gone on a voyage before,--had never slept a night
away from home, except during the Phips bombardment, when she and
her mother had taken refuge at the Ursuline convent, along with the
other women and children from the Lower Town.

"What shall I take with me, Father?  I am so distracted I cannot
think!"

"The little valise that was your mother's will hold your things.
You will need a night-gown, and a pair of stockings, and a clean
cotton blouse, and some handkerchiefs; I should think that would be
all.  And I will give you a package of raisins as a present for
Madame Harnois."

She ran upstairs and began to pack her mother's bag, finding it
hard to assemble her few things in her excitement.

"Are you ready, Cécile?" her father presently called from the foot
of the stairs.

"I am not sure, Father--I think so.  I wish I had known yesterday."

"Then you would not have slept all night.  Come along, and I will
put the raisins in your valise."

Pierre was waiting, seated on the long table that served as a
counter.  Her father looked into her bag to see that she had the
proper things, then handed it to him.  Cécile put on her cap and
coat.  Auclair kissed her and wished them bon voyage.  "Take good
care of her, Pierre."

Pierre touched his hand to his black forelock.  "As you would
yourself, monsieur."  He pushed Cécile out of the door before him.

"Papa," she called back, "you will not forget to keep the fire
under the soup?  It has been on only an hour."

Pierre's boat was a light shallop with one sail.  He rowed out far
enough to catch the breeze and then sat in the stern, letting the
wind and current carry them.  He had made a change in his clothes
during the hour he was absent from the shop, Cécile noticed (later
in the day she wondered why!), had put on a white linen shirt and
knotted a new red silk neckerchief about his throat.  He soon took
off his knitted cap, lit his pipe, and lounged at his ease.  On one
shore stretched the dark forest, on the other the smiling, sunny
fields that ran toward Beaupré.  Behind them the Lower Town grew
smaller and smaller; the rock of Kebec lost its detail until they
could see only Cap Diamant, and the Château, and the spires of the
churches.  The sunlight on the river made a silver glare all about
the boat, and from the water itself came a deep rhythmic sound,
like something breathing.

"Think of it, Pierre, in all these years I have never been on the
river before!"  Such a stretch of lost opportunity as life seemed
just then!

Pierre smiled.  "Not so many years, at that!  Your father is over-
cautious, maybe, but squalls come up suddenly on this river, and
most of these young fellows had as lief drown as not.  I'd rather
you never went with anyone but me.  If you like it, you can go with
me any time."

"But I'd like to go the other way,--to Montreal, and up those
rivers that are full of rapids.  I want to go as far as
Michilimackinac."

"Some time, perhaps.  We'll see how you like roughing it."

Cécile asked what he had in the stone jug she saw in the bow, along
with his blanket and buckskin coat.

"That is brandy, for the smith.  But it will come back full of good
country wine.  He makes it from wild grapes.  The wild grapes on
the island are the best in Canada; Jacques Cartier named it the Île
de Bacchus because he found such fine grapes growing in the woods.
That ought to please you, with all your Latin!"

"Are you like Mother Juschereau, do you think it wrong for a girl
to know Latin?"

"Not if she can cook a hare or a partridge as well as Mademoiselle
Auclair!  She may read all the Latin she pleases.  But I expect you
won't like the food at the Harnois', à la campagnarde, you know,--
they cook everything in grease.  As for me, it doesn't matter.
When you can go to an Indian feast and eat dogs boiled with
blueberries, you can eat anything."

Cécile shuddered.  "I don't see how you can do it, Pierre.  I
should think it would be easier to starve."

"Oh, do you, my dear?  Try starving once; it's a long business.
I've known the time when dog meat cooked in a dirty pot seemed
delicious!  But the worst food I ever swallowed was what they call
tripe de roche.  I went out to Lac la Mort with some Frenchmen
early in the spring once.  They were a green lot, and they let most
of our provisions get stolen on the way.  As soon as we reached the
lake, we were caught in a second winter; a heavy snow, and
everything frozen.  No game, no fish.  We had to fall back on tripe
de roche.  It's a kind of moss that grows on the rocks along the
lake, something like a sponge; the cold doesn't kill it, when
everything else is frozen hard as iron.  You gather it and boil it,
and it's not so bad as it goes down,--tastes like any boiled weed.
But afterwards--oh, what a stomach-ache!  The men sat round tied up
in a knot.  We had about a week of that stuff.  We scraped the hair
off our bear skins and roasted them, that time.  But it's a truth,
monkey, I wouldn't like a country where things were too soft.  I
like a cold winter, and a hot summer.  My father used to boast that
in Languedoc you were never out of sight of a field or a vineyard.
That would mean people everywhere around you, always watching you!
No hunting,--they put you in jail if you shoot a partridge.  Even
the fish in the streams belong to somebody.  I'd be in prison in a
week there."

The settlement at Saint-Laurent was Pierre's destination.  After he
had passed the point at Saint-Pétronille and turned into the south
channel, a sweet, warm odour blew out from the shore, very like the
smell of ripe strawberries.  Each time the boat passed a little
cove, this fragrance grew stronger, the air seemed saturated with
it.  All the early explorers wrote with much feeling about these
balmy odours that blew out from the Canadian shores,--nothing else
seemed to stir their imagination so much.  That fragrance is really
the aromatic breath of spruce and pine, given out under the hot sun
of noonday, but the early navigators believed it was the smell of
luscious unknown fruits, wafted out to sea.

When Pierre had made a landing and tied his boat, they went up the
path to the smith's house, to find the family at dinner.  They were
warmly received and seated at the dinner-table.  The smith had no
son, but four little girls.  After dinner Cécile went off into the
fields with them to pick wild strawberries.  She had never seen so
many wild flowers before.  The daisies were drifted like snow in
the tall meadow grass, and all the marshy hollows were thatched
over with buttercups, so clean and shining, their yellow so fresh
and unvarying, that it seemed as if they must all have been born
that morning at the same hour.  The clumps of blue and purple iris
growing in these islands of buttercups made a sight almost too
wonderful.  All the afternoon Cécile thought she was in paradise.

The little girls did not bother her much.  They were timid with a
guest from town and talked very little.  Two of them had been to
Quebec, and even to her father's shop, and they asked her about the
stuffed baby alligator, where it came from.  They wanted to know,
too, why her father bought so many pigs' bladders in the market.
Did he eat them, or did he fill them with sausage meat?  Cécile
explained that he washed and dried them, and when people were sick,
he filled the bladders with hot water and put them on the sore
place, to ease the pain.

The little girls wore moccasins, but no stockings, and their brown
legs were badly marked by brier scratches and mosquito bites.  When
they showed her the pigs and geese and tame rabbits, they kept
telling her about peculiarities of animal behaviour which she
thought it better taste to ignore.  They called things by very
unattractive names, too.  Cécile was not at all sure that she liked
these children with pale eyes and hay-coloured hair and furtive
ways.

At supper she was glad to see Pierre and the genial blacksmith
again, but the kitchen where they ate was very hot and close, for
Madame Harnois shut all the doors and windows to keep out the
mosquitos.  There were mosquitos at home, on Mountain Hill, too,
but her father drove them away by making a smudge of eucalyptus
balls, which were sent to him from France every year.

The family went to bed early, and after darkness had shut off the
country about them, and bedtime was approaching, Cécile felt uneasy
and afraid of something.  Pierre had brought his own blanket, and
said he would sleep in the hayloft.  She wished she could follow
him, and with a sinking heart heard him go whistling across the
wagon-yard.

There were only three rooms in this house, the kitchen and two
bedrooms.  In one of these slept the smith and his wife.  In the
other was a wide, low bed made of split poles, and there slept all
the four daughters.  There, Cécile soon gathered, she too must
sleep!  The mother told them to give Cécile the outside place in
the bed, for manners.  Slowly she undressed and put on her
nightgown.  The little Harnois girls took off their frocks and
tumbled into bed in their chemises,--they told her they only wore
night-gowns in winter.  When they kicked off their moccasins, they
did not stop to wash their legs, which were splashed with the mud
of the marsh and bloody from mosquito bites.  One candle did not
give much light, but Cécile saw that they must have gone to bed
unwashed for many nights in these same sheets.  The case on the
bolster, too, was rumpled and dirty.  She felt that she could not
possibly lie down in that bed.  She made one pretext after another
to delay the terrible moment; the children asked whether she said
so many prayers every night.  At last the mother called that it was
time to put out the candle.  She blew it out and crept into the
bed, spreading a handkerchief from her valise down on the bolster-
cover where she must put her head.

She lay still and stiff on the very edge of the feather bed, until
the children were asleep and she could hear the smith and his wife
snoring in the next room.  His snore was only occasional, deep and
guttural; but his wife's was high and nasal, and constant.  Cécile
got up very softly and dressed carefully in the dark.  There was
only one window in the room, and that was shut tight to keep out
mosquitos.  She sat down beside it and watched the moon come up,--
the same moon that was shining down on the rock of Kebec.  Perhaps
her father was taking his walk on Cap Diamant, and was looking up
the river at the Île d'Orléans and thinking of her.  She began to
cry quietly.  She thought a great deal about her mother, too, that
night; how her mother had always made everything at home beautiful,
just as here everything about cooking, eating, sleeping, living,
seemed repulsive.  The longest voyage on the ocean could scarcely
take one to conditions more different.  Her mother used to reckon
Madame Pigeon a careless housekeeper; but Madame Pigeon's easy-
going ways had not prepared one for anything like this.  She tried
to think about the buttercups in the marsh, as clean as the sun
itself, and the long hay-grass with the star-white daisies.

Cécile sat there until morning, through the endless hours until
daylight came, careful never to look back at the rumpled bed behind
her.  When Madame Harnois stuck her head in at the door to waken
her children, she complimented Cécile upon being up so early.  All
the family washed in a wooden basin which stood on a bench in the
kitchen, and they all wiped their faces on the same towel.  The
mother got breakfast in her night-cap because she had not taken
time to arrange her hair.  Cécile did not want much breakfast; the
bread had so much lard in it that she could not eat it.  She had
sagamite and milk.

When they got up from the table, Pierre announced that he was going
fishing, and he did not even suggest taking her along.  The little
girls were expected to help their mother in the morning, so Cécile
got away unobserved into the nearest wood.  She went through it,
and climbed toward the ridge in the middle of the island.  At last
she came out on a waving green hayfield with a beautiful harp-
shaped elm growing in the middle of it.  The grass there was much
taller than the daisies, so that they looked like white flowers
seen through a driving grey-green rain.  Cécile ran across the
field to that symmetrical tree and lay down in the dark, cloud-
shaped shadow it threw on the waving grass.  The tight feeling in
her chest relaxed.  She felt she had escaped for ever from the
Harnois and their way of living.  She went to sleep and slept a
long while.  When she wakened up in the sweet-smelling grass, with
the grasshoppers jumping over her white blouse, she felt rested and
happy,--though unreal, indeed, as if she were someone else.  She
was thinking she need not go back to the smith's house at all that
day, but could lunch on wild strawberries, when she heard the
little girls' voices calling her, "Cé-cile, Cé--cile!" rather
mournfully, and she remembered that she ought not to cause the
family anxiety.  She looked for a last time at the elm-tree and the
sunny field, and then started back through the wood.  She didn't
want the children to come to that place in their search for her.
She hoped they had never been there!

After dinner she escaped into the fields again, but this time the
girls went with her.  They had a grape-vine swing in the wood; as
she had never had a swing when she was little, she found it
delightful.  These children were nicer when they played at games
and did not stand staring at one.

But as the sunlight began to grow intensely gold on the tree-tops
and the slanting fields, dread and emptiness awoke in Cécile's
breast again, a chilling fear of the night.  The mother had found
her handkerchief spread out on the bolster and had put on a clean
bolster-slip.  But that made little difference.  She couldn't
possibly lie in that bed all night, not even if the children had
taken a bath before they got into it.  As soon as they were asleep,
she got up and sat by the window as on the first night.

At breakfast Pierre Charron noticed that Cécile did not look at all
like herself.  When they left the table, he asked her to go down to
the spring with him, and as soon as they were alone, inquired if
she were not feeling well.

"No, I don't feel well, and truly I can't stay here any longer.
Please, please, Pierre, take me home today!"

Pierre had never seen her cry before, and he was greatly surprised.
"Very good.  There is not much wind, and perhaps we had better go
today, anyhow.  Get your things, and I'll tell the smith I've
changed my mind."

Cécile ran swiftly back to the house.  She knew she had not been a
very satisfactory visitor, and she felt remorseful.  She gave the
little girls all the handkerchiefs she had brought with her,--they
hadn't any, but wiped their sweaty faces on their sleeves or their
skirts.  Several of her handkerchiefs had come from her aunts, and
she was very fond of them, but she parted with them gladly and only
wished she had more things to give the children.

She could scarcely believe in her good fortune when Pierre's boat
actually left the shore and he began pulling out into the river,
while the Harnois children stood waving to them from the cove.

"We needn't hurry, eh?" Pierre asked.

"Oh, no!  I love being on the river," she replied unsteadily.  He
asked no further questions, but handled his oars, singing softly to
himself.  Of course, she thought sadly, he would never want to take
her anywhere again.  She used to dream that one day he might take
her to Montreal in his boat, perhaps even to see the great falls at
Niagara.

As soon as they were out of the south channel and had cleared the
point of the island, they could see the rock of Kebec and the glare
of the sun on the slate roofs.  Cécile began to struggle with her
tears again.  It was as if she were home already.  For a long while
it did not grow much plainer; then it rose higher and higher
against the sky.

