THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY - VOLUME 2.
THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY - VOLUME 2.
VII "Quoth little Garaine"
VIII As vain as Absalom
IX A little concerning the Chevalier de la Darante
X An officer of marines
XI The coming of Doltaire
XII "The point envenomed too!"
XIII A little boast
"QUOTH LITTLE GARAINE"
I have given the whole story here as though it had been thought
out and written that Sunday afternoon which brought me good news of
Juste Duvarney. But it was not so. I did not choose to break the
run of the tale to tell of other things and of the passing of time.
The making took me many many weeks and in all that time I had
seen no face but Gabord's and heard no voice but his when he
came twice a day to bring me bread and water. He would answer no
questions concerning Juste Duvarney or Voban or Monsieur Doltaire
nor tell me anything of what was forward in the town. He had had
his orders precise enough he said. At the end of my hints and
turnings and approaches stretching himself up and turning the
corn about with his foot (but not crushing it for he saw that I
prized the poor little comrades) he would say:
"Snug snug quiet and warm! The cosiest nest in the world--aho!"
There was no coaxing him and at last I desisted. I had no
light. With resolution I set my mind to see in spite of the dark
and at the end of a month I was able to note the outlines of my
dungeon; nay more I was able to see my field of corn; and at last
what joy I had when hearing a little rustle near me I looked
closely and beheld a mouse running across the floor! I straightway
began to scatter crumbs of bread that it might perhaps come near
me--as at last it did.
I have not spoken at all of my wounds though they gave me many
painful hours and I had no attendance but my own and Gabord's. The
wound in my side was long healing for it was more easily disturbed
as I turned in my sleep while I could ease my arm at all times
and it came on slowly. My sufferings drew on my flesh my blood
and my spirits and to this was added that disease inaction the
corrosion of solitude and the fever of suspense and uncertainty as
to Alixe and Juste Duvarney. Every hour every moment that I had
ever passed in Alixe's presence with many little incidents and
scenes in which we shared passed before me--vivid and cherished
pictures of the mind. One of those incidents I will set down here.
A year or so before soon after Juste Duvarney came from Montreal
he brought in one day from hunting a young live hawk and put it
in a cage. When I came the next morning Alixe met me and asked
me to see what he had brought. There beside the kitchen door
overhung with morning-glories and flanked by hollyhocks was a
large green cage and in it the gray-brown hawk. "Poor thing
poor prisoned thing!" she said. "Look how strange and hunted it
seems! See how its feathers stir! And those flashing watchful
eyes they seem to read through you and to say 'Who are you? What
do you want with me? Your world is not my world; your air is not my
air; your homes are holes and mine hangs high up between you and
God. Who are you? Why do you pen me? You have shut me in that I may
not travel not even die out in the open world. All the world is
mine; yours is only a stolen field. Who are you? What do you want
with me? There is a fire within my head it eats to my eyes and I
burn away. What do you want with me?'"
She did not speak these words all at once as I have written them
here but little by little as we stood there beside the cage. Yet
as she talked with me her mind was on the bird her fingers running
up and down the cage bars soothingly her voice now and again
interjecting soft reflections and exclamations.
"Shall I set it free?" I asked her.
She turned upon me and replied "Ah monsieur I hoped you
would--without my asking. You are a prisoner too" she added; "one
captive should feel for another."
"And the freeman for both" I answered meaningly as I softly
opened the cage.
She did not drop her eyes but raised them shining honestly and
frankly to mine and said "I wished you to think that."
Opening the cage door wide I called the little captive to
freedom. But while we stood close by it would not stir and the
look in its eyes became wilder. I moved away and Alixe followed
me. Standing beside an old well we waited and watched. Presently
the hawk dropped from the perch hopped to the door then with a
wild spring was gone up up up and was away over the maple woods
beyond lost in the sun and the good air.
I know not quite why I dwell on this scene save that it throws
some little light upon her nature and shows how simple and yet
deep she was in soul and what was the fashion of our friendship.
But I can perhaps give a deeper insight of her character if I here
set down the substance of a letter written about that time which
came into my possession long afterwards. It was her custom to
write her letters first in a book and afterwards to copy them
for posting. This she did that they might be an impulse to her
friendships and a record of her feelings.
ALIXE DUVARNEY TO LUCIE LOTBINIERE.
QUEBEC CITY the 10th of May 1756.