"Now I can see the Château, and the Récollet spire," she cried.
"And, oh, Pierre, there is the Seminary!"

"Yes?  It's a fine building, but I never had any particular
affection for it."  He saw that she was much too happy to notice
his banter.

Soon they could see the spire of Notre Dame de la Victoire--and
then they were in the shadow of the rock itself.  When she stepped
upon the shore, Cécile remembered how Sister Catherine de Saint-
Augustin, when she landed with her companions, had knelt down and
kissed the earth.  Had she been alone, she would have loved to do
just that.  They went hand in hand up La Place street, across the
market square, down Notre Dame street beside the church, and into
Mountain Hill.  It was wonderful that everything should be just the
same, when she had been away so long!  Pierre did not bother her
with questions, but she knew he was watching her closely.  She was
ashamed, but it couldn't be helped; some things are stronger than
shame.

When they burst in upon her father, he was seated at his desk,
rolling pills on a sheet of glass.

"What, back already?"  He did not seem so overjoyed as Cécile had
thought he would be.

"Yes, monsieur," Pierre replied carelessly, "we were a little bored
in the country, both of us."

How grateful she was for that "tous les deux!"  She might have
known Pierre would not betray her.

"Father," she said as she kissed him again, "please ask Pierre
Charron to come to dinner tonight.  I want to make something very
nice for him.  I've given him a lot of trouble."

After Pierre was gone, and she had peeped into the salon and the
kitchen to see that everything was as she had left it, Cécile came
back into the shop.

"Father, Pierre took it on himself, but it was my fault we came
home.  I didn't like country life very well.  I was not happy."

"But aren't they kind people, the Harnois?  Haven't they kind
ways?"

"Yes, they have."  She sighed and put her hand to her forehead,
trying to think.  They had kind ways, those poor Harnois, but that
was not enough; one had to have kind things about one, too. . . .

But if she was to make a good dinner for Pierre, she had no time to
think about the Harnois.  She put on her apron and made a survey of
the supplies in the cellar and kitchen.  As she began handling her
own things again, it all seemed a little different,--as if she had
grown at least two years older in the two nights she had been away.
She did not feel like a little girl, doing what she had been taught
to do.  She was accustomed to think that she did all these things
so carefully to please her father, and to carry out her mother's
wishes.  Now she realized that she did them for herself, quite as
much.  Dogs cooked with blueberries--poor Madame Harnois' dishes
were not much better!  These coppers, big and little, these brooms
and clouts and brushes, were tools; and with them one made, not
shoes or cabinet-work, but life itself.  One made a climate within
a climate; one made the days,--the complexion, the special flavour,
the special happiness of each day as it passed; one made life.

Suddenly her father came into the kitchen.  "Cécile, why did you
not call me to make the fire?  And do you need a fire so early?"

"I must have hot water, Papa.  It is no trouble to make a fire."
She wiped her hands and threw her arms about him.  "Oh, Father, I
think our house is so beautiful!"




BOOK FIVE

THE SHIPS FROM FRANCE



I


At four o'clock in the morning Cécile was sitting by her upstairs
window, dressed and wide awake.  Across the river there was already
a red and purple glow above the black pines; but overhead spread
the dark night sky, like a tent with its flap up, letting in a new
day,--the most important day of the year.

Word had come down by land that five ships from France had passed
Tadousac and were beating up the river against head winds.  During
the night the wind had changed; Cécile had only to hold her
handkerchief outside her window and watch it flutter, to reassure
herself that a strong breeze was blowing in from the east, and the
ships would be in today.  She wondered how her father could go on
sleeping.  Nicholas Pigeon and Blinker had been up all night,
making a great deal of noise as they turned out one baking after
another to feed the hungry sailors.  The smell of fresh bread was
everywhere, very tempting to one who had been awake so long.

At last she heard a door below open softly, and she ran down the
stairs to the salon and out into the kitchen, where her father was
just beginning to make his fire.

"Oh, Father, the wind is right!  I knew it would come!  Yesterday
all the nuns at the Ursulines' were praying for the wind to change.
How soon do you suppose they will get in?  You remember last year
it rained all day when the first ships came.  But today will be
beautiful.  I expect Kebec will look very fine to them."

"No better than they will to us, certainly.  But there is no hurry.
They will not be along for hours yet."

Cécile told him she had been awake nearly all night and was very
hungry, so would he please hurry the chocolate.  She herself ran
out through the board fence that divided their back yard from the
Pigeons', to get a loaf from Blinker, as it was not nearly time for
the baker's boy to come on his rounds.

They had just sat down to their breakfast when they heard the front
door open, and heavy, rapid little steps crossed the bare floor of
the shop.  Jacques came in, his pale eyes so round that he looked
almost frightened.

"Hurry, Cécile, they're coming!" he called.  Then, remembering
where he was, he snatched off his cap and murmured:  "Pardon,
monsieur.  Bonjour, monsieur.  Bonjour, Cécile."

Cécile sprang up.  "You mean they are in sight, Jacques?"

"People say they are, nearly," he answered vaguely.

"What nonsense, Cécile!  You are as foolish as the little boy.  You
know the cannon would be sounding and the whole town shouting if
the ships were in sight.  Sit down and calm yourselves, both of
you.  Jacques, here is some chocolate for you."

"Thank you, monsieur."  He sat down on the edge of the chair and
took the cup carefully in both hands, at the same time glancing at
the clock.  "But we must not be late," he added fearfully.

"We shall not be.  The ships cannot possibly pass this end of the
island before noon."

"Which ones do you think they will be, monsieur?"

"They will probably be old friends, that have come to us often
before."

"Jacques means he hopes one of them will be La Garonne, with the
nice sailor who made our beaver," Cécile explained.

Jacques blushed and looked up at her trustfully.  But his anxiety
was too strong for him.  In a few moments he stole another glance
at the clock and resolutely put down his cup.

"If you please, monsieur, I think I will go now."

Auclair laughed.  "You may both go!  You are as restless as
kittens.  I can do nothing with either of you about.  I will follow
you in an hour or two.  You will have a long wait."

The children agreed they wouldn't mind that, and they ran out into
the early sunshine and down the hill hand in hand.

"Oh, look at the market square, Jacques, look!  I have never seen
so many carts before."

Since long before daybreak the country people had been coming into
town, bringing all they could carry in their carts and on their
backs; fresh pork, dressed rabbits and poultry, butter and eggs,
salad, green beans, leeks, peas, cucumbers, wild strawberries,
maple sugar, spruce beer.  The sailors, after two or three months
on salt meat and ship's bread, would sell their very ear-rings for
poultry and green vegetables.  All the market-women, and the men,
too, were dressed in their best, in whatever was left of the
holiday costume they used to wear at home, in their native town.  A
sailor would always make straight for the head-dress or bonnet or
jacket of his own pays.

The children found there was already a crowd at the waterside, and
while they ran about, hunting for an advantageous post of
observation, people kept streaming down Mountain Hill.  The whole
of the Upper Town was emptying itself into the Lower.  The old
people, who almost never left the house, came with the rest, and
babies at the breast were carried along because there was no one at
home to leave them with.  Not even on great feast-days did one see
so many people come together.  Bishop Laval and his donné came down
the hill and took their places in the crowd.  Giorgio, the drummer
boy, and Picard, the Count's valet, were sitting on one of the
cannon that guarded the landing-place.  Noël Pommier and his friend
the wagon-maker came carrying old Madame Pommier between them, and
a boy followed bringing her chair.  There were even new faces: a
company of Montreal merchants, who had been staying at the Château
for several days, awaiting the ships.

All the poor and miserable were on the water front, as well as the
great.  'Toinette was moving about in the crowd, looking fresh and
handsome in a clean dress and a new kerchief.  Her partner, the
snail, with her hair curled very tight and her hands hidden under
her apron, was standing among the poor folk over by the King's
warehouse.  Jacques was careful to keep out of his mother's way;
but she had no wish to be bothered with him and was blind to his
presence in the crowd.  The Count did not come down the hill, but
he was in plain view on the terrace in front of the Château, and
with him were the Intendant and Madame de Champigny, and a group of
officers with their wives.  Everyone in Kebec, Cécile believed,
except the cloistered nuns, was out today.  Even Monseigneur de
Saint-Vallier, though he was so proud, had a chair placed in the
highest part of his garden and sat there looking down over the
roofs, watching for the ships.

The hours dragged on.  Babies began to cry and old people to
murmur, but nobody went away.  Giorgio and Picard made a place for
Jacques between them on the cannon.  By the time her father
arrived, Cécile was beginning to wonder whether she could possibly
stand any longer.  But very soon a shout went up--something flashed
in the south channel against the green fields of the Île d'Orléans.
Cécile held her breath and gripped her father's hand.  It dipped,
it rose again, a gleam of white.  There could be no doubt now;
larger and larger, the canvas of sails set full, with the wind well
behind them.  Soon the whole rigging rose above the rapidly
dropping shore, then the full figure of a square-rigged ship
emerged, passed the point of the island, and glided into the broad,
undivided river.  The cannon on the redoubt boomed the Governor's
salute, and all the watchers on the waterside shouted a great
welcoming cry, waving their caps, kerchiefs, aprons, anything at
hand.  Women, and men, too, cried for joy.  Cécile hid her face on
her father's shoulder, and Jacques stood up on the cannon, waving
his little cap.

"Les Deux Frères, Les Deux Frères!" people began to shout, while
others laughed at them.  She was not near enough for anyone to be
sure, but the townspeople knew those carrying boats by heart, held
their lines and shape in mind all year.  Sure enough, as the vessel
bore up the river toward the rock, everyone agreed that it was Les
Deux Frères, from Le Havre.  Her anchor-chains had scarcely begun
to rattle when the sound was drowned by new shouts; a second set of
sails was sighted between the green fields and the pine-clad shore.

"Le Profond, Le Profond!" the people cried, and again the ordnance
thundered from the redoubt.

Within half an hour the Captain of Les Deux Frères came ashore in a
little boat, bringing dispatches for the Governor.  But before he
could make his way up to the Château, he had to stop to greet old
friends and to answer the questions of the crowd that pressed about
him.

The King was well, and Monsieur le Dauphin was in good health.  The
young Duc de Bourgogne--the King's grandson--was married to a
little Princess of Savoie, only twelve years old, mais bien sage.
The war was at a standstill; but of that they would hear later,--he
tapped his dispatch-case.  The wheat-harvest had been good last
year, the vintage one of the best within memory.  Of the voyage he
had no time to speak; they had got here, hadn't they?  That was the
important thing.

The Captain made his way up the hill, and Bishop Laval went into
the church of Notre Dame de la Victoire to thank God for preserving
the King's health.

Sometimes, owing to bad weather and high winds, the ships of the
first fleet came in four or five days apart; but this year they
came in close succession.  By sunset five vessels were anchored in
the roadstead before Quebec:  Les Deux Frères, Le Profond, La Reine
du Nord, La Licorne, Le Faucon.  They stood almost in a row, out in
the river.  Worn, battered old travellers they looked.  It brought
tears to the eyes to think how faithful they were, and how much
they had endured and overcome in the years they had been beating
back and forth between Canada and the Old World.  What adverse
winds those sails had been trimmed to, what mountains of waves had
beaten the sides of those old hulls, what a wilderness of hostile,
never-resting water those bows had driven through!  Beaten
southward, beaten backward, out of their course for days and even
weeks together; rolling helpless, with sails furled, water over
them and under them,--but somehow wearing through.  On bad voyages
they retraced their distance three and five times over, out-tiring
the elements by their patience, and then drove forward again--
toward Kebec.  Sometimes they went south of Newfoundland to enter
the Gulf, sometimes they came south of Labrador and through the
straits of Belle Île; always making for this rock in the St.
Lawrence.  Cécile wondered how they could ever find it,--a goal so
tiny, out of an approach so vast.

Many a time a boat came in wracked and broken, and it took all
summer to make repairs, before the captain dared face the sea
again.  And all summer the hardships and mischances of the fleet
were told over and over in Quebec.  The greater part of the
citizens had made that voyage at least once, and they knew what a
North Atlantic crossing meant: little wooden boats matched against
the immensity and brutality of the sea; the strength that came out
of flesh and blood and goodwill, doing its uttermost against cold,
unspending eternity.  The colonists loved the very shapes of those
old ships.  Here they were again, in the roadstead, sending off the
post-bags.  And tomorrow they would give out of their insides food,
wine, cloth, medicines, tools, fire-arms, prayer-books, vestments,
altars for the missions, everything to comfort the body and the
soul.



II


The next few days were like a continual festival, with sailors
overrunning the town, and drinking and singing in the Place half
the night.  Every day was market day, and both Blinker and his
master worked double shifts, trying to bake bread enough for five
crews.  The waterside was heaped with merchandise and casks of
wine.  The merchants employed every idle man and boy to help them
store their goods, and all the soldiers were detailed to receive
the supplies for the Château and the forts.  Even the churches and
the priests were busier than usual.  The sailors, though they might
indulge in godless behaviour, were pious in their own way; went to
confession soon after they got into port, and attended mass.  They
lived too near the next world not to wish to stand well with it.
Nobody begrudged them their rough pleasures; they never stole, and
they seldom quarrelled.  Even the strictest people, like Bishop
Laval, recognized that men who were wet and cold and poorly fed for
months together, who had to climb the rigging in the teeth of the
freezing gales that blew down from Labrador, must be allowed a
certain licence during the few weeks they were on shore.  The
colony owed its life to these fellows; whatever else they did, they
got the ships to Quebec every year.

Cécile was allowed to take Jacques for an escort and go down to the
waterside in the morning to watch the unloading,--until the third
day, when Auclair's own goods, from the old drug house in the
parish of Saint-Paul, were brought ashore from Le Profond.  In a
few hours the orderly shop, and the salon behind it, were full of
bales and boxes.  M. Auclair said they must begin unpacking at
once, as with this confusion there was no room for customers to
come and go.  Jacques had followed the carriers up the hill, and he
decided that he would rather stay and see these boxes opened than
share in the general excitement on the waterside.

The apothecary took off his coat and set to work with his hammer
and chisel.  Blinker, very curious to see everything that came out
of the boxes, ran in between bakings to carry the lumber and straw
down into the cellar.  One by one the white jars on the shelves,
and the drawers of the cabinets, were filled up again; with
powders, salts, gums, blue crystals, strong-smelling spices, bay-
leaves, lime flowers, camomile flowers, senna, hyssop, mustard,
dried plants and roots in great variety.  There was the usual crate
of small wooden boxes containing fruits conserved in sugar, very
costly and much prized in Quebec.  These boxes could not be opened,
of course, as they were the most expensive articles in Auclair's
stock, but it delighted the children to read the names on the
covers: figs, apricots, cherries, candied lemon rind, and
crystallized ginger.

While Cécile and Jacques were counting over these boxes of
sweetmeats and wondering who would buy such luxuries, Auclair told
them he was much more interested in a jar labelled "Bitumen--oleum
terræ" than in the conserves.  It contained a dark, ill-smelling
paste which looked like wagon grease; a kind of petroleum jelly
that seeped out of the rocks in a certain cairn on the island of
Barbados and was carried from thence to France.  He had great need
for it here in Canada; he purified it, added a small amount of
alcohol and borax, and prepared a remedy for snow-blindness, with
which hunters and trappers and missionaries were so cruelly
afflicted in winter.  So far, no cure had been discovered that gave
such relief.  A physician in Montreal had tried a similar
treatment, using goose grease and lard instead of the oleum terræ,
with very bad results.  This, Auclair explained to the children,
was because all animal fat contained impurities, and this "Barbados
tar," as it was vulgarly called, might be regarded as a mineral
fat.  He went on to say that in general he distrusted remedies made
of the blood or organs of animals, though he must admit that some
were of exceptional value.  For a hundred years and more the Breton
fishermen, who went as far as Newfoundland and Labrador for their
catch, had been making a medicinal oil from the fat livers of the
codfish, and had an almost fanatical faith in its benefits.  He
himself had used it in Quebec for cases of general decline, and
found it strengthening.

"But I detest all medicines made from lizards and serpents," he
concluded his lecture, "even viper broth."

"Viper broth, Father?  I have never heard of that.  Is it an Indian
medicine?"

"My dear, at the time when we came out to Canada, it was very much
the fashion at home.  Half the great ladies of France were drinking
a broth made from freshly killed vipers every morning, instead of
their milk or chocolate, and believed themselves much the better
for it.  Medicine is a dark science, as I have told you more than
once."

"Yes, but everything here in our shop is good for people.  We know
that, don't we, Jacques?  You shouldn't speak against medicines,
Father, when our new ones have just come and we are feeling so
happy to have them.  You always worry, you know, when any of the
jars are nearly empty."

"Oh, we do what we can, my dear!  We can but try."  Her father took
up his chisel again and began to pry the lid from another box.
"The perplexing thing is that honest pharmaciens get such different
results from the same remedy.  Your grandfather, all his life,
believed that he had helped many cases of epilepsy with powdered
unicorn's horn, which he got from Africa at great expense; while I
have so low an opinion of it that I never keep it in my shop."

"But your cough-sirops, Papa, both kinds, help everyone.  And
Madame Renaude says she could never milk her cows in the morning if
she did not put your rheumatism ointment on her hands at night."

Auclair laughed.  "You are your mother over again.  No matter on
whom I tried a new remedy, she was always the first to feel its
good effects.  But what is this, Cécile?  A package addressed to
you, and in Aunt Blanche's handwriting, here among my Arabian
spices!  Why, she must have taken it to the pharmacie and persuaded
Monsieur Neuillant to pack it with his drugs, to ensure quick
delivery.  Now we shall have something of whose goodness there can
be no doubt.  No, you must open it yourself.  Jacques and I will
look on."

Night-gowns, with yokes beautifully embroidered by Aunt Blanche
herself; a pair of stockings knit by the little cousin Cécile; a
woollen dressing-gown; two jerseys, one red and one blue; a blue
silk dress, all trimmed with velvet bands, to wear to mass; a gold
brooch and a string of coral beads from Aunt Clothilde.  Cécile
unfolded them one after another and held them up to view.  Never
had a box from home brought such fine things before.  What did it
mean?

"It means that you are growing up now and must soon dress like a
young lady.  The aunts bear that fact in mind,--more than I,
perhaps."  Auclair sighed and became thoughtful.

Jacques clasped his two hands together and looked up at Cécile with
his slow, utterly trustful and self-forgetful smile.

"Oh, Cécile," he breathed, "you will look so beautiful!"



III


Pierre Charron had come down from Montreal and was giving a supper
party for his friend Maître Pondaven, captain of Le Faucon.  Cécile
and her father were the only guests invited, though Pierre had said
they might bring Jacques along to see the Captain's parrot.  It was
to be a party in the open air, down by the waterside, under the
full moon.

Cécile had no looking-glass upstairs--the only one in the house was
in the salon--so she always dressed by feeling rather than by
sight.  This afternoon she put on the blue silk dress with black
velvet bands, walked about in it, then took it off and spread it
out on her bed, where she smoothed it and admired it.  It was too
different from anything she had ever worn before, too long and too
grand--quite right to wear to mass or to a wedding, perhaps, but
not for tonight.  She slipped on one of her new jerseys and felt
like herself again.  The coral beads she would wear; they seemed
appropriate for a sailor's party.  She left the beautiful dress
lying on her bed and went down to see that her father had brushed
his Sunday coat, and to give Jacques's hands a scrubbing.  She and
the little boy sat down on the sofa to wait for Pierre, while
Auclair was arranging his shop for the night.  To Cécile the time
dragged very slowly.  She was thinking, not about the novelty of
having supper by moonlight, or of the tête de veau they were
promised, or of the celebrated Captain Pondaven, but of his parrot.

All her life she had longed to possess a parrot.  The idea of a
talking bird was fascinating to her--seemed to belong with
especially rare and wonderful things, like orange-trees and
peacocks and gold crowns and the Count's glass fruit.  Her mother,
she whispered to Jacques, had often told her about a parrot kept in
one of the great houses at home, which saw a servant steal silver
spoons and told the master.  Then there was the imprisoned princess
who taught her parrot to say her lover's name, and her cruel
brothers cut out the bird's tongue.  Magpies were also taught to
speak, but they could say only a word or two.

At last she heard Pierre's voice at the front door.

"All ready, Monsieur Euclide?"

Cécile jumped up from the sofa and ran into the shop.

"We have been ready a long while, Pierre.  I thought you had
forgotten us."

"Little stupid!"  Pierre pinched her ear.

Auclair now looked at his daughter for the first time.

"But I supposed you would wear the new dress from Aunt Blanche?"

Cécile coloured a little.  "I feel better like this.  You don't
mind, Pierre Charron?"

"Not a bit!  This is a picnic, not a dinner of ceremony.  Monsieur
Auclair, will you be kind enough to bring some of those little nuts
you burn to keep off mosquitoes?"

"Ah yes, the eucalyptus balls!  Certainly, that is a good idea.  I
will fill my pockets."  The apothecary put on the large beaver hat
which he wore only to weddings and funerals, and they set off down
the hill, the two men before, Cécile and Jacques following.

Down on the water-front, at some distance behind the church of
Notre Dame de la Victoire, a row of temporary cabins were put up
each summer, where hot food was served to the sailors on shore
leave.  In one of these Renaude-le-lièvre, the butter-woman, and an
old dame from Dinan sold fresh milk and butter and Breton pancakes
to the seamen from that part of the world.  Tonight they had
prepared a special supper for the Captain, of whom all the Bretons
were proud; he had come up from a mousse and had made his own way
in the world.  Pierre had ordered things he knew the Captain liked;
a dish made of three kinds of shell-fish, a tête de veau, which la
Renaude did very well, a roast capon with a salad, and for dessert
Breton pancakes with honey and preserves.

When the party arrived, their table was waiting for them, with a
white cloth, and a lantern hung from a pole--already lit, though it
was not yet dark and a pale moon was shining in a clear evening
sky.  While Pierre was giving instructions to the cooks, Captain
Pondaven was being rowed ashore by two of his crew.  He came up
from the landing, his parrot on his shoulder, dressed as no one
there had ever seen him before, in his Breton holiday suit, which
he carried about the world with him in his sailor's chest; a black
jacket heavily embroidered in yellow, white knee-breeches, very
full and pleated at the belt, black cloth leggings, and a broad-
brimmed black hat with a shallow crown.  He was a plain, simple
man, direct in his dealings as in his glance, and he came from
Saint-Malo, where the grey sea breaks against the town walls.

At first Cécile thought him a little sombre and solemn, but after a
mug of Jamaica rum he was more at his ease, and as the supper went
on he grew very companionable.  She had hoped he would begin to
tell at once about his voyages and the strange countries he had
seen, but he seemed to wish to talk of nothing but his own town and
his family.  He had four boys, he said, and one little girl.

"And she is the only one who was born when I was at home.  I am
always a little anxious about her.  The boys are strong like me and
can take care of themselves, but she is more delicate,--not so
sturdy as Mademoiselle here, though perhaps Mademoiselle is older."

"I was thirteen last month," Cécile told him.

"And she will be eleven in December.  I am nearly always at home
for her birthday."

Auclair asked him whether by home he meant Le Havre or Saint-Malo.
The seaman looked surprised.

"Saint-Malo, naturally.  I was born a Malouin."

"I know that.  But since you take on your cargo at Le Havre, I
thought you perhaps lived there now."

"Oh, no!  One is best in one's own country.  I run back to Saint-
Malo after my last trip, and tie up there for the winter."

"But that must add to your difficulties, Monsieur Pondaven."

"It is nothing to me.  I know the Channel like my own town.  All my
equipage are glad to get home.  They are all Malouins.  I should
not know how to manage with men from another part."

"You Malouins stick together like Jesuits," Pierre declared.  "Yet
by your own account you were not so well treated there that you
need love the place."

Captain Pondaven smiled an artless smile.  "Perhaps that is the
very reason!  He means, Monsieur Auclair, that the town brought me
up like a stepmother.  My father was drowned, fishing off
Newfoundland, and my mother died soon afterwards.  With us, when an
orphan boy is twelve years old, he is given a suit of clothes and a
chest and is sent to sea as a mousse.  They sent me out with a hard
master my first voyage.  But when I came back from Madagascar and
showed how my ears were torn and my back was scarred, the
townspeople took up my case and got my papers changed.  My
townspeople did not do so badly by me.  When I was ready for a
command, they saw that I had my chance.  They put their money
behind me, and I have been half-owner in my boat for five years
now."

Though she liked the Captain very much and gave polite attention to
his talk, Cécile's mind was on the parrot.  He sat forgotten on the
back of the chair, attached to his master's belt by a long cord.
He seemed of a sullen disposition--there was nothing gay and bird-
like about him.  Neither was he so brilliant as she had expected.
He was all grey, except for rose-coloured tail-feathers, and his
plumage was ruffled and untidy, for he was moulting.  He gave no
sign of his peculiar talent, but sat as silent as the stuffed
alligator at home, never moving except to cock his head on one
side.  When the leek soup put a temporary stop to conversation, she
ventured a question.

"And what is your parrot's name, if you please, Monsieur Pondaven?"

The Captain looked up from his plate and smiled at her.  "His name
is Coco, mademoiselle, and he will make noise enough presently.  He
is a little shy with strangers, not seeing many on board."

Then the shell-fish came on, and Auclair asked the Captain what
people at home thought of the King's peace with the English.

He said he did not know what the inland people thought.  "But with
us on the coast it will make little difference.  The King cannot
make peace on the sea.  Our people will take an English ship
whenever they have a chance.  They are looking for good plunder
this summer.  We must have our revenge for the ships they took from
us last year."

"They are fine seamen, the English," Pierre Charron declared.
Cécile had noticed that he was in one of his perverse moods, when
he liked to tease and antagonize everyone a little.

The Captain answered him mildly.  "Yes, they are good sailors, but
we usually get the better of them.  They are a blasphemous lot and
have no respect for good manners or religion.  That never pays."

Auclair reminded him that last summer the English had captured one
of the boats bound for Canada.

"I remember well, Le Saint-Antoine, and the Captain is a friend of
mine.  They took the boat into Plymouth and sold her at auction.
Many of our merchants lost heavily.  Your Bishop, Monseigneur de
Saint-Vallier, had sent some things for the missions over here by
Le Saint-Antoine.  Some bones of the saints and other holy relics
were packed in an oak chest, and the Captain, out of respect, put
it in his own cabin.  The English, when they plundered the ship,
came upon this chest and supposed it was treasure.  When they
opened it, they were furious.  After committing every possible
sacrilege they took the relics to the cook's galley and threw them
into the stove where their dinner was cooking."