MY DEAR LUCIE: I wish I knew how to tell you all I have been
thinking since we parted at the door of the Ursulines a year ago.
Then we were going to meet again in a few weeks and now twelve
months have gone! How have I spent them? Not wickedly I hope
and yet sometimes I wonder if Mere St. George would quite approve
of me; for I have such wild spirits now and then and I shout and
sing in the woods and along the river as if I were a mad youngster
home from school. But indeed that is the way I feel at times
though again I am so quiet that I am frightened of myself. I am a
hawk to-day and a mouse to-morrow and fond of pleasure all the
time. Ah what good days I have had with Juste! You remember him
before he went to Montreal? He is gay full of fancies as brave
as can be and plays and sings well but he is very hot-headed
and likes to play the tyrant. We have some bad encounters now and
then. But we love each other better for it; he respects me and
he does not become spoiled as you will see when you come to us.
I have had no society yet. My mother thinks seventeen years too
few to warrant my going into the gay world. I wonder will my wings
be any stronger will there be less danger of scorching them at
twenty-six? Years do not make us wise; one may be as wise at twenty
as at fifty. And they do not save us from the scorching. I know
more than they guess how cruel the world may be to the innocent as
to--the other. One can not live within sight of the Intendant's
palace and the Chateau St. Louis without learning many things; and
for myself though I hunger for all the joys of life I do not
fret because my mother holds me back from the gay doings in the
town. I have my long walks my fishing and rowing and sometimes
hunting with Juste and my sweet sister Georgette my drawing
painting music and needlework and my housework.
Yet I am not entirely happy I do not know quite why. Do you
ever feel as if there were some sorrow far back in you which now
and then rushed in and flooded your spirits and then drew back
and you could not give it a name? Well that is the way with me.
Yesterday as I stood in the kitchen beside our old cook Jovin
she said a kind word to me and my eyes filled and I ran up to
my room and burst into tears as I lay upon my bed. I could not
help it. I thought at first it was because of the poor hawk that
Captain Moray and I set free yesterday morning; but it could not
have been that for it was FREE when I cried you see. You know
of course that he saved my father's life some years ago? That is
one reason why he has been used so well in Quebec for otherwise
no one would have lessened the rigours of his captivity. But there
are tales that he is too curious about our government and state
and so he may be kept close jailed though he only came here as a
hostage. He is much at our home and sometimes walks with Juste
and me and Georgette and accompanies my mother in the streets.
This is not to the liking of the Intendant who loves not my
father because he is such a friend of our cousin the Governor.
If their lives and characters be anything to the point the
Governor must be in the right.
In truth things are in a sad way here for there is robbery on
every hand and who can tell what the end may be? Perhaps that we
go to the English after all. Monsieur Doltaire--you do not know
him I think--says "If the English eat us as they swear they
will they'll die of megrims our affairs are so indigestible." At
another time he said "Better to be English than to be damned." And
when some one asked him what he meant he said "Is it not read
from the altar 'Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man'? The
English trust nobody and we trust the English." That was aimed at
Captain Moray who was present and I felt it a cruel thing for him
to say; but Captain Moray smiling at the ladies said "Better
to be French and damned than not to be French at all." And this
pleased Monsieur Doltaire who does not love him. I know not
why but there are vague whispers that he is acting against the
Englishman for causes best known at Versailles which have nothing
to do with our affairs here. I do believe that Monsieur Doltaire
would rather hear a clever thing than get ten thousand francs. At
such times his face lights up he is at once on his mettle his
eyes look almost fiendishly beautiful. He is a handsome man but
he is wicked and I do not think he has one little sense of morals.
I do not suppose he would stab a man in the back or remove his
neighbour's landmark in the night though he'd rob him of it in
open daylight and call it "enterprise"--a usual word with him.
He is a favourite with Madame Cournal who influences Bigot most
and one day we may see the boon companions at each other's throats;
and if either falls I hope it maybe Bigot for Monsieur Doltaire
is at least no robber. Indeed he is kind to the poor in a
disdainful sort of way. He gives to them and scoffs at them at the
same moment; a bad man with just enough natural kindness to make
him dangerous. I have not seen much of the world but some things
we know by instinct; we feel them; and I often wonder if that is
not the way we know everything in the end. Sometimes when I take my
long walks or go and sit beside the Falls of Montmorenci looking
out to the great city on the Heights to dear Isle Orleans
where we have our pretty villa (we are to go there next week for
three months--happy summer months) up at the blue sky and into
the deep woods I have strange feelings which afterwards become
thoughts; and sometimes they fly away like butterflies but oftener
they stay with me and I give them a little garden to roam in--you
can guess where. Now and then I call them out of the garden and
make them speak and then I set down what they say in my journal;
but I think they like their garden best. You remember the song we
used to sing at school?