Cécile asked whether no punishment had come upon those sailors.

"Not at the time, mademoiselle, but I shouldn't like to put to sea
with such actions on my soul,--and I am no coward, either."

"Sales cochons anglais, sales cochons!" said another voice, and she
realized that at last the parrot had spoken.  Jacques put his hand
over his mouth to stifle a cry.  Pierre and her father laughed, and
applauded the parrot, but Cécile was much too startled to laugh.
She had supposed that the speech of parrots called for a good deal
of imagination on the part of the listener, like the first efforts
of babies.  But nobody could possibly mistake what this bird said.
Had he been out of sight, in the shed kitchen with Mère Renaude,
she would have thought some queer old person was in there, talking
in a vindictive tone.

"Oh, monsieur, isn't he wonderful!" she gasped.

The Captain was pleased.  "You find him amusing?  Yes, he is a
clever bird; you will see.  Now let us all clink our cups
together,--you, too, little man,--and perhaps he will say something
else."

They rattled their pewter mugs several times, and the bird came out
with: "Vive le Roi, vive le Roi!"  Jacques began jumping up and
down with excitement.

"He is a loyal subject of the King," said Pondaven.  "He has been
taught to say that when the cups clink.  But for the most part, I
don't teach him; he picks up what he likes."

"And do you always take him to sea with you, monsieur?"

"Nearly always, mademoiselle.  My men believe he brings us good
luck; they like to have him on board.  I have his cage swung in my
cabin, and when the ship pitches badly, I tie it down."

"But how does he endure the cold?" Auclair asked.  "These are
tropical birds, after all."

"Yes, his brother died of a chill on his first voyage--I had two of
them.  But this one seems to stand it.  When he begins to shiver, I
give him a little brandy in warm water--he is very fond of it--and
I put a blanket over him.  He will live to be a hundred if I can
keep him from taking cold."

Conscious that he was the centre of attention, the parrot began to
croon softly:  "Bon petit Coco, bon petit Coco.  Ici, ici!"

Jacques and Cécile left their places and stood behind the Captain's
chair to watch the bird's throat.  Pondaven explained that he was
an African parrot, and that was why he had so many tones of voice,
harsh and gentle, for the African birds have a much more sensitive
ear than the West Indian.

"Should you like to hear him whistle a tune, mademoiselle?  He can,
if he will.  We will try to have a little concert."  He put the
parrot on his knee, took a piece of maple sugar from the table, and
held it before the unblinking yellow eyes.  Then the Captain began
to whistle a song of his own country:


     A Saint-Malo, beau port de mer,
     Trois gros navires sont arrivés.


After a few moments the bird repeated the air perfectly--his
whistle was very musical, sounded somewhat like a flute.  He was
given the sugar, and stood on one foot while he fed himself with
the other.  The company now became interested in the tête de veau,
but Jacques and Cécile scarcely tasted the dish for watching Coco.
They were both wishing they could carry him off and keep him in the
apothecary shop for ever.

"Has Coco a soul, Cécile?" Jacques whispered.

"I wonder!  I will ask the Captain after a while, but we must
listen now."

Captain Pondaven was relating some of the wonderful happenings in
his own town.  Presently he told them the story of how a great she-
ape, brought to Saint-Malo as a curiosity by the Indian fleet, had
one day broken her chain and run about the town.  She dashed into a
house, snatched a baby from its cradle, and ran up to the house-
tops with it,--and in Saint-Malo, he reminded them, the houses are
four and even five storeys high.  While all the terrified
neighbours gathered in the street, the mother fell on her knees,
shut her eyes, and appealed to the Blessed Virgin.  The ape
clambered along the roofs until she came to a house where an image
of Our Lady stood in a little alcove up under the eaves.  Into this
recess the beast thrust the baby, and left it there, as safe as if
it were with its own mother.

The children and the apothecary thought this a charming story, but
Pierre sniffed.  "Oh, you have nothing over us in the way of
miracles!" he told the Captain.  "Here we have them all the time.
Every Friday the beaver is changed into a fish, so that good
Catholics may eat him without sin.  And why do you look at me like
that, Mademoiselle Cécile?"

"Everyone knows he is not changed, Pierre.  He is only considered
as a fish by the Church, so that hunters off in the woods can have
something to eat on Fridays."

"And suppose in Montreal some Friday I were to consider a roast
capon as a fish?  I should be put into the stocks, likely enough!"

Captain Pondaven smiled and shook his head.  "Mademoiselle has the
better of you, Charron.  A man can make fun of the angels, if he
sets out to.  But I was going to tell the little boy here that in
our town, when a child is naughty, we still tell him the she-ape
will get him; and the children are as much afraid of that beast as
if she were alive."

The time had come for story-telling; Pondaven and Pierre Charron
began to entertain each other with tales of the sea and forest, as
they always did when they got together.

At about ten o'clock Father Hector Saint-Cyr came out from the
Château, where he had been to lay before Count Frontenac a petition
from the Christianized Indians of his mission at the Sault.  He
lingered on the terrace to enjoy the prospect,--he got to Quebec
but seldom.  The moon was high in the heavens, shining down upon
the rock, with its orchards and gardens and silvery steeples.  The
dark forest and the distant mountains were palely visible.  This
was not the warm white moonlight of his own Provence, certainly,
which made the roads between the mulberry-trees look like rivers of
new milk.  This was the moonlight of the north, cold, blue, and
melancholy.  It threw a shimmer over the land, but never lay in
velvet folds on any wall or tower or wheat-field.  Out in the river
the five ships from France rode at anchor.  Some sailors down in
the Place were singing, and when they finished, their mates on
board answered them with another song.

Why, the priest wondered, were these fellows always glad to get
back to Kebec?  Why did they come at all?  Why should this
particular cliff in the wilderness be echoing tonight with French
songs, answering to the French tongue?  He recalled certain naked
islands in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence; mere ledges of rock
standing up a little out of the sea, where the sea birds came every
year to lay their eggs and rear their young in the caves and
hollows; where they screamed and flocked together and made a
clamour, while the winds howled around them, and the spray beat
over them.  This headland was scarcely more than that; a crag where
for some reason human beings built themselves nests in the rock,
and held fast.

Down yonder by the waterside, before one of the rustic booths, he
could see a little party seated about a table with lanterns.  He
could not see who they were, but he felt a friendliness for that
company.  A little group of Frenchmen, three thousand miles from
home, making the best of things,--having a good dinner.  He decided
to go down and join them.



IV


The apothecary, in his shirt-sleeves, was standing on a wooden
bench, taking down from the shelves of a high cabinet large sheets
of paper, to which dried plants were attached by narrow strips of
muslin gummed down with gum Arabic.  This was his herbarium, his
collection of medicinal Canadian plants which he meant to take back
to France.  Cécile, busily knitting, had been watching him for a
long while.  When at last he got down and began assorting the piles
of paper, she spoke to him.

"Papa, what will become of Jacques when we go back to France?"

Her father was engaged with a plant of the milkweed kind, which the
French colonists called le cotonnier.  He did not look up.

"Ah, my dear, I have the Count's perplexities and my own,--I cannot
arrange a future for your little protégé."

"But, Father, how can we leave him, with no one to look after him?
I shall always be thinking of him, and it will make me very
unhappy."

"You will soon have your little cousins for companions; Cécile, and
André, and Rachel.  Cousin André will fill Jacques's place in your
heart."

"No, Papa.  My heart is not like that."

She spoke quickly, almost defiantly, in a tone she had never used
to her father before.  He did not notice it; he was trying to
decide which of two gentians was the better preserved.  For a month
now he had been distracted and absent-minded.  Cécile went quietly
into the salon.  She almost hated that little André who was so
fortunate, who had a wise and charming mother to watch over him, a
father to provide for him, and a rich aunt to give him presents.
Laying aside her knitting, she put on her cap and went out to walk
about the town.

This was the first week of October.  The autumn had been warm and
sunny,--but rather sad, as always.  After the gay summer, came the
departures.  First Pierre Charron had gone back to Montreal.  Then
Captain Pondaven, who had been coming to the apothecary shop so
often that he seemed like a familiar friend, had suddenly set sail
for his old town where the grey sea beat under the castellated
walls.  Three new ships had come in during September:  La Garonne,
Le Duc de Bretagne, Le Soleil d'Afrique.  But La Garonne did not
bring the Breton sailor Jacques waited for, and his mates reported
that he had shipped on a boat in the West India trade.

None of the ships brought the word Cecile's father and the Governor
were so impatiently expecting.  A dark spirit of discontent and
restlessness seemed to be sitting in the little salon behind the
shop.  All peace and security had departed.  The very furniture
looked ill at ease, as if it did not believe in its own usefulness
any more.  Perhaps the sofa and the table and the curtains had
overheard her father say that he could not take them home with him,
but must leave them to be scattered among the neighbours.  Cécile
wished that she could be left and scattered, too.  She stayed out
of doors and away from the house as much as possible.  Her father
cared little about his dinner now--sometimes forgot to go to
market.  So why should she spend the golden afternoons indoors?

The glorious transmutation of autumn had come on: all the vast
Canadian shores were clothed with a splendour never seen in France;
to which all the pageants of all the kings were as a taper to the
sun.  Even the ragged cliff-side behind her kitchen door was
beautiful; the wild cherry and sumach and the blackberry vines had
turned crimson, and the birch and poplar saplings were yellow.  Up
by Blinker's cave there was a mountain ash, loaded with orange
berries.

In the Upper Town the grey slate roofs and steeples were framed and
encrusted with gold.  A slope of roof or a dormer window looked out
from the twisted russet branches of an elm, just as old mirrors
were framed in gilt garlands.  A sharp gable rose out of a soft
drift of tarnished foliage like a piece of agate set in fine
goldsmith's work.  So many kinds of gold, all gleaming in the soft,
hyacinth-coloured haze of autumn: wan, sickly gold of the willows,
already dropping; bright gold of the birches, copper gold of the
beeches.  Most beautiful of all was the tarnished gold of the elms,
with a little brown in it, a little bronze, a little blue, even--a
blue like amethyst, which made them melt into the azure haze with a
kind of happiness, a harmony of mood that filled the air with
content.  The spirit of peace, that acceptance of fate, which used
to dwell in the pharmacy on Mountain Hill, had left it and come
abroad to dwell in the orchards and gardens, in the little stony
streets where the leaves blew about.  Day after day Cécile had
walked about those streets trying to capture that lost content and
take it home again.  She felt almost as if she no longer had a
home; often wished she could follow the squirrels into their holes
and hide away with them for the winter.

This afternoon she saw that her father scarcely cared at all for
those they would leave behind,--the only friends she had ever
known.  She was miserable, too, because she had spoken angrily to
him.  All the way up the hill her heart grew heavier, and the neat
garden of the Récollets, where she was always welcome, seemed so
full of sadness that she could not stay.  She went into the
Cathedral, found a dark corner behind the image of Saint Anthony,
and knelt to pray.  But she could only hide her face and cry.  Once
giving way to tears, she wept bitterly for all that she had lost,
and all that she must lose so soon.  Her mother had had the courage
to leave everything she loved and to come out here with her father;
she in turn ought to show just that same courage about going back,
but she could not find it in her heart.  "O ma mère, je suis
faible!  Je n'ai pas l'esprit fort comme toi!" she whispered under
her sobs.

Bishop Laval, who was kneeling in the recess of a chapel, heard a
sound of smothered weeping.  He rose, turned about, and regarded
her for some moments.  Without saying a word he took her hand and
led her out through the sacristy door into the garden of the
Priests' House, where his poplar-trees were all yellow and the
ground was covered with fallen leaves.  He made her sit down beside
him on a bench and waited until she had dried her tears.

"We are old friends, little daughter," he said kindly.  "Your
mother was a woman of exemplary piety.  Have you been to your
spiritual director with your troubles?"

"Oh, excuse me, Monseigneur l'Ancien!  I am sorry to give way like
this.  I did not know it was coming on me."

"Can I help you in any way, my child?"

Cécile thought perhaps he could.  At any rate, she felt a longing
to confide in him.  She had never been intimidated by his deep-set,
burning eyes or his big nose.  She always felt a kind of majesty in
his grimness and poverty.  Seventy-four years of age and much
crippled by his infirmities, going about in a rusty old cassock, he
yet commanded one's admiration in a way that the new Bishop, with
all his personal elegance, did not.  One believed in his
consecration, in some special authority won from fasting and
penances and prayer; it was in his face, in his shoulders, it was
he.

Cécile turned to him and told him in a low voice how she and her
father expected to leave Quebec very soon and go back to France,
and how hard it would be for her to part from her friends.  "And
what troubles me most is the little boy, Jacques Gaux.  You have
been so kind as to ask about him sometimes, mon père, and perhaps
after we are gone you will not forget him.  I wish someone would
bear him in mind and look after him a little."

"You must pray for him, my child.  It is to such as he that our
Blessed Mother comes nearest.  You must unceasingly recommend him
to her, and I will not forget to do so."

"I shall always pray for him," Cécile declared fervently, "but if
only there were someone in this world, here in Quebec--Oh,
Monseigneur l'Ancien," she turned to him pleadingly, "everyone says
you are a father to your people, and no one needs a father so much
as poor Jacques!  If you would bid Houssart keep an eye on him, and
when he sees the little boy dirty and neglected, to bring him here,
where everything is good and clean, and wash his face!  It would
help him only to sit here with you--he is like that.  Madame
Pommier would look after him for me, but she cannot get about, and
Jacques will not go to her, I am afraid.  He is shy.  When he is
very dirty and ragged, he hides away."

"Compose yourself, my child.  We can do something.  Suppose I were
to send him to the Brothers' school in Montreal, and prepare him
for the Seminary?"

She shook her head despondently.  "He could never learn Latin.  He
is not a clever child; but he is good.  I don't think he would be
happy in a school."

"Schools are not meant to make boys happy, Cécile, but to teach
them to do without happiness."

"When he is older, perhaps, Monseigneur, but he is only seven."

"I was only nine when I was sent to La Flèche, and that is a severe
school," said the Bishop.  Perhaps some feeling of pity for his own
hard boyhood, the long hours of study, the iron discipline, the
fasts and vigils that kept youth pale, rose in his heart.  He
sighed heavily and murmured something under his breath, of which
Cécile caught only the words:  ". . . domus . . . Domine."

She thanked him for his kindness and curtsied to take her leave.
He walked with her to the garden door.  "I will not forget what you
have confided to my care, and I will seek out this child from time
to time and see what can be done for him.  But our Blessed Mother
can do more for him than you or I.  Never omit to present him to
her compassion, my daughter."

Cécile went away comforted.  Merely sitting beside the Bishop had
given her an escape from her own thoughts.  His nature was so
strong of its kind, and different from that of anyone else she
knew.  She was hurrying home with fresh courage when she met
Jacques himself, coming up the hill to look for her.

"I went to your house," he said, "but monsieur your father was
occupied, so I came away."

"That was right.  Have you had a bite of anything?"

He shook his head.

"Neither have I.  If my father is busy with his plants we should
only bother him.  Let us get a loaf from Monsieur Pigeon and take
it up by the redoubt, and watch the sun go down."

By the time they had called at the baker's and climbed to the top
of Cap Diamant, the sun, dropping with incredible quickness, had
already disappeared.  They sat down in the blue twilight to eat
their bread and await the turbid afterglow which is peculiar to
Quebec in autumn; the slow, rich, prolonged flowing-back of crimson
across the sky, after the sun has sunk behind the dark ridges of
the west.  Because of the haze in the air the colour seems thick,
like a heavy liquid, welling up wave after wave, a substance that
throbs, rather than a light.

That crimson flow, that effulgence at the solemn twilight hour,
often made Cécile think about the early times and the martyrs--
coming up, as it did, out of those dark forests that had been the
scene of their labours and their fate.  The rainbow, she knew, was
set in the heavens to remind us of a promise that all storms shall
have an ending.  Perhaps this afterglow, too, was ordained in the
heavens for a reminder.

"Jacques," she said presently, "do you ever think about the
martyrs?  You ought to, because they were so brave."

"I don't like to think about them.  It makes me feel bad," he
murmured.  He was sitting with his hands on his knees, looking
vaguely into the west.

Cécile squeezed his arm.  "Oh, it doesn't me!  It makes me feel
happy, as if I could never be afraid of anything again.  I wish you
and I could go very far up the river in Pierre Charron's canoe, and
then off into the forests to the Huron country, and find the very
places where the martyrs died.  I would rather go out there than--
anywhere."  Rather than go home to France, she was thinking.

But perhaps, after she grew up, she could come back to Canada
again, and do all those things she longed to do.  Perhaps some day,
after weeks at sea, she would find herself gliding along the shore
of the Île d'Orléans and would see before her Kebec, just as she
had left it; the grey roofs and spires smothered in autumn gold,
with the Récollet flèche rising slender and pure against the
evening, and the crimson afterglow welling up out of the forest
like a glorious memory.




BOOK SIX

THE DYING COUNT



I


Count Frontenac sat at the writing-table in his long room, driving
his quill across sheets of paper.  He was finishing a report to
Pontchartrain, the Minister, which was to go by Le Soleil
d'Afrique, sailing now in three days.  Auclair stood by the
fireplace, where the birch logs were smouldering,--it was now the
end of October.  He was remarking to himself that his master, often
so put about by trifles, could bear with calmness a crushing
disappointment.

All summer the Count had been waiting for his release from office,
had confidently expected a letter summoning him to return to France
to fill some post worthy of his past services.

When the King had sent him out here nine years ago, it had been to
save Canada--nothing less.  The fur trade was completely
demoralized, and the Iroquois were murdering French colonists in
the very outskirts of Montreal.  The Count had accomplished his
task.  He had chastised the Indians, restored peace and order,
secured the safety of trade.  He was now in his seventy-eighth
year, and although he had repeatedly asked for his recall to
France, the King had made no recognition of his services beyond
sending him the Cross of St. Louis last autumn.

It was sometimes hinted that there was a personal reason for the
King's neglect.  There was an old story that because Madame de
Montespan had been Count Frontenac's mistress before she became
King Louis's, His Majesty disliked the sight of the Count.  But
Madame de Montespan had long ago fallen out of favour; she had been
living in retirement for many years and never came to Court.  The
King himself was no longer young.  Auclair doubted whether one old
man would remember an affair of youthful gallantry against another
old man,--when the woman herself was old and long forgotten.

He was thinking of this as he stood by the fire, awaiting his
master's pleasure.  At last the Governor pushed back his papers and
turned to him.

"Euclide," he began, "I am afraid I cannot promise you much for the
future.  When the last ships came in, I had no doubt that I should
go home on one of them,--and you and your daughter with me.  By La
Vengeance the Minister sends me a letter concerning the peace of
Rijswijk, but ignores my petition for recall.  He assures me of His
Majesty's esteem, and of his desire to reward my services more
substantially in the future.  The future, for a man of my age, is
an inconsiderable matter.  His Majesty prefers that I shall die in
Quebec."

The Count rose and walked to the window behind his desk, where he
stood looking down at the ships anchored in the river, already
loading for departure.  As he stood there lost in reflection,
Auclair thought he seemed more like a man revolving plans for a new
struggle with fortune than one looking back upon a life of
brilliant failures.  The Count had the bearing of a fencer when he
takes up the foil; from his shoulders to his heels there was
intention and direction.  His carriage was his unconscious idea of
himself,--it was an armour he put on when he took off his night-cap
in the morning, and he wore it all day, at early mass, at his desk,
on the march, at the Council, at his dinner-table.  Even his
enemies relied upon his strength.

"I have never been a favourite," he said, turning round suddenly.
"I have not the courtier's address.  Without that, a military man
cannot go far nowadays.  Perhaps I offended His Majesty by trying
to teach him geography.  Nothing is more unpopular at Court than
the geography of New France.  They like to think of Quebec as
isolated, French, and Catholic.  The rest of the continent is a
wilderness, and they prefer to disregard it.  Any advance to the
westward costs money--and Quebec has already cost them enough."

The Count returned to his desk, sat down, and went on talking in
the impersonal, remote tone which he often adopted with his
apothecary.  Indeed, Auclair's chief service to his patron was not
to administer drugs, but to listen occasionally, when the Governor
felt lonely, to talk of places and persons,--talk which would have
been incomprehensible to anyone else in Kebec.

"After my reappointment to Canada I had two audiences with His
Majesty.  The first was at Versailles, when he was full of a
project to seize New York and the Atlantic seaports from the
English.  I was not averse to such an enterprize, but I explained
some of the difficulties.  With a small fleet and a few thousand
regulars, I would gladly have undertaken it.

"My second audience was at Fontainebleau, shortly before we
embarked from La Rochelle.  The King received me very graciously in
his cabinet, but he was no longer in a conqueror's mood; he had
consulted the treasury.  When I referred to the project he had
advanced at our previous meeting, he glanced at the clock over his
fireplace and remarked that it was the hour for feeding the carp.
He asked me to accompany him.  An invitation to attend His Majesty
at the feeding of the carp is, of course, a compliment.  We went
out to the carp basins.  I like a fine pond of carp myself, and
those at Fontainebleau are probably the largest and fiercest in
France.  The pages brought baskets of bread, and His Majesty threw
in the first loaves.  The carp there are monsters, really.  They
came grunting and snorting like a thousand pigs.  They piled up on
each other in hills as high as the rim of the basin, with all their
muzzles out; they caught a loaf and devoured it before it could
touch the water.  Not long before that, a caretaker's little girl
fell into the pond, and the carp tore her to pieces while her
father was running to the spot.  Some of them are very old and have
an individual renown.  One old creature, red and rusty down to his
belly, they call the Cardinal.

"Well, after the ravenous creatures had been fed by the royal hand,
the King accompanied me a little way down the chestnut avenue.  He
wished me God-speed and said adieu.  I took my departure by the
great gate, where my carriage waited, and the King went back to the
carp pond.  That was my last interview with my royal master.  That
was the end of his bold project to snatch the seaports from the
English and make this continent a French possession, as it should
be.  I sailed without troops, without money, to do what I could.
Unfortunately for you, I brought you with me."  The Count unlocked
a drawer of his desk.  He took out a leather bag and dropped it on
his pile of correspondence.  From its weight and the sound it made,
Auclair judged it contained gold pieces.

"When I persuaded you to come out here," the Governor continued, "I
promised you a return.  I have already seen the captain of Le
Soleil d'Afrique and bespoken his best cabin in case I have need of
it.  As you know, I am always poor, but in that sack there is
enough for you to begin a modest business at home.  If I were in
your place, I should get my belongings together and embark the day
after tomorrow."

"And you, Monsieur le Comte?"

"It is just possible that I may follow you next year.  If not,
Kebec is as near heaven as any place."

"Then I prefer to wait until next year also."  Auclair spoke
quietly, but without hesitation.  "I came to share your fortunes."

The Governor frowned.  "But you have your daughter's future to
consider.  At the present moment, I can in some degree assure you
another start in the world.  But if I terminate my days here, you
will be adrift, and I doubt if you will ever get home at all.  You
are not very adept in practical matters, Euclide."

Auclair flushed faintly.  "I have made my choice, patron.  I remain
in Kebec until you leave it.  And I have no need for that,"
indicating the leather bag.  "You pay me well for my services."

When the apothecary left the chamber, the Count looked after him
with a shrug, and a smile in which there was both contempt and
kindness.  He remembered an incident very long ago:  He had just
come home from the foreign wars, and had nearly ruined himself
providing a new coach and horses and liveries to make a suitable
re-entrance in the world.  The first time he went abroad in his new
carriage, to pay calls in the fashionable part of Paris, the
occupants of every coach he passed either were looking the other
way, or saluted him carelessly, as if they had seen him only the
day before.  Not even a driver or a footman glanced twice at his
fine horses.  The gatekeepers and equerries at the houses where he
stopped were insolently indifferent.  Late in the afternoon, when
he was crossing the Pont-Neuf at the crowded hour, in a stream of
coaches, he saw among the foot-passengers the first admirers of his
splendour: an old man and a young boy, gazing up and following his
carriage with eager eyes--the grandfather and grandson who lived in
the pharmacy next his stables and were his tenants.



II


The Count de Frontenac awoke suddenly out of a curious dream--a
dream so vivid that he could not at once shake it off, but lay in
the darkness behind his bed-curtains slowly realizing where he was.
The sound of a church-bell rang out hoarse on the still air: yes,
that would be the stubborn old man, Bishop Laval, ringing for early
mass.  He knew that bell like a voice.  He was, then, in Canada, in
the Château on the rock of Kebec; the St. Lawrence must be flowing
seaward beneath his windows.

In his dream, too, he had been asleep and had suddenly awakened;
awakened a little boy, in an old farm-house near Pontoise, where
his nurse used to take him in the summer.  He had been awakened by
fright, a sense that some danger threatened him.  He got up and in
his bare feet stole to the door leading into the garden, which was
ajar.  Outside, in the darkness, stood a very tall man in a plumed
hat and huge boots--a giant, in fact; the little boy's head did not
come up to his boot-tops.  He had no idea who the enormous man
might be, but he knew that he must not come in, that everything
depended upon his being kept out.  Quickly and cleverly the little
boy closed the door and slid the wooden bar,--he had no trouble in
finding it, for he knew the house so well.  But there was the front
door,--he was sleeping in the wing of the cottage, and that front
door was three rooms away.  Still barefoot, he went softly and
swiftly through the kitchen and the living-room to the hallway
behind that main door, which could be fastened by an iron bolt.  It
was pitch-dark, but he did not fumble, he found the bolt at once.
It was rusty, and stuck.  He felt how small and weak his hands
were--of that he was very conscious.  But he turned the bolt gently
back and forth in its hasp to loosen the rust-flakes, and coaxed it
into the iron loop on the door-jamb which made it fast.  Then he
felt suddenly faint.  He wiped the sweat from his face with the
sleeve of his night-gown, and waited.  That terrible man on the
other side of the door; one could hear him moving about in the
currant bushes, pulling at the rose-vines on the wall.  There were
other doors--and windows!  Every nook and corner of the house
flashed through his mind; but for the moment he was safe.  The
broad oak boards and the iron bolt were between him and the great
boots that must not cross the threshold.  While he stood gathering
his strength, he awoke in another bed than the one he had quitted a
few moments ago, but he was still covered with sweat and still
frightened.  He did not come fully to himself until he heard the
call of the old Bishop's bell-clapper.  Then he knew where he was.