"'Where do the stars grow little Garaine?
The garden of moons is it far away?
The orchard of suns my little Garaine
Will you take us there some day?'
"'If you shut your eyes' quoth little Garaine
'I will show you the way to go
To the orchard of suns and the garden of moons
And the field where the stars do grow.
"'But you must speak soft' quoth little Garaine
'And still must your footsteps be
For a great bear prowls in the field of the stars
And the moons they have men to see.
"'And the suns have the Children of Signs to guard
And they have no pity at all--
You must not stumble you must not speak
When you come to the orchard wall.
"'The gates are locked' quoth little Garaine
'But the way I am going to tell?
The key of your heart it will open them all:
And there's where the darlings dwell!'"
You may not care to read these lines again but it helps to show
what I mean: that everything is in the heart and that nothing
is at all if we do not feel it. Sometimes I have spoken of these
things to my mother but she does not see as I do. I dare not tell
my father all I think and Juste is so much a creature of moods
that I am never sure whether he will be sensible and kind or
scoff. One can not bear to be laughed at. And as for my sister she
never thinks; she only lives; and she looks it--looks beautiful.
But there dear Lucie I must not tire you with my childish
philosophy though I feel no longer a child. You would not know
your friend. I can not tell what has come over me. Voila!
To-morrow we go to visit General Montcalm who has just arrived
in the colony. Bigot and his gay set are not likely to be there.
My mother insists that I shall never darken the doors of the
Do you still hold to your former purpose of keeping a daily
journal? If so I beg you to copy into it this epistle and your
answer; and when I go up to your dear manor house at Beauce next
summer we will read over our letters and other things set down
and gossip of the changes come since we met last. Do sketch the
old place for me (as will I our new villa on dear Isle Orleans)
and make interest with the good cure to bring it to me with your
letter since there are no posts no postmen yet between here
and Beauce. The cure most kindly bears this to you and says he
will gladly be our messenger. Yesterday he said to me shaking
his head in a whimsical way "But no treason mademoiselle and
no heresy or schism." I am not quite sure what he meant. I dare
hardly think he had Captain Moray in his mind. I would not for
the world so lessen my good opinion of him as to think him
suspicious of me when no other dare; and so I put his words
down to chance hitting to a humorous fancy.
Be sure dear Lucie I shall not love you less for giving me a
prompt answer. Tell me of what you are thinking and what doing. If
Juste can be spared from the Governor's establishment may I bring
him with me next summer? He is a difficult sparkling sort of
fellow but you are so steady-tempered so full of tact getting
your own way so quietly and cleverly that I am sure I should find
plenty of straw for the bricks of my house of hope my castle in
Do not give too much of my share of thy heart elsewhere and
continue to think me my dear Lucie thy friend loyal and
P.S.--Since the above was written we have visited the General.
Both Monsieur Doltaire and Captain Moray were there but neither
took much note of me--Monsieur Doltaire not at all. Those two
either hate each other lovingly or love hatefully I know not
which they are so biting yet so friendly to each other's
cleverness though their style of word-play is so different:
Monsieur Doltaire's like a bodkin-point Captain Moray's like a
musket-stock a-clubbing. Be not surprised to see the British at
our gates any day. Though we shall beat them back I shall feel no
less easy because I have a friend in the enemy's camp. You may
guess who. Do not smile. He is old enough to be my father. He said
so himself six months ago.
AS VAIN AS ABSALOM
Gabord coming in to me one day after I had lain down to sleep
said "See m'sieu' the dormouse 'tis holiday-eve; the King's
sport comes to-morrow."
I sat up in bed with a start for I knew not but that my death
had been decided on without trial; and yet on second thought I was
sure this could not be for every rule of military conduct was
"Whose holiday?" asked I after a moment; "and what is King's
"You're to play bear in the streets to-morrow--which is sport for
the King" he retorted; "we lead you by a rope and you dance
the quickstep to please our ladies all the way to the Chateau
where they bring the bear to drum-head."
"Who sits behind the drum?" I questioned.