Of all the houses he had slept in all over the world, in Flanders,
Holland, Italy, Crete, why had he awakened in that one near
Pontoise, and why had he remembered it so well?  His bare feet had
avoided every unevenness in the floor; in the dark he had stepped
without hesitation from the earth floor of the kitchen, over the
high sill, to the wooden floor of the living-room.  He had known
the exact position of all the furniture and had not stumbled
against anything in his swift flight through the house.  Yet he had
not been in that house since he was eight years old.  For four
summers his nurse, Noémi, had taken him there.  It was her
property, but on her son's marriage the daughter-in-law had become
mistress, according to custom.  Noémi had taken care of him from
the time he was weaned until he went to school.  His own mother was
a cold woman and had little affection for her children.  Indeed,
the Count reflected, as he lay behind his bed-curtains recovering
from his dream, no woman, probably, had ever felt so much affection
for him as old Noémi.  Not all women had found him so personally
distasteful as his wife had done; but not one of his mistresses had
felt more than a passing inclination for him.  Tenderness,
uncalculating, disinterested devotion, he had never known.  It was
in his stars that he was not to know it.  Noémi had loved his fine
strong little body, grieved when he was hurt, watched over him when
he was sick, carried him in her arms when he was tired.  Now, when
he was sick indeed, his mind, in sleep, had gone back to that woman
and her farm-house on the Oise.

It struck him that a dream of such peculiar vividness signified a
change in himself.  A change had been coming on all summer--during
the last few months it had progressed very fast.  When from his
windows he saw the last sail going out between the south shore and
the Île d'Orléans, he knew he would never live to see those boats
come back.  Now, after this dream, he decided to make his will
before another night fell.

Of late the physical sureness and sufficiency he had known all his
life had changed to a sense of limitation and uncertainty.  He had
no wish to prolong this state.  There was no one in this world whom
he would be sorry to leave.  His wife, Madame de la Grange
Frontenac, he had no desire to see again, though he would will to
her the little property he had, as was customary.  Once a year she
wrote him a long letter, telling him all the gossip of Paris and
informing him of the changes which occurred there.  From her
accounts it appeared that the sons of most of his old friends had
turned out badly enough.  He could not feel any very deep regret
that his own son had died in youth,--killed in an engagement in the
Low Countries many years ago.

The Count himself was ready to die, and he would be glad to die
here alone, without pretence and mockery, with no troop of
expectant relatives about his bed.  The world was not what he had
thought it at twenty--or even at forty.

He would die here, in this room, and his spirit would go before God
to be judged.  He believed this, because he had been taught it in
childhood, and because he knew there was something in himself and
in other men that this world did not explain.  Even the Indians had
to make a story to account for something in their lives that did
not come out of their appetites: conceptions of courage, duty,
honour.  The Indians had these, in their own fashion.  These ideas
came from some unknown source, and they were not the least part of
life.

In spiritual matters the Count had always accepted the authority of
the Church; in governmental and military matters he stoutly refused
to recognize it.  He had known absolute unbelievers, of course;
one, a witty and blasphemous scapegrace, the young Baron de La
Hontan, he had sheltered here in the Château, under the noses of
two Bishops.  But it was for his clever conversation, not for his
opinions, that the Count offered La Hontan hospitality.

When the grey daylight began to sift through the hangings of his
bed, Count Frontenac rang for Picard to bring his coffee.

"I shall not get up today, Picard," he remarked.  "You may shave me
in bed.  Afterwards, go to the notary and fetch him here to
transact some business with me.  Stop at the apothecary shop on
your way, and tell Monsieur Auclair I shall not need him until four
o'clock."

When Auclair arrived in the afternoon, he found his patron still in
bed, in his dressing-gown.  To his inquiries the Count replied
carelessly:

"Oh, I do very well indeed!  I find myself so comfortable that I
have almost decided to stay in bed for the rest of my life.  I have
been making my will today, and that reminded me of a promise I once
gave your daughter.  That bowl of glass fruit on the mantel: do not
forget to take it to her when you go home tonight, with my
greetings.  She has always admired it.  And there is another
matter.  In the leather chest in my dressing-room you will find a
large package wrapped in brown Holland.  It is table linen that I
brought out from Île Savary.  Tonight, when you will not be
observed, I wish you to take it home with you for safe keeping.
Upon Cécile's marriage, you will present it to her from me.  Why do
you look sober, Euclide?  You know very well that I must soon
change my climate, as the Indians say, and this Château will be in
other hands.  I merely arrange to dispose of my personal belongings
as I wish."

"Monsieur le Comte, if you would permit me to try the remedy I
suggested yesterday--"

"Tut-tut!  We will have no more remedies.  A little repose and
comfort.  The machine is worn out, certainly; but if we let it
alone, it may go a little longer, from habit.  When you come up
tonight, you may bring me something to make me sleep, however.
These long hours of wakefulness do a man no good.  Draw up a chair
and sit down by the fire, where I can speak to you without
shouting.  If you are to be in constant attendance here, you cannot
be forever standing."

Picard was called to put more wood on the fire, and after he
withdrew the Governor lay quiet for a time.  The grey light of the
rainy afternoon grew so pale that Auclair could no longer see his
patient's face, and supposed he had fallen asleep.  But suddenly he
spoke.

"Euclide, do you know the church of Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs, out
some distance?"

"Certainly, Monsieur le Comte.  I remember it very well."

"Many of my family are buried there; a sister of whom I was fond.
I shall be buried here, in the chapel of the Récollets, but I
should like my heart to be sent back to France, in a box of lead or
silver, and buried near my sister in Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs.  I
have left instructions to that effect in my will, but I prefer to
tell you, as I suppose you will have to attend to it.  That is all
we need say on the subject.

"Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier called here today, but as I was
engaged with the notary, he left word that he would make his visit
of ceremony tomorrow.  I should be pleased if some indisposition
were to keep him at home.  If he looks for any apologies or
recantations from me, he will be disappointed.  The old one will
not bother me with civilities."  Auclair heard the Count chuckle.
"The old one knows where he stands, at least, and never bends his
neck.  All the same, a better man for this part of the world than
the new one.  Saint-Vallier belongs at the Court--where he came
from."

The Count fell into reflection, and his apothecary sat silent,
waiting for his dismissal.  Both were thinking of a scene outside
the windows, under the low November sky--but the river was not the
St. Lawrence.  They were looking out on the Pont-Marie, and the
hay-barges tied up at the Port-au-Foin.  On an afternoon like this
the boatmen would be covering the hay-bales with tarpaulins,
Auclair was thinking, and about this time the bells always rang
from the Célestins' and the church of Saint-Paul.

When the fire fell apart and Auclair got up to mend it, the Count
spoke again, as if he knew perfectly well what was in the
apothecary's mind.  "The Countess de Frontenac writes me that the
Île Saint-Louis has become a very fashionable quarter.  I can
remember when it was hardly considered a respectable place to live
in,--when they first began building there, indeed!"

"And my grandfather could remember when it was a wood-pile, patron;
before the two islands were joined into one.  He was never
reconciled to the change, poor man.  He always thought it the most
convenient place for the wood-supply of our part of Paris."



III


One dark afternoon in November Cécile was sitting in the front
shop, knitting a stocking.  She sat in her own little chair, placed
beside her father's tall stool, on which she had put a candle, as
the daylight was so thick.  Though the street outside was wet and
the fog brown and the house so quiet, and though the Count was ill
up in the Château, she was not feeling dull, but happy and
contented.  As she knitted and watched the shop, she kept singing
over Captain Pondaven's old song, about the three ships that came


     A Saint-Malo, beau port de mer,
     Chargés d'avoin', chargés de bléd.


No more boats from France would come to Quebec as late as this,
even her father admitted that, and his herbarium had been put back
on the high shelves of the cabinet, where it belonged.  As soon as
those dried plants were out of sight, the house itself changed;
everything seemed to draw closer together, to join hands, as it
were.  Cécile had polished the candlesticks and pewter cups, rubbed
the table and the bed-posts and the chair-claws with oil, darned
the rent in her father's counterpane.  A little more colour had
come back into the carpet and the curtains, she thought.  Perhaps
that was only because the fire was lit in the salon every evening
now, and things always looked better in the fire-light.  But no,
she really believed that everything in the house, the furniture,
the china shepherd boy, the casseroles in the kitchen, knew that
the herbarium had been restored to the high shelves and that the
world was not going to be destroyed this winter.

A life without security, without plans, without preparation for the
future, had been terrible.  Nothing had gone right this fall; her
father had not put away any wood-doves in fat, or laid in winter
vegetables, or bought his supply of wild rice from the Indians.
"But we will manage," she sometimes whispered to her trusty poêle
when she stuffed him with birch and pine.

Cécile tended the shop alone every afternoon now.  A notice on the
door requested messieurs les clients to be so good as to call in
the morning, as the pharmacien was occupied elsewhere in the
afternoon.  Nevertheless clients came in the afternoon, especially
country people, and her father placed all the most popular remedies
on one shelf and marked them clearly, so that Cécile could dispense
them when they were called for.

This afternoon, just as she was about to go for another candle, she
thought she heard her father coming home; but it proved to be Noël
Pommier, the cobbler, who wanted a mixture of rhubarb and senna
that M. Auclair sometimes made up for his mother.

Cécile sprang up and told him it was ready at hand, plainly marked.
"Et préféreriez-vous les pilules, ou le liquide, Monsieur Noël?"

"Les pilules, s'il vous plaît, mademoiselle.  Et votre père?"

"He is always at the Château after three o'clock.  The Governor had
been indisposed for two weeks now."

"Everyone knows that, mademoiselle," said the cobbler with a sigh.
"Everyone is offering prayers for his recovery.  It will be bad for
all of us if anything goes wrong with the Count."

"Never fear, monsieur!  My father is giving him every care, and he
grows a little stronger each day."

"God grant it, mademoiselle.  Picard is very much discouraged about
his master.  He says he cannot shave himself any more and does not
look like himself.  Picard thinks he ought to be bled."

"Oh, Monsieur Pommier, I wish you could hear what my father has to
say to that!  And what does Picard know about medicine?  But he is
not the only one.  Other people have tried to persuade my father to
bleed the Governor, but he is as firm as a rock."

"I have no doubt Monsieur Auclair knows best, Mademoiselle Cécile;
but people will talk at such times, when a public man is ill."

Pommier had scarcely gone when her father came in, with a dragging
step and a mournful countenance.

"Papa," said Cécile as she brought him his indoor coat, "I know you
are tired, but the dinner will soon be ready.  Sit down by the fire
and rest a little.  And, Father, won't you try to look a little
more confident these days?  The people watch you, and when you have
a discouraged air, they all become discouraged."

"You think so?"  He spoke anxiously.

"I am sure of it, Papa.  I can tell by the things they say when
they call here in your absence.  You must look as if the Governor
were much, much better."

"He is not.  He is failing all the time."  Her father sighed.  "But
you are right.  We must put on a better face for the public."

Cécile kissed him and went into the kitchen.  Just as she was
moving the soup forward to heat, she heard a sharp knock at the
shop door.  Her father answered it, and Bishop de Saint-Vallier
entered.  Auclair hurriedly brought more candles into the shop and
set a chair for his visitor.  After preliminary civilities the
Bishop came to the point.

"I have called, Monsieur Auclair, to inquire concerning the
Governor's condition.  Do you consider his illness mortal?"

"Not necessarily.  If he were ten years younger, I should not
consider it serious.  However, he has great vitality and may very
easily rally from this attack."

The Bishop frowned and stroked his narrow chin.  He was clearly in
some perplexity.  "When I called upon the Comte de Frontenac some
days ago, he stated that his recovery would be a matter of a week,
at most.  In short, he refused to consider his indisposition
seriously, though to my eyes the mark of death was clearly upon
him.  Does he really believe he will recover?"

"Very probably.  And that is a good state of mind for a sick man."

"Monsieur Auclair," Saint-Vallier spoke up sharply, "I feel that
you evade me.  Do you yourself believe that the Count will
recover?"

"I must ask your indulgence, Monseigneur, but in a case like the
Count's a medical adviser should not permit himself to believe in
anything but recovery.  His doubts would affect the patient.  If
the Count still has the vital force I have always found in him, he
will recover.  His organs are sound."

Saint-Vallier seemed to pay little heed to this reply.  His eyes
had been restlessly sweeping the room from floor to ceiling and now
became fixed intently upon one point--on the stuffed alligator, as
it happened.  He began to speak rapidly, with gracious rise and
fall of the voice, but in his most authoritative manner.

"If the Governor's illness is mortal, and he does not realize the
fact, he should be brought to realize it.  He has a great deal to
put right with Heaven.  He has used his authority and his influence
here for worldly ends, rather than to strengthen the kingdom of God
in Septentrional France!"  For the first time he flashed a direct
glance at the apothecary.

Auclair bowed respectfully.  "Such matters are beyond me,
Monseigneur.  The Governor does not discuss his official business
with me."

"But there is always open discussion of these things!  Of the
Governor's stand on the brandy traffic, for example, which is
destroying our missions.  I have denounced his policy openly from
the pulpit, and on occasions when I noted that you were present in
the church.  You cannot be ignorant of it."

"Oh, upon that subject the Governor has also spoken publicly.
Everyone knows that he considers it an unavoidable evil."

Saint-Vallier drew himself up in his chair and adopted an
argumentative tone.  "And why unavoidable?  You doubtless refer to
his proposition that the Indians will sell their furs only to such
traders as will supply them with brandy?"

"Yes, Monseigneur; and since the English and Dutch traders give
them all the brandy they want, and better prices for their skins as
well, we must lose the fur trade altogether if we deny them brandy.
And our colony exists by the fur trade alone."

"That is our unique opportunity, Monsieur l'apothicaire, to
sacrifice our temporal interests for the glory of God, and impress
by our noble example the Dutch and English."

"If Monseigneur thinks the Dutch traders can be touched by a noble
example--"  Auclair smiled and shook his head.  "But these things
are all beyond me.  I know only what everyone knows,--though I have
my own opinions."

"If the Count's illness is as serious as it seems to me, Monsieur
Auclair, he should be given an opportunity to acknowledge his
mistakes before the world as well as to Heaven.  Such an admission
might have a salutary influence upon the administration which will
follow his.  Since he relies upon you, it is your duty to apprise
him of the gravity of his condition."

Auclair met Saint-Vallier's glittering, superficial glance and
plausible tone rather bluntly.

"I shall do nothing to discourage my patient, Monseigneur, any more
than I shall bleed him, as many good people urge me to do.  The
mind, too, has a kind of blood; in common speech we call it hope."

The Bishop flushed--his sanguine cheeks were apt to become more
ruddy when he was crossed or annoyed.  He rose and gathered the
folds of his cloak about him.  "It is time your patient dropped the
stubborn mask he has worn so long, and began to realize that none
of his enterprises will benefit him now but such as have furthered
the interests of Christ's Church in this Province.  I have seen
him, and I believe he is facing eternity."

Auclair expressed himself as much honoured by the Bishop's visit
and accompanied him to the door, holding it open that the light
might guide him across the street to the steps of his episcopal
Palace.  When he returned to the salon, Cécile was bringing in the
soup.

"I began to think Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier would never go,
Papa.  How people do bother us about everything since the Count is
ill!  I am glad we can keep them away from him, at least."

Her father sat down and took a few spoonfuls of soup.  "Why, I find
I am quite hungry!" he declared.  "And when I came home, I did not
think I could eat at all.  For some reason, our neighbour's visit
seems to have made me more cheerful."

"That is because you were so resolute with him, Father!"

He smiled at her between the candles.

"What restless eyes he has, Cécile; they run all over everything,
like quicksilver when I spill it.  He kept looking in again and
again at your glass fruit, there on the mantel.  Do you know, I
believe he drew some conclusion from that; he has seen it at the
Château, of course.  These men who are trained at Court all become
a little crafty; they learn to put two and two together.  I have
always believed that is why our patron never got advancement at
Versailles: he is too downright."



IV


It was late afternoon, and Cécile was alone--as she was nearly
always now.  The Count had died last night.  Today her father had
gone to the Château to seal his heart up in a casket, so that it
could be carried back to France according to his wish.  It was
already arranged that Father Joseph, Superior of the Récollets,
should take the casket to Montreal, then to Fort Orange, and down
the river to New York, where the English boats came and went all
winter.  On one of those boats he would go to England, cross over
to France, and journey to Paris with the Count's heart, to bury it
in the Montmort chapel at Saint-Nicholas-des-Champs.

Auclair had been gone all the afternoon, and Cécile knew that he
would come home exhausted from sorrow, from his night of watching,
and from the grim duty which had taken him today to the Count's
death-chamber.  Cécile regarded this rite with awe, but not with
horror; autopsies, she knew, must be performed upon kings and
queens and all great people after death.  That was the custom.  Her
father would have the barber-surgeon to help him,--though they were
not very good friends, because they disagreed about bleeding
people.  The barber complained that the meddlesome apothecary took
the bread out of his mouth.

Many times that afternoon Cécile went out to the doorstep and
looked up at the Château.  A light snow was falling, and the sky
was grey.  It was very strange to look up at those windows in the
south end, and to know that there was no friend, no protection
there.  She felt as if a strong roof over their heads had been
swept away.  She was not sure that they would even have a
livelihood without the Count's patronage.  Their sugar and salt and
wine, and her father's Spanish snuff, had always come from the
Count's storehouses.  The colonists paid very little for their
remedies; if they brought a basket of eggs, or a chicken, or a
rabbit, they thought they were treating their medical man very
handsomely.  But what she most dreaded was her father's loneliness.
He had lived under the Count's shadow.  The Count was the reason
for nearly everything he did,--for his being here at all.

About four o'clock, as the darkness began to close in, Cécile put
more wood on the fire in the salon and set some milk to warm before
it.  There was very little to eat in the house.  Her father had not
been to market for a week.  Running to the door every few minutes,
she at last saw him coming down the hill, with his black bag full
of deadly poisons.  He looked grey and sick as she let him in.
Before he threw his black bag into the cupboard, he took out of it
a lead box, rudely soldered over.  She looked at it solemnly.

"Yes," he said, "it is all we have left of him.  Father Joseph will
set out for France in two days.  I am in charge of this box until
it starts upon its journey."

He placed it in the cabinet where he kept his medical books, then
went into the salon and sank down in his chair by the fire.  Cécile
knelt on the floor beside him, resting her arms upon his knee.  He
bent and leaned his cheek for a moment on her shingled brown hair.

"So it is over, my dear," he sighed softly.  "It has lasted a
lifetime, and now it is over.  Since I was six years old, the Count
has been my protector, and he was my father's before me.  To my
mother, and to your mother, he was always courteous and
considerate.  He belonged to the old order; he cherished those
beneath him and rendered his duty to those above him, but flattered
nobody, not the King himself.  That time has gone by.  I do not
wish to outlive my time."

"But you wish to live on my account, don't you, Father?  I do not
belong to the old time.  I have got to live on into a new time; and
you are all I have in the world."

Her father went on sadly:  "The Count and the old Bishop were both
men of my own period, the kind we looked up to in my youth.  Saint-
Vallier and Monsieur de Champigny are of a different sort.  Had I
been able to choose my lot in the world, I would have chosen to be
like my patron, for all his disappointments and sorrows; to be a
soldier who fought for no gain but renown, merciful to the
conquered, charitable to the poor, haughty to the rich and
overbearing.  Since I could not be such a man and was born in an
apothecary shop, it was my good fortune to serve such a man and to
be honoured by his confidence."

Cécile slipped quietly away to pour the warm milk into a cup, and
with it she brought a glass of brandy.  Her father drank them.  He
said he would want no dinner tonight, but that she must prepare
something for herself.  Without noticing whether she did so or not,
he sat in a stupor of weariness, dreaming by the fire.  The scene
at the Château last night passed again before his eyes.

The Count had received the Sacrament in perfect consciousness at
seven o'clock.  Then he sank into a sleep which became a coma, and
lay for three hours breathing painfully, with his eyes rolled back
and only a streak of white showing between the half-open lids.  A
little after ten o'clock he suddenly came to himself and looked
inquiringly at the group around his bed; there were two nursing
Sisters from the Hôtel Dieu, the Intendant and Madame de Champigny,
Hector de Callières, Auclair, and Father Joseph, the Récollets'
Superior, who had heard the Count's confession and administered the
last rites of the Church.  The Count raised his eyebrows haughtily,
as if to demand why his privacy was thus invaded.  He looked from
one face to another; in those faces he read something.  He saw the
nuns upon their knees, praying.  He seemed to realize his new
position in the world and what was now required of him.  The
challenge left his face,--a dignified calm succeeded it.  Father
Joseph held the crucifix to his lips.  He kissed it.  Then, very
courteously, he made a gesture with his left hand, indicating that
he wished every one to draw back from his bed.

"This I will do alone," his steady glance seemed to say.

All drew back.

"Merci," he said distinctly.  That was the last word he spoke.
While the group of watchers stood four or five feet away from the
bed, wondering, they saw that his face had become altogether
natural and lost all look of suffering.  He breathed softly for a
few moments, then breathed no more.  One of the nuns held a feather
to his lips.  Madame de Champigny got a mirror and put it close to
his mouth, but there was no cloud on it.  Auclair laid his head
down on his patron's chest; there all was still.

As Auclair was returning home after midnight, under the glitter of
the hard bright northern stars, he felt for the first time wholly
and entirely cut off from France; a helpless exile in a strange
land.  Not without reason, he told himself bitterly as he looked up
at those stars, had the Latin poets insisted that thrice and four
times blessed were those to whom it befell to die in the land of
their fathers.

While Auclair sat by the fire thinking of these things, numb and
broken, Cécile was lying on the sofa, wrapped up in the old shawl
Madame Auclair had used so much after she became ill.  She, too,
was thinking of what they had lost.  They would indeed have another
winter in Quebec; but everything was changed almost as much as if
they had gone away.  That sense of a strong protector had counted
in her life more than she had ever realized.  To be sure, they had
not called upon the Count's authority very often; but to know that
they could appeal to him at any moment meant security, and gave
them a definite place in their little world.

The hours went by.  Her father did not speak or move, not even to
fix the fire, which was very low.  For once, Cécile herself had no
wish to set things right.  Let the fire burn out; what of it?

At last there came a knock at the door, not very loud, but
insistent,--urgent, as it were.  Auclair got up from his chair.

"Whoever it is, send him away.  I can see no one tonight."  He went
into the kitchen and shut the door behind him.

Cécile was a little startled,--death made everything strange.  She
took a candle into the shop, set it down on the counter, and opened
the door.  Outside there, against the snow, was the outline of a
man with a gun strapped on his back.  She had thrown her arms
around him before she could really see him,--the set of his
shoulders told her who it was.

"Oh, Pierre, Pierre Charron!"  She began to cry abandonedly, but
from joy.  Never in all her life had she felt anything so strong
and so true, so real and so sure, as that quick embrace that
smelled of tobacco and the pine-woods and the fresh snow.

"Petite tête de garçon!" he muttered running his hand over her
head, which lay on his shoulder.  "There, don't try to tell me.  I
know all about it.  I started for Kebec as soon as I heard the
Count was sinking.  Today, on the river, I passed the messengers
going to Montreal; they called the word to me.  And your father?"

"I don't know what to do, Pierre.  It is worse with him than when
my mother died.  There seems to be no hope for us."

"I understand," he stroked her soothingly.  "I knew this would be a
blow to him.  I said to myself in Ville-Marie:  'I must be there
when it happens.'  I came as quickly as I could.  Never did I
paddle so fast.  The breeze was against me, there was no chance of
a sail.  I had only a half-man to help me--Antoine Frichette, you
remember?  That poor fellow for whom your father made the belly-
band.  He did his best, but since his hurt he has no wind.  I'm
here at last, to be of any use I can.  Command me."  He had loosed
the big kerchief from his neck, and now he gently wiped her cheeks
dry with it.  Turning her face about to the candlelight, he
regarded it intently.

"I wish you would go to him, Pierre.  He is in the kitchen."

He kissed her softly on the forehead, unslung his gun, and went out
into the kitchen.  He, too, closed the door behind him.  In the few
moments while she was left alone in the shop, Cécile opened the
outer door again and looked up toward the Château.  The falling
snow and the darkness hid it from sight; but she had once more that
feeling of security, as if the strong roof were over them again;
over her and the shop and the salon and all her mother's things.
For the first time she realized that her father loved Pierre for
the same reason he had loved the Count; both had the qualities he
did not have himself, but which he most admired in other men.

When they came in from the kitchen, Charron had his arm over
Auclair's shoulder.

"Cécile" he called, "je n'ai pas de chance.  Evidently I am too
late for supper, and I have not had a morsel since I broke camp
before daybreak."

"Supper?  But we have had no supper here tonight.  We had no
appetite.  I will make some for you, at once.  There is not much in
the house, I am afraid; my father has not been to market.  Smoked
eels, perhaps?"

Charron made a grimace.  "Detestable!  Even I can do better than
that.  I shot a deer for our supper in the forest last night, and I
brought a haunch along with me,--outside, in my bag.  What else
have you?"

"Not much."  Cécile felt deeply mortified to confess this, though
it was not her fault.  "We have some wild rice left from last year,
and there are some carrots.  We always have preserves, and of
course there is soup."

"Excellent; all that sounds very attractive to me at the moment.
You attend to everything else, but by your leave I will cook the
venison in my own way.  It's enough for us all, and there will be
good pickings left for Blinker."

When Charron went out to get his game-bag, Auclair whispered to his
daughter:  "Are we really so destitute, my child?  Do the best you
can for him.  I will open a box of the conserves from France."

He now seemed very anxious about his dinner, and she could not
forbear a reproachful glance at the head of the house, who had been
so neglectful of his duties.

"And you, Monsieur Euclide," said Pierre, when he came back with
the haunch in his hand, "you ought to produce something rather
special from your cellar for us."

"It shall be the best I have," declared his host.



The supper lasted until late.  After the dessert the apothecary
opened a bottle of heavy gold-coloured wine from the South.

"This," he said, "is a wine the Count liked after supper.  His
family was from the South, and his father always kept on hand wines
that were brought up from Bordeaux and the Rhone vineyards.  The
Count inherited that taste."  He sighed heavily.

"Euclide," said Charron, "tomorrow it may be you or I; that is the
way to look at death.  Not all the wine in the Château, not all the
wines in the great cellars of France, could warm the Count's blood
now.  Let us cheer our hearts a little while we can.  Good wine was
put into the grapes by our Lord, for friends to enjoy together."

When it was almost midnight, the visitor said he was too tired to
go hunt a lodging, and would gladly avail himself of the
invitation, often extended, but never before accepted, of spending
the night here and sleeping on the sofa in the salon.

Cécile, in her upstairs bedroom, turned to slumber with the weight
of doubt and loneliness melted away.  Her last thoughts before she
sank into forgetfulness were of a friend, devoted and fearless,
here in the house with them, as if he were one of themselves.  He
had not a throne behind him, like the Count (it had been very far
behind, indeed!), not the authority of a parchment and seal.  But
he had authority, and a power which came from knowledge of the
country and its people; from knowledge, and from a kind of passion.
His daring and his pride seemed to her even more splendid than
Count Frontenac's.