"The Marquis de Vaudreuil" he replied "the Intendant Master
Devil Doltaire and the little men." By these last he meant
officers of the colonial soldiery.
So then at last I was to be tried to be dealt with definitely
on the abominable charge. I should at least again see light and
breathe fresh air and feel about me the stir of the world. For a
long year I had heard no voice but my own and Gabord's had had no
friends but my pale blades of corn and a timid mouse day after day
no light at all; and now winter was at hand again and without fire
and with poor food my body was chilled and starved. I had had no
news of the world nor of her who was dear to me nor of Juste
Duvarney save that he lived nor of our cause. But succeeding the
thrill of delight I had at thought of seeing the open world again
there came a feeling of lassitude of indifference; I shrank from
the jar of activity. But presently I got upon my feet and with a
little air of drollery straightened out my clothes and flicked a
handkerchief across my gaiters. Then I twisted my head over my
shoulder as if I were noting the shape of my back and the set of
my clothes in a mirror and thrust a leg out in the manner of an
exquisite. I had need to do some mocking thing at the moment or I
should have given way to tears like a woman so suddenly weak had
Gabord burst out laughing.
An idea came to me. "I must be fine to-morrow" said I. "I must
not shame my jailer." I rubbed my beard--I had none when I came
into this dungeon first.
"Aho!" said he his eyes wheeling.
I knew he understood me. I did not speak but went on running my
fingers through my beard.
"As vain as Absalom" he added. "Do you think they'll hang you
by the hair?"
"I'd have it off" said I "to be clean for the sacrifice."
"You had Voban before" he rejoined; "we know what happened--a
dainty bit of a letter all rose-lily scented and comfits for
the soldier. The pretty wren perches now in the Governor's
house--a-cousining a-cousining. Think you it is that she may get
a glimpse of m'sieu' the dormouse as he comes to trial? But 'tis
no business o' mine; and if I bring my prisoner up when called
for there's duty done!"
I saw the friendly spirit in the words.
"Voban" urged I "Voban may come to me?"
"The Intendant said no but the Governor yes" was the reply;
"and that M'sieu' Doltaire is not yet come back from Montreal
so he had no voice. They look for him here to-morrow."
"Voban may come?" I asked again.
"At daybreak Voban--aho!" he continued. "There's milk and honey
to-morrow" he added and then without a word he drew forth from
his coat and hurriedly thrust into my hands a piece of meat and a
small flask of wine and swinging round like a schoolboy afraid of
being caught in a misdemeanor he passed through the door and the
bolts clanged after him. He left the torch behind him stuck in the
cleft of the wall.
I sat down on my couch and for a moment gazed almost vacantly
at the meat and wine in my hands. I had not touched either for a
year and now I could see that my fingers as they closed on the
food nervously were thin and bloodless and I realized that my
clothes hung loose upon my person. Here were light meat and wine
and there was a piece of bread on the board covering my water-jar.
Luxury was spread before me but although I had eaten little all
day I was not hungry. Presently however I took the knife which I
had hidden a year before and cut pieces of the meat and laid them
by the bread. Then I drew the cork from the bottle of wine and
lifting it towards that face which was always visible to my soul
The rich liquor swam through my veins like glorious fire. It
wakened my brain and nerved my body. The old spring of life
came back. This wine had come from the hands of Alixe--from the
Governor's store maybe; for never could Gabord have got such
stuff. I ate heartily of the rich beef and bread with a new-made
appetite and drank the rest of the wine. When I had eaten and
drunk the last I sat and looked at the glowing torch and felt
a sort of comfort creep through me. Then there came a delightful
thought. Months ago I had put away one last pipeful of tobacco to
save it till some day when I should need it most. I got it and
no man can guess how lovingly I held it to a flying flame of the
torch saw it light and blew out the first whiff of smoke into the
sombre air; for November was again piercing this underground house
of mine another winter was at hand. I sat and smoked and--can you
not guess my thoughts? For have you all not the same hearts being
British born and bred? When I had taken the last whiff I wrapped
myself in my cloak and went to sleep. But twice or thrice during
the night I waked to see the torch still shining and caught the
fragrance of consuming pine and minded not at all the smoke the
A LITTLE CONCERNING THE CHEVALIER DE LA DARANTE
I was wakened completely by the shooting of bolts. With the opening
of the door I saw the figures of Gabord and Voban. My little friend