EPILOGUE


On the seventeenth day of August 1713, fifteen years after the
death of Count Frontenac, the streets of Quebec and the headland
overlooking the St. Lawrence were thronged with people.  By the
waterside the Governor-General and Monsieur Vaudreuil, the
Intendant, with all the clergy, regular and secular, the
magistrates, and the officers from the garrison, stood waiting to
receive a long-expected guest.  Down the river lay a ship from
France, La Manon, unable to come in against the wind.  A small boat
had been sent out to bring in one of her passengers.  As the little
boat drew near the shore, all the cannon on the fortifications, and
the guns on the vessels anchored in the roadstead, thundered a
salute of welcome to Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier, at last
returning to his people after an absence of thirteen years.

When the prelate put foot upon the shore of Quebec, the church-
bells began to ring, and continued to ring while the Governor-
General, the Intendant, and the Archidiacre made addresses of
welcome.  The Intendant's carriage stood ready to convey the
Bishop, but he preferred, characteristically, to ascend on foot to
the Cathedral in the Upper Town, surrounded by the clergy and
preceded by drums and hautbois.

Euclide Auclair, the old apothecary, standing before his door on
Mountain Hill to watch the procession, was shocked at the change in
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier.  When he sailed for France thirteen
years ago, he was a very young man of forty-seven; now he came back
a very old man of sixty.  Every physical trait by which Auclair
remembered the handsome and arrogant churchman had disappeared.  He
would never have recognized, in this heavy, stooped, lame old man
going up the hill, the slender and rather dramatic figure he had so
often seen mounting the steps of the episcopal Palace across the
way.  The narrow, restless shoulders were fat and bent; the Bishop
carried his head like a man broken to the yoke.

Auclair watched the procession until the turn of the way shut
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier from sight, then went back to his shop
and sat down, overcome.  The thirteen years which for him had
passed quietly, happily, had been bitter ones for the wandering
Bishop.  Nine years ago Saint-Vallier was on his way back to Canada
after one of his long absences, when his ship, La Seine, was
captured by the English, taken into London, and sold at auction.
The Bishop himself was declared a prisoner of state, and was
sequestered in a small English town near Farnham until the French
King should ransom him.

Politics intervened: King Louis had lately seized and imprisoned
the Baron of Méan, Dean of the Cathedral of Liege.  The German
Emperor was much offended at this, and besought Queen Anne not to
release the Bishop of Quebec under any other terms than as an
exchange for the Baron of Méan.  For five years Saint-Vallier
remained a prisoner of state in England, until King Louis at last
set the Baron of Méan at liberty and recalled the Bishop of Quebec
to France.  But this did not mean that he was free to return to
Canada.  During his captivity his enemies in Quebec and Montreal
had been busy, had repeatedly written the Minister, Pontchartrain,
that the affairs of the colony went better with the Bishop away;
that the King would be assisting his Canadian subjects by keeping
Saint-Vallier in France.  This the King did.  He kept him, indeed,
almost as long as the Queen of England had done.

That period of detention in France had sobered and saddened the
wilful Bishop.  His captivity in England he could ascribe to the
hostilities of nations; to himself and to others he was able to put
a very good face on it.  But he could not pretend that he was kept
in France for any other reason than that he was not wanted in
Quebec.  He had to admit to the Minister that he had made mistakes;
that he had not taken the wise course with the Canadian colonists.
Only by unceasing importunities, and by working upon the sympathies
of Madame de Maintenon, who had always befriended him, had he ever
wrung from the King permission to sail back to his diocese.

On this day of his return, even his enemies were softened at seeing
how the man was changed.  In place of his former assurance he
seemed to wear a leaden mantle of humility; he climbed heavily up
the hill to the Cathedral as if he were treading down the mistakes
of the past.

Auclair, the apothecary, on the other hand, had scarcely changed at
all.  His delicate complexion had grown a trifle sallow from
staying indoors so much, but the years which had made the Bishop an
old man had passed lightly over the apothecary.  Even his shop was
still the same; perhaps a trifle dustier than it used to be, and
opposite his counter there was a new cabinet screwed fast to the
wall, full of brilliant sea-shells, starfish and horseshoe crabs,
dried seaweed and branches of coral.  Everyone looked at this case
on entering the shop,--there was something surprising and
unexpected about such a collection.  It suggested the South and
blue seas far away.

On the third day after the Cathedral had welcomed its long absent
shepherd, that prelate himself came to call upon the apothecary,
arriving at the door on foot and unattended.  He greeted Auclair
with friendliness and took the proffered chair, admitting that he
felt the summer heat in Quebec more than he used to do.

"But you yourself, Monsieur Auclair, are little altered.  I rejoice
to see that God has preserved you in excellent health."

Auclair hastened to bring out a glass of fortifying cordial, and
the Bishop accepted it gratefully.  While he drank it, Auclair
regarded him.  It was unfortunate that Saint-Vallier, of all men,
should have grown heavy--it took away his fine carriage.  His once
luxuriant brown hair was thin and grey, his triangular cheeks had
become full and soft, like an old woman's, and they were waxy
white.  Between them, the sharp chin had almost disappeared.

"I have been thinking how fortunate I shall be to have you for my
neighbour once more, Monseigneur," said Auclair.  "Every spring I
have given some little advice to the workmen who were attending to
your garden, and I have often wished you could see your shrubs
coming into bloom."

The Bishop smiled faintly and shook his head.

"Ah, monsieur, I shall not live in the episcopal Palace again.
Perhaps that was a mistake; I should have waited to understand the
designs of Providence more perfectly."

"Not live in your own residence, Monseigneur?  That will be a great
disappointment to all of us.  The building is in excellent
condition."

The Bishop again shook his head.  "I find myself too poor now to
maintain such an establishment.  I suppose you do not know anyone
who would care to rent the Palace?  The rental would be very
helpful to me in my present undertakings.  No, I shall reside at
the Hôpital Général.*  My good daughters there have arranged un
petit appartement of two rooms which will meet my needs very well.
I shall reside with them for the remainder of my life, God willing.
Their chaplain is old and must soon retire, and I shall take his
place.  The office of chaplain will be quite compatible with my
other duties."


* Some years before he sailed for France in 1700, Bishop de Saint-
Vallier had founded the Hôpital Général, for the aged and
incurable.  The hospital still stands today, much enlarged; the
wards which Saint-Vallier built and the two small rooms in which he
lived until his death are unchanged.


Auclair was amazed.  "In a hospital the duties of a chaplain are
considerable, are they not?"

"But very congenial to me--" (the old man folded his hands over the
kerchief he had taken out to wipe his brow)--"to celebrate the
morning mass for the sisters and to hear their confessions; to
administer the consolations of the Church to the sick and the
dying.  As chaplain I shall be in daily attendance upon the
unfortunate, as is my wish."

Auclair sat silent for some moments, stroking his short beard in
perplexity.  Evidently nothing in his former relations with
Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier was a guide for future intercourse.
He changed the subject and began to speak of happenings in Quebec
during the Bishop's absence, of common acquaintances who had died
in that time, among them old Monseigneur de Laval.

Saint-Vallier sighed.  "Would it had been permitted me to return in
time to thank him for the labours he underwent for my flock during
the years of my captivity, and to close his eyes at the last.  I
can never hope to be to this people all that my venerable
predecessor became, through his devotion and his long residence
among them.  But I shall be with them now for as long as God spares
me, and I hope to be deserving of their affection."

At this moment a countrywoman appeared at the door.  She was about
to withdraw when she saw what visitor the apothecary was
entertaining, but the Bishop called her back and insisted that his
host attend to her needs.  He waited patiently in his chair while
she bought foxglove water for her dropsical father-in-law, and
liquorice for her baby's cough.  While he was serving her, Auclair
wondered how he could give a turn to the Bishop's talk and learn
from him what was going on at home.  When the farmer woman had
gone, he took the liberty of questioning his visitor directly.

"You have been at Versailles lately, Monseigneur?  And how are
things there, pray tell me?"

"Very sad since the death of the young Duc and Duchesse de
Bourgogne last year.  The King will never recover from that double
loss.  In the Duc, his grandson, he foresaw a wise and happy reign
for France; and the young Duchesse had been the idol of his heart
ever since she first came to them from Savoie.  She was the life of
the Court,--as dear to Madame de Maintenon as to the King.  The
official mourning is over, but the Court mourns, nevertheless."

Auclair nodded.  "And the King, I suppose, is an old man now."

"Yes, the King is old.  He still comes down to supper to the music
of twenty-four violins, still works indefatigably with his
ministers; there is dancing and play and conversation in the Salle
d'Apollon every evening.  His Court remains the most brilliant in
Europe,--but his heart is not in it.  There is no one left who can
charm away his years and his cares as the little Duchesse de
Bourgogne did, and nothing can make him forget for one hour the
death of the Duc de Bourgogne.  All Christendom, monsieur, has
suffered an incalculable loss in the death of that pious prince."

"They died within a few days of each other, we heard."

Saint-Vallier bowed his head.  "They were buried in the same tomb,
and their little son with them."

"There is still talk of poison?"

"Popular opinion accuses the Duc d'Orléans.  Their second son, an
infant in arms, showed the same symptoms of poisoning, but he
survived."

"Ah," said Auclair, "a bad situation!  The King is seventy-seven,
and the Dauphin a child in arms.  That will mean a long regency.  I
suppose the young Duc de Berry will fill that office?"

"God grant it, monsieur, God spare him!" exclaimed the Bishop
fervently.  "If any mischance were to befall the Duc de Berry, then
that arch-atheist and suspected poisoner the Duc d'Orléans would be
regent of France!"  Saint-Vallier's voice cracked at a high pitch.

Auclair crossed himself devoutly.  "I should have liked to see my
King once more.  He has been a great King.  Is he much altered in
person?"

"He is old.  I had a private interview with His Majesty last
November, late in the afternoon, when he was taking his exercise in
the Parc of Versailles.  We had scarcely begun our conference when
a wind arose, stripping the trees that were already half-bare.  The
King invited me to go indoors to his cabinet, remarking that it
distressed him now to hear the autumn winds and to see the leaves
fall.  That seemed to me to indicate a change."

"Yes," said Auclair, "that tells a story."

"Monsieur," began the Bishop sadly, "we are in the beginning of a
new century, but periods do not always correspond with centuries.
At home the old age is dying, but the new is still hidden.  I felt
the same condition in England, during my long captivity there.
There is now no figure in the world such as our King was thirty
years ago.  The changes in the nations are all those of the old
growing older.  You have done well to remain here where nothing
changes.  Here with you I find everything the same."  He glanced
about the shop and peered into the salon.  "And the little
daughter, whom I used to see running in and out?"

"She is married, to our old friend Pierre Charron of Ville-Marie.
He has built a commodious house in the Upper Town, beyond the
Ursuline convent.  They are well established in the world."

"You live alone, then?"

"For part of the year.  Perhaps you remember a little boy whom my
daughter befriended, Jacques Gaux?  His mother was a loose woman--
she died in your Hôpital Général, some years ago.  The boy is now a
sailor, and when he is in Quebec, between voyages, he lives with
me.  He occupies my daughter's little chamber upstairs."  Auclair
pointed to the cabinet of shells and corals.  "He brings me these
things back from his voyages; he is in the West India trade.  I
should like to keep him here all the time; but his father was a
sailor--it is natural."

"No," said the Bishop, "I do not recall him.  But your daughter I
remember with affection.  Heaven has blessed her with children?"

The apothecary's eyes twinkled.  "Four sons already, Monseigneur.
She is bringing up four little boys, the Canadians of the future."

"Ah yes, the Canadians of the future,--the true Canadians."

There was something in Saint-Vallier's voice as he said this which
touched Auclair's heart; a note humble and wistful, something sad
and defeated.  Sometimes a neighbour whom we have disliked a
lifetime for his arrogance and conceit lets fall a single
commonplace remark that shows us another side, another man, really;
a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves.  Had
his visitor not been a Bishop, Auclair would have reached out and
grasped his hand and murmured:  "Courage, mon bourgeois," as he did
to down-hearted patients.  The two men sat together in a warm and
friendly silence until Saint-Vallier rose and said he must be
going.  "I shall have the pleasure of confirming your grandsons, I
hope?  They will live to see better times than ours."

Auclair accompanied him to the door and watched him tread his way
up the hill and round the turn of the street.  Then he went back to
his desk with the feeling that old feuds were forgotten.  He would
have a great deal to tell Cécile when he went to supper there
tonight.  She would be quicker than anyone to sense the
transformation in their old neighbour, who had built himself an
episcopal residence approached by twenty-four stone steps, and who
now proposed to spend the rest of his life in two small rooms in
the hospital out on the river Charles.  To be sure, the Bishop was
a little theatrical in his humility, as he had been in his
grandeur; but that was his way, Auclair reflected, and, after all,
nobody can help his way.  If a man admits his mistakes, that is a
great deal, when he is a proud man and a Dauphinois--always a
stiff-necked race.

While he was closing his shop and changing his coat to go up to his
daughter's house, he thought over much that his visitor had told
him, and he believed that he was indeed fortunate to spend his old
age here where nothing changed; to watch his grandsons grow up in a
country where the death of the King, the probable evils of a long
regency, would never touch them.



THE END





This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia